Friday 15 March 2013

Revised Reviews: Green Spells


Rancor 3.5
Power 3.8
Support 3.2

Although confined to green this card is more powerful than Bonesplitter, it offers additional trample at half the mana to get up and running and once it is in play it is harder to deal with. The only real vulnerability to this card is instant creature removal as it is cast but this is pretty easy to avoid on the whole and the increase in hexproof monsters is making that easier too. It is a shame green doesn't have more powerful aggressive one drop monsters to put this onto. Almost any aggressive green deck will consider playing this and not without good reason. I am pretty confident in predicting that Rancor will happily live out its days residing in the A cube. I am pretty sure this is the only creature enchant in the cube designed to be put on your own guys. Having Rancor in your deck makes you much happier to load up on mana critters as they can all become reasonable threats later on when their acceleration is not of use. The trample is the real kicker for this card. The recursion effect is what sets it apart from most other creature enchants but has little to do with why you play it. The recursion is better thought of as a reason why you no longer need to avoid playing it given that it is a creature enchantment and not an equipment.  Trample is an ability that scales very well with power increases thus goes hand in hand with the power boost. The more subtle side of it is that it makes Rancor scale very well with the creatures you put it on, when on a mana critter you are all about the +2/+0 as it triples the damage output of your dork however on your Chancellor of the Tanlge the trample scales with all the extra power of the dork as well. The difference between a 6/7 and an 8/7 if fairly minor while the difference between a 6/7 and an 8/7 trample is vast and will force far more desperate plays from your opponent. That was just a rather long winded way of saving Rancor is really good on anything. It does still have to contend with equipment for slots in decks as it has all of the same ties to creatures and equipment is still typically safer on the whole. The main perk you get from Rancor over equipment is tempo.

NatureNature's Claim 3.0
Power 2.6
Support 3.5

Cheap instant removal is great, having it hit various different things is great. This card is better than Naturalize on a number of levels, first and foremost is the vast one mana difference in their costs. Mana is everything in magic and in fast formats it is even more, er, everything... 4 life is also nothing in magic, particularly when you are giving it not losing it. The life gain effect on the card makes it a much more versatile card than naturalize giving you the ability to blow up your own things, say a convenient rancor, to get out of a fix. The life gain also has decent synergy with Kavu Predator and Punishing fire. If you remain unconvinced this card is less good than Naturalize start thinking of spells you like, remove a mana from the cost and add a 4 life gain effect for your opponent to it and see if it starts to look better. Unless you were thinking of a burn spell the answer is almost certainly yes. Hard counters for 1 mana, yes please. Wrath for 3, sounds good. This and Disenchant tend to be only see play in main decks when the oppositions decks are reasonably well known. You can run these blind but you are far better off running something like Qasali Pridemage instead as it is much more useful when you don't have targets even if it is worse at the primary role. When you know you need to kill specific artifacts/enchantments and will likely face multiples the cheaper instants are the way to go. The tempo, trickery, effectiveness and mana efficiency in cards like Nature's Claim compared to a Viridian Shaman are well worth loosing some value in the form of a dull old 2/2. 

ExplorationExploration 2.1
Power 2.4
Support 1.9

The poor mans Fastbond. Exploration requires a deck that is built with it in mind, typically finding its home in UG combo decks. The effect is powerful and the mana cost is right but it is hard to take consistent advantage of. As you have cost yourself card advantage to gain this effect you really need to be abusing it. The effect offered is enhanced by having access to similar abilities such as Oracle of Mul Daya. For exploration to become a strong force in cube I feel like they need to print some cheaper cards to give it the redundancy, say a grizzly bear complete with exploration effect. Although quite narrow and often a last pick in drafts the exploration is cheap and powerful and despite not having many solid homes it is the kind of card that could easily find more as new cards are made. It is a very important card in enchantress style decks however those cards are all highly niche and will never get into the A cube, the deck itself being tier two at best. This is a shame as enchantress is a very different deck to all others and good fun to play. Burgeoning and Mana Bond allow some redundancy for this card but are more awkward to use and feature far less often in decks in preference for the more reliable cards.

ExploreExplore 2.5
Power 2.7
Support 2.3

Another card that has spent time in the cube previously. With the addition of the cycling lands many control decks are running land based engines with lots of man lands and other non basics. Explore trumps the other two mana land ramp spells in green in these types of decks as it is less restrictive. You do not need to have a high count of basics in your deck to play it and can use it to ramp out more powerful lands. It also loses less of its power than other ramps spells as the game enters the later stages due to the cycling effect. Finally it has better synergy with Exploration than other ramp spells due to them both having redundancy in requirements for optimal use. Explore does run the risk of not ramping you which can be death in the first few turns of the game when other ramp would have given you more game. Overall Explore cannot be said to be better or worse than for arguments sake a Rampant Growth however it does have a greater range of power being weaker in situations and much stronger in others. Even if the average power was identical I would favour a card that demands deck synergy and/or care in use to gain the maximum potential as it makes for better Magic. Typically found in decks playing Exploration and/or Life from the Loam but will crop up all over the place being great filler and a playable most of the time. 

FarseekFarseek 1.2 (B cube)
Power 2.2
Support 0.5

Typically about 4th choice two mana land ramp spell for green. Each of the good ones has its own perks and places where it excels. The perk offered by Farseek is that you can get the shock or original cycle of dual lands with it however the main issue with Farseek is that it is always far worse than Nature's Lore in this role. As such it is always second or third choice behind the afore mentioned Lore as well as cards like Sakura-Tribe Elder and Explore. This is of course not even considering ways of ramping outside getting more lands such as mana dorks. Even Rampant Growth sometimes beats it to the list as one of the few decks that wants these kinds of spells is typically mono green in which Farseek is rather unhelpful. Kodama's Reach/Cultivate and Harrow all get dug up from the B and C cube to get play before Farseek in a variety of decks. Being so low down on the list in a selection of cards that are not played in that many decks makes it hard to stomach giving it an A cube slot. A solid, useful and playable card that is simply to fair in power level and up against too many slightly better versions to be seeing much play or getting much rating. The many coloured green based control decks are the primary deck that wants to play this however they are fine without it in the A cube as they can make do with Explore and Nature's Lore.

Life from the LoamLife from the Loam 3.5
Power 3.4
Support 3.6

This is one of the best ways to get card advantage in green. Being able to repeatedly get three cards for two mana doesn't even sound bad compared to Ancestral Recall. The downsides of this as a spell are that you have to ensure the deck will reliably have target in the graveyard making it much more restrictive than a lot of good card advantage. Secondly, with the cards always being land and, unlike land tax, coming from the graveyard they do not thin your deck to increase card quality and with being lands they tend to offer little immediate game changes or answers. The dredge aspect of the card is very useful in graveyard orientated decks but is far more dangerous in a singleton format with 40 card deck sizes and must be used sparingly. The various homes for this card include gifts style UGx control decks and decks using mass land destruction such as Armageddon, Cataclysm, Death Cloud, Wildfire and even Smokestack. It also really aids the Seismic Assault combo decks if the cube contains the other appropriate cards. If you primarily want to get more lands to play as you destroy them on mass then you have redundancy from Crucible of Worlds which can be helpful. If however you want to have the lands in hand so you can abuse other effects the Life from the Loam is the only option. It is more easily tutored for than most engine cards as you can get it working from the graveyard as well as from the hand. It is one of the scarier cards to rely on for an engine to work as it is particularly susceptible to graveyard disruption. With the addition of cycling lands to the cube the value of Life from the Loam has risen a fair bit making it very easy to turn it into direct card draw for all colours.

Regrowth 2.0 (3.0 in a powered cube)
Power 2.2
Support 1.7

Regrowth is much much less exciting in a de-powered cube as there is less spare mana, the games do not progress as fast and very few spells still have above the average power level  with en extra two mana on the cost. When you get back Ancetral Recal, Time Walk or Black Lotus they are all still better than any comparable card despite the 1G bolted on to cast the Regrowth. As the level of power has flattened in my cube with the truly unreasonable stuff banned and ever more new cards pushing out the weaker cards you are more and more inclined to just include another top quality spell than to waste time getting one back. Regrowth as such only finds homes in places where you really need specific things for which you don't otherwise have enough access to. This can be control decks with lots of answer cards however both Eternal Witness and Snapcaster Mage are far better value effects than this for much the same result. Combo decks are the other archetype which often rely on specific cards they either want to cast repeatedly or cannot afford to have dealt with and so sometimes include Regrowth for security. The thing is that cards like Time Twister and Primal Command have many of the same effects but more so and with extra ones as well and so more often take the place of the humble Regrowth. Regrowth gets better and better as the game goes on but is basically dead in the opening hand, a bit like a reverse Demonic Tutor. The thing is all games have an early game while not all have a mid or late game making this no Tutor. In the singleton format it is more powerful especially in more fragile decks that have access to fewer answers or require certain cards to work as intended. Mostly the Regrowth is used to abuse Gifts and time walk effects in UG combo and control decks. Gifts is a powerful tutor card when you can search up two regrowth effects as part of the bundle of four. It is also the most abusable to repeat cast things in some situations as it goes to the graveyard immediately, gets your card immediately and does not exile it self. It is too unreliable and slow to be used much in more standard archetypes such as the rock. 

Nature's Lore 2.6
Power 2.3
Support 3.0

This is my personal favourite of the rampant growth effect cards. Mostly it is because the land comes into play untapped but also because you can find non-basic lands and easily fix your mana base. This kind of ramp only finds a home in control or combo decks as agro decks tend to prefer making the more vulnerable mana critter on turn one. The card is not exciting or of high power level but does one of greens main things and is a nice option to have in the cube. Redundancy is a great thing to have in singleton formats and you can find lots for this card however Rampant Growth, Farseek, Explore, Kodama's Reach and Cultivate mostly reside in the B and C cubes. Green has many ways to accelerate and while these spells are good in several decks they are not the only options and if included tend to bog down a cube. Cards like Wall of Roots and Sakura-Tribe Elder are generally as good as the sorceries in all kinds of decks and much better in some decks and so deserve the slots more. The reason you want to play cards like this over things like Wall of Roots or Llanowar Elf in some decks is that lands are typically harder to kill than creatures and so you make yourself safer against Wrath effects. In a few combo decks lands are also part of the engine such as with Heartbeat of Spring and so obviously outweigh the mana dorks. As the cube has slowed down a little and become more about raw power the value of these simple ramp spells has increased and are a mainstay of green based control decks. 

Survival of the FittestSurvival of the Fittest 3.7
Power 3.8
Support 3.6

Fine to completely build a deck around or simply throw in at the end as a bit of utility should you have enough dorks. The Survival has many different powerful interactions and synergies. It is a tutor effect which is always powerful and more so in singleton. It is also a repeat tutor effect which is has its obvious benefits. It has great redundancy from Fauna Shaman allowing you to more comfortably build decks based around the card. It facilitates all the graveyard effect based creatures, offering card advantage while doing it. Being an enchantment is quite handy too as they one one of the hardest permanents to deal with, mostly because few serious threats exist that are enchantments and so least removal is played for it. Found in green black based list most often as when basing a deck on this card those are the most appealing colours yet all colours have some particularly good interaction and can benefit from the Survival. When just throwing this in a deck for utility you are fine providing you have a few specific monsters you situationally really want and decent creature count. You are also able to play more things like mana elves which lose their significance as the game progresses with Survival as you can turn them into valuable cards when drawn late. Even just a couple of guys with synergy is enough to abuse Survival as it can go and find them when you make it.

Sylvan Library
Sylvan Library 3.5
Power 3.4
Support 3.6

Greens own personal divining top. The Top has wider application and more trickery about it but the Library is far far cheaper mana investment and can be used for card advantage. Library is also more vulnerable than top as it cannot leave play at will but as an enchantment it is still relatively safe. Card advantage in green is never this cheap and readily available so if you have sufficient life gain this can be fairly abusable. Against many archetypes you are pretty happy to take three or four cards from this with no access to life gain in your deck making this one of the few cards capable of being situationally better than Ancestral Recall. The reason this only gets a 3.5 rating then is because it can be a two mana investment that achieves nothing for your board position and can lose you card advantage. A Grizzly Bear is generally a better card against red deck wins. The library is also not overdone with consistent homes. Rock likes to have access to Pernicious Deed and aggressive decks want to make threats instead. Despite this the library gets enough play to warrant a slot and clearly enough power and unique effects in green that it will always find more new homes as the format evolve unlike many cards who get left behind due to the power creep once they fall out of favour with the best archetypes. As with Top, Library is at its best when you have a high count of shuffle effects in your deck allowing you to pick the best of three new cards each turn. When you have no shuffle and are not in a position to pay life the Library does very little for you.

Moment's PeaceMoment's Peace 1.8
Power 2.3
Support 1.6

This card is somewhat of a hoser however it is a very appropriate plug for a serious and generic hole in a lot of decks. The classic home for this is in Heartbeat of Spring decks where you typically only lose to direct hate or being put on good clock. As the deck is so important to have as a smooth redundant selection of cards working towards the same end you cannot afford many slots at all for slowing down people's clocks. In terms of effect for a card, not to mention the reasonable cost, Moment's Peace is about an effective delay card that you can employ. It has great synergy with graveyard effects as well and so has homes in decks with Gifts Ungiven as well as those with Oath of Druids. Against a deck like white weenie which fully relies on combat to kill you this card is pretty close to having two time walks, more so when their board position and resources in hand are pretty irrelevant to your plan for winning. Against decks like red deck wins which can apply pressure on numerous fronts it is weaker but still enough of a delay to be worth having, it is more like a lifegain card than double Time Walk. It is against control decks where it is typically a dud card, being of no use till the late game and easy to disrupt while hard to set up so as to not be totally dead. Most of the time it is combo decks that play this however I have seen it used in control decks although a word of warning on this front, unless you have some way of clearing up the board like an Upheaval or Austere Command you are not really achieving anything with it. In mono green control for example you will delay them killing you for two turns but it is unlikely that you will be in a position to stop them killing you on the third turn with what they have been able to do in the down time compared to you with one less card and five less mana.

Krosan Grip
Krosan Grip 1.0 (C cube)
Power 1.5
Support 0.6

Three mana is a alot to pay for an effect you can get for one mana. The grip will trade one for one and unlike most removal will probably not gain you much of a mana advantage either. On top of this it is reasonably narrow and will only be put in decks that are really desperate to deal with something or lack any other answers of this kind. Split second is a nice mechanic but unpredictable as to when it will be of any benefit. Because of this the extra cost incurred from having split second is generally less good than having a cheaper spell doing the same thing or a different mechanic attached to the effect offering greater synergy with your deck. Wipe Away and Sudden Shock both suffer this effect too hence none of them holding onto an A cube slot. One for one removal is only ever getting you an advantage in the game when you can use it as a trick such as in response to an equip or when it costs less mana than the thing it kills. Even with split second it is harder to make this better than Naturalize on either account, let alone better than Nature's Claim. 

Heartbeat of Spring
Heartbeat of Spring 1.8
Power 2.4
Support 1.2

There are many incarnations of UG combo decks for which Heartbeat is a mainstay in most of, including storm decks, infinite mana decks and infinite turn decks. Generally Heartbeat is abused with various effects that untap lands and efficient card draw to enable a turn in which you "go off" being able to cast your entire deck repeatedly. As my cube presently stands the vast majority of the support cards for these kinds of deck have been relegated to the B cube for being too narrow. The archetypes may still be build with just cards in the A cube but it is a shadow of the versions that incorporate B cube cards as well. Although the only real home for Heartbeat is UG combo decks there are enough different builds of these to keep it from being too narrow a card. Heartbeat falls into the category of highly powerful yet symmetrical cards like Wheel of Fortune. As such you have to be very well set up to be able to fully abuse it and even within those decks you need to be careful about when you make it. All decks use mana and lands to some extent, most a large one and so it is very rare you do not vastly help your opponent with this if you let them have turns with it. This is far more the case than cards like Wheel of Fortune which can often hinder an opponent as much as help them. Often you can tap out to drop Heartbeat in on turn 3 and would be able to easily go off the turn after. The problem with doing this is giving your opponent double mana for nothing at a critical stage in the game for all archetypes is often just suicide. A far better way to abuse the Heartbeat is to hold off until you can play something afterwards like a Frantic Search thus allowing you to start abusing it on your turn before your opponent gets a chance. Much much more commonly played than the original Mana Flare due to green have better support effects for this kind of deck than red ones although cards like Goblin Electromancer are evening things up a bit. I have seen and used Flare and Heartbeat in the same deck to provide redundancy however Mirrari's Wake can also do this and again is a better splash colour than red. 

XXCall of the HerdCall of the Herd 1.4 (B cube)
Power 1.2
Support 1.6

It pains me to give this such a low rating as the card is lovely design and good nostalgia too. Sadly the power creep has not just caught up to this card that was so ahead of its day, but overtaken it and left it chilling out with the likes of Ernham Djinn. This was one of the very first cards that was aggressively costed so as to gain tempo from it but also offered card advantage. Now we have all sorts of flora based cards offering this from Strangleroot Geist to Vengevine. Call is a little too middle of the road as 3/3s don't do all that much to the game any more. As an agro card it is woeful in terms of board presence or power for the mana investment and as a control card it doesn't do enough The best uses I have seen for Call is in combo decks that use the graveyard lots such as Oath of Druids simply as a pretty solid way to buy some time like a Moments Peace or even act as an alternate win condition. Tokens are far less robust in the cube than actual creatures with the popularity of bounce and things like Ratchet Bomb, Pernicious Deed and Engineered Explosives all easily taking them out. Call does still see occasional play in a wide selection of archetypes but the frequency declines with every new set.

Beast WithinBeast Within 3.9
Power 3.6
Support 4.4

This is one of the best spells to be printed in a long time. I love the card and I love the design and feel it has given green all the necessary tools to be the base for control decks. Cards like this are much much more powerful in the cube than they are in normal constructed 60 card decks as the cube is more varied and powerful that being able to answer basically any problem card is well worth the minor set back. The power of this card highlights the decline of cards like Call of the Herd, when you are happy to be giving 3/3 tokens away you are hardly going to be excited about making your own. So, we all know Vindicate is a great card that has only two flaws, it is two colours and it is sorcery speed. Beast within has none of these concerns and can often offset the 3/3 token drawback by virtue of being instant and thus having the capacity to gain 2 for 1s or large tempo swings. Being green is especially nice as it is really hard to deal with some problem monsters and green has enough fat and walls to ignore 3/3s all day. Most commonly it hits planeswalkers which is rare for any colour and a valuable asset to have at your disposal with unchecked planeswalkers being a common way for games to end in short order. In the cube it is very easy to lose to a single card you cannot deal with that can come in so many different forms it is hard to account for them all. Every single kind of deck can benefit from the security of very general purpose answer cards. The Wish cycle used to be what most people played in order to cover themselves against surprise losses however Beast Within is quicker, cheaper and generally more effective as an answer than a Wish. The ability for it to hit lands also makes it very dangerous as a threat should they be foolish enough to lay an early bounce land or allow you to colour stitch them. So far I have treated Beast Within as an easier to cast instant speed Vindicate with a negligible drawback but it has a secondary use in its ability to make an instant speed 3/3 on your team for the small cost of an unwanted permanent. This is surprisingly handy not only for taking an unexpected win with an alpha strike in a close race but also for making a blocker and killing of small monsters. It is also brilliant in combination with Oath of Druids giving you a way to force your opponent into triggering the Oath for you. All in all this is a highly versatile card that requires careful use but in return affords you great security.

HarmonizeHarmonize 1.5
Power 1.8
Support 1.2

A card returning to the cube after a fairly long absence. Green control has gained a great deal of strength recently with cards like Beast Within bolstering the ranks. Concentrate is not close to good enough in blue but in green it is a very different story assuming the decks that want it are viable. Green does not need to leave mana open unlike blue and so the sorcery speed of the card matters much less. Green also has far better ramp than blue making four mana a less onerous cost for the green mage, control or otherwise. Green also has very little access to card draw, most of what it does have has strings attached or is restrictive in some way. By no means is this an overpowered card but it nicely fills a gap in greens arsenal. Played in green based control decks where blue or black card draw in unavailable or sometimes in explosive elf mana style green decks.

Natural Order
Natural Order 3.2
Power 3.8
Support 2.7

The green version of Tinker is a lot less played than its blue counterpart however this has more to do with the support offered by the colour for those kinds of archetypes than the power of the card. To play cards like this you need a lot of cheap yet useful things to ensure you can sacrifice something early in order to play them while also having a selection of really powerful big things to abuse. In blue you have lots of quick cheap card quality and filter spells to smooth out your draws despite having a disparate mana curve. In green you typically get what you draw and so your clunky deck will punish you far more often. Having to use creatures also tends to be slower than using artifacts to ramp because of summoning sickness but also because creature removal is far more abundant. The extra cost on Natural Order over Tinker is one of the least relevant factors in their difference of power and amount played as is the quality of things that you can get. Tinker is often used as a way to ramp mana or draw cards rather than to directly try and win so it is perhaps more flexible but Natural Order has a wide array of really serious monsters to be laying down most of which should end the game in short order. Progenitus has been king of the targets for a while and quite comparable to the various Colossus Tinker often gets however we now have Worldspine Wurm to really ramp the power of what this card can cheat into play. It is a far superior card to Tooth and Nail and works best in a deck quite like the old standard deck Elf and Nail which can ramp up enough mana from the elves alone to cast the big threats so that they are not always such bad early draws. It is also fine in a more control ramp deck provided it has both a decent enough (7 or more) cheap green utility and ramp dorks to be sacrificed and a worthy selection of targets that wouldn't be unreasonable to include in the same deck without the Natural Order. The final note about this card is that it is at its weakest against blue where counter magic and bounce are happy to ruin all your fun.

Garruk WildspeakerGarruk Wildspeaker 4.2
Power 4.2
Support 4.3

I love this guy and for all round goodness he is my 3rd favourite walker after Jace and Elspeth's original 4 mana incarnations. He doesn't win as many games as Tezzeret but is vastly more playable to the point of me being more than happy to have him in literally any green deck. He defends himself better than most cheap walkers and for that matter most of the more expensive ones too. A 3/3 is a very healthy blocker and the ability to untap lands so as to allow more spells and more loyalty to keep him alive is exceptional. His abilities are the complete package with acceleration, token generation and a cheap yet reliable finisher ultimate. He does perfect things to fit in with the green colour pie which inly improves his design and flavour but none the less gains appeal for it. When looking at a sealed pool I will check green for the number of mana critters I have and for Garruk to see if it is playable.  His ultimate is likely the best of any walker in terms of how often it gets used (both relative to the walker getting cast and nominally) and how often it then wins the game. Untapping land is far better than adding two mana as it allows you to keep up counter magic or have good synergy with Winter Orb or generate stupid amounts of mana with Gaea's Cradle and the like. Garruk seems a little fairer than Jace or Elspeth (again, I'm only talking about the best version of each) however he is much more consistent. Jace will either come down on a static board an utterly dominate or come down when you are behind and do little more than save a bit of life. Garruk can come down on a static board and offer you less power than Jace but he can come down in a bad position and pull you much closer to even than Jace would do. Elspeth is much safer than Jace and overall harder to kill off than Garruk but she is very linear and gets on with her own thing, particularly in the more control decks. Garruk blends in perfectly with whatever your deck is doing and offers support and synergy to the other cards. 

Garruk Relentless
Garruk Relentless 2.0
Power 3.1
Support 1.4

Garruk, the Veil-CursedI have so far been very unimpressed with this version of Garruk and never found I wanted it over Wildspeaker. Relentless is quite fragile having low loyalty combined with difficulty in ramping it back up. Making 2/2s is nice enough but often achieves very little, they are either chumping to keep Garruk alive or being ignored. Getting to fight with a low toughness critter is handy in green but rather situational as well as being a single use most of the time. It will help you kill those pesky critters like Grim Lavamancer that can be so ruinous which is a hard thing to come by in green. While Relentless may be greens best way of killing small critters he is useless at taking out bigger threats and over priced and clumsy as anti weenie tech. Being easier to cast than Wildspeaker is not all that exciting as green is rarely a splash colour. Relentless is probably better than Koth of the Hammer but due to having much better alternatives as well as lots of other Garruk incanations for the anti-synergy in decks he sees less play and performs less well. Once flipped he can ramp again but only making 1/1 deathtouch dorks which are better on the defensive but worse otherwise, again this is fine but not exciting. Tutoring for creatures and sacrificing them is useful but not something you want to rely on in this form at all and infrequently arises. Finally the overrun effect on Relentless is far less good than Wildspeakers version as it is more situation and much slower to get online. Were this walker to go by a name other than Garruk it would likely see a lot more play but as it is he is hovering around the cutting line. Low impact and fiddly is how I would best describe Relentless in a couple of words.

Birthing Pod

Birthing Pod 3.6
Power 3.8
Support 3.5

A fantastic card which is comparable to Recurring Nightmare. While it is cheaper to use than Nightmare and more relaxed on colour requirements it is difficult to fully abuse in 40 cards decks. The stipulations on what you can search for means it is hard to support a chain of creatures longer than 5 difference in mana costs. It also means that the longer the game goes on and the more you use the Pod the less good it gets as you run out of targets. Being able to sacrifice creatures is very useful for certain effects and things like Skullclamp which historically green has had little access too until Pod came along. Pod is a great card with lovely design that sadly needs quite a dedicated deck to support it with a high creature count, good come into play and when this dies effects and a very smooth and ideally short curve of the creatures. Typically I find these decks to look quite like rock decks however I feel as if this is just because Pod is still quite new to the cube and so the more obscure variations on how it can be used have not yet arisen. You can either try and use the Pod to chain upwards into ever more powerful creatures hopefully netting some good value from enter the battlefield effects on the way or you can use the Pod to generate value and utility. At first the decks were of the former group which was powerful but slower and easier to disrupt. As time has gone on more decks use Pod without a discernible chain instead just having a decent chunk of two through four casting cost dorks to get as needed. Even just the ability to shuffle your deck has really good synergy with Sylvan Library and can make both much more playable in your build. A few quirky creature based combo decks mimicking those that have cropped up in the modern format have also made use of Pod as a good tutor mechanic for its pieces despite not having the highest overall creature count. This is fine as you only need to use it once or twice in order to have won. This is one of the most interesting non-creature cards in the whole modern format although it does still revolve around creatures... I love the phyrexian mana mechanic and would like to see more cards that use it or something similar. A mechanism to reduce the colourless aspect of a cards cost rather than the coloured would be less abusable in terms of the colour differences.

OverrunOverrun 4.0
Power 4.2
Support 3.8

This is the ender of games like no other card and one of the most important cards for any aggressive, or even simply creature based, green deck. Green lacks reach in its aggressive decks as it has poor creature removal and not much in the way of disruption. Assuming you have any sort of board position there is a high chance casting Overrun would end the game, I have had countless where I have done enough damage earlier that simply +3/+3 and trample is enough to see my single dork to victory. Elves decks of all kinds are the very best home for Overrun, even combo elves might as well play it as it basically say win the game on it and is castable from about turn three in elves! Five mana is not too much for green decks, even aggressive ones as it finishes off your curve perfectly at about the time it becomes an instant win. If your plan is to win with hard hitting monsters of which a good number are green I would not leave home without it. It works particularly well with the various mana critters green has to offer which further helps green agro decks as they lack one drops that are pure aggression and often lose some ground to things like Goblin Guide. Having a few useless late game 1/1s suddenly swinging in for 4 a piece is ideal. Garruk Wildspeaker is a better card all round but his Overrun ability is always known (unless you can proliferate on the turn you make him!) and despite being less mana tends to happen after you could cast an Overrun. Garruk is ideal redundancy for Overrun but not a replacement. 

Plow UnderPlow Under 2.7
Power 3.6
Support 2.2

A brutal card that can swing games hugely, one of the few non-symmetrical land destruction cards that are suitably costed to gain cube slots. Sometimes it is double Stone Rain and sometimes it is Time Stretch which is a bargain for either at just 5 mana. Green also has some of the best synergies with land destruction colours and decks as well as having a reasonable selection of options itself. In addition to this it is a card advantage spell in green which is reasonably rare and ideal when suited to beating slower decks. Cast early versus any sort of deck off some green ramp is ruinous for them however if they manage to get a reasonable board position before you Plow their lands it fails to achieve you very much. It is also quite an awkward card to fit into a deck as it costs a lot, doesn't advance you at all, nor does it answer any threats or problem cards nor stops any beatdown barring man lands you might be under. In slower formats it shines, against cheaper more aggressive ones it is really hard to play. The biggest problem Plow Under faces is that it always competes with Primal Command for a slot in decks. Primal Command is a far more useful card all round and covers a lot of bases when in a deck as well as being able to do half of what Plow can do as well as something else. Plow is the more direct card and more powerful in the right situation however the right situation for Command occurs far more often than it does for Plow. 

Primal Command
Primal Command 3.4
Power 3.0
Support 3.9

This card always seems to steal the slot that Plow Under would have. It is not the efficient and convenient utility package and powerhouse that Cryptic Command is and it is not as impactive as Austere Command however it is the comfortable 3rd best of the Command cycle and does a lot of what decks need and fills in loads of holes in builds for the cost of just one card. It can effectively deal with any non-creature threat in play or any problem card residing in a graveyard which is nice but quite an inefficient amount of mana to do something like that for. It can be half a Plow Under while still doing other useful things, it can Eladamri's Call to cycle the card nicely whilst using for other ends. Gaining 7 life is huge against a couple of common matchups and is one of the more frequent uses the card ends up getting used for. Typically against Red Deck Wins it will fetch an Eternal Witness and gain 7 life only to have the Witness get it back for another 7 life fix. The surprisingly desirable portion of the card is the reshuffle but used on yourself rather than on the opponent. So many green based decks want ways to reuse large portions of their deck and without blue cards like Timetwister and Spiral they have only unreliable creatures like Loaming Shaman and Battlefield Scrounger which are also pretty naff outside of that narrow reshuffle desire. Command can offer this marginal but important ability to a deck without costing it a valuable slot. It is a mainstay in any non-blue deck using Birthing Pod (non-aggressively), Life from the Loam and usually Oath of Druids too. Primal Command can be a massive tempo swing or it can be a potent card advantage effect, it can even be a bit of both. It can be a tutor and a recursion effect for combo and control decks and is one of the more under rated cards in the cube. 

Green Sun's Zenith
Green Sun's Zenith 1.5
Power 3.0
Support 0.8

This is a very balanced cube card but not one I find particularly important in any deck. With no Dryad Arbour in the A cube this has no exciting targets as a one drop. For it to be a worthwhile card I feel you really want the Arbour which comes with many drawbacks of its own as well as being almost unplayable without the Zenith. It is also restrictive on what it can get which is one reason why few combo decks can make use of it and doesn't trigger things like cascade which will often rule it out of creature based decks. While it is a very powerful tutor card that loses you no card advantage for the small cost of one mana, effectively a colourless one at that, the fact that it forces you to cast the tutor and the target in one lump prevents it from being very powerful and is the other main reason combo decks don't frequently use it. The best decks for it are those with lots of green utility creatures that are not too fussed about tempo such as green ramp and the rock. When you can use it to ramp, gain card advantage, deal with a permanent or gain life it starts to look versatile enough to be really desirable. It is a card that scales very well as the game progresses however the reshuffle aspect is rather unexciting. In 40 card decks the targets that are worth getting quickly dwindle and so rather like Birthing Pod this will lose power the longer the game goes on. The best use for the reshuffle is in combination with Sylvan Library where you can get fantastic card quality although this is nothing you can't do with a sac land... The card remains quite popular with other drafters and so it has its A cube slot to see if I can work out why people rate is so highly. When I look at dorks and imagine them costing one more mana even those in the cube start to look very average and so I can't justify a spot in my deck for this unless all my creatures do very different things. 

HurricaneHurricane 2.3
Power 3.1
Support 1.8

This is one of those cards that has been around forever and has never really been that exciting or powerful. A sudden inspiration has however convinced me it is a key spell for green and just what the colour needs to excel. Previously Hurricane has been a wish target but I have never actually had a copy in the A cube and so it has not had lots of play thus far. Despite this it has been proving highly effective in a number of roles. Green has few fliers and lots of creatures which enables it to effectively kill the problem critters without harming their own. Green also lacks removal, particularly mass removal and while this wont affect all their guys it will affect the most annoying ones. Using it to take out planeswalkers is also very effective and means you often get at least a two for one when casting it. Finally lest we not forget it is basically a fireball in green which is truly absurd. Green has fantastic ramp and is easily able to maintain a high life total and can just end the game from nowhere. Green has many single target kill a flier spells however they are sideboard material at best. Hurricane is more like a card from the Command cycle giving you the option to take out two different kinds of permanent or dealing direct damage to the face. The cube has been swelling with fliers and green cannot compete with the other colours in the skies. Instead it is equipped with Hurricane which is about the closest any mass removal spell has come to Bonfire of the Damned in one sidedness. The meta is fully ripe for cards like Hurricane to shine with planeswalkers and fliers being all the rage. It is good in agro green decks as well as green control decks and seems highly worthy of its slot despite sitting in plane view ignored and off the radar for so long. Green is not a colour you need to go mono with at all but it has some perks to offer when you do. Without cards like Hurricane, Primal Command, Chancellor of the Tangle and Beast Within a lot of the mono green decks would not be viable.

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