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 safe to talk about the one that has probably been swept under the rug the most.
With the release of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Alchemy has truly distilled into a midrange fiesta with a deck at the heart of it: Rakdos Midrange. Rakdos Midrange really did it all, it had great interaction, it had great cringe cards, and it simply had the best card quality of any deck. Unfortunately, from there, the format continued to evolve towards more and more mid-range mirrors with people even on the main deck Orvar, the All-Form to combat the power of Citystalker Connoisseur.
Many players thought Rakdos was going to be impossible to spoof, but two very important things happened. First, Painful Bond got a pretty substantial nerf that hurts Rakdos’ map advantage power. Two, Alchemy: Kamigawa has been released. This was mostly swept under the rug, as again many assumed nothing dethroned Rakdos despite the rather promising maps.
However, that no longer seems to be the case. While Rakdos is still a great option in both Bo1 and Bo3, it may not be the best deck anymore! I could be cheeky and ask an open-ended question about what could be better than that, but given that you’re here, I think you know my answer.
(A) Bo1 Mono Green Aggro
Rakdos does a lot of things well, but one thing it can’t always do is avoid aggression, and Mono Green takes full advantage of that. To beat the mid-range mirrors, you can’t just fill your takedown deck because you’ll be grilled by any grumpy threat, so they need to limit the amount of cheap interaction they play. However, unless you’re dedicated to beating Mono Green, this deck is just too strong and too fast for players to get away with.
As I always say, pretty much all good aggro decks start with 1 drop. We start first with the Alchemy special, Tenacious Pup. Pup, in no uncertain terms, is crazy. He most closely resembles Kird Ape as he is a functional 2/3 at 1 mana who also gains a life. It might be strange to praise this card while Kumano is facing Kakkazan also exists, but not having to have a creature around after playing makes all the difference (and Kumano is also just a great map).
For our second, but less exciting drop, we have Ascendant Packleader. Realistically it’s a 1 mana 2/2, but that in itself is pretty good for this deck and the fact that it can grow a bit too shouldn’t be underestimated.
Next we have our 2 drops to help us track our turn 1. First we have Werewolf Pack Leader which is an absolute home in Mono Green decks. A 3/3 at 2 mana is a great stat line, but who can grow and draw cards? Act hard to beat.
The second is Tangled Florahedron, and while it’s not quite as exciting, it’s great for consistency between being a mana dork or land whenever you need it.
Finally, we have the Ranger class which has been excellent in this mid-range metagame as a 2 drop which also provides an advantage on the board and cards the longer the game goes on.
While those are the two real downfalls, let’s talk about the fees! First up, we have Jukai Liberator as the only Alchemy ninja to grace this deck. This card is absolutely brutal as a creature that can be tricked into attacking and drawing cards right off the bat. Imagine having to deal with a 3/3 earning them a good card every time they connect right after playing your first land? It’s demoralizing!
The second pseudo 2 drop and the reason this deck plays so few real lands is Forceful Cultivator. The cultivator is a repugnant magic card that is functionally an Into the North attached to a 2/3. Since we’re only playing 14 real lands (but 24 mana sources, including all 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. Game.
Finally, we can talk about this mid game deck which is more or less the best for him too! For our 3 drops we have the green classic with Old-Growth Troll and Kazandu Mammoth. The presence of Ancient Trolls 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 on its own and helps us reduce our actual land count to synergize with Forceful Cultivator.
Next, since Esika’s Chariot is nerfed in Alchemy, we have to settle for Ulvenwald Oddity. It’s a shame you can almost never flip it, but a 4/4 4 mana haste and trample is still a scary stat line for decks, especially if it happens on turn 3.
Finally we have the single Invoke the Ancients leading the curve, in a green deck that has more untapped mana I could definitely see playing more as getting 2 4/5s for 5 mana is fantastic, but since we’re looking to be as close to the ground as possible, only one copy is needed.
Overall, this deck is so good that it does one thing and does it extremely well. He doesn’t need to worry about the nuances of a mid-range slugfest or having the right card for the right match. When you’re just an obscenely powerful aggressive deck, every threat is the right threat because you keep pressuring the opponent until you hopefully beat them to death. This is what makes the game, in addition to its amazing map quality, so powerful.
Tips and tricks
- Remember that even though the mana cost is reduced, Forceful Cultivator is still a 4 drop. It works great on curves with Ascendant Packleader to make it a 3/2 on turn 2!
- Knowing when to play your Tenacious Pup (unless it’s not just turn 1) is very important. You don’t want to buff a creature that’s just going to be retired, so keeping them until later can be a very reasonable line. Also, remember that this is the next creature spell you cast, not the next creature that enters, so your Jukai Liberator or tokens cannot be upgraded by it.
- Generally speaking, Tangled Florahedron has more value as a land than a creature, while Kazandu Mammoth has more value as a creature than as a land.
- Since we have a higher density of clickable lands than other aggro decks, be very careful when mulliganing 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 it’s too slow.