In the early weeks of this Standard format, it was a duel between Hazoret
the Fervent and The Scarab God. The winner of that duel has clearly been
The Scarab God as U/B Control, B/U Midrange, and Grixis Energy are three of
the most popular decks alongside a declining Mono-Red Aggro and Sultai
Energy, which despite having access to both blue and black mana, doesn’t
play The Scarab God. The audacity.
But that doesn’t mean you have to shell out for three or four copies of The
Scarab God to compete. A narrow format is often indicative of an
overpowered card or strategy, but more often it’s simply an opportunity for
brewers to brew with a clear target in their sights, making it easier to
succeed with something powerful and unexpected.
Want to know what’s powerful? 12/12 trample creatures for two mana. You may
be worried about losing that creature to a well-timed Vraska’s Contempt,
but Blossoming Defense is a card, and for a color that doesn’t have access
to great removal, the best option is typically protecting your own
overwhelming position, so accomplishing that for one mana is the best
you’re going to get.
What this deck is doing is trying to play like a low-curve aggro deck in
the early turns. Get the damage in that you can, use your mana, and put
your opponent on the back foot. But when you do this in a color that
doesn’t have reach, you allow your opponent to aggressively use their life
total as a resource, stabilize at five or less, and take over the game
without the fear of dying to a flurry of burn spells.
That’s where Rhonas’s Monument comes in. Trample is green’s form of reach
and giving even a small creature +2/+2 or +4/+4 and trample makes it a real
threat to close out the game. If that creature is Rhonas the Indomitable,
you get to take advantage of the interaction between trample and deathtouch
to make it nearly impossible to contain via combat. If things are going
well, you can use Rhonas’s Monument to make Ghalta, Primal Hunger cheaper
or simply combo-kill your opponent with some large creatures.
That combo-kill aspect kicks into high gear with Greenbelt Rampager, giving
you three or more triggers in a single turn, making combat a complete
nightmare for your opponent. For a mono-colored deck, this list is plenty
powerful and being forced to play careful with your life total and rely
heavily on removal spells against Blossoming Defense is a nice tactical
squeeze. If you’re looking to break free from the Dimir stranglehold on
Standard, look to the unfriendly color of the Sultai wedge.
- 1 Verdurous Gearhulk
- 4 Greenbelt Rampager
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 1 Rhonas the Indomitable
- 4 Resilient Khenra
- 1 Carnage Tyrant
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 3 Ghalta, Primal Hunger
- 4 Jadelight Ranger