Introductions can be difficult to write. There’s the”hi my name is X, and I’d like to talk about Y.” There’s the in media res opening (I sure hope I used that term correctly, since I certainly made a big enough fool out of myself in my last article). There’s the”Webter’s defines an introduction as…” opening.
And then there’s my preferred method: Distract the readers with nonsense so that they don’t realize there is no introduction. Satirizing your own writing skills is a great way to make it seem like you’re an intelligent, talented writer without actually possessing any talent.
That said, this will be the first in hopefully five installments on the quality of Legions cards in Limited, specifically booster draft. I know I sort of lost interest in Judgment after writing up White and Green, but I think I’m going to follow through this time. I will list each color’s cards in approximate order of how good they are. I know Gary Wise uses this method – but like the Nick Eisel slang from my last article, we both came up with it independently. Really. I’m telling the truth, but would it matter if I wasn’t?
I’ve done a good deal of Legions drafts and am have a pretty good bead on things. I’m not going to list Gustcloak Runner in my top 5. Other than that, the only credentials I have are that I’ve played on the tour, won some Limited PTQs, money draft until I pass out, and am semi-respected by most people who have seen me draft.
And like my last article, we just passed the part where everyone from #pinks on IRC who is reading this has a nice laugh at my expense.
Legions is, of course, a set composed entirely of creatures. In part due to that, many of the cards are very similar in power level, and the pick order becomes even more reliant on the holes in your mana curve. Needless to say, in Onslaught, draft non-creature spells higher than you used to, since there are only a few cards that act as spells in this set. And onto the green…
This is one of those cards that totally alters the way the game is played… At least for you. First, at the very least, your creatures essentially don’t tap to attack; they are available for both attacking and blocking purposes, which is especially handy when racing with green monsters. Second, if you happen to have any creatures with activated abilities, like Sparksmith or Timberwatch Elf, this card moves into the realm of the Ridiculous. The land-untapping effect can also help with activated abilities, like that of the Snarling Undorak or, God forbid, Mobilization. You can even play morphs on your turn and morph them on your opponent’s turn. All in all, this should be pretty much an auto-first pick.
This seemingly innocuous card is Legions’s Sparksmith. It’s a common that you would consider taking over most of the rares in the set, and it totally ruins combat for your opponent. It may not be able to kill creatures outright, but it is from a better tribe than the Sparksmith. It usually won’t pump for only +1/+1, but even if it does, it makes your morphs trump all of your opponent’s, which is a Good Thing. Heck, if you’re particularly daring, you can block opposing morphs with the Elf and pump before damage… But I usually wouldn’t advise it.
This is a card that I personally have not played with or against yet, but it seems unlikely that it would ever be bad. Amplify: 2 is a very powerful ability on a provoker, and usually at worst, this is a 5/5 provoker for six mana. If you ever play this as a 9/9, it’s time to say”Scoop it up, Buttercup,” to your opponent. It would be better with trample – but then again, what wouldn’t?
I may be overvaluing this card a little bit, but in a set filled with large monsters that are functionally similar to those found in Onslaught, those creatures that do something interesting stand out. For a mere three mana, you get an instant-speed 2/2 Elf and probably some more surprise blockers. Often, you can play this on a turn where you trade creatures with your opponent or he uses a removal spell on one of your creatures to get two 2/2s. This guy can get absurd with mass removal effects, Nantuko Husk, or in those rare cases where you need to chump block to stay alive while your opponent is at a precarious life total himself.
4.Caller of the Claw
As far as Amplify goes, you won’t find a creature with a better type and casting cost for the job. Most beasts, particularly the ones in Legions, cost more than this, so holding them in your hand won’t require a conscious effort. If you play this on turn 4, it will often be a 4/4 or 5/5. As if that weren’t enough, it has essentially the same”Nantuko Disciple” as the Timberwatch Elf on a larger body, making it extremely versatile. In the late game, its value goes down a little; even then, you’ll still probably be able to salvage a 3/3 that taps to give +1/+1 out of it.
This card probably drops on the list if you have any holes in your mana curve to fill during Legions. As far as outright power is concerned though, this card belongs where it is. Even though the ability is marginal, large and efficient creatures are always welcome in your deck. The fact that it is an Elf may come into play as well.
The Vorine has an extremely good ability to pair with provoke. Any creature with one power and three or less toughness will be hunted down and killed on sight. After that job is finished, you get to pick one more creature to kill that will trade with the Vorine. It’s basically your choice whether the Vorine lives or dies; you have total control of how your opponent blocks. Any pump spells, especially reusable ones like the Timberwatch Elf, make this card downright unfair. If it had one more toughness, it would be in the running for best green card.
As an aside, be careful with provoke. With anything but the Vorine, if they have a first striker, your opponents can ruin your plans easily. Also, it is rarely in your best interest to provoke a creature with a tap ability unless it has summoning sickness, since it will just serve to give your opponent an extra use of it.
I can’t say I agree with the likes of Nick Eisel and Ken Krouner that Glory Seeker is better than Centaur Glade or Dragon Roost or Visara or whatever. I don’t know if they really think it’s better, or if they are just trying to compensate for other people’s undervaluing of it by overvaluing it themselves. That said, tempo is very important in this format, and playing something that can trade with opposing morphs on turn 2 can give you an advantage. If you have a good deal of elves, its cycling ability often reads,”Screw up combat for your opponent badly by dealing him four extra damage and killing two of his creatures. All yours live. Draw a card.”
Another 2/2 for two mana with a good creature type. Elves used to be my favorite tribe until I drafted a deck with twelve clerics and two Profane Prayers in a money draft in Chicago…. But I digress. This card is better than your run-of-the-mill Glory Seeker since it has an improved function in the late game. While eight mana may seem like a lot, the opportunity to use each of the Invokers comes up more often than you’d think (in Sealed more than draft, of course).
The jury’s still out on this one. It is potentially very large, but it is at the mercy of your opponent a lot of the time; he can kill your morphs or flip his own over. That said, it can deter your opponents from playing their creatures face-down. The Whisperer is somewhat fragile, as you can’t attack with it and a morph into opposing 2/2s. It has an interesting creature type, but the soldier portion of it may end up benefiting a white opponent more than it does you. The aspect of this card that moves it from”questionable” to”probably very good” is the fact that it may be played face-down itself.
Many people malign this as”strictly inferior to Spitting Gourna.” Well, that clearly isn’t the case; it would be strictly inferior if its toughness were four or less. It doesn’t die to Pinpoint Avalanche, and it can block just about any flyer without dying. Opponents can’t even kill it with a Shock or Lavamancer’s Skill in combination with a bird or Mistform flyer. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to argue that this card is better than its Spitting brother. It doesn’t have the morphing versatility, and it comes out a turn later. What it all boils down to is that you want at least one Gourna of some type in your green deck. If you didn’t manage to pick any Spitters up, you’ll need one of these. Even then, as Antonino allegedly once said,”The more the berrier!”
I’ll warn you right now: I may be overrating this card a tad. The Enormous Baloth just sits in your hand until turn 7 (or hopefully turn 6, with some sort of acceleration). It doesn’t have any abilities either, like the fabled”trample.” Once it hits play, though, it is a force to be reckoned with. Your opponent often will not be able to double-block and kill this. It’s also very splashable if you happen to need a large man. In matchups against other green decks, the winner is the player who can break the stalemate – through tricks, evasion or Falter effects, or all else equal, the bigger creatures. It is very important, as I mentioned, to be mindful of your curve; use this set to fill in the gaps when you’re having trouble deciding between any two cards.
Here’s a very nice card. The Branchsnap Lorian, while fragile once morphed, is what the Leery Fogbeast aspires to be. Even with a toughness of one, a four-power trampler for three mana is a force to be reckoned with. On defense, you can trade with monsters as large as Treespring Lorian. This card, of course, is much better on offense. Play him face down turn 3, attack with him turn 4, flip him over if you like… And you still have enough mana to play another morph. An excellent deal.
Brontotherium provokes, tramples, and will often require two opposing creatures to stop it. That said, why isn’t it higher on the list? It has three toughness for six mana. It gets better with pump spells, obviously.
This is a clear sign of me maturing as a drafter. When Onslaught came out, I would take Krosan Colossus over clearly better cards like Snarling Undorak just because I love stupid, huge monsters so much. My initial list of Legions had this in the top 10, and I considered it a near-bomb.
That just isn’t the case. Like the Stonewood Invoker, the Cloudscraper has uses early and late game. Nine mana is an awful lot, though. (Not that eight mana isn’t a lot, and it can still be reached). When all is said and done, even without trample, your opponent will not see this coming. If he tries to gang block, he’ll lose his whole team. If he lets it through, he’s dead. If you have a Vitality Charm, he’s dead. And, of course, there will be no one-for-one trading; the Cloudscraper will be a Chainer’s Edict every turn for the rest of the game. As dumb as it sounds, if it were one less to morph this, it would rocket up the list.
And, uh… Don’t forget the upkeep.
An excellent maindeck solution to artifacts and enchantments, as it doesn’t sit in your hand if your opponent plays no targets. It has a decent morph cost, but its power and toughness don’t change much when you flip it over, making for a reduced chance of combat advantage. A toughness of two sort of hurts in this format, as I’m sure you’re well aware.
I haven’t played with this one enough to be sure where it belongs. On the surface, it seems to be a first pick, since it grants you an Overrun-like effect. Slow down. First, you’ll never be playing it face-up, as it’s pretty worthless as a vanilla 1/1 for two. On a related note, after you’ve morphed him, he’s just a 1/1. And for his effect to be worthwhile, you have to have a decent amount of the same type of creature, when often your board will be some morphs, a few elves, a beast, and a goblin. That said, the possibility of playing this with several beasts out and turning it up mid-combat makes it fairly attractive. Time will tell on this one.
A passable creature, the Berserk Murlodont belongs in your deck if you’re in need of a beast, a five-drop, or both. Its ability can come in handy, making it (and your other beasts) quite tricky to block. Unfortunately, this guy doesn’t morph.
The major strike against him, though, is the overload of creatures that cost this much and have a similar function. I guess it helps your opponent’s beasts, too, but that isn’t too much of a problem. It’s still very good to play this turn 5 after a turn 4 Krosan Vorine.
The Rogon suffers from the same failings as the Murlodont, except it’s more expensive and doesn’t have the potential for a large-scale effect. You probably won’t be able to make him much bigger with amplify, since even most beasts cost less than this. It’s a fine card if you need some upper-end fat for your curve, but in the end, it’s another redundant monster with large numbers in the bottom right and a larger one in the top right. Keep in mind, as I mentioned, that just because this is low in the list doesn’t mean it’s unplayable… The cards are very close together in power, and Legions has a lot of playable cards in limited.
This is a nice combat trick – but it’s a little on the expensive side, and it leaves you with a 1/1. Whereas many morphs net you a card when you use them for surprise value, this one doesn’t really since all it leaves is the equivalent of a Squirrel in its wake. Much better than an off-color morph, and still out of the realm of”23rd card” and well into the realm of”cards that I’m not embarrassed to maindeck.”
20.Patron of the Wild
Expensive to cycle, expensive to play, and doesn’t swing for much damage. It’s sort of nice on defense – but by turn 7, you’ve either established a defense (or offense), or you’re going to lose. Not bad against other green decks, and while its cost and cycling make it quite conducive to splashing, I wouldn’t recommend doing so.
21.Hundroog (Hundroog! – The Ferrett)
(Seinfeld voice) What is the deal with cards that cycle for 3? By the time you have enough to cycle them, you would rather be playing spells!
If you can get this little engine going, you’ll quickly amass a swarm, as each new sliver can produce more when it deals combat damage. That said, good luck getting through with an otherwise ability-free 3/3 for five mana. There are some rare instances when you can draft a sliver deck, but since they’re only available in pack 3, it will likely be hard to get a significant amount.
Another 3/3 for five mana. This can be nice in the Green-on-Green matchup, and can get you nine to twelve life in some games. A lot of the time, though, you’ll want more out of a 5-drop. The Gourna has an extra point of toughness and can block flyers; the Murlodont can’t be double-blocked by two morphs; Barkhide Mauler is a 4/4 that can cycle if the need should ever arise, and so on. Compared to those, life gain seems to be a trivial ability.
You guessed it – another 3/3 for five mana. Unlike the Totem Speaker, this guy probably won’t end up doing anything extra at all. If your opponent has no creatures, you’ll be in good shape anyway, and there isn’t enough worthwhile countermagic for the other ability to kick in. With so many other options at this cost, there should be no need to play the bug.
A 1/1 for two mana is a little sketchy unless it taps to deal ridiculous amounts of damage to creatures or something similarly worthwhile. This will, in all likelihood, give you three or so 1/1s over the course of the game; and what good are 1/1s in this format? If you’re playing a lot of elves, and you have the need for another member of the elven tribe, I suppose you could play this. You could also side it in for chump blockers in the mirror… But the mirror probably won’t be decided by who draws more chump blockers.
The Channeler is too expensive for its size, and its cost makes its ability pretty bad. Once you’ve reached four mana, your best bet on”ramping up” to more expensive spells is simply to make your fifth land drop. This guy, in short, gives you more of a resource that you probably already have plenty of.
As mentioned, Slivers (before Scourge, at least) are an unreliable tribe to draft. That being the case, you likely won’t have more than one or two in your deck, should you make the mistake of playing them. Thus, this guy costs twice as much as Vitality Charm for the same effect as one of its modes; in other words, it’s somewhere around one-sixth as good as Vitality Charm. The charm is very, very good, but it’s not that good.
Trample on a 1/1 is like”comes into play tapped” on a haste creature. You could always make it bigger, but that’s really not worth the effort.
For the same reasons that Vexing Beetle shouldn’t make the cut, this becomes strictly inferior to an off-color morph – a good warning sign that a card should not be in your deck.
That’s all for now. All in all, a pretty good set for green. Join me next time when I’ll discuss how to make a truly delicious vegan meatball. And/or Legions Red in limited.
Until the joy drops again,
The Scum of the Earth