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Hokey Pokey

Written by James Heslip on . Posted in Casual Magic

Hokey Pokey

James Heslip

James is a budget Magic connoisseur who values silly strategies and rogue decks. He has been playing Magic since 1998, and competing in Legacy events since 2010. When he is not teaching high school English, he can be found brewing Casual and Legacy decks to play with his students and peers. Always appreciative of feedback, he loves it when people send suggestions and share crazy decks with him!

Today we will be to be discussing a casual Magic deck that takes its name from a children’s nursery rhyme: Hokey Pokey. Hokey Pokey is a deck that takes both the name and the concepts of the song to heart. As with all of our decks, we will try to keep this one within our $10 budget. So, let’s see what we can come up with!

The Core

In the Hokey Pokey deck, we want to be able to bounce our creatures in and out of the battlefield every turn, abusing every enters the battlefield (ETB) trigger we can. This is not a new strategy in Magic, as blink decks have existed longer than Cloudshift has. Instead of the traditional white or blue approach, Hokey Pokey brings in some beefy green beaters that allow for similar shenanigans: Roaring Primadox, Stampeding Serow, and Stampeding Wildebeests.

Normally, the bounce requirement of the Stampedes would be seen as a downside. But, with some clever deckbuilding, we can turn it into a game-winning advantage! There are plenty of cheap green creatures with strong ETB effects that would love to jump in and out of our Hokey Pokey circle. Our Stampedes have the jumping out part covered. As for jumping back in? Rhonas’s Monument makes it easier and more powerful, thanks to cost reduction and extra buffs! These four cards make up the core strategy of our deck. Anything less than a full four (or close to) of each would make our game plan less consistent, and cause us to fall flat on our faces every time we try to shake it all about.

The Backup

A deck based on bouncing creatures does have some construction restrictions. We need to be playing as many creatures as possible, and should therefore play very few other types of spells, if any at all. Knowing which creatures to add is simply a matter of finding cheap green creatures with powerful abilities that trigger when the creatures enter (or leave) play. Elvish Visionary and Wall of Blossoms are strong enough to be used by themselves. Reducing their converted mana cost (CMC) with Monument and bouncing them with your Stampedes every turn allows you to draw insane amounts of cards for just one mana per draw! Eight one-cost draw spells that can block attackers? Yes please! Wood Elves gives you ramp that guarantees a land drop every turn, which can help in paying for all of the creatures you are re-casting. A playset of these closes up our card advantage suite.

This leads us to our silver bullets. Reclamation Sage and Somberwald Stag can be used as recyclable removal (a rare sight in mono-green decks). And Arborback Stomper mends our wounds ad nauseam, keeping pesky aggro decks at bay long enough to take over. Ridgescale Tuskar brings in the weight training regimen, and turns our otherwise weak elves into respectable musclebound threats over the course of a few turns. This gives them some purpose in the late game. Finally, Vital Splicer and Soul of the Harvest close things out by providing even more inevitability and card advantage.

It may seems strange to not have any single key set of finishers that are ramped into. That’s what mono green decks are all about, after all. The beauty of Hokey Pokey, though, is that your engine also works as your finisher. Each bounce creature has at least four power, which is enough to get the job done. Once the engine is online, trample in with  Stampeding Wildebeests and turn your opponent into Mufasa thirty five minutes into The Lion King.

“Long live the king…”

Emerald Medallions were added in for consistency in cost reduction, as the deck is probably too slow and mana hungry without at least one reducer every game. Having multiples in play is never a bad thing, either.

Llanowar Elves are included to allow for turn two Monuments. The deck also needed more turn one plays, and the elves seem like our best answer to this problem. Two or three additional Elvish Mystics gives even more first turn options and ramp, but I’m not sure that they’re necessary.

I’m also unsure on some of the numbers. However, I am completely confident in the general strength of the deck. As it sits, it is a total blast to play. I haven’t drawn this many cards in a mono green deck since Glimpse of Nature was introduced to elves. The best part is that you can buy this deck for half the price of a single copy of Glimpse!

Playing the Deck

Our cost reducers are our most important cards. Any opening hand that doesn’t include one should have at least a Visionary or Wall of Blossoms,  which can grab a shovel and start digging for Medallions. Once you do find one, the game really begins. You want to draw as many cards as you can every turn with no other goal than to fill the board with 5/4 beaters. Drown your opponent in card advantage and creatures until they run out of life points. Just don’t put down more Stampedes than you can pay the upkeep cost for. Nothing is worse than having to bounce a Primadox because your Serow has nothing else to push out of the way.

Once you start making extra draws happen regularly, make it a goal to play at least one Wood Elves every turn. This will help pay for the cantrip creatures while still allowing an aggressive creature to hit play every turn. If your opponent survives into the long game you will need to start making decisions on which creatures you want to be bouncing every turn. Know that in some cases, you may need to become the control deck, using the inevitability of infinite Reclamation Sage and Somberwald Stag triggers to make your opponent run out of gas before going in for the kill.

Most of the options mentioned above are simply alternative ETB abilities to abuse, and I would argue that they’re worse than anything already in the deck. That being said, they have potential, and could be fun to try.

One set of smaller creatures worth mentioning are Ironshell Beetle and friends, who, when bounced, beef your attackers over time. I do feel, however, that the effect is just too slow. While more costly, Ridgescale Tusker does the same thing better. Foul Emissary allows you to be more selective in your plays, but you are drawing so many cards every turn that I doubt he is needed. Wirewood Hivemaster, Dwynen’s Elite, and Elvish Vanguard would all add a tribal theme to the deck, if that idea seems fun to you. This would likely weaken the deck’s consistency, though.

In terms of larger spells, Haze Frog is cute. As long as you can spend the mana, bouncing him every turn means you have infinite fog effects for the rest of the game! Blastoderm can be cast, attack for a few turns, then bounced before his fade timer runs out, only to be played again. Though this would likely be superfluous, as the deck is not in dire need of any more beaters. One large creature worth noting, though, is Thragtusk. The lord of swag has both an ETB ability to abuse and an ability that triggers when he leaves. At about $1 a pop at the time this article was written, he doesn’t put us over budget by too much, either. If you have some already, or don’t mind shelling out the extra cash, I would definitely put at least one in the deck.


And there we have it, a $10 kitchen table beater that draws more cards than Kev Walker. Who needs Glimpse of Nature anyways? If you like this deck and want to see more be sure to head over to my facebook page to see when I release more content. I’m always looking for feedback and fun ideas. If you have either of those, you can also send me an email at Spooky386@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you.

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