Randy Buehler and Mark Rosewater have been talking about the Color Wheel (or the Mechanics Pie) at Wizards. For those who do not know, the color wheel is basically a gussied-up list of what mechanics are assigned to each color. There has recently been talk of modifying several color assignments for mechanics, in order to bring more balance to the colors. I applaud this. But, I would also like to see a different definition of the color green; a definition slightly different than the current standard, but yet in flavor.
There has been a lot of attention recently concerning possible future plans for green. While I personally think that R&D has earned our trust, I would also like to see some increased definition of the color for everybody’s sake of mind.
When you think of green, what do you think of? Mana production, instant creature growth, big fat creatures, and fogs are hardly a Constructed-viable product. Yet, I think there is enough history in green that we could add one simple mechanic to the mix:
Green should be the color of diversity.
Green is the color of nature, after all, and nature is quite diverse. In fact, I submit that green should have access to every mechanic in the game that multiple colors share. Every one. It should simply pay more for effects that are not traditionally greenish. And paying more is a disadvantage which can be offset by green’s ability to make mana.
Let’s be honest; green has always been able to do this, I just want to make it official, so that R&D will focus on it. Take Desert Twister, for example: Here we have a classic green spell that’s been printed in the basic set before. It was reprinted in Masques, and appeared as early as Arabian Nights. This sorcery takes out any permanent. Expensive, but versatile.
Desert Twister is hardly the only example of green’s versatility, either. Tornado destroys any permanent as well. Creeping Mold can destroy any non-creature permanent, and even Judgment includes Venomous Vines.
But, I don’t mean just the occasional card in a Desert Twister fashion. I think that green should have the ability to have such effects on a regular basis. For example, take the ability to destroy one enchantment or artifact. In artifacts, green has several choices going back to Crumble. How many times has green been able to destroy a target enchantment, however? Sure, green can sweep away enchantments – but shouldn’t it also be regularly able to pop single enchantments? I hope that Nullmage Advocate, in Judgment, is an example of green starting to get this ability on a regular basis.
By being able to do anything that multiple colors can do, I hope for exactly that. Countermagic is a blue-only ability – except for the occasional red card that is designed to hose blue. Therefore, green should not get countermagic. Ditto for hand discard. But green should get more than it does.
Take card drawing, for example. Both blue and black have large amounts of card drawing. Green should as well, with the card drawing tied to green’s strengths. Nature’s Resurgence or Collective Unconscious are perfect examples… And about the only ones. Green should get more abilities in line with Nature’s Resurgence. Since the ability to draw more cards is so essential in Magic, why deny it to a color?
As to creature abilities, hasn’t nature on our world showed us the ability to adapt and be marvelously diverse? Why would nature not also do the same in a fantasy world? Take haste, for example. Can we not think of creatures in real life that are so sneaky or fast that they might represent haste – maybe a cheetah, mongoose, or snake? (Instill Energy comes to mind here.) The same can be said of first strike. And why does green seemed to be focused on developing every single way of hosing flyers? Why not simply have flyers? Maybe a little overcosted, but green should grow wings. Heck, Kyscu Drake is not that bad (a 2/2 flyer for 3G that can pump to 2/3). Remember, green started Magic with flying, banding, and first-striking creatures.
Land destruction, like Winter’s Grasp or Thermokarst; artifact destruction like Crumble or Verdigris; enchantment destruction like, um, Druid Lyrist or Emerald Charm (green needs more targeted removal); all of them lead to one simple question – where is green’s creature removal? Don’t tell me that creature removal is not in the flavor of green and leave it at that. Creature removal is not supposedly in the flavor of blue – yet blue gets Dehydration, Vanishing, Gaseous Form, and so forth. Why not print the occasional bad creature removal card for green? This would be especially valuable in limited, where removal is one of the most important effects around. Roots, for example, was a poor creature removal spell, but was Limited-viable and in the flavor of green. Besides Unyaro Bee Sting, has green had any other removal? Yes; Drop of Honey and Cyclone. Early in Magic, green has removal – it just wasn’t simple Terror/Lightning Bolt/Swords to Plowshares removal. It was harder, less obvious, subtle removal. Subtle. Like nature.
Until now, that representation of nature in green usually represents life gain, mana production, mass enchantment removal, or hosing flyers. When nature is good, it is Tranquility, Rampant Growth, Early Harvest and so forth. When Hurricanes, Needle Storms, and forth strike, it is flyers which have fear. The more chaotic side of green could be more fully fleshed out in several new cards which mimic mechanics in other colors.
Why not bring back older mechanics that were fully in the flavor of green? A great example is Sandstorm or Hailstorm or Choking Vines. Let’s see some more of that ability in future expansions. Another example is the Abundance, Sylvan Library, Natural Selection ability of green to manipulate its library or draws.
Below are some cards I created quickly, in order to illustrate how green should be fleshed out, not be the two-dimensional version of itself that it is now.
Destroy target non-land permanent. Lose life equal to its mana cost.
Creature – Bird
Creature – Townsfolk
Sacrifice Trapspringer: Each attacking creature without flying takes one point of damage.
Whenever any player plays a green spell, he or she may spend GG. If that player does, they may draw a card.
Whenever any spell would deal damage to you, it instead deals that amount of damage minus 2.
Destroy target enchantment
Stunned by Beauty
Enchanted Creature cannot be declared as an attacker or blocker unless its controller sacrifices a land.
Whenever enchanted creature blocks or is blocked by a green creature, it gets -2/-2 until the end of the turn.
Creature – Cat
Target creature gains +2/+2, first strike, and trample until the end of turn.
Creature – Wizard
G, Sacrifice Hedge Wizard: Look at the top four cards of your library, put two on the bottom of your library and the other two back on top of your library in any order.
Green has traditionally been weak in Magic – and I submit that was because R&D lost sight of its original intent. Green was meant to be sneaky (Fog, Camouflage), kill creatures (Desert Twister, Drop of Honey, Cyclone, Sandstorm), summon fat (Force of Nature, Erhnam Djinn), have flyers (Cockatrice, Iff-Biff Efreet, Scryb Sprites) and otherwise be a fairly versatile color. But Magic went away from that foundation. All green needs is a simple restoration to that formula. Welcome to the world of what green could be.