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Budget Magic: $87 (34 tix) Standard Gearhulk Stompy


Buiti binafi, Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. This week, we are heading to Standard to play a deck that's looking to get in underneath all the powerful midrange decks in the format: mono-green Gearhulk Stompy! Many players have bemoaned the fact that our current Standard format doesn't really have a strong red aggro list to keep slower decks honest, so maybe the solution is to look at another color. Green may be the best option, since it not only allows for fast starts with many powerful early game creatures but also has some insane finishers in Verdurous Gearhulk and Woodland Wanderer, a strong curve, and plenty of card advantage to fight control decks in Tireless Tracker, Duskwatch Recruiter, and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. The end result is a deck that's not only powerful but also resilient!

We'll talk more about Gearhulk Stompy after the videos, but first 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 of the latest and greatest.

Gearhulk Stompy: Deck Tech

Gearhulk Stompy vs. Mardu Vehicles

Gearhulk Stompy vs. GR Aetherworks

Gearhulk Stompy vs. RB Vampires

Gearhulk Stompy vs. Jeskai Control

Gearhulk Stompy vs. GR Pummeler

The Deck

The basic idea of Gearhulk Stompy is pretty simple: we play efficient creatures over the early game, maybe add in a Nissa or two, and then hopefully close out the game with Woodland Wanderer and Verdurous Gearhulk. As a result, unlike some decks, we don't really have any combos or specific synergies; instead, the point of the deck is a strong curve and raw power. 

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Verdurous Gearhulk is the card that makes our deck work, and it has to be the most powerful card in Kaladesh Standard that hasn't seen consistent play. On an empty board, it's an 8/8 trample for only five mana, which is pretty absurd, and when we curve out, we can dump the counters it provides onto our other creatures to get in four hasty damage. While it technically has a downside of dying to artifact removal, this actually doesn't come up often, since neither Fragmentize nor Natural State (the most played artifact removal in Standard) can hit Verdurous Gearhulk. Basically, we want to draw our copies of Verdurous Gearhulk as often as possible. Against aggressive decks, they are huge roadblocks; against midrange, they offer a way to kill the opponent before Emrakul, the Promised End comes down; and against control, being able to spread the counters around gives us a way to pressure planeswalkers. 

Meanwhile, Woodland Wanderer occupies the four-drop slot on the curve and is amazing when we can follow it up with a Verdurous Gearhulk. While we are technically a mono-green deck, we have a few ways of making mana of other colors, which means we can often cast Woodland Wanderer as at least a 4/4 and sometimes a 5/5. When we follow this up with a Verdurous Gearhulk, we end up with a huge vigilant, trampling threat on Turn 4 or 5, which allows us to close out the game in short order. Plus, thanks to vigilance, we can attack with Woodland Wanderer and still have it back on defense to block our opponent's biggest threat. So, just how do we make sure our Woodland Wanderer is as big as possible?

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Loam Dryad and Servant of the Conduit are fine early game plays. While not especially scary as attackers, they provide good targets for dumping our Verdurous Gearhulk counters, but most importantly, they allow us to make mana of any color to maximize the value of Woodland Wanderer. Plus, they speed up our deck significantly. While a Turn 5 Verdurous Gearhulk is fine, a Turn 4 Verdurous Gearhulk is a scary possibility. Meanwhile, Holdout Settlement takes advantage of the fact that our deck can support some colorless lands. If we weren't on a budget, I'd just play Aether Hub as our pseudo-colorless "pump Woodland Wanderer" land, but in a pinch, Holdout Settlement does a reasonable budget-friendly imitation.

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Duskwatch Recruiter and Tireless Tracker may be the two best (non-Verdurous Gearhulk) cards in our deck. While both are relatively on curve on Turn 2 or 3, the main reason they are so important to our deck is that they offer us a way to generate card advantage. One of the reasons I shy away from playing aggro is because it often feels like when things go poorly (for example, the opponent has a wrath), there's no way to catch back up, but in our Gearhulk Stompy deck, we can actually outdraw many control decks thanks to these two cards. Because of this, it's pretty easy to reload after our opponent sweeps the board, or to fight through a bunch of targeted removal. 

Both creatures are also reasonable as attackers. While Duskwatch Recruiter often needs help from Verdurous Gearhulk, when it comes time to resolve our powerful finisher, the more creatures we have on the board, the more advantage we can get from the four +1/+1 counters. Meanwhile, Tireless Tracker can be pretty big all on its own simply by playing lands and cracking Clues. 

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Noose Constrictor might seem like a weird choice for a Stompy deck because there are other options (like Lambholt Pacifist) that offer more raw power. However, one of my major concerns in building the deck was fliers, primarily Smuggler's Copter but also cards like Spell Queller and Archangel Avacyn as well. Noose Constrictor gives us a way to block and even trade with these creatures, which often buys us enough time to win the game with our huge threats before our opponent kills us with fliers. 

Clear Shot is surprisingly similar, giving us another way to kill a Smuggler's Copter while also leading to some incredible blowouts. Since Clear Shot isn't really fighting, our creature doesn't take any damage, which can occasionally lead to some huge two-for-ones. Probably the best example of this is during our match against Mardu Vehicles, when we blocked a Cultivator's Caravan with a 5/5 Verdurous Gearhulk and then used Clear Shot to not only make our Verdurous Gearhulk a 6/6 but kill an attacking Fleetwheel Cruiser as well.

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Finally, we have our planeswalkers. Nissa, Vital Force is pretty much Verdurous Gearhulk number five, and while it's not as game ending as the construct, it does give us a hasty 5/5 attacker, and then against control decks, we have the ability to ultimate the very next turn to draw a bunch of extra cards. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, on the other hand, comes down early in the game and makes an endless stream of chump blockers. Against control decks, we simply keep plussing until we eventually ultimate; against midrange decks, we can use it like an anthem to put some counters on our creatures to close out the game quickly. 

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Last but not least, we have Blossoming Defense. While it might seem like the green instant is an afterthought, it's actually one of the best cards in our decks because it does everything. When we are the aggressor, it allows us to push through extra damage and possibly force our opponent into some bad blocks while also protecting our creature from targeted removal. When we are on the back foot, it lets us trade a Noose Constrictor with something like Archangel Avacyn to keep us in the game. All for just a single mana!

Ultra-Budget Gearhulk Stompy

Since it wouldn't really be Gearhulk Stompy without Verdurous Gearhulk, our options as far as what cards we can cut to make an ultra-budget build are fairly limited. As such, we dump all of the planeswalkers and Tireless Tracker and replace them with some more pump spells and Lambholt Pacifist. The end result is a deck that's even more aggressive than the one in the videos but far less resilient. While I think the ultra-budget build will do fine in many matchups, it will likely struggle against control and removal-heavy midrange decks, where Tireless Tracker and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar were two of our best cards thanks to their ability to generate card advantage. Because of this, the success of the deck will likely mostly depend on your local meta. If everyone is playing UW Flash and Aetherworks Marvel, the ultra-budget build should be fine, but if various control decks and GB Delirium are popular, it will struggle. 

Non-Budget GB Aggro

If we are staying mono-green, there really aren't a ton of upgrades to be made. Most obviously, we add in four copies of Smuggler's Copter because the card is so good that a deck needs a reason not to play it. To make room, we cut Noose Constrictor, which was in the deck primarily to fight against opponents' Smuggler's Copters, which is less necessary now that we have our own copies. We also get a single Skysovereign, Consul Flagship for more removal and fix the mana base to maximize the power of Woodland Wanderer with some copies of Aether Hub and also some Lumbering Falls

On the other hand, if you are willing to splash a color, I'd look towards the GB Aggro deck that Todd Anderson played at the SCG Player's Championship. While there are a lot of differences between the two decks, the game plan is similar: play some powerful early-game threats and then finish off the game with Verdurous Gearhulk. Plus, going black gives the deck not only Grim Flayer and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet but some real removal and better sideboard answers as well!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. All in all, we went 3-2 with our deck but managed to perform well against all of the tier decks we played, beating Mardu Vehicles, GR Aetherworks, and Jeskai Control. As I mentioned before, I actually had a lot of fun playing the deck—even though it's aggressive, we have plenty of ways to generate card advantage, which gives us game in a lot more matchups than most aggro decks! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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