Latest Update
7 January, 2007

Fungus And The Bogi Man – Timespiral Green

By Dr. Chunk

We reach the end of our Magic Mystery Tour through the ravaged timeline of Timespiral draft and finish today with the colour of life, tree hugging and fat men. Green is much unloved in TS draft and it has been frequently said to be the worst colour to draft. Is that an unfair comment? Let us find out.

Æther Web – This instant aura is invariably used as a defensive, though sometimes offensive, combat trick and allows you to suddenly block that annoying evading creature. Be it that Looter il-kor that is the annoyance or maybe that Spiketail Drakeling you just cannot push your bomb past the Web will deal with it. Despite that I often find myself looking for something better than just +1/+1 and the web rarely makes the cut.

1Ashcoat Bear – You cannot have green without a bear and TS is no exception. I would protest though that the Ashcoat is less a creature and more a combat trick based on flash. It could almost read – “Destroy target attacking creature with toughness two or less”. Occasionally he does some beating but I prefer to hold him as a surprise if I am not racing. To that end always consider that your opponent may have this when you attack with your Magus of the Scroll / Urborg Syphon Mage / Really Useful Creature™.

Chameleon Blur – Holy day was never that playable. Ethereal Haze was only playable because you could splice Dampen Thought onto it. Chameleon Blur has the advantage that it only stops damage dealt to players, so you can still block and kill some of the opposing guys. However, even with that advantage the Blur still costs four mana and is still completely unplayable.

Durkwood Baloth – 5/5. 1 mana. Sure you have to wait a few turns for him but you cannot ask for much more. If you are playing green then you want this man. In fact you want as many copies as you can get your dirty mitts on. I’m not sure how I can sell this to you more?

Gemhide Sliver – Initially I underrated this little sliver but time has shown him to be of immense use. Be it accelerating into a big guy, fixing a splash or powering out an entire army of slivers the Gemhide is never wasted. Pick them highly if you want them as they will not be coming back round to you.

Glass Asp – The asp looks interesting and the ability is cute in the least, but still it does very little for the mana. I feel that he is not as bad as some think but again I have never found a time when I cannot play something better over him.

Greenseeker – For those that have read my articles before you may know how much of an advocate I am of this little green man. However it does seem that maybe I was overrating him as he seems to keep coming around the table late. I personally think that thinning the deck alone is enough to warrant his inclusion, but add in a splash colour or an extra basic for a Tromp and this man is just what you need.

2Havenwood Wurm – Another card that seems to be coming around the table late we get +0/+1, trample and flash on top of a Baloth stats for one more mana and the loss of the suspend. However it seems there is a great difference between six and seven mana. The format is very aggressive and hitting your seventh land drop can sometimes be very tricky. You also never really want more than a couple of things that cost six or more (Baloth excepted because of suspend). In spite of all of that no-one is playing this guy and I’m not entirely sure why.

Herd Gnarr – Another card I did not give enough respect to in the first instance the Gnarr is a card that fits very well into Green/Red suspend and storm decks. He gets to partner up with Baloth and Shaman, goes great with a bunch of countered up thallids and can be brutal when you rip a good Empty the Warrens. If he only had trample!

Molder – Detonate, meet your weaker sibling. Damage is great, life gain is not so exciting. If you need to deal with a Verdant Embrace or other bomb then Molder can come in from the board, but otherwise sit it on the line. Do remember to pick one up when they come around late just in case.

Mwonvuli Acid-Moss – There are mixed schools of though on this card. I have been on the receiving end of some brutal Mossing in my time, usually helped by a Gemhide / Search for Tomorrow to get it out a turn early. Other than those times I feel the Moss is underwhelming and invariably cut it. My ethos on draft decks are that you play:


…and if you have any space afterwards, card drawing and combat tricks. The Acid Moss is none of these. I would however side it in against dodgy mana bases, such as 5 colour sliver.

Nantuko Shaman – In green you get very little by means of card draw and the Shaman has the benefit of being a potential cantrip. After turn three there is no reason not to suspend him other than when you really need a blocker. He also helps to ramp up a storm, trigger your Herd Gnarr and draw a card in the process.

3Penumbra Spider – Though not the most aggressive creature this spider is always someone you need on your team. He stands in the way of a large number of creatures – TWICE. The Penumbra ability makes him very troublesome to remove and he stops all the common fliers bar Ephemeron. He also stalls the ground well while you wait to drop your large beaters.

Savage Thallid – A 5/2 beast is a strange one indeed. The front end is certainly a good deal, but the back end just makes him weak. As a consequence this guy suffers by trading off with bears and other men that cost less than he does. After three turns, or with some thallid backup, you can keep this man alive but that is not always an option. In the end the power of five is always tempting but don’t expect to trade him with anything equally large.

Scarwood Treefolk – The treefolk really suffers from the “Comes into play tapped” clause pasted in his rules box. The stats are very defensive and costed well but more often than not you want him to block the turn he comes down. In almost every way the Penumbra Spider is the better four drop and you only want a couple of defensive guys in the four slot. I wouldn’t be upset to play him but I also wouldn’t too upset to cut him, which I often do.

Search for Tomorrow – The Rampant Growth block variant and very good card. Suspending this on turn one ramps you into your four drop a turn early as well as fetching the right land. Even when hardcast later in the game there is little to complain about. A good card, but only as exciting as mana fixing can be. Just hope you have something worth ramping into.

Spinneret Sliver – Another bear but one with a better ability. There are a lot of two toughness fliers around and the Spinneret can do a good job of taking them out – and he lets your other slivers do so as well. I prefer this guy to the Ashcoat in almost every situation and he gets even better when he has a Gemhide to work with.

Sprout – This is effectively a one drop with flash and no other abilities. We already know that one drop creatures rarely affect the game state and so don’t play them. Sure he can trigger a Gnarr and sure he can work with your thallids, but still this is not a card to play.

Strength in Numbers – The best common pump spell in the format is a pretty big house when combined with the ability to dump loads of men on the board, such as thallids or Empty the Warrens. The addition of trample is just gravy and you always need to think about this if you opponent looks to be running in to an unfavourable blocking situation. Also rembmer you can use this during your opponents combat step to boost your defenders.

Thallid Germinator – Another Grey Ogre who, given time, can get a whole party along side him. Once he gets to three counters your opponents combat maths become a little more complicated. He may be slow but if you can get a good selection of thallids then he can easily become a real headache.

Thallid Shell-Dweller – When it comes to ground defence the shell dweller stops all but the largest of men while slowly forming an attacking party on the sidelines. He does a great job of holding back the beats while you wait to drop your huge men and I am invariably pleased to have a couple of these men on the team.

Thrill of the Hunt – As with the other off colour flashback spells Thrill is much better when you can actually cast it twice. This may sound a bit obvious but often I would cut the Thrill if I had no access to white. Otherwise it is a good card for saving a creature in combat or sneaking that extra point of damage in.

Wormwood Dryad – Finally we have another 3/1 with evasion to reflect blacks Trespasser il-vec, but the loss of madness outlet takes this guy from high to low pick. One toughness makes the Dryad very vulnerable and without access to black you still only have forest walk – and we already know people are trying to avoid forests. Again not unplayable, but not preferable either.

Compared to the other colours green does feel as though it got a bit of a rough deal as most of green falls into the mediocre category. The common combat tricks are generally lacklustre outside of Strength in Numbers, the beef is all about the Baloth and trample is at an all time low.

4Top five as I see them:

1) Durkwood Baloth
2) Penumbra Spider
3) Gemhide Sliver
4) Search For Tomorrow
5) Strength in Numbers

It may be surprise to you that Greenseeker sits outside the top five but this is an analysis based on cards on their own. If you are playing Green/Black with madness, running an important splash or playing Tromp then I would be tempted to take him a little higher.

Uncommons of note:

Tromp The Domains – I have been banging on about this card through all of these articles and it is not without reason. Tromp just wins games. Even at +2/+2 it is good, but at +3/+3 or higher your opponent is in for a real beating.

Phantom Wurm – Another huge guy who is very difficult to deal with outside of black. He is mana efficient, he sticks around and it’s a shame he isn’t in the same block as graft!

Scryb Ranger – This guy may well be small but he works so well with nearly any decent sized creature, allowing for emergency blocks when your opponent least expects them. He also combos with any tap ability, e.g. Gemhide Sliver, and especially the spell shapers when he provides an untap as well as fuel to the fire. Using him to double up on the Syphon Mage is a great feeling.

Other notables depend more on your decks theme – especially Might Sliver and Primal Forcemage, which is slowly going up in my estimations. And so we finish colour number five and our circumnavigation of the infamous colour pie. There are a few stragglers that aside and as a bonus I shall cover them here.

Brass Gnat – A one drop flier with an upkeep of one. Please may your deck never be desperate enough to need this.

5Chromatic Star – Colour fixing, card drawing, storm making, automatic Chromatic star. Never a bad card and can easily fill slot 23 in any deck over something of inferior quality.

Jhoira’s Timebug – With the imminent arrival of Planar Chaos and Vanishing you may find a use for the Timebug. Otherwise it is currently restricted to decks with a really heavy suspend theme, though I have yet to see it be more than a speed bump 1/2  for two.

Prismatic Lens – Colour fixing is not as essential as Rav block draft but the lens is a worthy pick for both acceleration, splash fixing and smoothing out your colours when you need it. I see some people draft this very high and it is probably the best common artifact.

Venser’s Sliver – At five mana this man is overly costly for a 3/3. Unless you have a horde of slivers to abuse the shared creature type you should have better creatures in the five drop slot.

So there we have it - I suppose that 2 out of five isn’t bad. The star and lens are both eminently playable and around the 4th – 7th pick range.

That concludes my limited review of Timespiral – just in time for Planar Chaos. It is interesting to see how different people draft, how high they pick cards and what cards you never really give the right justice to. Cards that have grown greatly in my affection are:

Fortify – Comparatively a poor rally the righteous but given Empty the Warrens and Icatian Crier this can be a house.
Dream Stalker – It is only loss of tempo if you don’t bounce anything good (i.e. Fathom Seer, Crookclaw, Firemaw)
Mindstab – Maybe it is not as bad as I say as I see some pros picking it quite high
Conflagrate – It may be inefficient but the flashback makes it really good
Herd Gnarr – At first I had no respect for this man but he can become very large, very quickly.

Cards that I feel I have overrated are also in abundance:

Zealot il-Vec – Initially a 1/1 for three seems weak but the point of damage can deal with a good number of nuisances.
Bewilder – Nah…. Just kidding.
Sangrophage – He may have done well at the pre-release but he is not good in draft.
Greenseeker – No one seems to draft these guys as high as I originally did. Solid but not spectacular.

I hope you have found these articles of interest and use. I do not profess to be a genius at limited as I have not the time to dedicate to learning everything about the format but I hope you have learnt something.

Until we meet again!

Dr. Chunk




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