Simple Block, Simple Deck, Complex Conversation

“All I did was come in unannounced. It’s not my fault you procrastinate and refuse to playtest.”
“Procrastinate? Refuse to playtest? How dare you, sir! I’ll have you know I’ve been playing the same monogreen deck for nearly two months!”
“You are a liar and a cad, sir! I challenge you to produce a decklist that smashes black.”
“Gladly. Behold!”

“Well, well, well….Look what the cat dragged in.”

“Jack, what are you doing here?”

“Looking for you, dude. Again, I might add. Where have you been?”



“Yes. I take vacation once every couple of years. Sue me.”

“Slacker. Where’d you go?”

“Vermont. Lake Dunmore.”

“Vacationing in Vermont. A chance to practice all of your vices in the mountains.”

“Not quite. I quit smoking. As for more serious addictions, Ian McBride can speak for Vermont. I spent a week chasing down my son and his cousins, lest they harm themselves or others.”

“So you really quit smoking, dude?”


“That’s great, man. Now if we could just work on your other bad habits -“

“I’m not quitting Magic, Jack.”

“I was thinking of writing, dude. At least someone gets enjoyment out of your card playing.”

“Yeah, I haven’t written anything in a few weeks. I should get on it. A great deal is happening. All of the qualifiers for Pro Tour: Houston are going on these days. I could write about that, I guess.”

“Houston? As in Texas?”

“Yeah. What’s wrong with Texas?”

“Nothing, if you’re an Astros fan.”

“You know, come to think of it, since I last wrote anything the World Championship of Magic has changed hands.”

“Whoah, dude. World Championship?”

“You betcha. Carlos Romao won the whole thing down in Sydney, Australia after four days of intense card flopping.”

“Where’s he from?”


“Man… Brazil won the World Cup this year, too, dude.”

“It’s been a good year for Brazil. Not too shabby for Germany, either. The German National Team took home the team title. Of course, there was a lot of flooding to deal with when they returned home, but one cannot have everything.”

“That’s just mean, dude.”

“Yup. I’m a jerk. At least, I’m a jerk today.”

“Why, dude?”

“I’m grumpy. You reminded me I have decisions to make about this qualifier coming up this weekend. I have to work on my deck. I have to write an article before the next World Cup. This is all your fault somehow, Jack.”

“Dude, all I did was come in unannounced. It’s not my fault you procrastinate and refuse to playtest.”

“Procrastinate? Refuse to playtest? How dare you, sir! I’ll have you know I’ve been playing the same deck for nearly two months!”

“You are a liar and a cad, dude. I challenge you to produce a decklist.”

“Gladly, sir. Behold!”


4 Basking Rootwalla

4 Diligent Farmhand

4 Werebear

4 Wild Mongrel

4 Phantom Centaur

4 Arrogant Wurm

4 Muscle Burst

4 Rites of Spring

4 Elephant Guide

2 Grizzly Fate

4 Roar of the Wurm

18 Forests

“Enough with the funny voices. Jack, I have been playing this as my main deck in Type Two and Block tourneys since the trial for GP: Cleveland. This deck and I seem to get along. I’ve been pretty successful with it.”

“Could you define successful, dude?”

“Prior to OBC qualifiers, I have played this in two tournaments, both of which were Standard. The only changes to the deck were in the sideboard. I get experimental with the sideboard, meaning anything I want to play around with that isn’t OBC goes in the sideboard for a Standard tourney. First tourney, FNM with four rounds of Swiss, match record three and one. Second tourney, The Atlanta Open, seven rounds of Swiss, match record four and three.”

“Four and three is successful?”

“Keep in mind who you’re talking to, Jack. I suck. Besides, those two tournaments were playtesting for the real challenge.”

“The qualifier things?”

“Exactly. OBC PTQs. God, I love acronyms.”

“LMAO, dude. What did you learn playing a Block deck in Standard tournaments that was of any use to you?”

“Here’s my logic: I had never played the same deck two tourneys in a row. Consequently, I sometimes fail to grasp the nuances of my deck. I wanted to eliminate that problem by selecting a deck and playing it as often as possible.”

“So you got used to the deck.”

“Exactly. Everything I learned about how my deck runs I could have learned in any duel. Running it in Standard had nothing to do with it. Blue/Green is Blue/Green, regardless of the format. The Standard decks have a more reliable mana base; that’s actually better for me. I want to know how bad things look when my opponent can cast stuff, since I already know what color screw looks like.”

“So you didn’t care that you were running Block and no one else was?”

“Not in the least. This ain’t brain surgery, Jack. My deck is aggro, plain and simple. It needs two forests to get started, it needs four to cook with gas. Anything I went up against in Standard that I wasn’t likely to see in OBC I could ignore. Or put the lessons in the back of my brain somewhere on the off-chance something close to it in OBC showed up.”

“That sounds more like you. Anal as hell – oww! Don’t hit.”

“Not that any surprises were going to be waiting for me in OBC. Block is more predictable than Standard right now, if you can believe it.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s like this, Jack. There are two decks in Block that are the decks to beat: One of them is MonoBlack Control. The other is Blue/Green.”

“Hey, we’ve talked about this Block thing before. Didn’t you think that White Weenie and Green/White were pretty good?”

“They are pretty good; in fact, they’re very good. But they aren’t the best. White Weenie doesn’t have a great way to clear the board so that it can finish what it started; it has some nice protection, especially with Glory, but the black deck has too much removal that is non-targeted or global. The Blue/Green decks have more answers, bigger threats, and are fast enough to keep up with the White boys. Plus, if you look at a bunch of decklists, these White decks are a lot less consistent than I would like my deck to be.”

“Same thing with the Green/White decks, man?”

“No. Consistency isn’t the biggest problem there” I think Green/White has two problems. First of all, the deck is an aggro deck that plays like aggro/control. That’s a problem in this format. When playing MonoBlack, Green/White needs to get very aggro, very fast to win game one. When playing Blue/Green, it better have its answers at the right time while maintaining its speed.”

“Dude, that sounds like a consistency problem right there.”

“It isn’t, really: I think it has much more to do with good decision making. That’s what I would call Green/White’s second problem. It’s the thinking man’s deck that few thinking men are playing. It is a very tough deck to play. I also believe that it’s under-playtested in my area. I’m not sure why that would be the case, except that Judgment is the newest set. Even so, it’s been out for awhile now; everyone should have had plenty of time to shuffle up and run a gauntlet or two.”

“If you are the type to playtest. Cough, cough.”

“Everyone should playtest, Jack.”

“You’re like a smoker telling his kids not light up, dude.”

“I quit smoking, remember?”

“Okay. You’re like the guy on the motorcycle jumping fifteen burning vans while teeny-tiny text on the bottom of the screen reads ‘Don’t try this at home’.”

“Hey, I playtest in my fashion. What was I talking about?”

“Green/White Madness, dude.”

“Right. Every time I watch a match with Green/White Madness, I feel like I’m watching a guy who just built his deck the night before; it’s painful. Anyway, I think Green/White is closer to making it a three-way race, but it just isn’t quite there. That leaves the top two. And you know what that means.”

“No, dude. I have no idea what that means.”

“It means anything you play has to be able to beat MonoBlack and Blue/Green. And you know what that means.”

“Again, no idea, man.”

“It means you must play MonoBlack or Blue/Green if you want to win. Such was my thinking before the PTQ. As such, I needed to build an appropriate sideboard.”

“Something you have never done.”

“I beg your pardon; I have built several sideboards.”

“You said ‘appropriate sideboard’, my man.”



“Rimshot. Making a short story ever longer, I had been experimenting with running a single plains in my sideboard to support Glory. I figured with all of the Farmhands and Rites of Spring, anything more than one is overkill. The only land destruction to speak of is Rancid Earth, which the black deck runs. Thing is, I don’t sideboard in anything against the black deck. The black deck just loses.”

“Dude, that’s sweet.”

“It would be cotton candy if it weren’t for Blue/Green.”

“Oh. Yeah, that kinda sucks.”

“Yah think? Everything my deck does, it does faster. Plus, Blue/Green has stuff to just mess with my tempo. Counter this, bounce that, draw cards… Thank you for playing. Clearly, this is where I need help.”

“Dude. You have a sideboard that can help with that?”

“Well, sort of. I have a bunch of cards and some situational logic. Let me explain what I did. I took the plains out of the sideboard and put it main. It takes the place of a forest. I’ve still got Glory in the board, three copies. Glory is to help punch through creature stalls and prevent bounce, if necessary. Speaking of bounce, I’ve got Spellbane Centaur in the board, three copies. Elephant Guides are useless against Aether Burst and he isn’t. Moment’s Peace is in the board, three copies. When in doubt, stall for time.”


“That leaves six slots left in the board. The original idea was to save those for utility cards. I put in Ray of Revelation to handle decks with troublesome enchantments. I’m thinking mostly of the Bird decks. Now I screw up. Instead of putting Morningtide into the sideboard, I tie myself up into a mental Gordian thing of situational logic until I’m convinced Sphere of Duty is the proper pick for the slot.”

“Dude, the math doesn’t even look good from here. You already have nine cards you might be bringing in for the Blue/Green deck, right?”

“Yup. Obviously, what I really want to do is try and sideboard in twelve cards. After all, aggro decks perform at their peak when you remove all of the creatures to make room for enchantments and instants.”

“Glory is a creature, dude.”

“Not usually. Never, in this deck. So this is how it looked going into the first PTQ for Houston:”

Main Deck

4 Basking Rootwalla

4 Diligent Farmhand

4 Werebear

4 Wild Mongrel

4 Phantom Centaur

4 Arrogant Wurm

4 Muscle Burst

4 Rites of Spring

4 Elephant Guide

2 Grizzly Fate

4 Roar of the Wurm

1 Plains

17 Forests


3 Spellbane Centaur

3 Moment’s Peace

3 Glory

3 Ray of Revelation

3 Sphere of Duty

“Okay, just a sanity check here, dude.”

“Go ahead.”

“You have a deck you have played often enough you feel comfortable with it. You are playing in a format you feel like you know pretty well. You have a questionable sideboard, but you know what to bring in against your most expected foes.”

“That’s about it.”

“Okay, dude. I’m all caught up.”

“So you know what happened?”


“The unexpected. OBC is not an undefined format, okay? The speculation is over. The trials for Grand Prix: Cleveland have been run. The articles have been written, read, and rebutted – and as expected, MonoBlack Control is top tier, and Blue/Green is top tier. Green/White maybe, if you know what you are doing. The grand experiments should have all been run by now, leaving small and smoldering divots in the ground. In short, the rogue factor should be all but eliminated. That was my state of mind going into the tourney.”

“Why do I feel like I’m about to laugh?”

“My first opponent throws down a swamp and I feel great. His next turn, he throws down a mountain, and I’m ready to scoop.”

“Why, dude? You didn’t mention Red/Black as anything special.”

“It isn’t. Problem is, black has plenty of removal, red has plenty of burn, and I have plenty of targets to provide. After that, the Shades and Collaborators will come in to clean house. It’s not a great match up for me. It is winnable… But I lost.”

“That sucks, dude. Sorry.”

“Fortunately, my next two opponents were MonoBlack. No worries.”

“Cool. So that made you what, two and one, dude?”

“Yup. Two and one. If I win the next match, I’m really in contention. I crossed my fingers and prayed for another black deck.”

“I’m guessing that didn’t happen.”

“I got paired up against Green/White. And I blew it. Me, me, me. All me.”

“How, dude?”

“Okay, this is a winnable match: The key to performing well against Green/White for me is to mulligan aggressively if I don’t have a quick opening. There isn’t any hate in sideboard against this deck, so the plan does not change after game one. Game one, he outraces me. Game two, I outrace him and he makes a blocking error. Game three, I keep a hand I should have pitched; not the way to win. I should have gone to six cards to try for a better start.”

“Yeah, you blew it. You’re an idiot.”

“Thanks, Jack.”

“No problemo.”

“I am going to play this deck one more time, though.”

“That doesn’t sound promising.”

“Call it pride. I went 3-4 in the Swiss. This deck and I can do better than that. The key is to stay out of the losing brackets early.”

“Umm… Wouldn’t you want to stay out of the losing brackets altogether, dude?”

“I would prefer it. My point is, my deck performs very well against one of the top decks, and can handle the other. The deeper into the Swiss I go without a loss, the more likely my opponent will throw down swamps or forests and islands. If I see swamp, I win. Otherwise, I have a fight, but a winnable one. The problem decks are the rogue decks…. The first-round opponent with Black/Red is a nightmare for me. I fear the lower tiers. The deeper into the losing brackets I go, the more rogue decks I’m surrounded by. Because of this sensitivity to rogueishness -“


“It’s a word. Or it is now.”


“The difference between 2-0 and 1-1 going into the third round is greater for the MonoGreen deck than it would be for Blue/Green, for example.”

“If that’s all true, dude, then how does it win ever?”


“If your deck doesn’t beat the jank decks, how does it win against the stronger decks?”

“Oh. Focus.”


“Yes. Focus. Look, MonoGreen is all about a creature rush. Put ’em down, rush, pump when able. If the early rush is stopped, you have a problem. The deck likes to win in the early stages of a game. Compare that to MonoBlack control: MonoBlack control wants the game to go late. It defends against an early creature rush with removal. Meanwhile, it builds up its mana base until it can do something devastating, like Mutilate your whole team or swing twice with a huge Nantuko Shade. The Green deck wins by throwing too much, too fast at the Black deck. Remember, no matter how small the threat, it can become bigger in a hurry. Phantom Centaurs can either block a Shade or swing past the defense, if it comes to that. The Green deck should remain one step ahead of the Black deck.”

“Sounds okay, dude. Isn’t Blue/Green faster, though?”

“Usually. The first game is not very promising; of course, Blue/Green has been known to suffer from color screw on occasion. Regardless, the sideboard should help even the odds a tad. Moment’s Peace to buy time, Spellbane Centaur to avoid Aether Burst woes, and Glory to punch through. Just be careful not to remove too much of the land-searching cards if you bring in Glory. There is only one plains, and you will most certainly have to go and get it. This is still not a great matchup.”

“But it’s winnable.”

“It’s winnable. Realistically, Blue/Green should win it, regardless of whether it is the Madness version of the Threshold version.”

“Quiet Roar?”

“Yeah, that too. In fact, Morningtide is in the sideboard for Quiet Roar, but it will need to take the place of one of your normal sideboard trades. Otherwise, you are bringing out too many business spells to support your rush.”

“Okay, dude. What about Green/White?”

“Similar to Blue/Green, but Green/White doesn’t have the color screw issues that Blue/Green does. It’s still a race. Green/White is a tad slower than Blue/Green, so it’s a winnable race. An aggressive opening hand is crucial.”

“You keep saying that.”

“Well, that’s important. Probably the most important decision you make with this deck whether to mulligan or not. After that, the decisions are simple. No one else is likely to play this deck* – certainly not in my area. I believed I was going to see a lot of swamps, so I packed this deck. Actually, there was more Blue/Green than I expected, so I’m expecting more swamps next time. Blue/Green will still be around: It’s cheap to build. It’s also a forgiving archetype. Look how many variations there are on it. It’s tough to screw up it up in construction. Whereas MonoBlack is expensive, but it works, and a lot of folks in my area want that slot in Houston. The field is definitely going to shift.”

“So that’s good for you.”

“It’s good for me, Jack. The more swamps I see, the longer the rubber band stays around my sideboard cards. There are two more chances for me to Q. I’m going to run this baby one more time (with Morningtide taking the place of the Sphere in the sideboard) and then I’ll run Blue/Green.”

“What if you Q the first time, dude?”

“Jack -”

“Right; you suck. Sorry, I forgot.”

Pale Mage.

[email protected]

* – Author is not responsible for your results with this deck. Play MonoGreen at your own risk. Players choosing to run this deck may wish to run Krosan Reclamation in the sideboard in the place of Morningtide. Or run it main. That’s probably a better idea if Blue/Green is dominant in your area.