Daily Digest: Fear The Ears

Elves has had plenty of Standard support from the team at Wizards of the Coast, but nobody has made it work. At least, until now. Ross Merriam knows a good Elves deck when he sees one, and that’s what he sees on today’s Daily Digest!

Grand Prix Washington, DC: March 11-13!

Green creatures with pointy ears are an easy way to my heart, so it should be no surprise that I have chosen to feature Elves today. This list does some interesting things in the current Standard format. The obvious gains for this deck from Oath of the Gatewatch are Sylvan Advocate, a powerful card in its own right that happens to be an Elf, and Hissing Quagmire, which gives the deck better mana and a higher threat density while playing nicely with the aforementioned Advocate.

The real payoffs to the Elf synergies are Shaman of the Pack and Gnarlroot Trapper. Shaman is a great way to take advantage of the relative lack of removal in other Collected Company decks and ignore their ability to stall the battlefield, while Trapper gives you access to an effect that is so powerful, it was removed from Standard for non-Elf decks.

This list avoids a common deckbuilding pitfall. Most players, when building a tribal deck, are loath to include creatures from outside that tribe, typically looking to maximize internal synergy, but Chris has supplemented his sizable Elf package with anthem effects in Drana, Liberator of Malakir and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. Combined with Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen, we have a hefty seven ways to pump what is sure to be a sizable team.

Despite pulling double duty, I think Nissa would be stronger than Dwynen here, simply because the latter is more vulnerable to removal like Dromoka’s Command, Crackling Doom, and Reflector Mage. Dwynen is the only card in the deck that will frequently lose you tempo when trading with these cards and not leave behind anything of value. With few red decks in the current metagame, you also do not need the lifegain effect as much.

Similarly, the Kalitas looks off-plan to me, especially in a deck without removal, and I would rather see another cheap creature or some piece of interaction like a Murderous Cut. Cut may seem strange without an easy way to fill the graveyard, but you could easily replace ten of the basics with four copies each of Bloodstained Mire and Wooded Foothills along with single copies of Smoldering Marsh and Cinder Glade, which would also make the mana better to help support Nissa or a possible red splash.

I like the Liliana, Heretical Healers in the sideboard, but I am worried they will be difficult to flip, and playing the Fleshbag Marauders and Evolutionary Leaps to enable them may be too much effort to go through. The sideboard certainly needs some ways to answer big fliers like Mantis Rider, Thunderbreak Regent, and Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury, so more room needs to be made.

Overall, I see this deck as attacking from a similar angle to the Hardened Scales lists, going wide while making use of some powerful synergies. While not as powerful as Hardened Scales, this deck is not reliant on any individual card, which should make it more consistent. The Shaman of the Pack angle lets you finish games outside of the combat step, which is very useful against the Reflector Mage decks. If you are finding the waning days before Shadows over Innistrad a bit stale, this is a great way to Collect with some different Company.

Grand Prix Washington, DC: March 11-13!