Shadows Over Innistrad: 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. Most first pick draft commons/uncommons fit into this ranking.
- 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. No questions asked first pick in draft.
For the first time in a LONG time, I’m about to finish each color in a set BEFORE the pre-release! This is pretty huge for me, as the more articles I post before the set, the higher my traffic goes. Back when I was doing Avacyn Restored (when I first started this series) I managed to get 1,326 views in one day! It will be tough to ever get that high again, but I’d be ecstatic to get over 1000 views this weekend. Well, what are we waiting for? Lets jump into green, follow the clues, and see what powerful creatures and ramp effects we can find.
Seriously? Why would I ever want to flip this card? He’s a bear that lets me search for creatures every turn! This is absolutely bonkers in limited! Heck, this will probably be a 4 of in standard as well. This is an amazing card that I would first pick every time. In a deck of 40 cards with 17 land and 23 creatures (and an opening hand of 7), your chances of hitting a creature each turn are pretty good. If not, you’ll be doing a great job of filtering out everything you don’t need. His flipped side is alright, but nowhere near as good as his human side. Your opponent will most likely let this card flip most of the time. This is possibly the best uncommon card I’ve ever seen in limited since I’ve started doing this series of articles. Be sure to protect him at all costs if you draw him.
RATING: 4.5 stars
There’s been lots of talk about Hinterland Logger and it does kind of mirror back to the days of Innistrad limited and Reckless Waif. Both cards can be played early and if your opponent misses a land drop or keeps a slow hand they are going to pay for it. Waif could potentially flip on turn 2 which is strong, but you get one more power AND trample with Logger. There is a lot more potential for damage over a long time with Logger, especially if you’re playing a deck with Ulrich’s Kindred (indestructible) or Stensia Masquerade (first strike). I wouldn’t feel bad about drafting 4 of these in limited. It’s a great two drop and is great to see in your opening hand.
RATING: 3.5 Stars
Our hermit friend isn’t the best of werewolves, but with a decent body, casting cost, and potential upside when your opponent casts a combat trick or madness trigger it’s not unplayable. Most of the time you’ll have a 2/3 that sometimes turns into a 3/5 and maybe draws you one or two cards a game, but against decks like BR madness when your opponent is casting things left and right by discarding them it can become REALLY good. Forcing your opponent to use their cards with effects like Creeping Dread’s or Reckless Scholar is also a way to get more bang for your buck, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to create those synergies. It’s good to just to know that it’s there.
RATING: 3 Stars
This seems like a great card for GR werewolf decks, but also works well with any non-white flip cards. Abberant Researcher and Uninvited Geist in UG Investigate, Heir of Falkenrath and Accursed Witch in BG, and even Harvest Hand and Thraben Gargoyle help to activate it’s ability. A 5/4 creature for 5 mana is already a good beater and fine in any green deck, but if you can squeeze out 2-3 extra wolf tokens from it that’s really good value. High pick if you’re playing a werewolf deck, but a high to mid level pick in any other deck as well. Just make sure you wait to flip those permanents until after you put Cult of the Waxing Moon in play.
RATING: 3.5 Stars
We’re moving away from werewolves and into regular creatures now, and my first non werewolf card is Quilled Wolf. It’s a bear early in the game (just a 2/2 for 2 mana) and that’s fine, but it becomes formidable in long games as a 6/6 or more on both offense and defense. Usually you hate drawing these type of creatures late in the game, but Quilled Wolf can still hold his own. I think it’s a later pick in draft, but a good card to fill in your curve with.
RATING: 2.5 stars
Again, not a werewolf but in the same family. I really like Pack Guardian and it’s easy to see why. He’s great both on offense and defense and if you can activate it you should definitely use his ability to put in an extra creature. This kind of effect can lead to blow out victories with cards like Neck Breaker in play and give you an overwhelming offensive force. Depending on your deck you’ll either have 17 or 18 lands in your deck, so it probably won’t cripple you to feed the poor beast ^_^. High pick in draft. Potential all star in green decks. (By the way, did you notice the tiny little wolf pup between it’s legs? How cute is that?
RATING: 3.5 stars
Delirium might be a little bit harder to activate with green, but if you find a way to do it consistently please consider using Obsessive Skinner. Worst cast scenario you get a 1/1 blocker and can make your best creature a little better. Best case scenario, you can do that and then continue to do that each turn until he dies. Kind of like a getting monthly payments from your lotto win instead of a lump sum. Over a few turns it can really add up and the overall value can be pretty high, but if you put it all on one creature right away you can lose it all at once. I don’t think you want to draft this highly but I would consider this as the 23rd card in my deck. Try it in a slower green deck like UG Investigate or GB.
RATING: 2.5 stars
Kessig Dire Swine is a good finisher and by the time you cast him you’ll probably be able to activate delirium. That means come turn 7 you’ll have a 6/6 trampler to attack with. If your deck is lacking some finishing power and needs some threats I think this Swine will get the job done. He’s hard to kill with most removal and there are very few creatures that can deal with his power. I don’t know if you’ll want multiples of him, but I could see using 2 in a UG tempo based deck. Not for every green deck (don’t think you’d want him in a GR werewolf deck), but playable.
RATING: 3 Stars
If you’re playing an aggressive deck Intrepid Provisioner fits right in. You might think he’s ham-stringed by only being able to target another human, but keep in mind that werewolves have the human typing on them as well. It passes the vanilla test as a 3/3 for 4 mana, has trample (which makes it great for combat trick decks), and pumps up one of your creatures. Best in GW humans or GR werewolves.
RATING: 3 Stars
Another passable creature. You get a good body for 4 mana and also get card advantage whenever you deal damage with it. I would have been happy with just that first ability to get clues for damage, but being able to cheat in a big creature while drawing 3 cards in the process is great value. Think of it as “Pay 6 mana: draw 3 cards and put a creature into play.” Does that seem like a bad trade off? Heck no. This card almost makes me want to play something like Ongoing Investigation and Fleeting Memories with it so I can combo out my opponent. Keep in mind you only get the clue when you deal damage to CREATURES. This makes it quite good on defense, but not as good on offense. It doesn’t need the other investigate effects to work, but the more you “feed” it the better it becomes. This is the clue Cookie Monster. High pick if you’re going for a GU Investigate deck, but not bad in other green decks either.
RATING: 3.5 stars
Another good card for UG clue decks is Graf Mole. The clue strategy seems like it would take a while to get going so being able to draw cards and gain life at the same time will be important. The mole is also a great defender and not too expensive to cast. I think it will show up in many other green decks as well just because a 2/4 body for 3 mana is a little rare and much better than most of the 2/3 creatures out there. Even if you’re not devoted to making clues, the incidental life gain will help out quite a bit in SOI limited.
RATING: 3 Stars
Wacky right? It can block an addition SEVEN creatures in combat? It’s no Hundred-Handed One (THS) flavor wise, but the ability is welcome. Green needs a way to stop those 1/1 flying spirit tokens and the wind drakes out there. The Watcher lets you attack rather freely which is an advantage in limited. Sometimes being too conservative can let your opponent get back into the game, but with this spider in play, it will keep watching and waiting until the time is right. Good card to round out your 23 choices with.
RATING: 3 stars
Ulvenwald Mysteries is all I want in a green enchantment and more. It gives you card advantage when your creatures die and replaces them with another creature when you draw a card (well, from a clue). It’s also highly playable in EVERY green deck. I especially like this in GR werewolves because that deck will be attacking a lot and losing creatures often, but UG investigate will give you a lot more clues while also taking control of the flow of battle. The initial investment for this card is rather low and it will be worth it even if you only get to activate it once (most likely you’ll get a lot more value out of it than that). Somebody needs to tell green they’re drunk and needs to go home. Between Mysteries and Duskwatch Recruiter you’ll be able to dig through your deck and put immense pressure on your opponent. This seems more like what a UB hybrid card would do instead of a green one. I’d take this card highly in draft, but not more than 2 of them. Make sure you’re playing a high enough concentration of creatures to activate it’s ability early and often!
RATING: 3.5 stars
I’m going to call this the Vessel of Nancy (cause it’s too hard to pronounce). Well, let me tell you about Nancy. Nancy is a fairly costed card. For 3 mana you can draw a card (after looking at 4 cards) and afterwards you put an enchantment and a few other cards put into your graveyard. Nancy is great at quickly helping you to activate Delirium. For an aggro deck I’d like to have Ulvenwald Mysteries instead, but Nancy is a functional card in a slower GW or GB delirium deck focusing on bombs and removal. I like this Vessel 2nd best after the white one, Vessel of Ephemera.
RATING: 2.5 stars
Finally a GREAT fight card. Green never gets good removal, but Rabid Bite is off the charts in usefulness. In the recent past we’ve always had 3 or 4 mana effects that would let your creature fight with another, but Bite is 2 mana and it doesn’t cause any damage to your creature at all! So it’s sorcery speed . . .who cares? You’ll be playing lots of big creatures turn 2-4 and after that it’s all about attrition and who has the bigger first. Rabid Bite works best with large creatures, so of course you’ll want to have it in any deck with a high concentration of werewolves that can flip or glass cannons. That means you’ll want to get as many as you can for your GR deck. Not that important in pack one of draft, but I’d grab a few in the next 2 packs once you establish you’re in green. Great removal card to supplement the other color of your green deck.
RATING: 3.5 stars
Other Cards That Might See Play
- Lambholt Pacifist – you get a 3/3 blocker for 2 mana until you can flip another werewolf. Kind of defeats the purpose in an aggressive deck when you can’t always attack.
- Solitary Hunter – it’s a “vanilla” werewolf of sorts with no other special abilities, but you can’t beat it once flipped. For a 4 mana investment you can get a 5/6 beater. Hard to block and kill.
- Byway Courier – 3/2 for 3 mana that replaces itself when it dies (for 2 mana). Good card for your curve.
- Crawling Sensation – seems a little dangerous in limited with only a 40 card deck, but your land density is high enough to get you a few 1/1 tokens out of it before you mill yourself to death. Sets up your delirium quickly as well. I’d play it in GB with ways to get my cards back in hand from the graveyard.
- Confront the Unknown – not sure how I feel about this. Strong in a UG investigate deck to be sure, also good in a GW human deck. I mean, you at least get +1/+1 and then can draw a card for 2 mana later. Not great but possibly playable.
- Gloomwidow – always a decent card. Fairly costed, can block the myriad of flyers in this format, but at the same time can’t do anything against ground enemies which makes it a liability in some match ups.
- Howlpack Resurgence – only good in wolf/werewolf decks, but boy is it powerful in those decks
- Moldgraf Scavenger – GW and GB delirium decks seem possible (though not sure how effective they’ll be). With enough enablers this can be a good card in limited. If you can make it a 3/4 consistently by turn 4 it’s worth playing.
- Moonlight Hunt – like Howlpack Resurgence, this is an awesome card in GR werewolf decks but not in anything else unless you have a high concentration of wolves/werewolves.
- Stoic Builder – roleplayer that helps you to get back land in Delirium decks.
- Thornhide Wolves – so-so beater that fits well in werewolf decks, but probably a late pick/last choice in those decks.
- Weirding Wood – not sure you need ramp that much in this format, even if you can draw a card from it.
- Veteran Cathar – bear that makes your GW human deck deadly in the late game.
Coming Up next
I’m VERY satisfied with Shadow of Innistrad’s green offerings. There are some amazing creatures and quite a few playable cards in the set. Lots of these cards are in that sweet spot of 2-4 mana and I expect you to see a lot of them in limited. While UG looks like it could be fun and that a strong deck can be built, GR werewolves is hands down one of the strongest archetypes in the format. I think it will be stronger than BW, RW, BR vampires, and UR as well. GR hits your opponent hard and doesn’t stop. The lack of good removal will exacerbate these match ups, so only those that have the best will come out on top.
I think GW humans will also be strong, because you’ll have some of the werewolves to increase your power level, while also having access to white’s removal and flyers. What do you think? With the pre-release now a little over a day away (for me at least), I might not have time to go through the last of the cards (lands and artifacts) before my midnight tournament tomorrow. However, I feel more prepared than I have been in the past. I still need to study the cards a little bit more and get some games under my belt to see which cards I evaluated incorrectly, but I think I’ll do well this weekend.
I wish you all the best of luck at your pre-releases, as well as in future limited tournaments. Look for my last article sometime this weekend after the tournaments where I will finish up the last few cards from the set as well as talk about the card pools I got and decks I made during the pre-release. See you later this weekend!