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By: olaw, Oliver Law
May 14 2015 12:00pm
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Hello!

Welcome to another Becoming A Modern Man! Collected Company has been a card that has had a very interesting impact on Modern, if only on the fringes.  Elves is a fringe Modern deck that certainly lends itself to a card like Collected CompanyLead the Stampede was a card that saw some play in Elf decks in the past as a way of restocking but I think Collected Company is considerably better than that card. 

These Elf Company decks have been making a few waves in the Modern Dailies so I thought they were worth investigating.  Here's a list by Londons that managed to go 4-0 in a recent Modern Daily:

Elf decks can take several forms but the main distinction tends to be those that look to use Elves to further some sort of combo or pseudo-combo win, such as Beck/Call or creating a huge Genesis Wave, and those that just look to aggro opponents out with their Elves.  This deck falls closer to the latter category I feel with most of my wins coming from attacking with Elves and using Ezuri, Renegade Leader and enough mana to trample my opponent to death with his Overrun ability.  That said I covered Elves a while back and that build was much more aggressive, with Joraga Warcaller, Wren's Run Vanquisher and other more aggressive threats.

DECK TECH

Llanowar ElvesElvish Mystic
Llanowar Elves/Elvish Mystic
Llanowar Elves is one of the most iconic Elf cards of all-time.  A one-mana Elf that taps for one green mana is still pretty awesome, so much so that the functional reprint also makes the cut as a full 4-of.

Nettle Sentinel
Nettle Sentinel
Probably one of the most aggressive Elf cards ever printed.  A one-mana 2/2 that has a "drawback" that can be very advantageous.  Sentinel untaps every time you cast a green spell, so you can use it reduce a Chord of Calling and still attack in the same turn (useful if the creature you are tutoring for is a Lord).  It also works well with Heritage Druid (discussed further below) tapping for mana and then untapping to be used again if you have sufficient Elves available.

Heritage Druid
Heritage Druid
Heritage Druid can help generate a lot of mana from our creatures.  It also combos with a couple (or ideally three) Nettle Sentinels to generate enough mana to play every Elf in your hand.

Elvish Visionary
Elvish Visionary
Visionary isn't a particularly exciting Elf but it's a body that replaces itself and digs us deeper into more Elves, which is precisely what we want to be doing.

SpellskiteScavenging Ooze
Spellskite/Scavenging Ooze
Spellskite and Scavenging Ooze make for an odd pairing of 2-drops in an Elf deck, given that neither are Elves. 

Spellskite is here to protect our most important creatures.  Elvish Archdruid and Ezuri, Renegade Leader are very important to the deck functioning on all cylinders and so having a way to protect them from removal is very important.  Spellskite is also helpful as a way of protecting against Splinter Twin and Burn decks.  With Spellskite confirmed as a reprint at rare in Modern Masters 2015 I would look to pick these up after the set has come out to get the best deal - I sold mine mid-creating this article so haven't had as much chance to test with Spellskite in this deck but it seems solid enough.

Scavenging Ooze is a very useful two-drop.  It can help prevent graveyard shenanigans, gain you life in a pinch and grow into a considerable threat over time.  Ooze is a nice follow-up to a board swipe as Ooze can swallow up your graveyard and become a fairly huge threat.

Elvish ArchdruidEzuri, Renegade Leader
Elvish Archdruid/Ezuri, Renegade Leader
These two guys are the top end of your Elves and basically the most important cards in the deck, though they don't do a great deal on their own.  Archdruid is a Lord pumping all your Elves and capable of generating huge amounts of mana.

Ezuri is the guy who often finishes matches for me.  If we can get Ezuri on the battlefield, the Overrun ability can often be enough to win the game.  Things can get much crazier if we have our mana production engines in Elvish Archdruid or Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx going.  His regeneration ability can also be very relevant - allowing you to protect your other Elves or allowing them to chump block oncoming attacks without heading to the graveyard.

Reclamation_Sage.jpg
Reclamation Sage
Reclamation Sage has been taking Harmonic Sliver's slot in Modern decks since it was printed.  The optional nature of its enter the battlefield effect does generally make it a better option, however, in an Elf deck there are even more advantages.  The one copy in the main deck is a nice hedge against powerful artifacts and enchantments in the format but generally this is a card for the sideboard.

Spells

Vines of Vastwood
Vines of Vastwood
Vines is an interesting inclusion in the deck.  As I've mentioned, protecting your Archdruid and/or Ezuri is pretty important and having that ability at the cost of one mana can be very useful.  The option of hitting for 4 more damage, particularly when your opponent isn't expecting it, can be surprisingly effective too.

The main reason I don't like Vines is that I really want to be playing as many Elves as possible and when you are looking to restock drawing into Vines really hurts.  As a 2-of it seems reasonable but I don't know if I want to just keep them in the sideboard to bring in against decks that are heavy on targeted removal.

Chord of Calling
Chord of Calling
Chord of Calling is an excellent tutor for your key cards.  It can be discounted by the large number of creatures we are dropping onto the board and allows us to grab a key creature at instant speed.  There are some nice tutor targets in the deck, including Spellskite (which can swallow a Bolt or removal spell), Scavenging Ooze (to prevent graveyard shenanigans), Elvish Archdruid (to set up a huge amount of mana for the following turn) or Ezuri, Renegade Leader (to set up an alpha strike on the following turn or regenerate an Elf targeted by removal).


Collected Company
Collected Company is a card that I have been playing with a lot recently and I think I rather underestimated it in my review of Dragons of TarkirCollected Company is a very powerful tool for cheap creature decks like Elves - allowing you to restock when you are running out of gas and drop threats onto the battlefield at instant speed.  As I mentioned previously, Elves decks had previously been running Lead the Stampede as a way of restocking but Collected Company seems like a superior card for the most part.

Lands

Cavern of Souls
Cavern of Souls
Cavern of Souls is a nice Anti-Control card that we aren't punished too much for, except when it comes to the double green cost in Vines of Vastwood.  Making your creatures uncounterable is very powerful against the Remands, Mana Leaks and Cryptic Commands of the Modern world.

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx can be a big mana engine for this deck.  Once you have multiple Elves on the battlefield, Nykthos can generate huge amount of mana.  Ezuri, Renegade Leader is our usual mana sink for that mana which will finish the game in a hurry.

Dryad Arbor
Dryad Arbor
This card I kind of question in the manabase.  It hasn't done me a great deal of good while testing the deck and perhaps more often is an irritating land that can't tap for mana on the turn you play it.  Occasionally I did get to attack with it but I don't see too much value in it.  If I was going to run something here I think perhaps Pendelhaven or even a Treetop Village might be a better option.

Sideboard
Let's look at the sideboard options for this deck:

Reclamation_Sage.jpgBeast WithinDismemberFracturing GustGarruk, Primal HunterKitchen FinksThragtuskWurmcoil EngineThrun, the Last Troll

  • Reclamation Sage's uses have already been discussed.  Great against artifact or enchantment heavy decks and leaves a nice 2/1 Elf body behind it.
  • Beast Within is removal for problem permanents, including lands.  I'm not sure I love it in this type of deck as it is hard to deal with the 3/3 that gets left behind but it is very versatile.
  • Dismember is creature removal.  Green decks aren't great with removal and some threats just need to be answered.
  • Fracturing Gust is a very powerful card against Affinity but I don't see a lot of these decks at the moment.  If Affinity becomes more popular online then this is a great sideboard card.
  • Garruk, Primal Hunter is not a card I have had a chance to test but I'm not entirely sure what it's here for.  It is very powerful but we aren't going to get great use of its minus ability and the +1 is good but not exceptional.
  • Kitchen Finks is a great anti-aggro creatures.  It gains you life to keep you alive and it a great blocker when you are on the back foot.  A very good card against Burn.
  • Thragtusk and Wurmcoil Engine are big creatures that can both gain you life.  With Chord of Calling you can tutor either of these creatures up.  It may seem a little ambitious but it can be very useful to have a single big threat in the deck.
  • Thrun, the Last Troll is an uncounterable and untargetable threat that is very hard to deal with.  Great against Control decks.

GAMEPLAY


Our first matchup is against a Jeskai Control deck.  Control decks are rough due to their high level of spot removal and often mass removal.  Ezuri, Renegade Leader's regeneration ability is surprisingly effective against Supreme Verdict.


Our second matchup is against Red Deck Wins.  This matchup seems pretty rough but we managed to use some tactics from sideboard to survive.  Chord of Calling for Thragtusk is pretty back-breaking for a Burn deck if you can manage it fast enough.


Our third matchup is against a UR Control brew from our opponent.  This video, though not against the most competitive deck, is a good example of the deck running on all cylinders.

ALTERNATIVE TAKES
As I've mentioned there are quite a few versions of this deck running around in the Modern Dailies.  Let's take a look at another recent list from the Dailies:

Medved's deck is similar but has some interesting choices that differ from the list I'm using.  Fauna Shaman is a nice inclusion as a way to tutor up the important Elves out of your deck and a useful card to tutor up for 2 with Chord of Calling on the end of turn.  Essence Warden is a nice tool against Burn that was missing from our build and there is a white splash in there for some interesting cards in the sideboard.

CONCLUSION
I found this to be an interesting take on Elves but I wasn't overly convinced by the deck.  I often find myself feeling like everything will be ok as long as my opponent doesn't have removal.  Now betting against your opponent having removal is honestly not a great bet, which is why I'm not too fond of this deck.  Without the key Elves to make things tick this deck doesn't do a great deal but put a number of 1/1s onto the board at pace, which is not overly exciting.  A decent fringe deck that can probably be built on a reasonable budget though which is certainly a plus.

That's all for this week!

Thanks for reading,
Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)

2 Comments

Another nice article, olaw. by jay85 at Thu, 05/14/2015 - 22:48
jay85's picture
5

Another nice article, olaw. My friend just built this deck and he is having a lot of fun with it so far. I pointed him to your article so hopefully he checks it out.

P.S.
Wish Wizards would fix Electrolyze already. Sure would help people like us out.

Thanks man. Always glad to by olaw at Fri, 05/15/2015 - 02:18
olaw's picture

Thanks man. Always glad to hear people spreading the word.

The deck is a lot of fun. A lot of cool plays and dropping in Elves at instant speed with Chord and Company can be very cool.

I hate that Electrolyze ruins my replays - happens all too often to me. Would help a lot if they sorted it out.