April 13, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 3.88
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
In this current release cycle, when we’re anticipating a kaiju-themed expansion, it’s hard not to think of Jamie Wakefield, the original “King of Fatties”. (Do people still use that as a slang term for big creatures?) Modern Magic owes an enormous amount to his deckbuilding innovations and tournament successes. He introduced a lot of the principles of midrange decks to tournament Magic, well before midrange was even what we called that archetype. And in that strange time after the beginning of the Weatherlight Saga and before the rise of Tolarian Academy, Broken Jar, and Illusions of Grandeur/Donate, the world was rocked by his deck “Secret Force”.
Secret Force was named in part for Verdant Force, one of the most eye-catching creatures in Tempest. You may also be familiar with it from its Dominaria incarnation, which was just another of that expansion’s heartwarming callbacks and cutely references the original flavor text. While it’s no longer a top-tier tournament card (other big green creatures are more effective at immediately disrupting an opponent or boosting large attacks), it still shines in casual and multiplayer settings. It’s much too big for red decks to deal with easily, and it’s possible get it into play well before opponents are really ready. And that’s before you consider that any time it sticks against more than one opponent will see you race ahead on creature count, and the constant stream of tokens for sacrifice effects and the like.
A limitless stream of 1/1 Saprolings is not a bad rate of return, particularly when you get one every turn, and a decent body for 1997 didn’t hurt, either. Verdant Force was one of the original Absolute Units to see competitive play, appearing in the winning deck from the 1998 World Championship as part of a reanimator package. It was also the precursor to the Commander Force cycle, a cycle of eight mana 7/7 creatures with abilities that triggered at each upkeep (and not just your own). Not bad.
Consistently generating board presence passively while still providing a decent body is reasonable for a creature, even if Verdant Force is susceptible to being chump-blocked rather neatly. Triple green is awkward, and he’s since been outclassed by meaner creatures. But for his original time, he was a force to be reckoned with, and a reprint in Dominaria is a fitting return for one of the original big boys of Magic.
Constructed: 2 (too fair for today’s Magic, even if it might not look it at first)
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