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Ajani, the Greatheated

Selesnya Ozolith Counters Deck Guide

Hello again! Let me present you my favorite deck of the developing Standard format – Selesnya Ozolith Counters! If you’re looking to play something other than the premier decks (check those out here), I highly encourage you to take a look at this one, as it has a good proactive gameplan and is very fun to play.

[sd_deck deck=”0TRZokiHD”]

Deck Summary

A green white aggressive creature deck and making them stronger with the use of +1/+1 counters.

Archetype: {W}{G} Selesnya Counters
Format: Traditional (BO3) Standard
Tier: Off-Meta

The Good

  • Proactive gameplan that requires answers from your opponents
  • Lots of cards that synergize with each other and increase their power
  • Not widely played so can catch unprepared opponents by surprise
  • Consistent mana base

The Bad

  • Fairly linear deck that is weaker in a metagame with lots of battlefield sweepers and removal spells
  • Bad matchup against Sacrifice decks, especially Claim the Firstborn
  • Many key cards rotating out of Standard

What does Selesnya Counters do?

This is a synergy-driven Aggro deck that is looking to overwhelm the opponent by curving out cheap creatures and pumping them up with Unbreakable Formation, Venerated Loxodon, and Ajani, the Greathearted. The main enablers of this deck are Huatli's Raptor and the new M21 card, Conclave Mentor. Chamber Sentry and Stonecoil Serpent aren’t the most impactful creatures as they need a large mana investment to help them compete with the format’s best threats, but with those two cards, they become much more powerful and enable some really explosive early turns. Additionally, cards that are powerful by themselves, like Pelt Collector, Scavenging Ooze, and Venerated Loxodon have additional fantastic synergy with Conclave Mentor and Huatli's Raptor.

Why Selesnya?

I’m not going to say this is the new Tier 1 deck as it’s pretty hard to compete with the power level of Standard’s forerunners. However, Selesnya has a good matchup against Temur Reclamation and is decent against Bant Control (varies with the version though). Sacrifice decks will be tough to beat, but that’s almost always the case if you’re looking to play creature-based strategies. In terms of off meta decks, I’ve had a lot of success with other Selesnya decks as well.

Another advantage Selesnya has is, compared to other aggro decks, it actually has a consistent manabase. All the other 2 color decks have to contend with either playing a lot of taplands or having less fixing and making do, but Selesnya plays a lot of colorless creatures and barely any cards with double mana symbols (besides the Gideon Blackblades in the board and the one Voracious Hydra that we want to cast later in the game anyway.)

To compare, Gruul definitely has the strongest aggro cards in the format in Gruul Spellbreaker, Questing Beast, and Embercleave, but their manabase makes it very hard to consistently curve out or they’re forced to play Paradise Druid, a card that an aggressive deck really doesn’t want to play.

Card Choices

I’ll just explain the maindeck cards here; explanations for the sideboard will come in the “Matchup” section later on.

2 Selfless Savior: This good boy is another 1-Drop that enables fast curve-outs into Venerated Loxodon, and is good at protecting Conclave Mentor (the only creature we really want to save). It also helps a bit against sweepers, allowing you to save your best creature. Without having real synergy with the rest of the deck, I don’t want to play too many copies, especially since you don’t want your 1-Drops to be in different colors (as that stresses your mana), but I am still happy to play two copies.

4 Pelt Collector: The best 1-Drop you can have in your opening hand. If you play this on turn 1 and either Conclave Mentor or Huatli’s Raptor on turn 2, he’s already attacking for 3 damage. That is already better than Scorch Spitter, but this guy continues to grow and remains relevant later. I would play 8 of these if I could.

3 The Ozolith: Alright, don’t laugh at me for this inclusion! The Ozolith continued to impress me so much that I needed them in my main deck. One of the problems with this deck is that you do all the work to pump up your team just to lose them to removal or sweepers (Damn you, Shatter the Sky) and you’re left unable to build a big board again. The Ozilith helps keep all those counters you worked hard to make and continuously applies them to the next creature you play. Imagine your opponent kills your 3/3 Stonecoil Serpent, then the next turn you slam a creature, it gets the 3 counters and turns into a much scarier threat than the Serpent ever was! That card works so well in this deck, but I wouldn’t play 4 just because they are Legendary, and drawing two copies is awful.

4 Chamber Sentry: Your first bread and butter card. Your deck works with +1/+1 counters and this creature basically lives on them. Technically you can only get it to a 2/2, but you have a bunch of other ways to grow it from there, and it can help you shoot some last points of damage while mitigating flood a bit. Obviously it’s not Stonecoil Serpent, but it’s still solid.

4 Stonecoil Serpent: Your second bread and butter card. It’s basically Chamber Sentry that you can cast, as more than just a 2/2, with some added relevant keywords. This is one of the cards that you underrate until you play with it. The fact that it has trample means that they can’t just chump it when you make it huge. Protection from multi-colored makes it a strong play into Teferi, Time Raveler and dodges some removal/bypasses creatures like Mayhem Devil.

3 Scavenging Ooze: All Star 2-Drop. This guy just grows infinitely, eating all the opposing Uros and Woe Striders, and has superb synergy with the +1/+1 counters theme. I don’t want to play 4 because there are only 2 graveyards, so drawing multiple can be mediocre sometimes and they need some extra mana to get going.

4 Conclave Mentor: This is basically the reason why this deck is playable. Don’t sleep on this card; it’s incredibly powerful and does a good Winding Constrictor impression. If you curve this and Venerated Loxodon, most opponents will just concede if they don’t immediately board wipe you.

4 Huatli’s Raptor: We play this because it just supports the archetype so well. I don’t like that you need a board already for this to be useful, but it’s still a very powerful inclusion and it helps buff up your team.

2 Unbreakable Formation: This is good in any aggressive White deck, and it’s even better here because of the +1/+1 counters. You need a strong board for this to be effective, so we only want 2.

2 Ajani, the Greathearted: This card is like Unbreakable Formation, but you can do it twice! It also gives your team Vigilance so you can sometimes cast a Venerated Loxodon post-combat.

4 Venerated Loxodon: This guy is important to buff up all your creatures, who would be too small to be relevant otherwise. It’s really important to have this in the deck to enable explosive starts.

1 Flower/Flourish: This is like a tapped land, but you can always cash it in to pump the team should you flood, so I like it a lot. You don’t want too many tapland effects though, so I am happy with just one copy. 

1 Castle Ardenvale: It’s awesome with Ozolith because you can always put the new counters on the Soldiers it produces. You could play 2, but I’m unsure on whether that’ll hurt the mana too much.

Cards I don’t play

Basri Ket: He seems like the perfect fit for this deck, but in reality he’s just too clunky and I really don’t want to play double White in the main deck. He doesn’t protect your board against sweepers and is just a bit too weak overall. If you attack and make 3 or 4 tokens, it’s good, but at that point you should be winning anyway. He just doesn’t add much that we lack when we are already winning, and does absolutely nothing when we are losing.

Basri’s Lieutenant: This card sadly just didn’t work as well as I was hoping. 4 Mana is too much to protect your board from sweepers effectively (especially if they play Growth Spiral) and, if I am tapping out for 4 Mana, I want more immediate attacking power than just a +1/+1 counter. I’ve started with 4, and have just been cutting more and more. It’s also a huge Elspeth Conquers Death target, a card that’s usually bad against us. The Ozolith has been much better sweeper protection, and Gideon Blackblade Post-Board also hits harder and earlier.

Ugin’s Conjurant: We just don’t need more of these effects and we don’t lack creatures in our curve. This is the weakest of the “X/X” creatures.

Wildwood Scourge: Way too clunky and, since it doesn’t do anything beyond just being big, it’s not worth it.

Matchups and Sideboarding

General note: I tend to cut some number of pump spells a lot, because most decks bring in more removal out of the sideboard, making it harder to use them effectively. Can’t pump the board if there’s no board, y’all!

Bant Control

No matter what deck you play, Bant will always be a close matchup. I usually win game one because I overrun them and some cards like Mystical Dispute and Elspeth Conquers Death (this does have some targets but not too many, and it’s not great against Loxodon which provides a lot of immediate value) are poor in the matchup. Sometimes Shatter the Sky gets you, but The Ozolith helps in rebuilding the board afterwards. Jolrael is really annoying, so try to shoot her down with Chamber Sentry if you can.

Post-Board they have a lot more removal and also Baneslayer Angel, so we want to pack in the Giant Killers (it also hits Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and is an additional 1-Drop). Gideon Blackblade also goes a long way, because they usually cut Elspeth Conquers Death and then have little to no answers to him. I usually cut Venerated Loxodon, even though he is good game one, because it’s harder to curve out against more removal spells; additionally it’s awkward to play him with Gideon, since your gameplan is more about killing them quickly then rather than building a large board.

Try to curve into Gideon and keep up the pressure, so they always need to deal with him and your other creatures at the same time. Note that Chamber Sentry and Stonecoil Serpent survive Ugin’s board wipe! Stonecoil Serpent can’t be blocked by Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and can’t be bounced by Teferi, Time Raveler.

3 Giant Killer
3 Gideon Blackblade
2 Venerated Loxodon
2 Ajani, the Greathearted
1 Flower // Flourish
1 Unbreakable Formation

Temur Reclamation

This is a good matchup. Game one we just overrun them because they lack removal and sweepers, and their post-board removal will not improve their side much, but be careful of their Nightpack Ambushers. Note that they have almost no way to deal with a huge Stonecoil Serpent, so use that to your advantage. If you use your Light of Hope on turn 4 before their Wilderness Reclamation trigger resolves, you usually win, but I’ve only included one in the sideboard since the matchup is favourable anyway; if you’d like to improve it, you could have more.

3 Giant Killer
1 Light of Hope
2 Ajani, the Greathearted
1 Flower // Flourish
1 Venerated Loxodon

Rakdos/Jund Sacrifice

These decks are by far our worst matchup. Game 1, we need to have a strong curve, but even that will sometimes not be enough against Priest of Forgotten Gods, Claim the Firstborn, and Mayhem Devil. They remain strong post-board, but at least we have a better chance with the amount of removal we bring in. Try not to play too many 1/1’s, as they’ll mostly just get pinged by Mayhem Devil. The Ozolith isn’t too great here because it won’t help you rebuild that well. If you lose your board once, it’s basically impossible to win in this matchup, since big beaters won’t do too much against their combos once assembled.

4 Devout Decree
3 Glass Casket
2 Ajani, the Greathearted
2 Selfless Savior
3 The Ozolith

Mono Black Aggro

This is a good matchup. The one thing we’re afraid of is Rotting Regisaur + Demonic Embrace, as only Stonecoil Serpent can block it, and usually only once. Other than that, we can go wide pretty fast and just overwhelm them with more creatures. They don’t have too much interaction game one, so Conclave Mentor going unanswered ends games pretty quickly. The Ozolith is really good in this kind of matchup, where they bring in more removal post-board and they will need a lot of removal for all your threats to stand a chance.

You still need to bring in some removal yourself, because it won’t be as easy to overrun them as it is in game one, but not too much removal since the matchup is already good. I like to keep Ajani in because his +1 comes in clutch sometimes.

4 Devout Decree
1 Voracious Hydra
1 Giant Killer
2 Unbreakable Formation
1 Flower // Flourish
1 Scavenging Ooze
2 Chamber Sentry

Mono Red Aggro

We would struggle against a version of Mono-Red with tons of burn spells, but the more creature-heavier versions are actually pretty good for us, since our board will usually be much bigger and wider than theirs. They do have Bonecrusher Giants, and very rarely Shock, to deal with Conclave Mentor game one, but they usually can’t beat your strong turns with Venerated Loxodon or Mentor if you have an immediate follow-up. We’ve also got some maindeck lifegain with Ajani, the Greathearted and Conclave Mentor’s death trigger. Scavenging Ooze is also a huge pain for them (the more I think about this, the more I realize that the glorious days of Mono-Red are over). Post-board, our Ozolith will be a great way to mitigate the removal spells that they bring in.

4 Devout Decree
1 Voracious Hydra
2 Unbreakable Formation
1 Flower // Flourish
2 Chamber Sentry

Thank you for reading through this very long guide! It was a lot of work, but also incredibly fun to write. If you have any questions regarding this deck, make sure to leave them in the comments below.

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Alexander Steyer, 23 years old. Qualified for Mythic Championship VII, Zendikar Rising Championship and Arena Open Winner.

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