I empathize with the other green mages' frustrations about our little piece of the color pie. As emotional as I want to be about this subject, I need to be objective about the matter. For years, I have pounded my head against the wall trying to figure out a solution. When the blood started dripping down my forehead, I thought I would have learned to go around it. In any case, I am here to help resolve certain issues with green and bring a brighter future to the color.
Let's get a couple things out in the open right away. I am not disclaiming green is completely horrible. Green is amazingly flavorful and powerful. It is actually one of its downfalls. R&D has to be very careful with managing green's power level. There is an imaginary line. If a card is made too powerful, it will absolutely dominate like a Tarmogoyf. Too weak, we all know what happens then: green mages start complaining on the Internet. I don't blame R&D. I think they are honestly trying to make the color better. The problem is they don't know what to do. We all don't. I need all my toes and fingers to count the number of articles over they years of somebody somewhere suggesting how to make green better. I have at one time other another. Suggestions have ranged from card draw to the color needing to be more interactive.
It is all wrong…somewhat. I am a big believer in good cards are created out of inspiration. Saying green needs card draw or some kind of interaction is just awful. Ant Queen was a card inspired, well, by ants. Saying green needs creature removal doesn't inspire future or flavorful cards. Again, awful. The problem is green's color pie. It is bland. The fact can be seen in Maro's article: It's Not Easy Being Green. Mark spends a lot of time talking about nature. It is a pretty vague, broad and nonspecific. Biology is a very rich subject. A person in college can major in a dozen different majors in biology. It is rather difficult to create something out of something as broad as nature. It wouldn't be any different if I asked someone to make a food card. It is pretty general. If I replaced food with bacon cheeseburger, creating a card is more feasible.
Color Identity Issues
The problem is Green's philosophy on the color wheel. Evidence of this can be seen in green characters in the article. We have King Kong, Godzilla, Wolverine, Winnie the Pooh, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tarzan and Swamp Thing. Not a horrible list, but these spokespersons for green are not very good representatives of nature. Unless I missed an episode, I never saw the Discovery's channel special on Godzilla's mating habits or the migratory cycle of the Swamp Thing. This is not nature. It can't be representative by a single character. The majority of life on earth is built around communities. We have schools of fish, prides, and swarms of bees. People don't get ill from a single virus. They get sick from millions of viruses.
I've composed my own list that I think is more representative of green. Don't mind the biology theme.
The Borg from Star Trek – This species is the viruses of the universe. Powerful and adaptive, but can't propagate without additional hosts and their precious genetics.
Replicators from Stargate – These hostile creations are the bacteria of the group. Mindless, but can adapt to any situation and utilize any resource.
James Cameron's Aliens – Parasites. Do I even need to elaborate?
Treebeard – Protector of the forest and two hobbits. He and his brethren aren't too bad at laying down the smack either.
The Family Dog – They are animals loyal to a fault. People get pets for many reasons. It is not uncommon for a person to acquire these animals for protection.
Al Gore – I do jest, but Al Gore represents an ideal and strive for a greener earth. It is all about the Greater Good.
Godzilla – Roar. Was there any doubt?
Predator – You better start running.
One of the words I don't like on the green word list is instinct. The word is an adaptive characteristic much as intelligence or any other survival strategy. A better word to take its place is survival. The only thing any species cares about is propagating its genes. It doesn't matter if millions or one dies. All the matters is one survives. Sometimes, that one survivor must be special. Not in the Keannu Reeves kind of way, but in a royal queen kind of way. Instinct is merely a survival strategy. Yes, survival is equally as vague as nature. The great thing is many things can be formed out of survival; instinct being merely one of them.
The card that made me look away from the wall was Melira's Keepers. No, I'm not kidding. The image that stuck in my mind was these burly bouncers surrounding themselves around the popstar: Melira, Sylvok Outcast. The idea of protectors intrigued me. As noted up top, man's best friend is an iconic example that occasionally makes the ten o'clock news. You've heard the stories. Owner gets attacked and the normally gentle and lovable dog becomes a ferocious protector. I began thinking about treefolk and noted their high stats in the toughness department. The mental step towards Treebeard and his Ent army wasn't too big of a leap.
I love the imagery bodyguards provide. I'm a planeswalker summoning a trio of burly dudes who got my back. If you try to hurt me, they will knock you out. This doesn't mean all security needs to be a bunch of blockheads. We also need intelligence. Cards that spring to mind are Loaming Shaman or Melira, Sylvok Outcast. Not the fact Melira, Sylvok Outcast is the key to a degenerate combo. Let's forget that a moment. She is a bodyguard that protects us from infect creatures. We need green cards that say no like Gaea's Herald or Gaddock Teeg. What's that opponent? You want to do what? I don't think so. Stealing from white, Pariah effects like Veteran Bodyguard feels very green to me. Pariah on creatures are better replacements for Fog inspired cards. Fog never made sense to me even as a noob. In blue, I could understand it. Green not so much. It always felt like an odd mechanic for the color. Big bodyguards that take a bullet for me, that feels green.
One of the reasons I don't like Wolverine for a character for green is because he is only one person. It is the reason I chose Aliens over Wolverine. Nature is mostly a communal force. The problem with developing green cards is the singular nature of their creation. Normally, a card is created without thought (yes, I am ignoring tribal for a very brief moment) for the larger picture. The Vorapede was created as a singular card. What I envision for green are cards like slivers or some form of it. It makes me wonder if the ubiquitous use of Lords in all manners all across the color spectrum is actually good for the game. Just a thought.
Winnie the Pooh is one the characters I dislike the most because of the lack of inspiration. Yeah, I get why somebody picked him. The problem is how many cards can you make around Winnie the Pooh? King Kong? Sure, make a big creature, then what? King Kong is only going to inspire a person to create, I don't know, another big creature? If we take something like the Borg, there are numerous avenues a creator could go down. The Borg are more than just cybernetic robots. The Borg were created out of a philosophy. Any great science fiction novel has some politic or philosophy driving the storyline. It is something I didn't appreciate fully until I visited Seattle's Science Fiction Museum.
What needs to happen is for change in the way we view green. We need step away from the singular and focus on the holistic needs of the color. Frame of mind is everything. Let's talk about medicine. I went in once for a sore throat that had lasted me for months. Yes, I am a procrastinator. Anyway, my doctor was so focused on my throat she failed to find the solution to my problem. She failed because she wasn't thinking holistically. After some acid reflex pills and other dead ends, I stopped going back. I finally figured out my problem. I was dehydrated. Yup, that simple. I work in a lab and the air is notoriously dry. Plus, we don't get to drink water while we work. Having a sippy cup next to the positive HIV samples we are testing is kind of a no no and, well, gross. To say the least, we don't stay very hydrated. I started being more religious about my water intake during breaks and the sore throat went away.
Cunning Green gets treated as a bunch of jocks, but green can be awfully clever. Blue and green don't necessarily differ on an intellectual level. What separates them is the drive behind their goals. Blue strives for knowledge out of curiosity and the sheer pleasure of the search. Blue mages would sit around discussing philosophies about the color pie for pure enjoyment. Green is more practical. It appreciates knowledge for survival, but no more. If it doesn't need to know something, it is useless drivel. This doesn't mean green has little appreciation for an intelligent opponent. It has the utmost respect for a clever adversary.
Chaos Life is born out of chaos. Elements randomly align to form life by application of pressure and time to transform it. Green can appreciate red's love of randomness and chance. The difference is green cares more about the outcome. Red is more concerned about the initial act and the emotional response it produces. It is the reason green thinks blue mages are a bunch of stuck up snobs. Blue thinks it can create superior beings by stringent scientific methodology. Green appreciates the beautiful beings evolved out of random pressure over time. Blue would have never dreamt of creating the duck-billed platypus.
Adaptive Nature can quickly adjust to its environment. A classic example from college was a moth that turned from white to completely black during the industrial era in a matter of decades. Hardly a month goes by that I don't come across an article detailing about a new resistant bug scientists have discovered. A form of TB in India is now resistant to all forms of treatment as well as the growing resistance of gonorrhea; a once easily treated STD. Necrotic Ooze is a card that I feel could have been green. Humans are adaptive to their environments by creating the necessary tools and clothes in order to survive.
Interdependence Green appreciates white's structure and efficient use of organization. The difference is green has hierarchies for survival or for a higher purpose. White is more of a caste system built out of social standing or duty rather than function. Less important people are thrust into more meaningless jobs. Green denizens don't look at their jobs that way. Each believes they are serving an important and vital role for overall good of the community or their queen.
Protective Green is more than willing to make sacrifices for a higher ideal. In real life, they would be the people who walk three miles to work in order to save the earth. Protecting what is most sacred is more important than the lost of their life. Treebeard is iconic in both ways. Heck, I think I will let him do the talking for me.
I promised Gandalf I would keep you safe and safe is where I'll keep you.
Hroom, hm, come, my friends. The Ents are going to war. It is likely that we go to our doom. The last march of the Ents.
A Gentleman's Disagreement
Green feels like driving around without a map. Sometimes it gets done right and other times, R&D is completely lost. I'll take a quote from the article.
While every other color fights to change the world, green battles to keep it the same.
I couldn't disagree more (In all fairness, I am quoting something written in 2002). Life at its core doesn't care. It adapts. For millennium, life has survived ice ages, meteors, volcanic cataclysms, and some scientist have found evidence of bacteria inside asteroids. If green can avoid it, life would rather not have around bad things like pollution. However, it isn't a necessity. Life is resilient and will adapt. It will survive.
Off Topic: The Black Death
As a biologist, I have problem with all these plagues black keeps using. The last time I checked, my diploma doesn't have Master of the Dark Arts behind that B.S. Plagues are very much green to me. I can't help it. All I see is bacteria and viruses. It is biology and that means green in my eyes. If some don't agree with my sentiment, I can understand. However, why even go there? There are millions of ways to kill a creature. Slapping some medical terminology like sickness or a plague on a card is such a coup out. Damnation is a big black hole, Doom Blade is a blade of doom and my new favorite name is Dismember. I always liked that Terror couldn't kill black creatures because they didn't have a soul. It was very flavorful. Black could easily do without the plagues and do just fine.
Before I go, I must confess I am very disappointed a black Pongify wasn't printed in Dark Ascension. Instead of an ape, the player would get a 2/2 black zombie. Seriously, killing creatures and turning them into zombies just oozes Innistrad. So disappointed. Sigh.