Oath of the Gatewatch: 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.

 

I’m doing this review as quickly as possible before the midnight pre-release here in Nagoya, Japan, so I apologize if it’s a bit rushed. I’ll keep it rather straightforward so I can finish it and still make it to the tournament on time. Getting the main colors done before the first event will be a huge boon for me as I always seem to be a little confused about everything after red in the color wheel due to not getting the review done in time. If you want to check out what I said about green in BFZ limited, be sure to check out this link to the previous article.

 

 

Birthing Hulk

Green in Battle for Zendikar was chock full of Eldrazi scion making drones, and Birthing Hulk is probably the granddaddy of them all. He’s the biggest of all of them at 5/4, and he’s also going to be the hardest one to kill. He comes into play with 2 scions meaning unless your opponent has an exiling effect in hand he can protect himself, even if you’re tapped out by casting him. I’m perfectly fine paying 7 mana for 7 total power and 3 bodies that can ramp me up to 10 mana the following. I think this is one card could easily be a first pick in some situations. He stinks of value, but a slightly lower mana cost would make him a lot better.

RATING: 3.5 Stars

 

Scion Summoner

This kind of guy will end up being the backbone of green based Eldrazi decks in limited. Scion Summoner, along with other scion producing drones will let you jump quickly to 7+ mana. He might not seem like much, but getting multiple bodies on the battlefield in a hurry with that kind of versatility creates so many more opportunities than playing one card a turn. Curving out is great, but curving out and getting double the creatures consistently can put opponents in bad situations rather quickly. What makes cards like this even better is the number of cards that have the colorless symbol in their cost or as an ability. Sure you can put a lot of colorless wastes in your deck, but that can end up screwing you up when you want to cast something that has color in it. I suggest overloading on these kind of Scion effects so you can play 2-3 color decks while still being able to cast a Thought Knot Seer or Reality Smasher. Grab a few of these for good measure.

RATING: 3 stars

 

Seed Guardian

Very cool. Not only is reach a great ability that was sorely missed in the last set, but Seed Guardian replaces itself when it dies. I’m not sure if he’ll be counted in the number for X (since it say dies, not when it goes to the graveyard), but with limited being as creature heavy as it is (with 13-17 creatures being in most decks) he should have no problem creating a 3/3 or bigger token. The double green will make it hard to splash, but in GR landfall or green based Eldrazi deck he’d be perfect. I really like this card and would be tempted to take it early in draft in the situation presented itself. Definitely a high pick if you’re in green.

RATING: 3.5 Stars

 

Embodiment of Insight

Just like his brother the Fury, Embodiment of Insight also creates a 3/3 elemental out of your land whenever you play a land. And just like Fury, I would highly recommend you play this in GR Landfall decks or green decks that focus more on ramping with sorceries than with scion tokens. Casting a Natural Connection at instant speed to turn one of your land into a 3/3 to block can be a good combat trick, and what makes this card even sweeter is that even after you attack with your land you can still tap it for mana in your second main phase because “land creatures” have vigilance. Awesome synergy with Nissa’s Renewal that could turn that spell into a killer alpha strike.

RATING: 3.5 stars

 

Tajuru Pathwarden

Somebody posted online how we’ve come a long way from Spined Wurm (5/4 vanilla creature for 5 mana), and when you look at Tajuru Pathwarden you have to agree. This is the most aggressively costed green beater I’ve seen at common in a long time, if ever. You can attack each turn while keeping back a large blocker, and since it’s an Ally it also triggers Rally effects and can be used for Cohort abilities. If you’re playing BW or RW Allies, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t splash this. All around good value.

RATING: 3.5 stars

 

Saddleback Lagac

White probably has the best Support effects, but Saddleback Lagac. It usually takes a certain kind of aggro deck to play those instants and sorceries that pump creatures, but if you put that effect on a 3/1 creature that costs 4 I’m not one to complain. I could see this working well in a GR landfall deck pumping up those early 1 and 2 drops so that you can get both a landfall trigger and added counters the turn he comes into play to do some real damage. He’s not going to be effective in all green decks, but I think you should strongly consider playing the lizard as your 22nd or 23rd card if you’re in his color. If anything, he fits well on a curve and works with more aggressive decks.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Baloth Pup

A 3/1 for two mana is pretty aggressive, but if you’re able to fit this in a GW aggro/Support deck he can deal a lot of damage VERY quickly. Even if you only have a few effects from cards like Nissa’s Judgment, Press into Service, and Relief Captain, I think he’s still worth playing. I would play Baloth Pup in a GR landfall deck with a splash of white. You start off by hitting your opponent with aggressive creatures early, and then as the game progresses you start casting support spells to pump them up while also triggering landfall to keep the pressure on. One of the more playable cards at 2 mana in this set.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Nissa's Judgement

Speaking of Nissa’s Judgment, this card is probably the sweetest “fight” spell I’ve ever seen green have. Yes it’s 5 mana, but being able to throw a +1/+1 counter on a 10/8 eldrazi to deal 11+ damage to an opponent’s creature is just cruel ^_^. And the best part of is that your creature takes no damage whatsoever. Also, even if your opponent manages to take out one of those creatures, the other one will still probably be able to get the job done. If you have multiple creatures with counters on them your opponent is screwed (the Emrakul Vs 15 flying squirrels comic comes to mind ^_^). I would consider splashing this card if I could. It’s much better than most of the red removal, and I could see it being absolutely amazing in BG Eldrazi.

RATING: 3.5 stars

 

Loam Larva

Screw playing Ruin in Their Wake. I’d much rather be sure I hit my mana the following turn AND play a blocker than having a small chance of ramping that turn. Heck, this card might even see some play in standard ramp decks come spring. That’s pretty much all you have to know about this card. It gets you a land, puts a body onto the battlefield, and only costs 2 mana. Play it if you’re in GR landfall or any green based Eldrazi deck to help with consistency. If you manage to get a blinking effect like Eldrazi Displacer . . . well you’ll never have to worry about mana ever again. Playable and a workhorse. Grab 2-3 in draft if you can.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Harvester Troll

Harvester Troll is a pretty good mid-late game card. If you have a scion token to sacrifice early on turn 4 a 4/5 creature can be pretty good, but he’s also just as playable later on in the game if you have 8+ land on the table not doing anything. They can be fairly effective beaters in just about any green based deck. If you can grab them early, do it. The more the better.

RATING: 3.5 stars

 

Netcaster Spider

Netcaster Spider fits on a green deck’s curve rather well, and as I said about Seed Guardian, creatures with Reach are VERY welcome in this format. Being able to block those pesky 2/x flyers in white and blue instead of having to waste removal on them will be pretty useful. The spider also gets a bonus when blocking flyers so even cards such as Thought Harvester (2/4) or Smothering Abomination (4/3) won’t be a problem. I think you’ll realistically want to try and get 2 of these for your draft deck if you can so you have something against flyers. Solid roleplayer.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Other Cards That Might See Play

  • Natural State – good sideboard card if you need to destroy an enchantment or artifact like Captain’s Claws.
  • Elemental Uprising – Pretty sweet card. Most likely something you want to play alongside some awaken spells or the Embodiments. Also good in GR landfall I think.
  • Canopy Gorger – Good ol’ vanilla beater/finisher.
  • Stalking Drone – another decent “bear” that you can pump to a 3/4 rather early if you have the mana. Probably good to have 1-2 of these if you have enough colorless sources in your deck.
  • Ruin in Their Wake – I’m going to say that Sylvan Scrying is probably better at this point, especially with all of the non-basics you’d want to grab.

 

Coming Up Next

 

Green didn’t disappoint, just like last time. It’s got a lot of good beaters, some good tricks, and the ramp is definitely there to get out your win conditions quickly. It also has relatively reliable ways to make colorless mana more than any other color. Definitely worth playing as your main color. GB Eldrazi and GR landfall will be very good strategies in Oath of Gatewatch limited, but a splash of green in an ally deck along with Support cards will also be pretty effective. I wish I could stick around and write more but I must be off to my first pre-release now! Thanks for reading and good luck this weekend at your pre-release! I hope to be back tomorrow night with colorless and artifact cards, as well as some news about how the cards performed at the tournament. Follow me on my twitter @yoschwenky if you want to see what I played and opened!

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