Three Cards Deep: The Good, The Bad, and the EDH Ugly

After a long-ish break (ok just one week but it felt long) we’re back for the last Three Cards Dep of the season. I might take a week off and post something else I’ve got written while I let next season perc-you-late. It’s gonna be a doozy. This week, green tutory value engines!

[Sorry. First an editor’s note about something we’re going to try next week that we hope will be cool. Probably Tuesday (but the day is still TBD) Team GDC is going to hold a sort of public forum Tweetup discussion. We do a lot of complaining together from the safety of a chat window, and we wanted to share that with anyone who cares (at a pace reasonable for adults at work of course). We’ll be talking about a few specific topics relating to the format’s recent evolutions. More details about the event to come on Monday. Hope you can join us.”]

This week: three comparable green value engines in the context of a green-based creature toolbox deck.

  • One is Rad: It’s awesome, perhaps even surprisingly so, a card you’d be just as happy to see an opponent slam down as you would to rip it off the top.
  • One is Bad: It’s a bogeyman. Take a trip to frown town with these fun suckers, whether you’re casting or being tortured by them.
  • One is Sad: The let down you realize you usually don’t want to cast.

So I love green decks. My first EDH deck was little-kid RG monsters and ramp. I still have that deck. Even though mana is by biggest love, this week is about three powerful options for toolbox decks.

Rad – Wild Pair

Take any green deck and lay out the total power+toughness “curve” and you’ll see a ton of overlap. For me it’s mainly from ten to 14 because I always build to heavy. Regardless, the fact that the pair already has a home in most green decks is the first reason I love it. The second is the requirement that you play the creature from your hand. Unless you’re running Cass’s Aluren deck full of gating creatures, abusing this is tough. It just tacks on value. The third is that if you actually want to build around it to make a toolbox deck, you’re encouraged to fill your deck with creatures with the same P+T sum that work as various tools, which is awkward and thus fun.

It’s also not something people really hate to see come down. Your dudes are all pretty significantly better, but the actual amount depends on how committed you are to maximizing the card. Also, the art is pretty weird and hilarious.

Verdict: It’s no [Card]Lurking Predators[/Card], thankfully.

Bad – Birthing Pod

I always threw this in thinking it was fairly innocuous. Then I played against this stupid Progenitus goodstuff deck that tutor-wrecked our faces in about three turns and I realized people were right to kill this on sight. Yes, you have to build a CMC value chain to make it nuts. But that’s pretty natural anyway, just like with Wild Pair. What makes it scary is obviously that every creature the controller has in play also represents every creature still in the controller’s deck that has a CMC one greater.

My case in point experience was that 5C player using it to go from some random four like Oracle of Mul Daya to Mikaeus, the Unhallowed by way of Zealous Conscripts to go nuts with Altar of Dementia and Woodfall Primus to blow up all the permanents and mill one person out.

Verdict: Repeat tutors are scary. Watch out for this guy.

Sad – Hibernation’s End

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve put this in a new deck, played it, and then gotten one three drop for nine mana before it died to an incidental Austere Command, I’d probably be playing more blue to run all my Mana Drains. Of the three, this one takes the most work to make viable. And if you have some killer early drops, you can definitely get good mileage from waking up some bears. Hungry bears.

Most of the time, it’s just a really expensive route to plus one card advanage and minus five mana advantage (if you get a one and a two off it before it dies). And you really have no hope of getting anything as good as a free five-drop off it, because people know to fear your fives (Seedborn Muse and Prophet of Kruphix). It is the saddest of the value engines in a vacuum.

Verdict: At least people won’t spend targeted removal on it for a few turns.

Conclusion: One-card value engines that also encourage thoughtful deckbuilding are fun both intellectually and when you draw them. But the grey area/fine line between the top end of value and that area where you “just win” is pretty thin. Unless they have Torpor Orb. Then it’s cool. Go nuts with your vanilla.