Return to Ravnica (RTR) Set Review: Green and Selesnya with Grant Hislop
Hello again, and welcome to part five of my Return to Ravnica set review. Previously, we’ve covered White, Blue, Red, Black, Azorius, Izzet, Rakdos and Golgari, and the cards have been really, really impressive. Fingers crossed we can keep the momentum going as we take a look at both the Green and the Selesnya cards today, before we wind things up tomorrow with a small section on the Artifacts and lands of the set.
Without any further preamble, to the cards!
Green and Selesnya
This type of card has seen sideboard play before, and in fact, something similar already exists in Standard in Crushing Vines. I don’t see the marginal life gain edging out additional destructive capabilities any time soon though, so this will likely be a limited only card. Whether or not you main deck this card really depends on how resilient you are to fliers. If you don’t think your green based deck can ever beat a Lyev Skyknight, it’s probably worth running this. The majority of decks that aren’t Rakdos will present some targets for it, so it’s seldom going to be a fully dead card.
Archangel doesn’t see any competitive play, and that actually has evasion. In limited, I’m inclined to think it’s a little too expensive for what it does. While it is a decent sized body, it doesn’t interact favourably with the multitude of flying big, dumb guys, and it’s a little too slow to effectively combat the Azorius decks. Can’t see a way to spin this so it’s good.
Too small and too expensive for constructed, but will enable splashes all day long in limited, and gets a lot better if you’ve drafted the Simic Walls Matter deck, which admittedly, probably isn’t very good. Primarily, you’re going to be using this guy to cast your off-colour removal spells, and the fact that he’s only a common means that you’re likely to be able to pick up a couple, if you’re in the market.
If you’re in the market for fat, there’s likely to be no shortage of options. This is one of the weaker ones. It’s tough to imagine a deck that will want this outside of sealed deck. This is one big moose.
These are interesting stats on a green creature, as they’re typically more resilient than this. This is probably on the cusp of playability, as Blade of the Sixth Pride did, but there are better options at this point in the curve in your typical Green deck. I’d rather mess around with Timberpack Wolf’s than Brushstriders, which have potentially more upside.
In limited, it’s solid. It dies to everything, and will almost always trade down, but it’s aggressively costed enough that that’s not a huge issue. The Vigilance is almost completely irrelevant, as it’s likely to die quite early on, as it’s too big to ignore for long.
Do I really want to pay four mana for a vanilla 3/3 in green? Not really, but I suppose our Selesnya decks need something to populate, and at common, this will be one of the most frequently seen. Hill Giants aren’t exciting, but they do serve a purpose, and the ability to split the cost over two turns isn’t irrelevant. Would be so much better if it were a 1/1 rather than a 0/1, but C’est la vie.
This will be decent in token heavy decks as a mini-Overrun for one guy, and is basically Green’s version of having reach. It’s not brilliant, obviously, as it’s pretty expensive, and nowhere near as good as Overrun, but I’d probably run one if I had the option to.
It’s about the size that we’ve come to expect from our green creatures, though it’s not high impact enough for constructed, unless I’m predicting the metagame very wrongly. The Scavenge mechanic is excellent in limited, and this is a pretty huge bump for quite a reasonable cost. It’s a shame that Birthing Pod will be rotating, as it would have been interesting to experiment with Scavenge in a deck that’s interested in upgrading its creatures, ala typical Pod decks.
I’m initially inclined to write this off a a limited junk rare, but I think it’s probably better than that. It’ quite difficult to imagine beating an active one of these, given board parity, so that makes it a bit more attractive than most do-nothing enchantments. It’s clearly not for constructed, but this is probably the rare I’m most interested to play around with in draft.
It’s a bear with an upside, and that’s seldom bad. The Scavenge mechanic’s really got me excited, and while this is one of the more basic instances of it, it’s pretty good for a common. I can see myself picking these highly in draft, for sure.
It’s a generic Fog for limited, nothing more. We know what we’re getting here, as there’s basically one in every block and core set. It’s not exciting, and very rarely worth a card. There’s nowhere near enough pieces for Turbo Fog currently, as Rites of Flourishing is rotating, and Howling Mine hasn’t been seen since M10. This is a good thing.
This is a really solid card. How good it is in constructed is questionable, especially due to its pretty pathetic stats, but I can see this getting blinked by Restoration Angel in three or four colour decks as a way to help fix the mana. I’m inclined to think that decks that would want this would probably look to Borderland Ranger first, but it’s possible that this sees play alongside that, as costing two is a lot better than costing three when it comes to mana fixing.
Will be a really solid limited card, as I expect the vast majority of decks to be three or more colours, and this will help you turn on your splash. Really interesting card, and opens up a lot of possibilities.
Well, I guess this is why it wasn’t in M13… It’s a fine limited card, as it always has been, and serves as quasi-removal for Green, as well as an element of reach. I have no reason to think it will be any different in this environment.
This isn’t the ooze we were hoping for. I was initially expecting to see Scavenging Ooze in this set, as it seems to play quite nice with the Golgari guild, as well as being a nice hate card for the previous set’s Graveyard theme. Sadly, we didn’t get that. Sad face.
This is reasonably sized for limited, and the ability to mess with combat maths is always welcome. I don’t think it’s brilliant, as it’s a big mana investment, but this type of on-board trick is frequently very difficult to play around effectively.
I love Lure in limited. This one’s got an additional upside as well, in Scavenge. I’m in love with this card, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
While expensive, it’s likely eight power for eight mana across two bodies, which isn’t the worst, I suppose. I think it’s probably a little expensive for the majority of draft decks, but it’ll be playable in Sealed.
Difficult to cast Hill Giant. Groan. Scavenge on the card? YAY! I love the ability to have something to do with my mana in the late game, and this isn’t a bad card in and of itself. Cards like these are never going to be particularly exciting, but if, like me, you love a good, grindy game of Magic, you’ll enjoy playing with these.
Bulk, Junk Rare. There are better, more permanent options for Ramp decks, and it’s unlikely that people will be that desperate to fix their mana.
Shuts off your opponents Sorcery speed removal, presuming you’re able to keep swinging. It’s an interesting effect, but the body it’s attached to is just too small to warrant serious consideration in Constructed and Limited.
I hate Hexproof as a mechanic. It’s completely counter to Wizards stated purposes for Magic of interactive creature-based games. It’s not as obnoxious as say an Invisible Stalker carrying a Runechanter’s Pike, or a Sigarda, Host of Herons when you’re playing Liliana of the Veil and Tribute to Hunger as your removal of choice, but I find the mechanic in general pretty odious. This is fine, as it’s obviously bad, and no one will play it, but still, I wish it’d go away.
This is actually fine for limited, if a little expensive. If you can slap an Aura or give him some equipment, he’ll be very powerful. It’s a shame he’s completely lacking any natural evasion, even Trample, but he’s still solid enough to see play.
This exists almost entirely to create surprise blockers, and it’s pretty good at that. It’s higher impact than many of the variants of this that we’ve seen over the years, but it’s still pretty low impact. I’d far rather run Giant Growth that this, but you’ve got to take what you can get sometimes.
The fact that this just fixes rather than accelerates means that this is limited only. It’s interesting in that it enables multiple splashes, which is likely to be more relevant in Sealed than Draft. It’s a solid roleplayer, if that’s the effect you’re seeking.
I suppose it’s a decent Populate target. This scales really well, as you can have it be relevant at almost every point of the game. I don’t expect it to be particularly good, but as I’ve said before, it’s an excellent card to sink your mana if you draw it in the late game, and an awful lot of limited games end based on who’s been able to do the most with their mana.
The croc has a reasonably aggressively costed body. I’m not sure how relevant sinking mana into it for Lifelink is likely to be, but my initial thoughts would be ‘not very’. It’ll be fine to play this in non-Black Green decks, as it’s not an awful body.
This is Giant Spider in all but name. It’s always a solid limited card, and I don’t expect it’ll be less good here. There are a decent amount of fliers in the format, and very few of them can attack profitably through a Giant Spider.
This is in no way worth a card. I think, off the top of my head, this is the worst card in the set.
If you’ve got a way to make this bigger, and a decent sized token army, this would be ok. There are better Anthem effects in Constructed, but it won’t be too shabby in limited. Given that you’re already in Green, your creatures are likely to be bigger than your opponent’s anyway, and the prospect of making them even bigger is pretty appealing.
Definitely one for the Selesnya decks, as the prospect of combining it with the token producers there is certainly very tempting.
This isn’t the worst creature to Sneak Attack, I suppose. It’s way too expensive for the newer formats, and probably a little too expensive for limited too. It’s difficult to imagine casting this and losing though, as you’ll typically force your opponent into at least four-for-oneing themselves, and then having to deal with the three 5/5’s, which is pretty hard to see happening.
Exciting, big, dumb Mythic. I really can’t see it wurming it’s way into many decks though, due to its prohibitive mana cost.
That concludes our mono-coloured portion of the content. Moving on to the Selesnya part of the review:-
It’s kind of Broodmate Dragon, and it’s the same colour as Restoration Angel. The prospect of blinking this makes me feel pretty good, though by the time you’re untapping with six-drops, you should really have a decent hold on the game anyway. I can see some sort of Naya or Junk coloured decks making use of this interaction, presumably using Thragtusk as well, which is also pretty inappropriate.
This is the Watchwolf of the set. Gives something to populate, and comes with all the built in vulnerabilities of token creatures. I think this is constructed playable, as it’s just too aggressively costed not to. Especially in smaller formats, like Block constructed. I anticipate this being a pretty common calling card of the GW mages over the next couple of years.
This creature seems unreal to me. A three mana 3/3 might not seem particularly impressive, but the incidental life gain is excellent. Previously, I’ve played cards like Peace Strider in my sideboard, but this is one that’s actually worthy of maindeck consideration, in both aggressive and midrange decks in the colours. Again, it’s something nice for Restoration to blink, and does so on curve.
Bomb rare for limited token decks. I can’t imagine passing this for anything in P1P1.
It’s a blessing it’s as expensive as it is, or it’d be popping up in constructed far more often.
I think this is a little on the expensive side for limited, though the fact that you’re putting counters on the creatures, rather than just a temporary boost means it’s probably fine. I doubt it’s a high pick common, typically, so you should be able to get a couple if you’re in the market for some more creature pumps.
Double Call of the Conclave, for triple the cost. Not constructed playable, for sure, but it’s a realistic curve topper in limited, especially if you’ve been lucky enough to open Armada Wurm as well. I love living in Magical Chrismas Land.
A lot of people I’ve seen seem really high on this, but I don’t see it. An effectively vanilla 4/4 for three shouldn’t be getting people this worked up. It’s a good card, I suppose of Liliana of the Veil is seeing widespread play, or Standard devolves into a contest to see who can the the biggest Rakdos Return off. The fact that it’s always going to resolve is nice, but as I’ve previously stated, I don’t expect countermagic to be particularly prevalent in the opening days of the format, and this dies to a Terminus or Supreme Verdict just fine.
It’s a decent brick wall for aggro decks, but only being four toughness means it dies to Mizzium Mortars, which I’m expecting to be pretty widely adopted as a way to kill creatures. All these factors combined make me pretty uneasy about all the hype surrounding this. What do you think? Am I missing something?
As with many of the charm cycle, I can see myself using each of these abilities over the course of a constructed game of Magic, which means it’ll almost certainly see play. Removal, Reach and Token generation are all excellent tools to have access to, and it’s possible that this ends up seeing play in older formats too.
The awkward mana cost on Trostani is a shame, as it’s likely that decks that want this effect also want Gavony Township, which obviously makes this very difficult to cast in a timely fashion. I’m most excited to curve this into a Wolfir Silverheart, and gain eight life. It’s difficult to see an aggro deck being able to punch through that life bump, plus the two giants on the ground.
It’s really interesting to have access to populate on a stick, but I’m incline to think that the mana cost will end up being a little prohibitive to really make it work. This is the creature that really, really wishes Green Sun’s Zenith wasn’t rotating along with the rest of Scars Block.
Limited mana sink, and a good one at that. I love having things to do with my mana, and both of these abilities are excellent. Once you’ve made the first centaur, you’re going to be able to add two more each turn, which shouldn’t take too long to overwhelm your opponent. Probably the best of the guildmages for limited, as he takes over the game without investing any more cards, which the other four just don’t do.
Goes from solid to excellent, depending on your deck. I’d like to have seen Trample on this, as I reckon for the most part, this will just be The Abyss, but it’s a solid, cheap fatty that can cause your opponent to fall really far behind if he connects even once.
People are heralding this as the death of Snapcaster Mage. Rumours of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. I’ve been pretty militant in my love of Snapcaster Mage over the last year, and I can’t see this creature changing that. It’s one of the more fragile creatures I’ve seen that people are considering playing, and it’s really pretty low impact after turn one. I really don’t see this as seeing much play, especially since it’s not got a relevant creature type for any pumps or synergy with Champion of the Parish.
It doesn’t do anything by itself, but has a lot of synergy with a lot of what I’d perceive GW decks to look like in draft. I’ll need to play around with it to gauge how good it actually is though.
Definitely not good enough for Constructed, there are much better cards that offer a similar effect.
MD limited card, SB card for Constructed. It plays a role, and offers additional versatility as well. One of the better Disenchant effects in recent memory, though these things seldom get people’s juices flowing.
Top 5 Cards I want to play in Constructed:-
Top 5 Limited Commons
1. Centaur Healer
2. Gatekeeper Vine
3. Towering Indrik
4. Korozda Monitor
5. Rubbleback Rhino
Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing.