Threat Evaluation, Part Four: Forest, Go

After excluding arguably three of the most powerful colors in Magic, we aren’t left with more than a handful of decks. Still, some of these are near to my heart. I have won more packs in ticketed MTGO events with basic [c]Forest[/c] than any other land, period. First, there was Stompy in Pauper. Later, there was a beautiful, if very brief, period where the 2013 and 2014 core sets were legal together, and [c]Rancor[/c] and [c]Kalonian Tusker[/c] were available to a Standard Stompy player. Finally, there was my beloved Mono-Green Infect in Modern.

Forests really make the opponent prove your deck is bad because you are really good at applying early pressure. Not only that, but also the pressure is difficult to remove, whether it is because of Hexproof, instant-speed buffs, or /5 in the bottom right corner of the card. Let’s take a look at some of the mono-green lists available in Modern:

Greener Pastures

These lists are simple: drop Fangorn, and beat.

Mono-Green Infect

As I have already written about this and spreading it across formats, I’ll be brief: this can win on turns two and three when needed, or it can sit back on Exalted triggers and pump spells for protection and reach for the win on turns six through ten.

Tell-tale signs: Turn one [c]Inkmoth Nexus[/c] that isn’t followed by [c]Mox Opal[/c], [c]Springleaf Drum[/c] or [c]Signal Pest[/c] is a good sign. [c]Cathedral of War[/c] and [c]Sylvan Scrying[/c] are definite heads-up. Also, if your opponent drops Forest, Forest, and still does nothing, they’re most likely playing an [c]Ichorclaw Myr[/c] with backup.

Stompy

With creatures like [c]Leatherback Baloth[/c] and [c]Thrun, the Last Troll[/c], planeswalkers, and removal such as [c]Pit Fight[/c] and [c]Beast Within[/c], this isn’t your [c]Winter Orb[/c] Stompy list of the 90’s. Its only similarity to the Pauper lists is the name, also, as the curve and resiliency is much higher. In fact, it’s closer compared to Jund or Rock. Sergi has done a good write-up on this deck archetype on this page.

Tell-tale signs: Forest, [c]Experiment One[/c] is a common play, but this list shares that with other beat variants. If you keep seeing more Forests and cards like [c]Strangleroot Geist[/c] and [c]Kalonian Tusker[/c], you know this is your match.

Elves

It is difficult to search for decks based on price on mtgo-stats and mtggoldfish, so whenever I come across one that is low, I always bookmark it in my mind. The lowest that I have ever seen in Modern was a list that only cost $9.58 at the time that it placed 3-1 in a Daily. And its components were Elves. With only 38 creatures and 4 [c]Lead the Stampede[/c], I’m sure the pressure was on for his opponents. There are more lords in here than in Merfolk, and the [c]Aether Vial[/c] are replaced by mana-producing creatures, maximizing the synergy.

Obviously there are combo lists available as well, whether the combo be [c]Cloudstone Curio[/c] and [c]Elvish Visionary[/c] with [c]Nettle Sentinel[/c] and [c]Heritage Druid[/c], [c]Intruder Alarm[/c] with [c]Joraga Treespeaker[/c] and [c]Ant Queen[/c], or [c]Hive Mind[/c] and [c]Summoner’s Pact[/c], the options are quite open.

Tell-tale signs: [c]Wren’s Run Vanquisher[/c] and [c]Bramblewood Paragon[/c] are only seen here. Obviously [c]Nettle Sentinel[/c] and [c]Heritage Druid[/c] are strong hints.

Wielding The Green Dragon*

Here are lists that are predominantly green but do not have a basic land other than [c]Plains[/c] (as white is the last color to be covered) in their mana-bases.

*- Can we talk about how one WIELDS a dragon for a second? Imagine Samuel L. Jackson in the famous Pulp Fiction “What?!” scene with a green dragon in place of the gun. I can only imagine how wildly the artist’s mind ran with upon receipt of the card’s name.

Hexproof Auras/Bogles

Equally difficult to respect and not respect at the same time, the Bogles player typically forgoes all interaction with the opponent in favor of a [c]Slippery Bogle[/c] or [c]Gladecover Scout[/c] souped up with four to ten enchantments. Some lists at least have the decency to play [c]Suppression Field[/c] and [c]Path to Exile[/c] for interaction, and some realize there is often little point.

Tell-tale signs: The deck simply can’t function without a mulligan into a creature, so you should see [c]Slippery Bogle[/c], [c]Gladecover Scout[/c], and/or [c]Kor Spiritdancer[/c] within the first two turns.

Green Devotion

This list uses some of the old standbys seen in mono-green beats, but here they are taken advantage of for their mana costs. Once enough cards like [c]Wistful Selkie[/c] and [c]Burning-Tree Emissary[/c] are in place, the player generates enough mana to win with [c]Genesis Wave[/c], [c]Tooth and Nail[/c] for [c]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn[/c] and [c]Xenagos, God of Revels[/c], or [c]Eternal Witness[/c] and [c]Primal Command[/c] recursion, whichever. Take your pick, no big deal.

Tell-tale signs: This is the only list to play land Auras other than [c]Spreading Seas[/c].

Hate-Bears

How frequently this term is thrown around, yet no one can fully appreciate it until they’re on the wrong end of a 7/7 [c]Scavening Ooze[/c], [c]Leonin Arbiter[/c], and [c]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/c] with no lands in play.

Tell-tale signs: [c]Noble Hierarch[/c] turn one is rather typical in Modern. [c]Loxodon Smiter[/c] following it on turn two is slightly less so. The real giveaway is when they are combined with tempo elements such as [c]Aven Mindcensor[/c] or [c]Linvala, Keeper of Silence[/c].

A variant on Hate-bears excludes all of the durdly enter-the-battlefield effects and “tax” cards (of Legacy and Modern Death and Taxes lists) for more cards like [c]Wilt-Leaf Liege[/c] and [c]Voice of Resurgence[/c]. Call it Care-Bears? Still, a [c]Kitchen Finks[/c] with the stats of [c]Juggernaut[/c] and a 4/3 1-drop in [c]Dryad Militant[/c] are quite severe.

Last March of the Ents

Hey, wait, that’s not a Magic card.

This concludes the look at lists heavy enough into Green to contain basic Forests but not containing Islands, Swamps, or Mountains. Next week we’ll look at the last few Modern lists: those that are heavy, heavy white and without any splashes. I’ll conclude the series in two weeks with the ones I’ve missed along the way.

In the meantime, enjoy the SilverBlack list I’ve run for all my league games into the Juggernaut stat of 5/3. How did he manage to make two references in here?

[d title=”Modern SilverBlack Stompy”]

Land

20 Forest

Creatures

2 Dryad Militant

4 Elvish Mystic

4 Experiment One

4 Kalonian Tusker

4 Leatherback Baloth

4 Strangleroot Geist

Other Spells

2 Beast Within

2 Giant Growth

3 Loxodon Warhammer

1 Pit Fight

4 Prey Upon

2 Triumph of Ferocity

4 Vines of Vastwood

Sideboard

2 Acidic Slime

1 Back To Nature

1 Deglamer

1 Pit Fight

2 Ranger’s Guile

1 Reknit

2 Tormod’s Crypt

1 Trophy Hunter

1 Unravel the Aether

3 Windstorm[/d]

This deck is obviously a port of the Modern “Stompy” list. I really think the similarity is closer to Rock; you won’t find a closer card to [c]Dark Confidant[/c] than [c]Triumph of Ferocity[/c]. I haven’t lost a game where it has triggered twice and drawn me a card. Maybe I haven’t where it’s triggered once and drawn me a card, but I’m trying to be conservative here.

You also haven’t lived until you equip a beater with [c]Loxodon Warhammer[/c], fight with it, then attack with it.

My match loss is to flyers. [c]Lingering Souls[/c] is quite a card in this format. Unfortunately, it is always accompanied by [c]Inquisition of Kozilek[/c], and often it travels with anthem effects. It’s quite a bear to defeat. You have access to [c]Scattershot Archer[/c] and the cards I already have in the sideboard. Maybe [c]Scryb Ranger[/c] belongs in the maindeck, and the archer in the side.

I hope this series is benefiting your Modern play. It is such a great thing, over time, to track your results and watch the meta shift once you’re knowledgeable of all the archetypes.

-drinkard