Time to see what green has in store for Core Set 2021! Keep in mind that this review highlights only cards that are likely to see play in Constructed.
When reviewing cards I will be using a grading scale. This is basically the same letter grading system you might find at school.
- A: This grade is rare, because it will only be used on cards that look like they will be heavily played, possibly even dominant in a format, or ban worthy. These cards often go beyond Standard, and see play in older formats as well.
Examples: Teferi, Time Raveler, Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath.
- B: Format staple that’slikely to see plenty of play in multiple different archetypes, both in the sideboard and maindeck.
Examples: Rotting Regisaur , Light Up the Stage.
- C: This could be a card that is only played in single, but popular archetype. It could also be a heavily used sideboard card.
Examples: Cindervines, Absorb.
- D: Cards that see some play from time to time, but aren’t a major part of the top tier archetypes.
Examples: Ajani’s Pridemate, Genesis Ultimatum.
- E: Cards that don’t see play, but people might think are good when they are first printed. These cards have some hype but end up being duds.
Examples: Luminous Broodmoth, Happily Ever After
Azusa, Lost but Seeking
The best home for Azusa is Amulet Titan, because of how important and good it is with bounce lands. Without having bounce lands in your deck it’s really tough to actually get a ton of value off Azusa, because you are emptying your hand out without recouping any cards back. Growth Spiral and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath on the other hand draw you cards while also helping hit extra land drops. Azusa is great with Bolas’s Citadel in play though, so you can keep churning through your deck if you hit a pocket of lands on top of your library.
Cultivate is exactly what you want from a three mana ramp spell. You are getting two lands off it, so in many ways it is better than Explosive Vegetation, though the two cards are comparable on power level. Unfortunately Cultivate does have to contend with Uro right now, but as a Magic card Cultivate is right on power level for what a ramp spell should be. If Uro and Growth Spiral weren’t so dominant right now I would give Cultivate a better grade.
I mean it s a big green fatty that dies to a Heartless Act. The issue is your opponent can play a much less expensive card to get rid of it. The trigger on attacking or blocking is sweet, and provides some nice value. It reminds me a lot of Rankle, Master of Pranks. Against creature decks that don’t have a good answer for Elder Gargaroth, it can just take over the game.
Time to start building a cats deck! As we move outside Standard towards Historic, there are even more cats to choose from. Maybe we see Regal Caracal seeing some play again. I don’t however see this card breaking into a tier one deck. If there is a huge push to print more cats and dogs in future sets though, then Feline Sovereign looks much more appealing. As of now I’m not sure how relevant having protection from dogs is. Getting rid of an opposing artifact or enchantment is definitely pretty sweet if the opponent has one in play.
Fierce Empath can search up a Primeval Titan, which could mean it’s good enough to be used in Valakut or Amulet decks in Modern, that really need Primeval Titan to win. In order for it to break through in Standard you would need to have a six mana creature that is super important to search for, and right now there really isn’t one.
With Fungal Rebirth being an instant it becomes much better, as you can try to time when a creature dies. Notably, it can return lands as well. A deck like Jund Sacrifice could try to play Fungal Rebirth, but three mana to bring a permanent back from the graveyard isn’t a cheap price to pay.
More likely than not when you make a Beast with Garruk your opponent will not have more creatures than you. The ability to punch through damage with an uptick is nice, though it seems rare that you will get Garruk up to seven loyalty, without already dominating the game. This is a planeswalker that doesn’t wow me, but certainly could find a role as a way for green creature decks to play threats that can’t be dealt with by a Wrath of God effect. The fact that it can be found off Garruk’s Harbinger does make it more valuable.
I’m more excited by this one than Garruk, Unleashed. Having protection from black is really a big deal, since a lot of the commonly played removal spells that could deal with this card are black. Black creature decks also happen to be fairly popular. This is also an under costed creature for what you are getting, I was expecting it to be four mana honestly. You definitely need to play some “Garruk cards” alongside this card to maximize its potential.
Heroic Intervention could be a useful sideboard card for Mono Green Aggro as a way to beat a sweeper effect. Giving all your permanents indestructible can be a big blowout in certain spots. Other times you can use Heroic Intervention to save a single creature in reaction to an opponents removal spell. It can even be a combat trick of sorts. The issue is we have seen the card before, and it is somewhat situational. You need things to lineup the right way for it to be good, but the upside is there.
Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse
Jolrael’s home is in a Blue-Green deck. You want to be playing a deck that has cantrips like Uro and Growth Spiral. As if those colors weren’t good enough already, this is another really nice tool to have access to. I’m not sure how relevant the fact the tokens produced are cats will end up being. Blue-Green decks can use this as an alternate win condition in low creature count decks, as a sideboard card the opponent likely won’t have removal for. It’s possible that if you have enough cantrip sort of effects you can make a token on both your turn and the opponents. Maybe it pairs well in other color combinations too, but blue generally has the most ways to draw card.
A manadork that cantrips isn’t something we typically see. At three mana it is competing with Cultivate, but it is an elf. This is very reminiscent of Elvish Visionary, so it’s possible we see it make it into Modern Elf decks. I don’t think we are looking at a card that sees a ton of play, but there could be uses for it.
So, we have a pump spell and removal spell all rolled into one. In green typically the removal you will find is some form of fight effect, and this one is pretty solid. The only unfortunate part about the card is it being a sorcery. Ram Through is a card that sees play in Mono Green Aggro, so that’s the type of slot Primal Might will be competing for.
If a Green-White auras deck wants another protection spell that’s where Ranger’s Guile might find a home. Certainly not a card that is particularly powerful, but if you are desperate for a way to protect a creature from a removal spell this will do.
Return to Nature
Return to Nature does already see some play as a sideboard card. It’s versatile, and deals with Wilderness Reclamation, one of the most played enchantments ever. Sometimes exiling a key card from the opponent’s graveyard will come up to. Unfortunately, I think that Wilt will generally get the nod over Return to Nature. Wilt being able to cycle means you can get a card out of it, even when there is no artifact of enchantment you want to get rid of.
Sanctum of Fruitful Harvest
I have already talked about my skepticism for the shrines alongside previous colors, and the green one looks like one of the weaker ones. It does allow you to potentially play a five color deck, as it can be a form of fixing, though it’s not clear what exactly you are trying to ramp into.
Here is a card that many players have already got a chance to play before. Whether it be Modern or Pioneer, Scavenging Ooze is one of the best green creatures ever printed. It should make an impact on Standard, as being able to exile cards from graveyards disrupts escape, and Witch’s Oven plus Cauldron Familiar. I don’t think it will be broken or anything, but this is a really solid card.
Well a Mono Blue Aggro deck has officially met its worst nightmare. Had Sporeweb Weaver been around when Mono Blue with Curious Obsession was legal in Standard it would have made a big impact. Mono Blue still sees some play in Historic though, so definitely we on the lookout for Sporeweb Weaver there. This is best used as a sideboard card against blue flyer decks, where you want a good blocker.
Thrashing Brontodon is a creature we have recently seen make it into both the maindeck and sideboard of green decks in Standard and Historic. It’s nice to be able to cash it in to deal with an opposing key artifact or enchantment, but even if you don’t it’s still a reasonable size body. As a Mono Red Aggro player I hate seeing Thrashing Brontodon, because this is a way to stop Embercleave. Most green decks should be considering playing this card. However, with Fires of Invention gone, we will see if new annoying artifact and enchantments pop up.
Titanic Growth does currently see play in Mono Green Aggro. You want a way to force through damage and continue attacking. Titanic Growth is nothing flashy, but in a Mono Green deck it makes sense.
Track Down is a sweet card, but I’m not sure how much play it will receive. You will very often be able to draw a card off it, as you can set your top card as a creature or land off the scry. It could make sense in a Black-Green Bolas’s Citadel deck, because of how valuable scrying is with a Bolas’s Citadel on the battlefield. It makes sense in creature combo style decks, as a way to help fix your draws.
This is a niche sideboard card against Mono Red Aggro or a Burn deck. Having a creature that gains you life and effects the battlefield is nice. That being said it won’t get the nod over Knight of Autumn in White-Green decks.
Thanks for reading,