Thank God It’s FNM: Elves

AJ was unable to get all the cards he needed to play Elves at FNM, so he got in some practice games instead with his friends. See how the games played out and some different directions the deck could take.

Since the beginning of this column, I’ve had a good run where I was able to get all of the cards I needed for my deck every week. I figured at some point I would run into a snag where I was unable to get cards in time. That finally occurred this past Friday, where I was about fifteen cards short of being able to play my deck in Friday Night Magic. I had already come up with a few possible choices for what I could do in this situation.

I’ve already tried the Magic Online option, and I will probably revisit it in future. The next best thing seemed to be just proxying up the rest of the deck and playing some games for fun against my friends. This provides a few specific benefits over playing in an event on Magic Online and even playing in FNM at my store. I was able to pick what decks I played against so that you could see how the deck fared in a more realistic metagame. Before I get into the games, I’ll give a quick overview of the deck I played.

Travis Woo recently posted a picture on Facebook of an Elves deck. It was mono-green, with a small splash for Gavony Township. Over the next few days, he continuously evolved the deck and shared the lists with me. This is the list I played on Friday:

Travis provided a very detailed explanation of this deck already. The main thing to stress is that this deck has a plan. Your typical game should have a mana dork on turn 1, a three-drop on turn 2, and a six-drop on turn 3. From there, you should be ready to do whatever you want.

An interesting problem that I ran into was that Elvish Archdruid doesn’t always make two mana. Only half of your mana dorks are actually Elves, so occasionally you can’t play a six-drop on turn 3. I decided it would be easier for my friends and for me if we didn’t sideboard. The goal was to see how the deck plays out, and the cards I would’ve brought in weren’t too game changing anyway. Read on to find out how my games played out, as well as for an updated decklist and some cool directions to take the deck.

Match 1: Ian with Naya Pod, 2-1 in games

I was on the play for the first game and went to six cards. I started with a Birds of Paradise, and he matched it with a Llanowar Elves. On my next turn I played a Palladium Myr, and he hit me for two with his Strangleroot Geist. I played a Soul of the Harvest and passed back to him. He didn’t have a third land and just played a Birthing Pod. On my turn, I chained three straight Birds of Paradise off of my Soul of the Harvest, and it ended with a Green Sun’s Zenith in my hand. He didn’t do anything of much importance on his turn, and I turned my Green Sun’s Zenith into a Craterhoof Behemoth and killed him.

We both went to six for the second game, and my hand didn’t have much going for it. It had no turn 1 plays, which was even worse when he had a quick start. He got a couple of mana dorks and a Birthing Pod, then turned a Blade Splicer into a Huntmaster of the Fells. I finally got a Soul of the Harvest out, but had no gas to go with it. He Phyrexian Metamorphed my Soul of the Harvest and killed me shortly after when I drew nothing relevant.

In the final game, my plan once again came to fruition. I played a Llanowar Elves into an Elvish Archdruid. He played two mana dorks and then dropped a Huntmaster of the Fells. I was still on two lands, so I couldn’t play a six-drop. I settled for an Arbor Elf and a Green Sun’s Zenith for another Elvish Archdruid. He didn’t have a play on his turn and flipped his Huntmaster. Thanks to my two Archdruids, he couldn’t actually kill anything on my board. I played a land and cast Soul of the Harvest. I then cast Birds of Paradise, Llanowar Elves, Avacyn’s Pilgrim, and another Elvish Archdruid. When I drew Craterhoof Behemoth off the last creature, I knew he would be dead next turn. He had a Restoration Angel on my end step, but an Acidic Slime on his turn was not enough of a defense for my stampeding army.

Match 2: Will with U/W Delver, 2-2 in games

Legacy specialist Will Nehlsen was on the play for game 1, and we both went to six cards. He flipped a Delver on turn 2, but I once again executed my plan. Turn 1 Avacyn’s Pilgrim into Palladium Myr was a good start. My Primeval Titan met a Mana Leak, but I had a Soul of the Harvest next turn to continue building my army. He flipped another Delver and I fell to 11, but he didn’t have much in the way of defense. I spent my next turn setting up for a lethal Craterhoof Behemoth by playing two Somberwald Sages, and when he could only put me to five on his attack, I got to untap and kill him.

We both kept our seven-card hands in the second game, but I never really got my feet off the ground. He had a Delver that flipped early backed by a Mana Leak, a Gut Shot, and a Snapcaster Mage on the Gut Shot. Eventually he flipped a second Delver, and there wasn’t anything I could do.

In the third game, I started with a Llanowar Elves into a Palladium Myr but didn’t have much else after it. A couple of Somberwald Sages with no creatures to cast wasn’t much of an offense. He flipped a Delver, Gut Shotted one of the Sages, and continued to beat me down. On a key turn, he tapped down for double Mana Leak, and I was able to sneak through a Craterhoof Behemoth. I had exactly lethal even after one of my creatures got Vapor Snagged.

For our fourth and final game before we went to get dinner, I took a mulligan to six. His hand was all Vapor Snags and Delver of Secrets. While it took them a few turns to flip, his Vapor Snags set me far behind. When I finally got a foothold it was too late, and I was dead on the next attack.

With that, we walked to dinner. The usual place was closed, so we went to a Smokehouse Barbecue. Apparently it has been there since October of last year, but we go by there at least once a week and had never noticed it. The food was excellent, and they even had Fried Oreos at a good price. Enough about my dinner adventures though.

Match 3: Rob with B/W/R Reanimator, 1-2 in games

I had an important baseball game in the morning, so this was my last Standard match of the night though I made sure get in a quick Winston Draft with my friend Shawn’s cube before I left. Before the match, I realized that his deck can build a turn 4 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, so I was not very confident going in.

I was on the play for the first game, and I started with a Llanowar Elves into Somberwald Sage. His Faithless Looting put an Elesh Norn and a Griselbrand in the yard. He set me back a ton with a Whipflare, mostly because my hand had too many six-drops. He got out an Elesh Norn on the fifth turn and that was enough to put me away.

In game 2 he kept a land light hand, and his Faithless Looting didn’t give him any luck. I executed the 1-3-6 plan as the deck wants to do, and a Craterhoof Behemoth killed him exactly.

I went to six cards for game 3, and he had a turn 4 Elesh Norn. I had two Elvish Archdruids out so I almost mustered an offense, but I didn’t have enough Elves or lands to do much. He soon killed me with an army of 3/3 Spirit tokens courtesy of Lingering Souls.

Overall, the deck was a lot of fun to play. When it works correctly, you can play through some amount of hate; I was probably doing some things wrong, but it definitely has some heavy weaknesses. Travis Woo recently posted his updated list on Twitter, so I’ll share it with you here.

This version has much less of a combo feel to it and more of a beatdown feel. That will probably make it less susceptible to hate and much more consistent overall.

An interesting direction I’ve considered taking the deck is to cut the white and add in red. With the red, you could play Fervor and then add in Genesis Wave. This would give the deck the opportunity to truly combo out with Fervor as your Heritage Druid and Soul of the Harvest as your Glimpse of Nature for those of you familiar with Legacy combo Elves.

For next week, I am going to be trying out Mono-Green Aggro. This is definitely a lot more mainstream than the typical decks you will see in this column, but it is something I want to give a try. My list will also look a little bit different from the average Mono-Green Aggro list out on the market.

Let me know what you thought of this format. I will do my best to get everything I need for my decks every week, but obviously this can be tough. This seems like a good way to still bring you guys FNM content when I cannot play in the tournament. Something I was also thinking about was the weekends where I can’t play FNM because I have to go large tournaments like Grand Prix or the StarCityGames.com Invitationals. I was thinking that in my free time I could play in a Standard eight-man win-a-box or two and write about that. It will probably be another month before I can attend a large tournament (hopefully I’ll make it to GP Boston even though I hate large Sealed tournaments), but it is good to be prepared for the future.

Thanks for reading, and remember to continue submitting decks in the comments or by email. As always, thank god it’s FNM!

AJ Kerrigan

@AJKerrigan55 on Twitter

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