Last updated on October 7, 2021
Blizzard Brawl | Illustration by Manuel Castañón
On my hunt to find the best Esika’s Chariot deck in Standard, my next target is mono green aggro. Mono green has taken the format by storm, winning MTGO Standard challenges and dominating the Arena ladder.
So let’s take a deeper look at this deck and dive into all its little details, shall we?
Werewolf Pack Leader | Illustration by Miranda Meeks
This is the deck that won the Standard Challenges on September 25 and 26. Most notable are the four copies of Unnatural Growth. I didn’t expect this card to see play outside of Limited. Boards tend to stall in midrange battles and Unnatural Growth allows you to keep attacking.
A lot of the choices when building mono green are forced. There just aren’t that many excellent green cards to choose from in Standard anymore. The ones we do have access to will have to be good enough.
I put the deck to the test on the Arena ladder, made a few changes to suit my play style, and came up with this list:
Lotus Cobra rewards you for making land drops, ramps out your bigger threats, and allows you to play two spells in a turn. It causes your opponent to stress if they should use their removal on a small creature.
Ranger Class is a way to diversify your threats. A pitfall in aggressive decks like mono green is running out of ways to use your lands. This Class is an excellent mana-sink that provides good value during most stages of the game.
Werewolf Pack Leader is an all-around utility card. It has great stats for two mana and drawing extra cards matters every turn. Having the ability to gain power and trample is especially important thanks to Unnatural Growth.
Briarbridge Tracker stands out as being one of the most impressive cards from Midnight Hunt. Being able to crew Esika’s Chariot and producing a Clue to copy is enough to earn its place in most green decks.
Old-Growth Troll is one of the main reasons to play mono green instead of two colors. Its body is huge. Your opponent has to kill it twice. It rewards you for trading with their creatures by giving you extra mana.
The 4- and 5-Drops
Esika’s Chariot is a staple of every green deck. It forces your opponent to have a strong board or immediate answers.
Unnatural Growth is your trump card for board stalls. A lot of games come down to neither player having good attacks. The battlefield grows large while both players hope to draw a way to punch through. Unnatural Growth makes sure you’re the one that gets to attack.
Tips and Tricks
- You have to crew before combat to get an 8/8 Chariot when you have Unnatural Growth and Esika’s Chariot but you can also let your creatures grow first so you only have to tap one token to crew. Sometimes it’s better to be defensive.
- Unnatural Growth turns Werewolf Pack Leader into a 10-power trample if you activate Packleader’s ability before combat.
- Old-Growth Troll makes a tapped troll token. Don’t get any ideas about blocking with the token right away! Learn from my mistakes.
Lotus Cobra (Zendikar) | Illustration by Chippy
This is a consistent deck with a lot of similar cards. You aren’t looking for anything too specific.
Mulligan for hands that have a clear plan of action for the first few turns. You want to start casting creatures on turn 2 and never stop. You rely less on quantity of cards and more on velocity because the deck is extremely aggressive.
Don’t be afraid to throw back a slow seven to look for a fast six. You can keep slower hands with Old-Growth Troll if you know your opponent is playing a reactive deck like Izzet Turns because it’s so hard for them to deal with it.
I had a hard time deciding how to sideboard for this matchup.
Ranger Class is easy to cut because a 2/2’s impact is low and the scaling from +1/+1 counters often isn’t worth the mana required. Lotus Cobra is very good early in the game but is a bad top deck in the midgame when your card quality matters a lot. The 3/3 Kazandu Mammoth doesn’t match up very well versus big green creatures. You can play fewer mana sources post-board in midrange mirror matches because the battlefield tends to stall as cards trade with each other, causing both sides to flood.
There isn’t much you want to change here. You can consider boarding heavier, bringing in Tovolar’s Huntmaster (beware enemy Burning Hands) or Inscription of Abundance, but mono green wants to stay as fast and proactive as possible. Gruul has better interaction so trying to beat them at their own game can be a losing battle. You want to overwhelm them instead. If your Gruul opponent plays Goldspan Dragon, board in one or two Plummets.
- -3 Ranger Class
Izzet Dragons Matchups
Izzet Dragons does a good job of softening the impact of your most expensive cards so cutting them here for cheaper punishing spells is a good idea. Your goal in this matchup is to get more out of your mana than your opponent can and cards like Plummet and Snakeskin Veil almost always trade up.
You should board against Izzet Turns the same way except that they don’t play anything to kill with Plummet so you should leave those out in a Turns matchup and keep your expensive spells in.
Plummet (Forgotten Realms) | Illustration by Alix Branwyn
I find mono green to be an overall strong deck. What it lacks in versatility it makes up for in punching power and it’s a solid choice for now if you want to beat down. I don’t expect the deck to remain a powerhouse forever because there aren’t a lot of ways for it to be built.
I think other decks will adapt and optimize to beat it by playing a removal suite designed to target its threats, and green doesn’t have the tools to change up. Green already has a big target on its back with Burning Hands being the primary removal spell for red decks and Blood on the Snow decks on the rise. You can still get plenty of wins attacking with double sized trolls for now.
What do you think about this deck? Are you going to try it out? Have you had a good (or bad) time piloting this build? Let me know in the comments down below or head over to our Discord if that’s more your thing. And if you play on MTGA, be sure to download Draftsim’s excellent free app, Arena Tutor, to track your matches.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll see you in the next one!