Deck Building: Dangerous Fauna

There are still several months to go before Magic 2010 and Shards of Alara block rotate out of the new standard environment. At that point another large set – Scars of Mirrodin – will alter things drastically. But, until then we have one of the largest standard pools that I can remember. I’m really interested in getting better at designing my own decks, so I’m presenting one of my new experiments here to flesh out my thoughts and ideas.

With all the love that green got in Magic 2011, I feel that it has the potential to be big and that mono green will be competitive despite all the control pieces that are present in Magic 2011. My main inspiration for the deck was Fauna Shaman, so I took it from there.

The Deck

I’m currently calling this Dangerous Fauna. It’s a ramp deck that utilizes the Shaman’s awesome searching power to tutor up the answers you need.

Fauna Shaman

The Breakdown

This is primarily a green ramp deck built around a Fauna Shaman engine. Since the card was spoiled I’ve been truly enamored with the types of deck it allows you to build. I’ve never personally played Survival of the Fittest, mainly because I wasn’t into Magic when it was in standard rotation as well as the fact that I don’t currently own any copies of the card. However, with Fauna Shaman I am now able to play “survival” decks, and I’m truly excited.

The main core of the deck is the interaction between Fauna Shaman and Vengevine as well as the basic ramp cards in the form of Noble Hierarch, Lotus Cobra and Explore. The Shaman allows us to discard a Vengevine to search up a Vengevines. Optimally you’d discard a Vengevine to find a Vengevine. You’d want to do this a couple of times and then drop them into play all at once.

Now, in addition to the Vengevine engine we have a pretty powerful search engine in Fauna Shaman. Provided she can escape being hit by a Lightning Bolt, Staggershock, Forked Bolt and their ilk (but not Hornet Sting, bazinga!), it can provide you with massive card advantage by searching your deck for your “silver bullet” creatures. The Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre allow you to shuffle your graveyard back into your library if you discard them to the Shaman. I believe that the trigger to shuffle the graveyard into the library would also happen before you search for your creature, so you could even search for the Eldrazi you just discarded. These creatures also are powerful game enders should you ramp up to be able to hardcast them. Mold Shambler provides a way to deal with planeswalkers. Pelakka Wurm can help keep your life total in check. Scute Mob is just search fodder in the early game, but late game he can become a threat in a turn or two, as we’ve seen from decks like Vengevine Naya. Rampaging Baloths is really at home in a deck with Lotus Cobras and fetchlands, and it’s absolutely insane if you drop a Primeval Titan with the Baloths on the board.

Another engine exists in Primeval Titan. This card will allow you to pull up whatever land you need. If you want to ramp up to cast your Eldrazi god next turn, fetch the Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin. If you need protection from a color to attack through your opponent’s defense unmolested, fetch up one or two Sejiri Steppes. If you just want to punish your opponent’s mana base, grab Tectonic Edge. Since you can recycle your graveyard back into your library, you should be able to abuse your Tectonic Edge with Primeval Titan. If they can’t deal with the Titan, they’re in trouble.

Omnath, Locus of Mana seems like a good creature who comes out early, possibly turn two, and allows you to hit hard right out of the gate while potentially enabling a mana boost so you can drop another large creature early. If you are floating mana with Omnath and have a Vines of Vastwood as backup in your hand, that’s gravy.

Moving onto the spells we have a few effects here. Vines of Vastwood is going to be your MVP against targeted removal. The Fauna Shaman should be the primary thing you protect as that engine is what makes this deck hum. The pump effect of Vastwood will come in handy if you are protecting an attacking Primeval Titan or Rampaging Baloths. Explore is there to help with ramping up your mana base. Secondarily, you are going to use it to help you draw into needed cards or to trigger your Lotus Cobras and Rampaging Baloths. Momentous Fall is awesome as a way to refill your hand, as you aren’t terribly concerned with your creatures going to the graveyard if you have an active Shaman. The Fall will help you draw into your Vines of Vastwood, which I think are going to be enormously important to have on hand. The Fall is green’s brainstorm in standard, so don’t be afraid to sacrifice one of your beefy guys in response to targeted removal on your Shaman. If it digs up a Vines for you then it’s done its job and more; netting you extra card advantage as well as some life. In remote situations it also provides you a way to recycle your graveyard, draw crazy amounts of cards and gain large amounts of life if you need to use it with one of your Eldrazi. The Eldrazi Monuments provide an awesome way to end the game. This isn’t a new strategy as we’ve seen very competitive Eldrazi Monument decks before now. I originally thought of using Overwhelming Stampede here, but while Overrun effects are great, I think the Monument is a much better card.

As far as the mana base goes, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Tectonic Edge is there to mow down man lands and to punish greedy mana bases. Sejiri Steppe is really something we can pull up with Primeval Titan so we can punch holes through enemy defenses. The fetch lands are key to the ramp strategy, while the Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin are there to help ramp to our Eldrazi gods. The mana base seems pretty straightforward as it’s stuff we’ve all seen before.

The sideboard obviously is simply a rough starting point. I’ll explain what I currently have listed, but it obviously needs tuned, especially if you’re going to play it competitively.

With counter magic getting a huge boost in the form of Mana Leak you’re going to want to run Autumn’s Veil in the sideboard. I don’t know if it’s worth it to put any in the main deck as it only hoses particular colors. It really boils down to being an answer for counter magic and Doom Blade – sorry @Doom_Blade_Guy. Plummet is there to deal with the large fliers such as Baneslayer Angel or a leveled up Kargan Dragonlord. If we need more protection for our Shaman, we can also side in Canopy Cover. The Cover can also be useful in a mono green mirror match provided your opponent doesn’t also run Eldrazi Monument or doesn’t have it on the board. Naturalize and Back to Nature are there to deal with the pesky leylines – primarily Leyline of the Void as it severly weakens our deck, secondarily Leyline of Punishment and Leyline of Anticipation. They can also come in handy against cards like Oblivion Ring and Journey to Nowhere. With artifacts coming into focus again, Naturalize is important. You really want to blow up opposing artifacts such as Sword of Vengeance, Basilisk Collar, Behemoth Sledge as well as Eldrazi Monument.

The Gaea’s Revenge, Acidic Slime and Terrastodon are merely some other creatures that I was interested in running in the deck as one ofs. Terrastodon is really great as it interacts well with your strategy of reusing your dead lands and creatures. It can also simply devastate your opponent’s largest threats as well. This card might be better in the main deck over something like Pelakka Wurm, but only testing will really tell. Acidic Slime provides us another way to deal with artifacts, enchantments and land should we find we’re lacking in removal.

The Future

I haven’t playtested this deck yet, but I’m already looking at its future. I’m really interested in Mitotic Slime, as the Slime is crazy in conjunction with Eldrazi Monument. It is also a house against Day of Judgment and All is Dust. I think I’d consider running a playset of Mitotic Slime sideboard. Terrastodon would also be good main deck as a replacement for Ulamog, as it can destroy 3 targets instead of one – with a minor drawback when used against your opponent – or it can provide you with more tokens to feed the Monument.

If All is Dust only grows in its use and/or you see a lot of Consuming Vapors, I’d considering adding a Tajuru Preserver to the sideboard. He dies to everything, yes, but he can also be a thorn in the side of a deck relying on sacrifice effects. Having him in play with Eldrazi Monument would be super nice.

This deck really lacks an answer to strong fliers outside of an early Eldrazi Monument in game one. Looking at the creatures with reach that can take out a Baneslayer Angel you’ll find Jungle Weaver – which is alright as it’s large and you are able to cycle it. Oran-Rief Recluse, however, would likely be a decent option. The Recluse is nice in that you can kick it, take out their flyer and he is still around to block. If he dies, you hopefully can recycle him back into your library and tutor him up again.

We have to consider what other colors may be options to us as well. If we venture into black, would could potentially splash Doom Blade for some direct creature kill. If we venture instead into blue we can dabble in some counter magic to backup our Shaman; namely Mana Leak, and Negate. White would give us access to War Priest of Thune, Squadron Hawk and the removal white brings with it, such as Condemn, Oust and Journey to Nowhere.

With the prevalence of planeswalkers, this deck feels a bit naked without running a single one. Since it’s mono green at this point, we can choose from Garruk Wildspeaker or Nissa Revane with only Garruk really fitting the theme and goals of the deck. Going into white we have access to Elspeth and Gideon with Elspeth being the better fit. Black allows us to tap into Liliana’s tutoring ability as well as expanding the graveyard theme. Blue opens up Jace 2.0 as an option. They’re all interesting options but each would potentially take the deck in other directions, except Garruk.

The Conclusion

I can’t draw much of a conclusion on the deck yet without playing it. I want to say that it has potential, but it likely needs a lot of tuning. I’m going to attempt to playtest this deck as listed so I can get a handle on its weaknesses. Once I have some play time with it I think the way forward will be more clear.

If you made it through this article, thank you for reading. Please feel free to leave feedback. I’d love to hear constructive criticism regarding the deck, my writing or anything else you’d like to share with me.

Father, husband, programmer, gamer. Magic: The Gathering enthusiast who enjoys playing and discussing the game with anyone who is willing.

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Posted in Decks, MTG, Standard

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