Why You Shouldn’t Play Bant Megamorph

GerryT played Bant to a respectable finish last weekend, but that wasn’t good enough for him! See what he thinks of the future of the strategy and the format, as well as his opinion on this year’s new Open Series two-day structure!

Flying is a powerful mechanic.

Last weekend, I played in my first Open Series event with the new structure, but we’ll get into that later. My deck choice for Standard was narrowed down
to Esper Dragons or Sultai Reanimator. Somehow I ended up playing Bant Megamorph.

How the hell did that happen?

The Journey

I was looking for a Den Protector + Deathmist Raptor deck that had a huge end game to beat the other midrange decks. Various Whip of Erebos strategies
fulfilled that role, but I felt like Mastery of the Unseen could do the same. It doesn’t go as big as Whip of Erebos with Doomwake Giant or Hornet Queen
(or Dragonlord Atarka), but how big do you actually need to go?

Sultai Reanimator was my first choice since Sidisi, Brood Tyrant is slightly better against the current red decks than Siege Rhino. That might seem odd,
but the extra body ends up being more relevant than the drain because deterring them from attacking will help you stabilize faster than gaining a couple
life. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant has the added bonus of adding to the synergy of the deck.

That said, I switched from Sultai Reanimator to Abzan Reanimator because of Elspeth, Sun’s Champion out of the sideboard. It struck me as the best way to
beat the Den Protector + Deathmist Raptor decks, and I wasn’t losing much by being Abzan instead of Sultai. Then I took another leap and thought about
Craig Wescoe’s Bant Megamorph deck from Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir, which seemed to have everything I wanted.

I take journeys like that occasionally. Sometimes I end up being right, but sometimes the logic leads me astray in one way or another. I ended up playing
one of the worst decks I’ve played in quite some time (which might be kind of awkward to say considering Bant Megamorph did pretty well in Grand Prix

The Downsides (AKA Reality)

These are all cards that Bant Megamorph, as it is currently built, can basically never beat. Hell, even a Tom Ross Vampire token killed me. Sure, there are
some corner cases where you outrace them, you can gain enough life with Mastery of the Unseen, or you’re able to counter it with a sideboard Disdainful
Stroke. In truth, those situations are few and far between because your opponent is going to do their best to stop you.

You’re frequently under attack by Thoughtseizes and Dromoka’s Commands or are attempting to weather the storm of their aggression. Sometimes you don’t have
time to get that Mastery of the Unseen online. Sometimes you do, but they bust it up anyway. At the end of the day, I don’t think Mastery of the Unseen
provides enough of a lategame push because it doesn’t beat things like Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and still comes up short against fliers. Bant isn’t playing
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, so Mastery of the Unseen is far more fair in this deck than we’d like it to be.

Then there’s the issue of Dromoka’s Command. Ooh, boy. My opponents cast many a Dromoka’s Command against me, and even after sideboarding out my
enchantments, it was still quite the beating. The presence of that card alone makes me think twice about playing any enchantments in my 75. You get
punished so hard that it’s worth exploring other avenues.

The Upsides

My good draws involved removal, Den Protector, and Fleecemane Lion, which meant that I could take an aggressive stance early. My poor draws generally
involved lots of mana acceleration, which didn’t translate into anything particularly useful. Going forward, I would look at removing some of the Sylvan

Playing the morph shell game was the source of the majority of my fun from the weekend. If I wasn’t under any pressure, I would often play Deathmist Raptor
face-down while also making sure that I had two green sources of mana showing. Everyone assumed that if I had a Deathmist Raptor that I would have played
it face up, so that meant my morph had to be a Den Protector and was therefore a worthy target for their removal spell.

Many face-down Deathmist Raptors were killed or countered on sight, which gave me a pretty huge advantage (and a smile on my face).

I didn’t do anything too crazy with my decklist. There’s a Stratus Dancer maindeck because it’s weird, not bad, and basically unpredictable, and then
there’s one less Mana Confluence in the manabase. I wish I went the extra mile and cut the second copy, as it cost me multiple games.

As I mentioned last week
, Elspeth, Sun’s Champion was the bomb in green midrange matchups, which was basically all of my opponents. When playing against Bant Megamorph, you’re
often under attack by a monstrous Fleecemane Lion, a Deathmist Raptor, and a Den Protector that’s juggling another Den Protector, and there’s not a great
answer to that.

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion does a lot of work, but it is still vulnerable to the Den Protector beatdown if you have nothing else going on. Aetherspouts almost
blew me out in the Bant mirror match that I played, so that’s another option, although one that isn’t easy on the mana.

Where To Go From Here

The trashcan is a fine answer, but if you like the archetype and are looking to improve on it, you could certainly do worse than this decklist:

I suppose it’s not fair to say that you absolutely shouldn’t play Bant Megamorph considering there are ways to fix the problems, but you definitely should
not play the exact decklist that I played. Ben’s list fixes a lot of the problems I had, but I think we can further improve from there. For example, four
Sylvan Caryatids was too many, but Ben rectified that by cutting two for a Rattleclaw Mystic.

Mana Confluence was always pretty bad for me, and I think the deck can support a couple more enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands without losing the ability
to curve out. Temple of Mystery is a legit inclusion. Since I was often fetching a Plains with my first Windswept Heath, my Flooded Strands would run out
of targets in the midgame. It didn’t outright cost me any games, but it made things dicey.

The maindeck Disdainful Strokes are definitely a step in the right direction, as most of the non-red problematic cards get tagged by it. I was a little
concerned about loading up on potential dead cards against Atarka Red, but based on what I played against, it would have been a genius move. My Disdainful
Strokes came in nearly every round, and I wish I had more of them.

The Conclusion

I enjoy basically everything about Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor. They give you an aggressive angle while still offering a recursive engine to slog
through midrange mirrors. The issue is that you get trumped by the clunky, bigger stuff, and there’s no good answer to that. Dragonlord Ojutai did some
work to alleviate that, but it didn’t actually solve any problems. It just provided another angle of attack, but I was already coming at them from like
four different angles so it didn’t seem entirely necessary.

Fleecemane Lion works well with the morphs because it’s a powerful, resilient two-drop. White also provides Dromoka’s Command and Valorous Stance, so
despite being Bant, I never felt light on removal.

This logic makes me think that Bant is still a reasonable choice, but something has to change. Going under them with Collected Company could be the answer,
as could going over them with Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. Icefall Regent is another card that works well in tempo shells, so I could see going in that
direction as well.

I feel like I’m so close to unlocking the secret.


I got a little more creative this week.

A combination of SCG Portland and real life got in the way, so I didn’t have much time to brew. I ended up thinking similarly to Paul Cheon, where we both
felt like there wouldn’t be much control, and as a result, I wanted to go over the top of everyone else.

Dragonlord Atarka is probably the best card to do that, and we both used similar shells. He hedged a bit by playing more of a “real” deck, which made him a
little bit better against The Boss’s Mono-Red Aggro deck, but I think I had the edge in the “mirror.” I had no interest in hedging and likely would have
won the head to head matchup, but since The Boss annihilated me in the semifinals, we’ll never know.

Given another day or so, I think my sideboard would have been much better. I devoted a solid six slots to Mono-Red Aggro and the like, but they were
clearly the wrong cards.

If I could do it all over again, I would play this:

Oddly enough, I felt short on mana creatures. Courser of Kruphix was playing a small-ball game, which I had no interest in. That alleviates some of the
mana concerns, so my hands with three colorless lands don’t actually screw me.

Nylea’s Disciple and Feed the Clans are pretty clearly worse than Hornet Nest against Mono-Red Aggro, especially if they don’t have access to Goblin
Heelcutter. Circle of Flame invalidates several of their cards, although Goblin Rabblemaster and Monastery Swiftspear are still reasonable against it.
Hornet Nest combos well with Circle of Flame since the Insects should be able to take down the things that can attack through Circle of Flame. Double
Circle of Flame is often lights out also.

The plan against control is similar to that of Mike Flores’s Five-Color Blue Dragons. You basically just want to charge Crucible of the Spirit Dragon early
and often, eventually ending the game with Dragonlord Dromoka and Dragonlord Kolaghan. Dragonlord Dromoka into Stormbreath Dragon plus monstrous might even
be enough to do it if you’ve gotten in enough chip damage.

As expected, there were no control decks, so I didn’t get to put that plan into action. Honestly, that’s probably fortunate.

On The SCG Open Tournament Structure

Overall, I liked the new tournament structure a lot. Despite suffering some losses early, I was in Top 8 contention for a while, and the person that
knocked me out ended up making Top 8. It was kind of disappointing to be still live in the tournament, basically forced to stick it out despite knowing
that my deck was incredibly flawed, but I supposed that’s my own fault for playing such a bad deck.

A couple years ago, I dropped from two Grand Prix while 5-1, and I felt like I should have done the same in this tournament at 7-2. Sometimes you have that
feeling that your time could be better spent elsewhere, and grinding it out for that min cash isn’t worth it. That’s okay, and no one should be able to
tell you otherwise. Only you know what will make you happy, and the answer isn’t always Magic.

That said, I’m looking forward to participating in future Opens, hopefully with better decks! Being able to take a loss or two early due to a bad matchup,
luck, or even a mistake shouldn’t mean that your tournament is over. I typically enjoy the tournaments where I can sustain a loss or two and still have a
shot at winning the tournament.

I don’t think I have a shot of climbing the leaderboard, but anything could happen.