This deck was built with the idea of just getting big creatures into play. Almost everything is geared towards to flooding the board with creatures. Most cards that aren't creatures, or don't facilitate getting creatures into play, are there to clear the way or stop others boards from getting out of hand. Note that there are a couple notable exclusions: Craterhoof Behemoth and creatures that bounce creatures (such as Whitemane Lion). Craterhoof is excluded because I want the game to go on for a while and with the tutor effects in the deck, Craterhoof would almost always be the first target. Since I can ramp relatively quickly, Craterhoof on turn 6, 7, or 8 would probably just mean game and I am not interested in ending the game that quickly.
"Bounce" creatures (I think there is a slang term for them but I can't remember it Gating I think is the term) are out for the same reason. Casting Whitemane Lion over and over just floods my board way quicker than I want it to. If I ramp into Karametra on Turn 4, casting Whitemane over and over can get me 8 mana on turn 5, 12 on turn 5, and 18 on turn 6. My meta is really against mass LD and ramping into 18 mana by turn 6 is way too much for people to handle and would let me end the game a lot sooner than I want to.
Avacyn is there to protect my creatures and Archangel of Thune helps pump up my creatures while also letting me gain life. Since the counters of Karametra don't go away when she is not a creature, she can just stick around waiting to be turned into a creature again.
Kamahl helps make Avenger more powerful, though the Plant tokens are often fairly large due to being able to tutor out lands already so Avenger is the biggest win condition in this deck.
Beyond ramp, most of the creatures are there as answers to the rest of the board. Elesh Norn takes care of tokens (while also letting me attack for more). Grand Abolisher saves me from combat tricks from my opponents. Spike Weaver fogs if I need to save myself and Arachnogenesis and Constant Mists help prevent me from dying to combat damage.
This is one of my favorite decks due to the "Timmy" nature behind it and I think it embodies what a lot of people think of when they think of "casual" EDH. Just big creatures while still accounting for other players. No "game-ending" cards like Tooth and Nail and Craterhoof. I am not against these cards by any means, but I felt like this deck plays more how I want by excluding them.
Recruiter seems very good in this build. I have 18 targets in the deck and some, like Spike Weaver, Eternal Witness, and Reclamation Sage are toolbox options for when I need them. Realm Seekers gets me my utility lands and is a big beater or blocker if I need. Bane of Progress is also a really good target for Recruiter so I have found a spot for that too (I am not entirely sure why I wasn't playing it already).
Regal Behemoth is just another mana doubler plus a card draw as long as I remain the Monarch. I think I shouldn't have too much to worry about in regards to remaining the Monarch, so I think the mana "doubling" should be helpful.
Selvala is massive in this kind of deck. SHe is so good in basically any green deck and this deck is no different. She ramps further into a lot of the big threats and potentially gives me more draws. And, I should almost always have the biggest creature so my opponents won't draw too often from her.
Selvala's Stampede seemed like a fun card to help cheat in a couple creatures. I should always be able to hit at least 3 creatures (unless my hand is totally empty) so for 6 mana, this is pretty good.
Outside of Conspiracy, I am also adding Dryad Arbor as another target for Recruiter and I can get it off Karametra. If I have Soul of the Harvest on board, I can also draw an additional card off it.
As mentioned above, I am also adding Bane of Progress. This card is very good and can be tutored off Recruiter if I need to get rid of a bunch of troublesome Artifacts/Enchantments.
I am cutting a Forest sraight up for Dryad Arbor. Pretty straightforward.
Budoka Gardner is great to get an additional land and his ability when flipped is great. However, I have only ever flipped it once and, while pretty good, I don't think the token is as good as I originally thought it would be. The best thing I ever did with it was sacrifice it to Diamond Valley to gain a bunch of life.
Yavimaya Dryad, Yavimaya Elder, and Kor Cartographer are all decent, but with Selvala and her Stampede, they become less worthwhile. Selvala straight up replaces one of them and Stampede doesn't want to hit any of them. Since Karametra is main source of ramp in this deck, having these cards to ramp (and Elder doesn't even really ramp) are not worth keeping in over the new cards. Kor Cartographer always felt too slow in this deck anyway. The addition of Recruiter of the Guard into Drayd Arbor (if I need it) also somewhat negates losing these cards. Also, while Drayd Arbor is a terrible creature to hit off Stampede, it is the easiest to get out of the way.
Garruk, Primal Hunter is probably the most difficult cut. His ultimate works great with Karametra and his minus keeps my hand full. However, he doesn't have as much sunergy with the rest as I would like. I never count on a planeswalker's ultimate (and I don't think I have ever had his go off) and the loss of card drawing is mitigated with Selvala's card drawing and draing cards from being the Monarch. Garruk's is most definitely better than either of those individually, but with both of them combined I think I can afford to cut him for now. If Regal Behemoth (the card I the most unsure about adding) ends up not working out, Garruk might find his way back in.
Tireless Tracker just offers up a card draw engine and I should be able to get accrue a number of Clue tokens to help dig further in the deck. Acidic Slime got cut since it is 5 mana and I don't often want to blow up a land. If I do, Woodfall Primus is better and if I just want an Artifact or Enchantment Harmonic Sliver and Aura Shards do what I need.
I also wanted to provide a "short" game summary of the game I played the other night:
The first few turns were just ramping by everyone and I took a little bit to get started. I began the game with 3 lands in hand with 1 being Gaea's Cradle. My first creature I cast was Yeva, Nature's Herald. From there, I would just flash in a creature at the end of Lin Sivvi's turn. The next creature was Realm Seekers (with 18 counters) and then I flashed in Karametra and then Avenger of Zendikar came down the next turn.
Lin Sivvi was starting to get a few enchantments and artifacts with Ghostly Prison, Land Tax, Extraplanar Lens and a couple others that I forget. Krond didn't have much but Krond was on the battlefield without an aura on it. I was sitting with Spike Weaver and Recruiter of the Guard in hand and some other insignificant stuff. I could have cast Recruiter to get to Bane of Progress, but I felt that the board state wasn't advanced enough to warrant it so I cast something small and passed the turn.
Krond casts Ancestral Mask and Brilliant Halo on Krond as well as something else, which taps him out. He moves to attack Lin Sivvi for 24 General damage but forgot about Ghostly Prison so he instead directs his attack at me. He exiles Realm Seekers with Krond's trigger. I then flash in Spike Weaver and fog to save me for the turn.
The game comes back to me, and I figured I better get Bane of Progress, so I Recruiter for Bane and cast it blowing up my Zendikar Resurgent and 13 other artifacts and enchantments. It slows Krond down and gets rid of the Lens for Lin-Sivvi to double ther mana. I also drop down Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite pretty soon after that.
All the while, my Plant tokens are growing due to getting lands off Karametra so I end up swinging 55 damage at Oloro to kill them (he was at exactly 55 life).
I cast Evolutionary Leap in there somewhere and my board state is becoming hard to deal with. Krond casts Pariah on my General to help him survive for a while and Lin-Sivvi casts Oblivion Ring on Elesh Norn so he can drop down some creatures. I have 4 mana open and a Diamond Valley untapped. I activate Evolutionary Leap and sac a token. I reveal Harmonic Sliver so I flash it in (since I still have Yeva) at the end of his turn to get my Elesh Norn back.
My turn rolls around and I sacrifice another token to reveal a creature (Avacyn, Angel of Hope). I cast Avacyn and then cast Rout. I then attack Lin Sivvi for about 50 damage and attack Krond with my Plan tokens. I had 6 plants left and with the counters and Elesh Norn they were each 11/11 so I swung 66 at Krond. Before damage, I sacrificed Karametra to get rid of the Pariah and I was able to kill both opponents that turn.
The game went on quite a while and I felt that this was a decent end to the game. Aside from tutoring for Bane of Progress, the entire game was down to just what I drew and how I played. At the end of the game, my opponents seemed to think it was a pretty good game as well. I think this game is pretty indicative of how I want this deck to play and the type of games I am expecting out of it.
I actually don't often want the effect of Crop Rotation in this deck as the main targets are Diamond Valley, Gaea's Cradle and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. So I don't think adding in a sorcery tutor that doesn't put the land onto the battlefield is really what this deck wants to do.
Retreat is an interesting card, but it seems so underwhelming. Gaining life is often overrated unless it is in large chunks or secondary to a different effect (like with Diamond Valley). The +1/+1 counter also doesn't seem like it would do much. If I got it down early, I could see the incremental life gain become useful, but I don't think a couple random counters will change combat math all that much.
I appreciate the suggestions, but I think with where the deck is now, I don't really have anything to cut that I could warrant replacing with one of these two cards.
I really wanted to find a spot for Lotus Cobra in this deck after seeing the power it had in Gitrog. I don't expect nearly the same level of explosiveness, but I do think it can add a bit of speed to the deck to help it get to Karametra earlier and the land drops from Karametra help fuel more mana to cast more creatures.
I chose to cut Archangel because I just found it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. Adding counters wasn't as relevant as I thought it would be and I don't gain life often other than her. Also, cutting a 5 drop for a 2 drop helps lower the curve (slightly) and I am hoping the increased speed will mitigate the loss of a 3/4 flyer.
I decided to add in the lands Emeria and Scattered Groves. Scattered Groves is easily fetchable off Karametra and Emeria can be a powerhouse once it is turned on. I cut two forsts for these as Scattered Groves still produces green (so not much lost) and leaving the plains allows Emeria to be turned on that much easier.
I cut Dawntreader because i just felt slow. I know it is a 2+1 mana ramp, but I never felt that I wanted to be spending my next turn to crack it to then leave me with only 2 mana left to use. I decided to get rid of it as I liked my other ramp better. Crucible was in to help protect Cradle, but it was almost never relevant. If I really needed it, E Witness got it back for me so it was never worth wasting a slot on Cradle to potentially get bad a couple powerful lands.
In their place I added Emeria Shepherd (another reason to cut forests above instead of plains) as she again gives me some recursion and resiliency in the late game. Protean Hulk was added after it was unbanned as I added it to all my green decks to see what it could do. So far it hasn't been disappointing but hasn't been super powerful either. I don't plan on changing anything in my deck to work with Hulk. He is just there as added value.
Excavator is a replacement for the Crucible I cut a while back and being a creature means it has a bit more utility. I am still not positive this deck wants the effect, but I think it is more worthwhile on a creature than an artifact so I figured I would try it out.
In its place I have decided to cut Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. I have been looking for a reason to cut him due to the high cost. So cutting him for a 3 mana creature seems like a smart move. I am not sure how the loss of a colorless removal spell that gets rid of two permanents will affect the deck, but I can't remember the last time I actually cast Ulamog so I don't expect the loss to be that impactful.
The other addition is Scavenger Grounds. This gives me a true instant timing way of dealing with graveyards (either with it on the battlefield already or through Crop Rotation) and this has already paid off. Last Wednesday, I saved myself from an opposing Consuming Aberration by exiling all graveyards. I have been slowly becoming less impressed with Angel of Finality so if I can find a way to replace that with another grave hate card
I will. Preferably one I can use as an Instant and one that I can flash in somehow (so not Tormod's Crypt). Being a creature would be icing on the cake. The closest I can think of is Loaming Shaman which at least lets me flash it in off Yeva, Nature's Herald (which I can't do with the Angel). But, even this isn't the greatest.
Anyway, to make room for this new land, I just cut a Forest. I am not sure how much further I want to move into potentially removing lands that produce colored mana but so far this seems to be alright.
I have been actively trying to avoid Gating creatures as I feel they become really overpowered (or, at least, somewhat boring) in a deck like this. However, my reluctance to use them might need to be put aside to allow for a general answer and I think you are right that Stonecloaker is what I want in that slot. I will probably end up removing Angel of Finality to put this card in its place.
Considering how many lands you put into play, I'm surprised that you're not using Nissa, Vital Force. That's an easy ult to pull off and you'd get tons of value from it.
I agree. That seems like enough of an oversight and I am not sure why I am not running her. I am almost positive I meant to include her since I already had another foil copy (the other was for Gitrog which is now Titania).
Not much to report here, but I have added Stonecloaker to the deck in place of Angel of Finality. Stonecloaker just works in the deck better. I do lose out on being able to exile an entire graveyard with the Angel, but Stonecloaker seems serviceable since it is Instant timing. Scavenger Grounds is still an option when I need it too.
I am still trying to find a spot for Nissa, Vital Force per Tev's suggestion, but I haven't figured out what to cut yet.
After looking my list over and still trying to fit Nissa, Vital Force in the deck, I came to the conclusion that Karn Liberated was not really pulling his weight. Yes, he is fantastic, but really only for his -3. I never used his +4 except to keep him from dying and usually I never even got that far as he would just die after using his -3 which is the entire reason he is in the deck so I paid 7 mana to exile something. The biggest issue beyond that is that he doesn't synergize with the rest of the deck in that he is not a creature and it is difficult to tutor him out whereas my creature removal can be gotten through Evolutionary Leap, Chord of Calling and Natural Order (though the latter is only for green creatures).
I feel Nissa is a much better card overall as it ramps me, gets some removal back, and turns what the deck is already doing into card draw. I am going to see how this works out, but I don't expect to miss Karn all that much.
I decided to put a greater focus on trying to tune this deck a bit more. As it is now, I think these cards seem the weakest in the list:
Heliod, God of the Sun - I have been getting pretty down on this card lately. I have been finding that the Vigilance doesn't matter as much as I thought it would and I rarely create tokens. This deck obviously has the mana to do it over and over a lot but getting a 2/1 for 4 mana is not optimal.
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth - This deck does not hurt for card draw as it is (though the cuts/adds below show that I don't want to cut too much). The 12/12 Annihilator body is very good but I think the deck can do just fine without it. It is on the top end of the curve which hurts, but I feel that lowering the curve is the better option.
Primordial Sage - This draws me a lot of cards over the course of the game, but it has no real protection or evasion. So it just eats a removal spell and I don't get anything out of it. My main concern with it is that it is 6 mana. I like the card draw, but I am thinking it is too high in mana cost (even though the deck is built on ramp) and does nothing the turn it enters.
Ramunap Excavator - I am not sold on this card. I really wanted it as a way to make sure I can get my lands back, but without fetchlands or Strip Mine (or its variants) it just ends up being a 2/3 body. LD is not very prevalent in my meta so it is not often relevant. I suppose I could (and maybe should) add Strip Mine and this could have a lot more utility. I might have to think about that line a little more.
Zendikar Resurgent - This falls into the same camp as the Sage above. It draws me cards and it gets me more mana. The card draw is great but the more mana is often not as relevant considering the entire deck is built with ramp in mind. If I really need more mana, I either search out Gaea's Cradle, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, or even Regal Behemoth (which also can draw me cards). And, again, it is high on the curve at 7 mana which means I should probably already be doing something more. If I really find I am missing the extra mana, Mirari's Wake is probably better as it is cheaper.
With the above in mind, I am looking at these as potential inclusions:
Strip Mine - If I include this, I keep the Excavator. That is basically it. I don't know that I want it yet, but it is at least a possibility.
Lifecrafter's Bestiary - With the above cuts of Sage and Resurgent in the interest of lowering the curve, this card gives me the ability to still draw cards late in the game. It also gives me a scry every turn which can be very relevant in the early game.
Forest and/or Plains - I have often found that because I only have 37 lands, it does sometimes take a little while to get going with the deck. Especially since Cradle doesn't tap for mana early and I have a fair amount of colorless producing lands. Adding 1 or 2 more lands could be helpful to increase the consistence of the deck.
Greater Good - Again, card draw as well as a sac outlet if I need it. This deck doesn't really take advantage of the discarded cards, but because the creatures get so large I can draw a bunch of cards in response to a removal spell (for example). It is basically a way to dig or keep my hand full depending on the requirements of the current board state.
I am not sure what I ultimately want to cut or include. As the cards above show, I do want to lower the curve, but I don't want to lose out on some of the cards that draw me cards. And, there are probably a few good creatures out there that I am not including that I don't know about so maybe some of those cards fill in some of those slots. I think the only thing I know that I want to do is cut Heliod and add the Bestiary. Beyond that, this is more of a thought experiment to determine what could be cut or added.
I have been looking into more cards for this deck to lower the curve as well as help ramp earlier. I feel that there have been too many games where I start off very slowly so I am trying to speed this up a little. In order to do that, I basically added a few low cost ramp creatures as well as a couple other cards.
Tireless Tracker - This is a slow card draw engine and it is almost never relevant for it to grow bigger over time. I feel that cutting this and using Bestiary and Greater Good are the better draw options.
Knight of the White Orchid - This is an odd exclusion based on wanting to keep early ramp, but in this deck, I basically need to cast this card on turn 3 usually (and that is if I am not going first or if someone has ramped ahead of me). By turn 4 I am hoping to be casting Karametra. So, casting this after the God means I will almost always have more lands than opponents. I am not positive my additions below are that great, but I feel they are better than this card.
And here are the cards I am adding in:
Plains and Forest - I am finding that I sometimes get stuck on 3 lands so adding in a couple helps smooth out the early draws while also giving me more choices for Karametra's tutoring.
Lifecrafter's Bestiary - This gives me card draw on cast at a cheaper mana cost than Sage and Resurgent. I know I have to pay 1 each time, but the lower mana cost and addition of Scrying each turn makes this a worthwhile substitution.
Greater Good - Another card draw spell that can potentially draw me a ton of cards with some of my bigger creatures. It also gives me a sac outlet to save creatures if I feel I need to do that (though it is less useful the more times I use it due to the risk of decking myself)
Diligent Farmhand - I am not sure about this as I have never used it before, but being a 1 drop makes it cheap to get a land off Karametra and a card off Bestiary late game and gives me something to do in the early game. It also gives me my only 1 drop to get off Protean Hulk. I know it isn't the fastest card, but considering Sakura-Tribe Elder is the best ramp spell this deck has and this is effectively the same (costs 2 on turn 2 to get a land) means the additional cost on turn 1 is somewhat mitigated. It is obviously worse in the late game since it costs 3 instead of 2 to get a land the turn it enters the battlefield, but I don't think that is that bad.
Dawntreader Elk - This is similar to the Farmhand in that it costs 3 later in the game to get a land on the same turn, but in the early game, when casting it on curve, I can't get a land until turn 3 or later. This makes it potentially slower than Farmhand and Sakura. Again, it is cheap ramp that is creature based so I think it will work out well in this deck. I used to have it and I cut it, but with some of the concerns of the early game, I believe that was a mistake as I think it is at least better than Knight of the White Orchid.
Growing Rites of Itlimoc - Another Gaea's Cradle is pretty good and its ETB trigger is very relevant. I think this will be an excellent addition to the deck to help with ramping and to help filter draws to get good creatures at the right time.
With the release of Rivals of Ixalan, the two cards that stand out to me as being potential includes are Ghalta, Primal Hunger and Huatli, Radiant Champion. Huatli seems great as she can ultimate the turn after I cast her as I should definitely have at least 4 creatures when I activate her ability. Ghalta is means to just be a big dumb beater that also works with Huatli's second ability pretty well since it has trample. If I could somehow get it down turn 3 or 4 for 2 mana, it can help close out games quickly.
Another couple cards I am looking to add are Acidic Slime and Qasali Pridemage. Both lower the curve and Slime more or less replaces Woodfall Primus below if I decide to cut it. Pridemage could easily fit in if I decide to make any other cuts below.
After looking through the deck, there are a number of cards I am looking to cut for one reason or another. Nothing is set in stone and I only need to find room for 3 cards so obviously not all are being cut, but they are the ones that stand out as potentials.
Woodfall Primus - This is very high on the curve and rarely matters that I hit more than one thing. Acidic Slime seems better. I know I cut it a while back, but I want to try it again instead of Woodfall.
Avenger of Zendikar - This would be an odd cut due to the nature of the deck but I have won with this deck a lot without ever getting to Avenger. This suggests the deck works fine without it and lowers the curve even more if I get rid of it.
World Breaker - I really like World Breaker as it gets around a lot of things I do I have some colorless sources so I can get it back. But, again, the cost is high so I could see cutting it for something cheaper.
Regal Behemoth - I really like this card since it can draw me a card and double my mana, but I have often found that doubling mana is irrelevant in this deck due to the number of lands I get out.
Soul of the Harvest - This card is probably not going to get cut any time soon, but it is a potential due to the mana cost. I have found that my card draw is still pretty good after my last cuts and Huatli effectively replaces this.
Duplicant - This is here mostly for Iona but no one plays it. So, I don't think it is needed anymore.
Oblivion Stone - I don't have much for board wipes in this deck, but I can't remember the last time where I would have wanted to activate O Stone or where it would have won me the game. My current removal suite seems good and I am able to overrun the board effectively that wrathing the board is not something I need to do very often.
I am sure some of these are not the best options for cutting and I have no idea what I would replace them with anyway (beyond the 4 cards I mentioned above) so this is more of a thought exercise.
I played this deck the other night. During the game, I realized 2 things: 1) Avenger of Zendikar really is not needed and is slow and 2) I have no idea why I am not running Karmic Guide. There was a crucial part of the game I was playing where I my Bane of Progress had been milled and I needed to Chord of Calling for an answer. My plan was to get Karmic Guide to reanimate Bane of Progress but I didn't have it. I ended up getting Eternal Witness to get back Bane of Progress but I did have to spend my next turn casting Bane.
I ended up losing the game due to the Zur player playing very well but I feel that I had my chances. I may have played a little more loose that I should have but I just know there are some things I could tweak to make it better in that scenario.
I am currently in the process of getting Ghalta, Primal Hunger (I will probably just proxy it up for now) as I think this card can be a real beast in this deck. And, as mentioned, Regal Behemoth seems a little like overkill in this deck as I generally have all the mana I want anyway. So, I am going to cut Behemoth for Ghalta.
Multani is a great addition to the deck. I already want to get a bunch of lands and this gives me a creature that is big, that helps save my lands, and can help block flyers in a pinch. It is much better than Molimo because it has reach and costs 1 less. I will be easily making that swap.
The other card is harder to come up with a swap for. Shalai seems fantastic. She makes it harder to kill my other creatures and makes it more difficult to target me. I can see getting this off of a Protean Hulk being a memorable play to ruin someone else's day.
With M19 comes Vivien Reid. As it stands now, this is the only card I saw that I really wanted for this deck. Her +1 can help get to another creature (or land), her -3 answers threats, and her Ultimate can help end the game. Overall, she seems really good for this deck.
As with a lot of my decks, finding a cut is becoming tougher and tougher as time goes on. My decks tend to slowly become fairly "tuned" to where I want them so there are usually not cards that are weak. The same holds true here. From my list, I think Nissa, Voice of Zendikar is the right cut. She was in here to help with Avenger's tokens and her ultimate was really good. But, since cutting Avenger, I often am not wanting to cast her over a creature and by the time I do cast her, it is too late to really do a lot since it is harder to get to her ultimate. Especially since it takes 5 turns to actually get to the point of activating it. So, I think I will just cut Nissa for Vivien for now.
With GRN comes Knight of Autumn. It is basically a better Reclamation Sage though it is often going to have the same use. In a pinch it can gain me life though so at least one other mode can be relevant. I don't think I need both and Knight is basically better in almost every scenario, so I am just going to swap them for each other.
Another card that came out in GRN that I think would be good is Beast Whisperer. It is cheap so it works out better than Primordial Sage which I cut a while back and it doesn't cost mana like Lifecrafter's Bestiary. I do like the Scry though so I am going to run both.
To make room, I am going to cut Selvala, Heart of the Wilds. It is a great card, but this deck really doesn't need her. I don't have a ton of high costed things and the deck is already built on the idea of getting a ton of land.
On a side note, I believe I will eventually find a way to get Heroic Intervention in this deck. There have been a couple of times where having Indestructible and/or Hexproof would have been useful and I see a few people playing MLD in my meta so I want to be prepared for them. Most likely, I will end up cutting Duplicant for this but I am not totally sure yet.