Easy Being Green, Part II

Given the results of French Regionals and the Last-Chance Philadelphia qualifiers, it’s probably safe to say mostly-Green (it’s not mono-Green, so stop calling it that) is, if not Tier 1, knocking at the door. I’ve been testing the hell out of Green Party, the deck from my last article, and I’ve made the some discoveries and learned some lessons about the strengths and weaknesses of the deck.

I’ve pretty much decided that, come Regionals, I’ll be playing something with Green in it. I mean, seriously, I’ve been testing the hell out of various Green decks and there’s just too much love not to play with the Forest-folk…Sakura Tribe-Elder, Birds of Paradise, Eternal Witness, Troll Ascetic…that’s a veritable Plato’s Retreat congregation of all-star creatures right there.

I’ll give you a moment to get that image out of your head. If you get the reference. If you do, you must have been one of Dennis Miller’s four viewers.

Ignoring the arcane references, let’s examine the rise of the mostly-Green, shall we?

I don’t pretend to understand some aspects of the French mostly-Green decks. I mean, one Dosan the Falling Leaf? If you’re fighting MUC, aren’t you going to need more of these? Or am I missing something?

Then there’s this deck from the LCQs at PT – Philly:

With twelve shuffle effects, I can see why you’d want to run the Top. But no Troll Ascetics in the main? Wood Elves? Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Results are results, though, and it’s probably safe to say mostly-Green (it’s not mono-Green, so stop calling it that) is, if not Tier 1, knocking at the door.

I’ve been testing the hell out of Green Party (the deck from my last article; go back and read it if you haven’t… it’s a good read, if I do say so myself), and I’ve made the some discoveries and learned some lessons about the strengths and weaknesses of the deck. Such as…

Removal Is Never A Bad Thing.

You know what’s missing from mostly-Green decks? Removal. I know, I know, this is a creature-based rush deck, but you know what? This isn’t exactly Stompy. No turn one 3/3s here, nor Winter Orbs. Umezawa’s Jitte is the bee’s knees, but I found I needed something with a little more oomph. Dipping into Red is no problem for a deck with this much mana fixing; ergo, Magma Jet was a perfect addition. Not only burn that can go to the dome but it also adds that an element of library manipulation.

To make room for Magma Jet, I took out Beacon of Creation. Before Bennie Smith starts sending me hate mail, let me explain. To support Magma Jet, I’m running more Mountains (the exact number has vacillated between two and six), hence, fewer Forests. Fewer Forests equal less effective Beacons. And what would you rather have for four mana on turn 3? Three or four 1/1s (not very scary) or a 5/5 beatstick (considerably scarier)?

The Time For Rushwood Dryad Might Not Quite Be Now.

If I have a weakness…okay, if I have weaknesses, one of the biggest is falling in love with Ideas That Seem Cool But May Not Be Quite That Cool. Case in point: Rushwood Dryad. Oh, it’s still good. But the problem I’ve encountered is that, while he’s great at beating down…he’s not too quick about it sans equipment, and I’ve got a glut of X/1 creatures against the likes of Vulshok Sorcerer. I’ve moved him out of the build for now – although based upon metagame shifts (such as Beacon Green becoming the top of the heap), the Dryad may make a triumphant return. Or continue to be ignored. We’ll see.

Iwamori of the Open Fist vs. Karstoderm.

Two 5/5s for 2GG. Both with problematic drawbacks. Karstoderm shrinks in the wash, Iwamori brings trample to the party (which is great with equipment) – but, much like that lout of an ex-boyfriend, tends to bring unwelcome guests with him like Kokusho, Meloku, and Kiki-Jiki.

And don’t let the Kodamas get anywhere near the liquor cabinet. They’re mean drunks.

There have been times when Iwamori’s drawback has been a non-factor, and then there’s the time my opponent gets a free Kokusho…

Clearly, more experimenting is called for. But for now, we’re going with Iwamori and Kodama of the North Tree. Why Kodama of the North Tree, especially after I dissed it previously? It does trample as well, can’t be targeted, and with only one slot remaining in the deck after changes, it didn’t seem to make much sense to only run one Karstoderm.

Aside: Are Iwamori and Jerrard of the Closed Fist related? Can someone get back to me on that?

Perhaps I Was Too Quick To Dismiss Plow Under.

My game plan against Tooth and Nail is basically to concede game one, bring in Cranial Extractions, go on to win games two and three. That’s been an effective strategy – but if you don’t draw the Extractions, you don’t win. Also, Tooth still has two castable win conditions left in the deck; Darksteel Colossus and Sundering Titan, which they can easily cast on turn 5 even without a Tooth. They’re two cards out of sixty, but they do show up.

So Mr. Plow (that’s his name) has made an appearance. Let’s give him a big hand.

Yeah, it’s still Green Party, even with a Red splash. Consider it the anarchistic tree-spiking wing.

As promised, a tighter sideboard. Aether Vial is your best weapon against MUC (and Boil ain’t too shabby either), Cranial Extraction is your previously mentioned anti-Tooth weapon, and Splinter and Naturalize provide a little extra anti-artifact defense…

Splinter has proven quite effective on occasion, especially against odd rogue decks packing Ensnaring Bridge and the like, as well as against other equipment-heavy decks.

Gone are the Swords of Light and Shadow and Matsu-Tribe Snipers. They were originally there to fight White Weenie, but Green Party – especially with a bit of Red – shreds White Weenie even without a sideboard, and mono-Black decks are considered Tier 2 at best these days.

The Boils could turn back into Rushwood Dryads again depending upon the direction the metagame shifts, or perhaps Blanchwood Armor. Right now, the existing metagame seems to be primarily Tooth and Nail and MUC at the top, with Ponza and various G/x builds nipping at their heels.

Speaking of which, how does the new and improved Green Party (New motto: No Naders!) fare against the existing metagame?


This matchup rotates around three cards: Bribery, Hibernation, and Spectral Shift.

Maindeck Bribery is a real pain in the behind, if your opponent is smart and goes for Kodama of the North Tree to act as a blocker. Iwamori isn’t good either, but you can at least get rid of him with your other copy. If your opponent decides go for the drain-your-Witnesses route, that’s actually not too bad, since that ties up their mana for a few turns while they produce chump blockers that you can burn out or Jitte away. Remember, beware the Danger of Cool Things. Obviously, if MUC is not running main deck Bribery, you will most likely want to side out the fatties.

That leaves the other sideboard options: Hibernation and Spectral Shift. Hibernation is starting to show up in MUC sideboards with the rise of the G/x decks, and, as already mentioned, Spectral Shift hoses both Boil and Choke. However, there’s only so much room in individual sideboards, so the theory goes that the odds of seeing Hibernation and Spectral Shift is unlikely.

Ideally, you get to go first and go turn 1 Bird, turn 2 Ascetic, opponent scoops. An early Zealot is always welcome as well; just remember to leave mana open for him at all times. If you can force the MUC player to tap out at some point, often when forced to cast a chump-blocking Meloku that should be all the opening you need.

Should, that is.

Sideboarding vs. MUC

-2 Iwamori of the Open Fist, -1 Kodama of the North Tree, -4 Plow Under

+4 Aether Vial, +3 Boil

After game one, Aether Vial shines. A turn 1 Vial negates a good quarter of MUC’s defenses.

You could consider Gaea’s Herald in lieu of the Vial, but the Vial has the advantage of being a) Hibernation-proof and b) useful against other match-ups. Boseiju, Who Shelters All isn’t that great, either, since Green Party is mostly creature-based. I would call this matchup favorable, but not by much.

I’d call the matchup fairly favorable but unforgiving to sloppy play.

Vs. Tooth and Nail

The Plow Unders at least give you a chance in game one. I did discover a neat trick when your opponent has most of the Urzatron in play and a Sakura-Tribe Elder guarding the fort: hit ’em with Plow Under, then attack – and sacrificing that Elder looks a lot less inviting.

Trouble is, the Plow only slows down the Tooth player; it doesn’t cripple them. Unless you can drop the hammer within a turn or two, it doesn’t impact the game as much. The trampling legends are actually fairly useful here, as a turn 3 Iwamori will put the Tooth player on a tight clock. Still, the matchup does not favor the Green hordes.

Sideboarding vs. Tooth and Nail

+4 Cranial Extraction, +1 Splinter

-3 Umezawa’s Jitte, -2 Sword of Fire and Ice

Now, game two, Plows and Extractions are just nasty, and the balance of power shifts from uphill battle for Green Party to virtually an auto-loss for Tooth and Nail. Plow Under gives you more time to search for Cranial Extractions.

This matchup swings from a virtual autoloss in the first game to an almost can’t-lose for the next two games – if you can fire off Cranial Extraction before they can fire Tooth and Nail. My advice in this game is shuffle fast; time is not your ally.

Vs. Ponza:

Odd; you would think that a Green deck running Birds and Elders wouldn’t be susceptible to land destruction. Guess again. Ponza only needs to set you back a turn or two until it drops one of the five-mana beasties or Tims you out with Vulshok Sorcerer. By time you equip a big enough creature – another down side of the X/1-heavy creature base – you’re too far down in life totals to come back.

Magma Jet was added especially with the Ponza matchup in mind; not only being a mana fixer but it eliminates a lot of annoying creatures that the forces of chaos run: Slith Firewalker, Zo-Zu the Punisher, Vulshok Sorcerer, and Hearth Kami.

Equipment is the key, especially Sword of Fire and Ice (well, duh). The Jitte also serves triple duty; saving your creatures from burn spells, killing your opponent’s various X/1s and the life gain ability can get you out of death-via-burn range. The Troll is your MVP; but be wary of Pyroclasm. If you can get Iwamori or an equipped Troll in play, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t win.

After playing around with the sideboard, I found that, surprisingly, Aether Vial was the correct addition. If your land gets nuked, you’ll still have the ability to get creatures into play and the Ponza player will only have so much artifact removal to go around. That’s the theory, at least.

Sideboarding vs. Ponza:

-4 Plow Under, -1 Viridian Zealot or Kodama of the North Tree

+4 Aether Vial, +1 Umezawa’s Jitte

Depending upon how artifact-heavy an opponent’s deck is, you may want to add Splinter and/or Naturalize from the side. Season to taste.

The final judgment (no, not that Final Judgment): I’m not entirely happy with this “new and improved version.” Against the three aforementioned decks, you’ve always got game, but you don’t dominate any one of them. In some ways, this feels like a bit of a regression.

The Magma Jets rock; they stay in the build. Iwamori has been okay, sometimes winning games, sometimes costing me games. Plow Under is okay against Tooth and Nail, and it would feasibly be good against other slower decks like U/G and Genju-running B/G, but it’s really rather worthless against MUC (yeah, like that won’t get countered) and Ponza, which should already have its win conditions in play by the time you can cast it. And I find myself missing those Dryads in the mirror matches.

Maybe Cranial Extraction should be moved to the main deck. Or maybe going more Red-centric is the way to go…like with this build.

Sowing Salt: Now that’s a Tooth and Nail killer. And Arc-Slogger is a fatty with no drawback.

As previously mentioned, I’ll probably be playing this or something like this at Regionals – just too much good stuff there, unless Saviors of Kamigawa blows the existing metagame to hell.

I haven’t found the optimal build of this deck yet. But I’m optimistic it will be found.