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December 12, 2016

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1-Drop Creatures for Commander: Green

Commander is definitely a big mana format of Magic. I don’t want to speak for everyone but I feel like big, flashy spells are really the reason a lot of us play the format. You won’t see Mind’s Dilation being played in Standard or Modern, so players who want to cast spells for free at the cost of a do-nothing 7 mana enchantment need a place to go. This often means that cards with a lower, more efficient mana cost get ignored largely because in Commander we can afford to sacrifice some efficiency for a good return on power level. Specifically in EDH we will almost always completely ignore any creature with a casting cost of 1. Outside of mana dorks and Serra Ascendant it’s pretty rare to see a 1 CMC creature come down on turn one and have it be a great play. But if you totally ignore the lower costed creatures in your colours you might be missing out on some real power in your deck.

This is the first part in a 5 part series all about 1 CMC creatures that you can actually use in Commander. For part one I think it only makes sense to start with the most popular colour for usable 1 CMC creatures: Green.

Green has perhaps the greatest 1 drop creature in the history of magic let alone the Commander format but it’s pretty strong there too. Of course I’m talking about Birds of Paradise.

Birds of Paradise is perhaps the best one, but there are multiple iterations of the one-drop creature that taps for one mana. Llanowar Elves and all the others (Fyndhorn Elves, Elvish Mystic, etc) do a good job of ramping your green mana, but there are actually some other great options at 1 CMC for mana making that aren’t these traditional mana dorks. You’ve also got the modern-banned Deathrite Shaman which not only serves as a mana producer, but a way to clear pesky graveyards and gain life. There’s also Heritage Druid and Joraga Treespeaker for when your other elves just aren’t producing enough mana. And finally if you just need a Llanowar Elf that makes Llanowar Elves, there’s Llanowar Mentor.

Not all 1-drops in green are pointy-eared mana creators. No, some are just pointy-eared mana finders like Greenseeker, or blunt-eared mana reanimators like Groundskeeper or even Snake-eared mana boosters like Sakura-Tribe Scout. Most of these cards have specific uses in specific decks (graveyard strategies or landfall) but depending on who your commander is, these cards can have a real impact in a general way as well.

So enough making mana with our tiny 1/1s, what else can these creatures do? In green specifically you’ll find a lot of cards to handle artifacts and enchantments like Caustic Caterpillar which again are great in graveyard recursion decks but others like Brown Ouphe can just come out of nowhere and completely crush an artifact player’s dreams of going infinite with their Time Sieve.

But wait there’s more! What would the soul sisters be without their green cousin Essence Warden? Or what about Karador’s unlikely fog-enducing little pal Spore Frog? If tapping and untapping is something your deck wants to do, it’s tough to find better creatures than Copperhorn Scout or Magus of the Candelabra. If +1/+1 counters is your fancy, look no further than the underrated Scute Mob. Trust me, it looks like Scute Mob is a bit of a joke at first, but once that deck gets it’s trample enabler, (which I promise it has) the mob is a tough one to take a hit from.

There are actually a surprising amount of creatures for 1 green mana that we can include in our 99, but what about our commander? A one mana commander is a powerful thing but due to the often low power of level 1 CMC cards, we don’t have a ton of great options but the two(ish) we do are not bad at all. First, our only true Mono-G general is the recently printed Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter which is a great token general and in a colour-pie defying move, is maybe the only good artifact general in mono-G. Speaking of token generals, of course Rhys the Redeemed is perhaps the best option but also contains white (that’s fine) for a one-mana general who also loves tokens.

There are a lot of powerful synergistic creatures at the one mana slot for commander, we didn’t even mention Sylvan Safekeeper, Taunting Elf or Ulvenwald Tracker! Oh wait… well the point is, keep an eye out for the 1 CMC creatures who can really help your deck next time you’re brewing because. Give the little guys a chance!