Last, but certainly not least, the Green cards are up!
A seven-mana 8/8 (or bigger) is usually a good deal, but in such a fast format you do need a way to get it out more quickly, via Boreal Druids or Into the North. The alternate cost ability isn’t used very frequently, but in some games you are that aggressive, and it can be great in such circumstances. A good overall fatty.
Cumulative upkeep is often bad in Green decks because it stops you getting to the top of your curve, but Arctic Nishoba is probably already the top of your curve so it doesn’t matter that much. A 6/6 trampler for six is good stats, and to me the cumulative upkeep effect has been more of an advantage than a disadvantage. Be careful not to draft too many six-drops, though… Aurochs Herd is also quite a powerful six-drop that’s a common, and also better in some decks than this card.
Turn 6 is pretty late in this format, that’s why you’ll want to maximize the amount of mana acceleration in a deck with many copies of this. You’ll probably end up with a lot of mana sources, but that doesn’t matter too much if you can play three or four 4/4 creatures once you hit six mana. Your draft strategy needs to be slightly adjusted if you’re drafting a Green deck with copies of this guy, but it’s well worth picking mana acceleration over otherwise better spells.
Two-drops don’t get much better than this. Most of the time you will be able to make it a 3/3, making it bigger than any two-drop in the format, and the fact that it’s a snow creature allows you to deal more damage with Skred, or give it first strike, or other beneficial side-effects dependant on your card pool. In some decks you’ll prefer Into the North in the two-slot, but most of the time this is going to be your best option for two mana.
Mana acceleration is scare again, as are good one-drops, making Boreal Druid all the better. It’s also a snow creature that gives you snow mana, and I really think that a solid manabase with plenty of snow mana separates the good decks from the great ones. Depending on your deck, Boreal Druid is one of the three best commons in Green: the Druid, Boreal Centaur, and Ronom Hulk.
It’s not a snow creature, and its ability doesn’t do much, but a four mana 4/4 body is above average. The double-colored mana requirement isn’t a big drawback, since all decks I’ve drafted thus far have been two colors with a manabase close to 9/8.
This is Green’s third two-drop; it just doesn’t quite match up with Into the North and Boreal Centaur. While having multiple copies of this one is nice, they still have only one toughness, meaning that they’ll get killed very easily no matter how many you’ve got. It’s still a 2/1 for two, which is fine, but most of the time you’ll want something better in the two-slot. The other options are more powerful in most circumstances.
While it might shut down large parts of some decks, it is too hard to maintain the cumulative upkeep, and I very much doubt I’ll ever see this played in a 40-card deck.
Against some decks it can hold off an entire team, but there aren’t that many flying creatures in the format. Against other decks it’s just a 1/3 for three mana… not a good deal at all. Even if you are playing against flying creatures, if it’s really annoying for them, they are likely to be able to tap it down. Besides, when you’re playing Green, you should be the one attacking, and Frostweb Spider isn’t a very good attacker. A good sideboard card against some decks if you’re not that aggressive, but most of the time it’s too weak to play in the maindeck.
Card advantage is scarce in this format, so that would make you think that Hibernation’s End should be really good. A fair assessment, but because of the scarceness of card advantage, the decks are a lot faster and Hibernation’s End is really only going to win you games if you have it stick around for four or five turns without dying. It’s quite expensive, and you’ll probably have it stuck in your hand during the early game, but the effect is powerful enough to make it a very decent card.
Another good creature that fits right into your curve, with high power and toughness for its cost. It can’t be killed with Chill to the Bone either, a nice added ability. Too bad it’s not a snow creature despite its Yeti creature type.
Martyr of Spores
If you’re heavy into Green and there’s no better option for you, Martyr of Spores is a nice one-drop with a reasonably useful ability. You shouldn’t wait too long to use its effect though, because you’ll cast those spells at some point and the Martyr thus becomes much less powerful. A decent one-drop, but still a bit too weak to auto-include it in any deck.
Unless you’ve really got no other option, I wouldn’t ever include this in the maindeck as it’s a dead card far too often. I don’t think this format has enough good targets for it, so you’ll really have to judge by games 1 and 2 whether or not it’s worth it to board it in. If you have to take out a good spell to make room for it, you’ll need a very good reason to justify bringing it to the party.
There aren’t many tricks available to support it, so you’ll have to combine it with some removal spells for it to be really good, but if you get it out early enough you might not need anything extra to force a two-for-one trade. I’m not sure how highly I would pick it, since it really depends on what the rest of your deck is like (for example, it’s almost always better in Green/Red than it is in Green/White, because of the removal spells), but I think I’d pick it about as highly as the other good Green commons, depending on how many of each casting cost I’ve already got.
It’s very big and expensive, and Into the North tutors it up for a nice late-game plan. Its toughness isn’t that high, but it’s a nine-power trampler. Even if it trades for just one guy, it’s likely that you deal three or four points in the progress, which isn’t a bad deal. Most of the time, when you’ve got some removal or tricks to support it, it’s unstoppable. That meets my requirements for a seven-drop in this format.
For a change, Green has only one combat trick to play with… but it’s a very nice one. The casting cost and recover cost are cheap enough, so you’ll probably be able to use it several times per game. With Green decks you’re usually the aggressor, and it’s much easier to keep mana up to recover it in your attack step than in your opponent’s attack step. The inevitable team-blocks your opponent will make (because your guys will be bigger than his) now become two-for-one trades, so I’d pick Resize over a lot of cards.
Finding good blocks will be a tough challenge for your opponent once you have this down and one snow mana for each creature your opponent has. If you can’t control all blocks, your opponent might be able to double-block one of your guys, and its ability isn’t that useful in such cases. Even then it’s a 3/3 for five mana, which is a marginal deal, but the situations when the ability does work well make up for when it’s “just” a 3/3.
In itself it’s not that good, because your Green decks will need mana, even later on, but many decks have great difficulty in dealing with this pro-snow 5/6 body. Chill to the Bone and Rimewind Taskmage are the only effective ways in the common slot to deal with it, and I’ve seen many decks that don’t have enough ways to deal with it and just need to win very quickly when this one comes out. Depending on the number of six-drops you have, I always like to have some copies of this guy in my deck, simply because it wrecks some drafting strategies.
Shape of the Wiitigo
It’s very slow and doesn’t give your guy trample, but it can still win you games when it’s uncontested. There aren’t usually many open slots in the six-mana department in Green, so it’s got some competition for only a few slots, which might be a reason for you to pass it. A slow (but sometimes game-winning) card.
Without a good combo, it’s usually not worth it. The upkeep will catch up with the size of your guy too quickly. In Green/White decks, there are two nice combos with it in the common slot: Squall Drifter and Gelid Shackles (with a snow land). It’s a bit risky to play though, because if you don’t have the combo with it or your opponent finds a way to get rid of that combo-piece, you’re probably going to have to sacrifice it in your upkeep.
A 3/3 creature for four mana is always welcome in my decks, and Simian Brawler is much better than that. In the early game you can keep attacking with it because of the threat of discarding a land to save it, and in the late-game it can become huge with your otherwise useless lands. It’s also Green’s only four-drop, which is another good reason to pick it highly.
Sound the Call
As a Gray Ogre it’s always playable but very marginal, but it’s got the potential to be much more than that if you get your hands on multiple copies. You shouldn’t pick it up too highly because you might end up with twenty-four playables including three Sound the Call, and three-drops aren’t that important in Green decks anyway because of the mana acceleration you’re likely to have. If you can pick a few up without sacrificing too much card quality in the process, it can sometimes be a pretty good creature, and you should try and memorize what’s in the packs you ship round the table early on and see if you’ll table the Sound the Calls.
The llama is back, only this time it does actually have useful abilities and it is playable. I’ve never had to run it maindeck in any of my Red/Green decks yet, but I wouldn’t mind it very much; sometimes you can just make it huge and it might actually be a good card in some Blue matchups. It’s still a 1/5 for five though, and when you reach five mana you really want to play a Ronom Hulk.
If you manage to ripple a few out it’ll look great, but the majority of the times it’s very marginal. You’re exposing yourself to easy two-for-one trades, since there’s no color that can’t deal with a big guy. There are also no flying creatures in any Green deck that I’ve seen to put your opponent on a very short clock. In some decks, if you manage to pick up a few copies of Surging Might, you might want to play them if you have a low curve and you need something to break through during and after the mid-game, but I don’t pick it over many cards.
I’ve covered all the individual colors, and as you might have seen in my ratings, I like Green the best. Green’s got all the good creatures of the format, and in a tempo-oriented format like this one, you really want your creatures to have good stats for their cost. Nearly every Green card is at least playable, which makes it a safe color to draft, and both decks with its allied colors are very viable drafting strategies.
Somewhere next week I’ll discuss the remainder of the cards, and give you an overview on what I’ve observed about this format thus far. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!