Journey into Nyx: Playing to your Weakness – Green
(NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)
(Please click here for a link to my Born of the Gods and Theros picks in green)
Well, something had to give. Green had been getting solid cards for the last two sets, but that gravy train seems to be at an end. It still has some great finishers and amazing rares in limited, but the number of cards worthy of play in your main deck has greatly diminished.
This guy is is absolutely insane. Okay, so you have to sacrifice him if COMBAT damage is dealt to you, but I’m sure he’ll be more than happy to block for you. Six power for 4 mana that becomes 8 power for 2 more mana is insane. He’ll trade with anything in the format, and if you can keep your opponent from attacking you with tempo cards in UG or removal in GR or GB, he’ll win the game really quickly for you. His vulnerability can be dealt with to make him less of a liability by drafting defensive cards, but I don’t think he’d be an early pick for me. I’d get him around my 5th or 6th pick. I wouldn’t be afraid to play him in my sealed deck either. Even if he only deals damage once, it is totally worth it.
For 2 mana you can turn any of your creatures into a Nighthowler. This isn’t a card you want to play on the battlefield on turn 2, but later on in the game it could deal a lot of damage. The fact that it’s reusable is the reason I recommend playing it in your sealed deck. In an average pool, you’ll probably be getting about 4 activations out of this. For 1 card, you get 4 boosts in power, and I think that’s a good trade off. Sure the first activation might only be +2/+2, but the second time you play an enchantment it could be +4/+4, +5/+5, etc. Limited decks are always loaded with creatures (13-17 of them), so I think this would be worth trying out, especially if you have a deck with good evasion. Put it on a flyer in UG, slap it on a creature with trample in GR . . . the more evasion you have in your deck, the better this card will be. With that being said, put it in your deck accordingly. If you have 1-2 enchantments, don’t play it. If you have 5-6, play it. It’s of medium importance in draft, so you could probably leave it for your 8th-9th pick if you’ve already managed to build some synergy with it in your pool.
By itself it’s a glass cannon that will shatter at the smallest resistance, but just like Mogis’s Warhound in red, it’s agreat card to bestow on a creature with high toughness or to play early in a green/x heroic deck with some combat tricks. By keeping on the offensive, you can get maximum value from the Spirespine, but you can also lull your opponent into a trap by leaving him as a blocker then using a combat trick to kill their attacker. I think I’d take this as my 5th-6th choice in draft because of its ability to trade with a lot of your opponent’s stronger creatures in combat. It’s a 3 drop, which means it fills your curve well, and the bestow cost is also fairly cheap. Decent in sealed too. I don’t really see a green deck where this would be a bad choice.
Ravenous Leucrocota is another “Ox”, or 2/4 creature, but keeping to the theme of 2/4s in Journey into Nyx, it’s given a neat little ability to make it a little more useful. Instead of being stuck with a 2/4 creature all game, you can upgrade him for 7 mana to a 5/7. He’ll block a lot of 3 power creatures in your first few turns, and later on he can become your beater. The 4 mana casting cost isn’t too restrictive either. It’s not a great heroic card of course, but in any other Green midrange deck it would be fine. It’s not a high priority draft pick, so feel free taking him any time after your 6th or 7th card. If you have better creatures like Nessian Asp or Nessian Demolock play them in your deck, but otherwise this guy can work hard for you.
Now this is where green starts flexing its muscle (so to speak). There were 2 other green creatures that also put on double counters when you targeted them (Centaur Battlemaster and Staunch Hearted Warrior), but they are a little overcosted in my opinion. The warrior is a 2/2 for 4 mana, while the Battlemaster is a 3/3 (that puts on 3 +1/+1 counters when you target him). Pheres-Band Thunderhoof is a compromise between the 2. You get a decent 3/4 body for 5 mana, and when you target him he becomes a 5/6. With only 1 green mana symbol in his casting cost, he’s also easier to cast than the Battlemaster. These 5 mana heroic card usually don’t see play in aggressive GW heroic decks, but instead see play in green midrange decks that have access to a few bestow creatures. Sure you could be playing him at the top end of your heroic deck, but that space just might be better filled by another herioc enabler to put pressure on your opponent earlier. No, I see him in a midrange deck, and with less enablers. Therefore I like the 3/4 body more than the 3/3 on the other guy. If you have a 4-5 ways to activate his heroic in your sealed pool, play him, but otherwise it might be better to play a creature with a higher average power.
I feel like Oakheart Dryads could shine in a Green heroic deck. If you’re playing a lot of bestow creatures and other enchantments in order to activate your heroic creatures, the Dryads could act as a double whammy. Play an enchantment on your Akroan Skyguard, give it a +1/+1 counter, then add another +1/+1 to it. It’s not the best constellation effect, but she works well in aggressive strategies I think.
Now THIS guy is pretty awesome. For starters we get a 4/5 creature for 5 mana, but being able to search for ANOTHER creature in limited is a powerful effect. At worst you get to filter some lands to the bottom of your library, but with the density of creatures in limited decks, the odds are you’ll probably hit one when looking through 3+ cards. I think his ability is good enough to warrant a high draft pick. Not a first draft pick, but close to it.
Now HERE’S a beater. Humbler of Mortals is a great card in a set with dozens of bestow and enchantment creatures. The problem with putting all your enchantments on one creature is that it can be chump blocked by a 1/1 creature and deal no damage to your opponent. The Humbler is the best card to have with bestow creatures. You play something like Spirespine on your Swordwise Centaur, it gets trample, you attack for 7, and some damage is going to get through. Just as with the other constellation cards though, his value is going to increase or decrease depending on how many bestow creatures you play, or if you have a way to continuously return enchantments to your hand with an ability like Riptide Chimera. I think UG is the best color for constellation cards because of that synergy I just stated, but don’t let that stop you from playing him in a GR or GW deck . I’d give him medium priority in draft.
When I look at this guy, I see a semi-Noble Quarry effect. Forcing your opponent to block a creature will help to break stalemates as well as to push the game into your favor as you can start to beat them down through attrition. Just as with the other constellation creatures, if you have the cards to support, it can be good. I see this being a good card for GB with deathtouch creatures, as well as in green decks that have a lot of trample effects. He’s not an amazing card, but I don’t think he should be overlooked either. I’d make him a somewhat low priority in draft. You’d be fine picking him up as a 8th-9th choice. In sealed I think he performs the role of a beater well. He’s not the best creature to have as your finisher, but he’ll make do. I wouldn’t mind giving him one of my 23 spots.
People have already started to favor Golden Hind over other mana creatures like Voyaging Satyr or Opaline Unicorn in this format. It gives you mana while at the same time being rather good on offense. I think it’s a very high pick in draft because of its versatility, and could fit in both green heroic and midrange strategies. In heroic it will allow you to put pressure on your opponent while also speeding up your ability to bestow creatures, and in midrange decks it helps to activate monstrous effects while still remaining relevant after the third turn.
A bit heavy, but against some strategies Consign to Dust can be a blow out. Later on in a game it could wipe out 3 of their biggest enchantments, and at 3 mana it’s also a decent removal spell at instant speed. I’d take this over Fade into Antiquity or Artisan’s Sorrow any day. In draft I think it is okay to draft this as your 3rd-4th choice because of its ability to deal with multiple targets. It will definitely find its mark in this enchantment heavy format, and on a few occasions it will be downright destructive. I’d also rather have this than Time to Feed as my removal in green. Good in sealed, good in draft!
A decent strive card with an alright casting cost and ability. I originally wasn’t going to recommend it because of the mana cost to play it more than once was kind of restrictive, but at a second glance I guess giving 2 creatures +2/+2 and untapping them is pretty good for 5 mana. It’s probably good at 7 mana as well for 3 creatures. The problem is, with a strive card do you want to be playing this in a heroic deck or a midrange deck? I think you’ll get more value out of a heroic deck, and that’s why I thought 5 mana was initially too much. Of course it’s fine in midrange decks, but 3 mana for the same ability you can get with 2 when you’re using it on one target seemed a bit much. That’s just my opinion though. It’s a solid card and a good way to support your creatures later in the game. I wouldn’t draft it too high, but I’d give it medium priority. It’s not the best strive card/heroic enabler, but it’s playable.
Other Cards that Might See Play
- Font of Fertility – Cards like Traveler’s Amulet, Unknown Shores, and various mana creatures have shown a lot of versatility in Theros block limited, so I think this Rampant Growth effect might also see some play as a way to grab splashed mana or to speed up casting large green creatures.
- Bassara Tower Archer – cool abilities, but rather underpowered at 2/1 I think. I’d much rather have a Swordwise Centaur at 3/2.
- Kruphix’s Insight – This can be an amazing card if you have the right deck. If you’re playing with tons of enchantment creatures, this could draw you 3 cards for 3 mana. Sure you might have to dump some land, but later on in the game this is a very welcome card.
- Nature’s Panoply – I want to recommend this for main deck play, but just putting counters on makes it a bit bland to me. It’s less of a combat trick than Ajani’s Presence or Reap What is Sewn, so I’d probably not value it as highly as other strive cards. Not bad for a GW heroic deck though!
- Solidarity of Heroes – because of it’s highly situational effect, I can’t recommend this main deck either. It’s a strong effect, but unless you’re putting counters on your creatures with a Phalanx Leader or other effect, it’s not worth having in your deck.
Coming up Next
We’ve covered all of the major colors which should set you up for the pre-release this weekend, but we’re not done yet. I still have all of the remaining cards to cover; multicolor, lands, and artifacts. It’s not much but still needs to be covered. With 2 midnight pre-releases and 2 regular ones planned for this weekend, I’m thinking it might be a good idea to put my thoughts on the format together with the final article. I got some good feedback from my last article, and starting with green I’ll be adding in my top picks from each color. Down below you can see which cards I recommend the most and why.
- Golden Hind – mana creature, aggressive creature . . . it’s got it going on in all the right places.
- Nessian Game Warden – putting a big body on the board and also searching for another one is good value. The later in the game you play him, the better he becomes.
- Consign to Dust – best enchantment removal in green because you can hit multiple targets with it.
Good luck at the pre-release and I hope these tips have helped you out! See you back here on Sunday for my first impressions and the remainder of the cards!