(Read the first post about this deck here.)
In my first contentual post on this blog I described the road my Mono Green Control deck has traveled down. What started as a deck based on the two green Ancestral Recalls – Sylvan Library plus Abundance, and Yavimaya Elder – eventually became more and more aggressive, something I have a hard time connecting with. Aggressive decks just aren’t in my nature. The green deck needed a massive overhaul, which I did the first draft of yesterday. Today I’ll show you the list and the thoughts behind it.
Two of my friends came over yesterday to play some FFA-games. I decided to just throw together some 60 cards and see where it would end. As you can probably predict, playing a deck with zero testing experience (not even a single game of goldfishing) is a recipe for failure. But on the other hand, failed games are testing results. It’s just too bad that you lose time testing against your friends when you should just be slinging cardboard without constantly having to adjust the deck and fiddle the numbers.
Here are the initial sixty that found their way into sleeves:
Mono Green Lock – v1.0
We started playing the first game. Rick had his RB/w aggro control deck with Demigods, Ajani Vengeant, Hackblades and Hellsparks. Ralf had his Bounce ‘n Disk, based on what we like to call ‘de gehaktmolen’ (the meatgrinder): Overburden plus Warped Devotion plus Megrim/Liliana’s Caress, and a bunch of bounce spells. A very griefish deck. Creature decks had better pack some anti-measures, or you’d be left with few permanents and just as few cards in hand.
I had a decent starting hand with some lands, a Joraga Treespeaker, a Scryb Ranger and a Root Maze. Static Orb joined the ranks a few turns down the road, but when my Treespeaker was killed, I was utterly helpless. I couldn’t even generate much mana, because the lands Scryb Ranger would return would just enter the battlefield tapped.
The first round of revisions was insufficient. While adding 4 Wall of Roots (in favor of Joraga Treespeaker) added more power – Overgrown Battlement goes up in value, plus it’s a defender that can make mana without tapping, the revisions where just not enough. I wanted to quickly change a bit so we could start our second game quickly. We could, but just as quickly I was out again. Being the optimist, I noticed how Icy‘s ability to tap my Static Orb was amazing, and that I could likely use more of those. Just the synergy of Icy plus Orb stalled the game a lot longer. I, unfortunately, drew blanks for like six turns and died at the hands of Rick’s Lightning Bolts and Burst Lightnings. A mental note was made, noting that the deck could use some more Garruk-interactions, and that Primal Command and the whole tutor-package was probably out of place.
After that I left the deck as it was and played a couple of games with Mono Blue Proliferate (1-1, more on this deck soon as it’s another ‘work in progress’-deck) and Grixis Rosheen (1-0, probably gonna do an article about this deck as well).
My assortment of green cards kept gnawing at me. I had to do something about it. Later that day*, I assembled these sixty cards in the aforementioned sleeves:
Mono Green Lock – v2.0
That’s a lot of changes. For starters, the random Terrain Generator got ousted, and Oran-Rief was replaced with Llanowar Reborn. The deck isn’t very creature-y anymore, so the chance to buff multiple green guys that enter the battlefield on the same turn has been reduced considerably. Besides, Llanowar Reborn does essentially what Oran-Rief used to do, only once, but without costing mana (activating Oran-Rief basically costs G). The Sanctuaries could be any of the green-based Karoos; I added them for synergy with Garruk, Static Orb and Llanowar Reborn, although I did not know about the latter until later.
As I said, I purged the Primal Command-package, so the creature base got tidied up as well. The first big change to the internal workings of the deck comes in the shape of Lodestone Golem, my all-time favorite artifact creature. One of the strengths of the original deck was it’s ability to do cool stuff on turn three, like playing Garruk or Hunting Wilds. I chose to include Lodestone Golem because it synchs so nicely with the filosophy of the deck. More on Lodestone Golem shortly.
Scryb Ranger was also kindly removed from the deck. I felt that with Garruk, 1+ mana generators (Overgrown Battlement, Selesnya Sanctuary) and Wall of Roots (making mana without tapping), Scryb Ranger got more in the way than it was helpful. Add to that the fact that Icy Manipulator tapping Static Orb does the same as Scryb Ranger but is less vulnerable to creature removal and can be found with Ancient Stirrings, and it’s easy to see Scryb Ranger to the door and wave goodbye. Lastly, Eternal Witness needs no introduction or reasoning. She’s just so good. Let’s not waste any more words here and move on to the non-creature department.
Lodestone Golem is also an artifact, which is a card quality that Ancient Stirrings is rather fond of. Primal Command got kicked because the deck had lost it’s creature-based base. In need of something to tie all these artifacts together, I turned to my former Eldrazi-and-Cloudpost-tutor Ancient Stirrings. Right now it can hit 37 cards, statistically** giving you 2 to 3 cards on average to choose from. Ancient Stirrings is also the reason why Orb of Dreams found it’s way in at the cost of Root Maze. Root Maze is a fine first-turn play, but my deck wants to get an early start, and Root Maze just gets in the way. You rather want to drop it a little later so you can utilize mana accelerants, Garruk and/or Selesnya Sanctuary to power out your cards while debilitating your opponents. Plus, tapping creatures when they enter the battlefield is hell combined with Static Orb.
You know how sometimes you think ‘why isn’t there a card that does so and so?’. Well, I got that too. Take, for example, this card, which I’d play in a heartbeat:
Llanowar Trellis – G
Creature – Elf Plant
Defender (This creature can’t attack.)
T: Add G to your mana pool.
Turn 1 Trellis, turn 2 Selesnya Sanctuary, turn 3 Garruk and Static Orb? Or how about, Magical Christmasland-style, turn 1 Trellis, turn 2 Selesnya Sanctuary and Wall of Roots or Overgrown Battlement (depending on which one wouldn’t be kicked out by Trellis), turn 3 Garruk and Lodestone Golem. Sure, that’s really pushing it, but it shows how fast this deck could be. As a matter of fact, I might start testing Llanowar Elves in the slot of probably Overgrown Battlement to see how much +1/-3 matters.
Elephant Grass joins Lodestone Golem in the slots dedicated to ‘if you wanna do anything it’s gonna cost ya’. Attacking? Sure, no problem. Just pay 2 for each creature. It’s like a very cheap Angelic Arbiter in this deck. All the additional costs the opponent has to go through slowly but surely add up, moreso when you consider that untapping is scarce with a Static Orb. The core looks and feels (from goldfish testing) very solid and I’d love to try it out.
The other cards in the deck were in v1.0 already. I talked about all of those cards (Icy, Garruk, both Orbs) at various points during this article. Before, I said Icy could and should be a four-of. While I’d love to find room for the fourth one, having Ancient Stirrings makes me a bit more comfortable playing just three. The same goes for 3 Orb of Dreams, as opposed to 4 Root Maze.
So there you have it, a tangible list. The only glaring problem I have with the deck is Thornling. No matter how much I like him, I’d rather play a creature that can be found with Stirrings. I’m thinking of Steel Hellkite, Wurmcoil Engine and Masticores of the Molten-Tail and Razormane variety. Anyone dare to chime in? With Elephant Grass holding creatures back, evasion (Steel Hellkite) or self-providing removal (Molten-Tail Masticore) are at a premium. Testing will tell what the best card is for the job. I like to take a note every time I draw a card I’m having second thoughts about. I just note if the card is wanted at that very moment and if not, which of the alternatives I’d rather have. After a while you’ll start to see a pattern and the best candidate should emerge.
It remains to be seen how well this deck fares against real opponents. If I have my next play session I will definitely make a post about it afterwards. The biggest question I have, besides the finisher-question (not only ‘which creature?’, but also ‘is two slots enough?’), is if Ancient Stirrings can bear the weight as the only spell that resembles card draw and tutoring. Harmonize is out of the question with an already clogged four-spot. I’m keeping an eye on you, Ohran Viper! (Especially when Molten-Tail Masticore starts dipping his paws into Eternal Witness‘ playground – the ‘yard -, rendering her a tad useless.)
As with anything I post, every piece of feedback is valuable to me, be it about the game or about my writing. There is only so much one brain can do and the interwebs is a brilliant place for sharing and making collective progress with others. Deckbuilding 2.0!
* This was after various trial and error-based inclusions and exclusions. The v2.0-list is the most recent list. For simplicity sake I decided not to include the v1.x-lists.
** I am very bad at statistics. Well, not very bad, but there probably is a more accurate method to get the chance than 37 divided by 60.