Modern Spotlight: Elves

Now that the SCG Invitational in New Jersey has come to a conclusion, I think it’s a great time to take a look at the winner’s Modern deck.

The impressive thing is not only did Liam Lonergan win the Invitational with Elves, he battled it out to an 11-0 record with the deck (I’m not sure what his Standard record was). Not dropping a match in Modern seems pretty good if you ask me, especially when it’s with an archetype that many would not consider to be incredibly “good” (Elves generally falls as a tier 2 or tier 3 deck choice). Without further ado, here is the list:

Creatures (34)
Dwynen’s Elite
Elvish Archdruid
Elvish Mystic
Elvish Visionary
Eternal Witness
Ezuri, Renegade Leader
Heritage Druid
Llanowar Elves
Nettle Sentinel
Reclamation Sage
Scavenging Ooze
Spellskite

Spells (8)
Chord of Calling
Collected Company
Lands (18)
Cavern of Souls
Forest
Horizon Canopy
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Pendelhaven
Razorverge Thicket

Sideboard (15)
Aven Mindcensor
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Chameleon Colossus
Eidolon of Rhetoric
Elvish Champion
Essence Warden
Fracturing Gust
Kataki, War’s Wage
Kitchen Finks
Melira, Sylvok Outcast
Path to Exile
Phyrexian Revoker

Elves may be a deck that plays 34 creatures, but it very much is a combo deck. The trick is to amass an army of cheap creatures, pump them with your “bad lord” (compared to what Merfolk get) in Elvish Archdruid, and then just win the game on the back of Ezuri, Renegade Leader.

The Bad

The deck does not function when it doesn’t see those previously two mentioned creatures, as it’s mostly just bad 1/1s for one mana, that can make more mana that you probably don’t have anything to do with. Mass removal is also extremely potent, as well as any repeatable method of killing 1 toughness creatures (Darkblast, Izzet Staticaster), against the deck. Lastly, you run into a problem with having zero interactive spells in the main and not very many in the sideboard. Elves very much is one of those glass cannon combo decks in Modern that people love to hate.

The Good

The deck is surprisingly resilient against decks trying to trade one for one with you, as Collected Company is amazingly good at gaining card advantage for you and Chord of Calling counts as additional copies of the creatures that really matter. The deck can also be blistering fast, certainly capable of winning on turn 4 with a decent draw, and it can kill on turn 3 when the stars align.

How to Fight It

As stated earlier: the two creatures that really matter to the deck are Ezuri and Archdruid. If you can keep these off the board you will have a much higher chance of winning. Do your best to hold back the swarm of weak creatures while holding removal for these key creatures, and you should hopefully be all set. Other than that, just remember that they are lacking removal spells so you are pretty safe on that front. Be aware that they can go from a reasonable amount of mana to a ridiculous amount very quickly, but Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is often only a singleton.

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.