Commander Spotlight: Dense Foliage

Recently, we addressed some of the very real issues surrounding the Commander format. Naturally, not every situation mentioned will be experienced by every player at every game session, but they occur in enough frequency that it bore mention. Whether it is the cards used, the decks abused, or people ignoring the format’s fundamental appeal, many players have to tackle these problems when they sit down for a game of EDH.

These issues, however, are not the only ones. Rather, they are just the most common, the most pressing, and the ones most likely to derail people from enjoying Commander games to its fullest potential.

For instance, how does your meta group handle certain antagonistic play styles? What do you do with a player aggressively running infect? Or heavy land destruction? or massive color hosers? Any of these flavorful styles can be fun to some, but they can easily ruin the game for others.

The problem of a game with an incredible array of card options – let alone adding the Commander format itself into the mix – is that one player’s adoration is another player’s bane. Everyone wants to enjoy the game on their own terms, and, sometimes, one person is going to get their entertainment at the cost of another.

Perhaps you really enjoy board wipes, or life siphoning, or token armies. That’s great. But there are plenty of folks who don’t. It’s an unfortunate reality for some to accept, but that’s just the nature of Magic. We have to just own up to that fact that not everything in Magic appeals to everyone equally. This is important to understand when we’re playing with friends, as we are honor bound to do the best we can do accentuate aspects of the game we enjoy on the one hand and mitigate what we don’t like on the other.

Of course, how you mitigate that is entirely up to you. Whether that’s cards that counteract specific strategies or making use of table politics, that’s your call.

Take, for example, the plight of the Green mage. Green spells can do a lot of things. It can take care of artifacts, enchantments and land with relative ease, and it’s the unparalleled king of mana acceleration. It also used to have issues with card draw, but recent years have seen Green gain a notable amount of draw options. Harmonize reprints aside, though, the catch to those card draws is that they revolve around creatures.

Indeed, creatures are Green’s biggest feature; no other color devotes as much energy to putting out gnarly beasts, massive elementals, and all sorts of other woodland critters that would love nothing more than to use you as a chew toy.

However, Green’s creatures are also their Achilles heel: most Green strategies rely heavily on their creatures connecting with your face. If that’s stopped, it’s hard for them to claim the mantle of victory. Yet aside from a few notable exceptions, the color has trouble stopping disruptions to their plans. This is doubly so in multiplayer games, where more players means more reactions. Spot removal and similar spells are in abundance in Commander, and there are dozens upon dozens of reactionary cards used to stop someone’s behemoth from ever seeing the other side of the battlefield, from Doom Blades to Path to Exiles to Echoing Truths and more.

Yes, if only Green had cards that could even the playing field and force players to play under conditions more equitable to those with the bigger creatures.

Oh wait. They do.

Today we have: Dense Foliage

Dense Foliage

Name: Dense Foliage

Edition: Weatherlight / Sixth Edition

Rarity: Rare

Focus: Board Control / Disruption

Highlights: Dense Foliage is the kind of card creatively evokes its color’s magic identity, and although it hasn’t seen print in many years, its impact on subsequent mechanics such as hexproof are evident.

Aside from it being an older card, Dense Foliage is often overlooked for two reasons. First, it’s wording offers a very unique form of creature protection and therefore isn’t as easily searchable as cards granting keyworded abilities like shroud or hexproof. Unlike these more common mechanics, it only affects spells, letting abilities of the hook. Even still, this prevents annoying Instants, Sorceries, and unfavorable Auras cast on your creatures, letting them charge into battle unencumbered.

Second, Dense Foliage cuts both ways, and not everyone is willing to accept a blanket effect. That is, although your army of forest-dwellers may be safe from untimely bounces, kills, or other bad things, it also means they can’t be buffed either. For some Green players, that is problematic, as they enjoy making a small creature huge or a huge creature even bigger. (Superhuge?)

Hey, there’s a reason Giant Growth has stuck around for 20 years.

That said, the flip side also holds true: it means other players can’t easily buff or protect their creatures either. That Dense Foliage disrupts other color’s tactics and strips them of their vaulted anti-creature spells alone should be worthy of consideration. For those focusing on static buffs, are aiming at quantity over quality, or merely want to just cast the biggest Timmy-centric cards going, Dense Foliage gives you the kind of shield you can benefit from.

Green purposefully doesn’t have a lot in the form of spell-based creature removal – that’s what combat is for – and this economical and overlooked enchantment is much more of an upside card for Green than it first appears. With a cheap cost and usefulness in any phase of a Commander game, this is the type of card the color can get behind.

You know, once they realize the pros outweigh the cons.

Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.

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