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Budget Magic: $60 (17 tix) Modern Mono-Green Aggro


Witôjze Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. This week we take a break from Standard to play a bit of Modern. I have a deck I consider to be one of the go-to budget options for the format: Mono-Green Aggro. While aggro certainly isn't my style, I was impressed with how well this deck performed. It was far more powerful and resilient than I imagined. While it has some downsides (I'm not sure how it ever beats fast combo), it's actually quite good against creature decks and slow control and combo decks. Rancor and Aspect of Hydra are extremely powerful cards; Mono-Green Aggro is the right home.

Let's get to the videos, then we'll talk more about the deck. A quick reminder. If you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Mono-Green Aggro Intro

Mono-Green Aggro vs Abzan

Mono-Green Aggro vs Tron

Mono-Green Aggro vs Jund

Mono-Green Aggro vs Grishoalbrand

The Deck

This one's pretty straight forward. We flood the board with early game creatures and attack. We use our various pump spells to finish off the game, or in the case of Vines of Vastwood, protect our creatures from removal. We really need to get our opponents dead early in the game. Our deck will get outclassed in the mid to late game. Unlike other aggro decks in the format, we don't have burn spells for reach. Instead, our "equivalent" pump spells require us to have creatures on the battlefield. Let's break down the card choices.

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Our deck really, really wants a one-drop on turn one. While we don't necessarily mulligan until we find one, it is important to be mindful that a "midrange" hand (e.g. multiple Leatherback Baloths) will not win us many matches. Typically, Experiment One is the best of our one-drops since it can grow to three power by turn three, which allows it to regenerate though a targeted removal spell or survive an Anger of the Gods. Dryad Militant has some sneaky utility against Snapcaster MageDelve decks and Tarmogoyf. She exiled what would have been a devastating Darkblast in one of our matches. These cards allow for our best openings where we go one-drop into one-drop plus Rancor

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Our two drops each have some advantages and disadvantages, but the one thing they all have in common is they are the best inexpensive, aggressive options for a mono-green deck in the format. Oddly, Kalonian Tusker is, at various times, the most and least powerful creature of the bunch. The good news is the Tusker has the most power and toughness when it enters the battlefield. The bad news is that its upside is limited. It will only ever be a Watchwolf

Strangleroot Geist is probably our best two-drop because haste makes it powerful on turn two, but also on turn six where we can use it like a burn spell with whatever Rancors may be rotting in our hand. It is extremely resilient thanks to undying. Playing a Strangleroot Geist against a Liliana of the Veil feels great and puts an opponent in a position where they have to use two removal spells to kill a two-drop. 

Avatar of the Resolute is worse than Kalonian Tusker at its base stats, but it has a reasonable amount of upside. When we have a couple of creatures with +1/+1 counters, like an Experiment One or undead Strangleroot GeistAvatar of the Resolute enters the battlefield as a more aggressive version of Tarmogoyf. That said, typically it's a 3/2 or, if things go right, a 4/3. That power and toughness is still fine for a deck that is aggressive and looking to abuse its GG mana cost. 

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Leatherback Baloth is huge for its mana cost. A 4/5 for three mana is off the charts in terms of power and toughness, and its drawback of being triple Green is more of a benefit than a detriment with Aspect of Hydra. Regrettably, triple Green does keep us from playing Ghost Quarters, which is good against Tron and Amulet. As far as curve toppers go, we could do worse than Siege Rhino stats for only three-mana. 

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Rancor is a powerful effect in an aggressive deck. It's particularly good in our deck which doesn't have much evasion. While returning to our hand once the enchanted creature dies is nice, the real benefit is being able to swing our one- and two-drops past our opponent's three- and four-drops. Maybe the best way to think of Rancor is as the Mono-Green Aggro version of Punishing Fire. We stick it on a creature, attack to for a couple damage, the creature dies, it comes back to our hand, and we do it all over again. 

Vines of Vastwood protects our creatures against removal while also getting in some additional damage with unbocked creatures. If this was all it could do, it would be a great card in our deck. Along with the rest of our pump spells, it's part of our Green burn spell package that helps us close out games quickly. We can also get tricky with Vines of Vastwood and target our opponent's creatures to fizzle auras (e.g. Splinter Twin) or pump spells (e.g. Might of Old Krosa). Having access to Vines of Vastwood gives our deck a fighting chance against Splinter Twin since it's almost like having access to four more copies of Dismember

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Aspect of Hydra has the highest ceiling of any card in our deck. Considering every creature along our curve has the maximum number of Green mana symbols possible, a turn four Aspect of Hydra can be as big as Become Immense, except it always costs one-mana. With the nut draw, it's possible to have Aspect of the Hydra give a creature +9/+9 on turn four, which is almost always enough to win the game. When things go well, Aspect of Hydra is busted. 

Then there are times where our opponent kills all of our creatures and we end up sitting on two or three Aspect of Hydras in hand. In these situations, even if we draw a creature off the top, the Aspect of Hydra is, at best, a Giant Growth, and at worst +1/+1. It's tempting to consider Aspect of Hydra a "win more" card, but I think the characterization is unfair. We get a lot of free wins from the card. It often reads, "If your opponent can't block every single one of your creatures you win." Just be warned, it has both a higher ceiling and lower floor than Vines of Vastwood

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Dismember is the only removal spell in our deck, and we typically use it aggressively. In other Budget Magic decks, Dismember is meant to keep a few specific, problematic creature in check or to avoid dying to Splinter Twin. In Mono-Green Aggro, we are looking to fire off Dismembers on the early turns at whatever blockers our opponents might have. We are going to lose the late game anyway, so holding onto our Dismembers in hopes of catching something big is usually a fool's errand. Focus on killing two-drops and three-drops to keep attacking. 

Problems

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A well-timed Damnation from our opponent can be devastating, and everything from Pyroclasm to Engineered Explosives counts as a wrath against our deck. While it is possible to beat one sweeper if we play smart and hold back some threats to replenish our board, the second one is almost always game over. 

Tron is difficult since we don't have access to Ghost Quarter. If they ever land a Wurmcoil Engine, we pretty much lose on the spot. The same is true of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. Our best bet in the matchup is to hope they have a clunky draw and we can kill them before they get Tron online. Even this scenario is challenging because they have access to Pyroclasm and Oblivion Stone, which makes flooding the board risky. 

Goryo's Vengeance and Pyromancer Ascension are stand-ins for fast combo decks. I have no idea how we ever win those matchups. We don't have any interaction and their clock is usually faster than ours. Our only real hope is that they lose to themselves by fizzling or aggressively mulliganing. While we can win a game every now and then, we need a lot of luck to win a match against Storm, Grishoalbrand, or Amulet Bloom. 

Ultra-Budget Mono-Green Aggro

 

The ultra budget version of Mono-Green Aggro has a couple of big downgrades. The most important downgrade is the loss of Treetop Village, which is a great insurance policy against flooding out. Otherwise, Garruk's Companion is almost the same card as Avatar of the Resolute, though it doesn't have the upside of blocking Lingering Souls tokens or getting huge from +1/+1 counters. Finally, while losing Leatherback Baloth is painful, Boon Satyr can do some nice things acting as an expensive pump spell or pressuring an opponent at instant speed. 

Non-Budget Red-Green Aggro

 

I'm not sure upgrading the Mono-Green version is a viable plan. If you do want to splash a color, probably the best build is Green-Red Aggro. It plays a similar game, but has access to some powerful Red creatures like Goblin Guide and actual reach in Lightning Bolt and Atarka's Command. Even better, you don't need to do all these upgrades at once. Just splashing for Lightning Bolt and Atarka's Command (replacing DismemberVines of Vastwood, and Aspect of Hydra) would improve the deck. You could play the deck with only the Khans of Tarkir fetchlands, a set of Stomping Grounds, and a copy of Temple Gardens. Once you get the manabase down, most of the non-Tarmogoyf, non-Goblin Guide additions are relatively inexpensive. You'll pay $4 for a set of Wild Nacatls, $1 for a set of Kird Apes, and a couple dollars for Burning-Tree Emissarys. At this point you have an extremely competitive Modern deck, even without Tarmogoyf and Goblin Guide

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments. You can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 


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