Elvish Succession, Part II: Finite Combos And The Sideboard!

Last time, I explained the deck’s infinite combos in great detail. While the sheer ridiculous power of going infinite is fun – including a sideboarded-in infinite damage loop that can wipe out combo decks – you can often defeat your opponent with the deck’s humbler”finite” combos. Learn why it’s wise to chump block at twenty life on turn 4 against this deck!

I had too much to say about my last rogue deck for Regionals to fit into one article. Part 1 explained how to work the deck’s infinite combos… But there is so much more to tell.

I am finishing up the Elvish Succession series with a Part 2 and Part 3. These articles will be coming out back-to-back, so you’ll have all the information a couple of days before Regionals. Part 2 gives the sideboard, explains the deck’s synergy, strategies, and”finite” combos. Part 3 deals with sideboarding and strategies on a match-by-match basis, and has information on the deck’s record to date in tournaments.

As you recall, the deck list from the last time was:

Elvish Succession

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Birchlore Rangers

4 Wirewood Herald

1 Gempalm Strider

4 Wirewood Hivemaster

4 Nantuko Husk

4 Caller of the Claw

4 Ravenous Baloth

2 Fallen Angel

4 Verdant Succession

2 Elvish Soultiller

12 Forest

7 Swamp

4 City of Brass

How it works:

Elvish Succession is a creature beatdown deck with a lot of card synergy, finite combos, and a few infinite combos. The deck puts down significant pressure, and can defeat many opponents without going off. If your opponent tries to Wrath of God away your pressure, you restock with Caller of the Claw. If they tap out to try and match your forces, they have to fear your deck exploding with one of the combos.

Game-Winning Synergies:

Hivemaster With Husk Or Angel:

With twenty-three elves in the deck, a Hivemaster will generate you a lot of insects. These”free” creatures make your Husks frightening and your Fallen Angels downright terrifying.

Hivemaster With Hivemaster:

If you get an opening had with two or three Hivemasters, you can build up a creature swarm so fast your opponent won’t be able to cope. A few turns of buildup followed by two or three alpha strikes, and it’s all over.

Hivemaster With Succession And Elves:

With a Succession out, any time one of your elves dies, you get a replacement from your library and put it into play. Each of your Hivemasters in play will trigger each time this happens.

Succession With Your Deck:

Sure, Succession is necessary for the combo, but it’s also just a good card in your deck. All your creatures are either green, or can sacrifice green creatures for effect, so Succession works well for you even without the combo.

Succession with Succession:

Get out two Successions, and they both trigger when a green guy dies. This can allow you to double your number of creatures in play.

Succession With Baloth:

With a Succession on the table, you can sacrifice your Baloth for four life and get a replacement. If you need to, you can repeat that process three times without any other tricks. That means your Baloth on the table now represents sixteen life instead of four – and let me tell you, that can really mess with your opponent’s racing plans.

Succession With Caller of the Claw:

Your Caller dies, you get a new one from your deck, then get a bear for the first Caller and all your other non-token creatures that died that turn.

Wirewood Herald And Caller of the Claw:

When your Herald dies, you can fetch Caller from your deck. This means that with a Herald in play, you have automatic defenses versus Wrath of God-like effects.

Wirewood Herald With Husk Or Angel:

The Herald is an amazing card advantage elf Tutor, if you can just get him to die when you need to. With the Husk or Angel, you can sacrifice him at will, making your guy bigger and allowing you to search you library for whatever Elf you need.

Caller With Husk Or Angel:

Sacrifice your guys to pump your Husk or Angel and get free bears, which you can keep or sacrifice as the situation warrants.

Going Finite:

Last time, I explained the deck’s infinite combos in great detail. While the sheer ridiculous power of going infinite is fun, you can often defeat your opponent with the deck’s humbler”finite” combos.

The Husk-Herald-Caller combo:

Sacrificing the Herald to the Husk to get a Caller of the Claw can result in surprisingly large Husks. Check out this scenario, for example:

Turn 1 Elf (Llanowar or Ranger). Turn 2, Herald and Elf (again Llanowar or Ranger). Turn 3 Husk. Turn 4, sacrifice Herald, get a Herald, and play it with a land and an elf Mana. The Husk is now a 4/4, and it attacks. The opponent either takes 4 or chump blocks.

Everybody knows it’s bad form to chump block when you are at twenty life, so the correct play is to just take it… Or is it?

If the Husk goes unblocked, Sacrifice Herald #2, making the husk a 6/6. Use the Herald’s ability to fetch and cast Caller of the Claw. If the Caller of the Claw isn’t countered, put her ability on the stack, then sacrifice the Caller and the two one-drop elves. The Husk is now a 12/12. The Caller’s ability resolves and you get five Bears thanks to the two Heralds, the two elves, and the Caller that all went to the graveyard this turn.

Sacrifice four bears. The Husk is 20/20. Thanks for playing.

The Caller-Husk-Succession Combo:

You need a Herald or a Soultiller to go infinite with Husk-Succession, but you can do an impressive”finite” combo if you have a Caller of the Claw.

I’ll walk you through an example of what looks like a lame draw:

Turn 1 Llanowar. Turn 2 Husk. Turn 3 Nothing. Turn 4 Succession. When your opponent attacks, sacrifice the tapped Llanowar to get an untapped replacement and make your husk a 4/4. Block with both to stay alive. Sacrifice Llanowar #2 to make your husk a 6/6 and get Llanowar #3. Turn 5, either on your turn or the opponent’s end step, cast Caller of the Claw. Put her ability on the stack, sacrifice Llanowar #3, get Llanowar #4 and sacrifice Llanowar #4. Sacrifice Caller #1, get Caller # 2, putting her ability on the stack. Sacrifice Caller #2, get Caller #3, putting her ability on the stack. Sacrifice Caller #3, get Caller #4, putting her ability on the stack. Sacrifice Caller #4. Depending on whether you would rather have the Husk or four Bears, you can sacrifice the Husk.

All four Callers resolve, giving you six or seven bears each (depending on whether you sacrificed the Husk), making either twenty-four or twenty-eight Bears.

Obviously, if you have additional creatures out, the number of bears you can get grows dramatically (I’ve gotten over forty bears in this fashion). Even without any other creatures, you can still get a game-winning Bear swarm. With just Husk and Succession in play, casting Caller of the Claw, you can get twenty bears.

The Elves-Hivemasters-Husk-Succession Combo:

With Succession, a single Hivemaster, a Husk and another elf in play, you can sacrifice the other elf three times, getting a replacement elf and an insect token each time, which nets you +3 insects. Obviously, it’s not that impressive, but it can make a difference.

Things only start to get good when you have multiple Hivemasters out.

Let’s say, for example, that you have two Hivemasters, a Llanowar, a Ranger, a Husk, and a Succession in play. You can sacrifice the Llanowar and the Ranger three times each, getting a replacement and two insects for each sacrifice. You can then sacrifice a Hivemaster twice, getting a replacement and an insect each time.

You end up with fourteen insects, plus the creatures you already had in play. This is clearly not as good as the Caller-fueled bear swarms, but they can get the job done.

Card Breakdown:

4 Llanowar Elves:

The Llanowar serves his normal role as a mana accelerator, helps with”Mana Farming,” and has good synergy with the Hivemaster.

4 Birchlore Rangers:

Obviously, the Rangers are key to the”Mana Farming” piece of the combo I discussed in part 1 – but they are also amazing for general mana ramping. It was a major error on my part not to have four of these guys in my Elven Call deck.

4 Wirewood Herald

This guy’s a star player. He’s great against Chainer’s Edicts or creature rush, great with Husk, and key to the combo.

1 Gempalm Strider:

Gempalm Strider is the card-drawing engine of the combo. In addition to that critical role, the Gempalm often proves useful for his normal”Elven beatdown” qualities.

4 Wirewood Hivemaster:

After experimenting with Hivemaster for the Elven Call deck, I was hooked. The Hivemaster gives you more potential combos – but more importantly, it gives the deck a solid beatdown angle. The extra insects the Hivemaster generates provide your Husks and Fallen angels with plenty of fodder.

4 Nantuko Husk:

Husk is the cornerstone of Elven Succession. He’s critical to the deck’s big combo, but he also has amazing synergy with Herald, Caller of the Claw, and Hivemaster. If your opponent is foolish enough not to block a Husk when you have a Herald out, he often doesn’t live to see your second main phase.

4 Caller of the Claw:

The Caller is finding her way into more and more Green decks. She’s an amazing defense against Wrath of God effects, she allows you to alpha strike or gang block and recover your losses, and is key to many of this deck’s combos.

Don’t forget that her ability goes on the stack. You can cast her, see if she resolves, place her ability on the stack, then sacrifice your creatures. This also means you can sacrifice the Caller herself and get a bear.

4 Ravenous Baloth:

As a 4/4 for four mana, Ravenous Baloth is solid in any base green deck… But in this deck, they’re just insane. A Baloth with a Succession on the table represents sixteen life. That much life can buy you a lot of time to fill in the missing pieces of the combo, or simply overrun your opponent with an insect and bear swarm.

2 Fallen Angel

This bad girl is filling the roll of Nantuko Husks 5 and 6. The fact that she flies often means that when she hits the table, your opponent is on a one-turn clock. Her biggest drawback is that this deck is already too busy at five mana.

4 Verdant Succession

The big combo card the deck is built around. The fact that the card goes well with the deck even without the combo is reason enough to max out with four of this enchantment.

2 Elvish Soultiller

One Soultiller is enough to allow you infinite mana, infinite card drawing, and infinite bears and insects. The second allows you to recycle your other creatures so you can gain infinite life with Baloths and do infinite damage with the sideboard’s Skirk Marauder.

4 City of Brass

The pain hurts you in some games, but the Color smoothing helps you in more.

12 Forest/7 Swamp

I played around with the color ratios, and this mix seemed to work the best.

The Sideboard:

3 Naturalize

4 Smother

4 Wellwisher

3 Compost

1 Skirk Marauder

Sideboard Card Breakdown:

3 Naturalize:

Naturalize is a wonderful way to break up your opponent’s plans. I had four of these for a while, and was sad to see the last one go.

4 Smother:

Very early builds were lacking creature removal in the board, which led to problems with pesky creatures like Callous Oppressor.

4 Wellwisher:

These come in against evasion decks that have a hard time killing creatures, like Blue/Green Madness and Green/White Glory.

3 Compost:

You have so many early creatures that any deck with black in it will need its early removal against you. If you have a Compost out, that plan starts to look pretty bad.

1 Skirk Marauder:

When you”go off,” you gain infinite life and make infinite creatures. Against most decks, this just wins – but against other combo decks, they may be able to come back. The Marauder allows you to do infinite damage when you go off, so you can deny the other combo deck the opportunity to kill you.

The way the infinite damage works is as follows: You draw him with your infinite card drawing. Use your infinite mana to play him face down, then morph him for two damage. (For those of you who were confused for a moment as to where you get the red mana for this, as I was, I point you to Birchlore RangersThe Ferrett) Sacrifice him to Husk to put him in your graveyard. Sacrifice Soultiller, naming Goblin, to shuffle the Marauder back into your deck and Succession up Soultiller #2. Sacrifice Soultiller #2 naming elves, putting both Soultillers back in the deck (taking care to put Succession on the stack, then Soultiller on the stack, so by the time Succession resolves the Soultillers are back in the library). Rinse and repeat.

Look for sideboarding strategies, the deck’s record to date, and more in part 3 later this week!