There are a lot of great options in mono-green; so much so that it is hard to convince yourself to go without Yisan, the Wanderer Bard or Omnath, Locus of Mana. Both of these are absolute beaters, and make for some fantastic decks. But the point of this series is to eschew these generals, and to go for something a little less used. A little less powerful. Something a little more difficult to build and play.
Something more fun.
Let’s look at Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant.
This card pretty much tells you flat-out how you’re going to build the deck. You’re going all-in with lands, and then you’re going all-in with ways to abuse the face off a lot of green mana. It’s a simple goal, but getting there is going to take some work.
Building this is going to take some math, as well. I’ll try to keep it brief- first, we need to know how many lands we need to include in the deck. My normal ratio is forty lands per deck, which equates to each individual card you draw having a 40% chance of being a land. Not terrible, but not the ratio we want here. We could go with fifty lands, pushing that chance to 50% – better, but still not where I want this to be.
Let’s push that up to sixty lands, giving each card you draw a 60% chance of being a land. This gives you a pretty good chance of having seven lands in your hand at any given moment. If each card you draw has a 60% chance of being a Forest, then the first seven-card hand you hold has a 2.5% chance of all being Forests. Not great, but better than the alternative. With a 60% capacity of Forests in your deck, your opening seven is more likely to have three or four Forests. You could reasonably count on having five in your hand on your first turn.
Which is a good start here.
You will be tempted to play a lot of spells that fetch lands in this deck. Things like Kodama’s Reach and Cultivate that ramp you up in land while also putting lands in your hand. A few of these are fine, but do not overdo it. You want enough of these to land a few in the early turns, but not so many that when you’ve flipped Sasaya you’re still drawing them. You have forty non-land slots, and you need to make the best of them. Of these, I would say no more than six or seven land-fetching spells; Kodama’s Reach and Cultivate, yes…but Gaea’s Bounty is amazing in this deck, as are things like Journey of Discovery (not Entwined), Seek the Horizon, and Journeyer’s Kite. We want things that put lands into our hands, instead of on the battlefield.
The lands we pack in this are important, as well. Once flipped, Sasaya only cares about lands that share a name. We want basic Forests all the way. With sixty lands, you may be tempted to slot in a few non-basics, because hey, you’ve got the room, right?
Don’t fall for this trap. Those non-basics are great, but they do nothing for you once you get Sasaya’s Essence in play. With a janky general like this, you need to push things as far as you can, and that means all Forests, all the time.
For your first few turns, be very careful. You want to sacrifice early plays to keep your hand full, and you should feel free to skip land drops to keep lands in hand. You want no more than four lands in play until you manage to get Sasaya cast and flipped. You don’t want her to stay a creature for long – you cast her, you reveal your hand, and you start making loads and loads of mana. If you can flip her before your land drop for the turn, all the better.
Once she is flipped, you need to take advantage of the mana as quickly as possible. You’re starting off with a hand full of lands, so this will be difficult. If you can stick an early Helix Pinnacle, you’re well on the way to winning right there – if you play that on turn two, you can put three counters on it on turn three, four more (totaling seven) on turn four, and turn five will allow you to cast Sasaya, flip her, play your fifth land and put ten more counters on it. Turn six means another land drop and thirty-six more counters.
That is fifty-three counters – half way to winning – by turn six. Yes, this is Magical Christmas Land. But it is absolutely possible. In this scenario, you tick it up to one hundred and two counters on turn seven and win on turn eight, having cast two spells.
Again, this is unlikely to ever actually happen. But the chance is there. We can hope for it, and even try for it if we get the Helix in our opening hand, but we should probably make other plans as well – just in case. To that end, we need to do something with the oodles of mana we can generate. Luckily, green gives us some pretty great options in a certain creature type – hydras.
Polukranos, World Eater
I’ve listed only the ones that can use the massive amounts of mana our Forests can generate. These are all X-spells, or have X abilities. Some are better than others, of course – Mistcutter, Broodmaster, and Polukranos are the best options here, of course, but they all have their uses. Genesis Hydra, for example, can power out one of the others, and you can pretty easily use it as a de facto Demonic Tutor.
With these, you can dump all of your mana into them and hope for the best. I have swung with a 104/104 Primordial Hydra in the past, and I can tell you doubling those counters is a lot of fun. However, I would recommend keeping things relatively calm – try to cap X at around 30, if you can, unless you’re pretty sure you can get away with it. Mistcutter Hydra is the exception here – with protection from blue, haste, and uncounterability, nobody is going to stop you from alpha-striking the blue player. Polukranos can be used as a sweeper if you put enough mana into it, as well.
Hydras are not the only path to victory, of course. Lots of things in green like a lot of mana, and you should have some room for these too. Dump a lot of mana into Orochi Hatchery and you can have a pretty good time. The same can be said of Verdeloth the Ancient and Wolfbriar Elemental.
Stream of Life is pretty viable in this deck, which is saying something.
I think my favourite card with Sasaya, though, is Wurmcalling. You may get a headache with the math, but you can use this to spew out a ton of fat bodies as needed. Again, try to keep it simple – four mana for the cost and buyback, plus X mana for how big you want the wurms to be. With seven Forests in play, you can make four 6/6 wurms and one 5/5.
THE SUPPORTING CAST
To push really things really into the stratosphere, we can add a few other pieces, as well. Things like Magus of the Candelabra or Candelabra of Tawnos (if you’re not working on a budget) turn Sasaya into infinite mana, which is then infinite wurm tokens or infinite damage from Hurricane. Kamahl, Fist of Krosa can be used to Overrun multiple opponents if needed, and Omnath, Locus of Mana can be used as a mana dump to save it for later.
THE FOREST FOR THE TREES
You’re short on spells in this deck, as mentioned, but you have multiple paths to victory. All of these are pretty narrow, and only need a few cards to make it work. To make this even better, a lot of these overlap in usefulness – Omnath can be used to fuel hydras or Helix Pinnacle, for example – and if one gets cut off you can always fall back on another.
Sasaya is a fun little general, and leads to a fun deck…for a short time, anyway. I recommend you give this a shot and run it a few times. Chances are you’ll get tired of it – the same as I did – but before that happens, it will be a barrel of laughs. You’ll spend a few games just trying to see how ridiculous you can make your mana situation, and you’ll probably try to challenge yourself to hit a million without going infinite.
It’s possible, believe me.
But be warned – the deck is pretty fragile, as it relies almost completely on one card. Without Sasaya, you’re bringing a slingshot to an Orbital Death Laser battle.
See you next time –