So i heard you like elves....

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So i heard you like elves....

Post  Lord_Migit on Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:59 am

So this is an article i wrote a while back. Some of it is irrelivant now, but most of it isnt. It holds a lot of relevance to the casual play now the cards are out of standard. So if you are in for a bit of a read; here you go:


Ok so this is the short version of this ranticle (rant/article) because I had almost finished it and managed to mash the wrong combination of buttons on my computer and it shut down and I lost the whole thing. So im incredibly pissed off and I cant be arsed to write the long version again >.<! But ohh well I shall endeavour to convey my points in a slightly more compressed manner.

So Matt Nass wrote and article a short while ago on elves in standard. A little later he did a video tournament and updated and explained the deck a little. Unfortunately this was pre-MBS. So what I would like to do here is attempt to explore the options given to us by the new set and attempt to adapt the deck to the vastly different metagame. MBS was a weird set in that it changed the meta so much that a lot of the decks that were teir 1 pre-MBS are now classed as tier 2, one such deck would be UB control. (although a new rendition has occurred with Tezzeret). And im currently writing a ranticle about the new meta and how to deal with all the typical decks, but for now we wont go too much into detail on them, just what we need to know. If u want more information, I will link the ranticle in my sig when its done and published.

Now Matt Nass is the MTG god of elves. He plays them in every constructed format and typically does very well with them so im going to presume he knows what hes talking about. For that we will base the initial list to mod on his elf build. I dont want to explore the build too much as Matt himself has explained the deck in both a video and a previous version in an article. But we shall cover some of it. So here it is.

//Creatures
1 Copperhorn Scout
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Arbor Elf
4 Joraga Treespeaker
4 Joraga Warcaller
2 Nissas Chosen
4 Fauna Shaman
3 Ezuri Renegade Leader
4 Elvish Archdruid
1 Leatherback Baloth
4 Vengevine

//Non Creatures
2 Eldrazi Monument
2 Garruk Wildspeaker
2 Nissa Revane

//Land
16 Forest
3 Oran-Rief the Vastwood

//Sideboard
3x Leyline of Vitality
3x Natures Claim
1x Acidic Slime
1x Garruk Wildspeaker
3x Autumns Veil
4x Tectonic Edge

So the main thing to note is that this build runs the faunavine engine. Which is incredibly powerful, especially against control. The Nissa package is nice vs the matches that have lots of removal and garruk is a beatstick for any match. The problem with the elf deck is that its strategy is not very malleable, which makes sideboarding difficult. Its general aim never really changes, to make elves big and attack. The build Nass has come up with can also rely on vengevines as an alternative win condition that also combos well with the rest of the deck and its typically low mana curve. Even without the vengevine in hand the fauna shaman is a good card allowing you access to archdruid mana source or ezuri win condition.

So the difficult thing about modding the deck is that we have to evaluate the power of the new cards, and then evaluate the effect that those cards have on the rest of the deck. On top of that we have to account for the plays of the decks in the current meta game and adjust not only the mainboard but also the power and the effectiveness of the cards in the choices for the sideboard along with their synergy with the deck.

So what cards are there that we should consider in the new meta? Well obviously there are the cards from the new set, however there are also some cards that mite become playable based on the new decks that MBS has brought into the lime light. Decks like Caw Go/Blade, Kuldotha Red, Tezzerator and the new and improved White Weenie Quest.

So here are some of the cards I considered for the new build, if you have any other suggestions let me know:
[card]
Lead the Stampede[/card]
Green Suns Zenith
Ratchet Bomb
Hornet Sting
Acidic Slime/ Natures Claim et al
Obstinate Baloth
Leatherback Baloth
Thrun the Last Troll

//Honourable Mentions
Creeping Corrosion
Bellowing Tanglewurm
Mul Daya Channelers
Omnath Locus of Mana
Terastodon

So lets discuss these in a little depth.

Lead the Stampede: I have recently come to realise the power of this card while playing it in my extended elves deck. Its gone through many iterations of testing and it came out as a really very powerful card. Its ability to get between 3 and 4 cards on average meant that it was amazing at recovering from wrath effects and there were plenty of those in extended to deal with faeries and white weenie. But and its a big but, this is not extended. The problem here is that because of the increase in available creatures and combos in the extended elf deck it meant that the creature density of the deck was much higher. A typical extended elf deck would play between 37 and 41 elf creatures. In the standard deck however elves just arnt as powerful and so have to rely on the power of planeswalkers and Eldrazi Monuments to help the deck to victory. As such Lead the Stampede(LtS) has a much reduced effectiveness. The creature count becomes 35 and then down to 31 with 4 LtS and even less if you run Green Suns Zenith(GSZ). So the typical draw becomes about 2.5 cards per casting, then having the risk of putting a monument or a garruk on the bottom of the library too makes the card a lot more questionable. This article isnt meant to give you all the answers, there is no 1 build that is right and 9million that are wrong. I think LtS is a fine card to play and its performed well in testing, however it really suffers from the other non-creature cards in the deck. I found its greatest use was to draw into creatures to pitch to the fauna shaman, or alternatively drawing into vengevines to drop into the graveyard etc. Ill talk more about it below when I come to my final build, but for now...

Green Suns Zenith: Once again this card was insane in extended, the increase in the number of combos and synergies between cards and the power increase that card like ezuri got in extended meant that this became almost invaluable in the matches for fixing the board position. And in a format where you can never rely on 1 creature being alive to untap it meant that GSZ could effectively replace fauna shaman. However once again this is not extended, and I will warn any venturing elf players that this card is a trap! In and of itself its an amazing card, however its a trap in the elf deck. I myself bought a playset as soon as it was spoiled and thought it would become the new bomb in the elf deck. Well unless you are playing a radically different build from me, its not. Its not bad by any means, but the problem with it is that is lacks synergy with the rest of the deck. In fact it actually provides a lot of obstruction to the deck and the synergy between other cards (anti-synergy?). For instance it lacks the synergy with the vengevines as it constitutes putting a creature onto the battlefield not playing the creature so the vengevine ability wont trigger. It also encourages playing less fauna shaman, as they generally full-fill the same task and in turn it takes a lot away from the faunavine engine that works so well with the deck. Not only that but it actively works against fauna shaman, its not a creature and it cant get a creature to your hand, as such sitting there with a GSZ in hand and a fauna shaman in play is totally useless. So you basically have to choose between the two, and while both have their advantages and disadvantages fauna shaman clearly wins that battle. Even without the faunavine engine, I would still probably play shaman over it, its ability to stay in play and constantly fix ur board position is brilliant. If the opponent doesn't deal with then it will become a real problem, and making an opponent choose between bolting that lord of yours or the fauna shaman is really nice play and one that I don't think the GSZ can reasonably match. I think its a lot more playable without vengevine but still not as good as a fauna shaman.

Ratchet Bomb: This card makes me sad, I dont like that I have to consider playing it. Kuldotha red is bad deck anyway, but this crushes it so well. However after a lot of playtesting and reviewing of the newest decks to see fame, I dont think this is nesasary. The newer RDW seems to be doing better than any of the Kuldotha Red decks and this card works too well against the elf deck to really be played unless you KNOW that your local meta will be filled with Kuldotha Red. And even then I can still see cards like leyline and obstinate baloth being better.

Hornet Sting: Yea I know what ur thinking, wtf? Right? Well its a card that has become one of my staples in extended elves. It performs multiple functions, killing sparkmages, birds and lotus cobras and pleant of other things. Well the only reason im considering it in standard is that the caw blade deck is really hard to beat, and it like squadren hawk, a lot! In fact the typical caw blade deck will only play 8 creatures, 4 hawks and 4 mystics. The new sword Sword of Feast and Famine is such a beating that it becomes almost impossible to win a game once one is resolved and equiped, and hornet sting is a nice response to the equip. However its still in my testing pool, it might maybe hit the sideboard, but more likley the deck will stick with natures claim et al. Speaking of which.

Acidic Slime/Natures Claim et al: Well in the current meta game there are a lot of artefact that will mess you up. Along with the aformentioned sword, there is now the reaoearance of the White Weenie Quest deck. Its come back way more powerfull than before and it has some new toys. The sword is just one of them, they also have the new Bonehoard. With that and the appearance of the tezzeret deck and the occasional shapeanew deck I cant see not running these cards. I have upped to 4 claims from the Matt Nass build and have kept it at 1 slime, although its perhaps better at 2 slimes, im not sure atm. All we know is that there are many many new nasty artefacts that you have to watch out for. I also considered Creeping Corrosion in the honourable mentions list. I found it to be a little too slow and most importantly no use as a sorcery speed spell so I dropped it. Its nice and I wont fault you for playing it, however dont rely on having it, the majority of decks that u want it to combat will have their artefacts in play and doing things all in the same turn, making instant speed spells all the more important.

Obstinate Baloth: Its 1am at this point and im strugling to get this out before game day in the morning, so the descriptions from here I will have to try and keep a little more brief. There is one card that messes up the elf deck way more than any other and thats pyroclasm. For that reason I think that leyline in the sideboard is a must. This however tends to afford baloth a lot less sideboard space than it perhaps otherwise deserves. However the fact of the matter is that red is not a strong colour in standard right now, and there are 2 surface playable red deck floating about. Ijust dont think that its worth the sideboard space for these dudes given the fact we have the leyline already and the red decks arnt too powerfull atm. So if you know your meta is going to be red filled I could understand playing 1 (ONE!) of these. With nissa for the life gain and fauna shaman to tutor this dude up you only really need one. For me I dont think I will run a single one, but its understandable if you want to.

Leatherback Baloth: Ahh the brothers baloth! This dude makes my list because of his pure beatstick-ness. He own the everlovin crap outa vampires and beats pretty hard on the new WW deck too. However in my playtesting he hasnt really made the cut. There are just too many other cards that have more synergy. But what I want to know is if you played him, and how he was. I want to hear the good reports aswell as the bad! Ill test him some more but for 2morrow(or today technichly I guess) I dont think he gets a place in my deck.

Thrun the Last Troll: Ill be honest here, I dont have a thrun, let alone the 3 I would want to play test with, so I havnt tested him. But I want to know what you all think and any feedback that you have from playing him. I suspect he would be good against most control matches, but with the new sword I dont know if its really worth splashing out on this dude or just sticking to the makes elfs and beat plan. I would think vengevine would be enough though if you are following my build precisely I wouldn't play this dude, for now at least.

There were a few honourable mentions, but I shall have to skip them for now. Ill write a little more on this after I get back, and ill obv have a full report and the knowledge gained from the tournament too. However I will talk a little on the cards to side take out and my final build.

Cards that are maleable enough to take out are:

Nissa package, ie, Revane and chosen. I would only take these out if I was playing lead the stampede because they play very similar roles. I think nissa has a bit more versitility and is better agains the red decks, but lead seems a little more powerfull and better aginst the control matches.

1 vengevine: I however like keeping all of them in, but its easy enough to take out 1. I like 4 because I always want to have 1 to use with fauna shaman the turn after I cast it, instead of having to discard and elf then get a vengevine just to get the engine started.

1 Ezuri: Its really powerful but with 4 shamans and if you decide to play GSZ then its defiantly possible to go down to 2. I like having 3 when not playing lead or GSZ because I want to reserve fauna for the vengevine combo. Its that powerful, but if I dont hit a funa this dude is super good.
1 Leatherback Baltoh: As Nass himself said, its in there to make up the curve, it can totally be replaced with whatever you want.

So here is the build I will be playing tomorrow. I havnt had as much time as I would have liked to test it as iv been pretty busy working. But hopefully it should perform:

1 Copperhorn Scout
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Arbor Elf
3 Joraga Treespeaker
4 Joraga Warcaller
2 Nissas Chosen //comes out with nissa
4 Fauna Shaman
2 Ezuri Renegade Leader
4 Elvish Archdruid
4 Vengevine

//Non Creatures
2 Eldrazi Monument //comes out against red and black kill spell decks!
2 Garruk Wildspeaker
2 Nissa Revane //out against control
1 Green Suns Zenith //out against control
2 Lead the Stampede

//Land
16 Forest
3 Oran-Rief the Vastwood

//Sideboard
3x Leyline of Vitality //Red
4x Natures Claim // obvious reasons
1x Acidic Slime //obvious reasons
3x Autumns Veil //control, because dropping this and a planeswalker is amazing
3x Tectonic Edge //control and valakut
1x Lead the Stampede //replaces Nissa in control match

like I said I havnt had time to test this build fully, the biggest thing was the nissa package, im doubting it and doubting it. But for now I kept it. If I had tested more I think I could have taken it out and went with the full set of lead the stampede but just now its not possible.

So people, I apologise for the somewhat cut down version and the hast at which the last part has been written. I hope I haven't compromised the content too much, and I hope this is in time to reach some of you for your game days. There is plenty more I have left to write but I need sleep now. I will finish this off when I come back from the tournament later on, and hopefully you will find it usefull for, if not saturday, then any sunday tournaments that there are. I myself will be going to a GPT on sunday so ill test a lot more over and post my results and update this ranticle while im doing so.

For now, this is your friendly neighbourhood (exhausted) migit signing off. Good luck at game day folks.
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Lord_Migit

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Age : 88
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