Pauper Elves: Deck Tech & Sideboard Guide
In this guide, I present everything you need to know about how to play with Elves in Pauper, including tips and tricks and a complete matchup analysis!
AlhoWin Magic Online. I'm 24 years old, I've been playing Pauper for 6 years and I joined Magic Online 1 year ago. I've been in several Cards Realm championships since then, always playing green decks like GW Auras and Elves. Furthermore, I was the champion of the first stage of SuperCup 2 by team Heavy Gears, using the list in this article after facing big opponents like _against_, Kampo, Msskinbolic and ImViniih. Terso Willis, AlhoW's twin brother, and I'm
TersoWon Magic Online. I've also been playing Pauper for 6 years, but I joined Magic Online 2 years ago. I like to play independent championships at Cards Realm, always with aggro decks like Burn, Goblins and Elves. I'm also from the Heavy Gears team and got 1st place in the 1st Team Challenge for the SuperCup playing Elves.
Threats:Elvish Vanguard, Elvish Branchbender, Timberwatch Elf and Valakut Invoker
Dork:Llanowar Elves, Elvish Mystic and Fyndhorn Elves
Creature Draw:Winding Way and Lead the Stampede Now let's talk a little about how to pilot the deck:
threatas quickly as possible, then continuing to pose one more threat after another until you dominate the field and end the game as quickly as possible. For this reason, you'll generally prefer to have some threat on the field before casting a creature draw, and you'll also prefer to play Winding Way before Lead the Stampede to have more mana left to be able to play more creatures.
Stance against Aggro:(Aggro Stance) Against aggressive decks, we will want to develop our field as quickly as possible. Generally, a Priest of Titania on turn 2 will help us with this task more than an Elvish Vanguard. But a Wellwisher without sickness on turn 3 can be instrumental in holding back the pressure. In this match, you'll want to put the strongest threats first, except for Priest of Titania, to speed up our mana, and Elvish Vanguard, so he can grow as we develop our field, especially if he manages to block the opponent's threats. The strongest creature against aggro is Wellwisher, then Timberwatch Elf, then Elvish Branchbender, then Elvish Vanguard and lastly Valakut Invoker. The objective is to leave one threat to block the opponent and use the others to attack, dealing damage and killing blockers until attacking with all when it reaches lethal damage.
Stance Against Removals:(Removal Stance) This gameplay stance is to try to have a threat without summoning sickness as quickly as possible. Always place at least one threat on the field per turn, preferably more than one, to have a better chance of one not being removed. The order in which you play threats is essential! Start by placing the weakest ones, to increase the odds of the opponent nor having a removal for the stronger threat. If possible, Priest of Titania on turn 2 and 3, while the opponent is still afraid of her, then Elvish Vanguard, then Elvish Branchbender and finally Timberwatch Elf, which without summoning sickness, can protect your creatures from damage-based removals, especially when you have Quirion Ranger to untap it on your opponent's turn. Always attack with the remaining elves if the opponent has no blockers. If all the threats run out, and you have enough elves, calculate if you can kill the opponent in a few turns attacking with all of them, considering that some will die to blockers and possible removals. If that's not enough, it's better not to attack and wait for the next threat. This is the last strategy of the deck, as when there is no more threat, the number of elves becomes a threat.
Stance against Counterspells:(Counterspell Stance) When the opponent has no mana to counter, prefer to cast a creature draw rather than a threat, as the creature can be removed on his turn, but the draw can only be countered. If the opponent plays Spellstutter Sprite and only has one blue mana among the mana available on their turn, only play spells that Spellstutter Sprite cannot counter. If you want to play a spell that it can counter, you need to play another card first, as a bait.
Stance against Sweeper:(Sweeper Stance) To play around Suffocating Fumes, Electrickery and Holy Light, play only as many mana elves as you need to make your spells and attack your opponent, saving in your hand enough mana elves to have at least 3 mana after the Sweeper. See your hand as your second battlefield. Against such removals, it is not necessary to keep the threats in hand, as they all have more than 1 toughness. But to play around Fiery Cannonade, Krark-Clan Shaman, Martyr of Ashes, Swirling Sandstorm, Crypt Rats and Pestilence, in addition to these precautions, it is also necessary to pose only one threat at a time.
Removal Stance, putting a lot of pressure in the first game and saving Wellwisher to play after a few threats, but before they have enough artifacts to finish us off the next turn. Even if they play Makeshift Munitions, if our field is full enough, they won't have enough mana and artifacts to kill all the relevant cards. From the second game onwards, we need to be more conservative with our threats, putting them in one at a time so as not to lose everything with one Krark-Clan Shaman, taking the
Sweeper Stance. With the sideboard, we have Blue Elemental Blast and Prohibit. Save your counters for Krark-Clan Shaman and Makeshift Munitions, or for a combo piece that wins the match, or to protect your latest threat from removals.
Vs. Dimir Faeries
Sweeper Stance. Jaspera Sentinel was a great addition to the deck. It blocks the faeries, inhibiting Ninja of the Deep Hours, as well as surviving Suffocating Fumes. Choose him instead of a dork in the first turn whenever possible, taking advantage of the fact that the opponent will have no counter or removal. It's important to block to kill the Ninja of the Deep Hours as quickly as possible, as long as it doesn't impede our field development. If you don't have a threat to block the ninja without dying, use Jaspera Sentinel and one more mana elf, or more than two mana elves. From the second game onwards, the game improves a lot for us. The opponent won't have such relevant additions, while we'll have access to Dispel to handle all interactions except for Spellstutter Sprite. Use it to protect your last threat or to counter a Suffocating Fumes if they want to disrupt your mana base. We will also have Viridian Longbow and Spidersilk Armor, strong cards against Faeries that cannot be removed. Preferably, try to resolve them when the opponent doesn't have access to the counterspells, as they might only have a copy of Echoing Truth to deal with it.
Vs. Jeskai Wildfire
Counterspell Stancein this matchup. Never concede the first match if they lock you. Let them waste time looping and trying to kill you. Hopefully, with creature draws, you'll get Valakut Invoker. It's worth saving Wellwisher to play when you are “locked”, delaying their victory. You can also stop their Mulldrifters with 2 Jaspera Sentinel or a Jaspera Sentinel and a Timberwatch Elf. From the second game onwards, the match improves a lot for us, even with the opponent bringing more Stonehorn Dignitary and Fiery Cannonade. Also, start adopting the
Sweeper Stance. The chances of them locking you increase considerably, but we will have Viridian Longbow to try to deal direct damage or to stop the combo by killing Ardent Elementalist. We'll also have Dispel to counter Ephemerate, stopping the combo, or to protect us from Counterspell and removals, plus Wrap in Vigor protecting us without needing blue mana.
Vs. Naya Wildfire
Removal Stancein the first game, and from the second game also assume the
Sweeper Stance. If they don't play with plenty of removals, it will be an easy game for you.
Removal Stance. Save Wellwisher to play one turn before lethal damage (so she can lose summoning sickness) when you have a little more than 10 life. It's important to block killing Ghitu Lavarunner as quickly as possible, as long as it doesn't impede your field development. If you don't have a threat to block Ghitu without dying, useJaspera Sentinel and one more mana elf, or more than two mana elves. From the second game onwards, you will have 2 hates against it, Circle of Protection: Red and Weather the Storm. If any of them come during the match, we have a good chance of winning. Save Wrap in Vigor and Blue Elemental Blast to protect yourself from Martyr of Ashes, Electrickery or Fiery Cannonade. It's also worth using them to protect your strongest threat or Wellwisher. It's still worth considering killing Thermo-Alchemist with Blue Elemental Blast, as it deals continuous damage and even more damage for each spell cast by the opponent.
Sweeper Stance. Never concede the first match if they lock you. Let them waste time looping and trying to kill you. Hopefully, with creature draws, you'll get Valakut Invoker. It's worth saving Wellwisher to play when you are “locked”, delaying their victory. You can also stop their Mulldrifters with 2 Jaspera Sentinel or a Jaspera Sentinel and a Timberwatch Elf.
Stance against Aggro. When the Deftblade Elite attacks and chooses an elf to provoke, you must let the ability resolve and then, still in the attackers phase, tap your elf. It will no longer be a valid blocker, so it is not required to block. If the elf has a tapping ability, use it. If not, tap it with Birchlore Rangers or Jaspera Sentinel. When Deftblade Elite enters the first turn, save your elves to play two at once, carefully choosing which ones to play to put your opponent in stalemates. Remember that Elvish Branchbender's land is a colorless creature that can block an attacker with protection from green. And that Jaspera Sentinel blocks flyers. From the second game onwards it gets a little more difficult, as they bring some removals, but it remains a favorable matchup. We use Viridian Longbow mainly against Standard Bearer, but since almost all of their creatures have 1 toughness, it can be useful. And even with Standard Bearer, we have 4 Elvish Branchbender, 4 Elvish Vanguard, and 4 Wellwisher that are unaffected by its effect.
Vs. Mono-Black Control
Sweeper Stance. From the second game onwards, we will have counters to protect our creatures from removals. Be conservative with your singleton Prohibit, as it is the only card that counters Crypt Rats, Pestilence and Cuombajj Witches. If you notice that the opponent plays Cuombajj Witches or only runs Suffocating Fumes as a sweeper, put Spidersilk Armor in place of a Dork.
Vs. Goblins Combo
Stance against Aggro, but even faster, as it's irrelevant to block the attackers, in addition to the combo making Wellwisher useless From the second game onwards, we will have eight counters for First Day of Class, where half protect our creatures from their hates. We can also improve our removals by swapping Valakut Invoker for Viridian Longbow. The match improves but remains challenging as we remove some creature draw to add counterspells, while they still have plenty of removals.
Stance against Aggro. Block with your mana elves when he's dealing lethal damage. Don't forget to consider they might play a Vines of Vastwood or Hunger of the Howlpack on the unblocked creature to achieve lethal damage. From the second game onwards, it gets a little more difficult because they bring other removals besides Savage Swipe: Gut Shot, Viridian Longbow and Ram Through or Epic Confrontation. If they have too many removals and play too fast, we could lose. But we will have more lifegan and the Wrap in Vigor to protect us from removals. Wrap in Vigor can also be used after blocking with all your creatures, so they don't die, and you don't take damage, working similarly to Prismatic Strands, and can kill their creatures.
Vs. BW Pestilence
Removal Stance, and it's not worth keeping
Sweeper Stancebecause it's very hard to win if the game gets longer. From the first game, we handle Guardian of the Guildpact and Prismatic Strands well because of Elvish Branchbender, as lands are colorless. The matchup improves a bit from the second game onwards. We have some chance of using a Prohibit on Pestilence, Crypt Rats or Suffocating Fumes. Use Dispel on the first removal on your threats to gain time and maybe Wrap in Vigor to save them from Crypt Rats in the first few turns or gain a turn against Pestilence.
Vs. Izzet Faeries
Sweeper Stance. Jaspera Sentinel was a great addition to the deck. It blocks the faeries, inhibiting Ninja of the Deep Hours. Choose him instead of a dork in the first turn whenever possible, taking advantage of the fact that the opponent will have no counter or removal. It's important to block to kill Ninja of the Deep Hours as quickly as possible, as long as it doesn't impede our field development. If you don't have a threat to block the ninja without dying, use Jaspera Sentinel and one more mana elf, or more than two mana elves. Our biggest advantage is in the first game, while it doesn't have sweeper. In the second game, it features Fiery Cannonade and maybe Swirling Sandstorm. If they run Swirling Sandstorm, take one more Priest of Titania and one more Lead the Stampede to add two Blue Elemental Blast.
Counterspell Stance. Never concede the first match if they lock you. Let them waste time looping and trying to kill you. Hopefully, with creature draws, you'll get Valakut Invoker. It's worth saving Wellwisher to play when you are “locked”, delaying their victory. You can also stop their Mulldrifters with 2 Jaspera Sentinel or a Jaspera Sentinel and a Timberwatch Elf. In the second game, they add more counters, Stonehorn Dignitary and maybe Last Breath, in addition to the combo piece that ends us, Sage's Row Denizen. On the other hand, we'll bring four Dispel, which counters all of their interactions and the combo. Viridian Longbow and Valakut Invoker can win the game if they lock us with Stonehorn Dignitary. These cards can also stop the combo by killing their creatures, like Sunscape Familiar which is a key piece, but give preference to the opponent's life total.
Stance Against Aggrowhich, if he's not too lucky, will lead to an easy game. Ram Through can get in our way in the first game. Their sideboard is Gut Shot and a possible Electrickery too, as well as Standard Bearer. At least Elvish Branchbender is unaffected by it, as are Elvish Vanguard and Wellwisher. We bring more Wellwisher from the sideboard in the second game, plus Weather the Storm, in case they assemble a megazord too fast. We also have Wrap in Vigor to protect from removals or to block with all our creatures and regenerate, so we don't lose them.
Vs. Jund Cascade
Removal Stancefrom the first game and also the
Sweeper Stancefrom the second game onwards, as they will bring three to four Fiery Cannonade. We'll bring in two Wrap in Vigor and four Dispel from the sideboard to try and deal with so many removals. Against
RG Wildfire, use the same side and strategy.
Stance against Aggroin this matchup. On the sideboard we took the least impacting creatures, the Dorks, to put in more Wellwisher, plus Viridian Longbow, which can set the matchup on its own, and a Prohibit to try to counter a Distant Melody or Timberwatch Elf.
Vs. Boros Bully
Removal Stancein the first game. Also assume the
Sweeper Stance* from the second game or the first if they have maindeck Electrickery. If the opponent doesn't pressure us with a Seeker of the Way while removing all of our threats, it should be an easy game. But don't forget to consider Rally the Peasants, when the opponent attacks with enough creatures to kill us using this card and have mana available. While they only have sweepers in the sideboard, Electrickery, Fiery Cannonade and maybe Swirling Sandstorm, we bring in Spidersilk Armor and Viridian Longbow to handle their birds as well. Viridian Longbow can also end the game if they loop Prismatic Strands. We'll also have Wrap in Vigor to protect from removals and sweepers without needing colored mana, and Dispel can protect our creatures or counter Prismatic Strands and Rally the Peasants.
Boros Metalcraft, a similar deck that runs Kor Skyfisher and Glint Hawk, use the same sideboards and stances, just swapping a Viridian Longbow for another Dispel.
Vs. Mono U Faeries
Stance against Aggroin this match. Jaspera Sentinel was a great addition to the deck. It blocks the faeries, inhibiting Ninja of the Deep Hours. Choose him instead of a dork in the first turn whenever possible, taking advantage of the fact that the opponent will have no counter or removal. It's important to block and kill Ninja of the Deep Hours as quickly as possible, as long as it doesn't impede our field development. If you don't have a threat to block the ninja without dying, use Jaspera Sentinel and one more mana elf, or more than two mana elves. From the second game onwards, the game gets a little more difficult because of Gut Shot. But we will have Dispel for most interactions, in addition to Spidersilk Armor and Viridian Longbow, which are really strong in this matchup.
Vs. Dimir Delver
Sweeper Stance. From the second game onwards it improves a lot, as the opponent brings just one more Suffocating Fumes and maybe other less impactful interactions, while we add the fourth Wellwisher to hold their pressure and 4 Dispel to protect from interactions.
Vs. Black Burn
Aggro Stanceand try to block Night Market Lookout and Guul Draz Vampire whenever possible. In the second game the opponent will bring more removals, Crypt Rats and Trespasser's Curse, so assume the
Control Stance. To play around Trespasser's Curse, be thrifty with creatures for the mana base, giving preference to Priest of Titania and focusing on playing the necessary threats. We will bring more life gain, Prohibit to counter a sweeper, unblockable creature or lethal damage spell, plus Viridian Longbow to kill creatures.