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Standard Bant Control Deck and Sideboard Guide (World Championship Update)

Learn how to play the Bant Control deck for Standard in this strategy guide, with card options, best of one version, including all the popular matchups and sideboard guide!

When it comes to control decks, Azorius was the classic pairing with Dimir showing its claws here and there. Later in the format it was Esper that terrified all the players with its on-curve Sunfall.

At World Championships though, Greg Orange showed up with Bant to dominate the competition, going 8-1 in the Swiss rounds!

Let’s dissect this shell to find out why the green splash might be superior.

Bant Control
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $341.53
Standard
best of 3
4 mythic
32 rare
10 uncommon
14 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (4)
Creatures (3)
Instants (11)
4
Syncopate
$1.40
3
Make Disappear
$2.37
2
Brokers Charm
$0.70
Sorceries (7)
4
Lay Down Arms
$1.40
3
Sunfall
$10.47
Enchantments (8)
4
Up the Beanstalk
$19.96
4
Leyline Binding
$55.96
60 Cards
$416.42
Sideboard
3
Negate
$1.05
1
Sunfall
$3.49
15 Cards
$17.45

Deck Tech

As with most control decks, there are very few threats and a ton of interaction. It’s no different here.

To make the deck even more adaptable, all the win conditions come with additional utility and reactivity attached.

Threats

The Wandering Emperor slots into this deck so perfectly, since your main plan is to keep passing the turn.

When you do pass the turn, the opponent will never know if you’re threatening your planeswalker, countermagic, or removal. This guessing game is really tough to decipher.

If the opponent plays into your interaction, you can utilise your countermagic. But if they pass back, you get to deploy a threat and, hopefully, untap with it. Having an instant speed threat makes it so that you never really have to tap out.

Since control doesn’t want cards that are only threats, Emperor will happily remove the biggest attacker with the -2.

Another threat, another instant speed card, and it also has a removal spell attached.

Lagoon Breach is an instant speed removal that reminds me of Azorius Charm It removes an attacker regardless of the size which is exactly what we want.

Once the removal has been used, the Whale will be patiently waiting to its moment to shine in the later stages of the game. The looming threat of that Whale coming down has to be petrifying.

When you combine Whale and Emperor, you’ve got such a robust instant speed suite that you can feel very comfortable – contrary to the opponent.

Card Draw

You cannot keep trading 1for1 without a proper way to pull ahead.

Let’s take a look at the ways to gas back up on cards.

This is the reason to play green. Up the Beanstalk has proved to be an all-star in Modern and also a decent addition to some Pioneer strategies. Is it good in Standard though?

YES!

And so why is that? Naturally, it fits the curve nicely early in the game, as it cantrips and makes the game a bit smoother. But it wouldn’t really count as proper card draw. That would just be an overpriced, off-colour Opt.

In order to take full advantage of the card, you’d have to play cards costing 5+ mana. In other formats, there are cards that cost 5 but you can pay less for them like Solitude but Standard lacks such tools by and large.

The best card to supplement Up the Beanstalk is Leyline Binding – the only card that nicely circumvents the condition. When played for one mana, the upper right corner still shows a number that allows you to draw an extra card.

If we had just Binding that still wouldn’t be enough. We need more!

Sunfall is our mass removal that sweeps the board and draws off Beanstalk which can flip games drastically.

The innovation that’s really interesting are X-spells. Early in the game they can be played as efficient removal, and later they convert into extra cards!

Both Syncopate and March of Otherworldly Light have that dynamic. Combined with Sunfall and Leyline Binding we’ve got a solid dozen of such effects, making Up the Beanstalk really strong.

Another card to utilise the green splash. It’s certainly not as potent as Beanstalk but it does have its moment.

Most often, you’ll be using it as an instant speed Divination which is okay. You get to pull ahead when the opponent is doing nothing relevant.

You do have some flexibility with it though with the other two modes. The first mode won’t be frequently used, since we’re rather creature light but it might occur!

I’d focus more on destroying enchantments, as it hits cards like opposing Up the Beanstalk, Leyline Binding, sagas, and almost the whole Selesnya Enchantments deck.

All in all, it’s a solid modal card to play a couple of copies of.

Interaction

Syncopate is one of the X-spells as mentioned previously. Early, you can play it for just two-mana, as it will counter spells on-curve anyways.

In the later stages, such cards lose potency but thankfully they cantrip here. We also plan on making land drops every single game so we should be able to make X big enough to counter anything.

The exile part is not irrelevant, as it comes in handy against cards like Memory Deluge, Squee, Dubious Monarch, or Tenacious Underdog.

Classic two-mana counterspell in Standard. It’s going to be tough to pull off casualty with just Emperor but you can utilise Mirrex to accomplish it.

The other X-spell. It’s pretty flexible with the range of card types it can affect.

It’s particularly solid against cards that we’d otherwise have a hard time dealing with like Agatha's Soul Cauldron tokens, or enchantments.

Always very efficient removal spell whose downside of giving the opponent 3 life irrelevant.

It does affect the way we build our manabase but the payoff is huge. The ability to deal with Sheoldred, the Apocalypse on turn four for just one mana is a massive tempo swing.

The best removal in the deck and if supported well – probably the best in the format.

I praised the versatility of March of Otherworldly Light but Binding overshadows that heavily.

It can take anything, including Planeswalkers – with which control decks have historically had a hard time dealing.

Be careful though, since it’s a removal spell that can be interacted with. The opponent can blow it up with Boseiju, Who Endures or their own Binding.

Mass removal spell that has redefined Standard. It sweeps the board completely, it exiles to disallow any graveyard shenanigans, and creates a threat when it does so. It’s unbelievably strong and will often be a one-card lights out.


Best of One

Bant Control Best of One
by Skura
Buy on TCGplayer $333.86
Standard
best of 3
4 mythic
34 rare
8 uncommon
14 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (4)
Creatures (2)
Instants (11)
4
Syncopate
$1.40
3
Make Disappear
$2.37
Sorceries (8)
4
Lay Down Arms
$1.40
4
Sunfall
$13.96
Enchantments (8)
4
Up the Beanstalk
$19.96
4
Leyline Binding
$55.96
60 Cards
$422.7

The Best of One version is heavier on interaction.


Budget

It’s one of the least budget friendly decks out there. Threats, interaction, and lands are rares/mythics.


Matchups and Sideboard Guide

Chrome Host Seedshark Art by Donato Giancola
Chrome Host Seedshark Art by Donato Giancola

Five-Color Ramp

InOut
+4 Disdainful Stroke-3 Sunfall
+3 Negate-4 Lay Down Arms
+1 Hullbreaker Horror-3 Horned Loch-Whale
+2 Chrome Host Seedshark

We switched out most of our removal into super efficient counterspells. I keep Leyline Binding in since it triggers Up the Beanstalk and can get rid of anything ramp presents you with.

I also change the threat suite a bit since Whale is mainly a vanilla 6/6 creature that gets easily targeted by Leyline Binding.

The rule of thumb here should be to present threats when the opponent cannot punish you heavily for it by, e.g., resolving Atraxa, Grand Unifier.

Golgari Midrange

InOut
+3 Chrome Host Seedshark-2 Make Disappear
+1 Sunfall-2 Brokers Charm

We are a bigger version of almost any midrange deck out there. Exile removal matches up really nicely against opposing graveyard loops like with Mosswood Dreadknight or Tenacious Underdog.

I do expect enchantment removal so don’t count too hard on Leyline Binding being permanent removal.

I side in Chrome Host Seedshark under the assumption that they will side out most of their removal.

Mono White Aggro

InOut
+1 Sunfall-4 Make Disappear
+3 Elspeth's Smite-2 Up the Beanstalk
+3 Chrome Host Seedshark-1 Syncopate

We need to have even more removal, despite the fact that we’re already interaction-rich.

Removal is better than countermagic, since cards like Make Disappear and Syncopate are much more timing specific.

We want to lure the opponent into Sunfall which should hopefully finish the game on the spot.

Shark is there as a way to stabilise and entice the opponent into overextending.

Esper Midrange

InOut
+3 Chrome Host Seedshark-2 Brokers Charm
+2 Negate-3 Horned Loch-Whale
+1 Hullbreaker Horror-1 Sunfall

Very tricky matchup. Esper Midrange can be aggressive, can act as a token strategy, or can assume a control role themselves.

I’d happily cut all the Sunfalls but I’m keeping two as a hedge against the token angle.

I also side in some threats myself to force the opponent to react to us as well – instead of being constantly on the backfoot reacting to them.

Esper Legends

InOut
+1 Sunfall-4 Make Disappear
+3 Elspeth's Smite-2 Up the Beanstalk
+3 Chrome Host Seedshark-1 Syncopate

I’d say it’s a worse matchup than Midrange but it’s easier to play, since the Legends plan is much cleaner and more predictable. We need removal and disallow the opponent from going under us.

They will surely side in some countermagic post-board so don’t just slam Sunfall with the assumption that it always resolves.

Other than that, keep hands with cheap interaction so that the opponent cannot get their ball rolling while you’re just making land drops.

Tips and Tricks

  • You can exile your own creature with Lay Down Arms to gain extra life.
  • You can overpay for your X spells to meet Up the Beanstalk condition and draw a card.
  • If you’re afraid of a pump spell killing you, you can use Horned Loch-Whale removal part after damage but in the ‘end of combat step’ where the creature is still counted as attacking. This way you’re not risking dying to a pump spell since damage has been done.
  • If you put Leyline Binding on the stack and then the opponent destroys your land like Raffine's Tower, you don’t need to pay more. The cost has already been locked in.

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Skura
Skura

Also known as Skura or IslandsInFront on Twitter and YouTube, Filip started his career upon the release of Gatecrash and has been passing the turn in all formats ever since. He coaches and creates written and video content, mainly centered around the control archetype. He is passionate about Magic game theory and countering spells. Outside of Magic, he is a fan of snooker/pool, chess and Project Management.

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