Out of the Woods

No, Taylor, we’re not out of the woods yet.

Last Saturday I played in Florian von Bredow’s 1-day online event Lockdown X-mas Tournament. 36 players trying out Slanfan’s brand new Tolaria platform. And for some reason, I played this:

I acquired the mono-green cards during the summer for several reasons. One is that I wanted to play the deck as part of my MobstercoM self-unified setup. Another is that it felt good to have a complete budget deck to lend to people (or play myself and lend out a powered deck). And a third one is that it’s actually a really powerful deck. Especially against the tier 1 decks, weirdly enough. It has positive matchups against Atog and Lion-Bolt-Dib, and probably slightly positive against The Deck. It is horrible against Shops, so weaker in the 4-shops formats, but still viable. Its other bad matchups are Troll Disco, bad decks like White Weenie, and weird things like midrange with lots of sweepers or Living Plane full of Falling Stars.

The list is based on Nikita’s stompy, with some input by Dave Firth Bard and his more updated builds (which usually eschew Berserk).

So this tournament being Swedish, I thought I’d give the forests a try.

This was my first time ever playing unpowered in 93/94. And also, interestingly enough, my first time playing mono green in constructed during my 26 year long magic career, I’m pretty sure. I did play some Legacy Elves, but not before that deck started splashing Cabal Therapy and Abrupt Decay out of the board.

Now for some notes on the list. The deck has a bunch of different plans. One is mana denial with 4 Scavenger Folk, 3 Crumble, 3 Ice Storm, 2 City in a Bottle in addition to Strip Mine and Chaos Orb. One is playing way more creatures than any deck has removal spells and overwhelming the opponent, using Maze of Ith (frequently on your own creatures), Giant Growth and Timber Wolves to win races and make favorable trades. One is punishing Serendib decks with Maze and Bottle. And the last one is lucking out with Berserk + Giant Growth combos. The deck is lacking in power, sure, but it’s running 20 mana sources to most other decks having 24-26, of which a full 8 have non-mana effects, so there is a lot of built-in virtual card advantage here.

I don’t even think we want to play Ancestral. City of Brass is so bad with maindeck Bottle, and 4 Tropical Islands isn’t enough. The black splash is easier, because we could easily play Elves of Deep Shadow, but with no blue, Demonic Tutor isn’t even that good. There might be some other things to try here, though.

The deck has some weaknesses:

  • The Abyss. Can be handled by Tranquility postboard, but mostly against Shops or other decks with Copy Artifact. Against The Deck, I believe Tranquility is far too narrow. I might try out an Ashnod’s Transmogrant in the sideboard which has some additional utility as well. I might also replace the maindeck Elvish Archers with a Whirling Dervish.
  • Red sweepers like Falling Star and Earthquake. These can be played around, and is the reason for the sideboarded Spitting Slugs. Also most red decks are such good matchups when they don’t draw the sweeper that it’s fine.
  • Moat. Like Abyss but mostly worse. Emerald Dragonfly is another card which might be better than Elvish Archers. Also Moat decks might play more enchantments, like Land Tax, making Tranquility better as an answer. And it’s less commonly played.
  • Serra Angel. Other fatties can be handled by a single Maze, mostly, but Serra demands two Mazes to really be negated. Or the opponent fearing Giant Growth a lot. I usually cut Berserk against white decks because of Swords to Plowshares, but maybe this is wrong since it’s a good removal spell for Serra and decent against Lion. Also Hurricane is a borderline lategame answer.
  • Balance. Piles of power. Not much to do here, really. Take the loss and move on.

So, what about the tournament? A short recap of the games:

Round 1, I played against The Deck. I start with a double mulligan, and manage to keep my opponent strapped on mana for a while, despite his Ancestral, I think. But then he plays a random Triskelion once he’s gotten the mana situation under control, killing all but one of my creatures, and I’m one mana short of playing a Berserk combo to kill him. When he tutors for Abyss and Recalls Counterspell and something else, I concede. Then, game 2, he mulligans and keeps a no-lander with a bunch of artifact mana. I destroy two of them, but he Recalls Mox Pearl and casts Balance with no cards, no lands and no creatures. I don’t win.

Round 2, I played against Dibatog even though I didn’t see any Serendibs until game 3. I lose game 1 due to bad combat math, not chumping an Atog letting him sacrifice a couple of artifacts so he could burn me out in a couple of turns. But I win games 2 and 3 when my opponent kept in Copper Tablet and Ankh of Mishra and his deck just not doing anything. I’m not worried about anything but the card Atog and piles of power here.

Round 3, I played against lion-bolt-dib (or LBD, as I use to call the archetype). He trades one-for-one with a lot of creatures, his lions and factories are blanks, and then I get creatures to stick and win. I also think this is the match where I start forest sprite, he goes tundra lion lotus dib, I go pendelhaven bottle, he goes another lion and attacks and trades with my sprite, I ice storm his only mana source.

Round 4, I face Dave Firth Bard on stream. I had tested Tolaria with him the day before so I knew what he was on: a funky Weakstone/Copy Artifact/Icy/Psychic Venom/Titania’s Song prison brew. Not great as Weakstone is insane against me, but at the same time, not a naturally powerful deck. Game 1, he’s on the play, goes t1 mox tutor, I play pendelhaven scavenger folk, t2 he plays mana vault and some more mana and mind twists me for 5. I get to keep one card. It’s the second Pendelhaven. Of course. But I draw a forest and then straight creatures, while Dave doesn’t do much until he lands a Weakstone and then two Copy Artifacts. I have a Chaos Orb, but miss my flip (yes, I don’t deserve the badge). But then I draw into two Crumbles, and Dave still isn’t doing anything, crumble two stones, being able to attack for 2 a turn now with my three pixies against his one icy. He’s on 18, but slowly I whittle him down. When he finally gets an Abyss, I can sac something else and finish with a giant growth. Gordon was complaining about me being SO LUCKY drawing all those crumbles, but I did get mind twisted for 5 on turn 2 here so I’m not sure variance was THAT much on my side. (Also bothered by them claiming I’d been a reader of Weakstone. We ranked the stones two years ago now.) Then game 2, I mulligan but keep a hand with two Giant Growth and a Berserk. I kill Dave on turn 3 I believe. The match can be found on twitch even though I don’t know for how long. (But I obviously didn’t want to rewatch it again to provide play-by-play here.)

Round 5, I face another LBD. I win one game when a Bottle takes out two Serendib, lose one to a Serra Angel blanking my offense and then a couple of Psionic Blasts, and manage to mana screw him game 3, beating down with a few small creatures, forcing him to tap out including a City of Brass to Psionic Blast my Pixies leaving him at 7 after the attack with me on a couple of creatures left. At this point, his internet connection dies and then time runs out, but I’m 85-90 % sure I would have won here, barring a sequence of insane topdecks.

Round 6, anticlimactically, I lost 0-2 against a slow Blood Moon control deck, due to keeping bad hands with too many Forests and flooding out. Pro tip: don’t do this.

So I finish 4-2. Even with a win in round 6, I would still have came in 5th, missing top 4. A totally respectable result, I must say.

I am very happy with the list and might not change a thing. Possibly the maindeck Elvish Archers could be a Whirling Dervish, as I said, or an Emerald Dragonfly, to be better against Abyss or Moat. Maybe I should cut the second sideboarded Sylvan Library for Library of Alexandria when that is available. Other than that, I think it’s mostly about playing better (not keeping multi-Forest hands without reason, and doing better combat math) and boarding better (keeping some number of Berserk against Serras). And I will get that chance I’m sure. No tournaments lined up besides the Winter Derby, but one day we will start meeting in person again, and this is the perfect travel deck. Expect me to play more Forests in 2021.

Stay safe, stay high. See you around.


One thought on “Out of the Woods

  1. I’m liking your list a lot, and like you would like to have a budget deck to play with/ lend to friends. Just one question: why the Relic Barriers?


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