Almost There: Bant Superfriends

Posted in How to Build on May 11, 2018

By Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

Paulo has been playing Magic since he was eight years old. At fifteen, he ventured outside of Brazil for his first international tournament, and he's been globetrotting as a professional player ever since.

"Superfriends" is always the name given to a deck whose main point is to flood the board with a lot of different planeswalkers. Historically speaking, those decks have been very popular at times and less popular at others, but they've always at least lurked close to playability when there are multiple good planeswalkers in the same format. Right now, we not only have multiple good planeswalkers but also the first card that truly rewards you for building a deck around them: Oath of Teferi.

Recently, there have been two types of Superfriends lists going 5-0 in Standard leagues, and they're both Bant (green-white-blue). The first one I saw was played by CSMIDY:

CSMIDY's Bant Superfriends

And the second one by JOETRU:

Joetru's Bant Superfriends

The basic idea of each deck is the same—you play a bunch of planeswalkers and then the planeswalkers do everything, from killing creatures and controlling the board to giving you card advantage to eventually killing the opponent. Sweepers are always key in a Superfriends list, as they clear the board while leaving your planeswalkers intact, and Standard has two good ones in Fumigate and Settle the Wreckage, which are present in both lists. Then, there are green accelerators to get your planeswalkers in play as early as possible, and Oath of Teferi to maximize them.

The biggest difference between the lists is that the first one plays more creatures, thirteen in total. The second one plays only four. In this regard, I like the second list more. I understand the appeal of playing Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage with this many historic spells, but the ability is not that great with planeswalkers—yes, you can make sure they don't die the turn you play them, but there's a big cost to playing a planeswalker on your opponent's turn, because you give up the ability to use them immediately. So, for the most part, I think you want to be casting them on your own turn anyway, which means Raff isn't doing much. Lyra Dawnbringer is also obviously a powerful card, but I think it belongs in the sideboard of a deck like this rather than the main deck; there are already too many cards that cost five and I think you'd rather just go with planeswalkers or Fumigates. In the sideboard, however, it provides a very powerful threat once your opponent adds Negates and Duresses to combat the planeswalkers.

Then, there's the question of which mana creature to play. Llanowar Elves is the best one, but the mana really doesn't support it in a meaningful way. The list playing four Elves only has four ways of casting it on turn one, which is very few. If you do cast it, you can never accelerate into a Gideon of the Trials anyway. Once we're at the two-drops, then Channeler Initiate is definitely the most powerful one if it lives, but Walking Ballista is very popular right now, not to mention Fanatical Firebrand or even Goblin Chainwhirler if you're on the draw, so I lean toward Servant of the Conduit because you really want to have your accelerator survive if you can. That said, I agree with the first list that you want more than four. The earlier you get a planeswalker in play, the better.

Another thing I dislike about the second list is that there are too many slots dedicated to drawing cards. A Superfriends deck gets its card advantage from planeswalkers, and it wants to maximize that game plan. Cards like Search for Azcanta or Memorial to Genius have no place in it. Even Karn, Scion of Urza, as good a card as it is, is not at its best in this deck, because it's a pure card-advantage machine in a deck that already has a lot of it from other sources. I would trim the Karns and remove anything that is only a draw spell.

This is how I would build Bant Superfriends:

PVDDR's Bant Superfriends

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