Combat Trickery: An elementary analysis on Mono Green and other ramblings

It’s been quiet around the Nashville Old School scene lately. We’re all gearing up for the Players Ball in Chicago next month with 6 Music City players in tow and last Friday we had our first meet-up in a long while with 3 new comers. The community building aspect of this format never gets old. It’s always exciting to have new players come out, meet new people, and expand the the local community. We’re doing a pretty good job of that down here.

headquarters
Music City headquarters. Come jam

Although we were missing a few OG members, the meet was great. The new guys brought some fresh decks and I was able to further test my newly tweaked mono G stompy deck, so I’ll run through a very quick and hazy recap of the games, sparing many a detail.

I played a familiar foe while waiting for the others to show up. Zack Z. was on The Deck and so far stompy has fared well in this match up. This match went to 3 games. G1 was fairly uneventful for Zack. I swarmed him with many of my 30 creatures before he was able to get his lock down and we went to sideboarding. I realized that I could literally board in all 15 cards against The Deck, but that was unnecessary. I brought in some Citanul Druids, a couple more Crumble, a Sylvan, a Tranquility, and a Concordant Corssroads to knock out The Abyss. Also to abate The Abyss I grabbed 2 Whirling Dervish. G2 was typical for The Deck. An early Abyss set me back while he assembled his lock with no Tranquility or Crossroads in sight. I eventually flipped an Orb on it, but he promptly Regrowth-ed it. I manage to get Zack down to 2 before he completely locks me down and casts The Hive, eventually making up to 6 or 7 wasp’s for the win. G3 I was able to keep Zack off mana with Strip Mine long enough to overwhelm him, drop a Winter Orb, and won the match.

Match 2 was against Chris W. Oddly enough, although Chris is a local guy that I met through Skype games nearly a year ago, he has never actually made it to a meet-up. It was great to finally meet him in person. Last time I played Chris on Skype he was on a sweet mono W Millstone brew. This time he opted for WW. This match is most hazy, although I do remember at the the very end of G3, Chris had managed to almost match my army with 3 weenies and a Sara Angel. He was in the low single digits and knew I had the game, so he decided to swing all in. I had 2 Timber wolves, 2 Argothian Pixies, 3 Wyluli wolves, and a Pnedelhaven for pump with a giant growth in hand. The math was tricky upon blocks, and after a halfhearted attempt to sort it out, we both agreed to cut the nonsense as I had him next turn. I need more band practice. I also remember the one game Chris did win was with much help from a double Crusade. I really wish there was a green pump enchantment…

Next was against Chris H. on mono Black. Somehow I was only Hymned once. His Sinkholes didn’t bother me, as I have literally nothing in the deck over 2cc. I took him down in game 1 and brought in the obvious beater against mono Black, Whirling Dervish. At some point during the mid-game I drew a dervish and put Chris on a fast clock. He did however resolve a late game Sengir Vampire at one point that would have been bad news earlier on. I think I may have taken it out with a super pumped up Scryb Sprites, but I can’t quite recall. Either way my board was too stacked to care much about the vampire. The two games were fairly short and mono G triumphed.

The last game was against Sonny on mono R budget Atogs, a deck that I had thought about building at one point. All 3 games were super long and grindy. Atogs are getting popular. It’s a good deck and it’s really hard to play around. As I said, these games were long and I remember almost nothing. This was my only loss, but it was a great match. My coffee was wearing off and the math of combat damage became increasingly complicated with banding, pumping, and hungry Atogs. Vises and tablets pinged away and I went down 1-2.

I’ve been editing my earlier post on this Mono G stompy deck with tweaks I’ve made, so I won’t really delve into my list specifically, but the deck has done really well. I do want to talk about mono G though, in general. Mono Green, or just the color Green, is known for being weaker than the others in Old School, so obviously, you have to exploit its advantages wherever you can if you’re going all in. So, what does green have to offer? Of course there are good cards in green that see a lot of play, but the most popular seem to be utility cards such as Regrowth, Channel, Sylvan Library, etc. These cards are great for getting back restricted cards, combos/ramping, and digging, respectively, but aren’t going to help you much when going completely mono colored/exploiting Greens strengths. Ramp is an apparent option for Green. You’ve got a couple different elvish mana dorks, Gaeas touch, Fastbond, and Channel. Although ramp can be fun, it’s pretty inconsistent. My experience is you’re usually stacked with ramp or fatties and rarely have a good combination of both. Also, unless you’re somehow controlling the board while you’re ramping, you’re just an open target or letting your opponent assemble whatever it is they need to get going until you play a big creature that will more than likely be taken care of before it’s able to swing. Berserk is another popular green spell that would probably be fine in my build or any other stompy deck, but I think is better left out.  Berserk is better suited for a kind of build around card and with creatures that have higher power.  Also, Berserk is an extremely aggressive card. While stompy may be considered an aggro deck, I’ve found the deck plays much less aggressively than you would think. Giant growths are held back to save creatures as well as used for removal rather than deal more damage, in most cases at least, since creatures are your main source of creature removal here. It’s a lot of dancing around until you’re able go wide and swing all in.  That being said, stompy is the other obvious route to take with Green. Taking a look at Greens smaller creatures, it’s easy to see that you can take advantage of combat tricks, which will help with one of the colors biggest weaknesses; a lack of removal. You have pump effects in Pendelhaven, Wyluli Wolf, Aspect of Wolf, and of course Giant Growth. It goes without saying that Giant Growth is crazy good. It can act as a Lightning bolt, a Counterspell, or removal depending on the situation. For more combat trickery, you also have Timber wolves to band with and Elvish archers with first strike, which are mean as hell after being pumped. Although not considered a combat trick, the Nafs Asp ability is definitely something that is overlooked. The Asps are usually not taken care of before its too late, as a lot people underestimate it. Also overlooked are Scryb Sprites, which need to be dealt with early as well, but usually are not. Early on I felt uneasy playing a deck with literally 0 creature removal (aside from Crumble for artifact creatures and Chaos Orb), but the tricks have proven worthy. Another card worth mentioning is Tracker. I don’t play this guy as I run a playset of Winter Orb, which makes his ability a non-bo in my deck. But, I’ve experienced what Tracker can do firsthand, and the card is definitely underrated. I also originally had Ehrnam Djinn’s in my deck, but again, with Winter Orb he often sat in hand with nowhere to go. I do think Ehrnam is great at the top of the curve for a run of the mill stompy deck though. Another advantage is Green’s strong hate for artifacts. Crumble is essentially a Swords to Plowshares for artifacts and Scavenger folk is a beater with built in artifact destruction and there are never a shortage of lethal brown cards in Old School. Argothian Pixies also do not give a shit about artifacts. There are of course other ways to build mono G decks in old school other than stompy and ramp, but these are the most prominent. Another way to go with green, which I’d love to do at some point, is utilizing controlling artifacts with Titanias song as a finisher. Prison decks using Titanias song are definitely a thing, but are rarely mono G as you just don’t have the cards it needs without splashing. Looking at what you can get out of Green and all of its advantages, I think stompy takes the cake. It matches up well against other aggro decks as it outnumbers them by at least 5-6 creatures (my list has 30 and a true stompy deck will have at least that many). It outraces burn decks. It blasts under slow combo/control decks and has enough tricks up its sleeve to go hand to hand in combat with midrange decks. It doesn’t care about mana denial, is consistent, and is just all around pretty versatile. I’ll tip my hat to The Librarian when I say that I’m not great at Magic, but I really do love the game. Most of my tech talk is pretty far below that of other articles by people who actually know what they’re talking about, but I’ve had fun with Green and thought I’d share my thoughts on it.  I’m definitely not trying to “spike” here, but I really enjoy taking underdog decks and trying to make them as competitive as possible.  Speaking of the Librarian, if you haven’t already, check out his post on mono Green at the MTG Underground blog. It’s definitely my favorite piece of Old School content (I’ll post the link at the bottom).

So, after the all the dust settled and everyone had a chance to battle it out at the meet, we all perused each other’s trade fodder and made some deals. I really enjoy in person trading. It’s something much less common these days with having instant access to almost any card you want at any time, but its way more rewarding and enjoyable. I’ve noticed when I do this, I’m way more susceptible to snag wild and janky cards just because they’re right in front of my face. Shit that I may never even think about playing. After Bootlegger’s I got to hang out with one of the players, Shane from NY, and snagged a playset of Untamed Wilds, a Killer Bees, and an Al-abara’s Carpet among other things. I’ll never fucking play Al-abara’s Carpet, but Kaja Foglio’s art on that card is sweet as hell. This go around I grabbed some not so Old School cards in Portents and a long overdue Jester’s Cap. As many starters and boosters of Ice Age I opened when I was a kid, I never pulled a Jesters Cap. The social aspect of trading is something I’ve really missed. If I look through someone’s binder, I will surely find something completely unplayable that I have to have. I’m also starting to pick up more cards from around ’95-’98, specifically Ice Age block stuff. These cards are extremely nostalgic for me and we’ve been thinking of throwing together a small Old School tournament this winter and throwing in Ice Age block on top for flavor. Now I need to find ol’ Blinky… He doesn’t give a shit about anything. Pics and links below.

-D

Wolf fight
WOLF FIGHT. Banding wins. (Tundras were pumped with Crusade)
full board
Work
games 2
Chris on mono W Millstone against Zack Black Rack

Great article on mono Green at MTG Underground:Argothian Daydreams: Hailing the Leaf in the Old School Undergound

My original post on Stompy:

Mono Green: A Retreat Among the Murmuring Pines

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