Hadana's Climb. When I saw Hadana's Climb have success, there was basically zero chance I couldn't follow up on that. The Rivals of Ixalan bomb has made good in Standard, and took Aaron Barich all the way to the finals of Grand Prix Memphis last weekend. Sure, Black-Green Winding Constrictor may seem like old hat, but this is more than a spicy new addition – it's a fundamental shift in how the deck plays.
And there's no way I could pass that up.
As Adam Yurchick expertly explained in his article today, Hadana's Climb is the change that made all the difference in the world – of the Top 32 decks in Memphis, only Barich's featured the Winding Constrictor base, and it very nearly took him all the way. With no other Snake shells finding success, it's pretty clear that Hadana's Climb was the difference-maker.
And what a difference it makes. The deck has a near-combo finish to it now – pump a creature, transform Hadana's Climb and then nearly one-shot your opponent. With Constrictor-fueled monsters including the always-humongous Verdurous Gearhulk, it's surprisingly easy to just one-shot opponents out of the game, with Blossoming Defense and Hashep Oasis getting you to 10 power on a Gearhulk or Bristling Hydra – which also comes with built-in hexproof – and then turning them into a 20/20 (or more) with Winged Temple of Orazca to take opponents out in one big blow.
They never see it coming.
Of course, you have to transform the Climb first, but it turns out it's surprisingly easy to do thanks to Constrictor synergies, explore from Jadelight Ranger and Walking Ballista, which is both an easy way to transform Hadana's Climb and also an insane creature to dump Climb counters into before transforming. And let's be honest – it's not like Walking Ballista really needed to be any better in this deck than it already was.
The beauty of this build is how "free" it is compared to the normal Black-Green Constrictor shells. With Blooming Marsh, Botanical Sanctum and Fetid Pools, the mana is arguably even better than it is in the traditional builds, since you have more dual lands and can also cycle away Pools in the lategame. While Hadana's Climb is the only blue inclusion in the main deck, we also have access to Negate from the sideboard to help in the matchups where the deck could struggle before.
Now, it's no secret that not every game will see you live the Hadana's Climb dream (even though it really is all about the climb), but in the games where you don't just pop off for all the value, you still get to play some of the best cards in Standard. Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is just as good here as it is in every other deck – better, actually, thanks to Snake – and Bristling Hydra is better here than in any deck since the demise of Temur Energy.
I really like the Cartouche of Ambition in the sideboard. The card is an absolute bomb against Mono-Red, shrinking Hazoret to blockable levels but also providing a huge life swing in the matchup – plus you can usually throw it on a creature that will have four toughness after it resolves, making it immune to nearly all the removal from the red deck.
This is absolutely the future of Snakes in Standard, and I really think this deck is positioned to stay at the top of Standard, even as people become more aware of the "combo" finish. I actually played my first-ever PPTQ a few weeks ago with Black-Green Constrictor (missed Top 8 on breakers, sadly), and if I make it to any more big events I'll definitely be taking this deck.
Thanks for reading,