Competitive Color Breakdown
Comprehending Competitive is going green this week with the last in our series and the leanest, if not the meanest, of cEDH colors.
Widely considered the strongest color in traditional EDH, green is uniquely suited for Commander in a way no other color is. In a format with such a strong emphasis on mana, green’s ability to ramp is as good in cEDH as it is casual. It’s just a little different. You’re not going to see , but you’ll see more variants of than you even knew existed. It’s a big forest, so hold onto your dorks and let’s get into the thick of it.
Take your pick. Typical Magic slang refers to these creatures as dorks, but they’re so strong that I prefer to think of them as jocks.
This isn’t unique to cEDH of course. “Bolt the bird” is a well-worn adage for a good reason. Letting your opponent have three mana on their second turn is extremely dangerous in a 1v1 format, and if you have appropriate removal, you’re going to use it.
But in cEDH, removing a mana dork is usually a terrible play. Such one-for-one trades don’t translate well to a multiplayer environment because the other two players have spent nothing but benefited from both you and that opponent spending resources.
Boardwipes are also rare in cEDH, and while exists and sees play, creature mana is almost as safe as land mana. Compare them to artifacts, which, while faster, get hit by and , feed , and trigger effects like and .
These are just some of the reasons that mana dorks are powerful. Another is their redundancy. The list of playable dorks extends well beyond what I’ve listed above, and there’s one for all seasons. Care about snow permanents for some reason? . Playing an enchantress deck? . Need massive amounts of mana? .
Green even has ritual-esque mana in the form of and . Similar to how red’s mana in cEDH works, these two are perfect for executing your plan ahead of schedule.
That’s right: more one-drop mana sources, and we haven’t even reached the best. These enchantments are essentially dorks insofar as how they accelerate your mana on turn 1. They also have a charming synergy with , a mana dork playable in its own right. Just make sure you have enough forests to support .
Finally, the floor upon which all green decks lie. is one of those cards that is as powerful in cEDH as it is terrible in traditional EDH. You might expect to see opposing Islands in a typical game of Commander, but cEDH is positively dripping with blue decks. Islands even manage to be the most popular land typing. It also scales with game length, dodges most stax, and best of all can pay or even overpay for its own cost the turn you play it. It’s truly among the best mana sources in the format.
Coming in at number one is an efficient enchantment that lets you trade life for cards; the blackest green card of all time. is a fun reminder of how far Magic has come, and how often green infringes on the space of other colors. Mark Rosewater even tells us that “green has the most color pie breaks”, and there’s no greater example than Library. But I’m rambling.
At only two mana, Sylvan Library is one of the most reliable sources of card advantage in the format, up there with the Rhystic/Mystic duo. All it asks you to do is show some brinkmanship and embrace your greed. As I see it, if you’re not sinking 8 life into this a turn until you’re below twenty, you’re a . Even if you can’t spend anymore life, you can still use it to look at the top three and rearrange them – or shuffle them away with a fetchland.
Beyond , green mages must look to their creatures for advantage. While and aren’t seen in every green deck, they are common in low-color or creature heavy lists. Turning dorks and utility creatures into card advantage is always good, and for evidence of this, please examine the queen of cEDH, .
The above three are the perfect responses to interaction, particularly the most common types: blue counters and bounces. In the case of the Veils, you’re even able to protect anything you put on the stack. At one mana, this is about as efficient as protection gets, and they can be quite difficult to play around. Open blue mana is often a sign of counters lying in wait, but few look at an untapped Forest and worry if their interaction is going to resolve or not.
If you don’t want to worry about holding up cards and mana, or you want to double down on protecting your green permanents, you can’t do any better than and . As I’ll outline later, cEDH is full of creature-centric combos, and while they work slightly differently, both the Spinner and the Shepherd can help you force a win regardless of how many counters your opponents may have.
Green is the undisputed master of answering both artifacts and enchantments. In a format overrun with s, es, and an endless deluge of , effects never want for a target. Removing a stax piece, hampering an opponent’s development, destroying their card advantage; these three can do it all.
is not yet a month old, but likely the strongest of the three. It’s largely uncounterable, won’t trigger or , won’t count as your spell for turn under a , and is even castable through a resolved or , AND it’s an untapped land? Outrageously good, and likely to be run in every single deck with access to it.
Another relative newcomer. For all its strengths, one of green’s longstanding weaknesses has been the inability to interact with the + combo. Or at least it was, until Modern Horizons 2 gave us .
While it depends on your opponents’ Devotion and the size of their graveyard, can stop a win. In response to Thoracle’s ETB, simply use Endurance to dump their graveyard into their library. The same is true for combos and general reanimation shenanigans. Fast, free, and difficult to interact with, Endurance is a niche but powerful interaction piece.
Green has what might be the most effective stax creature in the format right now. It turns out that is very good at stopping the scourge of cEDH, the .
Dockside is a wincon and a ritual wrapped into one, managing to be the most popular creature in the entirety of cEDH. It’s no wonder that Ouphe sees so much play in response. Even is run to bust Treasure tokens and keep fast mana in check. In fact, one of the few reasons a green deck wouldn’t run Ouphe is to take advantage of its own Dockside, and even then many lists are happy to accept the possibility of stepping on their own toes.
Possibly the strongest one-mana stax piece in the format. While all decks rely on lands, non-green decks are particularly reliant on artifact mana, meaning can be anything from an irritation to a backbreaking speedbump. Dockside is a turn slower and can’t go infinite, fetchlands take two full turns to provide mana, looks like a really stupid card; it really hampers mana development of every kind except one: green dorks.
While black has the best tutors, green certainly has the most. Or at least, the most playable ones. If you want to find a creature of any kind for any reason, green has you covered. To hand, to the top of the deck, to battlefield. Instant, sorcery, stapled to a creature, or stapled to an artifact or even an enchantment. The redundancy of effects is almost as good as the rate on these cards, each one of them efficient in their own way.
It’s worth noting just how creature-centric cEDH has become. The most powerful wincon is a . The most popular ritual/combo piece is a . Every green combo below uses at least one creature. A number of commanders are only looking for one other creature to go infinite with. I’ve defended tutors in the past, but I don’t need to convince anyone of their power, and it’s no surprise they shine their brightest in cEDH.
Sometimes you want more than one creature. You want all of the creatures. Or a specific series of creatures. Or even a chain of creatures that goes from a single activation to a game-winning state.
Yisan is, of course, a mighty cEDH commander in his own right, but he’s no stranger to the 99. Despite being three mana to play and another three to activate, the ability to tutor a card and cheat on its cost is more than enough to warrant his inclusion.
is a little trickier, as many green decks that would otherwise run it are already running and . It also requires a “package” or “pile” within your deck if you’d like to combo with it. The exception to this is , where it’s played straight as a way of turning Tasigur into seven-drops, like , , or .
Most commonly used to fetch or in the case of The Gitrog Monster[/el]. As we receive more valuable lands with spell-like effects ( and are of this ilk), I’m hoping will continue to improve.
Affectionately referred to as the “tendies” combo when is used. The redundancy of and can make this enticing, although any color identity capable of tutoring them easily will usually prefer a faster combo. Most commonly seen in cEDH with , but and will do much the same.
An iconic combo in eternal formats since was first printed in Avacyn Restored. has been paired with everything from and to and . The current frontrunners for best FC deck are The First Sliver and Cazur + Ukkima.
The new kid on the block, courtesy of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. Reconfigured Druid is one of the fastest infinite mana combos in cEDH. At just three mana, a cost that can be split over two turns, unbounded green mana has never been so convenient. It’s a creature combo that doesn’t care about summoning sickness! It remains to be seen where this will land in the meta.
Back in the day, before the great plague took hold, was the strongest combo in the format, so powerful that it led to a one of a kind ban, the only time the RC has ever banned a card for competitive reasons. is now gone, but Hulk lives on, albeit a shadow of its former self.
Unfortunately, I lack the time and space to include even a handful of Hulk piles in GIF form. I wouldn’t dare ask my humble gifmaster Scholars of Kaladesh to try. Hulk piles are not only mechanically complex compared to other popular combos, there are a wide variety of playable lines.
Without flash, what draws players to Hulk nowadays are commanders with an in-built sacrifice effect. For an in-depth explanation of Hulk combos and how they can work in your deck, see this non-exhaustive list of possible piles courtesy of Commander Spellbook. Some of the finest Hulk commanders are Minsc, Varolz, and Thrasios/Tevesh. Whatever the combo, whichever 6cmc of creatures are used, the end result is the same: victory.
Your untap step? No. Our untap step.
If your commander has a repeatable activated ability, there’s a damn good chance you’ll want . A great example of how certain cards scale better in multiplayer formats, Seedborn effectively quadruples the uses you can get out of any tappable permanent. What you use that for can vary, but sinking mana into , and are among the best.
While these cards broadly do the same thing, there’s a tremendous amount of nuance to their applications. may be a slower version of , but creature typing makes it easier to tutor and easier to combo with. Meanwhile is free to cast and can target any player, making it just as good at setting up a win as it is ruining an opponent who was relying on a topdeck tutor.
Eat Your Greens
If green has anything in cEDH, it’s depth. All colors have their qualities, but green is special in the sheer quantity of valuable cards that overlap with each other. While mana production and access to creatures are its greatest strengths, there’s very little it can’t do. How does it stack up against blue and black? I think weaker than either, but not by much.
There’s been much ado in recent years about the rise of red, with some crying in the streets that green’s stocks have fallen. While I do see a red sun rising, this reflection on green has reminded me just how much it still brings to the table. I’ll be speaking with some cEDH experts on that topic for a future article.
For now, thanks for reading Comprehending Competitive.