CardName – Time Spiral Remastered
Date Reviewed: March 29, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 3.25
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
As I get older, my ability to understand complicated rules cases increases, but my desire to do so in everyday fun play decreases. That’s why, in my Jumpstart homebrewing, I’ve been reaching for cards like Cavalier of Dawn and Voracious Greatshark more than cards like Dryad Arbor. However, there are many cases where putting the Arbor in your deck is absolutely the right call, regardless of potential confusion. Green Sun’s Zenith and Wood Elves absolutely love it, not to mention the times you can use Titania, Protector of Argoth to trigger a card that looks for a creature entering play (and not a land). When a card is a land creature with all the rabbit-hole-diving implications that carries, it’s all about what interacts with it; fortunately, green’s design means that Dryad Arbor has an awful lot of things that interact with it.
While there have been cards that have turned lands into creatures, cards that turned creatures into lands, and lands that have animated into creatures, Dryad Arbor stands out for persistently being both a creature and a land concurrently. And not any old land, but a Forest. Let’s go through a couple of Dryad Arbor’s important rules interactions first:
- Dryad Arbor is played like a land. It’s not a spell that can be countered, and you’re subject to the usual “one land per turn” rules. It does have summoning sickness limitations, so it won’t be able to tap for green mana on its first turn out (absent haste).
- It being a Dryad is the Creature subtype, it being a Forest is the Land subtype, and it being green is by nature of it being demarcated as such. If you tag it with something like Sea’s Claim, you’ll make it an Island (and thus make it tap for blue), but it doesn’t impact it being a green Dryad.
- The most “notable” interaction is with Blood Moon. Blood Moon will overwrite Dryad Arbor being a forest, but it will not cancel it out of being a creature. Thus it will continue to be a green Dryad, albeit one that taps for red mana.
- Green Sun’s Zenith for X = 0 can fetch this.
Dryad Arbor is a weird enough card to where it’s likely going to remain the sole Land Creature for a good while, thanks to some particular rules interactions and some occasionally counter-intuitive results with things like Blood Moon. It’s also a playable enough card in its own right! It can be fetched for, found with things that find Forests (like Three Visits), and…used as part of degenerate Natural Order combos in Legacy (in Elves), though a better question might be what doesn’t fuel Natural Order.
Even beyond that, it still gets some fringe play. It’s definitely made its name as a curiosity, but being a “free” 1/1 body with mana abilities isn’t the worst thing in the world to be. If you run Forests and this is legal, it might not be the worst inclusion so long as you build around its talents and quirks.
Constructed: 4 (more often than not, this usually is a combo piece or combo enabler; still, nothing else quite does its job)
Limited: 3 (not bad, but it’s not really a bomb, outside of maybe sneaking in damage now and again)
Commander: 3.5 (like in Constructed, more a combo piece, but a solid one all the same)
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