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Budget Magic: $87 (36 tix) Mono-Green Monument (Standard)


Ẹ n lẹ, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! We haven't played much Standard lately, and while we'll probably mostly focus on Modern while we wait for Rivals of Ixalan to release and shake up Standard, we're going to jump back into Ixalan Standard this week and take another shot at unseating the Energy monster. We've talked before about how Standard is about passing two tests: the Longtusk Cub test on Turn 2 and the Hazoret the Fervent (and The Scarab God) test in the mid to late game. The most common way to pass these tests is by playing removal: Fatal Push and Harnessed Lightning to kill Longtusk Cub and Vraska's Contempt and Ixalan's Binding for the Gods. But there is another way: going fast and over the top of the best cards in Standard. This is the primary plan of today's deck, Mono-Green Monument!

Rhonas's Monument has the potential to be a very powerful card, not just ramping us into powerful creatures but pumping our creatures and—most importantly—giving them trample to smash through our opponent's blockers. Today's deck is basically the Ixalan Standard version of a classic budget archetype—mono-green stompy—except with an extra focus on Rhonas's Monument, since it's the best mono-green stompy card in Standard. Can we make a mono-green deck work in Ixalan Standard? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck.

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Mono-Green Monument (Deck Tech)

Mono-Green Monument vs. Four-Color Control (Match 1)

Mono-Green Monument vs. Grixis Midrange (Match 2)

Mono-Green Monument vs. UW Cycling (Match 3)

Mono-Green Monument vs. Sultai Energy (Match 4)

Mono-Green Monument vs. Ramunap Red (Match 5)

The Deck

The basic idea of Mono-Green Monument is simple: our main goal is to ignore what our opponent is doing, play a bunch of efficient green creatures, use Rhonas's Monument and a bunch of pump spells to make our creatures huge and trampling, and overrun our opponent before they can recover. While playing efficient creatures is a big part of our plan, Rhonas's Monument is the card that makes everything work, thanks to the fact that it not just grows our creatures but gives them trample as well, which means our do-nothing artifact is the perfect place to start when discussing the deck.

Do-Nothing Artifacts

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While Oketra's Monument gets all the credit, Rhonas's Monument might be the most powerful of the cycle in the right deck. The trick is to be able to harness both aspects of the card, which our deck does. Making our green creatures cost one less does two important things for our deck. First, it helps us ramp into Verdurous Gearhulk, which is one of our nut draws. Playing a two-drop on Turn 2 into Rhonas's Monument on Turn 3 into Verdurous Gearhulk (triggering Rhonas's Monument targeting our two-drop) allows us to hit for a ton of trampling damage. Second, Rhonas's Monument helps us flood the board with smaller creatures by making all of our two-drops cost one mana, allowing us to go wide and get around our opponent's defenses. 

While ramping is great, the biggest benefit of Rhonas's Monument is the ability to pump our creatures and give them trample whenever we play another creature. The trample specifically is key, since it allows us to attack over our opponent's board. Since our deck is stuffed full of creatures, it isn't that uncommon that we end up attacking with a 10-power trampling creature as early as Turn 4, assuming we draw our Rhonas's Monument. Plus, Monument works really well with our other do-nothing artifact.

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Lifecrafter's Bestiary helps make sure we never run out of creatures to trigger our Rhonas's Monument by drawing us a card (for just one mana) whenever we cast a creature, while also scrying for free on our upkeep. If we can get both Lifecrafter's Bestiary and Rhonas's Monument on the battlefield, the cost reduction of Rhonas's Monument essentially pays for the card draw, so we can simply pay our creature's mana cost and the creature comes with a kicker of drawing us a card. While Lifecrafter's Bestiary can be a bit slow against dedicated aggro decks, it's one of our best cards against control and midrange, generating an endless source of card advantage to fight through our opponent's removal and counters.

Combo Creatures

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While most of our creatures are in the deck because they are efficient and are good at pumping our other creatures, we do have one sweet combo. Servant of the Conduit isn't really a great beatdown card (although it is sometimes helpful for ramping into our four- and five-drops), but it's actually really good in our deck because it combos with Greenbelt Rampager by eating away our energy. Most decks consider Greenbelt Rampager's tendency to bounce itself as a drawback, but for our deck, it's the primary reason we are playing the one-drop. If we can use Servant of the Conduit to keep spending our energy, Greenbelt Rampager gives us a repeatable way to trigger our Rhonas's Monument and Lifecrafter's Bestiary at least once—and sometimes even twice—each turn! This gives us a stream of card advantage and a repeatable sorcery-speed +2/+2 and trample spell, which helps to make sure we can always attack through our opponent's board to get in damage. Plus, our deck just wants creatures, and both Servant of the Conduit and Greenbelt Rampager fit the bill.

Value Creatures

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Merfolk Branchwalker is simply a good value two-drop. It doesn't do anything especially synergistic, but it gives us a way to trigger our do-nothing artifacts while also smoothing out our draws thanks to explore. As I mentioned before, we want as many creatures as possible in our deck because both of our do-nothing artifacts literally do nothing if we aren't casting creatures, and Merfolk Branchwalker is a reasonable option in the two-drop slot.

Meanwhile, Crocodile of the Crossing is one of our strongest finishers after we have a Rhonas's Monument on the battlefield. As long as we have at least one other creature on the battlefield, we simply cast Crocodile of the Crossing, give our creatures +2/+2 and trample, and also get a 5/4 hasty threat, which represents a ton of damage out of nowhere. Plus, with a Rhonas's Monument out, we have a 5/4 haste for three mana, which is a pretty absurd deal, even without any help. While it probably looks strange, after playing a bunch of games with the deck, Crocodile of the Crossing is one of the most impressive creatures in the budget build of Mono-Green Monument.

Pump Creatures

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Verdurous Gearhulk is probably the most powerful creature in the deck. We can cast it on Turn 4 with the help of Servant of the Conduit or Rhonas's Monument, which gives us an incredible amount of power on the battlefield early in the game. The Construct works particularly well with Rhonas's Monument. Imagine, for a minute, that we play a Servant of the Conduit on Turn 2 and a Rhonas's Monument on Turn 3. On Turn 4, we can play a Verdurous Gearhulk and put counters on the Servant of the Conduit to make it a 6/6 while also giving it +2/+2 and trample, which is a huge chunk of damage. After we have a Verdurous Gearhulk on the battlefield, it gives us another trample creature, which makes it really difficult for our opponent to chump block our team to stay alive. Basically, an 8/8 trample for five is already far above the curve, and the ability to put half of Verdurous Gearhulk's power on another creature (or group of creatures) makes Verdurous Gearhulk even scarier.

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Resilient Khenra is insane with [[Rhonas's Monument], basically being a one-mana pump spell that gives a creature +4/+4 and trample while also leaving behind a 2/2 body and triggering any copies of Lifecrafter's Bestiary we have on the battlefield. One of the primary plans of Mono-Green Monument is to go all-in on one creature each turn (whichever one we target with Rhonas's Monument so it has trample), and Resilient Khenra is a key part of the plan. Even better, thanks to eternalize, Resilient Khenra gives us a strange source of card advantage if the game goes long while giving us another sneaky source of creature pump from our graveyard. Most importantly, as we talked about earlier, because we are focused on Rhonas's Monument and Lifecrafter's Bestiary, our deck wants as many creatures as possible, which makes Resilient Khenra much better than a spell-based pump spell like Larger Than Life, even though the end result is similar.

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Wrapping up our pump creatures are two copies of Rishkar, Peema Renegade and one Rhonas the Indomitable. Rishkar is mostly just filler, giving us a smaller version of Verdurous Gearhulk and another body to trigger our do-nothing artifacts, although occasionally the ability to tap creatures with +1/+1 counters for mana is really important, since it lets us use some of our smaller creatures to pay for Lifecrafter's Bestiary triggers to draw more cards. Meanwhile, Rhonas the Indomitable is insane in the deck, and if it weren't so expensive, we'd play at least two and probably three copies. The combination of deathtouch and indestructible makes Rhonas the Indomitable one of the best creatures to trample up with Rhonas's Monument, since a deathtouch creature with trample only needs to deal one damage to a blocking creature to kill it and can trample over for the rest.

Other Stuff

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Rounding out our deck are a couple of spells. Blossoming Defense gives us yet another pump spell while also giving us a way to fight through targeted removal thanks to hexproof. Against creature decks, it works almost like a removal spell, since we can cast it at instant speed after our opponent blocks to pump our creature and (hopefully) kill our opponent's creature, while against control decks, the ability to stop a Cast Out or Harnessed Lightning targeting our best creature is often a game-swinging plan. As for Pounce, it's just a one-of in the main deck (we have more in the sideboard) but it does give us a way to kill a creature in a pinch. Plus, being instant speed is nice, since it allows us to do tricks like play a Greenbelt Rampager and, with the "return to hand" trigger on the stack, use Pounce to kill one of our opponent's things.

Wrap-Up

Overall, we finished with a 3-2 record in our video matches but actually played against Grixis Midrange twice, with a loss dropping our total record to 3-3. While getting rid of removal almost entirely is a somewhat risky strategy, the good news is that the deck was incredibly explosive and did a great job of winning out of nowhere after we got a copy of Rhonas's Monument on the battlefield. The creatures are all good, and the do-nothing artifacts work well with good creatures, which means the deck felt pretty solid overall. 

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As far as changes I'd make now that we've played some matches with the deck, the biggest one would be adding Appetite for the Unnatural to the sideboard over Manglehorn. While Manglehorn seems better for the deck, since it's a creature to trigger our do-nothing artifacts, not being able to kill an enchantment was problematic, especially against Drake Haven. Otherwise, there isn't a whole lot to be done to the budget build of the deck. If you have more copies of Rhonas the Indomitable, slot them in because they are great. Otherwise, add in Appetite for the Unnatural, and you should be good to go.

While energy decks and Ramunap Red are still at the top of Standard, and it seems pretty unlikely that anything will dethrone them before Rivals of Ixalan is released, Mono-Green Monument feels like a pretty reasonable budget option. We played against a couple of energy decks and had some success, mostly thanks to Rhonas's Monument allowing us to trample over blockers, which is energy's main plan for staying alive against creature decks, and while the Ramunap Red matchup doesn't feel great, it doesn't feel that bad and could probably be improved with more lifegain or by moving Deathgorge Scavenger to the main deck. If you like beating down with huge, trampling creatures and killing the opponent quickly, this might be the budget Standard deck for you!

Getting Mono-Green Monument down into the ultra-budget range is actually pretty easy. In fact, we can do it mostly by cutting some of the most expensive sideboard cards in the build we played on video like Deathgorge Scavenger, Heroic Intervention, and Aethersphere Harvester. While dropping these cards make us worse in certain matchups (Heroic Intervention against control, Deathgorge Scavenger against God-Pharaoh's Gift decks, and Aethersphere Harvester against Ramunap Red), it's a worthy sacrifice for the ultra-budget build, especially since it means we don't have to change much in the main deck. As far as the main deck, the only change we make is trade to Verdurous Gearhulks for two Ridgescale Tuskers, and while this is a pretty strict downgrade, Ridgescale Tusker does a pretty fair Gearhulk impression for a fraction of the cost. Overall, this build of the deck should play like the one from the videos but will be a bit worse (especially after sideboarding) in certain matchups. Still, for $50, it isn't a bad option for getting started in Ixalan Standard.

The non-budget build of Mono-Green Monument doesn't get a ton of upgrades, but it does get a few big ones. First, we go up to three copies of Rhonas the Indomitable, which is insane in conjunction with Rhonas's Monument. Second, we move a couple of Dinosaurs into the deck, with Ripjaw Raptor taking the place of Crocodile of the Crossing and Carnage Tyrant joining the fray. Carnage Tyrant specifically seems great, since it gives us a hexproof creature to throw all of our pump spells at, which is a great way of closing out the game; plus, it helps against control, where counterspells are a concern. All in all, this build of Mono-Green Monument is a bit of an upgrade (since it has a handful of powerful additions) and thankfully isn't that much more expensive than the ultra-budget build. Plus, both Carnage Tyrant and Ripjaw Raptor are good cards to have, with more Dinosaurs on the way soon in Rivals of Ixalan.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. 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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