Article 1 and Article 2 can be found by following the links.
In the first two articles of this series, we considered the possible creatures for Mono-Green Standard decks. Since, by “Mono-Green”, we refer to some kind of Aggro (or at worst, Aggro-Control) deck, a number of otherwise highly playable Green spells won’t be considered here. Rude Awakening, for example, can be an excellent card in Control but isn’t worth a second glance if you plan on attacking with creatures each turn. Unlike previously, I won’t list cards by casting cost. This may make things more confusing in some senses, but I’m a firm believer of Ferocious Charge being viewed alongside Giant Growth even though, by rights, Naturalize lies between the two.
Instants and Sorceries
The premier artifact destruction spell of the Ravager Affinity era is just too narrow today. Wear Away and Naturalize are considerably better. With Elvish Scrapper, Viridian Shaman, Viridian Zealot, and Molder Slug around, it’s unclear whether you need any non-creature artifact destruction spells at all.
Status: Possibly worth consideration in Combo-heavy metagames.
The fact that it has scry doesn’t make it any less narrow.
Status: Slightly better than Oxidize against non-Combo decks. Against non-Combo decks, you shouldn’t even be playing Oxidize.
Naturalize and Wear Away:
For the purposes of Mono-Green, these two instants are nearly identical. If you have any Arcane spells in the maindeck or sideboard, you’ll want to play Wear Away, otherwise, Naturalize should get the nod on the off chance that someone plays Hisoka’s Defiance or Ishi-Ishi, Akki Crackshot against you. Again though, is this kind of utility really necessary? The only significant enchantment which Viridian Zealot can’t deal with is Night of Souls’ Betrayal. Night of Souls’ Betrayal is definitely a beating against many Mono-Green cards, but if you know it’s a big part of your metagame, you can certainly build around it (Mono-Green can be constructed to absolutely annihilate MBC).
Status: At best, a useful sideboard option against Combo, Hondens, and Night of Souls’ Betrayal. Against other decks with many artifacts (White Weenie for example), it probably isn’t worth boarding in.
Ah, a classic! If Green had more controlling cards, I’d build a MGC deck just for the hell of it. There’s no point in play Creeping Mold. If you want to slow down mana production, you should run Plow Under.
Status: Not useful in any builds.
Four mana is too much for this effect at the moment. If you’re playing Molder Slug, Splinter is largely irrelevant. You have to consider that, unless you have out seven mana sources, you won’t be able to Splinter-away Sundering Titan in Tooth and Nail (assuming the Tooth player fetches Sundering Titan + Kiki-Jiki).
Status: Not a bargain for any build.
Another classic, Giant Growth is the height of pump efficiency. Saving a Slith Predator or Fangren Firstborn in combat can be devastating, and the extra +1/+1 that comes from choosing Giant Growth over Echoing Courage or Kodama’s Might is significant. Nonethless, Predator’s Strike is superior to Giant Growth on most occasions. Sure, there are a lot of times when you don’t have that extra mana to spare on Predator’s Strike, but whereas Giant Growth is usually a mere combat trick, Predator’s Strike can be a gamewinner.
Status: Consider Giant Growth if you’re in need of instant-speed pump besides Predator’s Strike or if you’re playing three or four copies of Fangren Pathcutter.
This is Blanchwood Armor’s best friend. Predator’s Strike helps that 10/9 Troll Ascetic that’s been chump blocked for the last three turns punch through those last points of damage. Even without Blanchwood Armor, Predator’s Strike permits Mono-Green to win games despite its lack of evasion. There isn’t so much trample floating around at the moment, and this is the best there is.
Status: The premier instant-speed pump card. A staple in all builds that aren’t loaded with huge, trampling monsters.
The spell is clever, but playing Ferocious Charge can put a big crimp in your curve. For one more mana, you get Might of Oaks.
Status: Unplayable in all builds.
There seems to be a bit too much reliance on Beacon of Creation these days. The spell is good, yet I’ll never weaken the rest of my deck for it. Happily, the very threat of Echoing Courage will make some opponents overly wary of your Insect tokens.
Status: Inferior to Giant Growth and Predator’s Strike in Mono-Green Aggro.
I could only imagine choosing this over Predator’s Strike or Giant Growth if I were playing a Kodama of the South Tree deck. As I mentioned in the previous article, although Kodama of the South Tree is a good creature on its own, it’s probably too risky dedicating a deck to it.
Status: An auto-include in Kodama of the South Tree-based builds. If you happen to be playing a lot of Arcane spells (though I can’t even begin to guess what they’d be), Kodama’s Might could also be a consideration.
Might of Oaks:
+7/+7 is nothing to laugh at, particularly at instant-speed. If you’re playing a pseudo-evasion-heavy deck (Slith Predator, Rushwood Dryad, Jukai Messanger) this could be a great compliment to Blanchwood Armor. Similarly, Might of Oaks is the best finisher around when paired with Beacon of Creation. At four mana, however, Might of Oaks competes with Fangren Firstborn, a less dramatic yet also less risky companion to the aforementioned creatures/tokens.
Status: Worth considering in Green Weenie and evasion-heavy builds. If you like mind games, it could effective to put just one Might of Oaks in your deck and “accidentally” flash it to your opponent. Or perhaps not.
Strength of Cedars:
Almost always inferior to Might of Oaks.
Status: Unplayable in all builds except for Kodama of the South Tree-based decks.
Mono-Green’s creature-based acceleration is powerful enough to warrant excluding Kodama’s Reach. This isn’t a Control deck you’re playing.
Reap and Sow:
Unlike Reap and Sow, Plow Under provides a dramatic effect that is useful at any stage in the game. As many other writers have pointed out, Plow Under isn’t an auto-win card in any match-up, yet against MUC and Tooth and Nail, it could buy you the time needed to win. Even if you don’t achieve the ideal Rushwood Dryad/Slith Predator + Blanchwood Armor combo against Tooth and Nail, playing Plow Under can work wonders. Against MUC, Plow Under will almost always be countered; this, you should recall, is a good thing. The more must-counters you place in your deck, the better it will be. Often, Mono-Green will be able to force White Weenie into a topdecking contest. The trouble for Mono-Green is that it only takes one random piece of broken equipment on White Weenie’s side to turn the game over the course of a single turn. Plow Under is a great inhibitor here. This isn’t to say that you won’t side-out Plow Under against White Weenie, just that the sorcery is never completely useless.
Status: A real possibility either in the sideboard or maindeck of all Medium Green and Big Green.
Time of Need:
Legend-based Green decks are possible, but they won’t be Mono-Green.
Status: Wrong colors, buddy.
Commune with Nature:
Mono-Green has more possible one-drops than you might imagine, yet Commune with Nature can still be great. Usually, if I wanted this effect, I would choose Sensei’s Diving-Top, but if I’m not playing Beacon of Creation, Commune with Nature could be superior. The problem is, in a lot of match-ups, you’ll really want that Turn 1 Birds of Paradise or Elvish Pioneer, something which neither the Top nor the sorcery can provide.
Status: I like the card, especially in Limited, but it just doesn’t fit in Mono-Green Aggro.
Enshrined Memories lies on the opposite side of the tracks as Commune with Nature. Although Mono-Green has the ability to produce a lot of mana, if it does so, it’s probably with the hopes of playing huge creatures, precisely the types of creatures that are worst with Enshrined Memories. White Weenie, however, wishes it had this card, and I could imagine Green Weenie getting a real kick out of it, especially with Beacon of Creation around to shuffle the library afterward.
Status: Could be amazing in Green Weenie, yet Green Weenie is probably an unplayable deck type.
Beacon of Creation:
Concerning Beacon of Creation, opinions are divided. There’s no doubt that the card is powerful in the right deck, but is Mono-Green Aggro the right deck? Of the major decks in Standard, Beacon of Creation, when used as a simple token generator and not some warped Combo piece, is only a true killer against B/G Death Cloud and MBC (assuming, rather ridiculously, that MBC never gets Night of Souls’ Betrayal onto the board). Now, in order for Beacon of Creation to stop Death Cloud, it has to be played as early in the game as possible, thus reducing the spell’s efficiency. Besides, how much B/G Death Cloud do you really expect in your metagame? Of course, Beacon of Creation isn’t really bad in any match-ups either, and the four-mana slot is one I’m more than usually flexible about this season, but the card which best complements Beacon (Fangren Firstborn) is also a four-drop.
Whenever I play Mono-Green, the first few turns of the game are always nerve-wracking for me. I hate watching my opponent either develop or lay down fierce monsters while I have only mana acceleration and sub-optimal attackers (Slith Predator, Rushwood Dryad, etc.) to play. Finally, once I reach the three or four mana mark, I have the chance to play threats which outclass my opponent’s similarly-priced threats. Beacon of Creation doesn’t help me do this. Most decks would much rather see four 1/1 Insect tokens than Fangren Firstborn on Turns 3 or 4. Beacon of Creation gets better later in the game, but so do your other options. Furthermore, in Mono-Green Aggro, Beacon’s reshuffling effect might be disadvantageous. The fact is, although Beacon of Creation is rarely a bad card, it’s just as rare that it is precisely the spell I want to draw. I don’t like running cards like that in my decks.
Status: Green Weenie decks with a lot of pump (particularly, Echoing Truth and Might of Oaks) should consider Beacon of Creation.
Pulse of the Tangle:
It’s a crazy format if Pulse of the Tangle is unplayable. Sadly, the only match-up where you can expect your opponent to have more creatures out than you have on Turn 3 is White Weenie. Of course, three mana for a 3/3 isn’t terrible, and if you could foresee Pulse of the Tangle returning to your hand, say, one time out of four, the sorcery might be worthwhile. The only way you’ll be getting Pulse of the Tangle back one time of four, however, is if your local metagame is full of White Weenie, in which case, playing Mono-Green at all is a poor idea.
Status: Unplayable in all builds.
So, you want to kill flyers with your Green deck? Well, nothing does the job better than Gale Force. From Kokusho to Keiga, from Lantern Kami to Skyhunter Skirmisher, Gale Force is your man. It also costs five mana and is a one-off effect. Though it doesn’t do you much good if there’s an active Jitte around, I prefer Matsu-Tribe Sniper for the flyer-slaying job. With the Sniper around, you can kill White Weenie’s small attackers one at a time, depending on who’s wielding the Sword. Against MUC, Matsu-Tribe Sniper is also superior to Gale Force as it slips better under the countermagic barrier and disables Keiga without killing it.
Status: Generally inferior to Matsu-Tribe Sniper.
Artifacts and Enchantments
Genju of Cedars:
Viewed simply from a cost perspective, Genju of Cedars is a great deal. As opposed to Genju of the Spires, attacking on Turn 3 is unlikely to leave you with a land in your graveyard. MUC, meanwhile, can only trump Genju of Cedars with Boomerang if the enchantment ever reaches play, and I’m always a fan of cards that give opponents pre-conditions. Still, efficient as Genju of Cedars is, you’re almost never going to want to activate it before you reach six mana. Even against MUC (Genju’s dream match-up), on Turn 3, would you really rather attack with your land than play Troll Ascetic or Blanchwood Armor? After all, the countermagic isn’t going to be any easier to avoid later in the game.
Status: If you know MUC is the most popular deck in your area, consider Genju of Cedars. In general, however, this enchantment isn’t a worthwhile investment for an Aggro deck.
Sword of Fire and Ice:
There are two ways of looking at Sword of Fire and Ice. Either you’ll decline equipment in favor of Molder Slug or you’ll run this Sword and be happy with the results. As I mentioned in my last article, Mono-Green’s creature base isn’t as well-suited for the bomb equipment as, say, White Weenie’s is. Clearly, unsuitability hasn’t stopped anyone before (witness Big Red’s addiction to equipment), yet when a color has a card (Molder Slug) which can absolutely wreck opposing strategies provided you don’t fall for these strategies yourself, it’s probably best to go with the trump card. So many decks rely on Sword of Fire and Ice for their “card drawing/library manipulation” function that, when the equipment is destroyed, they tend to run out of gas. Don’t be playing one of the decks that’s stuck on the side of the road somewhere between Hamburg and Hell because you failed to consider that opponents might be playing artifact removal. If you’re going to build a Mono-Green deck, it needs to be able to run fine without card drawing.
Status: I’d choose Molder Slug, but if you wouldn’t, this piece of equipment is as good as it gets.
Umezawa’s Jitte is rather more interesting for us than Sword of Fire and Ice since it can act as a sort of creature-dependent, sorcery-speed, four-mana Echoing Decay (without the Echoing bit) for Green. Even if you anticipate having Molder Slug in play, there’ll be times when you really need to kill a creature on the other side of the board. Umezawa’s Jitte may just be the answer for you. If nothing else, it’s a more consistent source of removal than Blasting Station which is totally pointless without Beacon of Creation. Seen like this, Umezawa’s Jitte is a potential sideboard option. Your opponent will probably have sided-out her artifact removal, and you can drop Jitte as a one-off creature destruction spell. How many creatures, however, are really worth killing that much? Besides Kiki-Jiki, Mirror-Breaker and Hokori, Dust-Drinker, there aren’t too many powerful creatures you’ll be able to take down by using Jitte just once.
Status: It’s an interesting idea, but I’d rather splash Red for direct damage than risk my opponent holding instant-speed artifact removal.
Sword of Light and Shadow:
At the risk of being called a Swede, I’ll make the absurd (but true!) statement that Loxodon Warhammer is better in Mono-Green than Sword of Light and Shadow is. In any case, with all the Jittes and Swords of Fire and Ice roaming around, I can’t imagine why Sword of Light and Shadow is necessary. Unlike the other two pieces of equipment, it doesn’t provide removal, and if you’re not playing a full set of Jittes because they’re legendary, you’re either underestimating the amount of artifact removal you’ll see or you’re underestimating the number of opposing Jittes.
Status: Of less value than other available equipment.
I just used it as an example.
Status: No, honestly. Just an example.
You probably already know that I love Blanchwood Armor. Even if I weren’t playing Molder Slug, I’m not sure that I’d run the bomb equipment over this enchantment, a card which can, unlike the equipment, steal games from right under Tooth and Nail’s nose. Enchantment removal is pretty much limited to Viridian Zealot these days, and though MUC can board in Spectral Shift, I’m not sure I mind my opponent stocking up on such narrow cards.
Status: An automatic four-of in Green Weenie and Medium Green. It’s entirely possible that Big Green has better things to do on Turn 3.
The other Spectral Shift target, Choke produces, to be sure, a powerful effect. One advantage to bring Choke out of the sideboard against MUC is that it can cause your opponent to waste her bounce (bounce that would be much better if it were aimed at Blanchwood Armored creatures). On the other hand, if your Choke is hit by Spectral Shift, you’ve just put yourself in a lot of trouble in a match-up that, with correct sideboarding, should be heavily tilted in your favor anyway.
As a source of intermittent creature removal, Blasting Station is surely below the standards of Umezawa’s Jitte. Naturally, Jitte doesn’t combo with Beacon of Creation, but if you want to be sure of getting off that combo, you’ll be playing four copies of both Beacon and Blasting Station. For Mono-Green Aggro, this is a terrible, terrible idea. There’s so much artifact destruction floating around (including, hopefully, your own Molder Slug) that the card’s tiny effect just isn’t worth its cost. Consider the other things you could be doing on Turn 3.
Status: A possibility for Green Weenie, yet I’d put more faith in the mega-pump spells (Might of Oaks and Strength of Cedars) than this as a finisher.
Amidst all the Top-bashing and Top-worshipping that goes on, I’ll try to offer a voice of reason. Sensei’s Divining Top is one of Green’s few library manipulators, and with both Sakura-Tribe Elder and Beacon of Creation at its disposal, Green has the ability to abuse the Top more than any other color. In Tooth and Nail, for example, I think that choosing not to run Sensei’s-Diving Top is akin to asking the gods of topdecking to, please, give you a bag of coal for Christmas. My problem with Sensei’s Divining Top in Mono-Green is that I simply don’t know when I’d ever want to play it. Unlike half of the other decks in Standard at the moment, Mono-Green possesses an actual mana curve. You don’t need an ideal draw to use up all of your mana every turn until Turn 6. Your surplus of acceleration means that mana fixing shouldn’t normally be one of the Top’s big tasks, and if it’s creatures you want, well, you’d be better off playing Commune with Nature in the early game or Enshrined Memories in the late game. Remember, however, that playing the Top can help against Karstoderm in the mirror match.
Status: Probably inappropriate in all builds.
Disregarding Molder Slug (after all, once you hit five mana, you probably won’t need Chrome Mox anymore anyway), Chrome Mox is unsynergistic with the remainder of your deck. Although a Turn 1 Slith Predator puts a large thorn in the side of many decks, the running of Chrome Mox over some lands interferes with your best-case scenario of Slith Predator + Blanchwood Armor as well as large Beacons of Creation. More importantly, Chrome Mox will only accelerate Fangren Firstborn at the cost of your pitching a creature that Fangren Firstborn could have otherwise pumped.
Status: Stick with the Birds and the Snakes for acceleration.
The problems with Ã†ther Vial are even greater than those with Chrome Mox. Because Mono-Green (well, Medium and Big Green, the only two builds worth playing in my opinion) is so curvy, Ã†ther Vial has no ideal setting as it does in White Weenie. You’d be far better off playing Birds of Paradise or Elvish Pioneer on Turn 1. By using creatures instead of artifacts for acceleration, you’re helping out Fangren Firstborn and a certain splash card I’ll cover tomorrow.
Status: Same as above.
If you’ve read along this far, you’re sure to continue tomorrow.