Gang Green

I had a hard time preparing for SCG States. While standard seemed ripe for brewing, I couldn’t figure out which direction would be best with my limited card pool (for those of you that are blessed enough to live in a country with free healthcare, I have a six-month old and paying for a baby in the U.S. ain’t exactly cheap).

I ran the Outlast deck through the paces online, and while I think [card]High Sentinels of Arashin[/card] has very real breakout potential, the deck just wasn’t fun enough. Outlast, it turns out, is a seriously aggravating affect. The whole “must be done at sorcery speed” clause is so counter intuitive to the rest of the way the game of Magic is played that I screwed up the first four games trying to activate it on my opponent’s turn and ended up getting so pissed that I wanted to burn MTGO to the ground (I know, most people want to burn MTGO to the ground, but this time had nothing to do with the UI or platform).

I gold fished about ten games with the Jeskai Ascendancy combo deck for standard and figured out two things pretty quickly. 1). The deck is 100% for real. It will put up decent results the next few weeks. 2). This was not the deck for me. I love combo decks, but the triggers with this deck and the constant need to pay attention is something I couldn’t do for a full day of Magic. By round five, I would have been cross-eyed from the concentration it would take to focus in on the correct plays game after game. I pushed it to the side.

Ultimately, I decided that the best bet would be to just go forward with a version of green devotion. I already had 75% of the cards, so I wouldn’t need to scramble to buy and trade for most of the crucial parts, and I was already familiar with the ins-and-outs of the deck. I brainstormed 3 and 4 color versions for an hour or so before deciding that I didn’t want to play that many copies of [card]Mana Confluence[/card] with the Jeskai Burn decks seemingly so popular.

While I wanted to go with a Simic build, I knew I didn’t have the time to brew and test. I thought Green/Red would be my default, but after watching a few games I decided that I didn’t want to spend the day losing to [card]Goblin Rabblemaster[/card]. I watched a bit of coverage and decided that Green/Black would give me the most flexibility (even though the only feature match I remember was Jon Finkel getting utterly destroyed by a burn deck).

This is what I ran:

[deck title=Travis Hall –Gang Green]
[Lands]
9 Forest
2 Swamp
1 Jungle Hollow
2 Mana Confluence
2 Temple of Malady
2 Temple of Silence
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
[/Lands]

[Creatures]
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Genesis Hydra
2 Arbor Colossus
2 Boon Satyr
4 Eidolon of Blossoms
3 Polukranos, World Eater
2 Hornet Queen
3 Doomwake Giant
1 Pharika, God of Affliction
[/Creatures]

[Spells]
1 Nissa, Worldwaker
3 See the Unwritten
[/Spells]

[Sideboard]
3 Nylea’s Disciple
1 Reclamation Sage
2 Silence the Believers
1 Hero’s Demise
2 Setessan Tactics
4 Thoughtseize
1 Bow of Nylea
1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

The deck performed exceptionally well, taking me to third place and snagging me some SCG Open points. I went 5-0-2 in the swiss, beating 2 Abzan decks, 2 Mardu decks, and a Temur deck. In the Top 8, I beat Abzan in the quarterfinals before losing to Jeskai Burn in the semis.

Looking at the deck:

Lands: I didn’t have access to the full set of [card]Temple of Malady[/card], so I ran 2 [card]Temple of Silence[/card] in place of a pair of Swamps. This led to one opponent putting me on Abzan and playing around a removal spell I did not have. Having access to a boatload of basic lands was probably my biggest advantage all day, as so many opponents got stuck with a tap land on turn 3 when I had the mana to land my threats on the appropriate turns. I would not play this deck without at least 10 basics, hitting your land drops and making your plays on time is too important. 23 lands may be one land too few, as at least two of my game losses came from a stall on two lands.

[card]See the Unwritten[/card]: Performed very well. It was everything you wanted Chord of Calling to be when it was reprinted, and usually at a cheaper cost. I did get to live the dream of dropping in double Doomwake with this once (and dropped in double Eidolon of Blossoms in another). I was only able to find three, but I would definitely run the full four-pack after playing with the card.

[card]Boon Satyr[/card]: I really wanted another card that could be played prior to turn four. It also turns on Ferocious for [card]See the Unwritten[/card] and can blow out an unsuspecting player in a pinch. Still, this was the first card out after every match, and I’m not sure it should be in the deck going forward.

[card]Arbor Colossus[/card]: The last two cards to make the deck and they were outstanding. They shut down [card]Wingmate Roc[/card], [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card], and [card]Butcher of the Horde[/card] in my matches. Two feels like the right number, but you may want a third in the board.

[card]Genesis Hydra[/card]: The most consistent card in the deck. It’s the two-for-one the deck needs to come back from the spot removal running rampant. I curb stomped every Abzan deck I played on the day, and most of the time it was [card]Genesis Hydra[/card] coming down after the grind to put the stake through their heart. However, in some matches, particularly when I was siding in a bunch of removal spells, I found it necessary to cut.

[card]Hornet Queen[/card]: The best “top-end” spell in the deck. I toyed with playing three, but it can be crushing to draw multiple early.

I feel like the deck is a future player in the format, but it could use some tweaking. Our local meta game featured a heavy mid-range slant, and Abzan was everywhere, making this deck a good choice. Give Abzan’s rise as one of the format staples, I can see this deck being the Rock to its Scissors.

My loss to the Jeskai deck was a slog, and, surprisingly, Seeker of the Way was the most problematic card for me. It was so easy for my opponent to pump it beyond my control with a well-timed Lightning Strike or Jeskai Charm. I feel like the deck could use another early game card, but I don’t think Boon Satyr fits. If I were to run it back, I think I would play this:

[deck title=Travis Hall –Green Street Hooligans]
[Lands]
8 Forest
3 Swamp
2 Jungle Hollow
1 Mana Confluence
4 Temple of Malady
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
[/Lands]

[Creatures]
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Rakshasa Deathdealer
4 Courser of Kruphix
3 Eidolon of Blossoms
3 Polukranos, World Eater
4 Genesis Hydra
2 Arbor Colossus
3 Doomwake Giant
2 Hornet Queen
[/Creatures]

[Spells]
4 See the Unwritten
[/Spells]

[Sideboard]
3 Nylea’s Disciple
1 Reclamation Sage
2 Silence the Unbelievers
1 Hero’s Demise
1 Pharika, God of Affliction
4 Thoughtseize
2 Nissa, Worldwaker
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

[card]Rakshasa Deathdealer[/card] may be the early game threat the deck needs. With access to a ton of mana (and Urborg can always help with this) you shouldn’t have any trouble making him the biggest thing on the board in the late game (and his regeneration is a plus). You can also still pump him prior to casting [card]See the Unwritten[/card] to get the Ferocious bonus.

Overall, I look for G/B devotion to be a strong player in the coming metagame. The tools are there for the deck to be one of the best, now we just need to fine tune the pieces.

If you like my suggestions, you can follow me on Twitter: @travishall456. I throw around random observations and deck ideas every day.