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Budget Mono-Green +1/+1 Counters

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A running joke of late relates to the high number of creatures that give trample to anything with a +1/+1 counter. The most recent is Duskshell Crawler, but Bramblewood Paragon, Gnarlid Colony, and Pridemalkin all have the same effect. Surprisingly, there's even more than that! Seeing these cards being mentioned for the sake of humor, I was reminded of a style of deck that I hadn't brewed with in a while, but remembered as being very fun: +1/+1 counter decks!


Cost: $15 at the time of publication

The Core

Forced Adaptation
Both Forced Adaptation and Primal Cocoon make it incredibly easy to build up your counters. Each is a one-cost aura, and while Cocoon is clearly the worse of the two, they're both perfect for the strategy. More than anything, this deck wants to start adding counters to creatures as soon as possible, and you don't get much better than this.

Ring of Kalonia costs more to play than its aura counterparts, but it's an equipment, so we don't lose it if the creature it's attached to dies. Sadly, the same can't be said for Adaptation or Cocoon.

These three counter creators are the core of the list, interacting in many ways with the rest that the deck has to offer.

The Backup

Swarm Shambler is the absolute best 1-drop the deck could ever ask for. It comes into play with a counter, can add counters to itself, and punishes the opponent for messing with almost any creature you cast. If we could run eight of them, we would. Sadly, Servant of the Scale is not quite as powerful. However, as far as first turn plays go, it's still respectable. We're never too scared to drop an aura on the elf, as the counters created are easily swapped to someone else should he fall in battle.

Scrounging Bandar is our primary 2-drop, and one with more synergy than someone might see at first glance. Wildwood Scourge, for example, is easily triggered with Bandar's upkeep effect. Dropping the hydra on turn two is usually not a bad play, as he'll grow over time. Of course, filling it with all of your available mana in the late game is also fun.

Scurry Oak is another creature that pairs well with Bandar. Any of the counter-adding auras works well, too. Either way, you're going to have a squirrel army before long.

The Fertilid + Evolution Sage combo from a few articles back is also making an appearance here. Two mana for a new land and a proliferate trigger that you can activate as many times as you want is just way too powerful to pass up. If Oak has even one counter on it, then things really get out of hand.

Finally, Deepwood Denizen is another strong addition to the strategy. With nearly every creature coming into play with counters, or making more counters, it doesn't take long for this guy's ability to get to its maximum reduction. Older versions of the deck definitely suffered due to a lack of card draw, but Denizen came to the rescue, and really ups the consistency and staying power of the list.

Playing the Deck

Scurry Oak
Early turns are spent playing your 1-drops and, in the case of Shambler, pumping them and other creatures. Once the third land comes down, things really start to escalate, as the deck's most powerful creatures and interactions are all 3-drops.

Primal Cocoon is best placed on Oak, but it also pairs well with Fertilid, Deepwood Denizen, or even Scrounging Bandar. Though you often want to play the aura as soon as possible in order to get the most out of it, saving it to place on the best creature is also smart. I'd much rather be making a free squirrel every turn than just buffing a Servant of the Scale.

Bandar coupled with a counter maker is actually one of the coolest things this deck can do, since his counter swapping ability helps to trigger Wildwood Scourge. Gaining the counter in the upkeep, and then trading it to an Oak or Fertilid gets you two Scourge triggers, and gives the same benefit as just placing the aura on the other creatures directly.

Additional Options

With so many +1/+1 counter support cards available, it's difficult to even begin to pick the best ones, let alone decide how many of each to play.

Hardened Scales is likely the most obvious choice for the deck. Before its price skyrocketed a while back, I played a full playset. Now, at almost $10 a piece, there's just no way for me to justify playing it in a deck that costs almost as much alone. Solidarity of Heroes and Hydra's Growth are similar cards that I'd love to find room for. They seem very strong, but drastically increase the price of the deck, and I'm not entirely sure they are better than what we're already doing.

Mutant's Prey and Titanic Brawl give a bit of removal and interaction, if you think the deck needs it. Monoskelion also kills off threats well, though it can't be equipped with Ring of Kalonia for full benefits.

If Deepwood Denizen isn't enough for you, Inspiring Call and Armorcraft Judge both give additional card draw. I like Judge the best, despite its comparatively high casting cost when looking at the rest of the cards in the deck.

Finally, anyone who really wants to lose friends can play Ivy Lane Denizen. If you're not already familiar with the interaction when combined with Scurry Oak, the two create an infinite amount of 1/1 squirrels, and Oak becomes an infinitely large creature. I decided not to include the combo for the sake of my opponent's but you might not have as much mercy in your heart as I do.

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