In Magic, “Mardu Guy” isn’t a term that most people are particularly excited to be called—in the scheme of things, it’s basically right up there with “Stompy Guy” as far as condescending insults go. Well, I was happy enough to jam some Mardu Green at Grand Prix Houston last weekend and really enjoyed playing the deck all weekend long.
I suppose that would technically make me “Mardu Green Guy,” but the principle of the deck remains the same: loads of removal, card advantage, and robust threats in a slow clunky shell.
I ended up going 11-4 with the deck to finish in the money (63rd place) and earn 2 important Pro Points on my quest for Silver.
Brian DeMars, 63rd at GP Houston
Here is what I played against:
4-Color Rally: 5-0
UR Eldrazi: 1-1
RG Ramp: 0-1
Jeskai Dragons: 0-1
Mardu Green: 1-0
GW Hardened Scales: 0-1
So if you are looking for a deck that is great against 4-Color Rally, then here you go!
Also, it’s worth noting that this deck feels terrible against the GR Ramp deck. I got slaughtered. My draws were not great but my slow, clunky midrange deck did not match up very well against Ramp. So that is a matchup that needs to be addressed or conceded.
Just Mardu It
I started with the deck that Kyle Boggemes played at the Midwest RPTQ and made a few changes. I was unimpressed with Wasteland Strangler and decided to cut them in favor of Anafenza, the Foremost as a hedge against 4-Color Rally. I also trimmed the fourth Goblin Dark-Dwellers and a Transgress the Mind for 2 Chandra, the Flamecaller.
The smartest thing that I did at the last moment was make room for the second Chandra in the main deck and the full 4 copies of Radiant Flames in the sideboard. The fact that all of my creatures live through Radiant Flames and Chandra’s minus ability is key to how the deck functions. You try and get something to stick on the board and then use a damage-based sweeper to wipe all of the opponent’s stuff away while yours lives.
Also worth noting—while the minus ability is by far the most important on Chandra, the other two abilities are both insane as well. I used all three of the abilities to great effect, especially the 0 ability to cash out extra lands while flooded, or traded cards that were not useful for new ones.
Chandra was way better than I thought she would be and I’ll be looking to find places to play her in new decks moving forward.
Build your own one-sided wrath…
Chandra is also great because the beefy bodies of my creatures that come down before she arrives (and live through the minus) are great at protecting her when my opponent tries to redeploy.
The other card that impressed me this weekend was Sylvan Advocate.
There are a lot of things to like about Sylvan Advocate (Tarmogoyf is a good card, right?) but the most impressive element is the part where it pumps up your lands.
A 4/3 double-strike land or a 4/5 lifelink is nothing to scoff at. In fact, creature lands in concert with Sylvan Advocate are downright filthy! I won a ton of games by grinding my opponent out with my lands.
The other mondo-combo of the deck is Goblin Dark-Dwellers + absurdly powerful 3-cost spells.
Both of these cards have severe mana requirements and are “worth” more than 3 mana. Getting to recast these spells while netting a 4/4 menace body is some pretty extreme value.
Okay, so my transformational sideboard isn’t doing something different, but it can become a lot more controlling.
Oh my goodness is this card good in Standard right now. It sweeps away all kinds of annoying creatures that I don’t want to use “real” spells to answer. This card gets a ton of work done, especially against Rally the Ancestors and Eldrazi Aggro.
Another card that really impressed me was Kalitas. The sickest play ever is to play Kalitas for 4, untap, and Radiant Flames away all their creatures. Yeah, it is kind of living the dream but it’s pretty sweet when it happens.
Kalitas is the kind of card that your opponent cannot ignore. If your opponent is playing a deck where you decided to bring it in, chances are that if they don’t kill it immediately they’ll lose the game on the spot.
I didn’t get a ton of time to prepare with the deck before the Grand Prix but I’d like to find room for some Radiant Flames in the main deck. I was worried that the card would be a “nombo” with Dark-Dwellers but it doesn’t even matter. I brought in Radiant Flames against almost all of the decks that I played against, so I’d be happy to start at least 1 or 2 moving forward.
Also worth noting is that when you bring in all of the Radiant Flames, you typically also want to sideboard out some number (if not all) Sylvan Advocates so that they don’t get caught up in the fire.
The sideboard strategy revolves around bringing in even more removal and sweepers depending on the matchup. Having a ton of removal is great when you are running 6 lands that are threats!
Changes Moving Forward
I liked what the deck was doing, but after playing two days with it, there were areas where it could have been improved. In particular, I would have loved to have a Tasigur, the Golden Fang in the main deck and a couple copies of Radiant Flames.
The biggest change would be to get some number of Radiant Flames into the main deck. The card is absurdly good against about 75% of opponents.
Adding Flames also opens up some sideboard spots. I would be very interested in trying to shore up the Ramp matchup. I added Transgress the Mind and Infinite Obliteration to the sideboard but there may be a better way to use these slots. I do like that Transgress and Obliteration are both great against Rally as well.
Great removal, great creatures, and card advantage! Who would have thought that combination would be good?