How to Win
What’s going through your mind when you are mulliganing to 4 and facing elimination? What are you thinking?
My once boisterous friends are now silent. I take an extra long time shuffling. Not because I don’t think the deck is random, but because I want a moment to contemplate.
“I’m sorry,” my opponent says.
I tell him to try to beat me.
I think about the 200 players who fell before me to get this far. I think about all the hours I spent on this deck. The hours I spent writing, playing, talking, practicing, thinking, and promoting. I think about all the players playing the deck. I think about my friends. I think about the Magic: the Gathering Pro Tour waiting for me on the other side.
The first step to winning is to care. I care.
If you give me a card, I will find a way to win with it. I am thinking that I will win this game.
I present my deck.
I draw my opening hand.
I can win with this hand. I keep.
-My opponent plays a Gravecrawler.
I draw a Forest and play Birds of Paradise. I am going to win this game.
-My opponent plays Bloodthrone Vampire and attacks me.
I draw a Forest and play Elvish Archdruid. I am going to win this game.
-My opponent plays another Bloodthrone Vampire and attacks me.
I draw a Forest. I look at the last card in my hand—Crushing Vines. I pass the turn. I am still going to win this game!
-My opponent attacks me and passes.
My opponent plays two undying creatures, combos with his Bloodthrone Vampires, and kills me.
How to Lose
What is going through your mind when you are knocked out of a tournament you wanted to win so badly? What are you thinking?
Some of you would bemoan your luck at having to mulligan to 4. At having no green sources in any of your opening hands. No. I made a conscious decision when I added Glimmerpost to the deck. I made a choice. Here is a quote from my article from last week:
“With only 16 green sources and 12 Forests, we now need to mulligan more. We might mulligan more, but we win more too. “
This is why I mulliganed to 4. I accept that.
Luck was not a factor. When I replay that game in my head, I look at the Crushing Vines. It sticks out like a sore thumb. If that Crushing Vines was a Thragtusk like it should have been, I might be telling you about how I am going back to the Pro Tour right now.
These are lessons for next time. Next time I will play an extra Thragtusk instead of a Plummet in my sideboard, and I won’t sideboard in Crushing Vines against my Zombie Pod opponent. Next time I will win, mulligan to 4 or mulligan to 0. Luck is not a factor. These are lessons.
There are some things I can’t control. I can’t control the past. I can minimize variance, but I can’t control it. I can’t control the imminent outcome of past decisions.
There are some things I can control. I can control my preparation. I can put in hours. I can control my desire. I WANT TO WIN!
I can control these things, and I did a damn good job controlling them! THIS is what allows me to lose, to stand up, to walk away, and to go win again.
Green Summer Final
Thank you, everyone who helped me with this deck! We put together a real monster. We now have to face cards like Arc Trail and Sleep. These cards are the ultimate sign of respect. These cards are scary, but we can still beat them.
-Pump my Glistener Elf, attack.
-Zealous Conscripts, attack.
-Craterhoof Behemoth, attack.
-Bloodthrone Vampire, attack.
-Revenge of the Hunted, attack.
-Sword of Feast and Famine, equip, attack.
One of the new cards in the deck is Fog, a powerful choice right now. Most matches end in races. Fog owns races. There is a time for every card—it is time for Fog! It’s even possible that it should already be in the main deck.
It’s easy to represent one green mana. Once your opponent knows you have Fog in your 75, he will be scared to ever even go for the win! It will win you games even when you don’t draw it.
“My opponent plays two undying creatures, combos with his Bloodthrone Vampires, and kills me.”
GIVE ME THIS PTQ WIN!
THIS was the winning hand!
If you are going to play this deck, I want you to have the best chance of winning. Now with a PTQ Top 8 behind me, I have a lot to share—sideboarding, tips and tricks, and the ultimate list.
The 75 cards are prescribed—if you want to change a card, first consider that I have probably spent more time on this deck than you have. That doesn’t mean I am 100% correct. At every stage I improved the deck from your suggestions. I appreciate any and all feedback—if you think a card should be included, ask me or try it for yourself; but when in doubt, defer to this 75.
How to Lose with Green Summer
Mana screw—you never draw a green source. Mulligan hands that don’t have green sources. Occasionally you will lose a game because of this. Every deck has to face this. It’s scary, but it’s the reality of playing Magic.
Mana flood—you never draw a threat. With only 4 Primeval Titans, 4 Green Sun’s Zenith, 1 Craterhoof Behemoth, 2 Wolfir Silverheart, and 3 Gavony Township, sometimes you won’t draw action. This doesn’t happen often, but it will happen occasionally. It is going to be frustrating. Any deck can succumb to flood, and this deck is no different.
Turn 1 misplay—you play the wrong mana guy. You might want to play that Avacyn’s Pilgrim so that you can beat down on the second turn, but what if you draw another 1-drop off the top that you want to cast immediately? What if you miss a point of damage and your opponent wins on 1 life? Both of these things can happen.
Getting the wrong land with Primeval Titan—what if you don’t gain enough life with Titan and your opponent one shots you before you can attack? What if your opponent removes your Titan and you didn’t get any Gavony Townships? What if you don’t have enough green sources the turn after you Titan? What if you don’t have enough white sources? Getting the right lands is difficult, and critical.
Sideboarding incorrectly—I will get to that!
Tips and Tricks
If you lead with Razorverge Thicket into Arbor Elf, your opponent might try to save a removal spell and not kill the Elf. Whenever and as long as you can sandbag a Forest to do this, do it. It will make plays difficult for your opponent.
To save yourself from a Beast attack, play Beast Within during your opponent’s upkeep. This is especially relevant when killing a Delver player’s land or a Pod player’s [card birthing pod]Pod[/card].
Here is a list of cards I have turned into a Beast, and seen turned into a Beast:
-Delver of Secrets
-Sword of Feast and Famine
-Elderscale Wurm (!)
-Our own Forest
Beast Within is extremely flexible. No matter the matchup, you will find a use for the card.
Our deck can be threat light. Whenever you can save your last Green Sun’s Zenith for later, do it. You aren’t guaranteed to draw another one later, and having an extra shot at a Primeval Titan or Craterhoof Behemoth will win a lot of games.
Whenever your opponent has red mana, they might have this card. You will win extra games by playing around it. If you can slow down a turn to protect your guys with Township or Wolfir Silverheart, it’s worth it much of the time. Do the math on their Bonfire and play around it.
Delver is threat light, so we can take advantage of that. Their main way to win is to pressure us early with a Delver, so we can take advantage of that too. Another way they win is by offing our mana sources. This is why I like to bring in an extra land.
If they have red in their Delver deck, bring in the Swords and cut four more 3-drops.
Craterhoof Behemoth is much harder to resolve after sideboard. We have fewer mana guys and they have extra removal.
Tips and Tricks Vs. Delver
If they attack you with an unflipped Delver, it is usually right to throw away a mana source to block it. Their deck is threat light, and we draw mana most turns.
Birds of Paradise does a good job blocking a [card runechanter's pike]Piked[/card] up Delver later in the game. If you have a couple Birds and a [card gavony township]Township[/card] early, you can start beefing up your Birds in preparation to block their Delvers later.
Zombies is really bad at blocking—everything comes into play tapped or can’t block, which makes Sword of War and Peace good. Anything that says gain life is very good against them.
Tips and Tricks Vs. Zombies
Falkenrath Aristrocrat packs a big punch in the air, and can drain you out in combination with Blood Artists. Play around this card. Having a spare Birds of Paradise to jump under the bus will be useful.
Your opponent will go to great lengths to set up a Tragic Slip or Brimstone Volley. Play around these cards if you can, but you can only spare so much life. Your opponent might be chump attacking with Gravecrawler, but if morbid makes all the difference, see if you can spare the 2 life.
Cards like Blade Splicer and Restoration Angel are not very good against us. They usually don’t have Inferno Titan or [card elesh norn, grand cenobite]Elesh Norn[/card] to chain up to, but when in doubt, try to kill them before that can happen. They usually don’t have Bonfire (or only a couple) main deck, so don’t worry about it until sideboarded games.
Thragtusk is not very strong against them, and Wolfir Silverheart is. Most of the time their Pod is just for value, so I’m not scared enough of it to want Beast Within. Craterhoof Behemoth is awesome against this deck because we keep all our mana and they have few ways to break us up.
Tips and Tricks vs. Naya Pod
Zealous Conscripts is one of their main ways to beat us. Leave back chump blockers when you can and be careful with your life. They usually can’t pair a Wolfir Silverheart they steal. Primeval Titan should go for life most of the time, even if it appears safe. If you have Fog, it will be nice insurance against their plan.
RG Aggro is similar enough that I’m not going to give it it’s own section. Swords warrant Beast Withins, and Fog is even more of an all-star. RG Aggro is also more likely to have Bonfires main, but I wouldn’t sideboard Swords or Gutter Grime.
Infect can pack quite a punch. So far I am 2-0 against it in tournament play. Game 1 is tough because our life gain is ineffective. The trick to this matchup is knowing when and how to block.
After sideboarding, our main plan is to link up Melira with a Silverheart. Our opponent is usually dead to this combination. Primeval Titan is pretty slow—it is merely a 6/6 for 6 in this matchup.
Tips and Tricks Vs. Infect
Block early if you can. Their deck is more limited in pump/creatures than our deck is limited on mana. Throwing away creatures to get cards out of their hand is fine.
Their deck sometimes struggles at doing enough poison if we can put considerable toughness into play. Sometimes it’s right to leave back Silverhearts and friends, just to add toughness. Do the math on when you need to attack, but when in doubt, leave back toughess.
UB control, Mono-Black Control, and Black-White Control are pretty similar matchups. There are several keys to winning this matchup. The first is not overextending into Black Sun’s Zenith or Mutilate. Try to just play a couple creatures at a time, and use Gavony Township instead of adding to the board. They will eventually have to kill your guys to keep you off of Titan, so it is important to have reserves to reload. This matchup is not a race.
Another key is to know the important mana costs in their deck. These are often 4 (Mutilate) and 6 (Wurmcoil Engine). When they have 5 mana, you often have a 2-turn window to add to the board and follow up. They will usually want to use their 6th turn to drop a bomb. A common way to win is to vomit onto the board on your 5th turn and kill them with [card craterhoof behemoth]Craterhoof[/card] the following turn.
By sideboarding out mana guys, we are now more resilient against wrath effects. Beast Within is usually bad because the last thing we want to do is trade one-for-one. We want to count cards towards Craterhoof Behemoth.
Gutter Grime is the all-star here. If you can get it down, black decks have a tough time beating it.
Wolf Run Ramp
Wolf Run Ramp is the deck I am most scared of. Their life gain is insane (their Glimmerposts count our own), and our life gain is horrible against Inkmoth Nexus. They run sweepers for our ramp, but we don’t have a comparable way to slow them down.
Gutter Grime and Wolfir Silverheart can protect us from their sweepers. Beast Within is good, but we can’t afford to cut much ramp. The one thing going for us is that, undisrupted, we are a full turn faster to Titan than them.
Sword of War and Peace won’t win the game by itself. We need to focus on ramping.
Tips and Tricks Vs. Wolf Run Ramp
Hold your Glimmerposts if you can. They will gain life off of ours.
When in doubt, don’t play around sweepers. This is the one matchup where you can’t afford to give them the time. It is a race. If they have it, they have it. If they don’t we can win. If we play around it, they can get to Titan before us even if they don’t have it.
They can clone our Primeval Titans, but we usually have more mana, more Townships, and more guys than them.
Our main way to win is through Craterhoof Behemoth. They can’t do much to prevent this. We also win through repetitive Gavony Township activations, but if we give them enough time, they can sometimes do more powerful things than us.
Their deck is pretty weak without Birthing Pod, so we want the maximum number of ways to kill it.
Tips and Tricks Vs. Bant Pod
Sometimes they will bring in Day of Judgment. If you get far enough ahead that you can hold back guys, do it.
They can’t attack our mana, so we don’t need the extra land here. Gavony Township is usually too slow anyways. You could make the case for cutting a Glimmerpost instead, but you usually aren’t going to be using 3x Township a turn, and all the Glimmerposts are useful.
Tips and Tricks Vs. the Mirror
The main source of interaction in this matchup is around Craterhoof Behemoth. After playing Primeval Titan, you don’t want to die on the crackback from Craterhoof Behemoth. Add up how much damage they can do and how much you can block if they Green Sun’s Zenith for Behemoth, cast Behemoth, or draw a land and do either of these things. If you can play around death by getting extra Glimmerposts, do it!
Try to be the last person to play Glimmerposts, unless you need Craterhoof protection. If you get Glimmerposts first your opponent can gain a crazy amount of life by seeing yours.
Winning with Green Summer
This should give you everything you need to win a tournament this summer. The deck is fast, resilient, and has a plan in every matchup. Most importantly, it is insanely fun to play!
If you have any questions on the deck, you can reach me here. You can also reach me on my brand new offical Facebook Page for all of my Magic updates. By the time you read this, I might already be playing 4 Fog.
Check me out!