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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Dec 31 2012 11:53am
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Welcome to another edition of Becoming A Modern Man! This week I will be looking at Elves in Modern.  Yes, we are going tribal with a tribe that hasn't seen a great deal of play in Modern.  I had intended for this to be a Christmas article but I didn't quite manage to get myself organized, however, I still feel it's a seasonal choice.  Ok in fairness the Elves in Magic aren't quite the same happy, present-making Elves that work for Santa at the North Pole but you get the link.

So why did I choose to look at Elves.  Well my inspiration came, as it often does, from a list I found in the Modern dailies a while back.  Here's the list that inspired me to give Elves a try:

This list is fairly budget friendly so this is the list I will be running out.  The only change I made was that I added a Pendelhaven to the mana base as I thought there was little disadvantage to it and potentially considerable upside.


Llanowar ElvesArbor Elf
Llanowar Elves/Arbor Elf
Your standard 1/1 mana elves.  Where would we be without them?

Heritage Druid
Heritage Druid
Heritage Druid is a powerful mana generating engine.  It also has potential combo capabilities with Nettle Sentinel but that's not what we're going for here.  Druid is just here to help us generate mana and maximize our turns.

Nettle Sentinel
Nettle Sentinel
A 2/2 for 1 mana is pretty much always a good deal.  Technically, Nettle Sentinel has a setback in that if you don't play a green spell it doesn't untap, however, that is rarely a setback in this deck.  Also, with cards like Heritage Druid it can even be a benefit.

Joraga Warcaller
Joraga Warcaller
Joraga Warcaller is one of my favourite cards in the deck.  A de-facto Lord for three mana this guy is a 2/2 which gives +1/+1 to all your elves.  However, the really exciting stuff happens when you pay multiple kickers.  Suddenly your 1/1 Elves are real threats and Warcaller can completely swing the game.  Warcaller is a lot of fun especially if your opponent allows you to generate a lot of mana with Heritage Druid or Elvish Archdruid.

Bramblewood Paragon
Bramblewood Paragon
Bramblewood Paragon is a good way to put a beating on your opponent.  A good amount of your elves have the Warrior sub-type, including Nettle Sentinel and Wren's Run Vanquisher, which means you can get some big trampling beats going on.  Paragon also has a rather cool interaction with Joraga Warcaller, as Warcaller is a Warrior it gets a +1/+1 counter which means additional pumps for your Elves.

Wren's Run Vanquisher
Wren's Run Vanquisher
Wren's Run Vanquisher is a very powerful 2 mana creature.  A 3/3 with deathtouch for 2 mana is pretty awesome even in Modern.

Elvish Visionary
Elvish Visionary
Elvish Visionary is a nice way to draw cards and although it's 1/1 body isn't anything special, with the large number of Lords and pump effects even a Visionary has the potential to become a beater.

Fauna Shaman
Fauna Shaman
We only have a lone Fauna Shaman but is a pretty nice way to tutor up the Elves you want when you want them.  Also as a 2 mana 2/2 it is a pretty good body in general for an elf.

Elvish Archdruid
Elvish Archdruid
Archdruid is our main lord in the deck.  Pumping all your elves as well as generating ridiculous amounts of mana is extremely useful and let you do some rather awesome things.

Elvish Champion
Elvish Champion
Ravnica duals are the main non-basics played in Modern and they are everywhere.  This means that landwalk abilities like Champion's Forestwalk is a real advantage.  Champion can make all your other elves unblockable against any deck running green which is very powerful.

Imperious Perfect
Imperious Perfect
Imperious Perfect is another Lord for the deck.  It is very powerful but I fear it might be a little slow for the deck.  Perhaps it would be better to max out on Elvish Champions but I might be wrong on that one.  Ezuri, Renegade Leader seems like another solid choice in this position and well suited for the aggressive style of this deck, however, he isn't actually a Lord.

Lead the Stampede
Lead the Stampede
The only non-creature spell in the deck.  Lead the Stampede is a nice way to restock your hand due to the high creature density in the deck.  I've actually managed to draw 5 creatures off it but usually you will draw 2 or 3 which is worthwhile.

This is a random land I put into the deck.  I figured with all the 1/1s in the deck having a way to pump or protect them was a reasonable idea.  Also, as it comes into play untapped and produces green mana the only real downside is that Arbor Elf can't untap it, which is pretty minor for some extra utility.  Not an essential but an option.

The sideboard options for a Mono-Green deck aren't generally fantastic, however, you do have some options.

Creeping CorrosionDismemberGrafdigger's CageLeyline of VitalityNature's ClaimTorpor Orb

  • Creeping Corrosion is a very nice card against Affinity decks and can really turn that matchup.
  • Dismember gives you some options in terms of removal if you so require.
  • Grafdigger's Cage is useful hate against Pod decks and other graveyard-based strategies.
  • Leyline of Vitality is a nice sideboard card against Mono-Red as you can gain life and also make your creatures less vulnerable to being removed.
  • Nature's Claim is a cheap Naturalize effect which is nice as it means you don't have to waste a turn playing it.  There are plenty of artifacts to destroy in Modern from Swords, Birthing Pods, Vedalken Shackles or even Inkmoth Nexus.
  • Torpor Orb is good hate against Birthing Pod decks and Splinter Twin.

This main deck is nice and budget friendly at around 15 tix, which is one of the major advantages of it.  However, there are a few expenses.  The biggest surprise to me was the price of Nettle Sentinel which is over 5 tix for a playset currently.  Fairly pricey for a common.  The sideboard is a little expensive but you can always substitute the more expensive cards with alternatives.

Main Deck

4 x Nettle Sentinel= 5.52
4 x Joraga Warcaller= 3.32
1 x Pendelhaven= 1.43
1 x Fauna Shaman= 1.20
3 x Heritage Druid= 0.99
2 x Elvish Champion= 0.64
4 x Bramblewood Paragon= 0.60
2 x Imperious Perfect= 0.40
4 x Wren's Run Vanquisher= 0.32
4 x Arbor Elf= 0.24
4 x Elvish Archdruid= 0.20
4 x Lead the Stampede= 0.16
4 x Llanowar Elves= 0.08
2 x Elvish Visionary= 0.06
Total: 15.94 tix

3 x Grafdigger's Cage= 3.87
2 x Dismember= 1.84
1 x Torpor Orb= 1.17
2 x Creeping Corrosion= 0.68
4 x Nature's Claim= 0.32
3 x Leyline of Vitality= 0.15
Total: 8.03 tix

Grand Total: 23.97 tix

So let's take Elves for a spin!  Apologies if the microphone quality isn't as good, I'm back home for the holidays and using a different microphone which 've had a few problems with.

Our first matchup is against a Rogue Landfall deck which was pretty interesting.  This match was nice as it let me show off what the Elf deck can do.

In Game 1, I lead off with a Fauna Shaman and my opponent plays a Vinelasher Kudzu.  I follow up with an Elvish Champion and thanks to my opponent's Temple Garden can attack for 3 unblockable damage with my Shaman.  My opponent drops a Coiling Oracle and a couple of lands as a result to make his Kudzu into a 3/3 but decides to hold it back.  I play an Archdruid and hit my opponent for 4 with my Shaman.  My opponent then drops a Wurmcoil Engine but I drop an Imperious Perfect and then use Fauna Shaman to find my second Elvish Champion and play it using my Archdruid.  This means I have four Lords on board and all my Elves have forestwalk so they are unblockable.  My opponent concedes.

In Game 2, my opponent finds his removal and Supreme Verdicts my early mana elves away.  Fortunately I am able to come back with my numerous Joraga Warcallers which help me beat past my opponent's removal.

My second matchup is against a rather interesting Mono-Black Discard deck.  I've seen lists like this popping up in the Modern Dailies.  The deck uses The Rack and Shrieking Affliction to kill off the opponent after destroying their hand.  It seems like an interesting deck and I might give it a try.  The deck is probably better with Liliana of the Veil, which I don't own, but the deck seems to work reasonably well without.

In Game 1, we take a mulligan to 6 which is unfortunate considering the nature of our opponent's deck.  We are on the play and lead off with an Arbor Elf.  My opponent leads off with an Inquisition of Kozilek taking my Wren's Run Vanquisher and then uses Surgical Extraction on it for some reason.  I unfortunately get stuck on 1 land but and so can only play a Nettle Sentinel on the following turn.  I get hit with Wrench Mind the following turn and discard a Lead the Stampede and a Joraga Warcaller keeping a Lead the Stampede as my last card in hand.  I draw a Forest and play Lead the Stampede which nets me another Arbor Elf and an Elvish Visionary.  A Smallpox from my opponent leads me to sac the Nettle Sentinel, discard the Arbor Elf and go down to one Forest.  My opponent also drops a Shrieking Affliction to start the pain.  I continue to draw and drop Elves and ultimately find a Joraga Warcaller that I kick to pump my Elves and I able to kill my opponent just before Shrieking Affliction and The Rack kill me.

In Game 2, I mulligan to 6 again which is unfortunate.  An Inquisition of Kozilek on turn 1 steals my Llanowar Elves and so I am down an elf and  have no turn 1 play.  I get hit with a Wrench Mind which knocks two Archdruids out of my hand.  I play a Bramblewood Paragon on the following turn and my opponent drops Shrieking Affliction and The Rack.  Ultimately, I make an error in forgetting the interaction between Bramblewood Paragon and Joraga Warcaller as I had two in hand and had I played them both each of my elves would have had +2/+2.  I think that clock would have killed.  However, I help on too long to kick my Warcaller and ended up getting killed by a plethora of Shrieking Afflictions and copies of The Rack.

In Game 3, I have a good starting 7 and I'm on the play.  Turn 1, I drop a Llanowar Elves and pass.  My opponent plays a Duress which whiffs as I'm holding all creatures.  Duress isn't really a card to play against a deck running 4 non-creature spells.  On Turn I drop a Bramblewood Paragon and tap my Llanowar Elves to play a Nettle Sentinel with a +1/+1 counter.  A Wrench Mind knocks all but a Joraga Warcaller out of my hand, which I play the following turn with kicker and attack for 9 with my Sentinel and Bramblewood Paragon.  My opponent plays a Raven's Crime, The Rack and Shrieking Affliction.  Fortunately I draw a Nature's Claim the following turn and can blow up The Rack and attack for lethal winning the match.

My third matchup is against Red Deck Wins.

In Game 1, I lead off with a Llanowar Elves whilst my opponent drops a Grim Lavamancer rather unfortunately.  I play an Elvish Archdruid but it gets hit with Searing Blaze on my opponent's turn.  I drop a lot more Elves including a double kicked Joraga Warcaller but unfortunately it eats a Lightning Bolt.  I keep the beat coming but I'm just not quite fast enough and get burnt out before I can win.

Game 2 goes pretty well as I lead off with a Llanowar Elves, followed by a Bramblewood Paragon and then a Nettle Sentinel and a Wren's Run Vanquisher the following turn.  I manage to knock my opponent down to 8 while I am also at 8 life.  I would have won next turn but unfortunately my opponent had Lava Spike and double Shard Volley in hand for enough to kill to me.

I don't think Elves is really a player in Modern, at least it won't be until they print some more powerful Elves.  However, it's an interesting tribal deck and one that can surprise opponents.  The deck is probably best against decks that don't run much removal and don't have a ridiculous clock, like some of the combo decks.  I didn't get a chance but in theory the deck could have a decent match against Tron or Valakut but Pyroclasm is certainly a problem.

That's all for this edition of Becoming A Modern Man!  This article should be a my last of 2012, which has been a good year for me in terms of article writing.  I've written a total of 28 articles this year and I'd like to thank the PureMTGO readers for their support in reading my articles and commenting on them.  I plan on continuing my Becoming A Modern Man and Standardized Testing series into next year and I hope I can continue writing articles that are of interest to the community.

Happy New Year!

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)