Artisan Brewery: The Desert Twister
Howdy all, and welcome back to Artisan Brewery! This is a momentous occasion for us. We've struggled, we've fought, we've brewed. At last, we've come full circle (or is it pentagram?), one color at a time, until we have finally landed on the last piece of the mono-colored pie: Mono Green! It's been a heck of a journey, filled with challenges, trials, and tribulations; but we're not quite done yet. In this, our final installment of the Mono-color inverts, we've got the biggest of them all to handle. Green is typically known for it's giant creatures running roughshod over opposing board states, using large amounts of land to fuel large, heavy spells, to finish the game out. We definitely want to try to run roughshod over our opponents, but not at all in the same way. Our plan is one of frustration for our opponents, doing something that we've never done in the history of this series; we're going to remove every resource we can from our opponents, and swoop in with damage in the end.
While we're not relying as heavily on creatures as Green typically likes to do, by the rules of the EDH format, we're still required to have one as our Commander. So we're going to pick one that shows our plan very well, one that lives and breathes destruction: Polukranos, World Eater. This card suits us for several reasons, not the least of which that it's a 5/5 for only four mana, making it a powerful blocker. But its Monstrosity ability letting us destroy creatures based on our mana availability is the epitome of what we want this deck to do. The fact that it has such a low mana cost makes it easier to re-cast as well, so if we have to sacrifice it via its ability in order to remove larger threats, we can more willingly make that trade.
We don't just want to destroy creatures, no matter what our commander says. This is partly due to a lack of "destroy target creature" spells, and partly due to the fact that not every deck strategy revolves around creatures, as we're about to demonstrate. Green's specialty in regards to resource removal is more along the lines of artifact and enchantment destruction, but we won't be limited to that. We'll also have different ways to remove creatures, and we'll even do something that we have yet to do: destroy some lands (makes you feel yucky just thinking about it, doesn't it? If not, you're a monster and you'll probably be salty about us not having even more of these spells). So without further ado, let's get started.
We'll divide our blatant destruction spells into two categories: spells that say "destroy" and don't do much else, if anything, and spells that have either an alternative mode, or an additional benefit to pair with the removal. There's a pretty healthy amount of both of these, so thankfully we're not going to be too thinly stretched on resources, but in order to stay on theme we're going to have to trim some of the normal things that Green excels at, such as ramp and creature presence. We'll find some other ways to protect ourselves, and the spells we're aiming to cast will be fairly low-mana, so we should be able to get past those trimmings well enough to function. If anyone reading likes a lot of ado, disappointment awaits, as there's none further, so let's get started with the simplest spells first.
These are the spells that just say "destroy target," with possibly a second target or different phrasing, and are mostly instants and sorceries. The namesake of this deck, and the most powerful single-target effect of our deck, is Desert Twister, one of the few Green spells that can actually remove creatures without some sort of condition. Another spell of almost equal power is Bramblecrush, which won't let us destroy creatures but will allow us to deal with any other permanent including Planeswalkers. Gleeful Sabotage is a spell that lets us easily remove an artifact or enchantment, while carrying an option for a second target. Value City, here we come! Speaking of value, we definitely want to make sure we include Rain of Thorns, as it's another great source for multiple targets. Stomp and Howl is perfect for removing two troublesome targets as well, very much like Force of Vigor.
Other blatant destruction spells include gems like Calming Verse, and Creeping Corrosion, which globally sweep away enchantments and artifacts, which doesn't hurt us too badly as we won't be running a huge number of those ourselves. Some other great single target spells for us are Winter's Grasp, and Feast of Worms, both of which remove irritating lands, the always-classic Krosan Grip, which is never a weak spell. For faster shenanigans, we can look to Beast Within, which is another great classic for Green, alongside two very similar spells in Broken Wings, and Return to Nature. We have good options for sweeping threats away from our opponents, like Whirlwind, and we'll see more variety in spells like this later on the deck. For now, we need to finish adding other "destroy" effects, especially those with alternative uses.
We're always open to unusual methods for our plans to come to fruition, and one such method is Tornado. With a very minor life cost, we can keep targeting troublesome permanents with no hesitation. The most beneficial part of this spell is that it's one of the only choices we have for repetitive removal, and the only one that both repeats, and carries no condition on the type of permanent it may destroy. That makes it not only one of the most unique pieces we have available to us, but arguably the most useful one as well.
If this is your first time visiting the Artisan Brewery, you'll need to know one thing: we love spells with multiple choices. Whether that be some of the above with multiple modes, or spells like the ones we're about to visit, with alternative uses for us. For example, card draw in Green is almost entirely based around creatures; whether the number of creatures we control, or creatures entering the battlefield, we're hard pressed to find options that don't include creatures. That's why we'll have spells that give us access to card draw along with their other modes. First on our list is Mystic Melting, which is a cute little spell at a reasonable cost. In a remarkably similar vein is Rending Vines, which has a minor restriction but it will likely be worth it by the time all is said and done, and then Slice in Twain. In addition, there are spells that we can use to cycle instead of cast, like Break Asunder, Wilt, and Barrier Breach. While cycling isn't necessarily the most efficient way to draw cards, we're willing to take what we get.
Multi-purpose spells don't have to just draw us cards, however. They can let us get more lands out of our library, like Nylea's Intervention, which is also an absolute powerhouse of a board wipe for fliers. We could get an extra land out of our hand via Broken Bond as well, or create a solid wall of bodies and remove our opponents' at the same time using Ezuri's Predation instead. Speaking of our lack of creatures, we can always use a little life gain, so Nature's Claim is a perfect addition to our list as well. Another strangely multi-purpose spell for us is Berserk. Using this, we can cause an attacker an opponent controls to deal extra damage--say, a commander to push it into Commander Damage death territory--and also destroy that same creature before the opponent can turn it against us. It's definitely against the spirit of the card's common usages, but since when has tradition ever concerned us?
There are a couple of creatures that we are, in fact, running that fall into this category as well. One such beastie is Kogla, the Titan Ape. This one serves the purpose of fighting a creature upon entering the battlefield, and being a constant removal source for artifacts and enchantments that may trip us up. It will also likely draw removal from our opponents, freeing some space for our next entry: Ohran Viper. We can use this as an attacker early on to get us extra card advantage, or hold it for later in the game to discourage attacks being sent our way. These two bring us right into our next segment, where we'll focus on more some creatures that only do one thing aside from being a body--but wow, do they do it well.
Like a Bull in a China Shop
We're finally at the point where we'll use Green's greatest strength specifically to give us more removal sources: big, goofy creatures. Some of these creatures are not entirely uncommon in Green decks across the format, so this is the portion of the deck where we'll have the most overlap with other lists. The most arguably recognizable example of that is Terastodon, a big heckin' beater that has the power to change game momentum all by itself, since it can remove any three noncreature permanents we want. Following right on its heels is Woodfall Primus, which can get us a total of two noncreatures out of the way, and has built in recursion to boot. And speaking of frequently seen creatures, we can say hello to Bane of Progress, another potential game-changer in the making that carries the guarantee of huge growth for our investment.
Steelbane Hydra is a spell we saw in our Riku of Two Reflections X based deck, so we already know it's a good powerhouse for repeated removal of artifacts and enchantments, all the while starting out big. Acidic Slime carries the likelihood of removing at least one creature via deathtouch alongside its enter the battlefield trigger, and as mentioned before, creature removal is something we need to be sure we try to find. In that spirit, Apex Altisaur is a perfect addition, giving us an opportunity to hit non-flyers that our typical board wipes won't be able to touch. Engulfing Slagwurm also manages to take out attackers that come our way, gaining us life in the process, and Lowland Basilisk works in a much smaller capacity to do the same thing, taking at least one creature with it, and really, that's all we can ask from it.
But Wait... There's More!
We've gotten through the meat of the deck, now we'll get into the veggies (a.k.a., the support cards) before we get into the potatoes (a.k.a., the way we plan to actually win). Here's where we're going to discuss some of our potential ramp and card draw, or any other useful tidbits we would want to throw in. Some of these we'll have seen in our previous mono-colored decks, like Caged Sun, and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, but one that we've not been able to use in this cycle until now is Blighted Woodland. This is a nifty little bugger that grabs us two of our Forests out of our library when we need them, and when partnered with its functional twin Myriad Landscape, we're able to set ourselves up quite nicely as far as land count goes.
It would be kind of silly of us not to run some actual ramp spells in Green, even if we intentionally stay away from the super common ones in favor of spells like Grow from the Ashes, Migration Path (which carries a cycling mode if needed), and Verdant Confluence. One of the newer cards to the game that can make an appearance here is Tangled Florahedron // Tangled Vale, because we always enjoy double-duty cards, and of course we aren't going to say "no" to what equals a land that can block for us.
We mentioned above that card draw is something we need to find non-creature versions of, and while we're still going to slide Rishkar's Expertise into this list (let's be serious, it's too good not to with our 5/5 commander), that statement still holds true. That's where one of the final classic green spells comes in for us: Harmonize. Three cards for four mana at sorcery speed may not be the top threshold of card draw, but hey, this isn't a top threshold kind of deck anyway. Bonds of Mortality gets us one extra card as a bonus to its other ability, which feeds directly into our destruction strategy, so it's a slam dunk for us to put here as well.
Since we're not running a large amount of creatures, life gain is probably a good plan whenever we can get it. Primeval Bounty is a great way to do so, since we're going to be playing lands anyway, and the extra creatures when we cast our few will be incredibly helpful. We also already saw Engulfing Slagwurm and Nature's Claim, so we know we've got some solid options hiding within the 99. Gingerbread Cabin gives us a Food token, and Primal Command gains us 7 by itself, not to mention its other helpful modes, and Essence Warden to help even more against any creature-heavy strategies.
Life gain may not be enough to keep us alive, or we may need some repetition. So let's take a good look at ways to protect ourselves, as well as the recursion we can throw in. One of the spiciest ways we can put up some extra layers for ourselves is Elephant Grass. That's right, there's a Green equivalent of Propaganda and Ghostly Prison, with a clause that totally stops any Black creatures from attacking us. This can buy us some crucial time in the later parts of the game, where we can more easily spare the mana to pay the cumulative upkeep cost. Veil of Summer is a card that made a lot of waves when it hit standard, and functions as a counter spell and card draw spell for us, all for just one mana. The only real downside to it (and lots of our other spells) is that it's a one-shot effect. But with the right spells, it doesn't necessarily have to be. One such spell is Once and Future, which is always going to get us two cards back into our hand. Another Great example is Verdant Confluence, which we've already mentioned, along with Seeds of Renewal and Praetor's Counsel gives us back everything we've used so far and an infinite hand size to boot.
All of these work together fairly well to hold the line for us, but none of them really scream "winner." So we've finally arrived to the final piece, the key to the lock that is our victory.
Jane!!!!! Win this crazy thing!!!!
In our first analysis of what we want this deck to do, we mentioned that we were going to sweep in with damage as the final factor of the deck. But we've also seen that our creature count is pretty limited, and it's not like we're able to just cast burn spells--or can we?! That's right, there's a handful of spells in Green that actually deal damage to our opponents (and oftentimes ourselves, but that's why we have life gain). Most of them aren't permanents, but the one that is happens to be an absolute unit in this format. Primal Order is absolutely perfect for a format that almost discourages players using basic lands, and we're pretty much guaranteed to take less damage than our opponents as long as they're playing two colors.
The non-permanent spells that we'll want to use for damage are going to be heavily based on mana we put into them. For example, Squall Line manages to help us knock fliers out right alongside bringing our opponents life totals down, which was always our secret goal. Borrowing the East Wind will basically just be a burn spell since it's going to be quite rare we find any creatures with horsemanship in the average game, and Canopy Surge is a neat little damage/partial wipe for only four mana at maximum value. Hurricane is the final piece of this puzzle, giving us one final push to try to finish off the opposition.
That brings the final inverted mono-deck to a close. It's been a long, arduous journey, full of ups and downs, fun decks, and white decks. We'll take a break from cycles next time, but until then, if you have any comments, questions, or a couple of suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments. Until next time!