The color Green has always been a fan favorite of new players, casual players and some who just take to its style of large creatures entwined with nature’s lore. I was once one of these people, until I took a step in the competitive direction of Magic where I found that Green was a color that lacked many of the perks that other colors were enriched with. As time went on, the color was altogether absent from my deck lists in Vintage, Extended and Standard formats with the exception of an occasional splash, after all Golgari Grave-Troll has Dredge 6 and Ichorid needs to feed.
In the last decade, Green has seen its share of a few strong decks - 'Elf Ball' was a huge success and a lot of fun. More recently we've seen 'Tooth and Nail' do very well in both Standard and Extended formats. But from an overall perspective the amount of decks we can name are quite limited (no pun intended) and there are reasons for this beyond what you choose to play.
And with that said... we begin my epic article... Green Doesn't Matter... which I anticipate may cause some reactions as seen below...
But the truth is, Green is a very lacking color in many departments of the Magic world, and because of this it cannot survive by itself, requiring the help of other colors to be successful. So what is Green lacking in? After all, it has great Mana Fixing and Mana Acceleration, huge creatures and some decent artifact and enchantment removal, right?
Green's most prevalent flaw would probably be its lack of 'tricks' outside of combat. Green simply does not have cards that can help give it card advantage. Card advantage is achieved by things like 2-1 or 3-1 opportunities, Wrath of God is a great example of this, or Rack and Ruin for you vintage players. Green's only answer to problems is on a 1-1 basis, or more likely, in combat with pump spells and abilities which are, in many cases, predictable and less than amazing.
Let's add to this, though. Green not only has a hard time gaining card advantage (not to be mistaken for Tempo) but it has absolutely no targetable removal. In fact, it has very, very limited mass removal either. If Green's opponent plays a card such as Jushi Apprentice, it has no answer to it. Player Blue is now drawing freely, and most likely, drawing answers to any 'threat' player Green puts on the board. This is a key disadvantage that Green still faces today, its lack of removal. While every other color has several removal possibilities, Green truly has none.
So it's safe to say Green's spell base is creature/combat and defensive oriented. But that's okay, because green has many combat hardened abilities and spells. Cards like Giant Growth or Might of Oaks are incredibly strong in Combat, right? This is true, but compared to each other color's immediate answer; you have to question how Green can compete. Green's spells rely so much on their creature actually staying in play, actually dealing damage to their opponent; this reality leaves its spell base extremely weak and conditional. Without a creature in play, Green is utterly vulnerable. So these creatures have to be battle hardened and very hard to deal with.
The truth about Green's creatures, though, is that they are fairly sub-standard in many cases. Green creatures rarely see the flying ability, which is a huge blow to them. They do, however, see evasion abilities lately: Giant Solifuge and Kodoma of the North Tree were a huge move in the right direction from R&D. Regenerators aren't bad, either, Troll Aesthetic is another great display of what a Green creature could be when designed correct (Given both Regeneration and The Untargetable Trait at an affordable cost). However regeneration as a whole is not a very useful ability unless it comes at a cheap price and besides a few isolated incidents, such as the Troll, its cost usually outweighs its benefit. Let's be honest, a large creature with regeneration that has no come-into-play abilities with an expensive CMC will never, ever see play.
I can't do it all by myself guys...
The real disappointment is Green creatures not seeing Come-Into-Play abilities on a more regular basis. The best being Eternal Witness, who is great, but by no means a fatty. Come into play abilities are what make even a large CMC worthwhile - immediate effect! Just look at 'Tooth and Nail', the deck is all green except it's power cards which are all Artifact creatures with come into play abilities or indestructible abilities which Green has none of.
Green's power originally came from combat. Its large creatures and frequent pump and regenerate abilities made them a formidable force. Remember old friends like Force of Nature, Verdant Force and Phantom Centaur? These were forces to be reckoned with, at one time.
But, Combat isn't what it used to be...but in many ways, Green still is. Green hasn't been given the chance to evolve into a more powerful force on the table because it's given the same build cards over, and over and over. I'm sure R&D realizes that 'blocking' is a concept of the past, so defensive spells and creatures should be phased out to a minimum, at least in Green's case. The truth is, Combat is now much too fast for Green to compete in, and much too complex for Green to succeed in. With little to no control or removal green has a very hard time bringing damage to its opponent without another colors help.
According to a recent article on the Wizards website, R&D has worked hard to create viable creatures with a new, 'insolvability' trait - they are listed as follows:
Nantuko Shaman, Penumbra Spider, Spike Tiller, Thelon of Havenwood, Thelonite Hermit, Wurmcalling, Yavimaya Dryad, Harmonic Sliver, Weatherseed Totem, Call of the Herd, Hunting Moa, Spike Feeder, Thornscape Battlemage, Verdeloth the Ancient, and Mystic Snake. 15 unsolvable green creatures all in one set.
Reviewing this list, I'm not impressed. The 2 true contenders in this list have been bolded, for obvious reasons - and maybe it's just my opinion, but Mystic Snake is a blue creature. As it stands now, this list gives Green no real chance at a competitive deck list - it's really only reinforced two truths in Magic. The first, that Green is an extremely powerful color to run in the Limited format. The second, that Green is extremely under-powered in any constructed format with the exception of Casual.
Perhaps this is okay though? Maybe Green is what it is, a color that will always need the help of other colors to achieve a competitive deck list. A color full of large, powerful, over-costed, ability-lacking creatures and sub-standard spells. Such harsh words for one of the 5 colors that make up our favorite game, I know. I think these words come from a good place, though. They come from a place in my heart that wants to see each color of the game able to stand up to one another in a competitive environment.
To conclude on my points, I'd like to also offer suggestions - so that you readers understand that I'm not here to hate, I'm here to hate in a constructed way in the hopes that my words will not fall on deaf ears.
Green lacks spells that prove worthy outside of combat. Without these spells, it is nearly impossible for green to gain any kind of card advantage outside of combat situations. The current environment of magic is far from a combat battleground with an immense inventory of removal, both 'spot' and 'mass' leaving the other 4 colors free to do as they please without ever entering combat situations where Green can excel. This is referring mainly to the Standard and Extended environments, I don't think we need to even mention the fact that Green has no place in Vintage currently.
Green is in desperate need of removal capabilities that don't come from creatures that have to stay in play a turn. Where is the affordable, Green creature that has the come-into-play ability "when X comes into play, destroy target creature with flying."? Apparently it's nowhere to be found, despite its great potential. Where is the Green spell that says "Destroy target Non-Green, Non-White Permanent/Creature"? Again, nowhere to be found - although I can't understand why. I would have expected this kind of card to at least be printed in the Ravnica: City of Guilds set as a 3 CMC W/G Hybrid, but no.
A much needed reprint no where to be found...
Why hasn't Wing Snare been reprinted for Standard at the very least? And how about giving it Instant Speed to make it actually strong? Hell, why not Split Second? The amount of flyers in the current Standard enviroment is incredible: Akroma, Angel of Wrath, Angel of Despair, Skeletal vampire, Bogarden Hellkite, Serra Avenger, etc. Is this not a card warranted for Green to compete? Or was Penumbra Spider supposed to do the job? I think not.
The real question is: Why doesn't Green deserve these possibilities?
The answer is: They do. Not only do they deserve them, they need them.
Green's creatures, while beefy and sometimes scary when they hit the board, are easily answered by the rest of the color spectrum. Green needs to see better designed creatures, especially those with come into play abilities (as suggested above), or Haste. This makes even a large CMC creature viable, without these improvements - Green creature based decks have no chance of competitive play.
The recent 'improvements' of Green's creature base are not enough, In fact, they aren't much of an improvement at all despite one writer’s opinion.
I leave you with a classic, MTG joke that shows in its own way what I'm talking about:
There’s an old joke. A green mage, a blue mage and a red mage are all sitting around, debating whether Goblin Cadets is a good card. The green mage says, ‘It is terrible, because you lose control of it when your opponent has a blocker’. The blue mage says, ‘It is useful in the correct metagame, because 43.5% of the expected field are unlikely to have creatures to block it.’ The Red mage looks confused. ‘It is obviously good, because it attacks for 2. What is “blocking”?’
Good question Red Mage, what is blocking? Apparently Green is still concerned with it, while everyone else has evolved passed such primitive concepts.
I wish Green the best in the future - I really do. I hope R&D can continue on their mission to improving the color that needs it oh-so desperately. I look forward to the day when Green can stand tall as a competitive, well supported color in Magic. What a great day that will be.
Until then, I'll miss you Green. See ya when I see ya.