From Right Field: The Secret (Force) Weapon – Mono-Green for Regionals

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Chris shares his latest creation… a deck that’s been bringing him success for the past few months. In a world of guild alignment and multi-color mayhem, can a mono-colored deck really cut the proverbial mustard? Read on to find out…

{From Right Field is a column for Magic players on a budget, or players who don’t want to play netdecks. The decks are designed to let the budget-conscious player be competitive in local, Saturday tournaments. They are not decks that will qualify a player for The Pro Tour. As such, the decks written about in this column are, almost by necessity, rogue decks. They contain, at most, eight to twelve rares. When they do contain rares, those cards will either be cheap rares or staples of which new players should be trying to collect a set of four, such as Wildfire, Llanowar Wastes, or Birds of Paradise. The decks are also tested by the author, who isn’t very good at playing Magic. He will never claim that a deck has an 85% winning percentage against the entire field. He will also let you know when the decks are just plain lousy. Readers should never consider these decks "set in stone" or "done." If you think you can change some cards to make them better, well, you probably can, and the author encourages you to do so.}

A few weeks ago, I did a piece on the Staple Rares of Kamigawa Block in an effort to shut people up quell the endless flow of requests for me to “finish” my discussion of rares that I think people playing Standard should grab. If you read the forum posts on this, other than Part the Veil (my bad), the biggest bone of contention was my failure to include Iwamori of the Open Fist. Typically, the comments looked like this:

“Romeo, This is why you suck. How can you not include the Open Fist as a Staple Rare from Kamigawa Block?!? It’s a 5/5 Trampler for four mana! Geez, you suck.”

In the forums, I responded with the following reason for why I didn’t include Iwamori:

"The last time I played the Open Fist in a deck, I went 3-2 in a tourney in which I should have been 5-0. Why? Because I dropped the Open Fist five times, and four of those times my opponent got a free Dragon Legend that he couldn’t have cast, either because it was too soon in the game or because he didn’t have the [proper colors of] mana. The fifth was Angel of Despair."

Okay, so I should have caught that the Angel of Despair couldn’t be dropped into play with the Open Fist. Hey, it was round 5. Cut me some slack.

The point of all of this is: what deck would have Iwamori in it, that Romeo would play, and potentially go 5-0 in a real-life tourney? Believe it or not, a mono-Green deck.

Yes, really.

Let’s set the Wayback Machine for like two months ago. You know, when gas was only $2.25 a gallon. I got an e-mail from Adam Harmon (who would also be my teammate at the 2HG State Championships in March). He thought that I’d probably be wild for Wildsize.

Let’s see. Three mana. It gives a creature +2/+2. It gives it Trample. It draws a card. And it’s a common.

You had me at “hello,” Wildsize. I can’t quit you.

Over the next couple of weeks, Harmon and I worked on a mono-Green deck that used Wildsize. Why not R/G or W/G?


Seriously, though, why not? Mono-Green meant we probably would have to run any expensive, non-basic lands. Sure, we wouldn’t have any control elements, except for maybe Wear Away out of the sideboard. Who cares? I’m just gonna run over you.


Now, when I say “Harmon and I worked on a mono-Green deck,” what I mean is that he worked on it, sent me e-mails saying “Here’s what I have now,” and I’d say “Looks great!”

I have a confession. I don’t remember the exact deck list. Come on. Cut me some more slack. That was at the beginning of March when I played it. My pal Jim Beam and I have killed many brain cells since then. I remembered the basics of the deck. I also remembered how I wouldn’t put Iwamori in that deck again if you paid me – okay, it would just depend on how much you paid me – although I might put it in the sideboard.

As discussions about Regionals heated up, the deck came up again. So, I started working on a tweaked version. You may have seen something like this around or played against one like it. I’m not claiming it’s original. I will say this, though. At the time that Adam handed me the deck to play that Saturday, I hadn’t seen or heard anything about a deck like this anywhere.

"What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet." – Bill Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet

First, though, I want to tell you what I’m calling the deck because, in my own un-humble way, I think it’s simply jeniusness. I call it Nature’s Harmony, and it’s cool on so many levels that I really impress myself with it. For one, did you know that in all of Magic, every card with the word “Nature” in its name has been Green, except for a Portal version of Perish called Nature’s Ruin, and even that destroyed all Green creatures? Second, you have the whole Adam-Harmon-designed-it thing going on. Plus, all of the cards work so well together, i.e. in harmony. Finally, Nature’s Harmony is a line of vitamins and supplements that are designed to make you healthier and stronger, much like many of the cards in the deck.

That’s right. Still no decklist. – David Mamet, Waiting for Romeo

Before I get into the post-Open-Fist-Debacle list, I want to let you know how good the deck was/is. That Saturday may have been one of the toughest gauntlets that I’ve ever faced at a local, weekend tourney. Of the five decks that I faced, all of them were established decks (or soon to be, thanks to PT Honolulu). I faced an 1800+-rated player with a Blue deck running Keiga, the Tide Star, and Meloku the Clouded Mirror. I faced another 1800+-rated player with a B/W Control deck (running Yosei, the Morning Star, and Kokusho, the Evening Star). I faced Zoo. I faced Gruul Beats. I faced G/W/B Greater Good. The fact that I finished over .500 impressed me. The realization that Iwamori cost me a potential 5-0 (“Free Dragon Legends! Getcher Free Dragon Legends! Ain’t got the right colors yet? Too early in the game? Doesn’t matter! Get ‘em for free!”) stunned me.

Harmon and I talked about the Open Fist problem. He convinced me that his reasoning had been sound when he added it. It’s a freakin’ 5/5 Trampler for four mana! If the environment wasn’t littered with 5/5 flying Dragon Legends, it would have been a solid choice. The problem was that the environment is littered with 5/5 flying Dragon Legends.

What could take its place? Nothing other than Stampeding Serow comes close to the Open Fist’s stats, and the deck really didn’t have anything that had synergy with the Serow. The question then became: are we looking for 5/5 bodies or four-mana creatures?

We tried Kami of the Tended Garden, since it’s a 4/4 for four mana with a negligible upkeep cost. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. We looked at Genju of the Cedars, but the deck runs so few Forests that we didn’t want to lose the ones we had [A mono-Green deck running few Forests? Surely you jest… – Craig, confused]. We looked at Order of the Sacred Bell, which is one tick less tough than the Kami of the Tended Garden, but with no upkeep costs. We (or at least I did) looked at Okina Nightwatch, a card that surprised me with how often it was a 7/6 for five mana.

In the end, though, we picked a card we had in the sideboard that is also a string maindeck card, regardless of the environment. In this one, though, it’s huge. That card was Arashi, the Sky Asunder.

“Can we have a decklist now?” – Craig Stevenson, Also Waiting for Romeo

Yes, C.S. You can.

“Justify my love.” – Madonna

I’m not going to talk about obvious choices like Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves (mana acceleration) or Kodama of the North Tree (really hard for opponents to deal with). I am, however, going to attempt to persuade you on a few choices.

First, Elvish Warrior is three tons of fun in the two slot. He and Kird Ape bounce off of each other. He’s quite often swinging as a 4/5 on turn 3, thanks to the Moldervine Cloak.

He’s joined by his friend (I think he actually has a crush on her) Silhana Ledgewalker, whom, I fully and freely admit, I underestimated at first. Sure, I thought she’d be good. She’s nigh unblockable. Since she can’t be targeted by the bad guy (i.e. your opponent), very little current removal deals with her. And, thanks to the fact that the good guy (i.e. you) can target her, she can get out of hand quickly. I figured, though, she’s only a 1/1 for two mana. No biggie. Boy, was I wrong.

Take a recent game that I’d played. My opponent, plying U/R Wildfire, had almost tapped out (leaving only a Shivan Reef up) to play Compulsive Research. That allowed me to slip a Moldervine Cloak on her and swing for four on my turn. Next turn, he did it again. My opponent also tapped out on his sixth turn to cast a Wildfire. Can’t blame him. He’d already taken eight from the Ledgewalker. He couldn’t keep taking it. The great thing was that I had Wildsize in hand. I cast it to keep her alive. It drew me a Forest. On my turn, I swung for four more. I dropped the Forest and a Llanowar Elves. I don’t know what he drew, but it clearly wasn’t Hinder or Remand because a second Cloak hit the Ledgewalker, and he conceded.

The Might of Oaks are in there because sometimes they just win games. When an opponent at eight life or less, just one little 1/1 – a Llanowar Elves, a Ledgewalker, an Elves of Deep Shadow – slipping through ends the game. Heck, if they’re at seven or less, Birds of Paradise can do that. That doesn’t happen often, but, when it does, it really demoralizes an opponent.

Alternate Reality Check: My pal Karl Allen would rather see Giant Growth in that slot. Given how cheap the Giant Growth is to cast, it will be used much more often. I can see his point. Giant Growth will come in handy. On the flip side, come on! Plus seven, plus seven! Dude! If you were to go with Giant Growth, I wouldn’t blame you, though.

As for the sideboard, I always put Wear Away in mono-Green decks now, not Naturalize. Why? Because of the potential to kill more things. True, it doesn’t happened often, but, once in a while, you get to kill two things while keeping one Wear Away for future use. If not, the Wear Away can kill an artifact or enchantment for two mana, same as Naturalize. If they both cost the same and neither is more of a color drain than the other, why not play the more versatile spell? (Obviously, I wouldn’t feel this way if it was, say, a G/R deck. To Splice Wear Away onto a Wear Away costs 3GGG. That’s just six mana in a mono-Green deck. In a G/R deck, that’s kinda hard to do. Moreover, even the GG of a single Wear Away is sometimes tough to do in a multi-colored deck.)

The Loaming Shamans do double duty. Against control decks, he shuffles tons of cards back into your own deck, greatly increasing the chances that your draws become business spells and not lands. Against decks that use their ‘yard as a resource, it hoses that resource.

So, why the Stomphowler with Wear Away in the sideboard? This may shock you, but there are some decks that just pack a ton of artifacts. (Think Owling Mine.) Others have a few artifacts or enchantments that are so damaging that you can’t simply wait for your Wear Aways to show up. Sure, you have four, and they have four, but if it takes too long for your four to show up, it can be game over. Think about an Enduring Ideal deck. Scream all you want about no one playing that at Regionals. It will be there, and most likely I’ll face it. I need to maximize my available enchantment destruction. If I don’t have something in hand when Zur’s Weirding hits, they’ll make sure that I never do. Then Form of the Dragon will end my day.

Finally, the Shinen of Life’s Roar is a great trick I resurrected from the KBC (that’s Kamigawa Block Constructed) days. It’s a fantastic way to break ground stalls.

Harmon Sez: Use Giant Solifuge

Mr. Harmon doesn’t like the maindeck Viridian Shamans. Of course, that’s because he uses Umezawa’s Jitte. In the place of the Shamans, he uses the Giant Solifuge. I don’t really like it. It can be chump blocked too easily, and there’s nothing I can do to save it. Take the case of the opponent making a single Annoyance token from Meloku and blocking with it. The Solifuge dies to it while getting three damage through. Silhana Ledgewalker won’t die, if I have a Wildsize in hand, while it also gets two damage through. If I have a Wildsize in hand with the Solifuge out, it makes no difference. I can’t target it. :frowney face:

By the way, the Jitte is simply gonzo nuts in this deck. Much like Fight Club, we don’t talk about Jitte in this column, though. However, if you got ‘em, smoke ‘em.

Who Got Game?

This is a common theme with my decks over the past two months, but Nature’s Harmony is strong against the field (sorry, I don’t have exact numbers like I normally do, but I’ve been testing this on and off for several weeks now) except for – you guessed it – U/R Wildfire and Heartbeat. Now, it has a tad more game against Wildfire, thanks to Viridian Shamans that can axe Izzet Signets, and it can whip up on Heartbeat after sideboarding thanks to the four Wear Aways and the Stomphowler. I don’t want to mislead you, though. Neither one is easy, and Nature’s Harmony has won less than a third of its matches against those decks. It’s just a bit better against Heartbeat because of the ability to use a creature (the Stomphowler) to kill the Heartbeat of Spring rather than Wear Away. A good Heartbeat player will leave a source of Blue mana up to protect his Heartbeat the turn before going off. That mana is typically used for Muddle the Mixture. Muddle doesn’t stop the Stomphowler. Still, if I can reiterate without irritating, it’s not easy.

Karl would rather see both Wear Away and Naturalize in the sideboard. He figured with both in hand, you can try to kill Heartbeat at the end of their turn and still have a couple of chances on your turn when they’re tapped out. Whichever. I like having the body in there, too. When I’m the beatdown – and this deck is most surely that – I dislike dropping bodies for spells, especially when I can get a body to double as the spell I’d be adding.

“Everybody play the game . . . of love.” – Queen, “Play the Game”

These things usually have a “How to Play This Deck” section ‘cause they’re tricky sometimes. This one isn’t. Drop a creature. Cloak it. Swing. Pump when you can. Win. Having said that, I have learned a couple of things over the past few weeks.

First and foremost, hold the Viridian Shaman. There are only about six or seven worse feelings in the world than seeing your opponent cast a Jitte the turn after you drop a Shaman. Conversely, there are few feelings better than axing a Jitte right after it hits.

Save your Wildsizes and Might of Oaks until you really need them. When playing against burn and Wildfire decks, you can often save a key creature by waiting. Sometimes, you can sucker your opponent into a very bad trade, or even a loss. During one game that went way too long, I got my opponent to block a Ledgewalker with a single Meloku-spawned token. One Wildsize and one Might of Oaks later, he was dead as the tricky Elf Trampled over for nine damage.

Against Wildfire in game 1, try to hold a land or two and a mana bug. None of your weenies survive Wildfire without help. So, don’t throw them out there for no good reason. They will get charred to a crisp.

“Before you slip into unconsciousness / I’d like to have a little kiss.” –Jim Somethingorother

Games 2 and 3, however, are a different story. Against most beatdown decks, you won’t even sideboard. If they aren’t running Jittes, drop the Shamans for Shinen of Life’s Roar. That will end those ground stalls quickly.

Against Ghost Dad, you still want to play out your hand. They’re going to bring in Persecute against your mono-Green deck, and you want as much on the board as possible. Because of the mass discard and the nasty enchantments, you want to do some major sideboarding. The Shamans (Viridian) go away for the Shamans (Loaming). This allows you to get stuff back into your deck, thus maximizing your upcoming draws. After Persecute, you’ll need it. For the Pillories (and Fetters, if the deck packs them), drop Arashi and an Elvish Warrior for the four Stomphowlers. You might – might – also want to bring in the Shinens, depending on how your opponent played in game 1. If he was defensive, Shinen of Life’s Roar will allow you to slip your guys through for the final damage. If he wasn’t, just leave then in the side.

U/R Wildfire is a weird one. You want to keep your mana, but they don’t want you to. The best thing to do in this second game is to drop the Kodamas and Arashis. Let’s be honest. You probably won’t cast them. Bring in Wear Away, because you want to kill the Signets. One thing that really helps U/R Wildfire is the fact that it can blow up the world on turn 5 and still have mana available. Also, bring in the Loaming Shamans. They keep the Magnivore from getting out of hand. In fact, if there’s one on board, a Loaming Shaman can kill it. Since you will never gave any sorceries in your ‘yard, you can make your opponent shuffle all of his into his library. That would leave zero Sorceries in all graveyards.

Against the Heartbeat deck, again, speed is of the essence. Well, not really speed so much as time. You can’t afford to give them an extra turn. Bring in all of the Wear Aways and Stomphowlers. The Viridian Shamans are useless. Drop them. Again, Arashi and Kodama are too slow. I know they cost the same as the Stomphowler, but I was speaking of speed in terms of ending the other guy’s game. You cast Kodama, and wait. They go off on their next turn. Instead, you cast Stomphowler, they lose their Heartbeat, you get another turn at a minimum. Still, that would be nine cards gone and only eight in from the sideboard. What you’ll be dropping is the three Viridian Shaman, the three Arashis, and two Kodamas. If the Kodama does hit, there’s not much they can do. The rest of the game is about hitting as hard as you can.

Input from the Peanut Gallery: My friend Charles, the guy who invented Ravager-Affinity and plays Pyroclasm during combat, thinks that Wear Away should be Creeping Mold. He likes that the Mold also hits lands. This is the only matchup where I think that really matters. If you can kill that one lonely Swamp, the one that they’ll use to power up the Maga, you can essentially stifle their game (presuming they don’t also have Blaze or Demonfire). I tried this deck both ways, and I much prefer the Instant-timed Wear Away. If you like the versatility of the Mold, though, use it.

That’s it for this week. Only one Tuesday left before Regionals. Next week, I’ll be springing a non-Budget deck that really took a village to build. Which is kinda sad when you see the deck.

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Please, make sure to turn off all the lights when you leave.

Chris Romeo