A guide to Molderhulk

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Needless to say, I’ve been playing a lot of Standard. I love new formats, new puzzles to solve, new metagames to understand. Guilds of Ravnica gave us tons of new tools, tons of new mana, and ultimately, tons of new decks. Somewhat predictably, a few have risen to the top: Teferi-based control decks, History of Benalia-based creature decks, and black-green midrange. A few interesting metagame evolutions have taken place since the early weeks of the format. The initial hype surrounding red decks fueled by Risk Factor and Experimental Frenzy has died down, as the extremely low creature quality inherent to red coupled with a format full of Ravenous Chupacabra has made it nigh impossible to sneak through enough early damage to make the burn strategy function. Green Stompy decks have all but disappeared from the equation due to their inability to ever beat black-green, and people are going wild for Niv Mizzet and his flying Izzet friends, be they in control shells or Arclight Phoenix decks.

While metagame numbers are still hard to pin down thanks to the data shortage enforced by Wizards’ incomprehensible decklist publishing policies and the absence of large individual events (this weekend’s Grand Prix notwithstanding), I can anecdotally announce that the noble sequence of Jadelight Ranger into Ravenous Chupacabra is the most popular approach to the format. The Magic Online PTQ the other week was absolutely full of black-green variants, and with the metagame beginning to settle down, I’m happy to bring you a black-green variant designed to beat up on the mirror match while still having a powerful game plan and broad answers to other matchups. If you’ve watched my stream in the past few weeks, you’ve probably seen me work on a lean green Molderhulk machine. I’m here today to show you how to use this erstwhile Fungus Zombie to win a Grand Prix — or a PPTQ for the less ambitious among us – this weekend.

B/G Molderhulk – Daniel Fournier

Invariably the question I’ve heard the most while streaming this deck is, “Why are you playing this over a stock version?.” Well, its aforementioned prowess in the pseudo-mirrors aside, I think this deck is measurably powerful, has a lot of room to grow and provides a toolbox-esque approach to the format that no other strategy can really match. Find, Molderhulk, and Memorial to Folly give you an unmatched access to an easily-filled graveyard, and the unique Mausoleum Secrets in the sideboard provide you with even more silver bullets to deal with the range of threats this format can throw at you.

The deck’s gameplay is straightforward, if complex due to the high number of decisions made per turn. Early on, you want to be filling your graveyard with creatures while hitting land-drops, prioritizing making trades on board to maximize Plaguecrafter’s strength. In the midgame, you want to set up strong Molderhulk, Find//Finality, and Izoni turns to take over the board. Be willing to make weaker plays, often including a Memorial to Folly activation, in order to set up a higher impact play on a successive turn. Don’t be afraid to blow an early or redundant Find on a card like Stitcher’s Supplier to empower your graveyard matters cards later on.

We grind harder than pretty much every deck in the format, so keep that in mind and be willing to take disadvantageous trades early on. We can recover with a single Izoni.

Let’s go into individual matchups and sideboarding plans.

vs Golgari Midrange
IN:
2 Mausoleum Secrets 1 Vraska’s Contempt 1 Assassin’s Trophy

OUT:
4 Plaguecrafter

Our best matchup and the reason to play this strategy. Our main deck is set up quite well, but we can improve our game against their Planeswalkers (or The Immortal Sun) by adding in virtual three copies each of Vraska’s Contempt and Assassin’s Trophy. This matchup is slow enough that Mausoleum Secrets is an absolute MVP, giving us access to so many copies of our best cards.

The gameplan here is quite simple: trade atrocious creatures early on, then overwhelm them with an Izoni. When things go reasonably well, it’s very hard for us to lose. We can get rushed out by quick Llanowar Elves draws or uncontested Planeswalkers, so keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to trade creatures when we have a Chupacabra in hand.

vs Boros Angels/White Aggro
IN:
1 Vraska’s Contempt 1 Assassin’s Trophy 2 Mausoleum Secrets 2 Ritual of Soot 3 Necrotic Wound

OUT:
2 Vivien Reid (leave in if Lyra, no Phoenix)
2 Izoni, Thousand-Eyed 1 Molderhulk 1 Merfolk Branchwalker 2 Plaguecrafter 1 Golgari Findbroker

My experience has shown this matchup to overall be reasonable thanks to their inability to really break our defences on the ground, but as of late this deck has evolved to gain access to the two most problematic cards for Molderhulk.dec: Tocatli Honor Guard and Rekindling Phoenix. Some builds of Boros are behind on this technology, and therefore struggle to beat their way through our Plaguecrafters and Chupacabras. The extensive sideboarding exists predominantly to beat the problematic threats that may or may not come out of the sideboard.

There’s also an argument to be made for bringing in Reclamation Sage against History of Benalia and Conclave Tribunal, but I’m not comfortable running that into a deck that’s more often than not a home to Tocatli Honor Guard.

vs Mono Red
IN:
1 Vraska’s Contempt 1 Assassin’s Trophy 2 Reclamation Sage (Necrotic Wound if Rekindling Phoenix)

OUT:
2 Izoni, Thousand-Eyed 2 Vivien Reid

Unfortunately this is one of the matchups where we don’t do particularly well. We grind hard, but Experimental Frenzy’s burn spells are a kind of reach that we have a hard time dealing with. That said, a creature heavy draw can have a hard time breaking through our Chupacabras, and our x/1s oddly don’t die to Chainwhirler very often for whatever reason. We board in answers to Experimental Frenzy and board out clunky late-game threats.

If you really wanted to solve this matchup, you could do a light splash for Knight of Autumn, with a couple in the maindeck, probably in the Vivien Reid slot, and the rest in the sideboard.

vs Selesnya Tokens
IN:
1 Vraska’s Contempt 1 Assassin’s Trophy 1 Mausoleum Secrets 2 Ritual of Soot 2 Necrotic Wound 2 Reclamation Sage

OUT:
2 Vivien Reid 2 Izoni, Thousand-Eyed 1 Molderhulk 1 Merfolk Branchwalker 2 [Card]Plaguecrafter/[Card] 1 Golgari Findbroker

The difficulty of this matchup depends a lot on how techy our opponent’s deck is. The aforementioned Tocatli Honor Guard is a pain, but if we’re just getting attacked by Emmara, we’re going to live long enough to Finality away the board more often than not. The way the matchup plays is pretty straightforward: they’re the beatdown, we’re trying to survive as best as possible until we can wrath, then we’re trying to end before they can Splinter Twin us with March of the Multitudes and an anthem.

These decks often have all kinds of random problematic creatures in their 75 these days, so instead of bringing in cards like Duress that might get blanked by their deckbuilding, we have our anti-Honor Guard package, albeit with less commitment than against Boros. Reclamation Sage is good here because in addition to dealing with Conclave Tribunal and The Immortal Sun, it can actually trade favourably with Legion’s Landing and History of Benalia.

vs U/R Phoenix
IN:
3 Necrotic Wound 1 Vraska’s Contempt

OUT:
2 Izoni, Thousand-Eyed 2 Vivien Reid

I’m a little bit concerned about this matchup, which is why I added a third copy of Necrotic Wound to the sideboard. We have an easy time dealing with the drakes and Niv Mizzets popular in these decks thanks to Plaguecrafter and Chupacabra, but Arclight Phoenix and the luckily-rare Rekindling Phoenix present a problem. Hopefully four exile effects is enough to handle them. Despite these decks being full of spells, Duressis pretty bad against cantrips, so we leave it in the board.

vs Grixis
IN:
2 Reclamation Sage

OUT:
2 Izoni, Thousand-Eyed

Rare as Grixis seems to be, it pops up every once in a while. When we lose to it, it’s typically to backbreaking midrange value sequences involving The Eldest Reborn and Nicol Bolas flipping into Planeswalker mode. We’re making sure through sideboarding that we’re less exposed to the reanimation effect on those two cards while making sure to have sufficient answers to the various enchantments that this deck relies on to generate advantage.

vs Teferi Control
IN:
4 Duress 2 Mausoleum Secrets

OUT:
4 Ravenous Chupacabra 2 Izoni, Thousand-Eyed

Control is a mixed bag. I think it’s fundamentally weak in the format, and so long as we can dodge one or two crucial counterspells, we do a pretty good job of grinding right through it. That said, an unanswered Teferi is still game, and as such it’s crucial to leave all four otherwise atrocious Plaguecrafters in our deck.

Let me know if you have any questions, and good luck!

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