Previous Set Reviews
Limited Resources Reviews
5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf. Snapcaster Mage.)
4.0: Format staple. (Siege Rhino. Courser of Kruphix. Remand.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Stormbreath Dragon. Seeker of the Way.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Chained to the Rocks. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Perilous Vault. Heir of the Wilds.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Naturalize. Savage Knuckleblade. Sandstorm.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. One with Nothing. (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)
I don’t want to rule out any powerful effect, regardless of how expensive it is. If you can build a deck with a lot of land, a lot of ramp, and a good way to use all that, this could be an interesting way to power it. There is a natural tension between spell mastery and a high land count, though you can just play this in a high land count deck and not worry about spell mastery.
I’m naturally in favor of 2-for-1s, and I played a lot of Indrik Stomphowler in its time. This provides an actual threat, unlike Sage, and some deck would rather pay more for a much larger creature.
Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen
Dwynen might just do enough to work. A 3/4 for four isn’t spectacular, but pumping your entire team is big, and attacking and gaining 2-4 life can be very good. I don’t think an Elf deck will become great because of Dwynen, but a great Elf deck would most likely want a couple copies.
Dwynen’s Elite, on the other hand, is the kind of card that does make the Elf deck great. Getting two Elves for two mana is solid, and there are enough Elf-counting cards that having critical mass matters. If Elves isn’t a thing clearly this doesn’t quite get there, but I think this goes a long way toward making me want to play Elves.
In a deck full of monsters, this could be a way to win a battle of attrition. Dropping this and then playing a giant creature each turn leaves you up a lot of cards, and against decks that can’t kill enchantments this is the type of draw engine that can make a difference.
I love having Elvish Visionary around. It enables many different decks, has a relevant tribe, and plays pretty well without combos. There are plenty of decks that want this effect, and this is the cheapest way to get a creature at no card cost in the format.
I think if you look at Survival of the Fittest and you look at this card you would conclude that both names are a lie, as the first version was by far the most powerful. Still, this is an exciting card and one that is certainly good enough to build around. Playing this in a deck full of value creatures is one way, and another is to play a deck full of token-making cards and a very small number of creatures that you now get to tutor for. Either way, the cost is low enough and the effect is powerful enough that I expect to see this in multiple different decks. Whether those decks will ultimately be good enough isn’t quite clear, but I’m interested in finding out.
Blue/black control is a very real deck right now, and it’s apparently made nature very angry. Even decks without Dragons may need to lean on Foul-Tongue Invocation if Gaea’s Revenge becomes popular, as this card can beat a hand full of cards if they are all counters and removal spells (which is often where UB ends up).
Gather the Pack
Commune with the Gods has seen a lot of play, and this offers a much more powerful effect if you can get the numbers right. If you don’t care about enchantments, this is strictly better, and it isn’t hard to imagine a graveyard deck that has enough spells that spell mastery is active a good amount of the time.
Herald of the Pantheon
As long as Theros Block is legal, there are a lot of cards that promote an enchantment-based deck, and this is one of the better ones. Making a bunch of cards cheaper and gaining you life for each is a powerful effect, and building a deck full of enchantments is very possible. Eidolon of Blossoms and Courser of Kruphix are key to this plan, so make use of them while you can.
Even though I don’t see this card making a big impact, I felt like mentioning it would be the noble thing to do. The effect (and name) created some expectations, though I’m afraid this won’t quite live up to all of them. Mana Elves need to be reliable for decks based on them to work, and this is anything but. It won’t always get through, and even when it does, you don’t need your mana creature to be a 2/2 instead of a 1/1. Green doesn’t seem like it has the support that this card needs, which is to say a dedicated beatdown deck, and as such I’m not optimistic about Honored Hierarch’s chances.
Besides getting called “Leaf Glider” all the time, this also has the distinction of being (another) Elf that taps for mana. An Elf deck might want more than 4 Elvish Mystic and 4 Gnarlroot Trapper, so here we are.
This might be one of the most underrated cards in the set. At the end of the day it is just a big dumb animal, but I can see it being big enough to actually matter. It’s just so easy to make this a 5/5 or 6/6 almost immediately, and those are numbers that make me sit up and take notice. The late topdeck is the risky part of all this, but an early Hydra can be very threatening. Depending on what kind of removal is running around, I could see Managorger Hydra doing some good work.
Nissa, Vastwood Seer // Nissa, Sage Animist
I look forward to playing a lot with this card. Nissa is a Civic Wayfinder that has to get a Forest, but in exchange has a ton of late-game value. That’s an impressive combination of skills, as Civic Wayfinder is a very playable Constructed card in its own right, and adding power to the exact situations where it’s usually mediocre is a huge upgrade. When you need lands, Nissa delivers, and when you have too many lands, she delivers there too. Nissa is going to be a mainstay in all sorts of different green decks, and I think you need a reason not to run her more than the reverse.
This is basically Ancestral Recall, as long as you are willing to overlook some minor differences, like costing three times as much, and only drawing Forests, and needing multiple spells in your graveyard to draw the full three. Yeah, past that, they are the same. Hyperbole aside, Nissa’s Pilgrimage is an interesting and powerful option, as ramping your mana plus ensuring you are never missing another land drop is a nice combination. Nissa probably steals this slot most of the time, but a truly large ramp deck could just play both.
Nissa’s Revelation is powerful enough to warrant investigation, but expensive enough to be limited to a select few decks. If you have good mana acceleration, good high-end finishers, and a need for a way to draw cards, here you are. The life gain is nice, as it’s exactly what you want when you are drawing a bunch of cards, so if everything aligns then this could work.
Arbor Colossus is going to overshadow this while they are both in Standard (which is odd, given that they are presumably the same height). Once Arbor Colossus rotates, it’s not too outlandish to imagine this as the high end of a green deck that wants to play giant monsters.
Speaking of Ancestral Recalls and hyperbolic comparisons…
Sylvan Messenger could be a key part of this Elf deck that is threatening to emerge, and is one of the cards that makes me want to jam 30+ Elves in a deck. The reward for meeting the condition is great, and Elves do a good job accelerating out 4s. I like this card existing, and it could be what makes the Elf deck tick.
The Great Aurora
I can’t quite write this off in Constructed, as the effect is powerful. If you are far ahead in the permanent race, this presumably is a lot better for you, but if you are far ahead than why do you need a 9-mana spell? The answer is of course lands, as that’s the easiest way to be ahead on permanents but still be losing the game. There are a bunch of new ways to dump lots of lands into play, and if you can ramp out a ton of lands very quickly, The Great Aurora could turn that into a win. Presumably you are going to draw a bunch of ramp spells off the Aurora, so you would need to balance things such that you have some actual gas too.
Once you get a hit in, this is fairly efficient, and it’s cheap enough that attacking shouldn’t be impossible. I feel obliged to support all the trolls I can, so even though I don’t have high hopes for this, I thought it worth mentioning.
Travis Woo already broke it, as casting this with Painter’s Servant in play lets you get three Phantasmal Images and a Hellraiser Goblin, which is just game. Combos like that aside, Woodland Bellower is a 2-for-1 that lets you cast the second card for free, which is very solid. Grabbing Courser of Kruphix or Nissa with this sounds great, and I like the idea of Bellower as a Titan-like effect at the top of your curve.
Primeval Bounty saw some play last year, and this offers a similar effect at a cheaper cost. In grindy matchups, if the opponent can’t kill enchantments, siding something like this in can change the texture of the matchup dramatically. It’s not powerful enough to just run, but it has some potential uses.
Top 5 Green Cards
Nissa is very exciting, and offers a solid midrange/control card for almost any green deck (though you now need to make sure to play enough Forests that she never misses). Past that, green got some very interesting build-arounds, support for the Elf deck, and some individually powerful cards like Woodland Bellower and Gaea’s Revenge. Green is at the top of the heap right now in Standard, and it got enough from Origins that it should remain there.