Standard is in a wonderful state, full of diversity. You can do anything you want to do and still give yourself a great chance at winning the tournament. This past weekend, there were a pair of Standard Grand Prix where you could play Mardu Vehicles, 4-color Saheeli, Mardu Ballista, Saheeli with 4 colors, Mardu Dwarves Vehicles, 5-color Saheeli minus 1 color, and so forth. There was also a Hall-of-Famer who played a variation of G/B Snake who snuck his way into a Top 8 that featured 15 Mardu and Saheeli decks.
Ben Stark went right back to Winding Constrictor to notch up GP Top 8 number 21. That’s no surprise with how strong the 2-drop is. At 2/3, it’s already a reasonable body. The combination with +1/+1 counters is clearly bonkers, but adding additional energy counters is also immensely powerful. Playing cards that maximize both of these lines of attack makes the Snake the best turn-2 play in the format.
Longtusk Cub is best friends with the Constrictor. Every attack wnets 3 energy instead of 2, making it easier to amass counters on your Cub. Any extra energy you have lying around gives you a pair of +1/+1 counters for every activation, and the Cub threatens to end the game in just a couple swings.
Rishkar, Peema Renegade is the other obvious inclusion for any Snake deck. Turn-2 Snake into turn-3 Rishkar can allow you to win some games in which you don’t draw any other spell. You’re looking at a turn-5 kill without assistance, which is absurd for a 2-card Standard combo. Either way, it’s 8 power on turn 3 with the ability to also ramp out bigger creatures.
The most common of those large creatures is Verdurous Gearhulk. Gearhulk spreads the wealth, and makes your creatures especially wealthy if there are any Snakes in play. You’re getting a giant trample creature, and just a single Snake in play can result in 12 additional points of power and toughness on the board for just 5 mana.
Walking Ballista is yet another busted card that goes nuts in the presence of Snakes. Having Rishkars and Gearhulks in your deck to pump Ballistas is also awesome, but spending 4 mana to get more than 1 counter on your Ballista allows you to start gunning down creatures and planeswalkers. Throwing a bunch of Gearhulk counters on a Ballista gives you a huge attacker with the ability to fire shots right at your opponent to end the game.
Stark decided to go a more aggressive route than many other B/G decks in the format. Greenbelt Rampager is an oversized attacker that can also add extra energy to your reserve in conjunction with cards like Longtusk Cub or the sideboarded Glint-Sleeve Siphoners. Paying green to add energy to convert into counters or cards is straight value.
Scrapheap Scrounger is a creature that just keeps coming. It has no synergy with energy or counters except that it doesn’t mind growing, as Scrounger plans to attack each turn and then come back as needed. It’s also an artifact to fit that subtheme.
The red splash is for Unlicensed Disintegration. Disintegration clears the way of anything and the damage adds up quickly in this aggressive shell.
Tireless Tracker provides additional artifacts from Clue tokens while growing to epic sizes—even without the Snake.
With early spells in Attune with Aether to get you going and Fatal Push to clear the way, Stark’s deck is a lean, mean, aggressive machine… and that’s before you get to the sideboarded Lathnu Hellions!