Stream of Rife

“Look over the past ten years of Pro Tours, and you will see mono green in the final 8 significantly less than any other mono color. Mono Green will be a very distant fifth.”
– Jamie Wakefield

“Let’s look at the history of Green decks on the Pro Tour in order to show the viability, and even the dominance, of straight Green over the past five years.”
– Mike Flores, who also adds a quick section on which decks win and lose from the September bannings.

I read something interesting last week in the Radiating Luck forum that made me want to write this look at Green:

“Look over the past ten years of Pro Tours, and you will see mono green in the final 8 significantly less than any other mono color. Mono Green will be a very distant fifth.”

Jamie Wakefield

My problem with this statement is that the winning deck of any constructed Pro Tour is rarely indicative of the best deck in any format. For example, Bob Maher’s Chicago 1999 (Jamie’s last Pro Tour, if memory serves), with eight different decks was touted at the time as a testament to the diversity of a healthy Extended format.

However, as the format progressed, it became clear that the best deck – if not the only Tier One deck – in the format entire was not discovered until the PTQ season. Though Bob won Chicago and even a subsequent in-format Grand Prix in Seattle where the said certain dreaded archetype made its large scale debut, I don’t know that his Counter-Oath was one of the two best decks in the true field, let alone best. Donnie Gallitz made Top 16 of Bob’s Chicago – one measly match out of Top 8 – with a StOmPy deck featuring maindecked Winter Orb and Lumbering Satyr, but the Deck to Beat once the format matured was clearly Trix.

What I’m saying is who cares what decks are in the Top 8?

Certainly players like Maher, Budde, and Szleifer care. They make thousands of dollars by actually being the men in the top spots… But this, Jamie, is not the argument you want to make. All the Top 8 of a Pro Tour says is indicative of is what decks did exceptionally well in one particular tournament. It may in fact be more descriptive of a format to look at the Top 8 finishers in a Grand Prix or late season PTQ to see what is really going on in a format.

More than that, simply looking at the Top 8 of a Pro Tour doesn’t give you the full information. It doesn’t speak to the psychology of the players, or what decks were terrible.

For example, at last year’s Pro Tour: Columbus, in a Top 8 that featured no duplicate decks, there was not a single Rock deck. You might look to a Top 8 featuring Affinity, Red Deck Wins, Scepter-Chant, Goblins, Mind’s Desire, Life, Reanimator, and U/G Madness and say “look what a diverse format this is,” when that doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t say how in fact there were gobs and gobs and gobs of The Rock on Day One – the most populous deck of all, variations of which were played by magicians of the caliber of Gabriel Nassif with a blue splash, all the way to Jeroen Remie with a beatdown outlook – and that the legions unending of horrible The Rock were merely annihilated by the actual great decks.

You can’t look at the Top 8 and see what the field was really like, what was really viable or showed up in the tournament. You just get a 3% snapshot of what might have shown up.

Jamie, if you want to stick to your question, you might as well ask why there wasn’t Mono-Black in the Top 8 of last week’s Friday Night Magic.

The point being, I am going to concede that yes, if you look merely at the Top 8s of ten years of Pro Tours that there are fewer mono-green decks than decks of other colors. To concede this is merely to say that it is possible to identify a problem with Wizards R&D can solve. What I am going to do instead – and I realize this is not precisely what Jamie is saying – is to peel back the past five years of Pro Magic and see where and when Mono-Green decks were viable, why or why not, and try to figure out what strategies they used.

We all know that Green was weak in the first years of the Pro Tour (but then again, StOmPy made Top 8 by Worlds 1997). There isn’t much point in re-hashing all early Pro Tours, which were populated by in large by terrible decks; just check out NY1’s Platinum hits:

Eric Tam:

4 Brushland

2 City of Brass

4 Karplusan Forest

2 Mishra’s Factory

4 Mountain

4 Plains

3 Fellwar Stone

3 Icy Manipulator

1 Jayemdae Tome

1 Zuran Orb

2 Stormbind

1 Balance

1 Blinking Spirit

4 Disenchant

1 Icatian Town

1 Land Tax

1 Serra Angel

3 Swords to Plowshares

2 Wrath of God

1 Zur’s Weirding

1 Earthquake

2 Fireball

2 Incinerate

1 Lightning Bolt

1 Orgg

1 Autumn Willow

3 Birds of Paradise

4 Erhnam Djinn


1 Apocalypse Chime

1 Disrupting Scepter

2 Nevinyrral’s Disk

1 Ring of Renewal

1 Serrated Arrows

1 Circle of Protection: Red

1 Divine Offering

1 Energy Storm

1 Icatian Town

1 Reverse Damage

1 Swords to Plowshares

1 An-Zerrin Ruins

1 Dwarven Catapult

1 Autumn Willow

What the!?!

Mike Loconto:

4 Adarkar Wastes

4 Island

4 Mishra’s Factory

7 Plains

1 Ruins of Trokair

1 Strip Mine

2 Svyelunite Temple

1 Wizard’s School

1 Feldon’s Cane

2 Fountain of Youth

2 Icy Manipulator

1 Ivory Tower

1 Jayemdae Tome

3 Millstone

1 Zuran Orb

1 Balance

2 Blinking Spirit

4 Disenchant

2 Hallowed Ground

2 Land Tax

4 Swords to Plowshares

4 Wrath of God

2 Control Magic

4 Counterspell

1 Deflection

1 Recall


2 Aeolipile

1 Jester’s Cap

2 Serrated Arrows

2 Circle of Protection: Red

1 Divine Offering

1 Control Magic

2 Hydroblast

2 Sea Sprite

2 Steal Artifact

…and Loconto won!

Moreover, failure to place in the Top 8 of a Pro Tour doesn’t even say whether or not a deck was the best deck or not, let alone simply viable or good. If two guys show up to a tournament of a couple of hundred people and both make Top 16, does that mean that their deck wasn’t good because they didn’t make Top 8? What about in a multi-format event where a player goes 6- or even 7-0 with a certain deck but it doesn’t show up in the Top 8 because he happened to ace Extended or Block? Isn’t his work in that format still relevant?

For those of you who don’t know, Jamie placed Top 32 of the first Pro Tour, all the way back in February of 1996 (meaning that there aren’t actually ten years of Pro Tour Top 8 data yet, if you think about it) played his last Pro Tour in 1999, and “retired” from competitive Magic until his return very recently. Jamie wasn’t around to see the improvements made to the state of Green, or the glories of his pet archetype in primarily the early years of this decade.

I’m guessing he missed a lot of the basic Forest action in-between.

Now besides his assertion about the paucity of Mono-Green, another part of Jamie’s general Green-centered discontent in the forums took place in a conversaion with his onetime playtest partner Kartin’ Ken Krouner. Essentially…

KKK: Do you realize two of the top five cards in this block are green?

KotF: Getting mana for blue and black mages doesn’t make them good cards, it makes them whores.

KKK: Your friend Sal took a deck to the top 8 that had plenty of green cards in it. The inarguable best deck in the format, the Affinity of the block, could not exist without Green.

KotF: If Green didn’t have ways to put land into play, and shuffle effects, you would not see Kodama of the North Tree, or any green card make an appearance in any top eight deck. Green is supposed to be the creature color, but all Sakura-Tribe Elder does is stop creatures, get you the real color that wins you the game, and makes Sensei’s Divining Top good.

That doesn’t make Green good, that makes the color that’s making it its bitch better.

Saying Green has good cards in this block is like saying Michael Jordan’s jockstrap helps him win games. It doesn’t. It’s only there for support.

Jamie, I’m sure you’ll correct me in the forums if I get this wrong, but your argument is that it doesn’t matter that Sakura-Tribe Elder and Kodama’s Reach – which were proven at the Pro Tour to be the two best cards in the entire block – are Green because they largely contribute to polychromatic decks. It would be one thing if their acceleration were bringing out Green bombs, but you object to the fact that they are basically booster chairs for Kagemaro and Meloku. Right?

Personally, I don’t buy this argument. It’s kind of like saying John Stockton wasn’t a good basketball player because all his points were scored by Karl Malone. However, for this article I will try to make my arguments from Jamie’s standpoint anyway.

In addition to analyzing the colors and strategies of decks, I will go over what I am calling the “Core Values” of their respective end games. For example, summoning a Sakura-Tribe Elder – no matter how efficient, elegant, and powerful it is, no matter how good it is at helping any sort of Green deck, polychromatic or monochromatic, to win – is not enough for Jamie because the goal of the Sakura-Tribe Elder is to enable a card like Kodama of the North Tree Keiga the Tide Star. Essentially, I will argue under the assumption that Jamie would approve of tapping one’s first-turn Birds of Paradise for a Call of the Herd, but not really for using it to make a Shadowmage Infiltrator on turn 2.

If you played a spectacular Green deck in 2000 to 2005 and I missed it, sorry. This list is probably not going to be exhaustive. I am just using the decks that came off the top of my head in order to show the viability, and even the dominance, of straight Green over the past five years, a clear improvement over the first few years of Pro Tour Constructed Magic for that color.


Let’s start with an easy example. In fact, let’s start with a quote from Used Deck Salesman – and Stupid Green innovator – Seth Burn:

“Before I begin this article, I would just like to tip my hat to John Ormerod and Ben Ronaldson for building one of the most successful Type II decks of all time. At the time of this article, Trinity Green has won four European nationals. Only Necro and White Weenie have produced similar reigns. Kudos to John and Ben and the rest of the Euro Alliance. Let’s see if you guys can keep this up at Worlds.”

Seth Burn, May 2000

For those of you who don’t know, Trinity Green tore up the international stage during the Summer 2000 Championship Season. Though Trinity Green was never successful in the US, that didn’t stop it from winning – according to Seth – at least four National Championships. Even after the deck that held down Trinity in the US gave way to Tinker, both in the heart of the World Champion and as the best deck, Trinity Green – though not in the hands of Ormerod or Ronaldson – still managed to make Top 8 come Worlds.

Benedikt Klauser – Top 4, Worlds 2000

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Deranged Hermit

1 Elvish Lyrist

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Priest of Titania

3 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary

4 Skyshroud Poacher

4 Plow Under

4 Masticore

1 Phyrexian Processor

4 Tangle Wire

14 Forest

3 Gaea’s Cradle

4 Rishadan Port

2 Treetop Village


1 Lumbering Satyr

2 Reverent Silence

2 Splinter

2 Uktabi Orangutan

1 Worldly Tutor

2 Phyrexian Processor

4 Thran Foundry

1 Forest

One of Jamie’s big pet peeves, even when he was successful with Secret Force or when StOmPy was arguably the best deck in Standard in late 1997, was that Mono-Green was “just” a swarm deck. Trinity Green shows how Mono-Green, at its core still a creature deck, could fight an elegant tempo war with Tangle Wire and Plow Under, and mimic its own Survival of the Fittest glory days using Skyshroud Poacher as a powerhouse card drawing and selection engine.

As for swarm decks proper, Urza’s + Masques was a fine time to be StOmPy. The first Grudge Match was won by Beau Bradley of New York, who unseated Your Move Games Champion “Tight” Tommy Guevin using a fat StOmPy deck with cards like Blastoderm. In Belgium, the Worlds Team final saw Masters Champ Ryan Fuller battling for Canada with a totally different StOmPy deck.

Here’s Ryan’s:

4 Pouncing Jaguar

4 Wild Dogs

2 Elvish Lyrist

2 Albino Troll

4 River Boa

2 Uktabi Orangutan

4 Vine Dryad

4 Rancor

4 Giant Growth

2 Treetop Bracers

2 Wild Might

4 Tangle Wire

1 Crop Rotation

1 Rishadan Port

2 Treetop Village

3 Gaea’s Cradle

15 Forest


4 Rushwood Legate

1 Lumbering Satyr

2 Harmonic Convergence

3 Thran Foundry

2 Cursed Totem

1 Treetop Bracers

2 Uktabi Orangutan

2000 was a year where you could run a methodical, tempo-oriented, Green control deck or your choice of beatdown decks… fat with Blastoderm and more lands, or fast with Wild Might to exploit opposing tap-outs.


I will be the first to concede that there was no purely Mono-Green deck in the Invasion-era Standard… but that is because the Block itself was multicolored. There weren’t a heck of a lot of ANY single color decks. Even Kai Budde Rebel deck that won the Pro Tour had Green, and Kamiel Cornelsson’s second place Rebel deck had Blue.

That said, 2001 seems as good a place as any to talk about Core Values for the first time, when analysis is hard.

Look at Fires of Yavimaya.

My first attempts at this archetype had just Fires in with Blastoderm and Saproling Burst. I was running cards like Silt Crawler or Trained Armodon as holdovers from Masque Block, even. You see Fires of Yavimaya – itself a Green card – broke the fading threats from Nemesis. Second-turn Fires meant that third-turn Blastoderm could strike for the full twenty all by itself – not to mention the synergies with Saproling Burst, the full-on Fix.

Here’s a rhetorical, fairly philosophical, question: Clearly Fires of Yavimaya is a Red card; you can see the mana symbol. But if it’s your only Red spell, or played alongside only cards like Thornscape Battlemage and Yavimaya Barbarian, does that make a deck any less Mono-Green? I mean, all the cards are still fundamentally Green, aren’t they? They’ve got the symbol.

Regardless of being as many as four colors by Worlds at the end of Summer 2001, Fires decks had Green Core Values. They had mana acceleration whose purpose was to pop out cards like Blastoderm, kick up Kavu Titan, and give Saproling tokens haste.

That said, by the end of this season, though, we saw a nice set of Mono-Green success stories.

2 Dust Bowl

14 Forest

3 Gaea’s Cradle

4 Wasteland

4 Elvish Lyrist

4 Fyndhorn Elves

4 Llanowar Elves

3 Masticore

4 Spike Feeder

3 Spike Weaver

3 Uktabi Orangutan

2 Verdant Force

4 Wall of Roots

2 Creeping Mold

4 Natural Order


3 Choke

4 Emerald Charm

1 Masticore

1 Penumbra Wurm

4 Powder Keg

1 Spike Weaver

1 Uktabi Orangutan

The biggest money winner was Mike Turian, putting Secret Force back on he map. Mike chose that deck for Extended, even though he showed up with a Red Deck in the Top 8. It probably wouldn’t surprise many of you to know that Brian Kibler also played Secret Force (but he was splashing Armadillo Cloak, as was his custom with giant Green men at the time).

But it was Frank Canu who actually posted the flawless 6-0 record with Mono-Green in the Extended portion. His Cradle deck was as different from Secret Force as that deck is different from StOmPy:

14 Forest

4 Gaea’s Cradle

4 Deranged Hermit

2 Elvish Champion

3 Elvish Lyrist

4 Fyndhorn Elves

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Llanowar Sentinel

4 Masticore

4 Priest of Titania

4 Quirion Ranger

2 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary

3 Uktabi Orangutan

4 Coat of Arms


3 Choke

3 Emerald Charm

2 Fecundity

3 Hidden Gibbons

3 Null Rod

1 Uktabi Orangutan

Canu’s deck is clearly an Elf tribal deck geared towards breaking Priest of Titania and Coat of Arms. He has all kinds of cool tricks he can do with Quirion Ranger, and he sure can shoot down a lot of opposing creatures with Masticore…. But what makes this deck different and powerful is Llanowar Sentinel.

A uniquely Green card drawing engine, Llanowar Sentinel is highly synergistic with Gaea’s Cradle, before and after being cast and kicked, and even moreso with Priest of Titania and Coat of Arms. The Cradle deck remained the choice for many top players going into the subsequent Extended Pro Tour, as at least the pre-Red versions of Trix could be beaten by Gaea’s Cradle simply paying for Illusions of Grandeur while infinite Elves beat down.


The first constructed Pro Tour that included the new block featured an old Wakefield favorite actually in the top 8.

Jamie has gone on record multiple times calling Kamigawa Block Green a “splash” color in Gifts Ungiven and even U/G Control variants… And I think that conventional wisdom would not agree. To me, a splash color would be Josh Ravitz Cranial Extractions in Kuroda-style Red or Mystic Enforcer in an otherwise U/G Threshold deck. Kamigawa Block Green decks need Green on turn 2. They rely on Green in the early game and close with GGG mana hungry finishers.

Consider Raphael Gennari’s deck from the Top 8 of Pro Tour: New Orleans 2001:

4 Bayou

4 Forest

3 Llanowar Wastes

5 Swamp

4 Treetop Village

4 Wasteland

2 Druid Lyrist

2 Fyndhorn Elves

3 Llanowar Elves

4 River Boa

2 Spike Feeder

2 Spiritmonger

1 Verdant Force

4 Wall of Blossoms

4 Duress

4 Natural Order

4 Nevinyrral’s Disk

4 Pernicious Deed


3 Choke

4 Emerald Charm

1 Engineered Plague

3 Masticore

2 Phyrexian Furnace

2 Spike Feeder

I am interested to hear what the King of the Fatties or others think about this. Clearly this is a Green deck. It is, in fact, the Green deck from Jamie’s perspective… but Gennari’s look at the same includes a small Black splash.

This is what a splash looks like to me: Black cards. complimenting a core-Green strategy. The main opponent at this tournament was Donate, and Duress must have been helpful there. Who knows if Gennari would have played that lone Black card otherwise? Apocalypse gave Spiritmonger and Pernicious Deed to Secret Force, but these are still Green cards, remember…

In one case, Gennari made a Deranged Hermit swap similar to Sol Malka’s own given the post-Apocalypse card pool for The Rock, keeping the lone Verdant Force from Jamie’s final version of his signature deck; and in the other, he played a redundancy over Nevinyrral’s Disk. We can’t call this really a mono-Green deck – but it feels awfully Green to me, even in ultimate execution.

It is interesting to look at the next block from the perspective of Green. The influence of multicolored cards in Odyssey – Psychatog and Shadowmage Infiltrator the most important of them – continued to make single-colored decks rare, at least until Torment. Now of course, Torment was designed deliberately as “the Black set” with a heavy Black theme. Almost the opposite of polychromatic Invasion Block, Torment was all about Mind Sludge, Mutilate, and Nantuko Shade. GIMME SWAMPS! it screamed, card after card.

It should be no surprise therefore that the Block format was dominated by only a single one-color deck: the one with all the Swamps. Yet a Green deck still won the Pro Tour, and a Green card was the most popular creature of the Pro Tour.

Wild Mongrel is a great opportunity to make the “whore” claim. After all, like Sakura-Tribe Elder, it is an early-drop enabler. When Wild Mongrel decks win, it is often because they are dominating via Wonder, flying being the favored weapon of hated Blue.

The only problem is that Wild Mongrel, even in a Blue deck, is using its unique mechanical advantage to break these cards:

Basking Rootwalla

Arrogant Wurm

Roar of the Wurm

In fact, it is Blue that is trying to copy Green’s natural advantage, using sad imitations like Aquamoeba and Cephalid Looter (or even the glacial Compulsion) to ape Wild Mongrel’s job.

I will fully concede that the Green deck that won Pro Tour: Osaka wasn’t mono-Green, but its Core Values, like Gennari’s deck earlier in the season, were similarly tree-hugging (if less so).

Now is an interesting time to talk about “the Pro Mentality.” One of the reasons that just looking at Top 8 performances can be deceptive about the viability of a deck is the Pro mentality. All things held equal, the players shuffling up on Sunday morning are the best players in the world. These players have certain biases that come through implicitly by what decks don’t show up… because they don’t play them.

For example, players of a certain caliber don’t really look at things like matchup percentage. It didn’t matter how good my Masques Block White deck was, or how many extra cards it would be up when it won… Steve O’Mahoney-Schwartz refused to consider it for Worlds 2000. “All it is is dorks,” he said. “Dorks die.”

At the most recent Extended Pro Tour, the reigning Player of the Year had this to say about a certain deck:

“I don’t like running a deck where you can’t really do much… Maybe the deck was okay but I think it’s really terrible. Most of the players who ran it are really good, like ______ and ____ _____ and stuff. Just from the deck you have nothing, no options. You can just play your guys and pray… I think it’s really sad.” Gabriel Nassif wasn’t talking about a straight Green deck like you might have assumed, but the White Weenie run by Jelger (“______”) and Gabe Walls (“____ _____”).

Still, this bias is ultimately no different from Jamie’s unholy love of fatties, mind you. But because that bias is held by the best players in the world, it can sometimes keep certain types of decks from making Top 8 where Jamie wants them to be.

Isn’t it interesting, then, what deck Jon Finkel chose to play in “U/G or Mono-Black” Osaka? Here’s a little food for thought:

4 Deserted Temple

20 Forest

4 Basking Rootwalla

4 Squirrel Mob

4 Wild Mongrel

4 Call of the Herd

4 Chatter of the Squirrel

4 Narcissism

4 Overrun

4 Roar of the Wurm

4 Squirrel Nest


1 Bearscape

3 Druid Lyrist

4 Leaf Dancer

3 Moment’s Peace

4 Still Life

Jon didn’t do very well this time around, but he still had Top 8 and even Top 4 performances left in him at the Pro Tour and Grand Prix levels, so it’s also not fair to completely dismiss the choice, not when the man is The Man.


My third article for Star City Games featured a Top 8 appearance in an Extended PTQ. I eschewed my U/G Threshold deck for Greg Weiss’s StOmPy. You can read the whole report here, but suffice it to say that in a format that included Aluren, Mind’s Desire, Life, and a number of viable Red Decks, I was one misplay from…

All right, I was trying to scoop Josh into the slot anyway. Who am I kidding?

The deck was good enough, though. And it was Mono-Green.

4 Bonesplitter

3 Chrome Mox

4 Cursed Scroll

4 Tangle Wire

4 Land Grant

4 Rancor

4 River Boa

4 Skyshroud Elite

4 Troll Ascetic

4 Wild Dogs

4 Vine Dryad

9 Forest

4 Treetop Village

4 Wasteland


4 Acridian

2 Lumbering Satyr

3 Naturalize

4 Rushwood Legate

2 Rishadan Port


Now before he made that quote about White Weenie, Gabriel Nassif did some pretty good spellcasting with the Green cards all through Mirrodin Block. At the Pro Tour he narrowly missed winning Kobe with, yes, a big old Green deck:

16 Forest

4 Cloudpost

3 Stalking Stones

1 Blinkmoth Nexus

4 Solemn Simulacrum

4 Viridian Shaman

1 Darksteel Colossus

1 Platinum Angel

1 Leonin Abunas

1 Duplicant

4 Oblivion Stone

4 Tooth and Nail

2 Talisman of Unity

2 Mindslaver

4 Reap and Sow

4 Sylvan Scrying

4 Oxidize


4 Chalice of the Void

4 Pulse of the Tangle

4 Tel-Jilad Chosen

1 Platinum Angel

1 Mindslaver

1 Duplicant

Everybody knows this deck. It’s not special. I mean, sure, you could play Affinity with the unstoppable trifecta of Arcbound Ravager, Skullclamp, and Disciple of the Vault – two of which are now banned in Extended – but the fact that Gabriel raced past them at the Block Pro Tour, cementing what would become one of the leading archetypes of Standard a year later is almost an afterthought. This isn’t even the deck I was talking about.

At Worlds 2004, it was again Mono-Green that gave Nassif the points he needed to win Player of the Year, a title infinitely more valuable than another second place. This deck which Gabriel chose so that he would not play mirror matches and would beat Affinity dropped a match only to eventual champion Julien Nuitjen playing – sigh – Affinity.

24 Forest

4 Tel-Jilad Chosen

4 Eternal Witness

4 Viridian Shaman

4 Molder Slug

4 Beacon of Creation

4 Oxidize

4 Tel-Jilad Justice

4 Blasting Station

4 Echoing Courage


3 Troll Ascetic

4 Reap and Sow

3 Duplicant

2 Rude Awakening

3 Oblivion Stone

… But this Mono-Green still bought Nassif Day Three and Player of the Year.

It’s actually interesting to look at Mirrodin Block in the context of Green board control. Green’s traditional weakness is the inability to destroy creatures. Like, the thing holding the color back when everyone else gets Magma Jet, Wrath of God, Vedalken Shackles, or Mutilate is that Green can cast…

What? Fog? That’s its answer to beatdown?

But in Mirrodin Block, the Block Mark Rosewater once told me he designed so that people would take Shatter over Terror, Green is the removal king. Green has insane removal in Mirrodin Block, from Oxidize to Tel-Jilad Justice to Viridian Shaman all the way up to Molder Slug. To really understand how good Green’s relevant removal has become (and remember, if not for bannings, Arcbound Ravager and Myr Enforcer would probably be the most relevant offensive creatures in Standard), compare Oxidize to its predecessors.

Crumble was meant to be the Green analogue to Swords to Plowshares. Look at its mana. Look at its drawback. In the first wave of Necropotence dominance, Crumble even had a place in Mike Long’s PTQ-winning Foil deck. It made the cut in Extended through 1999 at least, and maybe even more recently.

Now compare Crumble to Oxidize.

If Oxidize doesn’t get as much play as it did last Championship season, it’s only because Green has more options and more time now. Even without Affinity in the mix, there is a clear need for Zealots and Naturalizes. Just look at how Black has appropriated the Mindslaver-killing Viridian Shaman in post-Ninth Edition Standard to see how relevant Green’s specialty removal remains.

… And I guarantee we will see Oxidize again come Los Angeles.


It is almost silly to try to make an argument about Mono-Green today.

The most dominant deck at Regionals was the giant Green deck. Medium Green was statistically the first or second best deck in the format. Jamie himself helped to innovate the baby Green deck with Blanchwood Armor.

Is Mono-Green viable today? You only have three different flagbearers to choose from: Rushwood Dryad, Wood Elves, or Tooth and Nail… You pick.

Does it even matter if there is no Mono-Green deck in Kamigawa Block? I’d think that the overwhelmingly verdant hue of Standard would have something to say about Green. And even if Jamie doesn’t appreciate it… Sakura-Tribe Elder is not only the most played, but most successful creature in Block.

By. A. Mile. Wild Mongrel would be proud.

I know that Jamie’s actual original statement – tallying the Top 8 appearances of monochromatic decks in Pro Tours over ten years – probably does put Mono-Green in fifth place, but I’d also like to think that this article showed that that isn’t the only measurement we can use to gauge Mono-Green. Surely the Forests were in fifth place in 1993, but I think that R&D has come a long way in turning their lot around. Over the past five years, we’ve seen at least one viable Mono-Green deck in every season, sometimes several different ones. We’ve looked at how NOT showing up in the Top 8 of an event might be a product of psychology and bias rather than deck viability, and even seen how the best decks might not make Top 8 even when they have the statistical best records or contribute to Top 8 appearances by decks in other formats.

I’m sure I didn’t convince the King of the Fatties that he was wrong… but I hope I gave him and you something to think about.

Have fun not working,



Bonus Section: A Quick Bit on the Bannings

Losers (if you can call them that):


Olivier didn’t need Aether Vial to make Top 8 last year. Banning Aether Vial just made Goblins less ubiquitous, not “bad.” Players will definitely gravitate away from Goblins somewhat, but I can’t imagine the deck will die. Expect them to Burn.


Somewhere on the metal plane of Mirrodin, Arcbound Ravager is taking a swig from his Welding Jar, having a laugh at Disciple of the Vault’s retirement party. “The fools,” he is saying. “They are all breathing a sigh of relief. Perfect.”

If you think that banning Ravager’s sidekick is going to knock Affinity off, you’re just going to give the bad guys another Extended Pro Tour win. In a sense, losing half its offense was probably the best thing that could happen to Arcbound Ravager and company, kind of like the 90s settlements are long term aces for the tobacco lobby, or how losing its Black life loss card didn’t stop Trix from winning the Extended title in 2001.

You know why? Now people won’t [over]-prepare for Affinity.

Fairy Godmother is still the best offensive two-drop in the history of the game, still hangs out with triple turn-2 2/2, still draws two cards for one mana, and still gets backed up by Myr Enforcer on turn 3… And he’s even got a Birds of Paradise that counters Pernicious Deed this year!


Take a breather, old friend. You deserve it. In other news, we finally have room for Shrapnel Blast again.



Last night I was wondering how Madness was supposed to beat Goblins. If fewer people run Goblins, Madness gets more wins.


Twenty-four hours ago, this deck was up an even worse creek against Affinity than Madness was against Goblins. Whew!


We know the key mechanics are multicolored. Vial Goblins is one color. Affinity, even at four colors, is even fewer colors than Goblins is (if that makes sense). Before last night, I figured Goblins and Affinity would be the #1 and #2 decks in some order. Slowing those two down will mean we see more Ravnica cards at the Pro Tour.

“It’s a strange world.

“Let’s keep it that way.”