Last time we covered most of the main blue archetypes – including the baseline “blue deck” which does mesh well with some of the decks from today, so be sure to check it out. Today we’re going to keep trucking on archetypes, and I’m going to break down Reanimator, Mono Green and one of the most fun of all archetypes, Mono Brown.
This deck is heavy black, and in the case of the best versions, even mono black (though blue-black and black-red are are more common than mono black). It’s capable of some of the fastest draws in the format and does a lot of sweet things that can overlap with the Sneak Attack deck.
Put a giant monster into your graveyard, then reanimate it.
- Entomb – This is bar-none the best card for this deck, as it not only acts as a tutor for a fatty but it also puts it right where you want it. Entomb is like two busted cards rolled into one for only one mana. Once you’re in the deck, you take this over anything.
- Griselbrand – The Griseldad is worth noting above the rest of the targets because he is by far the best. He lets you redraw to combo again even if he dies and stabilizes the board almost every time. He’s also great to Shallow Grave/Corpse Dance, unlike Sphinx of the Steel Wind or Inkwell Leviathan.
- Tutors – Demonic, Vampiric, Imperial Seal – These are especially good in this deck because it’s base black.
- Reanimate / Animate Dead / Necromancy – These are your go-to reanimation spells. They’re cheap, bring the creature back permanently and don’t ask much besides having a creature in the bin.
- Shallow Grave / Corpse Dance – These are more powerful due to haste but require specific creatures to really work. You want Eldrazi (you can cast these in response to the shuffle trigger), Griselbrand and creatures with good ETB abilities.
- Recurring Nightmare – This requires small creatures like Putrid Imp, Baleful Strix, Looter il-Kor and Mesmeric Fiend, but is more powerful when it gets going. Looping creatures with ETB abilities is sick and it’s especially nice sacrificing Woodfall Primus.
- Creatures – Elesh Norn, Eldrazi, Woodfall Primus, Sphinx of the Steel Wind, Titans. There are a lot of possibilities here and you want a mix of finishers, disruptive creatures like Woodfall Primus and one sweeper (Norn, Massacre Wurm, Inferno Titan).
- Discard outlets – Putrid Imp, Looter il-Kor, Frantic Search, Chart a Course (and many more). These are more plentiful than animates and creatures so they’re lower priority, but you do want these. The outlets that draw you cards also increase consistency, which is nice.
- Dark Ritual – I normally don’t play this outside of Storm but this deck is an exception. Ritual leads to some of your more busted draws.
The core of the deck is black, while blue and red offer various discard possibilities to supplement that. Red also offers Sneak Attack/Through the Breach, which are a natural fit into a deck with tutors and big monsters. This deck doesn’t need artifact ramp as much as other decks, so move that down if you are going this direction.
Note on Survival of the Fittest: I haven’t found traditional Recurring Nightmare/Survival versions of the deck to be great. Besides Survival, there are very few green cards that you actually want in the deck, so I usually stick to blue or red.
Ways to Get Into the Deck:
- See an early Entomb or Griselbrand.
- Have a tutor or two and see mid-pack reanimation spells/discard outlets.
Besides broken cards, Entomb, Griselbrand and tutors, this deck doesn’t have a lot of cards I like taking very early. I won’t usually start with a pick two Reanimate and I’m not taking Putrid Imp or Woodfall Primus in my first few picks. However, if you see a few reanimator cards in your first few picks, take generic good cards and note if they wheel. If they do, this deck is open and can be quite good when it is.
This deck is better in Legacy Cube than in Vintage Cube because it doesn’t gain much from the transition, but it’s still a great deck when it’s open. This is also one of the easier decks to get proficient with because, well, it’s mono green. Take the green cards and you’ll do a decent job (as long as you avoid traps like Master of the Wild Hunt or Thrun, the Last Troll).
Use mana ramp creatures and artifacts to accelerate out a fast finisher or disruption.
- Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary – Rofellos is the best of the best when it comes to ramp.
- Channel – This makes Eldrazi appealing, but can turbo out cards like Karn Liberated or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon as well.
- Upheaval – This is also a great Upheaval deck.
- Natural Order – The OG Tinker is especially nice because almost every target minus Progenitus is castable.
- Craterhoof Behemoth – This is the best finisher by far, as it just ends the game whenever it hits the board. It’s a tier above all the other big green payoffs.
- Green Sun’s Zenith – This doubles as a threat and a mana accelerant, so it’s a valuable pickup.
- Oracle of Mul Daya / Courser of Kruphix – Oracle is much better, but both of these are great. Look for shuffle effects if you have them too.
- Mana dorks – Joraga Treespeaker, Noble Hierarch, Birds of Paradise, Sylvan Caryatid, Wall of Roots (and more). These are the crux of the deck but there are so many that you don’t need to prioritize them above the game-enders.
- Card draw – Sylvan Library, Harmonize, splashed Fact or Fiction/Compulsive Research. You need good card draw and powerful finishers to prevent flooding out in your 24 mana source deck.
- Finishers – Karn Liberated, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Eldrazi, Woodfall Primus, Progenitus, Primeval Titan, Avenger of Zendikar. Which of these you want depends on if you have Natural Order, Channel, etc, but you do need a couple in order to make the deck work. They become more valuable as the draft progresses, though I don’t usually take them super early.
- Land / Artifact destruction – Strip Mine, Wasteland, Reclamation Sage, Acidic Slime, Primal Command. Unless you’re Hoofing them very quickly, you’re going to need to slow them down, and the best form of disruption for mono green is to attack their mana.
Mono Green isn’t as mono colored as the name suggests because green does allow you to splash somewhat easily. The biggest key to splashing is getting the green/X dual land of whatever color you want, because the deck does want fourteen or more Forests. Tropical Island is an insanely high pick as a result because blue is the most common splash color.
Opposition is a special case. It’s mostly a subset of mono green (though there is a blue/white Opposition tempo deck out there), and it’s one of the best cards for mono green. If you get an early Opposition, the main changes you want to make to your pick order are that Tropical Island and mana dorks that tap for blue become critical (alongside fetches that get Trop) and blue cards like Remand, Mana Leak, Fact or Fiction and Riftwing Cloudskate become viable picks. You also want to lean towards a more creature-heavy deck and Deranged Hermit becomes awesome instead of just good.
Ways to Get Into the Deck
- See an early Rofellos, Channel, Opposition, Natural Order or Craterhoof Behemoth.
- See a fourth to sixth pick Green Sun’s Zenith or Oracle of Mul Daya.
- See mid-pack or wheel green mana dorks.
One of the risks of this deck is that it’s pretty focused and doesn’t overlap with many other decks. As a result, I don’t get into it all that often, though it’s very good when it is open.
Fair warning – I love this deck but it’s rarely the right deck to draft. It’s a lot of fun but it’s a gamble that you’ll see the right cards, and even then it doesn’t always come together. It does do a lot of broken things when you have a good version though, so have no fear that the power isn’t there.
- Upheaval – This is the best card for the deck (aside from broken cards). Metalworker plus Upheaval is just stone busted.
- Urza, Lord High Artificer – Urza is a force to be reckoned with and a great reason to be all artifacts. He makes a giant token and can spin the wheel multiple times a turn.
- Artifact ramp – Mana Vault, Grim Monolith, Mox Diamond, Gilded Lotus, Thran Dynamo, Signets, Worn Powerstone and Coalition Relic are all cards you want as many of as possible.
- Metalworker / Mishra’s Workshop / Tolarian Academy – All of these cards are huge payoffs if you get there with 12-plus artifacts. It’s a shame how early Academy tends to go but the other two you can get mid or late.
- Draw Sevens – Time Spiral, Memory Jar, Timetwister, Wheel of Fortune – This deck generates tons of mana, so drawing seven is great for it.
- Tinker – Tinker is at its best in this deck since you have all the pieces naturally.
- Big Artifacts – Blightsteel Colossus, Sundering Titan, Sphinx of the Steel Wind, Inkwell Leviathan – You can turbo these out with Tinker and Forgemaster or just cast them.
- Sweepers – Balance, Wildfire, Burning of Xinye – Despite Balance being overrated, it’s very good in this deck. Artifacts don’t get counted, so you can dump your hand of mana rocks and set the opponent to very few resources.
- Four or more mana artifacts – Lodestone Golem, Coercive Portal, Solemn Simulacrum, Walking Ballista – If you have Mishra’s Workshop, all of these cards become very good.
- Tezzerets – Both Tezzerets are great in this deck, and almost always wheel.
- Mana denial – Crucible of Worlds, Strip Mine, Wasteland, Smokestack, Tangle Wire, Winter Orb – Attacking the opponent’s mana is a common theme here and this locks them out nicely.
This deck tends to be near mono blue but often splashes one or two cards of various colors. You want room for good colorless lands and because of all your random signets, it’s easy to play all these sweet cards. I’ve played mono blue with Demonic Tutor, Balance, Ancient Grudge and Sylvan Library before.
Ways to Get Into the Deck
- Open with broken artifact mana. Sol Ring is a wonderful reason to force mono brown.
- See a fifth pick Mishra’s Workshop.
- Decide you want to enjoy grinding the opponent down and force the deck (this is how I usually get into the deck).
I really enjoy playing this deck since it’s a nice change of pace. It can be great but can also misfire badly, so don’t blame me if you lose all your tickets.
I’m finally wrapping up this primer on Cube with my next article, where I’ll cover the two aggro decks in the format and provide some final thoughts. See you then!