Welcome everyone to the Deck Spotlight series, where we are going to explore top-tier, meta defining decks and give some left field brews a deserved glance. September is going to continue on this week with another non-meta deck, Shadowgreen Monk. This deck’s focus is Shadowgreen Elder and its Spriggan/Animal friends. In essence this is a midrange deck that has some aggressive-ish draws to allow for some quick games. But for now, lets get into the breakdown.
Shadowgreen Monk has the shell of a midrange, creature-heavy Monk deck with some Tribal synergies to add some dynamic gameplay and powerful draws. Shadowgreen Elder is our Tribal lord, buffing both Animals and Spriggans upon summon. So, I’m filling the deck with both Spriggans and Animals. This list is running 12 Spriggans total, including Shadowgreen Elder, and they all play a very important role in the deck. The only Spriggan I’m skipping out on is Green-Touched Spriggan because we don’t have enough consistent ways to gain life. There is certainly a way to employ more life gain like Bruma Profiteer or Palace Prowler, but they aren’t Spriggans nor Animals. These cards are good, don’t get me wrong, but the deck would need some kind of retool to include them, maybe even including the newly buffed Brynjolf. To whip up a list real quick, it would look like this. I am running 33 Animal cards including Eldergleam Matrons and Slaughterfish Spawnings, which aren’t technically Animals, who give us plenty of filling for our Shadowgreen doughnut. There are plenty of other Animals to include, such as Snow Wolf, Feasting Vulture or Sanctuary Pet, but I wanted to lean further into the midrange strategy personally, so they are not included. Instead, I included Thieves Guild Recruit and Hive Defenders. For me, drawing and playing Shadowgreen Elder is the highlight of this deck, so I want that to be the main focus game to game, and these cards help with that.
As with last week’s deck, this week’s deck is Tribal in nature. With that, all the problems with Tribal decks are included. Without Shadowgreen Elder, most of this deck’s cards aren’t top tier and border on a Monk “Good Stuff” deck. However, each card on their own are still fairly good, and are only trending upward. As opposed to last week’s deck in Merric Dwemer, we actually get to play reasonable cards that happen to fit into our Tribal theme. For this reason, I’ve included Divine Fervor as it acts as a way to push these medium/above-average creatures over the edge. Pack Wolf, Slaughterfish Spawning and Wild Beastcaller all provide ways to generate more than one creature as well, offering a huge upside in tandem with Divine Fervor. The other cards I’m running that don’t fit the Tribal strategy are Ahnassi and Tazkad the Packmaster, two legendary creatures with incredible potential. Ahnassi is a great card on her own, with huge blowout capabilities. Simply stealing Guard or Breakthrough can be good, but when there are Giant Bats floating around, Ahnassi can be backbreaking. Tazkad is Tazkad, being a huge, charging goblin that threatens to end games very quickly.
As opposed to most non-meta decks I spotlight, Shadowgreen Monk doesn’t have very many options in terms of other Attributes. This deck must be Agility to include the Spriggans and most of the good quality Animals/Animal creators. Aside from Willpower, Endurance has the second highest amount of Animals to offer. The issue is, most of the Animals are giant beaters, and outside of Young Mammoth and Stampeding Mammoth, none of them light my fire. That said, a Shadowgreen Scout deck like this that is filled with more big creatures that only threaten to get bigger doesn’t sound like a bad plan. Strength offers basically nothing in terms of Animals, and Intelligence offers actual nothing as they don’t have a single Animal whatsoever.
Loading this deck up and heading into the Ladder can be quite volatile. Some of this deck’s matchups are very bad, and some are quite good. The good ones are generally slower decks that allow you to set up. Control mage is among the better matchups, and if Ramp Scout stumbles you can take advantage of them as well. Other creature-heavy midrange decks are 50/50 matchups that rely heavily on good draws. As Shadowgreen Monk doesn’t run much removal (No Piercing Javelin, Execute or Leaflurker), decks that require you to deal with their creatures can be tough. Lethal Archer, Unstoppable Rage decks and other Tribal decks like Goblins or Orcs are all poor matchups. Sometimes with Rage decks, you can get under them with a good curve and some clutch Charge creatures in the late game, but overall I would say the matchup is unfavored. Most Tokens matchups are bad, and other aggressive decks like Prophecy Battlemage are also bad. In order to win these matches, it takes Giant Bats and Hive Defenders to be on time and unanswered.
This deck is among the worse decks I’ve looked at in the Spotlight Series. That being said, it actually doesn’t have the worst win rate of all decks I’ve touched on. When Shadowfen Monk gets going, it gets in good, and when you get to curve 1 – 6 it feels super powerful. And when you don’t, you still get to play with Hive Defenders and Cliff Racers and other quality creatures that fall under Monk. If there were a Grisly Gourmet or Mantikora that also happened to be Animals, this deck could rise into viability by a quite a lot. However, with the little removal and lack of Summon effects outside of the main Spriggans this deck will remain outside of the meta for the time being. I’m usually not a fan of midrange one-creature-a-turn decks, but ones with Tribal elements pique my interest far more. When you get a bunch of buffed up Animals on the board, snowballing out of control with the Drain creatures, and still holding Charge creatures to close out, this deck is a lot of fun. But unfortunately this is a “Winning when I’m ahead, losing when I’m behind” type of deck with no real inevitability that folds to a fistful of removal spells. Next week we’ll be returning to something much more standard and give these brews a bit of a break. Thanks for reading the Deck Spotlight Series, catch you next time.