Daily Digest: Elvish Evolution

Don’t give up on the dinosaurs in your binder just yet! It looks like the builds that tried to make this happen last year just gave up too soon! Ross Merriam has the inspiring Modern success story coverage!

When you scroll through as many decklists as I do, you get into the habit of auto-piloting past the known archetypes. Unfortunately, that means you sometimes miss seeing sweet new variants of those archetypes that aren’t established enough to get their own name.

Apparently that happened with the Modern Classic in Baltimore last weekend, because the fourteenth-place Elves deck is anything but stock. Sure, you have your horde of cheap creatures, the Llanowar Elves, Nettle Sentinels, and Heritage Druids. And you have the heavy hitters in Ezuri, Renegade Leader; Elvish Archdruid; and Collected Company.

But the high-end creatures are in surprisingly low numbers. The reason why? Allosaurus Riders and Eldritch Evolution. This combo received some hype when Eldritch Evolution was released, but nothing much came of it. Putting a Griselbrand onto the battlefield on turn 2 is obviously nuts, but a lot has to go right for that to happen, and if you’re too low on life to activate Griselbrand, it’s easy enough to remove.

But the Elves have another friend they like to summon. I call it Dr. Hoofenstein, doling out prescriptions for more beatdowns at every opportunity. Being able to win the game on the spot changes the calculus of the combo immensely, making it much more valuable.

And the best part is, they won’t have any idea it’s coming. After all, a battlefield of three or four Elves isn’t too threatening in Modern. That is, until they’re all 5/5 tramplers.

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Iona, Shield of Emeria are nice sideboard bullets against things like Infect and Storm that might otherwise race your combo so you can threaten to lock your opponent out of the game on turn 2 as often as possible. I’m looking for maximum upside and this list has it.

The move to Eldritch Evolution also incentivizes you to play more copies of Shaman of the Pack so you can go the burn route when necessary. Three copies here as opposed to more of the typical three-drops makes sense.

The one part of the package that’s missing is a dopey value creature to find when you have a three drop but not much else. Thragtusk would be a nice bullet, since it’s great in attrition, aggressive, and burn matchups.

As someone with plenty of experience in this area, take it from me: Hoofing people is great. They always take the ten seconds to do the math, only to realize that they’re about to go to -10. It really couldn’t be more satisfying. You get to make funny sound effects for your creatures getting big and mean, too.

Yep. I’m a professional.