Magic 2014 (M14) Set Review – Green by Grant Hislop

Magic 2014 (M14) Set Review – Green by Grant Hislop

Magic 2014 (M14) Set Review -Green by Grant Hislop

Evening all. It’s me again. Bet you missed me. What’s it been, like a day?

Anyway, to like no one’s surprise, I’m back again with the penultimate part of my set review of M14. Next time, we’ll cover Artifacts and Lands in what will be a considerably shorter article than the rest, and we’ll wrap up impressions of the set overall. Bet you can’t wait.

Without further pre-amble, let’s get down to business.

Magic 2014 (M14) Set Review – Green

Advocate of the Beast

Advocate of the BeastWe’ve previously touched on Advocate of the Beast while discussing Red’s Marauding Maulhorn, and now we come to the Beastmaster himself.

If anyone’s in the market for terrible 80’s fantasy movies, I rewatched 1982’s The Beastmaster, and it was absolutely dreadful. Rip Torn was in it, and he was pretty good, but jeez, what a bad film. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore, which is a shame. There’s something truly cathartic about watching a film that bad.

In any case, this is actually a fine card for Limited, which is unusual, due to Core Set quasi combos like Bogbrew Witch and friends typically being pretty bad on their own, but both halves of this one are solid as a stand-alone.

Green comes with a decent array of supplementary Beasts, even with one at common, so this is quite frequently going to be able to do some good. I’m a fan of this card, as it seems to work quite well with what I’d expect a typical Green deck to look like.

Bramblecrush

I have never seen Bramblecrush cast, ever, and I PTQ’d a decent amount during Innistrad Block. I don’t think that’s too likely to change. It’s probably slightly better in Sealed, due to the number of Artifacts in the set, but I don’t expect to be seeing it much now, if at all.

Briarpack Alpha

Again, this is a known quantity, so I won’t bother re-hashing old news. Anyone else as excited as me for the new Alan Partridge movie? Alpha Papa. Can we start calling this Alan please? I know I will be.

Brindle Boar

Brindle Boar M14This sees Modern play in Living End, but that’s about it. It’s fine in Limited, especially in concert with some recursion. Admittedly, we’re short a Gravedigger to make this actually decent, but it’s still a warm body, and a 2/2 for three isn’t exactly the worst return on investment. I like this a lot versus super aggro decks, obviously, but given that the body isn’t terrible either, it’s never going to be abjectly terrible.

Deadly Recluse

These are fine in the slower Green decks, as they’ll always trade up, and deter bad players from attacking you while you amass an army. Solid, unspectacular, but not every Green deck will want them.

Elvish Mystic

Functional reprint of Llanowar Elves, so we know what we’re getting here. I can see this seeing play a lot, in the same fashion as its brethren. With Arbor Elf and Avacyn’s Pilgrim already legal, it’s definitely possible that the Beck // Call deck could be a thing. I’m not totally sold on it though. We’ll see. Again, that sort of deck isn’t really my bag, so I’ll leave it to those better qualified to discuss the applications.

Enlarge

Part Giant Growth, part Provoke, this card covers a lot of bases. I’d like to see this in concert with the previously discussed Deadly Recluse, acting as a hell of an attack. That represents an awful lot of damage, as well as being a reasonable facsimile of a removal spell. While I’d rather have seen Prey Upon make a return, this is one of the better non-creature Green cards.

Fortunately, it’s a Sorcery, so no massive combat blow outs, which is pleasant. Even so, clearing a creature out of the way, while getting a substantial amount of damage through is going to be pretty sweet. Plus, it’s better than the alternative – an Overrun reprint. Shudder.

Fog

This is actually seeing some play now. Fog’s a real deck, and I hate everything.

This just doesn’t make the cut MD in Limited. I’ve sided Fogs in before, and I probably will again, but you’d need to be glacially slow to need it Main Deck (and it’s not mainboard and sidedeck, that’s just wrong, and saying otherwise marks you as a moron), and even then, it’s probably going to be bad.

Garruk, Caller of Beasts

Garruk, Caller of Beasts M14I have absolutely no idea what to say about this. It does a lot, but it seems to me that it costs too much, and is reliant on the other cards in your deck. I can’t imagine ever wanting this over a Domri Rade, for example, and that costs half as much as this. There’s very little pedigree in six drop Planeswalkers, and I don’t foresee this bucking the trend. Obviously insane in Limited, but this strikes me as a considerably worse Garruk than the previous iteration.

For those interested in lists, this is how I’d rate the Garruk’s that have seen print to date:-

1. Garruk Wildspeaker
2. Garruk, Primal Hunter
3. Garruk Relentless
4. Garruk, Caller of Beasts

That’s a lot of Garruks….

Garruk’s Horde

This is a top end Limited card, and it’s a decent one, but it will never see the light of day in a decent sixty card deck. It’s a reprint too, so we should be up to speed. Limited Rare only.

Giant Growth

Core Set staple, and rightly so. This is one of the most iconic Magic cards of all time, and if I had my way, it’d be in every Core Set going forward, and I thought it was a travesty it was left out of M12. Giant Growth’s even seen the odd bit of Constructed play too, though only really in the initial drafts of Naya Blitz. Still though, Giant Growth for Prime Minister.

Giant Spider

The final Core Set survivor lives on. This is the only card to have been printed in every Core Set from Alpha through to M14. It’s just the perfect Core Set card – Evocative, obvious, with strong stats, and fills an important part of Green’s colour pie placing. It’ll hopefully be with us for a long time to come, and I’m hopeful of seeing Giant Spider with an M20 stamp on it.

Gladecover Scout

Bant Hexproof needed more idiots, for sure. I despise this mechanic, as do seemingly a large portion of the player base, and I won’t grant this obnoxious mechanic any credence by discussing it in depth.

Groundshaker Sliver

Groundshaker SliverSeven mana for a 5/5 trampler isn’t the worst. The question is, how likely are we to grow the rest of our Hive to the point where the trample becomes relevant. This obviously gets a lot better the more Predatory Slivers and Battle Slivers you manage to acquire, so value it accordingly. In any case, it’s unlikely that you’ll want more than one of these, as drawing it early is almost as bad as mulliganing, but the card will have a tendency to end the game the turn after it comes down, if not before.

Howl of the Night Pack

This was in M10 previously, and I don’t think it ever made an appearance in Standard. Even now, with Ravnica manabases giving us more Forests, I think it’s safe to assume we won’t be facing down large numbers of wolves any time soon. If you want tokens, there are cheaper alternatives.

This was a solid enough game ender in M10, though not quite as annoying as Overrun though, and it’ll probably be the same this time around too. Obviously the heavier your Green commitment the better, and you’ll want to construct your manabase with this in mind.

Hunt the Weak

This is Limited only quasi-removal, and while it’s decent, it’s never going to make the grade. In Constructed, we can fight creatures for one mana less, and leave a Planeswalker behind in Domri Rade, for example. Nothing overly exciting to see here.

Into the Wilds

This is practically unplayable. With no way to manipulate the top of our decks, it’s reliant on blind luck. The only saving grace would be in mid-range mirrors, where it would do its best to make sure you weren’t drawing lands, and even then, I’d prefer something a little more powerful like Deadbridge Chant, Assemble the Legion or almost any Planeswalker as my stalemate breaker.

Kalonian Hydra

I like this card a decent amount. This might be one of the sleeper cards in the set, though at £15-20 already, it’s probable that the window is closed… I’d like to see this as a curve topper in a Simic deck, making the most of the Evolve mechanic. It’s possible that deck would want a couple of copies of Corpsejack Menace, as a sort of redundancy here. My first draft of such a deck would be something like:-

Kalonian Hydra4 Cloudfin Raptor
4 Corpsejack Menace
4 Experiment One
4 Gyre Sage
4 Kalonian Hydra
4 Lotleth Troll
4 Renegade Krasis
4 Scavenging Ooze
4 Varolz, the Scar Striped

4 Breeding Pool
3 Drowned Catacomb
1 Forest
2 Hinterland Harbor
1 Island
4 Overgrown Tomb
1 Swamp
4 Watery Grave
4 Woodland Cemetery

This is probably terrible, as decks with all 4-ofs and no interaction beyond turning guys sideways frequently are, but this probably isn’t the worst in terms of just raw power. I’d like to see how this plays before dismissing it though.

There’s also the option of going down a Jund route, and using Unleash in place of Evolve. In that case though, there’s even less interaction, but the main drawing point would be Exava, Blood Witch. I’d be inclined to favour BUG over Jund initially, though I’m prepared to be wrong.

Kalonian Tusker

Kalonian TuskerIt’s interesting to see that while the mana is good enough at present to enable three colour aggro decks, there’s also a strong pull towards being heavily based in one colour. Cards like this and Strangleroot Geist seem like a strong incentive to make a heavy commitment to Forests, and while I’m not sure how well a vanilla 3/3 for two stacks up against the format as a whole, I’m sure people will experiment with this.

It’s ahead of the curve for Limited too, as it’s stats compare pretty favourably to just everything else at this point on the curve. I expect to see a decent number of these around the room this weekend.

Lay of the Land

Was Rampant Growth really that powerful? I’d have loved to have seen either that return, or another year for Farseek. It’s a shame that this is what we’re reduced to, but I suppose we’ve got to splash our Doom Blade and Pacifisms using the tools that are available to us, and between this and Shimmering Grotto, I’ve definitely seen formats that have made splashing tougher than this.

If you’re not splashing though, this isn’t worth a card. Anything that cycles a card into a guaranteed land generally isn’t going to be worthwhile, due to the loss of tempo, and the fact that you stay card neutral. Be careful.

Manaweft Sliver

This is an uncommon that only the Sliver deck is likely to want. Its pretty underwhelming stats, means that outside of enabling splashes, like the previous card discussed, it’s going to be used primarily in the Sliver decks, where it’s a way to ramp into your higher end, as well as enabling any off colour Slivers you’ve picked up, like whatever the flying or lifelinking ones are called.

This will be a key piece in any potential Constructed deck too, where we can just pick the best of the bunch, and hope that our Shock + Cavern manabase is enough to see us through.

Megantic Sliver

Megantic Sliver M14This is the big daddy for the Sliver deck, and will probably be the card that encourages the strategy most in a draft. P1P1 Megantic Sliver definitely sets the tone of what to come, and even alone, as a 6/6 for six, it’s fine as a stand –alone card.

Naturalize

As a known quantity, and not being a new addition to Standard, it’s tough to find much new or interesting to say about Naturalize. It’s nice that it’s still here, but there are better options in Standard, so I expect this to be a primarily Limited Disenchant.

Oath of the Ancient Wood

I suppose it doesn’t do nothing by itself, though it is pretty low impact. There isn’t exactly an abundance of playable Green Enchantments that would turn this into a reasonable card, so I expect this is a wasted Rare. At least when we got off colour dual lands, we got some money, but this just seems awful.

Plummet

Limited only kill spell. The skies aren’t as full of Insects and Birds as they used to be, so this isn’t a necessary consideration in 75’s. Solid enough at what it does, as most decks will have SOMETHING to kill, even if it’s not particularly exciting. You’ve got to have a way to deal with Shivan Dragon somehow….

Predatory Sliver

Predatory SliverThis is the flagship Sliver card, and one which means that they might be Constructed viable – though probably in older formats. In Pauper, it’s worth noting that there are now 3 different Slivers that grant +1/+1 for two mana, which is certainly reasonable. Will be interesting to see if Slivers become the Merfolk of Pauper.

Spellbound Games, just up the road from me in Glasgow have been running a semi-regular Pauper series of tournaments, and I’ve been meaning to make an appearance. While it’s far more likely that I’d play Mono-Blue, Slivers might be fun enough to persuade me otherwise.

Primeval Bounty

There sure is a lot of text on this card… It does a lot, but it costs just far too much to be worthwhile. I’d expect this is a Limited bomb though, giving you something extra for everything that you’re doing, which is nice. Stapling a 3/3 onto every creature you cast is pretty nice, and growing them is pretty sweet too.

Ranger’s Guile

While this has Constructed pedigree, it was when Infect was legal. I don’t see this being high impact enough to impress much in current Standard. It’s a fine limited trick, as a way to unexpectedly win combats or to blank a Doom Blade or something. It’s not particularly exciting, but it’s one of the most interactive cards that Green has access to, and as a common, it’s very likely that it’s something that you need to be aware of and play around.

Rootwalla

This is a Limited mana sink, and nothing more. It’s nice to see it again, but the stats just aren’t up to snuff in the Modern world. This is probably one of the better Green commons though, so expect most decks to have one or two, as they’ll be a strong pull to supplement the Garruk, Caller of Beasts etc.

Rumbling Baloth

Savage Summoning4/4 for four. Nothing flashy. Curve filler, and will probably be quite good against that UW decks, who’ll struggle to measure up to Rumbling Baloth for long, and will hopefully generate a two for one at some point down the road. The more Elvish Mystic’s you’ve got, the better this card gets, as obviously the earlier the better for the big, dumb green monsters…

Savage Summoning

This just seems like it’s not worth a card. Guttural Response saw some play, but that was a different time, and we had Cryptic Command to worry about. I just don’t think that this is good enough now, as the Counterspells we do have are pretty bad, and very few decks are running them. Unimpressive card for such a cool name.

Scavenging Ooze

This is probably in the Thragtusk slot as the £15 rare of the set. It’s solid, does a useful service and can present a fast clock, given the right matchup. It’s not the most exciting card, and I think a lot of the pricing is flawed due to price memory of how short supplied this was compared to its power level in Legacy. As is though, it’s very expensive for what amounts to a maindeckable hate bear, especially one that can range from ok to good on the playability scale. I’m interested to see how the format adapts to Scavenging Ooze, and I think that the majority of the value in this set is linked to this, the Hydra and Mutavault.

Sporemound

This isn’t very good. At five mana, we really expect better than something that most likely won’t start working until the following turn, and even then, they payoff is a 1/1 token. No thanks.

Trollhide

TrollhideThis is one of the better Auras, with the Regeneration somewhat stifling the traditional aura vulnerabilities. We’ve had this before, and it was very good. I do not expect that this Limited environment will be any different. Solid 3-5th pick level card. Behave accordingly.

Vastwood Hydra

This is probably Limited only, as it does the worst Arcbound Ravager impression in the world, but it’s going to be a bomb in Limited. Seriously, outside of Pacifism, what actually deals with this? It’s a short list… Solid, P1P1 level rare.

Verdant Haven

Wild Growth was good, as it only cost one mana. Abundant Growth is fine, as you at least draw a card off it. This does neither of those, doesn’t compare favourably to the two aforementioned marginal cards, one of which is already in the format and seeing no play, and just costs far too much. It’s still not worth a card…

Voracious Wurm

For the most part, this is going to just be a Grizzly Bear. That’s fine. Any incidental value is also fine. It’s not overly exciting, though I guess some people might want to live the dream and Thragtusk into Restoration Angel + Voracious Wurm, but at the point when you’re blinking Thragtusks, you’re already pretty far ahead. Outside of a stupidly good Lifelink card, like Baneslayer Angel stupid, this just isn’t making the cut.

Witchstalker

WitchstalkerThis is a fine card. It does what it does pretty well, and probably makes Bant Hexproof a little better. Other than that, it’s not the nutter-butter that so many people seem to think it is. It gets countered, blocked and wrathed, like just about any other creature, and while it might necessitate some deckbuilding considerations, I can’t see it being the powerhouse that some people seem to think it will be.

Magic players are notorious Chicken Little’s, and this card is just another example of the fact that your average Magic player has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.

Windstorm

Remember when Corrosive Gale was a £5 uncommon for like a week? This type of effect is entirely meta dependent, and it’s so far away from there currently, it’s unlikely that this sees any play. The Ravnican skies seem far clearer than those of Innistrad, and once Lingering Souls and co rotate, there’s really very little but stupid ground pounders to concern ourselves with. Right place, wrong time, Windstorm.

Woodborn Behemoth

This is a pretty big uncommon. As a generic 4/4 for five, it’s reasonable, but it’ll break open any late game stalls, and would be a lovely candidate to gain a Trollhide.

It’s a little on the expensive side for Constructed, but this is one of the better Stompy cards for Limited in the set, and should be a strong pull into Green come Pre-release weekend.

Preorder M14

Top 5 Cards I’m interested in for Constructed:-

Scavenging Ooze M141. Scavenging Ooze
2. Kalonian Hydra
3. Kalonian Tusker
4. Garruk, Caller of Beasts
5. Enlarge

Top 5 Limited Commons:-

1. Giant Growth
2. Hunt the Weak
3. Elvish Mystic
4. Rumbling Baloth
5. Predatory Sliver

Stay classy folks, and we’ll round it out tomorrow with Artifacts and Lands in the conclusion.

Grant

 

Magic 2014 (M14) Set Review – Green by Grant Hislop
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