Going Greenless

Everyone likes to be a lean, green fighting machine. Green is one of the most powerful colors in Magic, and has gotten a huge upgrade over the last decade. Cards like Tireless Tracker, Nissa, Vastwood Seer, and Courser of Kruphix have given green access to card advantage. Oath of Nissa and Traverse the Ulvenwald are excellent cantrips and tutors. Green is a top performer in casual EDH as well.

Today though, I will be talking about decks without green! Mainly, the other 4 colors combined. Why? Well, I think the 4-color combination of blue, white, red, and black is the strongest in 1v1 EDH right now and I will show you why. I want to talk a little about Breya, Etherium Shaper, and also catch up and see how our good old friend Kraum, Ludevic’s Opus is doing.

Well it certainly hasn’t been long since Kraum and Vial Smasher were separated from each other, and the undead monster is already up to no good again. The most popular partner for this Izzet-aligned creation is none other than the Orzhov-colored cleric Tymna the Weaver.

You may recognize Tymna the Weaver from decks featuring her and Thrasios, Triton Hero. She usually rode shotgun to her partner, Trasios being the main selling point of the duo. Sound familiar? It was no shock that Vial Smasher was the star of the show for that particular pair. Kraum’s “Stormbreath-Dragon-like” attributes have found another home, however.

Commander: Tymna the Weaver and Kraum, Ludevic’s Opus

Lundstrom, 6-0 in a Commander Challenge

Here is a Kraum/Tymna deck from a recent 1v1 Commander League on Magic Online. So… Judge’s Familiar? Jace, the Mind Sculptor? Chain Lightning? Is that a Beckon Apparition? What in (scalding) tarnation is this deck?

There hasn’t really been a deck quite like this style in 1v1 Commander before. It reminds me a bit of old Edric, Spymaster of Trest decks from French/Duel Commander. The goal was to deploy cheap, evasive creatures as fast as possible and rely on your general to run away with the game. While Edric is rightfully banned from all 1v1 variations of EDH, this does a decent job of emulating the game plan.

The deck’s goal is to play a couple of cheap, disruptive creatures that come into play under the opponent’s counter magic. Then you play Tymna to get card advantage by sending them into the red zone. Finally, you use your arsenal of permission and disruption to close the game out. The deck has a relatively low curve, which allows it to make efficient use of all the card advantage gained. And hey, sometimes you use your dragon, Kraum, to finish the job. Let’s go over some of the key inclusions.

These creatures are what I like to call “pests.” They seldom win a game in a flashy or overwhelming manner, but the small tax on a crucial turn can make all the difference in a tight game. They rarely warrant their inclusion in most decks because they can be unreliable either late game or against certain decks or draws. Tymna assists in this regard, as she usually ensures you can turn 1 into a little Thieving Magpie.

If the previous cards are pests, these little guys are nuisances. Which is worse, a pest or a nuisance? What about a hassle or a bother? Anyway, you get the idea—these cards annoy you! Again, cards like this are usually on the outside looking in when it comes to competitive Commander, but they have the added value here of potentially drawing you cards.

These are my kind of cards. The wonder of 100-card formats is that there are many times when you just don’t know which parts of your deck you are going to draw. Why not try to draw all of it?

This suite of goodies makes up some of the various tempo spells that litter the deck. When you can invest a minimal resource to better effect than an opponent, you generate tempo. Some of these cards allow you to tap into your fat little 30-life points to swing a board state, or pressure the opponent’s spells for only a single blue. If you haven’t tried spells like this I do recommend it. You may even discover a new style of Magic you like playing.

One thing you may notice about the deck is a lack of 5-drops. Why is that? Well, Kraum is pretty much the only curve-topper you need for the deck. Other than a huge Logic Knot or a full-price Force of Will, you aren’t spending big mana on one spell often (even then, Jace, the Mind Sculptor is the only 4-drop in the deck). Naturally, the construction of this curve allows you to play two spells a turn more often than your opponent can most of the time. If only Jori En, Ruin Diver had the partner mechanic!

Tymna/Kraum decks are starting to pop up more frequently online, and I suspect the numbers to only grow more from there. It’s always refreshing to see powerful blue tempo decks performing well, especially ones that don’t rely too heavily on blue. There is always a prominent amount of control, aggro, and midrange decks, and the ability of this deck to pivot between any of these roles is enviable.

All right, so now that I’ve discussed the new Kraum goodness, surely a green deck is putting up numbers, right? Well if you want to classify Tasigur or Trasios as green cards, be my guest, but currently green is on the downswing. I’d like to take this time to discuss the next most popular general: Breya.

If you haven’t played against at least a couple Breya decks on Magic Online, then you probably haven’t played much of the format. Breya, Etherium Shaper is popping up left and right, and she has been since day one of the format’s release. While there is some slight variation in deck lists, the standard versions look a little like this:

Commander: Breya, Etherium Shaper

Fluffypingo, 5-0 in a Commander League

Signets, counterspells, removal, tutors, and planeswalkers. This is like a Cube player’s dream deck right here! There are several angles this deck has to attain victory, but the game plan usually involves taking control of the board and winning a longer game. Sometimes you can just swing a few times with Breya, dome them twice, and the game’s over. Other times it’s a grueling war where you cross the finish line with Creeping Tar Pit and a Snapcaster Mage. Sometimes it’s a Winter Orb and a Thopter token that go the distance—I’ve seen it all. Let’s take a closer look at what makes Breya tick.

Most Breya decks make use of the Signet and Talisman cycles as both accelerators and fixers. You’ve probably noticed a theme here with what I say about specific 1v1 Commander cards, but here I go again. Signets generally just miss the cut in most decks because they can lead to awkward draws where you draw too few payoff spells or games where you simply don’t need the mana acceleration. But Breya can always make use of artifacts that have outlived their use by throwing them upstairs or killing creatures (sometimes an opposing Breya!).

This card is cold. I lose to this card more than I’d like to admit. It is the polar opposite of something you usually see in a control deck, but Brrr-reya can still find ways to win(ter), This card plays icely with the afroze-mentioned artifact mana, so it makes the effect bearable. It can also be sacrificed at a whim, or at the opponent’s EOT, to give you a massive untap step. Frigid.

Cards that tax your life total too heavily often have diminishing returns. Most black decks already play Thoughtseize, Dark Confidant, Toxic Deluge, and Vampiric Tutor. Playing 4 colors also makes your mana base a bit more painful than usual. As a result, adding cards like Bitterblossom and Phyrexian Arena can cost you a game more often than you’d expect, just because your life total will be under pressure. Luckily, Breya has the often overlooked ability to gain you life at the cost of artifacts. While you won’t use that ability very often, it does give you a reliable cushion of life gain that keeps you healthy and able to further push your life total as a resource. If only Tymna the Weaver could be so lucky.

Why Is Green So Underwhelming?

So now that you’ve seen a couple of decks, I want to discuss why I believe green is poorly positioned currently. Each color needs an angle in this format. What I mean by that is for a color to be a useful addition to your deck, it needs to provide a strong reasoning. It basically comes down to what each color does best historically in Magic along with what does best in competitive 1v1 Commander.

It turns out that green’s strongest role has been ramping and big fatties. Those two things aren’t exactly home runs in this format, and I don’t suspect they will be unless something changes. Sure, there are angles that you can approach this from with generals like Titania, Protector of Argoth providing massing creatures quickly or Nissa, Vastwood Seer providing actual card advantage. But these are ways to supplement green’s glaring weakness in the format, not necessarily top tier 1 strategies over the long term.

To conclude, now’s not the best time to be a green lover in 1v1 EDH. I am by no means anti-green, but I always do my best to advocate strategies that lead to victory. If you enjoy green cards, Leovold provides a great way to make use of 1-drop mana Elves. Deploying him on turn 2 can be backbreaking. Tasigur also “plays” green in the deck, although usually just for cards like Sylvan Library, Carpet of Flowers, and Maelstrom Pulse. Green just doesn’t have the spell density of the other colors, and creatures aren’t the top priority for most decks since each deck starts with one or two in the command zone already.

Does this mean sell your green cards and move into the other colors forever? Absolutely not! Green has its work cut out for it in the competitive scene, but I am positive new ways to spice up the color will be unleashed on us in the future. What do you think could be done to improve green’s lot right now? Do you like what the other colors have to offer more? Let me know in the comments!! Thanks for reading and until next time, may you Fo-Rest in Peace.

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