Last week, we talked about the super-fast color red and its role in the Pauper Cube. This week, we’re continuing with the color of ramp spells and big creatures, green.
What does green want to do in Pauper Cube? I will divide this question into the usual first three sections: The Aggressive Plan, The Defensive Plan and Repeatable Effects and Card Advantage. This week, the final section will be a bit different. Because we have covered every two-color pair already, I will instead talk about splashing colors and using green’s fixing cards effectively.
The Aggressive Plan
Green’s enormous creatures support an aggressive plan well. While white or red needs to attack with many small creatures to get the job done, green can instead attack a few times with a single threat like Emperor Crocodile or Blastoderm. It might seem at first glance like these big creatures will be too slow to compete with other decks, but that’s where green’s mana-ramp abilities come in. Starting the game with a Llanowar Elves (or similar one-mana elf) on the first turn means that you will often have more mana than your opponent on each following turn. Using mana-elves, you can cast three-drops like Hungry Spriggan on the second turn and cards like Peema Outrider on the third turn. In this way, mana-elves can make sure you are just as fast as your opponent. Meanwhile, the threats you play on each turn will outclass your opponent’s 2/2 or 3/3 creatures with ease. Also, don’t forget that these mana-elves have power and toughness as well – they can attack your opponent too! Sneaking a couple damage in with these little 1/1s could make the difference between a 5/5 creature needing to attack four times and only three times. Having many creatures in play if often an advantage for green, regardless of how small they are. An Elvish Mystic can help cast big threats in the early game, but it can also make cards like Scion of the Wild bigger, be enchanted by Elephant Guide, or get a mini-bonus from Saddleback Legac and Ivy Lane Denizen.
One important aspect of any aggro deck is the ability to remove blockers– in the past weeks, we saw the importance of cards like Disfigure and Flame Slash as cheap ways to force damage through opposing creatures. Green’s big creatures are so essential to its game plan that its removal spells rely on them to be effective. Instead of clean answers like Doom Blade, green has cards that allow its creatures to “fight” your opponent’s creatures. These cards include Prey Upon, Rapid Bite, and Epic Confrontation. Cards that cause creatures to fight have both upsides and downsides. The upside of these cards is they can kill almost any opposing threat. While Last Gasp and Chain Lightning can kill only smaller creatures, a fight card can kill anything that is smaller than your biggest green creature. There are also downsides of fight cards. First, you need a big creature in play for them to work. In comparison, traditional red and black removal spells also work if you have no creatures in play and are just trying to survive. Second, your opponent can mess up your fight with a removal spell of their own. If you try to fight an Imperiosaur against your opponent’s Aethersnipe, for example, a well-timed Repulse can send the dinosaur back to your hand and counter your fight spell. This means it is usually best to fight if your opponent has no lands untapped. Every color in Magic has upsides and downsides. Green’s upside of having great creatures comes at the cost of having to work a little bit harder to remove creatures on the other side of the battlefield.
The Defensive Plan
Green’s ability to create many creatures quickly can be an advantage when you are playing defense. Cards like Nest Invader and Nightshade Peddler can make it tough for your opponent to push through damage in the early game, and this task will only get harder for your opponent as the game goes on, as you will gain access to cards like Aerie Bowmasters and Penumbra Spider, which have high toughness. If you have extra mana to use, the two-mana snakes, Marsh Boa and River Boa, can block and regenerate all day long while you play more lands and more tough creatures. If you make it to the late game, there is a lot to do with your mana, whether it is flipping over Ulvenwald Captive, flashing back Elephant Ambush, or making Nessian Asp into the. biggest. snake. ever. Green has many ways to gain an advantage over an aggressive deck, whether it is simply playing better creatures, having access to more mana, or engaging in the traditional control strategy of creating card advantage and using repeatable effects. Hey, that sounds like we’re ready to move to the next section!
Repeatable Effects and Card Advantage
Green is often the favorite color of new players. There isn’t too much to figure out or think about. Just play lands and creatures and attack your opponent! This might lead you to thinking green is one of the more simple colors on the Magic color wheel. There is a surprising amount of card advantage and complexity in the color green, however. Some creatures, like Elvish Visionary, Byway Courier, and Civic Wayfinder add an extra body to the board, but also give you an extra card or land to work with. The card Yavimaya Elder is just full of card advantage! On its own, it is a 2/1 creature, but if you sacrifice it, you will gain two lands and an extra card (remember to search for the lands before drawing a card). Often you will block with it and then sacrifice it. In this kind of situation, you will prevent some damage and gain three new cards in your hand. When it gets to the late game, it is time for your token-producers to create card advantage. Cards like Maul Splicer, It of the Horrid Swarm, and Walker of the Grove are great ways to convert the extra mana from Arbor Elf and Yavimaya Elder into concrete threats. When it comes to repeatable effects, Sprout Swarm and Presence of Gond are ways to overwhelm the board with 1/1 green creature tokens. These cards both pair exceptionally well with Ivy Lane Denizen, which has a surprising amount of combo and synergy potential in the Pauper Cube. Pairing the Denizen with a Devoted Druid enchanted by Presence of Gond allows you to make infinite creatures using only the color green! While this combo will be hard to assemble and protect, a more reliable use of the Ivy Lane Denizen is with instant-speed ways to create creatures, such as Scatter the Seeds and Sprout Swarm. You can first attack, see how your opponent blocks, then create a bunch of Saproling tokens at instant speed and put +1/+1 counters all over your creatures to make sure they survive combat.
Green Multicolor Decks
Because of cards like Cultivate and Sakura-Tribe Elder, green decks are very good at “splashing” a second, third, or even fourth color of mana. Let’s look at two situations to see how green is better at other colors at doing this.
Situation 1: You have drafted a great mono-black deck, but you also picked up a Pyrotechnics and a Fireball, and you want to play them too! You are faced with a choice: do you increase the power level of your deck and add two or three Mountains? If you do so, you will sometimes draw the Mountains and no red cards or the red cards and no Mountains. Drawing too many Mountains will make it harder to cast your cards like Hymn to Tourach and Victim of Night. Drawing the red cards with no Mountains will leave you with uncastable cards stuck in your hand. In this situation, you are adding power but sacrificing consistency.
Situation 2: You have drafted a great mono-green deck, but you also picked up a Pyrotechnics and a Fireball, and you want to play them too! Because you have cards like Kodama’s Reach, Edge of Autumn, and Yavimaya Elder in your deck, it is often enough to play a single Mountain. Then, when you draw your red cards, you can use green mana-fixers to find your Mountain as well. If you don’t draw your red cards, your mana-fixers can grab you more green mana instead. In this way, green ramp spells allow you to add the power of other colors to your deck without sacrificing too much consistency.
Thanks for reading! See you next week, where we discuss artifacts and lands.
As always, feel free to comment and check out my pauper cube list.
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