Monomania – You're Going to Like the Way You Look
( Argothian Enchantress | Art by Daren Bader )
I Guarantee It
Greetings everyone, and welcome back to Monomania. In this article series we build mono-colored decks as a way to explore ramp and draw packages that are synergistic with our particular deck’s strategy. In these articles I try to challenge staples of and misconceptions about the color pie. Today, someone is watching, and he looks great in a suit.
This new general may look ugly, but he cleans up well. His direction may seem very simple because of the ridiculous cost reduction he provides for our Hydras. We could play every conceivable mono-green Hydra and try to drop as many in one turn as possible. This sounds appealing, fun, and functional. But, with a careful look at that second ability, there are actually a couple of dynamic strategies we could pursue. Gargos can fight any other creature whenever any creature we control becomes the target of a spell. Any spell—instant, sorcery, enchantment, artifact, our spell, an opponent's spell—you name it.
While that line of text may seem inconsequential, it leads to a few interesting conclusions. At the very least, any removal spell our opponents point in our direction can be immediately reciprocated. But more importantly, Gargos plays very well with Auras and combat tricks. Any time we pump or protect our creatures with instants or enchantments, we advance our board state and disrupt our opponents. Because of this, I like Gargos as an Enchantress and Voltron commander, where each buff we give to our creatures becomes removal as well. We want to suit up our team with a variety of enchantments while also aggressively removing our opponents' creatures.
Despite specifically synergizing with Hydras, the tribal element seems like it might be best as a subtheme. I’ve built this Gargos deck with only fifteen Hydras, devoting most of the remaining slots to the enchantress strategy.
There is nothing particularly unique about the ramp effects that this deck wants. The only requirement is that we ramp fast and drop our general early. As such, I’ve included many of the classic green ramp staples, such as Sakura-Tribe Elder, Nature’s Lore, and Kodama’s Reach.
That being said, this is an enchantress deck. There are a few efficient enchantments that act as ramp. Wild Growth and Overgrowth are both at the top of their class, sometimes even outclassing the most widely-played ramp spells in the format. Exploration and Gaea’s Touch will both allow us to drop two lands every turn. For one and two mana, this is an incredible deal. With Exploration on turn one, we can easily reach our commander by turn three or four. If we draw these cards in the late game, they will at least synergize with our enchantress shell.
The Seamstresses Guild
Now that we know how we’re going to pay for our cards, let’s look at how we’re going to keep the cards flowing. We have a few different styles of draw effects in the 99.
First, I've recruited every Enchantress option in mono-green to sew the suits for our Hydras. These cards are the bedrock of the deck, allowing us to continue to outfit our team without running out of gas. Because of our high density of Auras and utility enchantments, we should never run out of things to do. I've also included Verduran Enchantress and Season of Growth for consistency.
Additionally, we have a few Auras with card advantage baked into their text. These trigger both our Enchantresses and Gargos. Imagine a land of magic and Christmas, one in which we have Gargos, any other moderately-sized Hydra, and Argothian Enchantress on the battlefield. We cast Fruit of the First Tree on the unspecified Hydra, kill another creature on the battlefield with Gargos’s trigger, and also draw a card with the Enchantress. Then, really plunge yourself head-first into the holiday snow drifts and imagine sacrificing that very same unspecified Hydra to Momentous Fall or Greater Good. You'll feel as if your hand will never be empty again.
Bequeathal and Fruit of the First Tree are both underplayed with 87 decks and 249 decks listed on EDHREC, respectively. I wouldn’t consider these for every on-color deck, but the power is there. Any deck that wants to dump enchantments or use their big creatures as fodder for explosive turns should consider these cards highly. Our deck, coincidentally, does both and wants both.
Finally, here we have a few ways to leverage the strength and size of our creatures to powerfully draw. Hunter’s Insight is incredible at instant speed, allowing us to play it after no blockers are declared, taking advantage of opponents who don't respect the mono-green deck with three mana open in the combat step. With Gargos on the battlefield, this card will punish our opponents even further. Rishkar’s Expertise is a pet card of mine because it shores up the weakness of high-cost, dedicated draw effects. With this spell, we can both draw ridiculous amounts of cards as well as cast another threat from our hand, putting even more pressure on the board. Because our creatures will be large, high-priority targets for our opponents, Verdant Rebirth also seems very good here, returning a powerful creature to our hand, drawing a card, and triggering Gargos's ability.
Because of the soft focus on Hydras, this build is very reactive. It’s about protecting our team, fitting their suits just right, sniping key creatures, and waiting for a moment to swing through. This deck seems well-tuned to frequently clean up the board and give a few firm slaps on the wrist to creature-based decks. Or, in non-creature based metas, we can just remove every other general to hit the board.
Among the notable inclusions that make this deck tick, we have a suite of Auras and instants that protect our commander, such as Blossoming Defense, Withstand Death, Canopy Cover, and Serpent Skin. These effects at instant speed is extremely important in this deck; if anybody tries to target Gargos with removal, we cast Blossoming Defense on him, their removal spell fizzles, and we remove two of their creatures for daring to look in our direction. Even better, if we do this once, all of our opponents may think twice before targeting our board in the future, fearing the same fate. Eldrazi Conscription is particularly nasty here, pumping one of our meaty creatures, triggering Gargos, and turning friends into strangers with that Annihilator ability.
We also have a few notable inclusions out of From the Vault: Shoebox in a Mom’s Basement. First, Bloodscent seems incredible in this deck. If we have Gargos and two other imposing creatures on board, Bloodscent will remove one of our opponent's best creatures while also protecting our other, more valuable creatures during a critical attack. Druid’s Call sees play in only 254 decks listed on EDHREC, but I think it found its forever home. If we cast this once on Gargos, he fights, and suddenly we have an army of Squirrels. If he survives, we can do it all over again.
Finally, we have a huge haymaker for this deck in the form of Nylea’s Colossus. In any turn in which we already have a big Hydra, we can chain this Colossus with a few smaller enchantments and attack for lethal. The damage cap on this card is delectable to any player with a whisper of Timmy in their Magic DNA.
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So what do you all think? I had a blast digging through EDHREC and Scryfall to come up with these themes, obscure cards that just might work, and this decklist as a whole. Did I make a mistake? Did I offend the EDH god of tribal by relegating Hydras to a mere subtheme? In which direction would you take Gargos?
Remember to EDHREC responsibly: always dig a little beyond the statistics. Have a good one, and I’ll see you on down the road.