This past weekend saw Bant’s rise to prominence at both the MagicFest Denver and Star City Games Philadelphia. Bant did well early in War of the Spark season with a midrange deck built around Teferi Time Raveler and Vivien Champion of the Wilds. These new Bant decks take advantage of cards from Core Set 2020 to advance their game plans.

Bant Midrange takes advantage of Core Set 2020 elementals to ramp the deck into its game plan. Here is the deck that Cain Rianhard used to win Star City Games Classic Philadelphia.

Bant Midrange, Cain Rianhard: 1st Star City Games Classic Philadelphia, July 21, 2019

Creatures (23)
Hydroid Krasis
Leafkin Druid
Llanowar Elves
Paradise Druid
Risen Reef
Voracious Hydra

Sorcery (2)
Finale of Glory

Enchantment (2)
Prison Realm

Planeswalker (8)
Nissa, Who Shakes the World
Teferi, Time Raveler

Land (25)
Breeding Pool
Glacial Fortress
Hallowed Fountain
Temple Garden
Temple of Mystery
Sideboard (15)
Deputy of Detention
Frilled Mystic
Shifting Ceratops
Baffling End
Aether Gust
Settle the Wreckage
Ugin, the Ineffable
Time Wipe

The deck’s creature package utilizes Llanowar Elves, Leafkin Druid, and Paradise Druid to ramp into Hydroid Krasis and Voracious Hydra. This is the same game plan that Andrew Quinones used to win the July Win Condition Cup Qualifier.

The decks ability to produce large amounts of mana by the mid-game leads to a large Krasis or Hydra. Each gives the deck important triggers when they enter play. Krasis gives you life and card advantage while Hydra can either double the number of counters it will get or fight an opponent’s creature. These abilities give the deck the ability to turn around a game quickly and can turn a losing situation into a winning one.

The final creature in the deck is Risen Reef. When Risen Reef enters the battlefield, you look at the top card of your deck and if it’s a land it enters the battlefield tapped or a non-land card goes to your hand. This ability triggers any time you play an elemental, so you can expect it to trigger multiple times during a game adding extra mana or cards to your hand. Risen Reef may be the most important card printed in Core Set 2020 because it fits well into any Simic or Bant decks that uses elemental.

Planeswalkers play an important role in the decks game plan. Nissa helps the deck ramp into Hydroid Krasis and Voracious Hydra by allowing each forest to produce two mana. She also provides protect for herself by creating 3/3 elementals from your lands. Teferi Time Raveler slows the pace of your opponent’s game plan by sending an artifact, creature, or enchantment back to their hand and you draw a card. The most important aspect of Teferi is his ability to limit when your opponent can play a card to only their main phases. This prevents counter spells, flashing in a creature, and instants from being played on your turn.

Finally, the deck includes two copies of Finale of Glory and Prison Realm. Finale of Glory creates 2/2 soldier tokens and can create 4/4 Angel tokens if you pay ten or more mana. With the mana ramping in the deck you will occasionally can creature Angels. Prison Realm gives the deck needed help to deal with one of your opponent’s planeswalkers or key creatures. Overall, the deck is a fast and powerful option in the metagame that I expect will continue to do well in the format.

The breakout deck from MagicFest Denver was Bant Scapeshift. The deck was introduced by Ondrej Strasky. You can get a look at the deck in action here.

Six of the Top 16 finishers in Denver used Bant Scapeshift deck with four making the Top 8 with Luis Scott Vargas piloting the deck to win the tournament. Below is the deck that LSV used to win GP Denver.

Bant Scapeshift. 1st Grand Prix Denver

Creature (12)
Arboreal Grazer
Elvish Rejuvenator
Hydroid Krasis

Instant (4)
Growth Spiral

Sorcery (10)
Circuitous Route
Grow from the Ashes

Enchantment (2)
Prison Realm

Planeswalker (4)
Teferi, Time Raveler

Land (28)
Azorius Guildgate
Blast Zone
Blossoming Sands
Breeding Pool
Field of Ruin
Field of the Dead
Hallowed Fountain
Hinterland Harbor
Memorial to Genius
Selesnya Guildgate
Simic Guildgate
Sunpetal Grove
Temple Garden
Temple of Mystery
Thornwood Falls
Tranquil Cove
Sideboard (15)
Crucible of Worlds
Deputy of Detention
Ripjaw Raptor
Ajani’s Welcome
Ixalan’s Binding
Dovin’s Veto
Veil of Summer

The card that makes the deck powerful and difficult to beat is Field of the Dead. This land creates a 2/2 zombie token when a land enters the battlefield if you have seven or more different lands in play. The goal of the deck is to ramp to eight or more lands than play Scapeshift to go into your deck and get replacement lands for those that are sacrificed to Scapeshift. This allows you to get one or more copies of Field of the Dead from your library and creature a zombie token for each land you put into play with Scapeshift. This leads to putting a large zombie army into play that few decks can answer. This typically leads to a win on the next turn or the following one.

Bant Scapeshift ramps into seven different lands by using creatures and spells to put additional lands into play each turn. The creature package includes Arboreal Grazer and Elvish Rejuvenator. Arboreal Grazer allows you to put an additional land into play when Grazer enters the battlefield. When Elvish Rejuvenator enters the battlefield, you get to look at the top five cards of your deck and put a land into play. This leads to land ramping early in the game.

Additional sources of land advantage are Circuitous Route, Growth Spiral, and Grow from the Ashes. Circuitous Route allows you to put two basic lands and/or Gate cards onto the battlefield tapped. Growth Spiral allows you to draw a card and play a land. Grow from the Ashes allows you to search your library for a basic land that you get to put on the battlefield. When you kick Grow you get to put two basic lands into play. Together these cards make sure that you get to play additional land each turn.

Based on my experience and Ondrej’s videos on Bant Scapeshift, it is common to get the needed land by turn five, so a game that looks like you are winning can turn around in an instant.
How do you fight against this deck? The decks that I saw that did well against Field of the Dead where those that played red sweepers like Chandra, Awakened Inferno or Flame Sweep. These options can wipe out the zombie tokens created by Field of the Dead making it difficult for Scapeshift players to come back after the board wipe occurs.

Expect to see these decks getting more play as the format continues to evolve.

Until next time, good luck finding your win condition!