[Notice] - This list is not currently being updated. After serving as a Primer for almost seven years, I will be retiring this list from Primer status. I believe it still stands as a good resource (I may be biased), and fairly resilient despite new changes possible. Thank you. -
Nemata has three immediate points to note which defines how I built the deck:
His mana cost: It's high, this means he'll be mostly casual. We'll need mana.
His ability: The prime reason for choosing him, he spits out and pumps tokens like nobody's business, but it'll start costing. We'll need that mana.
Mono-green: We're playing green, so it looks like we can readily answer all those mana issues.
The deck is focused on making absurd amounts of mana, and the rest is filled with ways to get there, ways to protect it, and a few alternate ways to use it once we've got it. For absurd mana I ended up relying on the green (and colorless) mana flare effects. To this end, forest is one of the strongest cards in this deck. This raises a high standard for every other card that is run.
While I focused the above analysis on the first ability, it is the often overlooked second ability that is the more powerful. The ability to turn blocked creatures into more damage is astounding, especially as it is cumulative. Saprolings look so harmless, people forget that they can lose their titans to them, or simply lose the game. As a quick example, you attack with 8 saprolings, and the defending player blocks 3 of them, you sacrifice the 3 blocked saprolings, and then make 4 more, and sacrifice those as well. Your opponent just took 40 damage. Yes, really. That's +7/+7 to all your unblocked saprolings, which makes 5 unblocked 8/8 critters. The more saprolings you make, the more powerful they become. Another way to read Nemata's ability is as follows: 2G: Add X damage to the attack, where X is the number of unblocked creatures. Not a bad ability for that cost.
You like exploding into massive board presence and making huge over-the top plays, without infinite combos*.
Nemata is a fun Commander to play if you like making a splash. If you're diving in front of the judges, following a perfect 10 act, and you're given the choice of looking sub par with a 9.7, or drenching the judges with a cannonball... Nemata is the second of those options. He's got his own style of flair and isn't afraid to show it. He's sexy and he knows it.
Green ramp Commanders are nothing new. They make lots of mana, put out something big, and give a nod to the crowd:
Azusa, Lost but seeking is quite possibly the fastest of them. She handles a lot of ramping on her own, and the deck concentrates mainly on threats then, and disrupting the opponents to keep the edge on tempo once you start to slow on lands.
Omnath, Locus of Manais a threat. He focuses on fast mana acceleration, and can either float mana through turns to drop a fast bomb, or go for the General kill himself. Depending on the strategy, the deck has a lot of ramp, a decent amount of draw, and either fatty threats, or trample-granting equipment, auras, or instants.
Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant plays a similar style to Azusa. High land count, and fill the deck with threats and draw. You drop Sasaya, flip her, have obscene amounts of mana, and start looking for something to use it on. The deck runs a lot of land to hand types of search effects, above moderate draw, and then a lot of mana sinks.
Patron of the Orochi is a mana flare himself, so again, fills the deck with lots of threats to use. The deck typically runs a fair bit of ramp, Patron is no slouch to cast, and then a lot of threats, preferably some with a t ability.
Ezuri, Renegade Leader is similar to Nemata in that he has a built in pump option. Again though, he needs to fill his deck with all the the required elves to pump; alone, he has very little to do, as he can't simply create an army the way Nemata can.
Nemata, Grove Guardian holds all this off with a bit more style. Nemata isn't a ramp Commander, he's a threat. All those other green commanders have to fill their deck with threats, but they all still need some amount of extra ramp to get going. Since Nemata doesn't ramp as a Commander, he may not have the same ramp speed as the other green Commanders, but he makes up for it by teaching those other guys what ramp really means. You don't need fatties for Nemata, and you don't need threats. Nemata is the Ultimate mana-sink. He both makes tokens, and can pump them as well. This frees up a lot of slots for pumping out some serious amounts of mana.
Khamal, Fist of Krosa is the Commander that is most like Nemata. He can be a 1-man army, while also having pump options. He's a bit stronger in that he has potential wrath discouragement by animating opponent's lands, but is a bit more limited in that his army and pump generation abilities are more limited than Nemata's.
*On infinitude: It is extremely easy to go infinite in green with mana production, and thus cause Nemata to make infinite tokens. This takes what could be awesome, and simply makes it routine and uninspiring. Making over a hundred tokens to attack with, or launching 19 Relentless Rats and 23 other creatures into the air with Predator Flagship to kill them all with Whirlwind** is far more impressive when you actually make the mana to do it, not because you simply chose an arbitrary number because it sounded cool. That said, a few cards have been re-introduced into the deck that open the possibility of infinite combos, simply due to their strength alone.
**actually happened. Nemata himself was one of the 23 other creatues. He had been Mind Controlled.
Nemata is not for everyone. Such a focused General Centric deck has weaknesses, and is not a style suited to everyone. A few are below:
You like Conventional Commanders. As shown above, many Green Commanders can ramp, and then need to find and drop a Threat. Nemata forgoes much of this aspect of deck-construction. You ramp, for more ramp, and then Nemata handles the rest.
You dislike, or have a tendency of "over-extending." Nemata's high mana cost and ability cost requirements mean a large investment in board presence. This takes time to set up, and can be set back by a variety of board wipes. Knowing how to play well, and retaining key answers and recovery options is key to piloting Nemata; thus, you have to extend a large amount to set up the board presence, but also have to not over-extend, and maintain additional options and recovery methods. It is a fine line to judge.
You dislike winning in the combat step. Some players simply do not like relying on creatures to carry through in the end. Nemata is all about the tokens, so you'll have to declare attackers.
Nemata was the second deck I built, following a 'good-stuff' Cromat. At this time in my groups EDH career, we were very, very casual. I was inspired to build Nemata for several reasons: I wanted to ramp into some absurd amount of mana, and do something cool with it. Nothing gets cooler than using an older Commander and spitting out an army of saprolings. Seriously. Saprolings. One word: awesome.
As my meta evolved from hyper-casual to more tuned decks, Nemata had to evolve as well to remain competitive. Large creatures and fluff were removed to streamline the deck more towards its core identity: Ramp, big mana, and lots of tokens. Three things defined the Evolution of Nemata: The inclusion of mana doublers, running into flyers, and when 'tuck' spells were introduced, and then removed.
The first incarnation of the deck ran a much larger ramp package, and far fewer mana-doublers. In fact, the original deck only ran two: Heartbeat of Spring and Extraplanar Lens. The first major evolution was the printing of Caged Sun. At the time, the deck was still hovering around 3-4 doubling effects, once the sun was printed, I also picked up Gauntlets of Power, and added my copy of Mana Reflection. Since then, the deck has always tread a fine line between balancing its mana sources, constantly shifting between real ramp, and effective doubling, trying to find that sweet spot between the two. While I am closer now than ever, having recently rebalanced back towards ramp, the search for that sweet spot is non-ending. The more mana ramp you have, the more value the doublers give. The more doublers out, the better the value of the mana-ramp.
The first major threat to Nemata, fairly early on, was how to deal with flyers. Green sadly doesn't get too many High-Powered aerial friends, and our suite of spiders don't hold up very well against Elder Dragons, and other high profile aerial assaulters. Some spiders still made the line-up, like the very powerful Silklash Spider, but quite a bit of the removal package is colored by the threat posed in the air.
Nemata's strategy is fairly simple. Starting the game you want a fair number of lands in hand, some ramp, and preferably a card draw engine of some sort.
The first few turns are about setting up your board, making your land drops, and getting a draw engine online. Once you get a fair amount of mana, you drop Nemata, and then follow up with a doubler (or vice versa). You should be able to make about 8 Saprolings per round. That's enough to kill a person. Even if they have 4 blockers, you can sacrifice the 4 that are blocked to give the others +4/+4. That's 20 damage right there. You can also then make additional tokens in combat to pump the unblocked attackers even further. Or, you can make new ones and pop them off to simply do some damage and kill the blockers as well. Once you start passing 12-15 tokens, you can easily take out multiple people in a turn.
I typically hold off playing Nemata until I have a fair board presence. Usually I can drop Nemata and make a token or two before my next turn. This also helps with defensive measure. There are a few times I will drop Nemata earlier:
Fecundity: Fecundity is ample enough reason to drop Nemata early. 2G: draw a card is a great ability to have on a Green Commander. This card draw can easily accelerate your mana drops by helping draw into the mana ramp that much faster. Likewise, Skullclamp and perilous forays should be considered as well.
Heavy ground aggro: While you can block with the ramp critters, if there is serious heavy ground aggro, making and spitting out chumps early can be useful. Nemata has a decent body as well. The surprise on people's faces the first time you pop off saprolings to pump the rest and kill their 3 best attackers is also priceless.
Playing Mana Doubling effects:
Playing mana doubling effects is tricky. Both dropping Nemata or dropping doublers can signal your intent quite loudly to the table, and it's usually not profitable in the early game to drop both at the same time. While most people overlook the power of Nemata's second ability, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out they will be up to their eyebrows in Saprolings. I typically try to gauge which order will give the most saprolings once both are out, which is typically the doubler. It also depends on your opponents and your hand. If you're low on doublers, then dropping Nemata first would be the better play. With the number of doublers though, it is often better to drop the mana first. This also opens up more options overall.
Of course, by mid to late game you should be able to drop one or two doublers, followed by Nemata, and spit out a whole bunch of tokens, all on the same turn.
The deck (like most green decks) plays in two phases: ramp, and explode. This deck oddly makes a very polar split between the two. You end up ramping and drawing until you get some doublers in hand, or some critical mass of mana, then attempt to explode. If it fails, you go back to step 1 and start the process again.
Magic is a game of limited resources. You get 1 card per turn, and play 1 land a turn giving you a slow increase in resources. Nemata forgoes the need of cards, making mana the major limiting factor. Mana Ramp is then the most important thing this deck can do, as it will get Nemata out faster, and then cause him to start spitting out the threats. Mana doubling effects will be covered later on.
Carpet of Flowers - Free mana seems cool to me. Its a fair assumption someone will be playing blue; it's only the most popular color around. Feel free to change if you don't like color specific cards. Centaur Rootcaster - There's usually someone to poke early on. This guy gets you a land every time you do that. Khalni Heart Expedition - This deck wants a lot of mana, and pulls out a lot of lands. Triggering off of that to pull out even more lands is always welcome. Ondu Giant - A land searcher with a bigger body. Since part of the reason of taking the ramp with bodies is as early game defense, the 4 toughness this guy provides is excellent for the first few turns. Oracle of Mul Daya - The card advantage he can generate makes him more favorable than Azusa, Lost but Seeking in this deck. While Azusa drops more lands, we start having a problem getting that many lands into hand. The Oracle lets us check our top card, and the rest of the ramp we run lets us re-shuffle our deck for another chance. Perilous Forays - Always a fine card in a deck running green, this has a side effect of turning saprolings into mana... which turns into more saprolings. Excellent wrath-recovery as well, allowing you take gain value from drying creatures. Is incidentally very good with Stone-seeder Heirophant, especially with a Gaea's Cradle out: while not technically infinite, it reaches the levels of "absurd" very quickly. Seedguide Ash - Gets you lots of lands when someone wraths. I've seen him eat while exiles before due to how much he ramps you. Otherwise, like the Ondu Giant above, it's an excellent way to get value out of a defensive position. Skyshroud Claim - Strictly better than explosive vegetation. Pulling out lands untapped is huge, as with one doubler this spell becomes free. With extra doublers, it gets even sillier, producing mana for you. This interaction kept this spell in the list alongside the creatures. Sylvan Primordial - This guy seems custom built for this deck. He technically can count under mana-ramp, air-defense, and removal; three of the biggest areas of concern and focus for the deck. Viridian Emissary- Comes down early, can take pot shots at people until a wrath hits, or you can hold him as a chumper if you think people are going to attack you. The smaller brother of the Seedguide Ash. Wood Elves - Comes down early, and leaves an extra body around to Skullclamp, or block with. He also gets the forest into play untapped, so late he can even be a free body once you have some doublers out. Yavimaya Dryad - Comes down early, you could give the land to someone else... but that seems silly. Land comes into play tapped, sadly. Yavimaya Elder - This guy used to be called the Green Concentrate. At least, until they made the green concentrate... The elder provides a blocker, that you can sacrifice for an extra three cards in hand. Two of them may be lands, but those are nice to have in this deck. Crop Rotation/Sylvan Scrying - Perhaps technically goes under the 'tutor' category, these usually gets one of three things: Thawing Glaciers, because it's early in the game and you need extra lands and want to consistently make land drops, Gaea's Cradle for lots of mana because you're ready to kill people, or Deserted Temple, because you want to abuse either of the other two.
While once you drop Nemata and your doublers you no longer absolutely need any more cards, card draw helps get you to that point, helps keep answers in hand to handle threats while you're spitting out tokens, and to recover from inevitable board resets.
Fecundity - Our Commander makes tokens. Our Commander kills tokens. Fecundity essentially gives our commander 2G: Draw a card. That's pretty cool. Masked Admirers - Come down decently quickly, can recur for more blocks/more beats, and is solidly consistent. Mind's Eye- An expensive up front cost, but simply unbelievable advantage in a multiplayer game if you can stick it. With the ramp package we run, we can afford the up-front cost. Psychotrope Thallid - More ways to turn saprolings into cards! (Happy me!) Seer's Sundial - All the land we're pulling out, now turns into cards. This deck goes through 2 phases for mana: 1 ramp. 2 explode. This card helps get from 1 to 2. This won out over Horn of Greed as it triggers off of every land we ramp out, rather than those we simply play. Horn of Greed is also symmetrical. Skullclamp - Tokens -> cards. Clamp is one of the best card draw options any creature based deck can hope for, and especially token decks which have a lot of disposable bodies. This adds even further value to the land ramp creatures we run. Skullmulcher - Although it takes slightly more at once for decent benefit, this guy also changes tokens and left over creatures into cards. Then he sticks around as a decent threat.
Combined with the mana ramp, the doubling effects cause Nemata to start making obscene amounts of tokens. The more lands you pull out, the better the doubling effects get. The more doubling effects, the more the lands you pull out have value. You usually need only two out at any given time, but having more makes things epic. Or, you could, you know, play smart and hold some for a rainy day... nah, you're right, epic games are more fun.
Caged Sun - Mana flare and pump all in one. It affects all your lands, including non-basics, which in our case means Gaea's Cradle. It doesn't help opponents. Doubling Season - Doesn't double our mana, but it does double our output! Extraplanar Lens - Discussions on the drawbacks of this card are lengthy. Suffice to say, we'll have enough lands out that losing one won't hurt too badly, and the advantage to be had for the time its on the table is enormous. As a cheap drop, this helps pull out our other doublers for less tapped lands, allowing the remaining lands to tap for even more. Gauntlet of Power- Like a Caged Sun, but cheaper, though it may help opponents too. Illusionist's Bracers - Once equipped, this not only doubles the number of tokens produced for free, but also doubles the pump effect, making the second ability a potential 2G: Saprolings get +4/+4 until end of turn. Mana Reflection - Super non-symmetric mana flare effect. Does ridiculous things with Doubling Cube. Parallel Lives - See Doubling Season. This also doubles our output, it doesn't have the double-counter clause, but since we don't use that anyways, that's a benefit. It's also cheaper. Sculpting Steel - an extra Gauntlet, Sun, or Lens. Vernal Bloom - Mana Flare for just us green folk. We have to stick together. It's not easy being green... Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger- Mana Flare on a threat, and shuts down our opponents. This guy paints a huge target, but that means they're likely to deal with him before Nemata.
While Nemata is like Atlas of greek mythology, and can take the whole world on his shoulders, sometimes it's helpful to have a plan b available.
Dauntless Dourbark - This guy gives people who destroy your enchantments something friendly to think about. He gets big very quickly, and people tend to forget that he has trample once Nemata is out. Eldrazi Monument - Well, this just makes your tokens even scarier than they were. A great way around blockers, and stops wraths from hurting you. Kamahl, Fist of Krosa - The other One-Man Army in a can Commander, Kamahl is a versatile hero who can support your other plans, turn your bundle of land fetchers into a respectable army, or simply win the game on his own. He also holds wrath protection in the form of animating your opponent's lands. Sprout Swarm - Turns Saprolings into more saprolings, which can make for some epic amounts of saprolings. It can also help hit that critical mass just a little bit faster.
LIFEGAIN (stall tactics)
Not typically a fan of life gain, I have to admit in small doses it can do the job of keeping us in the game. Lifegain is used to stabilize off of lowered positions, and to recover from fast aggro beats until Nemata can come out and put a stop to that sillyness.
Throughout a game of magic, things have a tendency to die. Sometimes you want some of them back.
Battlefield Scrounger - This guy has been a champ in many decks. He's a beatstick, and he recurs your best stuff. He's a second Gurzigost. Creeping Renaissance - Returns all of our shattered doublers. Crucible of Worlds - So right away I'm sure you notice that this deck doesn't put lands in the GY. What this deck DOES do is put lands in play. LOTS of them. Where they might die to an Armageddon or something. This helps make sure a single Land wipe doesn't wreck us. This also helps recover Gaea's Cradle or Thawing Glaciers, which have a tendency to die occasionally. Eternal Witness - Cheap recursion on a body. Good to re-use early ramp too. Genesis - A sizable beater who gets to recur stuff from the yard, so can help recover after a wipe, or from an empty board state. Gurzigost - This is the first Gurzigost. A serious blocker, with serious threat potential. Helps recycle the Graveyard once you start dropping a lot of things in there. Life from the Loam - Similar to Crucible of Worlds, this is primarily in for safety. It can also be used to guarantee land drops with dredge, though it's best to do this when you have a draw engine out of some sort.
Tutors are best kept in your hand, until you need them. Every effect you need has some tutor-able creature options. While you can use the tutors offensively to get that mana-flare effect you're looking for (Vorinclex), or the card draw you want (Psychotrope Thallid), sometimes it’s better to hold off and see what you need post-wrath.
Green Sun's Zenith - Sorcery speed, and takes tons of mana. It adds 1 to the cost of any creature in your deck for the ability to just pull him out and dump him into play. Summoner's Pact - Instant speed, and drops it in your hand. Don't forget to play the upkeep though. Chord of Calling - Instant speed options are always fantastic. Pulling out a mana flare at the end of your opponents' turn is a very powerful move that can set you up for an epic turn.
Sometimes, things just need to die. Green has a wide variety of answers for anything that sits on the field. Yes, even creatures.
Acidic Slime - Hits a large variety of problem permanents, and the death-touch makes an effective rattlesnake option. Beast Within - Potentially the best green removal spell. An instant-speed vindicate genetically spliced onto a pongify. Brittle Effigy - More color-less removal for things hold Sword of Feast and Famine or if Iona, Shield of Emeria were to hit the field. Chain of Acid - Once you drop your doublers, this becomes a bit trickier to use, as you're likely to lose one. Before then, they'll take a look at your side and not really care about killing off a single forest when you can then send it right back. Amusing to watch bounce across the table. Great politics card. Less amusing if your Meta has Mindslaver in it. Desert Twister - Standard green removal. Big, Slow, Clunky, but that's ok because we have the mana for it. Duplicant - Colorless permanent creature removal. Krosan Grip - The split second can make a large difference on a lot of artifacts or enchantments. Someone hiding behind an Oblivion Stone or Pernicious Deed? Not anymore. Reap and Sow - Lands are some of the more powerful permanents in EDH. This gets rid of problem lands and gets us our AWESOME ones! While Nemata isn't balked by a Maze of Ith, sometimes it's nice to blow it up to open options so other players don't have to look at us when they decide where to swing. Spine of Ish-Sah - Like Desert Twister for 1 more, but is a colorless source, and might return for a second use. Terastodon - Get something big, and blow up three things. Quite a bargain. Can give you an army in a pinch if you're desperate, but otherwise there's no harm to giving elephants to others, since saprolings are bigger than elephants. True fact. Tornado - The best green removal ever printed. Bar none. It might be painful to use, but if you're using it, it's because it's worth it. Repeatable green vindicates. There are ways to abuse the velocity and age counters, but really, using it as a 4 for 1 (with a cost of 18 life, ouch!) is still one heck of a deal. We'll also typically have more than enough mana to keep it around "just in case" as well. You know, in case you want to spend 12 life on that 5th shot. Woodfall Primus - A desert twister (mostly) on the body of a treefolk! You might not be able to hit creatures, but a 6/6 persist for a round two of death is a pretty good incentive to not be attacked.
Green hates flyers. Flyers have been an issue for this deck since creation. Green doesn't have a lot of its own, which means these pesky things can be hard to block. Guess we should just make them dead.
Crushing Vines - More instant speed Flyer death. Has an added bonus of being useable outside of flyers as well. Predator, Flagship - Kills Fliers. It also makes anything else fly. Can be used offensively as well as defensively. Silklash Spider - The best anti-flyer ever printed. Traproot Kami - the deck originally had a lot more of these # of forests guys. This champ is innocent enough that no one can justify killing him, even a Go for the throat seems like a loss against this guy. He costs 1! And yet, he stops flyers all day long. Trophy Hunter - With the mana we can put into this guy, we can take out large numbers of flyers. You can also ping something that's dying to get extra counters on him, which makes him a decent threat as well. Whirlwind - Day of Judgement for flyers. Since we don't have any flyers, this is a one-sided wrath on anything we actually care about.
Buried Ruin - Return one of the artifact flare effects. Can also return some of our card-draw. An all around great card in Commander. City of Shadows - Rather slow to start up, can become a real champ in helping drop those first doublers. I usually end up with it around 4 or 5. Deserted Temple - Glaciers fodder. Cradle fodder. In worst case, taps for 1 less than a Forest. When this ends up being only 3 mana, you know its an acceptable sacrifice. Forest - Some of the strongest cards in the deck. Gaea's Cradle - Probably goes without saying, but you really want to drop this late. People see the Commander and draw conclusions (usually correct), and either kill it, or kill you. You won't really need it until you're going off, and then it really makes you go off. Ghost Quarter - Land Destruction. While Maze of Ith doesn't hurt us, sometimes it's useful to break other people's defenses and give your other opponents a juicier target. It's always good to discourage people from counting on their maze to save them. Petrified Field- To recur Gaea's Cradle, Buried Ruin, or anything else that incidentally dies. Usually that would be the cradle. Strip Mine- Land Destruction. Thawing Glaciers - This helps put the best cards of this deck into play. Glaciers alone makes you hit a land drop every other turn. This is excellent, as simply drawing cards should help get the other half of the turns. If you get a Deserted Temple out along side of it, it acts as mana ramp, and with a Stone-Seeder Heirophant, it turns into : Get a Forest.
-- Gaea's Touch - Azusa's Mentor. Speeds up early mana, can sacrifice for a refund in a pinch, and doesn't die to wraths. Removed:4/03/2012
-- Explosive Vegetation - Gets 2 lands out, in a jiffy. Removed:4/03/2012
-- Everflowing Chalice - uses mana, to make more mana. I have on different occasions dropped this for 1, and for 41. Since Nemata's ability soaks a lot of colorless, this makes a good fuel engine as well as a good early game acceleration. This is also great for helping drop the first mana flare and leaving as many lands untapped to profit as possible. I usually drop it as early as possible, for however much I can put through it. It usually ends up being 3 or 4. Removed:4/03/2012
-- Awakening - While it doesn't double the mana, it at least triples how often we get to use it. Will be removed for Brutalizer Exarch. Power considerations and control considerations. Removed: 10/30/2011
-- Doubling Cube - A true doubler, that gets more powerful with other doublers out. Has a large upfront cost, as if that's a problem for us! Do note that in order to "double your mana" the game adds mana to your mana pool equal to what's already there. That makes this thing ridonkulous with Mana Reflection. Removed for Illusionist's Bracers which has a lower investment, and serves similar purpose, while being more effective.
-- Seedborn Muse - Same as above, but the lower bar is doubling, as it has no effect on your turn. Removed: 10/17/2011 (Too strong, also lots of theft/reanimation)
-- Heartbeat of Spring - Mana Flare! Removed: 10/30/2011 - Fully Symmetrical, trying out a direction to cut out helping others too much.
-- Keeper of Progenitus - Diversification is good! A mana flare that can't be disenchanted is nice. Since he affects 100% of our lands, and we aim to have more lands than our opponents, he always helps us more than others. Removed: 4/03/2012
-- Orochi Hatchery - See Ant Queen Removed: 9/24/11
-- Ant Queen - Although she only makes 1/1's, her ability being cheaper makes up for it. Always a solid add when dealing with massive green mana. Removed: 9/24/11
-- Verdant Force - Not only is he the best fatty ever printed, but you get FREE SAPROLINGS! Removed: 10/2/2011
-- Riptide Replicator - See Wurmcalling. Saproling is the right decision, Sponge (or Egg) is the fun one. Also, if you happen to not need them to be Saprolings, "Coward" is an official creature type. It is always fun to beat people down with 14/14 Cowards. Do note that you might not be able to block warriors should you do this. Removed: 10/17/2011
-- Wurmcalling - A big fear I have (due to one nasty game with terrible draws) is Elesh Norn style of -1/-1 effects. Aside from the static pump in the deck, Wurmcalling is a great way to turn our oodles of mana into surviving threats. Removed: 4/03/2012
-- Baru, Fist of Krosa - close to the chopping block! Oddly, this deck doesn't really care about trample. You just sac the offending idiots who got blocked to inspire the rest. That said, this guy has produced some amazing plays. Sadly, he'll probably be cut for a Gaea's Anthem or something similar that protects our guys. Or the petroglyphs. removed: 9/24/11
-- Beastmaster Ascension - How this was ever considered fair is beyond me. Removed: 10/2/2011 no longer needed with the awakening effects.
-- Konda's Banner - A bit weaker with Azusa cut from the deck, but a static +1 helps against the static minus effects. Removed: 10/30/2011 - Replaced by better
-- Garruk Wildspeaker - Untaps our cooler lands (this includes forests). Makes tokens. Makes tokens big. He fits every strategy! removed: 4/3/2012
-- Sylvok Lifestaff - We routinely kill our stuff to do something cooler. Getting life out of it seems a bargain. removed: 9/24/11
-- Arboria - is being tested for stall. Once we get Nemata out, we can just pump tokens until we actually need something else. removed: 4/3/2012 - this can actually lock us out of an attack when we finally want to... Somewhat annoying, although an absolutely hilarious and great card. Amusing to watch people when they read it. The increase in ramp for the deck makes it less viable as well, it's only really good for the few turns after you drop Nemata, before you start killing everyone. Which is sometimes 0. Once Nemata is out, he also serves as great defense as well.
-- Elvish Farmer - A useful guy to turn saprolings into life, the essence warden won out over him for the slot simply because she gives us life for no additional resources. The farmer remains a great second choice.
-- Praetor's Counsel - Because our card draw section wasn't good enough, we'll just pick it all back up and do it again. removed: 4/3/2012
-- Gloomwidow's Feast - Kills an opposing flyer that's coming for your face. You may also get a blocker out of it. Removed: 9/24/11
-- Creeping Mold - Slice in Twain almost took this spot for the three magic words "Draw a Card," but the versatility ends up being better. While this deck doesn't have a problem with any sort of maze effect, mazes make people look somewhere else to attack. Killing an opposing maze gives players a go ahead to release that frustration of not being able to hit a player. removed: 10/2/2011
-- Tornado Elemental - The second best, and is also a threat. removed: 10/2/2011
-- Spidersilk Armor - lets every one of our tokens chump flyers. Removed: 4/03/2012
-- Squallmonger - This guy gets a lot of hate as a 2 edged sword. But we're playing green, and we've already covered that Green doesn't fly. This makes this guy an anti-air cannon (for anyone) that can play great politics too. He also gives us an extra mana dump into damage. Removed: 4/03/2012
-- Acid Web Spider - not the best blocker, but the ability to destroy swords of feast and famine is quite welcome in this deck. Removed: 4/03/2012
+Awakening and Seedborn Muse are both very strong in this deck; potentially too strong depending on the meta. Seedborn is also prone to theft/reanimation, and I hate it when people play with my creatures more than I do. Awakening can cause problems when against combo/control decks. Both are worth more than their risks in this deck though. Tailor to your meta.
+Life and Limb: This creates potentials for insane, over the top plays... Sadly, our plays are already large enough that we want to do damage on the following turn, not generate more mana. This also opens up our lands to destruction, which would cripple everything we worked for. Run at your own risk. Life and Limb can also go infinite with Stone-Seeder Heirophant, or a Haste Outlet.
+Primeval Titan: My playgroup soft-banned (we make frownie faces) Primeval Titan for a while for power reasons. We wanted to be more open to newer players, and were having plenty of fun with lesser powered decks. Sadly, the reality is that when we travel to other groups, or a more serious player joins our group, there is a dichotomy in the power that grows as the game length increases. As such, we are looking at removing our soft-ban. I will be the last to return Primeval Titan, and other similar powered cards to my decks though, as it was partially my abuse of them that set off the whole thing for us in the first place. This makes me sad for newer players, who enjoy playing things like Szadek, Lord of Secrets or a Commander Eesha banding themed deck.
+Heartstone: A great card with Nemata, even works with a few other token producers in the deck, but it doesn't double our token production! This only adds 1/3 production value! Clearly Unacceptable!
+Sasaya, Orochi Ascendant: While previous versions of this deck could have run this card, I typically get lands straight into play now, so short of massive card draw, flipping her will be difficult. If your land ramp package differs from mine, she may be useful.
+Heartbeat of Spring was cut for being symmetrical. It's still one of the cheapest out there (mana cost) and can easily fit in the deck. May return it in place of the extraplanar lens later, depending on which drawback I dislike more.
+Hall of Gemstones: Can draw some hate, but an excellent method to stop counterspells and give control decks/multicolored decks some problems. Doesn't play as nice with awakening/muse, but an acceptable sacrifice for a solid card. Especially if not running the muse/awakening due to power considerations.
-Coat of Arms: A solid static +/+, but the problem being it doesn't help the first creature into play, and you don't want it out without any way to profit off of it. Its a card you drop when you win, and in this deck its just a win-more. Not needed, and actually not useful enough. (Never thought I'd say that in a token deck...). Helping other opponents, not helping tokens enter with Elesh out, makes this card actually a minus in this deck.
-Muraganda Petroglyphs: I don't know where mine is. It will replace Baru. 10/17/11: At this point, it does too little. Sadly, it never even got a chance...
- Beastmaster Ascension - win more with new deck direction.
- Verdant Force - I hate to ct this guy, he's simply made of awesome, but doesn't fit in very well anymore. There are better fatties, and better saproling makers.
- Tornado Elemental - somethimes 6 isn't enough to hit the air, and sometimes 6 isn't enough to hit the opponent. Will stay on the sidelines though.
Much of this update is balancing back more towards the ramp side. With doublers and ramp interact favorably with each other on a linear scale. The more doublers out, the stronger ramp gets, the more lands out, the stronger the doubling gets. Finding the balance between the two is the trick. 50-50 gives you the most mana with the same number of cards, but lands are a) free to play, and b) a safer investment, so the split between doublers and ramp (considering you also get to play lands for free) is a bit harder to decipher.
I was also feeling some pressure from Aggro decks, as I didn't have enough creatures online until Nemata came out. This was pressuring me to play Nemata earlier, which would then hurt more when he got removed, as I'd only get one or two Saprolings. The extra creatures also help with other draw cards in the deck, so I went with the creature based ramp options to fill both roles.
Changing around some of the removal to colorless sources, and some more options to hit creatures. Shifted some threats, and included Kamahl once more. In general, getting more ready for Gatecrash with some last changes before the set hits.
I really wish Gloomwidow's feast had deathtouch as well, while it is nice as a surprise, I think Predator Flagship may make a better mark in general, especially as it can be used for so much better effect.
The Acid web spider still feels like a weak link, but I like how it kills sword of feast and famine (as well as greaves and other pesky annoyances), which is fairly prevalent in my meta, so it doesn't get axed quite yet.
Sadly, the sylvok lifestaff has not really played out well for me. It was added in to help the deck stay around and recoup some damage taken in the early game, but honestly has just not provided enough incentive to use. While not settled yet, I think this will be the card removed for doubling cube.
That is actually a really good point. I suppose when I first built the deck that I didn't really have any good ones I was looking to use, which is why the deck was built with extra win-cons over the general. As such most creature tutors don't factor in too favorably right now... If I have my General, I don't really have any creatures I need to search out, and If I don't have my general, I use an alternate wincon.
At one point I had been considering time of need as I was running Azusa in the deck, and had a problem with tuck, but with Azusa out, it's an otherwise dead card.
Green Sun's Zenith would be by far the best one to consider, as now that I have Keeper of Progenitus, it could serve as an enabler to a mana flare. I could also add in Dryad Arbor at that point as the only flare effect that would not affect her is the Gauntlet of Power; the problem I have with her is that outside of GSZ she's just a land that's easier to kill in this deck.
And the biggest problem with most, even if they are an unconditional tutor is that I have nothing else I really want to get with them.
Scratch all that: I just recalled a lot of my removal is currently creature based, for some reason I had completely put them out of my mind. I still don't think that survival of the fittest has any room to play here, but Green Sun's Zenith and other direct tutors may yet have a role. GSZ at the least.
I may also need to add reclaim effects like eternal witness back into the deck. They came out a while back when GY hate was exceedingly rampant in my meta and they got replaced by straight up card draw. Praetor's Councel snuck back in, but it may be time to add the witness back in as well.
are looking like my proposed changes for now, I'll lay the deck out tonight and see how it looks.
Everflowing Chalice may also need to come out. While it has been helpful, I feel in the heavy mana situations its a win more that hearstone would better fulfill, and in the early game, its simply a worse sol ring.
Despite it also raising my curve, and my personal philosophy on him, Prime Time may actually make it into the deck.
No Kamahl, Fist of Krosa? He's one of the most insane mana outlets in the game, and gives you built-in wrath protection. No one wants to wrath you when it means that every untapped forest you have is a land of theirs that also goes down to wrath.
Overrun effects are really not needed. Even if I attack you with 10 saprolings, and you block 6, you are taking 28 damage.
And I routinely have more than 10 saprolings when I go for the kill.
In honesty, the deck pulls out enough mana that replaying Nemata is not a problem, and my early game creatures are there to help defend and ramp. I actually want wraths to go off, as they buy me time to explode.
EDIT: To be honest, he actually used to be in the deck, and when I was beginning, I was considering making him my general.
You don't play Kamahl for the Overrun. He sits there turning their lands into dudes if they cast Wrath. Nobody Wraths with Kamahl is on the table with mana open.
The Overrun is nice, but not the kicker.
Khamal was first questioned due to his being a mana outlet. I'm hardly going to spend my mana turning my own lands into creatures when its more advantageous to make more creatures with them instead, hence why I addressed the overrun first.
I have no inherent way of destroying creatures, but a few to destroy lands, so I don't need to turn enemy lands into creatures either, short of a wrath. In the event of wrath debates, I actually want them to go off as I said above, as they stall the game and take focus away from me. Popping off half of someones land in response to a wrath will likely draw more attention than I want, as well as lower someone else to the position of lowest threat. Namely, someone not me.
This was the first entry in "Notable Exclusions." The reasoning is that it is too powerful. If you are playing competitive, run it as it is infinite, but why are you playing Nemata then?
On other news...
Innistrad spoiler gives us another doubler! Parallel Lives3G
If an effect would put one or more tokens onto the battlefield under your control, it puts twice that many tokens onto the battlefield instead.
I have given in to the Primeval Titan. I feel dirty for doing so, but alas.
Innistrad's Prerelease has given me a temporary replacement for Creeping Mold until I get another Acidic Slime and has also given me the best thing ever! Parallel Lives! Also made a change to more recursion and search.
Still need a Summoner's Pact, and then I'll be moderately happy for a while.
I am a bit concerned that some of my changes have raised the CMC avg of the deck... I'll have to see how it plays.
Along these lines, the Awakening will probably make room for the Brutalizer Exarch. It is currently proving itself to be a little too strong in my meta. I believe it will also backfire significantly in other metas where combo's/counterspells are more prevalent.
I used to have a saproling deck some of the best interactions with nemata are - Saproling Burst (even better with doubling season) either use the tokens for beats, pump the other dudes through nemata, get tons of mana through cradle or draw some cards with the thalid.
Good suggestions. I used to run Saproling Burst in the deck, but it's a one-shot trick at this point, so it got cut.
Verdeloth the Ancient is another mass saproling creator, but once again, when I have that much mana, Nemata does it better.
Elvish Farmer is by far an awesome addition to the deck. I need to revisit some of the older thalid cards now, to make sure I'm not overlooking any. Oddly enough, the very first draft of cards I pulled for the deck were all the old thalids. Mainly because I wanted to play thalid in edh. They never got played though.
Mycoloth I've been looking at for some time. There are two things I dislike about him. 1) I need creatures to sack, which means I didn't overrun them immediately, (minor), and 2) I have to wait a full round of turns before he becomes effective. That's a lot of potential removal on him. He seems like a bit of a gamble. I may have to try it out, and see how it actually plays.
First, I'm curious why you cut Verdant Force. Seems like an auto-include in a deck that wants to make lots of saprolings.
Second, what about Thelonite Hermit? It's a lord for your saprolings... cheaper but not as good as Verdeloth the Ancient (which I would definitely run, since it's also a lord for treefolk - e.g. even gives your commander a boost).
What it comes down to was simply being too slow. The deck has evolved to really cranking up Nemata, and so the other token producers and lords end up slower and weaker.
Verdant Force was one of my favorite cards for the deck, but he got cut for just being slow. Eventually I may fit him back in for flavor, but it came down to one saproling a turn not being fast enough. For 8 mana, in a four player game, he would give me three non-sick saprolings by the next turn, Nemata does that for 9. Of course, his benefit continues, but it cones down to reliability and card investment then.
I don't have one. He would be an awesome mana doubler to get with GSZ. I've been looking at picking one up recently, but just haven't gotten around to it yet. I'll add him to the notable exclusions and want list to reflect that.
EDIT: I've taken the opportunity to also organize the notable exclusions list a bit.
Received some nice additions for the deck, thanks to a member of these forums!
-Awakening - too brutal in my playgroup. It may not technically be an infinite combo, but its practically a one card "I win" button.
+Brutalizer Exarch - It's a tutor, and its also a removal that is searchable by tutor. Love it.
-Heartbeat of Spring - going to try moving away from the more symmetrical mana flares.
+Doubling Cube - takes a lot of mana to run... hah! As if thats a problem for us! (slightly less effective with Gaea's Cradle though)
-Mana Reflection - Non-symmetrical says it should stay, but I want to free it up for another deck. Also, its currently tied for the most expensive doubler, so I had to clear room for the following monster:
+Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger - DOOOOOM!
-Carpet of Flowers - I've been trying this card for a little bit, and it's just a bit underwhelming in this deck. If I play it early, there are enough non-basics for my opponents to play that it doesn't kick in until later. If I wait for a few islands, then I miss out on the early advantage. Essentially it does too little early, and too little late.
+Mana Reflection - So I gave my copy of this to vaevictis earlier to make room for Vorinclex, apparently forgetting that a) they're cheap, and b) I actually had a full playset. I feel silly.
This feels like a straight up change to me, Mana Doublers are the heartbeat (aha get it? God I'm awesome ) of the deck; every time I drew the carpet late, I wished it was a doubler. Every time I drew it early... I wished it was a doubler. Now it is!
Current wish-list: Cloudthresher - seems like decent tech; an anti-flyer that doesn't commit me to board presence until needed. Much as I like the equipment slaying, acid-web would be replaced in a heartbeat. Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary - Cheap creature mana doubler and insane mana acceleration.
 heartbeat of spring. I'm awesome because it's been proven that puns are the absolute best and most sophisticated form of comedy in existence, and I made a pun there. That instantly makes me awesome.
 I did it again!
So, the more doublers I put in the deck recently, the higher I pushed my curve. On certain good draws, this made for explosive plays, but really, it just hurt the consistency, the early game, and even some of the card choice. To that end, there has been a massive change to the deck scheme, some cards I removed even surprised me, but as I was laying the cards, they made sense.
The biggest addition though, is that I finally got a Rofellos to add.
For the most part, it's been cycling in some more creatures to speed up the earlier turns. The land searchers help accelerate the deck, something that had been accidentally weeded out. The extra creatures will help power up most of the draw options in the deck as well, giving added synergy to the Masked Admirers, Skullclamp, Fecundity, and skullmulcher.
Will update OP in a while.
EDIT: just mentally noticed a minor combo between Stone-Seeder, Gaea's Cradle, and Perikous Forays... hm. I shall need to consider this.
Boundless Realms - Huge amounts of ramp, and should be easy to pull off with the deck. Right now I'm preferring my ramp to have bodies attached, but this is a lot of ramp for very little effort. Fungal Sprouting - While typically there aren't a lot of big creatures on my side, this says 3G put a saproling out for every saproling you sacrificed this turn, +1. It may yet have some use. Plummet - Kills a flyer. We like this. I'm not convinced the 1 mana is worth the added utility of the other options though. I guess this is a reprint as well. Ranger's Path - equivalent to Explosive Vegetation in this deck, as there are no special Forests. I'm currently favoring creatures, so likely won't make the cut. Sentinel Spider - too small. Thragtusk - without a way to really use him, he's just a decent body and recovery here. Pass. Yeva, Nature's Herald - Flash is one way to help protect the commander from sorcery speed removal, however I feel Yeva is too narrow, and there are too few creatures in this deck to make it worthwhile. I'd try Winding Canyons first.
I may be having some more updates soon. My mono-black deck has shown me the importance of having more colorless removal. While Green doesn't have the issues with artifacts/enchantments, extra Iona, Shield of Emeria killers seem like a good idea.
Reaper King is forced to hit a Cataclysm. I'm left with a forest that taps for 2 green, and a seedguide ash and Nemata, and I make a saproling. Reaper also clones my ash on his turn, killing both of them, so on my turn I have 5 mana with Nemata.
I use a acidic slime to take out another players gilded lotus, as I'm not too concerned about the singularity. Reaper and I are essentially the only ones on the field, in a 5 player game. By the end of the turn I have 7 lands.
A while later, I'm up to 3 mana per land, and move to take out Reaper with a Krosan Grip on the singularity, and attack with 6 tokens, so he Final Judgements instant speed (anticipation leyline), and in response, with mana + cradle I strip all the lands out of my deck (27 forests out) using perilous forays. Second main I drop Dauntless Dourbark.
Next turn I drop Nemata and move to take out reaper with my 29/29 trampler. He (mostly) taps out for a capsize on the dourbark. This allows me to drop Seedborn muse and Parallel Lives, with Cradle+Temple on the field. My own loaned Ramirez deck steals the muse a few turns later, preventing me one untap on that cycle, but I am left with 498 1/1 saprolings. On my turn I topdeck Eldrazi Monument for giggles, as it's un-needed.
Niv tries to be cute with Street spasm in response, but I just make and pop 2 tokens in response to that and look at him funny. He should have known better.
They scoop to my 498 4/4 indestructible flyers, with potential for serious additions for pumping purposes with Gaea's Cradle + Deserted Temple on the back burner.
Gwafa has 4 lands, Niv has 6 mana, thanks to signet+sol ring, Ramirez is on 4 lands, Reaper is on 9, 3 from the cloned ash that he got from me, the rest because he managed to hold onto a crucible of worlds.
I'm on 27 + Cradle + Deserted Temple.
Guys, Mass Land D totally stops the ramp deck. For reals. You should all try it. Especially against me.