Welcome back to Fires of Creation! I’m erobert and this week I am taking a look at how aggressive strategies can interact with the resource system and mechanics of Mythgard. Red and Blue are maybe best known for aggro strategies, especially in monocolored decks, given their deep reservoir of creatures and removal. I’m interested, however, in how Green, a color more known for support spells and boneyard tricks, can be focused into an aggressive strategy.
Resource Management and Color Fixing
While there will surely be a lot more to say about the fine grain and nuance of mechanics in Mythgard, for me, the system of resources stands out as a vibrant element of the game. At once fiendishly simple and curiously complex, treating all cards in your deck and hand as potential resources shapes every aspect of gameplay and deck construction. Burning cards for mana can seem taxing, as it means choosing carefully which cards you keep in your hand or holding back cards to play and potentially limiting the growth of your resources. On the other hand, because there are no dedicated resource cards, like land in Magic: The Gathering, your seven-card starting hand doesn’t need to worry about the right mix of lands and playable cards. All resource cards are playable and any playable card can become a resource, so the only real ratios to consider are between colors.
If a two-color deck is evenly distributed between colors, a 40-card deck will have 20 (!) potential resource cards in each color. Even in three colors, color fixing feels, to me anyway, as though it requires much less in terms of specific design mechanism in deckbuilding. Rather than choosing a way to avoid catastrophic resource failure, multicolor decks in Mythgard may instead have to develop flexible game plans, depending on the colors available in their opening hand. A deck with just one color can not only consistently access the right gems in an opening hand, but also allows the builder to design a deck which has consistent access to cards independent of gem cost. The most obvious value in monocolor decks is the ability to play cards with a high gem cost and never need to worry if you have drawn enough cards to burn for your Misanthropia or Enyo. But Mythgard’s resource system also fascinatingly divorces colored gems and mana. You get one of each for burning a card, but you can spend mana without any gems attached and vice versa, allowing certain abilities to be activated with only gems.
What emerges from specific attention to mono deck construction is the consistent ability to have the right color for one-drop minions, and the perfectly consistent curve to play a turn-two Yahui or a turn-three Bela! Despite the lack of mulligans, the large opening hand offers a surprisingly good odds of consistently having access to certain cards, as Noah has pointed out. While a turn-three Bela is not the most likely play, maximizing the possibility of such unique plays, only available to a monocolor deck, can provide novel and unexpected angles of attack.
Gem-Activated Abilities and the Kernel of Mono Green
It is worth noting from the outset that this deck was originally designed and invented by Reisner. I have provided my own adjustments and even some consultation from the outset, but this is still very much Reisner’s deck. In the core set, there are only so many cards in each color, which makes some of the slots, 1-cost cards for example, pretty easy to select, as you have no other choices. Where Reisner focused attention, and really developed the core premises of the deck itself was on a card that ultimately didn’t make the cut: Serenity Seawitch. This card exemplifies the possibilities of the resource system and especially the potential of a mono deck. The activated ability of Serenity Seawitch is useful, defanging enemy minions, but most strikingly it requires no action from the minion and no mana either.
In later turns, the vast majority of gems end up unspent, especially playing in only one color, so gems can become an untapped resource, particularly in a mono deck. This final version of the deck doesn’t make perfect use of the gems via Serenity Seawitch, but the focused base of green gems allows for a consistent pressure throughout the game.
As mentioned above, there are only so many one-drops in Mono Green, so the deck isn’t quite presenting the most aggro posture. That being said any mono deck can perfectly anticipate the right color being burned on turn 1 and, as a result, turn-1 plays feel more consistent than the cards available might indicate. While there are no two-gem cards to play on curve for turn 2 (Raid the Tombs will almost certainly be unplayable on turn two with at most one card in the boneyard), turn 3 becomes much more interesting.
Ved’ma Skyranger is rather bland as a 3/2 for one green gem and three mana, but with an extra two green gems, you can immediately give it rush and agile. Suddenly this is a minion capable of both generating pressure by attacking and potentially trading with another minion on defense. Ved’ma Skyranger will stay relevant throughout the game, being able to poke a final burst of damage, but having this option available immediately helps set the pace right away. The most extreme plays could involve using Bela, Witch Queen’s +2 energy ability (spells cost one less mana to cast) and spamming Detained and Deported with your horde of green gems, but even having the perfect consistency for hitting multiple green gems by turn three is valuable. By the same token, big gem cost items like Traitorous Murmur are a breeze by this point in the game, and won’t even hinder you from giving a Skyranger agile if needed!
While this deck has a rather aggressive posture, it also has a few tricks on the highest end of its curve. The Indrik Beasts were added late in the design process, and can provide a nice surprise when trying to close out a game, especially as you can keep the board busy and crowded against midrange decks. As mentioned above, these monsters would languish in your hand all game if you were playing 10 Land Stompy in Magic™ but in Mythgard, you can simply burn them for mana until they are playable. Some of the traditional markers of aggro in deck design are a little hard to see in a game where expensive cards double as early resources (probably a topic for an entirely new article), so I am still formulating how I want to name specific decks in Mythgard.
The flattened curve, then, allows you to play on a curve with quality minions escalating each turn as you maintain steady pressure backed by efficient soft removal. The other primary innovation I brought to this Mono Green deck is Volkov Pointman, which has traditionally seen play in Canine tribal decks. The ability to add Overrun and extra attack to nearby minions, especially for a gem cost that will never be difficult in Mono Green, is vital to maintaining early pressure and punching through final blows, even with minimal Canine synergy.
Gameplay is rather straight forward but, like any strategy shading towards aggro, there are specific synergies and techniques to managing your forward march. Rather than relying strictly on curving out and rushing small minions, Mono Green makes the most of its one-drops, which can generate value throughout the game, and particularly in making advantageous trades with Infuse. Between Journey of Souls and Born Again, there are many opportunities to get your minions back. Aggressively trading becomes even more profitable when you can trade up with the native Slayer 1 on Gallows Boy or buff minions with Volkov Pointman to generate Overrun damage. Even Grinning Kolobok has an upside to trading into other minions, generating mana to help you burn fewer cards in hand, as you’ll rarely be short gems. Early game focuses on establishing a board and bashing through preliminary blockers. Infuse can provide a valuable tool for trading up without having to use cards in hand, keeping mid-sized minions available as you enter midgame.
Volkov Pointman is useful to establish early, to sneak in damage and trade up, but truly shines in midgame when you start getting bulky monsters online. Avenging Alpha, Leshy Greene, and Gamayun are all heavy hitters which can bulldoze blockers and do significant Overrun damage. Even without this buff, Gamayun is a constant threat to evade blockers and help control your draws with its Divination ability. Evading blockers and running them over can be even easier on your minions as you can spam Detained to lock them in faraway lanes or limit the damage they will do to Overrunning attackers. The card advantage of putting a Deported in your hand and having easy access to Raid the Tombs ensures that you don’t run out of gas as you ramp up your threats and keep up pressure to close out games.
While late game has some truly heavy hitters to put the final nail in the coffin, swiping your opponent’s biggest minion with Traitorous Murmur or laying down a tremendous threat in Indrik Beast, soft removal is your most crucial tool. While Deported can only buy time compared to actual removal spells, at many points in the game, time is all you need. In later turns, the clock you have established by maintaining continuous pressure and chipping damage often doesn’t need a blocker to be removed for longer than a turn in which you can deal a lethal blow. Led Astray provides useful soft removal throughout, but along with Deported can clear away even blockers with high health and give your minions open lanes to attack. Similarly spacing your minions a little tighter can provide the opportunity to drop in a late Volkov Pointman and give two large minions overrun to trample over blockers.
The Fox and the Hedgehog
Archilochus offers the proverbial sentiment that “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog, one big thing.” The balance between a monocolor deck and multicolor decks is similarly organized around choosing between a more consistent approach and a greater diversity of cards. Green has an interesting position, as it features only soft removal and only one temporary solution to Enchantments in Rewind Hex, and the community has at times thought it was only properly a support color. The keen focus of this deck, however, affords a glimpse into what opportunities may exist for monocolored decks, including Green. Organizing deckbuilding around the single color allows for a deck that is not only consistent, but one which can access unique facets of a color, locked behind high gem costs. So far, the aggressive creatures at the bottom of purple curves may not strictly require mono purple decks to flourish, but it will be interesting to see how this new color could benefit from such a focus!