Green offers one really awesome card (which you can probably guess the identity of) and a bunch of decent manafixing, which all told is not bad. As usual, the rating scale is as follows:
5.0: Multi-format All-Star. [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card]. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].
4.0: Format staple. [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card]. [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card].
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. [card]Raging Ravine[/card]. [card]Oblivion Ring[/card].
3.0: Archetype staple. [card]Sprouting Thrinax[/card]. [card]Goblin Guide[/card].
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. [card]Rampant Growth[/card]. [card]Divination[/card].
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. [card]Celestial Purge[/card]. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this "maybe" 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%)
This is another card that really only fits well into the Eldrazi Ramp deck, but in that deck it seems awesome. Being able to grab a land, a huge monster, or All is Dust makes Ancient Stirrings almost on par with Impulse, which is a good place to be.
Unless you have at least 3 decent colorless (nonland) cards, I wouldn't play this, since it just becomes a land that you have to cast (and has a chance of missing). If you do have a reasonable shot at hitting nonlands, Ancient Stirrings will make your deck more consistent, which is always a good thing.
This dude is pretty gnarly, but not Constructed playable.
If you have no enchantments at all, the Gnarlid is mostly a sideboard card, though he delivers a beating with pump spells. Even with a few enchantments, the Gnarlid bashes for a ton of unblockable damage, and will often feed off of their enchantments. Definitely one of the cards that plays way better than it looks.
A weird combination of a [card Green mana battery]Mana Battery[/card] and [card]Forcefield[/card], Awakening Zone gives you a few decent options. It lets you store up mana, use an extra per turn, or chump guys, and it does it all at negligible cost. I'm not sure if it wins in a fight against Growth Spasm, since Spasm ramps you faster, but the power level of this card is certainly enough to see play.
Both of the effects that this provides are sweet in Limited. Even as a psuedo-Pacifism for a ground guy, it is definitely worth three mana, and offering a ton of acceleration makes it quite powerful. Cards like Awakening Zone make me think that casting Eldrazi are realistic, and it works very well with such cards as Broodwarden, Magmaw, and Bloodthrone Vampire.
I know people are going to be up in arms (which is their right) about me giving this a 1, but bear with me. Yes, the effect is undeniably powerful, and I too can conceive of scenarios where it does awesome things, but that isn't how you should be building your Constructed decks. Playing a 4-mana creature enchantment that makes nut draws nuttier is just asking for trouble, and I doubt it will ever see any sort of actual success (at least until Jace and Path to Exile and Oblivion Ring are not so widely played).
Playing this on a three-drop and summoning a four-drop on turn four is too good to pass up, especially since it is barely good enough without the untap ability. This is one of the more powerful Umbras, since doubling your mana (to cast two things, not one giant thing) gets you really far ahead if you have enough action to play, and even when you are out of action it functions fine.
[draft]Beastbreaker of Bala Ged[/draft]
This won't break Constructed; just compare it to Putrid Leech. The highest level isn't easily attainable, so just treating it as a 4/4 for 1G + 2G is reasonable. Some deck may want it, although while Shards of Alara is around it will be overshadowed by the more efficient multicolor creatures.
This guy doesn't just break Beasts, he is one! He doesn't give them much time to find an answer, and almost nothing can tangle with him for the first six turns or so. The Beastbreaker doesn't do anything tricky, but who needs tricks when you have a 4/4 on turn three?
If Bear Umbra isn't good enough, there is no way Boar Umbra is. If I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be "¦ "dull".
Fairly vanilla, but good enough that you probably only cut this if you have too few guys or too many good Auras. This isn't sick enough to keep in your deck if they have ways to wreck it, such as Narcolepsy, Oust, or Regress. That goes for most of the Umbras actually, and I suspect a common mistake people will make is to keep them in when they shouldn't. It isn't like they are that unbelievable.
My snap judgment puts this squarely in the unplayable pile, so I see no need to ramble on further.
Ok, maybe the 7-creature deck doesn't want this, but I have yet to see a Green deck like that. A 2/2 at least on defense, and quite the beast on offense, Bramblesnap is a good way to utilize tokens without wholly depending on them.
This expansion may upgrade your
HydralisksSpawn into Lurkers, but that isn't something you want to be doing in your 60-card deck.
It is pretty hard to go wrong with this guy; even with not a single Spawn in your deck he is a beater, and will often draw removal. See, they don't know that you don't have Spawn, so he will often cause them to overvalue him. If you do have Spawn, he clearly becomes really good, and is a card you can build your deck around (though don't go too nuts; he is a creature that might just die, after all).
Losing to this would be quite the dagger, but that shouldn't happen if you are playing a real deck.
Cards like this make me want a 2.75 rating; I suspect I won't be cutting this from my Green decks, but it isn't a card I would prioritize highly. It trades with anything and greatly benefits from Umbras, although if they are all evasion guys than it just beats for 2. Consider siding it out against UW (I have noticed that UW blanks a ton of reasonable cards, like this and Umbras, which is a strong reason in favor of being UW).
I like everything about this card but what it actually does. The alliteration is cool and the flavor is there, it just isn't good enough to back them up. At what point in the curve is this good? Certainly not five, and for seven mana you could be drawing five cards or casting Martial Coup.
Three 3/3's (see how cool that is!) for seven mana is solid, and if you manage to get to nine mana, should just win the game. Well, I guess in this set, that isn't true, since they can easily trump you with their nine-mana spell, but it is still powerful. Making two 2/2's is ok in a pinch, so I wouldn't recommend cutting this from any Green deck, and possibly even splashing it if you have enough fixing and are in need of a finisher.
When I pay eight mana for something, having it die to a Lightning Bolt or even a Cunning Sparkmage is not cool, and requiring more mana and guys to really be good just adds more negatives. There are better ways to upgrade your army (think Eldrazi Monument).
Even by himself, the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“Mancer is a weird kind of Shade, pumpable up to to 7/7. Of course, that usually won't be the case, and he is a giant beating when he survives. Having one toughness and costing eight mana are certainly drawbacks, just not ones severe enough to warrant cutting him from most decks. If they have too many ways to kill him or you have enough finishers, feel free to pass.
Well, there isn't much to say here, is there?
This is a pretty miserable way to answer fliers. It costs a card by itself, and you still need guys to fight theirs. It even brings your fliers to the ground, although if you had any you probably don't have this in your deck. I barely give it a 0.5, but I guess there are decks that just cannot beat a flier, and might want this against the all-flier deck.
Maybe it isn't [card kodamas reach]Kodama's Reach[/card], but Kodama's Reach was absurd. Any deck considering this over Rampant Growth either needs the token for some [card polymorph]nefarious purpose[/card] or is planning on ramping waaaay above four (and doesn't play many four-drops). The quick boost this provides is more explosive if your deck is concentrated on five or six drops, though if you are trying to cast 10-mana spells, Awakening Zone is probably better.
Even in a two-color deck with a low curve, I would play Growth Spasm. Fixing your colors and providing a chump blocker is more than good enough to run, and in this format, even low-curve decks have things to do with excess mana.
Spore Frog sees a tiny amount of Legacy play, due to the interaction between it, Genesis, and Aether Vial. Somehow, I doubt the same will be true for Haze Frog.
Combat tricks that cost five mana are just too easy to play around, and the payoff for Frogging them isn't even that high. You get to do two damage to one of their guys and prevent the rest of their attack"¦wheeee.
Just as people will be able to resist playing this, I am unable to resist the obvious pun.
They have been trying to make a good Provoke-style card for a while, and this time I think they hit the mark. Cycling for one mana is pretty sweet, and it makes it really easy to justify running this. Early game it shouldn't be very difficult to get some good value out of this, and it has its uses even later.
Keep on stridin'.
I sure can appreciate eight toughness, and throw in some lifegain and I am sold. Green might not always want this super-defensive guy, so be sure your deck can win the lategame if you plan on using this.
Engines are built around this type of card, and it even works well in a more "normal" deck. Getting to five mana on turn three is easy, and doesn't take the kind of work that Lotus Cobra does. The ultimate is going to be restricted mostly to dedicated Elf decks, but just playing him as a cheaper Greenweaver Druid works for me. Extended Elves likes this card quite a bit.
Many a nut draw will begin with this guy, since powering out a five-drop then a six-drop is not the easiest to resist. Card advantage of sorts, since he provides two mana, grabbing some of these guys goes along way towards actually casting 10-mana spells.
He calls Tusks, and I call him too fragile. Staying at one toughness makes it hard for me to justify messing with this guy. He is way worse than Garruk at any point later in the game, and even if he made guys at level one he would still be too fragile.
His fragility notwithstanding, if he survives he pumps out a steady stream of Hill Giants. Tricky levelers like this are why removal spells are quite needed in this format.
By the time you are playing him for cheap or free, you have either won the game or are about to get Wrathed. I don't see an easy way to cheat this guy into play, so unplayable he will remain.
You have to be really heavy Green to run this, though it is obviously sweet if you can. That also means most people at the table should keep their paws off it, letting you amass the enough good Green guys to power this out. Sadly, all the token-making doesn't interact with this, so that angle is out.
File this one under the "if the Spawn deck is good" heading. The Predator being cheaper than the Hatcher makes me a lot more interested, since he actually comes out soon enough to let you survive.
A Hill Giant might not be exciting, but a Hill Giant that provides a couple chumps and ramps your mana (although I suppose not at the same time necessarily) is awesome. A mana ramp deck based on these seems like a good plan, since it means you are playing straight up good cards regardless of whether you draw your top end.
Jealous of all the sweet burn Red is getting, Green throws its hat in the ring"¦and misses the bulls-eye by a mile.
Maindecking this card is just asking for trouble; even decks that cannot beat fliers shouldn't add cards that are dead unless they have them. It is a great sideboard card, so don't let the low rating fool you into thinking otherwise.
If your plan is to cast this in Constructed, I doubt your destiny is going to involve living. You might survive for another turn, but situational and expensive are not things you want on any card, much less one that only gains life.
I have to say, the same goes for Limited. I really can't imagine a matchup where you want to side this in, and maindecking it is certainly terrible. Some Zendikar Red decks would have made this less terrible, but those types of decks in this format are much less fierce.
[draft]Might of the Masses[/draft]
This fits perfectly in the Khalni Hydra deck.
A solid trick, but not a must-play. If you are creature light, this isn't the kind of card you want, though it is awesome in decks that plan on pumping out a ton of Spawn. This is also the kind of card that ends sentences like "I only lose if he has"¦".
Greater Good saw a good amount of play, and this isn't that much worse. There might not be Dragons like [card yosei the morning star]Yosei[/card] to sacrifice, but there are plenty of big monsters, and not having to discard three cards kind of makes up for the one-shot nature of the deal. So many cards in this set just fold to Jund, and I greatly look forward to the day when I can re-evaluate everything that Blightning made unplayable (a category which I fear this belongs in).
The rating on this is based on the assumption that most Green decks will have multiple guys with power four or more. Just sacrificing a four-power guy out of the blue is passable, but not really how Momentous Fall shines. Sacrificing a guy in response to removal, or a Narcolepsied guy, is just awesome, and a definite blowout. This isn’t the easiest card to get full value out of, but any card that draws you a ton of cards is worth considering. It also interacts really well with Kiln Fiend.
So, let me get this straight. I need to be playing a deck that is almost all creatures and lands, not spells, and I don't really get to choose if I get a beater or a mana ramp? I think I'll pass. Not many decks need both Wooly Thoctar and Greenweaver Druid, so playing that split card seems like a setup. Add the restriction of not being able to play cards that do things other than attack (aka, spells), and you have one of the more overrated cards in the set.
One the other hand, Limited decks are fine with either half of this, and guess what: many of them don't play many spells, especially the Green ones! If you want to channel your inner Timmy, do so in Limited.
Naturally, they have to reprint staples like this. It doesn't make them any more exciting, but having cards like this around is good. You never know when you may need them.
If it could kill Eldrazi, this would be a card I might consider playing main, but as is you really shouldn't. I would have to play sealed many more times before pronouncing quite the same verdict, but for now just sideboard this.
How enormous 3/5's lurk is beyond me, but I doubt I will find out in Constructed.
If you need a five-drop, he fills the slot admirably. I think he will be found lurking in maindecks more often than sideboards, though usually as the 22nd or 23rd card.
Slightly more than half of a Kozilek's Predator is definitely better than paying for the full thing. This might even make the leap to non-Ramp decks, since two guys for two mana does good things with cards like Eldrazi Monument. I like this guy; he has a minor but solid effect and is a decent value card, which is good for just two mana.
Uncuttable, but I would rather just pay more mana for Kozilek's Predator most games. Then again, why not play both? Turn two Nest Invader into turn three Predator is niiiiice.
Four mana for acceleration defeats the purpose unless you are getting multiple mana out of the deal, and the 2/4 body is not enough to make up for that lack.
Need I mention how often I played Pillarfield Ox? It doesn't matter what style of deck you are running, Ondu Giant will be a key player. Deciding between him and Nest Invader seems tough, and will probably come down to curve and whether you have stuff like Broodwarden.
If you are trying to ramp mana and want a blocker, the Battlement looks like it will fill the role well. I'm not even taking into account the times when you draw two of these and go nuts, since I think even without that this does the job very well. Most decks that are interested this won't usually have too many other removal targets, which does weaken it a little, but four toughness is still a great number. It will be interesting to see if Jund adopts this, since if they are already playing Rampant Growth it might be an upgrade against really aggressive decks like Allies or Mono-Red, though definitely a downgrade against decks with Wrath and Spreading Seas (which makes it a bad move most likely).
Green has a ton of good ramp this set, and I have a hard time seeing myself cutting any of it from my draft decks. Blocking anything they play in the first few turns (that doesn't have level counters) and accelerating you is a lot to get out of a two-drop. Having your mana producers be relevant at most points in the game is always awesome.
I really want to like this, since gaining seven life is sweet, but for seven mana you can just do so many awesome things in Constructed. Cheating it into play is similarly pointless, since at that point you could just have an Emrakul or an Iona.
If you are going to tap seven mana, this is a good thing to cast, and all the ramp in Green suggests that it will happen without too much trouble. You obviously don't want to play very many enormous drops, but this is at the top of my list.
Not exactly the perfect counter to Staggershock, but kind of a value card none the less. The ideal use is countering a removal spell or trading for a creature and then doing an extra two damage, but Giant Growths need to do way more than that to see Constructed play.
If you want a pump spell, I guess this is a decent one. I hate pump spells, but they certainly have their uses. I will have a hard time not saying that it's back"¦with a VENGEANCE whenever I rebound it. If I don't say it out loud, trust me, I'm thinking it.
It is hard to call a card that gets you two cards at instant speed for three mana "unplayable", but I suspect that Realms is, at least for the foreseeable future. Only being able to get lands makes this more of a value card than an actual engine, and trying to "go off" with Grim Discovery seems suspect at best. In any format where you have Life from the Loam, you could also cast Gifts Ungiven or Intuition, which set the whole thing up better. I know this is one of the cooler cards from the new set, and don't get me wrong, I love Gifts, but this is just not Gifts.
How are you playing four different land types, and what happens if you draw one of the ones that you are only playing one of, or you tutor and they dump your splash colors into the bin? This isn't even a four-color sort of draft format, making the whole scenario that much less plausible.
This does say "draw a card", which goes a long way towards getting me to like it, but if you are hitting them with an Umbra'ed guy, why not live the dream and have it be of the Bear variety.
I like this Umbra more than most, because they can't just take a hit or two and two for one you with a spell. If they are tapped out, even if they have the Regress they are trading one for one, so that softens the blow. Once you are getting value out of your Umbra, I have less of a problem with the fact that they open you up to two for one's.
Making a guy into Spiderman is best saved for some sort of superhero-themed casual deck, not actual Constructed.
Playing an Umbra for purely defensive purposes is pretty miserable, so even as a sideboard card I’m not very excited about Spider Umbra. Like most Umbras, if they don’t have good answers to them AND you have powerful creatures to protect, it gets much better, so keep an eye out for that situation.
I'm sure in ages long past, there are tournament Magic decks that would have played this. Actually, as recently as Worlds 2009 there were people spotted with Grizzled Leotau in play, and this isn't too far past that. Either way, don't expect to spot any Spiders in tournaments.
Purely a defensive card, this does protect one of Green's weak points, which is flying defense. If you are aggressive, this will have little interest to you, but in a normal Green deck it usually makes it.
It is pretty hard to do any stomping when a one-mana burn spells takes you out, which is exactly what would happen if you managed to survive long enough to summon this.
Mosstodon version two, and I rarely cut Mosstodon. As long as you are fine trading your five-drop for their four-drop + a bit of damage, running this guy is fine. He is also a great target for Umbras and pump spells, since all of a sudden you are trading a 1-drop spell for their four-drop and adding four damage, then coming back for seconds next turn.
Hosing [card]Smokestack[/card] is all well and good, but why not just kill it instead? There aren't enough [card gatekeeper of malakir]Gatekeepers[/card] to justify running this, and even if there were, Vampires could just Disfigure or Urge to Feed it before playing a Gatekeeper. Stopping Annihilator is similarly useless, since they still are hitting you with a 10/10 or 15/15.
He is basically just a bear, since my Annihilator comment from above still applies. If you are drafting a really aggressive decks, Bears are fine, but in a normal deck he won't really pull his weight.
I really like this card, and for multiple reasons. It may seem odd for me to like such an aggressive beast, but I was seen attacking with Wild Nacatl in San Diego. Not only does Vengevine punish Blightning, which is in dire need of punishing, it also takes some actual thought in deck construction. You can't just throw four Vengevines in a deck and have them be awesome. There are a few directions to take Vengevine, which I am sure most people are aware of. Combining it with Bloodbraid Elf and a deck that cascades mostly into dudes is good (and could work in Jund"¦there goes the punishing Blightning theory), and so is using Ranger of Eos and/or cantrip guys. Also, bouncing Kor Skyfisher is very interesting, and could spawn a whole new archetype. Right now I don't know which is the best route, but the fact that Ranger and Bloodbraid are both four-drops means a lot of careful balancing is necessary, since you don't want to become too top-heavy. Vengevine is powerful and resilient enough to demand a deck that builds around him, and since the payoff is there the decks will be too.
Don't get too excited; Vengevine isn't as good in Limited as it is Constructed. It is quite good, but bringing it back takes way more work than you might think, and probably won't happen multiple times in the same game. Of course, a hasty 4/3 for four that comes back even once is absurd, so I'm not complaining. It works really well with Cadaver Imp, so keep that in mind.
He's got heart, but Constructed is a harsh battlefield, and heart isn't enough.
I have already been gotten by this guy, since unlike the other Invokers, he is actually somewhat undercosted. He hits for eight, then once it looks like eight mana is doable, he sits out for a few turns until he makes blocking utterly impossible.
Top Five Green Cards for Constructed
5. [card]Growth Spasm[/card]
4. [card]Awakening Zone[/card]
3. [card]Overgrown Battlement[/card]
2. [card]Joraga Treespeaker[/card]
Vengevine is the clear leader here, with the power to demand multiple new archetypes or at least versions of existing decks. All the rest of the cards add mana, which is no surprise, given what Green tends to do. Much like Red and burn spells, Green now gets to choose what its endgame is, and which ramps it wants to get it there.
When I wrap up with Colorless and Lands this Sunday, I will have a Top 5 Commons for Limited list for all the colors, since there seems to be some demand for that. I can't really justify going much more in-depth my conclusions, sadly, because these reviews eat up a ton of time as is.
See you all Sunday!