Red Green Monsters Primer – Wisdom Fae Under the Bridge
I’m writing this article the day before the Dundee PTQ, so I’ve done the majority of my testing. It’s been a strange period for me in Magic as I’ve tested with the widest range of people I have for 10 years or so as a result of both Ross Jenkins and Bradley Barclay being really busy at the moment.
I’ve played a bit with Neil Rigby and Matt light on modo, Allan Hutton, Peter Deane, Scott Mclellan and Ross Jenkins on cockatrice, and Greg Shanks, Martin Mcgowan and Bradley Barclay face to face. This has been quite good in that it’s allowed me to play against a pretty wide range of decks, getting round one of the major weaknesses of playing with a very tight group – narrow predicted metagames.
At the time I played with each of these guys, they were all advocating different decks, meaning they had some feelings on the exact composition of the deck, and what it’s sideboard would contain, and it’s really difficult to care that much about decks which you just have built as part of a gauntlet.
The problem with testing like this is that it’s difficult to do so very methodically, though. Prior to the Belfast PTQ, I’d played a lot against Mono blue, mono black, white weenie and a bit against mono red, then suffered from making mistakes in the mirror at the tournament.
After playing Esper a bit more online when I got back from that event, I started to feel like I couldn’t really get comfortable enough with control given the current situation I find myself in regarding testing. It seems to me that a very well tuned list of either Blue White control or Esper is a pretty good call most weeks, but I’m not really sure how to get to a position like that without being able to test in a very methodical way.
So I started testing with a Red Green Monsters list because this deck seems to have loads of really good cards in it, and if you’re not sure what you’re doing, this seems like a good start. I feel like if you’re going to cast cards like Divination or Elixir of Immortality then you need to know why they’re good in the context, because they are not abstractly powerful.
Red Green Monsters
4 Elvish Mystic
3 Scavenging Ooze
3 Sylvan Caryatid
3 Boon Saytr
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Polukranos, World Eater
4 Stormbreath Dragon
4 Domri Rade
3 Xenagos, the Reveller
3 Magma Jet
2 Mizzium Mortars
4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple of Abandon
This list is pretty unremarkable, except that it’s playing Magma Jet over Flesh//Blood. I wasn’t very impressed with the sorcery speed split card because it’s vulnerable to removal, and if you have a creature in play with power equal to your target’s toughness then you can often just block anyway.
It feels like Felsh//blood is really getting played because it can be explosive against certain decks and certain (uninformed) opponents, and I really just wanted a removal spell I could count on early to kill packrats, Tidebinder Mages, random white and red aggressive draws and help me finish off planeswalkers.
The scry also helps the deck smooth out it’s draws, a not inconsiderable advantage in a midrange deck with little raw card advantage, a slightly ropey curve, and 7 mana dorks. I’m happy with this change, but it might be that Magma Jet doesn’t kill enough guys, and I end up wishing it was a Mizzium Mortars or Lightning Strike.
This deck is a pretty good choice, with a lot of powerful effects and some explosive draws. What put me off was the bad draws, full of pretty average cards which are in the deck to enable devotion and the general lack of interactivity.
R/G is playing a control role in this match up. The game shouldn’t be too difficult to win so long as monoblue doesn’t overwhelm you with fliers and Thassa, God of the Sea early.
This means that having plenty of removal to kill fliers and reduce devotion is a good option, while the Miscutter Hydras are something of a no-brainer – it would be worth considering bringing them in even if they had protection from a different colour, as a big creature late and a small creature to trade with early, but with pro blue they’re excellent for obvious reasons.
Boon Satyr isn’t great here, and will often end up trading with a lower casting cost creature, while Ghor-Clan Rampager is pretty much a generic big guy (if they’re blocking your guys, the game’s probably already won, and as a conditional burnspell that only targets players they’re hardly amazing) and Stormbreath Dragon is maybe a little expensive here, and will often become redundant because of the hydra’s anyway.
This deck is a good choice, and has been doing very well. My issue with this deck is that I don’t really see how you win mirrors; I was very much put off why watching Greg Shanks playing in the top 8 of Belfast against another mono black deck as he drew weaker cards, and wasn’t really in the game.
R/G is the aggressor here. The match-up is largely amount the Red/Green deck throwing out threats until the monoblack deck runs out of answers.
The match up really comes down to Pack Rats and Desecration Demons, and for this reason I’m going to try and move things around to include 2 x Plummet in the sideboard, because other than these cards, the monoblack deck is full of cards for other match-ups which don’t really cut it in this one.
Devour Flesh is a 4 of because of Blood Baron in esper and some mirror-concerned Black Lists, and while this makes sense, it’s a liability against this deck, which will often sac a mana guy to keep a big threat alive. Heroes Downfall is a great card, but the fact that both planeswalkers can leave me up a creature after they fall makes for some difficult spots for the monoblack deck.
The match up feels littered with stuff like this, most of which favours the red green deck, and I feel like it all adds up to a favourable match up for red green, packrats and demons aside.
Esper and U/W
These decks are different from the perspective of playing them, but from red greens point of view, much the same. Esper has better removal, but worse mana. Both are a fine call for the event, but as I discussed earlier, I’m a little disenfranchised.
This is a tougher match up. It’s close, and largely comes down to how many Planeswalkers you draw, and if you can force one into play and gain some advantage from it.
The Rampagers are pretty much just generic dorks here, again, the jets don’t really have targets and I don’t like drawing an ooze too early and certainly wouldn’t want two, early.
The Revelry comes in order to destroy Detention Sphere which is their best answer for your best threats (the planewalkers), the Hydras are just another awkward threat, as are the Chandras. This should be a pretty decent match up afterboards, as you might expect given half the sideboard is coming in.
Red Deck Wins
This deck would normally be what I turned to if the control deck wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but there are a lot of problem cards out there; Voice of Resurgence, Loxodon Smiter, Master of Waves and Boros Reckoner are all pretty much nightmares for this deck. That, and it’s short a burn spell really – Shock is just pretty bad.
That said, there is a good one spoiled for the next set, and G/W isn’t very prevalent, so maybe later in the year…
R/G is playing control, here, simply trying to trade card for card and take as little damage as possible till it can stabilize. The dragons come out because they cost 5 mana and don’t do that much more than any of the 4 casting cost guys in the deck.
The Satyr is also pretty unremarkable, and if there was anything else in the board which would be decent, then the rest of the satyrs would be sided out too. The main deck Magma Jets will likely shine here.
This deck is a good choice if you think the metagame will be full of esper and u/w, but poor if you expect to see a lot of forests. I think the Dundee PTQ will feature a fairly broad range of decks, so this deck wasn’t really a consideration for me.
Again, R/G is playing control. Precinct Captains, Brave the Elements and to a lesser extent Ajani, Caller of the Pride are the cards which you need to be concerned about, so bringing in a little more removal, and some life gain to take them out of reach is decent. Again, a good match up for Magma Jet.
This deck has fallen by the wayside a bit. It’s basically just a higher curve, bigger effects ramp deck than the one I’m playing. It really struggles against control, but will crush decks like mine.
If the game goes late enough that you’re activating the ooze, you’re in trouble, and a bear isn’t really good enough. The Jet won’t kill much.
This will be really tough, but basically you want to be very aggressive, and then mill them with a surprise Gruul Charm, or hope they falter a bit and your planewalkers are good enough.
The deck could likely be built to be less vulnerable to this match up, but I think you’d be better playing a different deck if you expect to see much of this.
So, that’s it then. I don’t think this is some brilliant master plan choice or anything, but I think it’s a pretty good choice if you don’t have a control list you’re happy with.
This is a difficult format in that the decks are all pretty even, and there isn’t really a rock-paper-scissors dynamic, so there is a lot to be said for choosing a deck you’re comfortable with and just playing it.
All the best,
*** Update ***
Graeme then went on to win the Dundee PTQ with this deck. Well done Graeme!