The Answer To Mono-Green Aggro

It didn’t take GerryT long to figure out the specifics of crushing Standard’s newest exciting archetype! Check out his tech and his sideboard strats for SCG Philadelphia!

Standard is currently plagued by the question of how to deal with
Mono-Green Aggro. Andrew Jessup
broke the format
, if only for a week, and now everyone is scrambling for the perfect

still like
Grixis Dragons as a deck, and it’s performed admirably the last few weeks
on Magic Online. However, Magma Spray and Abrade line up much worse against
Steel Leaf Champion than Cast Down, Doomfall, and even Fatal Push. I’m far
more excited about being base-black than base-red in this current
environment, and it just so happens that B/U Midrange was one of the best
decks in the format before Core Set 2019 was released.

Plus, you get to splash Nicol Bolas, the Ravager relatively painlessly.

Is splashing Bolas worth it?

The short answer – Hell yes.

The longer answer is that the splash is not free and alters the deck
significantly towards a more proactive, aggressive version. Bolas is a
source of card advantage, but a big part of the appeal is the 4/4 flying
body. There are opportunity costs for any deckbuilding decision, and while
part of the cost for including Bolas in B/U Midrange is the shift in
philosophy, it’s worth it.

used to build
B/U as a velocity machine, churning through your deck with Glint-Sleeve
Siphoner, Champion of Wits, Arguel’s Blood Fast, and Glimmer of Genius.
Your threats (outside of The Scarab God) were weak and you typically needed
to crush your opponents on card advantage more than anything. Additionally,
you needed to find the right answers to your opponent’s threats. With a 4/4
flier in the mix, killing everything they play is less important because
you can be attacking or blocking with Nicol Bolas and either plan
invalidates a large swath of your opponent’s cards.

In order for three-color midrange decks to be successful, you need to keep
the splash to a minimum. Whirler Virtuoso is powerful, but exchanging
smoothness and consistency with the manabase isn’t a profitable exchange
when you’re facing down Turn 2 Steel Leaf Champions with regularity.

Additionally, Arguel’s Blood Fast can be one of your best cards, but the
clunkier your manabase gets and the higher your mana curve gets, the worse
it becomes. You will often be playing games from behind, and that’s even
more true when you add a third color.

Even with the costs associated with playing a three-color manabase, it
might seem like I’m writing it off as negligible. That couldn’t be further
from the truth. In reality, I have a secret for making it work.

Do not play Field of Ruin!

The control matchups aren’t about that anymore. Having an answer to Search
for Azcanta is great, but only if you also have the velocity to keep up
with them. These versions of Grixis Midrange will probably get buried going
long against a true control deck, Search for Azcanta or no. While having an
answer would be nice, that strikes me as something you could sideboard into
if you desperately wanted that effect.

Adding Nicol Bolas fundamentally alters how B/U Midrange plays, is built,
and what its gameplan against control has to be. Act accordingly.

Magic Online is mostly on the same page as I am.

My current maindeck only differs from Gobern’s list by three cards,
including in the manabase.

Gobern did the correct thing by keeping the red splash to a minimum, but
once you remove Field of Ruin from your deck entirely, it opens up more

Abrade or Cast Down in the maindeck is technically a choice to make. If you
expect more God-Pharaoh’s Gifts and Heart of Kirans, play Abrade (and maybe
an extra red source). With all the Steel Leaf Champions on the loose, I
cannot recommend Cast Down highly enough. Your removal absolutely needs to
be live against them. If you fall behind, you will lose very quickly.

Our sideboards are rather different, and while Gobern’s has the pedigree, I
think mine covers more bases. The mix of Chandra’s Defeat, Walking
Ballista, and Abrade cover so many angles of attack on the format. Overall,
Grixis has some of the strongest sideboard options, and I want to take as
much advantage of that as I possibly can.

Cards I’m Not Playing

In theory, Gifted Aetherborn should be great. The mana cost is prohibitive
and it doesn’t block Steel Leaf Champion, so your opponents can mostly
ignore it. That makes it completely ineffectual and not a card I want to be

The Eldest Reborn seems to be the card that sneaks into people’s sideboards
as a sweet value card, but it’s not one that does anything particularly
well. I’d much rather have a Glimmer of Genius in this spot, especially
because of all the good five-mana cards you could play already.

Spyglass is a fine sideboard one-of as an answer to Teferi, Chandra, Gate
to the Afterlife, or Heart of Kiran. This is exactly the type of card I
don’t want to be playing with my new shift toward being proactive.

Again, this is an unwieldy, reactive answer, and one that isn’t entirely
necessary given the current context of the archetype.

If Torrential Gearhulk weren’t such a problem, it would be easy to include
Negate over Jace’s Defeat. However, there aren’t enough non-blue cards I
care about to make that swap. Now, if U/W Control goes back to playing some
copies of Approach of the Second Sun, you’re going to need some Negates to
fight it, but that’s not the world we live in at the moment.

I’ve played as many as four copies of Duress before and it wouldn’t shock
me if I go back to that number at some point. Being able to proactively
force through a threat is exactly what you want to be doing against control
decks, so even playing Negates on top of Jace’s Defeat doesn’t make much
sense to me, at least until you already have four copies of Duress.

If you want additional firepower against aggressive decks, you should
consider Ravenous Chupacabra and/or Essence Extraction. They are typically
good against different archetypes, so that’s why you might seem something
more versatile like Doomfall or something sleeker like Cast Down get the
nod instead.

VS Mono-Green Aggro



Kill all the things.

Liliana, Death’s Majesty is the worst threat because of how easily she can
get attacked down. In fact, planeswalkers in general are rather poor
against green aggro decks.

Arguel’s Blood Fast could be good in theory, especially if you’re on the
play and have that extra buffer of time needed to actually activate it once
or twice. They have no reach, so being at one life is basically the same as
being at five or seven. Once you transform Arguel’s Blood Fast, you will
probably lock up the game alongside The Scarab God, which is nice. Between
vehicles, Rhonas the Indomitable, and Ghalta, Primal Hunger, they are not
quite as dead to The Scarab God as you think.

Most of the time, Arguel’s Blood Fast will be too slow to activate and
gaining four or five life doesn’t give you as much of a buffer as it does
against red decks. Their deck hits so hard that unless you’re containing
each of their threats, it often won’t help.

VS R/B Aggro



This matchup is better than it was last format, which makes me very happy.
Chandra, Torch of Defiance is typically their scariest card, but now you
have more clean answers to her.

Increasing the reliance on red mana after sideboard isn’t necessarily where
I want to be, but Abrade is so much of an upgrade to Fatal Push that I’m
willing to make that swap. If they’re more aggressive with fewer Heart of
Kirans, you should sideboard slightly differently.

VS B/U Midrange



These matchups are kind of a mess, but I also really enjoy playing them.
They’re incredibly intricate, but sometimes a nice, fun game gets ruined by
someone accidentally sticking The Scarab God, so always be wary of that

I dislike Jace’s Defeat because the black cards are typically stronger and
your Defeats will rot in your hand. They’re necessary for fighting
Torrential Gearhulk and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria out of control decks. If
that’s not a concern, you can play Negate instead, but it has the same
issues in the mirror match. You have some targets, but it’s not good

VS Esper Control



Esper (and the other assorted control decks in the format) are worse
matchups now, but thankfully, they aren’t super popular. U/W Control is
much easier since they have far fewer cards that you care about and the
additional cards they have in their place are mostly spot removal spells,
which are poor against your deck overall.

VS Mono-Red Flame



If they have Flame of Keld and twelve burn spells, I like Duress as a cheap
way to trade in the early game. If your opponent’s deck has more in common
with Wyatt Darby’s style of Mono-Red deck, you should sideboard similarly
to how I do against R/B Aggro.

If this becomes the most popular red deck at some point, you will want the
Essence Extractions back.

The Cutting Room Floor

Something excellent exists in this space.

Removing Glint-Sleeve Siphoner makes you better against Goblin Chainwhirler
and the additional threats help against control overall. Your deck becomes
less versatile, but that’s fine if your Plan A is excellent, and Nicol
Bolas into Liliana, Death’s Majesty is exactly that.

Stitcher’s Supplier fuels Search for Azcanta, so that’s another direction
you could take. Maindecking multiple copies and transforming it trivially
is incredible against nearly each opponent you’ll face, even if it’s mostly
being used as a Rampant Growth.

The two-drop creatures are weak against green aggro decks, so I wouldn’t
register this deck at the moment, but it’s a viable option.

For this weekend, black removal is where I want to be, and I especially
want Nicol Bolas backing up that plan. Given B/U Midrange’s recent history
of crushing Standard, including US Nationals and the most recent Magic
Online PTQ, there’s nothing else I’d rather play.