What’s up folks and welcome to Modern Times, where we talk about just about anything going on in the Modern format. New decks, cards to look out for in your binders, or even card reviews.
For today’s edition, I wanted to share a deck that recently got a Top 8 finish at a popular European tournament called the Bazaar of Moxen. The tournament attracts all sorts of external players, including Legacy, Vintage and now Modern, so it’s not a random qualifier by any means. Hans Christian Ljungquist piloted a mono-green list that was literally put together at the last minute. So much in fact that he couldn’t find a 4th copy of Strangleroot Geist in time! He was quite lucky since he was able to dodge nearly every Blue-based deck, which the deck is known to fall apart to, specifically, the “Draw-Go” variety with hard board wipes, such as Wrath of God and Supreme Verdict.
What makes this deck so unique is the fact that it cost less than $100 to build, let alone a fraction of that price if you’ve been playing Magic for a while already. The original list only used Garruk, Primal Hunter and Thrun, the Last Troll as the only Mythic cards in the deck, so it’s not too difficult to put the list together. Here’s the original post to the standings so you can study his list more carefully for future references (link).
I was so intrigued by it that I decided to build a copy of it and tested it against the decks I have been preparing to write articles for. The deck isn’t complicated to run as long as you’re familiar with the basics (combat tricks and sideboard fundamentals in Modern). So here’s my personal list, although not fully optimized yet:
1 Garruk Relentless
4 Experiment One
4 Dryad Militant
4 Strangleroot Geist
3 Scavenging Ooze
3 Kalonian Tusker
4 Leatherback Baloth
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
2 Mutagenic Growth
4 Vines of Vastwood
1 Bow of Nylea
2 Beast Within
SB: 1 Relic of Progenitus
SB: 1 Grafdigger’s Cage
SB: 1 Pithing Needle
SB: 2 Torpor Orb
SB: 1 Ratchet Bomb
SB: 2 Back to Nature
SB: 2 Krosan Grip
SB: 2 Choke
SB: 1 Creeping Corrosion
SB: 2 Obstinate Baloth
As you can see, the main deck still retains some of it’s core, while exchanging cards to make it more suitable for a wider range of match-ups. The biggest change and face-lift are in the sideboard. Let me go over how to run the list, although not entirely technical.
I Am the Walrus
The deck is simple. You run out your guys and force your opponent on a very short clock unless they answer it. In a format with Shocklands, it’s not too uncommon to see your opponent self-inflicting 5-6 damage by their turn 2. You keep hands that can sequence into turn one, drop, turn two, drop, attack, while you keep the combat math in you mind. Always be aware of what clock you’re presenting at any given moment.
Garruk Relentless was an interesting card during testing. He was primarily used to deal with random tokens and mana-dorks blocking the way, but he eventually did a lot of work. Finding another answer to Dark Confidant felt great, as well as generating tokens of his own to defend for you. The natural drawback is, he rarely survives against any deck with Lightning Bolts, but hopefully your opponent’s already unloaded them on your creatures already. Another copy of Thrun would be a recommended sub if you deal with a lot of Blue locally.
Experiment One may not seem like a huge threat, it actually is as the first 1-drop. Over the course of the next few turns, his damage output starts climbing from 2 to even 5 if left unchecked. That’s an amazing investment for just 1-mana.
Dryad Militant is a great card against a format full of Snapcaster Mages and Storm decks. So much in fact, your opponent might over-prioritize to kill her first with removal spells. That’s one less spell to worry about for your actual threats.
Strangleroot Geist is a solid card for the rush down nature of the deck. Sans being Path to Exile’d or Exiled in general, he’ll pop right back up after most board wipes and provides a lot of pressure mid-game.
Scavenging Ooze is also amazing in Modern. The ability to cherry pick cards from the graveyard, buff itself and give you random free life as well? Not only that, he screws up popular decks like Storm, Living End, and to some extent, Tarmogoyf. Which is insane considering he’s only $5 as of Summer 2014. If you haven’t gotten your copy already, you should since he’s a tournament staple in most decks sporting Green, including Jund.
Kalonian Tusker is one of the main beefy beasts in the deck. A solid 3/3 body as a turn-2 drop isn’t anything to sneeze at, but he is prone to basic removal such as Lightning Bolt and Anger of the Gods. Just be aware of this and maybe your spells will help support the little guy.
Leatherback Baloth is just one of those crazy cards. A 4/5 body as a turn-3 drop is a bit difficult for most basic burn spells to deal with. Flame Slash and Galvanic Blast suddenly isn’t enough outside of combat tricks, but who’s to say this deck doesn’t have any of it’s own? The Leatherback is simply too much for most decks to handle and outclasses most creatures in Modern, outside of Tarmogoyf of course. Then again, you are comparing a fifty-cent uncommon to a $200 piece of cardboard.
Thrun, the Last Troll has quickly become one of my favorite creatures in Magic. He completely ignores Blue mages and targeted removal. Any deck that relies on point and shoot reactive spells will be disappointed when they see this guy hit the board, on top of a Rancor and other buffs.
Speaking of which, Rancor gives this deck reach. What good is a 4/5 body when it’s constantly being chump blocked by Elspeth tokens? Rancor solves that quite easily, in addition to being an annoying spell in general. Having it pop back to your hand after a board wipe usually means making your next creature even more threatening, including an Undying Strangleroot Geist.
Mutagenic Growth offers somewhat of a free answer to save your creatures from Lightning Bolts or other shenanigans like a Flashed-in Restoration Angel ready on block. It’s also a fun game finisher as well.
Speaking of game finishers, Vines of Vastwood does that an a whole lot more. Not only does it save your creatures from traditional reactive removal spells, but it also gives it a hefty combat buff that usually closes out games by turn-4! Another cool trick that most people don’t know is that you can actually cast this in response to a Splinter Twin on their Exarch or Pestermite. Just target either of these creatures in response to Splinter Twin resolving (BEFORE NOT AFTER RESOLUTION). The Splinter Twin will just fall right off.
Bow of Nylea was added to deal with Wall of Omens and other high toughness creatures that might stall early game without a Rancor. Being the rush down, you need to squeak in any point of damage you can the first 4-5 turns where they’ll eventually be in chip range. The other abilities on the card relevant, including the life-gain, which is rather important if you’re planning to race and cast this card.
Dismember, Green’s best creature removal spell! Well, accidently anyway? I’m not entirely sure if R&D at Wizards meant to indirectly give every color this versatile option, but it’s there and we’re using it!
Beast Within rounds out the deck so that we have an option to interact with any potential bombs on the other side of the table. The 3/3 isn’t exactly something we can’t deal with and it also gives the deck that random option of casting this on our lands late game.
The surprising thing about this deck is that it’s so low and under the radar that most players don’t bother testing against. It’s another Green Stompy deck, so most players will assume a bunch of 2-power/2-drops or a ramp style type of deck. So having to deal with a clock starting turn 2, in addition to a 4/5 on turn 3 is a tad out of the norm. Also, running 21 Forests makes it completely immune to Blood Moon, which is the “YOLO” choice among scrubs that assume their opponents would never have guessed such a strategy coming from a deck with Mountains in it (I could write a book about the reactions on people’s faces when I play around or Thoughtseize their Blood Moons).
As long as you’re fine spending $50 or $80 on a Modern deck to play with your friends at an FNM, this is the deck to do it with, but if you’re honestly looking for a deck to grow with and help you understand more about competitive Modern, then I wouldn’t recommend it.
The deck has some rather large holes it has to deal with after game one, not including the jarring weakness to counter magic and Abrupt Decay. You can offset this by adding in Thruns and Cavern of Souls naming Beasts, but that’s basically just throwing money at the problem. If you feel that deck is your calling in life, go ahead, but just remember that this deck was originally designed as a budget deck to play with friends. So here’s a quick explanation on how the sideboard works:
Relic of Progenitus is primarily against decks that rely on the graveyard. Typically, against Storm to narrow down one way of killing you, other than their Plan B, which is to can-trip their way without Pyromancer. You can also use this against Living End, and decks that feature either Tarmogoyf or Snapcaster Mage.
Grafdigger’s Cage is also another hate card against graveyard strategies, but be aware that is doesn’t affect Living End players. It’s secondary use is against Pod players, which shuts down Cord of Calling and Birthing Pod.
Pithing Needle is a versatile card. You can name Liliana of the Veil against Jund, or Aether Vial, Karn, Birthing Pod, etc. The list goes on and depending on your meta, you may need more than 1 copy.
Torpor Orb is great for a wide variety of reasons. It nerfs Living End’s creatures, it makes Restoration Angel/Snapcaster/Cliques less appealing, and it destroys most of the tool-box tricks in Birthing Pod decks. In addition to that, it also temporarily stalls Twin/Kiki decks until they bounce it back with Cryptic Command or destroy it.
Ratchet Bomb helps you deal with tokens and more specifically, Infect/Boggles/Zoo. While not perfect, it’s a decent out to what the deck wouldn’t be able to do game one. It also helps you to wipe away The Rack/Affliction permanents found in 8-Rack. It can also deal with Affinity to some extent, but slowly.
Back to Nature is your primary answer to Boggles. Big Dumb Green can’t deal with Lifelink creatures with Hexproof, so you have to make this your primary way to deal with them. It also deals with various enchantments against the White Stax list that would normally lock you out. You can also board this in to answer Splinter Twin, Pyromancer Ascension and Honor of the Pure found in BW Tokens.
Krosan Grip helps you deal with Batterskull without the worry of it being bounced back or protected from a Remand/Cryptic. Also, it’s great against Arcbound Ravager with a Welding Jar in play. The Split Second makes a huge difference against Blue decks.
Speaking of Blue, Chokes are self-explanatory.
Creeping Corrosion is against Affinity, but is also great against 8-Rack where you’ll get stalled out by an Ensnaring Bridge. Just don’t start the game with it in your opening hand.
Obstinate Baloth rounds out the sideboard to punish players spamming Liliana of the Veil’s +1 ability and blind discard decks such as 8-Rack. It’s also very relevant against the Burn match up as well.
So that wraps up the sideboard and the deck, but keep in mind like any list that you find on the Internet, you have to adjust it based on your play style and local Meta. Just because you copy an exact 75 list a Pro-Tour list doesn’t mean it’s mainboard and sideboard are the end-all to all lists. It just means that player optimized it specifically for that event, let alone the cards available at that time.
With this list, I was testing against various decks, including UR Twin, URW Kiki, BW Tokens, MBC Infect, UW Control, UWR Control, Affinity, 8-Rack, Jund and Burn. Obviously this does not represent most FNM-level Metas so just be advised and make adjustments to fit your needs.
Whether you use Big Dumb Green at your FNM or at your kitchen table, always remember that fun comes first. Afterall, you could’ve spent that money on a discounted OUYA at Target, but you did the right thing and built a Green Stompy deck!
It even makes a great gift in hindsight. The deck, not the OUYA…
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Have a Magical day!