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Hey everyone! Today I’m going to be covering my Mono Green Turbo Henge deck in Explorer which I recently used to go 27-6 and hit rank #3 with on the Arena ladder. This is a green aggressive deck, that is also built around getting The Great Henge into play on turn 3 or 4 consistently.
The deck has some very fast and powerful starts due to the high density of big creatures it runs, and The Great Henge also provides a really strong lategame, so it’s attacking on two completely different angles. I’ve also put up a video on my YouTube channel with with 5 matches of game play if you’re interested in seeing the deck in action.
The Great Henge: The deck is largely built around being able to cast this on curve the turn after we play one of our 3 mana creatures, and gives the deck a really strong lategame engine that is capable of outgrinding most decks in the format. This is really strong in this shell since the rest of the deck is an aggressive deck which is capable of fast starts that go underneath the opponent, but The Great Henge also provides a very strong engine that is capable of going over the top of most decks too, so you’re presenting both a strong early and late game.
The key to getting The Great Henge into play early is running a very high density of 3 mana creatures with 5 power. If you play a creature with 5 power on turn 3, The Great Henge‘s cost is reduced to 4 mana, which allows you to play it on the following turn. All of our 3 mana creatures have 5 power (with the exception of Kazandu Mammoth which has 3 power, but the landfall ability boosts it up to 5 power so it will have 5 power on the turn you’re looking to cast The Great Henge), which allow us to consistently curve a big 3 mana creature into The Great Henge on the following turn.
This is the main reason I’m not running a card like Old-Growth Troll, which is usually a great card in Mono Green Stompy, but since it only has 4 power and doesn’t enable The Great Henge the following turn, it doesn’t make the cut here.
Since the deck is also running 4 Llanowar Elves and 4 Elvish Mystic, you can pretty consistently get The Great Henge into play on turn 3 assuming your manadork lives, since you can go elf on turn 1, 3 mana creature on turn 2, and The Great Henge on turn 3, which is an insane start and will almost always win you the game.
Once it’s in play, the ramp it provides allows you to commit a lot of creatures to the battlefield in one turn, the consistent lifegain is great at ensuring we stabilise if we’re against a faster deck, and the card advantage will tend to run away with the game.
They also help to enable us getting our big top end cards into play like Collected Company and The Great Henge, and the deck also has quite a few manasinks like the abilities on Scavenging Ooze, Werewolf Pack Leader, Rhonas the Indomitable, and Lair of the Hydra, so the extra mana is always useful later in the game too.
One of the drawbacks of running 8 of these manadorks is that they’re usually pretty bad draws later in the game, but that’s not actually an issue with this deck if you have The Great Henge in play, since they’ll enter with a +1/+1 counter and immediately draw you another card, so this build also mitigates a lot of the usual drawbacks of running multiple cheap manadorks.
Scavenging Ooze: This is great as a generically powerful card that scales into the lategame while also providing maindeck graveyard hate and lifegain. This is particularly strong in matchups where graveyard hate is relevant (like against Greasefang, Okiba Boss or Arclight Phoenix decks), or against other creature decks where creatures will die off in combat on both sides and provide a lot of targets for Scavenging Ooze to use in order to grow and gain life.
Werewolf Pack Leader: This is a great card on rate which starts providing card advantage when you’re attacking with it alongside other creatures. The activated ability is great at enabling you to trigger the draw a card ability if you have it alongside a smaller creature, and at forcing through damage against chump blockers like Cauldron Familiar.
Lovestruck Beast: This is great as it’s a big creature that is good on both offence and defense, reduces The Great Henge to 4 mana, and gives us another play on turn 1 if we don’t have a Llanowar Elves or Elvish Mystic.
The 1/1 token will often be a target of the opponent’s cheap removal in order to stop Lovestruck Beast from attacking, but Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic are both also 1/1s that can allow it to attack again, and you can turn Lair of the Hydra into a 1/1 to enable it to attack as well.
Rhonas the Indomitable: This is one of the best cards against opposing creature decks, assuming we can enable it to attack and block (which is fairly easy considering the number of big creatures we run) since indestructible and deathtouch make it almost impossible to attack into, and very difficult to block favorably. It’s also decent against control since it survives non exile removal like Supreme Verdict and Fateful Absence.
The activated ability is really important as a way to either grow our smaller creatures to enable Rhonas the Indomitable to attack and block, as well as giving our other creatures trample, which is a great way to force through a lot of damage against chump blockers.
I’m only running 2 copies because space is tight in the deck, and this is a card that you really don’t want to draw in multiples – it’s very difficult to kill so if you do draw a second copy, it will likely just sit in your hand for the rest of the game unless the opponent has an exile effect.
Kazandu Mammoth: This is another 3 mana creature that can reduce The Great Henge to 4 mana if you trigger the landfall ability, and it can also be played as a land itself. Even though it enters tapped as a land, we’ll usually have somewhere along the curve to play it, and alongside the 8 elves, it allows us to run a lower land count of 20 actual lands which is great for a number of reasons.
Firstly, we want to be running a high creature count for Collected Company, and Kazandu Mammoth acting as both a decent Collected Company hit, and a land, means that we’re able to run 30 creatures in the maindeck which makes Collected Company very consistent, and means we can swap out some creatures for non-creatures post-sideboard and still have a high enough creature count for Collected Company.
Additionally, being able to run a lower land count is useful with The Great Henge as it lowers the odds of you drawing into multiple lands, and not being able to chain anymore creatures together off The Great Henge‘s draw ability.
Steel Leaf Champion: This is one of the best creatures in the deck since it’s a 5 power creature with no restriction on it’s ability to attack like Lovestruck Beast or Rhonas the Indomitable, and it also can’t be chump blocked by smaller creatures.
One of the traditional weaknesses of running Mono Green instead of Gruul (which has more tramplers and Embercleave) is that it can sometimes struggle forcing damage through chump blockers, but Steel Leaf Champion, Rhonas the Indomitable, and Werewolf Pack Leader all provide consistent ways to force damage through, which is really important against decks like sacrifice that can otherwise stonewall you with Cauldron Familiar.
Collected Company: This is the other top end that we’re running in the deck alongside The Great Henge. Collected Company works really well in this list since we’re running a high density of good 3 mana creatures, and we’re also happy to hit any of our 2 mana creatures since they’re all still useful later in the game.
Running a very high creature count in the maindeck means that we can board in some non-creature spells and still have enough creatures for Collected Company to hit consistently, and it being an instant means it’s great against control too.
Primal Might: This is the best interaction that mono green has access to since it works as both a fight spell and a pump spell. This is great at being able to deal with both big and small creatures, as well as potentially forcing through lethal damage if the opponent only has one creature in play, or we have a creature we can give trample. Running fight spells as your removal does make you vulnerable to instant-speed interaction, but that’s the case with all green removal spells, and Primal Might is definitely the best of the bunch.
I’m only running 2 copies because I wanted to lean more into a proactive and linear gameplan off the back of The Great Henge and Collected Company, but having 2 pieces of interaction that can also pump our creatures has felt like a good amount, and there are certain creatures you need to be able to kill like Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Reflection of Kiki-Jiki too.
As I mentioned previously, I’m running 20 lands which has felt like a good amount alongside 4 Kazandu Mammoth and 8 manadorks. In terms of the actual lands themselves, I’m running 2 Boseiju, Who Endures, 2 Hashep Oasis, 2 Lair of the Hydra and 14 basics.
Boseiju, Who Endures is essentially free for the first copy, but I like moving up to 2 since Reflection of Kiki-Jiki is a must-kill threat against Rakdos (or they can start copying Bloodtithe Harvester every turn to kill one of your creatures), and Boseiju, Who Endures acting as an out to that, and other important artifacts/ enchantments like Witch's Oven or Trail of Crumbs, is really useful. I wouldn’t go higher than 2 copies though, or you’ll start running into problems drawing multiples which can pose problems if you need to use them as lands.
Hashep Oasis is a card I started out with 4 copies of, but I found I was dealing myself a lot of damage with them in order to cast double or triple green spells like Werewolf Pack Leader and Steel Leaf Champion, so I moved down to 2 which has felt like the sweet spot.
Lair of the Hydra is another very important land that can act as an extra threat (which is particularly good against control), as well as being able to turn on Lovestruck Beast by turning it into a 1/1. I don’t like going higher than 2 copies though, since it enters tapped on turns 3 onwards, so if you run too many it’ll prevent you from curving out.
3 Shapers' Sanctuary: This is an absolute all-star against Rakdos Midrange and any other decks like control that rely on single-target removal in order to stabilize against our creatures. Getting this down early will mean that all of the opponent’s removal will provide us with a 2-for-1, and will allow us to grind against decks that usually rely on you running out of gas.
It also puts the opponent in a catch 22 where they either have to not use their removal, which allows our big creatures to survive (and the decks we’re bringing this in against typically struggle to get past our creatures), or use their removal and keeping drawing us cards.
2 Kraul Harpooner: This is here predominantly for the Mono Blue Spirits deck which is one of the tougher matchups, since they can often outrace us (especially if they’re on the play), and our interaction in Primal Might is quite slow and frail in the face of their counterspells and cards like Mausoleum Wanderer or Brazen Borrower.
Kraul Harpooner is much more efficient and can often end up killing the opponent’s creature without dying itself which will then allow it to block their future threats too. It’s also useful against other decks running flyers like Ledger Shredder or Sprite Dragon against Izzet Phoenix.
I don’t feel like you need any more than 2 copies since we have 4 Scavenging Ooze already, but the extra graveyard hate just maximizes our chances of drawing it which is very important against the Greasefang decks for example. Outside of the graveyard hate, it also doubles as a big vehicle we can crew up later in the game to attack or block with so it provides nice extra utility too.
3 Heroic Intervention: This is here pretty much exclusively for control or any other deck running sweepers, as a way to protect our board from cards like Supreme Verdict. Sweepers are very difficult to beat with our deck, but if we can protect our board with Heroic Intervention, it’s usually good enough for us to win the game since our creatures are so big.
For this reason, it’s usually a good idea to just hold open mana for Heroic Intervention as soon as you have one or two big creatures in play in the early game as it can usually single-handedly win you the game.
The main matchups where this is useful is against sacrifice to kill Witch's Oven and Trail of Crumbs, the mirror match to kill The Great Henge, Rakdos Midrange to kill Fable of the Mirror-Breaker (unless they’re running Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in which case you should probably run more Primal Might instead), and other important targets like Fight Rigging, Fires of Invention etc. too.
2 Primal Might: I think it’s important to have the last two copies in the sideboard for other creature decks like Humans, Mono Red/ Gruul, the mirror, as well as being important for taking out important to answer threats like Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet.
Best of 1:
I don’t think I’d make any changes to the maindeck for best of 1 – the deck is already very linear and streamlined at what it’s doing which is important in Bo1. I usually suggest running some additional graveyard hate in the main in Bo1 to help against decks like Greasefang, Okiba Boss, but you already have 4 Scavenging Ooze so I don’t think any more is necessary.
This is how I would sideboard if I think the opponent is likely to have Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet – Primal Might is very important to be running as both an out to Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Reflection of Kiki-Jiki. If they’re not running Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet then I prefer bringing in 3 Outland Liberator in place of 3 Primal Might since it’s a much cleaner answer to Reflection of Kiki-Jiki and is an extra creature for Collected Company and The Great Henge.
Shapers' Sanctuary is one of the best cards in this matchup since they rely on single-target removal to stabilize against you, and so you’ll continually 2-for-1 and usually outgrind them – they struggle to get past your creatures so are often forced to use their removal even though it will draw you extra cards.
The Great Henge will usually win you the game if they don’t have an immediate answer so keeping your 5 power creature alive going into your Henge turn is really important – don’t make blocks if they attack in with smaller creatures as they could then potentially kill your creatures with Fatal Push or Bonecrusher Giant which would stop you curving into The Great Henge. Rhonas the Indomitable is another card that they really struggle to deal with and Collected Company is obviously great in this matchup too.
We cut Werewolf Pack Leader here because it gets blocked fairly easily by their main creatures in Bonecrusher Giant and Bloodtithe Harvester whereas Scavenging Ooze is very useful later in the game once the graveyards are full, and is a way to exile Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger before it escapes.
No matter what build of Greasefang they’re running, we’re usually able to easily beat their backup plan so shutting off the combo is the most important thing as that’s the main way they’ll be able to beat us. For this reason, it’s usually a good idea to mulligan to graveyard hate a little more aggressively if your hand is slow. You’ll typically win the long game as long as you can constantly keep their graveyard on lock so always make sure you keep open green mana for Scavenging Ooze if that’s the graveyard hate you have.
You don’t always need graveyard hate to win here though – a fast The Great Henge or Collected Company can often outrace them especially on the play so it’s often a good idea to keep fast hands even if they don’t contain graveyard hate. Don’t forget you can also stop the combo for a turn by using Boseiju, Who Endures to destroy Parhelion II.
Outland Liberator is really important in this matchup at killing their artifacts like Witch's Oven to stop them setting up their engines. Even without Outland Liberator, you can often force damage through with Steel Leaf Champion and Rhonas the Indomitable if they have Cat/Oven.
This is another matchup where The Great Henge is amazing – they’re usually quite good at grinding into the mid-late game but they can’t compete with the amount of card advantage that The Great Henge provides.
Even though you usually want to be on the front foot in this matchup, you do need to be careful about your life total since they do have good reach in the lategame off Cat/Oven, Mayhem Devil, and Ob Nixilis, the Adversary, so sometimes it’s worth playing a little slower to prevent taking unecessary damage, and the lifegain off Scavenging Ooze and The Great Henge is great at mitigating this too. Additionally, always be wary of Claim the Firstborn because they can get in for a lot of damage out of nowhere by stealing one of your big creatures and attacking with it.
Shapers' Sanctuary is nice here since it draws you cards off Fatal Push, Claim the Firstborn, and Mayhem Devil, but if you’re up against Jund Sacrifice with Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, then it’s usually better to run Primal Might over Shapers' Sanctuary as a way to kill Korvold, Fae-Cursed King.
Mono Blue Tempo:
This is one of the toughest matchups since they can often outrace us – they attack in the air which were not great at defending, they can bounce our creatures which we don’t have great ways to stop, and they have counterspells to punish us for playing one spell per turn.
It’s definitely not an unwinnable matchup though, especially on the play since we can often just outrace them, and killing their creatures with Primal Might or Kraul Harpooner can often put us pretty far ahead, especially if that creature had Curious Obsession attached.
The general gameplan overall should be just to get as many stats onto the battlefield as quickly as you can to race, and interact with the opponent whenever you have a chance – Primal Might for x=0 is usually good enough to kill their creatures so often times it’s good to try and bait out their counterspells on a creature, and then pick off their creature with a 1 or 2 mana Primal Might afterwards once they’ve tapped out.
Collected Company is also great here since we can force them to tap out during their turn to counter it, which then clears the way for us to play uncontested during our turn. The Great Henge is cut here because you want to make the deck as low to the ground as possible, and the game will never go long enough that The Great Henge is really relevant, even if you did somehow resolve it.
This matchup is all about applying pressure but always trying to have a plan for their removal too – Shapers' Sanctuary and Heroic Intervention are great to cards to that end. We can typically commit to the battlefield faster than they can kill our creatures with single-target removal (which Shapers' Sanctuary is great against) so sweepers like Supreme Verdict are the main concern.
Because of this, Heroic Intervention is usually the most valuable card in this matchup, especially early on. As soon as you have a couple of decent threats in play, you should always hold up Heroic Intervention, as using it in response to a sweeper is usually game winning considering the size of our creatures. Rhonas the Indomitable is great here too since it survives Supreme Verdict, but be wary of their exile-based removal, especially The Wandering Emperor.
If you don’t have a way to protect against a sweeper, then the strength of the remaining creatures in your hand will usually determine the best course of action – if you don’t have that much in hand then it’s usually better to just commit everything to the board and force them to have a sweeper (since you probably won’t be recovering from one if you hold back anyway), but if you feel you have enough to recover, it can be worth holding on to some creatures to not get blown out (they can often stabilize with single-target removal if you do this though, so think carefully, especially if they’re getting near Teferi, Hero of Dominaria mana).
Lair of the Hydra is another important card in this matchup at both forcing through the last points of damage as well as attacking planeswalkers, but you should be careful animating it into open mana if you don’t need to because they can easily exile it with March of Otherworldly Light for 1 mana.
Embercleave Aggro (Mono Red / Gruul):
You don’t have a ton of removal here but your creatures are generally much bigger than theirs which makes it very difficult for them to attack unless they have Embercleave. Whether you go on the offensive or not will largely depend on who gets ahead on tempo first – putting them on the back foot is often a good idea but always be wary of Embercleave or Torbran, Thane of Red Fell going into their turn 4 as they can sometimes pull off lethal on the backswing if you’re not careful.
Primal Might is brought in as removal, and Outland Liberator is here as a way to kill Embercleave at instant-speed (always keep open a mana to activate this), but you could swap out Outland Liberator for a couple of The Great Henge on the play in order to start pulling ahead and providing some extra lifegain (since they’re very unlikely to be able to cleanly kill your 5 power creatures so it’s fairly easy to get it into play).
This matchup is all about racing and plays out fairly similarly to the Azorius Control matchup – the main difference here though is that it’s usually better to commit to the board more aggressively. Like control, they do run sweepers, but some of them are usually Anger of the Gods which doesn’t kill a lot of your creatures, and they usually run an 80 card deck with Yorion, Sky Nomad so are less likely to draw them.
You should still be holding up Heroic Intervention once you have some creatures in play though since they will be running some hard wraths, and it protects your creatures from single-target interaction like Agent of Treachery too.
I did consider bringing in Outland Liberator here as a way to deal with Fires of Invention, but I just felt like you’re much better off going all-in on the aggressive gameplan and try and go underneath them before Fires of Invention really has that much impact.
Tips & Tricks:
- Don’t forget you can use Primal Might as a pump spell even if the opponent has no creatures in play.
- You can use the activated ability on Werewolf Pack Leader pre-combat to turn it into a 5/3 in order to trigger its draw ability if you have it alongside a 1/1.
- Not only can you animate Lair of the Hydra into a 1/1 to enable Lovestruck Beast to attack, but you can also animate it into a 4/4 (even if it’s tapped to do so) to enable Rhonas the Indomitable to attack too.
- Even though Scavenging Ooze is a 2-drop, it’s often worth holding onto until later if you have alternative plays in the early game, since it’s utility goes up a lot once the graveyards have some creatures in and you have more mana. This is especially the case if you’re against a deck that’s relying on red damaged-based removal since you can wait until they’re tapped out, play Scavenging Ooze, and immediately grow it out of range.
- Additionally, if you have Scavenging Ooze in play against a deck running black removal and they’re tapped out, you should always activate Scavenging Ooze at least once during your turn in order to play around Heartless Act.
- Against decks with a lot of single-target removal like Rakdos Midrange, you should usually prioritise getting Shapers' Sanctuary into play before anything else, even a manadork, so that it can’t be hit by Thoughtseize, and the opponent can’t get a clean hit with their Fatal Push before Shapers' Sanctuary is in play.
I think The Great Henge is one of the most powerful cards in the Explorer Metagame right now with Rakdos Midrange being the most popular deck, and it works so well in conjunction with a fast aggressive plan with big creatures. This makes the deck really difficult to shut down since we present a strong early game and late game at the same time while having a plethora of good sideboard options too. Thanks a lot for reading!