Note: I no longer play this format, and following the 2 Oct 2013 bans the sideboard and matchups section of this primer is starting to get fairly out of date. Please PM if you play the deck and are able to update it.
Mono green stompy is one of the most explosive aggro decks in the format and is quite capable of turn 3 kills (theoretically possible with just two lands in play). T3 kills aren't quite the norm, but the deck frequently puts the opponent down to 14 life on turn 2 and 4-8 life by the end of turn 3, and has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to sneak in those last few points of damage. The deck is hyper agressive and all in - the curve of the deck typically tops out at 2, and you'll want to be playing an absolute minimum number of lands; often the goal is to have emptied your hand by turn 4.
Despite being such a fast rush deck, there is still quite a bit of strategy to the deck. The balance of playing pumps vs creatures, pumping for damage vs saving for creature protection and how to correctly play some tricky cards like Hunger of the Howlpack, Vines of Vestwood and Shinen of Life's Roar takes quite a bit of practice and knowledge about your opponent's strategy. Also, the mulligan decision is crucial. Most hands with four land are not keepable, but many with just one are (especially if you have a Quirion Ranger). Keeping a hand with the right balance of lands and creatures/pumps for the particular matchup is very important. The deck can mull down to 5 or even 4 and still win with a good start and a bit of topdeck luck.
On matchups, the deck is so fast that it can beat essentially anything in the field with the right draw. It generally does well against blue control decks (including post) and is fast enough to beat combo. It can outrace red (goblins or burn) quite frequently, and with the right pumps its creatures easily outclass affinity. It doesn't do particularly well against mono black though, and WW can shut the deck down pretty hard if it plays standard bearer. There are also a few sideboard cards, such as Prismatic Strands, which are very bad for the deck.
Forest - You don't want to be messing around with a lot of land in this deck. Somewhere from 16-18 is about right, with most running 17. Ideally you want to keep a hand with 2 lands and a quirion ranger in it and not see another land for the rest of the game, topdecking a land instead of a pump spell on turn 4 or 5 can easily be the difference between a win and a loss.
Land Grant - It's possible to replace 4 lands with this sorcery, eg. running 13 forest + 4 land grant. The advantage of this setup is that it thins your land count out, playing this instead of a forest reduces your chance of drawing another land which is usually an advantage. It also has the rare advantage of being able to untap Nettle Sentinel if you topdeck it on an empty hand, which a forest obviously can't. The disadvantage is the information you give to your opponent, especially if you are forced to keep a hand with 2 land grant and no forests for eg. - many pump spells gain value if they're hidden.
Tranquil thicket - Not a card for this deck. Cycling is good, but speed is better.
You'll want to run somewhere between 24 and 30 creatures, with a heavy bias towards one drops. Most decks will run 16-20 one drops and the remainder two drops. Three drops are generally not recommended for the deck, there's no green three drop in the format that's aggressive enough to warrant inclusion.
Creatures are ordered in rough order of importance.
Skarrgan Pit-Skulk - Possibly the most important creature in the deck, although you'll rarely want to play it on the first turn thanks to the bloodlust. Note that you do have plenty of other ways to pump it though, so don't be afraid to keep good hands where this is your only one drop. The pit skulk is an absolute star in being able to sneak through damage after the first couple of turns and using an instant to pump it pre-combat can make it unblockable by almost anything. Combos superbly well with Rancor and Hunger of the Howlpack. An automatic 4-of.
Quirion Ranger - Another vital card, as it allows you to keep one-land hands quite easily and makes two-land hands function perfectly. Think about it as an agressive mana dork (aggressive because it doesn't have to tap) with a lot of synergistic upside. It keeps landfall (for Groundswell) turned on indefinitely and effectively lets you play with an extra land if you haven't got one to play that turn. The untapping ability is rarely going to be important for blocking (although it can catch a sleepy player unaware), but can be useful with Nettle Sentinel in a pinch. You can also use it to untap an opponent's creature to then kill with Shinen of Life's Roar (but not on a card with can insta-tap itself like a mana dork of course!). It's hard to justify using less than 4 of these.
Nettle Sentinel - 2/2s for 1 are pure gold and the disadvantage is rarely going to be an issue. You run so few lands that even in topdeck mode you won't often get stuck with it tapped, and quirion ranger can help out if necessary. It does force you to frequently play creatures in your first main phase which has slight disadvantages (although you often want to be doing that for Gather Courage anyway), but it's more than worth it for the stats. Don't forget that even if your spell is countered you can still untap and that you do get to untap after tapping for the convoke on Gather Courage. Pretty much an auto 4-of.
Young Wolf - While it's certainly possible for people to play around this, and you won't get any profit by hanging it back to try and block to turn undying on, it's still a great addition to the deck from DKA. It gives you resilience vs board wipes and removal generally, is superb vs Serrated Arrows, forces extra blocks and is a sweet combo with Hunger of the Howlpack. Generally it's worth 3-4 slots.
Basking Rootwalla - Decent tech against mono black's discard, a great combo with Wild Mongrel and a good late game mana sink. Using this lets you play with more lands than you otherwise might if you're worried about that, but I've found that you usually want to be ending games before its ability is relevant (or that you're tempted to use it in sub-optimal situations) so this is definitly an optional inclusion.
Rogue Elephant/Scythe Tiger - These are one drops that feel more like three drops. It's difficult to think of situations where you want to set your board back so much by playing them before turn 3, although it's possible to drop them on T2 if you're mana flooded. If you include either of them at all, only take one or two copies because they are finishers, not agressive drops.
Jungle lion - Nettle sentinel #4-6 with a slightly worse body if you feel so inclined. In addition to being obviously easier to block, it dies to tragic slip, fume spitter, serrated arrows and a lot of other random stuff that nettle and most other creatures in the deck don't, so don't be tempted to substitute.
Vault Skirge - The best evasive one drop option, due to the huge life-swings it can get you when pumped. An evasive one drop isn't a bad idea in theory, but there are a lot of decks that run cheap fliers in the format (delver/faeries, WW) and usually you'll either just want the body of nettle sentinel or the abilities of your other one-drop options. Still, they're something to consider especially if you face more race than creature matchups (eg. burn).
Shinen of Life's Roar - This is an amazing card and the deck's finisher on a stalled board (either cast from hand for 4, or played normally). It can be tricky to use and it can often be a complicated decision as to whether to pump the shinen to wipe the opponent's board, or just pump one of your other now-unblockable creatures to go for the throat. Also the decision of whether to play it, and expose it to removal, or keep it in hand and hope to get to 4 mana can sometimes be tough. Worth 2-3 slots.
Safehold Elite - Persist is a worse mechanic than undying, and this sometimes feels like an overcosted Young Wolf but it's still a good card. It still has most of the staying power that young wolf does and it gets its agression up front. Also, you can turn persist back on with Hunger of the Howlpack for more goodness and the potential synergy of this with Shield of the Oversoul is sick, even if it's a bit expensive for the deck. If you're going for a slightly higher cost creature build, it's worth 3-4 slots.
Wild Mongrel - This is the deck's only potential answer to Prismatic Strands, and a good way to use up excess lands late game (Quirion ranger can feed if necessary). The combo with Basking Rootwalla isn't quite as good as it looks outside of situations where you topdeck the latter, because if you use the pump when it's attacking, you lose the extra damage you could have got from dicarding the Rootwalla on the same turn cycle as you cast the Mongrel; all it really does is save you one mana which isn't often all that important.
Wandering Wolf - Probably the only AVR card that is worth considering for the deck, functionally it's like an overcosted and weaker Skarrgan Pit-Skulk given how rare it is that you won't be able to turn on bloodlust in this deck. Still, the pit-skulk is so good that #4-8 might be worth trying out.
Garruk's Companion - 3/2 trample isn't anything to sneeze at. Use 1-2 if you want an extra finisher and don't like blowing up your own lands for a 3/3.
Rancor - Easily the best pump spell in deck (probably the game), and while it's the only card in the deck which costs any real amount of money (4-6 tix at the time of writing), it's basically necessary to make the deck work. It's probably the only way you have to give your creatures trample and the recursion is superb for many obvious and some not so obvious reasons. Merely knowing rancor is in your hand can force your opponent to make some hard decisions, eg. holding back removal or bounce in the hope of 'countering' it when you cast it by killing/bouncing the target while rancor is still on the stack. In situations where you know a late game rancor is going to be the key to your win, do consider holding back until you have a vines of the vestment to protect the creature to prevent this type of countering if you can afford to. Outside of that, it's infinitely recurrable +2/0 trample for G which is as good as it sounds.
Vines of Vastwood - Your Counterspell and a +4/+4 pump rolled into one. This is possibly the hardest card in the deck to play correctly. On the one hand, 4 to the face for GG looks pretty good. On the other hand if your opponent uses Echoing Decay in response then you're in a bad spot because not only has your pump been countered but you lost the opportunity to counter their removal (which they were going to have to use at some stage anyway). In general it's going to be good to hold this back vs B or Rx decks (mono red burn will usually be just going for the throat) and play it aggressively vs other colours, but there are obviously exceptions to this (blue bounce is an obvious one). Be sure not to play it just as a 'win more', if you have a board position that will be unbeatable if your opponent doesn't have removal, then don't play it as a pump just to end the game quicker. There's an awful lot going on with this spell, be sure to think before playing and also be sure to think about holding back an open mana even in the early game vs some decks, especially if you kept a creature-light hand. Don't forget too that you can use this as a counterspell for your opponent's pumps too (even though it uses the same wording as hexproof, it doesn't just grant hexproof). It can be used in response to an Atog fling or to counter pumps or rancors in infect, wee dragonfiend and stompy decks.
Groundswell - This is the first pump discussed that's only an optional 4-of, and given that it's pretty easily G for four damage you want to have a pretty good reason to not use it. One disadvantage of it is that outside of Quirion Ranger it's going to be an early game card given how little land you run, but even if you do opt to develop your board rather than pump on T2, it's a great way to turn those late game land topdecks into damage. Still, T1 Nettle, T2 Groundswell, hit for 6 and play Pit Skulk w/bloodlust is a frequent and awesome sequence for this deck.
Hunger of the Howlpack - One of the handful of Innistrad block cards that are worth considering for the deck, this is a card that has some great synergy with a few cards in the deck but can be hard to get maximum value out of. Given that you don't have any burn and don't often want to be blocking with this deck, you're generally going to be unable to turn on morbid proactively. That means either leaving potential damage on the table while you hope your opponent uses removal or blocks you (in a situation where you wouldn't have been better preventing the block or forcing a trade or chump block by using it proactively), or just using it straight up for what is a fairly weak bonus in such a fast deck. Still, even at +1/+1 it's a good way to permanently buff up your pit skulk, silhana or shinen and it's definitely worth consideration.
After playing with the deck a lot more, I'd have to say that this is potentially the of the most valuable cards in the deck, but is also very difficult to use correctly. It's incredibly versatile - it can be used without morbid to pump a pit-skulk or wandering wolf to 3 power, enabling them to get past most blockers, it can be used in response to a damaging or -X/-X spell that will do exactly lethal to save your guy. Or you can do some combat maths and work out that even a +1 buff over a couple of turns might speed your clock up by a turn which could be relevant. But usually those +1 pumps are sub-optimal, what you really want to be doing is turning one of your guys into a 4/4 or bigger monster. Saving it also allows you to get massive value from opposing removal spells, turning your 2/2 persist into a 4/4 persist, or 1/1 wolf into a 5/5 beast after your opponent uses a removal spell is huge. If you can get a 4/4 silhana setup, that's pretty much game vs most decks unless they've got a fast clock on you. Creating a 5/5 anything (especially a pit-skulk) is beastly and puts it out of range of not only almost all creatures, but basically all burn in the format. Using this card correctly can frequently be the difference between a win and a loss.
Mutagenic growth - A possible free pump spell, somewhat similar to gather courage. Having to lose life to get the free effect can be relevant in race matchups, especially if you're being burned or raced with flyers (eg. delver, WW, red aggro) and generally you find that you have a creature you either dont mind leaving back for gather, or can get a tappable creature in another way (eg. summoning sickness, quirion ranger). Still, an option to consider.
Briar Shield - This is used sometimes, and is a bit similar to Hunger of the Howlpack in some ways. It's a guaranteed +1/+1 and a situational +3/+3; the situational part of it is that you have to sac it to get the big bonus. Imo it's essentially inferior to the instant, because if you have any chance of turning on morbid then the permanent +3/+3 buff is far more relevant.
Bonesplitter - This is Rancor #4-6 (weaker, but somewhat easier to stick) if you feel like more rancor.
Note: This section is very much up in the air until the meta re-adjusts after the storm/infect bans. I have assumed (obviously) that storm is no longer a deck but I haven’t, yet, removed references to infect, although it’s obviously likely to make up a much smaller portion of the meta even if it still exists.
Fog/Spore Frog - Tech against goblins and infect. Spore frog has the obvious disadvantage of being easier to play around or remove, but has the benefit of not making your deck all that much less aggressive.
Hornet Sting - This deck doesn't have a whole lot of direct damage options, and there are certainly some creatures which can cause problems. Infect is obviously one decktype where this can be nice. Standard bearer is probably the most obvious single creature, as it's basically an auto-loss if it hits the field (you have to pump it first). Suture priest (and any creature that gives ETB life gain) is also bad and being able to ping delver before he flips can be nice. Can also turn on bloolust for pit-skulk in a pinch.
This is a fairly good card vs delver-faeries for a few reasons. First, it can be important to kill an unflipped delver against that deck, due to their ability to beatdown fairly quickly with flyers. Second, they sometimes run phantasmal bear and more removal for that is good. But most importantly, you can use it in response to Spellstutter Sprite to reduce the faerie count. Eg. if you kill Spellstutter after it's entered the battlefield but before its counterspell text has resolves, and it's their only faerie, then the faerie count is 0 and it can't counter even a 1cmc spell.
Scattershot Archer - Superb vs fairies and also hoses Squadron Hawk. It's still a body too if they don't play flyers (unlike hidden spider) so it doesn't hurt your aggro too much. Comboes nicely with Quirion Ranger, allowing it to take out a flipped delver, which can be annoying to deal with otherwise. Again, don't forget that you can kill a Spellstutter sprite while it's counterspell is on the stack, meaning this card completely neutralises their ability to counter anything with their flyer.
Gleeful Sabotage/Naturalize - Artifact and enchantment removal are not imo 100% necessary. the deck can beat affinity and most other relevant decks without them, but sometimes you will want removal for things like golems or tortured existence or something. Gleeful is probably the better of the two, instant speed isn't that relevant in the deck. The cards that this is best against are Spire Golem and Razor Golem, both of which can be annoying speedbumps if you don't have a relevant pump (or if it's going to get countered vs MUC). Don't forget to always use the Gleeful Sabotage conspire vs MUC if they have counterspell mana available, even if you're only going after one target, because convoking it means that they need two counterspells to prevent it.
Shield of the Oversoul - Ridiculous synergy with Safehold elite if you can pull it off (4/4 indestructible flyer), it generally slows the deck down too much to include it in the main deck unfortunately. It can be a decent sideboard option vs slower decks, especially mono black where it can help protect you against a lot of their removal (although they can still use edicts of course).
Viridian Longbow - Hornet sting on a stick, and good against all of the same kinds of things. Generally going to be too slow for the main deck though.
Hidden Spider - A great card vs MUC, especially the faeries version where it can shut down their ability to do pretty much anything due to their reliance on flyers for both offense and counterspells. The only answers MUC has to a transformed hidden spider are bounce and curse of chains; try to protect it with vines as much as possible if you can. This is also pretty good vs WW where shutting down their flyers can be a big hinderance to their ability to get damage in.
Prey Upon - Possible substitute for hornet sting. You'll rarely want to be using this if it'll result in a creature trade, but if you can combo it with a pump spell it could be useful. It's a bit slower, and can't hit first turn delvers on the draw, but worth considering especially if you're running young wolves and safehold elites who don't mind dying too much.
Matchups and sideboard strategy:
I've discussed some general matchup tips throughout the primer when talking about specific cards, but here's a few more details and some general sideboarding strategy:
8-post - Basically, you're quicker than them and should be able to win before they setup any real threats. The UR post variants don't run enough counterspells to really disrupt the game plan, and many of your cards are inherently strong vs red removal - young wolf, safehold elite, hunger of the howlpack, ledgewalker - and your pumps will be able to save your 2-toughness creatures against any of their removal other than flame slash. Play smart with your pumps, and recognise that protecting your repeatable damage sources (creatures) is more important than using them as burn spells on your turn. Running so few 1-toughness creatures makes you strong vs serrated arrows and seismic shudder which is good - if you are looking to land a ledgewalker, do everything you can to keep a pump open for it because they don't have many answers for it other than shudder. If you do have to go to late game, try to have a resolved Silhana Ledgewalker in play because she's your answer to Capsize. Don't forget that if you get into a race against ulamog's crusher, rancor is a card you can repetedly sacrifice if you're desperate (although that's often a last resort, because it could be countered on the way back down).
Affinity - backed up by pump, your creatures simply outclass theirs and you'll be able to make a lot of profitable trades. If they get a lot of draw going they might be able to outlast you, but you are the beatdown in this matchup and they'll generally be too slow to beat you)
MUC - pretty decent matchup really, it all comes down to what you can land and get into the red zone before the counters start hitting. Generally you've got more cheap tricks than they have counterspells though which will see you through. Don't forget that all your pumps, plus quirion ranger, are removal spells vs phantasmal bear if they're silly enough to play one! One thing think think about is whether or not to play around daze; personally I don't, especially on T1, provided I have redundancy in my hand - eg. i'm not trying to resolve my only creature. The matchup is all about tempo and you lose too much, and end up walking into hard counterspells anyway, if you worry about it.
A few additional notes about the matchup:
The faeries matchup is generally unfavourable pre-board because their faeries give them a lot of counterspells and they can put a lot of pressure on with flyers, holding some back to chump block if needed. But if you board correctly it can become very favourable for games 2 and 3. As discussed in the individual card summaries, scattershot archer and hidden spider are awesome and even hornet sting can work pretty well.
Hornet sting is not really worth bringing in for the non-faery matchup, that version is generally harder to beat if it can stabilise because it has a stronger late game. Your aim is just to do quick damage and sting doesn't help much in that regards.
Nettle sentinel and quirion ranger are your answers to curse of chains which the more controlling versions run, try to keep pumps or VoV free to save quirion from dying to Piracy Charm because negating curse can be huge.
Mono red burn - Again, pretty good matchup but it 100% comes down to draw and often a crucial topdeck or two. Both decks are capable of killing T3-4, it's just about who actually manages to. They should be going for the throat and not your creatures, so don't be afraid to use vines offensively.
WW - Game 1 should be pretty decent for you becuase your creatures (with pumps) are better and their flyers can't race you, but the match overall depends on how the sideboard plays out. You need to side in all of your hornet stings, because if they land a Standard bearer there's not an awful lot you can do about it other than hopefully catch it off guard with a Shinen of Life's Roar. Other cards that are bad for you are Prismatic Strands (which there's nothing you can do about) and all of their life-gain priests.
Goblins - Generally favourable, but you'll often need to draw a Shinen to break the board open if a stall develops. Goblin Sparksmith can be annoying but the life-loss should prevent them from using it too much.
MBC - it is awfully difficult to get through all of their creature removal, especially with some early discard, and then they simply overpower you with draw and/or life gain. In theory, shield of the oversoul should be good but in practice it's too slow and too easy for your opponent to simply use removal on your target as you cast it to counter it, or use geth's verdict if you can resolve it. Verdict also takes out Silhana Ledgewalker which is your only other real threat in the matchup.
Infect - you play almost the same deck as them, but they only need to do 10 damage to win. Play the control deck and try to outlast their creatures by defensively pumping your own - if you can survive long enough they'll run out of steam before you do.
In general you want to be careful not to over-sidboard. Your deck's win condition vs a lot of decks is simply to kill them quickly, and boarding in too many non-agressive cards like Hornet's Sting, Fog, Gleeful Sabotage and Hidden Spider will seriously hurt your aggro potential. You should only side in cards which are necessary to turn an otherwise almost unwinnable situation around; don't just sideboard in artifact hate because your oppo runs a bonesplitter, and don't side in Hornet's sting for low-threat cards like Disciple of the Vault.
When you do sideboard in cards, eg. 4x hornet sting for delver or WW, you obviously want to be taking out cards which are bad in that matchup. Shinen comes out vs anything whch doesn't play a lot of creatures (eg. burn) or which doesn't play particularly threatening ones (MBC, possibly MUC). Silhana also isn't much use if your opponent isn't interracting with your creatures, or if they have a lot of flying blockers (WW). Vs some matchups where you want to be particularly fast, your two drops like Safehold Elite and Wandering Wolf lose a bit of value, but only side them out if you can side in something that's more aggressive or relevant. And if you absolutely need to bring something in and can't figure out what's bad in the matchup, then simply side out your creatures with the least utility and your worst pump spells in approximately equal proportions - that's usually going to be nettle sentinel and either hunger of the howlpack or groundswell depending on your build. Young wolf is generally pretty poor vs MUC so feel free to side that out in those matchups.
But also don't forget that it's entirely valid to just not sideboard. It's difficult to think of sideboard options which make the post matchup much more favourable; shield of the oversoul is theoretically nice if resolved but is likely to be countered, either directly or with pre-emptive burn, or simply capsized. Similarly, the affinity matchup is good enough that I personally don't think it's necessary to side in artifact hate (you can profitably trade with their creatures with pumps anyway and it's unlikely that you'll turn off metalcraft). And unless you have a specific plan for the matchup, possibly involving an otherwise bad sideboard like 4x Basking Rootwalla (good vs discard) and 3x Shield of the Oversoul (good vs non-sacrifice removal) there's not a lot you can do to make the MBC matchup all that much better.
Sample deck lists and articles:
MTGO tracks recent winning stompy decklists [url=http://decks.mtgoacademy.com/advancedSearchResults.aspx?mode=mtgo&deckname=mono%20green&dropdownlist1=Pauper&nmc=glistener&nmc=cloudpost]here[/url]. A couple of sample lists are below.
This is a fairly typical list from a long-time stompy player. It runs the usual 17 lands and a standard number of creatures. In the 2-drop slot, it forgeos safehold elite in favour of wild mongrel (which is good vs prismatic strands in particular). The sideboard drops hornet sting in favour of more answers for storm (the full 8 tech cards against it), and has 2x viridian longbow to try to fill hornet sting's role.
This deck of mine runs slightly fewer lands, and uses safehold elites as the 2-drop of choice due to its strength against UR post. It also runs the full quota of hunger of the howlpack due to its synergy with the safehold elite, as well as being another good card vs a lot of removal. In the sideboard is a mix of the two types of fog, 2 regular for the surprise factor, but 2 frogs because they can be a bit more agressive.
PureMTGO article - [url=http://puremtgo.com/articles/pauper-stompy]Stompy[/url]
Starcitygames article - [url=http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/misc/23770_TaintedWood_Infect_vs_Stompy_In_Pauper.html]Infect vs Stompy[/url]
MTGO Academy article - [url=http://www.mtgoacademy.com/stomping-in-pauper-a-look-at-mono-green-aggro/]A Look at mono-green aggro[/url]
6/6/12 - More detail on MUC, infect and fissure storm matchups and added mono-red burn. Fixed some minor errors. Added briar shield.
12/6/12 - Added general sideboarding strategy. More detail on 8-Post, MBC, affinity and WW matchups.
11/7/12 - Added MTGO academy article, MTGO academy decklist tracker, Mutagenic Growth and Prey Upon.
23/7/12 - Additional comments on vines of vastwood.
30/7/12 - More comments on the MUC matchup (including some additions to the sideboard choices section, including a re-write of hidden spider).
3/8/12 - Additional comments on Hunger of the Howlpack.
21/8/12 - Added Vault Skirge (replacing Scryb Sprites/Treetop Scout).
28/8/12 - Revised matchup analysis re storm and expanded on UR post. Updated decklists with some more recent 4-0 lists.
13/9/12 - Added extended storm matchup analysis.
29/1/12 – Made minor updates to reflect the new ban list.
If anyone wants to add anything to this then please let me know, I'm still relatively new to the game and so may have missed something. If anyone feels that some more detailed matchup discussion/strategy is warranted then feel free to write it and I'll add to the original post.
Good question. I've looked over a lot of winning decklists over the past month and none use muta, so it def seems to be the call but on paper you make a good point. The thing is tho that in practice I've literally never wanted to tap an attacking creature for gather. The usual play is that you're either using it in your opponents turn for defence on a newly summoned creature or else you cast a creature before combat and use that as the target. Plus, in between nettle sentinel and quirion you have a couple of untap options. Also outside of the first few turns you'll obv have the mana to hardcast.
The life from muta might not seem relevant but vs decks with flyers (delver, WW) or which try to race (goblins, burn) it can make a difference. So basically I find gather has no relevant downside but good upside.
I think prey upon should be mentioned for sideboard possibilities. A lot of recent lists i've seen run it and i feel its much more flexible than hornet sting despite the fact that you need a creature to play it. Great primer though, thanks!
Interesting thought on the prey upon, I can't really see it being used much, as has been pointed out you don't want to be trading a creature and on the turns when you pump your creature to be big enough that you aren't trading, you'll frequently be using up all of your mana. Also, hornet sting is great vs first turn delver before they get countermagic up.
If this MTGO academy search is accurate, it to me like the card is being used very frequently in infect but hardly ever in stompy decks (only in one stompy list in the past two months). I'll mention it as an option though.
I can see what humpuppy is getting at with that and I think you two are seeing it wrong... if you look at hornet sting you have two uses... one is to kill something directly i.e. use as a burn spell (and then it is restricted to only creatures with 1 toughness) or you're using it (again as a burn spell) to finish off a creature for example you block a phyrexian rager with a young wolf and it has 1 point of combat damage so you use the sting to finish it... ok well there is a third if you used the 1 point of damage to finish an opponent, but if he's at 1 life 99% of the time the game is yours any way...
so looking at those two things you can accomplish those with the prey upon as well... obv if you're using it as just a burn you need your creature to be bigger than the targeted opponent's creature, but that's easy enough to do and you're not losing the creature... if you're using it as a way to finish a creature off like the rager scenario then you're losing the creature no matter which you use... there are a few ways in which it is a weaker play than hornet sting, but those are easy to avoid in a majority of instances
yeah, good point, although I wouldn't usually board in hornet sting for the "finish a creature off" use, it seems too situational and your other pump spells are better suited to that (what would you take out for it vs MBC for eg? you need 100% of your creatures to get through their removal, and its strictly worse than a pump spell as a combat trick). I guess it could be useful in say the WW matchup where you would be bringing it in for standard bearer/suture priest and might be doing some combat trading.
I've also used hornet sting to turn on bloodlust for the pit skulk before, which obviously you can't do with prey upon.
Went 4-0 in my first pauper daily yesterday with this deck. It is definitely a beastly deck in today's meta. With all of the 8 Post and Delver decks running around this deck is a very good choice and I'm surprised that more people aren't playing it.
It is a moderately popular deck, a few weeks ago it was up to 10% of the winning daily lists, although that has fallen off in the past couple of weeks. I think one of the issues is that it's a fair deck in a meta full of unfair decks, WW excluded, and the unfair decks always have a chance of just crushing a win in any particular game with the right draw. Storm and infect are obviously unfair, but so is izzetpost with the many broken interractions enabled by the 8-posts (capsize lock being the most obvious) and I'd put MUC in the same boat with its abundance of free spells (gush, daze, cloud of faeries, snap), some of which are actually banned in other classic formats, and huge array of countermagic which is able to run rampant in basically the only format without a single card that says "can't be countered" (what would I give for cavern, insist, leyline of lifeforce, thrun or even something bad like autumn's veil). Given that it's a fair deck, it has to fight for almost all of its wins, there's not that many matchups where it just crushes the opposition. It can also be quite draw dependent and VERY succeptible to mana flood - your win % goes drastically down in many matchups such as MUC if you draw your 4th or 5th land.
I would hardly say that Pauper is full of "unfair" decks, but that's a debate for another time... as was said it does have some great power against powerhouses like Izzet/Delver, which is why its great and has had some success, but recently MWA has been running mad and that's a match I'd imagine is 50/50 (tho not positive)
re WW, I'd say that you're fairly favoured in the first game. Quite a few of their cards do very little against you (javelin doesn't kill much, squadron hawks are too small to matter, razor golem is nice but dies to any pump or just gets bypassed by a pumped pit skulk/wolf), but post board they've got a lot of ways to shut you down. Standard bearer is obviously a big bogie, although that's only the beginning of your problems. I played a game vs WW where I kept a hand with 3x hornet sting thinking "sweet, no standard bearer for you" and he played T2 Benevolent Unicorn into T3 standard bearer. I was basically drawing dead. Prismatic strands is also a huge hoser, along with rune of protection:green, bodyguard isn't great for you and revoke existence is obviously bad for rancor. If they dont draw their SB hate, or don't play it, then you can be ok but generally I'd say the matchup goes from favourable to unfavourable post-board.
I went 3-1 in the second tourney that I've entered (not many fire in my time zone unfortunately). Deck and match report are below. Are people interested in tourney reports? If so, I can keep posting them in future and possibly add them to the initial post, would be good if anyone else wanted to post them too.
I think the most difficult decision for me with the deck at the moment is the mix of 2-drops. For a long time I didn't touch the 4x silhana, but then I realised that I actually side her out in most matchups and vs the deck where it's theoretically a win-con (MBC), it usually ends up getting killed anyway with some combination of Geth's Verdict, crypt rats or other mass removal. I've kept 2 in because it can be really good, especially vs something like WW game 2/3 (if you can discourage flyers with a hidden spider) or just turn it into a 4/4 with hunger or something, but it's pretty dead vs MUC and not aggro enough to be useful in race matchups. I'm treating Wandering Wolf as pit-skulk #4-6 which is why I can justify it as a 2-of, and the safehold elite is good vs MBC and generally as a decent 2-drop with good hunger synergy. It's also my only answer to guardian of the guildpact. 2x Shinen is enough, it gets boarded out fairly frequently too.
As for the sideboard, I see many people running gleeful sabotage but I just don't see it as necessary. My experience is that if I get a draw with a good mix of pumps I can beat affinity by just trading my creatures. I've got hidden spider vs spire golem and bonesplitter doesn't justify artifact removal (especially game 2/3, you beat WW by just being super aggro). Tourtured existence decks can usually be raced pretty easily and there's nothing else really that I'm afraid of. I have 9 cards there that I bring in for delver faeries, including all 4 hornet stings. I don't bother with the archers for non-fairy delver. There's 6 cards for storm, 4 fog for infect (I'm preferring fog over spore frog because the latter is too easy to play around) and vs ww I bring in 7 cards - the spiders and hornet stings.
Match 1 vs delver faeries (0-2)
Of the two versions of MUC, this one is the worse matchup because of how much value they can get with spellstutter sprite given how cheap all of the spells in this deck are. Still, it's a winnable matchup, especially post board, it's just a case of landing an early threat and hoping for the best.
Game 1 - Mulled a 5-land hand, kept a sketchy 3 lander with rancor, quirion, gather. Never really got close, did one good play by baiting out a counterspell by apparently pumping my guy to survive combat vs phantasmal bears (if I wanted to get rid of the bears I would have just targeted it, which sacs it regardless of counters) and then followed up with morbid hunger on a safehold elite which did some damage. In the end he able to stabilise on 2 life and beat me down with a hoard of faeries.
Game 2 - Mulled an otherwise awesome 0-land hand, then kept an awful looking hand with 4 land, hidden spider and groundswell. Prob should have mulled to 5 on the play, but it actually came out good. My first draw was vines and he played two faeries on his second turn, activating my hidden spider. It was pretty obvious he was hoping to bounce on my turn to reset the spider and I dutifully pumped with groundswell to bait the snap and vines in response meant it was countered and he had no mana free for countering, and I could follow with a pit skulk. He then tapped out for a curse of chains on my spider, letting me setup a second bloodthirst pit skulk because he had no counter mana. Next turn he bounced one of pit skulks with snap and i'm 100% expecting a counter in hand so I knew I wanted to try to bait it. Unfortunately after drawing rancor i made a misplay which cost me the game. I for some reason thought it a good idea to bait the counterspell with rancor which would let me play out my skulk - for some reason thought it better to try to diversy my threats with 2 bodies. Unfortunately a 4/2 pit skulk (I think he would have countered my pit skulk if I played it, letting me resolve the rancor) would have won me what ended up as a close game. I wasn't really able to get any more action through his counterspells (a dispel from him with only one mana open saved him from a lethal pump one turn) and he was able to setup a wall of ninjas as blockers that my 2/2 pit skulks couldn't get past.
Match 2 vs infect (2-1)
Not a great matchup for the deck - we play mostly the same cards except they only need to do 10 damage and get an extra, awesome, free pump.
Game 1 - mulled a 0 lander and kept 1x land, Vines x2, hunger, groundswell, and quirion on the draw. I never drew a 2nd land and his turn 3 blight mamba/turn 4 rancor (which i attempted to counter with vines but he used his own, non-kicked, vines in response) hit me for lethal thanks to double invigorate.
Game 2 - I kept an awesome hand on the play - 2x land, 2x courage, rancor, quirion, pit skulk. couraged in response to his T1 hornet sting on my ranger (I don't think hornet sting is a good card vs stompy, idk if he brought in fog as well but it would have been more effective). Turn 3 I managed to bait-clear his 6/5 rancor/groundswell pumped glistener elf with nettle sentinel + young wolf + free gather. Turn 4 swung in with a drawn groundswell and got him to 1 life, with 3 creatures left on the field and he conceded.
Game 3 - Oppo mulled to 6, but i kept another great hand - 2x forest, fog, hunger, groundswell, nettle and quirion. T3 I made what must have seemed a stupid play by suiciding my young wolf in front of his rancor-ed ichorclaw myr (that block increased the number of poison counters I was facing) - intending to fog if he pumped big, or hunger if he didn't. He didn't, so I pumped my nettle to 5/5 with hunger and took him to 7 on my turn with a groundswell. On his turn I blocked his ichorclaw with my 5/5 nettle, he pumped with +4 VoV for the win (leaving him no mana), i fogged, he conceded.
Match 3 v MBC (2-1)
I groaned when I saw what I was up against, this is as close to an auto-loss for the deck as they come, although the young wolf and safehold elites do a lot of good work if I draw them. I don't bother sideboarding in anything because there's literally no options that actually make the matchup significantly better. The only plan is to hope to get lucky and get in a quick win through the masses of removal.
Game 1 - I won the roll and kept a good, agressive hand of 2x land, young wolf, elite, courage, hunger. The key play was on his turn 4 when he used a spinning top on my pit skulk (he had used fume spitter which meant I couldn't pump it with gather) and then tried to follow up with a tragic slip on my hunger-pumped 5/5 young wolf, but I was able to respond with vines. I did exactly lethal on turn 5.
Game 2 - mulled a 0-lander down to 2x forest, 2x ranger, young wolf and groundswell. Tried again to fight through a tide of removal but wasn't able to this time and he stabilised on 7 life with a chittering rats facing off against my shinen. I had a rancor in hand, but he knew it and I was fully expecting removal in response (plus, my guy would just trade with his anyway) so I decided to hold it and try to draw a vines. Unfortunately I didn't and he eventually setup a grim harvestp/fume spitter lock with about 9 swamps in play and i couldn't do anything.
Game 3 - I kept a somewhat risky but creature heavy 1-land hand of young wolf x2, safehold elite, nettle sentinel, ledgewalker and groundswell. I never drew another land, but on turn 5 I drew into a quirion ranger which was clutch. The key play was on my turn 6 when he used spinning top on one of my 2-toughness guys after I tapped out, I was able to save it with gather then play a 2-drop by bounce/double tapping my forest with quirion and run over him. He got stuck on 2 lands which was really bad for him and certainly helped me win, although he still was able to throw out a lot of removal off two lands.
Match 4 vs insane 4-colour 325 (!!!) card control (2-0)
Ok, I have no idea what this deck was and I'm actually kind of sad I beat it because I'd love to see a 325 card deck show up in the winning lists :). I also have no idea how it managed to win two games, it was kind of setup like a post deck but (as far as I saw) it had no posts, just a billion lands, leaning heavily towards WBU, but (I think) with a red splash, lots of removal, counterspells, tutors and card draw. It tried to combine a sort of dredge and post type late game plan, with win-cons of the usual post stuff like rolling thunder and capsize. Anyway, insane deck but obviously a very good matchup for an aggro deck like mine.
Game 1 - Kept 2x forest, rancor, VoV, groundswell, young wolf, pit skulk. Beat him through his multiple black removal spells by turn 5. Key play was VoV in response to his pay-4-life snuff out in response to my rancor.
Game 2 - Mulled to 6 and kept a slow hand of 3x forest, safehold elite, wandering wolf and pit skulk. Knew I could play it a little slower vs his massive deck, so didn't play my pit skulk out on turn 1. He oblivion ringed my T2 safehold elite, and killed my T3 wolf but didn't have an answer for my T4 pit skulk, which I was able to bloodthirst with hornet sting (I saw in a replay that he sided in standard bearer so I brought in the sting) and pumped it with rancor. I agonised a little over whether to use a non-morbid hunger on my pit skulk but decided to do so to speed the clock from 5 to 4 turns, which turned out well because he ended up playing a quicksand. All he ended up playing was some durdly card draw and mana accelerant artifacts, and a Stinkweed Imp that I could bypass. I won on turn 9.
So overall I thought it went pretty well. I certainly got lucky at some points, but I think I made generally good mull decisions and only had one noticable (although big) misplay.
Update: 4-0ed the following week with the same list. Matched up against 3 mono blue faeries decks (one was slightly rogue, with more of a ninja sub-theme) and a UB control.
Update 2: Wow, I'm on a tear with this, another 4-0 last night. Only one small sideboard change to the deck (+1 scattershout, -1 hidden spider). Played vs bye, UB post (2-1), UR storm (2-1) and UR post (2-1). Even though I had the bye, I won the tourney over two other 4-0s which if I understand swiss tiebreakers meant I was up against tough opposition for the rounds I did play.
I'm still tinkering with the list, particularly the mix of 2 drops and sideboard cards. Might throw in a gleeful sabotage or two sometime to mix it up, and considering upping the ledgewaker count again.
In theory, either, but in practice the situation where using the channel correctly is absurdly unlikely so it ends up just being cast normally. The conditions to use the channel are:
4 mana available
2 allies on the field, one of which will do lethal if unblocked
2 opposing blockers, both of which can block one of your attackers (many stompy creatures have evasion) and neither of your allies can do enough trample damage over the top of a blocker to do lethal
You don't thnk your opponent has a removal spell, or they don't have mana open
As I said, theoretically possible but in practice it's almost never going to happen. The deck basically never has allies left on the field if it's at 4 mana, it's either won by then or had its allies killed off.
I do think it's a good ally to use, there are certainly times that it will let you push through lethal damage and even times when it can be useful to use it to clear off an annoying opposing utility creature (like suture priest or standard bearer).
Re land grant, I ran it to start with but don't any more. if you're goldfishing it's marginally better than a forest because it thins your deck, which is a VERY relevant benefit, and can untap nettle sentinel. However, I've never actually run into a situation where I couldn't untap nettle when I wanted to (with either a spell or quirion) so that benefit is very marginal.
The only real downside imo is the free probe to your opponent, and that's the reason I don't play it. So many of your pump spells get a lot of extra value if they're hidden so giving your opponent an insight into your plans is a really bad idea. I knew I had to make the switch when I found myself foregoing second land drops with grant in favour of keeping my hand hidden.
As for the sideboard, first of all I wouldn't recommend less than 4 and preferably 6 cards vs storm. It's a decent matchup, but storm can quite easily go off turn 2 or 3 which is faster than your clock and those one mana bullets can make all the difference (I run 4x fog, 2x sandstorm). I've always been tempted to try out the longbow, seems particularly sick with untap things like quirion and nettle, but it just seems too slow for the deck. I can't imagine myself winning too many games where I'm spending 4 mana and a tap to do 1 ping damage. I'd be interested to hear other people's experiences with it.
Hidden spider is really nice. If you can land it turn 1, it's brutal against WW and faeries. Once it transforms it owns the board on either offence or defence. It's usually a bad topdeck though. Ezuri's archers is something I hadn't considered, thanks for the tip! The trouble that I see with it is that outside of a possible hunger pump (which would be awesome, but hunger is awesome on a lot of creatures) it's basically never going to be better than a 1 for 1 because you have to pump it to keep it on the board vs anything. The hidden spider (which can be the target of VoV/pumps once it transforms) will basically never die in combat.
I managed to 3-1 another 50 person tourney last night, beating WW (2-1), grixis storm (2-1) and WW (2-1). I lost to an insane GW soul sisters tokens deck that I just didn't know how to play against, sideboarded, played and mulliganed completely wrong against it. I should go and look over my replays, but I felt like every hand I kept last night had one land in it - I love playing a deck that can win off one land, although the game I lost vs storm I would have won if I had found a second land in time. I'm on a huge lucky streak :). 14-2 in my past 4 tourneys. Had some hugely lucky plays, eg. match 1 game 3 vs ww I had 6 power on board to his 11 life, with 2 lands and VoV/groundswell in hand. He had me dead the following turn with another attack from his double bonesplitter flier. I hornet stung his blocker away at the end of his turn and had to draw a land to be able to deal 11 damage. I drew a land :). Last game of the night I was going pretty well, but the icing on the cake was drawing on about turn 3/4 scattershot -> scattershot and thinking "nice, if he throws down any flier other than kor skyfisher I can just insta-kill it". He plays skyfisher. I topdeck quirion ranger ftw...
I'm still tinkering with the list, particularly the mix of 2 drops and sideboard cards. Might throw in a gleeful sabotage or two sometime to mix it up, and considering upping the ledgewaker count again.
I went 3-0 in TNMO tonight using your list.
Match 1 vs UB Control I was able to just roll over them
Match 2 vs Storm he took game 1. In 2 and 3 he fumbled his storm but I still had fog in hand to stop it.
Match 3 vs Infect I lost game 1 and he rage quit the match in game 2 when I put in sandstorm and hornet sting to take out his 1 drops.