By now, if you play limited, you’ve probably heard what a bomb this is. Ben Stark apparently loves it, Mike Sigrist listed it as the best uncommon in the set and LSV saw a lot of potential at 3.5 out of 5, although I bet that’s changed since this initial rating. LSV also gave it a not insignificant 2.5 in constructed.
But what is this talk about this in Commander?
My approach to Commander is a lot about being able to play in all stages of the game. I want to have early plays and I especially love early plays that enable me to hit my land drops, so that I can play my late game bombs. Therefore I try to have ways in my deck to find those lands. If possible, I want to hit a land drop on each turn I play in Commander. If I can do that and have spells to cast, I know I will win (or at least have a strong chance).
That’s exactly what this card does. Draw a card at around 40% probability is a very strong ability. It let’s me find those land drops through-out the game. Many of you probably already play Oracle of Mul Daya and maybe Courser of Kruphix if you are not averse to enchantment removal. Dryad Greenseeker belongs in that category. Sure, the others give you extra information, but in essence their chances of hitting are about equal to our Dryad.
Look at it this way: How many lands do you want in your starting hand to be able to keep it? In general I will keep hands with at least three lands. For this reason, I try to keep my cards that enable me to hit those land drops at around that cost.
This way, if I have those three lands in my starting hand, I don’t have to necessarily find more of them in the first few cards on top of my deck. I have a much better chance of being able to dig for more if I keep these enablers cheap enough. Dryad Greenseeker is only two mana, so you can start digging early. If you get to cast it on turn two and you started with three lands in your hand, you can activate it twice before needing that fourth land. That gives you a roughly 64% chance of hitting one in a deck with 40 lands and that is on top of your normal draws.
Sure, there is variance involved. If you sequence it just right (and you don’t know what’s right without help), the benefit gained is huge compared to sequencing it wrong. Suppose you have a land on top of your library. If you activate Greenseeker during your upkeep, that’s an extra draw right there, but if you wait until main phase, you might have lost that chance. However, there’s always variance involved in this game. You can’t get away from it and you shouldn’t even try, because it’s partly what makes the game great. However, part of being good at the game is understanding when those risks are worth it.
This thing costs you just two mana. The body is fairly meaningless in this format, but not completely. It can block early, if you need it to, but you shouldn’t play it for that reason. It’s not a big investment in mana, but it is a card, obviously, which in itself is an opportunity cost (it could have been some other card). Is it worth it? I’d say definitely.
Now, is it an auto-include in all decks? No. It will be better in some decks than others. If the body is more meaningful, than yes, play it. If you are trying to avoid extra bodies for some reason, I wouldn’t be so sure this is the one you want to have.
Of course, there are also ways of making this better. The aforementioned Courser and Oracle have a lot of synergy with this. I’m not sure you need them all on the board at the same time, but if you sequence things correctly, they can definitely work great together. There are other ways to know what’s on top of your deck. Scrying, Vizier of the Menagerie and Future Sight come to mind. This is actually very strong with Future Sight.