Elves, who doesn’t love them? Sneaky hordes of treehugging bastards using puny little bows as weapons, that’s what they are. Because there’s no fantasy that Tolkien didn’t think up, is there.
I’d say more about the deck itself, but really, what is there to say? As always, it focuses on flooding the board with little bastards until you have enough to just walk over your opponent. However, it’s not as aggro as you might expect, nor is it 6-mana-turn-3 rampy as Elves also like to do. Somehow, Wizards have created a decent midrange deck with lots of stalling and tons of spare guys to toss at removal until your opponent runs out or the universe runs out of energy, whichever happens first. (Likely the second option.)
Friendship is stoopid magic!
Well, Elves gonna do what Elves gonna do. That is to say, get ten guys onto the board by turn 5 (I’ve seen it happen) and run over your opponent with tons of tribal synergy. And by that I mean a lot. Seriously.
However, when your entire deck is composed of weenies with weeness no wee has ever had, board wipes sort of hurt you. So I guess it’s down to praying you’re not going to eat one of the 13 wipes the usual opponent packs.* Still, when that’s not happening, no one will mind if you sacrifice Fred or George to that Diabolic Edict. For the cause, right?
Despite how great it could have been though, I can’t muster the strength to hate Elves. It’s by far not terrible, but it’s not Izzet level either. It’s… fine, I guess. That’s a possibility in this game? If nothing else, it’s a deck that has fucking one-drops. You know how rare those things are in DotP14? That being said, it either snowballs or eats a board wipe and dies horribly. More than any other deck, it relies on its momentum, almost completely unable to regain it once lost.
Sylvan Might deck list (by mana cost)
60 cards, 24 Forest
- 3 Joraga Warcaller
- 2 Taunting Elf
- 3 Essence Warden
- 1 Gladecover Scout
- 1 Copperhorn Scout
- 1 Spire Tracer
- 1 Fauna Shaman
- 1 Elvish Vanguard
- 1 Talara’s Battaillon
- 4 Wellwisher
- 3 Nissa’s Chosen
- 1 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
- 1 Imperious Perfect
- 3 Timerwatch Elf
- 1 Beastmaster Ascension
- 2 Alpha Status
- 2 Immaculate Magistrate
- 1 Heedless One
- 2 Sylvan Messenger
- 1 Primitive Etchings
- 1 Asceticism
Sylvan Might card-by-card analysis (by mana cost)
Joraga Warcaller: 4.0
Expensive? Yes. Game-winning? Absolutely. An unexpected +2/+2 boost for your entire army can already be enough for some games to end very quickly. Also note that, with how it’s worded, it doesn’t care how it got its counters. I’ll let you do the math on how to exploit that.
Taunting Elf: 3.5
Since very few creatures can block additional creatures while they’re busy eating a guy with a fruit basket, effectively makes your entire army unblockable for the winning move. Assuming, of course, that he doesn’t get instant speed zapped. Now if only there was some way to pump him in order to make him a one-sided board wipe…
Essence Warden: 3.0
Well it’s a first turn drop, and a great one at that. The life does more for you than you would expect, while the Warden sits around doing Elf things. What do Elves do when they’re not being OP, anyway?
Gladecover Scout: 3.0
Sure it’s hexproof, but it’s also a 1/1. Sure it can be buffed, but so can it die in a random Earthquake. Ultimately, too useful to pass up without consideration. At least there’s something that can receive buffs without dying in response.
Look, Rancor is powerful. I like it myself, a lot. Despite that, in a deck where its only purpose will be to create 3/1 guys, except directly going to the ‘yard thanks to instant speed burn, a bit wasted.
Copperhorn Scout: 4.0
Elves tap, whether it’s to attack or to give each other 10 +1/+1 counters. This little guy gives you pseudovigilance as well as the ability to tap your elvish beauties twice a turn. I think we can agree that 100% more tap per tap is a good thing.
Spire Tracer: 3.0
I’d prefer Silhana Ledgewalker, but I suppose no one runs Reach creatures anyway and cool shroud is for pussies. Don’t underestimate this, it can easily swing into a stalemate when fliers are scarce.
So it’s a sorcery that does literally nothing against 86% of opponents instead of replace itself with something less terrible. How about: “No, and give me Savage Summoning instead.”
“But Toraka, it’s a one mana draw spell! Therefore it must be awesome!” you might call in the comments.
To which I’d reply with, “Be quiet, not in this deck it isn’t.”
Gaea’s Herald: 2.0
I was going to rate this worse than Insist, but at least it’s permanent and puts a 1/1 onto the board, so that its effect can die in an Earthquake. What are your options again? Nissa’s Chosen? Oh yeah, cards that DO SOMETHING.
Fauna Shaman: 4.5
If she stays on the board to tap, will allow you to transform that Essence Warden into a Sylvan Messenger or the sort. Magic is a game about minimising odds by getting the right mixture of cards doing the same thing. What if you always had the best card for the job?
Gempalm Strider: 2.5
Can end the game with an instant uncounterable effect. Doesn’t have to. Considering the likelihood of that scenario (approaching 0 very fast) and your other options to spend those 4 mana, not worth including.
Elvish Vanguard: 4.0
So a singleton Champion of the Parish which is strictly worse except in a mirror matchup is still an insane deal. Thanks for proving a point about that Angels deck, Wizards!
Talara’s Battalion: 4.5
It’s a 4/3 for two mana. With tribal effects. For two mana. With Trample. For two mana. Raised my point yet?
Like the majestic lifemoose in the Eldrazi deck, very deceiving. Even one can easily heal most, if not all, damage you’ll be taking in the earlier stages of the game, allowing you to ignore blocking altogether. Either it does that, eats removal the instant it comes down, or both. (Hint: Both are very good options for a 2 mana 1/1.)
Nissa’s Chosen: 3.5
Somehow, I despise this card. Certainly it can come back on top with a single shuffle, but how likely is that? Okay, it forms some infinite combos, but I’d still prefer to run guys who aren’t holding their sword by the edge. Despite that, it’s a 2/3 for two mana with no restrictions. No one can argue against that.
Ezuri, Renegade Leader: 4.5
Removal dies to him. He once did an Overrun while walking, at instant speed. He is the most interesting Elf in Mirrodin.
Imperious Perfect: 5.0
Just good. Just overall good, be it from buffing your guys into rather dangerous levels or from pooping out 2/2 Elves. A beautiful package.
Caller of the Claw: 2.5
Eeextra Liihife! That being said, it’s rare to have three mana open the moment that your opponent decides to wipe the board and doesn’t have a counter ready. If it produced Elves, maybe. Not with an army of bears that do absolutely fuck-all for your beloved tribal synergy.
There’s a reason that this was only in Planar Chaos, and it’s not because green is known for bursts of self-destructing monsters. While this can inflict some serious damage, this is not really the sort of deck that could take advantage of it. Not to mention that a single Electrolyse or First Strike will send this back to its corner to cry.
Timberwatch Elf: 3.5
A repeatable Giant Growth would be nice for its cost. A repeatable, free +6/+6 starting on turn 4 and growing? Now you’re thinking true friendship power. Not Immaculate Magistrate, but also not Immaculate Magistrate. This survives, opponent dies. This dies, Immaculate Magistrate lives. Then opponent dies.
Beastmaster Ascension: 5.0
Seven attackers at once aren’t hard to reach, especially not when you can use Timberwatch Elf and its likes to continously swing with at least one guy until you’re ready for doom. Once it’s active, it’s a matter for Izzet to choke on its cleverness and die. (Or wipe the board at instant speed before its effect resolves. That’s also a thing.)
Elvish Branchbender: 2.0
Oh, dem abs. That’s about the only nice thing to say about him. His ability costs a net one mana for a temporary effect that at best allows your opponent to use those Doom Blades as land destruction and at worst turns your Forest into a 0/0 thanks to another instant speed board wipe.
Blanchwood Armour: 3.0
Can provide a good buff, but is sorcery speed, can’t switch targets, and something has probably gone horribly wrong if this gives more than +6/+6 for your to-be-chumped attacker at most.
Genesis Wave: 2.0
Wizards, why isn’t this in Eldrazi? Why the fuck is this not in Eldrazi? Oh yeah, it’d be slightly insane there. Now, I’m not sure about you, but I can imagine better uses of six or more mana in an Elf deck without any ramp than to maybe flip over two Forests and a Taunting Elf. Like something that wins you the game, for example.
Alpha Status: 3.5
Like Blanchwood Armour, but with more ridiculous. For three mana, in a deck like this one, even +1/+1 would be playable. Not good, of course, which is why the bonus was doubled.
Lead the Stampede: 3.0
Now, this choice will get me a lot of flak fire, and I agree, it can be argued into the deck. However, you don’t actually need that much fetching lest you’re going up against someone who constantly kills all your stuff. Do you really want to spend your third turn doing nothing except filling your hand to discard size? Good in certain scenarios, but those are very specific scenarios.
Heedless One: 3.5
As will this choice. If you really want, I suppose you can fit in another for Primitive Etchings or one Forest, but look at it this way: This is a lategame card that looks more powerful than it is and doesn’t do much unless your army is already strong. Now look at what fetching you have; You have Fauna Shaman, you have Sylvan Messenger, you have Primitive Etchings, even more if you want. When you need it, you’ll find it.
Sylvan Messenger: 3.5
Cast and let your opponent scoff at its 2/2 Trample. Then fetch four Elves off the top of your library and enchant with Alpha Status. It seems weird to praise a 4 mana card that’s basically the same thing as the one for 3 mana above, but that’s the thing: It costs 4 mana, meaning that it’ll come out when you actually can use it. Besides, you pretty much get a 1 mana 2/2 free with your card advantage, which is always nice.
Slate of Ancestry: 1.5
I sees some fishies and a camel and a sentient, bipedal yak thingy… okay, this art is creepy. Either way, do you really want to spend two full turns on a card that relies on you already winning to let you win more? All glory to the sentient bipedal yak thingy, though.
Primitive Etchings: 4.0
Shows your opponent what you draw. Therefore, terrible as is the Oracle of Mul Daya. Yeah, wouldn’t it be weird if I talked about my spouse like that? Since half your deck is creatures like a green deck should be, this is a one-sided Howling Mine every second turn. Last time I checked, that’s pretty cheap for green. Yes, it costs mana, a fair lot of it. But every turn it sits there, it glomps out card advantage, allowing you to recover from getting set back and push past stalemates.
Ambush Commander: 1.0
“Hey! You know what would be great? We’ll take this meta where the player who draws more removal and board wipes wins, and put in a card that allows all your lands to have summoning sickness and die in Earthquakes!”
Next up on Wizards TV, how to eat your coworker’s glue without him noticing.
Voice of the Woods: 2.0
He-Man wants YOU to believe in the power of friendship. You can use any five Elves for his ability, even himself and other summoning sick ones, and sure the token is big. Just riddle me this, when you’ve got five Elves on the board which you can afford to tap for another ability than their own, do you really need a 7/7 token without tribal synergy? When you really need a big token, how often do you find yourself with five spare Elves?
Seedborn Muse: 3.0
Gaining double life is nice, but that’s about all it’ll do; There are few to no instant effects in this deck and it’s impossible to use “Until end of turn” effect twice with her since no player receives priority between the cleanup step and the untap step. Also not an Elf
Weatherseed Treefolk: 2.5
Yay, infinite chump blocker! Okay, it does a little more than that, but for being top of the curve in a deck that can fetch just about anything except this, it could do a little more. If you’re continously using this one’s ability, you are losing and just refuse to admit it.
Coat of Arms: 3.0
Can win you the game very quickly. It better, too. Since DotP’s decks put more emphasis on scrambling together creatures with the same type than actually making good blends of cards, your opponent’s army will also be very big and very displeased once it untaps.
Verdant Embrace: 1.5
Blanchwood Armour will do more for you for two mana less. Yay, it gives you a chump blocker without the right type every upkeep. So fucking what? Without any real buffs, the Saprolings are irrelevant, so you’re only paying five mana to mark your guy as a target for the orbital Doom Blade cannon.
Now that’s a stinky finger to Izzet if I’ve ever seen one. Fully deserved, too. Because that deck and any that play it smell.**
This can do some serious damage when the conditions are right. I.e. when it’s in Garruk’s deck and not this one, because the same effect can already be achieved far cheaper. Too expensive, don’t bother.
Mythic Proportions: 1.5
Oh, speaking of too expensive to be played even in a stalemate. Why did it have to be rare, anyway? Damn wizards always ruining the easy jokes with their arm-waving and arcane babbling.
Well, at least it’s impressive as a “Screw you all, I’m taking the ball home”-move. Let’s face it, the only correct response to a Demons player casting Damnation without any creatures to follow it up. Just imagine the scenario. Now better savour that imaginary feeling, because it will never actually happen at 8 mana.
*Data source: Everybody is playing either Izzet or fucking Demons. Well, at least we know that those people smell and you’re the hero of mankind for not having to rely on such cheap decks.**
**Sorry Wing, but you have to admit it’s true. Perhaps you (unlike other Izzet players) smell of victory, but it’s true all the same. All glory to the sentient bipedal yak thingy.