M15: Playing to Your Weaknesses – 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.)
To summarize what I’ve covered so far in my Playing to your Weakness articles, white has the best flyers and the ability to make a lot of tokens, blue is full of cards that can shift the tempo in a game and draw you cards, black has some destructive spells and also various benefits if you’re willing to pay life, and red is full of burn spells and aggressive creatures. This is pretty much what you can expect from these colors. If we follow this guide, then of course green will be full of giant creatures and mana acceleration. Are we right? Well, let’s see.
When they talked about hunting bigger game, they weren’t kidding. This is one of the most lopsided creatures I’ve ever seen. 7 power and 2 toughness. Two toughness means that around 80% of the creatures in the format can block and kill it, but luckily Wizards saw it in their heart to give it a decent ability. Whenever this creature dies, you return it to play tapped. Sure you have to wait a turn before you can ram it down your opponent’s throat again, but this thing will win long, drawn out games for you. It combos well with a few cards too, specifically Life’s Legacy (draws you 7 cards), Blood Host (sacrifice him at the end of your opponent’s turn for life and a power up), and Ob Nixilis (keep pumping him up each time Phytotitan dies!). I think this card will be great in both GB and GR, but I’m not sure it’s one of the best promos for the pre-release.
Let’s start out big and work our way down. While we don’t get a reprint of Autochthon Wurm, we do get its little brother. In a creature heavy green deck I see this card being played around turn 4 or 5, especially if you played a mana creature like Elvish Mystic on turn 1 to speed up your plays. Once on the battlefield, your opponent will have a tough time killing it, especially if they aren’t playing black. It’s a very good card in limited and will play the role of your beater/finisher. After a few turns the game will be yours. In draft I’d make it one of my first 5 choices of pack one, and I’d probably take it first in any pack past the first one. Convoke just makes beefy creatures like these that much better.
While Ancient Silverback doesn’t have the benefit of Convoke to play it early, it does have regenerate which means that only white’s exile spells will stop it (or a Perilous Vault). This is another great finisher for green that will pound your opponent into oblivion. If you can give it trample with the green Paragon or Kird Chieftain, that will be all you need to win the game. I’d make this one of my first 3 picks in draft, especially if the rare was garbage. Red won’t be able to touch it, white will eventually run out of chump blockers, and it’s doubtful black will have a way to kill it. Even deathtouch won’t stop it.
Well, we don’t have Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to make a bunch of mana quickly, but this card will still be activated more than you think it will. Unless your opponent is playing an aggressive red deck, you can be sure that this guy will be a 5/6 or 6/7 before a game ends. It’s a great mana sink in this slower limited format. While not as good as the Wurm or Silverback, it’s still a solid 5th-6th pick in draft and deserves a spot in your sealed deck. With green, you want to get your big creatures early and then fill up the lower casting costs later with cheaper creatures of a different color or mana creatures.
Well, this guy could POTENTIALLY be huge. Limited is a creature heavy format, with both opponents playing 13-17 creatures on average. You’ll be trading back and forth those first few turns, and I think on average you’ll be playing him as a 4/4 creature for 4 mana. This isn’t bad, but as the game drags on he gets stronger and stronger. If you factor in that you’re playing red or black, this creature’s value increases even more. I wouldn’t let him past you if you see him in that first pack, so he could be anywhere from a 3rd-6th pick in my opinion. If you can play aggressively, he’ll end up being your finisher by the time you play him after turn 5.
The creatures may be getting smaller as we go deeper into green, but their effects are getting no less potent. Living Totem has convoke, which means you could play it for 2 mana on turn 4 if you have 2 creatures, and 2 mana for a 2/3 body isn’t bad. Now that he’s in play, you can decided what you want to do with that +1/+1 counter. You could pump up your 3/2 from turn 3, put a token on a wall like Wall of Limbs, or if you have a flyer you can beef it up so that it hits your opponent harder. I don’t see Living Totem as a high pick in draft (maybe 7th+), but it deserves a spot in a green deck. He’ll also be really good in sealed if you get any cards that can maximize the benefit of the counter.
9 mana, 9 power. That’s a high price to pay, but do you remember Trostani’s Summoner (DGM)? That card cost 7 mana, and put 10 power on the board and was a limited BOMB. Feral Incarnation will most likely cost you 5 mana on average (for 9 power) thanks to Convoke. And you know what makes it even better? It’s easily splashed in another deck. Playing white/green tokens? Then playing this card will be a piece of cake. It will also be good in a red deck due to that color’s low cost, aggressive creatures. In draft, I think I just might first pick this unless the rare is amazing. It’s a must play that gives you a small army of tough to beat creatures.
Trample is said to be one of the worst forms of evasion (with flying being the best), but in this format I think it will be much, MUCH better. As you’ve already seen, there are a large number of big green creatures that are just BEGGING for trample so your opponent can’t chump block. Phytotitan suddenly becomes a lot scarier as a 7/3 with trample, and all those 3/3 beasts suddenly become 4/4s with trample (well one of them at least). I still think that blue’s paragon has the best ability, but since there are no good blue creatures to use it on, Paragon of Eternal Wilds gets the nod as the best general. If you’re playing green, you’ll want to draft this early and then stock up on big creatures and mana acceleration. After you’ve gotten a few beaters, draft her. That could be as soon as pick 4.
Netcaster Spider will stop white and blue decks all day long. There is nothing (aside from Seraph of the Masses) that has any chance of getting past this arachnid. Even the Promo Angel will die to it. Red and black might have a little more success, but only because you can probably kill it easier with their removal. If you’re playing green and have seen a lot of flyers go around the table in other colors, draft it immediately, but otherwise you’re probably fine picking it up after as an 8th+ choice. I think it would be a good 22nd/23rd card in your sealed deck as well. It fits on the curve well and still has a decent body.
Venom Sliver + Belligerent Sliver =nightmare for your opponent. In a GR deck, those two slivers will be a deadly combo. Since both are uncommon though, the chances of getting both are pretty low. They are pretty much the only playable slivers in limited. However, I would still value Venom Sliver somewhat high in draft and play him in my sealed deck. You just might be able to get your hands on 4-5 slivers in draft making it a good pick up. Deathtouch is a good way to kill a creature in green, but its 1/1 body can be a liability. I’d say it’s a strong 8th pick in draft to help lower your curve. It works well with cards like Hunt the Weak too.
Invasive Species has a good body and is costed well. Its enter the battlefield (ETB) ability also isn’t bad if you have cards that combo well with it. Living Totem and Shaman of Spring are 2 good green creatures at common, but it also works well with Auras such as Hammerhand and Eternal Thirst. I don’t think this is a bad effect at all, just take its abilities into consideration when you’re building your sealed/draft deck. I think it’s worth a 6th-7th pick from your first pack of a booster draft.
Play your bomb one turn earlier. It’s always a race to see who can get out their finisher first in limited, and Elvish Mystic accomplishes that. Mana creatures are always a safe bet in sealed and draft because most of the time we’re dealing with lots of cards that are 4 mana plus taking over the game for you. He’d be one of my first 4 picks in draft, and if I had any cards at 5 or higher in my sealed pool I’d play him. You really can’t go wrong with a mana dork.
Other Cards that Might See Play
- Sunblade Elf – Green/White tokens definitely wants Sunblade Elf as their friend. Put a bunch of 1/1 spirits, soldiers, and 3/3 Wurms into play, then pump them up at your leisure. His isn’t as great outside of those colors though.
- Wall of Mulch – I don’t think it belongs in an aggressive green deck, but there are quite a few walls out there and setting up a blocker early then sacrificing later for a card when you don’t need it might be alright in some decks. Maybe good in UG or WG?
- Hunt the Weak – Hunt the weak is a great removal spell IF you have a large enough creature that will survive the fight. There are better spells in black or red, so I would use this only if you couldn’t find anything else better.
- Overwhelm – Amazing in GW token decks since the convoke cost won’t be that hard to pay.
- Roaring Primadox – Not a horrible drawback if you can put in some cards that have good ETB effects. 4/4 body is good too.
- Vineweft – great with cards like Brood Keeper.
Coming up Next
Green is looking really good. I wouldn’t mind having a GR deck with aggressive early drops and massive bombs later on. I also think GB will be good too in limited, but don’t overlook GW tokens either because it will have a lot of synergy with Convoke. What do you think?
I can rest easily now knowing that 85% of my set review is done. I have a few artifacts and lands to talk about next time, as well as a wrap up of what I’ve learned about the format, but there’s no rush to get it done. I’ll look to get it done Friday night if I can, but otherwise you can be sure it will be up on Saturday. I hope this is enough information for you to take into the pre-release this weekend and do well with. Please let me know how you did after this weekend and if my suggestions were useful! See you again soon.