Hello again and happy holidays! I've been pretty busy this week with the holidays, but I still felt the need to produce an article. I was having trouble finding an idea for this week, but after a lot of thought, I found the perfect deck.
A few months ago at a StarCityGames.Com Standard Open, I was playing Bant Control, and in round 7 I played against a Five-Color Wall deck. The basic premise is to use Gatecreeper Vine and Axebane Guardian to make a lot of mana, use Trostani, Selesnya's Voice and Mentor of the Meek to gain a lot of life and draw a lot of cards, and play lots of defense with your Walls. Then you use your plentiful mana to cast some awesome trump spells like Entreat the Angels or activate Kessig Wolf Run for almost a million.
I won the match versus the guy late into time, and in the rush to get the match slip in I forgot to ask for his decklist. Since I was not able to get his list, I decided to attempt my own. His was basically a Bant deck, though I distinctly remember milling a Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker with my Nephalia Drownyard. While I didn't include anything that crazy, I do have some interesting choices in my Bant color combination.
Here's the list I ran through a couple matches:
- 4 Axebane Guardian
- 2 Doorkeeper
- 4 Fog Bank
- 4 Gatecreeper Vine
- 3 Hover Barrier
- 2 Ludevic's Test Subject
- 4 Mentor of the Meek
- 3 Tree of Redemption
- 3 Trostani, Selesnya's Voice
I assume you're intrigued by some of the card choices, so I'll go over most of the cards in the decklist.
4 Fog Bank, 3 Hover Barrier, 3 Tree of Redemption - These are your core Walls. They can all block most things without dying, and Tree can gain you some much-needed life to stay alive. Fog Bank is pretty weak against trample, but I've overall been very happy with him. The correct count may be four Hover Barrier and three Fog Bank, but I felt I had enough three-drops and not enough two-drops.
2 Doorkeeper, 2 Ludevic's Test Subject - These are your win condition Walls. They aren't the strongest Walls in the deck, but they are some creature-based ways to win that synergize with your other cards. Doorkeeper is particularly strong versus control. You can mill three or four cards a turn, which can burn away their important cards like Supreme Verdict. I find Test Subject is best versus midrange decks. Many of them don't have hard removal, and a 13/13 is particularly tough to deal with otherwise.
4 Gatecreeper Vine, 4 Axebane Guardian - These are up there for the most important cards in the deck. They do serve slightly different functions though. Gatecreeper Vine doesn't really accelerate you, but it provides some much-needed fixing. Axebane Guardian not only fixes your mana but, more importantly, ramps it. Axebane Guardian combined with your mana intensive win conditions is a winning combination. It's not hard to get these guys to make five or six mana, and when you have two or three, it can get out of hand.
3 Chalice of Life, 2 Sphinx's Revelation, 1 Entreat the Angels, 1 Kessig Wolf Run - These are your non-Wall-based win conditions. Chalice of Life is surprisingly effective, and with Trostani, it's all too easy to get to 30 life. Entreat the Angels is another strong win condition that provides not only another angle of attack but a good way to put the game out of reach for your opponent when combined with Axebane Guardian. Kessig Wolf Run is basically the same as Entreat the Angels but is a land that requires you to have one of your seven creatures that can attack. It also makes it so your Walls can kill your opponents' creatures. Sphinx's Revelation, while not an actual win condition, can basically dominate any game when combined with Axebane Guardian and draw you some much-needed cards on its own.
4 Mentor of the Meek, 3 Trostani, Selesnya's Voice - These two cards are the most important pieces of the deck. Mentor of the Meek makes it so you're actually doing something while casting Walls, and with the super low curve, it's very easy to have the extra mana. Trostani is mostly for the aggressive matchups but is also decent versus control. You don't often use the populate ability, but the life gain combined with Tree of Redemption and other Walls can put you at a high life total and makes flipping Chalice of Life much more reasonable.
2 Cackling Counterpart - This card was more of an experiment that I remembered my opponent at the SCG Standard Open having. It seems decent, especially with Trostani, and thanks to Mentor of the Meek you can usually get some good card advantage out of it. My favorite part is that it makes tokens to populate with Trostani and is a good way to protect your creatures from removal spells.
The sideboard is more of a mixed bag of win conditions, mostly for control. Game 1 against control seems very linear. You play some creatures and draw cards, and when you start to get out of hand, they can Wrath your board. Post-board, your goal is to attack from so many different angles that they can't possibly deal with them all. Witchbane Orb is for decks with Bonfire of the Damned, and Divine Deflection is for Bonfire and aggro decks.
I'll summarize a few matches that I played with the deck.
Deck: G/W Humans
Game 1 we both mulled to six, and I soon discovered that even a 0/6 can't compete with a 7/5 trampling, double strike Champion of the Parish. I was pretty much dead at that point, and even a Tree of Redemption couldn't save me.
We both once again went to six cards for game 2, and this time he didn't have as fast of a draw. He played a bunch of Champions and the like, but Fog Bank held the fort pretty well. Eventually, I used a Trostani to gain a bunch of life, and he was forced to Oblivion Ring my Chalice of Life and Fiend Hunter my Trostani. With him at no cards in hand, an Entreat the Angels for five put the game away.
Game 3 he started strong with Champion of the Parish and Silverblade Paladin, but he didn't have a Rancor so a pair of Fog Banks held the fort. After a while, I used some Axebane Guardians in conjunction with Sphinx's Revelation to draw a lot of cards and gain a lot of life. It wasn't long before he was dead.
Deck: Angel of Glory's Rise Combo
Games 1 and 2 were virtually the same, so I'll wrap them into one summary. Basically, I added a bunch of Walls to the board, and then he killed them with Izzet Staticaster and Nightshade Peddler. This went on for a while until he used Angel of Glory's Rise to bring back a bunch of stuff and kill me.
This is certainly the worst matchup, and if you choose to play the deck, I recommend gearing most of your sideboard to this matchup.
Deck: B/G Aggro
His deck was a combination of Zombies and Brian Kibler's G/B Aggro deck. He had Geralf's Messenger and Gravecrawler along with Ulvenwald Tracker and Strangleroot Geist. I'd hate to play that mana base.
In the first game, he started with turn 2 Strangleroot Geist, turn 3 Strangleroot Geist and Rancor, and turn 4 second Rancor. I kept a slower hand, and when he killed my Hover Barrier with Ultimate Price, I died very quickly.
Game 2 he had Ulvenwald Tracker and Geralf's Messenger doing some work together, but I was able to find a Divine Deflection to kill the tracker. We sat doing nothing for a bit while I tried to find something to play like a Mentor, Trostani, Sphinx's Revelation, or Entreat the Angels, but instead I drew lands and more Walls. He eventually found an Ulvenwald Tracker to kill some creatures. My Trees held the fort, but he was taking five chunks of my life a turn. Exactly six turns later, I was dead.
Overall, the deck was a lot of fun to play. When you get your engine online, you can do some crazy things. The deck is pretty resilient once it gets to the late game, but sometimes that's the issue. You don't have a lot of interaction, so even an aggro deck with a few removal spells can put you away pretty quickly. If I was going to play this deck again, I'd want fewer cards for control in my board and more cards for Angel of Glory's Rise Combo.
As usual, email me any cool ideas you have for me to play. I'd love to see some of your sweet brews. You can also post them in the comments if you'd like. I hope you enjoyed this week's article and deck, and let me know if you've been playing something similar. It's very likely there were some holes in my list. Until next week, happy holidays and thank god it's FNM!
@AJKerrigan55 on Twitter