Prismatic Lens – Green

This week’s offering has to do with a format known online as Prismatic, of which I have long been a fan. Prismatic is a format of wild draws, crazy interactions, and big, flashy cards. It’s a slower format than most others, and lends itself to control strategies. Most interestingly, all those seven to ten mana cards like Myojins and Time Stretch you long ago dismissed as junk? Chances are, they have a chance to shine here.

To those of you reading me for the first time, welcome. For those of you returning, thank you and welcome back. This week’s offering has to do with a format known online as Prismatic, of which I have long been a fan. Prismatic is a format of wild draws, crazy interactions, and big, flashy cards. It’s a slower format than most others, and lends itself to control strategies. Most interestingly, all those seven to ten mana cards like Myojins and Time Stretch you long ago dismissed as junk? Chances are, they have a chance to shine here.

The Prismatic format is defined as using the entire online card pool (including retro sets like Mirage and Visions), with the exception of the following banned cards:

Battle of Wits
Bringer of the Black Dawn
Buried Alive
Burning Wish
Congregation at Dawn
Cunning Wish
Diabolic Tutor
Eladamri’s Call
Enduring Ideal
Enlightened Tutor
Gifts Ungiven
Insidious Dreams
Living Wish
Merchant Scroll
Mystical Tutor
Quiet Speculation
Rude Awakening
Sterling Grove
Sundering Titan
Tooth and Nail
Vampiric Tutor
Wild Research
Worldly Tutor

It says something about a format when Gifts Ungiven is banned, but Fact or Fiction runs free. All the banned cards fall into one of three categories: Excessively strong library searching (Anything on the list with the word "Tutor" in it, for example), alternate and basically instant win conditions (Battle of Wits, Rude Awakening) and Skullclamp, which is its own kind of ridiculousness entirely. So why are so many tutors banned? The fun part.

Deck construction for Prismatic requires a minimum of 250 cards, at least twenty of which must be from each color. Multicolored spells only count as one color, and will automatically try to count as a color you need, if any. So why is this called Prismatic Lens – Green? Well, see, Doug Beyer once did a "mono"-White Prismatic deck here, and so I did the same with Black, Blue, and Green. Black wasn’t very interesting, since it was basically taking an Extended MBC deck and adding enough gold cards to make it Prismatic legal. It doesn’t really play any differently, so I figure it wasn’t worth talking about. Green and Blue however, turned out much more interestingly, and for the next two weeks I will be covering them.

First, some ground rules. Aside from the usual Prismatic rules, I am also forcing myself to require every card have its "mono" color in the casting cost, Artifacts aside. With that said, let’s peruse the decklist:

Sorry, no Pernicious Deed. That’s beyond my budget. While I may use several expensive cards, the only one I’ve ever actually acquired at more than twenty event tickets was a single Haunting Echoes, and that’s only because it is perhaps one of the strongest cards in the Prismatic format, because most people make heavy use of their graveyards. Remember All Suns’ Dawn? That’s a staple in this format generally, for hopefully obvious reasons.

Let’s start with the interesting lands – note that everything is either a Green mana producer, gets Green mana producers, or activates an ability with Green mana, with the measly exceptions of Miren, the Moaning Well and Mouth of Ronom. Birds of Paradise are a given – they’re one of Green’s best uses in Prismatic. Sure, this deck is three hundred cards, so you’re not going to see him opening hand as much as you’d like, but you’ll always be thankful when you do. More interesting are the two-drops.

Mask of Memory is in because Green hurts for draw, and will take what it can get. Farseek and Life from the Loam also work well with the mana base, Werebear loves large decks with giant graveyards, Viridian Zealot provides utility, and Coiling Oracle has one of two effects, both good in Green. Gaea’s Skyfolk is an infrequent Green flier, and cheap, and Selesnya Guildmage hardly need an introduction, especially in a format where you can regularly expect to get eight mana.

The meat of this deck, as with most of my Prismatic decks, is in the three-drops. Loxodon Warhammer, Moldervine Cloak, and the Swords mean even the smallest creatures in your deck can become legitimate threats, and Oblivion Stone is your major chance at recovering board position. Call of the Herd is simply good, and I’d be remiss to not include it. Loaming Shaman is as close as you’re going to get to mass graveyard hate in Green, putting all opposing Dredge, Flashback, and Incarnation cards back into their owners’ library, as well as possibly eliminating Threshold (Nantuko Monastery is a staple of the format). Thornscape Battlemage adds some much needed versatility, Wood Elves works well with the mana base, and Putrefy is a good card even in Prismatic. Shambling Shell feeds the deck’s minor Dredge subtheme, Eternal Witness is like having your blind date turn out to be Angelina Jolie, Ohran Viper is more draw, Trygon Predator gives us another flier, and Temporal Spring is in because most of my other options for Blue/Green spells require double Blue (Voidslime), suck (Vigean Intuition), or both (Yavimaya’s Embrace).

The four mana slots are filled with strong cards such as Nantuko Vigilante, Ravenous Baloth (15 total Beasts in deck, so you may occasionally get 8 or 12 life out of one), Voracious Cobra, the ridiculous king of the combat step, Wreak Havoc for solving some of Prismatic’s more irritating non-basic lands like Vitu-Ghazi or Nantuko Monastery, Loxodon Hierarch because he is a good man, Mystic Enforcer because Threshold is virtually guaranteed in most Prismatic games, and Giant Solifuge as a hasty beatstick who likes empty boards.

Five mana in Prismatic is usually a slot for bombs – Arc-Slogger, Mirari’s Wake, All Suns’ Dawn, Future Sight, Meloku, and Haunting Echoes are all frequent visitors to the format, so we have make sure our five mana spells live up to their expectations. As such, we have Mind’s Eye, one of the best card drawers in the format, especially if you think your opponent is likely to outdraw you. Genesis is a house, and I put at least one in every Prismatic deck I can. It earns four slots here simply because it does so much for a deck with so many critters. Golgari Grave-Troll is a huge fat man and loves holding Hammers. Hystrodon is yet more draw, Ursapine can be almost a Green ‘Slogger in this deck, Grizzly Fate produces a mess of bears (remember, Threshold is virtually guaranteed at some point), Silklash Spider gives us more flying defense, Leafdrake Roost gives us a fountain of fliers, Mirari’s Wake is simply one of the defining cards of the format (typical Prismatic decks often use it in conjunction with Decree of Justice cycled for the win), Grave-Shell Scarab is nearly impossible to keep down, and Kodama of the North Tree is an utter beating. Prismatic in general relies heavily on targeted removal, because good sweepers are hard to find. Oblivion Stone and Akroma’s Vengeance are generally the only staple ones, although Wrath itself makes the odd appearance.

The six mana slot is filled with eight creatures that are all likely to win the game or greatly facilitate it: Silvos, Kamahl, and Gleancrawler round out our choices here. Glean is especially fun to drop after a messy, suicidal-looking attack where you make any good trades at all, and then get back all the critters you lost. He also greatly enjoys working around Sakura-Tribe Elder and Ravenous Baloth. Silvos is just a huge man, but he does the job well. Kamahl is a finisher and anti-sweeper tech in one: in response to a Wrath or Akroma’s Vengeance, feel free to animate as many of your opponents’ lands as you possibly can. Punish them for ruining you!

Seven mana is usually not the top of a Prismatic curve, but this deck is more or less aggressive (although a fully aggressive Prismatic deck uses a much lower curve in general) but not so much that it’s likely to end the game very early, so instead of pretending it’s going to win quickly, I made provisions for a long game. As such, we have Roar of the Wurm in a format where it’s often hard cast and flashed back (sometimes in the same turn!), alongside Allosaurus Rider who is another huge man appropriate to the format, Wirewood Guardian to cycle for a dual land, Simic Sky Swallower for just being nutty, and Panglacial Wurm. Wurm deserves his own sentence – he’s the Prismatic tech that a lot of Pris players are missing. In a format where eight mana is not at all atypical, having seven mana and a fetch land on the side of it means you have the potential for an instant speed 9/5 trampler at will. Strangely, some of those appearing on an opponents’ end step tends to win the game.

Lastly, we come to our X spells, something I always recommend including some of in Prismatic decks due to the likelihood of a long game (although I have some misplaced notions of honor that generally make me shy away from my X spells being burn) and so I’ve included Hit / Run, with two useful halves (I said all spells had to include a Green mana symbol, and Run does. I did not, however, say I wasn’t going to allow myself both halves of a split card just to handicap myself), Savage Twister, another sweeper to go alongside Oblivion Stone and Crime/Punishment, Chord of Calling (some good with 116 creatures to choose from), and Supply/Demand simply because Demand hasn’t been banned yet, despite being one of the most powerful tutors ever printed in Prismatic, between Invasion and Ravnica blocks. Oh, and the Supply side doesn’t suck either, especially if you happen to have a Wake in play.

Yes, I just ran down every single card in a three hundred card deck. And mum used to say I never paid any attention to detail. Hmph.

But there was a lack of discussion of how to use the cards, and the reason for that is that in Prismatic, unless your deck is loaded with some of the allowed tutors (Diabolic Intent, Trinket Mage, Time of Need, Fierce Empath, Long-Term Plans, Demand, or Golden Wish, for example), you are generally going to play what you draw, as opposed to arriving with a specific battle plan in mind. If you think drawing cards is important in a sixty card deck, then wait until you try two hundred and fifty cards, or three hundred. That’s why I went to great lengths to include every respectable source of draw I could think of in Green, barring Etched Oracle simply because in Green it felt too much like "cheating", if you will. Be assured that at least up to the online printing of Sudden Death, Trickbind, and Krosan Grip, Oracle has been quite the staple card in the format. I won’t be surprised if he’s nuts enough to continue seeing use after, though.

Budget recommendations: The manabase would be difficult to finagle, if not impossible with the rules I laid down for myself. Let’s assume for a moment, however, that because the dual lands are so good in so many formats, that priority would be given to them over any other rares in the deck. As such, I’m going to give a run down of replacement cards you can run for other rares over say five tickets.

Birds of Paradise can probably safely become Utopia Sprawl. You shouldn’t be lacking for Forests to enchant. The Swords are difficult to replace just on their combat bonuses, and practically impossible to replicate the entire functionality of without more cards. All the same, though, you can still find worthy replacements – consider 4 Elephant Guide and 3 Blanchwood Armor, or perhaps Vulshok Morningstar, Vulshok Battle Gear, or Grafted Wargear can work for you. Call of the Herd is very nice, but you can probably get the same functionality out of Elephant Ambush, and in this format the extra cost is less noticeable, plus you get the benefits of Instant speed. Ohran Viper is impossible to replace in his own mana slot, but you can certainly replace the draw with Primordial Sage. Mystic Enforcer is a pretty big house to contend with, but if you can deal without the flying, Phantom Centaur has the protection from Terminate, Mortify, and Putrefy that you crave, and is difficult to kill with burn or combat. Also, he wears equipment awfully well. Genesis is simply irreplaceable and after the lands, he’d be my next goal for acquisition. Mirari’s Wake can have its important bit mostly duplicated by Vernal Bloom, although you risk assisting your opponent to some extent. You are almost guaranteed to get the larger benefit, though.

All in all, Prismatic is one of my favorite formats, very fun, and I encourage everyone with a large enough collection to participate – in between your games of Tribal Standard, of course. *grins*

Signing off,
Rivien Swanson
flawedparadigm at gmaSPAMSUCKSil dot com
Flawed Paradigm on MTGO (Remember, /join SCG!)
GodOfAtheism just about everywhere else.