Previous Set Reviews
Much like every color, green has a lot of different themes going on, though they may overlap the most successfully here. Bolster, ferocious, delve, and outlast all either care about big creatures or grow them, which means you can pick and choose from this list and end up happy no matter what. Green is also still defensive, on the whole, which means that slower cards are slightly better here than in other colors. On to the cards!
The ratings scale:
5.0: The best of the best. (Pack Rat. Umezawa's Jitte. Wingmate Roc.)
4.5: Incredible bomb, but not unbeatable. (Butcher of the Horde. Savage Knuckleblade. Crater's Claws.)
4.0: Good rare or top tier uncommon. (Triplicate Spirits. End Hostilities. Necropolis Fiend.)
3.5: Top tier common or solid uncommon. (Lightning Strike. Woolly Loxodon. Suspension Field.)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Debilitating Injury. Mardu Hordechief. Flesh to Dust.)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Glacial Stalker. Bitter Revelation. Hunt the Weak.)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Dragonscale Boon. Defiant Strike. Cancel.)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Scout the Borders. Aeronaut Tinkerer. Ranger's Guile.)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Tusked Colossodon. Bronze Sable. Oppressive Rays.)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Naturalize. Feed the Clan. Congregate.)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Search the City. Pyxis of Pandemonium.)
Any card that can draw you an extra card every turn for no mana is worth looking at, and the terms offered by Abzan Beastmaster are not very harsh. All it asks is that you have a decently-sized creature in play, something that is not very difficult for green. Winning ties is very important, meaning that even a morph will often be enough to peel an extra card, making Beastmaster a must-kill for only three mana.
Hill Giants aren’t great in this format, but the potential to gain lifelink makes this a fine addition to any deck with 6+ white or black permanents. It is a little awkward that Abzan decks tend to be heavier on green permanents, so if you pick up a Kin-Guard be aware that you may want to branch out a little.
I want to like this card, and in general I'm a big fan of modal cards, but I don’t really want to cast either side of this. A 1/1 that puts a land on top is very bad value, and a 2/2 for 2 doesn’t really excite me either. If you are in a position where you have to cast it as a 1/1 you will, and that’s fine, but the other side really needed to be a card that’s good in games where you have plenty of mana, and a Grizzly Dog is not it. This is a card that people will overvalue, because it is mana-fixing, but my recommendation is that you draft lands that enable you to leave this one out. Green is the color that least wants 2/2s for 2, and this isn’t much more than that.
It doesn’t get much worse than this. Any creature is plausible in Limited because it can attack and block, but an expensive french vanilla creature that has a drawback is at its worst in the morph set, and this wouldn’t be good even in a normal set. The only thing this is ambushing is your chance of winning.
Arashin War Beast
When I said green was ok with more expensive cards this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. The ability makes it slightly more than vanilla, but this is still slow and vulnerable to removal and bounce, and doesn’t even make a creature if the opponent just takes the damage. You should avoid this if at all possible.
Archers of Qarsi
I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say that this will never make my main deck in this format. It’s just bad to trade your 4-drop for any morph, and the fact that this can’t attack means you don’t even have the opportunity to end the game like you would with Canyon Lurkers. I don’t mind sideboarding it in against fliers if you are removal-light, but you don’t need to place any priority on picking it up at all.
Green has had an impressive start here, with a whole string of bad-rate creatures with mediocre abilities, and this is no exception. Shock and awe are apparently not part of the game plan, at least not if you go alphabetically. As for the card, it is just not big enough to justify. Making it immune to double-blocks would have been much more relevant if it were a 5/5, but 3/4 is just not huge in this format, and even giving the ability to other creatures with counters doesn’t make up for that.
This is worse than an aura that gives a creature +3/+3, because even though the opponent can’t fizzle it, they can still just bounce or kill whatever gets bolstered, and you lose the ability to play this on the creature of your choice. A +3/+3 Aura for 3 would have been nothing special to begin with, so I’m not going to defend this card, and would in fact recommend you don’t play it under most circumstances. An Abzan deck with tons of outlast may want it, or a deck that's short on playables, but not many others will.
Even though “Destructor Dragon” definitely does not sound like a Magic card, it’s a fine Magic card indeed. Green decks want flying finishers more than most other colors, and get them much less often, so that plus a decent ability makes me like the card. Killing a land may not sound like much on turn six or seven, but in a multicolor format it’s always a little better than it looks, and this format has tons of ways to use your mana even past just cutting off one of their colors.
Why is Great-Horn Krushok called that if every Krushok has horns, as this picture indicates? It would be like calling something “Great-Clawed Tiger” or “Great-Luck Cheon,” where you are just naming something intrinsic to the object being described. Anyway, the card is fine, and I like it more than the other vanillas due to a good power/toughness/cost ratio. Don’t take too many because it costs five, but don’t be ashamed to run it.
A Hill Giant with secret upside is a fine addition to any deck that has good creatures to flip up, and even the ones that don’t can scare your opponent into respecting this more than they should. Green isn’t a prowess color, so this loses out on that most of the time, but you get the Abzan outlast combos instead, which is a nice bonus.
I wouldn’t want to run a vanilla 3/2 for 3 in this format, and this is not much more than that. It will be a 4/3 some amount of the time, but most of that time will be at a point when a 4/3 for 3 isn’t insane, making this a filler card and not much else.
This is by far the worst Siege, which is even more upsetting to green mages when you realize how absurd the other Sieges are. Adding GG to your mana pool twice a turn sounds great, but it only ramps you from 5 to 7, which isn’t a very useful jump. It is kind of neat to play a 5-drop and a 4-drop on turn five, but if you just imagine that you cast the 4-drop on turn four instead of the Siege you will get a lot less excited. The second part is even worse, as how many flying creatures can green even expect to have? How big are they? Why am I still talking about this card?
Fruit of the First Tree
There are more fruitful things to do rather than try and figure out how to get a 4-mana aura on a big creature and then have it die. This is too situational, too slow, and too vulnerable to all sorts of counterplay from the opponent.
Hunt the Weak
Killing a creature and getting a +1/+1 counter is definitely worth four mana, and having to set up an advantageous fight isn’t that much of a burden. Not every deck will be able to take advantage of this, as you do need at least 13 creatures or so, and some of them should be big enough to brawl. Beware of casting this on morphs with open mana, or just casting this into open mana for that matter. There should be plenty of opportunities to cast it while your opponent is tapped out, even if you have to hunt for them once the game goes on.
Map the Wastes
Either you cast it early and likely waste the bolster or you cast it late and waste the opportunity to really ramp something out. That doesn’t sound like the roadmap to success to me, and I think of this as a worse Banner, and the Banners are already bad.
Return to the Earth
None of the three categories of things that this kills are prevalent enough to make this a maindeck card, though it is a fine addition to any sideboard.
I don’t mind +2/+2 and trample, but I dislike that this only saves your creature on offense. It doesn’t protect it from removal outside of combat, or even as a blocker, and getting the reach + deathtouch + untap option doesn’t make up for that. I don’t love either side of this, and what it offers you is weak enough that it isn’t really flexible, as flexibility implies a range of useful situations.
If you are going to play a 7-drop (and I am), this is the kind you want. It’s a steppe up from a giant vanilla, as it not only has reach but gives you five counters right away, and most of the time you are going to get to attack with the recipient of said counters. At worst, this is a 10/10 reach for 7, and that is a great card.
I want to like this card more, but it just seems so hit or miss to me. You really want three or more creatures to make it good, which isn’t unattainable, but is unreliable. I do like the life gain clause, as it gives you time to play the cards you draw, and I think that you can build around this well enough to make it worth taking. I also find it funny that revelations apparently gain you life and draw you cards, whether they come from Sphinxes or Shamans.
This has a high enough power level that it’s suddenly gone from being a delve enabler to just a versatile value card, which will have the side effect of making it less likely that the delve deck gets it. When you cast this you bin four cards, which will usually hit both the types you are looking for, but you also have the choice of anything that died previously. That’s a good bit of selection, and if you are playing a midrange deck that has good creatures, which describes almost every green deck, you probably want this card. Clearly it does get better if you are up to graveyard shenanigans, but you don’t need those to justify it.
Green is the color that needs this least, and trample is not the most impressive ability. I’d avoid this if possible.
Temur Sabertooth and untapped mana is a catastrophe for your opponent. As soon as you untap with this thing in play, all of your creatures are protected, and that’s very hard to beat. The Sabertooth makes itself indestructible with ease, and while doing so it bounces any of your creatures at will. That lets them dodge removal, block with impunity, and even re-trigger ETB effects. It can pull back manifested cards too, and it does all this while being an efficient 4-mana 4/3. Sign me up for as many as I can get.
Temur War Shaman
Getting a 4/5 and a 2/2 for 6 would be worthy of high praise, and this is much better than that. Not only is it a 4/5 and a 2/2 that might flip into something better, it also hands you a bunch of free Pit Fights to boot. It makes all your other morphs better, and if the War Shaman stays in play, I’d expect to pick up a couple free cards over the course of the game. Fighting isn’t even mandatory (I guess they don’t follow rule #8), so there isn’t a drawback to be found on this card.
Warden of the First Tree
Assuming you never have color issues, the card is extremely strong. It quickly becomes a 3/3, gains lifelink and trample a few turns later, and a few turns after that becomes an unbeatable monster. It’s kind of like a morph that you have to keep paying to flip up, and every time you do it gets a better unmorph option.
Given that you can repeatedly activate the last ability and that nobody is racing an 8/8 or 13/13 lifelink, the card seems very good. It is mana-intensive, so make sure you don’t have too many Forests in your deck, but past that you should be in solid shape. You don’t need to cast this on turn one to make it great, so I’d rather build a mana base that can reliably activate the later abilities than one that can always cast this on turn one or two.
Whisperer of the Wilds
I have yet to draft a green deck that couldn’t make use of having five or six mana, and all of them would prefer to have that mana earlier rather than later. Playing this on turn two gets you there, and lets you unmorph first even on the draw, which makes me very happy to have this card. Adding two mana is also relevant, even later in the game, and this will always pull its weight if you draft a good high end (something I never fail at).
I don’t know what it is with green getting all these free creatures, but Whisperwood Elemental is another creature that would be very strong even if all it had was its first ability and only made vanilla 2/2s. A creature every turn is awesome, and being able to sacrifice this to get two or three more manifests can be great if a large-scale combat happens. I cannot imagine passing this card—or beating it for that matter.
Starting at a 2-mana 2/2 and going up from there makes this a great card. It’s efficient at every cost, something not often true of X-spells, and scales well at any point in the game. It can also sometimes even hit a flier or lifelinker, at which point the game becomes very difficult for your opponent to win.
Winds of Qal Sisma
Fog is a powerful but narrow effect, so adding the potential for a combat trick does go a long way. I usually only sideboard Fogs, but that you can use this to win fights makes this a fine maindeck card in a deck with a bunch of 4-power creatures. It is the kind of card that is often dead and sometimes just incredible, so try not to focus only on the incredible part when deciding whether to include it.
Green does not often get this many awesome rares, but don’t look a gift dragon in the claw is I believe how the expression goes. Yasova is a solid attacker, though she won’t be attacking without using her ability all that often, given that she trades for just about everything.
Her real strength is that she threatens to bash the opponent with their own creature every turn, leading to some very swingy attacks. You even get to look at their morphs if you steal them, and green has enough pump spells that you can easily set up a sick turn by making Yasova strong enough to take even the mightiest opposing creature. You do need red or blue mana to make her great, and ideally you are a deck that wants to attack, but if you meet those conditions, Yasova is quite strong.
Top 5 Green Commons
Green’s commons are not spectacular. Though, getting a solid ramp sell, a solid removal spell, and a couple decent creatures is about what you’d expect. Green really made out on the uncommons and rares, with a bunch of cards that push you into green from pack 1. The archetypes from before all got a little support, though it looks to me that they will be less focused than in Khans, which is usually how it goes.
Next up I’ll be covering all the cards I haven’t hit yet, and looking at the Top 10 commons in the set (none of which are likely to be red or green, I suspect).