Sunday, March 13, 2011

Green in Standard Pauper

        Green is, for lack of a better word, weak. This hasn't been the case in rotations past, when cards like Borderland Ranger and Harrow saw more play than Kobe Bryant in the 2009 NBA Finals.  While most steer clear of it unless allies forces them to dip, I feel like green has a lot more to offer than meets the eye. In this week's blog, we'll look into the power cards that should have a stronger presence in the weekly top 8s, and I'll run down 2 different mono green decks I'm toying with.

        Let's start off with some of green's overlooked creatures. If you're a control player, one of the first cards you probably noticed was Blightwidow. This deliciously wicked little spider is a trifecta of goodness. Not only does she stand tall against the Squadron Hawks and Kor Skyfishers of Standard pauper, she also slowly devours them with the new revamp of an old mechanic: Infect. Infect deals damage to players in the form of poison counters (like the old poison mechanic, except Infect is damage dealt = # of counters) and to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters. Opposing infect  creatures makes anyone hesitant to turn their creatures sideways, and staring down a pair of Blightwidows typically grinds the assault to a stop. Couple this with a Lightning Bolt resistant rear end, and you have a near perfect creature for a control-minded deck. I could go on for days about the potency of Blightwidow, but I'd rather move on to the rest of the article and let you feel it out for yourself.

       The next good creature I want to spotlight sees some play in type 2. Overgrown Battlement. Again we have another inhibitor of electricity (the 4 toughness), but this one also taps for mana. He gladly blocks those pesky Plated Geopedes and Perilous Myrs, and when his buddies show up to play, he lends a hand to the ramping game. Overall, this is probably my favorite wall since Wall of Blossoms, and I thoroughly intend to break it before the season is over, as I'm eager to fulfill my early beginning magic player dreams of building an impenetrable wall deck that can kill, a pipe dream I would love to see come to fruition (also, pay no mind to Vent Sentinel). Almost equally versatile is a one drop wall from M11, Wall of Vines. While subtle at first, Wall of Vines actually takes the cake as the most efficient blocker, ever, at least as far as Standard Pauper is concerned. You just can't beat a 0/3 reach in the fly-happy metagame we currently have.

        Moving on to the more aggressive portion of the green spectrum, we have 2 creatures that seem great on paper, but tend to be lackluster on the battlefield: Garruk's Companion and Sacred Wolf. When I first saw the spoiler for M11 and spotted Garruk's Companion, I had flashbacks of Senor Stompy, with images of Rancor'd Rogue Elephants and Quirion Rangers dancing in my head. I was excited to build a stompy-esque green, until I noticed that the green card pool lacks it's signature cards: cost effective beaters. Sure, it has the staple Llanowar Elves and (faux-Quirion Ranger) Arbor Elf, but beyond that, there are no good green creatures. No amazing 2 drops, no 3 cost pump spells or fatties, nothing. Just awkward creatures like Brindle Boar and Grazing Gladeheart. Further down the mana curve it begins to look a little better, with beasties like Tangle Mantis, Wildheart Invoker, Stomper Cub, Molder Beast and everyone's favorite draftwurm, Yavimaya Wurm. It would seem that maybe mono green ramp would be a viable option.

        Let's take a look at some of the combat tricks green has, beyond it's long time friend, Giant Growth. Green is known for its pump spells, and this rotation isn't without its fair share of impressive boosters like Vines of Vastwood (a veritable counterspell), Groundswell, and the lackluster Mirran's Mettle. With Scars and M11, green got slightly better in the removal department, though most of it is aimed at fliers: Pistus Strike, Plummet, Leaf Arrow, and the lowly, but useful Hornet Sting. Hornet Sting kills Squadron Hawks, Plated Geopedes, Liliana's Specters (which you'll be seeing a lot more of, I assure you, but that's another article), Sea Gate Oracles and Kor Skyfishers blocking your 2/2s, and goes to the dome for that last point of life you couldn't squeeze through on the ground. Coupling Hornet Sting with Perilous Myr and Infect dudes, it actually becomes a very playable 4of. Lastly, I'd like to point out a card I normally use in my board when I face heavy removal: Withstand Death. Much akin to Vines of Vastwood, Withstand Death is basically a green counterspell for removal, and it's particularly devastating when your Yavimaya Wurm is double blocked by 2 Kor Skyfishers. I think it's worth a glance.

        On to green's claim to fame as of late: ramping/mana fixing. Green has a SLEW of cards geared toward getting the appropriate land and/or creating a land advantage, allowing you to drop turn 4 Yavimaya Wurms and whatnot. While type 2 all-stars like Harrow, Cultivate, and Explore lend their common power to help fuel the cause, other less powerful dudes like (baby Borderland Ranger) Sylvan Ranger and Viridian Emissary cover ground on foot, stealing early game points and supplementing late game monstrosities like Ulamog's Crusher. Viridian Emissary is particularly brutal because it presents the opponent with a choice of giving you land or taking damage. You'd be surprised how many times he actually slides right through their defenses to deliver 2 to the face. Since ramping is otherwise self-explanatory for the most part, I'll move to the last area I haven't covered, and that's utility.

               Green actually has a cornucopia of spells for knocking off annoying enchantments and artifacts. With local in house favorite Mold Shambler, the unexpected Relic Crush (beautiful against rising star MetalHawk, btw), the Infect player's dream, Nature's Claim, and the instant speed go-to green Disenchant, Naturalize, anyone playing green should have a healthy sideboard. This fact shouldn't be overlooked, considering the metagame has plenty of targets for these spells (Tumble Magnet, Journey to Nowhere, Sylvok Lifestaff, Prophetic Prism, etc.). If I was expecting to see more than one MetalHawk, then Nature's Claim would be an instant 4of in my mono green infect build.

        All in all, I truly feel that green has it's place in standard pauper, it just needs a little love and dedication from the community. Maybe some better cards in an upcoming expansion would help.

So now that I've rambled intensively about green this and green that, I'll leave you with 2 different deck lists. Both are quite straightforward, and need very little in the way of explanation. They are rough around the edges, as I haven't play tested them to the extent I would like to, and by the time you read this, I'm sure both lists will have been altered, but at least we have a jumping off point. Here we go.

Lizard mounts make elves extra scary.

4 Wall of Vines
4 Wall of Tanglecord
4 Overgrown Battlement
4 Mold Shambler
4 Wildheart Invoker
4 Molder Beast
3 Yavimaya Wurm
3 Tangle Mantis
3 Ulamog's Crusher

4 Explore

2 Bladed Pinions
1 Strider Harness

20 Forest


4 Perilous Myr
4 Plummet
4 Relic Crush
3 Withstand Death

'sniff sniff'

4 Ichorclaw Myr
4 Cystbearer
4 Blight Mamba
4 Rot Wolf
3 Blightwidow
3 Corpse Cur

4 Giant Growth
4 Groundswell
3 Vines of Vastwood
3 Adventuring Gear
2 Bladed Pinions

18 Forest
4 Evolving Wilds


4 Withstand Death
4 Pistus Strike
4 Nature's Claim
1 Vines of Vastwood
1 Blightwidow
1 Corpse Cur

1 comment:

  1. great article with some interesting cards, I'd never really considered before.