The recent ban of Oko, Thief of Crowns has opened the way for Standard strategies centered around big creatures or artifacts. Previously, relying on Questing Beast or The Great Henge was doomed to failure because Wicked Wolf would devour Questing Beast and Oko would turn The Great Henge into an Elk. Post-ban Standard is different, and I have found success with the following mono-green deck.
20 Forest 3 Castle Garenbrig 4 Pelt Collector 4 Wildwood Tracker 4 Paradise Druid 4 Growth-Chamber Guardian 4 Lovestruck Beast/Heart's Desire 4 Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig 4 Vivien, Arkbow Ranger 4 Questing Beast 2 Voracious Hydra 3 The Great Henge Sideboard 3 Prey Upon 3 Shifting Ceratops 3 Thrashing Brontodon 2 Oakhame Adversary 2 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 2 Voracious Hydra
20 Forest (ELD) 269
3 Castle Garenbrig (ELD) 240
4 Pelt Collector (GRN) 141
4 Wildwood Tracker (ELD) 183
4 Paradise Druid (WAR) 171
4 Growth-Chamber Guardian (RNA) 128
4 Lovestruck Beast (ELD) 165
4 Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig (ELD) 185
2 Voracious Hydra (M20) 200
4 Vivien, Arkbow Ranger (M20) 199
4 Questing Beast (ELD) 171
3 The Great Henge (ELD) 161
3 Prey Upon (GRN) 143
3 Shifting Ceratops (M20) 194
3 Thrashing Brontodon (M20) 197
2 Oakhame Adversary (ELD) 167
2 Nissa, Who Shakes the World (WAR) 169
2 Voracious Hydra (M20) 200
I enjoy turning big green monsters sideways, so when I saw that Sascha Lüscher went 4-2 in Twitch Rivals and that there was a Reddit post praising the archetype, I had to try it for myself. After testing various configurations, I arrived at pretty much the same conclusions and almost the same main deck as Wyatt Darby, who played his version of the deck on his stream a few days ago. I then made a few final adjustments inspired by his list, and I went 16-4 on MTG Arena with the deck shown above on my way to Mythic.
The curve is straightforward: eight 1-drops, eight 2-drops, eight 3-drops, eight 4-drops, and then some X-spells. It’s a simple, yet effective model that allows you to curve out most of the time, especially given that Heart’s Desire is a potential one-drop as well. At least in Game 1, when your opponent’s answers aren’t aligned to your threats yet, I like to mindlessly curve out with high-power creatures. Let’s go over the card choices.
Pelt Collector is arguably the best 1-drop in Standard. It’s basically a 4/4 trample for 1 mana, which is an incredible rate.
Both 1-drops can also infatuate Lovestruck Beast, which is useful. (Pelt Collector has to come down after the Beast for that, and it probably won’t be a lifelong partner, but it can still spur the Beast for a while.)
Growth-Chamber Guardian has amazing synergy with both Vivien and The Great Henge, as it triggers whenever it receives any counter, not just from adapt. I like that it helps mitigate flood and provides late-game staying power, so I prefer Growth-Chamber Guardian over Barkhide Troll.
Although I tried Syr Faren and Kraul Harpooner, I settled on Paradise Druid because ramping into a 4-drop on turn 3 is one of the best things you can do with this deck. Syr Faren too often was unable to attack into the opposing board, and there weren’t enough Gilded Gooses in the metagame for Kraul Harpooner to shoot down. Using Kraul Harpooner as a ritual for The Great Henge is sweet in theory, but that requires a very specific time window that never came up for me.
If I wanted to cut one Paradise Druid to reduce my vulnerability to Legion’s End (which is not a big consideration in the metagame right now, but that may change in the future) then I would probably replace it with one Barkhide Troll. In any case, I tend to count 3-4 Paradise Druid as 1-2 lands, so the 23 lands in the deck plays more like 24-25 in reality, which matches the deck’s mana curve.
Yorvo is one of the reasons to stay mono-green, as it towers over the battlefield. It can get chump-blocked by Cauldron Familiar for a while, but once you find Vivien to give it trample, your opponent will be in trouble.
Questing Beast and Vivien are both awesome, even though they are legendary. I considered playing three copies of all the legendary creatures in the deck (and I came close to cutting one Yorvo) but the 4-drops felt like the best cards in the deck. What’s more, I never had trouble with drawing multiples. Opponents have to deal with them at some point, and then I was actually happy to hold a backup copy.
By the way, the demanding mana cost of Vivien is actually the main reason to stay mono-color. I considered some splashes, but I couldn’t get the mana to work without an overdose of tap-lands.
The Great Henge usually comes down on turn 4 or 5 and then keeps fueling your board and hand until you’ve overwhelmed your opponent. It’s a powerful engine that is worth building around, and this deck does it very well.
One card that I tried and dismissed was Giant Growth. It was sweet when I used it as a combat trick and a ritual for The Great Henge in the same turn, and there is the theoretical turn-3 kill involving Syr Faren and double Giant Growth, but I felt it was more important to maximize the probability of curving out with creatures. I didn’t want to dedicate the slots to a pump spell.
Tips and Tricks
• When you control The Great Henge and cast Growth-Chamber Guardian, you can hold priority and respond to the enters-the-battlefield trigger by adapting. The end result is a 5/5 Growth-Chamber Guardian.
• Suppose you control a 3/3 Pelt Collector and a 4/4 Yorvo. If you cast a Voracious Hydra for X=3 with the intent of making it a 6/7, then the Hydra will enter the battlefield as a 3/4, which means that Pelt Collector will not trigger. If you manually stack the Yorvo trigger to resolve after the Hydra doubling trigger, however, then Yorvo will see a 6/7 and grow twice.
• If the need arises, you can cast a second Yorvo just to put a +1/+1 counter on an existing one and to potentially pump Pelt Collector twice.
• If the need arises, you can cast a second The Great Henge just to gain 2 more life.
• Castle Garenbrig mana can be used to adapt Growth-Chamber Guardian or activate Shifting Ceratops, but you cannot sink the mana into another Castle Garenbrig, nor can you use it to cast Heart’s Desire.
• Vivien’s -5 can grab Shifting Ceratops as a hasty threat, Thrashing Brontodon as an answer to Wilderness Reclamation, or Voracious Hydra if you have mana to spare. I have never fetched Oakhame Adversary; that one is just there as a sweet 2-drop against Edgewall Innkeeper or Gilded Goose decks that greatly benefits from a Vivien pump. It might be nice to have access to something like End-Raze Forerunners, but I never needed it—grabbing any of the other creatures from the sideboard was always enough to win already.
The sideboard is the weakest part of any mono-color deck, but we still have some options to tweak our post-board configuration. When you don’t know what to cut, you can always cut one copy of each legend and a few Wildwood Trackers without hampering the deck too much. Apart from that, I often cut 1-toughness creatures against Massacre Girl decks, Lovestruck Beasts against Deafening Clarion decks, and Vivien against Fervent Champion decks.
It might seem weird to consider Mono-Green right after Once Upon a Time and Veil of Summer got banned, but The Great Henge is awesome when it doesn’t get turned into an Elk, Vivien is a really powerful payoff for staying mono-color, and most of the creatures outsize Deafening Clarion.
Mono-Green Stompy is a competitive option that is not particularly intricate or difficult to play, which makes it a great choice for a beginner. Or for the player who wants to jam their daily quests while trimming a bonsai tree. Now that’s a true mono-green mage.