Hey everybody in the Magic world. My name is John and I’ve been playing Magic ever since the original Ravnica: City of Guilds was released all the way back in 2006. In the time that I’ve played I’ve been noticing changes in my playstyle where I started from turning dudes sideways up to tapping out to cast those big, flashy Cruel Ultimatums. Controlling the game and dictating what resolves and what doesn’t has always appealed to me more than being on the wrong end of a Wrath of God. So today I bring you a take on the metagame as it exists in Return to Ravnica Standard, which is about as diverse and healthy as and Standard format I’ve played in since the first Ravnica was released.
So today I wanted to touch on a control deck in the format that has been providing some pretty solid results ever since RTR was released and has gone through much iteration since its inception; that deck is Bant Control. Bant Control, for those who don’t know, is magic slang for the color combination of green, white, and blue. In this deck, white provides strong answers to creatures in the form of board sweepers such as Terminus and Supreme Verdict. Blue provides card draw and permission in the form of Think Twice and Sphinx’s Revelation, and green provides the best creature in Standard, Thragtusk, as well as mana acceleration and fixing in the form of Farseek. Together these cards have shown the ability to go toe to toe with any deck in the format while also being able to provide one of the strongest, if not the strongest, late game.

One of the strengths of Bant Control lies in its ability to be flexible to any metagame it may find itself in. BR Zombies giving you trouble? Play more Terminus mainboard and cut counters for Centaur Healer and the like. GW Aggro popular in your area? Just go the route of 4 Supreme Verdicts and more Restoration Angels. This deck has access to a lot of powerful tools in today’s Standard and can mix and match them at will to tune for any metagame that comes its way. The only cards I say are a complete necessity to the strategy of the deck is the Thragtusk and Sphinx’s Revelation. These cards buy you ample amounts of time against aggressive strategies while also playing the role of inevitability against other control decks.

So here’s an example of the most controlling version of the deck piloted by Reid Duke, who recently earned two top 8’s in a row at GP Charleston and GP San Antonio repectively.

 
2 Augur of Bolas
1 Restoration Angel
4 Thragtusk
3 Island
1 Alchemist’s Refuge
1 Cavern of Souls
4 Glacial Fortress
3 Hallowed Fountain
4 Hinterland Harbor
1 Nephalia Drownyard
1 Overgrown Tomb
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden
1 Elixir of Immortality
1 Staff of Nin
1 Detention Sphere
3 Azorius Charm
4 Dissipate
4 Sphinx’s Revelation
4 Think Twice
1 Amass the Components
4 Farseek
3 Supreme Verdict
1 Terminus
 
Sideboard
1 Pithing Needle
1 Restoration Angel
1 Rhox Faithmender
1 Silklash Spider
1 Detention Sphere
2 Rest in Peace
1 Azorius Charm
2 Dispel
2 Negate
1 Jace, Memory Adept
2 Terminus

In this version of Bant, Reid went all in on his late game plan. He packs a full 4 Sphinx’s Revelation maindeck (which I personally believe to be the norm) and is prepared to draw his entire deck through the course of a game. In order to make sure he doesn’t lose to self-milling, he’s added an Elixir of Immortality to keep his loop going as long as needed. And for added tech against other control decks or if his creatures aren’t enough to get the job done, Overgrown Tomb and Nephalia Drownyard provide an alternate win condition through milling the opponent. Reid also chose to cut the planeswalker package altogether in his build, which seems to have strengthened the deck as a whole. There’s a reason Jace keeps dropping in price, and I believe it’s because he just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore. Against a lot of decks he’s nothing more than a 4 casting cost draw 2 cards at sorcery speed. And I can’t remember a time when a card like that ever saw play in any format. I’m personally a huge fan of this build, but be wary of the BR Zombies matchup. With the deck on such a huge rise in popularity after its impressive results recently, playing another version of this deck or at least putting 4 Terminus main is highly recommended.

If you’re expecting to face a wide assortment of aggressive strategies at your local tournaments, this version may be just what the doctor ordered. This deck was piloted by Reed Hartman to a 2nd place finish at a Platinum TCQ

 
2 Angel of Serenity
3 Centaur Healer
4 Restoration Angel
4 Thragtusk
4 Jace, Architect of Thought
2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
1 Cackling Counterpart
2 Cyclonic Rift
2 Detention Sphere
4 Farseek
2 Sphinx’s Revelation
2 Supreme Verdict
2 Terminus
2 Cavern of Souls
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Forest
2 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Hinterland Harbor
1 Island
2 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Plains
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Steam Vents
2 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden
 
Sideboard
1 Centaur Healer
1 Detention Sphere
3 Dispel
3 Druid’s Deliverance
1 Ray of Revelation
2 Rest in Peace
2 Sigarda, Host of Herons
1 Sphinx’s Revelation
1 Terminus

Reed’s version has a lot going for it in a meta full of little creatures and not many big, flashy spells. The first noticeable difference is the creature base. Reed opted to play Centaur Healer main along with Angel of Serenity. Both creatures are excellent at shoring up the ground versus aggro decks with the latter acting as either a wrath effect to your opponent’s board or bringing back Thragtusks from your graveyard to provide you with more gas as the game goes on. Reed also runs some interesting tech in Cackling Counterpart. This card can be any creature in his deck for a pretty low cost and with all the creatures sporting enter the battlefield abilities, there’s a lot of extra value tacked on to it. The last main difference I noticed between the two builds was the planeswalkers. While Reid decided to forgo them entirely in order to create room for other cards, Reed decided he needed 6 planeswalkers, including 4 copies of Jace main. In his deck he’s more suited to protecting his planeswalkers with his increased number of creatures. He also relies on Jace’s -2 ability for card draw as he chose to only run 2 copies of Revelation maindeck.

I fully believe that Bant Control is one of the current powerhouses in Standard and should definitely be on anyone’s radar if they intend to be competing in any tournaments in the near future. The deck can be tuned for any metagame that can be thrown at it while also having access to some of the most powerful cards in the format. Anyone out there expecting to face this deck shouldn’t take it lightly. Having BR Zombies sleeved up wouldn’t hurt either. I hope this article was of some help to people out there, and I hope to do this again in the future. For Roxie Cards this is John signing off.