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The Dragon's Den
The New King ...

By DeQuan Watson - 4.29.05

So often, everyone wants to know what the best deck in a given format is.  Lately that's been extremely hard to figure out.  I like this fact though.  It means that more decks have a chance on any given day.
Obviously, I can't tell you exactly what the best deck is.  The main reason is just that I truly don't know what it is.  I do know what the best color is though.  And that color is green.  That may sound like a bold statement, but let me justify my statements before you jump to conclusions.
The first thing that shoots green to the forefront is the lack of green hoser cards.  Previously there was a card that gave green tremendous fits; Perish.  For just three mana a player could wipe out all of your green creatures.  It was sad.  It was devastating.  There's nothing of the sort now.  You are only stuck with having to worry about Slay and Hibernation.  And neither of these are that powerful right now.  Compare this situation to what the other colors are dealing with: Boil, Flashfires, Choke, Karma and such.
Green has some great versatility in their creature selection right now.  This is a change of pace.  Generally green gets power with just a little bit of versatility, but things have changed in the past couple of years.  Creatures like Birds of Paradise are making their way into a lot more decks.  Sakura-Tribe Elder is another guy with strong versatility that's finding his way into more decks daily.  And let's not forget having Eternal Witness around.  Getting any cards back from your graveyard used to cost two mana (Regrowth).  And for one more mana now, you actually get a 2/1 creature to go along with it.  That's just silly.
And what's turning out to be best green creature is actually Troll Ascetic.  It doesn't seem like a superstar, but it's definitely a wolf in sheep's clothing.  It's easy to cast, being only three mana.  It can't be targeted by your opponent.  And it's a three power creatures.  He solves  a lot of issues.  Monoblue HATES seeing Troll Ascetic.  They can't bounce him.  They can't effectively block him.  They can's teal him with Vedalken Shackles.  He really puts them in a bind.
The reason I was dogging the green color hosers earlier is that they happen to do very little to green's two best creatures.   You don't wants to use Hibernation against an Eternal Witness if you can avoid it.  Letting them recast it to pick something else up is kind of crazy.  And Slay can't even target Troll Ascetic, so that plans out.  But you have to remember that green is also more than just creatures.
Green is also the only color that can effectively and efficiently destroy both artifacts and enchantments.  This gives you a large variety of cards to use: Creeping Mold, Naturalize, Oxidize, and event Viridian Shaman.  Some of the most powerful cards in the game are artifacts and enchantments.  Green can help you keep those at bay. 
And what about the general power of game swinging spells that green has.  The two that come to mine first are Tooth and Nail and Plow Under.  Both of these cards are huge.  Both of these cards can lead to game winning or game clenching situations.  This is a new thing for green.  Green doesn't generally possess all of these traits at the same time.
Some decks are using green as their base for opening options up to them.  We already mentioned Birds of Paradise and Sakura-Tribe Elder.  However, another great card that players are using is Kodama's Reach.  Between these three cards, you can have all the colored mana you need by turn four usually.  This means that the four color and five color green decks are definitely out there being played.
Don't get me wrong.  No color is perfect.  No color has ALL the answers.  This is simply by design.  If you are playing monogreen, you aren't going to be able to destroy any creatures efficiently.  Most of the time, when playing monogreen, you either play a few artifacts to kill creatures or you expect to kill creatures during combat.  Either way is fine truthfully, but you don't have direct methods in just green for dealing with opposing creatures. 
What does this all mean to the average player?  Well, quite a bit honestly.  Lots of players attend Regionals every year.  I'd even venture to say that the average one of you reading this is likely to attend your local regional event this year.  I know from experience that nearly have the field (or more) that attend are novice players.  Many of them haven't been playing that long and for lots of them, this is their first sanctioned tournament.  Lots of new players love green.  It's relatively easy to play as it doesn't possess a lot of trick cards.  Most green cards are straightforward in what they do. 
These facts will likely put many new players into play green.  And let's not forget the fact that Monogreen, Tooth and Nail, and Death Cloud are all popular decks right now and they all utilize the green spells.  This means that you will be seeing a LOT of green at regionals.  Just be aware that there aren't a lot of direct answers for dealing with green right now.  Even with the swords, there is not a protection from green on.
The best you can do to prepare is to concentrate on your sideboard and your weaknesses.  Don't worry so much about particular deck types.  If you find out you are weak to a particular deck go ahead and worry about it.  Otherwise, fill your board with cards help fix weaknesses and problem spots.  That may sound a bit confusion, but it's not really.  Don't worry about putting cards in to defeat certain decks.  Give yourself some versatility and just sideboard things that fill weak gaps where you may have trouble with particular cards.
Things are going to get interesting going into Regionals.  Just keep your eye on the situation and see how things play out.  We still have one more set to be released before we get to that point.  And who knows, that might put the format on its head for two weeks leading up to the big weekend.
Until next time,
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn at Pojo dot Com

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