Saturday, 18 July 2020

Archetype Breakdown: Green Stompy

Rogue ElephantI have tried for years to brew a competitive stompy deck and failed. I have tried in draft and constructed and always end up with a deck that is super easy to disrupt while being nearly incapable of effectively disrupting much itself. All for the payoff of being a little bit slower than other quick decks. I have tried all sorts of different tactics too, both using early ramp and not. Going wide, going tall, going Berserk! Having Keen Senses, having devotion. Some did OK but most died on their arses and none excelled. Finally I think it has arrived. A competitive way to build mono green aggro. It is the result of having so much punch in the three to five mana range and the ever increasing value of the tempo game. You could well argue this is simply a condensed ramp deck that only bothers reliably ramping once and packing a much much higher threat density.

The archetype still has some issues but you can power through those fairly easily with just a bit of build consideration. You are vulnerable to wrath effects. Planeswalkers help a lot here and card advantage puts in some work too. You can hedge further if you like with vehicles, manlands, and even some land/enchantment based ramp instead of some of the creatures. Land ramp is slower and does mean you are less able to dump a load of equipment in the list but that isn't the end of the world. Just something to take into account in the build.

The other big issue is not being able to remove things your opponent has. Mostly this is fine as you can just plough through with your better tempo and bigger numbers but it doesn't always pan out that way and you need to interact. Green has more tools in this area than ever before and doesn't need to rely on low tempo artifacts. Stack up on the top tier cards that have fight functionality and prioritise taking the high tempo colourless cards with removal effects.

I will now briefly go over the groups of cards that make up this archetype. The numbers are a mark out of 10 for importance, power and priority in picking for each card.

The first group is of course one drop mana accelerators. These are the core of the deck. You really want upto about six to ensure you can open with one pretty consistently. Once you have enough then they start to drop in value for you but that is rather less likely than not enough. Once upon a Time can help alleviate a short fall in cheap ramp as can premium one mana threats however green is rather lacking in that group. The two flying options in this group really help to make Swords of This and That more appealing.

Fyndhorn Elves

Llanowar Elves 8
Elvish Mystic 8
Fyndhorn Elves 8
Arbor Elf 8
Boreal Elf 7
Noble Hierach 9
Birds of Paradise 8

Gilded Goose 6
Joraga Treespeaker 6

Avacyn's Pilgrim 6
Elves of Deep Shadow 5

Wild Growth  7
Utopia Sprawl 7

Oath of NissaCard quality effects are next up. These are fine filler options but not something you are looking to play. You are a tempo deck and these lower your tempo potential. Absolutely run these cards over having bad cards in your list or a poor curve. The optimal build likely has none. The cheaper the better when you are forced into running. I would play Adventurous Impulse over Bound of Flourishing or Grapple with the Past in most cases despite being a less powerful card simply for the lower cost. Copter is lovely as it gives you card quality without any real tempo cost while also giving you some really nice protection against mass removal. It could easily just be in the threats section.

Oath of Nissa 5
Once upon a Time 8
Adventurous Impulse 4
Smuggler's Copter 9

Blossoming DefenseCombat tricks next. These are amazing but you need to be sparing with them. You want one but two is the most I would run and the second one probably takes a spot I would give to an equipment or vehicle. You never want a trick and no targets, or even a trick but no curve play. Tricks are nice as they keep your opponents honest. They are really your only way to interact at instant speed and so they add a lot of complexity to your opponents lines. Low cost is important. Being able to counter a removal spell is big game too, it makes the trick good in tempo matches as well as against control decks. Saving an Elf from a Shock with a free pump spell is a really big +EV play that has resulted in plenty of wins for me over the years. I am pretty sure the three listed below are the best options on pump spells although they are not a significant amount better than Giant Growth. Berserk isn't really in this camp of spells and is more of a combo kill card or finisher. It is Overrun that you play as your last card. While very powerful it is rather win more, it doesn't save a dork in combat or from a removal spell in the early game and that is really what you want most from these cards in addition to their effects on combat.

Mutagenic Growth 7
Blossoming Defence 7
Vines of the Vastwood 6

Paradise DruidNext up are the two mana ramp options. These are not really what you are after, in the ideal world you ramp turn one and start pumping out high tempo threats ahead of curve skipping the two drop all together. In reality you need some two drops. When you need them most is when your one drops didn't show or were dealt with. There are also not that many top quality two drop threats in green you can play. As such having some ramp in the two drop slot is no bad thing. You do however really want that ramp to do more than a one drop ramp card. Paradise Druid works wonders with equipment. Incubation has nice synergies with a variety of strong cards that give +1/+1 counters or it can just mutate up in the late game and get in on the beatdown with some reasonable stats. I don't want more than two ramp spells in my two slot but I would play more if I lacked the one drop ramp. About four two drops is about right for your curve with a healthy number of one drop ramp dorks in your list.

Paradise Druid 6
Incubation Druid 6
Devoted Druid 5
Sakura Tribe Elder 4
Nature's Lore 3

Guardian ProjectCard advantage options up now and here we have an impressive selection when compared to a few years back. This is an area I neglected in previous builds for a selection of reasons. Mostly there was only really Clamp and only having one source of good card advantage made it unreliable. When you have several sources you can lean on it that bit more. This lets you play more lands and ramp alongside a more streamlined curve for better consistency and burst. It also lets you be really competitive in the long game. I have played a couple of games where I just over extended into Wraths to force them out and just carried on powering out stuff. I have come super close to decking myself a couple of times running this kind of list. You probably want two or three cards from this group. They are generally poor tempo cards so you do have to be careful. Henge for example is utterly amazing, but it is a little tricky to deploy. The more equipment, pumps spells, planeswalkers, and things like Guardian Project you have the dodgier it becomes. Play the cards from this group sensibly and make sure you are not just tossing them in without consideration. Uprising is an interesting new addition. The value is somewhat minor compared to a number of the alternatives but it is cheaper and/or safer than most and it provides trample which is massive when combined with some dorks and some equipment.

Skullclamp 9
Guardian Project 6
Vivien Ried 6
Vivien, Monster's Advocate 6
The Great Henge 6
Beast Whisperer 4
Garruk's Uprising 5

Vivien, Arkbow Ranger
Now we have the removal options. This list is not far off exhaustive. There are other fight cards that are either too inconsistent or slow and as such are to be avoided. Jitte and Ballista are the colourless options that don't cost you. Jitte makes all your mana dorks threats and ensures you win combat and ultimately the long game. This deck is the best place for a Jitte. The removal is heavenly and the support for it is high with plenty of dorks and mana. Ballista also benefits from the mana production of the deck and also from the fairly abundant counter synergies on the go which turn it from a low tempo utility card to pretty much a bomb that gives a bunch of reach and removal to the archetype. The planeswalkers are also nice as they afford Wrath protection and a pile of options. They work a lot better in this iteration of stompy that uses card advantage effects to be able to play a long game.

Umezawa's Jitte 9
Walking Ballista 9
Garruk Relentless 7
Vivien, Arkbow Ranger 7
Voracious Hydra 7
Dismember 6
Cursed Scroll 3
Primal Might 4?

HexdrinkerNow we shall take a look at the threats in curve order starting of course with the one drops. Really there is not much to start us off. We are looking to play mana dorks on turn one so that isn't an issue. Hex Drinker is the only card I am actively looking to put in my deck. It is nice because it isn't a dead draw late, is a threat at any stage, and affords a lot of options as you progress through the game. The other alternatives also scale up in power but they are rubbish top decks late game and that rather detracts from their appeal.

Hex Drinker 7
Experiment One 3
Pelt Collector 3

Scavenging OozeSlim pickings in the two slot as well. Tarmogoyf - the classic green two drop beater is rubbish in this deck as you don't fill up your bin nor do you speed up the filling of the opponent's bin. Gofy is often a 1/2 or smaller on turn two and that is terrible. It needs to be at least 4 power to be exciting and you just can't make that happen. Scavenging Ooze is the best as it gives you some disruption and utility while also being a card that scales into the late game. Recruiter is fine but it is a little off theme. It's tempo is generally mediocre and the value offered is slow and expensive compared to the dedicated card advantage spells. I would much rather run Elvish Visionary than most of the two drop options on green threats out there. It is a bit like card quality in that you take a little tempo hit for a bit more consistency. Visionary gets better the more equips, buffs and pumps you have. A good way to get your curve padded out in the right places.

Scavenging Ooze 6
Duskwatch Recruiter 4
Tarmogoyf              2
Elvish Visionary 4

Garruk's HarbingerThree drops are were the real depth and power start to come in. Jadelight used to be one of the best offering a lot of consistency and value alongside good tempo. Garruk's Harbinger seems to be the new big name in town for this part of the curve. Rishkar is good for synergies and taking the edge off top heavy decks with a decent amount of extra mana production potential. Lovestruck Beast is nice and big and does some lovely curving with the Great Henge but is just fat and can be turned off more easily than most. Nissa is great for giving value, protection against Wraths and helping with go wide game plans. Tracker is just a nice value all rounder but is weaker than most on curve. Sword of Fire and Ice, and indeed any of the other Swords of This and That are somewhat more five drops. They could be in the value section or the removal section too in this case but for some reason I have just put it/them here. Swords are powerful and they work brilliantly in this kind of deck with lots of bodies and lots of mana. Lovely with tramplers and fliers too. I don't love playing Swords but when I do I like it to be in a deck as well suited to them as this one is.

Garruk's Harbinger 8
Rishkar, Peema Renegade 7
Jadelight Ranger 7
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar 6
Tireless Tracker 6
Lovestruck Beast 5
Swords of Fire and Ice 7

Surrak, the Hunt CallerThe four slot is where the power starts to really take off. Questing Beast is just obscene levels of power. Great tempo and threat while also scaling dangerously well with any sort of buff. Such a difficult and scary card to block. Surrak is exceptional in this archetype. Giving haste to many of your big hitters is a massive tempo swing. The potential of that alone is enough to make him a high priority target to remove. He typically hits hard with haste himself too! Vengevine is fine although I really want a couple of ways to get him in the bin before casting him these days. Give me a Copter and a Satyr Wayfinder and I would want it, without I would play it if I had to but it is rather less exciting. The card just doesn't pose as much threat as it used to, a 4/3 is gentle and small! Gemrazer is decently aggressive, has some versatility, and lets you interact and disrupt which is all nice. Wildspeaker also offers versatility and has a nice threatening ultimate in this kind of deck. His overall low tempo however keep him as just fine in this archetype. Unleashed however is rather more robust and has a far more aggressive +1 ability making him the preferred choice in most instances.

Questing Beast 8
Surrak, the Hunt Caller 9
Garruk Unleashed 6
Garruk Wildspeaker 5
Shifting Ceratops 5
Gemrazer 5
Vengevine 4

Nissa, WorldwakerThe five drops continue to have hard hitting power and have far more playable cards than other slots. Some go tall, some go wide. Some force damage through, some give value, some augment other cards and synergies. I want about four cards in this slot, most, if not all of which will come from this group. I ideally want at least one of them to be a walker too but that is fine as green is rather spoilt for choice in this area. Creeperhulk is pretty underrated and closes out games very effectively. Gearhulk is the best of the augmenting cards on average and supports counter synergies better than most. Whisperwood is one of the least effective tempo wise and has more of a planeswalker feel about it offering slow value over time and Wrath insurance. This section really is about tuning to your deck as best as possible. If you have Wildspeaker and Voice of Zendikar in your deck than Deep Forest Hermit looks great. If you have Walking Ballista and Rishkar then Gearhulk shines. Mana sinks love a Nissa, ideally a world shaker but also still a worldwaker!

Creeprhulk 7
Deep Forest Hermit 5
Verdurous Gearhulk 7
Wolfir Silverheart 4
Kalonain Hydra 4
Nissa Worldwaker 8
Nissa Who Shakes the World 8
Elder Gargaroth  6
Whisperwood Elemental 5
Biogenic Ooze 4

Carnage TyrantSix drops are where you want to be curtailing things. You can run one or two if needed but you can equally run none and still have plenty of power. Six drops do start to suffer from casting issues. Bad draws and having your mana dorks removed can often lead to a six drop simply doing nothing. Carnage Tyrant is amazing as it commands such a specific answer. It is Wrath protection in that you win with it if you draw their Wrath out before laying it or assure you do draw out the Wrath by playing it. With your archetype finishing the curve at six and not relying on mana sinks the Titan is a bit of a Colossal Dreadmaw in this archetype. I would only look to run it when I have at least two, ideally three or more, good utility lands I can find with it. If I am just pulling forests then most other cards on this list are better.

Carnage Tyrant 6
Primeval Titan 2

Kessig Wolf RunSplashes are perfectly reasonable in this list as a number of your mana dorks fix. You don't really want or need to for consistency reasons but you still manage it better than most other high tempo mono coloured lists. The best splashes as ever cover you in areas you are weak in and are not dead when you don't have the colours. Wolf Run is still a colourless land without red and is both a mana sink and source of reach. Scrounger is still a beater without black mana. Easy Prey is preferable to Cast Out despite being worse removal, even just on creatures, as the cycling cost is colourless.

Kessig Wolf Run 6
Scrapheap Scrounger 4
Easy Prey 2
Memory Leak 2
Shredded Sails 1

So these are most of the cards I am looking to run. From there is it all about ratios. I want a few ways to draw/generate cards and a few ways to handle creatures. The more the merrier of both when tempo, card power, and curve are not effected. When that isn't possible I will build to accommodate the best and most suitable of my options. Equally, a card like Guardian Project is dedicated draw and nothing else. It would count for rather more in the card draw section than a planeswalker. Beyond that I am looking to run about 16 lands as curving out is pretty important. I want at least one combat trick and at least one way to empower smaller dorks in an ongoing capacity, ideally a little more. I want six or so one mana ramp dorks. I want about four two drops. I want five or six of each four and five drops and I am happy enough with a six drop if required.

Once constructed playing is fairly simple. Curve out and attack! Playing around mass removal is your only main consideration beyond tempo. Dodging disruption on key cards is a thing too. You don't want to have your card advantage spells countered in a game that is likely value based. In my cube this is now the best mono green archetype you can make. It is powerful and consistent and really good at keeping up the pressure.


  1. What are your thoughts about Rancor? It used to be a green staple but has fallen out of favor a few years back. Seems decent for this archetype though.

    1. Rancor is still good but has not been immune to the effects of power creep. I don't run it in my drafting cube as it is too narrow there now hence it not being mentioned in this article. I would err against it however as this list is somewhat creature light and tends to rely on creature density for synergy. I mostly run Rancor these days when I have enchantment/aura synergies or hexproof dorks.