Zendikar Rising Limited Set Review – Green

Zendikar Rising Limited Set Review Green

Welcome back! This is the fifth review of Zendikar Rising so far, with every main colour finished now. We’re ending tomorrow, the 17th, with Multicolour, Artifacts, and Lands (which is all one final article). After the whole review is out (also tomorrow!), we’ll be compiling a full tier list for your viewing pleasure, which will be updated regularly over the coming months – check out our Core Set 2021Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, and Theros: Beyond Death Tier Lists, which link to their attached reviews and written updates, for an illustration of what’s to come!

Read the introduction above for analysis of Zendikar Rising’s mechanics, the aims of our review, and some points of clarification!

Who are we?

Compulsion

I’ve played Magic off and on for the last 20 years. I just checked to confirm that and it blew my mind a little bit. I started with 6th edition and began playing ‘competitively’ with Odyssey. My handle is actually a really good Limited card from the Odyssey block. Anyway, Magic Arena got me back into the game, and I have been drafting infinitely since closed beta and have finished top 1000 Mythic nearly every ranked season.

Check out all my articles here or follow me on Twitch to catch my streams!

Drifter

I’ve been enthralled by Limited ever since I began playing in New Phyrexia. With a particular fondness for flashback and cube drafts, I’ve drafted more sets than I can count on every platform through wildly different eras. On Arena I draft infinitely, having profited 30k or so gems from it at this point, and have made top 100 mythic many times. Self-reflection and forming good habits are paramount to Limited improvement, and those themes feature in many of my articles and in each session of the Limited coaching service I provide; consider booking a session today if you’d like feedback tailored to you that you can really put into practice!

Check out all my articles here or follow me on Twitter for regular updates!

Legend

Adventure Awaits

Adventure Awaits

Compulsion: D-

Everyone is waiting around in the picture for this to resolve so we can finally venture on to playing cards that actually affect the board. At least you still get a card if you manage to miss finding a creature?

Drifter: D

It does matter a decent amount that this card can’t miss, especially in decks which don’t have that high a creature count but have some especially good ones. You can also just choose not to put the card in your hand if the creature you would get is low impact, or if you’re mana screwed. All that being said, it’s still a really mediocre effect for 2 mana.

Ancient Greenwarden

Ancient Greenwarden

Compulsion: A-

Ancient Greenwarden is an incredible blocker and doubling Landfall provides plenty of potential upside. My rating is a little muted because sometimes this is only a 5/7 Reach for 6, but I would still first pick Ancient Greenwarden and expect it to be a bomb in a Landfall deck.

Drifter: B

This double landfall ability is very strong, and I do think it’ll be get some extra value in a deck dedicated to that strategy. That being said, a lot of Landfall effects aren’t at their best in the really late game, even if doubled, and this doesn’t have an effect until your 7th land drop. I see it as mostly a 6 mana 5/7 Reach with some minor upside, which is a solid card but it doesn’t approach bomb levels.

Ashaya, Soul of the Wild

Ashaya, Soul of the Wild

Compulsion: A+

Ashaya is going to be pushing 10/10 or more whenever it hits the battlefield. I also like that you can get a mana boost from your creatures to cast expensive Kicker spells. This is the type of card that really lives up to its Mythic Rare status in Limited.

Drifter: A+

Ashaya is gigantic and gives you a bunch of extra mana, but one hidden aspect of it is that all of your other creatures will trigger Landfall when played! That’s just total nuts, and more than enough to cement this as a bomb in my eyes. The play pattern of Ashaya -> 3 drop on turn 5 is going to be devastating by itself, and they’ll often be behind even if they immediately have removal.

Bala Ged Recovery

Compulsion: B

Recollect was never really a playable card, but it can situationally make a really big impact on the game so I am excited to have access to it in my deck without any risk. This is one to consider a Land but I bet it will be cast as Bala Ged Recovery quite often.

Drifter: B-

This is one phenomenal spell-land – it represents the best card in your graveyard for the given situation at any point. It’s slow and doesn’t impact the board but being able to play it as a land completely mitigates that weakness – you get to choose when you need it and don’t. I don’t quite have it at B because there will be times in the mid and late game where you don’t have the time to use it and also don’t want a land, but the upside here is literally to take over the late game so it’s certainly a high B-.

I would consider counting it as a spell if I had some other spell-lands/some kicker cards already, since it does take a lot of mana to eke immediate value out of the spell half.

Broken Wings

Broken Wings

Compulsion: D-

You can’t just merge two terrible spells like Naturalize and Plummet into one card and expect people to play it. Your sideboard is probably drooling though.

Drifter: D

This is a fantastic sideboard card, but I actually think you can maindeck the first copy a reasonable amount in this format over other filler nonsense. There are a lot of high value artifacts and most White and Blue decks have high-value fliers, so I expect it to hit enough in a lot of games. If you have looting, that’s a good reason to increase the grade since that will diminish the amount it’s stuck dead in your hand too.

Canopy Baloth

Canopy Baloth

Compulsion: B

This card is pretty insane. Attacking as a 6/5 or possibly more since you are in Green is a tremendous value and I am sure this will be a sought after common.

Drifter: B-

This attacks as a 6/5 for 4 mana, and if you do get to get two lands into play at any point then you’re going to absolutely destroy your opponent… instant speed landfall will be a nightmare to play against here. You do want to be beating down, but this card doesn’t block that badly either, and even slower decks will want it because it kills so rapidly. If you have a few landfall cards of this caliber, that’s a great reason to consider playing another land.

Cragplate Baloth

Cragplate Baloth

Compulsion: A

7 mana is a lot but Cragplate Baloth is sure to make a huge impact if you can get there. It can only really be killed in combat and if you happen to cast it for 10 mana well, it’ll be a 10/10 how fitting.

Drifter: C

I don’t think this card is all that great, mainly because ramping into something that can be double blocked or chumped so easily isn’t all that exciting. It’s not that much pressure to put on the board for 7 mana, and the kicker ability puts it into ludicrously expensive territory. At best, I see it as not much better than Spined Megalodon, and this is a format with kicker cards and a ton of ways to use your mana well in the late game.

Dauntless Survivor

Dauntless Survivor

Compulsion: C-

This is a glorified bear unless you can benefit greatly from +1/+1 counters. Even in that archetype I see Dauntless Survivor barely making the cut for a lot of decks.

Drifter: C

This is a solid roleplayer, since you have the option of putting the counter on whatever you want, and usually whatever enables the best attacks. Green and Black have plenty of counter synergies in this format, having the creature around can give you some nice sacrifice fodder, and it pairs well with evasive units (and especially Ghastly Gloomhunter). The ceiling on this card is never that high, but some decks will really want it.

Gnarlid Colony

Gnarlid Colony

Compulsion: C

I like this one quite a bit more than Dauntless Survivor and am borderline C+ on it. Trample is actually a pretty important ability to have on creatures that you are buffing with counters. So even if you cast this as a bear you are likely going to get some value out of it later. And even though the Kicker cost isn’t a good rate, having further ability to scale is the mark of a good 2-drop.

Drifter: C+

This is another card that’s fantastic in its flexibility, and it’s the exact kind of 2 drop you want – one which scales well into the late game. It enables your kicker synergies and giving your other stuff Trample will certainly come up as well.

Inscription of Abundance

Inscription of Abundance

Compulsion: A

Wow, this is a fantastic card. I could see casting it early to win combat with a creature and retain the +1/+1 counters. If you can hold off until 5 mana though, the removal and lifegain options will make a significant impact. Be careful not to get blown out by an opponent that can remove the creature you are targeting with this inscription. However, at Instant speed this card is often going to generate the blowout. You could feasibly create a 3-for-1 where you disrupt a spell an opponent has cast by fighting and killing a creature and then surprise winning a combat with the two counters. That is an idealized scenario but there will be plenty of opportunities to get at least a 2-for-1 from this card.

Drifter: A

Okay, this is by far the best of the cycle, because modes 1 and 3 are totally busted in Limited, and it’s cheap to kick and instant speed, unlike the other two. Two counters on something is a great trick that permanently makes that creature a threat, and you will often get to kill another creature in the process (often with a completely different creature not even in combat) and gain a bunch of free life, all on 5 mana. If you need to, you can use any of the 2 mana modes for some great tempo, since modes 1 and 3 are ridiculously efficient for that cost. This card combines great flexibility with an extremely high and easy to reach ceiling. I don’t foresee ever passing this card.

Iridescent Hornbeetle

Iridescent Hornbeetle

Compulsion: C

While it is a 1/1 for each +1/+1 counter, you would need to have a lot of sources of those to justify including this in your deck. You only need two triggers to make it worthwhile, but spending 5 mana on a 3/4 is inviting trouble if you are at all behind on the board.

Drifter: C+

This is an incredible payoff for the counters archetype, and I think Green has enough enablers to make it potentially very good. When you mix Black or White’s counters in as well, I’m happy to take it early and try to make it work. It’s really bad if you don’t get there, so there’s some inherent risk involved, but the payoff is colossal and many decks will be able to make good use of it.

Joraga Visionary

Joraga Visionary

Compulsion: B

This is right up there with Canopy Baloth for best Green common. I am digging these freebie Visionary creatures. Llanowar Visionary was awesome in M21 despite Green being pretty bad in spite of it. Green is looking a lot better in ZNR though, and Joraga Visionary is definitely one of the reasons for that.

Drifter: B-

Oh good, a ridiculously easy 2 for 1, and it enables your party synergies. This statline is solid for both attacking and blocking, and Green’s 4 drops are nutty enough that I’ll be squeezing too much stuff into that point of the curve a lot this set. It’s a high B-, and could go up to B if this set is slow enough.

Kazandu Mammoth

Compulsion: A+

This is Kazandu Mammoth all the way. It is nice to have the Land option but it’ll be sad if you need to use it. 3 mana 3/3’s (Elephants, fittingly) are usually pretty good in Limited and this one attacks as a 5/5 most of the time (and can potentially get even bigger). This will be mighty intimidating to go up against when it lands on turn 3.

Drifter: A-

This card is totally absurd, as a fantastic 3 drop that would be a high B even if it wasn’t also a land. I would never count this as anything but a spell – it is a failcase to play it as a land, but a failcase you’ll be overjoyed to have when you’re mana screwed or don’t have enough green mana to cast it.

Kazandu Nectarpot

Kazandu Nectarpot

Compulsion: C-

If you are running a more defensive strategy this gets the job done, but spending a card on Kazandu Nectarpot is going to put you pretty behind against decks that can create more card advantage than yours. I would love to have this in my sideboard against Aggro decks but main decking it will probably be a coin flip.

Drifter: C-

I quite like this in my durdly slow decks with plenty of removal and lifegain synergy decks, but it’s really bad in every other deck. Its body is pretty mediocre and it doesn’t actually block aggressive creatures all that well for the most part, since they’ll have buffs and other ways to get those through. This is a great way to repeatedly enable cards like Attended Healer and Marauding Blight-Priest, so I do think it’s better in this format than most. Not having a party type also shrinks the number of decks that can afford to have this.

Kazandu Stomper

Kazandu Stomper

Compulsion: C

The land ability is pure upside, as it is optional. 6 mana for a 6/5 Trample isn’t amazing, but you could do worse. Ultimately the floor on this is reasonable and its value scales with how much Landfall you have.

Drifter: C-

This is a lot of value with spell-lands and in Landfall decks, on a very threatening body. Still, the existence of Kicker and spell-lands provides some natural competition for 6 drops; I think they are at their worst in this format, and many decks will already have the late game well-covered without having to devote rigid slots to it.

Khalni Ambush

Compulsion: B+

Green is looking like a good color to run 18 lands with due to its more expensive creatures and access to Landfall. You could count this as one of them, but the possibility of turning a Forest into removal has me excited.

Drifter: B

This is a really strong effect to pair with a land, since it’s situational but very high impact, which means it’s fantastic when you want it and a land when you don’t. I suspect either this or Blackbloom Rogue will be the best of the common and uncommon spell-lands, and it’s close between them. If you have a lot of beefy creatures, consider counting it as a spell, but it should mostly still be a land.

Lotus Cobra

Lotus Cobra

Compulsion: B+

Ooh, another throwback to the original Zendikar. Lotus Cobra is mostly a mana dork, but you don’t need to tap it, and adding mana of any color is helpful since there are quite a few double-costed spells in this format. I like the card a lot and would reach on it if I was already in Green, but wouldn’t necessarily force Green just because I saw it early.

Drifter: B-

This is fantastic fixing, can generate more than 1 mana per turn in rare scenarios, and ramps you to 4 without effort. One underrated aspect is that it doesn’t tap to do any of this – you can attack and block with it to your heart’s content, and it will provide meaningful pressure and double block bigger things in the late game. It’s a bit worse than a regular mana dork when you’re missing land drops, and you shouldn’t trim a land for this, but this is a format with a ton of good ways to use your mana late anyway.

Might of Murasa

Might of Murasa

Compulsion: D

Both modes cost essentially twice as much as what the ‘ordinary’ combat tricks cost. A spell like this goes to show that providing options doesn’t always make a card good.

Drifter: D+

This is a pretty decent trick, because +5/+5 can matter a lot in the late game and when you’re trying to push through lethal, and 2 mana for +3/+3 isn’t great but it’s not terrible either. As with all tricks, you really want to be beating down because tricks are way worse on the defence, when your opponent has all their mana up ready to respond.

Murasa Brute

Murasa Brute

Compulsion: C

As I stated earlier on Kazandu Mammoth, elephants tend to be pretty good in Limited and this format looks inviting 3/3’s. There are lots of 1/3 and 2/3 creatures running around and Murasa Brute is a fine way to pressure decks that are running them. It is also a Warrior which could be relevant for some decks as well.

Drifter: C-

Back in the old days, a 3 mana 3/3 used to be a premium rate in Limited, but those days are long gone. The power level has soared higher and higher in recent sets and having vanilla creatures has gotten worse and worse!. This is the worst colour for it too as Green tends to have the best creatures anyway – imagine playing against Joraga Visionary with this in the Green mirror! The Warrior tag is nice, but this is still a card I’ll be cutting a lot.

Murasa Sproutling

Murasa Sproutling

Compulsion: B

This reminds me of creatures like Shipwreck Dowser or Salvager of Secrets, which tend to be very good especially in slower formats. Murasa Sproutling provides a nice hedge against faster decks though as it can assume the role of an elephant in a pinch.

Drifter: B

3 mana 3/3 is a fine statline, and I think every deck will have access to some solid kicker cards since there are plenty of good ones in every colour; the best kicker card in your graveyard will often be significantly better than drawing a card. You mostly want to kick it, but when you keep a slow draw or have a lot of late game, you’ll be happy to run this out as a 3 drop.

Nissa’s Zendikon

znr-197-nissas-zendikon

Compulsion: C

Nissa’s Zendikon is kind of a strange card, but it seems playable. It is kind of like a 4/4 Haste for 5 since you need one land untapped to attack the turn you play it. It also has Reach but the same thing applies if you want to block with it right away. Land Auras tend to be pretty bad but I like that you don’t get 2-for-1’d with it and you even get potentially an extra Landfall trigger out of it. I can’t say I will be seeking this card out but I also don’t expect to cut it the bulk of the time either.

Drifter: D+

I don’t like this card – it costs you a land drop since you’re down a mana every time it attacks or you leave it up to block, it can even mana screw you in some spots, and it can’t attack or block until you have 5 mana since the land doesn’t untap. Enchantment and bounce removal will still 2 for 1 you here. Spell-lands are great because of their flexibility – recurring them with this really isn’t that exciting since their spell halves often aren’t worth a full card. Better in heavy landfall decks or if you have some especially good spell-lands, but mediocre filler in most.

Oran-Rief Ooze

Oran-Rief Ooze

Compulsion: A

Even by itself it attacks as a 4/4 right away, and if you do have some +1/+1 counter synergy there is a lot of potential value here. This will be happily played in any Green deck and if drafted early enough will give you a serious incentive to incorporate some +1/+1 counters.

Drifter: B+

You often want to put the counter on itself, so that it attacks the best it can, because you get an absurd advantage every time it does. When you have synergy with this, which Green has plenty of in the set, it has the potential to produce obscene and game-winning value on the very first attack. It doesn’t scale quite as well into the late game, but even suicide attacking it while putting a counter on your flier will be great at that point.

Rabid Bite

Rabid Bite

Compulsion: B-

Rabid Bite is about as good of a removal spell you will find at common in Green. The downside remains needing to have a sufficiently sized creature in play, but it is still way better than fight spells since it can be used in way more situations. Unless you are in BG or GR, taking Rabid Bite fairly early in drafts is a good idea since you will need all the removal you can get in the other two archetypes.

Drifter: B-

Rabid Bite is a B- in basically every set, as its cheap efficient removal you can take early, and the creature not dealing damage back makes a colossal difference. Green decks will need it, conditionality and all.

Reclaim the Wastes

Reclaim the Wastes

Compulsion: D

Even in Landfall decks I am really not liking this one. 4 mana to retrieve two lands to your hand just isn’t good enough. Simply playing a land over this is almost always going to be better.

Drifter: D+

This is mostly just a Traveler’s Amulet type effect which fixes your mana, but at a much better rate and has some use late game. In a format with landfall and kicker cards, your lands have a lot more longevity, so I’m reasonably happy to play this card in plenty of decks, especially those with splashes. That being said, it’s not something you prioritise until you have the splashes, you do need to be running a lot of Green sources to ensure it can tutor for you in the early game, and spell-lands entering tapped on turn 1 does hurt your potential to cast it then a bit. I consider it a pretty high D+ though.

Roiling Regrowth

Roiling Regrowth

Compulsion: B-

Now this is a Ramp spell that is worthwhile, assuming you have some decent Landfall payoffs in your deck. Playing a land and then doing this triggers those Landfall cards three times while still going up one land (neutral card advantage) is pretty insane depending on how good those payoffs are. It is even at Instant speed which allows for some Landfall shenanigans on your opponents’ turn. I am liking this one quite a bit.

Drifter: C

This is okay fixing and ramp – while I’ll be a bit disappointed to merely use this card to get to 5 mana, it’s fine, if a bit expensive at 3 mana. The real use for it though is to be absolute nuts in any deck with impactful Landfall cards, as it gives you two triggers at instant speed. With Canopy Baloth, that’s a trick that gives +4/+4 and doesn’t cost you a card, and even with Makindi Ox, you get to tap down two creatures at instant speed!

This is a card where grades fall apart a bit, since it is really good when you’re the deck that wants it, but I’m not sold on it being a high pick. It’s not that great in decks without plenty of impactful Landfall triggers, so I won’t be taking it that highly until I know I’m there. For example, Green only has two commons where I would consider it worthwhile, in Territorial Scythecat and the Baloth, and I would want several before I considered it better than filler. Many of your decks would rather just be playing beatdown creatures or payoffs for their party synergies.

Scale the Heights

znr-202-scale-the-heights

Compulsion: C+

This does a lot of stuff without costing you a card, to the point where it actually looks really good. None of the three effects are super impactful, but altogether on a cantrip spell I would be happy to play a couple of these in any Green deck. Scale the Heights furthers +1/+1/lifegain synergy, Ramps you and triggers an extra Landfall all at once. What a good cantrip!

Drifter: C-

This is decent value to attach to your 3 mana Explore, and it fills a lot of roles – it enables your counters, lifegain, and landfall synergies all at once. That being said, it still strikes me as a pretty medium way to use your turn 3, and the party/synergy decks will often rather be playing creatures or payoffs. It also has some failcases, such as when you don’t have enough lands – if it doesn’t ramp you, you’re getting a pretty medium rate. There’s also the fact that they can remove the creature you put the counter on in response, if you do choose a creature, and the spell will be completely countered, so it can be pretty risky to choose to put a counter on things on some boards.

Ultimately, it does lot of things but none of them very well, and each effect is good at different times and on different boards. A single more focused card, tailored for your deck, will often be better.

Scute Swarm

Scute Swarm

Compulsion: A+

There is quite a bit of investment here, but the 1/1’s can help chump and keep you alive until you get to six lands and start going to town doubling Scute Swarm. By your 10th land you could have as many as 32 of these on the board, and with cards like Roiling Regrowth things could get out of hand even quicker. At one toughness there are numerous ways to deal with this before it is allowed to copy itself, but Scute Swarm will almost always win the game if it is allowed to sit around unchecked. It will usually be a good idea to slow play this 6th turn and create a copy right away, making it significantly harder for your opponent to shut down.

Drifter: A-

This card is great on turn 4 and game-winning on turn 6 – every land you draw after it makes it more and more unbeatable, and even a couple of copies will absolutely run away with the game if given enough time. The ramp spells that give you double landfall are absolutely amazing with this. Still, I think it has a few weaknesses – a) it’s a really low tempo card, b) you need to keep having lands to feed it after turn 6, and several of them before it wins you the game, and c) it’s bad against fliers and evasive units. The card is amazing and you probably shouldn’t pass it very often nonetheless.

Skyclave Pick-Axe

Skyclave Pick-Axe

Compulsion: C+

This looks like an Aggro tool but its reliance on lands presents a slight contradiction. It feels a lot like Rosethorn Halberd to me, but there is some upside potential in decks with many Landfall enablers. Players are going to really have to fight the instinct to drop a land first thing on their turn, as cards like this will bite you if you accidently play your land before re-equipping, for example.

Drifter: D+

This is a strong card when you’re curving out, but it gets worse and worse as the game goes on, and at some point it’ll stop doing anything at all. I don’t like the idea of this card doing nothing at all if I’m not willing to continually pump 3 mana into it in the early turns, the only turns in which it does anything. The first equip being free is a big mitigating factor, but there’s enough efficient removal to really harm its strength. This can be a decent card in some Green aggressive decks, but even those would often rather just be playing creatures rather than skipping a turn against removal spells – Green creatures are over-statted anyway, so why play more into your weaknesses? I could see it in Gruul with some equipment matters cards, but I think it’ll be a bad card in most decks.

Adventuring Gear was a great card in Zendikar Limited, but it equipped for 1 mana (so you could play creatures alongside it) in a format full of evasive creatures – the two are night and day.

Springmantle Cleric

Springmantle Cleric

Compulsion: C+

You want three colors for Springmantle Cleric to be worthwhile, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be in a 3-color deck as anything that provides a different color mana will do. I could see playing a single land of another color if I had 1-2 of these and a couple ways to fetch lands in my deck to make it even more likely this comes in as at least a 5/6. Keep in mind there are also benefits for having +1/+1 counters, so there is additional upside here as well.

Drifter: D+

This baseline of vanilla 4/5 for 5 is a pretty mediocre one unless you have counter synergies or need more Clerics. While this gets a lot better if you are splashing, I don’t think it gets that much better or becomes a truly fantastic payoff even in those decks – Green has plenty of big creatures this set, and this one won’t be all that over-statted unless you’re going wild with 4 or 5 colours, which means you’re playing an inconsistent mana base with a bunch of medium ramp, and then this is your payoff.

I think most decks will be able to do better in a format full of great 5 drops, not even touching the kicker cards and spell-lands that can act as 5 drops while being much more flexible.

Strength of Solidarity

Strength of Solidarity

Compulsion: D

+1/+1 counters stick around at least, but at Sorcery speed this is a lot like playing a +2/+2 Aura. I suppose if there is a deck with a really good Party theme and +1/+1 counter synergy, maybe this could see play, but generally this is bad filler.

Drifter: D

This is a lot like an aura that usually gives +2/+2, since it’s not instant speed. At the point where you’re getting +3/+3, you’re getting a reasonable rate, especially if you can throw some counter synergies in there, but I think it’s a really bad playable in the average deck and would need to already be in that kind of strategy. Even then, getting 2 for 1ed against Black will often still be rough…

Swarm Shambler

Swarm Shambler

Compulsion: B

I am not a big fan of 1 mana 1/1’s in Limited, but I suppose this one scales up when you have mana to spare and replaces itself when it dies. Tapping and paying for counters is pretty rough though, so I don’t expect Swarm Shambler to be all that impactful. It is still efficient though and worth a slot in any Green deck.

Drifter: B-

This has a lot of good synergy in the format, and it doesn’t take long to grow big enough to be a solid threat by itself. 1 mana isn’t that hard to fit into a lot of your turns, and the payoff of making removal worse against it and some of your other creatures is solid. Still, this is nowhere near a bomb, and it does harm your curve to make it a real threat.

Tajuru Blightblade

Tajuru Blightblade

Compulsion: C

This is another 1 mana 1/1 that is efficient for what it is. Typically you get a 3 mana 2/2 Deathtouch in Green, and this gets the same job done for considerably cheaper. Plus, as a Rogue you get to get your Party started on turn one while having scalability due to the Deathtouch.

Drifter: C

It’s really nice to have decent 1 drops in your party decks, because it lets you curve out faster and makes your payoffs that much better. There aren’t that many other Rogues in Green, this retains some value late, and it has some nice synergy with Rabid Bite to boot. I think this is a pretty high C.

Tajuru Paragon

Tajuru Paragon

Compulsion: A-

See, sometimes multiclassing pays off! If you are heavily reliant on Party synergy when you play this you won’t really be able to attack with Tajuru Paragon for fear of losing her, but that is a good problem to have. Having the paragon goes a long way to getting you up to 3-4 party members and breaking some of the payoff spells at that point.. Getting a free creature most of the time for an extra 3 mana is a great bonus as well.

Drifter: B

This is a great 2 drop that replaces itself in the late game. I think you often do want to run it out on turn 2 to make your good party draws better and deal a bunch of damage, but six cards is a lot to look at later in the game and means this is a good draw at any point.

Still, I don’t think it’s close to a bomb – it’s too low impact as a 2 drop, you still need other party creatures, and it doesn’t take over the game as a 5 drop.

Tajuru Snarecaster

znr-210-tajuru-snarecaster

Compulsion: C-

Wow, this art is really literal. Tujru Snarecaster is serviceable if you need a defensive creature/Rogue but it doesn’t seem like there is a ton of flying presence in ZNR, so you should be able to take a pass on drafting this sort of card.

Drifter: D+

This isn’t the kind of card I especially want to play unless I really need to fill my Rogue slot in my party decks. It’s just too weak and low impact when they aren’t a flying-heavy deck, and only Blue and White have very many. It’s still fine filler though.

Tangled Florahedron

Compulsion: B

This is deceptively good because you are going to have a enough of an idea when you see your opening hand if you need the mana dork or not. If not, you can safely play your tap land. I have the feeling a lot of players are going to hold on to the tap lands too long, speculating that they may need the spell side at some point and then getting burned by missing a land drop because of it. This card at least gets around that problem.

Drifter: B-

As compared to the other spell-lands, this is a little weird in that it doesn’t prevent you from flooding out and it’s not a good draw at all late. Both sides do a very similar thing, and one just fits early curves a bit better. That being said, ramp on t2 is powerful, and being able to pick which option is best for the situation is still great – you still want to be making your land drops while you ramp up to get full value out of the mana advantage, so if you’re in danger of missing land drops then you can just run this out as one. It never hinders you in the way a regular mana dork would.

Taunting Arbormage

znr-212-taunting-arbormage

Compulsion: B-

Lure will often win the game outright, where you sacrifice your 1/1 to get the rest of your team through unblocked. Laying down a 3 mana 2/3 is nothing to write home about, but it is a nice fallback plan to have in games where you are in no position to Lure.

Drifter: B-

This is a huge kicker effect that will often win the game outright and break a stalled board in half – the idea is to either use it on a big creature to get the trades or kills you want while doing a bunch of damage, or to put it on your smallest creature and kill them outright, or enable a kill over two turns/with evasive creatures. That kind of power on a 3 mana 2/3, a statline which isn’t that bad, means I’m happy to take it highly.

Territorial Scythecat

Territorial Scythecat

Compulsion: B-

The rate here is a sweet spot where you will pretty much always get way more than 3 mana worth of value. It takes some investment, sure, but also beefs up your +1/+1 counter synergy in the process. Another fantastic Green creature at common!

Drifter: C+

I think this comes down early enough that I’m happy to have it in many decks, even if it takes a couple of turns to be worth the mana investment. Eventually, you’re going to get a good rate and your opponent will often be afraid enough of that to cut this poor cat’s life short before you do. It’s pretty weak in the late game, but so are most 3 drops. Don’t be afraid to take some damage to enable this, but equally don’t be afraid to trade it off if you don’t need it and you’re behind or getting a decent exchange!

Turntimber Ascetic

Turntimber Ascetic

Compulsion: C-

This isn’t too bad, but unfortunately for it there are much better creatures in the set, especially in Green.

Drifter: C

This is pretty good for a 5 drop since it’s solid when you’re behind and enables your lifegain synergies, while being a Cleric which Green doesn’t have too many of. There is some stiff competition this set and you’ll cut this if you have too many better 5 drops, but I think it’ll still mostly be good enough, even if it’s a pretty low C.

Turntimber Symbiosis

Compulsion: B

I honestly don’t see this card being cast too often, and even when it does the +1/+1 counters only serve to ensure you get a 6/6 or so out of it. For 7 mana that is a terrible deal. I would definitely consider this a land for that reason.

Drifter: B+

I think there are a lot of cards with abilities that become absolutely absurd when you put three +1/+1 counters on them – e.g. putting three counters on a 3-drop flier is probably better than your 6 or 7 drops in Draft. For that reason, while I think this is one of the weaker mythic lands, it’s still fantastic, since this is a gamewinning effect in the late game and a land when you need it to be.

I would count this as a spell a good deal of the time, especially in decks with some ramp, though expensive spell-lands like this are a good reason to play 18 land anyway.

Vastwood Fortification

Compulsion: B

I like the Green counterpart to Spikefield Hazard about the same. Generally Vastwood Fortification won’t be worth it, but sometimes you will save a creature from removal or win a combat out of nowhere.

Drifter: C+

This is a nice but situational trick, a small effect, but one that pairs really nicely with its land half. There are plenty of counter synergies in this set in Green and Black, and those are good gravy. Still, it’s not enough that I would often count this as a spell or take it more highly than some of the other spell-lands.

It’s worth noting though that, if you have enough spell-lands taking up land slots, it becomes much easier to justify playing an 18th land or counting one of them as a spell.

Vastwood Surge

Vastwood Surge

Compulsion: C

It is a shame you have to expend the card to Ramp two lands, as ideally you’d like to have it back to cast the 8 mana version later as a finisher. A deck needs to be leaning hard into Landfall to want this, and even then it is only okay.

Drifter: B-

This card is a double landfall trigger, good fixing, and a ton of ramp to put into your kicker spells/to enable your spell lands, and that’s not even touching this absurd 8 mana mode which will often just win the game. It’s value, late game, and flexibility all in one incredible package. There’s a lot of lifegain to ramp into, and merely playing 7 mana worth of spells the turn after will often bring you right back into the game if you fall behind while casting this, especially with the set’s many cards that gain life. I think this, rather than Roiling Regrowth or Scale the Heights, is the premier ramp spell and one you should be happy to first pick. It even provides a payoff for your other ramp spells, though you do want a lot of creatures to make good use of the 8 mana mode.

Veteran Adventurer

Veteran Adventurer

Compulsion: B+

4 mana for a 5/5 Vigilance much of the time? Sign me up!

Drifter: B

If you’re curving out, this is a 4 mana 5/5 Vigilance, which is an absurd rate and will attack through most boards while holding back the entire opposing army!

Vine Gecko

Vine Gecko

Compulsion: C+

The value of Vine Gecko ranges wildly from Grizzly Bear status if you have no Kicker spells to a solid enabler/payoff if you have several of them. There are some really great kicker spells in this format so getting them a turn earlier is a big deal.

Drifter: B-

This card strikes me as a great buildaround – kicked spells costing 1 less matters a huge amount, and it rewards you for just playing the game, becoming a scarier and scarier creature. The idea of curving this out into a 4 mana Kicker spell is disgusting, and very doable. It’s at its best in Simic, but every colour has some Kicker, including Green itself with three commons. This is one of the best 2-drops you can get, straight up.

Conclusions

Compulsion

Green is unsurprisingly the creature king of the format, with several great options at common as well as Uncommon and Rare creatures that are well above rate. Green also features all of the Party creature types, allowing it to pair nicely with any other color. In fact, Green doesn’t even seem overly bound by archetypes in this format. The creature variety could enable Party decks with pretty much any other color. Landfall is so well supported in Green it doesn’t necessarily need much, although White and Red do seem best suited to compliment Green for that mechanic. Kicker spells are looking great with Green’s ramp tools, and I am particularly interested in building UG Kicker since Blue has some great spells to contribute. Black seems like the pairing for +1/+1 counters, but once again there is enough in Green to sustain a sub theme even if you don’t end up in BG. In my Red conclusion I discussed how well it seemed to compliment every other color, but Green may actually outperform it in this regard.

Green is weakest when it comes to removal, so in my mind GR and GB are going to be really solid archetypes. Lean on Green for creatures and Red/Black for removal and you are likely going to have a solid deck. If I had to rate the colors in a vacuum right now I would say Green and Red seem like the best, since they compliment everything else so well and have such great options at common. White and Blue look to be on the weaker side, but not by all that much. Black is kind of a wild card because it has so many fantastic removal spells but lackluster creatures, so it is going to depend even more than the other colors on how open it is in a particular draft pool.

Tomorrow is the big release day! We will also be finishing our review with a dive into Multicolor, which should help solidify (roughly) what each color pairing is often going to be built around, as well as the remaining Artifacts and Lands that aren’t color-specific.

Drifter

My feeling about Green this format is that it’s very powerful, with a ton of creatures that fill flexible roles and come with a lot of value stapled on; its common quality is the highest in the entire format. Its kicker cards are good enough that it comes close to rivalling Blue in terms of late-game dominance, but it has an overwhelming midrangey beatdown plan Blue doesn’t get.

This all starts to look even juicier once you throw in Green’s nature as the jack-of-all-trades of the format – it has cards to enable all the different synergies, from lifegain to counters to aggro, party members of every single type so it can fill any gaps the other colours might have, and solid creatures for the purpose of filling any converted mana cost. While in drafting it, you might not always get the specific cards you need as a result, the baseline power I just mentioned is so high that I think you’ll do great even when you don’t get there – Green complements the other strategies’ strengths, while providing good enough card quality to cover any weaknesses.

Its major weakness is the one it always seems to have – it has almost no removal, but every other colour has plenty to help it out. Even White has some great options to complement it this set, since Green is great at turning on Practiced Tactics, and Blue has Bubble Snare and Into the Roil at common – that’s not that much, but I suspect Blue-Green’s ability to go way over the top and outvalue its opponents will carry it through, especially with all the kicker payoffs Blue has that Green provides it great cards for.

I expect Green to be one of the best colours both standalone and in a supporting role this format, and unlike Blue, its power is less dependent on the format being slow. Join us tomorrow for the final review and the release of our tier list!

Drifter

I'm MTGAZone's content manager! I'm an infinite drafter and offer draft coaching alongside my articles. Follow me on Twitter (Mulldrifter06) or visit https://mtgazone.com/drifter/ for all my content!

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