Welcome, readers, to my eleventh installment into the Top Soldiers Of series! This week, we delve into three-color combinations, expanding on some even more powerful spells as well as generals. For those who aren’t aware, the Top Soldiers Of series is an article series where I break down some star players in specific color combinations, legendary and non-legendary alike.
This week, however, brings a change in the format of the article series; going forward , we we delve into the three-color combinations. Because of this, there will be focus on less non-legends and more legends. This is due to how three-color combinations have been printed over Magic’s history, fewer spells with three or more colors exist, and thus there are fewer cards to select from. In contrast, the legendary creatures for these color combinations are insanely powerful, to offer a reward for playing more colors.
In addition, due to the near-non-existent pool of wedge spells, the focus will remain on allied three-color combinations. This begins this week with the combination of white with blue and green known as Bant.
Bant is a color combination that focuses on creatures and their ability to generate card advantage, pressure and even mana. Value is a term often associated with the creatures Bant has at its disposal, and often times, it gains a lot of valuable power players from each of its three colors to take interesting approaches to its creature-based strategies. We begin our list with:
#5 – Flurry of Wings
Honestly, while I could have given the “honorable mentions” slot to a lot of cards in the color combination, I felt it pertinent to give the strategy of Bant tokens at least somewhat of a nod. Casting this on its own is clearly (at least somewhat) lackluster on its own, but when backed by other effects in the color, such as Collective Blessing, Cathars’ Crusade or Coat of Arms, this card is deceptively nasty as a combat trick.
The best part is, it triggers with multiple enters-the-battlefield effects, such as Aura Shards and Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice as well, making the card deceptively useful. If the amount of creatures you control matters, casting this might give you a surprisingly decent amount of creatures to use in the right situation. (It’s pretty dandy against Resurrection.)
#4 – Giltspire Avenger
Giltspire Avenger has a lot of power both on offense and defense; clearly, it’s a great rattlesnake, threatening to No Mercy the most threatening target that deals damage to you. On offense, however, Exalted can prove a great ability for any general, helping you get to the threshold of 21 general damage pretty easily.
While a rattlesnake such as Giltspire might not seem impressive on the surface, just keep in mind the colors this creature is in. While white has plenty of great spot removal (Swords to Plowshares, Soul Snare, Unexpectedly Absent), repeatable removal in not black is difficult to come by, so the few that do exist get honorable mentions. The Avenger has a lot of offensive and defensive potential for being able to be a threat on either end, which makes it grace the list.
#3 – Finest Hour
Now this is a card. Again, Bant has a really weird relationship with the color pie here, as this ability clearly feels red in nature, but I suppose it makes sense from a flavor standpoint of glory and heroism. That being said, this thing is an absolute monster on offense for all sorts of creatures that work well with dealing combat damage, not to mention generals.
Of course, something to note about this card is that Exalted indeed triggers in both the combat phases, meaning this is pretty much a Sword that gives your general a second combat phase to attack in, which is pretty decent if you ask me. It happened to be one of my favorite cards to use with Primeval Titan back in the day, and it works great alongside combat-oriented creatures such as Trygon Predator and Wayfaring Temple as well.
#2 – Wargate
Wargate, on the surface, is a rather unimpressive card, as a 3X is a steep price. However, despite its color intensity and sorcery speed, you shouldn’t underestimate near-unrestricted tutoring to the battlefield, as even though it’s expensive to essentially cast the spell from your deck, it’s well worth the price when you consider this spell gets just about anything.
Obviously, there’s a level of necessity that comes with a spell like this–decks that don’t necessarily need any given permanent in play will pass this up–but there are very few decks that can play this that won’t want to, given how you can tutor anything from a combo piece (Palinchron, Mind Over Matter) to a piece of removal (Bane of Progress, Oblivion Ring) to even a land (Reliquary Tower, Alchemist’s Refuge), which makes it a very powerful tutor.
#1 – Bant Charm
Honestly, as underwhelming as putting a spell not nearly as flashy as most of the other #1′s of previous lists is, what sets Bant Charm apart from most other spells that perform similar functions is how unhindered (get it, hindered? Wow, I’m so funny.) by restrictions. Your opponent doesn’t need to cast their general. They don’t need to have it attack. It simply exists at the mercy of Charm, and that in and of itself makes the spell incredibly powerful.
What gives it the edge over its cousin Spin Into Myth is flexibility; while the latter is playable in more strategies overall, Spin Into Myth isn’t a Shatter or Dispel; destroying an artifact can sometimes be incredibly useful to rid your opponents of a key combo piece or just to rid the board of a pesky Sword. Dispel is the mode you’ll find yourself using the least, but it’s also a great counter to Hinder or Spell Crumple. Overall, a combination of flexibility and the raw power that unrestricted tuck provides makes Bant Charm the clear best spell in the color combination by a wide margin.
Moving on from the nonlegendary creatures, with many powerful legends in three-color combinations, it’s difficult to break it down to just three legends for each shard, so I’ve increased the amount of legendary creatures for my top legends section. We begin with:
#5 – Phelddagrif
Having extensively rocked the huggy huggy hippo in the past, Phelddagrif is a bit of a biased pick for me, but I’ve done two distinct builds for it that are both quite entertaining to use. Obviously, group hug is a very controversial archetype for some, as it enables combos extremely easily and accelerates the game very quickly, but at the same time, your opponent is doing nothing but helping you out. It’s a strange politics game that’s very simple for some and very complicated for others.
That being said, there are hilarious builds I’ve used over the years to hilarious success. The first was the standard “play cards that help your opponents”–Tempting Wurm, Jace Beleren, Wall of Shards–but my second build is what brought me back to the strategy after the first got old. Rather than play the game to do silly things for the sake of helping your opponents, I attempted a survival strategy by using cards like Axebane Guardian, Oracle of Nectars and Archon of the Triumvirate to stall the board and cast non-threatening things so my opponents would kill each other, leave me until last, and then I’d win a 1v1 with things like Stuffy Doll and Doorkeeper. It was a little less politically insane, but it had a better winrate than the first incarnation, that’s for sure!
#4 – Roon of the Hidden Realm
Roon of the Hidden Realm is an excellent creature for an archetype oft-suggested by fans of the format; the blink strategy. Focusing on a creature-heavy list with multiple enter-the-battlefield effects, there were plenty of shells floating around prior to Roon’s printing, and Roon’s emergence onto the scene has finally given them a general which can best take advantage of those creatures.
Why does Roon only land at #4, you ask, then? Simple; while Roon is very useful in certain situations, he’s not very threatening, and requires you to have something else to be useful. He’s also quite slow, requiring you to either have him survive the early turns or cast him turn 7 with Lightning Greaves. It’s a bit of a miserable prospect, but at the same time, for the value you’re getting, it’s worth it; the longer Roon lives, the more misery your opponents are in for.
#3 – Angus Mackenzie
Angus Mackenzie is likely Bant’s best control general, being a Fog on a stick and allowing you to survive those crucial turns as well as play a deceptively powerful political game. Is one of your opponents attempting to close out the game quickly, and you alone lack the resources to stop them? Activate Mackenzie to save the table and watch everyone casually ignore you in the name of owing you a favor.
In addition, Angus is perhaps the least dependent of Bant’s generals on other creatures to be effective. You can just stock yourself to the brim with spells aimed at controlling the pace of the game and sit back, holding off aggro and countering big threats until you cast your own, inevitably winning the game. The fact that Angus has flexible builds and is just overall a goodstuff general makes it very powerful.
#2 – Rafiq of the Many
While Rafiq is not one of the Hexproof Five, he’s revered as one of the best Voltron generals in the game, being able to manage 8 on his own without any other enablers, and with a single Sword, does 12 damage in a single attack. How is this not dumb as hell again?
There are also plenty of ways to cast him quickly, as well, through Sol Ring, 2-mana mana rocks, and mana dorks. Enabled by everything from Swords to Sublime Archangel to Rancor, Rafiq, despite not having hexproof, is truly terrifying to fight, as every Sword it wields can trigger twice, allowing for some truly busted shenanigans. Underestimate Rafiq at your peril; it doesn’t require a lot of dedication and has some truly nasty builds for it.
#1 – Derevi, Empyrial Tactician
Well, I think its ban in 1v1 speaks for itself, but Derevi is by far one of the best generals printed for the format. In and of itself, counterplay for Derevi is few and far between; you either tuck it or you overwhelm it. And even then, you just pray they don’t bury you in 2-for-1′s, counterspells and card advantage.
Derevi, like Angus before it, is also just a goodstuff general, and can be built a number of different ways. You can focus on a permanent you want to untap multiple times, you can focus on multiple creatures to get the most out of Derevi’s ability, or you can focus on Derevi’s ability to stick to a board and play him as a Voltron general. While Angus is more flexible in its independence, Derevi is by far more powerful in doing so, and it’s by far the best general just because of how difficult it is to actually see what it does coming.
Well, there you have it, my picks for Bant! Next week will likely be the Let’s Build article for this month, focusing on an idea I created a long time ago that I recently brought back. Until then!
Check out my previous articles here:
Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454
Building on a Budget:
Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
Innistrad - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2586
M14 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295
Theros - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2508
Born of the Gods - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2800
Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336
Part 9 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341
Part 10 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2525
Part 11 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2617
Part 12 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2691
Part 13 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2822
Let’s Talk M14:
Painting a Target:
Planeswalking and You:
Stacking Up Commander 2013:
The Slippery Slope:
The Top Soldiers Of:
Azorius - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2640
Boros – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2854
Dimir - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2653
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Orzhov - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2681
Rakdos - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2663
Selesnya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2677
Simic - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2900
Trial & Error: