Owen’s a Win – Winning Wisconsin States

If you told me a week ago that I was going to register 20 forests at States this year I would have laughed in your face. In fact if you told me I was going to register for states at all I probably still wouldn’t have believed you. For a solid two weeks before the tournament I had decided not to go because its one of the worst tournaments of the year. If you do anything but get 1st place it basically isn’t worth your time to go but unlike a PTQ that has a prize that basically everyone wants. I took a closer look at it and since I cannot play in PTQs the prize is effectively free constructed-only GPs for a year (plus free entry into states next year), a plaque, and a custom DCI card. On top of that I don’t much like going to tournaments where I know I haven’t prepared, when I go to a tournament I try to win because that’s just the type of person I am and it’s just going to annoy me if I half-ass my preparation show up pay entry and just lose. Why bother going if I’m not going to try/care? So leading up to states I kept telling my friend I wasn’t going to go, going as far as laughing at him for even asking me.

I had been keeping on contact with some friends going to GP Brisbane on and off in our Channelfireball forums and they had been posting about decks they had tested and what they might play. I would chime in here or there with my opinion but I was clearly not as invested in the format as they were. Mono green had been getting a lot of attention and that one guy who goes to every single GP and rarely makes day 2 was gushing about how awesome the deck was. What’s his name again? Oh ya, Martin Juza. Martin loved the deck and wouldn’t shut up about how great the deck was (and who can blame him, it was awesome). The deck appealed to me because I didn’t want to buy 4 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]s to stay competitive, I didn’t have to do any testing because Martin and Shuhei Nakamura had done plenty of testing for me, and I had many of the cards by pure coincidence. Testing for PT Philly we did plenty of M12 drafts and I had 4 [card]Dungrove Elder[/card] from just that and I had to buy [card]Batterskull[/card]s for GP Singapore and so on. So all I needed was 4 [card]Primeval Titan[/card] and some of the newer cards and I figured those would be easy to get because all the smart players would just play blue decks with [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. Plus even though States is kind of a stupid tournament the title of State Champion is pretty cool to me, and anyone who cares about Magic can relate I think. For 1 year everyone knows you as the state champ. Call me a nerd but I don’t hate the sound of that. Anyways here is the list I played:

[deck]4 Birds of Paradise
2 Llanowar Elves
4 Rampant Growth
4 Dungrove Elder
4 Solemn Simulacrum
3 Beast Within
4 Primeval Titan
1 Wurmcoil Engine
2 Batterskull
4 Garruk, Primal Hunter
3 Green Sun’s Zenith
1 Acidic Slime
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Mountain
2 Inkmoth Nexus
20 Forest
2 Arc Trail
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Thrun, the last Troll
2 Sword of Feast and Famine
2 Blasphemous Act
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Garruk Relentless
1 Tree of Redemption
1 Viridian Corrupter
1 Inkmoth Nexus[/deck]

The deck did nothing but perform all day, it was just sick. Dungrove Elder was fantastic. At worst he was a 3 mana 5/5 Hexproof, and some games he would just dominate all by himself. He is a cheap threat and doesn’t die to [card]Doom Blade[/card] or [card]Oblivion Ring[/card], so against Solar Flare he turns all your ramp spells into business and they just die to it if they don’t [card]Day of Judgment[/card]. And I love nothing more than to see them tap out for a [card]Day of Judgment[/card] so I can slam [card]Primeval Titan[/card] or [card garruk, primal hunter]Garruk[/card].

One of the main differences between this version of the deck and the more popular RG Wolf Run Ramp version is 4 [card]Birds of Paradise[/card], 2 [card]Llanowar Elves[/card] over 4 [card]Viridian Emissary[/card]. Basically [card]Viridian Emissary[/card] is just not a card. It’s a flip card with [card]Grizzly Bears[/card] on the front side and [card]Runeclaw Bear[/card] on the back. I ended up playing against RG ramp 4 times in the tournament and each time felt like cheating. They had Viridian Emissary, which was never going to ramp them and I had Birds/Elves, which costs less and did more. Even when I lost the die roll and mulliganed I was still able to consistently resolve [card]Primeval Titan[/card]/[card garruk, primal hunter]Garruk[/card] before they would. In the 4 matches I played against RG I lost a single game, and that was due to mulling to 5 and keeping 2 [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card], [card]Rampant Growth[/card], [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card], and [card]Primeval Titan[/card] on the draw (still turn 4 Titan if I peel a forest) and just bricking off and never drawing a Forest. All that without even having a good sideboard for a matchup I expected to be popular, my plan was basically -1 [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] -2 [card]Batterskull[/card] +2 [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card] +1 [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card].

[card]Garruk, Primal Hunter[/card] was outstanding as well, although I didn’t quite know what to think of him until I got to play him. He was basically green [card]Tidings[/card] with a huge upside which I think this deck would play anyways even without the bonus words. 5 mana works pretty well on the curve since you can go turn 1 accelerant, turn 2 Zenith for a 1 drop or [card]Rampant Growth[/card] and turn 3 you have Garruk mana active. My best uses for him was just plopping him on an empty board and making beasts to try and get a quick win off him + [card]Dungrove Elder[/card] which worked very well since they are both resistant to spot removal, and using it to press an advantage and lock up games that might otherwise go long by using his -3. Many games I simply cast it and draw 6 off a [card]Primeval Titan[/card] and that would be good enough, and once I went real deep, needing exactly a [card]Beast Within[/card] to stay alive. I first attacked with my [card]Primeval Titan[/card] to get 2 Forests, played a [card]Rampant Growth[/card], and dropped Garruk the last card in my hand to -3 for 11 cards off my [card]Dungrove Elder[/card], hit the [card]Beast Within[/card] and stabilized to come back and win.

I have been asked why only 3 [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card] and it’s actually quite simple. In modern the ability to grab [card]Dryad Arbor[/card] just takes the card to a whole ‘nother level of power. It becomes a card you want to see in every opening hand because it will always do what you want it to do, while being efficient at all casting costs. Whereas in this deck it is basically the opposite, in that at it’s cheapest it gets [card]Llanowar Elves[/card] on turn 2 which can be passable in some hands, but as play you will make throughout a tournament overall it isn’t ideal. The 2 mana investment for a Elf that can just die is just not worth what you pay for it, and so on for the rest of the costs. Four mana [card]Dungrove Elder[/card] isn’t as good as a [card solemn simulacrum]Solemn[/card] when you cant play [card]Primeval Titan[/card] on the following turn and 6 mana [card]Acidic Slime[/card] is kinda of bad as well. Basically Zenith is a card you do not want in your opening hand but it still has a ton of value in being flexible and acting as extra [card]Primeval Titan[/card]s, its clearly one of your best cards when you have all mana and no hand in topdeck mode and deserves a slot in the deck but even getting a [card]Primeval Titan[/card] for 7 mana is off the curve of a turn 2 [card]Rampant Growth[/card] turn 3 [card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card]. The same way it is efficient at all costs in modern it is inefficient at all costs in Standard.

[card]Beast Within[/card] is excellent, as a 3/3 matches up pretty poorly against just about every threat in the deck so the drawback is pretty negligible and it adds a huge element to the deck that a mono green all creature deck normally wouldn’t have. It deals with just about every threat including [card]Primeval Titan[/card] and Garruk and can be a huge blowout on turns that involve them using [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card] on an [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card]. Games are so much easier when you know an opponent can’t interact with that and you can just kill them by tapping out.

As for the lands, I loved having only 1 Mountain and 1 [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card], despite is coming back to bite me one game where my Wolf Run was destroyed and the game went 25 turns with me playing multiple [card]Primeval Titan[/card]s later getting only Forests, eventually I won that game but it would have been miles easier if I had a second Wolf Run. That said minimizing the number of non-Forest lands you play is HUGE! The difference between playing a 1/1 [card]Dungrove Elder[/card] and a 2/2 when cast second turn off a Birds is like night and day, especially since it is common to Zenith for [card]Dungrove Elder[/card] when you have that specific draw. The damage adds up really quickly since you miss 1 every attack until you get a 2nd [card]Dungrove Elder[/card] out then its 2 a turn so in the games where you have that draw having an [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] instead of a Forest can easily cost you 8-10 damage. I might cut 1 [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] from the main for a Forest or for a [card]Ghost Quarter[/card] for that reason, but I am not certain on that.

The sideboard was kind of a mish mash of cards that are highly effective but not for the matchups I played against. I liked having certain cards in there but some just didn’t make sense. I would start out by cutting the [card]Garruk Relentless[/card] first because it’s a flip card. During the tournament round 1 I didn’t sleeve my sideboard so I after game 1 I set my sideboard down on the table face-down and the top card of my sideboard was the [card]Garruk Relentless[/card], so my opponent knew I had 1 in my sideboard, so I eventually sleeved just the [card]Garruk Relentless[/card] in my sideboard. Then later in the tournament I was considering sideboarding it in but I didn’t know what the flip side did so I had to ninja pull the card under the table, unsleeve it flip it over and read it then resleeve it, then decide if I wanted to play it. Anyone who comments saying I should have used a checklist don’t bother, I would never do that because checklists are stupid.

The rest of the sideboard should be pretty intuitive, the 2 [card]Arc Trail[/card] 2 [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] were nice to have the one round I played against Tempered Steel despite not drawing them. [card]Viridian Corrupter[/card] was sweet, I used it to kill something and then eventually Wolf Run on it to poison them out after sneaking through 4 poison already. The [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] and [card]Tree of Redemption[/card] were there for the mono red matchup but I run good and never got paired against it. The two [card Thrun, the last troll]Thruns[/card] were kinda sweet when I got paired against Solar Flare and it’s the actual stones against UB as long as you can keep a Bird on the table to sacrifice to [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card]. The [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card]s were there for the mirror match and control and were overall mediocre, it’s certainly a plan for the mirror but not a good plan but for my purposes a plan was better than no plan so I don’t regret playing them. The 1 [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] was there to help support the Swords I guess, I played it because I blindly trusted Martins testing. Lastly, the 2 [card]Blasphemous Act[/card] were there for token decks. I sided it in once and it was good when I drew it, despite the fact that I never got to cast it.

So that’s the deck I feel like I have explained my experience with each of the card choices. It’s easy to say that the deck might not be that good because I played against many weaker players with suboptimal lists but the deck did feel very powerful when I played it and I don’t know that I would have won states anyways if I had played a different deck. I would recommend this deck for as long as people play decks that can’t kill your t1 [card]Llanowar Elves[/card]/[card]Birds of Paradise[/card]. Like I said all tournament long I would play turn 1 Birds and it would make the deck so much faster it felt like cheating. Despite not getting paired vs mono red in the tournament I played a ton of games against a friend who played the deck in between rounds and the matchup felt fine. [card]Dungrove Elder[/card] is a huge brick wall and they can’t do anything about it plus any game I cast [card]Batterskull[/card] he just picked up all his cards because there was nothing he could do about it.

This deck was super fun and new and I highly recommend trying it out.


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