Battle for Zendikar Sealed and Draft Review: Green by Eric Harrell

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Undergrowth Champion Battle for Zendikar Magic the Gathering

Battle for Zendikar Sealed and Draft Review: Green by Eric Harrell

You can find all my articles in this series here.

Good afternoon, night or early morning! I’ve been recently acquired by Manaleak as a writer. I primarily play the Limited & Standard format. Nice to virtually meet each and every one of you.

This series grades each card in BFZ for the limited format and provides several archetypes that can help orient your deck building. I try to keep my puns to a minimum as LSV reigns that dark realm, but I do have quite a bit of references and links to ensure this’ll be one entertaining read. One final thing: never be shy of your opinion – yours matters.

Note: Letter grade & Archetype legends located at bottom of post.

Beastcaller Savant

Beastcaller Savant

Beastcaller Savant (A-) – Theon Greyjoy has come from Winterfell to show us his pet Lotus Cobra.

  • A versatile mana dork that can tap for mana immediately
  • A very good fit into the Ally archetype
    • allowing you to cast other coloured allies
    • or attack, gaining the bonus’ of your Rally creatures
  • Great for Converge archetype
    • allowing you to cast a creature spell with different colours
  • The most buff elf I’ve ever seen.

Blisterpod

Blisterpod

Blisterpod (B-) –  Replaces itself with a 1/1 scion when it dies.

  • Can be used as an early blocker against aggressive decks.
  • Perfect creature to sacrifice in GB sacrifice archetype
  • Comparable to Doomed Traveller

Brood Monitor

Brood Monitor

Brood Monitor (B+) : Ramp and a 6/6 divided by 4 creatures.

  • Strong stats for the cost. Made better by splitting up its P/T, allowing you to attack/block how you wish.
  • Provides three scion tokens to ramp into a 9 CMC spell next turn
  • Devoid Archetype and a great card for any Green deck

Broodhunter Wurm

Broodhunter Wurm

Broodhunter Wurm ( C ) : There always has to be some Vanilla creatures

  • Stats actually match up well against other 4-drops in the format.

Call the Scions

Call the Scions

Call the Scions (B-) : Reminds me of Hive Stirrings, a card from M14

  • Either provides blockers against aggressive decks or ramp
  • Fits perfect into Eldrazi Ramp Archetype or GB sacrifice archetype
  • Works in Devoid Synergy Archetype
  • Good in any green deck
    • Similar to Hive Stirrings, it allowed players to trade effectively and stopped aggressive strategies; however, it is not as strong as Hive Stirrings because these Eldrazi won’t get buffed like the Slivers

Earthen Arms

Earthen Arms

Earthen Arms ( C ) : “Get away from her you b****!” – Ripley, Aliens

  • Sorcery speed
  • Notice that it says “permanent,” lands (awakened or Manlands) and planeswalkers (such as Gideon) are applicable
  • 7 CMC for a 6/6 isn’t bad in a vacuum but best casted for 8CMC so that its untapped (expensive)
  • The only green Awaken effect. Green is the colour that is suppose to be all about lands. Not sure if that is a flavour fail

Eyeless Watcher

Eyeless Watcher

Eyeless Watcher ( C ) :  He’s no Kozilek’s Predator

  • 4 mana for 3/3 divided among 3 creatures.
  • Decent as an early blocker or in the Green-black Sacrifice Archetype

From Beyond

From Beyond

From Beyond (A) : This has the potential to get out of control.

  • Creates a 1/1 on your upkeep. Creating an army over the course of a few turns.
  • Effective ramp to Eldrazi spells.
  • Perfect for GB sacrifice archetype

Giant Mantis

Giant Mantis

Giant Mantis ( C ) : Certainly blocks flyers in the format but doesn’t kill them.

  • If you need it to block fliers, its fine but there are better creatures for green.
  • Defensive filler.

Greenwarden of Murasa

Greenwarden of Murasa

Greenwarden of Murasa (A) : Den Protector’s den mother…on steroids.

  • Get back your removal, your other bombs, or just about anything.
  • Essentially replaces itself.
  • A good body for the cost that you prefer trading

Infuse with the Elements

Infuse with the Elements

Infuse with the Elements (C-) : A finisher for converge decks

  • A low pick for decks other than converge.
  • Requires a converge of at least 3+ colours to be of value

Jaddi Offshoot

Jaddi Offshoot

Jaddi Offshoot (D) : I’m sorry little tree, you’re just bad.

  • Fringe use in life-gain archetype.
  • Just don’t play it otherwise.

Lifespring Druid

Lifespring Druid

Lifespring Druid (C+) : Beastmaster Savant’s slower and isolated cousin.

  • Spells like these are necessary for the converge archetype
  • Great if you are playing 3+ colours.
  • Unconditional ramp (Beastmaster Savant can only cast creature spells)

Murasa Ranger

Murasa Ranger

Murasa Ranger (C-) : Don’t be fooled into thinking he’s an ally, or amazing.

  • Ability is expensive.
  • It’s a conditional mana sink.

Natural Connection

Natural Connection

Natural Connection (B) : Farseek-like effect

  • Notably can’t fetch dual-lands
  • Amazing for triggering landfall at instant speed (effectively a combat trick)
  • Great ramp for all green decks but better for multi-colour decks
    • Especially converge decks.

Nissa’s Renewal

Nissa’s Renewal

Nissa’s Renewal (B-) : Nissa`s summoning the spirit of ferngully

  • Sorcery speed
  • Expensive ramp (don`t play it to ramp unless you have expensive Eldrazi to follow up)
    • Okay for converge decks if you don`t have access to much ramp spells
  • Strong pick for Landfall decks
  • Fits life-gain synergy

Oran-Rief Hydra

Oran-Rief Hydra

Oran-Rief Hydra (A) : You can make as many Eldrazi as you want, but this’ll have more than enough heads to eat every last one.

  • Good stats for cost, trample is always good on a big creature
  • Landfall can make this creature deadly, especially with ramp spells
  • Won’t get chump blocked by Eldrazi Scions

Oran-Rief Invoker

Oran-Rief Invoker

Oran-Rief Invoker (B) : She’s a bear with an expensive pump effect.

  • Fits your curve for any type of green deck and has late game potential.
  • This is a high pick for me, because she’s great at the early game or late game.  Kraul Warrior won me two pre-releases top place.
  • Notably colourless ability (good in Eldrazi ramp decks and converge)

Plated Crusher

Plated Crusher

Plated Crusher (A-) : The jungle’s own Eldrazi.

  • Heavy-green mana cost.
  • Very strong body with trample.
  • Only hexproof in the set, provides its own protection.
    • There is no offensive sac effect in the set

Plummet

Plummet

Plummet (D) : Actually depicting the card’s effect to kill a flying creature.

  • Common reprinted sideboard card against Flier-heavy decks.

Reclaiming Vines

Reclaiming Vines

Reclaiming Vines ( C ) : I think this one sideboard card will come out often, with the strength to remove the Retreat enchantment cycle and land creatures.

  • Versatile sideboard card.
  • Boarded in to destroy pesky Retreats
  • Notably hits lands
    • kills land creatures like Awakened ones or manlands (i.e. Lumbering Falls)

Retreat to Kazandu

Retreat to Kazandu

Retreat to Kazandu (B) : It can be used aggressively or defensively

  • Conditional but premium landfall card.
  • Stabilizes you in converge archetype

Retreat to Kazandu

Retreat to Kazandu

Rot Shambler (B+) : Confusing art but great card.

  • Amazing synergy with Eldrazi scions as they sac for mana and buff this guy up
  • Essential for any sacrifice archetype.
  • Could easily get big and end the game.

Scythe Leopard

Scythe Leopard

Scythe Leopard ( C ) : Tarzan’s Enemy Sabor 2.0 has gotten an upgrade.

  • Decent in the early game but godawful in the late game.
  • Perfect for aggressive curves.
  • Good in a dual-colour deck.

Seek the Wilds

Seek the Wilds

Seek the Wilds (C-) : If only it put the rest into the graveyard…

  • Another variant of these searching cards.
  • Just okay in converge decks to find that second or third source of mana.
  • Nothing too special but it can help your curve when you’re behind
    • 2-drop slot is filled better with a bear.

Snapping Gnarlid

Snapping Gnarlid

Snapping Gnarlid (B) : A strong bear for any deck.

  • Its great for aggressive landfall decks
  • Fits into any curve
  • What manner of creature is that? Remove it and you have a beautiful picture of a tree (for a forest land)

Swell of Growth

Swell of Growth

Swell of Growth (B+) : This card is bonkers. Include it in most green decks.

  • Very strong combat trick.
    • Pump spell and pseudo-ramp
  • Perfect for landfall decks, allowing you to pump up your creature and gain a landfall trigger at instant speed.
    • Seriously, draft as many as you can.
  • Amazing flavour and art. Nissa & Koira rivalry? Sign me up.

Sylvan Scrying

Sylvan Scrying

Sylvan Scrying (B-) : At a cost of some tempo, this’ll smooth out your game.

  • Search out that manland (i.e. Lumbering Falls) or any other utility land
  • Search out that second or third colour you need
    • Great for converge decks as setup for following turns

Tajuru Beastmaster

Tajuru Beastmaster

Tajuru Beastmaster ( C ) : Filler if you need a big drop or rally effect.

  • Acceptable stats but no evasion hurts it rating
  • Rally effect is the best thing about it; may see some play as top of an ally deck curve

Tajuru Stalwart

Tajuru Stalwart

Tajuru Stalwart (B-) : Better hope that rope doesn’t break!

  • This will see play in ally decks but also in non-ally decks running multiple colours.
  • Even dual-colour decks, this fills a 3-drop slot if you need it as a 2/3 ( chord_O_Calls)
    • It could be useful as an early blocker against the many bears in the set, similar to how Shambling Ghoul faired in Magic Origins

Tajuru Warcaller

Tajuru Warcaller

Tajuru Warcaller (B-) : You don’t expect to attack with her – or to survive.

  • Expect to see her played in every Ally deck. +2/2 for your entire team of creatures is no joke
  • Awful stats for cost.
  • Rally effect is one of the best in the set.
  • On the fence about playing in a non-ally deck.
    • Would play in aggressive green decks
    • Would not play in defensive green decks

Territorial Baloth

Territorial Baloth

Territorial Baloth ( C ) : Yea nothing special.

  • Landfall keyword but landfall decks want to be aggressive

Undergrowth Champion

Undergrowth Champion

Undergrowth Champion (A) : Oh how I wish Hardened Scales was in this set. This is a bomb at 3 mana.

  • Strong landfall ability (permanent counters)
  • Can quickly get big. (Wish it had trample)
  • Begs for removal.
  • Has a form of protection.

Unnatural Aggression

Unnatural Aggression

Unnatural Aggression (B-) : Somehow this seems less epic than Epic Confrontation

  • Notably instant speed but doesn`t pump creature.
  • Fits devoid synergy deck.
  • One of greens only removal, good if your deck has big bodies.

Void Attendent

Void Attendent

Void Attendent (C-) : Requires ingest creatures or exile removal to remotely be considered.

  • Tolerable stats but really conditional ability
  • Not even sure you want to use that ability unless its one of the only types of cards like these in your deck
  • Devoid.

Woodland Wanderer

Woodland Wanderer

Woodland Wanderer (A) : This card is amazing is every non-mono coloured deck.

  • High priority pick
  • A solid card for even dual-colour decks (4/4 vigilance, trample) and hugely rewarding for multi-coloured decks.
  • Your bomb for the converge deck.
    • 3 colours gets you a 5/5 vigilance and trample, and 4 colours gives you 6/6!

 

Letter Grade Legend

A+ = Windmill slam pick! Wins you games by playing them.
A  = A “bomb”; very hard to beat.
A-  = Good rare or top tier uncommon
B+  = Top tier common or solid uncommon
B = Playable that always makes cut
B- = Playable that rarely gets cut
C+ = Strong Filler; cut occasionally
C = Filler; cut half the time
C- = Bad filler; cut most of time
D = Sideboard material or really obscure utility
F = Unplayable

Identified archetypes in Green:

BG (Black-green) Sacrifice archetype = Makes use creatures like Blisterpod and the 1/1 eldrazi tokens with strong sacrifice engines and spells to reap powerful effects.

Landfall Archetype = Usually an aggressive deck that is composed of permanents with the Landfall keyword. Usually incorporating green for use of green’s land tutoring and ramp spells.

GW (Green-white) Ally Archetype = Leans on aggressive side, and seeks to put more allies onto field, slowly gaining board advantage through the Rally triggered ability.

Awaken Archetype = A defensive or control type deck that plays defensive creatures until it can take over with large Awaken effect swings, often crippling enemy forces while gaining a large Elemental friend in the process.

Eldrazi Ramp/Control Archetype = Requires 4+ pieces of removal in order to eliminate early threats, ramp up with Eldrazi Scions and play big Eldrazi cards that take over the game.

Devoid Combo = Uses mostly devoid cards that synergize with each other. Think Smothering Abomination with Catacomb Sifter.

Life-gain Archetype = Either an aggressive weenie deck with life-gain to mitigate retaliatory strikes or a methodical deck that prefers to gain incremental advantage through life-gain to triggers effects or even as a win condition.

Swarm Archetype = A hyper-aggressive composed of weenie creatures or Eldrazi Scions, typically 3+ 1-drops and mostly composed of 2-3 drops. Wins with anthem affects that form top of the mana curve (i.e. Inspired Charge is the top of your curve)

Flier Archetype = A traditional archetype that typically has solid ground blockers such as Pillarfield Ox variants and aggressive flying creatures. This archetype seems strong against Eldrazi ramp/control.

Converge Archetype = This archetype is primarily green for mana fixing and has a minimum of 3 colours to get large value out of cards (4 colours is ideal & possible).

You can find all my articles in this series here.

Thanks for reading,

Eric Harrell

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