Magic Origins: 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.)
As for my rating system, I’ll be using a new format this time around. After a lot of feedback, I’ve decided to abandon my 3 tier scoring system of Low-Medium-High and I will instead be moving onto a 5 star ranking system. The system is as follows:
- 1 star = a card that is barely playable, even as filler for your deck
- 2 stars = this card could be a strong sideboard card, but is highly conditional and not always effective
- 3 stars = a 3 star card is a solid role-player. These cards could be less than amazing removal effects, or a creature that is a glass cannon (high power, low defense). They could be good except for a few flaws.
- 4 stars = Here’s where we get into the powerhouses. 4 Stars could be good finishers, or cards that can end a game if left unchecked. They also have multiple effects, and are all around good value for you. The only thing holding them back is restrictive costs or some small drawback.
- 5 stars = you won’t see a lot of these at common and uncommon. These will usually be your rares and mythics because they are incredibly bonkers. Planeswalkers, massive creatures, etc., these are the cards you could build a deck around.
The pre-release has come and gone and many of you have already gotten a taste of the set. Overall, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I enjoyed it a lot my self. The format is incredibly deep and more often than not you have a chance to build at least 2 different decks with what cards are handed to you. That can make things difficult from time to time if you can’t evaluate what your best combination is, but I would prefer having too many choices to having to play a format that relies heavily on the rare/mythic rare like some previous sets did.
Today I’ll be covering green, which is no small feat. The Color has the biggest creatures out there, as well as the other half of elves that will go into GB Elf decks. Green is usually a solid color in limited, but how does it stack up in Origins limited? Let’s take a look.
Enchantments (and some artifacts) are a bigger part of Origins than you think. There are some good quality enchantments in the set (ie Zendikar’s Roil) both as removal and as support, and having a beater that can also act as removal for either enchantments or artifacts is a big plus in my book. The cost is good, the power level . . . it would be one of my first picks in draft. Very good value in this card in limited.
RATING: 4 Stars
I wonder what my 12 year old self would think of this card. When I first started playing I thought Craw Wurm was the coolest thing, but this card is much better on so many levels. It’s a great finisher, it stops all flyers, it’s good on defense . . . If you don’t end up getting a good rare as your finisher in green, 2-3 of these would work just fine. It’s UR Thopters and UW flyers worst nightmare. Not first pick material, but probably something you want to make one of your first 5 choices in draft if you get it passed to you. It mostly like WON’T make it back around the table to you.
RATING: 4 stars
Another big beast with a good cost and a weak form of evasion (trample), but what makes Rhox Maulers even better is the threat of getting even bigger. Turning into a 6/6 trample is NOT something your opponent wants so they will be trying to block it early to get rid of it. Sure it will suck up any removal your opponent has to take it out, but if left unanswered the Rhino soldiers will beat your opponent unconscious. All around good card to have in a green deck. For a common, I’d pick it rather early in draft too.
RATING: 4 Stars
Know what makes all these huge beaters even worse? Making them even bigger and giving them ALL trample. Somberwald Alpha is good both in midrange decks throwing large haymakers in the form of big creatures at opponents, as well as in aggressive decks such as GW or GR renowned. It brings new meaning to “Alpha Strike” as you can push damage through no matter what when you swing with your team. It works great with cards like Nantuko Husk, Titanic Growth, and Titan’s Strength too. If you can draft multiples it becomes even better. It’s only drawback is the 2 toughness. It dies to a lot of different forms of removal and can’t easily attack unless you have a combat trick. I’d still take it rather highly in draft though, and it’s a must include in sealed.
RATING: 3.5 stars
While the Empath isn’t that powerful, he is useful in limited. Green doesn’t get scry effects that much, and to put one on a creature is a great idea. So what if he trades with another creature and dies the following turn? Being able to set up your next two turns (if you don’t have creatures) or to put a creature in your hand for free is very valuable. His elf typing makes him great in a GB elf strategy and if you have Dwynen in play he suddenly isn’t such a pushover. If I could pick up 2 of these in limited for a green deck I would. Limited is all about who can play more and/or bigger creatures the fastest, and Llanowar Empath allows you do that (or at least improve you chances of doing so). I wouldn’t take it first in draft, but after my 5th-6th pick I would probably pick up any that came by me. I wouldn’t want a playset, but I wouldn’t mind having 1-2. He’s going to be a roleplayer and fits into any green deck you make.
RATING: 3 stars
I had a chance to play with this card during the pre-release and I have to say that it’s pretty darn powerful. If you can play it early enough (turn 4 or turn 5), it will take over a game for you. Cards like Evolving Wilds become great not only because they filter your deck to make your draws better, but also because they put two 2/2 elementals into play. Nissa’s Pilgrimage also becomes a creature making machine when you play it with this in the battlefield, and Animist’s Awakening can end a game if drawn late game. Another card that combos nicely with this one is Sword of the Animist. The best type of deck this goes in is a slower, tempo based one. GW with tap effects, or GU with bounce affects will allow you lots of time to build up an army of elementals while your opponent struggles to get out enough blockers. I highly recommend it. Good choice for draft and a must play in sealed for the creature advantage. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see this in a land control deck in standard this summer.
RATING: 3.5 stars
This one’s an easy pick, especially if you’re thinking of an aggro deck. GW, GR, GB . . . it fits into all of them. If you can get a few of these in draft you should have no problem getting an advantage quickly. I like these with equipment, enchantments, and power up effects. I say they aren’t first pickable, but worth trying to get a playset of in draft. Sure there seems to be a lot of thopter tokens in this format, but for the most part I don’t it will have much to worry about, especially if you get a lot of combat tricks to go along with it.
RATING: 3 stars
While deathtouch isn’t really evasion, it does make it hard to be blocked without trading off with what’s on the other side. Pharika’s Disciple is good both on offense and defense, and only become more formiddable when renowned. You don’t want too many of her because she costs 4 mana, but 1-2 seems fine. She’ll make up the backbone of any green deck you build. It would be hard to cut her from your deck if you had too many cards, but it’s not entirely impossible.
RATING: 3 stars
There have been rumors that Wizards will no longer be making 1 mana cost mana “dorks” any more. That’s really a shame. Ramp strategies should weaken considerably, and mostly green decks will be hit the hardest. If that’s truly the case then Elvish Mystic from M15 could be the last week see of a mana creature at common. In limited, Leaf Gilder is playble in both elf decks and in green midrange ones when you need to push out a heavy card early. Due to the speed of the format, mana creatures aren’t absolutely necessary, but if I had to choose between a 2 power semi-vanilla bear or the Gilder in my 2 drop, I’d probably play the Gilder. Shouldn’t be too hard to get these for your limited pool.
RATING: 3 stars
Pretty much the only target-able spot removal for green. Better in midrange decks when you have the bigger creature, but also good if you have creatures with deathtouch or something with high toughness. If I was in green and my red/white/black removal wasn’t that good I’d be playing these. Good alternative if what you have isn’t good enough. Also not a bad card to have in aggressive decks for the power boost.
RATING: 3 stars
Now this is a powerful “bear”. He gets bigger when he does damage, he blocks all day if you have 3 mana open, and he only costs 2 mana. Two and three mana creatures are always important in limited. You want to focus most of your mana curve around 2 or 3 so you can play threats fast and put pressure on your opponent. If you can’t get to your powerful 4,5, or 6 mana spell then what’s the point? I rank Undercity Troll as one of the best 2 drop creatures at common/uncommon in the set. I’d pick it up early in draft and it would be a great card to have in sealed.
RATING: 3.5 stars
We’re starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel, but there is still some value to be had in green. At 1 power Valeron Wardens are easy to block, but what makes them so great is their second ability. Sure if you get 1 damage through it becomes a 3/5 which is AWESOME, but getting a card each time a creature becomes renowned is great. This is a must play in GW and GR decks. GW decks have variety of tap down effects which make it easy for creatures to become renowned, and in red you should have enough burn to clear the way of any blockers. If it’s in draft, 1-2 should suffice. I’d pick them up around my 6-7th choice or so.
RATING: 3 stars
My last pick for green is Hitchclaw Recluse. It kills tiny thopters all day long and can stand up to most of the other flyers out there. It’s one power is its major draw back because it allows more than 80% of the flyers out there to keep flying. However, it also makes a good blocker on the ground early on, and its 3 mana casting cost puts it in that sweet spot so your deck balances out. I wouldn’t be afraid to drop these for more aggressive cards if it turned out my opponent’s deck was slow or flyer free, but otherwise having 1-2 in your mainboard isn’t so bad. At worst it’s a sideboard card. These cards should come around the able if you pass them up so no worries about drafting them quickly.
RATING: 2.5 stars
Other Cards That Might See Play
- Aerial Volley – good sideboard card against flyers, especially thopter decks.
- Caustic Caterpillar – these guys saved my butt a few times at the pre-release. I like having a Naturalize I can use at a moment’s notice.
- Dwynen’s Elite – if you’re playing GB elves it’s a good card, otherwise it’s just a 2/2 bear.
- Elvish Visionary – I think these will be showing up a lot in green decks. Play a creature and draw a card. Good value. Better with Dwynen in play.
- Gather the Pack – I like digging for my win conditions. Card becomes even better in GR if you’ve played some burn spells to activate it’s Spell Mastery so you can get 2 creatures.
- Might of the Masses – good combat trick, can really hurt on an unblocked creature like Orchard Spirit.
- Nissa’s Pilgrimage – good for midrange decks that need to get more mana quickly, also really good with Zendikar’s Roil.
- Sylvan Messenger – another card that can be really good if it’s in an elves deck. If you’re playing a draft deck, I expect this to be pretty strong. Pretty good if you’re playing an aggressive build with equipment too to take advantage of the trample.
- Vine Snare – good against really aggressive decks.
- Yeva’s Forcemage – another Elf that would work well in an aggressive deck.
Coming Up Next
Just as white, black, and red before it, I’m rather pleased with how green turned out as well. Mono green decks are a definite possibility, and anything it touches will get a huge surge in power. The creatures are really good, the synergy of the GB elves deck is impressive for a limited format, and it has some great rares. What do you think of the color overall? My favorite combinations with it are GW and GR, but GB and GU might not be bad either.
The pre-releases might be done, but we’re going to have another 2 months of Magic Origins limited so please be sure to come back in another day or two to read my final article on multicolor, artifact, and land cards. I’ll also be sharing my final thoughts on the set as a whole, and talking about how I did at the 3 pre-releases I did as well. Thanks for reading and hope to see you back soon!