Home Editorial Destricted’s Selesnya Swarm deck guide

Last I did a Friday Night Magic article, the Scars of Mirrodin block sets were still in effect, and Elves, Delver, and RG aggro/ramp decks were running rampant. Since then, the much hyped and selling like crazy Return to Ravnica set has released, and with it, wiped out all of Scars — no more Phyrexian mana for you, sir!

If you haven’t been following paper Magic or checked out the recent Duels 2013 expansion, Ravnica: City of Guilds is one of Magic’s greatest ever sets. Released in 2005, it introduced the concept of two-colour aligned guilds, so you got your Green/Black (G/B) Golgari guild which featured hideous creatures and graveyard mechanics, your UR spell-based Izzet guild, a bunch of others, and then the UB– I mean, what? Ain’t no UB guild I ever heard of, and that’s the truth. Ssshh. Anyway, you get the idea — it’s crazy fun, and said crazy fun has come back with the Return to Ravnica set and its first five guilds: GW Selesnya (tokens/beaters), UB Izzet, GB Golgari, UW Azorious (control), and BR Rakdos (aggro/control).

Selesnya and Izzet are my guilds of choice this Standard season. With that in mind, I’m here to report in on the former (and once I get Burn at the Stake for my Goblin Burn deck, the latter), and how the guild interacts with all the other popular decks going around right now. Keep in mind you by no means have to stick with a single colour pairing; with Shocklands, the usual dual lands, and Chromatic Lantern about, even five colour decks are somewhat viable now, though most are sticking with one, two, or three colours.

There are two main routes you can go with Selesnya, and I’m going with both long-term. For now, though, it’s just the token deck as backed up by the new Populate mechanic as support. If you’re not familiar, Populate is what happens when a mommy Centaur and a daddy Centaur love each other very much. Take a look:


Destricted’s Selesnya Swarm



How it works

If you can’t tell from looking at it, this is a mid to late-game game deck that ramps from Arbor Elf and Avacyn’s Pilgrim into tokens from Midnight Haunting, Fungal Sprouting, and Increasing Devotion; early game Centaurs and Knights from Call of the Conclave and Selesnya Charm hold down the fort and sometimes get some hits in as you ease into the mid game, dropping more tokens and populating them.

Wayfaring Temple is one of only two beaters, but he fits perfectly with the swarm strategy, getting bigger as your army gets bigger, and comboing nicely with a first main phase Fungal Sprouting and Rancor — suddenly your 4/4 that can’t get through is a 10/8 that can, and becomes an 11/9 when he does. The other big guy is of course the Elemental that emerges from the Grove of the Guardian, and is also known as Risen Sanctuary — he’s more efficient in land form, though.

For support you’ve got Mentor of the Meek for card draw (which you’ll need to keep the pressure on if you don’t beat their face in at mid-game), Druid’s Deliverance (basically Fog that doesn’t suck), Rootborn Defenses (for alpha strikes and protection against Supreme Verdict), Selesnya Charm (to get rid of any big threats); and then Gavony Township and Collective Blessing (which help finish them off).

For early game aggro decks, you can sideboard in Dryad Militant to hold them off, and against Zombies, her combined with Rest in Peace should give you a fair shot. Pithing Needle is to shut down Planeswalkers and big threats like Lotleth Troll, while the extra Rootborns are for heavy control and/or aggro matchups.


Alternate options

This deck has gone through a lot of iterations, and like any good deck, is forever a work in progress. As such, here’s a list of cards you may want to consider for it, or just swap in from time to time for fun or to keep your opponents guessing:

  • 2x Parallel Lives
  • 2x Growing Ranks
  • 1x Golgari Decoy
  • 1x Armada Wurm
  • 4x Intangible Virtue
  • 2x Chorus of Might



It’s early in the season and my LGS isn’t exactly full of diehards (just a few), but I went 3-1 my first test run with a very similar build to this (same mainboard but no Militants or Rest in Peace in the sideboard), losing only to some scarily fast Golgari Zombies, and mostly stomping a Populate/Lifegain deck, an early version of an Izzet deck, and a janky version of a Selesnya tokens deck.

In any case, I’m confident it makes a strong case for tokens, though based on early testing, the Selesnya Beaters deck seems stronger. More on that soon…

12 replies to this post
  1. Looks awesome. I am a fan of green in general. Just bought my first irl cards ever. The black green ravnica event deck. Going to my FNM this week. Would be awesome if you’d give your thoughts on that deck too :)

    • Glad to hear it, and good choice. I may do some articles about modifying those decks, but for now, put the Drudge Beetles and Deadbridge Goliath in the sideboard and Strangleroot Geist and Thragtusk in the mainboard.

      • Hmm, interesting. On Gatherer everyone was talking about it being very good. I felt it was a bit weak, but who am I to say otherwise? :P
        Thanks :D

      • If you’re talking about thragtusk, think about this. You basically get 8 power (5/3 then 3/3) on the board along with 5 life for just a single green and four colorless.
        Strangleroot geist is amazing because you get in for 2 if your opponent doesn’t have an answer, and if they do and they block, you’ll probably end up trading and then getting a bigger dude.

    • A 2/2 for 2 is never exciting (and its Scavenge ability will basically never be used since it’s so expensive, with minimal effect, so that’s no case for it). A 2/1 with Haste and Undying, on the other hand, is very exciting.

  2. While we’re asking questions, how much lands do you think I should use in the deck? I am currently at 20 with all the evolving wilds in the sideboard (cause they suck, right?)

    • The deck has 24 lands to start with for a reason, so keep it at 24. The Wilds are slow, but will get you the mana you need. They’re a good option until you get more dual lands and also shocklands. Don’t mess with the deck unless you’re sure of what you’re doing.

  3. But messing with the deck is where all the fun lies :)
    I did a few draws on my own and 20 lands is not nearly enough indeed. 24 is a bit much though for my feel so I’m keeping it at 23. I can always switch lands out of my sideboard if I feel I need that extra one.

  4. With Gatecrash, what substitutions do you suggest? For example, Smite is such a strong card that I think it has a lot of merit for any deck with white mana. I’m not a top tier player at my FNM, though, so take with a grain of salt.

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