Take a Walk on the Wildgrowth Side

by Simon Nielsen on 19 October 2018, Friday

Simon Nielsen

I don’t know exactly what caused it, but Wildgrowth Walker all of a sudden is seeing a surprising amount of Standard play. I believe this might be due to rotation, as the powerlevel of Standard has dropped significantly. Now, we look to Merfolk Branchwalker for our Green midrange decks, and Wildgrowth Walker slots in perfectly with these explore creatures!

Specifically against the popular Red decks, they will have to just remove Wildgrowth Walker on sight, even if it disrupts their curve, as the threat of curving into a Jadelight Ranger is just too much to handle. If they don’t watch out, you’ll have an almost impossible to kill 3/5 and have gained 6 life, with the threat of growing and gaining even more next turn. This threat exists as soon as you play Wildgrowth Walker, whether or not you actually have the Jadelight Ranger in hand.

Now, the format is no longer overrun by Mono-Red and Selesnya Tokens. Instead Black-Green decks seems to have taken the throne and they are hotly contested by a bunch of different Jeskai Control lists. Even if Wildgrowth Walker doesn’t strike me as the most wanted card against a Jeskai deck, it already dodges Justice Strike and with just one exploration it’s also out of range of their primary sweeper Deafening Clarion.

Black-Green is already an excellent shell for Wildgrowth Walker, as we see in the most recent PTQ-winning list by Frenchman Eliott Boussaud:

With eleven exploring creatures, Wildgrowth Walker is a perfect fit for this deck. Yet we still only see a couple maindeck, as well as an extra copy in the board to bring in against Red decks. I believe the reasoning is that it isn’t the most valuable card for the mirror, and that drawing multiple copies in a hand that doesn’t contain any explorers is catastrophic.

The big thing to notice here is that Eliott goes all-in on Doom Whisperer. This demon is very impressive, dodging Red removal spells, flying over to kill planeswalkers and can act almost as a Vampiric Tutor in case it’s hit by a removal spell immediately.

Doom Whisperer also works well in tandem with Wildgrowth Walker as the little tree-person-thingy will give you a nice cushion of life to use Doom Whisperer multiple times. Sometimes you get to dig your way to an Izoni, Thousand-Eyed while simultaneously filling up the graveyard for it. And sometimes you’ll Find Finality (see what I did there?) to get your Doom Whisperer right back!

Actually, Find // Finality is another power card from Golgari that should be highlighted here. As your Wildgrowth Walkers tend to die a lot, and you can easily trade off any explorers or Ravenous Chupacabra, Find is sure to easily generate you a clean serving of card advantage for very little mana investment, while also performing as a catch-up against the Green-White Tokens decks. That sort of versatility isn’t to be scoffed at!

If you aren’t much into whispering doom, however, there’s another 5-drop that works amazingly with Wildgrowth Walker.

_Shatun_'s Golgari Menagerie (Standard (Guilds of Ravnica) - Others)

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Can you imagine returning Wildgrowth Walker and Jadelight Ranger on turn 5 with Gruesome Menagerie? The red decks tend to Lightning Strike your Walker on sight and it can be hard to actually get a trigger from it, but this setup gives you two triggers right away!

Gruesome Menagerie also works wonders with Plaguecrafter, and since this deck is so full of creatures it gets to include the full 4 copies of Find // Finality, a card I think will end up seeing more widespread play over time.

Exploring with other builds - inspiring a deckbuilding frenzy

Travis Woo was the first person from whom I've learned about the awesome interaction between Experimental Frenzy and Wayward Swordtooth. Experimental Frenzy has already been acknowledged as a ridiculous card, not only to sideboard in against control but in virtually every match-up. The biggest Achilles heel to the card is that once you hit your second land on top, your chain will stop.

Well, Wayward Swordtooth gets around this very neatly, lets you keep going, quickly achieve the city’s blessing and gives you more land drops for future turns where you can play even more stuff. Combine this with Dryad GreenseekerTreasure Map, or explore creatures and you get to clear even more lands away from the top and can keep going seemingly forever.

Different versions of this deck have popped up online, but I’ve yet to see someone tie in the Wildgrowth Walker package even though it seems perfectly suited here. Explore creatures help out Experimental Frenzy and Experimental Frenzy helps you find more explorers for Wildgrowth Walker.

Sadly we are off-guild for Guilds of Ravnica and don’t yet have access to Stomping Ground. This means our manabase is worse than for other guilds, but with some taplands we still get to the required amount of sources. Evolving Wilds can even help out our Experimental Frenzy by shuffling away the top card!

I think Rekindling Phoenix is very well positioned right now, as most of the Golgari decks have taken out Vraska's Contempt and just have a really hard time dealing with the fiery bird. I’m excited by the opportunity to play that and Experimental Frenzy in a functioning green midrange shell.

I’ve also decided to run Siege-Gang Commander as a pay-off for ramping up your lands and also a way to immediately get to ascend your Wayward Swordtooth.

Fight with Fire fills up a similar role of being a payoff for having tons of lands in play while not being useless when you don’t.

This deck also includes Path of Discovery to supercharge the Wildgrowth Walkers as well as do all sorts of nonsense. I’m entertained by the idea of Rekindling Phoenix leaving behind an exploring 0/1 Elemental token, potentially dodging Goblin Chainwhirler this way.

Exploring with other builds - Bugle up! 

I don’t really see the potential for a good Simic shell for Wildgrowth Walker (unless maybe we brew up something with Growing Rites of Itlimoc and Tishana, Voice of Thunder) so let’s explore what White has to offer this shell.

I think the biggest selling point is Militia Bugler. This card has already proven itself in Modern Humans, and is starting to creep into Standard. I like how it finds both Wildgrowth Walker as well as the explore creatures to go with it. I also like that it can hit cards like Knight of Autumn and Trostani Discordant that secretly have more than 2 power.

Let’s put it all together!

I like how well Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants works with the Wildgrowth Walker, as Ajani can bring it back straight after dying, or can bring back a Merfolk Branchwalker to trigger the Walker once again.

I’m unsure if March of the Multitudes is actually good in this deck. We lack the wide amount of bodies that the Selesnya Tokens deck produces, but we are very good at hitting land drops, so I suppose we can just see it more as a regular X-spell. March of the Multitudes does work very well with Flower // Flourish which we run anyway to strengthen the manabase.

It’s worth noting that this deck gets completely wrecked by Tocatli Honor Guard, a tech card that has picked up play lately as it utterly destroys most Green-Black lists. Hopefully you’ll dodge that one!

These are the lists I have been exploring with the beloved Ixalan uncommon. May your explore triggers be plentiful and may you always hit what you want when trying out these lists.

This article was written by Simon Nielsen in a media collaboration with Snapcardster.com.



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