Why It’s Time To Splash Blue In Green Aggro

Jessup put together green aggro early on, but it’s fallen off quite a bit! SCG Dallas is a great time to break out this evolved version, courtesy of Andrew Jessup himself!

Everyone loves a good comeback story…

  • Seabiscuit
  • The Mighty Ducks
  • Robert Downey Jr.
  • Rocky

… the list goes on and on.

The transparent vulnerability that accompanies the highs and lows of
success just seems to resonate with people. I’m certainly no exception to
this. I appreciate a good comeback story as much as anyone out there. In
fact, just this past Sunday I spent several hours engaged in a heated,
one-sided debate that involved me belligerently shouting “Tiger is back!”
at anyone that even looked in my direction. It was also this past Sunday
when my eyes became set on another comeback story: the return of Mono-Green

Despite my initial success with the deck at the beginning of the format, I
had completely given up on Mono-Green Aggro. At its core, Mono-Green Aggro
is just a linear pile of creatures. The creatures in the deck are quite
good, but they don’t really offer anything aside from the ability to attack
and block. The deck is far too one-dimensional to achieve any sort of
sustained success, and it’s nearly incapable of existing with a target on
its head. I determined that I was going to need to look elsewhere if I
wanted to keep bragging about how many trophies I have on Magic Online.

Like everyone else in the world, I started playing and winning a lot with
R/B Aggro. The comfort in knowing that no one would be able to successfully
target my deck was too much to pass up on, and I decided to register the
deck for GP Orlando. I put up a respectable but not exciting, 12-3 finish
which was good for 18th place. The deck performed quite well for me, and I
was already planning to play it again at GP Providence this weekend. That
was until I heard that Mono-Green Aggro splashing blue won the PTQ in
Orlando on Sunday.

After finding out that Bobby Fortanely had won the Sunday PTQ with
Mono-Green Aggro splashing blue, I started digging deeper into the
archetype. I don’t know Bobby Fortanely personally, but I’ve heard through
mutual friends that he’s a very analytical person and that qualifying for
the Pro Tour means a lot to him. This would suggest that choosing a deck
for a PTQ isn’t a decision he would make lightly. I’m sure he had a good,
well thought out reason to play the deck, and I wanted to get to the bottom
of that reason.

I had seen Mono-Green Aggro with a blue splash putting up reasonable
results online over the past few weeks, but I didn’t think much of the
deck. I thought it was entirely possible, even likely, that it was an
improvement over the lists with Scrapheap Scrounger, but in no way did I
think a few counterspells would be enough to solve the glaring issues the
deck had. But after giving the deck some more thought, I started to come
around on it. Between the blue splash and a few massive changes in the
metagame, it seemed like Mono-Green Aggro might be poised to make a

After getting home from GP Orlando, I immediately fired up Magic Online,
threw a list together, and started battling. I was beating everyone badly,
and I went from thinking that Mono-Green Aggro had basically no good
matchups to not being afraid to play against anything. And unlike how R/B
Aggro is basically 51% against everything, Mono-Green Aggro still has a few
very favorable matchups. So if you’re looking for something to play that
isn’t R/B Aggro, I highly recommend giving this deck a chance.

The specifics of the list almost certainly need some work still. I’ve been
pretty happy with it in the bit I’ve gotten to play with it though, and I
think it’s a great starting point. With the format being so wide open at
the moment, most decks have started to skimp on green hate again and the
blue splash does a lot of work in staving off the decks that would
naturally prey on green creature strategies.

VS R/B Aggro

The R/B Aggro matchup quickly went from a reason to play Mono-Green Aggro,
to a reason not to play Mono-Green Aggro, and now back to a reason to play
it again. That may sound hyperbolic, but it’s pretty easy to figure out why
that’s true. R/B Aggro has the tools to beat anything. The core of the deck
is literally just the best 1-5 drops in the format, and they can fill out
their flex slots to beat up on whatever deck they’re concerned about at a
given moment. At the Pro Tour, most R/B lists were replete with copies of
Cut, Unlicensed Disintegration, and Rekindling Phoenix, and Mono-Green
Aggro seemed to massively underperform as a result. At the moment,
occupying those flex slots with cards for the Mono-Green matchup doesn’t
really make sense as R/B players have much larger problems to concern
themselves with.

In addition to traditional R/B being worse against Mono-Green at the
moment, we’ve also seen a massive uptick in the amount of Mono-Red Aggro
seeing play over the past week. Mono-Red Aggro has been a popular choice to
combat R/B Aggro and Bant Nexus, but the deck is rather weak against
creatures with four toughness. If people continue to play lower to the
ground red decks, sleeving up some green creatures is a great way to punish
them for that decision.

Overall, the matchup is still fairly close, but until R/B players start
showing Mono-Green a little bit more respect, It’s not something that I
mind playing against in the slightest.



VS Bant Nexus

The most obvious reason to be skeptical of Mono-Green Aggro’s position in
the metagame is the Bant Nexus matchup. The only thing Mono-Green Aggro
does well is attack and it’s really hard to attack through a slew of fog
effects. I assumed that adding some counterspells to the deck would enough
to shift the matchup from a bloodbath to somewhat competitive, but the
matchup still seemed like it would be far from favorable. If Mono-Green
Aggro loses basically every game one and only wins most of the games in
which you draw a Negate, you’re still not going to have a particularly high
win percentage in the matchup.

But after playing the matchup a decent amount, I’ve been rather surprised
with how close it is and I seem to steal a shockingly large number of game
1s. Sometimes you just curve out and the Bant Nexus player is forced to
start using their fogs before they can dump all their filtering effects out
of their hand. From that point, they will just brick a non-zero number of
times. It’s still a really bad matchup game 1, but it’s much better than I
originally suspected it would be. I’ve also been impressed by how effective
the counterspells are in sideboard games. I thought there would be a decent
amount of games in which you counter a spell or two and still lose, but
that almost never seems to happen.

Overall, it’s not a matchup I would be thrilled to get paired against, but
the existence of it certainly wouldn’t prevent me from playing this deck
like I originally thought it would.



VS Esper Control

The recent surge of Esper Control might be the biggest reason to pick up
Mono-Green. Everything that Mono-Green does lines up well against what
Esper Control is doing. Unless they have a counterspell for everything you
play early on the game, you’re eventually just going to run over them.
Esper Control has all the best one-for-ones in the format, but what they
lack is a way to actually comeback when significantly behind. If you end up
ahead at any point, it will be relatively easy to snowball your advantage.

Choose what and when you’re jamming carefully, and at some point, you
should be able to stick something. And if you ever get to play a Blossoming
Defense in response to a Vraska’s Contempt, the game essentially ends on
the spot. The matchup gets even easier after sideboarding when you get to
bring in a pile of Planeswalkers, counterspells, and Vine Mares.



VS U/W Control

When I was originally playing a lot of Mono-Green, I always expected that
U/W Control would be the deck that eventually pushed it out of the format.
The deck with a million sweepers beats the deck with 30 green creatures.
It’s rudimentary. The counterspells do give you a lot more game in the
matchup than I anticipated they would though, and it’s far from the
nightmare matchup that I originally made it out to be.

Game 1 often just comes down to jamming with everything and crossing your
fingers. It never seems to work, but I’m still hopeful that I’ll get one
through eventually. If you’re much luckier than I am, you should be able to
steal some pre-sideboard games here and there. And if you do manage to win
a pre-sideboard game, winning the matchup shouldn’t be too difficult. With
eight ways to interact with their sweepers after sideboarding, the matchup
plays out a lot more like the Esper Control matchup. If pick your spots
right, you should be able to get a develop a bit of a battlefield presence,
and from there you should be able to generate some pretty huge tempo swings
by forcing them to fire off a sweeper into your counterspell.

Similar to the Bant Nexus matchup, it’s not favorable, but it’s also not
much worse than a coin flip.



VS B/U Midrange

With Corey Burkhart putting up an impressive finish with the deck at GP
Orlando, I wouldn’t be surprised if B/U Midrange saw a bit of resurgence in
the upcoming weeks. The deck has a close matchup against R/B Aggro, and it
lines up very well against the Teferi decks that are starting to see more
play. Again, I think this is a pretty good thing for Mono-Green as your
threats and protection spells just line up well against what they’re doing.
Corey’s list is pretty interesting though, and I could see his approach
throwing a real wrench into the matchup. If a Ravenous Chupacabra or
Hostage Taker comes down at parity, getting back into the game could prove
to be difficult. Putting them on the back foot early will be very
important, so the result of the die roll could have some rather large
implications on the result of the match.

When I originally started singing the praises of Vine Mare, these B/U decks
were just completely cold to a resolved copy of the card. My plan in every
B/U matchup then was to just play a Vine Mare and kill Torrential
Gearhulks. The plan now is still to just play a Vine Mare, but with cards
like Vizier of the Many Faces running around, it’s not exactly the slam
dunk it used to be. Instead of winning 90% of the games in which you get
one into play, it’ll be more like 70%.



For the first time in a while, I’m fairly optimistic about the future of
Mono-Green in Standard. The deck seems to have everything going for it at
the moment. The format is significantly more susceptible to beefy creatures
than it was just a few weeks ago, and the blue splash was exactly what it
needed to remain competitive against all the Teferi decks. If you’re
interested in playing the deck, I suggest getting to it quickly. It may be
not be long before everyone is reminded that they need to show Steel-Leaf
Champion some respect.