Pilgrimage to Mono Green Ramp in Pioneer

Sam Rolph

Sam Rolph

Introduction

Sam Rolph

Sam Rolph here bringing you a guide on what I believe is one of the best decks in Pioneer. For those unfamiliar with me, I’m a Grand Prix and Magic Online grinder who plays for Hareruya Hopes. I’m a Limited specialist who has been hard at work mastering Pioneer. I won a Pioneer PTQ on Magic Online with GW Knights, and I’ve been keeping up with the constantly changing Pioneer meta.

Mono Green Ramp Decklist and Basics

The list I’m using is based off of well-known Magic Online grinder _Batutinha_‘s list. The list hasn’t changed much because I still think it’s the best build.

Arboreal GrazerLlanowar ElvesElvish RejuvenatorNissa's Pilgrimage

This Mono Green Ramp deck looks unusual to most ramp decks throughout Magic’s history. Ramp strategies generally don’t want to play early creatures to strand early game spot removal in their opponent’s hand in game one. The best ramp spells in this format are 3-drops. This incentivizes us to ramp on turn 1 so we can cast our 3-drops on turn 2. This is why we play eight 1-drops to accelerate us. However, we’re willing to risk it in this deck because the best ramp spells in Pioneer are all 3-drops, and we lack options for 2-drop mana acceleration.

I view this deck as a combo deck. We are trying to assemble lands as quickly as possible so we can cast expensive spells well ahead of curve. Most decks cannot interact well with this plan.

Cavalier of ThornsUlvenwald Hydra

Another powerful axis that this ramp deck fights on is the board. 《Cavalier of Thorns》 and 《Ulvenwald Hydra》 are big creatures with reach that also ramp you, progressing your gameplan. They are fantastic blockers against the aggressive decks. They block all the 《Heart of Kiran》, 《Glorybringer》, 《Steel Leaf Champion》, 《Lovestruck Beast》, etc. while not dying to 《Chandra, Torch of Defiance》. They can also allow you to start pressuring your opponent.

Card Choices

Next, I want to talk about some card choices in this deck.

Mainboard

Lands (27 Total)

Forest

11

Castle Garenbrig

4

Shrine of the Forsaken Gods

4


Radiant Fountain

3

Sanctum of Ugin

3

Arch of Orazca

1

Blast Zone

1

Let’s start with the lands. Since this is a Mono Green deck, we can play a lot of colorless utility lands. We basically only need two green sources to activate 《Castle Garenbrig》. This allows us to play 《Radiant Fountain》 to heal out of burn range against red decks. It also allows us to play 《Shrine of the Forsaken Gods》 which ramps us to 《Ugin, the Spirit Dragon》 and 《Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger》. Finally, we get to play 《Sanctum of Ugin》 which means we get to refill our hands with threats in the late game.

《Cavalier of Thorns》

Cavalier of Thorns

3

《Cavalier of Thorns》 might look like a strange inclusion on the surface. Some lists have cut it in favor of 《Golos, Tireless Pilgrim》 and 《Cascading Cataracts》 for a powerful end game. However the late game of this deck is already so powerful. 《Cavalier of Thorns》 threatens to set up a powerful draw if your opponent kills it to try to push damage through combat. It can also mill 《World Breaker》 which helps fuel your late game.

One Mana Accelerators

Arboreal Grazer

4

Elvish Mystic

2

Llanowar Elves

2

Now let’s talk about the four 《Arboreal Grazer》, four mana elves setup. This decision is a concession to the cheap removal in the format such as 《Wild Slash》 and 《Fatal Push》. You don’t want to trade resources in your ramp deck for your opponent’s 《Wild Slash》. 《Arboreal Grazer》 is also an excellent blocker in the aggressive matchups. Finally, 《Arboreal Grazer》 puts lands into play which rewards us for playing 《Shrine of the Forsaken Gods》. Playing four mana elves does allow our opponents to interact with some of our ramp, but it’s the price we pay to consistently play our 3 mana ramp spells on turn two.

Let’s move on to examine our options for the sideboard.

Sideboard

《Spatial Contortion》

Spatial Contortion

4

This card is for when you need to interact when your opponent’s game plan is too fast. This card is mainly for Mono Red and for mana elf decks. This card obviously doesn’t play to this decks game plan. However, sometimes you need to just slow the opponent down instead of developing your board.

《Perilous Vault》

Perilous Vault

2

This card is for matchups that are trying to go wide on the board. It is great against Sultai Dredge since it exiles permanents. It’s also good against any Food strategy. You can also sideboard it in against midrange. 《Perilous Vault》 discourages midrange decks from committing to the board. They have to play just enough to get you to activated 《Perilous Vault》 without committing too much. This buys you time to cast your powerful late game spells.

《Tireless Tracker》

Tireless Tracker

2

This card is mainly for control strategies. It’s also good against decks that are trying to trade one-for-one with you and not attacking you with creatures. Casting 《Tireless Tracker》 on turn 2 on the play against Azorius can put you so far ahead that it’s hard to lose the game. Be mindful about attacking into 《Azorius Charm》 or 《Blessed Alliance》 though!

《Thought-Knot Seer》

Thought-Knot Seer

4

This card is good vs Azorius Control as it interacts with their hand. It’s also a great blocker against Mono Red decks. It’s hard for the aggressive red decks to cleanly remove this card. Bigger red decks have 《Chandra, Torch of Defiance》 and 《Glorybringer》 that can cleanly remove it, though. I do not like this card against the aggressive black decks since they have access to more spot removal, and it’s also very poor against 《Rankle, Master of Pranks》.

《Damping Sphere》

Damping Sphere

3

This card is a concession to the 《Lotus Field》 deck. This is the one deck that can go over the top of your endgame. If the 《Lotus Field》 deck loses popularity, you can consider cutting it from the sideboard. You are practically forfeiting the 《Lotus Field》 matchup if you don’t have 《Damping Sphere》 in your sideboard, though. Also, be aware of how this card interacts with 《Castle Garenbrig》 and 《Shrine of the Forsaken Gods》.

Sideboarding Guide

Finally, here are sideboard plans for the major matchups.

Azorius Control

Against Azorius Control (On the Play)

Out

Arboreal Grazer Arboreal Grazer Arboreal Grazer Arboreal Grazer
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

In

Thought-Knot Seer Thought-Knot Seer Thought-Knot Seer Thought-Knot Seer
Tireless Tracker Tireless Tracker
Spell QuellerArboreal GrazerMonastery Mentor

Note On the Draw: This only changes if your opponent shows you 《Spell Queller》 you want access to the 《Arboreal Grazer》s so you can cast your 3 drops under the Queller. I also do this vs 《Monastery Mentor》 to be a little bit faster. I bring in 2 extra Grazers and cut the last Ugin and a 《Radiant Fountain》.

Mono Red / Boros Burn: (《Goblin Chainwhirler》 / 《Searing Blood》)

Against Mono Red / Boros Burn

Out

Llanowar Elves Llanowar Elves Elvish Mystic Elvish Mystic
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger World Breaker World Breaker

In

Thought-Knot Seer Thought-Knot Seer Thought-Knot Seer Thought-Knot Seer
Spatial Contortion Spatial Contortion Spatial Contortion Spatial Contortion
Goblin ChainwhirlerLlanowar ElvesSearing Blood

This is one of your worst match ups as they can kill under your threats and mostly ignore the powerful cards that you’re casting. You need to hope that you can trade enough cards with them and that they draw a few too many lands and you hit enough 《Radiant Fountain》s to stabilize. You cut the elves because they’re bad vs 《Searing Blood》 and also 《Goblin Chainwhirler》 and then you just lower the curve because they’re trying to go under you. Same for play and draw!

Gruul Rabbles

Against Gruul Rabbles (On the Play)

Out

Llanowar Elves Llanowar Elves Elvish Mystic Elvish Mystic
World Breaker World Breaker

In

Spatial Contortion Spatial Contortion Spatial Contortion Spatial Contortion
Perilous Vault Perilous Vault

Against Gruul Rabbles (On the Draw)

Out

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger Forest World Breaker

In

Spatial Contortion Spatial Contortion Spatial Contortion Spatial Contortion

Izzet Phoenix

Against Izzet Phoenix (with 《Young Pyromancer》)

Out

Llanowar Elves Llanowar Elves Elvish Mystic Elvish Mystic

In

Perilous Vault Perilous Vault Spatial Contortion Spatial Contortion
Spatial ContortionYoung PyromancerDamping SphereThing in the Ice

(If they’re on 《Young Pyromancer》) Because it’s the only way they can pressure you in a timely manner however if they’re on 《Thing in the Ice》 you want to just slow them down with 《Damping Sphere》 instead of 《Spatial Contortion》.

Mono Black Aggro

Against Mono Black Aggro

Out

Llanowar Elves Llanowar Elves Elvish Mystic Elvish Mystic

In

Spatial Contortion Spatial Contortion Spatial Contortion Spatial Contortion
Fatal PushThoughtseize

If you don’t see 《Fatal Push》 in game 2 I’d bring elves back in on the play for game 3 but not on the draw cutting down on 《World Breaker》. I don’t like bringing cards in that deviate from your main plan as 《Thoughtseize》 can be incredibly punishing if you do this.

Mono Green Ramp Mirror

Against Mono Green Ramp Mirror

Out

Walking Ballista Walking Ballista Walking Ballista Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

In

Thought-Knot Seer Thought-Knot Seer Thought-Knot Seer Thought-Knot Seer
Thought-Knot Seer

The mirror is very play draw dependant. I like having access to 《Thought-Knot Seer》 to try and take apart their hand and break up the curve however this matchup is very hard to gain an edge because of how punishing being on the draw can be!

Conclusion

To sum up, I think Mono Green is one of the premier decks in the format right now however with Pioneer speeding up and getting more aggressive it might not be the best positioned. Thank you for reading and if you’d like to see more of my content you can find me on Twitter and Twitch.

Thank you for reading!

Sam Rolph (Twitter / Twitch)

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Sam Rolph

Sam Rolph Sam Rolph is a Grand Prix and Magic Online grinder from Wales. He introduces himself as a Limited specialist but according to his recent achievements he is also great at Constructed formats. He went 22nd place at GP Columbus 2019 (Modern) with Jund Shadow and won the whole thing at Pioneer PTQ with Selesnya Knights. In addition, he represented team Wales twice and top 8'd in 2017. Read more articles by Sam Rolph