Pro Tour Amonkhet featured a single G/B Aggro deck in a Top 8 filled with Zombies and Marvel. Utilizing Winding Constrictor and energy cards, this deck is capable of some impressive starts. Shaun McLaren showed us that G/B being at the top tables was certainly not a fluke, although he went in a different direction with the Snake.
Winding Constrictor is an overpowered Magic card, but McLaren’s list doesn’t actually have a single card that utilizes energy. Instead, he has a number of cards that exploit +1/+1 counters well. An early Constrictor is one of the best starts in Standard, and this deck has haymakers to take advantage of it.
Putting a +1/+1 counter on your entire team is great, but putting multiples on them is ridiculous. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar has faded from the Standard metagame, but its power level hasn’t. Nissa can create an army by herself, and then adds to their power. Left unchecked, Nissa will generate an army of Plants and then cash in her loyalty for a Sphinx’s Revelation. This gives the deck some serious late-game while also being truly insane with Winding Constrictor.
Walking Ballista is best friends with the Snake. While it’s easily good enough in the energy version of the deck, Nissa powers your Ballista even further here. While not the best card against Ulamog, Ballista can become the biggest creature in play and remove creatures, planeswalkers, and even opponents.
Grim Flayer and Traverse the Ulvenwald add a delirium subtheme. Grim Flayer is strong enough on its own as an early threat that sets up the middle stages of the game and can enable delirium for itself. It does mean you need to play more instants and sorceries than you might otherwise, but Ballista gives you a free artifact, and this list is already running plenty of planeswalkers. Traverse is just an insane Magic card, as evidenced by it crushing Modern in Death’s Shadow. Early on it smooths out your mana, and later it’s the best creature in your deck. For 1 mana, that flexibility and power is tough to top.
Rishkar, Peema Renegade is a 1-2 punch with Winding Constrictor. Creating multiple 4-power creatures in play on turn 3 puts immense pressure on any opponent, even the best Marvel draws. That Rishkar can grow other creatures while providing mana makes threats like Ballista even more effective in the middle stages of the game.
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet can halt your opponent’s attack step and weaken many of the best Zombies draws. Already the natural predator of creatures like Scrapheap Scrounger, Kalitas gains a ton of life and wears counters well.
Verdurous Gearhulk is at the top of the curve to end the game in a hurry. 4 Traverse make it easier to find when you need it, and it’s another artifact for delirium.
The big addition to McLaren’s deck over previous incarnations of G/B is a full playset of Dissenter’s Deliverance. This deck can put enough pressure on Marvel that they may have needed to hit Ulamog on the first spin, but Deliverance really forces the issue. Additional utility against Torrential Gearhulk and Heart of Kiran makes it a solid card in so many matchups, while being able to cycle early helps smooth out draws and turn on delirium.
Never // Return is another nice way to interact with large creatures and planeswalkers. It’s also nice to incidentally mill or put in the graveyard with Grim Flayer—just remember not to aftermath it when you need it for delirium.
Fatal Push as the format’s best removal and Liliana, the Last Hope round out the deck. Liliana is incredible against Zombies while also being an awesome value card against control. She helps turn on delirium while threatening to ultimate in long games.
G/B Aggro has many shells that have proven they have what it takes to compete in a Zombies and Marvel metagame. With the ability to customize the deck in so many ways, I expect to see Snakes stick around for a long time.