Tribal Thriftiness #131 – Elves

Monday, November 22nd – There’s only one upside to all of this holiday drift, and that’s that I can talk about the current Elves deck (a potentially great Constructed deck that’s actually fairly inexpensive) and stay somewhat seasonal! Yay!

It’s getting to be that time of year again. The time when the wife starts asking about when the tree and decorations are going to be put up, when the lights are going to be put on the outside of the house. The time when you can’t walk into a drug store in the nation without being bombarded by a Neil Diamond cover of a classic holiday song.

Yup, it’s Christmastime.

There wasn’t even a speed bump for Thanksgiving at my house this year. We hit Halloween, had a single, solitary trick-or-treater, crested that hill, and slid straight down into Christmas. There’s eggnog in the fridge. There’s a tub of Martha Stewart decorating magazines next to the couch. There’s peppermint bark… oh wait, that

peppermint bark; now it’s just a wrapper. (What can I say; it was just asking to be eaten.)

(I’m still demanding my turkey next Thursday. Mostly I’m in it for the leftovers. And the green bean casserole. Yum!)

There’s only one upside to all of this holiday drift, and that’s that I can talk about the current Elves deck (a potentially great Constructed deck that’s actually fairly inexpensive) and stay somewhat seasonal! Yay!

Ezuri’s Brigade

(Yes, I’m aware that it’s the name of an actual creature, but seriously, how can you pass over a direct reference to the real reason this deck is fairly bonkers? Who needs Joraga Warcallers when you’ve got Ezuri, Renegade Leader and his built-in,


Now, you might look at Ezuri and say, okay, I get it, he Overruns all your Elves. You’re still probably looking at, what, turn 5 or later before that becomes important, and even then, you’re still not guaranteed to kill your opponent with your 4/4 or 5/5 Elves. Big deal! That’s where I started out. I needed to witness the insanity a couple of times before I actually processed what was going on, so humor me while I put this into writing (I may need to refer to it later on). This is what you’re aiming to do:

Step 1. Make a bunch of Elves, including Copperhorn Scout and Ezuri.

Step 2. Attack with all your guys. Copperhorn Scout untaps everybody else.

Step 3. Use any mana-producing guys that are untapped (but still attacking) to activate Ezuri as many times as possible.

Addendum 3.1.
During Combat!

(Step 4. Profit)

You end up attacking for what amounts to “silly numbers” of trampling damage and fairly early on at that. Decks that are taking their sweet time making a single 6/6 are going to be quickly overwhelmed.

This is the “statistically average” deck from States:

Rare Cost Summary:

Oran-Rief, the Vastwood ($2.99 x 3 = $8.97)
Elvish Archdruid ($2.99 x 4 = $11.96)
Eldrazi Monument ($17.99 x 3 = $53.97)
Ezuri, Renegade Leader ($2.49 x 3 = $7.47)
Garruk Wildspeaker ($7.99 x 3 = $23.97)
Fauna Shaman ($7.99 x 4 = $31.96)

Part of the reason I’m writing about this deck is what I hope you’re feeling right now: Sticker shock – but, the other way. Would you have guessed Elvish Archdruid and Ezuri, arguably the backbone of this deck, would be under three bucks apiece? Would you have guessed that Fauna Shamans were eight bucks? I guess this new Standard format hasn’t exactly been kind to our favorite Vengevine fetcher-and-tosser; even though she sees play in Legacy, she’s kind of on the outs now with Standard players.

The “big ticket” item is Eldrazi Monument, and while I get its place in the deck, it’s essentially just another lord. (That happens to give all your guys flying as well.) You could arguably use the Leyline of Vitality as a cheap replacement (it’s in the ‘statistically average sideboard,’ I believe) or try out Overwhelming Stampede. Surely one of your guys would have three-power by then to make it another Overrun?

Sean McKeown recently put forth a version of the deck that splashed black for Doom Blades and other sideboard goodies, and took it to Top 8 at the recent StarCityGames.com Open in Boston:

Rare Cost Summary:

Elvish Archdruid ($2.99 x 4 = $11.96)
Eldrazi Monument ($17.99 x 4 = $71.96)
Ezuri, Renegade Leader ($2.49 x 4 = $9.96)
Fauna Shaman ($7.99 x 4 = $31.96)
Joraga Warcaller ($2.49 x 4 = $9.96)
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood ($2.99 x 3 = $8.97)
Verdant Catacombs ($11.99 x 4 = $47.96)

Sean went with the full complement of Eldrazi Monuments and Ezuris – evidently that guy is a lot less likely to survive now that the cat is out of the post-States bag. The black splash gets you Doom Blade to fight Frost Titans and other troublesome creatures, as well as Memoricide to perform pre-emptive strikes against problem cards – sweepers would be my first guess.

Here’s where I would start with a budget take on the deck:

Rare Cost Summary:

Oran-Rief, the Vastwood ($2.99 x 3 = $8.97)
Elvish Archdruid ($2.99 x 4 = $11.96)
Ezuri, Renegade Leader ($2.49 x 4 = $9.96)
Garruk Wildspeaker ($7.99 x 2 = $15.98)
Mul Daya Channelers ($1.49 x 4 = $5.96)
Tajuru Preserver ($1.99 x 2 = $3.98)

Fauna Shaman’s primary role is to fetch out Ezuri (since you aren’t getting to dump Vengevines into your yard), so I like adding the fourth Ezuri to the deck and easing up on the cost by dumping the Shamans. Mul Daya Channelers seems to be a good fit for this deck in either “beef” or “mana” form – and you’re guaranteed to get one or the other here. Tajuru Preserver makes a move to the maindeck to help against Consuming Vapors and because he’s two-power for two mana.

I’m forgoing the black splash because Verdant Catacombs are twelve bucks, and this isn’t something where you can throw in Evolving Wilds in its place and “work it out.” You want that early mana to enter the battlefield untapped because you want to be dumping creatures out onto the board. It’s

critical when you need it to fetch that lone Swamp to handle a “must handle now” threat.

I’m actually really psyched to test this out at FNM this month. I’d been looking for a new deck to start putting together, and that’s how I found out that the parts for this deck were reasonably costed. Plus, I like attacking for a lot. Some days you just gotta feed the inner Timmy.

Elves: A Seasonal Staple

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Elves at Christmastime. Please feel free to insert whatever time travel indicator is your personal preference here (I initially was considering the Wayne’s World hand gestures, but I’m thinking more Bill and Ted Phone Booth right now) and head back to Christmas 2008 for
Tribal Thriftiness #2

(back before I even was numbering them!) – G/B Lorwyn-era Elves was in vogue, and the article includes Katsuhiro Mori’s 5-0 Elves deck from the Standard portion of Worlds.

Why could this be important? Well, Extended PTQ season is coming up, and we’re looking at a format with Elvish Archdruid, Ezuri,

Imperious Perfect all available to pump up (and out) our Elves. Could an Elf deck be viable in next year’s Extended? It certainly doesn’t sound horrible to me. You get to replace Nissa’s Chosen with the 3/3 deathtouchy Wren’s Run Vanquisher, you get Elf-related removal (if you want it) in Eyeblight’s Ending and Nameless Inversion, with Ending looking like the better of the two since it kills Titans, but who knows if Titans will even have a place in Extended?

Heck, we haven’t even had a chance to see if Bloodbraid Elf (the official “poster boy of evil” from last year’s Standard) might want in on this crazy Elf dance party. Bloodbraid Elf cascading into Imperious Perfect or Ezuri actually sounds kinda scary. There appears to be a wealth of unexplored options awaiting the pointy-eared tribe come this winter. Despite initially being very irritated by the monumental change to Extended, I’m actually interested in how this upcoming season will pan out. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Elves in the mix.

Next week it’s Turkey Day, and so I’ll be profiling my favorite players from Istanbul. Or, you know, something else turkey-related. I have tons of leftover thoughts, so you might just get some sort of Magic noodle soup.

Until next week,
– dave
dave dot massive at gmail and davemassive at Facebook and Twitter