Before I got into Modern, in which I am not very active now either, I was astonished by how simple decks with a very clear agenda, very smooth curve, and near perfect consistency can sometimes take down expensive decks and take advantage when they stumble on their draws.
Take a look at this deck that won a modern event against the format’s fearsome gauntlets. The plan was to rush out the gate with high-powered but under costed creatures and deal 20 damage in as few turns as possible. It is the same principle that Ramunap Red uses today to deal little but incremental damage from turn 1, disabling blockers, and packing burn spells to close out the game.
I am not a fan of mainstream decks so i will slide to Red’s adjacent colors and play green’s cheapest and meanest creatures.
First off we have Greenbelt Rampager and Old-Growth Dryads. 1 mana for 3 power is just unfair, no other way to describe it. That’s why they put some hard drawbacks to ensure their power levels are in check.
Greenbelt won’t come down on turn 1 because there’s no way to get 2 energy on turn 1 apart from Attune with Aether. But regardless, a turn 2 Greenbelt Rampager is no laughing matter. We will also play a 1-off Old-Growth Dryads because on the play, if we drop this on turn 1 and ramp our opponent, it would just mimic as if we were on the draw and they made their land drop first. Since it’s coming into play tapped, they can’t Fatal Push or Opt or anything anyway. We won’t force playing multiple copies because aside from this specific scenario, this card is just bad for us.
On the 2-drop slot we have our 3-power dudes (most of the time). Longtusk Cub has taken down games on its own since it was legal. Growing large and soon to be in charge, this cat is extremely powerful, self-sufficient, and a must-kill early.
Merfolk Branchwalker will sometimes fix our mana but we will be running a low land count so she will be coming down more often as a 3/2 for 2.
Lastly is Terrain Elemental which we can only get from the Kaladesh PreCon. But if you can order them online, they are cheap and quite powerful. A solid 3/2 for 2 is all the justification it needs.
Before I move to the 3-drop, I’d like to mention Resilient Khenra separately. He’s a 2/2 for 2 but makes anything else bigger. Later in the game, he comes back as a 4/4 and giving something +4/+4 spells lethal on a cluttered board. His brother, the Earthshaker Khenra, got all the love for being a 2/1 with haste and shutting down 1/1s but this dude must not be underestimated.
Leading the power-to-cost ratio at the 3-drop slot is the green god of strength himself, Rhonas, the Indomitable. He won’t be sitting down much longer since our creatures will reach 4 power from a single pump.
Prowling Serpopard joins the 3-drop club by offering us 4 power, and the assurance our creature spells will get through Essence Scatters, Supreme Will, and Disallows. Sidewinder Naga is a potental 4/2 trampler for 3 mana. It should be obvious that we will play Hashep Oasis and Sunscorched Desert in the main to trigger the desert conditions.
We will stop at 4-drops to keep our land count low so we will limit this slot exclusively for green’s best 4-drops.
Bristling Hydra, together with Longtusk Cub, are the one-two-punch of energy based decks. One gets bigger while one gets more and more difficult to kill, together they make our offense more formidable.
Lastly, since we’re playing deserts anyway, why not play Sidewinder Naga’s big brother, Ramunap Hydra. A 4-mana 5/5 with Vigilance, Reach and Trample is undeniably an inclusion to green-desert based deck.
Now to bring the power level of this deck over the top, we play Rhonas’ Monument.
Not only does it bring down the cost of our creatures allowing us to play two 3-drops on turn 4, or two 2-drops and one 3-drop on turn 4, he gives any of our pre-casted creatures +2/+2 and trample. Each attach phase we go into puts our creatures at better grounds forcing our opponent to make bad blocks, unprofitably trades, and thanks to trample still take significant damage over time.
I hope you are as excited as I am, so here’s my Mono-green Beatdown!
3 Greenbelt Rampager
1 Old-Growth Dryads
4 Longtusk Cub
4 Resilient Khenra
2 Merfolk Branchwalker
4 Terrain Elemental
1 Rhonas, the Indomitable
2 Prowling Serpopard
3 Sidewinder Naga
3 Bristling Hydra
2 Ramunap Hydra
4 Attune with Aether
4 Blossoming Defense
3 Rhonas’s Monument
4 Hashep Oasis
4 Sunscorched Desert
2 Scavenger Ground
3 Ripjaw Raptor
4 Deathgorge Scavenger
3 Heroic Defiance
2 Appetite for the Unnatural
1 Shapers’ Sanctuary
1 Nissa, Vital Force
1 Bristling Hydra
You might say that Ripjaw should be in the mainboard instead of Ramunap Hydra but in testing, we would almost always have a desert in the battlefield so Ramunap Hydra will almost always be a 4/4 with more abilities than Ripjaw. The ability to get damage through on game 1 makes Ramunap Hydra slightly more preferred over Ripjaw Raptor. However against damage-baed removal, Ripjaw comes in to provide some card advantage and 5 toughness on the get-go gives it better survivability against Extractions, Abrade, Harnessed Lightning and the likes.
Deathgorge Scavenger comes in against graveyard strategy like GPG decks, or Scarab God decks. The lifegain can also be relevant somtimes against Ramunap decks because their life totals just keep going down while we have a change to gain life back and win on the backswing.
We hate getting board wiped so 3 copies of Heroic Intervention comes in not just for FUmigates but also for Ixalan’s Binding, Cast Out, Essence Extraction and other things. They compliment the 4 copies of Blossoming Defense in the mainboard in case our opponent packs more removal post board.
For pesky artifacts or enchantments, it’s good to pack some answers so we will include some copies of Appetite, but not many.
Shapers’ Sanctuary as a one-off is great against targetted removal and it’s also a great way to get back into the game thanks to its draw a card ability.
I want a planeswalker in the 75-card deck and I think Nissa, Vital Force earned her 1-slot in the sideboard against control. I like how we can play Nissa after an opponent Fumigates so we can get our stuff back, or swing with a 5/5 creature immediately to keep the pressure on.
If you got these cards lying around and want to play a straight forward aggressive deck that’s not red, seriously consider this list!