Last week a funny thought flicked across my mind. While sorting Magic at the Twenty Sided Store I was struck by a card. Gyre Sage, this awesome green evolver/ramper, really got my wheels spinning. I turned to my boss and said, out of the blue, “I want to build a Standard deck.” This is problematic for many reasons.

First, as the titles of these articles hint, I’m not spectacular at Magic: The Gathering. I’m new to the game, I started playing at the Return to Ravnica prerelease, and I’m still suffering from growing pains. I miss triggers, I often block nonsensically, but as I’ve stated before, I love a challenge and I love complicated games.

The second problem with me wanting to play Standard around a single interesting card is the fact that I don’t know the meta of Standard at all. I’m a drafter, I barely know what the word meta even means in this context! I only know what I’ve played (a copied W Humans deck) and what I’ve played against (B/R Burn, Red Deck Wins, an annoying Dedicated Mill Deck).

The third problem is my attitude. I definitely don’t want to just copy a list from some website and run what everyone else is running. I also know how unlikely it is for me to ever go X-0 in anything, so I feel like I have room to play around and learn the cards. So, when my boss asked me what kind of Standard deck it was that I wanted to build, I gleefully replied “Mono-Green!”

Early Iterations

If there are two cards from this new set that speak to me, they are Gyre Sage and Experiment One. So simple, elegant in design, and fun to play with. So I began building a Standard deck around those two creatures. What would buff them, evolve them, play nicely with them. A few cards seemed like necessities right from the start. Rancor, of course, and Strangleroot Geist to be sure. And since I’m playing Mono-Green, Predator Ooze’s costing cast seems way less prohibitive than it does in your three-color deck, right?

And then I found my first, I don’t know, combo? A sort of perfect scenario, mind-blowing, cool-if-it-could-happen card interaction. If by turn four I had hit all my mana and evolved Gyre twice (not terribly hard to do thanks to Strangleroot Geist and Wolfir Avenger), I could tap to play Increasing Savagery, place the five +1/+1 counters on Gyre Sage, and tap Gyre Sage to right then and there flash back Increasing Savagery to put ten +1/+1 counters on… uh… anything. This is no huge revelation, maybe, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun to pull off, and I felt like I figured it out all on my own. A cool accomplishment for a newbie like me.


I playtested with Orlando and his Dark Naya deck a lot, deep into the wee small hours of the morning. We were pretty toe-to-toe. I imagined (as he probably did too, though he’s too nice to admit it) that this homebrow mono-color silliness would get stomped time and again. But my deck is two things, tough and quick. It’s much quicker than I thought it would be, and I can make big moves and swing hard by turn three and four (even without my Harlem Globetrotter-esque combo I mentioned above).

I cut a few things during playtesting, including Giant Growth (who needs it!?), and added stuff I’ve since removed again (like Ulvenwald Tracker and Nightshade Peddler, which are okay removal but they don’t evolve anything, so I think they have to go). The final 60 I have is in no way complete, and I don’t have a sideboard (that’s a whole separate can of worms, am I right?), but hot damn this is a fun deck to play.

Mondo Green

2 Rogues Passage
21 Forest
4 Experiment One
4 Strangleroot Geist
4 Gyre Sage
4 Wolfir Avenger
4 Predator Ooze
2 Yeva, Nature’s Herald
2 Deadbridge Goliath
2 Wolfir Silverheart
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
4 Rancor
2 Pit Fight
2 Increasing Savagery
1 Glaring Spotlight


When I tell people at the shop that I’m building a Mono-Green deck I usually get some sort of look from them. Either they give a look as if they mean to say “Good Luck, Idiot” or they give me a look as if they mean to say “Oh, You Poor Little Newbie.” But I’m doing this for a reason. I want to learn the meta of Standard from a simple baseline. As I learn more of the complications of the state of the game, I too can complicate my deck. This is, probably, how I best learn everything I do in life. I start small and complicate things as I progress. I’ve been told I’ve got a brain for D&D, not Magic, and while that is probably (definitely) true, I’m also bullish and stubborn when I want to succeed at something I’m bad at. This deck is just another example of that personality quirk of mine.

So go ahead, all you master brewers, scoff at my lower-tier deck. I don’t care. This deck is fun to play and needs constant tweaking and adjustment. And for me, that’s a far more rewarding learning experience, at my current level of play, than taking a 60-card list and changing a card or two. Scoff all you want, deckmasters, I’ll be down in the forest, turning cards to the right.

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