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Bashing Face with Monogreen
Feature Article from Melissa DeTora
Melissa DeTora
3/15/2013 10:00:00 AM
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With Pro Tour Gatecrash and Grand Prix Charlotte in the books, I found myself not having a competitive tournament to attend for a few weeks. With the limited amount of free time I had, I used it to hang out at the local game store and catch up with friends I hadn't seen in a while. They were having a weekly Standard tournament so decided to take my Zombie deck in to battle. In the 3-0 bracket, I found myself up against a weird homebrew deck. It didn't seem like a rogue deck like that would have a chance to beat Zombies, but let's just say that I got crushed and it wasn't close. I was intrigued by this deck and wanted to know more.

A few weeks ago, local player Josh Warren took this deck to a 65 player Super IQ and casually won the whole thing, beating all of the top players and decks in the room including Jund, Esper, Naya, and Wolf Run Bant with no difficulty. Impressed by this result, I took a look at the list.

Monogreen Aggro by Josh Warren
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Arbor Elf
4 Champion of Lambholt
4 Dryad Militant
4 Predator Ooze
4 Rubblebelt Raiders
4 Strangleroot Geist
2 Ulvenwald Tracker
4 Wolfir Silverheart
Creatures [30]
4 Rancor
3 Revenge of the Hunted
Spells [7]
23 Forest (270)
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]


4 Acidic Slime
3 Naturalize
3 Plummet
2 Ranger's Guile
3 Tormod's Crypt
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Since that Super IQ, players at our store have been using variations of Monogreen Aggro to great success. It has really become a strong contender in our local metagame. What makes a simple deck such as this one so powerful?


The Lands
Twenty-three Forests is something we haven't seen in decklists since before Return to Ravnica. Honestly, with the reprinting of the Shocklands, there was really no reason to play only one color. Manabases are as powerful as they have ever been and with zero non-basic land hosers in the format, players can build decks using whatever cards they want. The problem with that however, is we forgot that monocolored decks are actually a thing. We've only had one single color deck before Gatecrash came along, monored, but even that deck usually splashed black. Playing a manabase of twenty-three basics also means that we will never be color screwed, and we will never have those awkward draws where all of our lands come into play tapped.


The Creatures
There are twenty-six of them, which is quite a lot. This deck's only goal is to beat down, so it plays the most efficient and resilient creatures in the format. They all have their uses and can be huge threats in the right matchups.

The one drops are Dryad Militant, Ulvenwald Tracker, and Arbor Elf. Arbor Elf works wonders in this deck because all of the three drops are amazing on turn two. Because the only two-drop in the deck is Strangleroot Geist, that means that if you draw a hand without Arbor Elf, things can get very awkward. Hands without a turn one or turn two play are flat out unkeepable.

Dryad Militant is a very strong card in this format. With the most popular deck being UWR and heavily relying on Snapcaster Mage and flashback spells, Dryad Militant can potentially shut down some of their spells. Of course, having only one toughness makes it very fragile, but this card must be dealt with early or else some cards in the UWR deck are just dead. Usually, you will be happy that your opponent is using removal on the 2/1 rather than on a bigger threat. Let's not forget that Dryad Militant basically shuts down reanimator strategies, which have gotten really popular in this last week. The problem with Dryad Militant is that a 2/1 becomes useless after turn three or so. I remember a time when Savannah Lions was the best one drop aggressive creature in the format. Then when Isamaru, Hound of Konda was printed and you could play both one drops in white weenie decks, players were outraged at how good creatures had become. Obviously, that is no longer the case and the fact that had actually happened is borderline absurd. Now, a 2/1 for one is a fine turn one play, but not so good after that.

Ulvenwald Tracker is a very important card in monogreen because it is the only way that it has to remove creatures. You will always have bigger creatures than your opponent if you are playing this deck, which means that with Tracker in play, you can kill practically anything for only 1G. It also has great synergy with Predator Ooze because not only will the Ooze never die in a fight, but it will also get bigger in the process.

Strangleroot Geist is the only two drop in the deck, but it is one of the best cards in an aggressive deck such as this one. The haste gives this guy a boost against control decks and undying makes it resilient to wrath effects and other removal. With Pillar of Flame no longer being the red removal spell of choice, Strangleroot Geist is better than ever.

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 Predator Ooze
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Predator Ooze is a powerhouse in this deck because there really aren't very many ways to remove it in this format. Tragic Slip is the most efficient way to kill this guy, but that is usually only played in sideboards. Of course, you need to watch out for cards like Detention Sphere and Angel of Serenity.

The next creature I want to discuss is a creature that has really never seen constructed play until now, Champion of Lambholt. This is a very fragile creature, but once it gets going, all of your guys will be nearly unblockable. Rancor and Revenge of the Hunted work very well with this guy, and Revenge will likely provide a lethal attack. Please note that Revenge on the Champion will usually mean that your opponent's guys cannot block it, as the Champion will probably be bigger than your opponent's creatures. If you want to get creatures off the board, cast it on something else.

Another creature that hasn't seen any constructed play as of yet is Rubblebelt Raiders. This guy looks pretty bad as you usually don't want to play a 3/3 on turn four, but once you attack with him, this guy gets out of hand very quickly. One major problem with this card is that it dies to Searing Spear. With Searing Spear being a four-of in any deck playing red, Rubblebelt Raiders is the first card to side out in those matchups.


The Spells
While it's quite obvious why Rancor is in the deck, Revenge of the Hunted may not be as obvious. Because monogreen has no real removal, Revenge is a way to remove untapped creatures from the board. However, I'm actually not a big fan of this card. If you draw it on turn two or three, it will probably not even do anything except dome your opponent for six. If you draw it in your opening hand or draw it when you have no target, it can be really terrible. You may not even get to six mana to hard cast it. Let's not forget that if your opponent has removal for the targeted creature, you've just lost all of your momentum. This card is great in board stalls against opposing creature decks such as Naya Blitz or GW aggro decks, but overall I don't like it in the main deck.


The Sideboard
The sideboard that Josh ran is very straightforward. First, there are Tormod's Crypts against Reanimator. While I usually don't like devoting three cards to one specific matchup, I think it's worth it in this case. Reanimator is a terrible matchup for monogreen because large creatures played very early are very difficult to deal with, and it has no way of stopping the infinite creatures and life combo with Angel of Glory's Rise.

Acidic Slime has a few uses in deck, but the main one is keeping control players off of lands. Control decks will have a hard time winning if they stumble on mana and combine that with the pressure you will be putting on them with your other creatures and they will have a very hard time stabilizing. I also like Acidic Slime against GWB Reanimator or any other deck playing Angel of Serenity. Angel of Serenity is a huge problem for this deck and destroying lands to prevent them from casting it is really important. Also, deathtouch plus fighting kills the Angel outright, so if an Angel does resolve, a sacrificial Acidic Slime can get your guys back.

Plummet pretty much does two things for us: It kills Angels of Serenity and Olivia Voldaren. Creatures that kill or steal other creatures are game over for monogreen, so it's really important to have ways to remove these guys. I wouldn't bring in Plummet against a deck such as UWR. While they have targets for it, I'd rather have more threats against them rather than reactive cards. I don't care if they attack with a Thundermaw Hellkite if I'm just going to kill them on my next turn.

Ranger's Guile seems awesome in this deck. It's very important to protect your creatures against decks that play a large amount of spot removal such as Jund and UWR. Two is the right number because you never want to have multiples of these stuck in your hand with no creatures to play them on.

The last card in Josh's sideboard was Naturalize. I'm not sure if this card is necessary in this metagame, especially as a three of. The artifacts and enchantments that are potential problems for this deck are Detention Sphere, Oblivion Ring, and Staff of Nin, and none of those cards are played as more than a two-of in any deck. Acidic Slime can take care of all of those problems, making Naturalize a wasted sideboard slot.


Adapting the Deck
While this deck has been a powerhouse in my local metagame, there are quite a few things we can do to make the deck better. The first thing I would like to do is cut the Revenge of the Hunted. While they can be game winning cards at the right times, they are just too situational and have the potential to just sit in your hand and do nothing. If you know your opponent is holding removal, then you will never want to play this card. I think that a much better card for this deck is actually Giant Growth. Giant Growth was an important card in Nico Christiansen's first place decklist at Grand Prix Quebec. In a format with lots of Searing Spears and creature combat, Giant Growth is a much better option than Revenge of the Hunted.

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The next thing I'd like to change is the creature curve. Right now there are lots of one and three drops but not many things to do on turn two. Acceleration is very important in this deck, so I'd like to add at least two Gyre Sages. Having early ramp can be a huge difference between winning and losing and I'd really like to have more ways to play a five drop on turn four.

Another thing to consider is splashing a color. While playing another color will make cards like Strangleroot Geist and Predator Ooze much worse, there is one important thing it can gain, and that is access to the strong utility lands of the format. Both Kessig Wolf Run and Gavony Township can be very good in this deck, and adding eight lands (four shocks and four M10 duels) will not hurt the manabase much at all.

The question is which land is better in our deck? Gavony Township gives a tiny bonus to all of our creatures while Kessig Wolf Run gives a big bonus to only one of them. Given that we are playing some huge guys in our deck such as Wolfir Silverheart, Rubblebelt Raiders, and Predator Ooze (ok, he's a 1/1, but he can get big at some point), granting trample to our creatures is really important. Gavony Township is much easier to activate if we decide to run something like Avacyn's Pilgrim, but it does not have the best synergy with undying. Overall, Kessig Wolf Run is just better because it can immediately turn any little creature into a game-winning threat, unlike Gavony which will take a few turns to build up.

As for the sideboard, Naturalize definitely has to go, but what other cards do we want in its place? Our sideboard is well positioned against control, midrange, and Reanimator, but we really don't have much for the aggro mirror. Garruk Relentless seems like a great addition to the deck. It can kill small guys and can search up important cards in the matchup such as Predator Ooze and Ulvenwald Tracker.

Here's the updated decklist:

Monogreen Aggro by Melissa DeTora
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Arbor Elf
3 Champion of Lambholt
3 Dryad Militant
2 Gyre Sage
4 Predator Ooze
4 Rubblebelt Raiders
4 Strangleroot Geist
2 Ulvenwald Tracker
4 Wolfir Silverheart
Creatures [30]
3 Giant Growth
4 Rancor
Spells [7]
13 Forest (270)
2 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]


4 Acidic Slime
3 Garruk Relentless
3 Plummet
2 Ranger's Guile
3 Tormod's Crypt
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!



What cards didn't make it?
It seems like Experiment One is a perfect fit for this deck. It is the best one drop in both Naya and Jund aggro, and it is even seeing play in Modern! Why didn't this card make the cut? If you take a look at our creatures, there actually aren't many ways to evolve Experiment One. A lot of our best creatures, such as Predator Ooze and Champion of Lambholt, start off with only one power or toughness. If we played Experiment One, it may never make it past 2/2.

Gyre Sage, however, did make the cut. The reason that Gyre Sage is better that Experiment One in this deck is because we really only need the Gyre Sage to get one counter for it to be good. His main purpose is to ramp us. Additionally, Gyre Sage fits nicely into our curve, as before we had very few two drops.

I would have liked Avacyn's Pilgrim to make it into the deck, but the problem with him is that he doesn't add green mana. As important as it is to accelerate from one to three mana, white mana does not help us cast Predator Ooze, which will make our draws quite awkward. If we do not get a turn one Arbor Elf, at least we have additional two drops in Gyre Sage.

Finally, we aren't playing one of the best creatures in the format, Thragtusk. The reason he did not make the cut is that we really only have room for one five drop, and in an aggressive deck that plays Kessig Wolf Run, I'd rather have an 8/8 than a 5/3.


Wrapping Up
In today's Standard, we are so used to three color decks being dominant that decks such as this one have completely fallen off of the radar. Mono Green Aggro is a strong deck and with the TCGplayer Open 5ks happening in the upcoming weeks, this deck is an excellent choice. Give it a try at the TCGplayer Open 5k in Orlando this weekend!

Thanks for reading!

Melissa DeTora
Follow me on twitter @AllWeDoIsWinMTG
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