Do Your Worst - Mono-Green Superfriends
Vivien's Talent | Art by Eli Minaya
Pir and Vivien's Superfriendly Adventure
She held out her bow in front of her. “This is called the Arkbow. It’s a creation from my home plane of Skalla. It allows me to envision beasts from my past and call constructs of them to my aid.”
Fascinating, thought Pir. Able to conjure beasts with nothing more than a thought. For a moment he allowed himself to remember Toothy. But it was best not to linger on that. “What was that thing? It looked angry.”
Vivien began to gather her things. “Not angry. Scared. Which means the person who scared the beast is nearby.”
“How do you know someone did it?”
Vivien nocked an arrow on the Arkbow’s string. “There’s a plague in these woods, and another creature brought it here.”
As Vivien began to explain, the young boy steadied himself for battle. This thing, whatever they were hunting, was going to strike again soon. If it had infected this elemental, it was likely close behind. Best not to wait around. The two gathered their weapons and headed into the forest to confront a beast whose name he had never heard of, though Vivien had something she called it. Vorinclex.
Read the full story by Jubilee Finnegan in today's Flavortown article over at Commander's Herald!
Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider (Alternate Art) | Art by Richard Luong
Hello, everyone! Welcome to another installment of Do Your Worst, where we take a popular archetype and find the most unusual home for it! I'm your host, Philomène, and in this column, we look at decks that shouldn't be... or should they?
Today, I am very excited to join forces with Commander's Herald writer Jubilee Finnegan! They have a column over there called Flavortown in which they write stories based on Commander decks. It just so happens that today, I provided the decklist! I'll go over the creation of the deck here, but I highly recommend you go read the story and check out the rest of Jubilee's awesome series.
Today we're looking at a popular archetype based around planeswalker cards: Superfriends. Undoubtedly powerful in 1-vs-1 formats, planeswalkers appear less frequently in Commander due to the fact that they are more difficult to protect against three opponents. However, building your deck in way that can take advantage of this type of permanent can be very strong.
But what are the most common colors for Superfriends?
Surprising absolutely no one, Atraxa, Praetors' Voice is the most popular commander for this archetype, which makes Witch-Maw (sans red) the number one color combination. Five-color isn't that far behind, with Esika, God of the Tree (most likely cast on her back side), followed by Golgari and Carth the Lion. Chandra fans are legion, and so Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh represents mono-red in fourth place. Grixis Superfriends brings up the rear with Nicol Bolas, the Ravager.
By aggregating these five average decks and keeping only the relevant cards, this is the color spread we get:
Wow, this one's easy! White is the worst color by a lot, right? Then why are we doing mono-green Superfriends?
Let's find out.
I began by trying to find if white had any payoffs for playing planeswalkers or cards that care about them. I was shocked to find that there actually is a decent amount of them.
First, many Ghostly Prison effects include planeswalkers in their wording, like Sphere of Safety. White also has 53 ways to wrath the board! That will keep attackers at bay. If the planeswalkers get taken out, there are many recursion spells that can bring them back, so it makes the deck very resilient. Add in some counters synergy and you have a very potent brew already. We've also seen recent sets give white relevant cards, like Urza Assembles the Titans, Deification, and the weird finisher Spark Rupture.
And to make matters worse – I mean, better! – white has access to seven ways to tutor for planeswalkers. One of them, Djeru, With Eyes Open, can be your commander!
That simply will not do.
Next in line is mono-green. Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider comes to mind first as a commander: having a Doubling Season in the command zone is absurdly powerful. The thing is, Vorinclex is very scary. He will draw a lot of hate, on top of costing six mana to cast. That's not the end of the world, especially in green, but you can be sure at least one person will save a removal spell for him, making him even more expensive to cast. I like Pir, Imaginative Rascal better. He isn't as scary, comes down early and gets your strategy going. I also considered Reki, the History of Kamigawa since planeswalkers are legendary permanents, but I liked Pir's effect more in the command zone. There's also Nissa, Vastwood Seer, but she cares more about lands than planeswalkers.
Now that we've chosen our commander, let's get into the actual deck!
Looking for a Spark
Let's see if we have any planeswalkers-matter type of cards in green.
There isn't much to look at here. Oath of Nissa gets us a little bit of card selection. Varis, Silverymoon Ranger is a decent blocker and will get us a little bit of value for casting planeswalker spells. Vivien's Talent doesn't actually do very much for us since we won't be focusing on creatures, but the art is very pretty!
Okay, these cards are bad, but do not despair. Luckily for us, colorless cards exist! The Chain Veil and Luxior, Giada's Gift are must-haves in Superfriends. Rings of Brighthearth and The Peregrine Dynamo can copy our planeswalkers' abilities, and that's a lot of value. Imagine copying a Garruk, Primal Hunter ultimate!
Proliferate is a very strong keyword in planeswalker decks. Let's check out our options.
I really like Cankerbloom. It's a blocker, removal on a stick, and it gives us a one-time Proliferate at instant speed. Permanents make the majority of our deck, so Unnatural Restoration is just a Regrowth with upside. Contagion Engine is always good in decks that care about counters, and it helps us keep the board relatively clear. I wasn't sure at first, but after some testing, I really like the versatility of Planewide Celebration. There is also, of course, Evolution Sage.
Now, are we going to planeswalk or not?
The average Atraxa Superfriends list runs 19 planeswalkers, so I took that number as a starting point. I prioritized planeswalkers that can protect themselves in some way and have an ultimate that can be activated immediately if we have a counter-doubler, like Doubling Season, in play.
Garruk, Primal Hunter, Nissa, Who Shakes the World, and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon are well-known and played in thousands of decks. What about the others?
As you may have guessed, a lot of green planeswalkers care about lands. Garruk Wildspeaker lets us untap them, which is great with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and lands that we animate into creatures. Speaking of which, Nissa, Vital Force and Wrenn and Realmbreaker can transform lands into useful blockers. Wrenn and Seven creates huge tokens with reach, and Nissa, Ascended Animist can come down as a Craterhoof Behemoth effect. Since some of these planeswalkers care about Forests, it makes sense to include Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth in our deck.
These Boots Are Made for Planeswalkin'
Now that we have the core of our deck, let's make sure everything runs smoothly.
In episode 190 of the EDHRECast, EDHREC editor and podcast host Joseph Schultz recommended Honor-Worn Shaku as a really useful mana rock in Superfriends decks. Planeswalkers are legendary permanents, so they can be tapped to untap Honor-Worn Shaku. They can still activate their loyalty abilities, even when tapped! It's not as useful in multi-colored decks, like Atraxa, but in mono-green? It does work. Defiler of Vigor is another great card in a deck full of permanents like ours. There's also Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury, who just spits out mana dorks.
Kamahl's Druidic Vow is a good mana sink and hits 65 cards out of 99 in our deck if we count the lands. Nissa's Triumph can fetch us three lands of our choosing since we're very likely to have a Nissa planeswalker on the board. Karn, Scion of Urza, Nissa, Vastwood Seer's back side, and Ugin, Who Cannot Be Effed (stole that name from Amy the Amazonian) are good sources of card advantage. I also like Vessel of Nascency as a way to dig a little deeper into our deck.
Vivien, Arkbow Ranger lets one of our big tokens bite another creature. Vivien Reid, Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury, and Nissa, Ascended Animist can destroy artifacts and enchantments, and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Bane of Progress, and Nevinyrral's Disk act as our board wipes.
How do we protect ourselves from our opponents? Tamiyo's Safekeeping is good in a lot of situations, but remember: when indestructible, planeswalkers can still loose their loyalty counters when they're attacked. If they go down to zero, they still die, so it's something to keep in mind! To prevent combat damage, Arachnogenesis is just what we need. Not only does it protect ourselves and our planeswalkers, it creates even more blockers for us.
It's good to have an added layer of defense lined up. I know Sandwurm Convergence is expensive and slow, but I like it! Sue me. Avenger of Zendikar needs no introduction. Make Plants, grow them. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar also likes Plants. Esika's Chariot makes two blockers and can copy one of our tokens, like a 5/5 Wurm for example! Thanks, Sandwurm Convergence. Also, Maze of Ith is another repeatable way to protect us against scary attackers.
We sure talked the talk, but can we planeswalk the planeswalk? Let's look at that decklist!
🤝 With a Little Help From My Superfriends | Mono-Green PlaneswalkersView on Archidekt
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
View this decklist on Archidekt
Wrenn and Realmbreaker | Art by Cristi Balanescu
Maybe the Real Treasure Was the Superfriends We Made Along the Way
There we are folks! Let's get into the notable exclusions.
- Vivien, Champion of the Wilds is usually a very good planeswalker, but we only have 15 creatures in this deck. Sadly, it's not enough for this Vivien to be useful.
- All right, this might be a hot take, but I ultimately left out Sword of Truth and Justice. Yes, it's a repeatable way to Proliferate, but it's five mana to cast and equip, we have to move to combat, and then hit a player. A lot of times, I want to activate my planeswalkers before combat. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong in the comments.
- If your playgroup is game, you can rule zero in Vazal, the Compleat. I'm not sure they'll agree, because it's outright busted. But if they do, it'll have all the abilities of your planeswalkers. And of every other permanent on the battlefield.
- The Atraxa average list runs Prologue to Phyresis, so I thought Infectious Bite was worth a try. Turns out, it's good if we draw our Proliferate cards, otherwise it's underwhelming.
If I learned one thing today, it's that playing Superfriends can be exhausting. There are many decisions to make, so turns can take a while. I do love that we can present some actual win conditions in the deck instead of just drowning in value. Ellywick Tumblestrum's emblem, for example, can give our creatures haste even if we haven't completed a dungeon, which makes a Garruk, Primal Hunter ultimate very threatening. After all, we're mono-green: of course we'll make a bunch of guys and Overrun our opponents.
That's all for today! Again, I recommend reading Jubilee Finnegan's awesome story over at Commander's Herald!
But what do you think? How would you build your mono-green Superfriends? Would you have gone with Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider? Is there any planeswalker that you feel should have been included? Is there any sweet card or synergy that I've missed? Let me know in the comments below! I'm Philomène, and this has been Do Your Worst. See you next time!