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Do the Hokey Pokey


A few years back, I wrote an article about a deck that I called Hokey Pokey, a title taken from the nursery rhyme of the same name. Much like the rhyme, the deck focused on putting things (creatures) in and out of a circle (the battlefield). Since then, the strategy has evolved somewhat. With these changes, it has become one of my all-time favorite decks to play. I am constantly finding myself gravitating toward the now overly-familiar deck box when choosing what to play next, just itching to "shake it all about" once again. So, what does the deck look like nowadays? Let's take a look!

Cost: $14 at the time of publication

The Core

Stampeding Wildebeests
In case you've never seen it before, the primary goal of this deck is to abuse the enters the battlefield (ETB) triggers of its creatures. This is done using the stampede cousins: Stampeding Wildebeests and Stampeding Serow. When built around properly, the crippling drawback of these ungulates becomes a boon, allowing us to play and replay our other creatures consistently every turn. My previous versions ran additional copies of Roaring Primadox, though I've since decided that he is not needed.

With all of this creature casting going on, we need a way to ensure we have enough mana to keep up. Rhonas's Monument is a more-than-perfect card for such a job. Not only does it reduce the mana value of every creature we want to cast, but it also triggers its own buff ability every time we do so. This allows not only for more bounce plays than we otherwise could accomplish, but it also gives us powerful aggression potential with any creature in our deck.

Previously, I had also run Emerald Medallion side-by-side with Monument. Since then, the monetary cost of the coveted Green jewel has gone up quite a bit. So, in looking for more budget alternatives, I ran into Thunderscape Familiar. This unassuming kavu is, for reasons soon to be discussed, likely the best accident to happen to this deck. By lightly splashing Red, we get the same cost-reduction effect that Medallion gave us, plus so much more!

The Backup

Including Horned Kavu is also made possible with the additional color. It's an under-costed beater that fits right in with the rest of our strategy. With its respectable 3/4 body and bounce ability, it is both an early threat as well as a bounce engine for our ETB creatures - and it becomes active before the stampeders! Bouncing Kavu with a stampeder is also a powerful play that can give extra ETB triggers for Monument.

Staple ETB creatures like Elvish Visionary and Wall of Blossoms are perfect targets for our bouncers. I hope you like drawing cards, because with a full four of Visionary and Blossoms each, you'll be doing a lot of it. This also means we are not completely reliant on our bounces to fuel Monument buffs. Sometimes, we can just chain draws and creatures until we have a sufficiently beefy beater to attack with.

Playing Sylvan Ranger as a bounce target is the main reason we can get away with splashing into Gruul territory so lightly. In my older list, Wood Elves was the land-fetcher of choice. However, I found the mana value of three to be too restrictive. With a single cost reducer in play, Ranger only costs one mana to play and still guarantees us a land drop every turn. We don't need much more than that.

Another big change from the older list is the inclusion of Mwonvuli Beast Tracker. This human scout lets us get away with ditching Roaring Primadox without losing out on consistency, as she can search up either Stampede creature for us. She also brings silver bullet potential to the deck. My previous list played a number of cool singletons - like Somberwald Stag and Haze Frog - but it didn't have any way to find them. Tracker solves this issue. Can't seem to find your card draw? Search up Silkweaver Elite! Flyers got you down? Grab Lys Alana Bowmaster! Want to ruin friendships? Acidic Slime melts the bonds of friendship quicker than it takes to declare that you're casting it!

Playing the Deck

Horned Kavu
It's important to get your cost-reducers out of the gates as soon as possible, but don't let that keep you from playing your ETB creatures. You'll be bouncing them back into your hand anyways, and playing them early ensures that a top-decked Horned Kavu can come down without too much effort. Though playing 1-drops is possible, my list doesn't include any, so Rugged Highlands should be the first land drop any time it's found in our opening hand. This, again, ensures Horned Kavu can come down as early as we need it to.

Once you have a Familiar or Monument in play, it's time to throw some creature on the trampoline. Flooding the board with threats and drowning your opponent in both card advantage and pressure is how the deck is meant to function, so if you don't have a Serow or Wildebeest in hand, find one using Beast Tracker fast. If you're worried about saving her to find a silver bullet later on, don't be. We can bounce and replay her at any time. Don't forget, you can also pair her with your draw creatures, searching for a silver bullet and drawing it in the same turn.

Finally, while Horned Kavu is my Monument buff target of choice most of the time, Thunderscape Familiar's First Strike can be helpful. Either kavu is a fine target for Trufflesnout's counters if we're not low on health.

Additional Options

There are a metric ton of options for this deck. Specifically, ETB creatures to bounce are extremely easy to find, and which ones you play are completely up to your taste. I've included a few of my favorites here, but know that there are many more to be found.

If you feel that the deck needs some 1-drop creatures, Bond Beetle and Healer of the Glade are likely your best options. Each of them is basically one half of the ever-lovable Trufflesnout. Of course, you can never go wrong with Llanowar Elves and its functional reprints.

If you like making tokens, then Dwynen's Elite, Wirewood Hivemaster, and even Deep Forest Hermit can help you do so. Elvish Visionary and Sylvan Ranger are likely enough to keep the first two consistent, but you can pump your elf numbers with Elvish Vanguard or Kujar Seedsculptor if you like pointy ears that much. Twin-Silk Spider, Crested Herdcaller, and Hornet Queen also make tokens, and all of them can be searched out with Mwonvuli Beast Tracker, so playing them as singletons is viable.

Other Tracker targets include Halana, Kessig Ranger, who provides us with continuous (though expensive) removal, and Stingerfling Spider, who kills larger threats that Lys Alana Bowmaster can't. Ruric Thar, the Unbowed doesn't benefit from bounces, but he can be crippling for many opponents. Our new Red splash makes him a tutorable option, and the only non-creature spell we play is Rhonas's Monument, so he would almost never hurt us.

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