This card has made quite a few waves in my local area, and I’ve heard a lot of angry words said over this innocuous looking two mana 1/1. People have had their feathers collectively ruffled, and today on know yourself, I’m going to defend our little green friend from the myriad of complaints. I will try to address the arguments made against wizards and this card and explain what is happening, and talk about why this is actually a good thing. But first, the actual complaints.
“I guess the color pie doesn’t matter now.”
“Why is this card green?”
“This card should be U/G, not mono green.”
“Isn’t this just better prowess? I thought that was a U/R mechanic?”
and my favorite,
“Man, wizards is terrible at their jobs.”
While that last one is just actually a dig at the creators themselves, people raise a good point towards the design of this card. Why is this card green? What does it being mono green accomplish, and what does it mean for the color pie? First, lets look at some similar effects.
Green has a histroy of putting counters on creatures to make them larger, and the two above are good examples of the spell variant of this card. It is the same card text as Deeproot Champion, but Deeproot Champion’s caveat of only non-creature spells is the troubling part. Green, historically, has been a card color that focuses primarly on creatures. It’s removal is all creature based, the creatures it can create are the biggest on rate in terms of mana, So when you introduce a mono green creature that has a stipulation for the one card type green is not known for, eyebrows will be raised and questions will be asked.
But now I want to ask a question. Is this card mono green? Well, the obvious answer here is yes. It costs 1G, therefore, it is mono green. But wizards has always had a few tricks up their sleeves. We know that the cards in Ixalan support a U/G merfolk tribe, and what is blue really well known for? noncreature spells.
This card lives in a really interesting design space as a designer, because it is a certain way, and it is mono green, but the second color here is implied. If you’re playing this card and it wasn’t a late pickup in draft or just a 1 mana 1/1 on curve, in limited and constructed this card is going to push you to play good noncreature spells, which puts you in the other merfolk color, blue. It has an implied second color, but for design reasons, is mono green.
For example, maybe in testing have a UG 1/1 was too difficult to cast without forcing the player into something like the energy mechanic for fixing, which also pushes you into a different kind of deck anyway, so for the sake of simplicity, it was changed to be mono green but still fit the curve of the deck fairly well.
The deck also has a lot of impressive looking cards so far as well, with a protective lord and a 4 mana card that gives card advantage by generating lands into creatures when you flood out. Following this line of thought, it is less blatant than a card like Kumena’s Omenspeaker, which asks for either another merfolk or an island, both of which with deeproot champion can help out the one mana creature on turn two, and can hit the board immediately.
And for this reason, Deeproot Champion is actually a marvel in card design. Taking a color a expanding its potential in a set specific way is very intelligent, and leads to some interesting deckbuilding choices. A green creature that has to trigger off of non-creature spells? what do we pair it with? maybe the merfolk enchantment that makes 1/1 hexproof merfolk? is it good enough on its own to be in a non-merfolk shell? maybe instants are the line we want to take? pump spells? countermagic? who knows!
The way the card begs for other cards to be put into the deck with it in mind makes the card incredibly intriguing. It asks the player to look for the right card count between the two types of spells, and gives enough relevant interaction across the multiple blocks that are legal in standard that the way you construct your deck is open to interpretation from player to player.
So in conclusion, Deeproot champion is a mono green card by every technical term, but is really anything but. It has a set specific implied color, and makes your deckbuilding more interesting as a result. As a sendoff, here;s what I’ve cooked up so far for merfolk in new standard!
7-8 more creatures (more spoilers incoming!)
5-6 other spells (spoilers!)
Obviously it is rough, But I’ll have more list updates as more spoilers happen.
See you next week!
(Writers note: I recently moved back to school for my senior year of college, so expect more longform articles like the first two going forward. I’ve just been crunched for time these past two weeks.)