Pauper is a format where only commons are allowed. Pauper, at its core, is the basic level of Magic, and the colors all fill specific roles while maintaining specific weaknesses. This series examines the place each color holds in the color wheel of commons Magic.
Green is often maligned as the forgotten color in Magic. Sure, it has creatures, but for a long time creatures weren’t all that great (things are better now). Green has long had troubles doing anything besides playing creatures, making them bigger, and getting more mana. In recent years, this has changed thanks to mechanics like Fight and green- based card advantage. Green has an uphill fight, but at the same time, it has access to one of the best ways to end a game quickly in Pauper.
Ramp and Fetch:
Green has a long tradition of putting extra lands into play. Green is very good at finding more land as well. The largest problem with this is the full turn it takes to get the land that will mostly come into play tapped.
Rampant Growth is not commonly played, but is the standard for ramp. The more commonly played ramp spells actually pull double duty in the form of Reap and Sow and Mwonvuli Acid-Moss. Mono- Green Cloudpost decks run these spells to help advance their own mana while destroying opposing lands. Land Grant, while not a ramp spell per se, has started to see play in aggressive decks as a way to reduce land counts.
The majority of green ramp that sees play is creature- based. Llanowar Elves and Fyndhorn Elves are known to see play in the same Green Post lists. The defender duo of Wall of Roots and Overgrown Battlement help to generate mana. These decks may also run a few copies of Krosan Tusker to help Â find land and draw cards as well. Elf- based decks are known to run Priest of Titania to add what can only be described as gobs of mana to pools everywhere. Although they do n’ t see play, Civic Wayfinder, Borderland Ranger, and Sylvan Ranger all help to fix mana at a reasonable cost.
Green also has some of the best off- color fixing available. Cards like Avacyn’s Pilgrim, Elves of Deep Shadow, and Safewright Quest are supposed to help enable two color decks. As of yet, these decks are still pipe dreams.
Crop Rotation is a special case, as it does not accelerate, but it allows a Pauper to get precisely the land it wants. This comes in handy when trying to assemble Cloudposts, gain life with Glimmerposts, or protect a creature with Sejiri Steppe.
Green is the color of creatures, and also the color of making creatures bigger. Recently, pump has gotten much better with a better cost to boost ratio (see Giant Growth vs. Groundswell). Pump is divided into two large categories: auras and spells.
One cannot talk about pump without discussing Rancor. This aura does everything green needs in both making creatures bigger and helping to force through damage. Combined with the fact that it’ s very hard to kill, Rancor stands as one of the reasons to pursue an aggressive green deck. Briar Shield has been known to see play as a way to add damage consistently over the course of the game while also providing finishing power. Armor of Thorns is even rarer, but has the bonus of acting as either a permanent pump or a simple boost.
Spell- based pump is far more diverse, able to serve multiple needs. The gold standard is Groundswell simply because it can deal four damage for one mana, provided one meets a fairly common condition. Vines of Vastwood is next on the docket. The ability to act as a counterspell or a Fireblast makes this a must -include in aggressive green decks. Invigorate sees play, but exclusively in infect- based decks where the alternate casting cost does not matter. Mutagenic Growth is also played in the infect decks as split counter/pump spell (although other aggressive decks may soon take it up thanks to the lack of a mana cost). Gather Courage is played alongside Nettle Sentinel and Quirion Ranger as a way to make the convoke cost truly free. Wirewood Pride is known to see play in E lf decks, as is Might of the Masses and Strength in Numbers. While not technically a spell, Llanowar Augur is known to see play in decks as an additional way to give trample on the kill turn.
Green may get the short end of the stick when it comes to killing creatures, but it can sure hold its own with just about anything else. The most common things it’ s asked to kill are lands and artifacts, however.
Green’s land destruction package works hand- in- hand with its ramp strategy. Reap and Sow and Mwonvuli Acid-Moss help to keep opponent s off resources while advancing a board state. Thermokarst has seen play in decks featuring mana elves as a way to jump on lands as early as turn two. Mold Shambler has seen some play in ramp strategies as a catchall.
Much of green’s artifact kill comes with destroying enchantments. Naturalize is the standard but sees little play. Sundering Vitae can be free, but few decks are willing to tap out of creatures to deal with a problem. Nature’s Claim is the go- to card for infect due to that deck’s ability to ignore the lifegain. Mold Shambler has seen sparse play, as has Wickerbough Elder (albeit in ramp). Nantuko Vigilante is an option i f one wants a creature and a cheap way to handle artifacts and enchantments spread out over two turns.
Elves, Mongrels, Elders, and Beasts:
Green creatures can be roughly divided into four categories. Elves are the (traditionally) small creatures that provide mana acceleration. Mongrels are the cheap aggressive creatures whereas beasts are the larger, more costly beaters. Finally, Elders are those creatures that provide some form of card advantage.
Elves were touched on before in the ramp section. Llanowar Elves and Fyndhorn Elves provide boost to green decks looking for that jump. Priest of Titania helps to power out more elves. Birchlore Rangers sees play in Elf decks as a way to facilitate splashes. Avacyn’s Pilgrim and Elves of Deep Shadow do not see play yet, but would likely be key cards in Selesnya and Golgari decks respectively. Wall of Roots and Overgrown Battlement see play in tandem as a way to generate gobs of mana. Werebear toes the line of mana elf and mongrel. Sakura-Tribe Elder is potent, but has yet to find a home in Pauper. Quirion Ranger is versatile and strong, used almost as much for its ability to untap a creature as it is to facilitate land-light decks.
Elders tend to fit along all points of the curve. Named for Yavimaya Elder, these creatures are quite good at replacing themselves in some way. Although Elder sees marginal play, at best, other cards are more common. Penumbra Spider often finds a home as a way to hold the fort against for a few turns. Elvish Visionary is a nice speed bump, although some decks have eschewed it for the echo laden (but slightly stronger) Multani’s Acolyte. Civic Wayfinder and friends, as well as Krosan Tusker can be considered for this category. Nantuko Vigilante and Wickerbough Elder also fall here. Citanul Woodreaders is a nice pseudo-Mulldrifter, but lacks the body to make an impact. The premier Elder is Aurochs Herd, as it’s able to replace itself (or fetch a Nameless Inversion) while providing a solid body with which one can win the game.
Beasts are largely big, expensive, and not likely to see tournament play. Tangle Golem has seen occasional play as a cheap five-power threat. Other than Aurochs Herd, very few creatures of this size see play.
Mongrels are the meat of green’s aggressive creatures. They are divided into two realms: infect and not. Infect creatures are all deadly, since having an opponent start at ten life is kind of a nice thing. Glistener Elf, Blight Mamba, Cystbearer, and Rot Wolf all see play (alongside Ichorclaw Myr). As long as a creature with infect is cheap enough, it will see play.
Non-infect mongrels are far more varied. We’ll start with the namesake Wild Mongrel, which plays nicely with green’s other aggressive all-star, Basking Rootwalla. Nettle Sentinel and Skarrgan Pit-Skulk both see play in Stompy decks as strong turn one options. Pouncing Jaguar, Ghazban Ogre, and Wild Dogs are too risky. Jungle Lion’s inability to block is a liability. The boa brothers (River Boa and Mire Boa) slide in and out of playability. Silhana Ledgewalker is used by green decks as a way to go over the top of Goblins (aided by Rancor, of course). Garruk’s Companion has trample built in, but falls short of regular play. The largest mongrel is Carapace Forger, at Werebear size (and cost) in Affinity. Perhaps the most important, however, is Shinen of Life’s Roar, which will allow all of these to actually connect with an opponent when cast.
What green does: Ramp and beatdown. Even in Pauper, green is the color that is most associated with “mindless” beatings. The entire goal of green is to deal twenty (or ten in the case of infect). As such, green will either ramp you into huge monsters or overwhelm you with small creatures that are boosted to resemble large monsters. The two most successful green decks as of late are Mono-Green Cloudpost and Infect (with traditional Stompy making a comeback).
What green looks for: Green will always look for a way to recoup card advantage. Aurochs Herd and Multani’s Acolyte do a decent job, but to fight the other colors, green needs some help. Similarly, green will always be on the lookout for removal (and the future is bright, thanks to cards like Prey Upon seeing cardboard).
Green will always be looking for more effective ramp. Anything that does more than simply fetch a land will be considered. Similarly, green has access to strong multicolor cards (Armadillo Â Cloak and Putrid Leech for example), so any mana elf that helps fix colors (or a one mana spell that does the same) will be examined closely.
Green will also jump on any creature with a high power to cost ratio. Hand-in-hand with this is the search for strong pump spells (in line with Groundswell). Infect wouldn’t mind more spells that come cheap (with a side effect of life gain for an opponent) for what it’s worth.
Green’s top ten:
Llanowar Elves / Fyndhorn Elves
Reap and Sow / Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
- 4 Quirion Ranger
- 3 Wild Mongrel
- 4 Basking Rootwalla
- 3 Shinen of Life's Roar
- 4 Silhana Ledgewalker
- 4 Skarrgan Pit-Skulk
- 4 Nettle Sentinel
- 17 Forest
- 2 Fierce Empath
- 4 Wall of Roots
- 4 Llanowar Sentinel
- 4 Aurochs Herd
- 4 Penumbra Spider
- 4 Overgrown Battlement
- 3 Ulamog's Crusher
These are the colors of Pauper. Each one fills multiple roles. As shown, each color also contributes to top decks of all stripes. Pauper is a diverse format, and as long as there are new commons, there will be new decks and strategies…and these only focus on those that run one color.
Keep slingin’ commons-
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