Mischief. Mayhem. Forests.
I’ve been in kind of a weird place with Magic lately. I have all the time in the world to play but almost no desire. It’s a combination of not being able to play my favorite deck—U/B control—in Standard, not liking the Limited format, and, well, Diablo 3. This was until my buddy Kyle “Top 4 Nationals” Duncan asked me if I wanted to go to a 2.5K in Toronto with him.
I was pretty sure Delver was still the best deck, but not having played any Standard in months, I was hesitant to pick it up. I liked the look of former GatheringMagic writer Carrie Oliver’s mono-green deck, but I was unsure if it was the real deal or not. Then out of the blue, like the Sword of Tyrael fallen from the heavens, I received a text message from my old partner in crime Jamie Archdekin. I hadn’t seen him since he moved out west to become a Mountie, but I’ve always respected his opinions on Constructed. He told me that mono-green was the deck to play and sent me some updates to Carrie’s list.
And so Kyle and I cruised the streets of London finding Constructed powerhouses such as Revenge of the Hunted and Ulvenwald Tracker. I had tickets that night to go see Prometheus, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to let a Magic tournament derail my plans, so this is what we scrounged together:
"The Strangleroot Heist"
I don’t think I’ve played twenty-three Forests in my entire life. In fact, I think if you took any three of my past Constructed decks, they wouldn’t add up to twenty-three Forests. I have a running joke with my friends that I’m allergic to Forests. I even rarely draft green, and I only do so in specific circumstances. Ironically, in both Pro Tour Qualifiers I’ve won, I’ve had Forests in my deck, but that’s neither here nor there.
Some new cards we added:
Rampant Growth – You need a bunch of Forests in play; that’s kind of what this deck is about. Dungrove Elder is much less impressive when it’s a 2/2. Also, I would like to be able to hard-cast my Revenge of the Hunted if I need to. Because we also cut the Birds of Paradise, I added a twenty-third Forest, though twenty-four wouldn’t be out of line.
Ulvenwald Tracker – First rule of Fight Bear is you don’t talk about Fight Bear.
Crushing Vines – I feel that it’s always wrong to play Naturalize. There’s always going to be a card that has a similar effect but is slightly better. In this case, there aren’t too many enchantments I’m worried about, but having a card that can kill both Sword of Feast and Famine and Consecrated Sphinx seems pretty good to me.
You should probably take this list with a grain of salt. It was scrounged together at the last minute, and I played literally zero games with it before Round 1 of the tournament. Incidentally, we made it to the theatre exactly on time, and I enjoyed the film immensely. Honestly, I don’t understand why some people hated it so much. I can see why someone wouldn’t like it, but some people act like it’s the worst movie they’ve ever seen. There were definitely a few things I didn’t care for, but overall, I thought it was very well done.
By the time I got home and threw together a sideboard, it was around 3:30 A.M. Ah, the classic three hours of sleep before a Magic tournament. The familiar aroma of Tim Horton’s coffee welcomed me back to the scene, and I was ready to battle with my Revised Llanowar Elves and Beta Forests I’ve owned for years, yet seldom use.
Round 1 vs. Peter Hlatki (Delver)
“Oh wait, this can’t be countered.”
Round 2 vs. Richard Sun (Wolf Run Ramp)
We split the first couple of games, me winning one off a Revenge of the Hunted and him winning one off an Inferno Titan and a Huntmaster of the Fells. Game 3, I had a Revenge of the Hunted in hand and waited for him to play his Titan. Play his Titan he did, and as soon as I untapped, my Dungrove Elder went HAAAUMPH.
Round 3 vs. Jacky Tang (W/U Sam Black)
In Game 2, I had an early Dungrove Elder, which got some early beats in before my opponent had some Timely Reinforcements. A couple chump-blocks and a Day of Judgment later, we were back at square one. I ran out my Thrun with five Forests in play, thinking it unlikely that he would have his second Day of Judgment.
He was tapped out, so it looked as though my next Dungrove Elder was safe.
Three of them, eh? I played another threat. This one has to be good.
Reeeeeeeeaaaaaaalllllllyy???? Turns out I have more threats than he has Wraths, and although I let myself get down to 5 life from Restoration Angel, he couldn’t outrace my giant monsters.
Round 4 vs. Gregory Marks (Wolf Run Ramp)
Game 2, my opponent didn’t have a chance to find a miracle, and my monsters squashed him convincingly. Game 3, we both mulliganed, and he picked the worst possible time to keep a one-lander, as I had double Beast Within in hand. I Stone Rained him into oblivion, and it was on to 4–0. I just needed to win my next round, and I could draw into Top 8 and receive a minimum of $100.
Round 5 vs. Noah Long (B/R Zombie Pod)
Noah was among the better players in the room, so I wasn’t going to get any free wins. I felt pretty good about the matchup, though, since my monsters are gigantic, and his are tiny and squishy. After playing the deck for four rounds, I honestly wasn’t worried about any deck—except maybe something with a bunch of Mirran Crusaders and/or Sword of Feast and Famine. As far as I knew, that deck didn’t exist, so I felt pretty confident about my odds of winning.
Game 3, Fight Bear and Sword of Feast and Famine ate his early creatures, but a Phyrexian Obliterator forced me to play a bit more conservatively. Thanks to the Sword, I was still able to attack, but only for 3. Dungrove Elder soon joined the party, and my lack of lands meant I was only attacking for 5, but it was still an upgrade. Noah left himself dead on board to an alpha strike, and I was happy to oblige him. When he asked me to sacrifice a bunch of permanents to his Obliterator, I informed him that he was dead. What happened was that he forgot to record the life loss from his Birthing Pod, so he thought he had another turn to live. It happens to the best of us. I once lost the finals of a Nationals qualifier by making a very similar mistake.
Just like riding a bicycle! I was a lock for Top 8 barring any shenanigans. I hadn’t actually run the old undefeated-in-Swiss in a while, and it felt pretty good to be back on the wagon, so to speak. I spent the next couple of rounds finding food and putting a Cube Draft together with my beloved Full Mirrodin Cube.
The Top 8 was announced, and I was going to have to face Noah again.
The games were much closer than our previous ones, but in the end, it came down to who was on the play. Both of the games I won were due to Bellowing Tanglewurm, a card I very nearly cut from the deck. In fact, had I managed to find a fourth Fight Bear or Predator Ooze, I probably would have cut it. I’m glad I didn’t.
My semifinal match against another SamBlack.dec was very anticlimactic, unfortunately. I kept a one-land hand in Game 1 that didn’t work out, and my opponent’s stream of Blade Splicers and Restoration Angels made things very difficult to come back from. In Game 2, I had a Sword of War and Peace on a Dungrove Elder, but he had a Divine Offering to not take a million damage. I was really counting on the life-gain from it to effectively race. Gideon Jura made that impossible, and I quickly took my first and only loss of the day.
Overall, the deck was a blast to play, and I highly recommend it. I would encourage you to play it as much as you can to figure out the numbers. As I said before, this was thrown together at the last minute, so the list can definitely be improved. Here’s a quick and dirty sideboarding guide for what I was doing during the tournament.
Against Delver (including SamBlack.dec)
Against Wolf Run Ramp
(Consider bringing in Garruk Relentless as well depending on the opponent’s build.)
Wrap Up for Real
As always, use your best judgment when sideboarding. Notes can be a helpful guide, but always think about the specific circumstances, and be willing to change your tactics if necessary.
I’m currently looking into attending SCG Detroit, and I may very well be sleeving up over twenty Forests for the second time in my life.
Until next time, HIS NAME WAS GARRUK RELENTLESS.
arcticninja on Magic Online