The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-Earth definitely caused an uproar among fans of the lore and also among Magic players, particularly the Commander players. This recent set brought 4 new precon decks, and in this article we'll show the Elven Council deck, with Galadriel, Elven Queen as the commander.
This deck is an elven typal, and has many interactions with many abilities, such as The Ring Tempts You, Voting and Scry. A bit of everything was explored in this upgrade list, with a bigger focus on the deck's typal part.
Getting to Know the Deck
The List and the Elven Chorus Strategy
The deck is a combination of Simic colors, focused almost entirely on creatures, more specifically elves. Though it has alternative commanders included in the original list, such as, for instance, Cirdan the Shipwright and Gandalf, Westward Voyager or Radagast, Wizard of Wilds, we'll focus on the command zone here with Galadriel, Elven-Queen.
Its ability triggers only with elves going into the battlefield, so what can be better than putting in this deck lots and lots of elves?
The Upgrade and its Reasons
Here we altered approximately 30% of the original deck, opening space for better cards which fit better its proposed gameplan: creatures, lands, answers and the like.
38 lands in an elves deck which originally has its abilities focused on mana doesn't seem to be something that interesting, so the number was reduced to 34 (already considering the land alterations which are to come).
The creatures removed here were replaced by the famous mana dorks which have a lower cost and work faster. Some other cards simply didn't make that much sense here, such as Hornet Queen or Colossal Whale.
The same goes for the other two alternative commanders mentioned previously, Radagast, Wizard of Wilds and Gandalf, Westward Voyager. They are two very interesting legendary creatures, but they fit another theme. Learn From the Past and Lorien Revealed seem to me a bit lost inside this build, as if they were only here to fill the list, so they are out too.
It's also important to stress an important point about Cirdan the Shipwright: though it works with the Voting mechanic, it is a somewhat risky card, both as it provides advantages to your opponents and as it can "fail" in a certain way: if your opponents decide on a way to vote that never favors you, Cirdan the Shipwright ends up relatively bad.
Heavier cards such as Mirkwood Elk and Realm Seekers also freed up some space, and Elvish Piper with it, as you don't need its activated ability that much anymore. Some ramps were also replaced by dorks, such as Cultivate, Rampant Growth and Commander's Sphere. Arbor Elf has also been removed as the number of forests is down to 9, and islands are also 9. With these cards out, now we'll go for the new ones.
Reliquary Tower is a classic land that could be in almost 100% of the Commander decks nowadays, after all, not everyone likes losing resources due to excess cards in hand.
Demolition Field replaces Field of Ruin. Though both are almost the same, the difference is that, with Demolition Field, you guarantee only you and the opponent which you used this on have a basic land, instead of each player having it. It might seem something minimal, but the less resources you give your opponents, the better.
It is a personal option to use both, as there are many problematic lands nowadays in many decks: Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Baldur's Gate, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Cabal Coffers, Gond Gate, or even a Reliquary Tower of that opponent with way more than seven cards in hand.
Rivendell works well with cards with the Scry mechanic, and, in the worst cases, in the middle of a game when there's not much to do, using its ability on the maintenance phase can choose better cards to be drawn.
Still in the Scry department, Quandrix Campus can have the same goal. And last, but not least: Path of Ancestry, which is a card which is basically a must in typal decks, even more so here, when there are some interactions with Scry.
Giving its name to the deck, Elven Council, many new elves went in here, a great portion of them already well-known. Many were mana generators and others are recursive ones, which interact with the mechanics quoted previously. We'll start with the elves that create mana.
Mana Generator Elves
The original list counts with a few 2+ cost elves, which were replaced by the ones above, so we can use our mana a little better. Two more 1-cost elves went in: Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic. With a higher cost, we count with Priest of Titania, Marwyn, the Nurturer and Gaea's Cradle sibling, Circle of Dreams Druid.
These last three in particular can combo with Haldir, Lorien Lieutenant and other pieces we'll show briefly.
This set was innovative when giving a new ability for elves with the blue color: Scry. So, we took advantage of that and placed some utility elves with this mechanic and some other ones.
When it comes to Lords, the original list already counts with Elvish Archdruid and Elvish Warmaster. Two more were added: Imperious Perfect, which besides guaranteeing your Lord buff, it can make Galadriel, Elven-Queen's ability trigger every turn by creating elf tokens, and Leaf-Crowned Visionary is a good source of card draw, as the deck counts with at least 30 creatures, besides the commander.
And, speaking about card draw, we also count with Beast Whisperer and Edric, Spymaster of Trest. Though Edric, Spymaster of Trest also provides card draw for your opponents, it has its very "political" effect: "If you hit on anyone who isn't me, you can draw cards".
Ezuri, Renegade Leader comes in as a possible finisher thanks to the infinite mana combo which will be mentioned later. The deck doesn't revolve around this combo: it is just one of the ways to win. With the Scry interaction and The Ring Tempts You interaction, we have Elvish Mariner, Galadriel of Lothlorien, Elrond, Master of Healing, Arwen Undomiel and Elrond, Lord of Rivendell.
And, lastly, Elvish Mariner comes clearing the board tapping problematic blockers or permanents with its ability, which interacts really well with the ones quoted previously.
Interactions and Resources
And, to finish our list, here are the rest of the cards added.
Staff of Domination is the main piece in the deck's only combo: Staff of Domination, and any elf that creates mana equal to the number of elves on board (Elvish Archdruid, Priest of Titania or Marwyn, the Nurturer). With that, you create infinite mana, and from that many things can be possible: infinite pumping Ezuri, Renegade Leader or Haldir, Lorien Lieutenant, having infinite health from Staff of Domination itself, or infinite Scry in case you have a Paradise Druid on board and Arwen Undomiel.
However, it is possible you can't combo before the combat phase, this way disabling you from winning by hitting. To solve that, we have Lost Isle Calling: with infinite draw, you just need to find Lost Isle Calling, have enough counters on it for an extra turn, and then win with combat damage. Obviously, Lost Isle Calling isn't in the deck for that alone, as it interacts well with the previously quoted Scry elves too.
For recursion, we have Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury and Elven Chorus. Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury is quite versatile and fulfill its role well in this deck: it creates tokens which trigger the commander's ability, can use a Naturalize on something problematic, and its ultimate can provide lots of card draw.
Elven Chorus can, in a certain way, filter your topdeck, even more so with the many Scry cards already mentioned previously. Not to mention the fact that, with Elven Chorus, all your creatures become mana dorks.
We also have Aetherize to deal with very aggressive decks, Song of the Dryads to deal with tough permanents, or disable an opponent's commander. And, lastly, Elven Ambush, which is capable of filling the battlefield.
Elven Council Decklist with Upgrades
Here, then, we finally have our result after the upgrades. Changing almost 1/3 of the deck, it is possible to better take advantage of what Galadriel, Elven-Queen has to offer, without changing much of its essence, after all, many of the added cards are part of the beloved Tolkien-inspired set.
Alternative Elven Council Decklist
We also have here an alternative list, with no budget limit, which is allowed to play around a bit, such as Illusion of Choice with Isochron Scepter to decide the opponent's Votes and Expropriate. And, this time, with Cirdan the Shipwright in the command zone.
This list is more optimized than the upgraded one, and is more focused on Voting.
It was quite fun working on upgrading this deck, as my first typal deck was Elves. Though it is said to be the weakest deck out of all the 4 precons, just changing a few things here and there can make this list more consistent, with no "random" creatures such as Colossal Whale.
Did this upgrade please you? Would you change anything? Use another commander? Comment down below!