Karn Liberated and Wurmcoil Engine that would be far too steeply costed for most other designs to rely on. To add insult to injury, those are often but mid-game plays to help stabilise, and the finishing blow comes in the form of an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or something else in the double digits of mana cost. There's also a Pauper variant, which has its own annihilating terror in Ulamog's Crusher.
This whole "be inactive in the early turns while you ramp, then take over the game" is not a concept alien to EDH. A compilation of various gameplay statistics courtesy of the Command Zone showed that if you are sitting on the highest land total, you tend to win the game. This makes sense - having a ridiculous resource pool at your disposal tends to be pretty good in a sloggy multiplayer format, and lands are the most resilient form of ramp. As such, Gx decks devote nontrivial numbers of slots to Cultivates and stuff like that, and those less fortunate still often run Burnished Harts and whatnot. However, most lists have the common sense to not go full ham on the ramp, employing it to help power out game-warping plays. Ever wondered what would happen if you just tossed together a list that goes about as ham on mana as humanly possible, largely disregarding the cost of what it subsequently accomplishes? Well, I'm here to answer this question with a turbo jank heap that unironically runs Book of Rass.
Patron of the Orochi is far from a glamorous hotshot commander vying for the limelight. Mono colour, obnoxiously expensive to cast, occasionally seen as a support piece but very rarely at the helm. If I'm to be honest, I'm not really sure why this is - read the guy's ability. That's essentially a Seedborn Muse out of the command zone. That's a pretty good effect. Once upon a time they made a spin on this which gave creatures flash too, and that ended up banned.
While our commander only nets us the untap part, knowing that it'll be coming allows us to sculpt the 99 to milk value from it, emulating the Prophet to some degree. Activated abilities are the name of the game here. With all of our mana available in each opponent's turn, we can freely pour it into whatever sink we have on board. Card draw? Body making? A ridiculously pricey artifact tutor? Sure, go right ahead. A lot of those options will be quite expensive to activate, but we honestly don't care. We're running an eight drop commander, so we'll be packing ramp in unreasonable quantities. By the time Patron comes online, we'll be swimming in mana.
It should also be noted that if we get a fresh Patron out onto the field by replaying him (e.g. after a bounce), we can use the ability again provided we overcome the summoning sickness. This forms the basis of the deck's most common infinite mana setup. A number of other combos have weaselled their way into the list over the years, and have become common enough that the deck wins off some form of infinite more often than not. As mentioned, Patron often actively partakes in the festivities, and if no combos appear his aforementioned Seedborn Muse mode becomes a super solid backup plan.
Omnath, Locus of Mana deck. It would feed everybody cards, land, and in return it just asked to be left alone to grow its Omnath in peace. I think I did four digits of P/T on him once. Occasionally it would give the Omnath trample and kill somebody, or win off something absolutely bogus like Goblin Charbelcher after filtering out all the land in the deck, or Helix Pinnacle. I ran literally all of the mana doubling effects in there, along with Seedborn Muse and the hero of this story. I noticed that whilst doublers were cool and everything, Omnath farming exploded when I had one (or both!) of those two online.
At some point I decided to revisit mono-green for fun, and I recalled this fellow. He didn't seem to be played much, which would give me some hipster street credit, and potentially allow an interesting deck design. Activated abilities were the name of the game from day one - I knew that was the only way that would let me reliably pour all of my mana into doing something productive. Working from the bottom up, I picked the best engines and wrapped them in a tutor/draw/ramp-rich support shell.
The list soon wormed its way into my heart and has been the longest lasting active build in my roster, with no perspective of disassembling it in sight. The biggest boon to the deck was the printing of Temur Sabertooth, as this unassuming uncommon led to the creation of a combo component in the deck's game plan, which later became actively embraced and pursued.
The Head Honcho
1. Swarm Mode
The initial version of the deck won through a swarm of tokens built up in every opponent's turn, scaling seamlessly into pods of any sizes. These days it's mainly a backup line of play in case no combo appears, but still works fine as ever.
- Ant Queen - The greatest token engine available. Produces the highest number of bodies, and lots of bodies are preferable for pump. Tutor for this if you have multiple tutors available or a finisher on hand.
- Avenger of Zendikar - The archetypical goodstuff token burst is surprisingly weak here. The main argument in its favour is its relative commander independence, but that feels insufficient given the fact most of the deck can still operate to some degree without Patron around anyway.
- Beastmaster Ascension - A favourite among weenie decks everywhere. If you're not swinging with seven or more creatures in here, you probably shouldn't be swinging. Once it activates, it stays live forever, letting you get that +5/+5 on additional attacks (in case they turn out to be needed) and defence duty. Doesn't respond to tutors as flexibly as the current finisher options.
- Coat of Arms - Hey here's an idea, why not turn my 20 1/1 insects into 20 20/20 insects? Be sure to only drop this one down on the turn you go for the kill, as otherwise you may feed other decks at the table to some extent. Has the same tutor response issues as the Ascension.
- Craterhoof Behemoth - The most powerful member of the Overrun family for this deck, by far, and he comes with legs too so you can access him easily. The issue with him is the fact he's a one-shot - if somebody fogs or the damage is prevented in another way, you're in a bit of a pickle. Thankfully, the arrival of Temur Sabertooth makes good ole Craterhoof recyclable, so fogs are no longer the bane of his existence.
- Jade Mage - Comes down early, makes reasonably costed tokens, but that's about it. Ran it for ages as a third backup engine when the deck was actively swarm-centric, but didn't tend to use it even back in those days.
- Kamahl, Fist of Krosa - The gold standard in finishing all those years later. If you can feel a wrath in the air, don't be afraid to set him down the same turn as your token engine. If someone pulls the wrath trigger, people stop having lands. If someone does something silly like Massacre Wurm or Blasphemous Act, people stop having lands and you retain your army. What's not to love? It should also be noted that if you have extra Patron untaps and/or a ludicrous amount of mana on tap, you can just pull an alpha strike out of thin air and kill everybody with animated lands with no warning.
- Nemata, Grove Guardian - Responds to every single tutor, produces reasonably costed tokens and can boost the bejeezus out of the tokens in combat. Just use all of the mana on your turn to make more saprolings and sac them off, as well as any that your opponents happen to block. A true one-man army. Tutor for this first if you have one tutor and no finishers, otherwise grab this after Ant Queen falls.
- Wren's Run Packmaster - Probably the best value token maker available, but you need elves to have it work reliably. The current list only runs a handful, so putting this in would be a bad idea. If you go for an Elfball mana shell (not recommended, too vulnerable), this becomes a sensible consideration.
If you happen to open or draw some of these, start paying attention to the possibility of an infinite mana setup coming together. Complementary pieces are often easier to tutor.
- Cloudstone Curio - A Temur Sabertooth-like enabler for hasted Patron bounce infinites, and still pretty good value town off ETBs otherwise. It's an artifact, making it harder to tutor, and it doesn't double as a defensive shield when in swarm mode.
- Concordant Crossroads - Mass haste is pretty problematic for the deck to handle if things don't work out immediately, making this a risky include in spite of the non-existent mana investment.
- Earthcraft - Combine with mana doublers and targeted land boosts (Wild Growth/Utopia Sprawl) for a potential infinite off a token maker. If your land taps for more than it takes to make a body - great. If it breaks even, you can rip a Patron untap after making an arbitrary number of bodies and go to town. When not in infinite mode, still makes everything into a hasted Arbor Elf, which can scale quite well in backup swarm mode.
- Lightning Greaves - Not having to wait a full go of turns around the table to get to use Patron is actually pretty good. Combine with some bouncing courtesy of Temur Sabertooth and the game should be over on the spot. The fact it grants shroud is also a little handy when in non-combo territory.
- Staff of Domination - A bit costly at 6 mana to draw, but still enables dig. Plus, it comes with other cool functionality. Nothing like tapping down that gigantic beefslab so it doesn't destroy you, or serving as a two-in-one piece of an instagib combo if a fat mana dork comes around.
- Swiftfoot Boots - Similar story to Lightning Greaves, but a bit more balanced by having it come with a non-zero equip cost. In terms of Patron combo land, this just means it takes one more untappable mana for this to work in the same way as the Greaves. Think we can accomplish that.
- Temur Sabertooth - What doesn't this guy do? If something nasty hits, evacuate all your stuff back to your hand (whilst making this fellow indestructible, no less). Re-use all manner of ETB effects, be it Reclamation Sage, Brutalizer Exarch or Craterhoof Behemoth. Heck, even make infinite mana! Just what the doctor ordered.
- Thousand-Year Elixir - Cheap, hastes up Patron without any extra cost on the turn he comes down, doesn't transfer to your opponents. The untap isn't too shoddy either, and can ramp further with mana chickens or let Patron wade his ginormous vanilla buttocks into combat.
Reliable access to whatever you may need... as long as it's a creature, or you've got enough mana to get the crazy artifact options online.
- Chord of Calling - The instant speed makes a wonderfully tricksy tutor to have access to. Flash in Kamahl, Fist of Krosa in response to somebody trying to blow up the board and take down everybody's lands. Blow up a vital piece of a combo with appropriate ETB removal at exactly the wrong time. Flash in a finisher after a derpy-looking swing with some ants and win the game. Or, y'know, just perform normal tutoring in your turn if needed. The convoke is pretty handy for cheating cost every now and then. Even a deck as mana-centric as this one appreciates a good alternate casting cost.
- Citanul Flute - While the repeated tutoring is nice, the range being limited to creatures and the required mana investment make this a less desirable options than a number of cards that got printed since the list's inception.
- Defense of the Heart - The fact you can just set it down and go about your day, letting it pop on its own and get you stuff is pretty good. However, this is a pretty horrible topdeck later on when you're looking for immediate action.
- Fierce Empath - A good tutor needs to be able to get as many as possible from the set of Selvala, Temur Sabertooth, a token maker and a finisher to be all-around useful. Nabbing utility creatures is a nice perk on top of that. This only reliably accesses the swarm options. It was fine in the early builds.
- Finale of Devastation - A latter-day member of the Chord/GSZ family, making up for the mildly increased cost by having the option to recur the creature. Plus, shall you dump enough spare mana into X, this doubles as a finisher. I still somehow can't get over the fact that it grants haste rather than trample, for whatever reason, but that might just be me.
- Green Sun's Zenith - The ultimate green creature tutor, needs no explanation. The only thing that needs an explanation is my paranoia about Extraplanar Lens and wraths resulting in me not running Dryad Arbor to work with this, and I have no explanation for that.
- Natural Order - The list doesn't run enough creatures to reliably produce sacrifice fodder. Variations of this problem plague some other established tutor options.
- Planar Bridge - A side-grade of the more represented Planar Portal effect, sacrificing access to instants/sorceries for mana efficiency, no counter window and effectively granting flash to whatever you pull out. Shenanigans!
- Planar Portal - I got the mana, this got the tutoring. All the tutoring. In the end, it's probably the best tutor in the deck as you can use it to repeatedly grab literally anything you may ever need, including removal, protection options or other tech needed at the time.
I have grabbed Overgrowth with this
- Primal Command - A bit like Brutalizer Exarch, as it's a tech card (including having been the only piece of active grave hate with an extended stay in the 99) that can pull double duty as a tutor. Unlike the Exarch, this will probably do the tutoring more often than not. The relatively steep cost for its lack of flexibility got it muscled out of the list with time.
- Ring of Three Wishes - If for whatever reason you're running low on wishes, grab a Planar Portal. I'm actually being serious here. But yeah, same conclusions apply here as the other big mana artifact tutors.
- Shared Summons - Half a Tooth and Nail for five mana is not a bad place to be. However, most other tutors come with a lower overhead, making them easier to sequence at all stages of the game (including some potential early scenarios).
- Summoner's Pact - You won't have to pay it if you use it to snatch something to kill everybody, and who doesn't love unpaid pacts? Whee! Can lead to a pretty good Eternal Witness into Temur Sabertooth into whatever chain if you've got enough mana. Even if you do end up having to pay the mana later, it's stilly typically worth it.
- Survival of the Fittest - I did mention that other established tutor options suffered from the lack of creature density, and this is the main casualty. Just like you don't get to sac stuff to Natural Order, you don't get to pitch stuff to this. How atypical for green!
- Sylvan Tutor - A sorcery-speed top-of-deck tutor is okay on principle, but we're typically comfortable covering the mana overhead to just sneak the thing directly into our hand. Worldly Tutor is strictly better.
- Time of Need - Legendary restriction? Pfft! Hits a surprisingly serviceable bunch of targets at any stage of the game, reaching Nemata and Kamahl. Turns into Selvala, Heart of the Wilds more often than all of the other targets combined though, especially early game.
- Tooth and Nail - Not quite as lethal as it would be in any 2+ colour deck, as mono green lacks a way to have it be immediate geegmas, but still does very good work. If in possession of a non-creature combo piece, tutor up the creature necessary to go off and Eternal Witness to bounce the card back to your hand immediately. If on the token backup plan, typically just churn out Ant Queen + Kamahl, Fist of Krosa to have a safe field to make insects on. If you have a bunch of lands, sometimes you can get all cheeky with Kamahl + Craterhoof Behemoth for a gib out of nowhere. If swimming with mana but not quite infinite, Temur Sabertooth + Eternal Witness means more copies of this. Think you get the picture by now.
- Weird Harvest - Whilst the appeal of spending a small chunk of mana to sort out most, if not all, of your tutoring needs is quite real, people won't be tricked by the faux-group-hug facade in anything outside the shortest of terms and will find ways to win faster or answer your shenanigans.
- Woodland Bellower - Not a classic tutor option, but rather a proxy for all sorts of low-CMC utility: Eternal Witness, Reclamation Sage, Ulvenwald Tracker, possibly a mana dork if that's what the game state leads you to. It's a huge pity this can't get Selvala...
- Worldly Tutor - Hey, it's mana cheap. You can sneak it in during your ramping phase if your hand can support the next turn without a ramp-relevant topdeck. Or you can stack the next card you draw when you enter dig mode. Options!
- Yisan, the Wanderer Bard - Indubitably amazing in a more creature-heavy build, as Patron untaps him as well, but unreliable dead weight here due to the creature scarcity and lack of combos he could assemble.
Drawing cards is good. Comes in the form of a few one-shot effects that end to nab at least seven fresh cards for the mana, due to how gargantuan Patron is, and various mana sinks that can be used to top up as turns go around the table.
- Book of Rass - Greed and Erebos, God of the Dead are good options for black, we could make use of a similar effect. Cheaply costed mana-wise too. Just don't go overboard so you actually live to make use of what you draw.
- Diviner's Wand - The cheapest no strings attached "X: draw a card" at 4 mana, allowing you to convert all the excess Patron mana in everybody else's turn into bonus cardboard without any advances on your life total. The +1/+1 and flying on the equipped creature is not to be ignored - you can pull a surprise chump on a flyer "safely" sent your way, or even fuel all of your mana during your turn to produce a 21/21 flying Patron and knock someone out of the game. It's the most hilarious thing you can do with this deck. Variations on Patron's pump are also acceptable, this turns him into a formidable two-shotting flying voltron if there's nothing else to do.
- Garruk, Primal Hunter - If out of plays early, set this guy down and gum up the board to stem the bleeding a bit, maybe draw a few cards if the situation is really dire. Later on, it's like a Rishkar's Expertise minus the free spell part, which makes it a bit worse. However, you can copy it with Rings of Brighthearth, so there's that.
- Genesis Wave - A gigantic value barf that rockets you forward in development like mad. Whilst a quarter of the deck may be non-permanents, there are a plethora of reasonably redundant combos and a number of permanent-based tutor/recursion options. As such, after you resolve this for a very healthy X, you will almost certainly have some manner of winning the game instantly on the board. I did some goldfishing with X=20 at some point (which is pretty affordable for the deck), 80% of the flipped piles won on the spot in one way or another, don't forget the odds go up with X increasing. Don't forget to leave a few cards in your deck just in case.
- Greater Good - Don't be afraid to ship Patron to this if your current hand has nothing going on. Going seven deep will probably find something interesting. Doubles up as a form to get something out of the commander in response to removal, and goes ballistic with haste.
- Harmonize - A simple utility spell that you're happy to have at any stage of the game. Helps power through pre-Patron mana stalls as well as provide some options when you topdeck it with 30+ mana and an otherwise empty hand. Great game smoother.
- Kozilek, Butcher of Truth - Pay six more for your Harmonize, get a horribly scary body that will likely trigger a wrath and take your graveyard with you. Another one of those cards that seem like they'd work but actually don't.
- Mind's Eye - Draw whenever an opponent draws, simple. Cheap too.
- Momentous Fall - A one-shot Greater Good sans discard, and with some life gain. I think I'd run the original over this for repeated use, which fits the theme really nicely.
- Return of the Wildspeaker - It's only fitting that the card announcing Garruk's curse being lifted would give you a choice between an Overrun and a tall draw. We're probably going to be using the first mode a lot, and the fact it's instant may sometimes come in handy in " : Draw a card" table-round dig scenarios for more efficient card acquisition.
- Rishkar's Expertise - A potential refuel of seven, along with a free spell cast, for six mana? Don't mind if I do! On the surface it seems troublesome, as people can shoot the Patron out from under you in response, but this won't be too much of a hassle if the Patron is able to tap at the time of the cast anyway. Knowledgeable opposition will shoot out the Patron while summoning sick if able, so if you have a tap-ready Patron you're good to go. Just be mindful of your timing and you're going to get ample value from this AER piece of dumb.
- Soul's Majesty - Marginally softer to disruption than Garruk/Expertise as it formally targets, but the same principles hold.
- Sylvan Library - The deck shuffles all the time, so having the power to peek at the top three cards during your draw step (and even eat some more than you're formally entitled to if desired) is very solid. Helps smooth out the early game, goes a few cards in late, you know the drill.
- Tower of Fortunes - Run for the hills! It's an activated ability that taps! It does offer you pretty good bang for your buck, at two mana per card.
- Well of Knowledge - Why would I give the opponents the ability to draw as well? I'm going to draw far, far more than they will. Simple. The fact it potentially gives us something to do is offset by the fact it's a really bad draw engine to topdeck later due to the turn delay, and by then the foes are quite likely to sink some mana into this to refuel as well.
The commander is an eight drop. We need to get there. Plus, once we get there, we can keep going as the various activated abilities are happy to guzzle mana you throw at them.
- Arbor Elf - Probably the best mana dork proper for the purposes of the deck, as he combos quite nicely with the mana doublers and occasional enchantment ramp.
- Basalt Monolith - Goes infinite with Rings of Brighthearth or Mana Reflection, and that's about it. The other mana rock of this ilk (Grim Monolith) only goes infinite with Mana Reflection, so there's that.
- Boundless Realms - Effectively a nigh untouchable mana doubler. Gets absolutely outrageous if replayed from the 'yard.
- Burnished Hart - This is the sort of stuff you're stuck running if you're not in green. We are in green. In fact, just green. Nevertheless, we don't need this.
- Cultivate - Kodama's Reach without the freaky tree hand. Gets two lands. Is good card. This sort of stuff became a staple for a reason.
- Dawn's Reflection - The any-colour clause does just about nothing for us, plus the ramp's a bit worse than the twin Rampant Growths (doesn't respond to doublers). Potentially useful in the combos which rely on a single land tapping for a lot of mana, but those are reasonably situational and the presence of lots of enchantment ramp stacked on a single land is quite inviting to enemy Strip Mines and their ilk.
- Exploration - Low land count, and not much way to fish for land to put in hand. Not that good an idea here.
- Explosive Vegetation - It lacks the "flexibility" of some of the other twin Rampant Growths, which was enough to cost it a slot once enough of those got printed. This still does the job just fine though.
- Farhaven Elf - 3 mana for 1 land, but leaves behind a chump blocker. A time-honoured ETB ramp chicken, but we don't flicker things reliably enough to care. Our ramp choices are more efficient.
- Fertile Ground - Not quite as cheap as a Utopia Sprawl/Wild Growth, and not quite as resilient/responsive as Rampant Growth. Let's keep the land auras to the strictly most busted ones.
- Fertilid - Looks awesome on paper. Then you realise you're actually paying 7 mana for 2 land with no way to refuel the counters. Pass.
- Frontier Guide - Can result in some crazy ramp with Patron while you're still digging for an engine. Is too expensive to use to ramp up to Patron though.
- Grow from the Ashes - Well yes, Skyshroud Claim is better, but this is still not too shabby. Plus, there's the panic button hardcast Search for Tomorrow mode in case you need it.
- Harrow - Whilst it only effectively ramps 1, it nets you 2 untapped lands to work with, allowing you to continue ramping. This actually produces mana if you have any doublers online. It opens you up to an easy 2-for-1 though, and still ultimately costs three mana to net you one bonus land.
- Harvest Season - Same old issue of creature density disables yet another card potent in more standard green lists. Did work in my merfolk deck.
- Hunting Wilds - Another twin Rampant Growth, this time with some fancy kicker that won me the game once (hasted bodies to sponge up infinite Craterhoof bounces) but will remain dormant 99.9% of the time. Still, possibility!
- Into the North - A perfectly valid reason, along with Extraplanar Lens, to run a snow mana base. Was axed after a few years of service to make room for Grow from the Ashes.
- Joraga Treespeaker - On the whole, Elfball is a bad idea as you're committing your ramp to the most easily removable permanent in the game. This particular elf is just too good to pass up though. If given the opportunity to work together with Rampant Growth or any other piece of 2-mana ramp, you can power out a turn three Mana Reflection. Responds to Patron untaps too. Useful just about always.
- Khalni Heart Expedition - Takes a turn or two to "charge up", but is well worth it with the two land return. The only two-drop that ramps more than one land!
- Kodama's Reach - Cultivate without the normal human hand. Nominally a smidge worse as Hisoka's Defiance exists.
Look guys, we "fixed" Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary!
- Mana Crypt - Probably the best mana rock ever printed. Like Sol Ring, fails to be untapped by Patron. However, it does accelerate early plays to a ridiculous degree. Turn one Kodama's Reach? Sure. And so on in this fashion, just whip it out whenever needed and watch the groans unfold. Skip it if you don't already own it, the price on it is back way past anything even close to justifiable.
- Market Festival - Dawn's Reflection II: Electric Boogaloo. The land ramp spells are a better use of four mana.
- Migration Path - Hello, I am a land ramp spell for four mana, and as such am a better use of said four mana. It comes with optional cycling which will likely never be used. Nevertheless, the fact the rider is there makes this thing better than mechanically identical ones that don't have anything extra stapled on.
- Mind Stone - Probably the best two-drop mana rock in here due to how coloured-heavy the land base is. Avoid using mana rocks outside of the strictly most optimal ones, though - they don't respond to Patron untaps, and are more fragile than land ramp.
- Nature's Lore - Two mana, an untapped forest arrives in play. Good times. Pity about it lacking functional reprints that aren't from obscure sets designed for the Asian market.
- Nissa's Pilgrimage - Cultivate++, the spell mastery clause is quite probable mid game due to the ramp spell/tutor density. And even if the spell mastery doesn't trigger, it's still a Cultivate, which is nothing to sneeze at either.
- Oracle of Mul Daya - Ultimately suffers from the same drawbacks as Exploration. The lands get yanked out of the 99 and thrust onto the table with a salvo of ramp spells, decreasing the odds of cheating in that land off the top.
- Overgrowth - A very respectable non-land ramp jolt - +2 mana for 3. Shaving one CMC off the land auras makes them worth it, talk about efficiency! Works well with land-untap-centric combos as well, even if they are a little situational.
- Rampant Growth - Two mana, land arrives tapped this time. Nevertheless, a classic. Getting to four mana turn three is pretty solid for the various twin copies of this...
- Ranger's Path - ...such as this one. Was in the list for a long time, got shaved due to similar ramp slot saturation/minor fireworks displays that took out Into the North and Explosive Vegetation.
- Reshape the Earth - Ramping ten lands is awesome, but costing nine to do so is not. The deck tends to want to switch gears a little once Patron lands, and ramp can cost all the way up to seven, but things get clunky in sequencing once the price tag hits eight.
- Sakura-Tribe Elder - Obviously Rampant Growth wasn't good enough so they put it on a body so you can chump before you dig up the land. If encountered later, can be combined with Rings of Brighthearth for extra value.
- Search for Tomorrow - If not suspended, Wood Elves without the chump blocker. If suspended, one of the only turn 1 plays the deck has. Helps accelerate the 4cmc plays, which as mentioned before tends to be quite handy.
- Selvala, Heart of the Wilds - When you control Patron, this bugger taps for six. That's just ridiculous. Play this before Patron and most likely get a card when you play Patron too. Where does it end? Probably with some ludicrous combo. It shouldn't be too surprising Selvala facilitates those pretty well.
- Shefet Monitor - An instant-speed Nature's Lore with a cantrip stuck on. Pretty decent, but a little clunky in both the ramp and draw department.
- Skyshroud Claim - Ohh, a twin Nature's Lore! What a pleasant surprise. Mana neutral with a doubler out, mana positive with multiple doublers.
- Sol Ring - What? I did say that the strictly most optimal mana rocks are worth running, and this is very tractable financially. This thing makes a turn two Skyshroud Claim possible, that's reason enough.
- Terramorph - By the time you untap and draw, this has netted two lands' worth of ramp. The fact that one of said lands arrives untapped immediately makes this sequence a bit better in the early game than classic twin Rampant Growths, as every now and then you get to make a play you otherwise wouldn't.
- Three Visits - A functional Nature's Lore reprint from a niche set for an Asian market. Expensive beyond reason, due to scarcity alone. I'm surprised this hasn't been reprinted yet, what's so troublesome about sneaking this in somewhere?
- Traverse the Outlands - The card looks bomb on paper, but it plays like a brick. This thing is never played on curve, and only ever reliably comes online with Patron himself. Five mana for seven basics is pretty damn good, but the deck likes its ramp to curve out nicely and be independent of other factors.
- Utopia Sprawl - The Llanowar Elves that's actually an enchantment so it doesn't die as easily. If played turn 2 and onward, is mana neutral on the turn you cast it. Run these in all your green decks, yo!
- Verdant Confluence - Triple Rampant Growth that can optionally flip into Nature's Spiral. The flexibility is nice, but the thing ends up somewhat underwhelming no matter what you end up doing. Don't forget you're got Mana Reflection at the same CMC and Boundless Realms for one mana more.
- Wild Growth - Utopia Sprawl, copy 2. The point still stands, and I recommend running these.
- Wood Elves - The best of the ramping three-drops as the forest comes in untapped.
- Yavimaya Dryad - Another ETB land getter.
Having a massive stack of lands is not enough, let's make them tap for a silly amount each to get even more resources to sink into stuff. Features some extra untappers for lack of a better place to put them.
- Caged Sun - A lovely selfish mana doubler, also pumps all your dudes a bit. This may actually become relevant with Selvala, Heart of the Wilds.
- Dictate of Karametra - Oh, I get it, it has flash so we can get the use out of it first. Yeah no, keep this 5 mana Heartbeat of Spring away from me.
- Extraplanar Lens - Talk about a high risk, high reward card. You open yourself up to a tempting 2-for-1, but you only need to commit three mana and a forest to double all your other lands. Run a snow mana base to make this asymmetric!
- Gauntlet of Power - A 5 mana doubler that also helps out other green guys. No thanks.
- Heartbeat of Spring - True, it's very cheap. It also happens to help out everybody. Leave it for all the Phelddagrifs of the world and stick to the other options.
- Illusionist's Bracers - Extra Patron untap! If it's your turn, make all the mana possible and then transfer this over to your token engine/Kamahl for twice the value from those as well. The joy of copying activated abilities in a deck made out of activated abilities. However, the nature of the activated abilities of the deck make this a multiplicative, situational mana doubler.
- Keeper of Progenitus - This is almost as bad as Heartbeat of Spring, why run it? Simple, really - it answers to tutors, which we have a lot of and often end up with a surplus of. It only helps out our allied colours, at least, so we won't be sending Mr. Dimir into the stratosphere. Still, it's a double-edged sword that can spectacularly blow up in your face, so proceed with extreme caution.
- Magus of the Candelabra - A lot of potential for a one-mana body, as he stacks like a beast with all sorts of other doublers and the usual activated ability abuse culprits. Partakes pretty well in combos. However, if none of his synergy pieces are available, he does literally nothing. The manner in which he comes online makes him a wonderful definition of win-more for the deck.
- Mana Reflection - More selfish doubling, this time on an enchantment, making it a tiny bit more resilient. The double-everything nature makes it work quite well with the beefier mana chickens in some combos.
- Nissa, Who Shakes the World - Five mana doublers that can be attacked don't seem too good. If you're in a position to defend her to have her ultimate, the game won't last long enough for her to ultimate.
- Nyxbloom Ancient - This deck is all about doubling, how about effectively stapling two doublers together? One for the biggest mana decks in the land, and Patron is certainly one of those.
- Regal Behemoth - The fact this gets turned off when you get punched (with you being able to punch the monarchy back not looking super likely), and incentivises punching you, makes it far too unreliable an option to run.
- Rings of Brighthearth - The plain use case of this is an extra Patron untap for two mana. However, this can be used to copy other activated abilities and isn't restricted to creatures, unlike Illusionist's Bracers. That grants it a surprising degree of flexibility, including extra draws/tutors from the artifact options, overruns from Kamahl, ramp from Steve/Blighted Woodland, plus the occasional kooky combo speed-up.
- Seedborn Muse - Another extra untap... but this time, instead of tinkering around with activated abilities, you get to re-use the handful of things that tap to work, like Citanul Flute or Planar Portal. Also puts on a pretty decent Patron impression if the real Patron is unavailable for whatever reason.
- Vernal Bloom - Cheap, and only helps out other green guys. That's not so bad.
- Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger - In today's obvious statements, the sun rises in the east, capers are inedible and praetors are stupid. This is an on-colour praetor that synergises with the game plan of the deck by doubling your mana and stunting everyone else's. Fair and balanced. However, his 8 cost makes him surprisingly hard to sequence, especially in a deck that's as keen to get its eight-drop commander as this one is. Plus, just like all the other praetors, he's likely to bait out removal, possibly of the wrath persuasion. Seems like he should work, but just doesn't.
- Zendikar Resurgent - Whilst the seven mana price tag is still a bit ludicrous, it sequences perfectly into Patron and we can put up with it. In return, we get another engine piece that we can use to draw our deck when going Temur Sabertooth full potato stupid mode, and even when not doing that it grabs a few cards from natural gameplay events to help deal with whatever may arise.
Having a few cards in the deck capable of picking up something from the graveyard is usually a good idea for resilience and general flexibility. Green gets to have the best to-hand recursion for whatever reason, let's use some of it.
- Eternal Witness - Tutorable, 3 mana to grab a card, and leaves behind a dude who can befriend Temur Sabertooth? Sign me up.
- Greenwarden of Murasa - Potentially gets to recur two things, but also costs six to get online.
- Praetor's Counsel - The ultimate graveyard recursion tool, for the ultimate price. I tend to keep my recursion low to the ground in this list though. Cracking this bad boy in a typical game will bring back a thing or two that you actually want and a high number of ramp spells while the board's mana is destined to already be well sculpted, given the fact you just spent eight on this. The extra ramp spell overhead isn't bad, mind you, but the advantage of something like Wildest Dreams in this shell is that it can also come in early game and help power through a ramp stall.
- Recollect - Three mana, grab a card. That's pretty good, I'm cool with that.
- Regrowth - Two mana, grab a card. That's even better, I'm cooler with that.
- Reito Lantern - A gut-wrenching resilience upgrade with Planar Portal (or any tutors really), doubles as graveyard hate otherwise. Ultimately, its super narrow "tech" scenario doesn't tend to come online and this thing just rots in hand or on the field.
- Restock - 2 cards, 5 mana. Not a bad price of mana per card, but Seasons Past is one mana more...
- Revive - The drawback only prevents us snagging artifacts (or lands, if for some crazy reason you want to spend two mana to get a land out of your bin). There was a game where I fetched a busted Planar Portal, but on the whole this should run okay.
- Seasons Past - Six mana, recur a whole bunch of stuff from the graveyard. Potentially clunky if you actually care about multiple things with the same CMC. Also, for two mana more you could just have Praetor's Counsel...
- Skullwinder - Whilst you'd probably usually find a way to have the drawback be relatively neutral to you, it's probably better to not risk it and leave effects like this to dedicated bizarro political/huggy builds. The fact it leaves behind a rattlesnake (harr harr) is handy though.
- Wildest Dreams - Its base form is a self-exiling Recollect, but it has the potential to stretch out for more targets, mana permitting. Having a base functionality that's reasonably cost efficient with some potential gravy on top seems like a good deal.
Having the potential to interact with what other people at the table are doing is a vital component of any EDH build. Some of these options come in ETB flavour, allowing us to potentially get extra uses off with Temur Sabertooth.
- Acidic Slime - 5 mana to pop an artifact/enchantment/land, and leaves behind a nice deathtouch body. Pretty okay, but Brutalizer Exarch costs just one more.
- Beast Within - The 3/3 is negligible in EDH. Whoo green Vindicate!
- Brutalizer Exarch - Seems a bit costly at 6 mana, but a good piece of tech. It can tuck some non-creature unpleasantness, or grab you a creature Worldly Tutor-style in a pinch. This deck can easily pay for it, so it's a welcome versatile piece of tech. Does stupid things with Temur Sabertooth and a huge, potentially infinite, mana pool.
- Duplicant - Tutorable colourless creature removal, abusable with Temur Sabertooth. Somewhat obsoleted by Meteor Golem.
- Force of Vigor - Hey cool, green got a Return to Dust-like with an exile clause for emergencies. Very solid option, but I prefer to keep my removal more hit-all when a list runs as little interaction as this one.
- Meteor Golem - You front the standard seven mana for colourless removal, and this time around it comes on a body to obliterate just about anything you may need gone. The creature part is weirdly nice in a green deck, given the colour's notorious clunky solutions to enemy troops.
- Nature's Claim - Like a Swords to Plowshares for artifacts/enchantments. Cheap is good in EDH interaction land, but the same sentiment as was echoed for Force of Vigor continues to hold true.
- Reclamation Sage - Tutorable, hence useful. Cheap, too - :2mana: cheaper than ooze and the loss of functionality is negligible in the face of trying to optimise resource expenditure when in a pickle. Also, as always, any friend of Temur Sabertooth is a friend of mine.
- Scour from Existence - The instant speed, exile, and lack of colour identity are all nice, but the seven mana price tag balances it out. The more recent version on legs is closer in contention, the legs make him more tutorable and potentially abusable, even if he loses exile in the process.
- Song of the Dryads - Say it with me: "Your commander is now a forest". Isn't that beautiful? Hits all sorts of indestructible nastiness as well, there's little reason to not run this in any deck with green in it.
- Terastodon - Sure, goes big, but it's extremely expensive for something that isn't hit-all (sometimes creatures are harshing your mellow).
- Tornado - The tool of choice to get rid of multiple unwanted objects. The life expenditure needs to be watched, don't go too trigger-happy on this.
- Ulvenwald Tracker - You'll have a 7/7 on the table that you can smash against something of your choice every turn for a meagre investment of 2 mana. There will almost certainly be things that you can eat up, messing up someone's day.
- Woodfall Primus - Similar sort of complaints as Terastodon, it costs a fortune and doesn't even smash everything.
The fact that Patron untaps all forests, in conjunction with Extraplanar Lens paranoia, sets the bar extremely high for non-basics. So high, in fact, that literally one made it into the list so far. Here are a few tech options for you anyway.
- Blighted Woodland - Whilst more expensive to activate than Myriad Landscape, the fact it doesn't come in tapped makes it far easier to play with in the early game ramp cascade. Helps out Khalni Heart Expedition, good friends with Rings of Brighthearth, turns into forests for Patron to untap in a reasonably timely manner.
- Dryad Arbor - Potential GSZ for X=0 turn 1, but leads to similar early game stumbles as Myriad Landscape if one of the few lands in an opening hand.
- Gaea's Cradle - There are literally two instances in the game where you'll be happy to tap this for mana - your last opponent's end step before you win the game with swarm, and during your turn before you win the game with swarm. You don't need this to win with this deck, and it actually actively gets in the way most of the time.
- Hall of the Bandit Lord - The fact it gives Patron haste is lovely, but it's awkward to play around in Myriad Landscape fashion due to the lack of co-operation with doublers and coming in tapped. There's also the life drain, which may be problematic if you're getting aggro'ed. It's nice that the haste persists past end of turn, allowing you to proceed with swarm mode, but doesn't work with Patron bounce combos. I mean, that would be a hell of a hurdle for a land to clear, if I'm being honest, so can't hold that against it.
- Myriad Landscape - Looks awesome on paper, feels amazing when things go right with Khalni Heart Expedition and/or Rings of Brighthearth. If present in a hand with a nice ramp chain starting turn one, or encountered mid game, reveals its true clunky nature. Mixed bag.
- Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx - Doesn't respond to Patron, also your green devotion is next to nonexistent most of the time.
- Winding Canyons - The flash range being limited to creatures makes this quite impractical for the deck.
- Just about every other staple EDH nonbasic - doesn't respond to Patron or do anything relevant to this deck's game plan
1. Early Game (Turns ~1-3)
Sol Ring, you'll be fine), a few curved out ramp spells and a tutor. The tutor is usually going to be used to fish for a token producer (most often Ant Queen) once your mana base is fleshed out, unless the pieces for a combo fall into place. If you get a mana doubler and/or haste enabler in there, they're nothing to sneeze at either (a Patron with haste is a reliable combo component, or at the very least speeds up the swarm game plan by a turn). If you luck into a draw enabler, you should probably keep the hand unless it's absolutely atrocious otherwise - it may slow you down a bit, but provides stability in reliably refuelling your options.
Now that you have your hand, ignore what is going on around you almost entirely and get cracking on the ramp. The predominant form of ramp is land-based due to its resilience, as mana dorks die to wraths and other assorted baloney (and it's quite easy to pop mana rocks as well). You are not contractually bound to not do anything productive, mind you - you may place yourself in a good politics position by cracking some removal to get rid of pesky permanents. As the removal options are mostly low-cost, you may be able to get rid of the problem permanent and even squeeze in some extra ramp that turn. Do keep in mind that your priority should be building your mana supply, though. Sequence your ramp spells accordingly, trying to optimise the mana expenditure for each turn. Some of the ramp options available result in lands coming into play untapped, so if you have both those and tapped variants on hand, try to assess the situation and decide what ordering of the spells will allow you to be the most efficient. It's all pretty intuitive, but do keep it in mind.
If you're in possession of a mana doubler, land that as soon as possible. It does what it says on the box - doubles mana. Landing a Vernal Bloom on a 4-forest field makes Patron come out after you untap. It greatly increments your resources, to the point where you'd sometimes want to tutor for it. Keeper of Progenitus ticks that box, curving into a next-turn Patron early and still offering a healthy shot of mana later. However, he is quite a dangerous card to set down, given the fact he's 60% of a Mana Flare, so proceed with caution. Also keep in mind that you have other ramp options that respond to tutors in Arbor Elf, Joraga Treespeaker, Sakura-Tribe Elder and Selvala, Heart of the Wilds. There have been odd, gas-less games where I'd tutor for them just to push myself into the Patron zone of mana. I've been known to crack a turn two Time of Need into a turn three Selvala just about every single time I started with it in hand.
Boundless Realms, but if you managed to land that you're definitely not mana-starved. If possible, try to keep the recycling to the two-land ramp (think Skyshroud Claim and the like), but I have snatched and re-suspended a Search for Tomorrow in a pickle. In another weird, mana-starved game I put my Diviner's Wand on my Joraga Treespeaker and drew an extra a turn until I hit enough resources to continue with the game plan. Just work with what you have, maybe you'll be able to weasel yourself out of the pit a bit quicker. The goal is to get to big mana, so try to get to big mana.
Everything that doesn't directly advance your mana base is lower priority for now. However, if you have spare mana it's very industrious to put it to use and make progress for the future. The third highest priority item, after doublers and ramp spells, would be Patron haste enablers. The ability to drop down Patron and immediately have access to his mana engine is very, very desirable, and can often lead to surprise combo kills provided the rest of your hand cooperates. However, cracking a Rampant Growth turn two is more desirable than laying down Lightning Greaves for no real reason. Also, it'd be ideal to hold those back and play them on the same turn as Patron for the surprise factor. However, that is understandably nontrivial in most situations because of the required additional mana investment. Combat-wise, you should be completely idle, with the exception of sometimes using one of those land-based dorks to chump block something coming your way. Your time will come and you will go into the red zone. But that comes later.
On the whole, you should consider early game done when you have Patron out on the board. You may be spending some of your resources to further sculpt your mana base once your commander has been cast, but the very fact you were able to play him means that you have a relatively respectable presence. This should allow you to carry on the game plan. The next step - acquire a token producer and create the bodies you'll be killing everybody with, or proceed to assemble an infinite if in the presence of appropriate constituents (refer to the box below for details). But that's in the Mid Game!
2. Mid Game (Turns ~4-5)
Sol Ring taper off in effectiveness as they don't respond to Patron untaps (still, they're too good for the early game to drop them), and you can start doing crazy mana things. Compare your hand state to the combo piece list above and make a choice about whether you're pursuing combo or swarm, and go for it.
Playing Patron occasionally takes a little bit of thought. Whilst you don't really care about wraths and removal on the whole, as you can rebuild from them very quickly, your resilience scales with your mana and board state. As such, you have to be a bit careful about walking your Patron straight into removal that's already on the board. Durdle around until the guy pops the Oblivion Stone, sculpting your land base some more. Just apply some common sense. Having a haste enabler helps a lot here, as it helps you get gas out of Patron the moment he comes down and often leads to quicker combo wins with shorter windows for disruption. Some of the haste enablers come with some semblance of evasion too, demanding instant response or condemning your opponents to wraths or sacrifice effects. If you have one on hand but not on the table yet, usually the correct play is to set down the haste enabler first and play Patron a turn later. That's always a turn less of your commander just sitting there awkwardly, waiting to eat whatever removal your foes throw at him. Or, better yet, if possible, ramp up a little in the earlier turn and drop the haste outlet as a surprise in unison with Patron.
If you've got the power to combo, go check the box above for how to go about it. Assuming no combo potential, most often due to the lack of a haste enabler, your number one focus is to pop a tutor on a token engine and swarm the board. The token engine that you'll be fetching is dependent on the resources you have available. If you're capable of tutoring for two or more creatures (be it via Tooth and Nail or just multiple tutors), grab Ant Queen. Ant Queen enables you to make the most cost-effective swarm, with a body for two mana. Her drawback is that she is completely reliant on a finisher to make the swarm lethal, though. Still, her raw efficiency makes her the go-to engine in the games where you've got extra tutors available. If you're only stuck with one creature search, go for Nemata, Grove Guardian. Nemata's token hordes will be less voluminous, as the cost is 3 mana per body instead of 2, but the old timer makes up for it by having built-in pump. Once you go for the swing, just make more bodies with your mana on that turn, sacrifice them off to pump all your attackers, then sacrifice your blocked attackers if so desired to deliver an absolutely massive blast of absolutely massive saprolings. Not quite as efficient as Ant Queen plus a dedicated finisher, but only takes one card slot to pull it off. When fetching your engine, try to save Chord of Calling unless it's literally the only tutor you have available. The instant speed and convoke make it fantastic to use in conjunction with an existing token horde to grab a finisher or a response to an enemy play. Still, there's no shame in cracking one to just get a token engine online if no other options are available.
Craterhoof Behemoth is going to be if you don't even have a horde to swing with, no? The only exception to the rule is Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, as he's an active wrath deterrent. If somebody decides to crack a board wipe, just turn everybody else's lands into 1/1s. This should wrench the opposition pretty hard whilst you retain your mana base at the low cost of a finisher. As your mana base is intact, you should regroup quite quickly and kill everybody without much trouble. Kamahl shines as a defensive/utility tool more often than you could possibly imagine, and often makes your board live through stuff that isn't outright destruction (-X/-X or damage wipes). In a fringe scenario, he once even saved me from land destruction back when I ran Eldrazi Monument.
In the grand scheme of things, tossing Kamahl under the bus to blow up everybody else's lands is a small sacrifice to make. However, people aren't all that willing to play wraths when he's present as they can usually work out the impending aftermath. Chord of Calling allows you to sneak him in once a wrath is on the stack, catching everybody off guard and shattering their resources. The mid-game build-up is the time when Chord burns the brightest, as its usual linchpin-fetching duties get augmented with all sorts of reactive wrenching like the above example. It doesn't necessarily have to be Kamahl - sometimes a well-placed piece of ETB removal at just the wrong time can throw somebody's perfectly calculated turn off and buy you enough time to claw your way to victory. The convoke means you often get away with casting it without mana, making it an even more surreal fit for the deck.
Whilst your priority should be getting a token engine and making bodies, sometimes you can't do that thanks to not having a tutor. Similar situation to getting stuck mid ramp. Whilst the list is streamlined to make both have a high number of redundant card choices to work with, every now and then you just get screwed over by the card order and there's not much you can do... or is there? Fortunately, you're a little less at the mercy of the card order here, as there's a few activated draw options that you can pour your mana into which you may have access to. Cards like Diviner's Wand allow you to quickly make your way through massive chunks of your deck and are perfect for you - this should hopefully net you some tutoring options, and allow you to go for an efficient Ant Queen + Craterhoof Behemoth kill or enable you to combo out. Hearty drawing means going more opportunities to pull out one of the combo pieces that are hard to tutor out, like Earthcraft or a haste enabler, so a turn cycle spent digging hard with Patron is usually enough to locate enough resources to throw together some sort of combo to end the game on the spot. The benefits of draw are immense (and the sun sets in the west), so setting down an activated ability draw sink is usually a good idea when you have it, even when you're going for the swarm mode at that precise moment. If somebody wipes, that's something very useful to do with your mana; getting a few fewer insects/saprolings is a small sacrifice to make for the bonus cardboard you can acquire if it all goes south. One way or the other, if killing people isn't the Late Game, what is?
3. Late Game (Turns ~6+)
Nemata, Grove Guardian and is a finisher as well) and enough mana to make your swarm lethal. Alternately, one of the infinite resource interactions hit the board and you've got the potential to end the game right here and now. All it's going to take is a spot of cautious play and you should be good.
Always expect your opposition to try and trip you up. It's a natural thing for them to do, and you can abuse the expected. As mentioned in the previous section, flashing in Kamahl in response to people trying to respond to you can lead to absolute blowouts, don't be afraid to do it. On a similar note, be cautious with your mana expenditure. You want to make bodies in the end, but those bodies will be useless if you get wrathed out. However, if you spend your mana carefully, you'll have enough resources open to flash in Kamahl, animate the enemies' lands, and maybe even draw a bit if you have a draw option online. The easiest way to be cautious with mana expenditures is to only make bodies and crack the Patron untap during the end steps of turns, keeping as many lands untapped as possible whilst rounding off any token costs. If you can smell a Cyclonic Rift in the air as you go for the swing, similarly leave up some mana to rebuild (you probably don't need to fuel all of it into pump to be lethal). It's a small thing, but it helps you deal with all sorts of shenanigans.
Another very obvious thing that shouldn't really need spelling out is overextending. This deck's one of the easiest in the world to avoid overextending with - only ever have one engine on the board at a time, and if there's a finisher on the table and you're not swinging for lethal there'd better be a really good explanation. This way, it won't hurt that much if you get slapped over the head with a wrath. Just go dig for another engine, or recur the fallen one if you have one of the graveyard recursion cards on hand. A nice, dense token swarm or infinite mana combo is going to keep happening over and over again, turning your endgame into a nigh unstoppable cockroach.
Usually, there's only one combat step in the game where you're active, and that's the one where you kill everybody. Sometimes you're forced to go out of your way, though - there may be a hate card around that's hindering your game plan. Your bodies are relatively expendable, so in cases like these send your insects/saprolings en masse to the offending party. You'll probably lose a few to blocks, but soon enough the message should get across and the offending party will be dead. With the problem removed, you can continue your game plan.
Chord of Calling shines here as well. You swing with your dudes, float all of your mana, untap everything with Patron, convoke in your finisher and fuel the mana into pump. In the case of Craterhoof Behemoth, "pump" is making more bodies. What a wonderful, versatile card. On the whole, there isn't really much to say about this, though - it's just going into the red zone with a swarm of tokens and pumping them up to do lethal, it's a pretty intuitive thing to do. This should close out the game, and you can shuffle up and do it all over again!
Where applicable, the deck change header is clickable to take you to the relevant discussion post in the thread.