Thursday, January 28, 2010

Worldwake Prerelease: Strategy (Green)

Again, this is for anyone who hasn't been to a Prerelease before or hasn't been to a Magic event in a long time. Or doesn't know anything about Zendikar, the set before Worldwake.

I like the list format of explaining things. It's easier to read and more concise. I apologize because my sealed knowledge is simply not that extensive, but you've been warned. Much of what I say is going to be based on articles and reading on the subject; not personal experience... I hate sealed ;) But this should be sufficient for Prereleasers.

Let's start by briefly going over the mechanics and then the strengths/weaknesses/applications of each color! These will mostly revolve around what 6xZendikar sealed is like -- I will add how Worldwake changes things after. (In this article I'm going to just cover Green. The rest will come later.)

1. Landfall -- "whenever a land you control enters the battlefield..." do something. Usually make your creatures larger. The more landfall creatures you have, the more powerful each land you play becomes! Lands are almost like spells in themselves in Zendikar block! Maximize it. It's a powerful mechanic.
2. Traps -- Trap mana costs get cheaper when some condition is fulfilled. Not as universally "good" as landfall since some of these conditions are, like, never going to happen. (Also some Traps do very random things that aren't going to be useful most of the time, like Ravenous Trap.) Generally, it's a good idea to play traps if you don't mind paying the full cost for it. The borderline Traps are: Lethargy Trap and Needlebite Trap. Good in the right deck, terrible in the wrong one. Lavaball Trap is a bomb. It costs a lot, but in a deck that can get up that mana, it's a bomb. Use in slower decks.
3. Kicker. Almost every spell with Kicker is good. Kicker adds versatility to the crappiest cards. I've seen Tempest Owl blow out a fat green deck. That's a pretty borderline Kicker card. But is an example of how versatility makes up for crappy-ness.
4. Allies. Best when you have more of them. Just like Landfall. If you can outfit a deck full of them, it could be very powerful indeed!
5. Quests. "Meh." It's a lot of work to get some of these to work, and they're usually always bad topdecks. They still have their place. The black ones seem to be the best overall. Then the green ones can be well-utilized, particularly Khalni Heart Expedition for super-landfall triggers and fixing. The 2 non-rare red ones are playable in very aggressive strategies. The only blue one you can run is Ior Ruin Expedition. The only white one you can maindeck is Luminarch Ascension. I'll discuss the Worldwake ones later.
6. Common land cycle. There are a lot of common lands in Zendikar that ETBT with some ability attached. Don't be tempted to overload your deck with these. You WANT lands to come into play untapped a lot of the time. Don't sacrifice tempo for a +1/+1 bonus. The best ones to use are Teetering Peaks in aggressive decks; Soaring Seacliffs in decks without a lot of flying and heavy bodies; Kabira Crossroads is generally always playable; the others I dislike. I'll discuss Worldwake ones later.

Now to the color evaluation... again, mostly discussing Zendikarx6 sealed here.

1. If you were to ask me, I'd say this is the weakest color in Sealed. In fact it most definitely is. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't run it if that's what your pool is given. It just lacks the punch of the other colors. This may or may not change with Worldwake.
2. The reason is primarily because of a lack of removal. Removal is SO important in Sealed. It's really what determines the strength of your deck. Not to mention a good curve, which green sometimes has problems achieving.
3. Green does have some great bomby rares, though. Terra Stomper, Oracle of Mul Daya, Rampaging Baloths, etc. Opening lots of these is probably key to making a great Green sealed deck.
4. The other way to have a great green Sealed deck is having lots of Allies. Oran-Rief Survivalist, Joraga Bard, Tajuru Archer, Turntimber Ranger. Having lots of Survivalists and maybe a Turntimber Ranger could make Allies a serious consideration, especially if you have lots of mana fixing to back up supporting colors. Allies function well with 3 colors -- 2 colors and a splash; or even 2 colors with 2 splashes. Having a very strong Ally base circumvents the need for lots of removal, since all your creatures start to outweigh your opponents'.
5. Green provides the best manafixing out of all the colors, but don't run green if your only attraction to the color is fixing. If you're splashing for a couple Harrows or Expeditions, then why bother at all? Just eliminate green altogether, and your deck will be more consistent anyway. Green's fixing is only worth it if green is one of your main colors already.
6. Some synergies to consider: Turntimber Basilisk with Savage Silhouette or with lots of landfall. (Savage Silhouette can be good on almost anything.) You can distribute deathtouch damage to multiple blockers evenly, so having multiple creatures block Basilisk is a great trade. Predatory Urge with regenerating or deathtouch creatures. Tanglesap with tramplers. (I wouldn't run more than 1 Tanglesap however.)

GREEN w/WWK (spoiler page)
1. Green gets some pseudo-removal: Feral Contest and Slingbow Trap. To be expected. They're just not that powerful and incredibly limited in use. I prefer Oran-Rief Recluse as the answer to fliers since it sticks around to block more of 'em. But the Trap is a very efficient answer to Vampire Nighthawk and Malakir Bloodwitch. The point is: removal... green doesn't have it.
2. Green does get some really powerful cards, though. I think it was missing A) Arbor Elf and B) Explore. These should help it skip its weak early game and start dropping bombs like...
3. Leatherback Baloth, Summit Apes, Bestial Menace. These are all like "Wuh" dumb crazy. At uncommon, too. Not bomb-bombs, but they can definitely change games around by landing. Turn one Arbor Elf into turn two Leatherback Baloth will probably be the kind of nuts-play I'll want to see from green if it wants to win games.
4. Allies. Graypelt Hunter is very solid. Vastwood Animist is more situational; since it is better with lots of Allies on the table already. Overall, having one Ally at common and one other at uncommon means it's still going to be hard to find an Ally backbone in just one, or even just two colors.

TIP: To evaluate how good of an Ally deck you might
be able to create, try highlighting all the Allies in your pool, 
regardless of color. Try to see if a deck emerges.
Make sure to check for good manafixing!

The rest of the colors I will cover in a separate article. :D It's time to go test for Standard.