Schlagwort-Archiv: green

Fixing Old Cards: Arabian Nights Green

(This is a link to the previous installment of this series. Chain clicks to find them all.)

I’ll very probably keep going until I have finished Arabian Nights, but I’m yet undecided if I should proceed to Antiquities afterwards.

 

Drop of Honey

Drop of Honey Original

While I do not especially like this card concept, it works under its current Oracle wording. The issue, however, is that this is not a green effect. It has been reprinted in White as Porphyry Nodes, but since Planar Chaos was explicitly about colorshifting cards from their core color identity to a fringe color identity, it is possible that Wizards do not consider this effect truly white either – if so, my best guess would be that it’s black.

Anyway, my task was to find a similar card concept which works both in Green and with the card name (which is referring to a story from One Thousand and One Nights, where a drop of honey attracts a couple of flies, who then attract a bird eating them, who attracts a cat catching it, and so on, until the whole region is at war). Well, we know Green allows you to destroy creatures if your own creatures are somehow involved, so this wasn’t too hard.

My design:

Drop of Honey

 

Ifh-Biff Efreet

Ifh-Biff Efreet Original

This card showcases very well how different (and less precisely defined) the color pie – which didn’t have that name then – was in Magic’s early days. Direct damage in Green is an absolute no-go today, and Green isn’t supposed to get flying creatures with any regularity either (although I strongly disagree with this philosophy). Also, the Efreet is way too powerful if you’re ahead, and even if not, way too suppressive towards opposing flying creatures. If an opponent actually has access to green mana, however, there are situations where it is flat out unplayable or outright killing you in short order if already on the battlefield, which is just too much risk for a good design. Lastly, I really do not like permanents whose abilities can be activated by all players.

Identifying its core aspects, this card is meant to be an efficient aggressive creature doing double duty as a weapon against flyers, whose deployment poses a significant risk to its controller (a prevalent theme in Arabian Nights). I just had to measure out these aspects correctly for a well-balanced limited creature.

My design:

Ifh-Biff Efreet

 

Singing Tree

Singing Tree Original

Really, isn’t this one of the most terrible artworks ever? It might do for a basic Forest – but where is a singing tree in here?

That issue aside, this card is just unattractive even in limited. Also, there are already more than enough cards in Arabian Nights which impede flyers, and the flavor here doesn’t explain this mechanic. Thus, I decided to create a powerful rare with a more generally useful ability instead – in fact, so powerful that I had to make this tree legendary to preclude having two of them on the battlefield!

My design:

Singing Tree

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Fixing Old Cards: Beta Green

(This is a link to the previous installment of this series. Chain clicks to find them all.)

 

Berserk

Berserk Original

Wizards have already tried to fix Berserk several times. Their first attempt involving its initial aspect of doubling the creature’s power was Surge of Strength, while the closest was Fatal Frenzy, completing the move of this design into Red. But I just noticed that the original isn’t actually quite as overpowered as many remember – take a look at this card from a recent set:

Temur Battle Rage

Just like Berserk, it effectively doubles the creature’s power, and in those cases where Berserk might seem overpowered, it also gives trample! And all that for only two mana without killing the creature (okay, this takes away the option of killing an opponent’s creature with it, but that was just a fringe use of that card)!

I have to conclude that Berserk isn’t really much too strong, but mainly too awkwardly phrased. In my redesign however, I decided to get a bit out of the way of Temur Battle Rage, accepting that this effect is now in Red for whatever reason, and concentrate on the flavor-driven aspect of killing the berserked creature instead. That reduces the card’s value as a finisher, but gives Green some kind of roundabout removal (something it is still in dire need of), while not violating the paradigm that green removal must be tied to it having creatures in some way.

My design:

Berserk

 

Camouflage

Camouflage Original

When a card’s Oracle text is twice as long as its original rules text which already fills up its text box to the brim, you know that you’re looking at a design which just doesn’t work. I tried to preserve the surprise element of making the opponent deal with your board in an unexpected way, and exercised a bit of creative license otherwise. Fudging with creature stats in this way is possibly more a blue effect, but I see no reason why it couldn’t be at least secondary in Green.

My design:

Camouflage

(It’s a pity that Americans probably won’t get the flavor text reference.)

 

Ice Storm

Ice Storm Original

I just discussed the issues of land destruction in the previous installment of this series. I decided to create a four mana spell with upside again, somehow mirroring my Sinkhole design.

My design:

Ice Storm

 

Natural Selection

Natural Selection Original

Well, when you have a card which does almost nothing, you can usually save it by turning it into a cantrip. You will have noticed that I already used that trick a few times. This card, though, would just have turned out really annoying if I had done that. I instead went with a typical green effect matching the card name’s flavor (trying to match that art would have been futile).

My design:

Natural Selection
(My original design had a flaw pointed out by Max in the comments: The cards looked at were, of course, still in the library! That meant that you drew one of the three cards you had looked at if you didn’t reveal, which was not my intent, and also lead to the issue of having to prove which card you drew. Max’s suggestion to fix my fix was what I actually wanted the card to do in the first place, so I adopted it.)

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My Limited Card Pool: Green Non-Creature Spells

This is the 8th entry in a series where I comment on and explain my choices for my limited card pool in detail. Here are my previous entries:

Lands & Artifact Creatures

Non-Creature Artifacts

White Lands & Creatures

White Non-Creature Spells

Black Lands & Creatures

Black Non-Creature Spells

Green Lands & Creatures

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:

Green Non-Creature Spells

And here’s a link to an explanation of the shortcuts I use in that list, if you need it.

Frog Tongue allows me to complete this cycle, since Nylea’s Presence doesn’t work for me on any level: Not an enchant creature, and green mana fixing.

There’s Keen Sense instead of Curiosity, because Green needed that effect more – Blue has all the card draw in the world, and especially creatures with that ability inbuilt.

After trying out a lot of similar cards, most of which were more powerful, I decided that the simplest execution was the best: Oakenform is a terribly fine limited card and really needs no additional power-up.

Into the Wilds is a bit slower than I like – I’d prefer an alternative creating card advantage a little faster and more reliable. But Oracle of Mul Daya, which I had before, is just too good; and all other choices are either also too powerful or not generic enough.

It may seem strange that, of all things, Giant Growth is missing among Green’s very numerous pump spells, but it makes more sense to have Brute Force in Red instead, which is happy to have an instant which does not directly do damage, and Green wants Seal of Strength and Predator’s Strike more.

Fog is too weak to get played, but its effect is something Green should have. Lull makes it maindeckable via cycling; Moment’s Peace is strong enough because it can be used twice; and Terrifying Presence can act as creature removal.

Lead the Stampede is another of those spells which is waiting for a better replacement. Honestly, why can Green not simply have a Divination? Something like that is needed on three mana – there’s kind of a gap here. Gift of the Gargantuan has the same randomness issues, but provides less value on average. I don’t like that Lead can possibly draw three or more creatures, but the chance not to get anything worthwhile out of Gift is too high and makes it unusable. If it looked at five cards, I’d prefer it over Lead (I really was agonizing over that decision). You know what would work? A Nature’s Lore for one mana more with scry 2 (Born of the Gods is only partly spoiled as I write this, so there is some hope)! Edit: Meanwhile, Peregrination (mouseover isn’t working yet) has been spoiled, which is a Cultivate for one mana more with scry 1. Close, and yet so far!

Talking about the Lore: It’s useful, but not excellent. Explore is a bit stronger, which is fine, requires no shuffling, and fills a cantrip slot.

Green has Naturalize, which means White has no Disenchant – but it gets Seal of Cleansing and Revoke Existence instead, which seems fair.

After trying out Red and Black, I now have scry in Red and Green. Red desperately needs it both for variety and card flow, Blue has enough card draw and card selection, and White is filled to the brim with interesting spells of all kinds and really doesn’t need an extra mechanic. Black has some card draw in addition to card advantage via discard, and its selection of scry spells didn’t impress me too much, while Green still isn’t quite where I want it to be with regard to card flow.

I’m not using scry in all colors, because cycling and cantrips already do a pretty similar thing, and I want scry to show up in cubes where those other mechanics don’t have too much of a presence, as a special element of Red and Green. I won’t be unhappy, though, if Born of the Gods gives me a superior option to Artisan’s Sorrow, which is quite similar to Creeping Mold. Something with scry 1 would be nice for symmetry (Red has one scry 1 and one scry 2 spell), if I do not get my wish above. (But not that manafixing spell.)

Unyaro Bee Sting finally replaces Bee Sting: I’m a fan of the more generic name, but it is silly not to use the up-to-date wording when one plans to draft with less experienced players.

Dosan’s Oldest Chant is the only acceptable green lifegain spell, although its power level is in Unhinge territory. I don’t think anything would break if it cost a mana less, though.

Incremental Growth replaces Stand Together, which has too much competition and too much of a blowout potential. Growth is baseline more powerful, but allows the opponent better to deal with it. It also serves as my version of Overrun, which is a good green effect to have, but way overpowered. A closer variant wouldn’t do here – Growth is considerably weaker, and still about as powerful as I like to go.

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My Limited Card Pool: Green Lands & Creatures

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:

Lands & Artifact Creatures

Non-Creature Artifacts

White Lands & Creatures

White Non-Creature Spells

Black Lands & Creatures

Black Non-Creature Spells

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:

Green Lands & Creatures

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.

It took WotC some time, but efficiently costed vanilla creatures finally are now found in monogreen. Kalonian Tusker and Rumbling Baloth thus replaced Watchwolf and Rhox Brute.

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.

Cudgel Troll was too squeezed in between Wolfir Avenger, Rumbling Baloth and Charging Troll, although it is a very nice design.

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.

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