Let’s Kill: ANT

June 10, 2014

This entry is part 7 of 12 in the series Let's Kill

Hayes ANT isn’t really associated with any Commander in particular. It is more of a playstyle. For some, it is a lifestyle.

For those of you who don’t know what ANT stands for picture Emperor Palpatine jolting Mace Windu with a dose of force lightning. ANT makes you feel like an omnipotent being who is blasting your entire table away with seemingly unlimited resources propelling you to victory.

The idea behind ANT is to do nothing but build up your land/card count for a few turns and then power out a huge string of spells into Tendrils of Agony or any other storm based card. The deck draws inspiration from the legacy archetype and the more recent modern deck piloted by Jared Boettcher.

There’s no clear cut choice as to who is the best commander for this deck. All that matters is you need 5 colors so you can have access to everything. I’d pick Child of Alara because of her ability to scare away possible attackers, but other vanilla five color commanders are OK picks as well. This is partially because ANT is an extremely unpopular deck archetype. The turn that you win could take a long time to resolve if your opponents don’t concede to you. This feeds into the general assumption that some players in the EDH community don’t like playing against decks that win while ignoring nearly all the other players in the game. Playing five color generals that look friendly and are not politically contagious can lure your opponents into a false sense of securly so you can swoop in and steal the game. ANT is especially good at playing underneath a false general because ANT doesn’t have to reveal cards that are relevant to their strategy. Pilots can look innocent and cute while casting their ramp and card draw spells and then turn the corner and win in one swoop.

Any ANT deck needs to be able to have access to lots of mana the turn it decides to go for the win. The constructed tournament decks usually have multiple copies of dark ritual, lotus petal, or other momentary mana accelerants to get them to their required pinnacle. In EDH, we can’t rely on this plan because we can’t have multiple copies of cards in our decks. If we are going to be able to consistently win with our deck we need multiple paths to victory.

Ramp and Acceleration

Ramping and drawing cards can be incredibly simple and should be. You don’t want to be drawing attention to your strategy. Stick to simple lands like basics and the ravnica shock lands. You can fetch more of them with cards like farseek and skyshroud claim. It is OK to include dark ritual and other one shot mana accelerants, but you need to realize that those cards can’t be overabundant in your deck. Ramp spells generate resources that can be used on future turns indefinitely. Dark ritual is useful for only one turn.

Drawing cards can be just as simple, but its harder to put in better draw spells that don’t give away what your strategy is. Cards like careful study and faithless looting can be effective in sculpting your hand for future turns. Manamorphose and frantic search should always be included because they allow you to sculpt your hand and the colors of mana available to you. Don’t ignore simple draw spells like divination or urban evolution. They play a role similar to the ramp cards in your deck. Divination and Urban Evolution set you up for future turns while Manamorphose and Frantic Search are there for the turn you are trying to win.

Becoming Omnipotent

You’ve got the mana. Now you need the tools. There are four main ways that the ANT deck can win in EDH.

Ad Nauseam

Now more popular in Modern because of the application of Angel’s Grace and lightning storm in modern. You don’t need the Angel’s Grace to win it in EDH, but it does help. If you have 30 or 25 life you can comfortably get away with munching away at enough cards until you hit one of you win cons (or a search card that can get you there, like enlightened tutor). You usually don’t want to Ad Nauseam on your turn because that’s not efficient. Ideally you are trying to Ad Nauseam right before your turn then untap and win.

Dream Halls

While Ad Nauseam can push you into the win you can draw your win cons naturally. One way is through Dream Halls. It allows you to propel yourself to victory even after you run out of mana. Conflux can fetch you a string of cards that you can cast for free because you can fetch multicolored cards that can be discard to pay for the other cards. This could mean you fetching something like Eternal witness that could allow you to recast Conflux to go get more cards. Things like Progenitus also allow you to cycle through your deck multiple times for more ways to recur Conflux.

Omniscience

This is living the dream of near unlimited resources. You can fetch this with Conflux or Enlightened tutor and with a quick burst of mana accelerate yourself to casting Omniscience. Even hard casting this 10 drop enchantment isn’t out of the question. Once you have it online you can cast any tutor card or all of your card draw spells cards to find a number of ways to draw your deck. Enter the Infinite is ideal, but going the Conflux route is similarly good.

Eye of the storm

This card is great, but much more narrow. It is good only if you have a lot of cantrips. It can be awkward at times because you will probably have to cast the enchantment and pass the turn leaving yourself defenseless for a full turn before you can try to win the following turn. Eye of the storm is good with Cantrips because it allows you to copy card draw effects and mana producing effects for free. If you hit the right cards it can allow you to eventually draw out your deck, build up your storm count, and cast your win conditions.

What really makes this deck consistent are the primary tutors in EDH; Demonic tutor, Mystical Tutor, and Enlightened Tutor. They are cheap and versatile and allow you to set yourself up to win on the following turn.

Winning the game

Piloting the deck to these points is most of what playing the deck is all about. Once you have the ability to cast basically anything you want you have two options: build up a storm count or win off a Laboratory Maniac. Building up a storm count high enough to kill all of your opponents can take a long time and might require aYawgmoth’s Will or a Past in Flames. Just bear in mind your ability to recast all your spells, it is one of the ways in which playing ANT can be difficult. While An Nauseam, Dream Halls, Omniscience, and Eye of the storm allow you to cheat and cast your cards in alternate ways it can hinder the ways in which you can build up a storm count. If you cast Enter the infinite with an Omniscience in play you are probably not going to be able to build up a high enough storm count because you can’t cast cantrips because you will deck yourself. Adding a way to recycle your deck like Elixir of Immortality could work, but adding Laboratory Maniac is probably easier to defend.

How do I fight ANT?

ANT is much more difficult to fight against in EDH than it is in constructed formats. Removal and hate cards are way less prevalent and less format focused. A Thalia, guardian of Thraben can knock an ANT off for a few turns. The ANT deck can retaliate though. I’ve seen various builds utilize Burning Wish and Cunning Wish to allow them to have access to specific counter-hate cards and alternate win conditions so they can be more flexible.

Land destruction can be way more destructive to an ANT player, but that has lots of political negative stigma.

When building for a metagame it is easy to anticipate fighting against ANT, you’ll be prepared for it. But in scenarios when your going to a Grand Prix or a bigger event you won’t be as familiar with what decks your opponents are playing with.

If you have any tech not shown here and would like to share it feel free. I hate ANT, and hope that this article can help people understand how it works so they can better fight it. Contact information below.

Hayesthehayes@gmail.com

@hayesthehayes

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