Commanding Stupid Green Deck

About six months ago I pitched something to my editor. I had been trying to find a way to write about Commander that played to my strengths and after bouncing a few ideas back and forth I came up with the concept that became this article. I would take successful or interesting tournament decks from Magic’s long history and expand them to 100 cards.

For whatever reason, it did not land. Getting Commander content to breakthrough is hard and I was going for something that was more narrow than that: I was looking for readers who were not only somewhat familiar with the history of competitive Magic, but also interested in Commander and had time to sit and read me wax nostalgic. So I guess you also had to be a fan of my writing.

Really trying to thread a needle here, eh?

Regardless, I still believed in the idea but set it aside. In the intervening months the website I wrote for shifted its priorities and asked me to write more Pauper focused content. Combined with the fact that my day job picked up steam and left me little time to play Commander this led me to set aside this project.

Today I am going to try to start it up again. Because if my own personal blog isn’t a good home for incredibly niche articles, then what am I even doing here?

To kick things off again, I am going to write about a deck that should be recognizable to anyone who, like me, wore out the 1998 US Nationals VHS tape. I want to talk about the Stupid Green Deck.

4 Llanowar Elves
4 Spike Feeder
4 Spike Weaver
4 Stampeding Wildebeests
2 Uktabi Orangutan
3 Wall Of Blossoms
4 Wall Of Roots
4 Winter’s Grasp
4 Creeping Mold
3 Desert Twister
4 Eladamri’s Vineyard
1 Survival Of The Fittest

15 Forest
4 Wasteland

Sideboard
4 Emerald Charm
2 Null Brooch
3 Scragnoth
4 Cursed Scroll

To fully understand this deck you also need to understand its moment in time. First, mana burn existed so a card like Eladarmi’s Vineyard could clock an opponent who had no use for green mana. Second, the old structure for US Nationals included tournaments colloquially known as Meat Grinders, where players could try to win a spot in the main event at these last-chance tournaments. Third, the internet was not nearly as prevalent as it is today meaning people who came with secret tech actually came with secret tech. This confluence of events meant that a strategy designed to beat specific parts of the metagame, if correctly predicted, could make its way to the big time. Now just because a deck performed well in the Meat Grinders did not mean automatic success in Nationals, but Stupid Green Deck did well and Bryce Currence placed in the Top 4, with a spot on the US National Team, with the archetype.

Stupid Green Deck is a midrange resource denial deck. Like so many strategies from the earliest days of the game it sought to deny the opponent any opportunity to play meaningful Magic. Winter’s Grasp and Creeping Mold would blow up opposing lands and given how few players were running green cards, Eladarmi’s Vineyard could eventually kill them. Stampeding Wildebeests and Wall of Blossoms provided a steady stream of card draw while Uktabi Orangutan could pick off opposing Cursed Scrolls – a very important card in its Standard. Spike Feeder could gain enough life to survive against the red decks of the day, which featured the same Cursed Scrolls alongside Jackal Pup, Fireblast, and Hammer of Bogardan, while Spike Weaver could fog attacks from White Weenie, which featured cards like Soltari Priest suited up with Empyrial Armor.

So how do you translate this from standard a quarter century ago to modern Commander? The first step is breaking down the deck into more appropriate buckets. If we’re talking Commander, the Stupid Green Deck is part Group Slug, part Stax, and part +1/+1 counter theme.

STAX

Stax is a strategy where you use various permanents to deny your opponents access to their resources. Stax strategies require serious redundancy since a single piece can be disrupted. Stax decks tend to make use of permanents since their effects persist. Mana denial is one such angle of attack and can be seen in cards like Winter Orb and the on-color Root Maze. Both of these can translate to the Commander version of the deck since green wants to lean on mana elves anyway. Static Orb, however, is probably a terrible fit unless you’re going to be running Seedborn Muse and Wilderness Reclamation as a way to break the parity (and let’s face it your totally should). Green lacks mass land destruction on par with Armageddon so leaning into the Creeping Mold aspect of the deck is largely a dead end. However Hall of Gemstone could be a way to disrupt your opponents by cutting them off of key mana on your turn. Collector Ouphe and Runic Armasaur can also do some work in this regard, while Hermit of the Natterknolls, Heartwood Storyteller, and Arasta of the Endless Web can punish the rest of the table for attempting to play the game.

GROUP SLUG

Unless you decide to go full Jund with Yurlok of the Scorch Thrash, using Eladarmi’s Vineyard to slowly bleed opposing life totals is likely to fall flat. Also, this is Commander and there’s definitely going to be something they can sink that mana into. No, I think the way to go is to lean into Heartwood Storyteller and give your opponent’s all the cards they can muster. Then using creatures like Viseling, Psychosis Crawler, Multani, Maro-Sorcerer, and Sage of Ancient Lore go ham on life totals. Multani also slots in nicely as a potential commander if you can figure out that entire lack of trample business. If you want to lean harder into punishing your opponent’s draws you can touch black for Fate Unraveler, Shelodred, the Apocalypse, and go off book with Dina, Soul Steeper at the helm.

+1/+1 COUNTERS

If you play Commander, you don’t need me to go into too much detail here. Doubling Season, Hardened Scales, Renata, Called to the Hunt all help to increase the efficacy of the Spikes. Aquastrand Spider and Sporeback Troll can help to push this theme as well. You can even dip into the grimdark future for Clamavus as a way to give these creatures some extra oomph. Rishkar, Peema Renegade is a potential inclusion either in the 99 or the Command Zone but there’s also Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig, which can doe some silly stuff with Animation Module.

REBUYS

A not so secret part of this deck’s success was using Stampeding Wildebeests to rebuy Wall of Blossoms and Wall of Roots. In Commander you also get access to Stampeding Serow, Roaring Primadox, and Temur Sabertooth. The cards can flow easily with Elvish Visionary, Llanowar Visionary, and Multani’s Acolyte. There’s also the value train of Eternal Witness and Timeless Witness and a near endless supply of Reclamation Sage effects – although Manglehorn might be the best fit since it also plays into the Stax theme. But really, there are so many creatures with enters the battlefield abilities that you can season this part to your taste.

So there you have it – a few ways to adapt the Stupid Green Deck from 1998 Standard to 2023 Commander. If I were going to build this I’d probably pick this creature as my Commander as it just feels right given everything else going on in the deck. How about you?

 Kurbis, Harvest Celebrant {X}{G}{G}

Legendary Creature — Treefolk

Kurbis, Harvest Celebrant enters the battlefield with a number of +1/+1 counters on it equal to the amount of mana spent to cast it.

Remove a +1/+1 counter from Kurbis: Prevent all damage that would be dealt this turn to another target creature with a +1/+1 counter on it.
0/0

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Published by Alex Ullman

Alex Ullman has been playing Magic since 1994 (he thinks). Since 2005, he's spent most of his time playing and exploring Pauper. One of his proudest accomplishments was being on the winnings side of the 2009 Community Cup. He makes his home in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born and raised.

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