Stomping All Over Standard with Stompy
- Mark Pinder
If you're looking for a Standard deck to play at your local FNM or Store Championship, netdecking the latest trend isn't always the best approach. Building your own and following its journey, sticking with a strategy even after rotation, can have its own rewards …
We have entered the brave new world of Throne of Eldraine Standard. Gone are Ixalan, Rivals of Ixalan, Dominaria, and Core Set 2019. These are exciting times for all, but some also feel a degree of sadness at the thought of packing away so many of our recent favorites in binders to never see the light of day again. Of course there is also the opposite view that some cards are best out of a format.
Today we're going on a journey, from humble beginnings we show a decks evolution over not weeks, not months but years in an ever evolving Standard format.
So my local store in Doncaster is going to be sleeping more soundly after the nightmare of …
- Opponent's turn one play Llanowar Elves
- Opponent's turn two play Steel Leaf Champion
- Opponent's turn three play another Steel Leaf Champion
- Opponent's turn four play Ghalta, Primal Hunger
And that's regularly what would happen at Standard Showdown and FNM in Doncaster, usually perpetrated by one player with a dream, my wife.
It all started with Jurassic Park, as Rachel is a big dinosaur fan. So once Ixalan arrived she knew which deck she wanted to play. For several months, it wasn't about winning FNM but about taking part with a deck she had built herself and getting a modicum of success. Rivals of Ixalan came along and the squeal of delight when she saw Ghalta, Primal Hunger … I swear it woke up the neighbors.
However, despite new additions her Dinosaurs were never quite able to win consistently. Sure she posted good results and had players cringing at the thought of playing against the explosive deck, but many other decks were just stronger. Every game though was a learning experience, an opportunity to bank knowledge for the day when all the pieces would fall into place.
The Arrival of Dominaria
Dominaria arrived and the hot new decks were Azorius Historic to be swiftly surpassed by Mono-Red and some Rakdos decks utilizing Goblin Chainwhirler. Now most people these days tend to grab a deck off the net and run with it. Personally though, whilst I'll take inspiration from online decklists, I also like to play with something not tuned for higher level play but to take into account local variances at FNM et cetera. This is something that my wife Rachel also does, and she is also dogged in proving everyone wrong and that her deck ideas have merit.
Dominaria was a watershed moment. Little did we know at the time that rather than having Gruul Dinosaurs the deck would become Mono-Green Stompy, thanks to the addition of Llanowar Elves and Steel Leaf Champion. Again the deck was putting up good results, but it wasn't winning overall.
Then we both looked over the deck. I was running a similar version, although with a black splash predominately for removal. We rapidly learnt that with triple green required for Steel Leaf Champion running basic lands other than Forest was risky, but when Settle the Wreckage was a big part of control decks, it was worth to add a couple of lands to support the splashing of a second color. Rachel went with white.
Blossoming Defense was by far the most devastating card In the deck and keeping 1 green mana open was usually key to preventing creature removal and winning. Seal Away and Authority of the Consuls was a one-two punch that slowed down any aggressive deck and worked in tandem as premium removal. In an age of Glorybringer it was a game breaking combination.
And So to the Store Championship
Rachel managed to win the whole thing, knocking me out on her way to glory. Brewing a deck can be extremely satisfying and when everything comes together, it is something unique and special.
Rotation Comes and Ravnica Returns
With rotation the deck lost several cards. By far the most significant losses were Blossoming Defense and Rhonas the Indomitable. In return we got Kraul Harpooner and Pelt Collector. While the Harpooner would sometimes enable an early Ghalta, the deck was struggling in the new world of multicolored spells.
A War is Coming
For a strategy that hardly used planeswalkers, Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Vivien, Champion of the Wilds became major players for a while, as the deck evolved to have a midrange endgame. War of the Spark also saw the return of an old friend in God-Eternal Rhonas.
On top, we discovered, entirely by accident, Aggressive Mammoth. You can find cards in strangest of places. This one was in the basic intro decks we used to teach new players at the store's Open House. Never underestimate a card or assume it must be bad just because it doesn't show up in Top 8 decklists online.
A New Day
We now have Throne of Eldraine, so it's time for a final update. Here's where the deck is at after another rotation. We learned that rotation need not be a scary thing. The archetype lost cards before and always rose again like a phoenix.
The deck is designed to be explosive in killing your opponent, and so far results are promising. The early turns allow you to nibble away at your opponent's life total with Barkhide Troll and Pelt Collector. We did look at other options for 1 mana, but none have had the desired effect, which is a shame. Gingerbrute always promised a lot but delivered little.
Meanwhile, Paradise Druid helps accelerate out Questing Beast or God-Eternal Rhonas which are both potential game enders. Questing Beast in particular is looking awesome and might actually be better than the previous poster child Steel Leaf Champion.
So many good things are stapled onto one body here with the only downside being that it is legendary. The Beast was already brilliant against Field of the Dead as it ignored the Zombies on offense and doubled as a credible blocker. Plenty of planeswalkers are still in the format, so the combination of haste, some evasion, and extra damage to loyalty is great.
Lovestruck Beast // Heart's Desire looked like a great fit initially, but just some removal often left it stranded without 1/1s. We've settled on the sleeper card Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig as a very effective 3 drop instead. Playing unconventional cards has an added benefit: many players follow sideboard guides and expected play patterns, and so we've already had an MTG Arena opponent scoop after making Yorvo a base 3/3 Elk … with four +1/+1 counters.
Another card that hasn't seen much play elsewhere but has great value is Stonecoil Serpent. It scales in effectiveness and like Questing Beast has a multitude of abilities. Reach and trample are solid, but more critical has been protection from multicolored as it renders many cards impotent: Teferi, Time Raveler, Oko, Thief of Crowns, and Tyrant's Scorn all cannot touch the Serpent. Voracious Hydra offers another scalable effect and an extremely flexible one to boot, often used as a creature removal or as a big trampling threat in the late game.
The sideboard is always a work in progress as the metagame changes. For now, we are happy with it. Having Vivien, Arkbow Ranger in the deck allows us the option of a tutor package of useful creatures, which is why we don't run many sets so we can pull the fourth card from the sideboard if necessary. Nissa, Who Shake's the World probably needs to be added to the sideboard for an increased Oko presence, but the explosiveness of God-Eternal Rhonas enhancing creatures to 6/3 Elks remains good as well.
If you give the deck a go, we'd love to hear your observations!
When it comes to Magic, opinions differ. Many players want to play with the new top cards and change decks with every set release. However, you don't need to go with the crowd; you can tune your deck, continually refining it to stay relevant, and still have fun. Brewing brings its own rewards—it is so much more special to do well with your own deck, when the lines of play you expected come to fruition.
Rotation doesn't have be scary. Some decks will lose key components, for example Orzhov Vampires was great for the small window between Core set 2020 and Throne of Eldraine. Other archetypes have the ability to evolve continually and will on many occasions improve.
Although it is quite some time until the next set, Theros: Beyond Death, we're already looking forward to it. The original Theros offered distinct advantages for playing monocolored decks and Eldraine's adamant mechanic suggests a possible return.
We'd love to hear about your favorite cards and rogue decks for FNM.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.