Monday Brews – Forest Fires

As we are entering the final few weeks of our existing standard, we will soon be entering brave new worlds where energy is no longer legal and where the only vehicle in standard will be The Weatherlight. For my final article in our current standard, I will be providing a new twist on a deck that I have been playing a lot of this season; Steel Leaf Stompy.

For some background, I have been playing this deck in many iterations since picking the deck up at GP Birmingham getting a 10-5 finish. Fearing UW Control being everywhere (and after attending that tournament, I was correct to fear it), I chose a black splash so I could have access to 4 copies of Duress. Ultimately, I have found that there was two main issues with the deck:

ARGUMENT 1: VINE MARE IS NOT A SUITABLE MAIN DECK CARD

Vine Mare is one of the most exciting cards in the deck with it’s innate ability to be hexproof and large power. The problem with this card is that it also exists in a world with Goblin Chainwhirler and the first strike keyword wins this fight. Vine Mare ends up being a glorified blocker, which is not the position you want to be in against Red Black.

ARGUMENT 2: THE DECK HAS NO REACH / ENDING POWER

While this statement is true of many aggressive decks, with the inclusion of Llanowar Elves (and sometimes Servant of the Conduit) the deck is surprisingly mana intensive. Very often a single removal spell can strand Ghalta, Primal Hunger in your hand for the entire game. The deck is well known for it’s inability to recover from a board wipe, being purely creature based where a deck like Red Black can recover through Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Glorybringer.

Now, I think that the solution to these problems can be solved by the introduction of two cards. Lets see how the final iteration of the deck looks.

Monday Brews - Forest Fires

Main Deck Sideboard
Creatures
4x Llanowar Elves
2x Greenbelt Rampager
2x Servant of the Conduit
4x Thorn Lieutenant
4x Steel Leaf Champion
2x Rhonas the Indomitable
3x Thrashing Brontodon
3x Grand Warlord Radha
3x Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Artifacts
3x Heart of Kiran
Instants
4x Blossoming Defense

Sorceries
3x Banefire

Lands
12x Forest
1x Mountain
4x Rootbound Crag
4x Sheltered Thicket
2x Hashep Oasis
3x Sarkhan's Unsealing
3x Vine Mare
2x Vivien Reid
1x Nissa, Vital Force
2x Aethersphere Harvester
1x Shapers' Sanctuary
1x Lifecrater's Bestiary
1x Carnage Tyrant
1x Hazoret the Fervent

Grand Warlord Radha could be the solution to it all. Having haste and the mana generation helps to not only cast any Ghalta’s we may have in our hand, but also cast our other inclusion: Banefire. Now, Banefire‘s ability to end games is already very well known, appearing in many sideboards but moving it to the main deck should improve our ability to end games.

The other addition which was hyped upon release but has not found a home yet is Thorn Lieutenant. Hailed as the new Sylvan Advocate, both abilities of this card synergise very well with Radha. If the Thorn Lieutenant is removed then the token that is left behind still helps fuel Radha, while the mana that Radha creates can be sunk into the activation cost of the Thorn Lieutenant. If the creature dies in combat, then we don’t lose to much tempo, as our mana from lands can still be used.

In the sideboard, we have Sarkhan’s Unsealing, which is for the Red Black matchup and other creature matchups such as the mirror. In these matchups they are generally a replacement for Banefire, as the 2 for 1 nature of Sarkhan’s Unsealing gives you the pseudo card advantage needed to win the matchups. The planeswalkers are our anti-control package, where our creature dependent cards like Rhonas, Ghalta and Blossoming Defense are at their worst.

So there we have it, my pesonal twist on a standard deck to last you until rotation. I’ll be back in two weeks time when we’ll be coming to the conclusion of Spoiler Season to give you a taste of week 1 Guilds of Ravnica Standard!

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