Elves for Emrakul! A Modern Format Combo Decks of Elves and Eldrazi (MtG):

Well, what can I say: I like Elves, for their great abilities and rather explosive Mana generating capabilities, and what is more, I have a strange but strong fondness for Emrakul, the Aeons Torn as I have expressed in more than one of my previous articles. Just have a look at him once again:

Who could resist to make a deck (or two or even three like myself) which tries to get that one actually summoned and on the battlefield.

Now with both a soft spot for little green Elf dudes and epic Eldrazi elders, I thought it would be only natural to combine these two things in one combotastic deck. So what I did is this: I took the basic “engine” of a classic Elf-Fireball deck, of which I have played several iterations over the course of my personal 15 years M:tG history, and put Emrakul in as the main win condition instead of the usual Mana Elves plus Burn for X Spell combo. What I found out is that these two aspects go very well with each other for various reasons which I am going to detail in the following and that Emrakul turns out to be a great finisher/win condition for such a deck. Also, to my pleasure, I found out that such a deck as I had in mind could well be built in Modern Format, without having to pass on key cards. The only thing I would probably change if I had access to older cards would be swapping the cost 3 Elvish Archdruids for the cheaper (2 Mana) Titania’s Priests. Also, what saved the day so to say is the fact that one key card of the engine I have come up with more or less myself, without “net-decking” it from anywhere (of course realizing that I am most certainly not the first person to think of that), is just “barely legal” in Modern Format: Intruder Alarm:

Now, without much further ado, let us take a look at the decklist I came up with encompassing the combolicious engine I have come up with in order to bring Emrakul to the field as early as possible:

Elves for Emrakul! (Modern Format):


4 x Birds of Paradise (G)

4 x Llanowar Elves (G)

4 x Arbor Elf (G)

4 x Elvish Visionary (1G)

4 x Elvish Archdruid (1GG)

1 x Dosan, the Falling Leaf (1GG)

2 x Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (15)


4 x Glimpse of Nature (G)

4 x Time of Need (1G)

1 x  Banefire (XR)


4 x Fertile Ground (1G)

4 x Intruder Alarm (2U)


4 x Lightning Greaves (2)


16 x Forest

The Strategy:

So here is the engine that makes this deck work: Your key cards will be Glimpse of Nature

Lightning Greaves

…and Intruder Alarm which I showed you above. Combined with cheap mana producers, favorably 1 Mana guys that produce 1 Mana (you have 12 of those and I am tempted to go so far as to drop down to as few as 12 lands to add 4 Elvish Mystics, as all you need to get started is one land in your opening hand. This would be very risky but I am willing to test it…) or your Elvish Archdruids which cost 3 but produce as much Mana as you have Elves, you will be generating a truckload of mana in order to summon Emrakul, the Aeons Torn as early as possible OR cast a lethal Banefire. Banefire is the ideal alternative win condition (and I think any combo deck needs a good backup win condition) as it can’t be countered nor its damage prevented if you spent 5 or more on the X in its casting cost, which will be the case as you will want to inflict about 20 damage with it.

And here is how the key cards work hand in hand to create something akin to a well-oiled mana-generation engine:

Play Lightning Greaves followed by Intruder Alarm and one or, if possible, mutliple Glimpse of Nature. You don’t have to cast Greaves and Intruder Alarm on the same turn, but you should save your Glimpses for the turn you think you can make the combo go of. So Intruder Alarm will allow you to untap all Creatures when you summon a Creature. What you would do is tap all your Mana-making Creatures and play another Creature to untap all your Creatures to tap them again for as much Mana as possible, then playing another Creature to do it again. Glimpse of Nature makes sure you draw into more Creatures whenever you play a Creature. Obviously, this works best if you cast multiple Glimpse of Nature. Thankfully they are pretty cheap at least Mana-wise at G. Now Lightning Greaves would enable your newly played Creatures – many of them will be Mana producers – to be tapped for Mana the turn you play them. This can lead to an explosive surge of Mana, which would eventually allow you to hard-cast Emrakul from your hand. This is where Lightning Greaves is useful once again, as it will give Emrakul Haste for free, so you can deal 15 damage right away (and the opponent has to sack 6 permanents, which is devastating, even more so considering you are going to do this early on) and 15 damage in the extra turn he grants you when you summoned him from your hand.

So in brief: Intruder Alarm untaps all your Creaturs whenever you play a Creature, Glimpse of Nature is your draw engine drawing you a card whenever you play a Creature and Lightning Greaves makes sure you can tap the newly played Creatures for Mana right away to play more Creatures to untap all Creatures again to make more Mana to make more Creatures and so on and so forth.

The rest of the deck:

  • Elvish Visionary draws you a card when it comes into play, which adds to the draw power of Glimpse of Nature which I find good enough to run this one, although I am considering to drop Visionary in favor of Elvish Mystic, another Mana producer that cost just 1 Mana.
  • Dosan, the Falling Leaf is a one-of Legendary Creature preventing players from casting Spells outside of their own turns, which can be vital if you are playing against a control type of deck and are facing heavy countermagic and instant-speed disruption. In such match-ups it is highly advisable to fetch Dosan via Time of Need and play him before you even attempt to  do the combo thing.
  • Time of Need: I am running 4 of those as they let me search my deck for any 1 Legendary Creature and take it right into my hand for just 1G. The obvious target would be Emrakul, but, as mentioned above, Dosan, the Falling Leaf is a great choice as well against many decks.
  • Fertile Ground: Besides Birds of Paradise, this is the only card that produces off-color Mana (you will be needing 1 red Mana for Banefire or 1 blue for Intruder Alarm) and I would run Utopia Sprawl instead as it is cheaper but Fertile Ground is more flexible in that it produces Mana of any color as opposed to Utopia Sprawl which makes you choose one color of Mana it will produce when it comes into play. Fertile Ground may seem like a waste of card slots but it is a sound way to have access to red and blue Mana plus it has great synergy with Arbor Elf, who can conveniently untap the Forest you put your Fertile Ground(s) on to generate a lot of Mana.

OK this is my attempt of building a Modern Format Deck centered on explosive, Elf-powered Mana generation to power out Emrakul as early as possible. What I would like to do before I end this article is show you how this deck would look like if I was to build it for and play it in Legacy Format, which obviously gives me more card options. The basic engine however will be staying intact. Please have a look:

Elves for Emrakul! (Legacy Version):


4 x Birds of Paradise (G)

4 x Llanowar Elves (G)

4 x Fyndhorn Elves (G)

4 x Quirion Ranger (G)

4 x Priest of Titania (1G)

4 x Elvish Spirit Guide (2G)

1 x Dosan, the Falling Leaf (1GG)

1 x Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (15)


4 x Worldly Tutor (G)


4 x Glimpse of Nature (G)

1 x Banefire (XR)


4 x Concordant Crossroads (G)

4 x Intruder Alarm (2U)


4 x City of Brass

2 x Wirewood Lodge

11 x Forest

This is how I would play this deck in the Legacy Format. Some cards were replaced for better alternatives from the extended Legacy card pool, most notably Worldly Tutor instead of Time of Need, as it searches for any Creature instead of just a legendray one and Concordant Crossroads to replace Lightning Greaves. Concordant Crossroads is cheaper, costing just 1 but on the downside, not only gives your Creatures Haste, but also all opponent Creatures. Still I would run this over Greaves in Legacy, simply because it comes at half the cost and fulfills the same purpose as Lightning Greaves. Notable additions in the list of Creatures are Titania’s Priest which has the same mana-ramp capabilities of Archdruid but is 1 Mana cheaper, Quiron Ranger, which can untap your Titania’s Priest so you can use it again to create a ton of Mana and Elvish Spirit Guide which acts as free Mana as you can exile it from your hand to add one green Mana to your pool. Wirewood Lodge lets you untap your Titania’s Priest cheaply so you can generate even more Mana with her.

I don’t think this is by any means competitive in a Legacy Format environment but nonetheless an interesting and fun mental experiment!



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