The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter

August 5, 2022

30 minute read

John Ryan Hamilton

History of Moon Stompy

Moon Stompy, aka Red Prison, or Blood Moon Aggro, (or Dragon Stompy if you're annoying old), was for a long time one of the premiere decks in Legacy. Built around lock pieces like chalice, , and of course the titular in tandem with fast mana like , , and the sol lands and , Moon Stompy aimed to do its best to prevent the opponent from playing a reasonable game of magic, and close out the game with practically anything that cost 3-4 red mana. is the prime example, being an extremely effective singular threat to close out a game before the opponent can get out from under the lock pieces.

The most successful iterations in the before times (Pre MH2) were primarily an aggressively slanted Moon Stompy deck with , and even in a deck I called Basuta Red, named after modo user Basuta who, as far as I could tell, was the first one workshopping the aggro strategy instead of the at the time more common prison-y moon deck with , , and . Then everything changed, when the fire nation attacked MH2 came out.

What Happened when the Fire Nation Attacked?

Modern Horizons 2 flipped Legacy on its head as a format. A lot of the most impactful cards ended up hammering Moon Stompy as an archetype. gave control decks a maindeck answer to chalice, a card that previously gave blue decks fits. gave Delver decks a giant evasive threat to close out games, something Moon Stompy was not equipped to deal with. On top of that, gave the deck an easy way to continue to cast blue spells, even through a . made the D&T matchup even worse, giving the deck a free and un-chaliceable way to interact with the aggressive creatures, and made the already nightmarish even worse to try to deal with.

While Moon Stompy gained , a powerful addition to the deck, all these other new cards ate away at the ability of a deck like Moon Stompy to keep up, and the deck started to fade into obscurity (a fate that befell most every chalice deck outside of the new 8Cast). It still showed up every once in a while, but really wasn't making frequent deep MTGO Challenge runs or putting up good results elsewhere. Which brings us to today.

Fables and Hearses

In late April/Early May 2022, Eli Goings, @Goblinlackey1, Legacy Goblins extraordinaire and good friend of mine, had been doing a lot of testing with and in Goblins, with excellent results, to the point of adding some copies of in his deck to support them. Thus sparked my idea.

Discord Image about Hearse

plays out in the deck very well in theory. Moon Stompy often lacked something to do on turn 1 without a 3 mana turn 1 hand, and almost every deck in legacy utilizes their graveyard in some fashion. It helps slow down an incoming , and can eat an , 2 cards that were huge thorns in Moon Stompy's side. It also can help accrue goblin tokens that are “forced” to attack, via crewing the hearse instead of attacking into larger creatures like lemmings. On top of all this, Hearse turns into a formidable threat rather quickly, reasonably capable of attacking for 6 or 8 or more in an extended game.

For all the gains that Hearse provides for Moon Stompy, was somehow an even better fit for the deck. The 2R casting cost makes it a perfect fit for the red sol land deck, over similar cards that were rougher on the manabase like . Every chapter lines up incredibly for the deck. Chapter 1 produces a threat that generates more mana, with the deck being very mana hungry in its desire for early plays, this works out great as an early attacker. Chapter 2 is the perfect effect for the deck. Moon Stompy is a deck with a ton of extremely situationally powerful cards. Cards like and can help enable powerful early game plays, but can rot in your hand if drawn later. Likewise, cards like or can lose effectiveness if drawn too late, or drawn in multiples. Or simply to help mitigate flooding out, a problem that befalls a lot of non-cantrip decks, chapter 2 covers your bases, offering the ability to turn the various dead cards in the deck into fresh ones. As for chapter 3, all you need to do is copy a or a to know how good it is.

These 2 cards really felt like they revolutionized how Moon Stompy was built and gave a lot of play the deck had previously been missing. So with my new brain child in tow, I fired off some matches (instead of testing for the PT like I should've been doing at the time).


The revitalized deck was a near instant success, putting 2 copies into the top 8 of the challenge that very weekend. Since then the deck has been locked in as one of the top competitors in the format. So with the fable of how Moon Stompy came to be behind us, let's talk about deckbuilding and gameplay heuristics (the real reason you'll all here).


Moon Stompy Decklist

Decklist Link

Main Deck

This is what I would consider a very stock list, I 5-0d with it a few days ago, and is ~2 cards off @TogoresTcg's Showcase Top 4 list from last week (and also my exact 75 from my challenge top 4 from a few months prior). There is an alternative Moon Stompy deck that exists in the format right now, a bigger version with , , , and even . And while sweet, I'm of the opinion that the deck is a fair bit worse if your goal is to play the most competitive list possible.

Starting with the lands, Moon Stompy has a lot of powerful tools despite being a mono red deck. As I've stated previously, Moon Stompy is a deck that really loves its mana, but can be prone to flooding. , and new additions and feed the deck on both ends of the spectrum, providing flood insurance as well as early land drops when needed. Shatterskull also gets to act as a red card for and when you don't need the land or the spell parts. Den in particular is a great land for the deck.

As it's currently constructed, almost every spell can be cast with sol land + red land, so the CIPT downside doesn't burn you nearly as often as one would expect. And the animation cost is very easy to fulfill in those longer matchups where you need to push the last few points of damage across the finish line. Sokenzan isn't that impressive, but as a 1 of it's particularly free, and goes with the beatdown gameplan of the deck.

We've already pretty thoroughly covered the lock pieces, so I won't dwell on them too long, but generally the maindeck will consist of 4 chalice, 6-7 moons, and 2-3 trinispheres. These numbers are tweakable based on the decks you expect to see, which we will touch on further in matchup breakdowns. The rest of the deck is pretty clean, 3 Hearse, the 12 suite of goblins, and 4 . Extra copies of Hearse and some number of are what I would consider the more flex slots in the list, and could be cut for customization, but are cards I currently find the most powerful. Other options to fill out the deck primarily include:

: Probably the most playable of the flex options, Bonecrusher is a good option for extra removal, generally against nonblue decks like D&T or Elves or the mirror. While not great at generating multiple bodies to fight through removal, Bonecrusher can excel with a 4/3 body, making boards less weak to pyroclasms or kozilek's returns, and blocks better than most other cards in the deck in creature matchups. Unfortunately, 2 damage has not withstood the test of time very well, and the card is worse against Delver than it was previously, which is my primary reason for not being on the card now.

: I'll be honest, I don't know what people see in this card. I see it pop up every now and again in Moon Stompy lists, but it always looks embarrassing over the other 2R options. It's very bad at generating value the turn it enters play unless you have an abundance of mana, very prone to getting removed by most spells in the format and leaves you with no additional board, and it doesn't kill particularly quickly. It's cute with Hearse, and can be good when you get to attack with it 2 or 3 times, but almost every creature in the deck excels in that spot, and I don't find Laelia to outperform even Legion Warboss in most instances.

: Another card I see lingering in the occasional list, I think this card is a relic of a bygone era. It's a good aggressive tool, and the ability to attack in tandem with a Rabble/Warboss and polymorph the token into another real creature was a powerful 1 2 punch, but the new iterations of Moon Stompy have been streamlined very effectively to the point where the difference between 3 and 4 mana is a lot. With Fable in the mix, it's very easy for the deck to operate off of City + Mox and not have to blow up its own lands to cast a 4 drop, or curve moons into 3s without having to get to the 4th mana. It's a decent option but I don't find it very necessary anymore.

: If you're adding a 4 drop to the deck, Chandra is an okay option for a flex slot. Big noncreature value generators are always a nice option to have vs control decks, and the mana production and removal abilities are both reasonably easy to put to use in a deck like Moon Stompy.

: Full disclosure, I haven't actually tested this card. It's not available on MTGO right now, so I haven't really had a chance, but I would definitely consider testing this card at some point. While it's a pretty bad first creature to play, the attack trigger is based on you attacking with anything, not just Gut, so it can do a pretty good impression for that highly sought after mana cost of 2R, in tandem with goblin tokens, and a guaranteed “polymorph” into a 4/1 menace is pretty impressive. It can even shatter your leftover moxen or chalices to churn into more skeletons when necessary. I wouldn't be surprised to see this card make the maindeck as a 1-2 of in the future (but maybe it's actually terrible, time will tell).


Moon Stompy sideboards are usually fairly boring and deviate very minimally from the stock.

: The go-to graveyard hate card for many stompy decks. With the addition of , some people will ditch leylines in favor of . This plan makes a lot of sense, as graveyard strategies will typically plan for leylines out of stompy decks and have sideboard plans to compensate for a slew of enchantment and artifact based hate, like , , or . As such, having hand based interaction can attack them on multiple axes. Leyline currently shines primarily because of its current potency vs Delver. With and making up 2/3s of the average Delver threatbase, Leyline can often buy you a ton of time in the matchup, and with cards like Fable and Chrome Mox in the deck you can still occasionally utilize a drawn or bounced copy.

Additional copies of and : These cards will move in and out of the main and side depending on what matchups people are planning for. Magus stock goes up when there are a lot of greedy manabases out there, and was better until Jeskai started popping up as the premiere control deck. Likewise 3ball is primarily a combo tool, so extra copies can be effective in combo heavy metas.

: the current go-to damage based removal out of the sideboard, Dead/Gone serves as a spell to kill pesky moms, elves, stoneforges, etc, while still being able to bounce a Marit Lage, Murktide Regent, or large Construct token. These slots can shift around to other removal, depending on what types of creatures you're aiming to kill.

: the classic creature deck killer, Confluence has a lot of flexibility, shattering equipment or wrathing elves boards, or being Big ™ in matchups where you just need to go face and board something in over your bad hate cards. The shatter mode is also effective vs new kid on the block 8Cast, though if you're really aiming to fight that matchup, is a more powerful, but more narrow, option.

: The most powerful red spell in legacy, some Moon Stompy players of old had reservations about playing 1 drops in their deck. That being said, blasts are too strong for people not to be running in decks that can cast them, and Moon Stompy is no exception. The enormous presence of in the format necessitates having a reasonable answer. Even in a chalice deck, if you have a chalice in play vs your blue opponent, you're likely ahead anyway. And between , , and , there are plenty of ways to make use of a blast stuck behind your own chalice.

: The control killer of choice currently. In the long drawn out control matchups, it's pretty easy for a deck like Moon Stompy to reach the 6 mana necessitated to cast this uncounterable wincon. can fill a similar role, but is weaker to forces, and doesn't have the bonus text of wrathing creature decks or mentor tokens. Just watch out for s after you make your first emblem.


Our Blessed Tempo Deck vs Their Barbarous Aggro Deck

People like to give decks like Moon Stompy a ton of grief, calling them “brainless” and “easy” compared to the large IQs of our casting brethren. In reality, the decks don't look that much different than a deck like Delver when you assess their game plans and play patterns. What makes chalice into rabblemaster different than murktide into force of will? Not a whole lot. The difference is generally in the amount of decisions you get to make. There's a lot of weight placed on your opening hand and early game decisions, whereas cantrip decks can distribute that weight across many microdecisions with fetchlands, cantrips, surveils, etc. The compression of decision making can lead you to losing a game before you even had a chance, which is a frightening prospect for many magic players, who would rather try to leverage their skill by giving themselves as many decisions as possible.

Take for example, this opening hand:

Test Opening Hand

Mull to 6 on the play vs 4c . Seems pretty easy right? You can go to 5 looking for a more stable hand (a losing prospect in my opinion, given how hard it is to kill these sorts of decks on low resources), or keep and slam your Rabblemaster, the most effective clock, in hopes to close the game out before the opponent can get anything reasonable going. However, there is a 3rd option, the one I think is the most correct. Play Warboss turn 1. An easy thing to skip over in the efforts to get the opponent as dead as possible is to analyze just what the opposing deck is bringing to the table. Aluren, while weak on early game interaction, is awash with annoying creatures, primarily and .

We'll need to get a little lucky to win this game, which typically means casting the 2nd threat in a few turns. Not only does starting with Warboss spread your damage to attack more effectively through Strix, but buffing your goblin tokens up to 2/2s can provide just enough longevity through a potential Engineer to get in those last points of chip damage. I ended up playing turn 1 rabblemaster here, got hit with a turn 2 strix, found the sol land on turn 3 to cast Warboss, and got sent back to the stone age by turn 3 engineer. I lost this game some turns later with my opponent at 7 life and myself with 4 mana and that still in hand. Decks like these live and die by your sequencing as early as the first turn of the game.

In a more broad sense, the most important aspect of the deck is assessing how good an opening hand is and how you should sequence it. While sometimes it's easy (turn 1 3 mana -> cast 3 mana spell -> monkey emoji), other hands can be much tougher. Generally speaking, it's important to resolve a lock piece before trying to apply pressure in almost every circumstance. Your creatures are in general much too bad to actually close a game without tripping up your opponents with cards like chalice and moon first. Going further, assessing opening hands by asking yourself questions like “Do I bait my opponent's force or removal spell with my worse piece first, how much can I afford to play around daze, how much more can I afford to commit to the board” etc, is an important skill to develop in various matchups.

While many decks have to make these decisions, the effect is amplified by just how condensed Moon Stompy's games are and how hard it is to recover from a misstep, similarly to a deck like BR Reanimator or Oops Mostly All Spells. I don't think that makes these sorts of decks less skill intensive than the blue brain trust of legacy, and I can appreciate the different margins each type of deck exists on, and the strengths and weaknesses of each.


Vs UR Delver

Starting with the king of the castle, Delver is the bane of many decks, and Moon Stompy is no exception. is just about the scariest card for the deck to deal with, and outside of double (made more possible with flipped Fable), it's almost impossible to take off the board in game 1. Your most effective hatecard by far is , which Delver typically has only 1 way of answering with the maindeck . The new tech is very effective in the matchup as well, keeping Murktide off the table for a few more turns or even shooting a 3/3 out of the sky for an easy block.

Outside of that, your other lockpieces are generally weak but all have play. performs the same role it does in most blue matchups, locking the opponent to 1 spell per turn and making it easier to resolve your future threats. can lock them if deployed quick enough, but they can usually fetch their 1 basic Island before you can resolve one. Moon still prevents them from casting a Murktide if it resolves though, so it's not worthless. Extra tip: is secretly a very powerful card to have in most hands vs Delver, as they often lean on to counter an early creature, and setting them back on their land and paying for the daze with hidden information can be devastating to their sequencing.

Ins: 2 , 4 , 3

Outs: 4 , 2 , 2 , 1

It's worth mentioning that Leyline loses effectiveness vs the Delverless versions, which usually have to churn past a lot of the graveyard matters cards you're trying to strand with Leyline. Past that, you mainly side out the previously mentioned mediocre lockpieces for more interactive spells. Blasts and Deads can help fight through opposing creatures, and generally you just want to put enough pressure on them with your threats that they don't have time to do the typical blue player churning. Typically you want to try to resolve your rabble effects on turns they don't have mana up, or behind a chalice, to generate the goblin tokens around removal for extra card advantage.

Vs Jeskai

The premiere control deck of the format, Jeskai harkens back to the older days of legacy control decks, before they all became midrange decks with fake mustaches on (looking at you, every single Uro deck). This is a matchup where quantity matters more than speed. Jeskai will typically have the tools to punch through most lockpieces and keep pace with your threats, with + + to deal with most singular problems.

This is definitely a matchup where you want to extract max value out of your cards: get your goblin tokens out of your Rabble effects, loot away extra lands to Fables, etc, and is the primary matchup where shines as an additional lategame threat baked into your mana. shines here at keeping your opponent on 1 spell a turn, hopefully letting you play through a single force or plow on your turn and keeping the pressure on. s are fairly weak, most Jeskai decks are chock full of basics, but sometimes you can choke them on U and W mana enough to make them effective in game 1s.

Ins: 2 , 2 , 1 , 1

Outs: 4 , 2

Sideboarding doesn't get too different. Blood Moons get notably worse as you're trying to ramp into Big Chandra, and between that and Den, they're an easy cut. Be wary of potential in this matchup when trying to push damage with a slew of 1-2 toughness creatures. The instant speed blowout can be devastating.

Vs 8Cast

Generally, Red Prison shines as king of the chalice mirror, but 8Cast can be a very scary explosive matchup. While chalice on 0 shines, in game 1s you may not know to put chalice on 0 until they've spewed half their hand. While you have for , the deck can often function easily off a single or basic Island. And is a nightmare to try to fight through. Still, their deck is pretty reliant on a few pieces that are easily susceptible to a lot of your hate, so oftentimes you can just lock them out early and slam a threat to go to town with.

Ins: 2 , 3

Outs: 2 , 3

This is probably my least confident sideboard plan in the article. I haven't played against the deck enough to form a full opinion on what the most useful cards are, whether you should be keeping in more Hearses to deal with in favor of shaving some more moons, or whether is correct to board in at all to fight Emrys and big constructs. can be pretty great to slam on the play as well, but I find it to be a mopier topdeck and could see trimming or cutting it, since the deck has so many additional tools to punish the same things that 3ball generally does (primarily chalice). So use my ins/outs guide with a grain of salt.

Also, like I mentioned earlier, if you're struggling in this matchup, is probably the best card you could add. It's a very reasonable sideboard addition over some of the confluences if you're planning for less creature based decks.

Vs Elves

Elves tends to be one of Moon Stompy's better matchups. All your hate is very live, and you have a ton of wideboard punishes with 4 maindeck and . Chalice can lock them early unless they have an , can lock them out altogether, and Moon effects can cut them off GG for as well as stop , the most powerful engine in their deck. The easiest way to lose this game is a quick , so your goal should be to keep the board pretty clear and close out fast.

Ins: 3 , 4 , 1 , 2

Outs: 4 , 3 , 2 , 1

Postboard games play out almost entirely the same. You get more sweepers, they get some okay tools like . But going up on your removal generally makes it easier to keep their board clear, which is important, given that postboard s can now find , which is a quick KO if you're not going wild with a rabble in the meantime.

Vs Death and Taxes

The nightmare matchup for Moon Stompy, everyone has to have one somewhere. This is the matchup where all your hate is terrible and all your creatures are bad into almost anything they have going on. All their removal is a nightmare, is a nightmare, is a nightmare. It's a bad time.

Your primary gameplan here is to absolutely cheese wins with extremely fast threats and hoping they don't have the time to deploy answers. Your chalices are pretty awful short of turning off plows, is weak against the deck that can very easily hit 3 land drops and cast 3 drops without any help, and moons are generally awful against the ~18 basic plains deck. You can steal wins with early beatdowns and s but it's rough goings here.

Ins: 4 , 3 , 2

Outs: 4 , 2 , 2 , 1

(Of note, leave in moons vs the 2 color versions of D&T, if you can land an early moon the deck struggles to make W or WW, cutting off a decent portion of their deck.)

In postboard games, you at least get to exchange your miserable lockpieces for removal spells and have a coherent gameplan. More answers for problem creatures like and means you won't just be instakilled by a resolved , but the battle is still far from easy. can be a reasonable win condition, but be wary of the wrath downtick missing and . Add cards like or to your sideboard if you're having a lot of problems in this matchup.

Vs Moon Stompy Mirror

The mirror is one of the biggest clown fiestas you'll see in legacy. Your deck is built to circumvent your own hate cards, so by nature of how the deck is constructed, you have like 15 dead cards in game 1. It's mostly a matter of who draws more real cards. killing 2 rabbles is a good way to try to turn the tide if you're behind, especially given how many worthless red cards you can pitch to it. In reality, the mirror is just a real shitshow, try not to lose sleep over it.

Ins: 4 , 2 , 3

Outs: 4 , 2 , 3

Postboard you get to cut a lot of the miserable do nothings for removal, but even with all these additional cards you have to leave in cards like and , primarily to pitch to or , but magus can also at least present a body to try and trade with a rabble. These games are a lot more sweeper dense with confluences and Chandra in addition to , so try not to get blown out too hard by one when you're jockeying for board position.

Side note here: If your opponent is on a version of Moon Stompy, or God forbid they're on maindeck , then plan to get extremely lucky. Current iterations of Moon Stompy are on 0 maindeck outs to a bridge, and only the 3 confluences postboard. It's one of the biggest disaster cards for you to sit across from.

Vs GW Depths

This matchup can be quite the fine tightrope to walk, like it is for many decks. There's a delicate balance of applying pressure and not getting KOd by a quick Marit Lage. Moon effects are powerful here, as they typically are vs strategies, but you have to be very careful about getting your moon removed, especially . This can easily give them a free 20/20 if you aren't careful. Lines like “float W+G, crop rotate into depths, plow your have tripped up far too many Moon Stompy pilots.

Actual is much sturdier in preboard games, requiring them to have both basics and a or the sometimes maindeck bullet to remove. Outside of Marit Lage struggles, Moon Stompy also sometimes has a hard time beating a singular large creature, typically in this matchup. Even with an early moon, GW Depths can power out these large threats with a singular or basic Forest + GSZ. has weakened this plan B strategy, and can generally keep down some of their bigger creatures and allow you to continue to attack through.

Ins: 4 , 2

Outs: 2 , 4

Postboard the matchup becomes even harder to navigate. With in the mix, it becomes even more difficult to piece together optimal timing. Cards like are important to lean on to both stop for Marit Lage blowouts, as well as protecting your Magus from . Not super confident about the confluence board ins but I find that even if you can stop the early Lage starts, the boards can get gummed up, and it can be important to have some burst damage in the tank to punch through. It also shoots s to try to cut colors if you have them under a fast . It may be wiser to just leave in a few Fables instead.

Vs Storm Combo

In the interest of time and lack of respect for storm players, I'm mostly combining the strategies here for decks like ANT, TES, Ruby Storm, and their ilk. The gameplans are largely the same: Play lockpiece -> play threats -> kill before they can get out from under lockpiece. Chalice is huge, is huge…er. Blood Moon varies in effectiveness. TES has no basics, ANT has a few basics they can fetch early if given the chance, and Ruby mostly doesn't give a shit.

Ins: 1 , 3 , 2 3

Outs (ANT): 4 , 1 , 4 OTP, 4 over 4 Fable OTD

Outs (TES): 4 , 1 , 3 , 1

Outs (Ruby): 4 , 2 , 3

Postboard games play out very similarly. Your opponent will have more interaction for your lockpieces, but you in turn will have more lockpieces and some extra interaction. REBs will typically protect your chalice (not on 1) from ANT's bounce spells, and counter vs TES and Ruby. (Remember that + REB can counter an Echo even if your opponent is going off on turn 1.) But you can also just exchange a REB for an opposing cantrip if you're planning on getting a Chalice down.

Overall, you just want to prevent your opponent from doing things, followed by gunning for lethal as fast as possible. Confluence helps end some games a turn early, as well as having a “Kill all the tokens” mode and “Shatter a bunch of rocks your opponent played out around a chalice or 3ball” mode.

Vs Graveyard Combo

Similarly to storm, we're going to mash graveyard based decks like Oops and BR Reanimator together here. They play out quite similarly: you need to have an early chalice or piece of graveyard hate or you will die near instantly. Hearse makes this a little easier, as you have slightly more early plays to stay alive. Not a ton of other play to the matchups, just cross your fingers and win some die rolls.

Ins: 3 , 1 , 4 (Reanimator only)

Outs: 4 , 4 (Reanimator only)

Postboard it's a pretty easy mull to leyline OTD and mull to leyline/turn 1 interaction OTP. As was mentioned in the sideboard breakdown, these are matchups that are punished for running Leyline over , as these decks will have cards like and to punch through your hatecards. This does mean that specifically is fairly effective as a secondary hatecard, as it requires more mana to be sunk to effectively deal with everything.

Also be aware that sometimes these games get a bit weird, and you do actually get to the point where you attack with a Fable token twice and have the ability to hardcast a drawn Leyline. So don't always discard them to chapter 2.


If you've read this far, congratulations! I didn't expect someone to care enough about Moon Stompy to read the 5k+ words to get here. So good for you! As a prize, I'll explain the stupid name of this article. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is a classic Japanese fable about a princess from the moon. Just a fun way to combine Fable + Moon in a dumb obscure way. I don't have any other Moon Stompy related insights to relay here, other than to draw well and get lucky. But that's the case with every deck. It's just way more fun when your version of drawing well and getting lucky means locking your opponent out on the first turn of the game.

If you want to see the deck in action, here's my top 4 run in a Legacy Challenge fairly early on in the Fable + Hearse innovation timeline:

Also, totally unrelated, watch The Owl House. It's a great show and everyone should watch it, if you haven't seen me rave about it on Twitter enough already. Consider watching it as payment for this otherwise free content.

Thanks again to Min and Max for letting me post my content on their wonderful site. And thank YOU, dear reader, for enjoying my article. Feel free to shoot me any questions on Twitter or Discord if you want to know more about the deck.

See you next time,

xJCloud, Aysenein's husband