Make Mono-Green Great Again (Part 1)

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Let’s add some green mana and only green mana to our mana pool.

Green is great color. Despite both black and blue being my favorite colors of Old School Magic for a long time, I have more green cards than any other color. This is mostly because I often buy cheap cards that aren’t playable but look great. Green is packed with cards like that. So many awesome looking but often unplayable cards. Recently, I’ve become pretty infatuated with green. I’ve had a strong desire to make a green deck with no other colors. So I wanted to know, can be green be great on its own? I’m sure it can be great because it can be a lot of fun. It probably won’t hold its own against top tier decks but for some casual play, green is perfect. We’ll see how it works out.

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Great looking but sub-par cards. Argothian Treefolk isn’t actually that bad though. Against artifact creature decks it could really shine. Definitely going in the sideboard.

When I decided to build a green deck, I went online to look at what others have built with green to draw some inspiration. There isn’t a ton but I did find some. I came across a post on the Swedish blog called Green Doesn’t Suck Now, Dammit! from 2014 where Mg did a post like this one where he built and played a mono green deck. And in the middle of writing this post an article was published over at the Mtg Underground blog about mono green decks as well. The article is called Argothian Daydreams: Haling the Leaf in the Oldschool Underground and it’s definitely worth the read. It’s a whole post on appreciating mono green decks even though they’re not super competitive. It has a few awesome decks and there’s a short interview with a guy called @studderingdave who has a great quote. On the topic of playing green he says, “mono green often gets dismissed in just about any format. Every color has its iconic mono colored build, but green’s “ramp and fat” style is underrepresented. And oldschool lets green explore its identity.” Pretty cool.

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Mg’s mono green

This deck looks pretty cool. There are a lot of cards that I don’t have here. He played the deck at a tournament and it wasn’t terrible. He didn’t make it into the top 4 or anything but he didn’t lose every game either. When I first saw this deck I was a bit surprised about having Gaea’s Avenger in the main deck. It’s a 1/1 for 1GG that gets +1/+1 for every artifact an opponent has out. After thinking about for a bit, I think it’s a better card than I first thought. Most decks have plenty of artifacts. If they don’t, any time an opponent attacks or blocks with Mishra’s Factory, Gaea’s Avenger gets +1/+1! Not too shabby.

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Nikita Shelest’s mono green

I really, really love this deck. All 1/1 creatures with full sets of Giant Growth and Berserk. Pendelhaven can really add some extra punch too since the damage often gets doubled from the Berserks. If I had more than one Berserk and one Pendelhaven I would absolutely put this deck together and play it out at some meet ups.

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Here’s a pretty cool green deck by @oldschoolmtg on Instagram. This is a pretty creative way to play some huge creatures. Colossus of Sardia is unplayable most of the time but with all the mana ramping here it can definitely be able to get out before turn nine. The Instill Energy here is for the free untapping.

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Mono Green Mirror by Hans Henrik Rasmussen

This MonoGreenMirror deck, or sometimes called SylvanUniverse,  was the most common green deck I found online. This one is from the Swedish Blog and was built by a Danish guy named Hans Henrik Rasmussen. Side note: Scandinavia produces some pretty awesome names. The point of this deck is to win by using Mirror Universe which switches you and your opponent’s life. You use cards that bring your life total down like Channel, Sylvan Library, Ifh-Biff Efreet, and Force of Nature; then you switch life with Mirror; then attack with creatures or use Ifh-Biff’s Hurricane ability to secure the win. I think it’s a pretty awesome concept but it seems fragile to me. I imagine the majority of the time you get your life down to the point of switching with Mirror you end up getting hit with a Lightning Bolt, Psionic Blast, or Drain Life or something. Or the Mirror Universe gets Disenchanted. I still really love this concept though.

In putting together my deck I wanted to make something unique but I had to start with some basics. I sleeved up four Factories, a Regrowth, and made two Sylvan Library proxies with sharpies. If I was serious about this deck I would have to buy real Sylvan Libraries but I promised myself I would take a break from buying cards for a for a while since I had recently bought a second Juzam Djinn, Alpha Hypnotic Specter, and an Alpha Will-o’-the-Wisp for my mono black deck and then an Alpha Icy Manipulator just for good looks. Now add two Legends Sylvan Libraries to that list. God, are they beautiful.

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Starting point.

Next, I knew I had to incorporate some mana ramping. Llanowar Elves seemed like a safe place to start. Maybe more mana ramping? I think so. So many green cards are so expensive to cast I would probably need more than four Llanowar Elves to get cards out as soon as possible. I just had to figure out what else I was going to play in the deck.

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Creature mana ramping. Birds of Paradise is another option as well.
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Enchantment mana ramping. Fastbond is another option and might be better than either of these.

My first thought was to take advantage of the mana ramp abilities and play some bigger creatures. I felt like Craw Wurm and Force of Nature were still a bit expensive and would take too long to get out no matter what. I figured I could use Erhnam Djinn, Juggernaut, and Su-Chi. My thinking was I could get them out pretty early with the mana ramping and strike for big damage before the opponent has built up much of a defensive base. In an early version of the deck I used four Llanowar Elves and four Elves of Deep Shadow. Elves of Deep shadow mostly because I wanted to play them because they look awesome. Birds of Paradise would be a better option since they give any color mana as an option, you don’t take damage when tapping for mana, and they can block flying if needed. But alas, my Birds are Revised and my Elves of Deep Shadow are black bordered. I suppose if I really was building this deck to win, I’d use the Birds but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Plus, I can use Pendelhaven with the Elves.

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These guys always show up to the party.

The deck seemed to work pretty well…sometimes. Juggernaut and Su-Chi are artifacts so they’re immune to Terror but instead they’re susceptible to Disenchant and Shatter. Between the eight mana ramping Elves I usually didn’t have a problem getting the four mana creatures out by turn three. The damage from Elves of Deep Shadow wasn’t as much of a drawback as I thought either. With no flying creatures I at least needed a defense against flying. I threw in some Hurricanes and a few Giant Spiders.

I brought the deck to an Old School meet up at the usual place, Granfanally’s, to really test it out and get some advice from more experienced players. I played a handful of games against Scott who had Moats in his deck. This is where I realized that Giant Spiders and Hurricanes weren’t going to cut it. Scott suggested putting some Ifh-Biff Efreets in the deck. Perfect, I thought. I totally forgot about Ifh-Biff Efreet.

“The second I get home,” I said, “I’m buying four Ifh-Biffs no matter how much they cost.”

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Such a strange, but awesome, looking card. A 3/3 flying creature with Hurricane as an ability.

So now you can add four Ifh-Biff Efreets to that list of cards I bought recently.  Fortunately it seems they went down in value a bit. I remembered them costing around thirty dollars or so but I found them for around sixteen dollars each. I may have remembered their value wrong though. In forgetting the existence of Ifh-Biffs, I never realized how awesome looking they are. They’re in the deck because I need some offensive flying creatures but also because they make the deck look great. Such a funny looking green man with a frilly shirt.

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A couple options to defend against flying.

This brings me to a pretty big weakness of green: flying. Green plays against non-flying creatures with no problem at all. It’s flying creatures that I have to think about. There’s plenty of defense against flying in green but having just defense isn’t enough, I found. I needed some offense. What are the most common flying threats? In my experience it’s been mainly Hypnotic Specter, Serendib Efreet, and Serra Angel. And to a lesser degree, Sengir Vampire, Flying Men, Scryb Sprites, and Shivan Dragon.

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A couple more defensive cards against flying with Hurricane being sort of offensive.

So Ifh-Biff can deflect attacks from Hyppies as well as kill them with the Hurricane ability without killing itself. It doesn’t work so good against Serendib Efreet and Serra Angels since they’re 3/4 and 4/4, respectively. Though the Hurricane ability Ifh-Biff has makes it worth sacrificing itself to destroy Serendibs and Serras so, in a way, it can combat them. The only thing with Ifh-Biff is the 3 toughness which makes it a prime target for Lightning Bolt, among many other creature destruction cards. I figured a few Giant Growths might help against Lightning Bolts, Chain Lightning, and Psionic Blasts. Web might be a great addition though. It can make Juggernauts 5/5, Su-Chis 4/6, and Erhnams 4/7 and be able to block flying. They can all take out Serras and Serendibs and survive.

Killer Bees and Cockatrice seem to be pretty decent option for flying. Bees is a 0/1 flyer for 1GG but it has the ability of pumping it up for +1/+1 for every green mana you tap. Potentially it could be awesome. Cockatrice is a 2/4 flyer for 3GG but has the ability to destroy any creature that blocks it or is blocked by it. Both seem like solid options and I’ll give both of them a shot but as far as art goes, they both look terrible in my opinion.

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Now I have the mana ramping one drop creatures and a Pendelhaven and then the 4 drop bigger creatures. There’s an open spot in the curve. I threw in four Ice Storms which are 2G but there needs to be more than that. There are Argothian Pixies and Elvish Archers. They both cost 1G and are both 2/1 and have abilities. The Pixies don’t take damage from artifact creatures and can’t be blocked by them. The Archers have first strike. Which ones are better? Well, my instinct was to believe that the Pixies were better because they can block against Factories, Su-Chis, and Juggernauts. I found I never ended up doing much with them though. I also thought they would be more useful in blocking factories. I forgot that my own Factories can block Factories without dying. The Archers can compete against Black and White Knights with the first strike. Are they worth putting in the deck? I don’t know. Sometimes I think they’re not worth it. Other times I think I should have four in the deck. I’m not sure yet.

Ever since reading Mg’s post about his mono-green deck, I’ve been thinking about Gaea’s Avenger. Maybe Gaea’s Avenger is the answer here? Add two Gaea’s Avenger to the list of cards I’ve bought.

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Now what to do about control? Green actually has a couple options for control cards. There’s Desert Twister which lets you destroy any card in play which is awesome but it costs 4GG. Pretty damn expensive. It’s really only late game control. With the mana ramping it’s not unusable but I found it can still be hard to cast at times. It may be more efficient to just use an Icy Manipulator and continuously tap whatever card you want to destroy. Doesn’t work for enchantments like Moat though.

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Under-appreciated

There are actually some great options for artifact destruction. Scavenger Folk and Crumble are two cards that I don’t think get enough credit. Which one is better? It’s probably situational. Crumble destroys at an instant speed but the opponent gets life equal to the casting cost of the artifact.  It’s like Swords to Plowshares. Scavenger Folk can attack and be pumped up with Giant Growth and Pendelhaven and sacrificed at will to destroy an artifact. I’m not sure which one I’ll end up sticking with but I know I’ll have at least two of one of these cards.

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Control for any deck

Icy Manipulator and Maze of Ith are both going in the deck. These are for creature control as I won’t be able to easily destroy creatures. These were in the early versions of the deck and despite suggestions to take out Maze of Ith, it helped keep me alive at times. I think these guys have pretty much secured a place in the deck.

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That’s it for now. I’ve gone over 2,000 words so I’ll finish it up in part two. In that post I’ll show the final product of the deck I end up with. I’ll report on some matches I play with it on Skype and/or at an Old School meet up. Initially I wanted to try to make a competitive green deck. I don’t think it’s totally doable. Green has certain limitations. Regardless, even if green was able to produce top tier decks, I think after all the work I’ve put into it I’m more interested in making a fun deck. Green just has some awesome cards.

In other news there are a ton of new Old School stuff out there. The new Old School blog, The Enchanted Forest has a new post continuing on the analysis of the mono black deck. The Swedish Old School blog has been intentionally been posting less this year but there’s a new post this week that’s worth reading. There’s also the new post on the MTG Underground blog which I mentioned. The Timewalking blog has a new post called Tax Scare Combo in Old School 95. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but check it out. There’s even a new post on the Argivian Restoration blog! It’s short but it talks about an Old School 93/94 tournament coming up in March in Quebec City. Being in northern New England, traveling to Quebec City isn’t totally out of the question for me. It’s not particularly close, but it’s not particularly far either. Will I be able to cross the border next month? Probably not, but I’ll see what I can do. There’s also a tournament in New Jersey next month which is actually about the same distance for me to Quebec City. I’ll definitely go to one.

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17 thoughts on “Make Mono-Green Great Again (Part 1)

  1. Nice post mate 🙂 Keep ’em coming. I’d like to look at green Enchantress at some point, unless you’d like to incorporate a few words on Verduran Enchantress in future posts.

    The deck “Mono Green Mirror by Hans Henrik Rasmussen” is awesome and looks fantastic. Out of all the photos you posted, that was the one that caught my eye.

    How about using Singing Tree as a defensive option for your deck? I always liked that card. Would it have a place in the deck, or would it be better to use Icy Manipulator?

    – LC

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks man! Glad you liked it. I looked at Vurduran Enchantress and it’s a pretty awesome card but I don’t think I have enough enchantments in the deck so far to make it viable. So that one’s all yours to write about :).
      And I forgot about Singing Tree. I don’t own any but I think it could work in the deck pretty well. I might order a couple. Thanks!

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  2. Playing mono green truly takes dedication, especially if you want to be competitive. Some of our playgroup have tried different iterations, always leading to the same losing outcome. Green decks must be on their own level tier as they only pulls fair wins when played against each other’s brews. Nevertheless, I do enjoy playing my 23 forests manabase concoction, especially when Tracker eat Djinns and Angels thanks to Aspect of Wolves! Also, would be nice to have you join for the “Le Roi de la Chope” tournament.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Taylor,

    Thanks for such an awesome post; I can’t wait to read part two! As many in the New England and International Skype group already know, green is my favorite “Old School” color. I have been tirelessly trying to make a competitive (and fun!) green deck to work for the better part of a year. After recently giving up, your post has revitalized my endeavor.

    The best part about mono green though? Wether you win or lose, it’s just so much fun to play.

    -Ash

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your posts are incredibly enjoyable, and the Old School community as a whole is a blast to learn about. I appreciate how supportive of each other these blogs are. The recent surge of green-centric posts has given me the nudge I needed to put together a B/G deck and see how competitive I can actually make it. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I agree, Old School is tons of fun to learn about and get into. I wasn’t ever really into mtg the way I am now until I discovered Old School. I love everything about it more than any other format. Definitely put together a B/G deck. In the last post I showed a pretty awesome B/G deck someone used at Eternal Weekend last year and it’s had me thinking about B/G ever since!

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  5. Funny you guys should mention B/G again — I just posted about my old 93-94 B/G Enchantress deck (circa 2014) on The Enchanted Forest, under my latest post on Enchantress decks. The blog post is very short but I think it more or less gets to the point, i.e. that Verduran Enchantress is a cool card and can be heaps of fun to play.

    Anyway, looking forward to “Make Green Great Again, Part 2”!

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  6. Enjoyable reading Taylor:) I played GB Enchantress at this years n00bcon in Gothenburg. 102 players from all over the world playing old school, drinking beer, flipping orbs and having a great time. I went 3-3 before dropping the last round of the swiss to do some trading. I feel green decks are powerfull and viable, and most important really fun to play. I remember playing concordant crossroads and dropping force of nature, and killer bees was an impressive threat. The black splash was for demonic tutor and mind twist. I’m currently looking for savannahs to try out a GW build with moat, spirit link, plows, disenchant and island sancuary. Hope to see you at next years n00bcon 🙂

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    1. Yeah green is great 🙂 I actually still have the deck put together and actively use it. At this point I’ve switched some cards out and I’ve added others though so the decklist is different from the article. It would be awesome if I could make it to n00bcon next year. We’ll see!

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