Welcome back to my Magic 2014 set review! As before, I’ll take a look at each green card and analyze it for both Constructed and Limited, and for good measure, I’ll occasionally throw in an extremely clever joke.
Here are my previous Magic 2014 reviews, for reference:
Here’s the ratings system I’ll be using:
5.0: Multi-format All-Star (and undoubtedly worth too much money). [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card]. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card].
4.0: Format staple. [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card]. [card]Thragtusk[/card].
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card]. [card]Restoration Angel[/card]. [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card].
3.0: Archetype staple. [card]Farseek[/card]. [card]Gravecrawler[/card].
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. [card]Think Twice[/card]. [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card].
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. [card]Naturalize[/card]. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.)
1.0: It has seen play once. [card]One with Nothing[/card]. (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
5.0: I will always play this card. Period.
4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.
4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.
3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card’s color.
3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)
2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)
2.0: If I’m playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)
1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)
1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)
0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I’ll never start it. (10%)
0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%)
Advocate of the Beast[draft]Advocate of the Beast[/draft]
I’ve advocated some loose cards before, but this would really take the cake.
Limited: 2.0[card]Advocate of the Beast[/card] is never going to be unplayable, and once you have 3+ Beasts, preferably not ones that cost 6 or more, it becomes pretty solid. I don’t think it’s quite enough to really create a whole archetype, but synergy like this is always something to look out for.
Every now and then, this sprouts up in sideboards.
I only mention this because enchantments seem to be a supported theme, which takes this from sideboard-only to marginally playable.
Briarpack Alpha[draft]Briarpack Alpha[/draft]
The green [card]Skinrender[/card] doesn’t nearly pack the same punch as the original, and the original isn’t even close to playable right now.
It really isn’t difficult to pick up a 2-for-1 with this, and you even have the option to just run it out for a bonus 2 damage if they aren’t biting. I think that [card]Briarhorn[/card] is the Alpha to this pack’s Beta, but it’s close enough.
Brindle Boar[draft]Brindle Boar[/draft]
I like my Constructed decks with extra card draw, hold the bacon. It would be boaring to make the same pun as last time, so I decided to ham it up and try something new.
Yep, the Baconator on wheels is still pretty mediocre in Limited. It still sees play a reasonable amount of the time, just because it does buy you some time, but I’ve never seen anyone get excited about playing it. I’d say that it actually sees more play than it should; the card really isn’t that awesome, but I think people just love bacon.
Deadly Recluse[draft]Deadly Recluse[/draft]
The value of this card hasn’t really changed; I just wanted to call it the green [card]Doom Blade[/card] again.
This is the green Doom Blade.
Elvish Mystic[draft]Elvish Mystic[/draft]
When it comes to Elves, the more the merrier. Now that we have [card]Arbor Elf[/card], [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card], and [card]Elvish Mystic[/card], few decks are going to max out on Elves, and will instead get to play the selection that fits best into their game plan. [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] will be a staple in numerous decks, giving non-white decks up to 8 good 1-drops while lessening the shockland requirement of [card]Arbor Elf[/card]. My biggest qualm with Elvish Mystic is that it means Beta [card]Llanowar Elves[/card] are going to remain illegal in Standard. Speaking of older formats, Modern Elves and Legacy Elves are happy to welcome Elvish Mystic to the fold, even if they might not always want to play all of them.
The Elf slot is always competitive for the title of “best green common,” and that remains true here. Games where you start with an Elf, especially on the play, are often blowouts. When you are a full turn ahead of your opponent, green’s lack of real removal becomes much less important.
The picture here is kind of goofy, and is clearly pandering to cat lovers. Despite correctly preferring dogs, I can look past that and see that this offers a powerful enough effect that it might be a reasonable option for Constructed play. It does a large amount of damage, and if you can dodge removal, it [card]almost always kills a creature. It’s like green’s [card]Searing Blaze[/card], just twice as large.
Enlarge isn’t quite [card]Overrun[/card], which I know will make Marshall Sutcliffe sad, but it still is a giant-sized beating. Unlike Overrun, it’s the purrfect turn 5 play, as you will often kill their only untapped creature, and the combination of dealing damage plus being removal puts this pretty high in my pick order.
Much like mono-black, Turbo-Fog is an archetype that lives on in infamy. Between various planeswalkers, [card]Riot Control[/card], [card]Urban Evolution[/card], and [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card], now might be Fog’s time to shine. I’ve seen viable lists of this, and would not rule it out.
Limited: 0.5[card]Fog[/card] is a perfect sideboard card. It’s not a card I’d ever want to maindeck, but love bringing it in against combat tricks. Any time my opponent has an [card]Enlarge[/card], Fog’s coming in, and multiple [card]Giant Growth[/card]s will also summon it.
Garruk, Caller of Beasts[draft]Garruk, Caller of Beasts[/draft]
Calling this powerful is not very controversial. The +1 draws a couple cards in most decks where Garruk will make an appearance, and the -3 can potentially cheat on mana significantly. My main concern with Garruk is that he does not impact the board by himself. If you have something to drop into play, that works, but one of the characteristics shared by the best planeswalkers is the ability to defend themselves and put you ahead on board.
Two things really work in Garruk’s favor. The first is the new legend rule, where an opposing [card]Garruk Relentless[/card] or Primal Hunter doesn’t blank Biggest Garruk. The second is that Garruk into a 7+ drop creature does put you pretty far ahead on board, giving your opponent two huge threats to deal with. Once you untap with Garruk, you get to draw a grip full of threats, and the follow-up should be good.
Garruk is definitely one of the more narrow planeswalkers, due to the Large Green Creature requirement, but the power level is there. The range of decks that can play him is not wide, but I still like his abilities well enough to give him a high grade.
Much like in Constructed, Garruk is fairly fussy in Limited. If you can defend him, either via a previous board presence or by plopping a beast (or a Beast) into play, you should run away with the game because of the card advantage he provides. The power is here, if you draft around it, and I can see passing Garruk later in the draft if you don’t have the right deck. Garruk also doesn’t usually get you back into a game where you were behind, so it’s not quite on the same level as other bombs.
Garruk’s Horde[draft]Garruk’s Horde[/draft]
Constructed: 1.0[…]At seven mana, you can just do better than this hordible thing.
Assuming you aren’t dead by the time you cast this, it should end the game in short order. If a 7/7 trample isn’t enough, it even draws you cards every turn[…]
Giant Growth[draft]Giant Growth[/draft]
There have been zero of these in winning Standard deck lists lately, and I don’t expect that number to grow any time soon.
Green is good at forcing double blocks, at which point Giant Growth steps in and collects a nice two for one. Even when it is just trading one for one, you usually end up spending one mana for three or more of theirs. Creature-light decks won't want this, but if you end up with a creature-light green deck, you are doing something wrong.
Giant Spider[draft]Giant Spider[/draft]
Spiders are at the core of most successful green decks, and for a reason. Even if you are aggressive, this holds the fort, and so many decks just can’t get by it. You can never have too many Spiders!
Gladecover Scout[draft]Gladecover Scout[/draft]
As with Constructed, if you have enough auras to pants up the Scout reliably, it does its job.
Groundshaker Sliver[draft]Groundshaker Sliver[/draft]
Seven mana for anything this vanilla is not going to shake up Constructed.
If you haven’t hit your 7-drop quotient (my number is probably higher than most), this is a reasonable option. It’s not all that important for the Sliver deck, and is mostly relevant just as a giant body.
Howl of the Night Pack[draft]Howl of the Night Pack[/draft]
How lucky, green got its own [card]Corrupt[/card].
You have to reliably make 4 Wolves for this to be a consideration, and 5+ for it to be good. Given that mono-green is not usually a well-supported archetype, I don’t think that’ll happen too often. There is upside to that, which is that if you are trying to go for it, you won’t have much competition.
Hunt the Weak[draft]Hunt the Weak[/draft]
While green is always hunting for removal spells, this is way too weak to fight for slots in Constructed.
I’m loathe to pass up on removal, but fight-based removal just doesn’t work in every deck. Most green decks will be happy to have this, but every now and then you won’t have enough low drops or creatures total in order to make this work. It’s also a good card to sideboard out against a deck full of cheap tricks or removal/bounce.
Into the Wilds[draft]Into the Wilds[/draft]
Drawing extra cards is something I can get into, though I’m a little suspicious of paying four for the privilege. It also ramps your mana every time you hit, a marked upgrade to the powerhouse that was [card]Rowen[/card]. There are so many excellent card-advantage mechanisms around that this has some tough competition, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
In Limited, on the other hand, I’ll take whatever card advantage I can get. If you can play this early enough, it’ll provide a nice little boost of extra cards over the course of the game.
Kalonian Hydra[draft]Kalonian Hydra[/draft]
It certainly looks like this is headed for Constructed. Not only is it an 8/8 trampler as soon as it attacks, but it synergizes very well with any card that mentions +1/+1 counters. The two most exciting cards to pair with the Hydra are [card]Exava, Blood Witch[/card] and [card]Renegade Krasis[/card], but even by itself the Hydra delivers a giant beating. [card]Wolfir Silverheart[/card] was one of the best cards in Block, and has seen some Standard play, and this slightly different take on the monstrous vanilla creature is poised to exceed that.
This is not remotely real in Limited. It might die to (some) removal, and it might not catch you up if you are very far behind, but this only costs five and it kills the opponent in two swings the vast majority of the time.
Kalonian Tusker[draft]Kalonian Tusker[/draft]
They sure breed ‘em big in Kalonia. As far as stats compared to casting cost, it’s hard to top this on a pure vanilla, and [card]Kalonian Tusker[/card] seems quite playable as a result. Double-green isn’t irrelevant, mainly because it doesn’t work well with [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card], but this is still likely to find a home.
Limited: 3.0[card]Watchwolf[/card] at common is exciting, and sure gives you incentive to play a lot of Forests in your deck. This will be one of the main culprits when people complain about dying on turn 5, as a curve involving one or two Tuskers is going to be very hard to beat.
Edit: I apparently didn’t notice that this was uncommon, though the rating doesn’t change – LSV
Lay of the Land[draft]Lay of the Land[/draft]
It’s hard to compete with [card]Farseek[/card] and the various mana Elves, but in a control deck with sweepers, playing 1-2 [card]Lay of the Land[/card] as fixers doesn’t seem outrageous. It doesn’t really get you ahead, so the current state of dual lands might be good enough that this lands on the wrong side of the power curve.
I’m not a huge fan of fixers that don’t ramp you or provide card advantage. With cards like this, you always run the risk of drawing your “land” but not being able to cast it, so I’m really looking for advantages like Farseek or Cultivate, rather than just parity. It still enables 3+ color decks, but I doubt I’m going to play it much in a 2-color deck.
Manaweft Sliver[draft]Manaweft Sliver[/draft]
Constructed: 2.5[card]Gemhide Sliver[/card] was a crucial part of the Time Spiral Slivers deck, and if there is a good Sliver deck to be made, I’m sure this won’t be weft behind.
Going from two to four mana and completely fixing your colors is a powerful set of abilities, and I’d be happy to play this even with zero other Slivers in my deck. Add to that the engine it creates when you are the Sliver deck and you have quite a strong card.
Megantic Sliver[draft]Megantic Sliver[/draft]
If the Sliver curve is going to go deep, here is the natural stopping point. Slamming this should result in them dying shortly thereafter, assuming the deck has a normal draw.
With the fail case being a 6-mana 6/6, you aren’t losing too much by playing Megantic Sliver. Once you have one of these, you should really just slam Slivers, and even if you pick this up late, it plus a couple random Slivers is already a powerful engine. Permanent Overruns are good.
A fine card to have around, but a little too vanilla to be good enough for sideboards. Naturally, some decks are going to need it from time to time, so I wouldn’t call it completely unplayable.
Starting this in Sealed is acceptable; most decks have a couple targets. In draft, not so much, though you definitely want one for your sideboard.
Oath of the Ancient Wood[draft]Oath of the Ancient Wood[/draft]
This wood be interesting if the output was something a little more exciting than a +1/+1 counter.
In the full-on enchantment deck this seems solid, but not exciting. That spells bad news for the deck, because presumably this is one of the build-around rares. The problem I see is that many of the enchantments are Auras, so throwing in another card that pumps your creatures doesn’t add a dimension that the deck is missing.
Flying is just common enough to make Plummet maindeckable, especially in Sealed. It will be live more often than not, though you should obviously consider siding it out after every game, since its value plummets against some decks.
Predatory Sliver[draft]Predatory Sliver[/draft]
This is more like it. In the Sliver deck, all you want are cheap Slivers, preferably of the Muscle Sliver variety. Besides Galerider Sliver, this is the main incentive you have to make an actual Sliver deck.
If you just think of this as a Grizzly Bear with significant upside…you will have correctly evaluated the card. Predatory Sliver does everything you want it to do, providing a consistent early drop that also makes a number of your other cards better.
Primeval Bounty[draft]Primeval Bounty[/draft]
Primeval Bounty has a lot of text, so let’s see if we can figure out exactly what you are getting. The last ability is the one that holds the most promise, just because playing land is free and happens more often than either of the other two conditions. Gaining three (or more) a turn is strong, though starting at six mana is a little much. Creating an army of Beasts isn’t bad either, and even though I wouldn’t imagine you’d want that many spells in a Primeval Bounty deck, playing an instant and making one of the Beasts a 6/6 could be a blowout. While this isn’t the best six-mana card that starts with Primeval, it does have an outside shot at seeing play, just because of how much potential value it represents.
It costs an arm and a leg, but if you can survive to untap with Primeval Bounty in play, it seems very difficult to lose. The advantages stack up quickly, and a few plays later you should have enough life, Beasts, and +1/+1 counters to easily overwhelm your opponent.
Ranger’s Guile[draft]Ranger’s Guile[/draft]
Nice sideboard play is still where this is going to stay, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
It’s always nice to remember that Ranger’s Guile exists, which is the only reason I bring it up. There are few blowouts as large as the Ranger’s Guile in response to removal, especially if it happens during a combat.
There has only ever been one Constructed-playable Rootwalla, and I’m sure he’s somewhere basking in the glory of it all.
Rootwalla is quite the beating, and is always among green’s best commons (even in high-powered formats like Tempest). The threat of being a 4/4 means that you can just smash in with impunity early, and once you run out of mana, it actually just becomes a 4/4. I think it edges out Kalonian Tusker, but just barely, and I can see taking Tusker for curve purposes.
Rumbling Baloth[draft]Rumbling Baloth[/draft]
I think this is missing a few lines of text. Where’s my 4 life, and protection from discard?
Green is not short of fat in M14. Just like Tusker and Rootwalla, Rumbling Baloth brings the beats, and which one you want is mainly going to depend on curve. They were not shy about giving green some aggressively-costed creatures, which hopefully makes up for the lack of removal it often suffers from in Core Sets (in expansions, the set mechanics can help green compete on a level playing field better than in Core Set).
Savage Summoning[draft]Savage Summoning[/draft]
While I must insist that this was better when it was a cantrip, the fact that both Savage Summoning and the creature are uncounterable and have flash isn’t irrelevant (though the +1/+1 counter might be). Fighting control with this seems like a reasonable plan, and once Cavern of Souls rotates I could see a lot more summoning occurring.
Playing around counters isn’t really a big deal, so the only way this is worth a full card is if you ambush a creature. That will happen occasionally, but not only does this make a creature 1 mana more expensive, it’s possible to play around it fairly easily because the whole deal costs a good amount of mana. I don’t hate sideboarding this in against counters, or playing it if you have a lot of cheap and large creatures.
Scavenging Ooze[draft]Scavenging Ooze[/draft]
I thought about scavenging the old “oozing with value” joke, and then went ahead and did so. Past the sweet jokes, this provides a powerful disruptive threat at an extremely low cost, and is one of the most powerful cards we have access to. It is even stronger in older formats, both because of how mana-efficient it is and because more unfair graveyard stuff goes on (though I suppose by “old formats” I really mean Modern, as Legacy already had access to this). Scavenging Ooze is going to be a staple card for years to come.
There aren’t many games where Scavenging Ooze fails to grow, and some games it will grow to fairly epic proportions. You don’t really want to run it out on two, both because it dies to Shock and because you want the opponent to make a few trades before slamming your (soon-to-be) 6/6 Ooze.
Look, I’m sorry that you aren’t good enough for Constructed, but you don’t have to be a spore loser about it.
It doesn’t take too many land drops before you’ve gotten good value from this, and you aren’t even paying all that much for the ability. 5-drops do have diminishing returns, but this is one of the better ones.
Move ’em on, head ’em out Trollhide! Set ’em out, ride ’em in. Ride ’em in, let ’em out, Cut ’em out, ride ’em in Trollhide!
Limited: 3.0[…]Trollhide is the real deal. It creates a huge threat that non-blue or white decks can’t answer easily, assuming you can land it while they are tapped out (which isn’t difficult). Trollhide!
Vastwood Hydra[draft]Vastwood Hydra[/draft]
M14 is well-hydrated, that much is certain. Unfortunately, [card]Kalonian Hydra[/card] got the brains, the brawn, and the looks, so Vastwood Hydra gets picked last.
This starts to be a good deal at five mana, and at six or above it becomes fairly ridiculous. Eventually, it gets to the point where your opponent has to kill it or die, but as a result your entire team becomes massive. Again, this hits the space of “giant ground guy” pretty hard, so green might not need more, but this is one of the better options to end your curve with.
Verdant Haven[draft]Verdant Haven[/draft]
If it were 2 life a turn, I might have been in. Unfortunately, a 2-mana accelerant is what the people need, not a 3-mana one with a minor upside.
I’d try to avoid drafting decks that need this to curve out, since you should be heavier on the 2s than 5s, but if you end up in that spot this does offer a safe haven. It’s not powerful enough to really spawn a 5-color archetype, though I’ll investigate that carefully, just to be sure…
Voracious Wurm[draft]Voracious Wurm[/draft]
A reverse [card]Ajani’s Pridemate[/card], Voracious Wurm doesn’t have the best timing. It’s hungry for lifegain, but because it comes out afterwards, you have to wait quite some time before beating down. At that point, just skip the Voracious Wurm step and keep casting Thragtusks.
Even a straight-up Grizzly Bear is close to a 2.5 (depending on the format), and the upside here is definitely real. Some decks will be able to drop this as a monster a good amount of the time, and even when they can’t, it’s still a solid turn two play.
I don’t think Lingering Souls is quite oppressive enough to demand answers of this caliber.
I’d err on the side of boarding this, though I suppose I can’t blame you if it ends up in the maindeck. Plummet was so mana-efficient that I liked it in the main, and this costs enough more that I’m less happy with it.
I don’t know witch annoys me more, the fact that Bant Hexproof is a deck or that because of it I have to consider any creature with that ability very closely. Witchstalker is a reasonable threat, although it won’t kill a blue deck on its own, which mostly leaves the Bant Hexproof avenue open. In that deck, I think Gladecover Scout, Invisible Stalker, and Geist take up most of the slots, relegating Witchstalker to the doghouse.
Woof. Much like the rest of this cycle, Witchstalker is good against random decks and excellent against the ones it targets. Granted, they can just mainphase all their spells, but that nukes counterspells and makes removal much less tricky or effective.
Woodborn Behemoth[draft]Woodborn Behemoth[/draft]
Woodborn Behemoth, because Kalonian Hydra is a Mythic Rare.
Good on turn five and great once you hit eight. What more can you ask for?
Top 5 Green Commons
5. [card]Giant Spider[/card] 4. [card]Kalonian Tusker[/card] 3. [card]Rumbling Baloth[/card] 2. [card]Rootwalla[/card] 1. [card]Elvish Mystic[/card]
There are so many giant creatures here that Elvish Mystic is number one by a mile. The rest mostly depend on curve, and Giant Spider can easily move up if it’s late in the draft and you need flier defense. I’ve never seen green go quite this far into Beast territory, so it’ll be interesting to see if the all-vanilla all-monsters plan works out.
Edit – As Kalonian Tusker is uncommon, I’d move Deadly Recluse into the 5th spot, with Giant Spider at 4th – LSV
Top 5 Constructed Cards
5. [card]Gladecover Scout[/card] 4. [card]Garruk, Caller of Beasts[/card] 3. [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] 2. [card]Kalonian Hydra[/card] 1. [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card]
Monstrous Ooze. Giant Hydra. Epic planeswalker. 1/1 Elves. That is the stuff green is made of, and it’s fairly impressive. Green got one of the best cards in the set overall, as well as important cards for a number of archetypes. It’s been a long time since green was the worst color in Magic, and those days aren’t coming back anytime soon.
In my conclusion, I’ll wrap up the cards I didn’t cover, plus provide a Top 10 list for the whole set!