EDH Staple cards – Green & White
My wife and I have recently started watching the show "Pushing Up Daisies." If you've never seen it, I highly recommend adding it to your Netflix queue. In fact, it's on the instant queue, so you could even watch it online if you're so inclined. The only problem I have with the show, and this particular hang up is not unique to me, is that I know it must come to an end. This quirky, funny show has been cancelled (as is prone to happen to good entertainment). Unfortunately, the networks president looked at the show and said to themselves, “You know, this just doesn't make the cut.” In my opinion this show could have been a staple for years to come.
That's just it, staples can come in all shapes, sizes, (and especially colors), and things really come down to a matter of preference. I want to list what I believe are the staples for each color, as one might imagine this is a fairly large undertaking, and I will be using a series of articles to accomplish the goal. I'd like to start with Green and White, fresh off the back of my tokens list from last week. Let me add a disclaimer, this list is in no way comprehensive. Just like the guy in charge of programming, some of you may think these cards are great, and some of you might think these are the worst cards in history. At the very least I hope that you can find a hidden gem or two, and give a little new life to your EDH lists.
Let's dive in with green creatures! Green is the color of big dudes making glorious battle against life totals. From the large creature files I have pulled Symbiotic Wurm, Verdant Force, and Krosan Tusker. I should probably put the Tusker in a slightly different category, but he's got a big body, so he can hang out with the other guys. On a side note, if you cast Verdant Force you should probably call him party crasher, because he brings all his friends. While being big is one of green's staple uses, there are also lots of smaller utility guys out there. I'd like to proudly present the supporting cast!
Toward the lower end of the curve we have Sakura-Tribe Elder. Snake man, as I've always called him, helps ramp you up to the big guys, all the while blocking happily. We also have Civic Wayfinder and Yavimaya Elder doing their best snake man impersonations, while in some cases even drawing you a card. Coupled with those three we have some guys on the higher end of the small spectrum, Genesis, Thicket Elemental, and Indrik Stomphowler. Thicket Elemental doesn't have a standard converted mana cost because he should never be cast unkicked! Finally, we have the creatures who also serve great utility purposes, Fauna Shaman, Eternal Witness, and Deadwood Treefolk. The witness and the shaman play extremely nice with one another (not to mention with Genesis), while the treefolk is good at helping you recycle troublesome creatures and soaking up damage at the same time.
Fauna Shaman is simply a functional reprint of one of the next cards on our list, Survival of the Fittest. Green decks are filled with dudes, and what better way to call them to hand than by simply tapping one of the ample forests you control! There are several other fun green tutor effects that are sometimes overlooked, Primal Command, Tooth and Nail, and to a lesser extent Worldly Tutor & Sylvan Tutor. Each of these cards serves essentially the same purpose. Although Sylvan and Worldly tutors have been largely outclassed by things like Congregation at Dawn and Eladamri's Call they're still some of the best cards you can tutor with in monogreen.
The next set of cards illustrate green's other redeeming characteristic, which is that of graveyard recursion. Technically we could have put Eternal Witness here as well, but he seemed to fit better with the small body utility guys. Recollect, Regrowth, and Nature's Spiral all form a pretty solid group of initial recursion. Though they exile themselves Restock, Woodland Guidance, and to a lesser extent in mono-green, All Suns' Dawn all have great recursion effects with a bonus attached. One could also make the argument for Life from the Loam as a recursion card, but be aware that for some reason it seems to put a target on the backs of many players.
The rest of the cards in the green staples list aren't necessarily bound together by a common thread, but they are still key to the success in more than a few decks. Card drawing is good, and no cards do it better than Greater Good, Harmonize, and Momentous Fall. Technically Sylvan Library also draws cards, but at an unfortunately steep price. Depending on the curve you're running there's also Hibernation's End to help smooth things out in the early game, and Mana Reflection with Moment's Peace to help lead you to the end game. Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the single most effective way to remove a Sensei's Divining Top, Krosan Grip.
White is, ironically enough, quite often the bane of green. White loves nothing more than to sweep the board and let everyone start over. As such, most of the white staples are going to involve us resetting things. Let's look at the few white creatures who do make our list. Fortunately, it seems as though there are quite a few white creatures who don't mind taking one for the team! Eternal Dragon practically lives in the graveyard as it is and Twilight Shepherd expects to go there at any minute. Even better, she doesn't actually stay there anyway. Yosei, the Morning Star also benefits from a trip to the graveyard, and fortunately for us Magus of the Disk is pretty adept at putting him there. Rounding out the list of white staples we have Akroma, Angel of Wrath. She lives in the red zone and shows no mercy! Finally, the one white creature that doesn't really care about all the removal that is flying around, Myojin of Cleansing Fire. Myojin is happy to ignore all the constant wrath effects and is even willing to lay down his justice dealer if things get too rough.
Let's move on to some of the more common elements of white, destruction. Wrath of God and Day of Judgment are of course the standard bearers for white mass removal. I don't think Rout should be overlooked either. It's been quite a while since we have had an expansion set with removal on par with rout. Akroma's Vengeance keeps up the high standards set by rout and Nevy's disk for only one extra mana. Then we have a few of the less impressive specimens. Winds of Rath is a solid effect, though it can be a bit of a liability. Hallowed Burial and Final Judgment both have their uses, though again, can be a little limited in scope. I prefer Austere Command over either of the two choices as it serves as both Purify and a nice conditional Wrath, or sometime a mix of both. The last board sweeper is somewhat controversial, and while I do not endorse the use of Armageddon I will grant that it is often seen as a staple in a white EDH deck.
White also adds the best spot removal in the form of Condemn (for those tricky generals), Path to Exile, and of course Swords to Plowshares. All are useful in getting rid of all but the most resilient general. If you prefer to keep a general around you can always use Prison Term, which has the added advantage of being able to shift around when bigger threats hit the battlefield. In a similar vein, Faith's Fetters lets you disable even tricky permanents (I'm looking at you Maze of Ith), all while gaining back a little bit of life. Finally, my favorite two for one, Return to Dust, which not only destroys two things, it pulls them clean out of the game, where not even the wishes can reach (No, seriously, the changed the way the wishes interact in EDH!)
Well, these are my picks for the green and white staples. I've tried to avoid the cards that draw a giant target on my head, unless of course they're just too powerful to pass up. Join me next week when we clock in on the black and red staples. Until then this is Benjamin McDole giving you a hundred reasons to play magic.