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Budget Magic: Bant Rampage (Standard)


ನಮಸ್ತೆ, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Rampage of the Clans is a sweet card but has mostly been forgotten in Standard because it requires so many artifacts or enchantments on the battlefield to make it work, and until recently, we just didn't have the right support in Standard. Well, thanks to a ton of cheap enchantments, this all changed with Theros: Beyond Death! The goal of Bant Rampage is simple: grind out value while also flooding our board with enchantments until we eventually find Rampage of the Clans. Once we find Rampage, we wait until our opponent's end step, cast it to blow up all of our enchantments, and build a (hopefully) lethal board of Centaur tokens to win with one big attack. If one Rampage of the Clans isn't enough, we can always reanimate all of our enchantments with Calix, Destiny's Hand's ultimate and cast another Rampage of the Clans to make even more Centaurs. Can the plan work in Standard on a budget? Is Rampage of the Clans actually a playable card? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Bant Rampage (Standard)

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The Deck

Bant Rampage is a weird deck. It's partly an enchantment deck looking to grind out value with the constellation triggers of cards like Setessan Champion and Nessian Wanderer; it's partly a midrange Sagas deck; and it's partly a combo deck, thanks to our ability to build a lethal board of Centaurs by surprise at instant speed with Rampage of the Clans. Our main goal is to stabilize the battlefield and generate card advantage in the early game while also adding enchantments to the battlefield to power up our eventual Rampage of the Clans, which is a really strong way to close out the game, assuming we can live long enough to get a decent number of enchantments on the battlefield and resolve our namesake instant.

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Rampage of the Clans is basically our finisher. With the help of a bunch of Sagas and other cheap enchantments, it can easily end up making 15 or even 21 power of Centaur tokens for just four mana, which is an insane deal. Of course, Rampage of the Clans is a bit more complicated than just casting enchantments and making Centaurs since it also turns all of our opponent's artifacts and enchantments into 3/3 Centaurs. This can be both a benefit and a drawback. Sometimes, we can cast Rampage of the Clans just to blow up a potentially lethal Embercleave. Other times, we play against Jund Sacrifice, where our opponent randomly has a bunch of Food tokens and Trail of Crumbs on the battlefield and we end up being unable to really cast Rampage of the Clans because our opponent will end up with more Centaurs than we will.

The Engine

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Rather than being attackers, all of our creatures are engine pieces, drawing us cards, ramping us, or acting like removal. Nessian Wanderer and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove are a surprisingly powerful ramp package that I'm surprised other decks haven't explored more in Theros: Beyond Death Standard. Nessian Wanderer digs three cards deep for a land whenever an enchantment comes into play (with 24 lands in our deck, we should normally hit at least one, although we do get unlucky and whiff on occasion). Meanwhile, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove is both an enchantment (to trigger Nessian Wanderer) and a creature that allows us to play an extra land each turn. If we can keep both on the battlefield, the odds are pretty good that we can make two land drops each turn, which will not only allow us to quickly flood the board with other enchantments for Rampage of the Clans but also allow us to draw a bunch of extra cards.

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Setessan Champion and Guild Summit are absurd sources of card advantage in our deck. Setessan Champion draws us a card whenever an enchantment comes into play while also growing quickly into our biggest creature on the battlefield. Meanwhile, Guild Summit is an enchantment, to trigger Setessan Champion and Nessian Wanderer, while also turning half of our land drops into card draw (we have a total of 12 Guildgates, which not only generate card advantage but allow us to keep our three-color deck budget-friendly by avoiding shock lands). Probably the best aspect of our engine pieces is how well they synergize with each other. Nessian Wanderer gives us extra lands, which we can play thanks to Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, draws us extra cards thanks to Guild Summit, and helps us to find us more enchantments to trigger Setessan Champion and Nessian Wanderer, creating an almost endless loop of value as long as we can keep our engine pieces on the battlefield. 

Enchantments

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We've already talked about some enchantments in Guild Summit and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, but to really make Rampage of the Clans devastating, we need as many enchantments on the battlefield as possible, which means the rest of our deck is overflowing with the card type. Wolfwillow Haven gives us an enchantment that also ramps us into our more powerful plays. 

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We also have a bunch of Sagas. The Birth of Meletis is especially helpful against aggro, giving us a land, an early-game blocker, and some lifegain, but we only have a single copy because we only have two Plains in our deck, thanks to our need for a bunch of Guildgates. Meanwhile, The First Iroan Games works like another creature in our deck, making a 1/1, potentially growing it into a 4/4, and even drawing us some cards, while also triggering all of our constellation and creatures and adding an enchantment to the battlefield. 

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At the top end of our enchantment curve are a couple of removal Sagas. Elspeth Conquers Death not only kills our opponent's best expensive permanent but also eventually reanimates one of our engine pieces or Calix, Destiny's Hand. Finally, Kiora Bests the Sea God is just a one-of because even though we are really good at ramping by making extra land drops, seven mana is a lot. That said, when we actually resolve a Kiora Bests the Sea God, it offers a ton of value, by making a huge creature, super-Fogging our opponent, and eventually stealing the best thing on our opponent's side of the battlefield. 

Other Stuff

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Calix, Destiny's Hand is really great in our deck, offering a backup source of card advantage and removal while having an insane ultimate that returns all of our enchantments from the graveyard to the battlefield. This means that we can potentially blow up all of our enchantments with Rampage of the Clans to make a ton of Centaurs and then get them all back into play within the next couple of turns thanks to Calix. We can also do some sweet tricks, with Elspeth Conquers Death reanimating Calix, Destiny's Hand and then Calix eventually reanimating Elspeth Conquers Death to get Calix back again and keep the loop going.

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Finally, we have one copy of Realm-Cloaked Giant as a wrath that also gives us another big creature for the late game. While having a wrath in the main deck is important to the deck, it doesn't have to be Realm-Cloaked Giant (it just happens to be really inexpensive in paper). If you're playing on Arena, then Shatter the Sky and Time Wipe are fine replacements that won't cost you a mythic wildcard.

Wrap-Up

All in all, we went 2-3 with the Bant Rampage, which isn't a great record, although we came excruciatingly close to winning a couple more matches, taking game one against Rakdos Sacrifice and ending up one point of damage short of winning game two before getting mana screwed in game three as well as dropping a tough three-game match to UW Control. The only match that didn't feel close was the one against the weird Naya Hero deck that just ran us over with really big trampling multicolored creatures in short order. All this is to say, even though our record was decidedly medium, the deck was really close to posting a better record, and it does some really sweet things when the engine gets going!

As far as changes to make to the deck, the most helpful would be more additional removal to the main deck. But finding removal that actually works in the deck is surprisingly hard because we can't really play things like Banishing Light or Glass Casket, since we'd end up blowing them up with Rampage of the Clans and giving our opponent back their creature. Brazen Borrower seems like an ideal solution, but it's way too expensive for the budget. Another possibility is just adding more wraths to the main deck and hoping that this will be enough to improve our matchup against aggressive decks with big creatures, with seem like our hardest matchup. Bant Rampage is really good at grinding out value over the course of a long game, but it can be a bit slow and removal-light against the most aggressive decks in the format.

Another card worth considering is Omen of the Sea. Our deck generates so much card advantage that I'm not sure how necessary it is, but it is an enchantment that sits out on the battlefield for Rampage of the Clans and triggers our constellation engine pieces, so it might be worth a slot or two if we can find the room.

All in all, Rampage of the Clans does some really powerful things, and the games where we got our engine running were a blast to play. But it would be nice if it could close the door and actually pick up wins slightly more often. The engine is very powerful and seems like it probably has at least some amount of potential in Standard. 

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The build of Bant Rampage we played for the video has a total of five mythics and 25 rares in the main deck and sideboard. How far can we go in minimizing rares and mythics to keep the wildcard cost down on Magic Arena? The answer is: not as far as I'd like, although we can make the deck cheaper without losing too much power. Rampage of the Clans, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, and Elspeth Conquers Death are the core of the deck and can't really be cut. The same is mostly true of Calix, Destiny's Hand at mythic, which means three mythics and 11 rares are basically locked in to make the deck functional. On the other hand, we can cut Setessan Champion, even though it is very good in the deck, and replace it with Omen of the Sea to give us another enchantment for Rampage of the Clans, along with turning some of the random rares and mythics like Kiora Bests the Sea God into Banishing Light for removal (just be careful since Rampage of the Clans will give the opponent back whatever is exiled). Along with going with an all-common and uncommon sideboard, this gets the total wildcard cost of the deck down to three mythics and 12 rares. While the deck is likely worse than the one we played for the video, it should be good enough for unranked play, at the very least.

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For the non-budget build of the deck, the biggest change is to the mana base, where we drop the Guildgate and Guild Summit package in favor of Omen of the Sea and a more traditionally shock land and Fabled Passage mana base. We also get some upgrades to the sideboard, specifically Teferi, Time Raveler

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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