Well, we’re back to school and back to the grind. For some this is the worst time of the year because it signals the start of the boring and mundane for yet another year. For others it is a time of excitement as things start all over again with fresh beginnings and fresh options. For those of us who play Magic, the specter of rotation and the imminent arrival of Khans means there is lots of buzz in the air. The end of September can’t come fast enough!
This isn’t an spoiler article because we are hard at work here at Three Kings Loot prepping our review, but we’ve got good stuff on the burner. However, with Khans being on the horizon and Constructed being in a bit of holding pattern until the rotation, I thought this would be a perfect chance to highlight some casual decks I’ve been rocking, some relatively inexpensive and fun decks to liven up your Casual games. These are all 60 card decks that are perfectly viable in a duel situation, but are better suited to playing a multiplayer setting. Let’s see what I’ve been brewing.
The first deck is my take on what can only be called a Modern Mono-Green Devotion deck. A number of months ago I posted a decklist for a budget Mono-Green Devotion deck here on Three Kings Loot. It has done reasonably well for me since then, but decks are like living organisms that change and evolve and this deck is no different. With cards like Chord of Calling, Genesis Hydra, Hydra Broodmaster there are yet more powerful options to sink a ton of mana, there is no reason not to change a few cards to do a few more powerful things. However, the addition of a card from an older set is REALLY what I wanted to add to the deck…and that was Craterhoof Behemoth. This just smacks of being the best thing you can do to dump a ton of mana either by hard casting it, Chord of Calling for it, or Genesis Hydra for about a billion and grabbing it too. Here’s the list.
I was rocking this is in a 4 person free-for all game and was in the driver seat. My opponents had allowed me to resolve a number of creatures, a Voyaging Satyr and a Nykthos. I had all the tools needed to start going off and just needed some huge mana sinks. Sure enough, up comes a Polukranos and we’re off to the races. I cast “Big Polly” and get set to Monstrosity him…but sadly have to target the stupid Biovisionary in the stupid combo deck my pal was playing, a Fleetfeather Cockatrice because I had no flying defence, and some other random creature. Stupid Cockatrice and the Deathough ability. Oh well. I get my turn back and top deck… Hydra Broodmaster! OK! So, cast it, and then set up the Monstrosity…and make 10 10/10 Hydra Tokens! OH YEAH! Let the beat down plan begin. I start smashing stuff around and just making a wreck of the board. Then, out of nowhere, my buddy slams a second a Biovisionary, casts Polymorphist Jest, and turns his mana dorks into Biovisionaries…and we all lose. Damn it! Lesson learned…kill the stupid combo deck…no matter how durdly the combo is.
Next, I shuffled up my Mono-Red Goblins deck. I have no real expectation that Mono-Red Goblins will fare well in a multi-player game. They are far too fragile and just not suited to trying to fight a number of opponents. However, things are going my way. I land a Foundry Street Denizen, Legion Loyalist, and then…KRENKO! Oh yeah. A couple of Krenko activations later and I have a ton of goblins, had just smacked one opponent for 20 points of damage and was in good shape to start taking the game over. Everything changed with one card…Scouring Sands…and wipes out all the Goblin Token…and I get thumped. Ok…I know Goblins are fragile, but it is a terrible feeling to have your board wiped out by Scouring Sands because NOBODY plays Scouring Sands. However, I lost to Scouring Sands and I wanted to cry (well, not really).
The last deck today is one that is clearly a Casual build because it is such a silly concept and packs such a ridiculous mana base there is no way to describe it. Here’s the list and I’ll talk about it afterwards.
This deck plays on the interaction between Kor Skyfisher and Spark Trooper. Most opponents won’t bother to block what amounts to a Ball Lightning because they know that it will be sacrificed at the end of the turn. Sure, they eat 6 but they are banking on the creature no longer being a threat. However, during your second main phase if you can cast the Kor Skyfisher you can return the Spark Trooper and re-use it. Once I established that interaction it became a matter of digging up a host of creatures who a) return stuff to my hand to be re-used or b) have good enter the battlefield triggers. Now, this is a very mana hungry deck so playing it in a duel is suspect, but in a slower multiplayer game it is just perfect.
Well, I shuffled it up and suggested a couple of minor adjustments to our game. I suggested that we all play at the same time and play with a Howling Mine effect. The Howling Mine is hardly earth shattering, but the “everyone plays at the same time” is…interesting. It makes resolving spells really tricky, but boy was it fun! So, we had 1 player eliminated leaving 3 of us still playing. It was a tricky situation but I decided to throw caution to the wind and swing to take out the opponent to my right. The whole team went and was delivering somewhere up to 35 points of damage…but in the process the opponent to my left hit me. All the while, the opponent to my right wound up and lashed out with Nefarox with some ridiculous amount of Exalted triggers caving in the guy to my left. So, all in one turn all three of us just straight up die ending the game in a weird finale. It was a fun variant and something we will do again, but most definitely not the way to play every single time.
All three of these decks would fall into a pretty budget friendly category and highlight how you can make some fun decks with just a pile of funny cards and do some damage at your next Casual Night. The Mono-Green deck is probably the most pricey of the decks on this list, but the cards on it can totally be substituted for and can revert back to the Budget deck list I had previously. However, the new twists on it could make for a fun deck because of the powerful things you can do with the crazy amount of mana that can be generated. The UWR Skyfisher deck is pretty unreliable because of the wonky mana base and the fact that half the plays in the deck set you back, but when it works…dear LORD…does it work. And Goblins…well…they’re Goblins and will always be funny. When they work, they work awesome. When they fall flat on their face, they fall flat on their face hard.
There we have it, three fun builds, three fun games, and some random feel bad stories about how to lose a game despite being in a dominant position. I’m not sure what lesson to draw from the last two apart from perhaps playing the politics game a little more, but regardless of the lessons learned it was fun. It was refreshing to sit down and just sling some card board and relax with some friends with nothing on the line. I’ll have to make a point of playing this way more often just to keep things fresh.
Thanks for reading again this week…and until next time keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.
by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters @bgray8791 on Twitter
Another weekend of SCG Standard has passed and sitting at the top of the heap we find a successful jumble of acceleration into monstrous beasts and powerful planeswalkers. What we find there is essentially the GR Monsters shell that’s been prevalent in Standard for quite a while, but dipping into White for additional planeswalkers and some removal options. And judging by the popularity of this archetype in the Theros Block format it looks like it has quite a future ahead.
It is no stranger that the most prevelant duo of Green mana dorks both in Standard and Block is Sylvan Caryatid into Courser of Kruphix. This not only fixes your mana and even effectively draws you additional cards but also gains you vital life points which are so crucial in this aggressive metagame. The downside is that Courser provides your opponent with nearly perfect information which can foil you bluff when playing off the top of your deck. As an additional accelerent there is also Voyaging Satyr which won’t help if you are missing a color but will still allow you to gain extra mana. All of that goes towards powering out some monstrous fatties quickly so you can activate their Monstrosity abilities and close out games quickly. The two we find in the deck are Polukranos, World Eater which also acts as much needed removal in this deck and also the hasty flier Stormbreath Dragon which peeled off the top is often the recipie for certain doom. If those monsters are the meat of the deck we then find the fine wine pairing in the foursome of planeswalker to accompany them. The main player is party animal himself Xenagos, the Reveler who not only brings his satyr buddies with him but also helps acheive Monstrosity fast with his ramping ability. Next to join the party is Ajani, Mentor of Heroes who has a dual purpose between pumping up your creatures and digging into your deck to find more threats, but also when protected can threaten its ultimate to bolster a diminishing life total. There is also a major contribution from Elspeth, Sun’s Champion with her legion of soldiers following her, but be wary of her second ability as your bombs tend to be destroyed as well as the opponents. And why not a misers Chandra, Pyromaster as well to add a little card advantage to the deck and her first ability helps slip your big boys past their chump blockers handily. The rest of the deck is rounded out by some varied pieces of removal. There is Keening Apparition which is able to destroy any enchantment the opponent presents to the board such as Chained to the Rocks or even Underworld Connections. As a great sweeper Mizzium Mortars is able to be overloaded to deal four damage to all the opponents creatures and cast aside any would be blockers for your giant monsters. Then the last piece of the puzzle comes with the flexible Selesnya Charm that can either pump and grant Trample to a creature to rampage for a win, exile a creature that has power greater then five, or even add another threat to the board with a vigilant knight token.
So here we find that the GR Monsters deck which has already been a force in Standard continues to have room to grow and adapt as it proves it is a major player in Standard. What really interests me with this list is that the core of the deck is all from Theros Block and will undoubtedly continue to be a force into the next rotation of Standard. If you are looking for a deck to invest in as a long term prospect then this is undoubtedly the one.
One of the shining pillars of the Theros Block Constructed format is the awesome White planeswalker Elspeth, Sun’s Champion though that doesn’t necessarily lend itself easily to just White deck choices. This deck was one which realized how to harness that incredible power while finding support for it in other colors. What emerged was a Gruul based Naya deck that went down a very Aggro beatdown route. There are strong ramp elements to power out monstrous creatures and incredible planeswalkers working hard to seal the deal as fast as possible. And although there are different combinations to build this deck there are key elements which emerge from all of them.
It all starts with the trio of ‘mana’ dorks with Voyaging Satyr and Sylvan Caryatid into Courser of Kruphix. These three are crucial to the plan of deploying huge Midrange threats well ahead of the curve, and those threats come in the form of some truely monstrous beasts. The first of which we find Polis Crusher which is a fine beatstick as a 4/4 for four but also has a relevant ability in this format with Protection from Enchantments, and when you activate his Monstrosity becomes a 7/7 that destroys enchantments the damaged player controls which with its Trample should connect often. The next step on the Monstrosity curve comes with Stormbreath Dragon which with Flying and Haste will often be a surprise to skirt around sorcery speed removal, and against control style decks blasts to the dome of your opponents equal to their cards in hand when he becomes monstrous. There is also a one of Polukranos, World Eater as a value five power four drop that can go monstrous to act as additional instant speed removal for the deck. Yuuki chose to run with a trio of planeswalkers but it all centers around a full set of the decks namesake Elspeth, Sun’s Champion which unchecked by the opponent will easily start to dominate the board with its soldiers, remove large threats en masse or even beef up and raise your entire army to the air with her emblem. He also went with a pair of Ajani, Mentor of Heroes to strengthen your soldiers, it can gain some advantage by finding any of the decks 28 creatures or planeswalkers, and given enough time even gain you 100 points of life. The other planeswalker we find in the deck is Xenagos, the Reveler who’s ramping ability in conjunction with the decks dorks will help power out the big monsters quickly unless you need him to bring some of his satyr friends to the party, or if you do get to ultimate with him with 45 creatures and lands in the deck the top seven is bound to share a bounty of wealth. The deck is wrapped up simply with White based removal using the catchall enchantment answer Banishing Light to remove a plethora of permanent threats and also Chained to the Rocks which is the reason why we find the deck with a substantially larger amount of Mountains then in similar decks of this style.
There was also another RG Elspeth list by Andrea Mengucci which finished in sixth place. While it did follow the same line of attack there are some fundamental differences starting with the manabase where Andrea not using Chained to the Rocks opted for much less Mountains and went for Temple of Triumph instead of Mana Confluence and a singleton Plains. In order to add in a varied array of spells he cut a Voyaging Satyr and the singleton Polukranos from the creatures but was able to pack a more robust removal package. He decided upon only two Banishing Light and then went with direct damage with a set of Lightning Strike, a trio of Destructive Revelry and a singleton Magma Jet. He also opted to forgo Ajani to go up to three Xenagos instead. While neither list is necessarily better then the other they do play along a slightly different line and you should run with the one you feel compliments your style of play better.
I have very little doubt that we will see this as one of the top decks at the Grand Prix in Manchester. We have already seen in Standard that this combination of Green and Red monsters is a winning style. And with the addition of Elspeth to that equation there is little to prevent the raw power of this deck from shining. I expect that we will see this not only as a superstar in the Block format but also continuing into the next Standard season as well. I would definitely stock up on the cards for this deck if you enjoy this style of Midrange monster beatdown.
One of my favorite types of decks is full of big, green, stompy creatures. They have always been a thing, right from the days of War Mammoth and Craw Wurm right up to today. Other archetypes have changed enormously but the contents of the Mono-Green deck is basically unchanging…lots and lots of creatures. So, with everyone’s favorite creature heavy archetype in mind I thought I would take a moment and share with all of you my version of a Budget Mono-Green deck that is fun to play and ridiculously inexpensive to build.
Mono-Green decks are sort of like a big piece of artillery that everyone can see. You know that once the cannon fires, if it hits ANYTHING, it is game over, and there really isn’t much you can do about it. So, you can watch the Mono-Green deck load up and cast ramping spells and creatures and all you’re hoping is that you can disrupt the canon just enough so perhaps it mis-fires, or you can dodge the bullet. If you can’t shut the deck down it is just a matter of time before some hulking Green beast crushes you underfoot leaving you wondering what freight train just ran you over.
I’ve seen a number of iterations of Mono-Green stompy decks since the release of Theros and while I’m impressed I’m not satisfied. I want MORE. I want BIGGER! I WANT MORE DAMAGE! And Born of the Gods gives me the perfect tool to drop wild amounts of damage on my opponent and to push mono-green from good to ridiculous. Here’s how.
In the past, Mono-green has been afflicted by the reality that usually big creatures are expensive. So, Green mages have developed all sorts of ways to ramp out lots of mana and then cast their giant fatties. However, in today’s Standard environment green creatures are leaner and meaner than ever before but can still pack a mighty punch making Mono-Green really and truly something viable and fun. I’ll go through some of the all stars I’ve picked out for my deck and why you should consider playing them in your Mono-Green deck.
Voyaging Satyr– Is there a better, inexpensive Mana dork than this guy? Probably not. He’s just good, and super readily available as an inexpensive creature. Add in that he isn’t a 1/1 but a 1/2 and suddenly he has a little more upside as well. This deck needs 4.
Swordwise Centaur– He is solid as a 3/2 for 2 green mana …and a devotion engine in this deck. While I won’t call this a devotion deck, there are times when this is a useful attribute and well worth the time to put these guys in. They start the beat down early and give you targets for some of your spells later in the game. On a side note, you could just as easily play Kalonian Tusker as a 3/3 for 2 green, but I said this was a budget deck. Sure, Tuskers are only $0.50 a card on Three King’s Loot, but Swordwise Centaur is $0.15…and you likely have a million thanks to any drafts you’ve played or packs you’ve cracked. Save yourself the money and play the Centaur because you will rarely see any difference in terms of play.
Korozda Monitor– This 3/3 4 drop (2 Green, 2 Colourless) is the meat and potatoes of this deck. He’s 3/3 and has trample, making him ideal for a Stompy deck of any sort. Also, his scavenge ability is relevant because if your first one ends up in the yard, oh well, scavenge him onto something else (like another Monitor) and smash away. With 2 green in his casting cost he is also a solid contributor to devotion.
Thrashing Mossdog– This handy 4 drop gives you a 3/3 with reach. This is super relevant because this deck will struggle against decks that carry lots of fliers. The reach can help settle down your defence, and again, when he dies, scavenge his on to a Korozda Monitor and have the 6/6 bring the pain.
Nylea’s Emissary– The 3rd 4 drop in the deck is essentially because he can grant something else you control trample, contributing to the Stompy nature of the deck. If you need him on the battlefield as a creature, that’s fine as well, but he’s exactly the sort of creature this deck wants.
However, the really spicy pieces are six cards that can only be described as back breaking. The first is one out of the M14 Core set that was largely overlooked. It isn’t flashy, but it just ends games. Yup, you got it…Fireshrieker. This seemingly innocuous 3 mana artifact gives something double strike. Now, we all know that Double strike is powerful, but how powerful is it? Trust me…on creatures with trample it straight up ends games…like…immediately. So, a pair of Fireshriekers make the deck and give you an enormous ability to do damage. The final 4 spells are from Born of the Gods and are one of the few spots where this deck actually cares about devotion. Aspect of Hydra gets good reviews at Draft, so why not apply the same logic to constructed and put 4 in this deck? It would mean that any creature with Trample would be able to do a devastating amount of damage and really turn the heat up on an opponent.
As a little demonstration let’s see what this deck can do.
Turn 1- Play Forest, pass the turn.
Turn 5- Play Forest, equip Fireshrieker on Monitor, cast Aspect of Hydra on Monitor, attack with the team. At this point The Monitor is 3/3 double striking and gets +4/+4 from the Aspect of Hydra…meaning he’s hitting for 14 points of trample damage. That’s huge! And if the Centaur can sneak through as well it’s game over…or at the very least you are in the driver’s seat. As always, this is against a goldfish with no responses, but the potential exists for this deck to deliver a wild amount of damage.
So, without further delay, here’s the deck list.
Mono-Green Stompy- Budget Standard
The nice piece with this deck is the cost to you in order to build. Many budget decks put the threshold for overall cost at $2/card or maybe $50-75 for the whole deck. This deck comes in at …under $20! Yup, for a crisp $20 dollar bill you to could be the proud owner of a ridiculously stompy mono green build. However, this deck is like the old beat up Honda Civic you bought as a 17 year old kid…it’s straight forward, it works, and it gets the job done. However, you could totally trick this deck out with some fun additions that will push your price tag up, but still keep it very affordable.
The first addition is a no-brainer…add in a couple of Arbor Colossus. This gigantic 6/6 for 5 (2 colourless and 3 green) is an almost automatic include once you are prepared to open up your wallet and go a tad pricier. He’s big, he kills fliers, he gets bigger when he’s monstrous, and is a huge devotion engine for your aspect of hydra. He’s the first guy off the bench for sure.
Next, if you want to go a little further, is the Bow of Nylea. This Swiss Army knife of an artifact does a little bit of everything with its various modes, but the real fun is giving everything you have deathtouch when you attack. Who really wants to put something in front of a deathtouch creature? Not me…so it makes combat super awkward and something most opponents will seriously re-evaluate.
The third addition is something that usually gets forgotten is Deadbridge Goliath. He’s big at 5/5 for 4 and when he dies (as you likely hope that he does) you can scavenge his +5/+5 on to another creature giving you an instant WMD that will need to be answered. Plus, he’s cheap to pick up because everyone has opted to play Poly (aka Polukranos) for the same 4 mana.
After that, the choices are up to you…do you want to play spells that draw you cards? Hunter’s Prowess or Warriors’ Lessons are options. How about just more damage? Don’t forget Giant Growth. Want to kill things in the air? Plummet is always an option. Are the Gods or other enchantments causing you grief? Fade into Antiquity. Need to kill a creature? Pit fight or Time to Feed. You can cover all the bases and the deck still doesn’t break the bank!
So, if you are looking for a very inexpensive deck to build and enter the realm of Standard, feel free to give this little guy a test drive and see what you think. He’s fared pretty well for me in a number of match ups, and when your big fat stompy guy flattens an opponent the satisfaction is well worth it. So, give it a try and let me know how it goes for you and what changes you made to the deck…I’m always keen to hear how decks change and evolve.
So, until next time, keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.