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Insider: Beating Collected Company

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Collected Company has been exploding in popularity as of late. The potential to get six mana worth of creatures for four mana at instant speed is no trifling matter. With Deathmist Raptor being so well-positioned against midrange and control decks alike, it's not too surprising to see Collected Company performing so well in Standard.


With numerous strong GP finishes and lists littered all over MTGO Daily events, the Collected Company deck should absolutely be on your radar for Standard.

Even if you're trying to beat it though, the resilience and power of the deck is frustrating to combat. It's kind of like G/W Devotion started playing with Dig Through Time. Ultimate Price was a boon from Dragons of Tarkir against the existing green decks, but it's the pinnacle of mediocrity against the value engine that is currently showing up to the table.

Once the ball starts rolling, it doesn't take long for the deck to spiral out of control, and completely lock the ground out. In order to beat our enemy, we must first grok it. Here is what is likely to be the most popular flavor of Standard Collected Company decks:

A lot of dorks to gum up the ground, Den Protectors to grind you out while Deathmist Raptor attacks you, a couple removal spells and some gems like Mastery of the Unseen and Warden of the First Tree to go over the top of other decks playing on this axis.

While this has been the most successful list with a GP Top 8 and is likely to be the most popular, there are a few other flavors of Collected Company to keep an eye out for:

While there are a lot of different versions, and likely to be even more diversity going forward, preparing for any one of these lists likely leaves you strong against the entire lot.

The most important element of all of these decks is that once they get going you are never going to kill them with non-evasive creatures. It's an unrealistic goal. Even if you have your own Deathmist Raptors going and have some Siege Rhinos for reach, they are inevitably going to overpower you on the ground.

There are three ways to go about combating these strategies. You can somehow find a way to do something even bigger on the ground, you can kill them with evasion if you're also able to stop them from killing you first, or you can kill them with reach.

Going Bigger

This deck puts a lot of stuff into play, but it does leave some wiggle room to go bigger. In particular, if you find yourself in a Deathmist Raptor mirror against an opponent with more Whisperwood Elementals and/or access to some Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx combined with Mastery of the Unseen, then they will likely find a way to overpower you.

You have answers in Dromoka's Command and Hidden Dragonslayer, but ultimately your tools just stop them from coming back at you, while you don't really have anything to overpower them. Perhaps decks more akin to older Green Devotion lists are weaker in the metagame at large, but they certainly trump decks relying on Collected Company for all of their advantage.


Nykthos looks to be leveling off in price, but if it takes off as a way to crush Collected Company mirrors it could see small gains in the short term.

Using Evasion

A trend that you may have noticed in Abzan decks is the reintroduction of Wingmate Roc. Brad Nelson rocked two maindeck copies on his way to a Grand Prix Top 8 recently:

While Siege Rhino merely trades with Deathmist Raptor, Wingmate Roc flies over him and his friends again and again, along with dodging Hidden Dragonslayer, and producing multiple bodies even in the case of Dromoka's Command. Additionally, Anafenza, the Foremost and Abzan Charm help the deck to remove Raptor from the game and keep the Company decks on a more fair level.

Another deck with some threats well-positioned against Deathmist Raptor is Mardu Dragons. Just having removal for Collected Company's creatures doesn't provide a ton of value, but taking chip shots with Draconic Roar and Crackling Doom while curving into evasive monsters is a great way to ignore value in the form of ground-pounders.

There's a reason that the Company decks are siding Windstorm and Plummet. These two decks exploit the weakness to fliers better than others due to access to Thoughtseize. They can either take answers to fliers or just cause the Company decks to stumble in the early game.

From these two decks, I find the price of Anafenza, the Foremost and Crackling Doom to be bafflingly low. Both cards are great abstractly and in the current metagame. I'd be happier putting my money into Anafenza, but I'd recommend picking up at least a set of Crackling Doom.



Killing Them With Reach

The most obvious way to use reach to beat an opponent is to load up on Stoke the Flames and Lightning Strike. Atarka Red is still a real deck, but it has some rather serious consistency issues coupled with the fact that the Collected Company deck is capable of producing a lot of blockers quickly.

The real way that I advocate killing them with reach is with the super-spicy fringe Rally the Ancestors decks.


Due to Facebook's incredible utility at enabling stalkers, I saw this list pop up on my feed posted by a friend of a friend of a friend. I don't have any idea who Michael Segal is, but apparently he 4-0'd a daily and 4-1'd a PPTQ with this build:

I have no idea if this deck is actually good, but Rally decks did have a good showing at the first round of RPTQs. There are a lot of individual heavy hitters here, with Rally producing a "combo kill." It's worth noting that if you Rally back a Nyx Weaver you get another crack at Rallying the next turn. Obviously you'll be hoping to rebuy some Sidisis and more Nyx Weavers to reset your graveyard, as Rally exiles, but the option is there to sometimes play a non-lethal Rally to potentially set up a lethal one.

I'm not in love with Rally as a spec target, but it would be very difficult for the card to go down in price. Despite moderate success, the card and deck haven't taken off yet, and it's not hard to imagine a breakout performance at a GP or a post-rotation printing make this card worth a couple bucks in the future.

~

Is Collected Company the new deck to beat, or the flavor of the week? Probably somewhere in between. Khans Standard remains awesome, and there's a deck to play for everybody. There are definitely ways to beat Collected Company, but I'd make sure that I had a plan for the deck before I shuffled up for my next Standard tournament.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

4 thoughts on “Insider: Beating Collected Company

    1. Outside of being able to crack it yourself with Dromoka’s Command or Roast it seems pretty weak. They can just ignore it until they can kill you. I like Hornet Queen though. It’s a card that I meant to mention but forgot to include.

    1. Initially I was going to cover both formats, but I ended up with a lot of information on just Standard. The answers in Modern are a lot easier though, because you can one-for-one them way more efficiently and there are great counterspells for hitting Collected Company.

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