Modern Monday - Elves

Feature Article from Frank Lepore
Frank Lepore
2/9/2015 11:00:00 AM
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This past weekend was Pro Tour Fate Reforged, and we all expected good things from the Modern format. While I was disappointed to see decks like Burn and Amulet of Vigor doing well, I was more than thrilled to see my bro and TCGplayer's own Seth Manfield crushing (and cruising) his way to the Top 8.

Unfortunately there wasn't that much in terms of new Modern tech to come out of the event. The Top 8 consisted of a pretty standard three flavors of Abzan Midrange, two flavors of Burn, an Amulet of Vigor deck and two flavors of Splinter Twin. I'm hoping that the Top 16 or Top 32 decks prove a little more interesting once they emerge.

That being the case, today I want to take a look at a deck that performed well in an SCG Premier IQ a week or so back. This is also a deck that I've been trying out on my daily stream (starting at 2 pm PST for those interested). I think it's a pretty spicy number, but I'll let you judge for yourselves. Take a look…

Elves by John Ostrem
Finished 9th - 16th Place at 2015 StarCity Open Modern - Indianapolis - 2/1
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Arbor Elf
1 Craterhoof Behemoth
4 Devoted Druid
4 Elvish Archdruid
3 Elvish Mystic
4 Elvish Visionary
4 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
4 Heritage Druid
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Nettle Sentinel
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Regal Force
Creatures [38]
4 Chord of Calling
Spells [4]
14 Forest (266)
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Lands [18]
Deck Total [60]


2 Back to Nature
2 Choke
2 Creeping Corrosion
2 Dismember
1 Plow Under
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Spellskite
2 Tajuru Preserver
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!

While we don't have access to Glimpse of Nature in Modern, John Ostrem managed to take the list to a Top 16 finish at the Indianapolis event. That's pretty impressive considering all the possible opposition he could have faced. Personally I'm just intrigued by how Elves did so well in such a harsh and unforgiving format.

But I guess that's what we're here to find out!

Elves vs. Abzan Midrange

Elves vs. Monoblack Devotion

Elves vs. Abzan Midrange, Match 2

Elves vs. Bogles

I have to say, it's interesting to me that the deck managed to beat the Tier 1 decks, but not the fringe decks. This was actually one of two Elves decks I had saved. This one was more recent and played in the Fate Reforged metagame though, so I chose it over the other. One thing the old version had that I didn't understand why this one doesn't have was Cavern of Souls. Chalice of the Void on one mana is about the most backbreaking thing that can happen to us. Cavern of Souls ensures that we can still cast our one mana Elves when a Chalice is in play! It also guarantees that we can resolve our Elvish Archdruids and, if need be, resolve a hardcast Craterhoof Behemoth. Considering that 36 out of 38 of the deck's creatures are Elves, and that there are only four spells in the deck, of which we can use creatures to convoke for the green mana portion anyway, I see no reason that Cavern of Souls isn't an auto include.

Another issue the deck has is life gain, which is weird when your entire deck is green. One card I could see boarding in against the red decks is Essence Warden. While it could be a little slow, it seems better than nothing. I would also not be opposed to sneaking some number of Kitchen Finks or Obstinate Baloth into the sideboard. Basically, with the prominence of Burn and how well it did at the Pro Tour, I can't imagine a deck not being prepared for it.

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For a deck like Bogles you kind of need to have a way to Remove a lot of enchantments. For a deck like Affinity you kind of need a way to Remove all artifacts. Instead of splitting our sideboard down the middle and going with a two/two split of Back to Nature and Creeping Corrosion, I would much rather include three or so copies of Fracturing Gust. Sure, it costs five mana, but we're playing Elves. It's also an instant so it can hit things like Inkmoth Nexus and Blinkmoth Nexus on the opponent's turn. And now we have three copies of artifact and enchantment removal rather than just two each.

While I get the combo with Ezuri, Renegade Leader and two Devoted Druids, I feel like the deck would definitely benefit from the inclusion of some of the other lords like Imperious Perfect, Elvish Champion, and Joraga Warcaller. Imperious Perfect is an amazing lord, and having an Elvish Champion as a one-of against the plethora of decks that have Forests in them seems well worth it.

The deck was really fun but seemed to be lacking against decks like Bogles or Burn or decks with creatures that you need to get rid of (Splinter Twin I would imagine). Simply put, you can't do anything about their spells or creatures. There was a GW Elves deck at the Pro Tour, and I didn't get a good look at what it included, but I could definitely see some justification for adding white for things like Path to Exile and Leyline of Sanctity. It's impossible for this deck to actually beat an 8/10 lifelinking, trampling, first striking, vigilance creature, even if it doesn't have hexproof. It just can't be done. Additionally you can imagine how bad Eidolon of the Great Revel makes us look.

For the record, this was the other Elves list I found back in November:

Elves by jokelamb (3-1)
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Arbor Elf
4 Elvish Archdruid
1 Elvish Champion
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Elvish Visionary
1 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
4 Heritage Druid
2 Imperious Perfect
4 Joraga Warcaller
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Nettle Sentinel
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Wilt-Leaf Liege
Creatures [43]
4 Cavern of Souls
13 Forest (266)
Lands [17]
Deck Total [60]


4 Choke
3 Elvish Champion
4 Fracturing Gust
3 Ghost Quarter
1 Seal of Primordium
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!

As you can see, they're pretty different, and I think, based on how the format looks and how explosive Elves can be, that they can both be equally effective with a few changes. The benefit of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx was pretty rare, and being legendary? Well, I could definitely see cutting a couple along with two Forests to make room for four Cavern of Souls. I could even see adding Temple Gardens and Windswept Heaths to add white cards if we want to go in that direction. But that's a project for another time.

That's all I have for this week. This Thursday I'll have another Standard offering with some Fate Reforged goodies and I'll be streaming every day at 2 pm PST, so don't miss it. Thanks for reading and I'll see ya then!

Frank Lepore
@FrankLepore on Twitter
FrankLepore on TwitchTV, streaming Monday-Friday, 2 pm PST




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