Sunday was the Twenty Sided Store’s monthly Legacy tournament, something to which I always look forward.  While I still think my trusty Junk brew has some serious play, I’ll admit I enjoy getting practice with other decks from time to time.  When I saw that an Elves deck was in the Top 8 of the StarCity Invitational, and that it had a wishboard, I knew what I was going to be playing.   Since I was missing a few of the cards for the list, and couldn’t find more than one of my Fyndhorn Elves, this is the list I ended up sleeving up:

Creatures (31):  2x Birchlore Rangers, 4x Deathrite Shaman, 3x Elvish Visionary, 1x Ezuri, Renegade Leader, 1x Fyndhorn Elves, 3x Heritage Druid, 4x Llanowar Elves, 3x Nettle Sentinel, 2x Priest of Titania, 3x Quirion Ranger, 1x Regal Force, 1x Scavenging Ooze, 3x Wirewood Symbiote

Spells (12):  1x Crop Rotation, 4x Glimpse of Nature, 4x Green Sun’s Zenith, 3x Living Wish

Lands (17):  1x Bayou, 1x Dryad Arbor, 3x Forest, 2x Gaea’s Cradle, 1x Horizon Canopy, 1x Pendelhaven, 2x Savannah, 3x Windswept Heath, 3x Wooded Foothills

Sideboard (15):  3x Choke, 1x Craterhoof Behemoth, 1x Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, 1x Faerie Macabre, 1x Heritage Druid, 1x Maze of Ith, 1x Mirror Entity, 1x Nettle Sentinel, 1x Peacekeeper, 1x Qasali Pridemage, 1x Regal Force, 1x Scavenging Ooze, 1x Wirewood Symbiote

In case it’s not clear, I should probably explain how this deck goes off.  Glimpse of Nature makes all of your creatures cantrip when you cast them.  This, plus mana engines like {Nettle Sentinel/Heritage Druid or Birchlore Ranger} and {Priest of Titania/Wirewood Symbiote or Quirion Ranger}, lets you net mana on the spells you’re casting.  Since the deck runs a low land count, this often means that you’ll be drawing into more Elves off each one you cast, and occasionally you’ll even get to the point when you can resolve a second Glimpse and just cycle through a large chunk of your library.  There are also moves like using Quirion Ranger to untap your Priest of Titania by bouncing one of your forests, tapping the Priest again for, say, 5 mana, using the Wirewood Symbiote to untap the Priest again, bouncing the Ranger, and then replaying the Ranger to use it again.  If you have five elves and two lands out,  this loop will make you 15 mana, which is enough to cast Emrakul, or Living Wish plus Craterhoof Behemoth, or Green Sun’s Zenith for Regal Force with mana left over to cast the seven cards you draw.  But that’s not the only way the deck wins; it’s also very good at using Ezuri or Mirror Entity to use this mana to turn the otherwise unimpressive bodies into gigantic monstrosities, and just swinging in for the aggro kill.  So, it’s a combo deck that runs Forests and has several ways of “going off”!  I love it, and every so often I come back to this absurd deck.

Round 1: Caleb, Maverick Gifts

Caleb was playing a spicy deck, not that I realized this game one.  I dropped a turn one mana elf, played some more guys out, and then played Ezuri and double overran to hit him for 14 points of damage with two of my mana elves.   He had only committed a knight and a bird to the board at that point, so he shuffled it in.  After the game was over he said that he had played the match-up wrong, since he had apparently had Sword of Fire and Ice in his hand, and had he cast that instead of Knight of the Reliquary on turn two, he could have equipped the bird and picked off my elves one by one.  Unfortunately, my opponent made a similarly crippling error in game two.  A turn before I was primed to go off, he played Gifts Ungiven off his 3 lands and Bird of Paradise, dropping Iona and Life from the Loam into his graveyard.  He then drew and missed his land drop, preventing him from playing the singleton Unburial Rites that was stuck in his hand.  I untapped, Green Sun Zenithed for the combo piece I was missing (I think it was a Heritage Druid) and then Glimpsed into Glimpse into a bunch of elves to seal the game.  We played a few more games after that… I won most of them.  While his deck had some great interactions, like a Gifts/Rites package and a Loam/Wasteland loop, the Gifts package was too slow and the Wasteland package wasn’t strong enough against a deck with a bunch of mana dorks that fetched basics.

1-0 in matches, 2-0 in games

Round 2: Lirek, UW Delver Homebrew

The round before Lirek had played Dana the seat over from mine, so I had a clue of his game plan.  Of course, he could also see mine, and he had just crushed Dana’s Miracle CounterTop deck, so the informational advantage seemed minimal.  Game one he dropped a turn one Delver, and, like most turn one Delvers, it flipped at the first opportunity, revealing Daze.   Since he didn’t drop a second land, I ran a Birchlore Ranger out to bait the Daze, stone raining him while I poked him with my turn 1 Deathrite Shaman (as it was not yet useful since neither of us had a fetch in our yard).  Next turn he Vapor Snagged my Priest of Titania, knocking me down to 13 with his Delver; I replayed it and further committed to the board.  He the Swordsed the Priest, dropped a second Delver, and knocked me to 11, putting me on a two turn clock.  When he had me at 5 life, with his two Delvers threatening, I went off with Glimpse, committing heavily to the board while getting my untap engine online (and, in the process, bouncing every single land I had on the board back into my hand).  I ended up with a pair of live Deathrite Shamans, the Nettle/Heritage engine online, and Wirewood Symbiotes for protection, and with eight cards in hand at the end of turn I discarded a creature, just to be safe.  Lirek swung in for lethal, I used Deathrite to gain 2 life off the Birchwood Ranger he had Dazed, and he tried to cast Swords to Plowshares on Ezuri.  I used my second Wirewood Symbiote to bounce Ezuri, untapping Deathrite number two, and at end of turn I went up to three life, so that I wouldn’t be dead to Vapor Snag.  I untapped, dropped Gaea’s Cradle, made a tremendous amount of mana, cast Ezuri and used his overrun ability twice.  Lirek scooped.

Lirek was the only opponent against whom I needed to sideboard.  One of the benefits of running a wishboard is that it makes your sideboard tree really easy; those cards are meant to stay in your sideboard, with the exception of the anti-blue Choke tech.  I sided out the extra Deathrite Shaman, Scavenging Ooze and Crop Rotation (because there is little worse than having Crop Rotation countered) in favor of the three copies of Choke.  Of course, I never saw them during game two.  Lirek again lead with a turn one Delver, only this time it didn’t flip until turn three, revealing Force of Will.  With several elves on the board, but only a Glimpse, a Regal Force and two lands in my hand, I baited out the Force with Glimpse and then cast Regal Force to draw into some more action.  Side note, Gaea’s Cradle is an amazing card.  He then had to Supreme Verdict a turn or two later, and I untapped, built back up some Elves with the cards I had in hand from Regal Force, and then Green Sun Zenithed for Ezuri and got another overrun win.

2-0 in matches, 4-0 in games

Round 3: Vin, GB Rock

Game one my opponent mulliganed, and ended up keeping a hand with several wastelands but not a lot of action.  I had taken to fetching for basics first anyway, and my turn one Llanowar showed him he was in a lot of trouble.  He got some board presence, with Tarmogoyf and Putrid Leech in particular looking to cause some problems, but I played Living Wish for Mirror Entity, cast it off my Savannah, and swung for 30 with five 6/6 changelings.   He blocked two, untapped and didn’t find the card he was looking for.

Games two and three I found out what card he had hoped to rip: Pernicious Deed.  It is almost certainly the best card to play against a deck like Elves, because once it’s on the board it’s an instant speed wrath with surgical precision.  The Hymn to Tourachs and Thoughtseizes didn’t help either, preemptively stripping my hand of any momentum I might be getting.  Even Maelstrom Pulse made an appearance, reminding me why the list I was mirroring ran a more even mix of Llanowar Elves and Fyndhorn Elves.  He took the next two games solidly, even having the double wasteland for my Savannahs when I tried to stabilize behind a wished-for Peacekeeper.

2-1 in matches, 5-2 in games

Round 4: Tony, Disruption Junk

Tony was playing a list very similar to the one I was playing last time we tangled.  The main difference seemed to be he was playing a bunch of planeswalkers and fewer mana sources than I had been.  As a result, his deck had more action, but it also had some difficulties landing its threats.  Game one I went beatdown, landing a Llanowar Elf, having Tony Thoughtseize my Glimpse, and then landing several more elves to knock him down to nine life before my engine started to go off.  At this point, he scooped.  Game two he Thoughtseized me twice to get my Glimpse and my Green Sun’s Zenith, until I eventually managed to land a Scavenging Ooze on my empty board, facing down his two lands, Deathrite Shaman and Knight of the Reliquary.  He used the Shaman to exile a land from my graveyard, and since he was going to get to three mana either way, and I wasn’t too worried about any four-mana options, I let it resolve… and he cast Liliana of the Veil and made me sacrifice my guy.  With Liliana pecking at my hand every turn, I couldn’t build up any reserve to use Glimpse to save me, and we went on to game three.  Game three was brutal.  I mulliganed to five, throwing back a no-lander and a hand with two Green Sun Zenith’s and a Living Wish.  I ended up keeping a hand with two lands, one of which was Cradle, and three mini elves, one of which was a visionary.  I resolved them all, as well as the next two I drew, but I was left with no hand and no real pressure.  Finally, turn three I ripped Green Sun’s Zenith off the top, used it to get Regal Force, and was back up to six cards in hand before making my third land drop.  I started to go off at that point but Tony just packed it in; the Regal Force had won me the game, and he didn’t need me to show it.

3-1 in matches, 7-3 in games

Having played through my list, I think this is the deck I am going to be bringing to GP AC for side events.  It’s just fun!  It has a game plan, and its games rarely drag.  One change I do plan to make, though, concerns the fourth Deathrite Shaman.  I plugged it in because I didn’t have a second Mirror Entity, and I am actually still fine not playing a Mirror Entity main.  I mean, it’s a weird singleton, since you can’t get it with Green Sun’s Zenith.  Instead, I think I am going to try out Edric, Spymaster of Trest as a one of maindeck Green Sun’s Zenith target.  I can hard cast it off of Birchlore Ranger or Deathrite Shaman, if worst comes to worst, and I’ve been very impressed with it in the Holiday Cube on MTGO.  I don’t think I’ve lost a game in the cube where I’ve resolved an early Edric, and it seems like it would be nice to have a low-drop draw engine I can Green Sun’s Zenith for when I don’t have the mana to make it up to Regal Force.

So, Modern or Legacy, you should consider playing Elves!  Because, seriously, there is little that is as much fun as a mana engine that just won’t stop.

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