Bant Knightfall with Eli Kassis

Posted in Event Coverage on May 22, 2016

By Meghan Wolff

Meghan is one half of the Good Luck High Five podcast and an adjunct professor at Tolarian Community College. She loves Limited, likes Modern, and dips her toes into each Standard season. She's decidedly blue and is the #1 hater of Siege Rhino in the Multiverse.

Every once in a while a card comes along that slips under the radar in Limited, circling the draft table and getting cut from Sealed decks, before making an unexpected splash in Constructed. Retreat to Coralhelm, the demure uncommon enchantment from Battle for Zendikar, is proving to be just such a card.

This weekend Eli Kassis played a deck focused on the interaction between Modern familiar Knight of the Reliquary and the unlikely Retreat to Coralhelm.

The deck's combo finish uses Knight of the Reliquary to search out all of its lands in a single turn thanks to the “tap or untap target creature” mode on Retreat to Coralhelm before attacking for 20 or more damage with the now gigantic knight. A first-turn Noble Hierarch or Birds of Paradise, second-turn Knight of the Reliquary, and third-turn Retreat to Coralhelm allows the deck to attack for lethal as early as turn three.

“I've been playing Knight for a long time before Retreat ever came out,” Kassis said. “Then I heard about this two-card combo, both costing three, both good on their own, and I was like, “heck yes!””

While the combo finish is the showiest way the deck can end a game, it can also finish off an opponent without it. Without the knight and its favorite enchantment, the deck swarms the board with an assortment of aggressive green and white creatures like Scavenging Ooze, Tarmogoyf, and Voice of Resurgence.

Kassis has been playing the deck for several weeks and recently updated the list with two main deck Courser of Kruphix due to the card's stellar performance out of his sideboard at a previous tournament.

“Courser of Kruphix was a one-of in my sideboard at the last SCG Invitational and I came in ninth with the deck,” Kassis said. “I liked it so much I boarded it in against every single opponent all eight rounds. So I ended up putting two in the main deck and it's been phenomenal.”

Kassis described the deck as very situational. Good match-ups include any deck that attacks on the ground, while decks that are able to fly over the top, like Affinity, present more of a challenge.

“I've played [Affinity] twice and beat it twice,” Kassis said. “But both times were very close games that could have easily gone either way.

Match-ups like Tron depend heavily on Bant Knightfall's opening hand and whether or not it contains the deck's namesake card.

“You'll find everybody has a fair shot against you, but you feel like a slight favorite against most of the field,” Kassis said.

The exception is the Abzan infinite life combo, which Kassis said often combos a little quicker than Knight of the Reliquary and Retreat to Coralhelm. Because Kassis' deck wins with damage, there's no answer to an opponent gaining infinite life.

Bant Knightfall is a challenging deck to play, and one that Kassis advises picking up only if you're willing to put in time learning its many interactions.

“[I've learned] to really be careful to stack my Retreat triggers because between scrying and untapping there's ways you can draw almost any card you want to. You fetch out a Horizon Canopy and then with Courser you can peek at what's on top. You can keep shuffling or using the scry from Retreat to find an answer if they have something that's obstructing your way. Then you float all this mana, eventually draw with the [Horizon Canopy] and then kill whatever's in the way.”

“If they want to play this deck, they'd better jam a lot of games because there's a lot of play to it,” Kassis added. “Definitely know the format really well and practice practice practice, because it is not a beginner's deck.”

Eli Kassis's Bant Knight Company - GP Charlotte

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