While looking over today’s deck I was reminded of the state of Standard over the last year: planeswalkers galore and green cards that are too good. Now whether this deck becomes the dominate deck within the coming year remains to be seen; however I do think everyone should keep an eye on it, especially those responsible for giving these cards the green light and maintaining the balance of the format. I’m looking at you Wizards. What makes this deck even more troubling is the fact that the first round of bannings after Pioneer was announced and had been playtested for a while were mostly green cards: Veil of Summer, Oath of Nissa, Once Upon a Time, and Layline of Abundance. Oath of Nissa was unbanned earlier this year, but those initial bans still stand as a testament to the recent boost in power level for green cards. It should also be noted that Burning-Tree Emissary was suspended in Historic, which really just means it was temporarily banned. Anyway, let’s move into the deck and pray that it doesn’t take over the format like combo decks did. Today we’re looking at Mono Green Planeswalkers.
It wouldn’t be a green deck without mana dorks and this deck uses 8 copies of basically the same card: Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic which I just talked about in my Modern Elves deck analysis. Moving up the curve within the mana dork slot is Burning-Tree Emissary, a 2/2 for 2 mana that also produces 1 red and 1 green mana when it comes into play, basically a free 2/2 body. This card can chain some good things into play, but it might not be ideal on turn two in this deck. Personally, I like this card better in aggro builds where it can be followed by another creature or two or maybe even a removal spell. In this deck it can only be effectively followed by two cards on turn 2, and I’ll point those out later, otherwise that red mana is always wasted. Some versions of this deck are also sneaking in a few copies of Llanowar Visionary, a 2/2 for 3 mana that draws you a card when it comes into play and can also tap to make 1 green mana.
The rest of the creatures in this deck are just really good green creatures. Scavenging Ooze has long been a favorite graveyard hate creature in Modern. For a single green mana you can exile a card from any graveyard, but wait, it doesn’t end there. If that card was a creature, you gain 1 life and the ooze gets a +1/+1 counter. This is a great sink to dump left over green mana into. This is also one of the two cards that can follow a turn 2 Burning-Tree Emissary. Voracious Hydra functions as a huge threat or a removal spell. When it comes into play you can either double the number of +1/+1 counters on it or have it fight another creature. Elder Gargaroth is a powerhouse of value and I’m not sure where to begin breaking down this card. I guess the base stats is as good a place as any, a 6/6 for 5 mana aces the vanilla test. With the addition of vigilance, reach, and trample it just gets better. Then whenever it attacks OR blocks you can either draw a card, gain 3 life, or create a 3/3 Beast token. Gaining 3 life actually has more of an impact in a format without Lightning Bolt, but it’s still not quite as good as drawing a card or getting another sizable body into play.
I almost forgot the ramp. It’s nothing too crazy, just Oath of Nissa and Wolfwillow Haven. Not exactly proper ramp spells like Cultivate, but they are effective enough. Cultivate is legal now so if you want to run it, you absolutely can. In fact, I might suggest that over Wolfwillow Haven. Oath of Nissa while able to find a land can also find a creature or a planeswalker for just 1 green mana. It also makes the color of mana irrelevant when casting planeswalker spells, but this is mono green so you should already have no problems casting the planeswalkers in this deck. This enchantment is also Legendary so keep that in mind. Wolfwillow Haven simply enchants a land which then produces an extra green mana when tapped. You also have the option to spend 5 mana and sacrifice the enchantment to make a 2/2 Wolf token. It’s not worth the mana unless you desperately need a chump blocker, but in that scenario, you’re probably going to lose the game anyway. This is still a very effective ramp spell and also the second card that can follow a turn 2 Burning-Tree Emissary without letting that red mana go to waste. Cultivate can also follow a Burning-Tree Emissary where Wolfwillow Haven has the advantage with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Since it’s an enchantment, it will stay around and net you one more mana when you activate the land.
Now for the part you have been waiting for: the planeswalkers. It wouldn’t be Mono Green Planeswalkers without them. We want Karn, the Great Creator, Vivien, Arkbow Ranger, and Nissa, Who Shakes the World. Karn is a 4 mana planeswalker with a starting loyalty of 5. His static ability prevents your opponent from activating the activated abilities of artifacts. Against the right deck this can be very good, but in most games it will probably be useless. His +1 ability turns any noncreature artifact into a artifact creature with power and toughness equal to its mana cost. This can be an okay ability, but you will probably want to use his -2 before using it. Notice that this ability doesn’t say it has to be an artifact you own, meaning you can turn an opponent’s noncreature artifact into a artifact creature and then use a creature removal spell on it. Kind of a roundabout way of doing things, but still worth noting. Karn’s -2 ability is an artifact wish. It allows you to get any artifact in your sideboard or in exile into your hand. Abilities like this allow you to turn your sideboard into a tool box of answers and I will cover some possibilities later. Vivien, Arkbow Ranger is a 4 loyalty planeswalker for 4 mana. Her +1 ability allows you to put two +1/+1 counters on one creature or one +1/+1 counter on two creatures, either way those creatures then gain trample until end of turn. Her -3 is basically a Rabid Bite that can also damage planeswalkers. If you can use her -5 ability, you can pull a creature from your sideboard into your hand, just like what Karn can do with artifacts. Nissa, Who Shakes the World, a 5 loyalty planeswalker for 5 mana, made quite an impact during her stay in Standard, especially as rotation drew near. Her static ability lets your forests produce an additional green mana which is already very good. Her +1 allows you untap one of your lands and put three +1/+1 counters on it which turns it into a 3/3 elemental creature with haste and vigilance that is still a land. These elementals are actually much harder to deal with than one would think, especially without Lightning Bolt running around, so this is still an amazing ability. Her -8, if you can get to it, gives you an emblem that makes your lands indestructible and you can then pull all of the forest cards, not just basic forests, out of your library and onto the battlefield tapped. Oh, and remember those Elementals that she makes from your lands, they will gain indestructible too with that emblem.
Now for the sideboard so you can effectively use Karn and Vivien. First, artifacts for Karn. Some of the first cards that come to mind are answers and utility artifacts like Grafdigger’s Cage or Pithing Needle. You can also include things that can put you further ahead or your opponent further behind like The Great Henge or Aligned Hedron Network. Some sideboards for this deck are using vehicles like Skysovereign, Consul Flagship.
For creatures that Vivien can pull from the sideboard, Ulamog the Ceaseless Hunger is a very good option that should be able to come into play with relative ease with Nissa doubling your mana or Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx adding mana equal to your devotion to green. Verdurous Gearhulk comes in as a 4/4 but it also distributes four +1/+1 counters among your creatures, so 6 mana for 8 power. Stonecoil Serpent can be a great late game card. The protection from multicolored makes it harder to kill and harder to block even if it didn’t already have trample. Other giant green creatures that you may not have room for in the main board can find a place here like more copies of Elder Gargaroth or creatures that may not be able to see main board play until you are able to produce enough mana for them like Worldspine Wurm.
The shell of Mono Green Planeswalkers should look like the following:
Llanowar Elves x4
Elvish Mystic x4
Burning-Tree Emissary x4
Llanowar Visionary x2-4
Scavenging Ooze x2-4
Voracious Hydra x3-4
Elder Gargaroth x2-4
Oath of Nissa x4
Wolfwillow Haven/Cultivate x4
Karn the Great Creator x3-4
Vivien, Arkbow Ranger x3-4
Nissa, Who Shakes the World x3-4
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx x2-4
The side board is entirely up to you and should be tailored to the meta you expect. Just remember that Karn can grab artifacts, but not creatures unless it’s an artifact creature and Vivien can grab creatures, but not artifacts unless it’s an artifact creature. You could try to make a sideboard that consists of nothing but artifact creatures so no matter which planeswalker you wind up with you can get what you need, but I doubt there are that many artifact creatures that are viable in a deck like this in this format. That wraps up Mono Green Planeswalkers. Let me know what deck you want to see next in the comments down below.