MSG - 2019
I love to play mono green Aggro decks. While the mental experiment that comes with playing a midrange or control deck is joyous, there is something innately satisfying about casting fast green creatures and turning them sideways. It takes the proactive role and makes my opponent have the answers immediately...or die. Many people look at Aggro decks like this as the beginner’s deck, but in reality it takes a certain level of skill to play it efficiently. You need to know which hands to keep, and which to mulligan. You need to know when it’s best to keep a constant damage pace in the game, and when to go for the throat for the finishing blow. You need to know which answers your opponent is likely to have, and how to work around them. And you need to do all this with the understanding that your opponent needs to be defeated before he/she is able to stabilize and turn the corner in a game.
When Pelt Collector was spoiled in October, it got me thinking about building a new mono green Aggro deck. While I could have tried putting him in a Naya Zoo shell with Vexing Devil like others did, I wanted to keep it mono green in honor of the old school MSG decks (MSG means Mono Speed Green). Luckily, there are plenty of good early drops in green facilitate what I wanted to do. And, as a side benefit, this deck can be built by someone on a budget!
Let’s start with the 1 drops:
Pelt Collector - Pelt Collector comes down on turn 1, gets bigger when your other creatures come into play and die, and has the ability to gain trample if certain requirements are met. He will be a 2/2 attacking on turn 2, and often a 3/3 afterward. The trample does not come into play too often in this version, but when it does it add that extra reach when needed. The only thing he is missing is the ability to regenerate, but that is covered by the next guy...
Experiment One - I swear when WOTC was designing Pelt Collector they used Experiment One as a reference. Experiment One loses the ability to get bigger from other creatures dying, but he does have the ability to regenerate. Just like Pelt Collector, Experiment One with be a 2/2 on turn 2 as well as a 3/3 afterward often. Together these 2 guys make up a great tag team to use as my 1 drops.
Skarrgan Pit-Skulk - This guy may seem like an odd choice, but it does have 2 relevant abilities in this deck. First, he cannot be blocked by creatures with less power than his. So, if I am in a game where I need to get in the last few points of damage in, but the board has gotten clogged down, I can throw a pump or 2 on him and swing in unblocked for the kill. His bloodthirst ability also gives him a +1/+1 counter...a small theme you will see that helps with another creature in this deck.
And, now to 2 drops:
Strangleroot Geist - Fast? Check! Resilient to removal? Check! Gets meaner when my opponent tries to kill him? Check! Yup, he works.
Growth-Chamber Guardian - I love this guy. While other 2 drops like Kalonian Tusker or Garruk’s Companion are bigger out of the gate, and Scavenging Ooze has utility to deal with the graveyard and gain life, I like the adapt and related trigger that the Guardian has. In a game against a control deck he can be a force on his own when needed. Four power is a formidable threat after an opponent has already taken damage, and the ability to find his replacement against a control deck is fantastic.
Avatar of the Resolute - And here is where all of the +1/+1 counters that the other creatures incidentally gain comes into play. The ability to get a +1/+1 counter for each other creature with a +1/+1 counter makes Avatar of the Resolute a big creature that only costs 2 mana. This allows me to keep my land count low while still having the ability to get an un-pumped large creature on the board. It is entirely conceivable that the Avatar can be a 5 power creature cast on the third turn.
And, now that we have the beaters, we need to find some support for them. This is where the pumps come in:
Rancor - Yeah, you knew you were going to see this didn’t you? It’s a constant 2 extra trample damage that keeps coming back. The only way an opponent can get rid of it permanently is to counter it, or kill the creature as Rancor is resolving. Just keep that in mind.
Blossoming Defense - Remember when I mentioned that you need to be able to work around you opponent’s removal? This is where that point comes in. Blossoming defense stops any single target removal tricks my opponent wants to try while making my creature meaner in the process. The one thing that always needs to be kept in mind is that when playing against an opponent with single target removal is to never play this as a pump. Unless you are going for the kill on an untapped opponent, use it as a counter and let the pump be a side benefit.
Mutagenic Growth - Man I love this card! It’s a pump spell that can be played for free. While it can be used to help win combat against a blocker, or save my creature against a burn spell, the best aspect of it is the ability to be able to stack this with other pumps to be able to go for the kill faster than a normal pump that you have to pay mana for.
Aspect of Hydra - This is a pump spell that is not seen in decks too often, but when my entire deck is green it begins to look pretty awesome! With just a Pelt Collector, a Strangleroot Geist, and a rancor on the table Aspect of Hydra is a +4/+4. And in matches in which you need to go wide it can be a ridiculous pump for a single mana.
As for the lands, it’s pretty basic: Forest. Yup, just Forests. While Treetop Village would be a great option when needed, I do not want to risk having it as one of the lands in my opening hand. That alone sets me back a turn in a deck that wants to be out of the gate fast.
For a sideboard, I really do not want to do anything too crazy. Remember, I am trying to kill my opponent fast. Many cards that are usual candidates for a sideboard often will push my kill back a turn. So, the options have to be limited, but we do have a few:
Heroic Intervention - Control decks using board wipes like Supreme Verdict are to be expected. While Strangleroot Geist and Experiment One can add some resilience, being able to stop the results of a board wipe are even better. Depending on which version of a control deck my opponent is playing these can be easily swapped in to replace either Aspect of Hydra or Mutagenic Growth. Since Heroic Intervention can be an expensive card, people who want to be budget conscious can use Wrap in Vigor instead of this.
Scavenging Ooze - While I like Growth-Chamber Guardian in the main deck better, the Ooze makes a great creature to keep graveyards in check while still beating down. And, the incidental life gain can help win the race against decks that are just as aggressive, or more, than mine. He makes for an easy swap for Growth-Chamber Guardian in match-ups that he can be more relevant in.
Vines of Vastwood - For those matches that have Fatal Pushes, Path to Exiles, and Lightning Bolts being thrown all over the place Vines of Vastwood is a great companion next to Blossoming Defense to protects my creatures. Since matches like this can make it hard to keep a large board presence this can be swapped in cleanly for Aspect of Hydra. Ranger’s guile is another option for those who need to cut costs in the deck (while it does not have the big pump capability, it does make for a budget Blossoming Defense to add alongside it in the deck).
Gut Shot - While MSG can throw out the damage fast, there are some decks that can do it faster. Infect is the worst offender. This is in the sideboard specifically for Infect. It allows me to play removal for free while still using my mana to forward my game plan. One thing to keep in mind is to use this during your main phase, preferably when infect is tapped out, as often as possible to avoid any of your opponent's pumps saving their glistener elf or Blighted Agent.
So, with it all together, he is the deck list:
4x Pelt Collector
4x Experiment One
4x Skarrgan Pit-Skulk
4x Strangleroot Geist
4x Growth-Chamber Guardian
4x Avatar of the Resolute
4x Blossoming Defense
4x Mutagenic Growth
4x Aspect of Hydra
4x Heroic Intervention
4x Scavenging Ooze
4x Gut Shot
3x Vines of Vastwood
And there we have it. I have been playing this deck quite a bit lately, and it’s a blast. For those who want to remain budget conscious the main deck can be built for less than $50.00 (at the time of publishing).
I hope you all enjoy the deck, and thanks for reading!