The Comprehensive 8th Edition Draft Review: Green
Welcome to the third part of my series on 8th Edition drafting. If you missed the first two parts you can find the Black article here and the Blue article here. I would just like to take a brief moment here to thank some of the people who have helped me with this series thus far. Thanks to Simon and Adam for providing their expert input on the format. These have been the guys I have turned to initially when I have been unsure on particular cards and who have sanity-checked my rankings. Thanks also to many of my other friends on Magic Online who have been very accommodating when I have asked seemingly random questions. Bear with me everyone, I will stop pestering you soon.
8th Edition Green
- 8th Edition Green has very few out and out bombs, but also has fewer unplayable cards than any other color. Even cards appearing in the bottom half a dozen on this list are not awful in the same way that some of the Black and Blue cards have been in the last couple of weeks.
- I stressed before the importance of drafting more passively in 888 than in other recent formats, but let me stress here that if you are going to force a color, it almost has to be Green. This is for two reasons, first, because it is deeper than any other color (see above), but also because it is far easier to play a three-color deck if you have a Green base. Rampant Growth and Fertile Ground will ease your mana base woes.
- Green has no real evasion and trample has been deemed too complicated for the base set. Therefore Green decks will often have trouble breaking through if the game locks up, so you should draft evasion in your second color very highly indeed. On the other hand, Green is quite well equipped to deal with flyers, with three spiders (two of them common) to stem the bleeding. Make sure you pick up some of these cards, or a Blue or White mage can make your life very difficult indeed.
- As you might expect, most of Green’s best cards are creatures. Except for the odd Giant Growth and mana fixing, you will be playing very few Green non-creature cards. This is good news, as you can draft non-creatures in your other color more highly, knowing that you will have a good creature base.
- You have all the common fat in the format. Outside of Green, the biggest common creatures are 3/3 , 4/1 or 1/4. Green has a 6/4, a 5/4, a 2/4 and a 3/6 all in the common slot, which gives you a big advantage in ground-based battles. You should take these big-butted creatures highly, as sometimes your opponent will simply not have an answer for them, or a way to get past them.
With this in mind, here are my pick orders. With Green, probably more than any color, your picks will be determined by what is already in your deck. For example, the two worms decrease in value if you already have a lot of fat, Spiders go up the list if you have no flyer defense yet, and the color fixers move up if you are playing three colors.
At 5/5 for six mana, this is nicely costed. Now add to this, two special abilities, both of which are good and also compliment each other, and there is everything to like about this creature. Realistically, once it hits the table, your opponent must find a card to deal with it (of which there are few), win within four turns or they are just going to die to the Rhox. It can keep swinging, dealing five to the dome and then regenerate if your opponent puts five power of blockers in the way.
Thorn Elemental (r)
A very versatile card that your opponent will never want to see, especially when he is at low life. At 7/7, this can block pretty much anything in the game, but to be honest you would have to be pretty desperate to use this just as a blocker. As an attacker, you are forcing your opponent to find an answer within three turns (at the most), and if your opponent manages to gang-block it with enough creatures to kill it, then you have the option of either sending seven to their head or killing whichever blocker(s) you fancy. Given the mana acceleration Green has available, this is a threat that you will be able to play far earlier than your opponent will be comfortable with.
Emperor Crocodile (r)
On the face of it you’re setting yourself up for card disadvantage with this card, but it never seems to work out that way. If you play it on turn four, you may well have two other creatures out already which will pretty much negate the drawback. If you only have one, then your opponent will still have to have the correct piece of removal at hand to kill your creatures, not easy if the other one is a Horned Turtle, Deepwood Ghoul, or something problematic to remove.
Alternatively, if you are that worried, you can hold off from playing the Crocodile for a turn or two. It still represents good value on turn 5 or even 6. Of course, if it does come out on turn four (or even three with Vine Trellis, which is scary) it can beat down very quickly, probably taking away half your opponent’s life total before they can set up a suitable defense, unless they have a regenerator available. If it doesn’t come out early but is topdecked later on, it becomes an under-costed Spined Wurm, which is great on offense and defense alike. The thing about large creatures is that they are rarely redundant.
Nantuko Disciple (c)
This common is so good that he’s better than all the Green uncommons and most of the rares as well. In fact, it is almost as powerful as Timberwatch Elf, which was the bane of Limited players for the whole of last year. To put it simply, when this guy is active, he makes it nearly impossible for your opponent to attack or block effectively. Your Grizzly Bears suddenly start bringing down Craw Wurms, Rushwood Dryad becomes a five-turn clock against another Green deck, your flyers start trading one-for-two, and combat math becomes an evil game you can’t lose. Fortunately for your opponent, this guy isn’t too tough to remove (providing he packs Red or Black), but the consequences if he is not removed are often scoop-worthy.
Spitting Spider (u)
Against any deck this is a reasonable card as a 3/5 creature for five that can block flyers (it is significantly better than Moss Monster). However, against certain decks, then this is game over. For the low cost of sacrificing two or three lands, you can wipe out an entire air force, whenever you like. It doesn’t even cost mana, so you can play the Spider and start sacking lands immediately. This can either be done defensively (sac three lands, kill two Razorfoot Griffins, a Coastal Hornclaw and an Aven Fisher that were going to win the game next turn), offensively (sac two lands, kill all your flyers, attack with my Angel of Mercy), or as a mini-board reset when both players have a team of flyers in play and you are holding some back in reserve. All in all it is very difficult to find fault with this card.
Llanowar Behemoth (u)
There aren’t many big creatures in 8th Edition. There certainly aren’t many big creatures that will dominate the board the way this guy does. Sure, sometimes he will be a vanilla 4/4 for five (which is good anyway), but other times he will be so much more, being basically +1/+1 for every creature you can afford to tap. This makes him a great way of breaking late game stalemates, as it creates a vicious circle for your opponent. The more blockers he assigns to him, the more creatures will be potentially killed, which means the more you can potentially pump the Behemoth without leaving yourself open to a counter attack. The only problem with this guy is that, as he has no evasion, one regenerator shuts him down completely.
Might of Oaks (r)
This card is so annoying to play against it’s unfair. If you are holding this in your hand, it’s like your opponent has seven life less than he currently thinks he does, but only you know it… provided of course, that you can force a creature through unblocked. While this is an important criteria, it’s not a difficult as you might think, especially as you can swing wildly, not worrying about the attrition your opponent will cause on the rest of your creatures.
In this application, it is a little bit like Searing Flesh from Onslaught, but it has a couple of advantages over that card. For starters, it’s three mana cheaper, meaning even the fastest, most mana-light deck will have the mana for this very quickly. Second, it is more versatile, as it can also be used as removal at a stretch in order to kill one of your opponent’s fatties in combat, or save one of your own from combat damage or burn.
Living Terrain (u)
Taking this card down to its bare essentials, It’s a 5/6 hasted creature for five that requires you to sacrifice a land. Obviously this is an extremely good deal, tempered slightly by the fact that the resulting creature can be destroyed by anything that kills land, creatures, or enchantments, giving your opponent the potential for two-for-ones. However, this drawback is certainly no reason not to pick this card highly and play it whenever you draft it. It will win the game and it is rarely a dead card.
Hunted Wumpus (u)
Using this card is like a game of chicken. If you play it on turn six or seven, you will get a reasonably efficient creature and your opponent will likely not make much use out of the drawback. If you play it on turn five or turn four, you will get a huge tempo jump, but there is more chance your opponent will be able to capitalize on your risk. Fortunately, in 8th Edition there just aren’t that many large creatures your opponent can play that can trump the Wumpus. Generally, especially if going second, I will just go ahead and drop this on turn four. Often they won’t have much to drop to it and they will be forced to think back to Odyssey Block to work out how to deal with a 6/6 attacking creature on turn five.
Plow Under (r)
This card is extremely annoying, and carries a surprising number of different applications. In the early game it can be a double Time Walk, putting your opponent two turns back on mana and making sure his next two draws are just land. This can often win the game right there if you have a fast start. In the mid-to-late game, it is less effective but gives your opponent two-less chances to top-deck what he needs to either win the game or deal with your threat. However, the best way I ever heard of this card being used was someone playing it on himself in order to turn a decking defeat into a decking victory. I’m not saying you should ever keep this card in hand hoping for such a scenario, but it is worth keeping in mind nevertheless.
Spined Wurm (c)
In a format where very little is bigger than 3/3, a 5/4 creature can dominate the table, making it difficult to attack on the ground, and providing a sizeable threat if you are on the offensive. At only five mana, it is also very well-costed, making it even better, as it can come out before your opponent can really deal with it. Green is all about big creatures, so when you see a big creature, take it!
Blanchwood Armor (u)
We all know about the argument against creature enchantments, i.e. that they set you up for card disadvantage. However sometimes the enchantment is good enough that it warrants taking the risk. Blanchwood Armor will give you good value whenever you draw it. In the early game it will give a vital +1 or +2 to a creature you want to attack, allowing you to break through early blockers. As the game goes on however, the benefit becomes greater. In the middle game, giving one of your creatures +5/+5 or something similar gives your opponent a very stern ultimatum indeed. You either deal with the creature somehow, or you die very quickly. At very worst you will draw out that Dark Banishing your opponent has been holding.
Craw Wurm (c)
Almost identical to Spined Wurm except it costs one mana more and has one extra power. In terms of why it is good, read everything I wrote about Spined Wurm. The question is, is that one extra power worth one extra mana? I don’t think so. I would rather have it swinging a turn earlier, thanks. However, this is still a great creature, pick it high.
Collective Unconscious (r)
This is one of those cards that I’ve speculated over a lot. Its utility can only really be measured in terms of the format it’s in, and certainly in Onslaught Block or even Mirrodin this would not be a great card. However, 888 is a slow format that regularly degenerates into creature stalemates. When this happens, tapping six mana for a fresh, new hand of cards is pretty degenerate, and will almost certainly win you the game.
If you play this early on, you are probably going to get at least two or three cards out of it, which isn’t bad, working out to be slightly worse than Ambition’s Cost or Concentrate, once mana cost is taken into account. A word of warning though, 888 draft games are regularly won by decking. If you are going to dig for answers to win the game, make sure you have answers to dig for, lest you turn a winning position into a losing one.
Sometimes this is very good and sometimes this is very bad. At the start of the game this is often going to be weak, but sometimes it can come in at 3/4 or higher if you force creature trades early. As the game goes on, this is likely to get out of hand, especially if you have lots of removal and trade lots of creatures off the board. It’s not unreasonable to say that if you get to the long game and you play with Lhurgoyf in mind, it’s probably going to be at least a 9/10 by this stage. Unfortunately, like so many of Green’s rare creatures, this suffers from a lack of evasion, meaning if your opponent has a regenerator out, he can shut it down completely.
Giant Spider (c)
Depending on your opponent’s deck, this guy is either your MVP or an unexciting 2/4 for four mana. Spider is so good against any deck featuring some of the random assortment of 2/2 flyers in the set, that I am always happy to be running one or more of these in my maindeck. The good thing about this card is that it is also a decent blocker for ground creatures as well, costing one more than Standing Troops and Horned Turtle for one more power. In this case it isn’t a bad deal. It can even beat down during a stretch when the board is relatively empty. In short, pick this card my son, for it is good.
Trained Armodon (c)
Trained Armodon is a very efficient creature with no bells or whistles. In a format where very few creatures give you more than 2/2 for three mana, a 3/3 for that cost is very nice indeed. Sometimes you will play one of these on turn 3 and your opponent will take six or even nine damage from it before they find an effective answer. The elephant is just as good when blocking, immediately shutting down the 2/2s of this world that so often beat down at the start of the game. You are going to want to play as many of these as you can get your hands on if you are the Green mage, although sometimes the double colored mana in the casting cost can be taxing on your mana base.
You can discuss all the benefits of using Lure, but mainly they come down to the one big one. When the game is locked up, put this on a creature, serve, and win. Of course, this is not a foolproof plan. If your opponent has instant creature or Enchantment removal, this turns into”put this on a creature, serve, and get decimated by blockers.” Nevertheless the benefit of pulling the trick off is worth a little risk especially as the card has a few other side applications too.
You can play it on a Deathgazer to Wrath your opponent’s team. You can play it on a large creature such as Craw Wurm to pick off a couple of smaller creatures that are causing you trouble. You can play it on a regenerator to slowly pick off opponent’s forces, you can play it on a creature to allow another”when this creature deals damage to a player” creature to get through. You can play it on an early creature to pick off annoying tapping creatures before they become active. The applications are a little narrow, but quite numerous, so even if you are playing a deck that doesn’t plan on ever locking the game up, you should put this is your deck.
This is a tricky card to rate unless you have played with it loads of times (I haven’t). Like Lhurgoyf it can be very good or very bad, depending on the situation. Played on turn four, this could potentially be a 6/6 or even a 7/7, which will demand an answer rather quickly. Unfortunately if you want to play any other cards at all, it will rapidly diminish in size. If you remember to keep lands in your hand, then this could be a reasonably large creature in the late game but by that time what you really need is evasion, and Maro doesn’t have any.
Primeval Force (r)
It’s an 8/8 for five, let’s get that out of the way first. Obviously the card comes with a drawback (and quite a large one at that), requiring you to sacrifice three Forests when it comes into play. This means it will be very difficult to play on turn five, and if you do you risk crippling your mana base for at least the next few turns. It’s only fair to point out that if you do get this guy out in the first seven or eight turns he is, of course, a house. It doesn’t matter that you have destroyed your mana development because very little ends the game quicker than an 8/8 swinging every turn.
The problem is there are just too many answers to him. Black removal, a regenerator, any sort of bounce or any Pacifism effect, will all neutralize the elemental on a one-for-one basis, leaving you mourning your loss of Forests and probably the loss of the game. In short, you are putting all your eggs in a big Primeval-shaped basket. This card certainly wins games, just remember that it also loses them.
Giant Growth (c)
There are very few invisible combat tricks in 8th Edition (i.e. ones that your opponent can’t see coming). This makes the ones that do exist very important indeed, as people will be less wary of them. Giant Growth is very cheap, very versatile, and very effective. It can be considered quasi-removal and +3/+3 is normally enough to see off any annoying attacker or blocker that is giving you problems. It can also be used to save a creature targeted with burn, or to punch through for those last few points of damage to win the game. All in all, a versatile card that will almost never be dead.
Elvish Piper (r)
At first glance the Piper is pretty awful. A 1/1 for four mana is obviously horrible, and you are not going to be able to use its ability until turn five, by which time you could play 90% of your creatures anyway, even the Green ones. However having played with the Piper a couple of times I can conclude that he is very useful in the right circumstances. If the Piper is in play, and you have mana open for it and at least one card in your hand, your opponent never knows what he is attacking into. As a result, he will be discouraged from attacking even when your board is nearly empty, or he will be potentially walking into an ambush when you drop a creature in the”declare attackers” phase.
Giant Spider and Craw Wurm are probably my favourite creatures for holding back in this way. Also, once your opponent is low on life, he will always have to keep blockers back regardless of what you currently have on the table, lest you drop something big in his end step. If this is not enough to whet your appetite there are also a number of other reasons this card is better than in first appears.
You can effectively play an extra creature per turn, you can play creatures with very high casting cost (such as Avatar of Hope or Tidal Kraken) earlier and without needing the correct colored mana. You can also get around opponent’s counters that they may be holding once the Piper is in play. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes this will just be a 1/1 for four. However there is definitely more to this little guy than meets the eye.
Horned Troll (c)
A good defensive creature that will solve most ground-based problems you might be having. Similar to Deepwood Ghoul, it will stop an aggressive deck in its tracks on turn three, but unlike Deepwood Ghoul it will not put you on a clock itself. It can also be used to effectively beat down in the early game if you are on the offensive, and will force your opponent to find a creature with toughness of three or more rather quickly. This is first and foremost a blocker though and a pretty good one at that.
Moss Monster (c)
Another big vanilla creature and once again it is some good in this format. Obviously it’s a good blocker with a big butt on it, but it’s also surprisingly good as an attacking creature. Although there are a number of creatures with toughness greater than three, if your opponent doesn’t happen to have one out and can’t muster six power the moss man can get in for a fair bit of damage.
Yavimaya Enchantress (u)
I think I pick these a lot higher than some people given how late I see them go around. If no enchantments are in play then she is just a 2/2 for three, which is very unexciting. The question is, how likely is she to be bigger? In practice I have found the answer to be: quite likely. There are a lot of common enchantments that people play in the early-to-mid game such as Fertile Ground, Holy and Unholy Strength, Pacifism, and Dehydration. Bear in mind that she counts both players’ enchantments so even if you play her as a 2/2, she could become a sizeable threat quite quickly. Because she always has the ability to be ‘just a 2/2’ she is never completely useless and so will nearly always make my maindeck. Obviously the more enchantments you are running the better though.
Birds of Paradise (r)
We’re kidding ourselves here aren’t we? Birds of Paradise is a first pick because you can sell it for loads of money (or event tickets on Magic Online). However, on merit it probably lands about here on the list. It does one specific job very well, which is smoothing your mana base, allowing you to have explosive starts, and it occasionally chumps in a pinch.
One of my favorite things to do with Birds is to accelerate out a turn 2 Trained Armodon, but to be honest, no matter what you are racing to, a one-turn jump in the mana race is always a good thing Its limitation is that it is a dead draw once you have enough mana. It can’t even swing without some kind of stat increase. So in short, feel free to pass this on in favor of all the other cards above, especially if I am the person you are passing to.
Natural Affinity (r)
I got this card in the 8th edition pre-release and it screamed”Bomb!” so I tried to play it. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out like that. Even though it is an instant, you have trouble breaking the symmetry of the card because you have to tap three land to play it, which puts you three creatures down straight away. However, this card does have its uses and will certainly win you games.
The main use is probably waiting for your opponent to tap low in the mid-game and then play this and alpha strike. Sure, this is a bit of a narrow application, but anything that wins the game out of the blue in not-too-unusual circumstances certainly deserves a look to go in your deck. It can also be used to create surprise blockers, give you ammo for”sacrifice a creature” effects or even turn Wrath of God or Pyroclasm into Obliterate if the need takes you.
I don’t pick this high and it doesn’t always make my main deck, however, in a color that sometimes struggles to break through, having another way to win the game is normally a good thing.
Rushwood Dryad (c)
This little guy has been my MVP in so many matches. 60% of the time he is an unexciting 2/1 for two mana and the other 40% he is an unblockable 2/1 that gets very annoying for your opponent very quickly. Although they are a bit fragile, I will happily play one or two of these in my maindeck, knowing that they will sometimes be great and at worst will be average.
Rampant Growth (c)
Mana acceleration has never been this good. Two mana will get you accelerated by one mana, thins your deck and will also fix any color problems you may be having. In three-color decks these are great, but I am happy to play one or two in two color decks as well especially if you have a lot of good cards at the four-mana slot. Obviously once you are sorted for mana, this is a pretty dead draw, but such is the way of things with this kind of card.
Fertile Ground (c)
Most of what was said for Rampant Growth can also be said for this, as it does exactly the same job. It has some advantages in that it can represent a different color each turn and, if played after turn 2, it effectively only costs one mana. However I rank it ever so slightly lower than Growth because it doesn’t thin your deck and gives your opponent the chance to pull off Boomerangs or Stone Rains that might spoil your day. It’s so close though that if I had just one Yavimaya Enchantress, I would pick this higher.
Canopy Spider (c)
Not a terrible card by any means, but vastly inferior to the other two spiders. In G/B or G/R decks you need flyer defense desperately, so sometimes you need to pick and play these guys if you haven’t been able to get hold of any larger spiders. Unfortunately it doesn’t actually deal with most of your opponent’s flying arsenal; it merely nullifies one attack per turn. This isn’t a bad thing to do and the fact it only costs two mana will mean it fits nicely in your mana curve, and can provide some decent early defense on the ground as well. I have no problem maindecking these, although to be honest, it normally means I have been unable to get the Giant Spider I really wanted.
Grizzly Bears (c)
The old favorite is still around. In any other color, the Bears would be pretty good, but in Green they are fairly ordinary due to Green’s higher creature quality. Nevertheless don’t be grumpy about putting these in your main deck where, at times, they can get in a lot of early damage. They are especially good in fast G/R decks where you can often repeatedly clear a path with your removal. Don’t get me wrong, they are not going to win you too many games on their own, but in a format with a lack of two drops they do their job well enough.
Creeping Mold (u)
What do you get if you combine an expensive Stone Rain and an expensive Naturalize into one card? A good sideboard card that is just about maindeck-worthy. While I will rarely run Enchantment, Artifact or Land destruction in the maindeck, all three in one card is far more versatile.
Destroying an opponent’s land on turn 4 (or 3 with acceleration) can be very helpful in the tempo race. On the other hand if you draw it late, most decks run some kind of Enchantment or Artifact to target with this. While I will be most happy to leave this in the board, I won’t be too upset if I have to maindeck it, because it is far less likely to be dead than either of the cards it represents.
Vine Trellis (c)
On the face of it, a great card. It accelerates your mana while halting any early ground blitz schemes your opponent may have had. Unfortunately, in practice it is sub-optimal. The acceleration is useful, but Green is not short of cards that do that. I would rather have Rampant Growth or Fertile Ground, which also provide color fixing. The early defense is useful, but only really game-breaking against one particular type of deck: the Red-based ground blitz deck.
Most other ground-based decks are Green and will have Wurms that can take down the wall with ease. However the biggest problem I find with Vine Trellis is that big fat zero in the power box. At least with Standing Troops and Horned Turtle you can take down one-toughness creatures and assist in gang blocks. Vine Trellis just nullifies one creatures attack per turn, unless you use its mana ability, in which case you can’t even do that.
Wing Snare (u)
This card has”sideboard” written all over it and, to be honest, that is possibly the best place for it. You will typically want to bring it out against Blue or White-based flyer decks, or against decks with a big flying bomb. There could be an argument for maindecking this card if your deck is particularly weak against flyers or you are short of playables, however it will sometimes be a dead card.
If your opponent is playing Blue, then you had better believe you want to bring this out of the sideboard. It is best dropped just after your opponent has tapped out in the early game, though if your opponent’s land base is 50% Islands, if you play this at any time early on in the game he will have to have enchantment removal or lose, as you are destroying half of his mana base. Given that Blue is probably the color that Green is weakest against (due to flyers and Remove Soul), I will happily take this over a maindeckable card if my deck is already looking pretty good.
Giant Badger (c)
A good blocking creature in the early game, where it acts as an under-costed 4/4. As an attacker, it is decidedly unexciting as a 2/2 for three mana. In any other color, this would be a reasonable creature but the Green mage can do far better. I would maindeck this in a deck with a low creature quality, but I would prefer to leave it in the sideboard to bring out against aggressive decks.
I’m not sure what this card is doing in the base set, it seems a bit random. However, I’m not worried about that here, let’s discuss how good it is.
It is certainly one of those cards that can win you the game, but very conditionally. It is not terribly useful in the early game unless you are land flooded, as activating the Foratog can cause terrible tempo disadvantage. However, when you reach critical mass of Forests, this creature becomes a”must block.” Unfortunately, a critical mass of Forests normally comes quite late in the game, by which time your opponent will probably have a suitable defense set up.
Remember that just to take out a Standing Troops you will need to sacrifice two Forests and since you are probably not going to have more than ten in your deck, this is a bad idea. Giving this guy evasion in the endgame with Fear, Flight or Invisibility might be game over, but a timely bounce spell or Dark Banishing will ruin your day. I would only maindeck this card if I was really short of win conditions.
Fyndhorn Elder (u)
More mana acceleration that provides no help with color. It does provide two mana, giving you a potential six available by turn four if you make all your land drops. Therefore, if you want to maindeck this card, then ask yourself this question: What cards do you have that cost six mana and above?
Unfortunately, in 888 drafts the answer to this is normally something like”well I have a Craw Wurm and…er… well that’s it.” If you can’t accelerate something of that size out, then this is little more than a really bad Rampant Growth. If you have three Craw Wurms, two Phyrexian Hulks and a Shivan Dragon, then more power to you – pick this card and play it. If not, ship it on and pick something with more of an impact.
Elvish Champion (r)
The skill on the Champion is not very impressive. The only common elves available are Elvish Pioneer, Norwood Ranger, and Wood Elves, none of which are very good, with only Wood Elves possibly making your maindeck. So really this is just a 2/2 for three mana, making it okay in an emergency, but pretty bad in a color with very efficient creatures. Don’t take this first and try to build a deck around it, it’s just not worth it.
This is Green’s take on the whole graveyard recursion thing. If we compare it with Raise Dead (a card which, in the Black review, I labelled just about playable) it costs one mana more and can only get back half of your deck. True it can target non-creatures, but 90% of Green cards you would want to get back are creatures anyway. Nevertheless, if you are not playing Black and have a Green bomb in your deck, or are short of playable creatures, then you might want to run this as an insurance policy.
I am unhappy if I finish the draft and have no way to remove enchantments. Some enchantments in the format (such as Grave Pact, Worship, and Blanchwood Armor) can just be too harmful to have no defense for. As Naturalize also deals with troublesome artifacts like Ensnaring Bridge, Phyrexian Hulk, and the dreaded Fodder Cannon, it is a very flexible sideboard card. I tend not to draft these above cards that will make my maindeck, and will try and pick one up late. However if I have no way to deal with enchantments going into the third pack I will take this higher
Call of the Wild (r)
The average 8th Edition draft deck has around fifteen creatures, so in an average deck, just over one in three activations will probably net you a creature (or about ten mana per creature). This just isn’t worth it, especially as you have to use four mana and a card in the first place, so you need two hits with this before you gain any kind of card advantage at all. In the late game this could be useful, but by then you have enough mana to play creatures anyway, so this becomes a bad Treasure Trove. Maybe this is playable in a deck that has twenty creatures, many of which cost a lot of mana, but that’s still a bit of a stretch.
Spreading Algae (u)
A color hoser, but not the best one in the world. Played in the first few turns this will effectively nullify a Swamp, as your opponent’s best course of action in most cases will be to just not use the enchanted Swamp. Effectively destroying a land in the first few turns for one mana is a very good ability though, slowing your opponent’s development by a turn and maybe leaving him in trouble if he kept a land-light hand.
Unfortunately, like all land destruction, this is pretty weak in the late game where your opponent will probably not miss one Swamp and if he has to use it in an emergency, he still can on a one-of basis. I will bring this in against Black decks, but only if there is something I want to take out.
Elvish Lyrist (u)
Enchantment removal is always a good thing, and this one comes with a 1/1 body attached that you can swing or chump block with. Unfortunately that’s also the rub. It will only be useful as a creature in the first couple of turns and, your opponent is hardly going to play his key enchantment while there is a Lyrist on the table. So maybe you should hold it back until after the enchantment is played.
In this case Naturalize is far superior because it costs the same amount of mana overall, and doesn’t give your opponent a full turn to win or remove the Lyrist before you can use it. I guess this is an option if you want some insurance against annoying enchantments like Pacifism and Holy Strength without committing an entire card to it, or if you haven’t managed to get any other enchantment removal, but on the whole I would rather just have a Naturalize.
Lone Wolf (c)
This is pretty close to being a vanilla 2/2 for three mana. The special skill is useful if you find your opponent on low life, but you have no way of breaking through if he has a persistent wall he is using as a blocker. Unfortunately though, this doesn’t happen often enough to warrant playing this normally sub-par creature most of the time.
Wood Elves (c)
Similar to Rampant Growth, except it can only fetch a Forest and leaves behind a chump blocker (because being played on turn 3, there is nothing else this 1/1 is going to do). If you really need mana acceleration, then this is almost playable, but there are so many better options.
A 2/2 for four with an ability that is nearly always irrelevant. If you have multiple Anaba Shamans or Rod of Ruins, then this could go up the rankings quite a bit, but as it is, it’s just an over-costed Grizzly Bears. Might be a good target for creature enchantments if you have some, but that’s a lot of work to make a bad creature playable.
Elvish Scrapper (u)
For reasons why this is worse than Naturalize, see Elvish Lyrist. This falls lower than Elvish Lyrist because there are far fewer artifacts that warrant your attention.
Verduran Enchantress (r)
If you have at least four or five enchantment spells in your deck, I would still hesitate before playing this and, lets be honest, what Green mage has four or five enchantments? If this counted both players’ enchantments then it might just about be playable, but a 0/2 for three mana just doesn’t cut it in this format.
Vernal Bloom (r)
A Mirari’s Wake that only affects Forests. This can allow you to generate very large amounts of mana in the late game, but in this format there just aren’t many uses for large amounts of mana. This will get you to six mana one turn faster to play your Craw Wurms, but there are far better ways of doing this.
The only spells I can think of that can be activated several times per turn to take advantage of all this mana are Sword Dancer and Treasure Trove, both of which require mana of a color other than Green to activate. The only”x” spells in the format are Stream of Life and Enrage. Stream of Life is probably still bad, even with one of these active, while Enrage does have some potential I guess. There you go, if you have two or more copies of Enrage then consider maindecking this. (But only if you have nothing better to do).
Monstrous Growth (c)
As an instant, this would be a good card (although still not as good as Giant Growth). As a Sorcery it’s just awful. Telegraphing the creature pump before combat means you will rarely get any benefit from it. Your opponent has all the information he needs to either block or not block as he sees fit.
Stream of Life (u)
One of the toughest things you have to do as an experienced Magic player is explain to new players why life gain cards are normally bad. This card is a classic example of a life gain card that looks good, as you can think back to all the times the game has been locked up and you have been on a clock. However more often than not you will be staring at this card when you need something to either apply pressure or do something about the swarm of creatures coming at you. Tapping out on turn seven to gain five life is not a good way of doing either of these things.
Gaea’s Herald (r)
Maybe worth a very late pick as a sideboard card, but I would have to see at least two Remove Souls before I would consider bringing it in. It’s not a lot of good against any other counters, because they will just save them and use them on your non-creature spells.
Another one of those cards you often draw and just wish it was a creature. Any creature. Any creature large enough to be worth protecting with this card would have trouble getting killed anyway, except by cards that make Regeneration irrelevant such as Dark Banishing and Pacifism. Its value goes up somewhat if your opponent is not playing Black or Blue and may possibly be worth sideboarding in this case.
Elvish Pioneer (c)
It’s a bit like mana acceleration, except that it doesn’t actually give you any extra mana, just speeds up how quickly you lay it. Therefore you can’t use this as an excuse to play less land like you can with, for example, Rampant Growth. Late game this is a 1/1 creature for one mana, so no usefulness there either. This wasn’t even playable in Onslaught Block, where having three mana on turn two really was a big deal.
Norwood Ranger (c)
Useless as an attacker because everyone has a two-toughness creature to block with. Fairly useless as a blocker too unless your opponent is playing lots of Lightning Elementals. To cut a long story short, don’t play this card. That one damage it will get in on turn two is just not that important.
The symmetry of this card makes it useless. Is it worth bringing out of the sideboard against Grave Pact? Probably not.
So there you have it, 8th Edition Green in its entirety. For the Red picks, make sure you tune in next time.
‘piemaster’ on MTGO