Introducing Bant Stoneblade
Since the unbanning of 《Stoneforge Mystic》, I have been trying out various version of Bant Stoneblade deck and with the metagame shaping up, the deck to beat seem to be Four-Color Whirza (Urza Thopter-Sword), Urza Tron, Valakut, Burn and 《Death’s Shadow》. This is the version I have settle on and manage to get 5-0 twice with it.
1 《Snow-Covered Island》
1 《Snow-Covered Plains》
1 《Breeding Pool》
1 《Hallowed Fountain》
1 《Temple Garden》
4 《Prismatic Vista》
4 《Windswept Heath》
2 《Misty Rainforest》
2 《Razorverge Thicket》
1 《Horizon Canopy》
1 《Gavony Township》
-Land (22)- 4 《Noble Hierarch》
3 《Giver of Runes》
2 《Birds of Paradise》
4 《Ice-Fang Coatl》
4 《Stoneforge Mystic》
4 《Spell Queller》
3 《Geist of Saint Traft》
3 《Force of Negation》
1 《Sword of Feast and Famine》
1 《Sword of Fire and Ice》
4 《Teferi, Time Raveler》
Why Bant Stoneblade Over Other Version of Stoneblade?
I like how Bant is able to gain mana advantage over other Stoneblade decks with 《Birds of Paradise》 and 《Noble Hierarch》. Mana dork used to be a problem of good early game but bad in the late game but with Stoneforge Equipment package, it turns all your mana dorks into a must answer threat.
Bant also gives you access to 《Ice-Fang Coatl》 which acts as an extra removal while also good at holding Equipment. We also gain access to 《Knight of Autumn》 in the sideboard which is good in the Stoneblade mirror and useful against deck like Burn and Four-Color Whirza. The only downside of Bant is the mana base might be painful against Burn deck and mana dorks is bad against 《Wrenn and Six》.
《Geist of Saint Traft》 instead of 《Knight of the Reliquary》
As some of you have seen my previous Twitter decklist, I have removed 《Knight of the Reliquary》 and added 《Geist of Saint Traft》. I like 《Knight of the Reliquary》 as a big threat which also has the ability to tutor some utility lands that you need but 《Geist of Saint Traft》 just solves some of the poor matchups for Bant. With 《Force of Negation》 in the deck, you are also able to exile an extra copies of Geist to it. Geist used to have the issue of having to play lots of removal in order to attack with it but with the printing of 《Giver of Runes》 and also the Stoneforge package, they made attacking with Geist much easier.
Against Tron, although Knight has the ability to tutor 《Ghost Quarter》 and 《Field of Ruin》 but without 《Eternal Witness》 or 《Collected Company》 to put more pressure while disrupting them, they have the time to get Tron eventually. With Geist, we are only scare of 《Oblivion Stone》 and 《Ugin, the Spirit Dragon》 to kill it but we have 《Force of Negation》 as well as 《Spell Queller》 and it also puts them on a 3 turn clock as we have 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 and 《Path to Exile》 to stop 《Wurmcoil Engine》 and 《Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger》.
I tested against Burn and Mono Red Prowess, I felt that we just want to be able to close the game as fast as possible and Geist does that pretty efficiently. The important part is that Geist has Hexproof which is good against their removal spells.
Against UW Control/Stoneblade, 《Knight of the Reliquary》 is bad against spot removal as well as 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 and 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》. Geist usually allows us to kill their Planeswalkers, which means they can’t rely on their main card advantage engine and it helps us a lot to grind them out.
Which Sword Package Should I Play?
At the beginning, I was playing with 《Batterskull》 and 《Sword of Fire and Ice》 but multiple scenario happened that I just wanted to have 《Sword of Feast and Famine》, attack and untap my mana to have the ability to cast 《Spell Queller》, 《Path to Exile》 or 《Ice-Fang Coatl》.
I still like 《Sword of Fire and Ice》 as it act as a repeatable removal against small creature decks. It is especially good against 《Giver of Runes》 deck as those deck tax on our removal spell. Since it is also a card advantage engine, I don’t play 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 anymore as I felt that protecting and untapping with it is hard and I always wanted a 3rd Equipment to search with 《Stoneforge Mystic》.
I did not play 《Sword of Light and Shadow》 as I felt that we have nothing much to bring back from our graveyard and the 3 life gain is not that important in the most matchups. The only good part is that it gives your creatures Protection from 《Path to Exile》 and 《Fatal Push》.
Which Planeswalker Should I Play?
At the beginning, I was playing a split of 3 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 and 2 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》. I was very impressed with Teferi as it plays well with 《Spell Queller》 and allows you to bounce back 《Spell Queller》 for additional counter. Teferi also helps you to equip your creatures without the fear of being blown out by removal spell. 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 was less impressive as most of the time on turn 4, I just don’t want to tap out and protect Jace because it was much harder than before. If the metagame shifts toward more midrange decks, 《Gideon, Ally of Zendikar》 is also a good sideboard card against those deck.
I will walk you through the Sideboard Guide and Tips on the matchup.
Burn is a tough matchup as always. The key card is 《Stoneforge Mystic》. If you are able to land a 《Stoneforge Mystic》 and protect it with 《Force of Negation》 or 《Giver of Runes》, 《Batterskull》 should be able to win the game on its own. After sideboard, we have 《Knight of Autumn》 as well as more counterspells to disrupt them. Be careful when your opponent attacks into your active 《Stoneforge Mystic》 as it usually represents that they have 《Smash to Smithereens》.
The matchup have been favorable, we have 《Stoneforge Mystic》 to find Equipment as our card advantage source and they have to answer it immediately. Do not walk into their 《Kolaghan’s Command》 if you think they have it as we have a lot of Flash threats to deploy at their end of turn which tempo them out quite easily if they choose not to cast it. 《Ice-Fang Coatl》 also does a good job in trading with their creatures in combat which gain us card advantage. Remember, 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 shuts down the Cascade ability from 《Bloodbraid Elf》.
《Spell Queller》 and 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 is very good against them as the combination gives us more counterspells by returning our own Queller with the [-3] ability of Teferi. The matchup should be close game 1 depending on how your spells line up against them.
After sideboard, we have 《Stony Silence》 to stop their combo and 《Unified Will》 to stop their best card advantage engine; 《Urza, Lord High Artificer》 from resolving. 《Knight of Autumn》 also does a good job at destroying their 《Ensnaring Bridge》.
Tron is a tough matchup game 1. You just have to hope that the threat they draw are 《Wurmcoil Engine》 or your 《Force of Negation》s are enough for their big threat. If you are able to resolve a Geist with 《Force of Negation》 backup for their 《Oblivion Stone》 or 《Ugin, the Spirit Dragon》, you are in a great position to win. Sometime it is correct to 《Force of Negation》 their 《Expedition Map》 on turn 1 in hope that they do not have other way to assemble Tron. After sideboard, we have access to all our counterspells for their threat which make the game easier.
《Death’s Shadow》 is always one of the good matchups for Bant. 《Ice-Fang Coatl》 is an all-star against them if they don’t have 《Giver of Runes》 or removal for it and at least it is always a 2 for 1 even if they kill it. 《Giver of Runes》 also gives our creatures protection from 《Death’s Shadow》 and they need to kill it or win with 《Temur Battle Rage》. 《Path to Exile》 also deals with 《Death’s Shadow》 easily.
We have the mana advantage over them and also 《Ice-Fang Coatl》 can trade with opposing 《Batterskull》 token easily which makes them to waste a turn to return and recast it if they want to continue putting pressure on us. We also have 4 main deck 《Teferi, Time Raveler》, once it was resolved, it makes all their counterspells useless and they can’t interact with us when we equip Swords to our creature. Don’t play 《Path to Exile》 on their turn 2 《Stoneforge Mystic》 as it gives them a chance to cast an early Planeswalker. Save your Path until they try to equip and attack with 《Sword of Feast and Famine》.
After sideboard, we have 《Knight of Autumn》 to destroy their Equipment as well as 《Spell Snare》 to stop early 《Stoneforge Mystic》 from resolving. You can also cast 《Vendilion Clique》 in response when they activate 《Stoneforge Mystic》 to remove their Equipment from their hand.
We are usually able to beat any non-《Primeval Titan》 draws as we have 《Force of Negation》 as well as 《Spell Queller》 to stop 《Scapeshift》 from resolving. After Sideboard, we have 《Ashiok, Dream Render》 which stops their entire deck as well as 《Unified Will》 and 《Vendilion Clique》 to prevent 《Primeval Titan》 from resolving. Be careful not to overextend into 《Anger of the Gods》.
A turn 2 《Stoneforge Mystic》 to find 《Batterskull》 is usually very good against them as they have a hard time to answer it. Don’t to expose your 《Batterskull》 to 《Thought-Knot Seer》 and be careful when you search an Equipment with 《Stoneforge Mystic》 because it is one of the way you can lose easily. 《Giver of Runes》 is very important since it gives your creatures protection from colorless and it allows your 《Geist of Saint Traft》 to attack freely.
That marks the end of my article! I hope this helps you understand Bant Stoneblade. If you have any questions regarding the deck, I will be happy to answer them via Twitter. Thanks!
Kelvin Chew (Twitter)