Dear friends of the awesomely fantastic Magic: the Gathering CCG!
This year I am “celebrating” my 15 years “Magic-anniversary” as no less than 15 years have now passed since I bought my first Magic cards, which captured my mind and enthralled me at once, with a whole universe of fantastic creatures and arcane magic to be explored, readily available in somewhat expensive packs of trading cards. It has been about 12 years though since I built my very first “real” magic deck (it took a few years until my friends and I finally got around to learn how to play the game properly) and on a special occasion, about which I am going to talk shortly, I have decided to re-build that very first real deck I made more than a dozen years ago: Elves. And I must say right away, it has not lost its charme, nor its (potential) power over all these years.
The special occasion which I am talking about is tomorrow’s “Beginner’s Tournament” at our local Magic Cards Shop. Yes, a 15-years-veteran, my humble self, will actually participate in an event especially aimed at beginners who are new to the fantastic world of Magic, and, quite fittingly, I will be playing my old Elf deck which I re-assembled with VERY few tweaks especially for tomorrow. As a redeeming factor, I have to note that in the case of me winning some prizes (entry is for free and some boosters will be distributed among winner and finalists) I will freely distribute those among the participants ranking below me in the end.
And one more thing I have to note before I show you my actual 12-year-old Elf deck, is that I am exceedingly pleased that my younger sister, who has just very recently discovered her interest in the game, is bold enough to actually participate in tomorrow’s beginner’s event, which will be her very first tournament. I am proud of you, Nora!!
So here’s my old Elf deck list for you – afterwards, as usual, my thoughts on the deck, which, after so many years have passed, still manages to compete even with quite a few of my more competitive, more recent decks:
4 x Llanowar Elves G
3 x Fyndhorn Elves G
4 x Priest of Titania 1G
4 x Wellwisher 1G
4 x Titania’s Chosen 2G
2 x Timberwatch Elf 2G
3 x Heedless One 3G
2 x Ambush Commander 3GG
4 x Wirewood Pride G
3 x Blanchwood Armor 2G
3 x Gaea’s Embrace 2GG
2 x Slate of Ancestry 4
3 x Wirewood Lodge
19 x Forest
About the Deck:
Well first of all I have to say that I am not running this 100% like the very first incarnation of my Elves Deck. The very first version didn’t even have Llanowar Elves, as I only a bit later realized that their mana making powers are quite helpful in this and many other decks. In the current version I am virtually running 7 copies of Llanowar Elves (4 real ones and 3 Fyndhorn Elves which are exactly the same save for the name) and I also added Slate of Ancestry to draw me a fresh hand once all my Elves/hand cards are spent.
Next I would like to note that this is kinda an “Anti-Modern-Deck” as I imposed the rule on myself to only run cards with the old layout, including basic forests, and only black-bordered cards, which made me purchase a playset of German Beta Llanowar Elves (don’t worry the whole set was 2 Euros, so like 2.50 USD). That self-imposed rule also lead me to play cards of which superior versions have been released more recently – the prime example being Priest of Titania vs Elvish Archdruid. Priest costs 1 less than Archdruid and taps to produce 1 green mana per Elf in play, whereas Archdruid does the same plus he gives +1/+1 to all your other Elves. He would be an easy turn 2 play with 7 mana elves in the deck. Still I insist on running this deck the old-school way – “Anti-Modern” as I would like to put it.
On to the actual card choices:
- Llanowar/Fyndhorn Elves speed up the deck tremendously whilst upping the, in this particular deck, vital Elf count for just 1 green mana.
- Priest of Titania is amazing for generating lots of mana to cast your higher cost Elfs and other Stuff like Gaea’s Embrace etc early on. Can be untapped for just 1 green mana by Wirewood Lodge, to generate even more mana, if needed.
- Wellwisher is your life-saver so to say as he taps to net you 1 life per Elf in play. Same as above you could untap him with Lodge to double that life gain!
- Titania’s Chosen, while having a bit of a, well, homoerotic look to him…
…is and was even back then a widely underrated/underestimated Elf/Creature, which enters play as a lowly 1/1 but has a huge potential to grow very large over the course of the game, as he will get a +1/+1 counter for every green spell cast successfully. With a deck consisting of 2/3rds of green Spells, some of them very cheap and costlier ones being made affordable by the massive mana ramp the deck features, Titania’s Chosen is bound to become quite the force quite soon. He is the ideal target for Gaea’s Embrace, which will give him +3/+3, lets him regenerate at 1 green mana AND, most importanly, gives him Trample plus he will get a +1/+1 Counter from casting the Embrace. That alone would make him a 5/5 regenerating Trampler that will grow huger and huger the more spells you cast. You could even let him go even more out of hand by slamming an additional Blanchwood Armor on him, thus giving him yet another +1/+1 counter and a +1/+1 boost for every Forest you control. And at the point you do this you should have at least 3 – 5 Forests in play. I love that guy! Definitely a great turn 2 play powered through one of your mana elves.
- Timberwatch Elf is anotherr great Elf to untap through Wirewood Lodge as he taps to give any Elf +X/+X for the turn whereby X is the number of Elves in play. The cool thing is that you can pull off his abilitiy instant-speed so you’d just attack with multiple Creatures and boost the one that was not blocked. Or you just pump a Trampler and you should be fine too. Untapping Timberwatch Elf via Lodge would be a great thing to do so it would double the stats boost granted by the Elf.
- Heedless One’s Power and Toughness are each equal to the number of Elves in play, hence he should be huge once you play him, but what makes him really awesome is that he is a Trampler and thus ideal for enchanting with Blanchwood Armor, targeting with Wirewood Pride or with Timberwatch Elf’s stats boosting ability. That way he can really get pretty huge, inflicting massive or even lethal damage as early as turn 4. Just imagine having 5 Elves, so he’d be a 5/5. Play Wirewood Pride on him to make him a 10/10 for just 1 green mana, then boost him for +5/+5 twice through Timberwatch and Lodge and he’ll be a 20/20 Trampler that attacks on turn 4. Pretty awesome and hard to handle for many opponents. Totally weak to creature removal though, but more on that later.
- Ambush Commander is risky to play but can be potentially devastating for your opponent as he will virtually double the Elf count in most cases, as he’ll turn all your Forests into 1/1 Elves. You can already imagine what such a drastic increase of the Elf count would mean for Priest of Titania, Wellwisher, Timberwatch Elf, Heedless One as well as Wirewood Pride. Unless your opponent plays a Pyroclasm or Infest or whatnot, Ambush Commander pretty much spells defeat for your opponet – when in the right company!
- Wirewood Pride is an awesome instant which gives any Elf, preferrably an unblocked or trampling one, +X/+X whereby X is the number of Elves in play.
- Blanchwood Armor is an amazing power-up, which is best put on a Trampler like Heedless One, giving him +X/+X permanently, whereby X is the number of Forests you control. And with a Forest count of 19, X should be considerably high when you cast the Armor.
- Gaea’s Embrace, albeit a bit costly at 4 mana gives some awesome abilities and stats boost to the Creature it enchants, namely +3/+3, Trample and the power to regenerate the enchanted Creature for just 1 green mana. I would put this one on Titania’s Chosen for instance, though any other Elf will become an immediate threat too with a Gaea’s Embrace attached to it!
- Slate of Ancestry is in there to fill your hand again after you have spent all your Elves and your hand is more or less empty. It is an artifact that costs 4 and taps for 4 to discard your hand and then draw as many cards as you have Creatures in play. Ususally this should give you pretty much a fresh hand of cards, provided you got a ton of Creatures in play, which should be the case most of the times with this deck (unless all your Elves were wiped out by a Wrath of God or similar devilry…)
- Wirewood Lodge is a very special and very essential land card. At the cost of paying one green mana and tapping the Lodge, you can untap any one Elf. As mentioned before, you can untap Wellwisher to gain double the life, untap Priest of Titania to get double the mana or untap Timberwatch Elf to dish out double the stats boost. Pretty amazing for a land!
In conclusion I have to say two things:
- Obviously, this deck is VERY outdated, and I am fully aware that there would be by far better cards and other altogether more competitive builds for Elf decks available nowadays, but the outdatedness is intentional. I wanted to rebuild the deck I had assembled and played so successfully about 12 years ago pretty closely to the original, to recreate and relive the feeling of the “good old days”.
- Obviously, red direct damage and black creature removal as well as to some degree white Spells like Path to Exile or Wrath of God would obliterate this deck, they would tear it apart – fair and square. Furthermore, anything with a considerable number of flyers would simply annihilate me with this deck, since I have zero answers to Creatures with flying. I know green has plenty of good anti-flying stuff, but I did not include any and didn’t feel like building a proper sideboard. My plan against the flyers is to simply to be faster than the opponent and maybe survive long enough through massive Wellwisher lifegain.
Long story short, this is by no means intended to be a competitive deck for any format, but just a fun and nostalgic experiment to recreate the feeling of Magic as it was for me in the very beginning, and as a befitting deck joice for a veteran to field in a “Beginner’s Tournament” as I intend to do tomorrow!
Hope you enjoyed this personal blast from my Magic past and wish you all