Green, other than maybe blue, suffers the most in moving from duel (where it already struggles) to multiplayer. While green is in many decks to provide fat creatures and mana acceleration/diversity, the color’s inherent desire to stomp all over opponents becomes more and more difficult the larger the game is.
For me, green’s value in multiplayer is in those few cards where everyone benefits… And then finding a way to exploit that benefit for yourself, even more. Green’s list contains more plankton than any other color. (Of course, at the very top, even green gets true multiplayer powerhouses that are nearly plankton-free.)
Green also, unsurprisingly, has the most creatures of any color (a whopping ten) in the Hall.
Since green is our first true color in this version of the Hall, a quick note on a rating quirk I’ve instituted: Each color’s list will have at least one card from Invasion block that contains a kicker, or other off-color requirement. These cards are obviously not gold; yet they can’t be too high on the list, since they require a second color to be completely useful. Therefore, I’ve reserved the 25th slot as the”splash” slot. Enjoy.
25. THORNSCAPE MASTER
[2GG, 2/2 Creature. WW, Tap: Target creature gets protection from the color of your choice until end of turn. RR, Tap: Thornscape Master deals two damage to target creature.]
Of the five Invasion Masters, the Thornscape Master may look the best in team play. (The white and black masters certainly look nice, too; but neither will make their color’s lists, so we’re going with Thornscape. Less arguing, more reading!) Green cannot send very many signals, and so this card, which requires tapping and a second (or third) color, is often the best it can do. It’s not bad at all.
Enhancements: Vitalize is a fun trick to play on opponents who think that they can pick on you because your Master is tapped out.
Countermeasures: I’m going to make the wild assumption for most of this list that when looking for a countermeasure to a green creature, you’re not just going to Terror it. That said, the Master is powerful; but he typically doesn’t control the entire board. By packing more than two colors, and using high-toughness creatures, you can keep the Master looking elsewhere for servants.
[G Enchant World. All players play with their hands revealed.]
Like Telepathy in blue, Revelation gets you information. The more players there are, the more information you (and everyone else) gets. Everyone benefits – thus Revelation is the first of many plankton-rich cards on the list. And this Enchant World even has a nice bit of rattlesnake blood, since you can use what’s in your hand to warn off other players.
Telepathy will get ranked higher in blue than Revelation does in green, because blue needs information more. (Also, Telepathy keeps the controller’s hand hidden.)
Enhancements: Show as much power as you can. Might of Oaks and burn in your hand can warn off multiple opponents.
Countermeasures: Consider the benefits of keeping Revelation in play, even if you’re giving up valuable information. Unless there’s a part of your deck that absolutely must stay secret, you may be better off seeing what other players have. If you can’t stand that the green mage knows what you have, you may just have to deal. Forcing a green mage into a mini-duel plays right into green’s strengths: It can handle a single upstart like you.
23. LLANOWAR SENTINEL
[2G, 2/3 Creature. When Llanowar Sentinel comes into play, you may pay 1G. If you do, search your library for another Llanowar Sentinel card and put that card into play.]
The Sentinel is a reader’s choice, getting a couple of nominations from devoted elf fans. I agree that the card is powerful in group, mainly because it does such an excellent job of building your army quickly so that opponents attack each other instead of you. No other creature can get three more copies of itself and bring them right into play. That’s worth something.
Enhancements: Aluren. You still have to pay the 1G for each additional Sentinel you find, but the idea that you can even bring four identical and sizeable creatures into play at instant speed for six mana is just a happy thought. Also, consider the usual green pump spells that affect multiple creatures: Symbiosis, Vitalizing Wind, Elvish Champion.
Countermeasures: Black has many removal cards that are really mean to elves. Be nice, and just play blue and annoying bounce cards like Withdraw and Erratic Portal, since the green mage probably tapped out to get all four Sentinels in play at once.
22. NESTING WURM
[4GG, 4/3 Creature. Trample. When Nesting Wurm comes into play, you may search your library for up to three copies of Nesting Wurm and put them into your hand. If you do, shuffle your library.]
Similar cards: Howling Wolf is a 2/2 creature that works the same way.
Far inferior to the penumbra creatures of Apocalypse, the Nesting Wurm nevertheless sends a strong signal to opponents: Don’t bother killing this one; I have three more ready to go.
Enhancements: Toim has a Wurm deck with (of all things) Belbe’s Portal. Hey, why not? A 4/3 trampler coming out at instant speed and recruiting three sisters is nothing to sneeze at.
Countermeasures: Tsabo’s Decree. Cruel, but effective.
21. GAEA’S BLESSING.
[1G Sorcery. Shuffle three target cards in your graveyard back into your library. Draw a card. If Gaea’s Blessing is put into your graveyard from your library, shuffle your entire library into your graveyard.]
Another reader’s choice, Gaea’s Blessing is useful in more situations than it may immediately appear. In addition to the obvious recursion, the Blessing stops milling strategies cold, and can even be used in conjunction with”milling” cards in your own deck to create a reliably self-replenishing library. That can be useful for all sorts of things in casual play.
Enhancements: Oath of Druids.
Countermeasures: Well, you can start by not trying to mill the green mage. After that, you can completely vex recursion strategies through Planar Void, Rapid Decay, Tombstone, and Phyrexian Furnace.
20. HUNTED WUMPUS
[3G, 6/6 Creature. When Hunted Wumpus comes into play, each other player may choose a creature card in his or her hand and put that card into play.]
Technically, this should not be a good multiplayer card. But emotionally, this is a great deal of fun, if for no other reason than there always seems to be at least one player who, no matter how many phenomenal creatures they’ve stuffed their deck with, has not a single creature card in their hand on the fourth turn.
Enhancements: Keep a Seal of Doom on the table so that the Wumpus doesn’t bring out too powerful a hunter. Ostracize or Unsummon also works.
Countermeasures: Abyssal Gatekeeper is the ultimate anti-Wumpus-hunter tool. Ruins the fun for everyone. Good times.
19. LIEGE OF THE HOLLOWS
[2GG, 3/4 Creature. When this is put into a graveyard from play, each player may pay any amount of mana. Each player puts into play a number of 1/1 green squirrel creature tokens equal to the amount of mana he or she paid this way.]
One of the few cards that almost always slows games down for a few turns, as everyone sits on their mana for three to five turns waiting for the Liege to die.
Enhancements: Deranged Hermit, Squirrel Wrangler, Overrun, and Vitalizing Wind. Another route would be sacking your own squirrels to black heavies like Lord of the Pit, Devouring Strossus, and Cateran Overlord. Still another route would be combo: with Earthbind, Phyrexian Altar, and a few other cards (I don’t want to encourage this too much), Theo made a serviceable infinite loop…which once lost beautifully to Pete’s Reins of Power/Altar of Dementia combo, but that’s another story.
Countermeasures: If you don’t have a Pete’s Reins of Power/Altar of Dementia combo, you could always just Fault Line the infernal rodents.
18. ELADAMRI’S VINEYARD
[G Enchantment. At the beginning of each player’s pre-combat main phase, add GG to that player’s mana pool.]
Helping like-minded players and hurting control mages, the Vineyard is a card that reaps unexpected benefits to the controller. Many players take one or two mana burn when they don’t have anything to play because of their deck’s strategy, or when they run out of cards. Often, the Vineyard is greeted by cheers for about five turns, and then becomes the object of panicked attempts at removal in the mid-game. Meanwhile, you’ll ALWAYS have a use for the mana… Right?
Enhancements: We’re looking for things with activated abilities costing 2 that we’d want to use during our first main phase. I’m thinking Masticore, Carnassid (or a million other regenerators), Squallmonger, the Invasion”weavers,” spikes and slivers, and Killer Bees. Those spells costing four mana are best: You want a nice, heavy turn two play.
You might also want to try creatures with haste, which are used to coming out during your first main phase.
Countermeasures: If you cannot use the mana, you might confound the green mage’s mana sink plans with a Cursed Totem.
[2GG Enchantment. At the beginning of your upkeep, put a wind counter on Cyclone. Then, you may pay G for each wind counter on Cyclone. If you do, Cyclone deals damage equal to the number of wind counters on it to each creature and player. If you don’t, sacrifice Cyclone.]
While many of my card choices come from what we might call the”modern” age of Magic (that is, Mirage block onward), I do admire many of the little-known cards from old expansions. This little ditty from Alice block is, if you look at it hard enough, a Pestilence for green.
Read it again… A Pestilence for green!
It can easily last for four turns, all the while doing damage to creatures AND players. And it should last longer than that, if you want it to. Heck, this is a great second-turn drop after Eladamri’s Vineyard. If it didn’t have cumulative upkeep, it would be far higher on the list. As it is, it is an important, often-overlooked control card for green.
Enhancements: Fat creatures, or creatures with regeneration (make them black, so you can use non-green mana to regenerate). Or go red-green creatureless (!), mixing with cards like Desert Twister and Ghitu Fire.
Countermeasures: You can use your own tough creatures; or you can try to deny the green mage the mana necessary to use this through Armageddon, etc. Even better, you could attack or burn the green mage down to the point where universal damage looks like a bad idea.
16. VETERAN EXPLORER
[G, 1/1 Creature. When Veteran Explorer is put into a graveyard from play, each player may search his or her library for two basic land cards and put them into play. Then, each player who searched his or her library shuffles it.]
Don’t be fooled by the high rattlesnake rating: this is a boon to everyone. The snake component just signifies the”signal” nature of the card, and that signal is: Kill this Explorer!
Enhancements: After everyone gets used to the idea of attacking you so you’ll block with the Explorer and let it die, throw a curve by pumping the guy with Invigorate so you kill the attacker. Sure, it’s a killjoy; but it’ll be good for a laugh some late evening.
Countermeasures: Run basic lands.
15. CONCORDANT CROSSROADS
[G Enchant World. All creatures have haste.]
Before there was Fires, before there was Fervor, there was Concordant Crossroads. An excellent first-turn drop, the Crossroads is a top-notch game accelerator. It’s also an implicit warning to everyone that no attack will go uncountered – even if the defender has no blockers this turn, he may still mount an effective counterattack next turn.
Enhancements: Well, what do you want to have haste? A Benalish Trapper? A Shivan Wurm? A Blastoderm? A Ballista Squad? A Prodigal Sorcerer? Four Llanowar Elves in a row?
Countermeasures: Instant removal gains a premium when haste creatures dominate a group game. So do Seals of Removal, and Royal Assassins.
14. PENUMBRA WURM.
[5GG, 6/6 Creature. Trample. When Penumbra Wurm is put into a graveyard from play, put a 6/6 black Wurm token with trample into play.]
Similar cards: Penumbra Bobcat and Penumbra Kavu are the smaller cousins of the Wurm.
When experienced players measure targets for the Terror they just played, their primary concern is, will hitting this creature do me any good? The next concern is, will hitting this creature come back to haunt me?
The Penumbra Wurm answers back: No, and yes.
By generating a successor capable of revenge, the Wurm usually avoids targeted removal altogether. Even players thinking of casting Wrath of God have to consider the consequences more carefully. It’s not a surprise that a 6/6 trampler changes the board. What’s surprising is WHAT it changes, exactly.
Enhancements. Global removal such as Rout or Obliterate will leave you with the main damage generator. Also consider color-play, like Ascendant Evincar, to make your first Wurm weaker (and therefore easier to kill) and your second Wurm stronger.
Countermeasures. A simple Waterfront Bouncer is enough to keep the trampling black token far, far away from you.
13. CITY OF SOLITUDE
[2G Enchantment. Each player may only play spells and abilities during his or her turn.]
The more players there are, the more the City of Solitude locks out those players who like to meddle in other player’s turns. Instead, the game turns into a more predictable slugfest focused around creature combat and board-sweeping sorceries.
Enhancements: You could get really cute and play Arcane Laboratory.
Countermeasures: Soltari Visionary.
[2GG Enchantment. At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, all players untap their creatures and lands.]
Similar cards: Vitalize is a one-shot instant that works only for your creatures. Llanowar Druid is a creature with a one-shot ability that works only for your lands.
Having untapped creatures is a boon in multiplayer. Green turns every creature into a Serra Angel-wannabe, and gives players with use for mana at instant speed a new lease on life. The more players there are, the more aggressive players with instants to play gain.
Enhancements: The ultimate, in my view, is Tradewind Rider, which becomes a machine. Shivan Gorge looks nice, too. There are so many permanents with effects that require tapping – they all get enormous boosts!
Countermeasures: I’m fairly certain, after much analysis and many headaches, that Opposition is indeed a good countermeasure for Awakening. It is, if nothing else, highly annoying for the controller of Awakening, if you keep immediately tapping his stuff at the beginning of every upkeep.
[2GG Enchantment. Any player may play a creature card with total converted casting cost 3 or less whenever he or she could play an instant and without paying its casting cost.]
Similar cards: Vernal Equinox allows all players to play all summon and enchantment cards at instant speed – but you must pay the mana cost.
Once again, the green mage is throwing a party, and everyone’s invited.
Enhancements: Any card, creature or enchantment, that says”comes into play.” Equilibrium, Uktabi Orangutan, Bone Shredder, Pandemonium, and Monk Realist are the first to come to mind. Slivers with Aluren are terrifying, and in fact this was almost certainly the first use Wizards had in mind for the card.
How unhappy am I that Mystic Snake costs four mana? Very unhappy. But less unhappy when I think about what havoc the thing would wreak in an Equilibrium–Aluren deck.
Countermeasures: If you know this card gets use in your group, be sure to pack a few small creatures in most of your decks. Rest assured that a timely Evincar’s Justice or Pyroclasm will knock out 80% of the 3-cc creatures out there.
[XG Sorcery. Deals X damage to all creatures with flying and all players.]
Similar cards: The Squallmonger lets just about anyone put up a mini-hurricane at instant speed. Ifh-Biff Efreet puts mini-hurricanes in your own hands. Needle Storm will pound all flyers for four damage, without hurting players.
One of the very few green sources of direct damage out there (the short list includes Squallmonger, Heartwood Giant, Storm Seeker, Unyaro Bee Sting, and maybe one or two others), Hurricane can make a strong statement against many creature-type decks, including slivers, angels, skirges, birds, and dragons. It’s as good a finisher as Earthquake – and maybe better, since it often leaves your own ground-pounders intact.
Enhancements: Give creatures flying at instant speed with Buoyancy, Jump, Balloon Peddler, and Sailmonger. You may also want to ground one of your own valued flyers with an Emerald Charm in response to your own Hurricane. Spike Feeders are also useful, cheap lifegain to keep you ahead in the life race.
9. DROP OF HONEY
[G Enchantment. At the beginning of your upkeep, destroy target creature with the lowest power. It can’t be regenerated. If two or more creatures are tied for lowest power, destroy only one of them. When there are no creatures in play, sacrifice Drop of Honey.]
Like Cyclone, Drop of Honey was created in an age before Wizards really paid close attention to what colors should be able to do what. This is, after all, universal creature removal, which ain’t exactly easy being green.
Enhancements: Create an army of untargetable creatures, like Vintara Snapper and Deadly Insect! Till the Night Soil and get a mass of 1/1 worms! (Make them after the Drop is gone, please.) Use Pyroclasm to rid the board of smaller creatures, so you can get to big game more quickly!
Countermeasures: Remember that the Drop of Honey has to target a creature – and also, that it gets buried if there are no creatures on the board. You should be able to come up with your own strategies to get that done, by now.
8. NATURAL AFFINITY
[2G Instant. All lands become 2/2 creatures until end of turn. They still count as lands.]
Similar cards: Living Lands is an enchantment that makes all lands 1/1 creatures. Verdant Touch is a buyback spell that affects one land at a time, but permanently. Jolrael, Empress of Beasts, is a legendary spellshaper that turns all of a single player’s lands into creatures. And the Life half of Life/Death turns all of your lands into 1/1 creatures. Animate Land turns a single land into a more substantial 3/3 beast.
I’m always intrigued by the ability Wizards has given green to turn lands into creatures. It’s often too unwieldy to use, but in group games the applications can be fruitful.
Enhancements: Gaea’s Cradle and artifact mana will help you keep up mana stores so you can use your lands for attack and defense. Spidersilk Armor will give your lands an edge over other people’s. And of course, lots of cards become Armageddon when lands are creatures. Also, an Evacuation becomes a Sunder. A Thundermare will tap everyone’s lands… Got any Rhystic spells? Perhaps the most promising card to play on a creature-land is Eradicate.
Countermeasures: Before Natural Affinity is played, your best bet is to be conservative with the lands you lay down. (This is a good idea, anyway.) After it’s played, you should try to be ready with a Reins of Power (use on a third player to block the Natural Affinity mage’s attack) or, in desperation, a Fault Line.
[2GG, */*+1 Creature. * equals the number of creature cards in all graveyards.]
“Ach, Hans, run!”
Enhancements:“Ach, Hans, play mass removal!”
Countermeasures:“Ach, Hans, Honor the Fallen!”
[2GG Sorcery. Each player may put an artifact, creature, enchantment, or land card from his or her hand into play. Players take turns playing cards from their hands until no one wants to put another card into play. If a spell has an X in its casting cost, X = 0.]
Back to the plankton festival! The old-school precursor to Hunted Wumpus and similar cards.
Enhancements: Well, quality spells would be a good start. To keep the fun going, though, try laying down a Hunted Wumpus, Charmed Griffin, Portcullis, Hired Giant, Enslaved Horror, and Uktabi Orangutan to see just how complex you can make the stack.
Countermeasures: Only a killjoy would stop this – say, sounds like you’re a blue mage! Okay, then, how about Capsize afterward? Or laying down a Nevinyrral’s Disk (preferably with a Voltaic Key so you can use it immediately)?
5. CREEPING MOLD.
[2GG Sorcery. Destroy target artifact, enchantment, or land.] SIMILAR CARDS: There are pieces of this card scattered throughout green: Verdigris for artifacts, Winter’s Grasp for land, Emerald Charm for global enchantments. You can play two more for Desert Twister and hit everything Creeping Mold can, plus creatures. That’s not a bad deal, and Desert Twister almost got top billing here.
While the Mold rates low in animal aspects, it has one incredibly strong element going for it: It can destroy the majority of the cards you’ll see throughout the Hall of Fame. Every artifact, every land, and a bunch of the colored cards (that is, the enchantments) all fall prey to the lowly Creeping Mold. Pack two to four in any deck that you feel needs to clear a path for its creatures.
Enhancements: Needs none.
Countermeasures: Spiritual Asylum will protect your lands; Sacred Ground will bring them back. Fountain Watch and Hanna’s Custody will protect your artifacts.
4. OATH OF DRUIDS
[1G Enchantment. During each player’s upkeep, if that player controls fewer creatures than an opponent, the player may reveal cards from his or her library until he or she reveals a creature card. The player puts that creature into play and all other revealed cards into his or her graveyard.]
The last of the green plankton cards. And you can very much bend this one to your will; some very popular Extended decks use the Oath to bore their opponent to death.
Enhancements: I’ll set aside the clever library manipulation tricks, for now, and focus on what might give you an advantage just based on creature and card quality. Aether Flash will destroy your less-prepared opponents’ creatures; and Quicksilver Amulet will get into play whatever off-color creatures you may have caught in your hand.
Countermeasures: Eradicate can clean a library out of the worst threats. Death Pits of Rath makes even the heaviest creatures think twice about attacking. And of course, you can pack your own enormous creatures.
3. TRANQUIL GROVE
[1G Enchantment. 1GG: Destroy all other enchantments.]
Similar cards: Tranquility is the no-frills root card that destroys all enchantments. Other variants include Multani’s Decree (gain two life for each enchantment destroyed), Hush (has cycling option), and Reverent Silence (alternate casting cost: Everyone else gains six life).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: too many groups play too many damn enchantments. (I don’t care if this Hall hypocritically promotes a bunch of cool enchantments; can’t you see I’m busy being crotchety, here?!?) Tranquil Grove is a first-rate, reusable card advantage machine against players who have a hard time accepting your creatures-first philosophy.
Enhancements: Be sure not to run any other enchantments in your deck (or make them sackable, like Seal of Strength). If you run four Groves, use spellshapers to make use of the extras you draw. If you run only one or two, use Regrowth, Revive, Reclaim, or Reanything else to make sure you’ll be able to get it back from the graveyard.
Countermeasures: Hey, play less enchantments. Then you won’t care, right?!?!
2. MULTANI, MARO-SORCERER
[4GG, */* Creature. * equals the number of cards in all players’ hands. Multani, Maro-Sorcerer cannot be the target of spells or abilities.]
Similar cards: The targetable Maro, which only feeds off of your own cards.
If brought out early through green or black mana acceleration, there shouldn’t be a creature you’d rather have in a multiplayer chaos game. (Except, maybe, for #1.) If it gets out by turn three or four (think BoP, Vine Trellis, Dark Ritual and with land drops you’ve got mana to spare), at least two players should see early exits.
In the mid-to-late game, Multani should still be respectable. You just have to watch for opponents playing instants or spellshaper abilities (i.e., dumping cards) in response to Multani’s attack or block.
Enhancements: I promised myself I wouldn’t mention Pandemonium, so everyone just don’t look at the beginning of this sentence, okay? Thanks.
Howling Mine, Prosperity, and Indentured Djinn will all give fuel to Multani. Splashing black or red to remove potential chump blockers is certainly smart, but also consider Primal Rage or Stampede Driver to give untargeted trample to all of your creatures.
Countermeasures: A first-turn Dark Ritual, Bottomless Pit suddenly makes Multani look very, very small. You can also make life difficult for Multani’s controller by making him pay through Black Vise or Viseling for the cards kept in hand.
1. VERDANT FORCE
[5GGG, 7/7 Creature. During each player’s upkeep, put a 1/1 green Saproling token into play.]
A beast that absolutely thrives on multiplayer games. It’s so good, some groups actually ban it. I think that’s extreme; but I agree that the Force is such an obvious choice, it’s best used sparingly.
Enhancements: The tokens were used in the 1998 tournament scene to pay Recurring Nightmare’s activation cost. You can build a near-impenetrable sky defense with Spidersilk Armor. Saprolings march proud and tall beneath a Coat of Arms. And feel free to make more Saprolings with Invasion block”mutation” cards like Aether Mutation (bringing back the Force to your hand for a turn generates eight more Saprolings…of course, this is not worth it if you have nine opponents!)
Countermeasures: A Warmonger will keep the babies at bay, and may even inspire enough coordination among your opponents to off the Force. You could also try to Donate a Carnival of Souls to the Saproling master. As for the Verdant Force itself, hey, it’s just another creature, right? Kill it or steal it.
NEXT WEEK: We’ll look at the white and black cards.