With the recent bannings that were passed down by the all-knowing DCI, it must feel good to know that is it no longer necessary to pack so many artifact hate spells within one deck. Without the artifact lands, Arcbound Ravager, and Disciple of the Vault ruining the fun in this format why would you even want to play any of the artifact kill spells that used to reside in every green deck ever made since 2004?
Oh… you mean there are still more then a handful of playable artifacts that still need to be dealt with? I know you do not have to start decklists like we used to
It does feel good to actually just cut the Oxidize. It is my opinion that when you build for this format, you’re still going to have to deal with artifacts, so you might as well continue to maindeck one of the several options that you have in this format. If you turn a blind eye to this you’ll be telling rough beat stories to your friends after Panoptic Mirror.Dec storms the tournament scene!
(I’m not serious about Panoptic Mirror.Dec)
Okay, so I guess that was the introduction type thing. However, in most introductions you actually find out what the writer is trying to tell you. So let me try that again.
Hi, I’m Josh, I want to write about Black/Green in the post banning Standard environment.
That fixed things.
When Affinity ruled the world, and by that I mean before the bannings, you had to be ready for that beast in the type two format. A lot of people thought that Black Green would be the way to go with the cheap removal in both colors. I was a part of this school of thought, and decided that I would play Black/Green in the State Championships.
This is the list that I played to win the Kentucky State Championships.
This decklist got more press then I thought it deserved after the Champs Season. It had a decent (and by that I mean fifty percent matchup before and after board) with Affinity. It could not beat a competent Blue/Green player. It really could not beat Krark-Clan Ironworks. It did crush some Tooth and Nail though. However, this deck did have a decent matchup with just about everything else in the field. It just controlled the board until a huge Death Cloud was able to resolve and then a Dragon (with a big beefy arm coming out the back of his neck) would come crashing down and kill the resource-hosed opponent. In the swiss rounds of States I was able to beat Affinity, Red/Green, Tooth, Tooth, Blue/Green, Affinity and Tooth in that order, my only loss in the swiss was to team mate Jacob Beal and our build of KCI. In the Top 8 rounds, I beat two Affinity decks, and in the finals I beat Tooth and Nail.
The next week I took this deck to the LCQ at Pro Tour: Columbus, and went 0-2, losing along the way to Blue/Green and to Red/Green. Watching people play Black/Green over the weekend, it soon became obvious to me that it had another close to unwinnable matchup with Mono Blue Control.
I put the deck away since that weekend, opting instead to just play the powerful Standard decks with the artifacts in them. With the rotation of the banned cards, I figured it was a good time to take this deck out of the binder, and try to make it work again in the new standard.
This is a really solid list, with easier main deck access to the Boseiju. Finding this card can single-handedly turn around the Blue/Green and Mono-Blue matchups. Now, a lot of you may not agree with this list, and I will say this is indeed a work in progress. I’m not a huge fan of many of the Betrayers of Kamigawa cards in this format, but I do think Eradicate is one of the most important additions to the deck. This card is so good against Eternal Witness, Darksteel Colossus, Arc-Slogger and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. I do know there are some nice interactions between the Genjus in this deck, but really, after a huge Death Cloud are you going to be able to take advantage of either of the on-color enchant lands?
Nezumi Shortfang is one of the guys that I wanted to put into the deck to help out the control matchups, but his high mana investment and small backside made him a huge liabilty against the popular Red decks in the format. After testing him in the board, I just found that Persecute is much better, and much quicker then this silly rat guy!
Horobi’s Whisper was another card that I considered for the main deck, but the color requirements made this a much easier cut. Having one Arcane spell in the deck was a pretty good indicator that I still wanted to run Echoing Decay instead of the new banishing effect. Two new legends were also tested in the deck but neither Yukora the Prisoner or Iwamori the Open Fist tested well enough for me.
On to the deck discussion.
The land base has to be in favor of Green, not because there are more Green spells in the deck, but you really truly want at least one Green mana on board on turn 2. Sakura-Tribe Elder is one of the backbones to this deck, allowing you to accelerate into quicker Barter in Bloods and more devastating Death Clouds – thus you can see why I decided to run more Forests than Swamps. You also might be wondering why there are no non-basics in the deck besides the powerful Boseiju. The short answer is that I did not want to dilute the mana base by adding non-basic lands! Okina and Shizo are strictly worse then Forest and Swamp, City of Brass makes you take damage (which matters when paired against the fast White Weenie decks or aggro Red decks of the new format) Forbidden Orchard gives your opponent a token creature to sacrifice to Barter or Death Cloud, and you only get one real use out of Tendo Ice Bridge. The real reason I decided against adding these lands though? They can not be searched out of the deck with Sakura-Tribe Elder of Kodama’s Reach. When you cast these spells you want to take cards out of the deck, giving you better draw steps.
Utility creatures have always been Green’s strong suit (well, I’m wrong when I say that – Big Dumb Attackers are really the color’s strong suit.) and the guys in this deck are the strongest at being good at other things. Eternal Witness would see no play if it were just a 2/1 for 1GG, Viridian Shaman would be awful if it were a 2/2 for 2G and Rampant Growth Guy would be worse than Vine Trellis without the built in Rampant Growth! In this Green-based deck it is probably strange that a Black flyer is the biggest threat creature wise. Kokusho, the Evening Star is truly your friend and mine! Weighing in at a beefy 5/5 for six mana, this guy has no problem coming out of the hand and just dominating the game. In a pinch, this guy is also a five-point Consume Spirit, and I can not tell you how many games I have won by knocking my opponent to five life and casting Barter in Blood. When you play the best dragon, your opponent automatically has five fewer life just because of the leaving play ability.
Normally in Green-based decks the spells are simple – they either pump your attackers up, they make more men, or they find a bunch of land and put them into play. Some of those elements are found here as well. Kodama’s Reach is the best land spell made since Harrow was reprinted, and is almost an automatic inclusion in any deck that runs Green. Sylvan Scrying is also really good at finding the lands, but is normally reserved for finding Cloudposts or the missing pieces of the Urzatron. It makes an appearance in this deck functioning as a Tribe Elder numbers five and six, but normally is the spell that finds the backbreaking Boseiju, Who Shelters All in the control matchup. Rude Awakening is another fantastic finisher, or a catalyst to even bigger Death Clouds! (Please note that Rude Awakening and Death Cloud are not synergistic when Rude is used as a finisher only.) Plow Under helps slow down the popular Red/Green decks, and helps keep Mono Blue Control in check (Unless Meloku the Clouded Mirror is in play.) Barter in Blood and Echoing Decay help keep you from dying before you can take full control of the game.
You’ll notice in my States deck there is no mention of Cranial Extraction. When I started to play this deck, many people were very high on this card… It kills Tooth and Nail, takes Arc-Sloggers away, and does absolutely nothing to Affinity! Sure when it hits the spell is brutal, but in the past format, if you were casting a four-mana sorcery that did not destroy all creatures in play I thought you were making the wrong play. I have since come to my senses, and in the new slower format, Cranial Extraction is an All-Star. It makes it harder for Tooth and Nail to win, harder for Arc-Slogger based decks to win, but sadly still does not keep any of the things in play from beating you.
Sideboarding for the deck is aimed at improving some of the weaker matchups. Chokes are obviously for the Mono Blue matchup (Watch out for Mind Bend or Spectral Shift, as these two cards can ruin a perfectly good enchantment.) Naturalizes come in against the White Weenie matchup, Mono Blue, or Honden.dec. Plow comes in against Tooth and Nail, the other Green decks, and Mono Blue. Death Cloud comes in against the Green decks. Eradicate comes in against creature decks and Tooth. Hideous Laughter is fo White Weenie. Persecute is against Tooth and Nail, Green Based control and Mono Blue. In general, sideboarding this deck seems like a straightforward process.
Now, before I get to the matchups, let’s take a look at five generated starting hands, and see what a typical game looks like! (All hands have been generated using Magic Workstation.)
Really solid hand against the White Weenie. One of the spells kills off an important equipment or Chrome Mox, Echoing Decay might get rid of more then one guy, and Barter in Blood should leave them with nothing worthwhile in play.
Eh, decent enough starting point, might as well run it.
This hand is absolutely stellar. It has a great early game against one of the most powerful decks in the format (Mono Blue), has a decent early game with the Sakura-Tribe Blocker and Barter in Blood, and in theory by turn five you should have removed five lands from the deck, making your draws start to sparkle.
I’m sure drawing Barter in Blood a lot. Mulligan.
This hand is questionable, however, if you draw a Forest it’s one of the most ideal starting hands you could ask for. The best play is probably to toss it back if you are on the play and keep it if you are on the draw. Chances are you will draw that Forest before too long (of course when I generated the next two draw steps I drew Cranial Extraction and Kokusho.)
You want to keep this hand. However, it is shifty. You only start with a turn 2 spell and a turn 4 Barter. Of course, I am a master, and drew an Extraction, and a Kokusho to go along with this.
At this point I would like to discuss the matchups. I’ll be detailing how to sideboard during this point, so you might want to pay attention. I need to give you all something to make fun of me about now!
Preboard: 50 percent
Post board: 60 percent.
This matchup, which once was close to unwinnable, has been improved just slightly. More Boesjius make it much easier for you to resolve your key spells in the deck. You want an early copy of this land in play. Start searching out the lands with Kodama’s Reach. One of the most important aspects of this matchup is Sakura-Tribe Elder. Let him swing some, most of the times (unless Magpies come down with no counter back up) he gets to attack for three to five points of damage. Sacrifice this guy only when attacking is no longer feasible, or when you really need a land. Death Cloud is important in the matchup, but really you just want to put a bunch of lands into play, and play Rude Awakening underneath a Boseiju. It’s not impossible, just longer and more boring than one could possibly imagine. If you get an early Boseiju, Cranial Extraction should name their win conditions, Meloku/Keiga and Thieving Magpie.
Sideboarding Out: 4 Barter in Blood, 4 Echoind Decay.
Pretty simple there, I know sideboarding Eradicate looks strange and it really is, however, it is Cranial Extraction numbers three and four, and gets to effect the game state. In the post board game, you can afford to be a little more loose with Extraction, and name stuff like Vedalkan Shackles and Echoing Truth. Be careful about Choke – the Mono-Blue player should be playing with Spectral Shift in their sideboard (and if they are not, they deserve to lose to Boil or this card when they tap out to play dumb cards). Persecute makes it harder for them to win than it needs to be.
Tooth and Nail
Preboard 60 Percent
Post board 55 percent.
If they are playing the Cloudpost version of the deck it means two things. The Tooth player is afraid of Sowing Salt, and the matchup is a little bit easier because of the slower pace of Cloudpost tooth. The Tron version of the feared deck is a little harder, but this is one of the matchups where Plow Under really gets to shine. Break up the non-basic sets as early and as often as you can. Cranial Extraction should name Tooth and Nail (derf derf) Eternal Witness (to protect against their own Plow Under recursion) and Sundering Titan. Kokusho will win more of these games than he should be allowed to, and Death Cloud helps to accelerate the winning process while slowing them down as well.
The land search of Scrying is not too important as you really do not need to get Boseiju in this matchup. Echoing Decay is also less then stellar. Persecute names Green, and Eradicate will get more Witnesses than it gets Darksteel Colossus. You still want to slow them down with Plow Under, and the Extraction targets with Tooth being named first can change to name Plow Under (because of Persecute and Eradicate being in the deck now, setting up with Plow lock is much harder for the Tooth player to do.) However, I still feel that this matchup is a coin flip.
Preboard 30 Percent
Postboard 50 percent
God, this matchup can be a nightmare. It really depends on you starting hand, how many early kill spells do you have? If you do not have at least two of the following, you probably need to mulligan hand.
Cranial Extraction is soooooo bad in this match, but if you are in a position to use it (like not going to die next turn) it should be cast naming the spells that make their guys bigger (Sword of Fire and Ice, Glorious Anthem and Umezawa’s Jitte are all problematic.) Like in Affinity, you need to be able to put the match at a standstill with your removal, and hope to slow them down with Death Cloud. However, this deck is really fast, so do not be surprised if you are shuffling up for game two in five minutes.
Rude Awakening has to come out – nothing is more heartbreaking than drawing the eight mana spell when you are facing lethal on the board. I suggest bringing in the artifact removal for the Anthems, Swords, Moxen, and Jittes that you will be facing down. Eradicate kills four guys in theory, and Persecute can help slow them down if cast early. I’m not sure if White Weenie sides in the Swords of Light and Shadow, but if they do, be ready for it. Sometimes Kokoshu is not the best blocker around.
Green Control Decks
Coin flip. Green/Red is the best of these matchups.
Green/Blue is the worst.
Green/Black is boring.
I am lumping all the Green decks together because they are all trying to do the same thing that you are trying to do. Gain tempo advantage with Plow Under, get mana advantage with Tribe Elder and Reach, win with a big dumb guy or Rude Awakening. You should have the upper hand against the Rude Awakening plan just because of Echoing Decay. Troll Ascetic is problematic, but can be dealt with via Barter in Blood. Death Cloud Is Your Absolute Best Friend Forever in these matchups. In all Decks Cranial Extraction should name like this Plow Under, Eternal Witness, Win Conditon (Arc-Slogger, Meloku, Kokusho.) There are exceptions to this though – against the mirror match Death Cloud may be the better choice just based on board position.
Post board games are just like Preboard, all of these matchups are boring!
I think this just about covers the Black/Green deck in Standard. If you want to play something that rewards play skill, you should by all means play Mono Blue control! If you want to play something that rewards play skill, is a blast to play and does not have awful countermagic in it, then Black/Green is the deck for you! I look forward to discussing in the best forums on the information superhighway and next time, I’ll have something else to say about magic!
Thanks for reading, and thanks to Yellowcard for being awesome.