A couple weeks ago, I got a request for a donation deck league during my stream. One of my subs had run into a sweet Black-Green Undergrowth list on Reddit, and he wanted me to try it out.

I recommend you take a look at the original post, but if you don’t want to bother, here is TheFiremind88’s list that I started with:

B/G Undergrowth

I was skeptical, but after playing with the deck a bit, it seemed like the archetype was legit. Having access to four Midnight Reaper was very good against Black-Green Midrange and Jeskai Control, and the Molderhulk/Memorial to Folly loop was the real deal in the late game—it was proving too much to deal with for most opponents. Having access to seven Nekrataals was important against Blue-Red Drakes and especially effective against the slower builds. I was even happy to have the full playset of Ravenous Chupacabra against most control decks, as the current lists rely heavily on Niv-Mizzet. Even the Lotleth Giant, who eventually got cut, was doing work.

I went 3-2 in my first League with the deck, but I was hooked. I thought the deck had potential and it was really fun to play. While Necrotic Wound and Find // Finality were both good, I felt like you wanted to play as few noncreature spells as you could get away with, so I decided to cut one of each to add more creatures. I also felt like the Thrashing Brontodon was a bit out of place in the main. Here is what I ran in the second League, where I ending up winning all five matches:

B/G Undergrowth

The infamous single Llanowar Elves list. The reason for that odd looking choice was simply that I wanted a couple more cheap creatures, so I added one Elves as well as a second Harpooner. I also added an Izoni, Thousand-Eye as another late game threat given that B/G Midrange seemed quite popular. While I trophied with this list, as did Tommy Ashton a few days later, I didn’t think it was especially good and I kept working on the deck. I tried a few variations, including one with four Llanowar Elves but it didn’t seem like the card really fit in the deck.

I didn’t keep track of every list I tried, but here is the one with which I got my second trophy:

B/G Undergrowth

The deck started with 21 lands—a very low number—and counted on Glowspore Shaman and Branchwalker to do some heavy lifting, but I kept wanting more lands. I think 24 is about right. The other big change is Dryad Greenseeker over Merfolk Branchwalker. While Branchwalker gives you more aggressive and potential nutty draws, and has better synergy with Midnight Reaper as it is more likely to trade in combat, I think the Dryad is better in pretty much every non-control matchup. The Dryad combos nicely with the Glowspore Shaman trigger, and guarantees that you will hit. TheFiremind88 has been tuning into my stream and he was the one who suggested adding a Golgari Findbroker/The Immortal Sun package to combat B/G Midrange. I think the change has been good. Findbroker naturally fits in the deck and having access to a powerful noncreature spell that you can actually get back—as opposed to cards like Vraska’s Contempt—is a good option to have.

Here is my current list, but a lot of the numbers are still up in the air:

B/G Undergrowth

I might have a tendency to play too many 1-ofs, but they work especially well in this deck as you’re going to be milling a lot of creatures and having access to the right silver bullet via Memorial to Folly is key.
Most notably absent is Jadelight Ranger which competes with Deathgorge Scavenger. I’m not sure which is better. Other strong main deck candidates are: Doom Whisperer (a card I’ve tried and was fairly happy with), Plaguecrafter #2, Kraul Foragers #2, Carnage Tyrant, The Eldest Reborn, and Molderhulk #4.

After sideboard, you often don’t have a choice but to add noncreature spells and dilute the undergrowth engine to combat problem cards like Tocatli Honor Guard or Rekindling Phoenix. I’ve played 73 Competitive League matches so far, going 46-27 with a 3-3 run in the MOCS Monthly. Not the most amazing win-rate, but solid considering I’m still trying to figure out the build.

The Matchups

B/G Midrange

They have two main ways of beating you: an aggressive draw backed up by Reapers and Chupacabra, or an unchecked planeswalker—usually Vivien Reid, but either Vraska or even Karn will do the trick. If you can prevent that from happening, you should be able to take over in the mid-to-late game with the Molderhulk loop or one of your 6-drops. You can also win with aggressive draws of your own.

I think the matchup is close but Undergrowth should have an edge, especially with the Izoni/Immortal Sun build.

Out

In

Jeskai Control

This matchup has been amazing. Unless I’m mistaken, I’m not sure I’ve lost to Jeskai once out of fifteen or so matches. The current versions of Jeskai that rely heavily on Niv-Mizzet line up especially poorly against B/G Undergrowth and I’m not sure how I would fare against something like an Azor’s Gateway build. Having Dryad Greenseeker over Merfolk Branchwalker is probably going to hurt your win rate, but the matchup should still be favorable. Sometimes, they just don’t have Clarion and die to a bunch of 3-power creatures. Access to four Midnight Reaper is huge even though they have access to a bunch of exile effects and you can usually follow their sweeper with Molderhulk or Golgari Raiders to keep the pressure on. The games can be complicated if they draw multiple Settle the Wreckage, but even if they survive, they can have a rough time turning the corner as you have multiple answers to their threats. Teferi is the card you should be most worried about and I think you always want to have at least 5 power worth of creatures in play, even if it means getting blown out by a sweeper.

I had Carnage Tyrant over Izoni in the main for the longest time, and if Jeskai Control is very popular in your meta, you might want to consider switching it up.

While Esper is way less popular and I’ve only played against it once or twice, I’m assuming that it’s a much tougher matchup as you don’t get as much value out of your Chupacabras.

Out

In

Grixis Control

Another extremely easy matchup that plays out similarly to Jeskai one, except they don’t even have Teferi. I’m not sure how good the Grixis deck is against the field, but it must be decent because I get paired against it a lot on Magic Online.

Out

In

Izzet Drakes

I think this matchup varies depending on their build. I think Undergrowth is a favorite against the Pascal Vieren build but struggles against the versions with Enigma Drake, Maximize Velocity, and main deck Dive Down. I’m still not exactly sure how to sideboard in this matchup and how much top end you want in your deck.

Out

In

Selesnya Tokens

I actually haven’t played against this deck much, maybe once or twice, and their build might vary so try and sideboard accordingly. I expect it to be fairly close and you might want to consider more Ritual of Soot in the 75 if this deck is popular in your meta.

Out

In

Boros Weenie

Bad matchup. They’re usually able to run you over before you stabilize in game 1 and Tocatli Honor Guard, Experimental Frenzy, and Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants are all really good against you. They make it hard to come up with a potent sideboard plan.

Out

In

Mono-Red Aggro

Another bad matchup and kind of the same story as Boros. Chainwhirler is very good against you and they can finish you off with Frenzy if you don’t kill them fast enough. Your best chance is to close out the game as quickly as possible with a fast Molderhulk draw. Rekindling Phoenix is a nightmare after sideboard. It’s probably the single best card against the deck.

Out

In

Boros Angels

This is probably one of the worst matchups as their cards line up perfectly against yours. They usually have four Phoenix main, play Lava Coil main as well, and sometimes even Tocatli Honor Guard. Cards like Adanto Vanguard and History of Benalia are annoying. On top of that, while you do have a decent number of answers to their Angels, you’re not always going to draw one.

Out

In

Some of you might wonder why you should play this deck over regular green-black midrange. While both decks have a lot of cards in common, they have drastically, almost opposite, good and bad matchups.

The Undergrowth variant is a lot of fun to play (to be fair, I also really enjoy playing the midrange one) and I will keep trying to improve the list. I’ve had a few people try the deck out, enjoy it a lot, and do well with it, so if you’re looking for something a bit different, give it a try. Any kind of feedback or questions are obviously welcome.

Edit: Here is the latest list featuring Jadelight Ranger. I went 4-1, losing in the last round to… Jeskai Control for the first time (they had Phoenix in the sideboard, which was hard to deal with as usual).