Hi ho – your friendly neighborhood Bald Writer Guy here! Fear not, Rizzo may have left us but I’m still here, cranking out what passes for strategy and opinions.
Yes, I know; I’ve been a little silent as of late. To be honest, I haven’t been playing too much lately. Haven’t had Magic on the mind as much as I have in times past. After all the work put into Regionals, I decided to take a little break – and with work and relationships and all that, I just haven’t had that much to write about. I’ve been sitting fallow, the Magic doldrums, the one found between Regionals and the release of usually overpowered third expansion in the year’s stand-alone set.
Until a few days ago, at least.
I’ve seen the Judgment spoiler, and thought about doing a card-by-card breakdown, but Zvi’s already done that (although you do you have to pay for it) – and besides, evaluating cards before you actually play with them is akin to judging a team’s draft choices before they even suit up. It’s all conjecture until the cards are actually in your deck.
I could go on about how I think, down the road, R&D is going to regret printing the Wish cards, or how ridiculously overpowered U/G is going to be with the printing of Quiet Speculation. But what got me thinking was Chad Ellis‘ article over on the Sideboard about the Anurid Brushhopper. Great creature, that. And the Ernham is back. Ernie’s back! Oh, happy day.
With the influx of powerful new white and green cards in Judgment, the question of the day becomes: will W/G be any good in Standard?
Why White/Green Will Be Good
- Best Creature Base in the Game
Anurid Brushhopper, I’ve touched on. And the Ernham Djinn marks the return of all the traditional fatties to the Standard environment, Serra, Sengir and Fat Moti being the others. Who cares about the Erhnam’s liability? Fine; your Birds have forestwalk. It wasn’t a problem back in the days of Ernhamgeddon and it won’t be a problem now.
Standard right now is skewed away from combo and control and more towards creature-based kill mechanism. R/G, B/G, U/G, even ‘Tog – all depend on creatures to do their work, not burn, not combo. And in a creature-heavy environment, he who has the biggest stick wins.
The Brushhopper and Ernham both can survive a hit from Flametongue – Brushhopper dodges, Ernham laughs and says,”Ho! That tickles!” – which is basically the acid test for any creature in Standard right now. Add in the non-tapping Serra Angel and mana acceleration, any you can give R/G a run for the money.
Hunting Grounds. Dear Lord, you drop this, get to threshold, and all of the sudden even an Opt becomes a potential instant Brushhopper. Or Ernham. Or Reya, Dawnbringer. Or Phantom Nishoba. With a few copies of Eladamri’s Call, you can run a silver bullet approach to building your deck, running one copy of certain creatures. Combined with Genesis… Oh, man, I don’t even want to think about it.
The Monastery is okay, but too bad there’s so much landkill in the environment.
I may have to revise that statement.
What keeps these from being Black Lotus-broken is the need to get to threshold, and white/green is not a color combination that excels at that. Sungrass Eggs and Wild Mongrels can help with that… Maybe. Outside of Shelter, there aren’t a lot of great cantrips in white or green that I’d consider playable.
- Combat Tricks Ahoy!
Both white and green have plenty of combat tricks. Green excels at making things big, white excels at damage prevention, which are both pretty good. Block and Shock? How about a Wax/Wane or Shelter? Or Samite Ministration? Or good old fashioned Giant Growth?
Wow! Sure sounds like W/G is going to be good again!
Well, before you start trading all those Nantuko Shades for Brushhoppers, consider this:
Why White/Green Still Sucks
- No Armageddon
Fatties are great… But opponents can have answers in the form of bounce, removal, or other fatties. However, those all take mana. No mana, no answers. Fattiegeddon decks wanted to follow the same formula: Turn one Birds or Elves, turn two was kind of a freebie (perhaps a Moss Diamond), turn three, drop the fattie, turn four, no mana for you!
Global Ruin isn’t even worth considering. It’s more expensive, not guaranteed to even kill a single land, and definitely more at home in a Domain deck than a W/G.
There is an Armageddon replacement in the format right now – but it’s in red and costs five and requires threshold. Next!
- White’s spot removal in Standard blows
Once upon a time, there was a little card called Swords to Plowshares. For only one white mana – and at instant speed, no less! – it could remove any problematic creature from the game. But it was deemed to powerful, and R&D removed it from Standard, continuing to give us new spells that were similar but not quite as good. Exile. Path of Peace. Treva’s Charm.
What does white have for spot removal right now? Reprisal is good, but limited. Second Thoughts is far too expensive. I thought Judgment would bring something good along the lines of Exile… But all it got was Spurnmage Advocate. Bleah! Anything else is strictly bottom of the barrel – Pacifism or Kirtar’s Desire, for example, is certainly no long-term answer to a Psychatog.
Green/white has so little in the way of disruption right now. It’s not like green had that much to begin with, but white always used to have the answers. It still has powerful spells against artifacts and enchantments, mind you, but the current Standard environment isn’t enchantment or artifact heavy. It’s all about the creatures-and neither color has much of an answer outside of Wrath of God.
- Anurid Brushhopper is good – but not that good
Don’t get me wrong: This is definitely one of the top five cards in the set. A three-power, four-toughness creature for three mana is broken in my book. However, Noble Panther was a 3/3 for three, with first strike no less, and how many decks did that get played in?
That’s what I thought.
Anurid Brushhopper also requires two cards in hand to activate. That’s a lot of cards in the long term – and serious card disadvantage unless you have a handful of madness creatures or lands to pitch.
If white/green is to succeed in post-Judgment Standard, it’s going to have to abandon the traditional strategies that have powered it in the past. Fattiegeddon decks cannot morph into Fattie-Epicenter decks.
With the lack of almost any disruption to speak of, W/G can adopt R/G’s methodology and try to beat an opponent down before he or she can recover. In effect, it’s going to be W/G Sligh, using pumpers like Armadillo Cloak and Wax/Wane, and maybe even Giant Growth, to get the job done. But without any burn that can be used as a finisher, it only has one way to finish an opponent off: Via the ground.
Another option is for W/G to splash a third color, most likely red for Fiery Temper and Flametongue Kavu, to add a disruption element. That, however, makes this a three-color monstrosity instead of plain old W/G.
That leaves something entirely new built around Judgment cards. A W/G deck built around Hunting Grounds might work, using cantrips, Mongrels and Brushhoppers to get to threshold fast. Might be. But until someone proves otherwise, W/G is going to remain in the”suck” column.
But that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.