It’s Back – Five-Color Green in CBS Draft

It seems like at least once a block, Five-Color Green turns into not only a decent strategy, but a dominant one. Today Nick provides the details on how to draft the latest rendition of what can be a very powerful archetype.

I’m starting to wonder if I have some sort of problem or something.

Not like a math problem or a problem putting my shoes on the right feet, but rather a constant obsession with drafting five colors!

It seems that with every new block that comes around, I end up advocating some kind of four- or five-color monstrosity. Maybe it’s just my style.

At any rate, I’d planned on having this article done last week and decided to wait and gather more information so that I could better present the archetype to you guys.

Why Draft 5cG?

Back in Mirrodin Block if you remember, I recommended drafting 5cU and felt that overall it was the best deck. If you look back at that set of cards, there really isn’t a good base of manafixing for me to be advocating this strategy. It was more that most of the cards were artifacts and so your colored mana requirements were low enough to warrant the inclusion of additional colors.

If you take a look at the now completed CBS block, you’ll see that quite the opposite is the case. This time, we have an excellent group of manafixers to work with along with the usual suite of splashable removal. If you’re able to grab Kodama’s Reach, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Seek the Horizon, Elder Pine of Jukai, Orochi Leafcaller, or even the lowly Petalmane Baku, you can easily support splashing some off-color removal and bombs.

If you ask most of the pros what color they like least in CBS right now, a large number of them are going to say Green. I’m sure some have changed their minds after the addition of Saviors, but I’d guess the overwhelming majority still dislikes the color. Because of this you may be able to pick up a late Elder or something else that you wouldn’t get if everyone else was drafting the deck.

The main point here is power. By drafting this deck you’ll not only get the mana acceleration and fixing that you’re accustomed to having in Green, but you’ll also be able to play virtually any good removal spell you see as well as an off-color bomb you end up opening in the final pack. In the end your mana may be more shaky than your opponent, but your overall power level is much higher.

The five-color Green archetype in this block can take on a number of different forms as well. You can just have a normal creatures and removal base, or you can take an entirely different approach in the 5c Arcane deck. We usually refer to this as the “trash” deck since you run lots of goodies like Joyous Respite, Vital Surge, Ire of Kaminari, Dampen Thought, etc. While it would be hard to give a complete guide on how to draft both of these archetypes, I hope I can at least give you a good outline of where to start, since you can branch off in a number of directions and if you explore those on your own, you’ll understand the deck better.

Before we jump into what you should be looking for in each booster, let’s take a look at some sample decklists so you have an idea what the final product looks like.

Orochi Leafcaller

Sakura-Tribe Elder

Loam Dweller

Matsu-Tribe Sniper

2 Elder Pine of Jukai

Gnarled Mass

Azusa, Lost but Seeking

Waxmane Baku

2 Moonlit Strider

Feral Deceiver


Tarii Watchward

Scaled Hulk

Vine Kami

Myojin of Cleansing Fire

Consuming Vortex

Soulless Revival

Serpent Skin

Joyous Respite

Kagemaro’s Clutch

Honden of Night’s Reach

5 Plains

2 Swamp

Tendo Ice Bridge

8 Forest

1 Waterveil Cavern

I'm not sure Yawg should be associating Nicolai with the cheats here...

Let’s talk for a minute about this deck. This isn’t your standard 5cG deck, as it actually plays more like a combo deck due to the two copies of Elder Pine of Jukai. In most of my matches I would have my entire deck stripped of land and also stacked in an order that I had written down so that I could effectively use the Elder Pines to determine what I would draw. Believe it or not, I consider the Feral Deceiver as probably the worst creature in the deck since it doesn’t contribute to my overall plan of using the White Myojin to clear the board or staying alive until I can do so. The deck also has quite a bit of Soulshift that can be used to abuse the Elder Pines, Waxmane, or Haru-Onna.

Believe it or not, the deck is actually pretty difficult to play if you’re not familiar with running an Elder Pine engine in draft because this deck gives you a ton of options. Building it also wasn’t easy – take a look at all of the good cards sitting on the sidelines:


Death of a Thousand Stings

Moonbow Illusionist

Vine Kami

Vital Surge

Ribbons of the Reikai

Traproot Kami

2 Rending Vines

Heart of Light

I know a lot of those cards look unplayable to you guys, but most of them make the cut in a lot of my decks. The Ribbons was boarded in for any slow matchup as well as the Rending Vines and Traproot Kami for their obvious matchups. Whenever you’re piloting one of these decks its important to always consider all of your sideboard options and also make necessary changes to your manabase whenever you side in cards that you may not have enough maindeck lands to cover.

A few other interesting things about the deck are that Honden of Night’s Reach is absolutely amazing in the format now. A lot of decks are trying to take advantage of hand size cards and win in the mid-long game with a big hand size. The Honden forces them to play your game and dump all of their cards into play. It’s a great splash card for one of these decks and a high pick. It’s worth mentioning that you don’t always have to have maindeck basic lands for a color if you’re playing it, as you’ll see above that I didn’t run any Islands to support my Vortex. I did have the Ice Bridge and Waterveil Cavern to compensate for this though, and you should make sure you take enough time on your manabase during deckbuilding so that you get the optimal amount of each color. There’s no set formula for doing so unfortunately, but in essence you just determine how likely you are to need that color of mana and at what stage in the game you’ll need it.

To give you an example, I ran 5 Plains in the decklist above, which may seem like too few to many of you with a White Myojin involved, but you have to realize that I would only need one Plains to cast my Waxmane, Moonlit Striders, Torii Watchward in the midgame and by the time I’m ready to cast the Myojin I should have an Elder Pine online to find the Plains and I also have the Ice Bridge as a potential source. I also didn’t run an Island since Vortex really isn’t an early game card in this deck and I figured I could get away with just the two multi-lands.

For the next two decklists I’m going to be more brief on the details, but want you to get an idea of what some other versions of the deck would look like.

Child of Thorns

Sakura-Tribe Elder

Orochi Sustainer

Shinen of Life’s Roar

Petalmane Baku

Nezumi Shortfang

Kami of the Hunt

Matsu-Tribe Decoy

Ghost-Lit Nourisher

Sakura-Tribe Springcaller

Gibbering Kami

Scuttling Death

Shinen of Flight’s Wings

Okina Nightwatch

Moss Kami

Seek the Horizon

Yamabushi’s Flame

Inner Calm, Outer Strength

Honden of Cleansing Fire

Spiraling Embers

Honden of Seeing Winds

Pull Under

8 Forest

5 Swamp

1 Plains

2 Mountain

2 Island

This is a good example of a basic 5cG deck.

Nothing too special, though I bounced back and forth about whether I wanted the 5th Swamp or the 9th Forest and ended up going with the extra Swamp to help support an early Nezumi Shortfang. There also isn’t anything in the deck that requires double Green so I felt like I could skimp a little. This deck also runs 18 land while the previous list only had 17 due to the Elder Pines as well has having less top-end spells to deal with. This deck is a lot slower and doesn’t combo out like the Elder Pine list though it is still quite powerful. I also got the Seek the Horizon 6th pick which is way too late for a normal draft and yet another testament as to why you should be drafting this deck before people catch on!

Finally, the Arcane combo list:

Orochi Leafcaller

Hana Kami

Sakura-Tribe Elder

Petalmane Baku

Minamo Scrollkeeper

Elder Pine of Jukai

Gnarled Mass

2 Sakura-Tribe Springcaller

Shimmering Glasskite

Soratami Mindsweeper

Oyobi Who Split the Heavens

Vital Surge

Soulless Revival

2 Kodama’s Reach

Three Tragedies

Torrent of Stone

Eerie Procession

Dampen Thought

Death of a Thousand Stings

Spiraling Embers

2 Mountain

2 Swamp

1 Plains

5 Island

8 Forest

Weird, I know.

This deck is one of the better Arcane concoctions you’ll see if you start drafting this deck, but I’m sure you could also do better than this. The deck has a number of win conditions such as Dampen Thought, Mindweeper, recurring Embers with Hana Kami, or just winning through good old Oyobi. Three Tragedies is also amazing on the splash with double Reach, since casting it will usually slow your opponent down and give you plenty of time to set up whatever combo you plan on winning with. This version of the deck is open to imagination and you can go a lot of ways with it.

Drafting the Deck

After looking at some sample lists and the many forms the archetype can take on, I’m now going to give my drafting guide to the archetype. This should help you should you decide to start drafting the deck, though a lot of the picks and cards you include


The first booster of the draft is probably the most important for the 5c mage.

This is because the cream of the crop in manafixing, Elder and Reach, are both in this set of boosters. Obviously your top priority then is picking up these two manafixers as well as keeping an eye out for Orochi Leafcaller, which you will hopefully pick up late.

If you were planning on drafting this deck from the start, the only common I’d take over Reach or Elder would be Kabuto Moth or possibly Glacial Ray. I may end up shipping the Ray if I feel like I’m in a good seat to get Green, provided I know the people drafting near me and their color tendencies. Or if I just feel like taking a gamble and shipping the Ray with the intention of forcing Green (which may or may not pay off).

If you do end up taking the Ray, you have to realize that you’re giving up an important shot at one of the top manafixers and will likely put someone behind you into Green and you may have to take a different route in the draft.

A lot of this is stuff that I can’t really give definitive answers to, as you’ll be forced to make your own choices. You just have to realize that if you take Ray over Elder or Reach, you might want to consider drafting a different archetype. Not that Ray or Moth aren’t playable in 5cG, as they both certainly are, but you are shipping an important piece of the puzzle in order to do so.

I guess if I can stress one thing it is that if you are trying to draft this archetype you can’t really pass up Reach or Elder unless you are taking a bomb rare or Moth over them.

The choice between Elder and Reach is also a tough one for this deck, though I tend to favor the Reach since it lets you get into the Arcane version and is just a better fixer overall. Elder is still quite good and I’d rather have one Elder and one Reach than two of either one most of the time. Again, here is another spot to use your own judgment on the matter, though I do prefer Reach slightly if it’s my first copy of either.

As far as splashable removal goes, we have Yamabushi’s Flame, Ray, Cage of Hands, Pull Under, the Rends, and Vortex at the top of the list.

Since Cage of Hands and Yamabushi’s Flame are in the same common run, a lot of people seem to have trouble with which one to pick first if they are the best two cards in the pack. Normally I like Cage of Hands better since it’s the more flexible of the two, but in this deck I’d much rather have Yamabushi’s Flame. The reason is that I usually only have one or two Plains and therefore won’t be able to return the Cage reliably. Since there is plenty of enchantment destruction in the format now, it only makes sense that Flame is the better removal spell for this archetype.

Pull Under is another that deserves special attention since it is probably at its best in this archetype. In a normal Black deck the six-mana removal spell usually feels very clunky since your curve is usually lower. In this archetype, however, you have plenty of manafixing and acceleration and the Pull Under will come online at just the right time since you usually won’t hit your Black mana until later in the game anyway. The other nice thing is that Pull Under goes pretty late since its widely considered to be worse than the other Black removal spells and you’ll surely be able to grab one.

I’m not a huge fan of the Rends since by the time you’re able to cast them they aren’t as great as they would’ve been earlier in the game, but they are still playable in this deck. I wouldn’t go to extremes to pick them up early however, as there is plenty of other splashable removal in the block and you should be concentrating on manafixing in Champions.

As far as creatures go, all of the good Green common men are playable in the deck and I see nothing wrong with splashing Gibbering Kami, Scuttling Death, any of the Soratamis, and any bombs that you should open. Creature base shouldn’t be too tough for this deck since you usually just play the good stuff since you have access to all of the colors.

If you’re intending on drafting Arcane, now is the time to pick up the ever important Joyous Respite (sad, but I’m not joking), along with Soulless Revival, Ethereal Haze, or whatever else you feel like using.

Your goal should be to pick up a good base of creatures like Kami of the Hunt, Moss Kami, Orochi Sustainer, etc, while still picking up the good removal spells with your early picks. The strength of this deck is that you will often get good Green cards late as well as table something important like a Leafcaller.

Lastly, the depletion lands aren’t horrible in this deck, so make sure to pick them up late if they’re still going around as you never know when you’ll need them. I’d never run more than two in a deck though, so don’t go overboard.


The second set of packs is where you’ll more than likely define your main colors.

Shimmering Glasskite is a great splash card if you’re hoping to make Blue your second color, but so are Waxmane Baku and Moonlit Strider. The nice thing here is that you can just slip into whatever color is being underdrafted and scoop up all of the splashable cards for your deck. It’s worth noting that I’m not a huge fan of the Blue common ninjas in this deck though I do like splashing for Okiba-Gang Shinobi, as his effect is more powerful.

In Green I’d rather have Sniper over Gnarled Mass here as it serves a much bigger purpose in the deck. I usually have problems with fliers in this deck if I don’t pick up a Sniper, some fliers of my own, or a Traproot Kami or two. Petalmane Baku is very mediocre and should be passed unless there is absolutely nothing else for you or if you’re picking it up late.

As for removal, I’d like to caution against splashing Horobi’s Whisper. I’ve seen a few people try it already and the results weren’t so great since it’s usually hard to fill up the graveyard. It’s definitely possible to splash Whisper, but don’t go out of your way to do so. Torrent of Stone is excellent in this deck even though you’ll almost never splice it.

Ribbons of the Reikai is usually pretty good in the archetype if you manage to stay focused on drafting mainly Spirits and Vital Surge is surprisingly good as your Arcane count increases. All in all, Betrayers has lots of great splashable commons and should help you decide what your second main color will be.


By this point in the draft you should have a pretty good idea where you’re going with your deck and that will help you to make the right picks in the Saviors booster.

Starting things up is the super-powerful Elder Pine of Jukai.

Five-Color Green dawns again.

This guy does it all. From manafixing to handsize increasing to stacking your deck, he’s the ginsu knife of Magic cards and clearly the best Green common. I think if given the choice though I’d rather have Seek the Horizon in most of my decks, as it’s a better fixer than Elder Pine and that’s really what you need in this archetype.

Spiraling Embers, Barrel-Down Sokenzan, and Kagemaro’s Clutch are all good removal spells and should be picked highly. Embers value goes up a ton too if you’re packing some variety of Soratamis in your build.

There are also plenty of good creatures to splash depending on what route you’re going. Razorjaw Oni is great as your only Black creature, Torii Watchward is good with White and Spirits, and Oni of the Wild Places is nice with a few other small Red men.

Saviors also offers a ton of bomb rares and even though most of them have double mana costs, I’d recommend splashing them if you have the fixers to do so. I really don’t want to do a full list here as there are just too many, but I think you get the idea.

Final Tips

Drafting the deck can sometimes be difficult since you can take almost any card from any pack. This is also what makes it so fun to draft it, and the more experience you get with it, the better you will do in future drafts.

I know I’ve said it plenty of times in previous articles, but when you’re drafting all of the colors, you really need to be alert to the weaknesses of your deck during the draft and make choices that will help fill those weaknesses. You need to make sure you have some kind of defense as well if you’re planning to go Arcane so that you have the necessary time to set it up.

I’ll be happy to answer any questions regarding the archetype in the forums as I know I was somewhat vague in some spots of the drafting guide since you can really go a lot of directions here.

Nick Eisel

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