“Blue Essence” into Mono-Green

Pierre Dagen

Lately, Pro Tour Dominaria has been held in Richmond, Virginia. I tested with a group of old friends from what used to be Team Eureka (Immanuel Gerchenson, Aleksa Telarov…) along with my Team Series Squad, Catharsis (Marc Tobiasch, Oliver Polak-Rottman, Niels Molle, Peter Vieren and Piotr Glogowski).

The good thing about testing with the same old group is that (A) I actually like those guys and (B) I know I can trust them…which happened to be extremely important this time around.

Discovering “Mono-Green Stompy” Before the Pro Tour

God-Pharaoh's GiftShalai, Voice of PlentyAngel of Invention

I spent most of the week working on exciting, innovative decks: “WUG (Bant) 《God-Pharaoh's Gift》 featuring the whole 《Gate to the Afterlife》 engine with 《Shalai, Voice of Plenty》 as a back-up plan that also makes your 《Angel of Invention》 much better, Mono-Blue Storm, and above all, Mono-Red 《The Flame of Keld》(along with Marc, even though I apparently enjoy playing basic lands much more than he does).

The Flame of Keld

Most of those were quickly dismissed, but the Mono-Red deck almost made the cut and I was still tuning it 4 hours before decklist submission. I was not convinced by any means, and the deck had quite a lot of variance, posting a bunch of 5-0s on MTGO one day and never winning a game the next.

At some point, I remember Niels Molle telling Aleksa that he felt like the Mono-Red deck would be “a very fun deck to play at a GP”, and I found myself agreeing entirely. Which was definitely not good, since it was a very polite, Niels-like way of saying that my deck was bad.

Llanowar ElvesSteel Leaf Champion

Hence, I dropped it and was left with nothing but a team. I figured that most players had spent the week working on Immanuel’s take on Green Stompy, and were willing to play it after they tested every match-up extensively: they could not be too wrong, so the deck had to be at least solid. I simply picked it up, played a league, won it despite skipping quite a few attack steps due to abusive F6ing, and submitted with a day left to learn the deck inside out. Thank you Wizards for the Wednesday-submission deadline!

Fixing Holes of Mono-Green

Immanuel’s take was a little bit different from your typical MTGO Green Stompy, with two critical findings. The first one was that, in most match-ups, Mono-Green was easily winning except when they drew one of a few cards that Green simply cannot deal with. Those are, in order:

The first two can be stopped with 《Negate》 splashing blue, and the other with 《Hour of Glory》 splashing black. Or, you can just be a little bit smarter and run 《Commit // Memory》 that handles all of them and is also relevant against every non-Mono Red deck. To me, that is the big selling point for our list, since it turns even-ish match ups like UW Control into very favorable ones, without putting too much of a burden on the manabase.

Commit // Memory

The second key idea behind our build is that the explore guys are just weak. 《Merfolk Branchwalker》 is a little bit embarrassing: either it plays out like a 3/2 for 2 mana that filters your deck a little bit, which is very unimpressive, or you hit a land and it just dies to 《Goblin Chainwhirler》 the next turn. 《Jadelight Ranger》 is a little better, but still not cost-efficient enough for an aggressive deck.

Merfolk BranchwalkerJadelight RangerGoblin Chainwhirler

We also did not like 《Greenbelt Rampager》, which is pretty close to a textless 《Thrashing Brontodon》.

Greenbelt RampagerThrashing Brontodon

“Almost” Mono-Green Stompy

Here is the exact list I ended up submitting:

Servant of the ConduitAdventurous ImpulseTerritorial Allosaurus

《Servant of the Conduit》 was the best 2-drop we could think of that did not die to 《Chainwhirler》, and 《Adventurous Impulse》 was just a way to make the deck a little more consistent. The one interesting card is 《Territorial Allosaurus》, that adds even more meat to the deck and play out well in our mana-heavy list since we can easily cast him on turn 3, or even kick him.

The Sideboard

Crushing CanopyRiver's Rebuke

As for the sideboard, most of it is self-explanatory, with 《Crushing Canopy》 being a strong addition against UW (handles their removal and potential 《Lyra Dawnbringer》) and 《River's Rebuke》, a mirror-breaker that seemed a little stronger than just the 4th 《Ghalta》.

Tips for Sideboarding

As for sideboard plans, you usually want to side out 《Ghalta》 in every match-up where they add interaction, and side it in whenever they do not (Mirror or the 《God-Pharaoh's Gift》, mostly). Apart from that, you simply put in the right threat for each match-up and side out some 《Servant》 versus UW Control to have an easier time beating sweepers.

Ghalta, Primal Hunger

The only rule you should never break is : do not side out 《Llanowar Elves》, ever. Yes, it dies to 《Chainwhirler》. Yes, it dies to 《Ballista》. Yes, it walks right into sweepers. But the impact of an uncontested turn 1 《Llanowar Elves》 is just too high to pass. I think your win-rate when you play 《Llanowar Elves》 turn 1, and untap with it, is the low 80’s.

Llanowar Elves

Matchups and Results at the Pro Tour

I went 6-4 at the PT, which is not great and a little bit low result to my average. My matches went as follow:

Round 4, “WB Vehicles”: Won 2-1

This matchup is very easy, they lack sweepers game 1 and do not play enough removal to keep stop you from just running them over with bigger creatures. Post-board, they have a few sweepers, but since they do not have any overwhelming advantage if the game goes long, you can just go for a slower game plan and play around it.

Round 5, “UW Control”: Won 2-0

Game 1 always plays out the same: you drop a big board, attack with it, and whenever you threaten lethal they go for 《Settle the Wreckage》. If you have 《Commit》 at that point, you just win.

Settle the WreckageCommit // Memory

Otherwise, you usually lose since they will punish a slower game plan by just playing 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 and still threatening 《Settle the Wreckage》with the +1 ability. You can still pull ahead, just do not play too carefully since they will almost always have 《Teferi》 in their hand by turn 5 and remember that sacrificing a 《Brontodon》 in response to a 《Cast Out》 trigger means that your creature will never leave the battlefield and deal its damage unchecked.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Round 6, “UG 《God-Pharaoh's Gift》”: Won 2-1

Just like against UW, drawing 《Commit》 will always win you game 1 since they absolutely cannot play around it with all the pressure you are applying. Even post-board, you naturally have 《Brontodon》 to make sure nothing bad ever happens, so their best chance to win is from building a stronger board than yours with their four 《Verdurous Gearhulk》: that is unlikely to happen, and completely impossible if you have 《Ghalta》. Just make sure your sideboarding does not stop you from attacking, i.e. do not side in 《Negate》.

Round 7, “RB Midrange”: Won 2-1

I’d call it a close match-up, and in this case, Gerry Thompson and myself played 3 non-games, two of which came down to him not playing at all. Their pressure is not that bad, and you are likely to be the aggressor.

Rekindling Phoenix

The issue is that they have enough removal to stop you from assembling a huge board (i.e. you will likely not be able to cast 《Ghalta》, early or late) and 《Rekindling Phoenix》 can beat every other creature in your deck.

Rhonas the IndomitableSkysovereign, Consul Flagship

The key cards here are 《Rhonas the Indomitable》 and 《Skysovereign, Consul Flagship》 as both play out well against both removal and 《Phoenix》.

Round 8, “UW 《Approach of the Second Sun》”: Won 2-1

I lost game 1 against my friend Martin Dang, but post-board, the combination of 《Nissa, Vital Force》 and 《Lifecrafter's Bestiary》 is just a lot to handle.

Nissa, Vital ForceLifecrafter's Bestiary

Round 12, “Esper Midrange”: Won 2-1

This is a deck that I knew since Steve Hatto played it in testing: it is a weird animal that essentially plays out like a slow, removal-heavy 《The Scarab God》 deck but also runs the package of 《Knight of Malice》, 《Knight of Grace》 and 《History of Benalia》. For that reason, the deck is capable of very explosive starts, but can also play very slow depending on the opening hand, which makes it harder to sideboard against. The good thing is that out green guys are just much bigger, so we can just ignore their aggro plan and focus on making sure we beat their removal package.

Knight of MaliceKnight of GraceHistory of Benalia

Round 13, “Esper Midrange”: Lost 1-2

That was Piotr Glogowski piloting Steve’s list. All three games were very close, but ultimately, 《The Scarab God》 is just a very strong magic card, and Piotr a very competent player.

The Scarab God

Round 14, “Mono-Green”: Lost 0-2

This is a pretty dumb match-up that only comes down to who plays 《Ghalta》 first (or, in our case, 《River's Rebuke》). You basically want to draw 《Ghalta》 and 《Llanowar Elves》, and mulligan aggressively to get them. I did not.

Ghalta, Primal HungerRiver's Rebuke

Round 15, “Mono-Black”: Lost 0-2

Even though I lost a fun match to Willy Edel, I feel like I am very heavily favored and had to get quite unlucky to lose this one. They play a ton of removal, but mostly lack pressure as long as they do not draw the 《Shade》. Hence, 《Rhonas》 and 《Skysovereign》 are a lot of trouble for them, and 《Lifecrafter's Bestiary》 is very close to unbeatable.

Dread ShadeLifecrafter's Bestiary

Round 16, “Mono-Green (splashing blue)”: Lost 0-2

Exact repeat of round 14, except this time I lost to teammate Jan Ksandr in the 75 cards mirror.

Going Forward

Despite a mediocre result, I feel like Green “blue” Stompy is a very respectable deck. It fares decently well against the top8, with RB being an even match-up and Esper Control and Mono-Red being quite good. Also, with team RPTQs coming up, this is a powerful weapon to have that lets you play the most powerful decks in RB and Esper Control, so you might want to try it.

The Importance of the Vehicles

Going forward, there are a couple of things I would change about our list.

Servant of the Conduit

First, as much as despised 《Merfolk Branchwalker》, I am not comfortable playing 4 《Servant of the Conduit》: the card is just not very good, mostly because it is a terrible pilot.

Thrashing BrontodonGreenbelt Rampager

I was very impressed with 《Thrashing Brontodon》, whose ability is extremely relevant, and its 3/4 body actually matches well against most things. Not only the fourth 《Thrashing Brontodon》, I would also go back to running a pair of 《Greenbelt Rampager》to help driving 《Heart of Kiran》.

Heart of KiranSkysovereign, Consul Flagship

With 2 《Servant》 gone, I do not like 《Territorial Allosaurus》 as much, and I would rather go back to playing 5-drops that just do a little bit more. My first choice, I think it is an important one, is to add an extra 《Skysovereign》 to the main deck: not only does the card shine against the oppressive RB Midrange deck, it also pounces on UB Midrange, which is looking like a very well positioned deck at the moment.

I’d also play an extra 《Verdurous Gearhulk》, simply because the card is very powerful and fits the deck nicely.

Verdurous Gearhulk

Updated Version

Hence, here is where I would lend, and what I will likely play in Grand Prix Copenhagen 2018 unless I join the UB Midrange team:

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this article,

Pierre Dagen

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