9 June 2020
Tech-Edge is a new-player friendly column featuring iterative deck techs! Check back in two weeks to see your favorite article revisited and discussed after further experimentation during play testing!
I’m Amber, or HyperMizutsune on Discord and Arena. I’ve been playing Magic since Magic 2012, but Innistrad was what really pulled me in for the long term. I had a hiatus from the game starting with Khans of Tarkir, and when Ixalan came out, my love of the game was reignited. I’ve been attending prereleases for every set since Rivals of Ixalan, and I’ve been playing Arena since January of 2020, where I primarily play Draft and Gladiator.
Mono-Green Stompy looks to play large creatures ahead of the curve, to attack for lethal damage before the opponent has time to deal with each threat you play. The deck is fairly linear, as it aims to be aggressive most of the time, but is resilient enough to switch to defense and grind, if the need arises.
It’s not a Mono-Green deck without creatures. Mana dorks, small creatures that tap for mana, like Paradise Druid, Llanowar Elves, and Leafkin Druid accelerate us into bulky, flexible creatures. These threats are efficiently costed, and can crash in for lots of damage ahead of the curve. These include cards like Ghalta, Primal Hunger and Steel Leaf Champion. Many of the creatures also have extra utility, like Questing Beast, Ripjaw Raptor, and Deathgorge Scavenger, that help us to gain value over the course of the game so that the deck can still stay in it even if it starts to fall behind.
Our all-star huge creatures are backed up by potent non-creature spells like the powerful planeswalkers, Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate who can take over the game on their own if unanswered. Punch spells like Ram Through and Thrash help to clear the way for our threats. The Great Henge and Guardian Project can also snowball quickly by drawing additional threats to close out a slow match. Shared Summons is a card I definitely underrated when I first made the deck. When the game goes long, being able to search up the perfect two creatures to fit the current situation is incredibly useful, a powerful effect for 5 mana!
In an optimal game, the game plan is linear. You play early acceleration in the form of mana dorks and ramp, and then play threat after threat. If unanswered, you can look to win the game fairly fast. Early disruption from the opponent can slow the game down, but most of our creatures and planeswalkers make for great topdecks, even if everything that’s been cast has been destroyed or countered.
An ideal game might look something like this:
Turn 1, play a Forest and Llanowar Elves.
Turn 2, play a Forest and Steel Leaf Champion.
With a good hand and draws, the game can close out by turn 4 or 5. However, this deck can also be in it for the long game if it has to be. Plenty of games become board stalls, where both players keep building up creatures. Slamming down God-Eternal Rhonas or End-Raze Forerunners is usually just what’s needed to break through with the last points of damage. There’s a few creatures in the deck that have reach to help defend against fliers, and some deathtouch creatures that discourage creatures from attacking if this deck falls behind. So while on paper, the deck is linear, in practice, it’s fairly flexible, and acts more like a midrange deck than an aggro deck.
The deck also has creatures that are hard to remove. Shifting Ceratops and Carnage Tyrant are difficult to interact with, especially when up against a blue deck. Crystalline Giant is similarly annoying to deal with, depending on the order it gets the ability counters in. If it gets flying, menace, or hexproof early, it can be difficult for the opponent to interact with.
Mono-Green Stompy also has access to limited ways of getting cards out of the graveyard. Feasting Troll King can bring itself back from the graveyard once it dies, as long as nothing happens to the food tokens it creates. Pulse of Murasa is a great instant that can bring a creature back, but also gains 6 life, which is especially helpful against other aggressive decks. Lastly, when Cavalier of Thorns dies, it can put any card from the graveyard on top of the library, guaranteeing that the next draw is good if necessary.
The mana base for Mono-Green Stompy is very straightforward. The land base is almost entirely basic Forests, with only a few key utility lands that the deck can make use of. Tranquil Thicket is a cycling land that can function as a land if need be, but more than likely will be cycled for a different card. Memorial to Unity helps to find a creature later in the game when there’s mana to spare on the activated ability. Field of Ruin can destroy lands like Castle Lochthwain and Field of the Dead that give the opponent value over time. Lastly, Castle Garenbrig, while functionally another Forest most of the time, helps accelerate the deck’s mana even faster once 4 mana can be dumped into its activated ability.
Some of my card choices in the deck have been shaped by how the gladiator meta has developed thus far. This deck has a difficult time interacting with graveyard strategies, so I’ve included Return to Nature and Deathgorge Scavenger to pick out specific threats from the opponent’s graveyard, which is especially useful when used to disrupt reanimation effects like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, and Woe Strider.
Enchantments show up fairly often, especially in white decks, where some of the better removal is cards like Prison Realm and Banishing Light. Return to Nature and Gemrazer are good for dealing with these problematic permanents, freeing our creatures to continue the beatdown. Destroying game-ending enchantments like Omniscience just before the opponent pops off is also handy.
Gruul Aggro is generally a faster deck than this one. A fast start is generally preferred against Gruul, so that they are forced onto the defensive before they can put too much pressure on the deck. Early defensive creatures with high toughness also help to slow down the oncoming aggression. Some 1-2 drops like Leafkin Druid and Arboreal Grazer can usually block Gruul’s 1-2 drops. If Gruul starts to get an edge in speed and ramp, though, it likely will spell disaster.
Control decks are an interesting matchup for Mono-Green Stompy. While it’s often a matter of playing creatures and hoping the opponent isn’t holding up counterspells or removal, the deck does carry some cards that act as silver bullets against control. Shifting Ceratops and Carnage Tyrant are persistent/slippery creatures, with the former being a beating against blue-based control decks, and Carnage Tyrant being a menace to any control deck, provided a non-red board wipe like Cleansing Nova isn’t dropped. Against control, mono green wants to play as aggressively as possible to kill the opponent before they can stabilize and take over the game.
This deck can struggle against decks that are aiming to build up lots of small creatures, whereas this deck is generally aiming at a handful of bigger creatures. This means that if a token deck can gain a lot of early momentum, it will likely overwhelm with sheer numbers. Against token decks, it is helpful to play aggressively for as long as possible, but be prepared for a board stall towards the midgame. End-Raze Forerunners and God-Eternal Rhonas are great cards in these matchups, when both sides are building up creatures, but neither can commit to a solid attack.
A good opening hand will generally have 3-4 lands, and a few creatures that cost 4 or less mana. Ideally, there is also a mana dork amongst those creatures. Keeping a hand with no plays until turn 3 is risky, because that gives the opponent multiple free turns to seat up their defenses, making the slow start even slower. However, games can still be won that way, especially if the turn 3 play is something like Steel Leaf Champion, or if the opponent is on a slower deck. Hands with less lands are okay, provided you have one or more mana dorks, but if you know you’re against a deck with early removal, especially in black or red, a hand with few lands and some mana dorks is not advised.
A few examples of good opening hands would be:
Cards That Didn’t Make the Cut
These are cards I either cut from earlier iterations of the deck, didn’t feel quite made it in, or otherwise have yet to try out.
Charge of the Forever-Beast – This seems like a decent green removal spell, but is bad in the later game. It could potentially be very good in the early to mid game.
Arasta of the Endless Web – I played Arasta in the earlier iterations of this deck, but she’s not that aggressive, and she often ends up only making a single spider off of her ability.
Beast Whisperer – This serves a similar function to the other card draw spells like The Great Henge and Guardian Project, but being a creature makes it more susceptible to removal, and the body isn’t amazing, so it doesn’t support the aggressive gameplan.
Territorial Allosaurus – Very good body, with an alternative fight mode for later in the game. I’ll probably craft and try it at some point.
Vivien Reid – She’s a solid planeswalker, but her downtick isn’t always relevant, and her uptick can whiff, in addition to none of her abilities granting self-protection in a vacuum.
Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar – While Multani has resilience in being able to later return from the graveyard, being reliant on land count for power and toughness can be awkward when the deck has mana dorks, since it might actually end up being below curve relative to the cost.
Pelakka Wurm – This is mainly a card that I just overlooked, and plan to include as another big top end creature once I get more wildcards.
Thunderous Snapper – The body is solid, but I’m not sure if there’s enough converted mana cost 5+ cards in the deck for it to be worth it.
Mono-Green Stompy is a very accessible deck from a gameplay perspective. It can appeal to brand new and experienced players alike. The deck is linear, but complex enough to remain fun and engaging. That said, Mono-Green Stompy is not the easiest to make with a new Arena account. It can be done, and the starter decks do have a decent number of good green cards. However, green staples like Questing Beast and The Great Henge will need to be crafted or opened in packs. In my current list, the following cards are provided in the mono-color and two-color starter decks:
These cards offer a decent start to the deck, and other starter deck cards can still find a home in a Mono-Green Stompy list if you’re just starting out. Green has plenty of good creatures that you are bound to collect from drafts, packs, and other rewards, and many of them aren’t even rare or mythic rare. In my list, about half of the cards that aren’t basic lands are commons and uncommons (28 combined), and there are only 9 mythic rares. There are 29 rares in my list, but many of those can easily be substituted based on preference and budget, and the deck should still run fine. Some more budget friendly options that are either at common and uncommon, or from the starter decks, are:
Aggressive Mammoth, Titanic Brawl, Kenrith’s Transformation, Kronch Wrangler, Pounce, Syr Faren, the Hengehammer, Arlinn’s Wolf, Excavation Mole, Fertilid, Reclamation Sage, Fierce Witchstalker, Gruul Beastmaster, Auspicious Starrix, Challenger Troll, Colossal Dreadmaw, Greater Sandwurm, Rampart Smasher, Thunderous Snapper
To review, Mono-Green Stompy is a mostly linear deck with some complexity to it, which lends itself well to new and experienced players alike. It is an aggressive deck that looks to ramp into large, versatile threats that put pressure on your opponent ahead of the curve. The deck has a lot of staple cards at rare and mythic rare, but can also feasibly be built with a budget in mind. There are no key cards that the deck cannot function without, aside from the mana dorks, which are mostly common or uncommon.
In two weeks, I’ll be back with another article about this same deck. I’ll be playing as many games as I can with it, and reporting back my findings. I’ll figure out what works well and what doesn’t, and what cards could be swapped in for the ones that don’t work out. I’ll also be discussing upcoming cards from Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation that I’m looking forward to adding.