This article starts with a pop quiz. What does a 4 mana black sorcery, a 5 mana blue creature, and the color green have in common? Cranial is all about the long game and slowly stripping away win conditions. Meloku is all about the here and now, sacrificing the critical manabase to establish a dominant board position. Green, is simply the most powerful color in all of Standard. So what can possibly keep them interconnected enough to warrant a full article?
The connection begins with some deck testing. Like any other Standard fanatic, I literally had Apprentice open within minutes of reading about Ravager's banning, and was frantically trying to determine the netdeck of the new Standard before I went to bed that night. As an added incentive to test, I had volunteered to write up an article that would be ready for editing by that morning so you blessed Salvation users could get solid analysis right away.
One of the decks I tested that night, and have been testing since, is UG control. A logical choice, UG was very powerful during Ravager, and green is STILL the best color in the post-Ravager world.
I really wanted to sideboard Cranial Extraction in my blue green deck in place of Blood Moon. Unfortunately, Extraction wasn't cutting it for dealing with Tooth and Nail. Fortunately, with the departing of Affinity, 7 brand new deck slots were opened up for business, and at least SOME of those were going to put a hurt on Tooth and Nail.
Given green's status as top color in the metagame, whatever cards came in would have to be strong against the green based mirrors as well as TAN. Ladies and Magic players, may I present to you: Plow Under.
While playing a 5 mana green sorcery is highly counter-intuitive for most blue players, the spell is a perfect fit. The double tempo whammy of losing two draws and two lands is very difficult to overcome. When that is followed up by an Eternal Witness fetching the Plow Under back… Well, let's just say we've all had bad experiences drawing lands on four consecutive turns and leave it at that.
Given how potent Plow Under turned out to be, I began a somewhat ill advised quest to figure out how to cast MORE of them. Uyo, Silent Prophet, Spellweaver Helix, Panoptic Mirror, Revive, you name it, I tried it. A clever reader, realizing this article wasn't entitled, OMG! Plow Under B Teh Shizzle!!1!01 will have correctly concluded that none of these options worked very well.
Feeling the disappointment of creativity wasted, I began looking around to see if anyone else had begun using Plow Under or if I was just sitting on tech. While I was doing this, I quite accidentally stumbled into a Beacon-Blasting Station thread. Shockingly enough, Plow Under turned out to be very good in that deck as well, for all the same reasons. Unfortunately, BS & More was a very inconsistent deck. While it was very fun to play, it often seemed to lack the "oomph" needed to put it into the genuinely competitive arena.
There's nothing wrong with fun decks that lose, but they don't make suitable material for a "competitive" author. However, we're finally starting to get around to the deck I wanted to write about today, "Mono"-Green Control. It only took a few modifications to Beacon-Station (Only removing the various elements of the combo-kill) to get a control deck out of it.
|"Mono" Green Control, MelokuMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards|
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Troll Ascetic
4 Eternal Witness
2 Fangren Firstborn
3 Beacon of Creation
3 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
3 Kodama's Reach
3 Umezawa's Jitte
4 Sword of Fire and Ice
4 Plow Under
4 Cranial Extraction
3 Rude Awakening
4 Engineered Explosives
|"Mono" Green Control, SwordsMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards|
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Sakura Tribe Elder
3 Virdian Zealot
3 Eternal Witness
4 Troll Ascetic
4 Wood Elves
4 Beacon of Creation
2 Kodama's Reach
4 Plow Under
4 Sword of Fire and Ice
3 Sword of Light and Shadow
4 Cranial Extraction
3 Defense Grid
2 Engineered Explosives
If that's the first time you've seen a mono green control decklist, I apologize for the god-awful incredibly janky look. It really seems to not have any single focus, just randomly combining green half of a BG deck with Meloku, Troll Ascetic, and a few really powerful equipments. Fortunately, there is one real thing that makes this deck tick. The format is as slow as Christmas. There's not much in the way of strong one or two drops in Standard, so most everyone (with the possible exception of WW and Sligh based decks), spends the first four or five turns just accelerating out mana. This means that typically, your opponent won't even bother TRYING to to kill you until turn six or later! Talk about plenty of time to set up a defense!
You operate under the same principles, and want to spend the early turns developing your manabase. However, you have to keep in mind that while you are doing this, you may also be deploying potential threats. Birds of Paradise are a 5 turn clock with evasion and a built in Curiosity, if you equip them with Sword of Fire and Ice. Umezawa's Jitte on a Sakura-Tribe Elder will dish out a whopping 5 damage a turn, or provide you access to spot removal, and life gain.
When it comes to deploying threats, however, your biggest and typically the first one cast (unless worried about counters), is Plow Under. A turn 3 Plow, turn 4 Eternal Witness, turn 5 Plow, will win you just about ANY game, especially when on the play, or if you can get that Witness equipped.
To wrap up the deal, you will typically have to rely on sheer force of numbers. Beacon of Creation and Meloku are great for producing hordes of 1/1s to overwhelm your opponent. Added to the mix is the spot removal potential of the Sword and the Jitte. Ultimately, in a format where nobody is playing Wrath of God, you come out a real winner if you can dump more creatures into play than anyone else.
Tooth and Nail
The one "Sure Thing" in the metagame right now is Tooth and Nail, and depressingly enough, it's not exactly a cakewalk for you. Game one your best option is to just try and swing for the fences. Try to hold as many counters onto a Jitte as possible, because that's the only way you're going to survive a Tooth and Nail. Versions of Tooth with Oblivion Stone or maindecked artifact removal are espescially bad for you, as they ruin your equipment and stall your offense.
Unsuprisingly, Plow Under is your best card in this matchup, espescially when it comes down early. A fast Plow leaves your opponent with a choice. He can either chose to draw the two lands, and effectively delay how long it takes him to draw a TAN by two turns, or he can move them away with a shuffle effect (typically the correct play), and hope he draws into enough land search to get the Urzatron running… a second time. Plowing an opponent multiple times in the early game is typically enough to kill him.
The post sideboard games get much better. Cranial Extraction is your real ace of spades here. Your first extraction should name Tooth and Nail. The reasons for this are threefold:
1: Tooth and Nail fetching Trike-Vamp is a VERY bad thing. You can't win without attacking with creatures, and the only way for you to get rid of that trike is to have a Jitte with counters on it already in play. You cannot risk your opponent having this option in the sideboard (or in the maindeck) and if you take away TAN you permanently take this option away as well.
2: Tooth and Nail fetching Angel-Abunas is also very bad. You do have more wiggle room than Trike-Vampire, but it's still very difficult to get rid of this irritating duo as well
3: As a primarily mono-colored deck, you aren't nearly as worried about Sundering Titan as other decks are. Darksteel Colossus is actually a bigger threat for you, since he can't just be chumped by a Beacon token every turn. Fortunately, while most TAN players do use multiple Sundering Titans, they typically only use 1 Colossus.
4: The only time Mindslaver hurts you is when you end up Plow Undering yourself.
White Weenie is one of those decks that is best described as more popular than strong. From a local standpoint at least, WW is hugely popular, and until we get numerous type 2 tournaments under our belt, it looks to stay that way. The obvious appeal is that in an environment where most decks just sit around and develop mana for the first 3-5 turns (as discussed above), WW actually drops evasive attackers on turn 1. Unfortunately, the flying on these attackers tends to be bad news since your only early defense against flying is Birds of Paradise.
The best way to win game 1 is to stall for time and get a Meloku or a Sword of Light and Shadowinto play. Important to remember here is that your Jitte will kill his so try to get one into play, and try to kill off as many of his fliers as possible.
Game two takes on a very different tone. Between the addition of Naturalize and Engineered Explosives, you are much better prepared to handle the white deck. Set Explosives to 1 and clear out all those annoying 1 mana equipments and the pesky 1 drop flyboys. Naturalize is great not only at taking down equipments, but also the always annoying Glorious Anthem as well. Once you strip them of their support, WW's creatures are all just a bunch of 1/1s and 2/2s and are easy to kill via Sword of Fire and Ice, Jitte, and even random blockings.
Not since MBC versus Slide has a control-control matchup been this one sided. Mono green was designed to punish anyone else playing an :xmana:/:symg: deck, and it does so very well. As has been discussed above, recurring Plow Unders are an absolute nightmare for any green deck in the format (including you by the way). Furthermore, since you are not burdened with supporting black as a second color, your Beacon of Creations will be bigger than your opponents. If your opponent opts to get rid of the Beacon tokens with Echoing Decay, he leaves himself highly vulnerable to flying Illusion tokens.
Death Cloud, ordinarally the BG out against everything, is highly ineffective against large numbers of tokens. Adding to the difficulty is Troll Ascetic, who cannot be hit by the spot removal. Just to top off your opponent's long list of miseries is the fact that he probably doesn't have a maindecked solution to your equipment either. It makes all your creatures into legitimate threats, and if he can't Death Cloud away every single token, it's usually a bad move for him to try. The only reliable method of losing game 1 involves getting Plowed Under two or three times in the early going and having it followed up by a Kokusho.
Your early goal should be to do one of two things… resolve an equipment, or resolve a Troll Ascetic. Equipment is very frightening for your opponent, because with either of your equipments in play, any of your 1/1s can swing for 5 damage a turn. This will force your opponent to do unpleasant things like tap out for Meloku or Vedalken Shackles. Obviously, doing THAT opens him up to an even worse riposte, such as Plow Under or Beacon of Creation.
Ironically, despite your ability to generate tons of tokens, your biggest fear in this matchup is Vedalken Shackles (and this is why Troll Ascetic is such a priority). A recursive form of creature control, Shackles can slowly whittle away at your token generating capabilities, and can make you look really stupid for playing cards like Meloku. Viridian Zealot out of the Swords version is also very good, since he comes into play now, and kills the Shackles later.
Your post sideboard plan will vary depending on precisely what your opponent is using, but will generally involve Rude Awakening, Naturalize, and occasionally (but not very often) Cranial Extraction. The only real piece of advice here is to be careful with your Rude Awakenings; your opponent is probably using Evacuation.
It is legitimate to view this matchup as a cross between a mirror (which is thankfully rare, and incredibly annoying), and mono blue. Much like a mirror, the way to win is Plow Under. Since you both spend the first several turns developing mana, whoever undoes that first via the Plow-Witness-Plow sequence is probably going to win. Aside from that, your biggest fear is (again) Vedalken Shackles, for all the same reasons as the mono blue matchup. Your opponent's biggest fear is (again) Equipment. Troll Ascetic is still good, but not as good as he was against the blue mage. For sideboarding here, you are forced to guess about Vedalken Shackles. Obviously, if your opponent is boarding them out, then bringing in copies of Naturalize is ill advised. On the other hand, if they stay in, they can hurt you greatly. One possible solution to this is to sideboard in Engineered Explosives. I don't like this option much, but if you guess wrong, then Explosives will at least be more useful than Naturalize. Once again, Rude Awakening is a very strong card, but you still have to be weary of Evacuation.
As you can see, Mono Green control is a deceptively strong deck in the current format. It's a good choice for winning the green based mirrors, and it's only glaring flaw is a horrible weakness to Night of Soul's Betrayal. Check back soon for more information on the emerging type two metagame.