In the early weeks of this Standard format, it was a duel between Hazoret the Fervent and The Scarab God. The winner of that duel has clearly been The Scarab God as U/B Control, B/U Midrange, and Grixis Energy are three of the most popular decks alongside a declining Mono-Red Aggro and Sultai Energy, which despite having access to both blue and black mana, doesn't play The Scarab God. The audacity.
But that doesn't mean you have to shell out for three or four copies of The Scarab God to compete. A narrow format is often indicative of an overpowered card or strategy, but more often it's simply an opportunity for brewers to brew with a clear target in their sights, making it easier to succeed with something powerful and unexpected.
Want to know what's powerful? 12/12 trample creatures for two mana. You may be worried about losing that creature to a well-timed Vraska's Contempt, but Blossoming Defense is a card, and for a color that doesn't have access to great removal, the best option is typically protecting your own overwhelming position, so accomplishing that for one mana is the best you're going to get.
What this deck is doing is trying to play like a low-curve aggro deck in the early turns. Get the damage in that you can, use your mana, and put your opponent on the back foot. But when you do this in a color that doesn't have reach, you allow your opponent to aggressively use their life total as a resource, stabilize at five or less, and take over the game without the fear of dying to a flurry of burn spells.
That's where Rhonas's Monument comes in. Trample is green's form of reach and giving even a small creature +2/+2 or +4/+4 and trample makes it a real threat to close out the game. If that creature is Rhonas the Indomitable, you get to take advantage of the interaction between trample and deathtouch to make it nearly impossible to contain via combat. If things are going well, you can use Rhonas's Monument to make Ghalta, Primal Hunger cheaper or simply combo-kill your opponent with some large creatures.
That combo-kill aspect kicks into high gear with Greenbelt Rampager, giving you three or more triggers in a single turn, making combat a complete nightmare for your opponent. For a mono-colored deck, this list is plenty powerful and being forced to play careful with your life total and rely heavily on removal spells against Blossoming Defense is a nice tactical squeeze. If you're looking to break free from the Dimir stranglehold on Standard, look to the unfriendly color of the Sultai wedge.
- 1 Verdurous Gearhulk
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 1 Carnage Tyrant
- 4 Greenbelt Rampager
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 4 Resilient Khenra
- 3 Ghalta, Primal Hunger
- 1 Rhonas the Indomitable