2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Celestial Purge. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although explanation of why is obviously important.)
1.0 It has seen play once. One with Nothing. (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%)
As usual, I caution you to both look at the rating and read the comments, since even cards rated the same might have very different evaluations. Enjoy!
Constructed: 2.5 (4.0 if you are Conley)
Slimeballing them remains one of the sweeter plays you can make. It will hit a land most of the time, and then trade for a good ground creature, but it also gives you free protection against their awesome enchantments or artifacts.
There are two main reasons this is worse than Llanowar Elf. The first, and most important, is that you can’t play Beta versions of Arbor Elf, and Beta cards look awesome. Secondly, the ability uses the stack, so not only is it very annoying to use on Magic Online, there are strategic implications. If your opponent wants to, they can respond to Arbor Elf, which does matter every now and then. It does have the advantage of working well with Ravnica shocklands, and all signs point to them being on the horizon.
The Elf slot is always a high pick. This is just as awesome as Llanowar Elves—barring the corner case of them Acidic Sliming your lone Forest—and games where you start with this on turn one are often very rough for your opponent.
I’d like to think that he likes his martinis shaken, not stirred. Past that, I don’t think about this at all.
A 0/1 and a +1/+1 counter is not a fantastic deal, so unless I specifically needed the counter or was horrendously short on creatures, it would bug me to play this.
The possibilities are boundless! Doubling your mana is no joke, and the enforced wait of one turn is just to make it fair instead of absurd. I’m not sure exactly what you are doing with 14 mana that you can’t do with 7, but I look forward to finding out.
You have to have big plans to want to play this, though it does do a solid job of thinning out your deck. Casting it could actually be Mana Severance, even if that isn’t necessarily worth seven mana. I think I like it in Sealed, but am still a little dubious about its utility in draft.
It’s been a few core sets since the Recluse last appeared, not that you would notice when building Constructed decks. It aspiders to be good enough, but isn’t.
I mainly wanted to mention the impact it has on Limited, and how much I enjoy strong defensive creatures like this. Nobody ever died to Deadly Recluse beatdown, but it has a long history of stopping Dragons and Angels alike. That’s the kind of card I want to play with.
On a scale from 1-7, how sweet is this card? It’s like a giant, trampling Platinum Angel, keeping death at bay as long as you have the good sense to keep your life total at 7 or above (though it’s fairly difficult for that not to be the case). I’m a little wary of putting all my eggs in one basket, especially a basket that can get Murdered or Vapor Snagged at any time, but any effect this powerful is worth considering. There are some decks that have enough trouble killing this that it may have some uses.
When I pay seven mana, this is exactly what I’m looking for. It has an effect as soon as you play it, kills them very rapidly, and makes it extremely difficult to lose the game while it’s in play. Opening this and building a ramp deck seems awesome, and it isn’t outside the realm of feasibility to play this and have the opponent just be drawing dead.
As long as there are Elves running around, this is a potential flagship, especially during the time that both Llanowar Elves and Arbor Elf are legal. Various Elf decks have hovered on the edge of being awesome over the last couple years, and it may not take much to push them into tier one. For more on this guy, I recommend Travis Woo’s sweet article.
Even solo, Elvish Archdruid ramps you up by a turn, and as a 2/2, is a real creature. Double-green isn’t the easiest, but I’d always play Archdruid, and don’t mind taking him early. I’m not even considering what happens when you have 2+ Elves in play, since you’d have to be pretty lucky for that to happen.
I have to say, grinding people out with Elvish Visionary and Wirewood Symbiote will forever have a soft spot in my heart. While there might not be a Symbiote in Standard, if you want a good guy to fill out a curve and sacrifice to Birthing Pod, the Visionary’s your man. This is the cheapest two-for-one around—as long as you can actually utilize a 1/1—and there are a sufficient number of ways to do that in this format.
Welcome to value-town. This might not be a high priority to pick up, but there is no limit to how many I’ll play. There aren’t even that many specific things you can do with random 1/1’s—though equipment certainly works—but just having free creatures is always nice.
Rampant Growth might be going soon, but it sure isn’t going far. This won’t see a ton of play while Rampant Growth is legal, so just hold onto your playset until shocklands come back.
Fixing is nice and acceleration is nice, so why wouldn’t you Farseek? It even helps you splash sweet cards, and I’m all about the sweet cards.
Boar with me for a second here, but I think a two-mana 3/3 with haste as a kicker might actually be good enough for Constructed. I’m not sure that having actual Mountains is the easiest—so assuming that isn’t a huge problem, we might have a contender.
This is much less impressive than the rest of the cycle, mainly because it has the least late-game power. In a RG deck, it’s still quite good, it just isn’t splashable like most of its brethren.
I’m not going to go sprouting off decklists here, but I’ll just go ahead and suggest that this might work well with Wolfir Silverheart. Depending on what the mass removal looks like, that could be a tough sequence of plays to beat. I am usually wary of playing cards that are only good once you have something impressive in play, but if the result is powerful enough, it still might be worth it.
It shouldn’t be too hard to get 3 guys off this, at worst, and the times you get 4+ are going to be awesome. If you have a ton of bruisers, this obviously gets much better, even if it really can’t get cast until turn five or six most games.
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Garruk isn’t all that popular nowadays, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he got much better in a few months. Mana Leak is one of his natural predators, and once Vapor Snag leaves, you are more likely to have big things in play. Rancor also pairs quite well with Garruk, so I’m anticipating that he makes a comeback.
A weakness to fliers aside, Garruk is still ridiculously powerful in Limited. Don’t bother hunting for a better card in the rest of the pack, you’re going to pick Garruk.
How about instead of a card, you just pack +4/+4, and instead of this you get an 8/8?
Unsurprisingly, this is still great in Limited. A 4/4 for five is already competitive, and drawing an extra couple cards over the course of the game is a beast of a bonus.
I appreciate that this card is back, and like having it around. Don’t be fooled though; this will absolutely not seal the deal on Snapcaster Mage, and is not necessarily even worth the sideboard slots. It is a great way to battle against Reanimator, hosing their main gameplan at the cost of only two mana and not even a card. Ground Seal has a reasonable effect on the game, but value cantrips are not what I’d recommend siding in against Snapcasters, despite how targeted this may look.
It cycling means that it’s never dead, so if I saw even one thing in my opponent’s deck that this would stop, I’d add it in a heartbeat.
Mwonvuli Beast Tracker
This card is pretty sweet. It isn’t literal card advantage, but it is an increase in card quality, which isn’t too shabby for three mana. It leaving a 2/1 behind is perfect for Birthing Pod-type decks, though you can’t really play this and sacrifice it immediately, or else you shuffle away whatever you tutored up. I certainly don’t think this is broken, but if there are decks that can properly utilize a 2/1, this gives you a good option if you are looking for value creatures.
I’d imagine this will be a beast, or at least get one, in most decks. If you have none of the mentioned abilities on a creature in your deck, you might be in trouble anyway. Tutoring up a sick creature and getting a 2/1 is fantastic in Limited, and hopefully you picked this up sooner rather than later.
Going on a rampage isn’t likely to happen all that often, but there might be certain matchups where it’s appropriate. I suspect that Revenge of the Hunted is generally going to be better, but imagine casting this on an even board on turn five or six.
Multiple “Overruns” in the set is fine by me, especially since this one is rare and neither of them give trample. You may lose all your untapped creatures, but that doesn’t rule out just killing them with fliers or the like—especially since unlike Overrun, you aren’t just dead. The card is obviously fantastic, and you shouldn’t pass it.
I prey I never have to play this in Constructed, even if they keep printing it in set upon set.
I really like green getting this sort of removal. It makes green awesome in Limited, which historically has not been true, especially in Core Sets, and it does so in a way that still feels very green.
I know everyone has a primal fear of hexproof, but even the most ardent opposition will admit that hexproof on this Beast is more than fine. It’s not anywhere near as dangerous as Sigarda, and is just a strictly worse Thrun (yes, I understand that you can have multiples).
I don’t know why they would really want to kill your Hill Giant, but they can’t. The ability isn’t going to come up all that often, but it’s basically free, so mise. Plus, this combines extremely well with all the sick auras, and can easily be a first pick if you have a couple.
In this case, a properly hydrated Constructed deck means zero of these.
Much like last time, this is a giant bomb, being both giant, and a bomb (it’s also still worse than tier one removal).
I really hope this hits it big in Constructed, mainly because I won a Japanese foil Quirion Dryad (from Planeshift, of course) about a week before Vintage bannings and restrictions killed the Gush deck. I don’t know if the cardflow is going to be here after Ponder and Probe leave, but while they are around, Snapcaster and cantrips make Quirion Dryad a potentially big threat.
As long as you have about half non-green spells, this is fine. For two mana, it can do a lot of work; but it comes off the top as a 1/1, and it won’t often be a 4/4 or greater. It doesn’t even make a great splash, because it’s terrible later, so the best you can hope for is a deck with 7 or so Forests and five green cards, plus other stuff. I will admit that when you get there it’s insane, but my ratings account for all the games where it’s a 1/1 or a 2/2 for many turns.
Well, everyone knows creature enchantments aren’t playable, so it’s without rancor that I give this a 1.
As long as you have a steady stream of creatures—not even good ones—you get to keep trading yours for theirs, plus a few points of damage. That’s already awesome, and if you do have a good creature or two, the opponent usually just dies. Rancor also gets absolutely filthy in multiples, so if you are lucky enough to get two, just jam each and every creature you can get into your deck. I bet that a deck with 3 Rancors and 20 random green creatures would win a very large % of its matches.
(actual Constructed rating): 3.0
Rancor is a sweet one, and despite the fact that I’m going to lose to it way more than I’m going to win with it, I still like that it came back. It’s especially insane in this current format, what with Strangleroot Geist, Dungrove Elder, and the Thrunfather all being so resistant to removal. Recurring and untargetable threats are exactly what Rancor needs to do some damage, and do some damage it shall. As long as those hexproof/undying guys are around, Rancor is going to be a huge game, and even when they rotate, it’s not out of the question that we might see replacements appear.
Double-ramping is not something that should be taken lightly, especially when it basically foretells that shocklands are coming back. Assuming you have good things to cast at seven mana, this is very good, and exactly the kind of card that sweet decks are made of. Right now, six is more important than seven, so this is a worse choice than Solemn and normal ramp spells—but if seven becomes big, talk to a Ranger.
I’m excited to get a two-for-one, but a little less excited to end up with a million Forests in play. This not fixing your colors is a shame, and unless your draft deck has some sweet ways to make use of the mana, this isn’t more than a midrange playable.
Green isn’t known for its spells usually, so unless you have a bunch of Prey Upons, this is just a glorified Raise Dead. That being said, Raise Dead can be a fine playable, so feel free to run this if you have awesome green creatures that might actually die (aka, not giant Beasts).
I’m sorry, but explaining why this isn’t playable in Constructed violates the Primadox Directive.
If a Primadox roars and there is nobody to hear him, I guess he goes back into your hand? Any self-respecting green deck will have enough creatures that this will be good, since a 4/4 for four is worth paying a little extra mana each turn. It isn’t even always a drawback, as it knocks off Pacifisms, lets you reset your Rancors, and gives you bonus enter the battlefield triggers.
This isn’t VS, so I doubt that the X-Men deck will be getting popular anytime soon.
They do not make Spiders like they used to. Having both vigilance and four points of power makes this feel distinctly un-Spiderlike—consider that the next time you’re slamming for four and shutting down their entire air force.
At least Necrobite had the decency to regenerate your guy, but I see that the snakes have no such compunction.
If you absolutely must kill something gigantic, this will do it, but at great cost. There aren’t very many trades where this doesn’t end up with you getting two-for-one'd, so only side it in for a specific reason.
Now this is a Spider. It not only is more powerful than Sentinel Spider, it isn’t an offensive machine, putting it squarely in the Spider class. Silklash still gets Vapor Snagged, but it at least does something immediately, given enough mana, and can be a powerful sideboard option against fliers. Stopping them from attacking by being a 2/7 combos very well with the ability to sweep them all out of the sky, so keep this in mind when building your green decks.
It’s mathematically impossible to die with this in play. It stops all creatures, flying or non-flying, and proceeds to blow all the fliers out of the sky.
Has there ever been a card with the word “Spike” in its name that actually gets played by Spikes?
High-power, low-toughness guys are usually better on defense, oddly enough, because that lets you trade them up for something better rather than for any random two-drop. Adding trample changes that a little, now that you are getting a few damage in for value, and the stats you get on this guy are good enough that you should probably always play him.
I did write an entire article about this guy (http://www.channelfireball.com/?p=59080), and my thoughts haven’t changed much. Thragtusk still seems awesome and still looks like it’s going to impact Standard substantially, even if a large part of its work is going to be done via sideboard games. The rate on this guy is pretty incredible, and he does seem like he reasonably fights against the tricky blue cards better than almost any other expensive creature.
The combination of lifegain and a death trigger makes it very hard to race this guy or trade with him, so they better have a Pacifism. I like when the good rares are at this level, since it is feasible to beat Thragtusk with a couple common creatures. It’s tough, but at least doable—instead of something like Inferno Titan (not that ‘Tusk is even close to Titan status).
Even if you are packing four of these, the payoff still isn’t there.
Assuming that Grizzly Bears are base playable, this has a pretty good upside attached. If you get a couple of these, you have a good curve plus the option of randomly having two 3/3’s out on turn three. At some point, these become first picks, though that’s only when you really assemble the wolfpack.
Yeva, Nature's Herald
Large flash creatures are pretty sweet. Large flash creatures that make it so you never have to tap out again are even sweeter, and I could see myself trying this in some kind of control brew. Rewind into Yeva, anyone?
As for her anti-counter use, Thrun seems to do the job better at the moment. Why make counters worse by playing her end of turn when you can just blank them with Thrun, or better yet, Cavern? Granted, Yeva also works with Cavern, but at that point, you are just paying four for a 4/4, and can probably do better. I do like this card, and intent to keep it in mind over the next year.
She’s not too far short of Flametongue, and has an effect afterwards as well. They will attack into her if they don’t know you have her, though that won’t work quite as well in games two or three. Even as just a 4/4 for four, Yeva is great, and all the additional stuff makes her very good.
Unless you are forcing the Yeva deck, I see no reason to play this whatsoever.
If you are beating down, this is a slightly better Crossway Vampire. It should force through two plus a creature’s power worth of damage, and as a 2/2, still trades for a card. It is cute that the Forcemage becomes sick with Yeva in play, and I doubt that it’s an accident.
Top 5 Commons
Of all the colors, I think green’s Top 5 list is the least set in stone. I can see myself taking any of these cards over any of the other options, and cards that didn’t make the list could easily wander in. Primal Huntbeast is a good example; once you have a Tricks of the Trade or Mark of the Vampire, he becomes insane. In general, I value the removal spell first, then the good acceleration, then the best large guy—though again, all that could easily change. Prey Upon isn’t great if you have all bad creatures, and both ramp and big guys are very deck-dependent. That all being said, green still has a ton of good commons, and the addition of Prey Upon helps out a ton.
Top 5 Constructed Cards
Many of green’s cards seem placed in anticipation of shocklands, so the true ratings aren’t yet finalized, but even without them, there is some good stuff here. Both Thragtusk and Rancor are serious threats, giving help to both aggressive decks (Rancor) and midrange/controlling decks (Thragtusk) alike.
I’ll be finishing my review this week, going over all the artifacts/lands/Nicol Bolases, as well as some conclusions about the set as a whole!