Monday, 11 March 2013

Revised Reviews: Green Creatures


It is time to go over the reviews of the main cube cards. Since I first did them over a year ago I have learned more about the newer cards and the cube metagame has changed a little. I have also added new cards and retired some to the B or C cube for the time being although I will still keep those cards in this list. While touching up the reviews it seems like a good opportunity to employ a more informative rating system which I have outlined here. In short the main rating is the same and in bold at the top, the two aspects that make up that composite rating are below. Power relates to the effects and stats of the card for its mana cost while support relates to the cards utility, synergy with other cards and how well in fits into the cube metagame and archetypes. The first set of reviews I did will remained unchanged in the earlier portions of the blog if any uber keen people want to see what, if anything has been changed.



Worldspine WurmWorldspine Wurm 2.2
Power 2.8
Support 1.5

The poor mans Emrakul, this monstrous Wurm has a couple of roles in the cube yet has seen no play outside of those few roles as yet. For when this dies effects go it is possibly the most powerful available in Magic. Three 5/5 tramplers is a whole lot of board position and as such it makes it one of the very best targets for both Sneak Attack and Flash and is therefore one of the main combo piece cards in several cheat dorks into play archetypes. Certainly he is reanimate proof and not an artifact ruling out about half of those archetypes but as one of the best targets in the others he merits his slot in the same way as Emrakul. He cannot be used to counter mill effects decks as well but has several advantages over the big daddy Eldrazi. Firstly Wurm is no legend and is immune to annoying clones and Karakas hosing. Secondly trample is vastly better evasion than flying when you have reached the dizzy powers of 15 (as in interesting side debate I was wondering at what point trample > flying and came to the conclusion it was probably around 7 or 8, answers on a postcard please) ensuring you get through some serious damage each time you swing. Thirdly Wurm is green thus allowing you to fetch him with Natural Order or even Green Sun's Zenith via a Channel or something. This isn't all that much a notch against Emrakul and is more of a fatal blow to Progenitus as a worthwhile cube fatty. The final perk of Worldspine Wurm as a really huge serious fatty over Emrakul is that he is eleven mana not fifteen. This works very well in the kinds of decks that play Natural Order as the Wurm can become hard castable in the late game far far quicker from things like Gaea's Cradle, Rofellos, Primeval Titan etc. At higher costs the effect of adding an extra mana is far more pronounced than at lower costs even in the crazy mana decks. All round a fairly narrow card that gets the cube slot for being the best tool for the job in a few places rather than a card you can play easily in a variety of places. Sticking with the tool analogy Wurm would be something like a power hammer, its not often you need to make lumps of metal paper thin but it gets the job done and is incredibly powerful to boot. 


Craterhoof BehemothCraterhoof Behemoth 2.4
Power 2.7
Support 2.2

Green has always struggled with having an advantage and winning with it. Lots of ramp decks are able to put up vast amounts of mana and have a significant board presence yet can't seem to do anything much with it and then lose to something embarrassing like a Kor Shyfisher. Regal Force has seen a lot of play as one of the better cards to turn a big creature and mana advantage into a way of winning however you would often just draw lots of weenie ramp critters and the odd do nothing fatty. You had to draw into an Overrun, have the mana to cast it and enough guys to attack that turn to really take the win. Otherwise you gave your opponent too long to respond by taking out your fatty or just Wrathing the whole board. Most of greens power cards are creatures which have summoning sickness typically and therefore don't win the game on the spot. If you gave other colours the same mana advantages you can get from green they can usually win the game on the spot - Upheaval anyone? (the simple solution is to play GX decks however this turns off or depowers many of your ramp effects such as Rofellos and so isn't as simple as it seems). Craterhoof is not that exciting of a top end dork however he ends most games which is a lot better than messing around loads more doing not a lot with lots of things and giving away a lead. More importantly he usually ends games the turn you cast him, with him being a 6 trample damage on his own he is not as limp as a lonely Regal Force and he scales vastly better with the number of other dorks you have. From 6 damage solo, assuming each extra guy is a 1/1 he goes to 10 damage with 1 dork, 16 with 2, 24 with 3 and 34 with 4! Although much more mana than Overrun you get a lot more for that with a much lower needed critical mass to finishing things and a decent threat left over at the end of it. The relatively low requirement of dorks to make this fatal allows you to easily play it even in control green decks not intending to have invested too much into creature presence on the board. Being one of very few "I win spells" green has in its arsenal along with comic company such as Biorhythm and being well suited to the kinds of green deck in the cube Craterhoof Behemoth has a well deserved A cube slot. He is a danger card that is playable in weenie ramp, control ramp and most of the cheaty fat-dorks-into-play combo decks. He gives green something it desperately needs and is one of the more worthy cube cards that cost over six mana.




Woodfall PrimusWoodfall Primus 1.4
Power 1.2
Support 1.8

Quite an average all round fatty, it is not the scariest threat nor does it have the most swingy of abilities yet it is reliable and solid. The body and initial effect for the mana are fine but not a massive bargian at the costly eight nor are they very powerful compared with the most extreme fatties in Magic. As a result he is not often included as a dork to cheat into play or to hard cast leaving him rarely seeing play. He works best where you can abuse the persist and thus gain much more advantage of the comes into play effect. These are basically either Flash or Sneak Attack where you get to kill two things and have a 5/5 trample left over afterwards which is game early and still powerful later on. The other home Primus finds himeself in is decks which have both a lot of mana ramp but also the odd cheat effect such as Oath of Druids, Tooth and Fail or Natural Order. When you have the options of both casting or cheating into play his middle power and cost are a much more useful balance.  Terastodon has also been ruining this guys day in terms of getting play as it is a much more brutal card while fulfilling many of the same roles. They cost the same but Terastodon can either kill 3 things right there or can give you a vast army with 18 power total both of which are swingy enough to be worthy of cheating into play. The downside of Terastodon is that he is far clumsier to use and not as consistently solid and good as Primus in most situations. Decks that play fatties tend to want them to be really swingy and have great potential power and so Terastodon is seeing more play at present with Primus only ever getting cheated in when persist is abusable. Although Primus is rarely the best at anything he is a good cube card because he is so all round acceptable and works as good back up filler in many kinds of deck.



Chancellor of the Tangle
Chancellor of the Tangle 1.7 
Power 1.5
Support 1.9



The comparison for this dork is the Elvish Spirit Guide as the primary reason to play is for the mana boost. Although less flexible than the Elf the mana from the Chancellor does not cost you a card and the dork is more relevant if cast even if less likely. The first turn is most often when you want the mana boost. Sadly this card is very narrow and only really fits into elf style decks, green control and birthing pod decks. The soles reason for his remaining in the cube is his body which seems innocuous enough however when one considers the majority of the big threats in the cube this blocks and kills most and pretty much trades with the rest and can do all this while sending reasonably safely. This is one of the cards put in on a whim that actually proved most useful where not expected. They will print a bomb 7/7 at some stage and this will return to the B cube where it really belongs but Griselbrand is not that card. Green really struggles against fliers and has all sorts of odd looking cards to combat this like Hurricane. Chancellor of the Tangle is as good as it gets for green dorks against fliers and would see play more often in this regard if it was a little cheaper to cast. Seven is not unreasonable for green mages however and so this dork still sees enough play to keep hold of its A cube slot.





Primeval Titan
Primeval Titan 2.3
Power 3.1
Support 1.8

I think this is the worst titan of the cycle in terms of the cube but I suspect I am overly harsh on the card. Beyond man lands the cube cannot support all the quirky lands that make the effect really powerful as has been seen in recent standard. The card advantage this offers is most akin to land tax, an effect with little synergy on a 6 mana 6/6. When green has reached 6 mana it tends to want to win in some way rather than getting yet more mana and while a 6/6 trample does get this job done I can't help but think a Silvos, Rogue Elemental does it better. If playing green the artifact monsters at 6 mana such as Triskelion and Duplicant offer much more than the Titan in terms of what the colour needs. The only homes I have seen for this card are extreme ramp decks and as part of a large Birthing Pod chain. His high power level does mean that he will find more uses with time but for now he doesn't serve enough desired roles. He does see more play than my assessment of the card suggest he should for a few reasons. Firstly green has very few six drops, they are all five or seven which makes him quite appealing in a lot of situations. The second is that despite him not doing something you really want it is still a very powerful effect for the mana which few other cards can offer in such abundance, even if they can be more specific in their usefulness. The final use is as a crossover card in green ramp decks. He is powerful enough to be cheated out early and has much more effect with his abilities if used in that way in that kind of deck however he is still cheaper than all the other cards you might cheat out and can be hard cast allowing you to then hard cast the even bigger fatties. A card that could well get cut if a great green six drop comes along but equally one that could guarantee its A cube slot with the printing a new cards that work with it.



Wolfir SilverheartWolfir Silverheart 3.7
Power 3.9
Support 3.5

I am really bad at missing this kind of card when they are first printed. I see a powerful but high cost dork with little immediate value and no fantastic synergy and somewhat rule it out. A few that slip under my radar are so good that they dominate at PT and force me to test them out. It became quickly apparent how wrong I was to overlook this guy. It is quite hard to quantify at what power level a card has to be before it is cube worthy as a pure threat but twelve power and toughness for five mana turns out to be well above the mark. The format has slowed down with the increasing creature count in decks making a five mana dork that completely dominates the board very good. Sure, like a Baneslayer Angel you can just Doom Blade them down and all is well, however should you fail to have an answer the game will end very quickly. It is nice to be able to have an "answer this or die" card in your deck and this is very similar to Baneslayer in how it swings games and where it fits into your deck. An 8/8 is bigger than all the other monsters that you cast rather than cheat into play and bigger than plenty of those too which takes us all back to the very first games of magic we played where biggest fatty on the board wins! The +4/+4 also makes most guys big enough to trade with at worst all of the frequently cast game enders. A Viridian Shaman soulbonded to Wolfir swats a baneslayer Angel dead and trades with Titans and Wurmcoil allowing you to reuse the +4/+4 on a new dork. The soulbond is a mixed blessing but overall I reckon it is an advantage. When you already have the biggest guy on the board you are best off having power and toughness spread around rather than located in one mega dork. This also allows you to scale well with effects like trample and lifelink, not to mention the good chance you will have to attack with the soulbondee on the turn you make Wolfir. The only drawbacks are losing two thirds of your goodness when you have no other creatures and a vulnerability to instant removal used as a combat trick. There is much competition in the green five slot, far more so than any other colour but that will not be a concern for this card which will be a cube mainstay for a long time to come as he trumps all other green 5 drop creatures presently. Thragtusk is close and offers more value and reliability than Wolfir however it is far less of a threat and neither ends games as quick nor dominates the board so well. I have played or seen him in action in most of the green decks he can go in, which is most of them it turns out. Green based multi colour control decks are too creature light to play him and elves probably doesn't want him but otherwise he is good to go. So far his best showing has been in Birthing Pod in combination with Murderous Redcap however he has been winning lots of games directly himself all over the place. 




Acidic Slime
Acidic Slime 3.0
Power 2.6
Support 3.5

This has always been a go to card for green due to its versatility. The arrival of birthing pod and other control green cards have really increased the power of this little guy. Although expensive this is not a huge deal for green where as card advantage is. Replacing naturalize with this kind of card means that you never have dead cards in hand. The ability to go for their lands is very nice extra utility and the death touch offers a real tempo swing as it holds off most monsters well gaining you a very nice two for one. Mould Shambler is nice as it hits walkers but less useful with pod and recurring nightmare. Viridian shaman is also great but somewhat a different card. Grey ogres have little impact on board position and often the Viridian Shaman must be kept in hand as a removal spell for something really scary like a Sword at which point is is less use than the naturalise. The Slime is almost always cast if you have nothing else to spend your mana on and will have a much greater impact on the board simply due to the death touch. Many underrate this card while I was very tempted to give this a 3.5, it is often just the thing you need to smooth out a tightly constructed deck and offer answers in a form that does not harm the flow of the deck. The one big problem for the card is that the five slot is fast filling up in green with Wolfir Silverheart and Thragtusk joining the ranks recently. 


Deranged Hermit
Deranged Hermit: 2.0
Power 2.8
Support 1.4

The original one man army and one of the few earlier monsters not yet falling to the power creep. The hermit is still not an outstanding card finding a home in some birthing pod / recurring nightmare deck, UG opposition decks, elf decks or a RG agro deck at a push. It is a lot of power for 5 mana but rather fragile and dependant on the echo which can be a burden as you would rather be casting an overrun etc. Wolfir Silverheart greatly trumps the power aspect of the Hermit and is kinder to your mana but is slightly more situational and offers less bodies. Despite this Wolfir is the all round better card and takes the slot from Hermit in all decks bar elves and Opposition. Probably the best follow-up play to a Sarkhan Vol, a card not in my cube, I susupect the Hermit will eventually go the same way but for now he still plays his part. Many cards have been printed that are similar, in white especially yet despite the crusade effects in white the 5 mana cost of such cards makes them far less useful. Siege-Gang commander is the most comparable card that I have in my cube but with the colour difference they end up in very different decks. The Gang is the more rounded and versatile card and would relegate the hermit to the B cube if it were green but as it is not this observation serves little purpose...



GenesisGenesis 2.2

This is a slow card, very very slow, the name suggests it too, rather like thawing glaciers, which is another slow old card. Genesis finds his home in controlly rock deck builds with Fauna Shaman, Birthing Pod and/or Survival of the Fittest or in many coloured Gifts Ungiven style of deck. Green does not have great access to card advantage which is the main reason for this guy seeing play although recursion in singleton formats is of great value too. Decks have less redundancy and so if you need a monster to do a specific thing it is likely you will only have a few that fit the bill in the deck, say for example gaining you life. The genesis allows decks to reuse effects meaning that you can potentially free slots for other cards. Quite frequently he gets cast as a 4/4 is not too shabby which does make him vulnerable to some white spot removal  but otherwise has a quirky kind of hexproof where your opponent is scared of sending him to the graveyard so either halts attacking or chump blocks or takes 4 to the face each turn. Genesis is probably most like Life from the Loam out of any other cube card as they perform similar roles in decks. They both offer grindy late game card advantage engines. Genesis is a great tool for green to have and greatly widens the scope of the colour. Compared to Life from the Loam it is also more use when not in "engine mode" as it were being able to be fairly fat on the board.



ThragtuskThragtusk 3.6
Power 3.7
Support 3.5

This pesky all rounder is probably not the best card to trial out replacing going to the graveyard effects with leaves play effects. As it stands you either counter this guy or prevent them ever casting it otherwise they will be vastly ahead on the board. Bounce is an especially poor answer to this dork despite his high cost and even the usual solution cards like Swords to Plowshares don't stop the 3/3 from triggering. Tusk is just a massive pile of undercosted goodness. It offers two of the main things you want from a dork, some sort of value when you make it and some sort of insurance against having it killed. It is fairly reasonable aggressively for its high cost as a body and still a fantastic control card. Tusk would have been very playable if the 3/3 only triggered when it went to the graveyard but as it is can very often be too much for decks to cope with. Its one of those cards that gives you that awful feeling of losing regardless of being able to deal with it or not rather like Wurmcoil Engine but more certain. You just expend so many resources to negate the effects of the card that you are too behind to recover. It is the bane of most agro decks and poses a significant problem for control decks that is hard to efficiently negate. I do not love the card as it is hard to use creatively and is just a bit autopilot for a card of that power level but it is well worthy of a cube slot. 


Obstinate BalothObstinate Baloth 2.0 (B cube)
Power 1.5
Support 2.6

Decent body that is pretty relevant in play and reasonably costed. The main reason for his inclusion in the cube is the life gain side of this card which can be very important for more control style green decks or against any red decks however both Thragtusk and Kitchen Finks on either side of it are vastly better cards and have shunted the poor Baloth to the B cube despite his quirky anti black aspect. He often finds a slot as a come into play effect dork in Birthing Pod, Survival of the Fittest and/or Recurring Nightmare style decks. This however has more to do with a lack of appropriate four drops for such decks than it has to do with the power of this card. The discard ability has recently got better with the arrival of Liliana of the Veil and Sword of Feast and Famine to a lesser extent, as previously only really Wheel of Fortune, Balace, Mind Twist and Occasionally Hymn to Tourach ever gifted you the free Baloth. Most of these effects being black they find themselves in the same deck as the Baloth than opposing it. Baloth is fundamentally in the cube as a utility monster, most of which tend to be 2/2 or smaller, so the 4/4 body is quite welcome and feels like free extra value on the card when building your deck with it. Even with all its perks it feels a little below the curve compared to what you can get for your four mana and does not offer anything unique and being somewhat of a hoser card I feel it is not an A cube card.



Thrun, the Last TrollThrun, the Last Troll 2.5
Power 3.2
Support 1.9

Thrun is quite an immovable object but at four mana he is not that scary of a clock. The regenerate is best as a potential threat and tends not to get used which is just as well as at two mana it is not a fantastic bargain. The un-counterable aspect is a small bonus but ironically blue is the colour best equipped to deal with this card. Phyrexian Metamorph and Phantasmal Image both work as effective spot removal for him while green and red lack any conclusive answers. White has only wrath and balance if its lucky while black has damnation and a shot at removing him with sacrifice effects. If you really want a monster to stick around Thrun is your man but generally if you want to actually get something done most other monsters have more to offer. Thrun becomes a lot more frightening if enchanted with Rancor or equipped with a Loxodon Warhammer and increases the value of those cards. This is particularly the case as his hexproof ability prevents you losing card advantage or tempo from the Rancor or Warhammer respectively to spot removal. Thrun is pretty good in isolation but doesn't really do anything special for any other cards and therefore gets a rating that is lower than his power level might suggest. He has few homes and is just a bit on the slow side. If he were not a legend he would still have an A cube slot but as it stands he rarely sees play as anything other than high powered filler. He does not lend well to elegant deck construction and while a solid draft card is hardly ever picked in full cube rotissary. 


Vengevine
Vengevine 3.5
Power 3.2
Support 3.9

One of greens best all round creatures, big and hasty offering great aggression while tricksy and able to provide card advantage. Four mana is quite a lot but in green this is less problematic and also totally irrelevant if you can cheat him into play. I have not built a deck intending to do so but I do like the idea of making this turn one with a Faithless Looting, a Memnite and a Basking Rootwalla. Obviously great with Survival of the Fittest and other decks built around discard outlets but also better than most guys as just a four drop in your hitty deck. A decent power to cost ratio complete with haste and less worry about getting him killed or countered. If you do then get him killed you hold back a small creature so as to be able to recur with the next guy you draw. As it only requires you to cast the spell for the recur trigger it is yet another threat on top of man lands that control has to deal with out using counter magic. The one thing I hate about this card is its rarity. This fits none of the criteria for mythic status as I accept it, which is begrudgingly at best. Bloodbraid Elf, Shardless Agent, Kor Skyfisher and from the B cube Horned Kavu are all good at triggering the recur on Vengevine solo. Gravecrawler is also an excellent card to help with recursion as it is cheap to cast and can also be done from the graveyard. A great all round card that is well designed, fun to play with and build around and may go in a wide array of decks. 


Oracle of Mul Daya
Oracle of Mul Daya 1.2 (B cube)
Power 1.6
Support 1.0

I deeply dislike a four mana investment into a 2/2 body that doesn't always directly effect the board on entrance or departure. She seems a lot like Crypt Ghast, powerful if not dealt with but fragile and fairly risky. I would much prefer this to be a 3 mana enchantment effect. If you luck out and hit a few lands on the top of your deck this guy is becoming better than Solemn Simulacrum, if not you give information to your opponent and likely throw some tempo away in the process. Beyond Exploration there are few good ways to get lands out from your hand faster in the cube and it was felt the archetypes abusing those mechanics require redundancy, and sadly with Fastbond gone this has been the most impressive option for many of those archetypes. There are many alternatives to Exploration but none are quite right being either too expensive for what they do or too situational in how they do their thing or, in the case of Mul Daya, too fragile to be relied upon. 




Master of the Wild HuntMaster of the Wild Hunt 3.2
Power 3.4
Support 3.1

This quirky midrange dork feels like a planeswalker as it has a few effects and provides an incremental advantage. Sadly it is a bit easier to kill than most walkers and so is not quite as robust a threat however if unanswered the Master should take control over the game in a few turns. Master is probably greens best card when it comes to creature kill mostly due to green really lacking in that department rather than for Masters effectiveness as removal. He is slow and reasonably easy to disrupt and offers no advantage at all should he be killed before your next upkeep. He is not a card you should rely on too much however he is still a lot of card for the mana and is worthy of inclusion in many decks. There are not that many four mana cards that are likely to win the game in a couple of turns if unanswered and fewer still with as much utility as Master. Being able to offer a reasonable defensive set up or sit back and pick off creatures or gradually amass an army while you lay in are all good things to be able to do. For both his power and utility we can forgive him being a little on the slow and vulnerable side and for his game winning capacity we can forgive the fact that he gives no added value like Thragtusk. Very much an all rounder card that is fine in most decks but a mainstay in none (except perhaps Opposition decks where he offers amazing synergy). I find myself playing this guy far more often than I would like, in part because green is lighter on 4 drop dorks than other slots but mostly because green is so lacking in creature kill it is nice to be able to plug that hole a little with a high powered card. 






Yavimaya ElderYavimaya Elder 2.5
Power 2.6
Support 2.5

A classic card that has not been overly swamped by the creature power creep. The closest comparisons to Elder are Wood Elves and oddly Krosan Tusker but as you can see these cards only do part of what the others do and are dissimilar enough to be used for different applications in different decks. Elder is the most all round of the three as it offers good card advantage while having the most usable body. This used to be called the green Ancestral which I think is generous, even the green Land Tax would be optimistic. For pure card advantage I would much rather play Harmonize as you are not guaranteed to get 2/3rds  land and will pay one less mana. If you want to ramp play Sakura Tribe Elder or the afore mentioned Wood Elves but if all you need to do is carry on making land drops and efficiently stall or even apply some pressure then Elder is the man. I cut Elder I while back just to free up space to try other cards out as he is not essential for any archetype and would not be missed very much but I think on power alone he deserves a cube slot and I am happy to welcome him back. He is most played in the Rock but may also be found in green based ramp and control decks. He is especially good in ramp decks as you need to be laying lands while casting your Rampant Growth effects for them to be at all exciting. With green having much less card advantage than most other colours the ability to neatly keep the hand full goes a long way. The double green cost is a little bit of a downer on the card making it more awkward to play and less suitable for decks with loads of colours. If he were single green he would likely feature much more in Pox style Rock decks. 





Ohran Viper
Ohran Viper 2.6
Power 2.7
Support 2.5

I rather like the Snake, all the perks of a Shadowmage Infiltrator just trading fear for death touch, but all in one colour. A colour that has far less access to card draw at that. I find this often gets a home in green based control decks as it is great defensively and generally pleasing to attack with too. Either they block on walls or defensive dorks and put them in the bin for you, or they trade with something fairly large or you draw cards. The Viper is too slow for more aggressive decks which tend to prefer their card advantage to come with casting or killing the monster rather than the effects of the monster when active in play. Green is also the best colour to make fast three drops in which is another bonus for the Viper over the Shadowmage. The Shadowmage is better at drawing cards than Viper but is a weaker card for general use. Both are vulnerable to removal of all kinds but when the Viper gets hit it feels like less of a blow to your overall strategy. Very much in the same vein as Yavimaya Elder in its role and where it finds homes but a little more proactive and with more application and less mana demands. The Elder is more reliable card advantage and has a few more specific roles but the Viper is the slightly better all rounder.


Caller of the Claw
Caller of the Claw 1.5 (B cube)
Power 2.2
Support 1.2

This is still greens best answer to mass removal effects although undying monsters and recursive mosnters are a preferable path to take these days. Green is often completely stumped to a mass removal spell as it loses both card advantage and tempo. Much of greens acceleration comes from guys too making them the most susceptible colour to mass creature removal. The Caller will just sit in your hand awaiting them to wipe your team and acts pretty much as a counterspell. He can also just sit there till the end of the game where you chuck him out end end of their turn, perhaps making one token or so, simply to have threat little bit extra to alpha strike them in your turn. At three mana it is hard not to broadcast when you have Caller but often this knowledge doesn't really help your opponent unless you tap out. The Caller sees most play in elf decks which are the most wreaked by mass removal, often working well with Wirewood Herald. It also sees play in heavy green based control decks and Recurring Nightmare rock decks but not often in very aggressive beat down decks such as Zoo. The slightly low rating is because Caller is an inelegant solution to a problem your deck has much like an Oblivion Ring often is. Archetype and colour weaknesses force you to play clunky awkward cards such as these. If there were no mass removal to worry about you could cut Caller and vastly improve your deck in card quality and streamlining. As it is  the agro decks that are most afraid of mass removal and Caller is worst in agro decks she sees very little play.



Viridian ShamanViridian Shaman 2.4
Power 2.0
Support 3.0

Acidic Slime always seems to get a slot over this little elf for greater versatility and more relevant body. While functionally the same as Manic Vandal and a much more useful creature type the Viridian Shaman deserves a lower rating as it is less important to green as Vandal is for red and sees far less play. At its best in combination with Wirewood Symbiote which only occurs in pure elf decks from the B cube. Generally if you are in green and know you are playing against a heavy artifact deck at some point you will throw this in as it will really help out in that match up and be fine the rest of the time. Otherwise you will not bother with this reasonably unexciting spell and opt for more versatile cards like Beast Within and Acidic Slime or more direct cards like Nature's Claim. She sees slightly more play as part of Birthing Pod chains but mostly for lack of more exciting options I think. Shaman has kept an unbroken record in a A cube since the makign of my cube despite consistently seeing less play over time. When they finally print the 2/1 for 1G the Shaman will be cut along with Tin-Street Hooligan but until then I think she is safe if somewhat back up plan and somewhat dull.


Eternal WitnessEternal Witness 4.2
Power 4.0
Support 4.5

One of the top ten cube monsters and likely greens best too. She is the corner stone of Gifts Ungiven decks and infinite turn combos and a staple of Opposition and rock decks. She will even find play in some agro decks but must be viewed as a very late play if so. She is one of the strongest signals a player can give you that green is open in a draft and should be taken note of. Recursion is much more powerful in singleton formats than ones allowing four copies of things and when it comes on the back of a guy that can trade or do other stuff it starts to become very appealing and abusable. I have seen Witness used in combination with Oath of Druids simply as a kind of tutor effect in a combo deck. If I had to find drawbacks with this awesome little lass the first that springs to mind is her lack of use early in the game and consequently weaker in opening hands. With the loss of power from the cube she has become worse both not being able to recur absurdly powerful cheap cards like Time Walk, Ancestral Recall or Black Lotus and also the lack of prominence from combo decks where she also frequently features. If your playing green and you are not a very aggressive deck you probably want a copy of Eternal Witness in you deck. 


Wood ElvesWood Elves 2.3
Power 2.2
Support 2.5

A card that has survived the culling of the elf deck to the B cube in which they would often generate you mana upon casting. These are good for all the reasons that Nature's Lore is good, you can get non-basic forests and fix your mana and the land comes in untapped and thus allows you to spend more mana. Paying one more over Lore for the 1/1 body is much worse as a pure ramp card but as more generic card advantage, acting as a speed bump or providing utility in something like a Birthing Pod chain they are superior to Lore. Green has lots of options when it comes to this kind of creature and I feel Wood Elves is the strongest in the decks you tend to want those effects most, those being ramp based control. At three mana they are pretty slow ramp and will work best with the highest of mana curves among decks or those decks which slowly grind wins out by always spending lots of mana over lots of turns. Synergy with cards like Skullclamp, Recurring Nightmare and Birthing Pod combined with the inherent, even if low powered card advantage, ramping and fixing capabilities of this complete package card ensure it still gets a lot of play. At worst it is decent filler doing something helpful for your deck while at best it is powering up the whole of your deck very efficiently. Viridian Emissary has taken a small bite out of the places this card showed up but not enough for either of them to be considered for a cull to the B cube yet. 


Tarmogoyf
Tarmogoyf 3.6
Power 3.8
Support 3.5

I suspect many will doubt this ratings accuracy as Goyf is such a powerful card in every constructed format in which it has been available. The Goyf does nothing other than being big and cheap, which he does do much better than other monsters but is not all that useful in the cube. The other dorks which are just good bodies for the mana they cost are generally one mana or have basic abilities such as flying. Gofy has no evasion, no added value and does not do what you want from the one drop beaters. He cannot even be relied upon to be a certain size as you could with something like a Watchwolf ( I am not suggesting for one second that the Wolf is better than the Goyf however). The cube also has many graveyard reshuffling  effects which reset the Goyf back to a 0/1. If you are playing an aggressive deck with green you will play Goyf, but your deck wouldn't really suffer at all should you replace him with some other two drop dork. In any other colour he would be far far more exciting in the cube, in green he lacks the support from aggressive one drops. I like cards to perform numerous roles when possible but the Goyf can only do one. When that is all you want then he is as good as it gets but those decks are measured by their weakest cards not their best. It is unfortunate that in any other colour he would be a mainstay in multiple archetypes yet mono green has none that want such a card and GX decks have more exciting gold cards and synergy cards to edge Goyf out of a slot. The Goyf still gets a solid amount of play as it is easy to cast and reliably solid which is never a bad thing to be doing. It would even be more useful in a combo deck than a lot of more "normal" cards although would still be sub optimal so not really a strong argument in its favour. Despite this agro and control decks still regularly fill out their ranks with Mr efficient-but-dull.



Kavu PredatorKavu Predator 3.5
Power 3.7
Support 3.3

In light of the previous cards rating I am sure I am rapidly losing credibility so please allow me to justify myself. I was speaking of what Tarmogoyf lacked and concluded evasion and additional roles were the main issues with the card. This card has trample which is a great little bonus and has two additional roles over being a hitty dork. Firstly it shuts down a great number of real problem cards such as Zuran Orb, Baneslayer Angel and Thopter Foundry. Those are the main cards the Kavu is a counter for but there is a lot of incidental life gain in the cube which makes this a pain to play against. The second role for this guy is in combination with things like Nature's Claim, Invigorate or Grove of the Burnwillows so as to easily pump him yourself. Certainly Goyf is better in isolation but that is not how magic works, meaning the Predator is a more useful card. I highly rate this as of of the better aggressive two drop monsters in the cube as both fun, interesting and very powerful. It gives you insurance against some effects, can be a dangerous threat, scales well with certain cards and is easy to cast. It is not a card you want to invest too much into powering up as it is vulnerable to bounce and some kinds of removal like Pernicious Deed but still does more than enough for a two drop. 


Lotus CobraLotus Cobra 3.4
Power 3.3
Support 3.6

Green has a huge number of really good two drops of which this is one. Two mana accelerating cards in green have to be really good to make the cut as they are competing with cards like Birds of Paradise. Cobra fits the bill well fixing any colour, having effect without need to tap and thus possibly on the turn of casting. He has a decent power to cost ratio making him viable in most deck types from agro to combo to control. If you could only get one mana per turn from this guy he would still be good and so his interaction with sac lands and other effects that can net you vast amounts of mana really push him over the edge and offer some great fun god draws. A rather weak body does make him a little vulnerable and so he is not always an auto include, particularly with the abundance of other options in green. Each performing slightly different roles you need to carefully work out what your deck most wants from its two drops and play the most appropriate. Mana is generally good but really cheap decks or mono decks or even against certain match ups it may transpire that other things are just more useful. A good all round card with good interactions and offering powerful starts makes the Cobra a popular and interesting card well worthy of its slot in the cube. It is good in agro decks where it is able to offer some pressure while still helping to ramp you out and also good in more midrange and control decks where you can focus a bit more on cards that improve its worth. Sac lands are the main support card for Cobra and go equally well into any deck. They are the easiest way to get abusive starts with the Cobra and the more you have the better the Cobra gets. My favourite place for the Cobra is zoo where the fixing is as useful as the ramp and you have many otherwise important sac lands in your deck and possibly even Knight of the Reliquary.


Fauna Shaman
Fauna Shaman 3.3
Power 3.0
Support 3.8

Oh look, another mid 3s rated two drop monster in green and not the last either. Obviously while they are all getting the 3.5ish tag this relates to their power and playability in the context of my cube as it presently stands, it does not mean I think they are equally powerful cards. Even more to the point they are all much more suited to certain decks and dependant on what you are up against. I just thought I should make that doubly clear with this glut of equally rated cards. Any who, onto the Shaman specifically, who is not an agro card, even compared to the Cobra despite the extra toughness. Tapping it and spending mana to gain an effect loses you valuable tempo. The only time this card is good in agro is when you have abundant ways to abuse it so that you regain some of the lost tempo from playing it in the first place. This could be as simple as Basking Rootwalla and a Vengevine but you do need the tempo specific synergies. It is quite nice with Quirion Ranger as well to get the double use from it and make it easier to recur a Vengevine. The most common places to find the Shaman are in Survival of the Fittest decks where she offers good redundancy for your engine, and in mid range agro control decks like the rock where she will go and find your answer monsters and silver bullets. A useful little critter than can bail you out of dodgy situations or gain the win in a static board position but does spend more time than you might hope for in combat and/or getting killed. Being an elf is nice too as it makes her far more viable in elf based combo decks and somewhat less ugly than Ranger of Eos (in terms of the deck, Antione is of course incredibly hansome).




Sakura-Tribe ElderSakura-Tribe Elder 2.8
Power 2.5
Support 3.2

This might have made the 3.5 gang if you could still put combat damage on the stack. It does at least make the card more interesting despite being worse. You have the sometimes difficult choice of trading with their 1 toughness dork or finding a land. Regardless of this downgrade for the card it is the best ramp card against any aggressive deck with the possible exception of Wall of Roots. Sometimes it will still scare off a valuable yet weak attacker while most of the time it will just be a Rampant Growth with a partial Fog attached. Unless you know you are not facing any aggressive creatures or have a specific need of a low creature count (say Oath of Druids from the B cube), or have very few basic lands this guy will be the first effect that puts land into play that you want for your deck. It will see play in almost any green control or ramp deck although the arrival of the Worldwake dual man lands has made the inclusion of basic land in 4 and 5 colour control much harder thus making this guy pretty unplayable. The old snake has also lost some ground recently to Viridian Emissary and now sees almost no play in decks with relatively abundant sacrifice mechanisms. 


Viridian Emissary
Viridian Emissary 2.8
Power 3.0
Support 2.5

I am a huge fan of this card I really wanted to give it a 3.5 rating but feel that you need to have certain cards in your deck to make this as good as it can be. As such it is slightly narrower than the other 3.5ish green two drops. Against very aggressive decks or in aggressive decks the Emissary is better than Tribe Elder as it has a more relevant power and gets to deal damage and find land and not one of the other. With Birthing Pod, Recurring Nightmare or any other useful sacrifice effects the Emissary also trumps Tribe Elder. When you primarily want the rampant growth rather than the dork the unreliable aspect of that half of the card does hurt its playability. The Emissary is just an all round safe card in the right deck. You don't care if it dies, you are happy to trade it or chump with it or even over extend with it. Most commonly found in rock or other black green builds where the most synergy with sacrifice effects exist. Also found in most midrange green decks too. When you want a ramp card however rather than a value dork you do not play this guy and instead elect for something more direct like the Tribe Elder. 


Wall of RootsWall of Roots 3.5
Power 3.4
Support 3.6

Both the best wall and the best all round two drop accelerator of coloured mana. It is cards of this quality in green that mean the artifacts that produce green mana specifically barely ever see play. This is usable on the turn you make it, it is still usable in your opponents turn. Over three of your turns including the one in which you make it you can have five mana from it. During this time it can act as a very effective blocker. A 0/5 is pretty hefty to burn or kill in combat and always feels like a waste to use dedicated removal spells on it, particularly if they have already had use from it. I play Wall of Roots in most non-aggressive green based decks. It is both acceleration for you and putting on the breaks for your opponent. Green based control decks have been getting better and better recently in the cube and Wall of Roots is a mainstay of these decks. Tribe Elder is a similar kind of card but only offers one block and takes about three turns longer to yield as much mana as the Wall can. While Tribe Elder is less vulnerable to mass removal this does not makes up for the advantages of having a body kicking around, even if it a 0/1. Cards like Opposition, Birthing Pod and Skullclamp are all better with Wall than Tribe Elder.


Overgrown Battlement
Overgrown Battlement 1.5 (C cube)
Power 1.8
Support 1.2

This is a much weaker card than Wall of Roots. It taps to produce mana and thus cannot block as well or be used on the turn it is made. To be anything other than a Vine Trellis, aka a bad Llanowar Elf you need to have other defenders which is doable but does make the card significantly narrower. Even just tapping for two a turn makes this pretty good, much more is very rare in the cube with a lack of walls but does make this very good. Most other things that produce multiple mana in the same turn are much easier to kill than walls. The two casting cost accelerators have to be quite a bit better than the one mana options in green and this ins't in the vast majority of cases. If you really want walls rather than good acceleration then this is one of the less weak options but that would have to be a choice based almost entirely on your match ups as a high wall count for the sake of it is not doing very much. Powerful in a metagamed niche style of deck but far too low powered in all other situations to merit an A cube slot.


Wall of BlossomsWall of Blossoms 2.8
Power 2.7
Support 2.9

A fine card but green is rather spoilt for choice in two drops. Defensive spells complete with card advantage exists as do those which ramp or offer utility. Because of this Wall of Blossoms sees far lass play than Wall of Omens. Blossoms does appear in control decks and even some combo decks the most common home for it is with BG decks using Birthing Pod and/or Recurring Nightmare. In such decks the slot is given for being a 2 mana card that draws another when it comes into play for which green also has Elvish Visionary. BG Nightmare Pod decks can be control or agro and the choice of cantrip two drop rather depends on the decks angle. Visionary is also better if you are playing a Skullclamp. Wall of Blossoms also allows Overgrown Battlement to be more easily played in decks as you can freely include Blossoms without fear you are playing too many dead spells. Also very good in UG Opposition decks and a very powerful hoser card against several agro decks. Dull but effective and painless.





Scavenging Ooze
Scavenging Ooze 3.7
Power 3.7
Support 3.8

I have an odd dislike of this card for being a bit too good and ruining a lot of entertaining archetypes. In the cube exiling a card can be very damaging to certain decks, a good example of this is any deck that uses a land engine will likely fall apart without Life from the Loam. It is unfair to call the card a hoser as it does so many things and does them very well. It is more like a Spectral Lynx, Mirran Crusader or one of the various Swords as it is played for its power level and than randomly hoses a few people with the incidental effects. He can fit into aggressive decks as a good early drop that can easily grow as the game progresses or into more midrange decks like the rock where he is a great utility card while also having the potential to win the late game or survive the early game. Not only does it fair very well against decks making use of graveyards it is also very powerful against burn decks and is a must kill for them else it can all get very out of control. For a card with so many powerful upsides it distinctly lacks any form of drawback. It is easy to cast, a decent starting power and toughness, nice and cheap, has no stipulations or restrictions etc. It would still be good enough for the cube without the life gain, or the ability to target non-creatures in the graveyard or if it were GG to cast, perhaps even if it were a 1/1 and it would be a much nicer card then too as you would be faced with an actual choice as to whether it was worth putting in your deck. Many games have ended to an oversized ooze and many others have come to a abrupt concession as vital cards leave the game forever. It is worth noting that graveyard disruption is generally very good in cube with lots of decks using a small amount. Withered Wretch was a much more reasonable package and saw a reasonable amount of play for this reason although was eventually cut for being primarily used as a hoser. I prefer this card to Tarmogoyf, it tends to be bigger earlier and has other uses beyond being fat, the only things Tarmogoyf has over this is a greater ability to cope with bounce and lower overall mana requirements. Additional costs for the Ooze are easy to fit in around curving out and are both instant and optional making it a minor difference. I find myself only not playing this to avoid ruining a specific matchup rather than it being no good in the deck most of the time which is an odd position to be in. If all you care about is winning however this is an auto include in most green decks (the exceptions being those with very low creature counts such as five colour control or Heartbeat of Spring combo). Deathrite Shaman has slightly reduced the value of the Ooze by offering many of the same disruptive perks and forcing people to be more robust against graveyard disruption in their deck building. 




Strangleroot GeistStrangleroot Geist 3.6
Power 3.8
Support 3.4

Green has incredible depth in choice of good two drop dorks but this guy has had no problems rising to the top of the pick list despite the double green cost. Geist is direct and reliable which is why it is so often called upon to do battle for people. Most of the other green two drops are accelerators or utility dorks, most of these still have good stats and can offer tempo and aggression but it is not the primary calling of the card. Only Tarmogoyf competes as a pure beater in the two slot that requires no extra mana investment or has any other role beyond attacking and blocking. The Goyf is easier to cast and generally bigger however it is an unreliable size which can be used against you or make building harder. It also just trades one for one with most removal which is no disaster but is rather limp compared to Geist. Overall Geist offers you more and covers more areas than Goyf and is the agro two drop of choice. Haste is also a fantastic effect and helps tremendously with planewalkers and tempo and it lets you keep information away from your opponent. The undying is the main part of this cards greatness, it allows you to curve out with disregard for mass removal and apply pressure with less efficient attacks. It also offers great synergy with all the sacrifice effects in the cube and of course Skullclamp. While the Geist is best suited to aggression it is well at home in any creature based deck for clogging up the ground or nibbling away against other more control style decks. A lovely little card that is just the sort of creature green needs to be competitive against removal, mass removal, speed and card advantage many other colours have. I initially underestimated the impact this would have for green agro decks and focused more on its impact in Pox style decks for which it is still a great card. The amount of play this and a few other undying dorks are getting has made creatures with wither far less playable with it being a direct disadvantage in those situations the two abilities face off. 





Rofellos, Llanowar EmissaryRofellos, Llanowar Emissary 2.5
Power 3.6
Support 1.8

As two mana accelerators go this is about the most extreme in terms of potential. Best in mono green but still playable in any heavy green deck. Typically found in big green ramp decks, green based control and elf decks. His body is pretty irrelevant as he is almost never involved in combat and he would probably be a better cube card if he were a 0/2 as he is very vulnerable and desirable to kill. If he is cast early and able to tap for two or more the subsequent turn without being dealt with there is a very high chance you are winning that game.  It is the combination of his fragility combined with the restrictions he places on your deck if he is to remain good in it that stop him from having a really high rating. If Magic were like the WoW card game and you could only play mono-coloured decks then Rofellos would be one of the very best cards in the game. As it is green is one of the less common colours to end up going mono with and Rofellos sees less play than his power would suggest. Cards of this extreme potential are often designed around heavily such as Goblin Welder however it is fairly hard with Rofellos for some reason. Most probably it is the combination of his vulnerability, the high removal counts played in most cube decks and the massive target painted on his face that stop Rofellos from showing his true potential in cube.



Elvish Visionary
Elvish Visionary 2.1
Power 1.4
Support 3.0

This dork is just in the cube to offer redundancy for Wall of Blossoms and a great filler card for elf and Birthing Pod / Recurring Nightmare decks. When all you want is a body you can't go too far wrong with this as it is cheap and replaces the card it cost you. A 1/1 is far from exciting but you don't really care when it gets killed as you really haven't lost much and can get more done than a 0/4 wall does often enough. They still both chump and die to massive guys and often just negate a single small creature. It does see slightly less play than Wall of Blossoms as the decks it suits best are slightly less common. Elvish Visionary is not unlike Chromatic Star in the cube, a card of very low power and little impact on games but that really allows you to fine tune and smooth out decks. While they may seem a little out of place alongside cards like Balance and Wheel of Fortune I strongly believe they greatly enhance the quality of decks and games by their inclusion in the cube. I find I play this surprisingly often and always miss it as soon as I try and cull it. So many of the engine style decks just want bodies and this is one of the best at filling out such decks. 



Llanowar ElvesThe Mana Elves 3.6
Power 3.5
Support 3.8

Fyndhorn ElvesGreen lacks high quality aggressive one drop monsters however it makes up for it with cards like this. Not only are there these two functionally identical cards but many other slightly different one mana creatures in green that tap for a mana. While not great in combat that is the secondary function of these cards which are mainly used to ramp mana without penalty earlier in the game than other colours can do so in order to gain a tempo advantage over the next few turns. These elves are staple cards of the elf deck and are all the better for having the redundancy. They also frequently appear in any green aggressive or tempo based deck from classic red green beats to blue green opposition. You can cut a land from your deck should be be playing enough of these types of card but to get full effect you want to continue making lands until you have reached the top of your curve. In effect this means you are losing a bit of card advantage to gain the tempo which is generally a fine thing to do. The icing on the cake is that when you have stopped needing the elves for mana they return to being of some use in combat. Either they trade off with small attackers or slip through unblocked for the odd nibble which is pleasant enough. At their best however they add to the various cards in green that provide an Overrun effect and allow you to promptly end a game out of nowhere. Rancor and equipment are other ways to make the transition from early mana source into late game threat easier.  Including too many cards like this in your deck makes you vulnerable to mass removal effects but this is easy enough to compensate for. You can play cards like Skullclamp or Recurring Nightmare to recycle them prior to mass removal or use them in combination with things like Winter Orb to shut people out of the game to some extent. It is the frequency of use the mana elves get that make cards like Caller of the Claw viable in the cube too. The mana elves are a cornerstone of what green does and will be one of the main considerations for having green in a deck. These two are the simple and reliable "no frills" options that set the mark for the other contenders wish to gain a cube slot. A test which cards like Boreal Elf and Arbour Elf fail to succeed in.


Elves of Deep ShadowElves of Deep Shadow 2.2
Power 3.2
Support 1.5

Fondly known as the blowjob elves which is somewhat self explanatory should you have The Dark version. These elves are always played over the Llanowar/Fyndhorn Elves in any deck that wants to use black mana as they act as both ramp and fixing in those decks rather than just ramp. The life loss is pretty irrelevant as it always is in magic. That said, there are not all that many different archetypes in black green that want mana creatures except the rock (which is arguably about 6 different archetypes depending on the build) and as Birds of Paradise is a better fixer and ramper the Elves of Deep Shadow are only there to offer redundancy to other better cards. This leaves them as rather narrow despite being of appropriate power for the cube that they don't even make it into the elf deck. 





Avacyn’s Pilgrim
Avacyn's Pilgrim 2.1

Power 3.3
Support 1.2

While these may appear better than Elves of Deep Shadow simply because they do not cause loss of life they are not and probably rank as the least played one mana green dork still in the cube. This is for two reasons, firstly they are not Elves which is annoying as elf decks are often keen to splash white for Ranger of Eos and/or Stoneforge Mystic. The creature type is certainly minor but it is more significant than life loss and more relevant in GW than in GB. The significant factor is that there are even fewer archetypes in GW that want access to mana creatures than in GB and in those decks Pilgrim is 3rd choice after Bird of Paradise and Noble Hierarch rather than 2nd after just Birds. Still, despite many better alternatives a card that ramps, fixes and has a board presence all for one mana is very good and would be a mainstay in any colour other than green.




Noble Hierarch
Noble Hierarch 3.9
Power 3.8
Support 4.0

Great little card although it makes me feel ripped off when I am playing black or red with my green spells and that I deserve a 0/1 battle cry dork that can tap for G, R or B! The exalted is generally better than having a power itself as you want to be tapping it for mana and having bigger guys attacking is more effective (particularly early in the game) than more smaller creatures of the same power. Exalted also scales well with ability dorks like life linkers. The only time I think that a Llanowar style elf is better than Hierarch is when you have a lot of elf synergy. Assuming you have no use for B or R mana Hierarch tends to even be better than Bird of Paradise although not always the case. Having a flying chump blocker or equipment wielder can be game winning. It is nice to have a green one drop mana critter get printed that is above the power level of the earliest as opposed to below them which all things like Arbour Elf and Boreal Elf were. I always play Birds of Paradise in favour of this (although often both) when I have any use for B or R mana in my deck, even if it just for improving my sunburst abilities of something else minor. I also tend to prefer Birds in control decks as the offensive ability is less important and the chump blocking more likely. These are minor perks for Birds over Hierarch in control while their are major perks for Hierarch in agro decks. She is one of the only mana producing dorks alongside Lotus Cobra that is able to contribute to combat while also ramping and fixing. 



Birds of Paradise
Bird of Paradise 4.0
Power 3.9
Support 4.2

In my first cube list back in Mirrodin block this would have comfortably made the top 5 creatures list. These days it has been pushed quite a bit lower and is rather overlooked due to having being around in basically every format since the dawn of time, er, magic. It is still one of the very best things you can do with your first turn in a game of magic for a large number of decks. Bird is great in combo, great in control and great in aggressive decks. The lack of power is no real issue as the main purpose of the card is to tap for mana which you will find much easier to make use of with lack of colour restrictions. Having any mana colour with no drawback is massive and why you will find birds in lists of decks that other mana critters wouldn't get near (with the occasional exception of Hierarch). Having random flying thrown in to boot just adds insult to the power of the card having seen it coming in for the unreasonable kill with some thing like Rancor or just buying the required turn blocking some massive flier. Birds will always be a highly played card in the cube and I doubt we will see something strictly better any time soon but that still leaves room for plenty of great one mana accelerators and fixers. An iconic card that defines green in function. A happy first pick that leaves you incredibly open to go into one of the widest array of possible archetypes. 


Joraga Treespeaker
Joraga Treespeaker 3.5
Power 3.7
Support 3.3

While not quite the mana boost and reliability of the Sol Ring, once this guy gets going he is pretty abusive. Assuming nothing kills him in response to the first level up you are really ahead as you don't lose out on making a two drop and basically do have a coloured Sol Ring online from turn three onwards. In many control decks Llanowar and Fyndhorn Elves reduce the average power level of the deck too much and are often not played while this guy still makes the cut. On the flip side aggressive decks rarely need such a late game boost and don't want the risk of playing him. Generally speaking it is what you are playing against that determined the power of the Treespeaker more than the deck you are playing. If they are playing Red Deck Wins he is the nut low as you can't often risk the tempo loss of trying to level. Against decks without lots cheap targetted  removal at their disposal this is one of the best ramp spells you can make on turn one. Mana is power in magic and this guy makes a lot for very little investment and is therefore very powerful. To recap, good in slower decks than the more agro ones and fantastic against no removal while risky against lots of cheap instant removal. So much so on the latter point that I frequently skip levelling him if they look like they may have appropriate removal. Usually this means if they have an untapped mountain plus a decent hand size. You haven't actually lost that much if you postpone levelling him even though it might feel like you threw away two potential mana you likely threw a bigger spanner into the works for your opponent. Assuming they did have the Lightning Bolt for him do they now "waste" it on the unupgraded 1/1 or try and keep mana up so they can respond later to your level up. 


Quirion RangerQuirion Ranger 2.3
Power 2.0
Support 2.7

This little utility critter is surprisingly powerful assuming you have the right cards for it to support. She is not the best turn one play as she does little without other cards however as you can use her ability immediately she allows you to happily play other spells should you have them and drop this guy down only when you need her or have spare mana. The classic partnership is this and Llanowar Elf simply as a way to generate one or two extra mana (if you would miss a land drop) on a turn. While the ability is only permitted once per turn people often forget the fact you can still use it once in their turn too which can lead to surprise blockers or mana they hadn't accounted for. Mana critters are the typical synergies but any thing which taps creatures works well with Ranger such as Fauna Shaman, Opposition, Master of the Wild Hunt. She also works well with Winter Orb and other things that keep lands in check. The most abusive uses however are just with mana critters that tap for lots such as Joraga Treespeaker or Rofellos. Ranger gives you a lot of options and control over the game for very little investment and while not useful in isolation does really enable a lot of archetypes well, a bit like Voltaic Key.


Llanowar MentorLlanowar Mentor 1.8
Power 1.6
Support 2.1

This quirky little fellow is also a lot like Quirion Ranger, infact they work very well together. In some respects he can be a little like Joraga Treespeaker too although a lot slower with bigger investment and bigger risks. He was rather a no show in most other formats for good reason however in the cube where he has all the very best cards to interact with and where being cheap is the primary thing for utility cards he gets a reasonable amount of play. Typically Mentor is used as a discard outlet as it is hard to find ones that are not pretty poor on their own and that are cheap and so often finds himself in decks with Fauna Shaman, Genesis, Vengevine, Basking Rootwalla and Survival of the Fittest. An advantage it has over many green discard outlets is that you can discard non creatures which is abusable with Life from the Loam but also just convenient. Wild Mongrel offers very little in return for your discards and non-reanimate strategies based around discard are too slow to every really be agro decks which the Mongrel best suits. Mentor is also quite nice when you either expect to have dead cards or want lots of tokens for Opposition, Overrun or Skullclamp and is a good card to help smooth out clunky looking mana curves. If you are not fearful of mass removal you can just go nuts ramping out token Llanowar Elves and have near double the normal mana output by the midgame although this is the least common use for him as previously mentioned it is risky. Cheap cards with lots of scope are always interesting and this dork trumps most, not in power but in what it can do, perhaps even more than Deathrite Shaman. 


Wild Nacatl
Wild Nacatl 2.5
Power 3.7
Support 1.4

About the best ratio of power and toughness for mana you can get on a dork (excluding the mighty Memnite) and also the largest of all the one drops you can rely one. Sadly the Nacatl only really finds a home in the various incarnations of Zoo which range from 3 to 5 colours but always include the all important Naya colours. I have seen RG agro decks splash in plains basically just to power up this guy as it likely to best agro one drop you can make assuming you can guarantee both required basics. This is not too hard with duals, shock land and sac lands available however these are the most important cards in a Zoo deck and make it very demanding to draft. Very few monsters can tango with Wild Nacatl and survive or trade that cost two or less and so the tempo you gain from having this in play early is immense. If Zoo decks were more popular or less demanding on land requirements to be playable this guy would get a higher rating but as it stands he is one of the narrower cards in the cube with basically just one home. It is the absurd power level of the card and auto include status it has in the right decks that keeps this card afloat. 


Basking Rootwalla
Basking Rootwalla 2.0
Power 1.6
Support 2.5

This is probably greens best agro one drop as Nacatl is more of a gold card and the rest are pretty rubbish. Various lions that can't block or things you lose control of when you are on lower life or things that destroy your lands are the other options green has if it wants one drops to do more than 1 damage. Rootwalla does require mana investments to deal extra damage which can be used to suit you and makes blocking a 1/1 Walla a bit trickier. It is the madness that pushes Walla over the power level threshold and gives it great synergy with a lot of cards. Typically with Fauna Shaman/Survival of the Fittest and Vengevine for extra value and ease of recurring. Walla is a little like Goblin Bushwacker in that you can make it on turn one if you need it for the tempo and curving however it is best when you can use it later in the game with other cards. Only the most controlling decks with green and discard outlets in them end up not playing Walla. With an appropriate outlet Walla effectively has flash which is a nice little trick. Nothing to get wild about but lots of applications and powerful synergies keep Rootwalla the emissary for madness cards in the cube. 



Sylvan Safekeeper
Sylvan Safekeeper 2.0 (B cube)
Power 2.4
Support 1.5

The green Mother of Runes is one of the most undervalued invitational cards and a royal pain to play against.  Like Quirion Ranger or Basking Rootwalla it is not the best turn one play as it is most vulnerable when you are just starting your curve and cannot afford to lose land. Being a 1/1 does not really do much in terms of pressure and so you are best off holding Safekeeper in hand until you have spare mana or nearer the end of your curve. It has no summoning sickness on its protection ability and no restriction on activations allowing you to keep all your guys in play through spot removal. Although better at protecting your guys against spot removal it is weaker than Mother at forcing through damage and doesn't help you to equip or use combat tricks. Green also has fewer decks that want to abuse Safekeeper as stompy is distinctly tier 2 and RG beats often plays too high a curve. Zoo can't afford to throw away lands and so that leaves the niche, but still viable, agro UG, very agro rock or GW denial weenie decks in which it can see play. He is a little all in but then agro green strategies generally need to be as they have little reach. I remember having three dorks and three land having curved out pretty well and having a good tempo lead only to find myself facing off a Flame Tongue Kavu. I could simply let it target a guy and then save it but it would still trade for my best man and put me further behind in lands. The only sensible option was to respond to the Kavu by sacing all my lands and forcing it to shoot the only remaining legal target - itself. This is what I mean by him forcing you to go all in sometimes when you play him. If you are playing a cheap agro green deck I recommend trying this guy out as he is a complete game winner often enough. The flavour text is highly appropriate. 



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