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Against the Odds: Bant Geddon (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 136 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a second all-Dominaria Against the Odds poll, and in the end, it was Armageddon—er, Fall of the Thran—that came out on top. As such, we are heading to Standard this week to do one of my favorite things in all of Magic: blow up the opponent's lands! Mass land destruction is inherently powerful if built around, although Fall of the Thran comes with some additional challenges, since it's six mana and—without help—returns four of each player's lands to the battlefield over the next two turns. What's the best way to overcome these problems and break Fall of the Thran in Standard? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Bant Geddon

The Deck

First off, I was pretty excited when Fall of the Thran won the voting because it's one of the cards I've been wanting to build around most from Dominaria—I love blowing up opponents lands. Initially, my deck-building efforts were focused on exiling the opponent's graveyard with things like Phyrexian Scriptures (which was surprisingly horrible, since there are a lot of artifact creatures and Vehicles running around at the moment, which makes it very much not a Damnation with suspend one) and various artifacts. Unfortunately, these decks fell into the trap of playing bad cards to make a (potentially) good card a bit better. After realizing this, I changed my plan: rather than making Fall of the Thran into a real Armageddon, what if we just took advantage of the fact that it could put lands into and out of our graveyard with Tatyova, Benthic Druid to draw a bunch of cards and gain a bunch of life? While this plan felt better, it didn't really feel like Armageddon. Finally, I realized we could do both, with the help of another Saga—The Mending of Dominaria—which is what led to the Bant Geddon deck we're playing today.

The Combo

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The primary plan of our deck is simple: to turn Fall of the Thran into a one-sided Armageddon, blowing up all of our opponent's lands while leaving our lands unharmed (and maybe even ramping us a bit). The combo works like this. On Turn 5, we play The Mending of Dominaria, mill over a couple of cards, and maybe get a creature back to our hand. On Turn 6, we do some more milling, maybe get another creature, and play Fall of the Thran to blow up all of the lands on the battlefield. Then, on the following turn, we make sure to stack our triggers so The Mending of Dominaria resolves before Fall of the Thran, and Mending returns all of our lands from the graveyard to play. Ideally, at least one of these lands will be a copy of Scavenger Grounds, so before the Fall of the Thran trigger resolves and starts returning our opponent's lands to the battlefield, we exile the graveyards to get rid of all of our opponent's lands forever! 

This biggest upside of this build-an-Armageddon plan is that it uses mostly good cards. The Mending of Dominaria is surprisingly good, generating card advantage and usually ramping us by a few lands, even if we don't have Fall of the Thran to combo, and Scavenger Grounds has—by far—the lowest opportunity cost of any way to exile graveyards, since it's a land and doesn't eat up a spell slot in our deck. Then, when everything comes together, we simply win the game with the combo by getting rid of our opponent's ability to cast any spells, while we still have a ton of lands to work with.

Support

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For support, we have Benefaction of Rhonas as a way to dig through our deck to find our Sagas, which also happens to stock our graveyard with lands to increase the chances that we have Scavenger Grounds to exile our opponent's graveyard when The Mending of Dominaria ultimates. Hitting a creature and an enchantment means that we often end up drawing two good cards for three mana, which combined with our graveyard synergies makes Benefaction great in our deck. Meanwhile, Llanowar Elves and Drover of the Mighty just speed up our combo. One of the tricks of Armageddon is making sure that we aren't too far behind on board when we resolve it, so casting our The Mending of Dominaria and Fall of the Thran a turn or two early is super helpful.

Other Stuff

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Tatyova, Benthic Druid is just a one-of (although The Mending of Dominaria helps us find it with some consistency), but it's super sweet with both of our Sagas. If we have Tatyova, Benthic Druid down, we can simply cast Fall of the Thran to blow up all of our lands and not exile the graveyard to take advantage of the "return to land" modes of the Saga to draw a bunch of cards and gain a bunch of life. Tatyova's even more insane if we happen to have it out when The Mending of Dominaria ultimates, often drawing us an entirely new hand of cards and gaining us a ton of life for free!

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I mentioned a bit ago that one of the most important aspects of making Armageddon work is making sure that you are far enough ahead on board when you cast it that you win if both players stop casting spells due to the lack of lands, so we have some powerful hard-to-deal-with creatures to make sure that we win the race after all the lands are gone. Shalai, Voice of Plenty helps to protect our Sagas from removal and gives us a backup win condition by going Gavony Township mode and pumping all of our random dorks. Meanwhile, Lyra Dawnbringer can help us catch up from behind thanks to the lifegain and is really hard to deal with without at least four mana (outside of Seal Away). Finally, Carnage Tyrant and Nezahal, Primal Tide gives us big hard-to-target creatures to close out the game after Armageddon

Removal

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We have a few options for removal. Settle the Wreckage is amazing in our deck, since the downside of giving our opponent a bunch of lands isn't much of a downside because our plan is to blow up our opponent's lands anyway. Actually, with Fall of the Thran, giving our opponent lands can actually be an upside, since if our opponent pulls a bunch of lands out of their deck with Settle the Wreckage, they are less likely to draw lands and rebuild post-Armageddon. Meanwhile, Seal Away and Ixalan's Binding are just good removal spells, although it's worth mentioning that because they are enchantments, we can use Benefaction of Rhonas to dig for them in a pinch. 

The Matchups

Based on our matches, Bant Geddon is really strong against control. While counterspells can disrupt our Sagas plan, if either The Mending of Dominaria or Fall of the Thran slip through our opponent's defenses, they are pretty likely to win us the game; plus, main-deck Carnage Tyrant and Nezahal, Primal Tide are beatings against decks relying on counterspells to stay alive. On the other hand, aggro is more of a tossup. We can beat aggro decks, but our Fall of the Thran plan gets much worse because we are often behind on board, making it impossible to tap out for the six-mana enchantment without dying on the backswing. In these matchups, we're mostly hoping to draw powerful creatures and good removal in the early game to stabilize and then use Fall of the Thran as our late-game finisher.

The Odds

All in all, we played six matches and won four, giving us a 66.7% match win percentage, along with winning nine or our 14 games, good for a 63% game win percentage, which makes Bant Geddon somewhat above average for an Against the Odds deck. As for Fall of the Thran itself, it was pretty high variance. We had some games—especially against aggro—where we drew multiple copies but could never find a window to cast them and lost. On the other hand, we had some games where our opponent simply scooped it up to the Armageddon, either with or without The Mending of Dominaria and Scavenger Grounds for support. More importantly, the deck was super fun. Winning by blowing up all of the opponent's lands is one of the most fun ways to win in Magic, and we haven't had a card like Fall of the Thran in Standard for a long time, so even if it ends up being less than tournament playable, you should still play a Fall of the Thran deck at least once while it is in Standard because once it leaves, who knows how long it will be before we get another Standard-legal Armageddon?

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Don't worry, we'll get back to playing some Modern jank before long, but for now, there are still too many sweet Dominaria cards we need to play, which means that we're once again voting on a spicy all-Dominaria poll this week! Which one of these Dominaria cards should we build around in Standard next week? Let us know by voting below!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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