Green has some sick creatures up and down the curve. With Rivals of Ixalan providing the top end and Dominaria adding some critical early game, this could be a top contender in Standard.
A mono-green deck getting access to Llanowar Elves is huge. The hallmark of green is large creatures, and casting them a turn earlier is a sizable advantage.
Standard has a number of good answers to big creatures, but they almost exclusively cost 4 mana. Flooding the board with more of these than your opponent can handle should close the game quickly. Llanowar Elves lets this deck enact its game plan earlier than decks can set up their defenses.
Steel Leaf Champion has the potential to change the game. Curving Llanowar Elves into a 5/4 creature that’s tough to block is unbelievable. The fact that most of Standard’s removal spells for the Champion cost 4 mana means that you’re going to get a ton of damage in.
Rhonas the Indomitable provides a huge body and a powerful ability. Giving your other creatures trample is nice, and you have plenty of cheap ways to turn this on.
Your other 3-drop of choice is Thrashing Brontodon. A main-deck Naturalize effect is already useful, and the fact that this just happens to be a rather large 3/4 creature makes it fantastic in the format.
While Rhonas’s Last Stand is technically a 2-drop, you’re often going to cast it on the same turn as another powerful spell. If you don’t have something to curve into, or if you happen to be lucky enough to draw a Llanowar Elves, you can run this out there ASAP and start getting in damage. Other times, it’ll be one of the last spells you cast as you’re playing a deck with tons of high-power creatures. Virtually everything can crew a Heart of Kiran in this deck, but having access to another 2-mana spell that also gives the deck some evasion lets you attack on another axis.
Ripjaw Raptor is a nightmare to deal with for red decks or decks looking to trade in combat. It’s already well sized as a 4/5 for 4, but drawing extra cards is a huge bonus to punish anyone looking to attack into you or hoping to chump block.
Verdurous Gearhulk’s floor is an 8/8 trample for 5. That’s the floor! The ceiling is almost limitless as this will often serve as a 4/4 trampler that also provides a 4-point haste creature. Pumping the team so that they have no good blocks is what Gearhulk is all about, but other times it will just be a massive trampling threat.
The biggest kid on the block is still Ghalta, Primal Hunger, and this deck has plenty of ways to cast it cheaply. You can cast it as early as turn 3 by curving Llanowar Elves into Steel Leaf into Rhonas’s Last Stand (oh, and you’ll have 23 points of power in play)!
Blossoming Defense has never been better than it is in this deck. As I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of removal spells in Standard that can handle these big creatures, but you’re mostly looking at cards like Vraska’s Contempt, Ixalan’s Binding, Cast Out, and 4+ mana options. A single mana to counter this effect, not to mention deal a couple extra damage, makes Blossoming Defense a key card in this archetype.
While a mono-green deck may not have access to much in the way of traditional removal, you do have Cartouche of Strength. The Cartouche can give creatures like Steel Leaf or Rhonas trample while taking down an opponent’s threat. The 3 mana is clunky, but with creatures as big as the ones in this deck, it’s close to unconditional removal (and combos nicely with Ripjaw Raptor to draw an extra card!).
It looks like green decks behind Llanowar Elves and Ghalta are going to be a powerful force going forward as the hivemind works on finding the optimal build!