Alchemy: New Capenna is here, and with it, a new iteration of the format to explore! While there are plenty of new and exciting options to try, I find it prudent to talk about the one that was likely most swept under the rug.
With the release of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Alchemy really distilled down into a midrange fiesta with one deck at the nexus of that: Rakdos Midrange. Rakdos Midrange truly did it all, it had great interaction, it had great grindy cards, and it simply had the highest card quality of all the decks. Unfortunately from there, the format kept devolving into more and more midrange mirrors with people even main decking Orvar, the All-Form to combat the power of Citystalker Connoisseur.
Many players believed that Rakdos was going to be impossible to usurp, but two very important things happened. One, Painful Bond got a pretty substantial nerf which hurts the card advantage power of Rakdos. Two, Alchemy: Kamigawa was released. This was mostly swept under the rug, as again, many assumed nothing is dethroning Rakdos despite the cards looking rather promising.
However, that no longer seems to be the case. While Rakdos is still a great option in both Bo1 and Bo3, it may actually not be the best deck anymore! I could be cheeky and pose an open question on what may be better than it, but considering you’re here, I think you know my answer.
Rakdos does a lot of things well, but one thing it can’t always do is stave off aggression, and Mono Green takes full advantage of that. To beat the midrange mirrors, you can’t just fill your deck up with removal as you’ll get toasted by any grindy threat, so they have to limit the amount of cheap interaction they play. However, unless you’re dedicated to beating Mono Green, this deck is simply too strong and fast to let players get away with that.
As I always say, pretty much every good aggro deck starts with the 1 drops. First we start with the Alchemy special, Tenacious Pup. Pup, in no uncertain terms, is nuts. It’s most similar to Kird Ape as it’s a 1 mana functional 2/3 that also gains a life. It may be weird to highly praise this card when Kumano Faces Kakkazan also exists, but not being forced to have a creature the turn after you play this makes a world of difference (and Kumano is also just an excellent card).
For our second, but less exciting one drop, we have Ascendant Packleader. Realistically, this is a 1 mana 2/2, but that by itself is good enough for this deck and the fact that it can grow a bit as well shouldn’t be underestimated.
Next we have our 2 drops to help us follow up on our turn 1 play. First we have Werewolf Pack Leader which is an absolute house in Mono Green decks. A 2 mana 3/3 is a great stat line, but one that can grow and draw cards? Tough act to beat.
The second is Tangled Florahedron, and while not as exciting, is great for consistency between being a mana dork or a land whenever you need it.
Finally we have Ranger Class which has been excellent in this midrange metagame as a 2 drop that also provides board and card advantage the longer the game is dragged on.
While those are the real two drops, let’s talk about the honorary ones! First up, we have Jukai Liberator as the Alchemy only ninja to grace this deck. This card is absolutely brutal as a creature that can be brought in attacking and drawing cards right off the bat. Imagine having to face down a 3/3 that gets them a good card every time it connects right after you played your first land? Now that’s demoralizing!
The second pseudo 2 drop and the reason this deck plays so few real lands is Forceful Cultivator. Cultivator is a disgusting magic card that is functionally an Into the North attached to a 2/3. Since we only play 14 true lands (but 24 mana sources including all the MDFCs), this is going to be an early ramp spell 99% of the time which can put you extremely far ahead very early in the game.
Finally, we can talk about this decks mid game which is more or less the top end for it as well! For our 3 drops, we have the green classic with Old-Growth Troll and Kazandu Mammoth. Old-Growth Troll being here is no surprise, a 3 mana 4/4 that gives advantage when it dies is the envy of any deck that can’t afford the restrictive mana cost. Kazandu Mammoth is less exciting, but is a great threat in it’s own right and helps us lower our real land count to synergize with Forceful Cultivator.
Next up, since Esika's Chariot is nerfed in Alchemy, we have to make do with Ulvenwald Oddity. It’s a shame that you’ll pretty much never be able to flip it, but a 4 mana 4/4 Haste and Trample is still a scary stat line for decks to contend with, especially if it’s coming at them turn 3.
Last, we have the lone Invoke the Ancients topping the curve, In a Green deck that has more untapped mana, I could definitely see playing more of these as getting 2 4/5s for 5 mana is fantastic, but since we are looking to be as low to the ground as possible, just the 1 copy is needed.
All in all, this deck is so successful as it does one thing and does it extremely well. It doesn’t need to worry about the nuances of a midrange slug fest or having the right card for the right matchup. When you are just an obscenely powerful aggressive deck, every threat is the right threat as you keep pressuring the opponent until you hopefully beat them to death. This is what makes the deck, alongside it’s incredible card quality, so powerful.
Tips and Tricks
- Remember that even if the mana cost is discounted, Forceful Cultivator is still a 4 drop. This works really well as a curve with Ascendant Packleader to make it a 3/2 on turn 2!
- Knowing when to play your Tenacious Pup (barring it’s not just turn 1) is very important. You don’t want to buff a creature that’s going to just get removed so sandbagging these until later can be a very reasonable line. Furthermore, remember that it’s the next creature spell you cast, not the next creature that enters, so your Jukai Liberator or tokens can’t get buffed by this.
- Generally speaking, Tangled Florahedron is more valuable as a land than a creature while Kazandu Mammoth is more valuable as a creature than a land.
- Since we have a higher density of tap lands than other aggro decks, be very mindful during your mulligan decision on whether or not you can have a good curve with the lands in hand. It’s easy to keep a hand of lands and spells, but then come up short because it was too slow.