Legacy: Elves Deck Tech & Sideboard Guide

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Deck tech

Legacy: Elves Deck Tech & Sideboard Guide

08/06/22 Comment regular icon0 comments

Do you know why Tolarian Academy is banned in Legacy? Gaea's Cradle powered by little green Elves will give you a taste of what a land that generates an insane amount of mana can do!

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By Eltinho

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translated by Romeu

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revised by Eduardo Silveira

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Today, I continue the Deck Tech articles with one of the most popular decks in Legacy: Elves!

About the Deck

The basis of this deck emerged in the late Extended format and took the world by storm with LSV's victory at the Pro Tour Berlin in 2008, in a top 8 with the presence of 6 Elves decks. The deck was soon adapted for Legacy, where it gained three essential tools that play on the list to this day: Quirion Ranger, Natural Order and, most importantly, Gaea's Cradle. Below is the reference list

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Postures

Despite the exorbitant amount of creatures, this is primarily a combo deck, with several gears to achieve one goal: attacking for lethal at once - usually with Craterhoof Behemoth (from hand or tutored with Natural Order) but sometimes Allosaurus Shepherd fulfills this function. Glimpse of Nature is the main resource generator, although Elvish Visionary with Wirewood Symbiote serves this same purpose.
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And if all else fails, the Aggro plan is always a valid option!

Mulligan

While the deck can't combo on turn 1, it's important to keep hands with one-drops that prepare for turn 2 or 3 explosive play. The duo Nettle Sentinel + Heritage Druid is capable of generating an absurd amount of mana (every green spell you play untaps Sentinel, and since the Druid's ability is not affected by summoning sickness, cast a third creature, generate 3 mana, cast a fourth, untap Sentinel, cast a fifth, generate 3 mana...), and if Glimpse or even Elvish Mystic is involved in the middle of it, the deck manages to generate cards to pretty much do whatever you want.
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As the deck runs with few lands and only has access to Once Upon a Time to filter cards at the beginning of the game (remember that Cradle does not generate mana without creatures in play), it is very common to mull for a land. The mulligan rule here is, "Can I make an absurd play on the second or third turns?" A negative answer means a new hand with one less card.

Building the Deck

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The list presented is well-balanced, but due to the presence of Green Sun's Zenith, the deck is perfectly capable of making room for some "silver bullets" (specific cards against some decks) such as Archon of Valor's Reach, Collector Ouphe, Endurance, Grist, the Hunger Tide, Progenitus, Reclamation Sage, Regal Force and Scavenging Ooze. Usually, who ends up taking one of the team to make room for these additions are the second Craterhoof Behemoth, the fourth Heritage Druid, the second Birchlore Rangers, the third Quirion Ranger and /or the third Once Upon a Time. The Forest/Bayou splitting to 2/2 is also quite common.

Sideboard Guide

In addition to the suggested Sideboard cards listed in this article, again the existence of Zenith and Order allows for more options in your 15 slots like the "silver bullets" listed above. Also, inclusions for some meta cards such as Abrupt Decay, Carpet of Flowers, Choke, Force of Vigor and Mindbreak Trap are common. As for some of the most common matchups:

UR Delver

Allosaurus Shepherd is a crucial card in this game to try to force your "big turns", the ones where you dump a pile of little green elves on the board and, if all goes well, end the game right there. The Metagame has become so Delver-centric that Pyroblast/Red Elemental Blast has become increasingly common in their main, which is good news for Elves as it's a dead card. Due to their Wastelands, Gaea's Cradle is more of a green Dark Ritual than a land, and it's important to take this into account in your game planning. Post-side, Progenitus is unbeatable if it resolves, and you bring answers to Murktide Regent that turn out to be the fastest way to their victory.

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Burn

This game is a race where you usually have the upper hand as they have to spend resources on your elves or lose quickly, and they don't have draw sources like you do. There is no specific sideboard card against these opponents, but Endurance can ambush an unsuspecting opponent. IN:
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Blue Control (Jeskai, Bant, Grixis, 4C)

These are tricky opponents, as they combine a counterspell with various removals, which makes that matchup quite complicated. Post-side, things tend to get worse when cards like Plague Engineer, Supreme Verdict or Engineered Explosives, among many others, tend to show up and complicate your plan of filling the board. Cutting down some more vulnerable elves and bringing in more answers to try and force Progenitus into play turns out to be the post-side Plan B. IN:
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Depths (Golgari, Naya, Turbo)

Another pure racing game, they have discards to try to slow you down, you have Boseiju, Who Endures, but none of them have any real counterspell to hold off someone else's combo. In post-side games, you get more answers against Marit Lage. IN:
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Red Prison

This matchup was extremely difficult, as their multiple locks line up very well against Elves. But the pendulum swung back and forth as new cards entered the format: Allosaurus Shepherd ignores the devastating Chalice of the Void for one, Fury decimates the board for free, Boseiju, who Endures offers a Main deck answer against Blood Moon. Either way, even if answered, these lock cards can slow your game down enough for more of them to hit the board. IN:
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8-Cast

Similar to the game against Depths, there are two decks looking to break the board, but they have counterspells instead of discard spells. Collector Ouphe is our most brutal answer on the Sideboard. IN:
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Death and Taxes

DnT used to be the big victim of the green horde, but the game has improved a lot for them, in part because our great tool against blue decks and Chalice of the Void, Allosaurus Shepherd is practically useless against them, and some lists have incorporated Spirit of the Labyrinth, a pretty problematic card for the deck's draw engines. We still have the advantage, but we also must be cautious with Umezawa's Jitte.

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Conclusion

That's all for today. If you have any questions, feel free to leave it in the comments! Thanks for reading!
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Eltinho

Two-time Brazilian Magic runner-up, World Top 4 by teams in 2006, Red Prison enthusiast in Legacy and "Tip the Scales" in Hearthstone.

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