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Budget Magic: $89 (19 tix) Bant Flash (Modern, Magic Online)


Aw ni ce, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're heading to Modern to embrace the power of Wilderness Reclamation in maybe the fairest Wilderness Reclamation shell possible: Bant Flash. Rather than looking to take infinite turns, Bant Flash is mostly looking to use Wilderness Reclamation for value with a bunch of flash creatures, which allow us to play multiple cards each turn cycle by casting something during our main phase, untapping all of our lands on our end step, and then casting a flash creature or two during our opponent's turn. Of course, we always have a couple of big X-spells in Sphinx's Revelation and Secure the Wastes to close out the game quickly, with Wilderness Reclamation doubling and tripling up our mana. Can a fair Wilderness Reclamation deck work in Modern on a budget? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Bant Flash (Modern)

The Deck

Bant Flash is basically a midrange deck but with some combo overtones, thanks to the fact that we sometimes just stack up multiple copies of Wilderness Reclamation and cast a huge Secure the Wastes or Sphinx's Revelation to win the game (or essentially win the game) on our end step. Probably the easiest way to break down the deck is to start with Wilderness Reclamation itself and then move through the rest of our threats and support pieces.

The Ramp

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As we talked about in the intro, Bant Flash is a very fair Wilderness Reclamation deck. Rather than working toward some sort of infinite combo, we're mostly just using the enchantment like a very powerful ramp spell that allows us to cast multiple spells each turn cycle by casting something during our turn, untapping our lands with Wilderness Reclamation, and then casting something else during our opponent's turn. Ideally, we'll have the enchantment on the battlefield by Turn 3 thanks to a bunch of early-game ramp and then proceed to value our opponent out of the game almost immediately.

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To get Wilderness Reclamation on the battlefield on Turn 3, we have a massive 11 two-mana ramp spells in Growth Spiral, Explore (the original Growth Spiral), and Sakura-Tribe Elder. If we can resolve any of these cards on Turn 2, we should be able to play a Wilderness Reclamation on Turn 3, which will allow us to immediately untap all of our lands and leave up a four-mana spell for our opponent's turn, which is pretty powerful, even in a format like Modern.

The other upside of our ramp cards is that our deck is extremely land-intensive. The more lands we get on the battlefield, the more powerful our Wilderness Reclamations become, so even in the mid- to late game, we don't mind putting an extra land or two on the battlefield. Plus, both Growth Spiral and Explore cantrip, so if we find ourselves in a situation where we don't really care about playing more lands, in the worst case, we can easily turn our ramp spells into a fresh card in a relatively painless way, since Wilderness Reclamation is going to untap our lands anyway.

Flash Creatures

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Four-mana is the sweet spot on the flash creature curve since assuming we play Wilderness Reclamation as quickly as possible, we should have exactly four mana to spend on our opponent's turn after our namesake enchantment untaps our lands. Here, our main plan is Frilled Mystic, which not only counters whatever our opponent plays but also gives us a somewhat reasonable body for blocking our opponent's threats. Meanwhile, Venser, the Sojourner and Restoration Angel are just one-ofs, but they can be extremely powerful in the right situations. Venser, Shaper Savant is basically another Frilled Mystic with the upside of being able to return something already on the battlefield to our opponent's hand and the downside that it bounces a spell, rather than countering it outright. Meanwhile, Restoration Angel isn't as exciting as the other options since it's just a 3/4 flier, but it offers a lot of value as the game goes along by allowing us to reuse the enters-the-battlefield triggers of cards like Frilled Mystic and Venser, Shaper Savant while also giving us an evasive clock to close out the game.

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Further up our curve, we have a couple of flashy finishers. Archangel Avacyn gives us another flying threat that can save our creatures from removal and also eat an attacker by surprise, and if we manage to flip it around, it gives us an Anger of the Gods to deal with aggressive, go-wide creature decks. Meanwhile, Elder Deep-Fiend is basically a Time Walk, coming down to tap our opponent's lands to make them skip their turn while also giving us a way to close out the game by tapping down our opponent's blockers. Thanks to Frilled Mystic, Venser, Shaper Savant, and other creatures like Eternal Witness, we have plenty of disposable creatures to sacrifice to emerge out the Eldrazi. Plus, these two cards work pretty well together, with Elder Deep-Fiend giving us a way to sacrifice and kill one of our own creatures to transform Archangel Avacyn.

Sorcery-Speed Stuff

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A couple of weeks back, we played a Mystical Teachings build of Wilderness Reclamation for Much Abrew. Primal Command is basically our creature-friendly version of Mystical Teachings. The main idea is that once we have Wilderness Reclamation on the battlefield, we can cast Primal Command to tutor up a flash creature and then cast the flash creature during our opponent's turn, allowing us to find a counter in Frilled Mystic, a Time Walk in Elder Deep-Fiend, or a flying defender in Archangel Avacyn in situations where they are good. More importantly, Primal Command allows us to choose two options, so along with finding whatever creature is best in a specific situation, we can also gain some life to stay alive against aggro, annoy control decks by putting a land on the top of their deck to force them to skip a draw, or hate on decks like Dredge or Izzet Phoenix by shuffling our opponent's graveyard back into their library.

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We also have a couple of non-flash creatures. Eternal Witness provides a lot of value, allowing us to return whatever we need from our graveyard to the battlefield while also sort of being a combo with Primal Command, since we can keep tutoring up Eternal Witnesses to get back Primal Command to find another Eternal Witness while also putting a land on top of our opponent's deck for several turns in a row, to keep them from drawing anything relevant. Meanwhile, Thragtusk is just a one-of, giving us a good blocker that also gains us some life against burn and other aggro decks.

The Finishers

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While we certainly can win the game by attacking with our random creatures, perhaps the most powerful thing our deck can do to close out the game is using our two big X-spells—Sphinx's Revelation and Secure the Wastes—with Wilderness Reclamation. Since both of these cards are instants, we can do the same trick that Standard decks do with cards like Expansion // Explosion or March of the Multitudes where we can float all of our mana on our end step, untap our lands with Wilderness Reclamation, and use all of our lands to cast a massive X-spell.

Sphinx's Revelation doesn't actually win us the game, but we sometimes cast it to draw eight cards and gain eight life as early as Turn 4. And we can draw most of out deck in the late game if we have multiple Wilderness Reclamations, while also gaining enough life that it should be hard for our opponent to kill us while we are tapped out. The other big upside of Sphinx's Revelation is that the first one we cast—even if it isn't that big—often draws us into more copies of Wilderness Reclamation and another copy of Sphinx's Revelation, which we can then cast for even more mana to keep churning through our deck.

As for Secure the Wastes, it's our most guaranteed finisher. Even though it's just a one-of, we'll find it eventually as we draw through our deck with Sphinx's Revelation, and then we can often cast it to make 30 or more tokens on our end step with the help of multiple Wilderness Reclamations. Then, we simply wait until our next turn, attack, and kill our opponent. Meanwhile, if something goes wrong (like if our opponent can counter our Secure the Wastes or sweep our board), we can always use Eternal Witness to get back Secure the Wastes and try again on our next turn.

The Mana

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We won't spend too much time talking about the mana base of Bant Flash, but it is worth mentioning a couple of unique lands. As I was building and tuning Bant Flash, one of the things that I realized is that our deck wants as many lands as possible, thanks to Growth Spiral and Explore. Eventually, I realized that the bounce lands sort of fill this void without increasing our overall land count too much. A card like Simic Growth Chamber is almost two lands in one, since it returns a land to our hand when it enters the battlefield. This combos nicely with Explore and Growth Spiral, since we can use our spell to put a bounce land into play and immediately put the land we bounce back into play thanks to our extra land drop. Meanwhile, the cycling lands are similar. We can play it as a land if we need mana, and if we already have enough mana, we can cycle it away to dig for action. The cycling lands also sort of combo with bounce lands since we can play a cycling land in the early game and then later in the game use a bounce land to pick up the cycling land and cycle it away to draw an extra card.

Wrap-Up

All in all, we played five matches with Bant Flash and ended up 3-2, although we did play some interesting brews and budget decks along the way, which might have helped improve our record. Still, for a budget deck, ending with a winning record is solid. More importantly, Bant Flash did some super-fun things when it got going. Our disruption of Frilled Mystic, Venser, Shaper Savant, and Elder Deep-Fiend was good at keeping us alive, and then our X-spells were great at closing out the game.

As far as improvements to make to the budget build of the deck, the biggest addition we could make would be a touch of removal. A few copies of Path to Exile would go a long way to helping against aggro, which is one of our hardest matchups since our opponent can occasionally just kill us quickly before we get our powerful engine online. Otherwise, the biggest problem with the deck is that it is very mana hungry, and sometimes, even with 26 lands and 11 ramp spells, we occasionally just don't hit our mana, and our deck does pretty much nothing. But there isn't really any way of solving this problem—it's just the natural variance of Magic.

In the end, Bant Flash was a blast to play. While I'm not exactly sure how competitive it is in the format, it is super fun to play, and it seems like, with some upgrades around the edges, it could actually be a pretty decent deck. Wilderness Reclamation is an extremely powerful card, even when played in a mostly fair way. If you like drawing tons of cards, tricking your opponents with some surprising flash creatures, and eventually closing out the game with a huge board full of 1/1 tokens, give Bant Flash a shot!

Bant Flash is an extremely difficult deck to get down in the ultra-budget price range since rather than having one or two really expensive cards that we can cut to drop the budget, the deck is overflowing with cards that are $5 or $10 for a playset, which means we need to make a ton of changes to get the deck down into the $50 range. First, we get the sideboard to the bare bones. Then, we drop Yavimaya Coast for Evolving Wilds. Finally, we have to turn Sphinx's Revelation into Blue Sun's Zenith and Sakura-Tribe Elder into Wood Elves. The change from Sphinx's Revelation to Blue Sun's Zenith is the most impactful. While losing the lifegain from Sphinx's Revelation is painful in some matchups, Blue Sun's Zenith is better in some ways since we can use it to make our opponent draw cards and, if we have enough mana and copies of Wilderness Reclamation, potentially just mill our opponent out of the game with a single copy.

Much like the ultra-budget build, the non-budget build of Bant Flash gets a ton of changes. Along with upgrading to a more tier sideboard and mana base, we get a handful of changes in the main deck. Cryptic Command comes in as a two-of, giving us another powerful interactive spell that works well with Eternal Witness, and we get another non-budget addition in Snapcaster Mage. Along with drawing us a card, Cryptic Command allows us to slow down the game by tapping our opponent's creatures or countering a spell and fits in the four-mana sweet spot with Wilderness Reclamation. We also make room for three copies of Path to Exile to give us a touch of hard removal. Otherwise, the plan, creatures, and spells are mostly the same.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. 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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