“Never turn down a breath mint,” they say. Either the person offering it to you is just being polite, in which case, hey, free breath mint–or your breath absolutely stinks and they’re trying to be subtle about it. In any case, when Wizards offered us a breath mint with their Play Any Deck promotion with rotation on MTG Arena, we didn’t just take a mint. We took the whole packet off them.
With rare and mythic wildcards the premium commodity they are, we decided to get maximum value from having access to every single card in Standard this week, and so built a deck that, aside from basic lands, is 100% rares and mythics. Our breath is going to be minty-fresh for weeks after this effort.
18 Forest 4 Castle Garenbrig 1 Fabled Passage 4 Gilded Goose 4 Incubation Druid 3 Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig 4 Questing Beast 3 Cavalier of Thorns 2 Feasting Troll King 1 Gargos, Vicious Watcher 1 Voracious Hydra 1 Steelbane Hydra - Brawl Deck Exclusive 1 Vivien's Arkbow 4 Once Upon a Time 1 Return of the Wildspeaker 3 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 3 The Great Henge 2 Finale of Devastation
Even with our all-rare stipulation, it’s abundantly clear this deck does, at least, have a cohesive gameplan. I’ve always loved ramp decks and you don’t need to work very hard to convince me to play a list filled with huge monsters like this one. The card I was most excited to play, however, was The Great Henge, and so much of the deck is built to support it.
There’s a reason it’s called The Great Henge, and not The Mediocre Henge or even The Kind-of-Decent Henge. This card is great. It does every single thing a ramp deck wants–it gives you cards, life, and beefs up creatures large and small alike. Of course, as a nine-drop, it does require a bit of work to get there, so we need to work with its ability to make sure it comes down at a reasonable pace.
Hence all the undercosted green beaters. Yorvo, Questing Beast, Feasting Troll King, and Gargos offer terrific power and toughness for their cost, and cheapen The Great Henge significantly. A notable exception in this regard is the four-mana 6/6 Nullhide Ferox, which when it comes to The Great Henge, is identical to Questing Beast in terms of cost reduction.
The excellent thing about all these creatures (or most of them, at any rate), is that they’re great inclusions on their own. Cards like Yorvo and Feasting Troll King will still get the job done even without The Great Henge, and for that reason there’s a good amount of resilience built-into the deck.
Finally, holding all this together is the ramp suite. Gilded Goose, Incubation Druid, Cavalier of Thorns, and the excellent Castle Garenbrig all work together to power out our big boys a little earlier than expected. A key flaw in the list is, however, it near-total lack of interaction. This is an issue that we’ll fix in the next section, as you’ll see.
This is a cut-and-dry ramp deck. You want to keep a hand that is full of early enablers and maybe a payoff–and one card that will help you keep a much wider range of hands is Once Upon a Time. This card lets to sculpt the perfect opener–remember that you don’t have to cast it in the first upkeep of the game, however. This is important when you’re on the draw: wait until you’ve drawn your first card before firing it off, as you might naturally draw the Goose you’re looking for anyway.
Wherever possible, try to progress through mana dorks into midrange creatures into late-game haymakers. The broad spectrum of threats in this list, however, means that missteps and fumbles with the gameplan aren’t fatal. For example, a turn-three Yorvo without any mana dorks is still a strong play, so don’t worry too much if you don’t always have a dork on turn one or two.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to overwhelm your opponent with huge threats that overload their answers. However, it’s possible to take a grindier approach when needed, supported by cards like Nissa and Return of the Wildspeaker, not to mention The Great Henge itself. Cards like Feasting Troll King also help you stabilize by providing a huge blocker and nine extra life next turn.
At the end of the day, your lategame is probably better than theirs, especially when you get into Finale of Devastation territory–so when in doubt, play for a longer game and trust that your engine is better than theirs.
As we discussed in the video, this deck is a little one-dimensional. While I’m a big fan of going all-in on big green idiots, adding interaction and disruption will likely just make this a better deck. As a result, we add black in order to facilitate what has to be one of the most powerful cards in Standard: Garruk, Cursed Huntsman. This also allows us to add a couple of other disruptive options to round out the deck more fully.
6 Forest (347) 4 Overgrown Tomb 4 Temple of Malady 4 Castle Garenbrig 4 Fabled Passage 1 Swamp (339) 4 Gilded Goose 4 Incubation Druid 3 Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig 3 Questing Beast 3 Cavalier of Thorns 2 Feasting Troll King 1 Gargos, Vicious Watcher 3 Voracious Hydra 4 Once Upon a Time 3 Assassin's Trophy 1 Vraska, Golgari Queen 3 Garruk, Cursed Huntsman 3 The Great Henge
Assassin’s Trophy and Vraska, Golgari Queen are both versatile answers, and Vraska is a nice second fiddle to Garruk to pull ahead on cards. We shave some of the weaker ramp payoffs (farewell, Steelbane Hydra), and instead zero in on cards that offer both flexibility and power. The best example of this is Voracious Hydra, another interactive card that doubles as a huge lategame threat.
The mana works surprisingly well. We’re cheating a little bit when it comes to Yorvo, with only 22 green sources amongst our lands–but between Gilded Goose, Incubation Druid, and Once Upon a Time, we should be able to avoid playing the Swamp before turn three. Apart from that, we’ve got enough to support Garruk and Vraska, and even a turn-two Assassin’s Trophy–although that’s not generally when you want to cast it!
Overall, I think this deck offers a good mix of fun and playability, and if you’re a fan of great big green monsters like I am, I highly recommend you take it for a spin.
Next week, we’ll be back with another mono-colored list–this time we’ll be paying homage to Ayara, First of Locthwain. See you then!