Mono-Green Aggro: A Master's Guide

Hey there, I’m ImpetuousPanda and I recently climbed from Diamond 4 to Master Tier I in just two days playing Mono Green Dinos on MTGA. Although I am not a MTG veteran, having just started playing on and off about a month ago, I do have a lot of experience with Gwent and have achieved #1 on ladder multiple times as well as having qualified to LAN events.

I think the current list is very close to perfect, at least the extremely aggressive version I enjoyed climbing with. There may be other variants you can branch out to within Mono Green Dinos, but I think this is currently one of the strongest lists available. Coming from UB control pre-dom, this deck is lightning quick and fantastic for grinding wins.

Llanowar Elves and Steel Leaf Champion were a clear sign that mono green aggro be a contender in the post-Dominaria meta. The deck is rather draw dependant, but a t4-5 Ghalta, Primal Hunger or Carnage Tyrant are often too much for other decks to handle. Our good friend ImpetuousPanda rode our preliminary list to Master Tier.

Dominaria Cards:
Deck: ImpetuousPanda's Mono-Green Stompy {g}
LandsSpellsCreatures
18Forest3Adventurous Impulse4Carnage Tyrant
4Hashep Oasis2Savage Stomp3Ghalta, Primal Hunger
1Scavenger Grounds4Llanowar Elves
4Merfolk Branchwalker
2Ranging Raptors
4Resilient Khenra
3Rhonas the Indomitable
1Ripjaw Raptor
4Steel Leaf Champion
3Thrashing Brontodon
23cards5cards32cards
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Weaknesses


Honestly, card draw and a very linear gameplan. Although it excels at many things, it sports a very straightforward gameplan and a singular win condition, go face with big dinos that have trample. If your opponent draws well and can deny your early ramp as well as your big dinos, once you run out of fuel on turn 7-9 if you haven’t already put a lot of pressure on your opponent it may very well be too late.

There’s also an insane difference in how the deck performs if you draw optimally(Llanowar Elves turn 1 or Merfolk Branchwalker Turn 2 as opening plays), as opposed to not drawing any one or two drops and falling way behind the curve. Luckily for us, this deck is extremely consistent and with proper mulliganing you should always have viable openers no matter your luck.

This deck will lose out against control and swarm decks that draw very well, otherwise you have a fighting chance in every matchup, especially if you can ramp up efficiently in your first 5 turns. It’s also a tad bit expensive for new players, with 12 rares and 7 mythics making up the optimal list.

Strengths


This is a consistent deck that is optimal for grinding. It’s fun, it’s generally easy to pilot once you get the hang of it and it’s extremely aggressive, ending games in 4-5 turns very often and allowing you to grind out rewards in “Quick Constructed” rapidly. There are honestly not many decisions to be made throughout a game, especially in comparison to what I was previously playing UB Control, which allows much less room for error for players just starting out with MTGA.

Why play Mono Green Dinos?


Simply put, it’s a powerhouse deck that for the most part finishes games just as quickly as RDW. And honestly, what would you rather grind quick wins with, a parade of pirates and monkeys or a badass elf knight riding a dino lizard? Cards like Rhonas The Indomitable, Ghalta, Primal Hunger, and Carnage Tyrant are extremely satisfying to play, and there’s a ton of consistency thanks to a myriad of three drops, Llanowar Elves openers and the ability to dodge mana screws thanks to Adventurous Impulse, Merfolk Branchwalker and Ranging Raptors. Not only does the deck naturally get extremely quick wins when you get your big dinos out to play, but you get even quicker games due to opponent forfeits. Due to the deck’s extremely linear gameplan, it’s very easy for an opponent to identify a loss a turn or two in advance, causing an elevated number of early forfeits as soon as turn four.

The Mulligan


Ideally, you’re looking for at least 2 lands(no more than three), Llanowar Elves as a one drop and then Rhonas/Steel Leaf Champion into Ghalta turn four. This doesn’t happen extremely often though, so you’ll have to compromise for a whole host of different, and less ideal, hands.


You will always take your first mulligan if you don’t see any Llanowar Elves or Merfolk Branchwalkers, although I may sometimes keep a hand with Adventurous Impulse and the less ideal two drop(Resilient Khenra). I may also sometimes keep a hand with a single forest if I draw into both a Llanowar Elves and Merfolk Branchwalker, but this is rare and most of the time it’s better to mulligan. You’re a lot less dependent on your 3+ mana cards when it comes to mulliganing, as the deck is quite consistent and you should draw into your 3 drops (Rhonas/Steel Leaf Champion/Thrashing Brontodon/Ranging Raptors) sooner rather than later.

In summary

- Try to have at least two lands, ideally double forest
- Try to have one of Llanowar Elves or Merfolk Branchwalker
- Try to have a strong three drop like Rhonas The Indomitable or Steel Leaf Champion

Essential cards
If you don’t see these cards, you’re going to take that first mulligan 100% of the time.
- Llanowar Elves
- Merfolk Branchwalker

High Priority
These cards are either a great added bonus onto a kept hand or in the case of Adventurous Impulse a substitute for a missing turn one play(Llanowar Elves).
- Adventurous Impulse
- Rhonas The Indomitable
- Steel Leaf Champion
- Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Low Priority
These are cards you don’t mind drawing into later in the game.
- Carnage Tyrant
- Resilient Khenra
- Thrashing Brontodon
- Ripjaw Raptor

The mulligan revolves around Llanowar Elves, as they completely change the amount of pressure you can put on your opponent. Regardless, for the sake of playing it safe, not having a turn one play with two forests and a Merfolk Branchwalker is a perfectly viable hand to keep. Most of these rules change drastically as soon as you go into your second mulligan and I very rarely go further than that, unless you don’t draw lands obviously.

The Gameplan


Mono Green Dinos deploys a fairly simple and linear gameplan. Play extremely value efficient creatures sooner than you should realistically be able to. Llanowar Elves is the hard carry to making this deck so powerful, as a turn two 5/5 with indestructible and deathtouch followed by a turn three 5/4 is well...devastating. Regardless, if you don’t happen to draw into Llanowar Elves, you’re still playing absolutely amazing value in pretty much every single card, allowing you to quickly overcome your opponent who won’t be able to effectively trade in combat.

This is definitely a very aggresive bursty deck, but Rhonas The Indomitable ’s ability, as well as Hashep Oasis and eternalized Resilient Khenras helps up with efficient manasinks later on that double as win conditions onto our trampling big dinos(Carnage Tyrant and Ghalta, Primal Hunger and don’t screw with our early game consistency. Ghalta is going to be our win conditions most games, as we’ll typically be able to play him turn four for two mana and pressure the opponent into an immediate answer(which in most cases is a swift forfeit). The magic of this deck is that everything synergizes in perfect harmony, from Resilient Khenra’s enabling early Rhonas attacks by buffing weaker 3 drops to enabling Ghalta turn four thanks to the absolute beefiness of Rhonas The Indomitable and Steel Leaf Champion.



The Cards


The All-Stars


Llanowar Elves
I think it’s apparent why this card is so powerful. It may very well be the most impactful one drop in MTGA at the moment. Without this, the deck would be strong but drawing into this outright wins you games by giving your opponent one turn less to react to your onslaught of creatures. Llanowar Elves obviously peak as a one drop, and they hold diminishing returns later on as ramping up isn’t as important. They’re still a decent play turn two if you’ve already played one turn one and have a Merfolk Branchwalker to drop alongside it. Later on they lose a lot of value, as generally you’re looking to breach the gap between mana at the point where it creates the most impact, which generally tends to be from 2 drops to 3 drops. You also tend to have very little card draw with this deck aside from a single Ripjaw Raptor, so it’s hard to justify keeping this from a Merfolk Branchwalker scry later into the game when you really need to get cards that are as impactful as possible.

Rhonas The Indomitable
Rhonas has an extremely low mana cost for what it does, but a somewhat situational requirement attached to it. Luckily for us, thanks to cards like Steel Leaf Champion, Resilient Khenra and even Savage Stomp, the sacrifice is basically non-existent. When you don’t even notice the secondary requirement in a grand majority of games, you’re basically cheating the system by playing such an incredibly powerful card(with a incredibly synergistic ability and manasink to boot) for a measly three mana.

Rhonas can help convert mana into trample damage, basically reading as “Target Opponent loses two health” by adding it onto your already massive dinosaurs(Ghalta, Primal Hunger and Carnage Tyrant). Rhonas can help trick less experienced opponents into making terrible trades(buffing your own units as an instant cast during your opponent’s combat phase). Rhonas can help buff and attack with single units during a stalled out match where Settle The Wreckage is a threat. And most importantly, Rhonas keeps the pressure on non-stop thanks to his indestructible and deathtouch tags, allowing you to be the aggresor and either get face damage in early or force your opponent to make, well, terrible trades.

Steel Leaf Champion
Similarly to Rhonas, Steel Leaf Champion has drawbacks in it’s three green mana cast requirement. Similarly to Rhonas, our deck doesn’t stop to think about this too much. Thanks to a mono green build, Steel Leaf Champion is a 5/4 three mana drop which is absolutely bonkers. This is THE three mana drop, and everything else in the deck(Thrashing Brontodon and Ranging Raptors) is basically a less optimal albeit more situational creature card that bows down to this one.

Ghalta, Primal Hunger
Again, we run into an extremely powerful card that would normally have a hard-to-meet secondary cast requirement. And yet again, we can completely ignore it for the most part and play a 12/12 dino with trample for two mana on turn four or five at most. This card will be your number one win condition. It can get easily countered as it doesn’t have hexproof, but overall you’ll be able to either clear your opponent’s board entirely or just win the game outright thanks to the insane stats. Rhonas The Indomitable and Steel Leaf Champion both make playing this for 2 mana incredibly easy, but Resilient Khenra at two mana is able to add 4 stats of power for that turn, truly enabling a consistent turn four Ghalta, Primal Hunger as you’d only need 6 power on the board, or five even with a Llanowar Elves in play.

Resilient Khenra
This card is honestly the sleeper hit within the deck, and probably the deciding factor that is holding down less optimal mono green lists. Resilient Khenra does a fantastic job all around the board, and truly enables consistency in so many ways. He provides an excellent manasink and card draw alternative through it’s eternalization. The eternalized Resilient Khenra works hand in hand with our direct win condition, by directly buffing our trample dinosaurs. Khenra helps enable Rhonas early by buffing cards like Ranging Raptors , Merfolk Branchwalker or Thrashing Brontodon. she enables Ghalta by adding 4 stats of power for two mana, allowing a turn four Ghalta much more consistently. It can be directly discarded to the graveyard thanks to our Merfolk Branchwalker’s explore ability. And last but not least, it helps our early game consistency by adding a less optimal, but viable two drop early on.

Carnage Tyrant
You know you’re playing a fun deck when Carnage Tyrant is honestly one of the least interesting cards. His 6 mana cost is a long ways away, especially when his stats pale in comparison to cards like Ghalta, Primal Hunger that can be played cheaply in turn four or five. But Carnage Tyrant has one things that the rest of our cards don’t have, and that’s inevitability. As an uncounterable hexproof lumbering dinosaur of destruction, this is the number one win condition against one of the most common deck in the meta UW Control. Only Settle The Wreckage can deal with this big boy in that matchup, so be sure to only attack with a pumped up Carnage Tyrant and bait out those Settle The Wreckages to allow an all-in later on.

Hashep Oasis
Hashep Oasis is a no brainer. It’s almost like this desert was made for this deck. There’s very little downside to playing it, as in most matchups your life total will be more than safe, so spending one life point occasionally to guarantee plays like Steel Leaf Champion early is no problem. It really excels in the late game, as it provides a powerful manasink when you’ve lost all card advantage, and helps finishing off games by buffing your trample dinosaurs even more and either going for better trades thanks to the +3/+3 stat buff. Unfortunately for us, it doesn’t also add trample to the creature it targets, so you’ll normally want to buff your trample dinos so as to not allow your opponent more favorable trades elsewhere.


Good Cards

Savage Stomp
Savage Stomp is an invaluable asset to this deck as it serves as a control/removal spell and has great synergy with cards like Ranging Raptors and Ripjaw Raptor thanks to their enrage abilities. It also works with Rhonas to basically delete any unit that isn’t also indestructible because of Rhona’s deathtouch ability.

Savage Stomp also does a great job of trading with Thrashing Brontodon and also buffing up to a permanent 4/5, enabling Rhonas The Indomitable to block and attack in the early game. You can deal with pesky creatures that have first strike, double strike, or even flying thanks to Savage Stomp and it’ll be a fantastic card to draw at any moment. It’s also swings the boardstate completely in your favor, especially in a position where your opponent has a single creature you can take down and then also go face that same turn.

Adventurous Impulse
Adventurous Impulse does a fine job of fixing your hand as a one drop when you’re missing a Llanowar Elves opening. It also fits in well as there is only one four mana spell and no five mana spells, so it’s useful as filler to not leave a single mana unspent. In the late game, it’s a great topdeck as you’ll be able to fish for your most impactful cards like Carnage Tyrant or Ghalta, Primal Hunger quickly in case of a stall on board.

The Filler Dinos The last three remaining cards we haven’t talked about are the three filler dinos, Ranging Raptors, Thrashing Brontodon and Ripjaw Raptor. Ranging Raptors and Thrashing Brontodon both pale in comparison to the 5/4 Steel Leaf Champion offers us, but they provide very good stats and or utility within the deck, and also provide necessary synergy with Savage Stomp so we’re able to include the card in the deck. Ripjaw Raptor is a most recent addition, and he does a great job of filling up a 4 mana slot and also helping a bit with card draw later on. He also trades favorably against cards like Lyra Dawnbringer with the help of Savage Stomp, which is absolutely massive in the current meta. Although these cards are generally interchangeable, and Ranging Raptors seem to be a little less impactful than the rest, I do believe 6 dinos is the perfect ratio we should include. Other very powerful three drops like Prowling Serpopard exist but the lack of the dinosaur tribal tag takes away too much value from the one mana Savage Stomps in my opinion.




Tech Cards and Missing Cards

Due to the deck’s linear gameplan and fairly solitaire playstyle, there isn’t really much in terms of tech. Scavenger grounds it a great fit as it should never mess with your mana needs and it also doubles as desert sacrifice for Hashep Oasis . Being able to exile decks that rely on tokens and eternalize effects is game-winning in certain matchups. You can scramble the amount of certain cards like Thrashing Brontodon or Savage Stomps around depending on the trouble you’re having with enchantments or artifacts but there isn’t really much more to it. If you’re having a lot of trouble with control, you can potentially remove Savage Stomps altogether and include Ambuscade as substitutes alongside Prowling Serpopard as a very decent replacement for Ranging Raptors, /Thrashing Brontodons, especially considering Prowling Serpopard directly enables Rhonas The Indomitable as well. I personally think the current list is superior with more dinos and the use of one mana Savage Stomps but I still have a lot of testing to do as I’ve only played the deck for about a week.

Some may find it odd Rhona's Monument is missing, but it’s simply too slow a card to include with this deck’s current gameplan. It competes as an incredibly valuable three mana drop and in a possible stall on the way to the lategame, you should have a Rhonas The Indomitable available to achieve a very similar effect.

Hapatra’s Mark is another consideration, especially in an attempt to protect Ghalta’s immense power in control matchups. But with limited card draw and a desire for as much consistency as possible, it’s simply too clunky to include in the list.

Jadelight Ranger is another card that some would deem essential, but really just can’t compete with the rest of the three drops in the deck. All three drops either have top tier value(Steel Leaf Champion) or are great value dinosaurs(Thrashing Brontodon and Ranging Raptor) that have synergy with Savage Stomp. Merfolk Branchwalker already does a fantastic job of ensuring lands early on, and Llanowar Elves and Adventurous Impulse also help in stabilizing our hands and making sure mana isn’t an issue.

Untamed Kavu is another interesting card to look into, with decent stats and versatility thanks to it’s kicker ability, but it just can’t compete against the all stars Resilient Khenra and Merfolk Branchwalker as two drops.

Budget Replacements


For the most part this deck is costly and will suffer greatly if you remove too many rares or mythics. You can go down to 2 Carnage Tyrants and 2 Rhonas and the deck is still incredibly competitive. With rares, it’s a completely different story, if you remove to many Resilient Khenra’s, Steel Leaf Champions or Ghalta, Primal Hunger s, the deck will perform at a much lower level as these three are vital for the deck’s success. For most two and three mana cards, you’ll simply try to include more copies of cheaper yet valuable replacements, for example a full set of Ranging Raptors or a full set of Thrashing Brontodon.



Resilient Khenra -> 1-2 Untamed Kavus or more value three drops(Ranging Raptors, Thrashing Brontodons, Prowling Serpopard s, Jadelight Rangers) . You’ll have to find the proper balance but honestly these are extremely important

Rhonas/Steel Leaf Champion -> More value three drops. If you have no available copies of Rhonas The Indomitable , Rhonas Monument may be a viable substitute.

Carnage Tyrant/Ghalta, Primal Hunger -> These cards will only really have direct downgrades, especially Ghalta, but Colossal Dreadmaw and Sifter Wurm are both possibilities. It will always be more effective to include more valuable three or four drops like Thrashing Brontodon, Ripjaw Raptor or even Territorial Allosaurus than it will be to add a Sifter Wurm or Colossal Dreadmaw for every Carnage Tyrant or Ghalta, Primal Hunger that you’re missing from the initial decklist. In short, if you have 2x Carnage Tyrant and 2x Ghalta, the deck won’t suffer too much. Only add direct replacements for these if you dip under the 4-5 total big trample dinosaur range.

Closing Thoughts


In the end, Mono Green Aggro is an extremely fun, yet simple deck that will get you good results quickly. It’s not the most complex deck in the game, nor is it the absolute best in most matchups. It’s also a tiny bit expensive, although you can make a lot of budget replacements and the extremely effective turn two skip with Llanowar Elves will still work and do a lot of damage against unprepared opponents.

I invested heavily in it with Dominaria’s release and I don’t regret it even a little bit. I get at least 4 wins in Quick Constructed 95% of the time, get to 7 wins very often and can grind quick runs with a fun simple deck that is a great distraction from the previous control decks I was playing pre-Dominaria. I hope you guys enjoyed the deck overview and feel free to make replacements and try different cards out. Even now I’m changing the deck every day and still testing out different cards, I’d love to hear others having success with an altered version of the Mono Green core.

You can find ImpetuousPanda on Twitch and Twitter:


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