Welcome to part 5 of 6 of my Avacyn Restored set review. We’ve hopefully had some fun, well-articulated discussion on the cards we’ve seen so far in the comments section at the bottom, because I’m sure everyone’s been doing what I asked.
The set’s seemed really deep in terms of card-power so far, with the possible exception of black, so hopefully Green can keep the pace. I feel really dirty for some of the ‘jokes’ I’ve used so far, so fingers crossed, I can up the level of those as well while we head into the home stretch. I’ve really enjoyed writing these so far, and hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading them as well.
Green Avacyn Restored Cards
To the green cards!
When I first saw this, I thought that it was like a [card]Wild Growth[/card] that cycled. On further reading, it became abundantly clear that that was not the case. Sadly, I don’t see there being that many green decks that are crying out for a 1-mana draw-a-card effect, which is a damn shame. I originally thought this card was nutty, so I’m quite disappointed that it’s not as exciting as I thought it was.
In limited, I’m a big fan of fixing, and this fixing doesn’t even cost you a card. Everybody loves living the 5-colour-green dream in Limited, and this is going to be a central card to that strategy. It’s a shame that there are no flashback cards in this set, as [card]Abundant Growth[/card] would allow almost effortless access to off colour flash-back, which would have been sweet.
[card]Blessings of Nature[/card]
When you Miracle this, you’ll be counting your blessings, but the effort just isn’t worth it. Sure +1/+1 counters are sweet, and this at least lets you spread the love around almost as efficiently as my high-school girlfriend did, but it’s just so expensive for what it does.
Smaller decks will love this effect, as it’s really similar to [card]Travel Preparations[/card], which was one of the best cards in Triple-Innistrad draft. If you Miracle it, it’s insane, but a 40-card deck would easily be able to justify paying full-retail for this, which, as I’ve alluded to before, is the mark of a GOOD miracle card. Being passed this should be seen as a reasonably strong signal to move into Green, as I think it’s one of the best cards for draft.
My friend Jeremy Mansfield looks like the core-set version of [card]Borderland Ranger[/card], so I won’t be playing this version any time soon. I really like the card, as it does so much. The body isn’t irrelevant, and the mana fixing and regulating of draws is absolutely first rate. I missed it when it left Standard, so I’m glad to see it back.
40-card decks love this type of effect; An efficient body with a useful ability. He’ll allow you to splash any of the big mythic Angels in your GW deck, he’ll let your removal splash be somewhat more reliable, and given that it seems like everyone’s going to be trying to hit all their land drops, we’re looking at a card that could easily be first-pickable. I don’t think it’s QUITE that good, but in weak packs, I wouldn’t be too sad to end up with a [card]Borderland Ranger[/card].
If I wanted this effect in constructed, and I drew this instead of [card]Corrosive Gale[/card], I’d feel like someone had stuck something up my back passage, and contrary to what Thomas Robinson would have you believe, that type of thing ain’t my bag (baby).
It’s presumably a sideboard card in limited, but I presume it has its uses against the Angel deck, and will do its job very well. Probably not worth running maindeck, but one to be aware of out of the board.
[card]Champion of Lambholt[/card]
I want to make a GW Aggro deck with this guy, [card]Champion of the Parish[/card], and all the toilety token makers, and when I get both Champions online, I’ll sing ‘We are the Champions’, and my opponents will love it, because I am super clever, and really good at singing.
The effect is really powerful, but I’m inclined to think that it costs just a little too much. [card]Lingering Souls[/card] makes this really nutty, so perhaps he’ll find a home in some kind of Junk-esque deck, and be really good in it.
I can’t see myself ever passing this in draft though. Green is traditionally a colour that doesn’t have all that many reasons to pull you into the colour, as its cards are usually not the most interactive. I think that’s true to an extent in this set, but of all the cards that encourages non-interactivity, this is one of the best. The removal in the set is, for the most part, really bad, which is another reason why this is nutty. Imagine a RG deck that curves this into [card]Thatcher’s Revolt[/card]. That’s a pretty big Champion, pretty quickly. It’s one of those excellent cards that has to be dealt with really quickly, or it’ll just take over a game.
I cannot see this seeing play in Standard, even in [card]Birthing Pod[/card]. Would you really want to trade in your [card]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/card] or [card]Sheoldred, Whispering One[/card] for this? If so, you’ve probably got a crater in your head. It’s an interesting combination of [card]Overrun[/card] and fatty in one, and while it’s true that it is powerful, I just can’t see where this wants a home. Maybe Wolf Run, for the mirror, to power-up the [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card]es when the game’s already gone on for ages, but even then, if we’re looking for an 8-drop, [card]Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger[/card] is the better option.
In 40-card land, assuming the format is as slow as I think it is, this is going to win games when you cast it an absurd amount of time. Sure, the mana-cost is pretty steep, but if you’ve got the fixing, the ramp, or the ability to stall the game out, it’s difficult to see you losing many games after casting the Behemoth.
I’ve heard rumours that the Japanese are buying this in bulk. To be honest, the last time I heard that, they were buying [card]Jwari Shapeshifter[/card], and I don’t think that ever saw any play, so take that with a pinch of salt, or you could end up walking down a dangerous path.
I could see it seeing some fringe play in Modern, with [card]Awakening Zone[/card], and the giant, tentacle monsters, but really, if that’s what you’re looking for, the GW Hideaway/Summoning Trap deck is a better proposition. I can see heavy tribal decks wanting to try this, but it doesn’t impact the board itself, and you’ll whiff around 50% of the time, even given best-case scenarios anyway.
What I’ve said above rings true for both constructed and limited. Again, the effect is powerful when it works, but there are better options, and for the most part, limited decks would rather have another creature than a fringe-level enchantment that’s an awful top-deck.
Your card buying is a joke.
Sort it out.
This is easily the worst Soulbond card in the set, and that’s not a good place to be. If I’m needing something to escort me past the Zombies, I’ll probably just run [card]Elite Inquisitor[/card] instead. I don’t think that there are enough playable Zombies in the set to make this a main-deckable card, though it is worth considering at least as a sideboard option.
I don’t expect to be getting overly familiar with this guy in constructed any time soon. There’s a card later on in the list that’s quite similar to this, that I like a whole lot more. It’s a shame, as it’s a really cool card, but the pay-off isn’t worth the vulnerability.
It’s going to be a total house in limited though, that much is clear. As I’ve said before, the removal in this set is really bad and conditional, so a 4/4 ground-pounder is going to be pretty difficult for most deck to handle. Obviously, in an ideal world, he’ll be buffing some sort of evasive creature as well. Total house, and an easy first-pickable card.
The two abilities don’t have any synergy with one-another, like [card]Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded[/card], and while it acts as fixing, for the most part, our constructed mana-bases are pretty good right now. I don’t think any decks are likely to want such an effect, which will sadly leave it in my repository of unplayable cards.
I DO think that it’s on the cusp of playability in limited. There’s a bunch of big, expensive monsters that you might want to want to save a mana or two on retail, but again, it’s really encouraging two different deck types, so it’s probably going to end up as a 14th pick for the most part. My kingdom for a [card]Beastmaster Ascension[/card].
[card]Eaten by Spiders[/card]
This probably isn’t as narrow as it might seem. Assuming [card]Insectile Aberration[/card] is still ruling the skies, this serves as an answer to that, and the Sword he happens to be carrying in his mandibles. The problem is it does nothing against [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card] or [card]Invisible Stalker[/card], so it’s probably a little bit too narrow, and you’d be wanting a [card]Crushing Vines[/card] or a [card]Beast Within[/card] for a similar type of effect. Worth consideration, and I won’t be surprised if it sees play in some constructed sideboards. Hedging my bets nicely there, to limit the chances of eating my words later…
I think there are enough flying monsters in the set that this is going to be main-deckable. There’s not a huge amount of equipment, but obviously value is value, and you get it where you can.
Pretty much every large set has a ‘mechanic matters’ card, to accompany it. This is the Soulbond matters card. It’s undercosted, but minus any type of evasion, and the fact that it’s completely useless by itself isn’t really doing it any favours. Plus, not many of the Soulbond cards are actually worthy of constructed play. Basically, what my flowery prose is skirting around is that this isn’t good enough.
Limited-wise, we’re looking at a card that’s value obviously changes from deck to deck. I’d think that you’d need at least 7-8 Soulbond cards before you’d even consider running this guy, and again, he’s undercosted, but lacks evasion. It’s not like a 5/5 is particularly large in this block either, so I can’t really see him being worth the effort he demands you put in to see him bloom.
It’s fine in limited, I suppose, a 3/5 reach for 5 isn’t going to set the world on fire any time soon, but it’s realistically costed for what it does, and the ability has marginally more utility in this block than it would in other blocks, so perhaps I’m selling the Trappers a bit short.
How desperate are we to block [card]Insectile Aberration[/card]? Have things got so gloomy that we’re actually considering a 3/3 Super-Reach for 3? I don’t think he’ll be making any mad scientist’s wives into widows any time soon, or any other wives, for that matter.
In 40-card land, he’s really aggressively costed. [card]Centaur Courser[/card] was a pretty sweet aggressive creature, and enough of the block flies that his restriction isn’t the end of the world. I actually really like him in limited.
Bad cards like this keep me grounded when I have to think of something even vaguely positive to say about them. I’ve got nothing guys, and I’m sorry. This is awful. Not quite Coldplay awful, but certainly up there.
Spirit Wolf sounds like an awesome band name. I bet they’d all wear spandex, and they’d look like hot, slutty chyx, and sing songs about partying all day, and at least some portion of the night, how much they rock and where the smoke is, in relation to the water. Sadly the card doesn’t live up to its excellent creature types, and at the 6-slot, he’s going to be competing with Prime-Time and co, and he certainly doesn’t measure up favourably.
In limited, at least, he’ll get to bark at the moon. I really like this, as it’s going to come down and be unblockable for the most part. He carries the admittedly sparse equipment of the set really well, and the Undying is just gravy. I expect a lot of draft games to end with this guy turning sideways.
Another Soubond matters card, but this one is at least better than the last one. It’s not going to be leading the assault on the top tables of Standard tournaments any time soon, but in limited, its frontside is playable, and the potential bonuses are gravy. Mmmm, gravy.
Creature pump spells serve as Green’s creature removal for the most part, and it’s important to view them as such. It’s quite rare that we see the balls to the wall type of creature pump like Wild Hunger was, but if you’re casting this with Soulbond, you’re getting something pretty similar. It’s excellent in decks with a Soulbond theme, but still fine if you’ve got none. Excellent card.
There’s only one thing I’m interested in Delving for in Innistrad block, and that’s Secrets. Not worth warping your deck around, and for the most part, if you want this type of effect, you’d just run [card]Lead the Stampede[/card] (which is criminally underplayed).
I think I’m bringing these puns to their [card]Natural End[/card] by now. Only high-brow humour from here on out. Adding an extra mana onto [card]Naturalize[/card] in exchange for gaining three life isn’t the most unreasonable thing to do, and there are certainly enough Equipments and Anthems that people are going to be considering this type of effect. When you’re looking at the things that are troubling you, it’ll vary on a deck-by-deck basis if they think it’s worth paying the extra mana for.
I probably main-deck this in Sealed, but it’s a sideboard card in draft.
I mean it guys, I’m really boar’ed with having to come up with these puns. I don’t know how Rob Wagner does it with such ruthless efficiency and frequency, it’s truly incredible.
Seems pretty stock for a green creature, and I’d expect it’ll see a fair bit of limited play as a solid, yet unspectacular creature. I’d hope we can all agree that vanilla creatures have to be far bigger/cheaper/better to see constructed play.
He’ll not be peddling his wares in constructed any time soon, but in limited it’s probably fine. Deathtouch isn’t the most exciting ability to grant, especially in green. I expected to find this effect in Black rather than Green, but either way, you can colour me unimpressed.
Sadly, we’re stepping on a broken path somewhat here with a run of constructed unplayables. The wurm won’t be breaking any constructed formats any time soon, and it’s not all that much better in 40-card formats. Trample is at least relevant, especially in slower formats like this, but it’s really tough to get excited about [card]Craw Wurms[/card], even ones that sometimes trample.
I don’t know how to evaluate this. It clearly demands that you build your deck around it, if you’re going to include it at all, and I’m not having any surges of brilliance when thinking about its uses. Probably one best left to the EDH guys. I’ve got an Enchantress EDH deck that wouldn’t mind paying 10-mana to get all of its Enchantments onto the battlefield in one shot, but really, I’d rather be using [card]Genesis Wave[/card], and obviously that doesn’t require you to build a mono-permanent deck.
[card]Rain of Thorns[/card]
While some cards are narrow, this one is the opposite. It’s downfall is the cost. We’ve come a long way in Green since the days of [card]Desert Twister[/card]. [card]Beast Within[/card] is in the format, and for the most part, we’re not in the market to destroy all of these things at once in constructed. Were there insane mana-acceleration in the format, ala [card]Lotus Cobra[/card], we’d probably still be better off doing something pro-active rather than playing this ultra-reactive card. This isn’t a [card]Violent Ultimatum[/card], by any stretch of the imagination.
In 40-card land, I expect to play this in Sealed deck more often than not, while leaving it in the sideboard in draft.
[card]Revenge of the Hunted[/card]
If ever there were a card that needed more ways to effectively Miracle, it’s this one. Don’t get me wrong, the card is powerful for sure, but outside of some fringe UG infect decks, you want more consistency in your pump spells.
In draft, I’m going to be hunting through pretty much every pack I crack, looking for one of these. I think it’s one of the best rares for limited in recent memory, and I’d be surprised to get passed it in pack 1.
There are plenty of similar, but cheaper effects that are legal that I’d play over this. Things like [card]Apostle’s Blessing[/card] and [card]Rangers Guile[/card] haven’t exactly been the last word in constructed playables recently, so it’s probable that the effect is somewhat lacking, rather than the absence of life-gain.
I don’t foresee myself wanting this effect in limited all that much, though I have been known to play a [card]Ranger’s Guile[/card] in my time, so it’s not like I’ve lived a sheltered existence when it comes to this type of effect, but holding up G is a lot easier than holding up 1G, and that’s probably going to mean this card doesn’t see much play.
[card]Snare the Skies[/card]
You’ve been snared something rotten if you’re running this in constructed. For limited, it’s not the most impressive of pump spells, but it does provide defence against one of Green’s common weaknesses; Interacting with fliers, so that’s reasonable, I guess. Again, as I stated earlier, Green generally uses these pump effects as its creature removal, and this spell is just a bit more blatant about that than many of the alternatives.
I’m no sage of the future, but I’d be surprised if this doesn’t see some play. While the jump from 2-to-4 is the most exciting for constructed play, the jump from 3-to-7 is unheralded. What can we do with 3-creature-specific-mana at 7 mana or less? Titans obviously, but there are other options in [card]Sheoldred, Whispering One[/card], [card]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/card], and plenty of other, previously fringe players that could combine tastily with the [card]Somberwald Sage[/card]. It’s obviously super-vulnerable to literally every removal spell ever, but the upside is so huge when it lives, it’s probably worth the risk.
With the limited environment being full of big dumb guys, this is going to let you skip ahead 3 full turns, by which time your fatty-boom-boom’s should have won the game. As before, the removal isn’t great, and a 0/1 body does die to everything, but still, the upside is worth the risk.
[card]Soul of the Harvest[/card]
He’s presumably not going to be the life and soul of any parties while the Titans are around, but he’s sufficiently powerful that I can see decks being built around him. The ‘non-token’ clause is a bit of a shame, but I imagine that he’d be a bit too powerful in a format with [card]Lingering Souls[/card].
In limited, it’s a massive fatty with built in card-advantage. Sure it’s not the best top-deck, but it makes all your subsequent draws a little better, and that’s definitely not something to be underestimated. One of the best limited rares in the set.
Every year, around nationals time, someone tries to reinvent Turbo-fog, and every year, people think it’s the second coming. Every year, those same people are terrified to discover that their decks are a pile. I think this year’s version is called Honey Badger, for some reason, and I’ve played it a couple of times on MODO. I’ve not lost to it yet, but then it’s not exactly a significant presence online.
Anyway, [card]Fog[/card]s are bad, so’s Turbofog, and if you want to mill people, just play UB Control with Jace 3.0 and [card]Nephalia Drownyard[/card].
This guy’s less use than a pack of Girl Guides in a constructed duel.
For the most part, in limited, it’ll come down as a bear, but the times when he can buff something else are sure to be the uses you remember more. He’s great, in that he’s good at different roles in the same deck, and that sort of versatility is what we’re looking for in our limited cards.
[card]Triumph of Ferocity[/card]
I actually think this one is pretty good for Constructed play. If you start with an Elf or a Bird into this on turn 2, you’ll be drawing cards. It’s going to be sweet for aggro to have access to this vs control strategies as a way to keep bringing the beats.
In limited, it’s going to be pretty sweet. Sure, a lot of the creatures are big in this set, both in and out of green, but realistically, once you’ve drawn a card off of this, it’s replaced itself, and if you can maintain drawing cards for more than a turn or two, your engine should ensure your triumph. The fact that it’s not symmetrical, ala [card]Oath of Druids[/card] etc is a big plus, as you’re not unable to drop it on an empty or unfavourable board, which is always good for mana-economy.
Please trust me when I say this isn’t constructed playable. It’ll be really good in limited though, and will likely force its way into most green decks. I’m really a big fan of most of the Soulbond cards, and this is no exception.
In a world without [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card], this wouldn’t see play, but we’re not currently in that world, and the ability is pretty damn sweet to have tool-box based access to. I can definitely see this making an impact in every format where [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card] is widely used. Legacy Maverick might put this to good use, using [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card] to act as a [card]Visara the Dreadful[/card].
In limited, there are enough super-huge creatures that this is going to help break through plenty of stalled boards, and do so pretty damn quickly. This is one of my favourite cards in the set, for sure.
It’s not the Vorst-sized body, to be fair, and it’ll see a fair amount of limited play. Can’t say I’m likely to be clawing for victories in Constructed with him either though. We all know what this is, and I can’t be bothered pretending it’s anything else.
You might be wandering if I have anything good to say about this card. I’ll save you the suspense. No, I don’t. It’s a limited card only, and a low-impact one at that. 40-cards only, please.
In infect decks of old, I’ve used [card]Livewire Lash[/card] to great success. This is similar to that, and I assume it’s going to see play in a similar fashion. I’m not particularly wild about its chances of widespread play, but it’s something to think about if your opponent make a T1 [card]Glistener Elf[/card].
One to sideboard in against most Red decks, or indeed any deck that’s packing damage based removal, but definitely not a main-deck card, outside of the crazy 12-spell decks that never really do too well.
Wood I play this in Constructed? No.
I woodn’t be too happy playing it in limited either. Sorry [card]Wildwood Geist[/card], but you’re not very good, not very good at all.
My best mate got married on Saturday, and we stayed in a hotel on the Friday night beforehand. We actually had a serious conversation about whether there was any way we could go to see the Avengers movie on the Saturday morning. Sadly, there was no way without missing the start of the wedding. While the bride is pretty relaxed about that sort of thing, I’d be surprised if she’d have forgiven the Groom and I for turning up late for the wedding. I was envisaging a scene with us running to the venue, still wearing our 3d glasses, which I think would have been well worth it, but I was over-ruled in the end. Spoilsports.
This guy is sweet. Plays super-nice with [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card], and his regeneration is, as [card]Thrun the Last Troll[/card] has proven, is actually really good at the moment. This will definitely see play.
In 40-card land, he’s a combat trick and a reasonably sized body in one, and that’s a pretty good place to be. I’m a big fan of [card]Wolfir Avenger[/card].
I’ve not really seen much chatter about this guy, which really surprises me. He’s a really, really big body, and pumps a friend as well, making 2 must-deal-with threats. This is on the cusp of constructed playability, especially if you consider guys like [card]Silverblade Paladin[/card], [card]Mirran Crusader[/card] or heaven forbid, [card]Hero of Bladehold[/card] in conjunction with him. He’s not the gold standard of creatures, for sure, but definitely deserves more respect than I’m seeing currently.
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but the removal isn’t really all that good in this set, so this will be better than in more traditional formats.
Grant’s got spirit, yes he do, Grant’s got spirit, how bout yew?
A good mana-sink in limited, but the up-front cost is too much to see any regular constructed play. Casual players love things that double other things, so it’s good that this is only an uncommon, or we’d be looking at a £15 rare.
Top 5 Cards I might play in Constructed
Top 5 Commons
1. [card]Borderland Ranger[/card]
2. [card]Timberland Guide[/card]
3. [card]Joint Assault[/card]
4. [card]Trusted Forcemage[/card]
5. [card]Geist Trappers[/card]
Tune in tomorrow for our final review on Artifacts, Lands and Gold cards. Its going to be sweet!
Till next time, stay classy mtgUK.