Throne of Eldraine Set Review - Green
(The Great Henge | Art by Adam Paquette )
Into the Woods
Welcome back, one and all, to EDHREC’s Throne of Eldraine review. In this article we will be analyzing Eldraine's green cards, searching for new staples, support cards, or fringe considerations. This set has quite a few cards that look powerful for our format, and is rich in flavor as well. Green is especially brimming over with atmosphere, delving into the depths of the dark and mysterious forest. Let’s take a look at which of these beans will lift our decks into the clouds.
This above-the-curve, high-efficiency Beast seems to be exactly the type of creature that will terrorize Standard and land with a thud in Commander. This card seems pushed specifically for other formats and underpowered in the realm of EDH, a format where Standard all-stars rarely perform well. When you have three opponents all at forty life, efficient creatures that are calibrated for 1v1 formats don’t do as much as you need them to. Questing Beast is unlikely to significantly pressure your opponents or, barring niche cases, advance your overall strategy. As such, this card seems suboptimal in EDH. It is in good company, however, joining a slew of other staples from Standard rotations gone by, like Goblin Guide, Bloodbraid Elf, and Siege Rhino.
Despite this, Questing Beast does have some cute implications at the head of a deck. Make no mistake, this is a legendary creature and can be your commander. Its kit pairs very well with Fog effects, preventing all combat damage dealt by your opponents’ creatures but not your own. This interaction can allow you to make good trades or get aggressive knowing that your opponents can’t remove your threats through combat damage. While this synergy seems fun, it still isn’t extremely powerful.
Because of Questing Beast’s jumble of keywords, it could be a decent inclusion under any on-color commander that cares about keywords. The freshly-minted Rayami, First of the Fallen comes to mind. Exiling this creature with a blood counter on it means that Rayami will indefinitely have access to vigilance, deathtouch, and haste. That’s not too bad for one card.
Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig
I don’t quite see it with this general. He comes in at three mana for a 4/4 body that grows over the course of the game. That doesn’t sound half bad... but Yorvo has no other ability attached. If only he had trample, or protection from something, or Graft, maybe he would be a more compelling commander, but as he stands, he isn’t quite exciting enough to inspire any sort of direction. Yes, you could build him with a +1/+1 theme, but there are already so many good options for that in green. What’s more, the way his triggers are designed is unintuitive and underwhelming. Because of his wording, if you play Yorvo and then play a green creature with five power, he won’t get an additional +1/+1 counter. The design pushes you toward playing creatures big enough to double up on his +1/+1 counters, but it would probably be more effective to ignore that line of text entirely and just try to cast as many green creatures as you can. The most interesting direction I can imagine for this general is a Voltron-Elfball hybrid in which you fill your deck with Llanowar Elves and its friends, Beast Whisperer style card advantage, and ways to give evasion and protection to your commander. Even then, is Yorvo an interesting addition to these archetypes? I'm not convinced.
That said, Yorvo might fit in the 99 of a mono-green deck with a +1/+1 counter theme. After all, Managorger Hydra sees play in 6,376 decks on EDHREC. While Managorger Hydra grows faster and has trample, Yorvo could fill a similar function. Consider Yorvo with generals such as Rishkar, Peema Renegade, Gargos, Vicious Watcher, or Sekki, Seasons’ Guide.
Syr Faren, the Hengehammer
Despite being the uncommon commander option for green, Syr Faren seems much more interesting in the command zone than the rare noble, Yorvo. This ability is reminiscent of Xenagos, God of Revels, but with enough unique nuance to make it distinct. Faren grants no keyword and requires that the target of the effect also be attacking, but it works much better with a lower curve and smaller creatures because he can turn any creature into a threat. Faren's ability is restricted in its uses but has a high ceiling, especially because this commander is a two-drop.
Specifically good with Faren are repeatable pump effects and an army of smaller creatures. Rhonas's Monument, for example, is particularly synergistic. For each creature that you cast, you can pump Faren +2/+2, then attack and give another creature all of those buffs as well, doubling the value. Faren also seems to lead to a sort of 'Overrun tribal' strategy. With Craterhoof Behemoth, Finale of Devestation, or Beastmaster Ascension, you can pump your entire team, give them trample, and give one creature another +5/+5, +6/+6, or more, depending on the power of Faren. Another direction to explore with this general could be effects that double power such as God-Eternal Rhonas, or Nylea's Colossus in a more enchantment-heavy build. Speaking of swarming the board and pumping your creatures, this deck would be perfect for The Great Henge. If you want a commander that sticks on the board early and can swing for massive damage in the mid-game, Syr Faren might be the guy for you.
The Great Henge
Meet the newest member of the Commander elite. Don’t falter on this one, this card is the real deal for our format and will maintain a high demand for years. The Great Henge does everything that EDH players need, acting both as ramp and card draw in creature-based strategies. Effects that net card advantage on casting creatures or creatures entering the battlefield never fail to reach high popularity in the format—just think of other format staples like Beast Whisperer, Guardian Project, or Lifecrafter’s Bestiary.
The most salient comparison, however, is the stellar Zendikar Resurgent, which sees play in 19,273 decks listed on EDHREC. Like the Henge, Zendikar Resurgent also tacks ramp and draw onto one card. While the mana doubling effect is much better than tapping for two green mana, the Henge has the edge with a few considerations. Henge draws a card whenever a nontoken creature enters the battlefield under your control, which is significantly easier to abuse than Zendikar Resurgent’s on-cast trigger. As such, The Great Henge is a powerhouse in any on-color deck that cares about ETB or flicker effects, like Yarok, the Desecrated or Roon of the Hidden Realm. Another important factor is the Henge’s discount clause. Paying nine mana for this effect is too much, but if you can consistently stick this on board with a significant cost reduction - which will not be hard - it is insane.
When considering this card for a Commander deck, you have to ask yourself two questions. First, what is the most mana you would be willing to pay for this effect? Second, how consistently will your deck reach that discount? I would be happy to pay five mana for this effect in almost any eligible deck. Anything below that is simply gravy. Because commanders are the most persistent and available creature in any deck, consider The Great Henge highly with generals that are likely to accrue four power or more on their field. Animar, Soul of Elements, Ghalta, Primal Hunger, Gishath, Sun’s Avatar, or Xenagos, God of Revels are all perfect matches for this effect.
Return of the Wildspeaker
For my money, this is the resident sleeper green card from this set. It may seem innocuous at first, but Return of the Wildspeaker is an extremely flexible and potent card for EDH. This is an aggressively-costed modal instant that offers two highly-desirable options. While it may not be the flashiest of the bunch, Return of the Wildspeaker is actually a sneaky upgrade on several effects that are already popular in our format.
First things first, the first mode outclasses Soul’s Majesty in every way. The second mode can be an Overrun that doesn’t give trample if you’re looking for a way to close out the game. All of this may seem uninspiring, but the real power of this card is its type line. Soul’s Majesty has always been a risky endeavor because, as a sorcery, it is extremely vulnerable to targeted removal. Not anymore. If an opponent casts a Wrath of God or points targeted removal at one of your creatures, you can now turn the tables and draw off of Return of the Wildspeaker in response, similar to how Momentous Fall is often used. While its Overrun effect appears underpowered because it doesn’t give trample, casting Return of the Wildspeaker at instant speed also greatly diminishes this weakness—allowing you to cast it after your opponents have declared blockers. In this way, you can change the math on important trades or just pump your unblocked team for high burst damage. Seriously, this card is a gem and should find many, many homes in green decks that play big monsters.
We have done it again, collectively. When I first read this card, I was extremely excited at the prospect of land that ramps you two mana for hardly any cost. Four mana to net six would be an insane deal. Too good to be true, some would say. Reading and watching videos of card analysis around the internet, I found many fell into the same misinterpretation that I did— the tale as old as time. The ability on Castle Garenbrig costs four and tap, and because this Castle is a mana source itself, the effect actually costs five mana that you could have spent on other things. This card only nets you one extra mana per turn. This distinction is important, edging Castle Garenbrig into much the same territory as Temple of the False God, which also produces one extra mana per turn.
I'm not particularly fond of Temple of the False God, and I run it in a grand total of zero decks. This card is a significant improvement, though! The fact that it produces colored mana both restricts it and makes it more appealing. Because you have to spend mana to net the six green, this card is exclusive to mono-green decks; in a two- or three-color deck, you'd have to sacrifice your sources of other colors to activate Castle Garenbrig's effect. The Castle also throws out the Temple's most back-breaking downside. If you ever draw light on lands, Temple of the False God is a liability in your hand— potentially doing nothing. Because it can't tap for mana without four other lands on the battlefield, Temple is best when not considered a land but a ramp effect. Even if it enters tapped, Castle Garenbrig is a massive improvement, tapping for mana on any turn thereafter. It won't enter untapped, though. As observed above, this card is most likely to only see play in mono-green, and you will certainly have access to a Forest for this Castle in mono-green.
All in all, this card's effect is more minuscule than it seems, but it comes at such a low opportunity cost for the decks that would consider it that it is almost an immediate inclusion. It is important to note thatCastle Garenbrig also works particularly well with ramp strategies that enchant and untap lands. Consider it highly with cards such as Magus of the Candelabra and Overgrowth.
Not as exciting a card as Apex Altisaur, I'm afraid, and even Altisaur only has minimal applications. This is a big splashy effect that may wind its way into the odd green deck alongside Vigor, but seven mana is a lot for a creature that only picks off the smaller creatures your opponents control. Green has a lot of competition for big creatures - Thunderfoot Baloth, Stonehoof Chieftain, Avenger of Zendikar - so as hard as the Mammoth fights, I'm not sure it'll fight its way into too many decks.
First of all, Turtle Hydra.
Second of all, Gargos, Vicious Watcher, you have a new friend! This effect is expensive enough that it probably won't budge out many green creatures in non-Hydra-tribal decks, particularly since Bane of Progress does a lot of heavy lifting already. Steelbane Hydra costs at least six mana before it destroys one artifact or enchantment, seven if you want it to stick around afterward. This will be relegated to decks that specifically care about Hydras or about X spells (perhaps Rosheen Meanderer) but in the place where it's good, it'll be good, and quite the nagging nuisance for your enemies.
Best of the Rest
Once and Future
This card seems playable specifically in mono-green or majority-green decks. If this is in your deck, you need to hit that Adamant requirement of spending three green mana. If not, four mana for one Regrowth and a Noxious Revival isn't quite efficient enough to be powerful. If you achieve the Adamant requirement on this card, it is deceptively powerful. While it is a doubled Regrowth for double the cost, the fact that this is on one card makes it card advantage. With Regrowth, you're exchanging one card in your graveyard for the Regrowth in your hand. With an Adamant Once and Future, you're up one card in hand. Not only that, it is a very potent form of card advantage, tutoring from the graveyard.
Consider this card in any mono-green or majority-green deck that stores a lot of value in the graveyard. For example, I would consider Once and Future for commanders such as Wort, the Raidmother or Titania, Protector of Argoth. This is a flexible card that could find a home with various commanders.
This Adventure creature is actually fairly playable in our format. While seven mana for three 2/2 tokens is a pretty dismal rate, the fact that the creature also has removal attached pushes this card over the edge. Yes, the removal on Flaxen Intruder is conditional, but it is removal. This is a fringe consideration that doesn't have many homes, but will put in work when it does see the light of day.
One of the few homes she may have is with Ayula. When I was brewing and playing against the errant Ayula deck a couple months ago, I noticed that there aren't many ways to create multiple Bears with one card. Flaxen's Adventure spell, Welcome Home, addresses this lack. With Ayula on the battlefield, that seven-mana Adventure might just be worth the cost. Pumping and fighting three times is exactly the type of swing that Ayula needs to compete and keep a table in check. Outside of Bear tribal, however, I can't imagine Flaxen Intruder will be good enough to see wide play.
Green has always been deficient in terms of creature removal, with some of the best of the bunch being dependent on the fight mechanic. Amid green's options for creature removal exists Lignify, an effect that becomes very good in EDH. Enchantments that remove the abilities of enemy creatures and resets their stats are powerful in our format—Darksteel Mutation, Song of the Dryads, and Imprisoned in the Moon being the best among them. This style of effect allows you to make a large threat manageable or nullify an opponents' troublesome commander without sending it to the command zone. Kenrith's Transformation is a worthy successor in this line of removal effects.
While the 3/3 body and sorcery-speed nature of this card are not ideal, Kenrith's Transformation fills a unique position within green's removal pantheon. The text that really pushes this card over the top is that it draws a card. While this may not seem like much, the fact that it replaces itself in your hand is extremely appealing. Kenrith's Transformation is an obvious inclusion in on-color Enchantress strategies, any deck that struggles to interact with opposing creatures, or against particularly persistent or menacing commanders.
Don't be frightened by this card's converted mana cost—in a pod of four players, one opponent is likely to have a green permanent and the Adversary will usually cost two mana total. This set of abilities is above the curve for a two-mana creature in our format. While this card isn't blatantly powerful, it has just the right text to see play in a few cases. First, the combination of the Ophidian ability and deathtouch is perfect to net you a card or two over the course of a couple turns. Second, this is an Elf, which is an extremely relevant creature type in EDH. Despite Oakhame Adversary's lack of flare, I would consider it as a budget, piecemeal draw effect in Elf tribal strategies such as Ezuri, Renegade Leader.
Out of all the Adventure cards in green, this is the one that seems most playable. While creatures with Adventures attached are a source of card advantage, almost all of them have effects so small that they don't seem desirable in EDH. Rosethorn Acolyte is a very minimal effect, but it fills a basic need for Commander players. Seasonal Ritual can fix your mana in a pinch while the Acolyte herself is a source of ramp, albeit an over-costed one. Rosethorn Acolyte isn't intuitively powerful for EDH, but may be effective in decks with a high density of cards with restrictive color requirements.
I really like the internal synergies with Food tokens in this set. Unfortunately, that just makes it more heartbreaking that there aren't enough Food generators to really juice these cards. Spread across the five colors, there are 21 cards that create Food tokens. In green there are eight. That's not nearly enough to continuously reanimate a Feasting Troll King, or ensure that Gilded Goose is as functional as Birds of Paradise. Perhaps the most tragic example of cards that are unplayable because of the lack of Food generators is Trail of Crumbs. This card could be a powerful card advantage engine, one that not only draws you cards, but allows you to selectively draw one of the top two of your deck. Alas, unless we return to Eldraine in the future or Food tokens become evergreen, these cards that synergize with Food will be condemned to languish in Commander obscurity.
Food for Thought
By my estimation, green received a good mix of interesting cards in Throne of Eldraine. Even though none of the commander options in green animated me to the brewing process, green fans received some undoubtedly powerful cards for EDH. The Great Henge, Return of the Wildspeaker, and Kenrith's Transformation are all cards that I anticipate seeing frequently around Commander tables in the future. I know I'll be trying to acquire copies once the set releases.
So what do you all think of this set? Are there any green cards in particular that pique your interests? Am I dead wrong about Adventures? Are they more playable in EDH than I'm giving them credit for? Please let me know in the comments! Thank you very much for reading and I'll see you all on down the road.
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