This is the 7th entry in a series where I comment on and explain my choices for my limited card pool in detail. Here are my previous entries:
In this entry I listed a number of guidelines I follow when deciding which cards I want in my cubes.
Here’s a PDF you can open in a new window to look at the part of my list I’m taking about while reading:
And here’s a link to an explanation of the shortcuts I use in that list, if you need it.
Arbor Elf and Leaf Gilder are my choices for green creature-based mana acceleration on one or two mana, respectively. (Their non-creature counterparts are Wild Growth and Explore.) The Elf edges out creatures which directly produce mana, partly because it can provide extra value with the Growth and some other land-enchanting auras, but also because it ties the acceleration to the need of actually having a Forest, which I like – you really have to make sure you are into Green if you want to use it, without cheating too much with nonbasic lands or artifact mana.
The Gilder provides just a little more extra value than its competitor, Vine Trellis, which also is a bit too similar to Wall of Blossoms. Gyre Sage and Werebear also play around in that territory, but are different enough and serve more special purposes. I found I liked the Gilder a lot more than the cycle of mana myrs, which are a design failure for me, since people tend to pick them up almost regardless of the color of mana they produce, which is because they only get used in cubes where several of their aspects (mana acceleration, being creatures, being artifacts) are important. The signets don’t have that issue in my cubes, since their a little unwieldy acceleration alone isn’t attractive enough if you do not want them for the fixing. Millikin and Mind Stone are there to help those drafters valuing acceleration, so the myrs aren’t needed, and the Gilder is a reasonable creature on top of providing mana, but needs you to be green to use him.
Greenweaver Druid is out, just as Cultivate is, but for another reason: I decided to keep mana multiplication (cards which provide more than 1 mana) colorless – Coral Atoll is a special exception – because dedicated ramp isn’t a strategy which needs to support more than one drafter, or even has to be present at all in every cube, but certainly has to be available in other colors as well. Green is still special by providing high quality cheap ramp, while Palladium Myr, Coalition Relic and Thran Dynamo provide more expensive ramp options to anyone.
Dryad Sophisticate is technically a landwalker, but unlike „real“ landwalkers does not punish players for using a certain color. It’s also a nice evasive green creature in the spot between Treetop Scout and Treetop Rangers.
Elvish Visionary, Wall of Blossoms and Kavu Climber give Green a nice little card advantage theme. Striped Bears look like they would fit in, but are a bit underwhelming, comparing unfavorably to Black’s standard Phyrexian Rager.
Sporecap Spider is my concession to the insight that Wall of Air just isn’t special enough to deserve a slot in my card pool, especially with Fog Bank around. Between this very defensive Spider and the solid stats sporting Cloudcrown Oak, there is no place for the classic Giant Spider, which I never really liked – it specifically hoses flyers too efficiently, while not being a great defensive card overall, and an inefficient attacker.
I moved evoke completely out of Green and Black, with no acceptable candidate in Black, and Briarhorn, the only reasonable choice in Green, a bit too strong, and contributing to the glut of green combat tricks. Briarpack Alpha is strong enough in limited, and without the Giant Growth option.
Green is the only color where a generic common 6-drop creature makes sense, and that is what Vastwood Gorger provides. (I would be fine with it being a 6/6, though.) Vorstclaw is a bit too strong for a common and had to make room for Ruination Wurm. Other possible choices were too close to Kodama of the North Tree, which is an important powerful 5-drop in a color which, astonishingly enough, has few good options here. Plated Rootwalla is my second generic green common 5-drop, complementing Kavu Climber.
I feel Verdant Force, while acceptable in the 8-mana-slot, is a bit underwhelming for Green – after all, that color is supposed to have the strongest creatures! – but among the available options, it comes the closest.