The Case of the Gilt-Leaf Winnower – Corner Case #3 by Tobiwan Decobi
There has been much darkness in my Magic of late. My growing affinity toward Black had been merely salted by the pulling of 4 Liliana, Heretical Healers by the time I’d finished my 2 pre-release’s at the weekend and release draft of last Friday night. She looked at me longingly. ’Play meeee… Mono-Black exploiiiitttt…’, she whispered. I calmly took her in hand and uttered words of consolation. ‘There would be a time, for now – Liliana Tribal EDH’ were their sentiment…
For this week though I am going to take a detour and try something I often do upon the release of a new set – especially a set (such as Origins) which seems particularly sweet. Since darkness is never far from my mood of late, reading that the Elves of Lorwyn were particularly diabolical and nasty I immediately took a liking to them and the idea of trying to do the B/G Elves plan. There being an Intro Pack to cater for this build I decided to give it a whirl and add to it as I see fit.
The rules for the deck are simple. I am only allowed to add commons and uncommons in an unrestricted fashion. I am allowed to add cards of rare or mythic as long as they are traded for with cards in the Intro deck or the two boosters I get in it.
My previous experiences of this have been varied in success. My M15 choice of U/R was a particularly painful evening of Magic if I recall. I am hoping though, with my additions that I will be able to achieve at least parity or 3-2 if it is a good turn out as it’s the first Constructed since the sets release.
Immediately I see an idea to base this deck around. We slam Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen, she’s obviously in. I fill out Thornbow Archers, Dwynen’s Elites and Shaman of the Packs to playsets. They are the back bone. Since our guys are going to be small, we’re looking to overwhelm and drain before we get to damage, then we hope to get the most out of setting up some favourable trades using Gnarlroot Trapper – of which I add 3. I feel the Trapper is a better fit than Elvish Mystic here due to the synergy of the second ability. Sylvan Messenger does what Collective Company (CoCo) does a bit worse, but CoCo is off the table here. Elvish Visionary cantrips nicely and gives us extra Elf value. If we turn 2 this and then pull the Shaman or the Elite with the other in hand, we‘re feeling pretty good.
The real win con is Foul-Tongue Shriek, so we add a playset of. It synergises so well with the Shaman and Thornbow Archer. If we can keep our guys around long enough and can drain enough life, we can hold it (and maybe another) and then do some serious life damage out of nowhere just on attack. The ‘gain life‘ part is handy too, since were going to be full on aggro and not going to have a blocker and not be able to deal with the kickback often without it. Touch of Moonglove, which I make a three-of, is another bunch of Gnarlroot Trappers with added drain. Savage Surge, as well as being a fine combat trick in a very Aggro deck, combos beautifully with the Trapper. Swing in with all, Surge the Trapper eating their blocker, tap it and trade your little dude for their bomb they thought was safe.
Of the other non-creature spells Eyeblight Massacre is a 2-of with a 3rd in the sideboard for favourable match ups. This can usually pick off one or two creatures and then can be played pre-combat to bring beefy blockers down to size. Dark Dabbling may seem like an odd include here. Rather than being just in for the awesome art and for certain people who worship Liliana, it can keep our guys around and attacking while giving us extra ammo. If you get spell mastery, it can be a blow out.
There’s some good old fashioned removal in the board for those big bombs our guys can’t deal with in the form of Ultimate Price, Duress to take away their early disruption, and Reclamation Sage for obvious reasons.
I managed to trade for a Gilt-Leaf Winnower and a Llanowar Wastes with an Avaricious Dragon I fortunately pulled in a booster in the Intro Pack. I contemplate trading the other Dwynen I pull in the other booster, but don’t have any offers. Managorger Hydra in the original deck list sits unused in the box. A trade for another Winnower didn’t happen in time.
GaladrielShouldHaveWornBlack by Toby de Cobain
2 Reclamation Sage
3 Ultimate Price
2 Self-Inflicted Wound
1 Eyeblight Assassin
1 Eyeblight Massacre
Now let’s see how action goes with this Elves deck.
Match 1 – Mono-Red Burn
My opponent leads strong with Monastery Swiftspear and some other weenies. Despite picking off a few of my legions with Twin Bolts, a well-timed Eyeblight Massacre gets him 4-for-1 and I swing in a couple of times for victory. Game 2 is over quickly. His Swiftspear, equipped with Sword of the Animist puts up stout resistance, but five Elves are out by turn 3 and I Massacre it – leaving no blockers on turn 4 and no response is forthcoming subsequently.
Match 2 – Mono-Black Aggro
Match 2 is against a fellow brewer who I know well and I have an idea what’s coming .We have a habit of coming up with similar brews and instead of being Elf-centric literally everything in his deck just drains life upon attack. As expected games go quickly. In game 1 after some early back and forth trading Touch of Moongloves, I Foul-Tongue Shriek to stabilise with death approaching, but the game is won by his two Brutal Hordechiefs. In game 2 my opponent has mana troubles and I win quickly. Game 3 is very even until I Shriek in twice in one attack. With a plethora of Elves staying on the board, the end is nigh.
Match 3 – Mono-Red Goblins
A real ding-dong and probably the closest run thing of the night. A combination of burn and Goblin tokens means life totals get low very quickly on both sides. Despite the disruption and blockers I am able to get my opponent down to 2. After a combat where all but a solitary Thornbow Archer dies, he plonks down Thunderbreak Regent. With my life total on 4 and out of gas I draw land. I board in my third Eyeblight Massacre and it serves me well with 6-for-1-ing him at one point in game 2. His Swiftspear sticks around thanks to prowess, but the tempo hit kills him long before I take out his life total. Game 3 is pretty the same: his early Swiftspear and some attritional burn was making it difficult, but eventually I just have too many Elves and Shriek in for the win.
Match 4 – Abzan Enchantments
Another tough match up I manage to pull out somehow. My opponent’s cunning strategy uses Doomwake Giants with Pharika, God of Affliction‘s snakes to debuff all my creatures. At one point he wipes out 3 of my four creatures for an easy game 1 win. Game 2 is one sided. I have a plethora of Elves out by turn 4 and in subsequent turns I Shriek and Shaman of the Pack to take my opponent’s life total from 17 to 1. He scoops. In game 3 I am patient, carefully setting up a trade for his Courser of Kruphix and Sylvan Caryatid with Thornbow Archer and the Gnarlroot Trapper/Savage Surge combo. A needed Doomwake is not forthcoming. Thank you, Courser! Fortunately I manage to win just in time as Doomwake is my opponent’s next card and I’m drawing nothing but lands (Tip here: don’t draw next card after the match!!!).
Match 5 – Esper Dragons
In the finals I have to go against THE deck archetype of recent months. I keep a sketchy hand in game 1 and I’m soon Thoughtseized, Dragonlord Ojutaied and Ashiok, Nightmare Weavered to death. In game 2, I get off to my usual quick start and the Trapper/Surge disposes of Ojutai after he taps out. Game 3 is over quickly, Duress gets rid of his only playable card in hand, Bile Blight, after he keeps a one-landed hand. He doesn’t draw the next on until turn 4. Too late.
Yep, that’s right, I just went 5-0. I’ve won many drafts and sealed, but never a Constructed and all done with a deck that cost me pretty much just £12.99. The Path to Exile I get is a great reward for finishing first.
Post-Script: The following week I played a GPT and filled out the deck with CoCos and Wastes. The deck did… poorly. *sigh*
If there are any seemingly unplayable rares or mythics you’d like to see given a whirl (and there are some corkers in Origins at borderline playability), please feel free to drop me a line. I’ll do my best.
Community Question: Which Elf from the past would be a star in a current Standard Elf deck?
Thanks for reading,