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By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Mar 29 2021 1:00pm
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Elves have been around in Pauper forever. The deck can be aggro, you can gain tons of life, you can draw a ton of cards and my personal favorite, it can combo your opponent out in cool ways. Elves will always be a personal favorite among many of the Pauper player base and for good reason. It is a very good deck.

I am sure by now, just about everyone knows what the deal is with Elves. You get tons of mana, assemble a critical mass of creatures and then turn them sideways for the win. Sometimes you may see cards such as Roar of the Crowd or Mob Justice for a combo kill, but turning creatures sideways usually does the trick.

The list we will take a look at today was piloted by Sharkcaster_Mage to a 5th place finish in a Pauper Challenge that took place on 3/6/2021. Instead of me ranting on, let’s get right into it.


Elvish Mystic, Llanowar Elves and Fyndhorn Elves – Here are your main 1 drop mana elves. In my opinion, you always play 8 of them in some combination. I like 4 Llanowar Elves because of nostalgia and I love the art. I suggest never playing just straight 4 copies of the other options because of the Echoing cards. (For example, Echoing Decay).

Quirion Ranger – One of the best Elves in the deck. Being able to untap a mana elf or a Timberwatch Elf, is very powerful effect. Also Quirion Ranger allows you to keep only 1 or 2 land hands.

Birchlore Ranger – Another 1 drop mana elf, but this one requires you to have another elf in play. The big thing about Birchlore Rangers is they can add other colors of mana, allowing you to splash cards such as Distant Melody.

Jaspera Sentinel – A new edition to the archetype. Having more 1 drop mana elves is always a good thing, but the best part is that it helps produce other colors, which is great because it allows you to splash more cards easily.

Essence Warden – Against other aggro decks, being able to buy as much time as possible to set up your end game can be pretty huge. Essence Warden might not look like much in this deck, but it does actually help.

Priest of Titania – This is your big mana creature. Having an active Priest (especially with a Quirion Ranger out as well) can help you snow ball very quickly and easily end the game before your opponent gets to do anything.

Wellwisher – Almost every aggro deck in the format (especially red aggro decks) will hate seeing this creature in play. If left unchecked for even just a couple of turns, you can end up gaining so much life and in the process, buying a ton of time to put your game plan together. Since you are a combo deck, being able to buy time is huge.

Elvish Vanguard – This elf might not look like it does much, but sometimes having a gigantic Vanguard can be enough to beat your opponent down and win the game.

Timberwatch Elf – This is your main way of winning the game. At some point, you will have a wide enough board, that activating this once (or many times thanks to Quirion Ranger) on an unblocked elf means game over. It also is a nightmare for most red based removal decks because it counters their burn spells being used on your creatures.

Lys Alana Huntmaster – I love this card. You can end up creating an elf army extremely quickly. A really cool interaction is Huntmaster with Birchlore Rangers because if you read Birchlore Rangers, you don’t need to tap the Rangers itself to use its ability, so every 2 tokens is an extra mana by themselves. I wish there were at least 3 copies of this creature in this list, but I understand that at 4 mana and dying to a single Lightning Bolt is not helpful these days. You also really only need 1 copy out to heavily pressure your opponent.

Valakut Invoker – Here is another really good win condition that doesn’t need the red zone. Remember, you are an elf deck. Which means you can create a ton of mana very quickly. With the help of (Priest of Titania and Quirion Ranger, getting enough mana to burn your opponent to death with Invoker should be fairly easy.

Lead the Stampede and Distant Melody – Here are your ways of drawing cards in the deck to snow ball out of control and win quickly. Never leave home without them.

The manabase for this archetype is nothing fancy and you just play a bunch of basic Forest lands. You don’t want any come into play tapped lands because you don’t want to risk being slow at all. You don’t need any dual lands because you have 8 elves that help produce colors other than green as well. Also since you don’t run Sylvan Ranger, you don’t have a reason to run an Island.

One thing to note is that you don’t see Nettle Sentinel in this list. I am actually a fan of that because you are not a fast beat-down deck like Stompy. You are a go wide combo deck, so being a 2 power creature for 1 mana doesn’t matter all that much here. Nettle Sentinel combos well with Birchlore Ranger with a Lys Alana Huntmaster out, but I just don’t think you need that interaction anymore. I personally think Jaspera Sentinel is just better.
 
The Sideboard

 

DispelDispel is great because it helps you fight counter wars and helps you deal with cards such as Electrickery, Suffocating Fumes and especially Fiery Cannonade. Also extremely good against Burn.

Gleeful Sabotage – A great sideboard card that helps fight Affinity and Bogles. If you expect to run into these archetypes a lot, adding a third copy might be a good idea.

Negate – A good catch all counter spell. However I am unsure if it is needed. It does help counter cards such as Pestilence, so if you expect to run into a lot of powerful non-instant cards, this is a good one to have access to. I would not consider Prohibit because Negate is always 2 mana, as where Prohibit costs 4 mana to counter things such as Pestilence.

However, while it is true that that Negate does not counter Krark-Clan Shaman, in that case, I would rather run Hyroblast.

Scattershot Archer – Losing to the Faerie archetypes sucks. This is here to help with that.

Viridian Longbow – This equipment is a big game against decks where you can’t get through the red zone easily. You are an elf deck, which means you make tons of mana and you can easily make a wide board. I have seen and personally had board states where Longbow deals more than 10 damage in 1 turn. I would never not have at least 2 copies of this card in my elf sideboard.

Wrap in Vigor – Board wipe spells are a pain to deal with. This helps with that. I suppose you can also bring it in against aggro matchups, such as White Weenie or Goblins, where you expect really big combat phases, but I am unsure about that one.

Verdict and Conclusion

There are a good number of board wipe spells to choose from in the format. Sandstorm, Pestilence, Electrickery and of course Fiery Cannonade. Those 4 are just a few of the options available. However, this has not stopped the elf army from putting up results.

The Elves archetype is much like the Slivers archetype. By themselves, the elf creatures aren’t too impressive, but when you combine them together, they end the game quickly. Also considering all the board wipes, the archetype is quite powerful.

Do I think you should play Elves? I definitely do. Elves will teach you how to play around removal and how to bait your opponent into playing the game on your terms. The deck will definitely do well in the leagues and I believe it can do well in the challenges.

Elves can attack on a few different axis. They can beat you down in the red zone or they can use cards like Viridian Longbow and Valakut Invoker to burn you out. A big plus for the deck is its ability to play around the cards Moment’s Peace and Stonehorn Dignitary. In today’s Pauper meta, that can matter a lot. Elves isn’t the only combo deck in the format, there is the Walls archetype and Familiar’s archetype to name a few, but I personally enjoy Elves more.

With Elves you also have access to all the colors of magic, although I am mainly talking about having access to blue. Being able to sideboard counter spells such as Hydroblast and Negate helps a lot when trying to fight board wipe spells and removal in general. You could play cards like Spidersilk Armor, but those tend to be less effective these days. Elves is a powerful archetype, but just like Slivers, if you deal with the right creatures at the right time, the game plan falls apart very quickly.

However, as always, take what I say with a grain of salt. My words are not gospel and I will always remind you, even if I say a deck is bad, I will encourage you to play it and above all, do remember that results will always vary. Make sure you practice, get your reps in and best of luck in your next tournament!

Would you like to compete in a free Pauper tournament with some great prizes? Head on over to Gatherling.com on Tuesday nights at 8pm EDT and play in our weekly Pauper Classic Tuesday's event! Join the chat #PCT to chat with us and feel free to find most of the competitors on Discord!

Thank you all so much for reading! See you next time!