Somebody set us up the bomb.
Today we’re going to look at the top 8 green cards that provide free wins in the Modern format. While I’m tempted to list all the bombs that Amulet Bloom, Tooth and Nail, and Genesis Wave decks play, I am trying to exert at least a little creativity so we can explore other options.
If you’ve been following the series, then you can skip this paragraph. I want to review by distinguishing between a “win condition” and a “free win.” A win condition can be a Wild Nacatl or Leatherback Baloth. They attack a number of times until the opponent is dead. A “free win,” instead, is Gladecover Scout or Slippery Bogle. These attack a number of times until the opponent is dead also, but it is either much more difficult or much more unlikely for the opponent to remove these two than the previous two. Since I listed Daybreak Coronet as the number one free win in Modern White, I will set these aside now also.
Let’s cut to the chase.
8) Plow Under
Sneaking in at the “being cute” slot, we have this back-breaking effect that sets the opponent back for more turns than the sum of its parts: 3 lands and 3 draw steps. If you are ahead, even, or maybe even slightly behind but without much pressure, this sorcery will surely seal the deal for your game.
7) Treefolk! Heck I can’t decide. Dungrove Elder, Leaf-Crowned Elder, Timber Protector and Heartwood Storyteller
They’re big. They can’t be Abrupt Decayed (in general). They let you play more things for free and draw cards. They may require some accumulation, and the matchup against Islands may be a little frustrating, but if they get going, it is wonderful to watch your opponent stampeded under the march of the ents.
6) Hooting Mandrills and Become Immense
Both of these cards create clear paths to victory because, like Treasure Cruise before them, they make their appearance after wars of attrition have depleted you and your opponent’s resources other than cards in graveyard. The ape tramples over Lingering Souls tokens while Become Immense often provides you enough reach to one-shot the opponent. There are two additional perks of both of these cards: the first is that Eidolon of the Great Revel does not damage you when you play them, even if it is for three or less mana. The second is that awkward graveyard hate is sided against you when your opponent sees them. Relic of Progenitus and Rest in Peace basically Duress your opponent if you have already played your delve card.
5) Thrun, the Last Troll
An indestructible, uncounterable difficult to trade with, easy to boost without fear of being blown out, troll’s troll card. I think printings since Thrun have negated the name, but nonetheless we forgive Wizards this error because this guy really is really awesome to have on your team. If the magic number in power and toughness hadn’t recently moved up to 5 (thanks, Siege Rhino), then I would easily have placed this guy higher in the list.
4) Glistener Elf
Imagine if this card were printed.
Ultimate Raging Goblin R
Creature – Goblin
Your opponent’s cannot gain life.
Can you imagine the outcry against this guy? Burn decks would take up approximately 75% of the meta. In the very color where you don’t want your opponents to gain life, you have this insane creature that helps to remove your opponents’ life totals.
Well, similarly, Glistener Elf is very easy to interact with, but he is also in the very color that makes his text most destructive. The spells you use to take advantage of his “double strike” often are the very same that protect Glistener Elf from removal.
3) Garruk Wildspeaker
He’s the most highly used of the original planeswalkers, and decks that include him often can accelerate with him the turn he is played. That’s right, a four mana spell can be used as a ritual effect. That isn’t the only reason he is on here, though. Many decks play him even without Overgrowth, Utopia Sprawl, and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx because there is no other planeswalker who can ultimate after one untap phase with him in play. It is insane how quickly you can, well, overrun your opponent by ramping into Garruk and then giving the creatures you used to ramp +3/+3 on the following turn.
This card prevents many opponents in Modern from playing Magic, and in particular, from playing Magic the way they designed their deck to do: countering your spells. By preventing the one method your opponent had of interacting with you, you are free to overwhelm them by any means you have. Even though it only hits 1/5 of the basic land types available, we remember that blue is the most powerful color in Magic, and the card has a lot of scope in Modern. Its applications include Blue Tron, Twin, Merfolk, various control lists, and the number one spot on this list.
This one-card combo is extremely difficult to interact with. Your opponent has to hope either to destroy you before you can accumulate seven lands, to discard (and exile, if possible) your copies of Scapeshift, or to counter the spell because once it resolves, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle triggers are very difficult to interact with.
Cards I left out, and Conclusion
I know that Genesis Wave, Primal Command, Primeval Titan, and Tooth and Nail are left out. Again, I reiterate that if these were on the list, basically we would just have the Mono Green Devotion deck.
Some dark horse options I considered were:
Greenseeker and Llanowar Mentor – if dredge with Bridge from Below ever becomes a thing, these two will be good considerations. They allow you to dredge starting on turn two, but what’s more is that they develop your mana-base. Often dredge decks are stuck on 1-3 lands because they aren’t drawing any more cards from their library, so they can’t cast Unburial Rites.
Doubling Season – It does too many stupid things with Planeswalkers that didn’t exist at the time of its printing, but it takes way too long to resolve. Further, it doesn’t win on its own.
Up next, big blue, then we have artifacts and gold cards! See you next week.