Last time I went through the best possible drops for Mono-Green on Turns 1 & most of the way through Turn 2.
Today I’ll finish Turn 2 in regards to 4 mana cost spells, and talk about Turn 3 in regards to 5-6 mana spells. That should finish Phase 1 of Mono-Green EDH. Next time I’ll talk about Phase 2.
So on with the show.
Turn 2 Continued
The best spells here are ones that are either going to ramp you over the top for Turn 3, or a spell that puts you into an incredibly strong position. Here are the best, then some of the rest.
Turn 2, 4 CMC Spells
That leaves the last of our optimal Turn 2 plays, the 4 CMC spells.
- Defence of the Heart: Strategicaly, one of the best cards in multiplayer, or combined with Forbidden Orchard. You won’t ramp, but you’re likely pulling the two best creatures out of your deck, and if you have any type of combo available, you’re winning on the spot (eg. you have Greater Good in hand, and you go fetch Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Woodfall Primus). Why would you not want that?
- Birthing Pod: It’s a fine play (and you can, and usually should, cast it for 3 mana) that makes every creature you draw with enter-the-battlefield effects that much better, while making the Genesis in your graveyard that much better as well. Commander loves a good tutor, and while this is no [card]Survival of the Fittest, and a little more sensitive to hate, it’s a great card.
- Garruk Wildspeaker: An early planeswalker is a fantastic thing, and given that this can then untap two lands on Turn 2 and allow for another play, it’s crazy good. He does all the right things: helps ramp, protects himself, and provides a win condition.
- Garruk Relentless: On Turn 2 I’m not as big a fan, but if your opponent is playing any type of weenie strategy (or ramping off Birds of Paradise or similar), then he’s a fine play. He can stick down a creature or consistently tutor for a better one, and as I keep saying, and will continue to say long until the world has turned to dust, and the stars have blinked out, and the universe is cold and soulless, consistency is power in Commander.
- Explosive Vegetation / Skyshroud Claim: Pretty much the same card, Skyshroud Claim has a little more utility through the ability to grab Dryad Arbor. Still, it’s allowing you to push towards the 6 mana Turn 3 play, which is what every green deck should aim for.
- Mwonvuli Acid-Moss: This is one of the most brutal tempo boosts you can manage on Turn 2 in mono-Green, especially on the play. You can often leave an opponent on zero lands while you ramp to 5 mana, ready to drop that precious 6th mana on Turn 3 and go nuts.
- Natural Order: If you’re ramping off Birds of Paradise, this can be the perfect ‘fast start’ card. Unfortunately you’re not hitting Progenitus, Blightsteel Colossus, or an Eldrazi off it, which makes it significantly worse than it might be. However, Vorniclex would be a fine find.
- Oracle of Mul Daya: Combined with Azusa, Lost but Seeking, the two ladies become a card-advantage and filtering machine. You can burn through land pockets easily, and ramp outrageously. It’s exactly what you want to be doing.
- Thran Dynamo: There’s no doubt this is a great ramp spell, but as I explained last time, I’d rather be dropping lands than mana artifacts in mono-Green. Lands are forever, artifacts for never. Or something like that. Okay, the slogan needs work, but you get what I mean.
Other Turn 2, 4 CMC Spells
Aluren is better in an Elf-deck, or a deck specifically set up to combo off it, which is what this ramp-deck is not doing. It’s also symetrical, so be careful of what opponents may do once you play it. Citanul Hierophants is another card that’s best with lots of little creatures, such as Elves, but also useful as a terrible combo enabler.
Arboria is a great turtling card and one you should consider as a side-plan for when you have problems ramping out for one reason or another (terrible draw, counterspells, etc). It buys you time, and sometimes that’s all you need.
Brooding Saurian is a defensive card, this one kicks blue decks in the family parts. It’s a pity it doesn’t come with a “can’t be countered” clause, but you really want to include it as a one of (ha ha!) in your Commander deck. Likewise Tsunami is a legitimate T2 play in 1v1, which is dominated by blue poo decks. Screw the bastards, I say.
If you’ve just dumped two lands and double ramp spells on the play, then restocking your hand with Harmonize is not a bad idea. Greater Good is one of Green’s best card-draw engines, particularly abusable through the amount of creature recurssion available. It also provides a sacrifice outlet for those that need one, or to effectively counter any Control Magic enchantments headed your way.
Erratic Portal is a key piece of the ‘value engine’ you often hear about. Essentially you want to be bouncing your Woodfall Primus or Acidic Slime or Solemn Simulacrum every turn to get the most out of it. However, it’s not going to achieve the maximum mana plan.
I have a soft spot for Nature’s Will, though as much as I like it, it’s not making it to the top-drop list. What it allows is for you to safely cast any spell on your second main phase, other than a few corner cases such as Force of Will. This ability is very, very powerful in 1v1 magic, as mono-Green doesn’t have a lot of access to anti-counterspell technology.
Two other artifacts to consider are Nevinyrral’s Disk and Solemn Simulacrum. Nevinyrral’s Disk blows things other than lands up. If you’re travelling down the land-ramp path, this can really put a crimp in your opponents’ mana-ramp strategies. Meanwhile Sad Robot got the I, Robot treatment. Still good. If you’re on 4 on Turn 2, with a land in hand, he’ll push you that magic 6 mana spot on Turn 3, and that’s perfect.
Vernal Bloom is more narrow than Heartbeat of Spring, and a great play if you’re the only Green player, which makes it better in 1v1 against anything other than your own deck, and weaker in multiplayer where Green decks are everywhere.
Although I recognize you could have 5 (or more) mana on Turn 2, I’m going to reserve discussing 5 and 6 mana plays for Turn 3, otherwise this analysis will get well out of hand.
Turn 3, 5 CMC Spells
At this point in the mana-curve you’re probably moving out of the establishment phase and into Phase 2: Durdling, but there are plently of powerful establishment plays.
- Doubling Season: You’re out of ramping up and into setting up broken plays, whatever they may be. Works wonderfully with planewalkers, and allows for various combos, but certainly draws plenty of attention in multiplayer.
- Garruk, Primal Hunter: This guy is just a monster. The card-drawing ability is crazy good in Commander, especially with Eldrazi kicking around (living the dream!). His ultimate is great in a ramp strategy, as you can be dropping anywhere between 6 and 20 wurms into play. Sounds good to me.
- Mind’s Eye: A superbomb in a multiplayer game, generally very good otherwise, it’s a fantastic way to out-resource your opponent. It tends to draw a lot of attention in multiplayer, but that’s not such a curse in 1v1 as you already have your opponents undivided attention anyway.
- Plow Under: Better on the play than the draw, this is a massive tempo boost, effectively timewalking your opponent twice. Usually by the time they’re recovered, you’re casting incredibly broken 12 mana spells. It’s also not a dead card later on, allowing you hit a Maze of Ith or Cabal Coffers for a Turn later on.
- Primal Command: The best play on Turn 2 is a tempo swing + tutor, bouncing a land and searching up Primeval Titan or Acidic Slime, depending on your planned line of play. If you’re having to gain 7 life on Turn 2, you’re probably already screwed.
- Seedborn Muse: What a fantastic card this is, allowing for hyper-accellerated (but distributed) mana, turns all your aggressive creatures into active blockers, and enables insidious combos. Ever had a Seedborn Muse and a Patron of the Orochi in play at the same time? So. Much. Mana.
Other Turn 3, 5 CMC Spells
Gauntlet of Power and Gilded Lotus both provide an artifact based mana boost, though I think I’d prefer the Gauntlets over the Lotus in mono-Green. Similarly, if you’re looking for a simple tempo boost, Acidic Slime can be a ‘just plain good’ play.
Turn 3, 6 CMC Spells
Unsurprisingly, there are very few Phase 1 spells at 6 CMC. However, there are a few worth mentioning.
- Lurking Predators: As the final piece of the establishment puzzle, Lurking Predators is very, very good. It acts as both a resource-advantage engine and a library filtering mechanism. Particularly powerful in multiplayer, it has some advantages getting around Erayo, Soratami Ascendant (now banned as a General), Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, Knowledge Pool, and other nonsense cards.
- Mana Reflection: The card that best pushes mana production over the top, this is what you want for the 12 mana Turn 4 play. Less fragile than Caged Sun, although it doesn’t pump creatures, that’s a minor bonus at best when you’re really aiming to dump Eldrazi and other fatties on the board.
- Primeval Titan: Many will call this the best T3 / 6 CMC play, and it’s hard to argue. A consistent card advantage and tempo advantage machine, he also beats in very, very well. He can rustle up utility lands without a problem (hello Gaea’s Cradle), but even if you’re just grabbing more forests he’s still a monster on the board.
- Wild Pair: One for the Combo lovers, maybe you want to play on Turn 3 and follow it up on Turn 4 with Primeval Titan, fetching out Rampaging Baloths or Vigor or Woodfall Primus or Wurmcoil Engine. I prefer Wild Pair in multicoloured decks more than mono-Green, but it’s still one heck of a card.
Other Turn 3, 6 CMC Spells
Your artifacts of choice are Caged Sun, the slightly better Gauntlet of Power, and Planar Portal, the far better Citanul Flute. The last really interesting play is Summoning Trap, but you take what you get with that one, and it’s terrible when you miss hitting a target.
That ends Turn 3, and the last discussion for Phase 3. Next time I’ll discuss the durdly Phase 2, where establishing, retaining, or regaining board control is the most important issue, and the cards available to do so in mono-Green.