We are going to keep the brew train rolling today. At this point I keep brewing and testing so many decks that I end up forgetting to share them with you. It seems that I am not the only Once Upon A Time enthusiast so I am back with another build. Mono-Green Stompy is usually only seen as a budget strategy but with some new toys we are looking to take it to the next level.
4 Nurturing Peatland
4 Avatar of the Resolute
4 Barkhide Troll
4 Experiment One
4 Pelt Collector
4 Steel Leaf Champion
4 Strangleroot Geist
3 Syr Faren, the Hengehammer
4 Aspect of Hydra
4 Once Upon a Time
2 Collector Ouphe
2 Damping Sphere
2 Force of Vigor
2 Scavenging Ooze
1 Titanic Brawl
2 Veil of Summer
2 Weather the Storm
75 Cards Total
I think we all have run into a Mono-Green Stompy deck at small local events before. They are somewhat slow and prone to flooding out. Today we are looking to change all of that as recent printings have been quite kind to it. Let us begin with the manabase. As expected it is a bunch of Forests but Horizons also gave us some flood insurance in Nurturing Peatland. Any canland works really but Peatland has the upside of saving us one life on Dismember in postboard games. With just eighteen lands and four of them being canlands you will not find yourself flooding out very often.
The one-drops available for the strategy in 2019 are the true differentiators. Experiment One has always been serviceable but mana dorks like Llanowar Elves were extremely lackluster in a two-drop heavy deck. Experiment One does a reasonable Wild Nacatl impersonation and will commonly grow even larger. The regenerate ability has a somewhat heavy cost and opponent’s will not just walk into it, but we do not mind having it. Thankfully we have the much more impressive Pelt Collector. It will only trigger based on power but the deck is built to make this a nonissue; every creature’s power is greater than or equal to it’s toughness. Better yet Pelt Collector will trigger when your creatures die as well and once it gets large enough it even has trample. It is nearly a strict upgrade over Experiment and is an absurd one-drop.
Our other one-drop is the humble Hexdrinker. This card gets a bad rap because sorcery speed level up is so underwhelming but we are happy to have a 2/1 for a single mana to trigger the other one-drops early. It also acts as extra flood protection to compliment Peatland. Protection from instants can be nice but do keep in mind that it will prevent you from using Aspect of Hydra on it. We only run three because we will never have the mana to load up two of them at once but it is great to have an additional Turn 1 threat.
The two-drop slot is where the deck really takes off. The spookiest inclusion is Strangleroot Geist and we are happy to have it. Haste is always valuable to restrict opposing aggression and net surprise wins. Undying makes it harder for them to deal with and will even net us a +1/+1 counter. Simple and effective. A newer and lesser known two-drop is Barkhide Troll and I almost missed this one entirely. A 3/3 for two mana that has on-demand hexproof is nothing to sneeze at. Better yet it enters with that +1/+1 counter so it will trigger Experiment and Collector up to 3/3s. The absolute best creature in the deck though is Avatar of the Resolute. The absolute floor on this card is a two mana 3/2 trampler with reach. But it will enter with a +1/+1 counter for every creature we control with a +1/+1 counter. We happen to run twenty creatures that are capable of netting +1/+1 counters so Avatar will regularly be a 5/4 or greater; Tarmogoyf eat your heart out.
The deck’s namesake is Syr Faren. Alone he is the worst creature in the deck at just a 2/2 for two. However, as long as you have another creature, he is putting four power onto the board for two mana. Then if you have one of our power boosting effects, he will share that boost with another creature to net insane value. He puts the opponent in a tough spot because they want to block the 2/2 to slow the value train but they cannot let your boosted attacker through or they might just die. Faren is legendary though so we are sticking with just three copies. Our curve topper and only three-drop is Steel Leaf Champion. Boy am I glad to not be playing Leatherback Baloth. We now have a 5/4 that cannot be chump blocked by small creatures. It is hyper efficient and helps us to maximize the size of Experiment and Collector. That GGG cost is also extremely valuable.
So why are we even playing Mono-Green in a format with amazing manabases? It entirely comes down to absurdity of Aspect of Hydra. Look over the decklist. Every non-land permanent in the deck, thirty-four of them, has a strict green cost. There is not a single generic mana requirement among them. This causes Aspect of Hydra to be the most absurd growth spell ever printed; often bottoming out at +4/+4 and generally being closer to +8/+8. This makes our dozen evasive threats absolutely terrifying and a single unlocked creature can end the game out of nowhere. Sure you can use it counter a Lightning Bolt but you are almost always better off using this offensively. The only thing better than giving a creature +10/+10 is giving two of them +10/+10 thanks to Syr Faren. It is a gross card and the massive payoff for playing this strategy.
The other two noncreature spells are Once Upon A Time and Rancor. I have written an article on the card’s probabilities and an article to answer readers’ questions about it already. Long story short: it is a stupid good card. We will start 39.9% of our games by slamming it for free. It will give us a creature 97.4% of the time. We can even keep one land hands and it will give us a second land more than 90% of the time. Our low curve makes sure it is an acceptable draw in the lategame. It allows us to mulligan far less and makes the deck more consistent overall. It is a key reason for revisiting the archetype. Then we have old faithful Rancor. This immediately turns any creature into a threat and once the creature is suited up, Rancor will come back to us if things go south. It is just unfortunate that they can remove the creature in response to the aura to fizzle it. This is a nonissue with a Barkhide Troll or a leveled up Hexdrinker though. The additional evasion is greatly appreciated and a suited up Syr Faren giving an attacker +4/+4 every turn is nasty.
Then finally we come to the sideboard and it is better than I expected for Mono-Green. Artifacts decks are everywhere so we need Collector Ouphes; Stony Silence in Mono-Green is a godsend. Then we also need Force of Vigor because the deck straight scoops to Ensnaring Bridge. Damping Sphere is probably the largest upgrade as these decks traditionally got straight rolled by combo decks and Tron. I am starting to think a third copy is needed. Green may lack quality removal but we have Dismember to carry us through. I also am trying out a miser’s Titanic Brawl because we are great at enabling it but I am cautious to run a removal spell that can be fizzled by opposing removal. Scavenging Ooze is in there to handle Burn and the graveyard shenanigans that never quite leave the format; bonus points for picking up +1/+1 counters. We also have Weather the Storm for Burn but I am almost certainly cutting it. The Burn matchup has felt like a breeze. They cannot swing into us and we deal very little damage to ourselves. Then finally we have Veil of Summer. I cannot explain it better than I did in the previous article, “This is the best color hate spell we have seen since Pyro/Hydroblast. It is an absolute blowout against blue and black decks for a single mana. I am not being even a bit hyperbolic when I say that every deck that can reliably cast this should have it in their sideboard.”
This was a ton of fun and a lot better than I expected. The traditional budget deck never seemed worthwhile to me but this overhaul has some legs. The deck is faster, more consistent, and harder to interact with. It can go toe-to-toe with aggro decks and outgrind durdly interactive strategies. Unfortunately, I still cannot recommend it as a great deck. It is great for the pricepoint; it is still only about $200. But the combo matchups are still really rough despite Damping Sphere. I have been impressed that it can often outsize Tarmogoyf‘s and Batterskulls but those matchups are still closer than I would like them to be. This was almost a Hardened Scales deck and I think that might be an indicator that we should just be playing Hardened Constructs. But for about 25% of the price of that deck, you will be surprised how close this comes to it.
Well that was a lot better than I expected it to be. Mono-Green Stompy is not the mopey budget deck it once was. You could start there and build into this but at only $200, you might as well just jump in. This build does not fix every issue the strategy had or make it Tier 1 but it can finally hold up in a competitive setting. So what is your take? Can the big green men take a stand? Are there any awesome options that I overlooked? Please share your thoughts with us in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back next week with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.