Friday, June 14, 2019

Magic Arena and the State of Green

First off, I’m going to give a big shout out to WOTC R&D and to the team that programmed Magic Arena because that program is fantastic. I never thought they would be able to come up with a program that makes playing Magic on a computer so smooth.

So, just to see how it goes, I’m going to be streaming tomorrow morning.

I’ll be playing the deck below so I thought I would do a quick “State of Green” impression.

4 Llanowar Elves (DAR) 168
24 Forest (RIX) 196
1 Ripjaw Raptor (XLN) 203
2 Territorial Allosaurus (DAR) 184
4 Vine Mare (M19) 207
3 God-Eternal Rhonas (WAR) 163
2 Gigantosaurus (M19) 185
1 Pelt Collector (GRN) 141
4 Steel Leaf Champion (DAR) 182
4 Thrashing Brontodon (RIX) 148
4 Thorn Lieutenant (M19) 203
2 Ghalta, Primal Hunger (RIX) 130
1 Nullhide Ferox (GRN) 138
4 Rabid Bite (M19) 195

Starting with the good: All of the colors have seen some serious power creep since I last played but this hasn’t negatively affected the game at all. I think this is mostly because the combat phase is still a thing. A big thing. It’s rough when you want to play a mid-range deck and your third opponent in a row casts “Thought Erasure” into “Thief of Sanity” and you’re not playing red… but then you just go play burn and get paired with a white life gain deck… Wait…

There are a lot of planeswalkers in play right now and one of the solutions to that is to play agro. And while the deck above is mostly agro it’s still a bit mid rangy thanks to the higher casting costs of things and the Rabid Bites.

So, this deck pretty much illustrates how I feel about Green right now. Green has always been about big dumb creatures, mana fixing and utility. As far as big dumb creatures, WOTC gets an A+ on making sure that the biggest, most threatening creatures are now Green. That wasn’t always the case but it certainly is now.

When I get sick of opposing Planeswalkers, I pull this deck out. And it has done very well for me.
Nothing says “punch a control player in the junk” like a 5/4 “can’t be blocked by anything you have on the board” turn two Steel Leaf Champion. And nothing says “Coming to punch you in the junk some more” like a turn 3 can’t be bounced by Teferi, can’t be lava coiled, hexproof 5/3 Mare.
And with Green’s creatures it just keeps getting better. I like when all the most powerful cards AREN’T multicolor. It gets stale that a good portion of the Magic population likes to mix and match their colors like it’s a buffet and you can take a little bit of everything. Where’s the benefit to playing a solid color? Well, that benefit is in Gigantosaurus. You’re rewarded for playing a creature deck in Nullhide Ferox and in Ghalta.

These are the cards I have always wanted. Real creatures with real benefits for playing a style I like even if it is dumb and little kidish.

And while Green has to have some limitations in the form of creature elimination, elimination based on fighting other creatures seems perfectly in line with Green’s theme and yet, is just as clunky as it should be. I’ve made this deck without Rabid Bite but it performs better with it. Without it, Thief of Sanity is going to run wild on you, casting Gigantosaurus with blue lands. We cannot have that.
And Carnage Tyrant. That’s a love letter to green players.

So, when I first started playing again, I focused on mono green and I love what they’ve done with the color and these thoughts just scratch the surface of all there is to love about Green right now.
Sadly, I’m going to finish this up with some mild disappointment in just two areas.

I do wish there was more trample in Green and I also wish there was another 1 drop mana accelerant. I understand why these things don’t exist but they have in the past with either Findhorn elves, wild growth and Birds of Paradise. I mean, if Red can have a 30 direct damage spells deck in every format, and Blue can do the same with Counterspells or fliers, and Black can do it with creature elim or discard, I’m not sure why Green can’t always have a deck with 8-12 one mana accelerators.

And there is a lot of trample in Green, don’t get me wrong, but there isn’t an Overrun effect where all your creatures gain trample and a bonus for a turn. I mean, I get it, it ends games fast and it’s an abrupt end. But red can kill you on turn 4 sometimes so why not?

Pretty much the most minor of nits there are.

I’ve been back to Magic for a few months and while it took me a few days to get used to Planeswalkers OMG SO MANY PLANESWALKERS! I got used to it. And learned to play them myself.

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