Hello once again, avid readers. Thank you for rejoining me as I dive back into the legacy format to find another deck to pique your budget-orientated interest.
Reflecting on my last deck, Short and Sweet, I realised that whilst it does fall nicely within budget, what it fails to do is provide you with a starting deck that can be built upon and improved into a higher tier deck. Sure you can splash an extra colour or two, or play a few different spells, but the core of the deck will still have to be a large number of dwarves due to the Dwarven Recruiter plan.
Which is why today, if you hadn’t already guessed it, we will be looking at the little green tribe that we all fall in love with at some point during our Magic journies: ELVES!
Now, obviously we can’t quite get the same raw power of an un-budgeted Elves! list, but we can take some approximations, ramp up our mana and still do some big broken things that closely resemble it.
We’ll start off with the core engine of the deck, and I’ll start by noting a few exclusions. Glimpse of Nature is a card that has been played in decks like this since it was printed, but unfortunately doesn’t make the cut here, simply for budgetary reasons. I would love to be able to afford a few copies, but at the price point it is we are able to pack in more consistent power at lower prices as opposed to a one-of or two-of Glimpse.
Similarly, Heritage Druid is a card that has started to become less of a pivotal card as the power of Quirion Ranger, Birchlore Ranger and Wirewood Symbiote has been properly realised, yet the druid is still one of the more expensive creatures in the deck. Ideally I would still like one or two of these in an optimal list, as everyone fears the Nettle Sentinel/Heritage Druid combo for bajillion mana but in this list it is an expensive luxury. We can better spend that money elsewhere.
My final large omission is Natural Order. Perhaps not a surprise for a budget list, I would again play this in a heartbeat if I could, but just don’t have the room in the budget in this deck to afford it.
So that’s enough talking about what didn’t make the cut, let’s look at what’s actually in the deck. To start with we have the engine room of the deck. Four each of Quirion Ranger, Birchlore Rangers, Wirewood Symbiote and Elvish Visionary give the deck a strong foundation on which to build. I’m certainly not one to talk about the finer points of all the tricks and subtleties that you can do with this quartet of cards, but there are plenty of people out there on the internet who can. Needless to say, a large amount of the deck’s power is stored in this quartet.
And so to give our engine some gas to run off. Gaea’s Cradle is a huge card that we sadly have to miss out on here, but we can get a similar deck from some of our creatures. Priest of Titania is a cheaper option manawise, but Elvish Archdruid gives us not only the same mana producing capacity, but also the ability to pump our team and go to the red zone. It can also, crucially, be played on turn two still off a Llanowar Elf, Arbor Elf, or any other of our one mana producing elves. Our other other “Cradle effect” comes from Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, which we only have space in the budget for one, but we do have access to through other means with multiple Crop Rotations to find it, along with some of our other lands in the sideboard allowing us to splash colours for better disruption spells.
Our splash for black discard spells in the board is also aided by the one-of Elves of Deep Shadow as a part of our suite of one-mana rampers. In games where we need it, we can access this elf via our playset of the incredibly powerful Green Sun’s Zenith. This also lets us find our other one-ofs in Dryad Arbor and Reclamation Sage, as well as the incredibly powerful Deathrite Shaman and game ending Ezuri, Renegade Leader, who acts as a Craterhoof Behemoth of sorts.
The sideboard gives us access to a lot of strong effects for various matchups. The combo matchup is greatly helped by the addition of four Duress and a Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, who is there primarily as a Green Sun’s Zenith target but can also be cast off the single basic Mountain (via Crop Rotation) or Birchlore Rangers.
A further two Reclamation Sages and Krosan Grip come in against artifact or enchantment heavy decks as you’d expect, with the Krosan Grip being especially useful in the Miracles matchup where you could face Humility, Moat and Counterbalance.
Graveyard decks can be taken care of with help of the pair of Deathrite Shamans in the main and a Scavenging Ooze and Bojuka Bog in the board (both of which can be found with our tutors). The sideboard is rounded out by a trio of Pithing Needles which can be useful against a wide variety of decks.
Here is the list:
2 Reclamation Sage
3 Pithing Needle
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed
1 Krosan Grip
1 Scavenging Ooze
All of this comes in at just under £100, a grand total of £99.53. This price was correct at the time of writing, obviously this may change between now and publishing, and even between then and you reading it. But hopefully not by too much.
This should give you a deck that can do a reasonable job of competing on the ground, but can also be built upon over time. Whilst putting this deck together I spoke to a good friend and habitual elf player Chris Hartnell, who admitted that he started off on a somewhat similar route to this, borrowing and buying cards and slowly building up the deck until it reached the lean, mean, fighting machine it is now.
Even just simple little upgrades can help. You don’t necessarily need to upgrade to Bayous and Taigas, Overgrown Tomb and Stomping Grounds will suffice for a while. Even one or two green fetch lands will help, and Khans of Tarkir should give us a nice little supply for your standard decks that can bleed across for your legacy based consumption. Similarly, Thoughtseizes are all over the place in Standard and would be a good upgrade to the Duresses.
Thanks once again for reading, join me next time as I finally look at a deck that’s not a tribal deck, I’ll be going over a combo deck for the first time.