Fran-tic Search: Guide to M12 Limited (Part 2)

Today I’ve got the 2nd part to my 2 part guide to M12 limited. For those of you who haven’t read part 1 I would recommend it. The topics I’ve got for part 2 are The Revival of Green, GW Auras, an overview of the Griffin deck, and some more card evaluations.

The Revival of Green

For the last two core set limited formats, M10 and M11, green has definitely had the shaft. In M10 and M11 green didn’t have any ‘real’ removal, unless you count [card]Hornet Sting[/card]. Also, in M11 green lost it’s greatest asset in [card]Overrun[/card], as it got moved to the rare slot and turned in to [card]Overwhelming Stampede[/card].  This time around, however, wizards has decided to give green some lovin. Green now has real removal in [card]Arachnus Web[/card]. Green also has multiple excellent uncommons in [card]Jade Mage[/card], [card]Hunter’s Insight[/card], and the return of [card]Overrun[/card]. Unlike in M10 where if your opponent was running green they most likely had Overrun, and in M11 if your opponent was running green, they were just doing it wrong, players now have a reason to play green other than an unhealthy love for the fatties.

Wizards has decided to push green in limited by giving it abilities it doesn’t usually get. The color pie is all messed up these days. Now we have [card]Dismember[/card] giving every deck access to great removal, and even [card]Mental Misstep[/card] finding it’s way into Legacy Goblins. Now green has card advantage and good removal in limited? Wizards really threw the color pie out the window on this one.

GW Auras

Speaking of green’s revival, GW is now a draft archetype that is actually viable. Back in M11 limited you would get completely stomped playing GW due to a lack of removal and card advantage.  Now, however, their is actually a legitimate amount of removal in these colors. To be honest though, this archetype is more just a GW deck, with the Sacred Wolf plus a good aura combo to end the game, but I’m still going to call it GW Auras because that’s the main gameplan. Also, this deck could pretty much be green paired with any other color, but I prefer white as second color mainly because [card]Spirit Mantle[/card] is the best thing you can put on a [card]Sacred Wolf[/card], and because you have white fliers that like to have [card]Trollhide[/card]s put on them.

So for this archetype the game plan, basically, is to try to land a [card]Sacred Wolf[/card], or other hexproof creature, and then suit it up with a [card]Trollhide[/card], or [card]Spirit Mantle[/card]. The hope is that you want a build a creature that they are unable to deal with, and just dominate the game with it. The great thing is that a lot of the main cards you’re looking for to combo are cards that can go fairly late like the [card]Sacred Wolf[/card] and [card]Trollhide[/card]. Honorable mentions go to suiting up a [card]Thran Golem[/card] with aura, and beating down.

Here is a sample decklist:

[deck title=GW Auras by Francis Toussaint]
[Creatures]
1 Gideon’s Lawkeeper

1 Llanowar Elves

2 Garruk’s Companion

1 Alabaster Mage

2 Sacred Wolf

1 Dungrove Elder

1 Assault Griffin

1 Giant Spider

1 Cudgel Troll

1 Serra Angel

1 Archon of Justice

1 Thran Golem
[/Creatures]
[Spells]

1 Stave Off

1 Titanic Growth

1 Pacifism

1 Spirit Mantle

2 Arachnus Web

1 Hunter’s Insight

2 Trollhide
[/Spells]
[Lands]

10 Forest

7 Plains
[/Lands]
[/Deck]

Here is the rundown on the important cards for the combo within the archetype:

[card]Sacred Wolf[/card]

This is the key to the combo. [card]Sacred Wolf[/card] can go pretty late because on its own the stats aren’t that impressive, but once we suit it up with an aura it will be looking much better. Being a 3/1 is great with [card]Spirit Mantle[/card], because you want to have as much power as possible for your creature, and don’t care about it’s toughness.

[card]Trollhide[/card]

This card is is really underrated in my opinion. It just makes one of your guys an absolute monster that’s really tough to deal with. When combined with [card]Sacred Wolf[/card] it’s nearly unstoppable. Assuming that your keeping mana up in case of [card]Day of Judgment[/card], if they are in white, the only way to stop a [card]Sacred Wolf[/card] with a [card]Trollhide[/card] is to deal with the [card]Trollhide[/card] itself with an [card]Oblivion Ring[/card], [card]Acidic Slime[/card], some card out of the sideboard, by finding a way to effectively block it with a creature that has toughness greater than 5, or a [card]Reassembling Skeleton[/card]. That may seem like a lot of ways to deal with it, but it’s really not. [card]Trollhide[/card] also works great on your fliers or [card]Thran Golem[/card].

[card]Spirit Mantle[/card]

The combination of [card]Spirit Mantle[/card] and [card]Sacred Wolf[/card] is the best thing the deck can do, and if you get it together the game will usually be ending promptly. Having a 4/2 unblockable, hexproof, creature is just the stone cold nuts. The only combination of cards that’s a close second to this combo is, a combo near and dear to my heart, [card]Tormented Soul[/card] and [card]Dark Favor[/card].

10 Points to Griffindor!

To me, this archetype is the definition of variance. Sometimes the stars align, everything goes right, and you just can’t lose, but other times you just get completely punished. The problem with the deck is that you gamble when your drafting this deck, as well as when your playing it. If your gamble pays off you will usually completely destroy an opponent, but if not then it can cost you games, and sometimes even matches.

A lot of things can go wrong during the draft. If anyone else is playing white near you, they sure would love to have [card]Assault Griffin[/card], [card]Peregrine Griffin[/card], or [card]Griffin Sentinel[/card], so you’ll be fighting for those. Another factor is that you’re looking to pick up [card]Griffin Rider[/card], and usually trying to pick them up later on during your draft, saving your earlier picks for removal and other important cards. However, [card]Griffin Rider[/card] is just the type of card that people will be interested in hate-drafting if they have nothing for their own deck left in a pack and they will have a good chance of being scooped up.

A lot of things can also go wrong for the Griffin deck during the matches as well. For example, if you were to only draw a bunch of [card]Griffin Rider[/card]s and no griffins, then your stuck with 1/1’s that don’t do anything. You also have a huge potential for being blown out by removal when attacking with the [card]Griffin Rider[/card]. The [card]Griffin Rider[/card] plus a griffin interaction is just asking to get 2-for-1’d. It only takes one removal spell to take out a griffin you were relying on to give your rider +3/+3 and flying, and then proceed to easily block the 1/1 Griffin Rider that’s still attacking.  

With all that bad stuff about the griffin deck said, griffins can really pay off big if your able to manage drafting a solid deck and have the games go smoothly. Going turn 2 [card]Griffin Rider[/card], turn 3 [card]Griffin Sentinel[/card] is probably one of the biggest possible beatings in  M12 limited. A 4/4 flier for 2 is just unheard of. Even if you have to jump through a few hoops to get it, you’re still getting an absurd creature. In conclusion, if you decide to align with powerful the house of Griffindor, take into account the risks involved.

Card Evaluations

This is just going to be an continuation of what I was doing last article. I’m going to go over some of the cards that I believe to be overrated, underrated, or underappreciated.

[card]Stave Off[/card]

By now hopefully everyone knows that this card is solid. Drafting this set thus far, I’ve found myself getting blown out by this card, as well as completely dismantling people with this card. Sure, on the surface it may seem like just another [card]Apostle’s Blessing[/card], but it’s so much more than that. [card]Stave Off[/card] can be used offensively to push through damage, and it can be used to protect you creatures from opponents removal. It can be used to remove enchantments like [card]Trollhide[/card] from your opponent’s creatures, as well as removing [card]Pacifism[/card] or [card]Mind Control[/card] from your own creatures. It serves as straight up removal against illusion creatures. It could also be used to prevent an opponent from using [card]Titanic Growth[/card] on their own creature, or better yet, it could prevent an opponent from using [card]Hunter’s Insight[/card] on their own creature. M12 limited is just the best possible place for this card due to the large volume of Aura’s in limited, the illusion creatures, and the aggressive, combat oriented, nature of M12 limited. I played 3 in a draft once, and was completely happy with it, winning multiple games with them. Granted, the deck was an aggressive one, but that’s the best place for [card]Stave Off[/card].

[card]Timely Reinforcements[/card]

I feel like a lot of people give this card nowhere near the amount of credit it deserves in limited. I’ve heard multiple people bash the card because it doesn’t do anything when you’re ahead. But the way I see it, I’d way rather have a card that is good when I’m behind, than good when I’m ahead. Gaining 6 life is definitely relevant against aggressive decks and getting three 1/1 tokens is quite good for stabilizing because you have 3 individual blockers. This card is very similar to [card]Spectral Procession[/card], which is why I think its really good, because that card was great. Granted, these tokens don’t have flying, but still, having 3 individual creatures is strong.

[card]Ice Cage[/card]

I absolutely despise this card, and I think it’s definitely unplayable in this format. Yet somehow, I see it being played all the time. Sure, in M11 it was a playable card, and even arguably a good card. However, this format it’s much worse than it’s been in previous sets. First of all, there is over half the mage cycle, the red, blue, and white, ones, that are all are really good against [card]Ice Cage[/card]. Not to mention the different Auras that get rid of the [card]Ice Cage[/card], as well as the different pump spells, and tappers in [card]Gideon’s Lawkeeper[/card] and [card]Crown of Empires[/card]. Every time someone has played this against me I’ve been happy, since it’s never stayed on a creature for very long.

[card]Crown of Empires[/card]

This is one of those cards that seems a lot better than it is before you’ve got a chance to play it and then you realize it was much worse than you’d anticipated. I’ve heard a lot of people write this card off after playing it but I think it has a place in decks that are more on the controlling side. If you’re aggressive you don’t really want this card since it’s so mana intensive, but if your not too aggressive and have mana to play around with, it can be great.

[card]Arachnus Web[/card]

This a prime example of wizards pushing the boundaries of the color pie. The first example of green getting an un-green kill-spell is [card]Lignify[/card], then [card]Hornet Sting[/card], then [card]Beast Within[/card], and now this. I do have to give props to wizards from making such a flavorful card though. Having a creature that’s trapped in a web unless it’s large enough to escape is just really good design. [card]Arachnus Web[/card] is a great card from a design aspect, flavor aspect, and is a great card in limited.  The impact this has on M12 limited is that now each color has access to some sort of removal. Web can stop a lot of reasonable sized creatures that are annoying you, including grounding pesky fliers, can prevent [card]Merfolk Looter[/card]s from taking over a game, and even lock down an opponent’s creature with power greater than 3 for a turn to push through extra damage.

Well that’s all I’ve got for you for now. M12 is by far the finest core set limited format we’ve had so far, so enjoy it while it’s here. Thanks for reading!

Francis Toussaint