Green Lights And White Knights

Posted in Serious Fun on October 4, 2005

By Anthony Alongi

With Selesnya week focusing most of us writers on the green-white color axis, we have a great opportunity to look at what cards from Magic's past can help you reinforce your green-white decks. If you're like me, you like to use newer cards in decks. Also, if you're like me, you have a horrible memory for stuff that happened more than six months ago. So as much for me as for you, I'm offering this guide to some key green and/or white stars from Magic's past – to remind us that some excellent cards still sit in those aging white cardboard boxes we keep our Magic collections in.

This is probably a good time to announce that I won't be doing a Multiplayer Card Hall of Fame update this autumn. Smart readers will have deduced already that other Ravnica guilds will get their own theme weeks – which means that over the next year, I am likely to revisit top-notch cards from all five colors and all ten color combinations. It would be cheap of me to then rehash most of that material in three otherwise dead columns.

To those readers who have emailed me wanting to see an update to the Hall – I was honest in my replies about wanting to revisit it again, and I did think I would be doing so until I saw the theme week assignments coming up. My new plan is to do an update in autumn 2006, when there should be plenty of new material to give readers something worth their time.

Each of my guild theme weeks will ask three questions:

  • What color-appropriate multiplayer bombs top the list in the new set?
  • What color-appropriate multiplayer bombs might we have forgotten from older sets?
  • What cheap but highly effective cards should I use in rounding out a multiplayer deck?

I think this will work much better for everyone. Let's get started!

What GW Multiplayer Bombs Top The List In The New Set?

In thinking through new decks based in GW, I'm taking a good, hard look at three cards. In no particular order:

Loxodon Hierarch
1. Loxodon Hierarch. A 4/4 for four looks good. The life gain is fine. The cleric and elephant creature types are interesting. And the potential to regenerate the rest of your army sends a strong, clear signal to would-be attackers: don't bother.

You will need some way to protect the Hierarch, because smart players will choose it early for removal. I recommend a "tapped out" trick like Reverent Mantra, so you can take full advantage of this creature's cheap casting cost. Mantra will also give you a chance to save your army if necessary, while you wait to untap again.

I am thrilled that elephant decks get more and more viable. What the type truly needs now is a set of quality one and two-mana elephants. Nothing amazing or out of flavor, mind you: a "baby elephant" 2/2 trampler, or some sort of interesting elephant–rabbit hybrid that doesn't offend anyone. Just get it to cost two mana, so elephant deck enthusiasts have somewhere to go!

Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree
2. Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree. Lands that generate tokens are excellent in multiplayer. Very few casual decks pack anti-land cards, and a card like City-Tree will see you through some tough times while you wait for better creatures to show up.

One caution for players who take full advantage of excellent Ravnica lands like this: it will not take long before some opponents start to play with land destruction. It is your responsibility to refrain from whining if they do so. After all, you cannot on one hand play with great lands, and then on the other hand start whining when people metagame against you. Crying "mana denial!...unfair!" when someone finds a solution like Wildfire, Creeping Mold, Strip Mine, or even Balance is like hiding behind your mother's skirt after you throw a mudball at another kid. Just step forward and take your medicine, my friend.

Privileged Position
3. Privileged Position. What I often call "rattlesnake" cards, because they encourage opponents to go bother someone else, are often more appropriately called "tortoise" cards when they give you a protective shell this good.

Much like the Hierarch, playing a card like this means opponents might opt to focus their energy entirely on this single card. You will kindly note that Privileged Position is not a legendary enchantment, and so playing two is perfectly possible – which protects both Positions, neat as rain. At that point, you need only concern yourself with global killers – Plague Boiler, Purify, that sort of thing. At a multiplayer table, make sure you focus your green-white arsenal toward the one or two decks most able to play those sorts of cards. Thus your privileged position will be assured.

What GW Multiplayer Bombs Might We Have Forgotten From Older Sets?

To keep the article readable, I'll limit myself to five cards.

On top of my list is, of all things, a utility card – but it's one of the most spectacular utility cards you'll find.

Aura Shards
Aura Shards is, in many ways, far too good at what it does. With Mirrodin-style artifact decks still flying around, and a renewal of good creature enchantments in Ravnica, Shards has never been more likely to be relevant in your deck. It's fairly easy to get, because it's an uncommon. Its only drawback – its slightly slower speed – is more than made up for in its reusability, and the fact that it even combos with stuff like Mycosynth Lattice to do ridiculous things.

Ravnica has given Aura Shards a further shot in the arm by giving players access to more good saproling cards, such as Fists of Ironwood, Scatter the Seeds, and Selesnya Evangel.

Simply put, if you have a GW deck nowadays, you should try at least two copies of Aura Shards in it. Played carefully, it should trade with several other cards before someone gets the desire and means to deal with it.

The second card on this list is a more traditional, less forgettable choice: Seedborn Muse. While Seedborn Muse may look like a mono-green card; it's actually a green-white card that just costs one less than you'd expect.

Why do you say that, Mr. Alongi, you ask oh-so politely. I have a very successful green-blue/green-red/green-black/mono-green deck with Seedborn Muse in it. Why do you insist on Muse in green-white?

Two words: Glare of Subdual. Okay, that's technically three; but prepositions are really starting to get on my nerves.

The Glare and the Muse are insane together. Just add snakes. (*Sniff.* I miss snakes. Yay snakes!)

Of course, the Muse is incredibly good with about 10,000 other cards. It's all over Magic Online. In fact, it's brushing up against the no-more-fun barrier, because you start to get that "been there, done that" feel to it no matter what you're trying. But Glare of Subdual gives the Muse a few more moments of my admiration before I shelve the card for good – or maybe just until another amazing combo comes along.

Third on my list is a "mono-white" card that, like the Muse, is really white-green. Glory is going to do great things in many newly built GW decks. It's a card that protects creatures but requires a bit of extra mana to operate. Gosh, can anyone think of a color that produces lots of creatures and mana? Anyone?

While there have been some decent, cheap cards to mess up graveyard strategies (such as Withered Wretch and Nezumi Graverobber); they do not necessarily dominate group games. If you see an opening for Glory in your group's metagame, take it. It finishes like few other cards can – and even when facing graveyard hosing, can still make a formidable presence as a 3/3 flyer for five. And it's whipping around those cool ribbon things that really good marching bands use in their color guard, during halftime shows. What's not to love?

We're going to dig a bit deeper than Odyssey block for the fourth card on this list: Hymn of Rebirth. The Hymn is a Zombify that works on any graveyard. Since when does green-white get to do that, Mr. Alongi, you ask. Well, since you're still asking politely, I'll tell you: since Ice Age. What a crazy set! And what a crazy Age. Furry elephants, big ice cubes, and color wheels frozen in silly positions.

Dual Nature
The fifth (and last) card we're going to look at this week is Dual Nature.

This is a really sneaky way to deal with legends (so don't play any in that deck), and it also combos well with Doubling Season. Green-white will have more use for this functionality than most other color combinations, whether it's silliness with Auriok Champion or tricks with Parallax Wave.

The end of this list is a good time to bring up a proactive point: many readers will mention, say, Mirari's Wake and suggest that I "forgot" this incredibly powerful card (or other cards like it). This is simply not true. In cases where you don't see a card here, I either flat-out don't think it's as good as you think it is; or I don't consider it any more powerful in multiplayer than it is in duel. Mirari's Wake falls into the second category – it's a terrific card that gains little, if anything, in moving from duel environments to multiplayer environments.

Also, if you think a list of five cards is going to capture your pet card every time, you're nuts. Wait until I get my claws into Golgari week – I'm going completely off the deep end on that one.

What Cheap, Effective Cards Can Round Out A Multiplayer GW Deck?

Seeds of Strength
We'll start with one of the latest impressive commons: Seeds of Strength. The applications in group play are numerous.

While Watchwolf is likely to be a bit harder to come by than most other Ravnica uncommons, it's still an uncommon. Snap them up when you find them, and consider holding onto more than four if you keep lots of decks built for a while.

Selesnya Guildmage adds yet another strong two-mana creature to green-white's arsenal – and this color combination already had an impressive arsenal before Ravnica.

Turning back the clock a bit, I would also point you to three highly effective cards from Magic's past (two commons and an uncommon), all of which find particularly strong use in a GW deck:

Format Reminder

While you're building your lovely new GW decks, don't forget to playtest the new, reader-generated casual format! Here's how it looks:

Working Name: "2000+"

The format is a multiplayer, free-for-all format with tournament-legal cards and sets. Whenever a player casts a spell, any player may play the following ability:

Pay one mana, remove a card in your hand from the game: change target spell of the same type, which an opponent controls, to a copy of the removed spell.

Control of the spell does not change, and the original caster chooses any targets beyond the original, if called for.

Once you've tried the new format, let me know how it works, either via email or on the message boards! Looking forward to more feedback.

Anthony has been playing multiple Magic formats for several years, and has been writing for much longer than that. His young adult fantasy novel JENNIFER SCALES AND THE ANCIENT FURNACE, co-written with wife MaryJanice Davidson and published by Berkley Books, is available now.

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