First off I need to ask you if you’ve seen the latest issue of Scrye, the one with the Dark Pokemon energy symbol on it. Have you read Omeed’s article on Type 2? In it, he mentions control green and ways the deck gets around Perish. He talks about the obvious, dull and uncreative choice Thran Lens, then…
He mentions Darkest Hour!
Whoo-hoo! I’m famous! Mentioned in a national publication!
Well, actually, he didn’t mention me by name. But everyone knows that Darkest Hour is Blair Witch tech, so who needs my name there? Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to have gotten a little mention, a little recognition, just throw a dog a bone… [sniff]
Okay, I’ll take off the Greater Cloak of Pity and get on to the topic at hand.
Nemesis! And the first card I want to rave about… Pack Hunt!
I have to say, I’m really liking the look of this card. It looks so good, I think I’ll reprint it here:
Pack Hunt, 3G, Sorcery
Search your library for up to three copies of target creature and put them into your hand. Then shuffle your library.
Damn, that looks good, doesn’t it? It’s another green Ancestral! I’ll almost be so bold as to say it’s… better than Ancestral Recall.
[COLLECTIVE GASP OF OUTRAGE!]
Settle down! Settle down! Put your guns and your rope away, hear me out before stretching my neck. Sure, it’s not a 1cc instant, but this is Type 2 people – what do you expect? However, the casting cost is not unreasonable and, in green, four mana is ridiculously easy to generate by the time you’d want to cast it, which is after you’ve cast a creature worth targeting. So, yes it is situationally useful but in a green deck you should have all kinds of critters running around that are useful to fetch additional copies of, and that’s where it really is better than Ancestral Recall. Let’s illustrate my presumptive declaration in a real life scenario.
Say Ancestral Recall was reprinted in Nemesis. You’re playing a deck with some creatures on the board, say Yavimaya Elder and a Deranged Hermit. Heck, you’ve even got a Treetop Village. You’ve got one card in hand. If that card’s an Ancestral Recall (and you’ve got blue mana available), you cast it and draw three cards; maybe you’ll get a Forest, a Plow Under and a Vine Trellis. Hey, that’s not too bad! But, it could just as easily been Forest, Forest, Bird of Paradise. Blah! However, if that one card is Pack Hunt, you can target the Deranged Hermit to go get the other three in your deck and go hog wild with squirrels! Attack next turn with 5/5 squirrel tokens (if you got a Cradle to do crazy tricks with). Or, holy card advantage Batman! Target your walking green Ancestral himself to get his three brothers and fill your hand with all kinds of card advantage/deck-thinning madness! That’s like Ancestralling and getting 3 Ancestrals from the draw!
Anyway, here’s how I see Pack Hunt working in the new version of Blair Witch Green:
“Blair Witch 2000”
4 Birds of Paradise
2 Llanowar Elves
2 Vine Trellis
4 Yavimaya Elder
4 Deranged Hermit
3 Child of Gaea
4 Creeping Mold
4 Plow Under
2 Pack Hunt
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
3 Crop Rotation
4 Rishadan Port
3 Gaea’s Cradle
3 Treetop Village
1 Dust Bowl
This is still in it’s rough form because I just recently got my hands on Nemesis so I haven’t had time to playtest it, but it looks solid. Six first turn mana producers hopefully set you up to be able to cast Yavimaya Elder on turn 2, which is a solid play, and ideally you could Pack Hunt the Elder on turn 3. Your hand is now chock full of card advantage, folks! I also recently added Yawgmoth’s Will to the deck; the old version ran one Vampiric Tutor, but I like the Will’s ability to benefit from the explosive mana this deck can generate, and get double use from game breakers like Plow Under.
I’m still not convinced about the Vine Trellis. On one hand, it felt like I needed some early defense against beatdown decks, but the four toughness is just lame in the face of Rancor and Giant Growth, and the fact that you’ve got to wait a turn to use the mana (which then makes it useless on defense) is a pale comparison to the mighty Wall of Roots. I’m also anticipating Laccoliths making Walls less than useful. So one thing I’m debating is dropping them and adding another Groundskeeper and Masticore. If another Groundskeeper goes in, then we probably want to swap the Dust Bowl for the awesome Rath’s Edge! And Masticore is going to be needed to stem the rising Rebel Tide from Lin Sivvi and the Defiant Falcons, which looks to be a strong deck coming into the future of Type 2.
Speaking of which, I’m taking a cue from Omeed’s White Rebel deck and it’s techy Scent of Jasmine in the board to help fight Bargain decks. I stumbled across a garbage uncommon from Nemesis that might be control green’s sideboard answer to Bargain… ready for it?
What a weird time in Magic where life gaining can actually win you games. In Extended, Spike Feeders are being countered with Force of Will in the Donate/Illusions deck because if you can get over 20 life, your opponent has to execute his combo twice, which often isn’t easy (or downright impossible) for a deck that sometimes removes a large chuck of their cards from the game with Demonic Consultation. In Standard, the looming threat of the Bargain deck’s Soul Feasts can be answered by Refreshing Rain. Whereas normally the Bargain player has to cast Soul Feast five times in order to win (the fifth time is done by Yawgmoth’s Will), if you can cast Refreshing Rain (which is particularly easy with Bargain playing Swamp), they will have to cast Soul Feast seven times. Now, maybe I’m missing the mark here, but a Bargain deck seems to be reaching it’s limit casting Soul Feast the five times it needs to win, so I’m betting a Refreshing Rain getting cast (much less two!) will make winning extremely unlikely. Just imagine going first, dropping a Forest, and in response to their turn one Swamp–Duress you cast two Refreshing Rains to go to 32 life. That should be pretty much game – turn one kill! If there are any Bargain players out there that would care to dispute this, feel free to contact me. I’d be extremely curious to see how they’d get out of that bind.
The current sideboard stays strong against many of the other good decks in the metagame; Saber Ants are great against Wildfire/Ponza-style decks, as well as the Groundskeepers. Masticore and Dawnstrider help combat the still strong Stompy decks and the anticipated White Rebel decks.
What about new archetypes climbing up to Tier 1 on the strength of the new expansion? Will Nemesis bring about a new style prison deck? Rising Waters seems to be a perfect addition. Luckily for green, Nemesis offers a good sideboard solution to this deck, or any enchantment-based deck as well…
Speaking of Nemesis green, is Blastoderm an absolute beating or what? I played some draft this weekend, and I found that, when Blastoderm hit the board, it simply dominated. It’s like a green Fireblast that you can use for three turns, only your opponent gets to decide whether to lose a creature or 5 life. That’s not too shabby, folks! Initially, I thought that it would be mostly good in limited, but seeing it in action makes me think it has a good place in constructed, probably in Stompy for Standard, but in Masques Block it will probably be the key beats in green decks.
I think Nemesis brings some other interesting things for control green decks. Little, slithering, carnivorous plant-like things.
Masques brought us a different view of the little buggers that were always just a sideshow, little 1/1 buggers that sprouted off of Thallids or were dropped off Verdant Forces like beads of sweat. Then we got Spontaneous Generation and saw some petrified dude getting surrounded by horrid beasties! These are what saprolings look like? Nemesis brings us more token fun with two cards:
Saproling Burst, 4G, Enchantment
Remove a fade counter from Saproling Burst: Put a green Squirrel creature token into play. Its power and toughness are each equal to the number of fade counters on Saproling Burst.
When Saproling Burst leaves play, sacrifice all creatures put into play with Saproling Burst.
Saproling Cluster, 1G, Enchantment
1, Discard a card from your hand: Put a 1/1 green Squirrel creature token into play. Any player may play this ability.
The artwork shows us that, at least in Rath, Saprolings are some mean, vicious creatures. I guess singly they aren’t all that, but in practice they’re like piranhas – get ’em in a pack and they’ll take on anything! I’m thinking these cards are going to have a nice impact on constructed, and not just in combo decks. Here’s a sample of Saproling Control Green-
4 Elvish Lyrist
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Yavimaya Elder
3 Deranged Hermit
3 Crop Rotation
4 Saproling Cluster
3 Creeping Mold
3 Saproling Burst
3 Gaea’s Cradle
4 Rishadan Port
1 Rath’s Edge
Fecundity in particular make this deck hum, but the sharing nature of that enchantment as well as Saproling Cluster means that you need to make better use of these cards than your opponent, since he’s going to be taking advantage of them without the card investment that you’ve made. That’s where Groundskeeper and Cradles come in. The keepers allow you to activate the Cluster with no card investment (but an additional two mana to retrieve the basic land you’ve pitched). Each creature created makes your Cradle that much more powerful and recoups your mana investment. Together these should keep you ahead of the Cluster/Fecundity game.
I’ve been trying to figure out a way to not use Fecundity, but in light of Powder Keg I don’t see that you have much of a choice. Collective Unconscious would be nice, but Keg is gonna hit before you’ve got a chance to really abuse that card. Has anyone had a chance to work on a deck like this? Drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you. At any rate, it seems to me that the Cluster and Burst might prove to be two of the more powerful cards from the set, and I’m looking forward to coming up with something heinous with them for Masques constructed after I win that last PTQ… hey, what’re you laughing at?