While I wait for my 10:00pm call, let’s sneak in a deck tech shall we?
Dominaria and M19 gave us some usable elves and some did see some standard play. Cards like Llanowar Elves powered a turn 2 Steel Leaf Champion (which is also an elf), and Thorn Lieutenant was a bane for mono red decks for quite some time.
If we take some learnings from elf decks in constructed formats from distant pasts, they are known to go wide, go tall, or both in some cases. In 2018-2019 standard with Guilds of Ravnica soon out in the market, I think we can go both ways and my current list splashes white to really bring the deck slightly above the curve.
We have a one playable lord in Elvish Clancaller which isn’t at the same level as Elvish Archdruid or Elvish Champion but we’ll take what we can. The upside here is that in the late game, she can fetch her sisters from the library to join the fight and instantly give everyone an additional +1/+1 to screw your opponent’s combat math.
Not a lord but a pseudo-champion, Marwyn functions as both a heavy hitter or a massive ramp creature to power out multiple spells in a single turn. I am not a fan of 3cmc 1/1 creatures that does nothing when it enters the battlefield but I will give this lady a try on week 1 and see what she can do.
What about in Guilds of Ravnica? Anything useful there? Let’s take a look at the G/W elves that were printed here.
If only we had Paradox Engine still legal, Marwyn can potentially let us play our entire deck with enough counters. A draw engine with a body, Beast Whisperer might be too slow in the main but surely a good sideboard card against control.
A 2mana 2/2 with abilities is always nice and both are quite relevant. Trample is not usually useful for a bunch of 1/1 and 2/2s but we do have ways to make our army bigger. A token generator is also quite nice and the interaction with Marwyn is a bonus.
Emmara used to be a bigger creature that costs 7, so I’m happy to have a second iteration for 2 mana that creates 1/1 soldiers with lifelink when it taps. We have very limited ways of tapping a creature outside combat and convoke but she will at least replace herself with a 1/1 lifelink if she dies in combat.
Pelt Collector has been stirring a lot of conversations in the internet with its ability to grow bigger pretty fast. A turn 1 Pelt Collector, Turn 2 Thorn Lieutenant, into Turn 3 Steel Leaf Champion gets you 10 power on the board easy. Much like Experiment One in Return to Ravnica, it can grow pretty quickly. The cool thing about Pelt Collector is that it gets bigger as well if something bigger than him dies. Don’t forget that clause.
Ledev Champion is quite interesting because it has this sweet interaction with Emmara allowing her to tap and create 1/1 soldiers which can later be tapped to make Ledev Champion even bigger. A 2/2 that can swing by itself and grow bigger without throwing your entire army to a Settle the Wreckage is fun. Late game, he can clutter the board with 1/1 tokens.
For support cards we have quite a number of options to go wide or go tall. Let’s go with the GO-WIDE option first.
March of the Multitudes is a great end-step finisher to just swamp the board, make it impossible for the opponent to block, and just rampage through the combat zone and win. If you don’t win that turn, you would have gained enough life to win eventually.
History of Benalia may look out-of-place but we actually have a substantial knight population in our list. Ledev Champion, Steel Leaf Champion and tokens from Conclave Guildmage are knights and will gain the bonus from the 3rd saga. Sweet.
Conclave Cavalier is like 3 cards in one, and is also a knight which will benefit from History of Benalia. Killing this creature is quite tricky because it replaces itself with the same total power split in 2 bodies which are still knights that can get pumped with History.
For the GO-TALL department, we have some options we can try:
Radiant Destiny has given Vampires a reliable boost to make it a competitive deck in standard when Rivals was new. Apart from our shadow-less blood suckers, I think Radiant Destiny can find a home in elf tribal decks that play white.
Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants is another way to make our creatures bigger. His -2 ability is also quite useful which allows us to get our Clancaller, Lieutenant, Emmara, and Pelt Collector back to life. Then of course the emblem is absurd if you get there.
We also have colorless options in Vanquisher’s Banner which draws us cards each time we cast an elf spell. The Immortal Sun on the other hand gives us a discount for the spells we play, nets us a free card per turn and buffs all our creatures. Either way, they are both great add-ons you ever build a mana base to support 5-6 CMC spells.
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Pelt Collector
4 Elvish Clancaller
4 Thorn Lieutenant
3 Ledev Champion
4 Steel Leaf Champion
4 Conclave Cavalier
2 History of Benalia
4 Radiant Destiny
2 Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
1 March of the Multitudes
4 Temple Garden
4 Sunpetal Grove
2 Selesnya Guildgate
2 Ashes of the Abhorrent
1 Dawn of Hope
2 Sorcerous Spyglass
2 Reclamation Sage
3 Beast Whisperer
3 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
2 Vivien Reid
The sideboard plan is still a work in progress but let me quickly explain my card choices:
Ashes kills Jump-Start which I think is going to be a very strong mechanic moving forward. The ability to go 2-for-1 in card advantage is bad for a creature-heavy deck like ours. The lifegain can be significant if we go for a lot of trades in combat.
I really like Dawn of Hope and its one of the few ways we can draw cards if we gain life. Ashes help here especially against sweepers, or against removal which is good. I might end up playing more copies of this after testing. The card is sweet, and should be a good pick in pre-releases and drafts.
We want ways to deal with Ixalan’s Binding which I think is the premier enchantment-removal in the format with Cast Out rotating. There are a couple of good artifacts as well that might see play like Primal Amulet in the Izzet brews so its good to have some utility in the 75.
The flagbearer of the deck, Shalai helps us against Settle, saves our creatures from removal, and literally draws the hate away from us. As a bonus she helps make our creatures bigger if the board becomes to difficult to attack through.
Vivien comes in against Lyras, Dragons and works like our 3-4th copy of Reclamation Sage. Her +1 ability also helps us fill our hand with gas and if we get to her ultimate, our creatures will just out value our opponents until we win the game.
Sorcerous Spyglass is our only way to deal with Planeswalkers but it’s also good at shutting down activated abilities of creatures or artifacts that our opponent’s may side in against us. It also helps us scout for sweepers before we commit more to the board against control match-ups (who play a lot of walkers too).
That’s it for now – thanks for reading. It’s 9:54PM so I’m off to my call.