Hello everyone and welcome back to the lab!
Today’s deck tech is inspired by a friend of mine, Ian Joshua, who played GW aggro that uses Adorned Pouncer, Sram’s Expertise cascading into free Servo Exhibitions, and Appeal-to-Authority to give his Adorned Pouncer a huge boost in power and trample to hit me with 14-16 damage. Authority helps his cat get through by tapping my blockers while keeping his creatures standing ready to block.
In game one, the deck is fast and strong and tries to close the game before Fumigate mana. It’s more of a glass cannon kind of deck whose potency drastically decreases as the game goes long, forcing it to gold fish the top of their deck.
There is some ‘resiliency’ because it plays the Resilient Khenra and the Pouncer that both have eternalize so they can come back after dying to deal those last point of damage.
I am not a fan of glass cannon decks but I am an avid fan of having the ability to punch hard with seemingly small creatures and catch the opponent off guard.
Double strike is a popular ability when it first got printed but it doesn’t appear as often as flying, haste or vigilance. The ability is very explosive but most of the time it comes in a small body to suppress the raw power it brings to the red zone.
To make creatures with double strike a “must-kill-or-I-die” kind of threat, we have to make it large and green has the best of these spells like Blossoming Defense that also gives it some protection against removal. Prepare isn’t green but for 2 mana it gives the creature 2 additional power and toughness plus lifelink which can be relevant in the damage race. Mighty Leap might qualify as a draft chaff but it plays a role in our plans of letting our big hitters through. More on this later.
I already said that I don’t like glass cannons because in my meta, people love playing removal and I hate it when my glass cannon shatters before I get to fire it.
Because we’re playing Imperial Lancer, we need to build the deck around dinosaurs to get that double strike activated. Similarly, we can also play Drover of the Mighty which outclassed most of the 2-drop ramp creatures in the format because it can add any colored mana without relying on energy or -1/-1 counters and in reverse, actually gets bigger if you have a dinosaur in play.
Siegehorn Ceratops is a seemingly small creature which the opponent won’t block if he can’t kill it because it can grow really big really fast. Since we’re playing Blossoming Defense and Prepare, we can lead the opponent to think his blocker is enough to kill it and then suddenly you pump it up to keep it alive. Once the smoke clears, you now have a 4/4 Ceratops that’s more difficult to deal with on the next attack.
Lastly we will play Kinjalli’s Sunwing. Stat-wise, you get so much for the measly 3 mana investment. You get a 2/3 body, it flies, it’s a dinosaur, and it disables the Haste mechanic, and it sets the opponent back in their attempt to play blockers.
I like how WotC does it word plays in naming and designing their cards. These 3 dinosaurs looks like they are part of an evolutionary chain, let’s start with Ripjaw Raptor who developed its skill at taking armor apart to get to the taste morsel inside, has a 4/5 body, and draws you card if it gets hit. It then develops bigger jaws and can now swallow its prey whole, exiling them when it gets hit instead of drawing you cards. Then it becomes an Apex predator by becoming even larger, gains trample and hexproof, and it won’t be denied seeing play amidst counter magic. These mid to late game threats give us late game board presence after the opponent uses up all their removal on our small threats.
Playing colors that don’t have create removal requires the player to manage his resources better and outplay the opponent by forcing them to exhaust their resources faster than you.
Thankfully we have some colorless sources of card advantage and Lifecrafter’s Bestiary is the perfect card that helps us fix our draws and gives us card advantage as a reward for playing a creature heavy deck. We’re playing 25 creatures and it won’t be a surprise if we draw 5-6 additional cards when we get Bestiary in play early.
Here’s my Dino-mite deck!
3 Imperial Lancer
4 Drover of the Mighty
4 Adorned Pouncer
3 Siegehorn Ceratops
3 Kinjalli’s Sunwing
4 Ripjaw Raptor
1 Tramjaw Tyrant
3 Carnage Tyrant
3 Blossoming Defense
2 Mighty Leap
2 Lifecrafter’s Bestiary
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Scattered Groves
4 Hashep Oasis
2 Shefet Dunes
4 Resilient Khenra
2 Ajani Unyielding
2 Heroic Intervention
3 Thopter Arrest
2 Gideon’s Intervention
2 Cast Out
Against decks that pack heavy removal and board sweepers, we can side in Heroic Intervention and Resilient Khenra and take out Imperial Lancers and some buff spells to help keep our board presence robust, keeping the pressure on the opponent to force him to always have answers. I’ll keep Prepare//Fight over Mighty Leap because the Fight half can negate an opponent’s attempt to put a blocker in front of your threats without spending an additional card slot. Resilient Khenra needs 2 answers to keep it dead. Together with another creature that the opponent chose not to remove or cannot remove for the lack of answers, eternalizing it and giving your surviving threat a boost in power can keep the damage count going.
Selesnya is not as fortunate in the removal department but it does have a less-discriminating suite nevertheless. Exiling nonland permanents are great especially against enchantments, artifacts and Planeswalkers so we have Thopter Arrest and Cast Out from the side.
Any creature-based decks hate board sweepers and I like that Gideon’s Intervention is accessible and is costed just lower than Fumigate. Usually players that try to turn the corner against creature decks keep a hand with board sweepers so casting this on turn 4 makes the hand they kept less relevant. It also helps us slow down Approach decks by casting this right before they get to 7 mana. We need to watch out if they have cycled away any Cast Outs because if they did, it increases the chances that Gideon’s Intervention stays in play.
Ajani Unyielding is the wild card we have in the sideboard and all of his abilities are relevant to the deck. The +2 is essentially a draw 1 card at worse because we’re playing 27-33 nonland permanent spells depending on the configuration of the deck pre/post board. The -2 ability gets rid of an opposing God (namely the Scarab God) or Hazoret. The life gain is negligible if you have 10+ power in the board ready to take that life back down. In games where the opponent can’t take Ajani down, the +9 ability can translate to an ‘I win’ scenario after it makes all your creatures into monsters. Ajani will usually take Bestiary’s slot if you see the opponent packing Abrades.
That’s it for now, I hope you guys consider building archetypes in less popular color combinations like a WG Dino instead of an RG dino which is more common. Come Dominaria, I am forecasting Dinosaurs to go over the top thanks to Llanowar Elves getting reprinted. A turn 1 dork makes a T4 Ghalta highly probably and almost always guarantees a T3 Ripjaw Raptor.
Next blog entry, I will try to revisit a brew of mine that uses GPG outside the usual UW or Esper builds – Do you want to see a Red Green GPG or a Red White GPG? Let me know!