If you didn’t catch the previous articles of this series, you can check them out here:
1. Whisperer of the Wilds
I have Whisperer of the Wilds as the best green non-rare for two interrelated reasons: there is very little ramp in the format and there are lots of things to do with lots of mana. When combined, these mean that the Whisperer enables you to do things that you simply can’t do otherwise. Playing four drops on turn three will trump your opponent’s morphs. Hitting the five mana threshold to flip up morphs a full turn (or two!) earlier will give you a significant advantage. In a format that is so heavily defined by playing haymakers, getting to deploy yours early is a huge advantage.
2. Temur Sabertooth
The Sabertooth takes second place as it has a fairly high floor being a 4/3 for 4 mana, with a potentially very powerful ability. We found that 4/3s actually matched up fairly well in KTK and took a bit of work to kill. The ability to give the Sabertooth indestructible means that it will be very difficult to kill and able to attack and block indefinitely when paired with a small creature. In fact, it and a buddy can block two huge creatures until the end of days. With manifest in the set, the upside of the creature bounce should not be overlooked. Being able to essentially sacrifice a 2/2 to draw a relevant spell can have game changing consequences. Overall, the power level of the Sabertooth makes it a very efficient mid and late game threat, even if the double green might be awkward.
3. Battlefront Krushok
A 3/4 for 5 is not exciting, even if the single green does lessen the blow somewhat. However, the denial of double blocks is certainly a relevant ability. Against the Abzan deck, threats of two blockers teaming up often slowed down the advance of outlasters, allowing time for the opponent to draw an answer. The Krushok not only fixes this problem, but does so immediately once it hits the board. Here is a card which really undermines the strength of all the two drops I have been advocating. Since I think green is actually fairly shallow in this set, the upside on Battlefront Krushok pushes it into the top three.
4. Abzan Beastmaster
In Avacyn Restored, Triumph of Ferocity turned out to be a fairly strong card. It did an excellent job of helping you push ahead in a board stall and allowing you to maintain the lead once you obtained it. The Beastmaster is a very similar card, but with a relevant body tacked on. While it certainly makes it more fragile than an enchantment, the ability to attack and block greatly outweigh that downside. Plus, on an otherwise empty board it triggers itself. Since it is in the colour of creatures with big butts (particularly when paired with black), I see the Beastmaster as an excellent tool for Abzan to grab a serious advantage.
5. Ruthless Instincts
The versatility in this combat trick is what pushes it into a high slot for green. Awaken the Bear was a playable if unexciting card in Khans block. The Instincts improves on this effect by allowing for equally formidable blockers and protecting against the flying threat incidentally. There were times when the Abzan deck struggled against a barrage from a particularly strong flyer, which the Instincts will be happy to assist with. The card can also be cast precombat to play nice with outlast, and get in extra large attacks. While it will rarely be a blowout, I see Ruthless Instincts pretty much always getting a card’s worth of value.
6. Ainok Guide
The Ainok Guide is a 2/2 for two mana, so it should be no surprise that I like it. However, the ability to fix your mana is certainly a relevant ability, even if it leaves a body made for chump blocking. However, putting the land you find on top of your library is kind of a pain, as it is really just glorified card selection. Had the land gone to your hand, this would be right near the top of my list (Satyr Wayfinder would be really good in this format too). As it is, the Guide is happily playable but unexciting.
7. Map the Wastes
As I spoke about in the discussion of Whisperer of the Wilds, ramp is particularly strong in this set. For similar reasons, fixing is also quite powerful. Map the Wastes will enable players to more consistently play bigger, scarier threats earlier than their opponents. While it isn’t threatening itself, it can very much change the complexion of a game. The bolster is also some incidental value, which will give the card some utility in the late game and make your two drops more formidable when played on curve. With that being said, it is still competing with morphs in the three slot and requires a two drop to get full value.
8. Arashin War Beast
The War Beast does a lot of things for a creature. It gives card advantage and is a huge body. It is also seven mana. In a format where morphs are big and ominous on turn five, seven mana is a lot for just a creature. When investing that much in a guy I want it to completely take over the board. While the War Beast does die to Woolly Loxodon, it has potential to create multiple little minions and might actually be worth the investment.
9. Destructor Dragon
Another dragon for all the people out there who love playable dragons. The notes on this one are similar to what I said for the red dragon: the abundance of good things to do with six mana hurts the value of this uncommon cycle. Green is particularly hurt by this as it has more than its share of reasonable fatties. Contrasting with this is the fact that green rarely gets big flyers and thus the dragon gains some extra value there. Finally, its ability only happens when it dies, but the reliance of people on splashes and the increase in the number of auras means that incidentally blowing up a non-creature permanent in the late game can be decently relevant.
10. Frontier Mastodon
The Mastodon took the last place on this list where any of a couple of big dumb green dudes could have landed. The Mastodon won the spot as a three mana 3/2 is perfectly reasonable (if somewhat below the curve) and the potential to be a 4/3 for three is fairly relevant. The body on the Mastodon when it is ferocious matches up well in the format even after turn three or four, and the low cost means that it may not take your entire turn. Being able to deploy both it and a Savage Punch or Force Away lets it inch out the other green roleplayers.