Sometimes you don’t need to build a new deck from scratch. Sometimes there’s one waiting inside another deck – of yours, of a friend, or of a list you saw online. Today I tell the story of the deck hiding inside Mono Green Lockdown.
The green journey
The journey of this deck started a long time ago with the combo of Abundance and Sylvan Library. I wrote about the entire journey on this very blog, namely here and here. For the sake of not having to click away from the article, let me summarize the journey of the deck up until now.
Mono Green Control was the first version of the deck. Abundance, Sylvan Library and Yavimaya Elder ensured I drew a lot of cards. Elephant Grass kept attackers at bay, and Hunting Wilds and Garruk Wildspeaker where among my win conditions.
The second iteration of the deck picked up a few lock elements. At first, the lock was pretty hard. Root Maze takes care of permanents entering the battlefield and Static Orb keeps a lot of them tapped. I had Scryb Ranger, Garruk, Icy Manipulator and Selesnya Sanctuary to mitigate the damage. The deck wasn’t effective, wasn’t fun to play, nor to play with.
After a period of not touching the deck I revived it by adding blue and Sword of Feast and Famine. The latter made the deck actually viable, giving me a more reliable way to untap all my stuff while my opponent struggles.
With adding blue, I ventured into the profitable business of spells with flash. I added Yeva, which gave the deck a whole new twist. It makes the Sword even better, allowing you to double your mane during your combat step should the creature connect. Fact or Fiction was a nice touch from the blue splash, as were the control elements of Pestermite, Spellstutter Sprite and Cloud of Faeries. Too bad I couldn’t find the right configuration.
I eventually reverted back to monogreen. Cold-Eyed Selkie drew me cards, Yavimaya Dryad was a Wood Elves+ because I could give my opponent a Breeding Pool so that Selkie would connect. Stampeding Wildebeests was an undercosted trampling beater who could bounce my Dryads, Witnesses, and Timbermares. It was fun, but only for a while.
A week ago I played the deck again after months of not playing with it. The deck was fun again, which was nice, but I knew there was something I had to try. A few cards that got released in the meantime, in a set called Theros, with a mechanic called devotion. I made a few changes. I tried goldfishing it. It was insane.
On to the deck
With Garruk and Sword already in the deck, adding Nykthos was an attractive option. I never knew how good that card was until after the Pro Tour. I play a few copies in my B/w Devotion deck, but there it’s nowhere near as powerful as it is here. Without further ado, here’s my current list.
Mono Green F&F
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Selesnya Guildmage
4 Voyaging Satyr
4 Ohran Viper
4 Polukranos, World Eater
3 Yeva, Nature’s Herald
2 Arbor Colossus
4 Sword of Feast and Famine
4 Garruk Wildspeaker
4 Gruul Turf
2 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
3 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
1 Stomping Ground
Let’s all break it down in digestible bite size pieces. First, the most obvious part to start for any deck and more so for this one
Twenty-three lands is a tad on the low side, but Birds and Satyr can help me get started even on a few lands. Satyr is like a cheaper Garruk. Garruk originally generated two mana or created a beast. Gruul Turf (which used to be Selesnya Sanctuary, but we’ll get to that later) occasionally spiced up the mana production of ol’ Wildspeaker. Satyr was tailor made to abuse Nykthos, so adding both of those was always part of the plan.
Burning-Tree Emissary is Nykthos’ partner-in-crime in Standard, but I was reluctant to add him. I’m glad I did, as he helps put the deck into combo territory. It’s still an interactive deck, but it has the lure of the mono green Nykthos deck that impressed me on the Pro Tour coverage.
Kessig Wolf Run is a great way to win the game. As it turns out, I like such cards. When they’re lands, I like ’em even more. This slot used to be Vhitu-Ghazi. I needed a way to spend my mana for the cases in which I couldn’t flash in Yeva or another creature. The City Tree was a good solution, but given that my deck has no trampling creatures, I made the switch. Kessig Wolf Run let me continue to have a threatening land while filling the trampling void.
That change had some interesting repercussions. I removed Llanowar Elves in favor of Birds of Paradise, which used to be in the deck because flying is a great way to ensure a Sword-hit. I needed the Elves a while for the Champion-requirement of Wren’s Run Packmaster, a great mana sink. I’m glad BoP is back.
Of threats no shortage here. It can start as early as turn two, with a BoP-powered Ohran Viper. I used to play Cold-Eyed Selkie because of its synergy with Yavimaya Dryad, but I cut that one for Satyr. Without additional support, I find Selkie lacking and situational. Viper often comes through unblocked and can stall would-be attackers. Swording up another creature gives my opponent a tough blocking conundrum.
The four-spot is where it’s at. With eight early accelerators, a turn three four-drop is very much a possibility. We have the flexible Garruk, flashy Yeva, and huge Polukranos (I call him Polly, just like you can call a boy Sue). Garruk untaps Nykthos, Turf, Oran-Rief, and even Kessig Wolf Run. Yeva is good on its own, better with creatures or Sword, and insane with both. Imagine this. Turn four, I drop Yeva EOT. Turn 5, I equip Sword and connect. With the trigger on the stack, I tap three lands, then untap all and tap them again for 8 mana total. This is without taking Nykthos into account! If that were the case, we’d be talking double digit mana, easily. Even without Yeva, the deck has plenty of ways to use the mana. I’m glad Monstrosity works at instant speed, lemme tell ya.
There really isn’t much of a ‘rest’ to talk about, though. We have Selesnya Guildmage, which is an early game Nykthos-enabler and a late-game Saproling Gatling gun. Another card I haven’t talked about, Oran-Rief, makes all those Saprolings just a tad more impressive. And with four Guildmages in the deck, I’m glad I made the switch from Vhitu-Ghazi to Kessig Wolf Run.
Arbor Colossus is ‘just’ another fatty, really, deterring flyers and perhaps eating one when it grows big for just one more mana than its casting cost.
Then play on
As with most of the decks I’ve written about here, the writing preceded the actual interactive playing. I’m going to draft with Rick tomorrow, in a store near where he lives, and I guess there’s going to be some time to play with casual decks before and after. I just hope the cards will be in the mail tomorrow, since I don’t like playing with proxies. Now to get those last two Nykthos…