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By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Jul 18 2022 12:08pm
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Elves is an archetype that is played in just about every format of magic. The concept of Elves is the same for the most part. You play Elves, you ramp a ton and you amass an army of elf creatures. Then when you have enough, you turn them sideways or in some decks, you burn them out for the win. Each format has its own way of doing this, but the end goal is usually the same.

In Pauper, Elves has gone through many different iterations over the years as new cards have gotten printed, but the core is still there and it can be very deadly if left unchecked. Today I want to take a look at a deck list and see if there is anything new to check out.

The list we will be looking at today was piloted by the player Walker735 to a 4th place finish in the Pauper Challenge that took was posted on 6/13/2022. Without any further interruption, it is time to take a trip to Rivendell and see what the Elvin Army has in store for us. No I am not ashamed of the reference I just made. Let’s do this!


Arbor Elf – You don’t see Arbor Elf too often as Llanowar Elf and Fyndhorn Elves are usually just better. However, in this list you play a land enchantment that does very well with Arbor Elf and I will discuss that a bit later.

Llanowar Elves, Fyndhorn Elves and Elvish Mystic – The classic one drops of the deck. Normally we see all 8 of these in some way, but in this list there is Arbor Elf.

Birchlore Ranger – Another staple of the archetype. At the very worst, you can Morph it and have a 2 power creature. At its best, it ramps you, combos very well with Lys Alana Huntmaster and it helps you play cards from other colors. This is in my opinion one of the best creatures to play in the deck.

Jaspera Sentinel – Although this a bit slower than Llanowar Elf and doesn’t allow you to ramp as hard as Birchlore Ranger, Sentinel is a great one for this deck as it does just about everything you need out of a 1 drop Elf. Do not forget, it also has Reach, making it a great creature against the Faerie decks as well.

Quirion Ranger – This is one of the most important creatures in the deck as Ranger is what allows you to really go off due to its ability. Sometimes I think if I could play 5 Ranger, I probably would.

Priest of Titania – Here is your Pauper version of Elvish Archdruid. It might not give your team a power and toughness bonus, but it still ramps you extremely hard and that is the main thing you are looking for.

Timberwatch Elf – One of your win conditions of the deck. Elves is all about building an army and having a go wide plan. Timberwatch Elf is what helps you win in that go wide scenario. It also gives damage based removal such as Lightning Bolt a huge headache to deal with and with Quirion Ranger, Timberwatch Elf becomes extremely broken.

Willy Roastmaster – In the past, we have seen Flamewave Invoker or Wildheart Invoker be the big end game for this deck. However, both require a ton of clicking and aren’t all that hard to disrupt. Roastmaster is a new card and I love seeing it here. Now you get to just play the game normally and ping your opponent to death. This is especially great with Lys Alana Hunmaster as well and it really helps when you can’t get through in the red zone. Stonehorn Dignitary I am looking at you! This isn’t fool proof though as dealing with Roastmaster takes a simple Shock, but at least you don’t have to click and worry about time as much.

Lys Alana Huntmaster – One of the ways you get to build your army and go off. Lys Alana Huntmaster can be public enemy number 1, so be careful when you choose to play Huntmaster.

Elvish Guidance – With Arbor Elf, this can sort of be extra copies of Priest of Titania. One of Elves biggest weakness is not being fast enough to win before your opponent wipes your board. By playing Guidance, you are leaning heavily towards your combo plan and I like that a lot. Even without Arbor Elf, this card isn’t too bad.

Lead the Stampede – This is one of the best draw spells for this deck and it costs only 3 mana which is great.

Distant Melody – Here is your big end game draw spell. You need a Birchlore Rangers or a Jaspera Sentinel to cast it, but you only really need to cast it once to win the game usually.

You Meet in the Tavern – Although it costs 4 mana, this is can either be more copies of Lead the Stampede or it can be a mass pump spell to help you win the game. I love this card honestly and find it to be a great addition.

The manabase consists of 13 Forests and the only change I would make is if you want to add a couple copies of Sylvan Ranger to the deck, you can add 1 Island to the manabase. You don’t want and definitely do not need any come into play tapped lands or any tech lands. You want speed.

The Sideboard

Blue Elemental Blast and Hydroblast – Red spells are a huge problem for this deck and they are popular. Cards like Fiery Cannonade and Krark-Clan Shaman are just a few of many so you need to be prepared.

Dispel – A good catch all to most of what you want to deal with.

Spidersilk Armor – This is great as it makes it so cards like Electrickery and Nausea do not blow you out. It is also a good card against Faeries in my opinion because it gives your creatures reach and makes them bigger than the Faeries themselves.

Wellwisher – Against any Burn style of deck, if this is left in play long enough, it is usually just game over.

Verdict and Conclusion

This is my favorite type of way to build Elves. Instead of having cards such as Elvish Vanguard, you are straight to the point combo. I do like this list, however, I do have a couple of things I would change personally.

While testing the deck, I did not like that you only have 8 ways to generate blue mana. With all the board wipes in the format and how quick the decks with board wipes can be, it was a little annoying. I added a couple copies of Sylvan Ranger and an Island to help with this. This is just personal to me. I also took out 1 copy of Elvish Guidance because I felt you really only need to see 1 copy a game.

Do I think you should play Elves right now? Elves can and will always be a decent choice in any meta because it has the potential to be so quick and get draws that just win the game. However, Elves in my opinion has one main weakness and that is board wipes. Every deck has access to board wipes and sometimes, 1 board wipe can be all your opponent needs to win the game and I think that just comes with the territory. Keep in mind that Affinity, the boogeyman of the format currently, runs Krark-Clan Shaman main deck. These reasons personally keep me from playing the deck often because I don’t necessarily have the patience and it isn’t how I like to play the game. However, at the time of writing this article, this deck has gotten multiple top 8 finishes in recent challenges, so it looks for the time being, Elves is back to play. This is great news if you have been wanting to play Elves because it shows even through the board wipes, Elves seems to be in a good position.

One of Elves strengths is that with Spidesilk Armor and being able to splash cards like Hydroblast, you can remedy the board wipe problem. At that point though, like any other combo type of archetype, Elves becomes a bit of a lottery wheel because Spidersilk Armor can only do so much and you need to draw a way to make a blue source. This means you have to make sure you play well, you have to make sure you sideboard correctly, you have to learn when to extend your board and definitely when not to.

One the things I am asking myself is, what makes playing Elves better than learning how to play something like Familiars or Rakdos Goblin Combo? For me, I have more fun playing the other 2 options. If you have fun playing all 3 archetypes, then it comes down to which archetype is better positioned in the format at the current time. Currently it seems Elves is favored according to top 8 results, but that can only mean so much. Could be that less players are playing Goblin Combo or Familiars compared to Elves. Just make sure you test accordingly.

However, with all this being said, as always, do remember my words are not gospel. I will always encourage you to try a deck that I bring you despite my personal feelings. Remember that results will vary and always remember to practice!

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 so much for reading. Best of luck to you in your next tournament and I’ll catch you all next time!