Dominaria: 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, 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. For the most part, I will focus mainly on cards from 2.5 to 5 stars in my article. 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. Example: A creature that fills the curve, a spell that destroys an artifact.
- 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. Example: A creature with a good ETB effect or decent activated ability. A spell that has a great effect but costs too much or has a big drawback.
- 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. Example: A creature that will win the game on its own if left unchecked and wins head to head battles often. A spell that has multiple effects or creates a huge swing in tempo.
- 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. Example: A creature that is almost impossible to due to special abilities or recursion. A spell that wipes the board or gives you massive card advantage.
I apologize for not getting this out on Saturday night like I thought I would. By the time I got back from my second pre-release in the evening and had dinner, I was absolutely knackered. I chalk it up to having to wake up at 6 am every day last week and not getting home until 7-9pm. Later is better than never I guess. I hope it can help you out for future Dominaria limited events.
Today I’ll be talking about green. As you can probably guess, green is usually full of big creatures that can finish games on their own if left unchecked, as well as ways to cast these creatures quickly through ramp spells and the like. You won’t find any removal or card advantage here, but you will find creatures that strike fear into your opponent when they attack.
Let’s start off with the biggest, bulkiest creatures we can find. I remember loving Craw Wurm, a 6/4 Wurm for 6 mana back in Revised when I first started playing. The Timmy in me was overwhelmed with joy when they printed the 7/6 Scaled Wurm for 8 mana in Ice Age. Now we have Primordial Wurm which has both Scaled Wurm’s power and Craw Wurm’s casting cost. In the past we would have seen this at 7 mana or more, but at 6 mana Primordial Wurm can be really scary as a vanilla beater. Difficult to block with less than one creature, not too hard to get into play. I think it deserves a spot in green limited decks.
Thorn Elemental used to actually be a rare back in Urza’s Destiny and afterwards in some core sets, but for this set it’s been downgraded to uncommon. Seven mana is a bit pricey, but I think if you have some ways to ramp or get land from your deck you should be playing it. Besides being slightly stronger than the Wurm, it also lets you get 7 damage in against your opponent no matter what. If your opponent triple blocks Thorn Elemental, you can still have the damage hit your opponent. If you have a way to buff his power with some combat tricks, this could end up being a 10+ damage hit that could end the other player. It’s biggest draw back is the 7 mana though. I played it at pre-release and was never able to cast it in 3 rounds.
Primordial Wurm: RATING – 3 Stars
Thorn Elemental: RATING – 3.5 Stars
Since I’m on the topic of big dumb beaters, I think we should talk about kicker cards next. Paying the kicker cost of a creature card is a great way to turn a so-so card into a finisher. The only draw back is that if you don’t have enough ramp and miss your land drops, you’re almost never going to be able to pay the kicker cost, even the cheaper ones. Heck, I might even say you should play 18 land in a kicker based limited deck if you’re truly serious about using their abilities.
Untamed Kavu is the cheapest kicker of them all in green. A 2/2 vigilance bear is good early on in the game, but changing it to a 5/5 for 5 mana with vigilance makes its trample relevant as well. This card is the one you can consistently kick over and over to get value of, and therefore I’d classify it as a limited-roleplayer. Good in any green deck, fits on the curve . . . not a first pick but I expect it would go fast in draft.
Krosan Druid is a rather ‘meh’ vanilla 2/3 creature to fill your curve with, but I will admit that its kicker ability won me a game or two when I was able to cast it. When both my opponent and I were down in the single digits, gaining 10 life allowed me to be more aggressive and put my opponent in a very bad position. I’d most likely play at least one in my green builds, but it would probably be in one of those last spots. It’s only slightly better than filler.
If you have 4 mana on turn 4, casting Baloth Gorger is probably the right play, even if you want to hold it back as a big finisher. An early beater is more useful most of the time. Drawing it later in the game and paying the kicker to make it a 7/7 is great, but I’m just trying to let you know that I think both of the Baloth’s modes are pretty good.
Grunn, the Lonely King on the other hand, is an absolute beating. Attacking by himself he’s effectively a 10/10 or a 20/20 if you kicked him. If there was ever a card that SCREAMED combat tricks it’s Grunn. I’d love to cast a Run Amok on him to give him trample and either 16 or 26 power, but I’d also be fine using On Serra’s Wings or Arcane Flight to give him flying. This card is so scary that if your opponent doesn’t have removal for him it’s game over. You opponent will either have to block with 4-5 creatures and lose through attrition, of they won’t be able to block at all and die in one or two turns.
Untamed Kavu: RATING – 3 Stars
Krosan Druid: RATING – 2.5 Stars
Baloth Gorger: RATING – 3 Stars
Grunn, the Lonely King: RATING – 4.5 Stars
There are also some playable Kicker spells in the set. Saproling Migration is value no matter how you cast it. You either get 2 bodies for 2 mana, or 4 bodies for 6, and it’s all from one card which means, value. If you’re drafting it along with other Saproling deck enablers like Slimefoot it becomes an absolute bomb. I expect it to be a high draft pick, but not as high as white, black, and red removal.
Grow From the Ashes is actually an integral part of kicker decks. As I stated earlier, it’s incredibly hard to get enough land to cast a lot of these kicker effects. Getting to 5 or 6 in limited isn’t too hard, but getting to that 7th, 8th, or 9th mana for these other kickers is nigh impossible without some kind of ramp or card advantage that gets you the land you need. Grow from the Ashes also lets you play these basic lands untapped which makes it much better than a card like Explosive Vegetation. Being able to leave mana open so you can respond with removal the next turn is what ramp strategies have needed for a while. Tapping out leaves you in a bad position.
Saproling Migration: RATING – 3.5 Stars
Grow from the Ashes: RATING – 3 Stars
While we’re on the topic of Saporolings, we might as well go over the other Saporling based cards. Yavimaya Sapherd gives you two bodies for one card and fits rather well on a curve. It will probably make the cut most of the times you build a green/x deck. As far as filler cards go it’s one of the better ones in green.
Spore Swarm is a sweet instant speed token maker that goes along great with any Saproling strategies you’re looking to build, such as with Slimefoot or Sporecrown Thallid. It’s an all around value card since you get 3 bodies with one card at instant speed, so I think it will be playable in just about any green deck you add it to, even if you don’t have an anthem effect for them. I especially like it with cards such as Rite of Belzenlok, Thallid Ominvore, or Thallid Soothsayer. Whenever you need a body, Saprolings have you covered.
It’s obvious that you want to play Sporecrown Thallid in a deck with a critical mass of Saprolings, so I wouldn’t expect to make the cut in sealed unless the cards are right. As for draft, I think it will be a much better pick since you have more control as to how many Saprolings you can put in your deck. Therefore I’m not rating it as high as I should since it’s power level is determined by how many other enablers you can get your hands on. One such card would be Fungal Plots and that card alone would make Sporecrown Thallid playable. Being able to recycle your dead creatures for both bodies and cards makes this one of the most powerful green non-creature spells (in my opinion). It’s a great card to have alongside Spore Swarm, Slimefoot, and Saproling Migration. Out of all of these cards, I think it will be drafted the highest.
Yavimaya Sapherd: RATING – 2.5 Stars
Spore Swarm: RATING – 3 Stars
Sporecrown Thallid: RATING 2.5 Stars
Fungal Plots: RATING – 3.5 Stars
I’m not quite sure where Song of Freyalise fits in. Part of me says it should be in a Saproling deck because if you’re going wide and get +1/+1 counters on everybody it’s incredibly powerful. At the same time, I think it belongs in a deck with lots of kickers because if you play creatures for the first 3-4 turns then cast this you can play some pretty powerful stuff like a 7/7 Baloth Gorger, or a 10/10 Grunn, the Lonely King. I haven’t heard of anybody at the pre-releases that really got it to work, so it’s place is still up in the air.
Llanowar Elves is rather straight forward though. There are some good spells at 3 converted mana cost you can play on turn 2, and even better ones at 4 mana you can possibly get out on turn 3. What I’m trying to say that having a mana dork on turn 1 is really good in limited. I don’t know if I would draft more than 2, but if I got them in my pool I’d definitely play them. High draft pick, probably around selection 4, but not a first draft pick.
Another thing I noticed at the pre-releases was that there were quite a few people trying to push a 3 color deck. Abzan was the most popular, but at my last event I was playing Jund which ended up being pretty good. Therefore I believe having some kind of mana fixing is important. There is the 3 mana artifact guy that searches for a basic land, another artifact for 1 mana that turns a basic land into another of your choice, and of course Llanowar Envoy. You end up losing a mana to produce the color, but for some decks I think it would be worth it.
Song of Freyalise: RATING – 2.5 Stars
Llanowar Elves: RATING – 3 Stars
Llanowar Envoy: RATING – 2.5 Stars
While UW flyers might not be as strong as it has been in the past, you can still die easily to flyers if you don’t have anything against them. Mammoth Spider is a nice update to Giant Spider, with a bigger butt and more power. I think it will be an important roleplayer in many green decks. I wouldn’t feel bad taking this early in draft around pick 3-4.
RATING: 3 Stars
It’s not Pounce, it’s not Hunt the Weak, but it’s close to both. An instant speed fight spell is good, but what makes it better than Pounce is that you can add a counter to that legendary creature then fight it. If you don’t have any good black, red, or white removal spells than get your hands on this. I would expect it to be better in sealed where removal is at a premium, but if you have a legendary theme going in your draft deck this could be very good.
RATING: 2.5 Stars
Other Cards that Will See Play
- Broken Bond – Good sideboard card, also works as a mana accelerant to help you with effects like Kicker.
- Corrosive Ooze – I wasn’t sure this would be any good at first, but after seeing how many people were playing equipment at the pre-release, I think it could be really good. Maybe start off with it in the SB.
- Gift of Growth – Good combat trick if you’re an aggressive deck.
- Pierce the Sky – Not a Plummet effect, but you’ll still be happy you have it when you’re facing down a 7/7 Jund dragon. Sideboard card.
Coming Up Next
Next week is going to be a rather chill week, so I should be able to finish up my articles by Tuesday. I’ll be covering multicolor, artifact, and lands in one fell swoop then talking about my experiences at the pre-releases here in Yokohama. I want to thank you again for being patient with me and I hope you were able to survive without my advice or ideas. Until then, see you around!