Well, it’s happening again: One of Magic’s trademark cards is going to be tossed out the window. Those of you following the”Selecting Eighth Edition” promotion going on at magicthegathering.com know what I’m talking about; either Birds of Paradise or Llanowar Elves, two little critters that have carried the torch for green since the beginning of Magic, are about to be sent the way of the Lightning Bolt. And I very much fear that I know which one it’s going to be.
I hope that I am wrong about this, truly I do – but I believe that Magic players are going to vote with their wallets. Since no one will want to see the Birds of Paradise that they paid $9 a pop for get rotated out of the Standard environment, we’re going to have to say goodbye to Llanowar Elves. This vote will be decided by the fact that one of these cards bears a golden”7,” while the other’s is merely black, and the fact that everyone wants their shot at a set of foil Birds. It is because of this that I write this article, because I hope that I can change a future that seems all but foretold.
If you’ve already voted, well… There’s nothing to be done about it. But if you haven’t, please read on.
Consider the companion cards for the Birds and Elves: Vine Trellis and Utopia Tree, respectively. Just think about it for a minute. You may have realized what I did, and if you didn’t, I’ll tell you. Vine Trellis will never replace Llanowar Elves. Not in our hearts, and certainly not in our decklists. Any deck that would have featured the Elves will simply switch over to the Birds without hesitation. The Masques wall can’t swing for one, so why pay an extra mana for it? Some players may opt for neo-elves like Harvester Druid, but most will bring in the Birdies. Not that Wizards would have a problem with that. More decks with Birds means more packs of Eighth Edition being ripped open, which means more profits. I’m not saying that Wizards is hell-bent on driving Llanowar Elves out of the base set for monetary reasons – but rest assured they won’t be working too hard to replace it, at least not at the common slot. On the other hand, Utopia Tree may yet find a home in decks that might have included Birds of Paradise. Some two-color and most three-color decks, which are going to be a little shy on the multi-lands they need with the rotation of Invasion block, will be willing to pay that one extra mana for the consistency they need. And isn’t it worth it? Wouldn’t you pay two mana for an all-color producer? It sure makes more sense than a card that produces any color for G and a card that only produces green for 1G.
And what about the future? No longer able to roam the grassy plains of Standard, Llanowar Elves will sink into Extended obscurity with their Fyndhorn cousins. Birds, on the other hand, still flourish in Extended, and would no doubt continue to do so, even should they rotate out of type 2. I wouldn’t even be surprised if, after two years, the Birds journey the path that Serra Angel, Sengir Vampire, and now Ernham Djinn have forged back into Standard. The drop in value that will scare many voters into choosing the Bird/Trellis tag team would probably never come. But who notices a drop in value for a five-cent common?
Well, I do. And maybe, just maybe, you do too.