I have to apologize for the delay in the set review, but juggling preparing for the Pro Tour, keeping the durdles in line, and thinking of
awesome clever atrocious puns has been a little tough. That being said, here's Green!
5.0: Multi-format All-Star (and undoubtedly worth too much money). [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].
4.0: Format staple. [card]Mana Leak[/card]. [card]Moorland Haunt[/card].
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card]. [card]Primeval Titan[/card] [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card].
3.0: Archetype staple. [card]Gut Shot[/card]. [card]Tempered Steel[/card].
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. [card]Think Twice[/card]. [card]Curse of Death's Hold[/card].
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. [card]Celestial Purge[/card]. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although explanation of why is obviously important)
1.0 It has seen play once. [card]One with Nothing[/card]. (I believe it was tech vs Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
5.0: I will always play this card. Period.
4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.
4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.
3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card's color.
3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I'm playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)
2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I'm playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)
2.0: If I'm playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)
1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)
1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)
0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I'll never start it. (10%)
0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%).
The green [card]Skinrender[/card] doesn’t nearly pack the same punch as the original, and the original isn’t even close to playable right now.
It really isn’t difficult to pick up a 2 for 1 with this, and you even have the option to just run it out for a bonus two damage if they aren’t biting. I think that Briarhorn is the Alpha to this pack’s Beta, but it’s close enough.
If Constructed-playable cards is what you are looking for, you mist again.
Barring some sort of mill/fog deck, which I can assure you isn’t good, this is really only useful in a racing matchup, and really only good when the stars align and you get to fateful hour it.
[card]Beast Within[/card] is crushing this when it comes to sideboard space, since “flying creatures” is just way too narrow a category, given that green has so many good ways to kill artifacts. It would have been very interesting to see this costed at two mana, since then I think it might actually see some use.
Maindecking this isn’t too bad, since between artifacts and fliers, most decks have at least a couple targets. I’d still rather sideboard it, but it’s one of the best versions of this card I’ve seen in a while, and when I have one, I sideboard it in often. It’s also a must-play in sealed, since every deck you face is going to have multiple good targets.
When comparing this to [card]Sakura-Tribe Elder[/card], damage not stacking is big, but the green activation cost is by far bigger. I’m afraid that we won’t see a return of the Dawntreader any time soon (which is unfortunate, since Sakura-Tribe Elder was pretty sweet).
Not a whole lot going on here, but as loathe as I am to admit, you won’t be turning down 2-drops in any of your good draft decks. It doesn’t really work as a mana fixer, but having the option is nice at the very least.
Yes, “deranged” is appropriate. I don’t anticipate casting or seeing this cast at any time in the future. Once again, having an activation cost really kills it.
This card is so good, it wins games without being cast. In one of our drafts, Somberwald Dryad was mistaken for the Outcast, and an entire game was played in a really bizarre manner (from one side, at least). Even in normal situations, Deranged Outcast is very good, and offers a huge incentive to prioritize Humans, which GW decks already had anyway. Combat becomes impossible, cards like [card]Doomed Traveler[/card], [card]Thraben Sentry[/card], [card]Elder Cathar[/card], [card]Loyal Cathar[/card], [card]Selfless Cathar[/card] (ok, I included that just because it would feel left out if all the other Cathars got mentioned) become awesome, and even if they kill the Outcast, it often ships 2 counters to another creature.
[draft]Favor of the Woods[/draft]
Favor of the Woods
Even Conley won’t touch this card, despite it being the sort of thing he favors.
I’m baffled as to why you would ever willingly include this in a Limited deck.
[draft]Feed the Pack[/draft]
Feed the Pack
I hope the pack gets used to being hungry, because I’m sure not feeding it anytime soon.
This format is very fast, but as six drops go, you could do worse. It is unfortunate that this requires a reasonable board in order to do anything at all, but the upside is there. It turns a random crappy guy into a couple wolves, and if you are lucky enough to have something sick like [card]Fortress Crab[/card], you just win the game. The pack is hungry, and will happily devour a Crab for much profit.
It takes some work to grow the tree, but it’s certainly worth looking at. The possibility of getting a 10/10 for one mana is the kind of incentive that gets cards played in Constructed, whether it’s as an undercosted guy in some sort of dredge-ish deck or just another creature in a Standard Mulch deck. [card]Splinterfright[/card], [card]Mulch[/card], [card]Ghoultree[/card], [card]Boneyard Wurm[/card], and other flashback/mill cards is getting dangerously close to being good enough, and it’s probably just a card or two away from being real. If there was another sick enabler, I could see Ghoultree getting watered with the blood of your opponent in the near future. For older formats, Ghoultree is more of a [card]Tombstalker[/card] than a [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], and takes much more work than either, but the power is there.
Ben Stark is literally over my shoulder as I write this, yelling at me if I give it over a 1, and I really can’t argue. I’ve played with the card, and more than I should, and I have to admit it’s a bit clunky. When [card]Kindercatch[/card] is about as good as the card I’m reviewing, and [card]Hollowhenge Beast[/card] is significantly better, it’s hard to really get excited.
There are grave consequences for playing this in Constructed. [card]Primeval Titan[/card] it’s not.
Even fast decks want one or two six-drops, so if you aren’t fortunate enough to have a good one, there’s always the Gravetiller. If you are aggressive enough, it shouldn’t be too hard to make this an 8/8, and even as a 4/4 sometimes it does the trick. Kindercatch has some real competition in this set, not that you should have been playing it to begin with (I played Kindercatch today).
I wonder how many cards this would have to draw for it to be good. Even if the card just flat out said “draw six cards”, things would have to be pretty grim before it got cast in Standard, and it in no way is that good. The sad part is that even if you mill a bunch and draw 15 cards, there’s no way to efficiently turn cards in hand into a huge advantage. [card]Cadaverous Bloom[/card] is what we need, and especially when you think about how thematically appropriate it is to combine the two cards.
I’ve brewed with this card, with satisfying results. I would recommend against just jamming it in your maindeck, but in control mirrors it can be really sick. It isn’t actually good in the Spider Spawning deck, since once you mill yourself a bunch, the last thing you want to do is draw seven cards (and you probably deck yourself half the time if you do). I just like boarding it in for the really long game attrition matchups, where a six mana draw 5 is the perfect card.
Some commons are great in Constructed; large vanilla creatures are never among them. Playablity just henges too much on mana cost, and anything that costs five has to be so broken that it could never be a common creature.
You in no way have to prioritize taking 5-drops, since they come easily, but this really is about as good as it gets. Every deck wants a couple expensive spells, and this does the job well enough.
[draft]Hunger of the Howlpack[/draft]
Hunger of the Howlpack
As morbid as it sounds, you could assume that a creature always just died and this still wouldn’t be good enough.
Much like the 5-drop slot, you want 2-4 tricks in your green decks, and this fills the slot adequately enough. It isn’t as high-impact the turn you play it as something like Ranger’s Guile or Spidery Grasp, but it does offer a pretty sick bonus moving forward.
This card is pretty savage. Much like [card]Angelic Destiny[/card], if you have good targets for it, it really isn’t the worst. [card]Invisible Stalker[/card] and this is of course the dream, since no amount of [card]Naturalize[/card]s or [card]Oblivion Ring[/card]s save them, but even something like [card]Dungrove Elder[/card] or Thrun might not be completely absurd. I like that the flashback isn’t completely out of reach either, and this definitely merits a second look.
In Limited, of course, this is an absurd bomb and should be treated as so. Even if they deal with the first incarnation, 10 counters is a ridiculous amount, and the flashback is often just lethal.
Once again, costing four mana is the touch of death for this, and it’s never going to be cast in Constructed.
And the title of Giantest Spider goes to Kessig Recluse, the saddest excuse for a green first pick I’ve ever seen. I guess it’s only fair, considering how GW was the best draft deck prior to Dark Ascension, but green is definitely the worst color in the new set. That doesn’t make this Spider bad, just not nearly as aggressive as a card as green needs.
Lambholt Elder/Silverpelt Werewolf
I like [card]Ophidian[/card]s more than most, but telling people to play this would be like leading lambs to the slaughter. Banking on flipping a card in order for it to do anything is just not a good idea.
I’ve been very unhappy with this, more than most Werewolves, since it does almost nothing on its small half. Only Ironfang is worse, and he at least has the decency to cost two mana.
[draft]Lost in the Woods[/draft]
Lost in the Woods
Constructed: 1.0 (but a 4.5 on the Flavor Scale)
Unsurprisingly, this is one of Conley’s favorite cards, though he claims it has nothing to do with the name, just the flavor. I have to admit, the flavor is extremely awesome, but there’s no way he doesn’t like the little namedrop as well. As for actual playablity, well, “Lost” really is the operative word.
I don’t know how many Forests it would take to make this good, and I don’t intend to find out. If it just flat out exiled the creature, it might be worth the gamble, but when all you get is a fog, it’s not even close.
How can you not love a card that’s just oozing with value? The casting cost restricts it to mono-green, but that is actually a deck, and this gets out of control very rapidly. I wish it was a little more resistant to Vapor Snag and Gut Shot, but it sure brawls well (I just can’t resist).
This is clearly a case of the mana cost being the worst thing about the card, since what it actually does is good. The risk of this getting stuck in hand, uncastable, makes this a mediocre pick at best, unless you happen to have 12+ Forests in your deck (in which case, good luck).
Little Red Riding Hood is another in a long line of Werewolves that would be sweet to flip in Constructed. Dropping this on turn two forces them to have a play or risk you hitting five mana on turn three, and is particularly effective against Mana Leak. I had high hopes for Mayor too, so take this with a grain of salt, but there are enough rewards here (and the front side isn’t unplayable), that I’m not going to completely dismiss it.
If you are lucky enough to not want this, your deck is probably pretty sweet. Low-curve aggressive decks just have no need to ramp, and won’t play this, but the vast majority of decks won’t have that luxury (and will consequently play this).
The funniest thing about this card is that multiple people, myself included, just flat-out thought this was a 2/1, thanks to Rushwood Dryad and the like. Watching Dryad get run into an Armored Skaab on a bluff was pretty great, and of absolutely no relevance to how good this is in Constructed. On a more somber note, it isn’t good. At all.
Grizzly Bears are the backbone of most decks nowadays, and every now and then they are playing Forests and you just mise them.
Here we are, the root of all green decks. Strangleroot Geist is an absurd card, and near-impossible to interact with favorably. There is no one removal spell besides Oblivion Ring (and the Karnfather) that can brawl with the Geist, and even if the first half is thrown away on a chump block, it gets to bash for three. The only weakness Geist has is that it starts out a little small, so it is theoretically possible that they just flat-out ignore it and go about their business. That restricts Geist a little, since in control decks they will actually just ignore it, but if you are beating down, that option doesn’t work out so well.
Trying to grind out Geist with control is a frustrating proposition, and it’s cheap enough that Vapor Snag isn’t a huge deal either. So far it looks like it’s at its best in mono-green, but RG is a possiblity too, and both get to slam a bunch of Green Sun’s Zeniths (which Geist has also made drastically better). Geist is just a huge game, and is going to change both how green decks look and how other decks are built.
Who’d have geist that this would be good in Limited too? It’s worse than the good common removal spells, but a sight better than other green cards, and one of the reasons to start out the draft with Forests in mind.
My instincts tell me that this is a hard card to use, but the potential is there. A pseudo-impulse with flashback is worth looking at, and the main barrier is just that this format is so fast that you won’t really get the mana spent back. Green Sun’s Zenith does the same thing without the huge mana sink, so until Bloodbraid Elf comes back, this probably won’t go in any fair decks. It does have a shot at making it into unfair ones, since it fills your graveyard for various sweet combos, as well as being a card that’s live when something else mills it.
If you have Forests and Islands in your deck, this is a fine spell and a playable card. However, the low rating reflects how often that will occur, which isn’t very. It’s a perfect fit for the now-defunct Spider Spawning deck, which is a shame. It turns out that trading a pack of the cards the deck NEEDS for a pack of cards that are kind of neat just isn’t a good deal.
This barely misses the cut, since it if cost two it would be the new Putrid Leech.
It is worth noting that it can pump any creature with its morbid ability, which many seem to have missed, and past that it’s about as vanilla as it looks.
The fateful hour approaches...or doesn’t, as the case may be.
The extra point of power on Hollowhenge Beast gives it the nod, but this will fill the same slot as needed.
The next stop on the Birthing Pod train: Vorapede! As much as I rag on this during Magic TV for being the least Mythic Mythic I’ve ever seen, it is a reasonable Green Sun’s Zenith target and gives you a decent five to Pod for. I wouldn’t recommend playing a bunch just to attack with in a random deck, but it has some synergies to work with.
This is a vore man’s dragon, but a dragon it is. Unlike Predator Ooze, it really is worth stretching the mana for, and the combination of Trample and Vigilance makes it near-impossible to race (and Undying conveniently enough makes it impossible to kill).
Trying to play this is a little too wild for my tastes, even if I am hungry for flashback. Combat tricks are just way too narrow.
This is a beating, and even worth splashing red for if you are G/x. Much like Moment of Heroism, it swings races in a ridiculous fashion, though obviously only on offense. Killing their guy and making them take an extra four damage is wild, and it even works just as a straight burn spell if necessary. It’s impossible to block an alpha strike when this is in play, and I’ve seen it end dozens of games.
Wolfbitten Captive/Krallenhorde Killer
This is the only flip card that's possibly worse on the other side, but the front side is interesting enough already, and it flipping when you are on the play is pretty sweet too. This is also [card Basking Rootwalla]Rootwalla[/card], so when Martin said he opened Rootwalla in one of our drafts and was talking about Scorned Villager, we soundly mocked him (and for good reason).
Haumph. Playing this guy and ripping into them is a good plan, and it even sends a good signal to slam this early.
But it looks like a lizard thing... - Martin Juza
Young Jeezy, as Owen calls him, is Green's [card]Doomed Traveler[/card], but still is missing [card]Honor of the Pure[/card] (Honor of the Wild?) before he goes really animal. Little value cards like this are always worth keeping an eye on, since they pop up in the strangest places.
I love me a speed bump, and gaining 2 life and getting a 2/2 out of the deal seems fine to me. It isn't the most aggressive card, but I'm not the most aggressive drafter, so there you go.
Top 5 Commons
5. [card]Wild Hunger[/card]
4. [card]Dawntreader Elk[/card]
3. [card]Scorned Villager[/card]/[card]Moonscarred Werewolf[/card]
2. [card]Ulvenwald Bear[/card]
1. [card]Kessig Recluse[/card]
Yep. Green is something else in this set, and by “something else” I mean “not good”. The cards are all the height of mediocrity, which still doesn’t make green horrible, just hard to draft in the first pack. That’s fine, as long as you are aware of it.
Top 5 Constructed Cards
5. [card]Strangleroot Geist[/card]
4. [card]Strangleroot Geist[/card]
3. [card]Strangleroot Geist[/card]
2. [card]Strangleroot Geist[/card]
1. [card]Strangleroot Geist[/card]
With apologies to the rest of green, this is really what’s what in this set. [card]Vorapede[/card], [card]Wolfbitten Captive[/card] and [card]Predator Ooze[/card] are the next best, but Strangleroot Geist is head and shoulders (or what passes for them) above everything else. It easily is one of the best cards in the set, which more than makes up for the rest of the cards being less than exciting.
I’ll wrap up the review tomorrow, just as soon as I figure out what I’m winning the Pro Tour with...
Here’s a sample hand from one of my draft decks, by the way:
archdemon of greed[/draft]