Welcome back to the third day in this week long review of Magic 2014 here on TCGplayer. So far this week, we have already talked about all of the black and blue cards that can be found in M14. Today, we will continue our discussion with the green offerings from the set. For each card, we will take a look at how viable it is in constructed and where it might fit best, as well as looking at how high the card should be rated in limited. By the end of the week, we will have gone through all 249 cards in the set and will then go over what I think are the top eight of those for constructed. To help us out along the way, we will be using the help of the following two trusty scales:
5: These cards are all-stars and their greatness spans multiple formats usually. Generally the chase cards of a set such as Tarmogoyf or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. 5s should not be given out lightly as the really have to have a big impact across formats.
4: These cards are going to be seen in decks of their color more often than not but may be less universal than 5s. These will usually be dominant in certain formats but not so much in others much like Bloodbraid Elf or Baneslayer Angel. 4s tend to see both Modern and Standard play, but have not made the jump to Eternal formats.
3: These are the backbone of Standard and usually serve some utility but are more restrictive in archetype, like a Makeshift Mannequin or Mind Spring.
2: These cards are generally much more restrictive in use and application. Occasional sideboard appearances or cameos in some combo deck are the most frequent uses here such as Splinter Twin or Acidic Slime
1: These are basically unplayable and only see use in the most rare of occasions such as bad card poster boy One with Nothing
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%)
If this put a counter on each beast, I am still not sure if it would be good enough, but at least I could consider it.
This guy is a relatively decent body and he has a lot of beasts to make better turn after turn. You won't want to be first picking this or anything, but in the middle of the pack, he can be a surprisingly strong pick.
While I have considered this in the past (never actually playing it) the mana fixing in Standard is too good to dig this deep for a card that will often not do what you want it to. If you have to settle to this extreme of a measure, just splash Doom Blade.
A very strong defensive option for green and one of their higher picks. There are even some fight cards to “combo” with him if you find yourself in that position.
Llanowar Elf is back with a new name and the exact same functional use. This does mean we will have like a billion mana elves in Standard for a short while so maybe that is abusable.
A strong pick up early in packs that really helps most limited curves. Jumping staight to three mana or anything after a turn earlier is extremely powerful at putting your opponent on the back foot and allowing you to dictate the pace of the game.
We might actually have a six cost planeswalker that does something here folks! Sorin was ok but mostly saw play in a time where planeswalkers were in their infancy. This has three very relevant abilities that all work pretty well together but also encourage decks all by themselves. Expect this one to be around for a while.
You are primarily playing this for the first ability although the second can come into play. Drawing two cards the turn you play this and then having a five loyalty walker that Threatens the same thing the following turn is pretty powerful.
This is about the third time we have seen the Horde and not once have I been more impressed with it than the last.
Big trampling creatures with potential card advantage are nice. This is expensive, but it is powerful. I would generally prefer something like Colossal Whale which has removal attached to it, but this is still a strong finisher.
As decks like infect have shown us, Giant Growth is still a consideration in some formats for niche archetypes. Eventually, enough Giant Growth variants will be printed so that the original GG just won't cut it, but we are not quite there yet.
Not as strong as Doom Blade which is obvious in that you are not first picking this. In addition, you generally do not want more than like three copies of this in your deck, but it is still a strong limited card that you should snag in the middle of the pack.
He's BACK!!! Well, not in constructed, but you know what I mean!
Giant Spider is basically the go-to body that green always wants access to. He is able to slow down a game long enough for your big beasts to get online or your ramp spells to make their way into your hand. Generally, Spider is one of the best green commons and that should be the case again.
Outside of some Garruk shenanigans, I think it is safe to say that the seven mana slivers are not going to be the constructed applicable ones.
This is very expensive and not great on its own, but then again, it isn't supposed to be! With a handful of other slivers in your deck, this becomes playable and in a dedicated sliver deck, I would probably end up wanting one copy of this.
Being a sorcery that also has a bunch of other hoops to jump through before getting paid does not make for a great constructed card. When one of those hoops is costing seven mana, things become even more grim.
Depending on the number of Forests you are running, this goes from very good to bomb quite quickly. If you get at least three wolves out of the deal, you have gotten your card back. If you manage to get five or more wolves, you have a pretty good shot at winning the game.
Being a sorcery and four mana is just too many downsides for this to be a contender in constructed.
This is a little slow and not always the cleanest way to remove an opposing guy, but for green, this really isn't that bad. Compared to most removal this is mediocre but compared to the no removal green normally has, this is actually pretty important.
I am not sure exactly where this is going to go or if it will have enough support in the form of things like Brainstorm, but it is a powerful effect under the right conditions and I would be surprised if no one ever tries this out. Sensei's Divining Top would appreciate this, but I don't think Eternal much cares for the enchantment.
It is tough to be exactly sure how good this is, but on average, if you play this on turn four, you will have 12 or 13 lands left in your library with 27 to 29 cards in your deck. At that point, you are looking at like a 40 to 45% chance to not only “draw” a card, but also accelerate yourself. That isn't a bad starting point. Obviously not every deck will want those things, but this seems playable.
This card reminds me a lot of Wolfir Silverheart even if he is slightly more restrictive in the shell he requires. This attacks as an 8/8 trampler for five mana. That is something that cards like Spectral Force did with a drawback but with the Hydra, we have an upside! You see, the next time it attacks, we have a 16/16 insano-game-ending-death-machine. Oh yea, and all of those Experiment One's and Stromkirk Nobles you had attacking? Those guys get gigantic too!
All of that argument you have probably heard before, and it's all true. He will win in two attacks and he is an amazing beatdown creature. That all said, he is still just a 4/4 vanilla before he attacks. Thragtusk doesn't mind that Doom Blade very much, this guy does. He has a lot of upside as well, but he is not just the end-all be-all of green creatures like some of the hype has seemed to hint at. (Hint: Thragtusk is still better)
This needs to get to you attack step to win the game, but it is very likely to do so at that point. You won't have as many creatures to synergize with this, but just on its own it is insane.
Watchwolf has slowly been made less of a valid option over the years. This is a little more powerful in that you are not restricted to GW in order to play it. That said, I am not sure of that many decks that will want this outside of the monogreen deck that has featured Predator Ooze and Strangleroot Geist for a while now. The issue there is that those cards will be rotating soon.
This guy needs to come down on turn two to really shine but when he does come down on curve, he is an absolute beast for a few turns until the board state can catch up to his undercosted body. Later in the game, he is more relevant than a normal bear, so he is fine, but will still fall off quite a bit.
I doubt this will end up seeing any play, especially seeing as how a strictly better version of this already exists in Standard and has seen very little play.
This is pretty good for any green deck looking to splash or be some four or five color control deck. For most two color or mono color decks though, this is basically unplayable unlike Rampant Growth which was fine in two color decks.
Again, a lot of this guy's fate rests not just on his own individual power level, but whatever slivers can muster up in constructed. This is a powerful effect as we know from Gemhide Sliver so this should be popular. Whether it is actually good or not remains to be seen.
Here is basically our replacement for Rampant Growth. The key differences being that this is less reliable as a ramp spell but has significantly higher upside energizing your team or coming down as a 3/3 Birds of Paradise.
Now this is what I am talking about! Most of the expensive slivers we have seen do not provide real incentive to actually run them. Spending seven mana for trample is not exciting. Overrun though? Yea, I'll run that. I can see potential sliver decks running this to push through for an alpha attack assuming sliver decks exist.
I can't imagine this thing not hitting the table and smacking your opponent in the face. Sure, he isn't great on his own, but with even two slivers in play that can attack, this has huge immediate impact and sticks around to give an encore.
I originally thought this was kind of neat but then I realized you need a creature in play and enchantments in hand, along with this out, for this to matter. What deck wants those things? I came back with only one answer in Bant Hexproof, so this has a shot there, but basically nowhere else.
Once you get two +1/+1 counters out of this, it has paid itself off nicely and gets to stick around for some extra value. I am not wanting to run this without other enchantments as the rate is too low, but in the right deck, this can be really strong.
I actually think Plummet has seen way too little play for how powerful of a sideboard option it is. With Restoration Angels, Delver of Secrets, Angel of Serenity, Griselbrand, and plenty of other fliers running around, you would think this would be more of a consideration. Mana fixing once again hurts this as you can turn to other colors for more versatile answers, but this is still playable.
A possible main deck card but a sideboard all-star. I think this will be even better in this core set due to how good blue looked yesterday with its mass army of fliers. And remember, many of the cards we consider bombs have flying, so this is extremely strong in sealed.
Muscle Sliver is one of the most powerful and memorable slivers from the original run. Also keep in mind that there is a color shifted Muscle Sliver in Modern already, so with eight copies of the card, maybe we end up with an aggro-control sliver build?
One of the best bears you can have on your team. Sure, alone he is just a bear and not worth much to your deck but again, his ability and creature type are so relevant that this should be considered for first pick when you open it up.
To be honest with you, I am not confident that this will end up being any good, but it does so many things for a single card that I would not be surprised to see it built around. It can be a way to mitigate counterspells, gives ramp a versatile and powerful option that turns their Elvish Mystic into a real threat. Interesting card that we will have to see how it plays out.
This is slow and you will have depleted much of your resources to get it into play, but everything you do from that point forward is so strong that it seems difficult to lose once you untap. You can realistically gain 3 life, put a 3/3 into play, and pump something up the turn after you play this and then, even if you are in topdeck mode and only get one trigger per turn from there on out, it has paid for itself.
Providing Hexproof is strong enough on its own and this even goes a little further to be a bit of a pump spell while it's at it. It will be played due to the former of course, in things like infect.
This is one of my favorite sideboard cards and 23rd cards for my main deck. You get so much utility and versatility out of a compact spell like this and your opponents will often fail to play around it. You can get this late and don't want many of them, but give it a shot!
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Not even close, unless you add Basking to the front, then he's pretty decent.
Your Grey Ogre Workhorse of green. Obviously this guy is not impressive without his ability, but the threat of the ability is worth almost as much as the actual ability itself. You will often sneak in two damage and play a four drop in the same turn, which is pretty neat.
I knew a R. Baloth once. He even cost this much mana. Man was that guy good. This guy... not so much.
Likely what will end up being the core green creature. This will end up putting a lot of people into green and will be the reward for those who were already there. In the past 4/4s for four would have been a little better, as the defensive creatures in this set are strong, but this guy is still very solid.
This is kind of a tricky card to evaluate because its value is completely dependent on how much countermagic is in the format. Sure, it grants flash and a +1/+1 counter, but it isn't seeing play without being a foil to counterspells. That said this is a pretty cool and tight package against blue decks, so maybe it will be a big part of the countermetagame.
In limited, the story on this changes. Now, you aren't so interested in stopping countermagic, but rather want to give a creature flash, make it bigger, and Ambush an opposing dude. This allows that so it should have some decent value in 40 card decks.
For such an innocent looking creature, this guy has been quite the powerhouse, eh? He has already made a big impact in Legacy where he is actually legal, but now he gets to be solid in Standard, and Modern. He is pretty comparable to Lotleth Troll in terms of power level even if the two cards go in very different places.
This is not quite a bomb, but it can certainly feel like it under certain game states. This is a two-drop that is actually better the longer the game goes on, which is certainly refreshing from your average Grisly Bear. The life gain on this is a nice touch too, even if not the real reason you are activating his ability.
Landfall is sweet but compare this to Rampaging Baloths, a card that saw minimal play during its two-year stay in Standard, and you will quickly realize why this won't be matching that level of play.
While the body you are paying for is not all that exciting, the landfall ability is actually pretty good at stalling the ground or amassing an army to eventually send in there. This guy might be a 0.5 lower, but I like the value of free creatures, so shoot me.
While Arcbound Hydra tells a pretty cool story, he is far too expensive to be a real consideration for constructed. You need to spend seven mana to get a ground Jugan out of the deal and Jugan was never very good!
This guy is interesting because if you make him too big, the opponent is incentivized to chump block and never take damage but never split up the hydra. If you make him too small, he is no threat on his own but is more likely to die in combat. In general, this is cool, but I can easily see passing it P1P1.
Spending three mana on this effect is just too much. I think Fertile Ground is a solid and playable card, but once you get to three with only a measly two life as compensation, I have to draw the line.
I like this a lot more in core set limited than in a set like Gatecrash. Sure, it mana fixed, but most decks were doing crazy strong things on turn three meaning you never had the luxury of playing this in any good decks. In core set, this seems like an actual viable ramp spell and fixer, even if it is the second or third string option.
This is not as strong as Kavu Predator was due to a lack of trample and effect no longer being persistent. Before, you got to punish opponents playing life gain and with this, you get to reward yourself for it, which plays quite differently. If you can get this down as a 5/5 or bigger before turn four, you might have something.
This is a decent bear early when you need one or you can hold it for later when you gain life to turn this into a real threat. Obviously you need to include things that actually work with this, but that seems reasonable.
A very solid sideboard card. Faeries is not likely to exist again anytime soon, but some UW skies deck might, or heck even just Lingering Souls! Expect this to see a small amount of sideboard play.
This one has a big range. I always want access to this if I do not have to give up much for it because this is going to beat the best creatures in the best color in the format arguably. I will start this on occasion but it will always be a threat out of the board.
Does this remind anyone else of that creature from Lady in the Water? No? Alright, moving on... This is fine in that it has hexproof which is basically the most powerful keyword to possess, but its hate ability leaves something to be desired. It hurts countermagic some, unless you just counter this, and it hurts removal some, unless they cast it on their turn. This will be solid and see plenty of play, but it is not as powerful as the black nor blue ones thus far.
You are not likely to trigger his second ability often, but any efficient hexproof creature has the capacity to be insane in limited. Sacred Wolf was playable and this is a million times better.
This guy reminds me a lot of Baloth Woodcrashers. In much the same way, there are just better options for constructed. You don't want a five drop that does nothing until eight lands.
This guy seems really good in limited though. As a five mana 4/4, he is right on pace with what you would expect and just under what you would want to play. When he goes to turn into an 8/8 trampler though, things get real. I imagine a lot of tense games teetering on that seven lands in play, both players eager for the draw step.
Alright, so green certainly has some interesting stuff to bring to the table. While its cards might not hit you in the face as loud as blue's in limited, there are still some really strong things here. On top of that, it looks to have the most natural counter to blue, which puts it in a good position. For constructed, there are some big new beasts roaming the land that we should be ready to deal with in a post-Thragtusk world.
Slivers will be very interesting to see how they develop in constructed. If they do, green will assuredly have a role in that archetype. Be sure to come back tomorrow where we will continue our review with White as well as the lands that M14 has to offer. Until then, thanks for reading!
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