“Bolt the Bird” has been an iconic Magic: The Gathering phrase since 1993, and it’s still true today. It’s almost always worth spending a removal spell to stop your opponent from getting a mana advantage.
When Sylvan Caryatid was printed, we entered a Standard format where that line of play was no longer an option. As a result, many players found themselves on the receiving end of a turn-3 Siege Rhino with no way to stop it.
Okay, it won’t have hexproof forever. But it gets to tap for mana at least once before your opponent can destroy it. And importantly, if opponents keep mana up for a removal spell on turn 2 (such as Lightning Strike or Cast Down), then they effectively wasted their mana when you play Paradise Druid.
In Standard, the 1 point of toughness is an issue. Paradise Druid dies to Goblin Chainwhirler and Cry of the Carnarium, and it won’t block 1/1s. If it had some extra points of toughness, then I think it would see a massive amount of play in Standard. As is, I expect it will merely become a niche card. But since it has a unique effect that we didn’t have access to in Standard before, it can fill certain niches quite well.
The unique selling points of Paradise Druid are:
- Unlike Incubation Druid or Druid of the Cowl, it pumps your Pelt Collector and attacks for 2 against control decks.
- Unlike even Incubation Druid, Paradise Druid generates all colors of mana restriction-free. This means that it’s suitable for a deck with lots of colors, or for a Steel Leaf Champion deck that still wants to fit in non-green spells.
- Unlike Thorn Lieutenant and other 2-drops that are commonly played in Steel Leaf Stompy, Paradise Druid taps for mana, allowing you to ramp more consistently into Ghalta and the like.
- It’s another Elf for Elvish Clancaller and Marwyn, the Nurturer.
- If you can give Paradise Druid vigilance, then you have created a 2-mana hexproof creature, which is huge for Standard—we didn’t have that before. You can then load it up with Auras and feel safe in the knowledge that Paradise Druid won’t be targetable by Vraska’s Contempt, Conclave Tribunal, Hostage Taker, or any other removal spell.
That last point is particularly exciting to me. Check this out.
You now attack with a 7/6 flying, vigilance, lifelink, hexproof creature. Good luck racing that. It’s reminiscent of the Modern Bogles deck.
This plan got me excited, so I fired up the brewing engines. By merging Steel Leaf Stompy with Two-Card Monty, the Vine Mare + On Serra’s Wings deck that brought Ian Barber close to a Grand Prix Top 8, I settled on the following.
4 Temple Garden 4 Sunpetal Grove 15 Forest 4 Llanowar Elves 4 Pelt Collector 4 Paradise Druid 4 Growth-Chamber Guardian 1 Untamed Kavu 4 Steel Leaf Champion 4 Vine Mare 2 Carnage Tyrant 2 Ghalta, Primal Hunger 4 Blanchwood Armor 4 On Serra’s Wings Sideboard 4 Kraul Harpooner 4 Thrashing Brontodon 3 Vivien Reid 2 Vivien, Champion of the Wilds 2 Thrash/Threat
The probability of drawing all three pieces (Paradise Druid, Blanchwood Armor, and On Serra’s Wings) by turn 4 is only about 14%, but that’s fine. This is a decent green aggro deck with an occasional nut draw, which should be a lot of fun to play. I’m looking forward to trying out Paradise Druid in Standard. Just have to dodge Goblin Chainwhirler…