Core Set 2019 Review - Green
Green With Envy
Hello everyone and welcome to EDHREC's review for the newest Magic set, Core Set 2019! You might think that barely any time at all has passed since our Battlebond set review (and you would be correct), but the exciting part about it is that we have more new Magic cards to talk about! For this round of spoilers, I have the great pleasure to review the smashiest of colors today: Green! Let's jump right in!
Colossal Majesty continues the long tradition of green enchantments that generate card advantage e.g. Elemental Bond. While I have seen a lone few commenters on Reddit compare this to Phyrexian Arena, I don't think that comparison holds up. I like Colossal Majesty, but I do recognize its limitations. Yes, it allows us to draw a card, but only if we control a creature with power 4 or greater.
"But wait, we're in green, how is that a problem?" It really isn't, but it's an opportunity cost to consider. I always like to look at what cards offer when played on curve, and this card is terrible on curve. It will take two turns to draw a single card, and that's assuming we play something with 4-power the turn after we play Majesty. This is obviously ignoring a Turn 1 or Turn 2 play that could turn it on, but that feels like an outlier. Waiting that long for a single card seems bad, or at least risky. Selfishly, I really wish this card read, "At the beginning of your end step..." and we wouldn't be having this discussion. In that case, we could play this on an established board and draw a card, or perhaps play a creature the turn after we play this enchantment, and draw a card on that end step. Both of those situations feel much better that the current wording.
Hopefully my negativity didn't turn you away, so here are the positives! This is a consistent source of card advantage for a low cost in a color that really likes having big creatures. Meeting the draw condition is not only going to be fairly easy, but it should also be easy to recover as well. All you have to do is play another big creatures. Unlike the previously mentioned Elemental Bond, this enchantment only cares if you can keep a creature with power of 4 or greater on the board. Additionally, green likes to protect its creatures, so removing them might be a dilemma for your enemies. For example, Rhonas, the Indomitable will definitely want this card by his side.
Druid of Horns
Druid of Horns continues the trend we saw with Valduk, Keeper of the Flame with interesting Aura payoffs. Put it on the record: I adore this design direction. Auras have always been a fragile, 'glass cannon' strategy in Commander, but this Druid expands the strategy by making it not just about creating one Voltron-ing monster. Yes, the concept of stacking Auras is still a thing, but while we do that we're getting advantage through the creation of a string of 3/3 Beasts. Additionally, Druid of Horns is an on-cast trigger. Even if our Druid gets shot down, it's not a 2-for-1 loss like Auras normally are. I'm not sure if this card has a home yet, but Uril, the Miststalker may be the best at the moment.
We have our first two-mana Elf Lord! Really, that's all this card has going for it outside of a potentially janky combo with its second ability. If someone figures out an infinite with that ability that requires fewer than four other cards, let me know! Bonus points if it doesn't involve Spy Kit or Wheel of Sun and Moon. I'm not sure if Elf tribal decks need this card, but that's coming from a place of ignorance. I'm sure it will get plenty of looks for both its low cost and double Devotion to green, and I'm additionally sure that an anthem for a popular tribe will always have its place.
This is a strange card to evaluate. Its most obvious comparisons should be Farhaven Elf and Wood Elves, which are both staples in green decks everywhere. However, there are pros and cons. The pros for Rejuvenator are that it can grab any land off the top five of our deck. We can grab any utility land, nonbasic land, or basic land that we see fit. However, we're still only looking at the top five cards, and while it's unlikely that we'll miss the land drop, the possibility still exists. Additionally, unlike the previously mentioned Elves, this one doesn't necessarily help us by color-fixing. While Farhaven and Wood Elves have concrete homes in multi-color decks, I could see Rejuvenator swapping out for them in decks that are heavily reliant on green. This would let you maximize the opportunity cost of only looking at the top five cards of your library.
IT'S BIG. IT'S SCARY. IT'S... a large vanilla beater! I feel like this card will get windmill-slammed into more decks than it deserves, but a quintuple-green-pipped creature that's also a 10/10 will likely find somewhere to call home. Devotion strategies will get a massive boost to their count, and a massive creature to boot. I've seen this card suggested for Ghalta, Primal Hunger and more casual Selvala, Heart of the Wilds brewers, but I think time will tell with the new fossil. If you're playing a deck that is looking to maximize power for little cost, this is something that deserves a look.
Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma
Look at it! THE first legendary Bear! So where does it fit on the chart?
Aesthetic Purist and Stats Radical. Ignoring the fact that she isn't a two-mana 2/2, what can this legend bring to bear?
This is the best new green card in Core Set 2019, and in my opinion, it's not close. Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma hits that elusive sweet spot as a legendary creature, where she is able to hold her own as a commander as well as being able to fit in the 99 of many decks. While she will definitely be included in more decks than leading them, her potential to lead her own deck shouldn't be overlooked.
Reducing the cost of appropriate creature spells by two generic mana is an absolutely insane advantage. Xenagos, God of Revels is the first home that comes mind, but really, making a huge number of green commanders cost less is just fantastic. Off the top of my head, here's a quick list that benefit from cost reductions: Rhonas the Indomitable, Omnath, Locus of Rage, Maelstrom Wanderer, etc.
I haven't read too much about what people are planning with Goreclaw, but the most interesting idea that I have seen is slamming the deck with as many three-drops with 4 power as you can. Combine this with any number of cast and enters-the-battlefield triggers at Green's disposal, and you have a great deck in the making. It can almost become a creature-based Storm deck of sorts with the likes of Elemental Bond, Soul of the Harvest, or Primeval Bounty. I think this direction sounds like a blast, and I'm certain there are more directions that haven't yet surfaced.
I'd expect to see how she got her name sooner than later.
While it may not have the word Enrage in its rules text, this Hydra immediately could find a home in Enrage decks. Its ability doesn't replace damage like Vigor or Phytohydra, but this card can really grow to an obnoxious size if our opponents throw bodies in front of it. Its chances to survive combat are also increased because it negates double-blocks, making it even more of a pain to kill. No one is going to want to spend spot removal on this card, but if they do, you'll take it. This seems like one of those beaters that will get overlooked for the format, but there are certainly decks that will love to have this Hydra, and I don't just mean Hydra tribal decks.
Everything in me wishes that Runic Armasaur's ability also included artifacts, but we can't get everything we want. The specific mileage you'll get out of this card will really be meta-dependent, but at every level, there will be targets to draw from. Fetch lands, from the budget Evolving Wilds to the vaunted Scalding Tarn, all cantrip for you. I run plenty of decks that have utility lands with activated abilities, so I'm going to be less than thrilled to let an opponent draw a card for using them. This card gets even more mileage if an opponent's commander is reliant on activated abilities. Take that Krenko, Mob Boss! Lastly, we need to ask ourselves, is this the green Rhystic Study? (No, not even close. But it is good.)
One more thing! It's also a 2/5 for three mana! This thing can block for days, and I appreciate it having a sizable body.
That's no Leovold, Emissary of Trest! Really, there is no comparison between those cards, but I couldn't resist the joke. This card screams like it's destined for Standard rather than Commander, and I'm sure it will terrorize Limited as well. No one is going to aim spot removal or other abilities at this card, so you will almost never get tokens from it, and its second ability is so mana-intensive that if you're using it you really don't have other options. Hard pass.
I'm personally not the biggest fan of Vivien Reid, but there are many other people who are very excited for her. She screams "generic green planeswalker," and while that's not the worst thing to be called, it's not the best either. I feel like if Vivien had been released four or five years ago, I would have been much higher on her. Now let's actually talk about her card instead of my opinions.
What does Vivien objectively bring to the table? She's a five-mana planeswalker with five loyalty. That alone is standard for planeswalkers nowadays, but we're still happy to have it, since it wasn't always the norm. Her plus is card advantage, and it's comparable to the like of Ob Nixilis Reignited. Looking at your top four cards and being able to grab a creature or land is good, and if that's going to gear where she finds a home, then she stands a good chance to hit. I would bet that the average deck running her will have 37 lands and close to 30 creatures. That gives us a strong chance to "draw a card" with her. Someone who's better at statistics can tell you the actual chances.
Her minus is slightly worse than Vraska, Relic Seeker, but in another light, it's strictly better than Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury. Basically, removal on a planeswalker is great versatility, and I'm always glad to have it.
She ultimates immediately with Doubling Season. News at 11. Now let's talk more realistically about it. Assuming no outside counter manipulation, it will take four turns to tick up Vivien and use her -8. Four turns is a very long time in Commander, so if that's a major part of your game plan you should immediately be ready to protect her. In the creature-heavy decks that Vivien will call home, the emblem will end the game. This isn't surprising for planeswalker ultimates, but checking off that box is still a good thing to do. However, while it can end the game, it is still vulnerable and doesn't stop you from losing. Still, if you do manage to snag the emblem, you are likely in a good position, since you already had creatures in play to protect her. You'll move from protecting her to swiftly ending the game with a storm of creatures that don't realize combat isn't supposed to be one-sided.
While Vivien's Invocation is a new take of cheating creatures into play, I think the most play it will see is as a Limited finisher. The best thing this card has going for it is the removal that's tacked onto the end of the text, but if you're looking to just cheat creatures into play, I believe there are better options available at lower mana costs, even for budget-conscious players. If you're playing a deck that wants to leverage creatures dealing damage, then this card might get a look. Otherwise, it has to compete with the likes of Selvala's Stampede and See the Unwritten, and I don't think it's going to win that fight.
Reprint Highlight: Scapeshift
Titania, Protector of Argoth, The Gitrog Monster, and other land commanders rejoice! Scapeshift is finally getting a much-needed reprint! Four mana to search up any combination of lands we need? Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage? Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Cabal Coffers? Westvale Abbey? Sign me up. This also gives you a massive Landfall turn, or else can set up a huge Splendid Reclamation. Regardless of what you need this card for, you should rejoice to see it reprinted (with gorgeous new art as well!)
On to Greener Pastures
That is it for our Core Set 2019 Green Review! There's quite a few cards that the set is bringing to the format that are definitely going to see play, and I hope this is just the first step into getting these cards the spotlight they deserve.
So how do you feel about Green's haul from Core Set 2019? How does it stack up against the other colors?
How many of these cards are going to find a home in a deck you own?
Did I under or over-value any cards? Did I not mention a card that I should have?
Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!