Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Wild Growth: The Enchant Land that could (or couldn't)

Enchant lands are an interesting but under utilized design. With only a 106 cards in the entirety of the game (not counting Enchant Permanent), it's certainly one of the less common Enchant types (still more common then Enchant Dead Creature).

Today I wish to talk about one such card, Wild Growth. Wild Growth is a green aura spell, that basically adds a green mana whenever enchanted land is tapped. In many ways, it's a dork that can't swing, but in some sense is less susceptible to removal. However, a Strip Mine, Armaggedon, Stone Rain or Sinkhole makes you feel bad about yourself.

Look at all the birds and the bees!
Now I've always been a fan of this one myself, after all, no one is going to waste a Disenchant on this, it will die to less then Llanowar Elves, Birds, and Elves of Deep Shadow will, and it can be abused the Candelabra, Ley Druid, and other assorted old school untap effects. This card was actually once commonly played at game shops across the country. In fact, the released fan expansion 'Middle Age' made it into a cycle. Church added white, Burial Ground added Black, Lava Flow provides a red, and meandering river gives a blue. Just to show how common this card was once upon a time.

I was actually disappointed to learn this card isn't modern legal.

Now as stated, it is susceptible to land destruction, and as such, can make a land a pretty big target. However, it's sometimes worth losing an enchanted Forest, instead of losing that Library or Maze. Sure Armaggedon is in the format, but you were losing the land anyway at that point.

Yes in EC, there is four Strip Mine, so I wouldn't recommend ever running this card w/ that banlist. Land Destruction is just too common.

Art: The art simply shows a primeval forest, in full bloom, with even insects. Given the size of the picture window of a card, it's scope in it's own right is impressive, with tress slowly fading into the shade a forest like this would provide. The color effect also has a unified light source, something most early mtg cards couldn't really hope for.

 It's simple, but gets the message across, and while I'm a big fan of early Poole, I'll be the first to admit that most of his art isn't wall hanging worthy, even though they all work for the medium.

I'll give this one a 4. It leaves a good impression on the owner of the card, without being overwhelming, and while very well done, it's a tad bit boring, keeping it from being a 5.

Playability: I've run this card (and the cards it's inspired) over the years numerous times. I've run it in good effect in Enchantress, Aura.dec, and even ran Trace of Abundance in Boggless Boggles. In more modern magic, where numerous cards count the number of enchantments (and aura's) you control, it can be an often overlooked way to deal a few extra points.

The fact a turn 1 Wildgrowth will either cost you a Strip Mine (not ideal, but there are better targets), oe guarantee you 3+ mana on turn 2 (assuming you get a land drop) As said earlier this can combo w/ Ley Druid (for the three people still running him) and Candelabra, and it can generate a surprising amount of mana for a such a low investment.

As stated, it's probably to frail in the EC banlist, due to the abundance of Sink Hole. It also doesn't win the game by itself. There are countless stories of people enchanting Birds, or swinging leathal with Elves. This card will never let you do that, and if the game drags out, it can become increasingly useless.

Fringe: I once played against a Vineyard deck that utilized these on opponents lands. This of course being when mana burn was still part of the game. Just food for thought.

Still, I'll give it a 4. Even if I might be too generous. (Note: in EC, just treat it like a 2).

Flavor: Not much to say on this one. The flavor, like most Alpha cards, is simple and to the point. You swell the  land with life energy, so when you draw it, it adds an additional green whenever you tap into it for mana.

5/5 on the flavor. Tastes good.

13/15, making the average 4/5. Sure, it's not interesting, but it gets the job done, which is the point. Sure, playing with power is awesome, but it was these simple memorable cards that made early Magic the game everyone loved to play.

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