Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Is the Sylvan Archetype in Magic?
In Magic, the Sylvans (who also happen to be a Yu-Gi-Oh archetype) are a group of green cards ranging from creatures to enchantments to instants. Sylvan isn't a card subtype, simply being part of a card's name; that said, Sylvan spells are a powerful set with few duds among their elite ranks.
10 Best Sylvan Cards
When you need to boost elves, morph lands into creatures, or replenish your hand, the Sylvans offer several fierce tools to accomplish your goals at affordable mana prices. But with dozens of members available, which spells reign supreme? These are the ten best Sylvan cards in Magic: The Gathering!
- Sylvan Reclamation
- Sylvan Offering
- Sylvan Awakening
- Sylvan Caryatid
- Sylvan Messenger
- Sylvan Ranger
- Sylvan Primordial
- Sylvan Advocate
- Sylvan Tutor
- Sylvan Library
10. Sylvan Reclamation
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 5
Sylvan Reclamation needs a hefty sum of five mana, but it's one of the best artifact/enchantment removals in the game—not just destroying but exiling up to two, making them nearly impossible to recover. It also activates as an instant, letting you banish threats immediately on any turn without having to wait for your next main phase.
Additionally, thanks to its basic landcycling trait, you can discard Reclamation and spend two mana to add a basic land from your deck to your hand, which is useful for helping to find all mana types in rainbow decks.
9. Sylvan Offering
Offering is an interesting spell that works best in multiplayer games where you can utilize its diplomatic potential. It needs one green mana plus an X value of your choice; it then creates an X/X treefolk token for you and an opponent and X 1/1 (one power and one toughness) elf tokens for you and an opponent.
You can select different opponents for the different tokens if you like; either way, Offering's a powerful tool that can turn enemies into temporary allies. Note that the tokens bear useful synergies (treefolk and elves are some of green's strongest clans).
8. Sylvan Awakening
Normally I'm not a big fan of land-creature strategies, as your precious terrains become vulnerable to creature removals, but Awakening excellently mitigates the issue. Until your next turn, this sorcery turns your fields into 2/2 land creatures with reach, indestructible, and haste.
Haste lets them attack immediately, even if they just arrived; reach lets them block opponents with flying; and indestructible prevents them from being destroyed, a superb barrier that makes the land-creature strategy much less risky.
7. Sylvan Caryatid
For just two mana, Caryatid adeptly fills two roles. As a 0/3 with defender, it can't attack, but it makes an excellent blocker against early-game invaders, and its valued hexproof trait prevents your opponent from targeting it with spells.
Caryatid can also tap for one mana of any color, an excellent ramp tool that's especially useful in multicolor decks. Utilize the powerful block-tap combo to simultaneously guard an attacking enemy and exhaust Caryatid for mana, letting you harness both its strengths in the same round (although you'll need to spend your mana before it fades).
6. Sylvan Messenger
The elf counterpart to red's "Goblin Ringleader," Messenger is a disappointingly weak 2/2, but he carries the useful elf lineage and trample trait, letting him bleed excess damage through blockers. Even better, when he enters the field, you reveal the top four cards of your deck and add any elves to your hand, moving the rest to the bottom of your deck in any order.
In devoted forest builds, this can really buff your hand, and it works especially well if you previously scry (partner with blue for this) to rig the top cards to your advantage.
5. Sylvan Ranger
Ranger's another weak troop at just 1/1, but she enjoys both the elf and the scout subtypes. Plus, when she enters the field, you can search your library for a basic land and add it to your hand. It's as simple as that; Ranger skillfully empowers spells that reward elf swarming (like "Elvish Archdruid" or "Priest of Titania") while stockpiling land.
4. Sylvan Primordial
Banned as of this writing in commander, Primordial is still legal in most other formats. He drains seven mana, but he arrives with a fierce 6/8 stats and reach (plus the rare avatar subtype). More than that, when Primordial enters the arena, for each opponent, you destroy one noncreature permanent they control and place a forest from your deck onto the field tapped.
This effect is brutal even in just 1v1, and it's absolutely monstrous in multiplayer, eliminating opposing lands or planeswalkers while buffing your own resource production for future turns. As icing on the cake, the forests you search don't even have to be basic, letting you pull twin-type lands like "Savannah" or "Tropical Island."
3. Sylvan Advocate
Advocate is an often-underestimated elf who is especially useful for land-creature strategies. He bears not two but three subtypes, comboing well with other elves, druids, and allies, and he's an impressive 2/3 for just two mana. He also possesses vigilance (a rarity outside white), which lets him attack without tapping, Advocate boosts both himself and your land creatures by +2/+2 while you control six or more lands.
A 2/3 with vigilance, synergies, and potential to grow makes Advocate an easy choice for my own green EDH decks; fortunately, despite his powers, he's surprisingly cheap, costing well under a single dollar!
2. Sylvan Tutor
One of the best tutors in Magic, this single-cost sorcery searches a creature from your deck not to your hand, but to the top of the deck, ensuring your next draw is exactly the monster you need.
A prime bargain for a single mana, this also quickly stocks your graveyard with a sorcery, useful for satisfying the conditions of cards with spell mastery, delirium, or threshold effects.
1. Sylvan Library
To any who can afford its expensive (in terms of real money) cost, Library is one of the best commander cards in the game. For two mana, this enchantment lets you draw two additional cards at your draw step, nabbing a total of three. Then, you either place two of the cards drawn that turn back on top or lose four life for each extra.
With the higher starting life values in EDH, you'll have plenty of leeway for the bonus draws, making it one of the best hand-increasing spells available. Plus, even if you elect to return some, you can keep any of the cards, not just the first, letting you manipulate your hand with whichever of your deck's next few cards will most help you.
More of Green's Best Cards in Magic
If you favor the 100-card decks of commander, remember that each non-basic land card has to be unique, and the Sylvans are a great place to begin looking when constructing a green EDH deck. Since green emphasizes creature-boosts, and since commander offers legendary monsters throughout the match, the two pair well. Green also contains several mana-ramping tactics and spells that field creatures for free, letting you play your aces without suffering their expensive costs.
In short, Sylvans are a versatile group useful for both monogreen and multicolor decks, but for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of forest-powered spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill