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E-League Deck Clinic

by Armyhead July 11th 2001

Thalerion wrote the following:
"I really like the elves and I just hate that I can't come up with a good Elves deck in T2. I think however that such a deck needs two colors to make it. In this version of my "Elvish Glory" I tried to make the deck with white. My brain is just melting right now and I could really need some help. Don't limit yourself to the green/white thing you, can change that... Many thanks..."

 "Elvish glory" ver 0.87 or something.

// Land 
16 Forest 
6 Plains 

// Spells 
4 Wax/wane 
4 Giant growth 
2 Armadillo cloak 

4 Coat of Arms 

// Creatures 
4 Elvish Archers 
4 Sylvan messenger 
4 Llanowar knight 
4 Elvish Champion 
4 Llanowar Elves 
4 Fyndhorn elder 

SB: 4 Hurricane 
SB: 4 Kavu Chameleon 
SB: 3 Dawnstrider 
SB: 4 Creeping Mold 

My Thoughts:
I know exactly how you feel. Elves are cool and often are scorned simply for being frail. Elvish Champion promised to change that and give elves a chance to shine along side their blue cousins the merfolk. Unfortunately it is very difficult to build a elf deck that has a prayer of winning against today's type 2 tech. Especially if you use the worst ones. Fyndhorn Elder might be a great mana producer but he's really frail and comes out late. Sylvan Messenger imho is not a good elf, Skyshroud Poacher is far superior without even being the right race... I don't think your deck has enough removal and I prefer lyrists to Wane because if your opponent isn't play enchantments or sides them out you still get a creature that helps the theme. Lyrists good, Wane... a poor mans disenchant. Yes I know you can use it to pump/ save a creature. That's no consolation if you don't have a creature to cast it on.

Elvish Glory Version 2.0 White green Variant
4 Brushlands
14 Forests
6 Plains
4 Llanowar Elf
4 Elvish Archer
4 Elvish Champion
4 Elvish Lyrist
4 Armadillo Cloak
4 Gerrard's Command
4 Wrath of God
4 Creeping Mold
2 Coat of Arms
2 Skyshroud Poacher

4 Dodecapod
4 Story Circle
4 Compost
3 Reverent Mantra

Card by Card Analysis:
Brushlands --- Painlands are great for mana consistency in a two or more color deck.
24 lands ---These things are needed to win. If you get mana screwed because you run 20 lands you will wish you ran 24. Elves are not land!
Llanowar Elf --- These go without saying. Not land but mana consistency and acceleration is important.
Elvish Archer --- OK for the price. I am not too happy about these but they are better than the alternatives: Seeker of Skybreak, Llanowar Knight, or Nomadic Elves. The Nomads are almost as good and could be substituted if you have trouble locating archers. Llanowar Knights are more efficient in a heavy black environment but since the metagame has shifted from heavy black and most playable black creatures fly, a 2/2 problack bear is not as good as a 2/1 first striker. This slot can change according to your local environment.
Elvish Champion --- Well I suppose you need this guy if you are building a true elf deck since he is the poor cousin (with expensive tastes) of the Lord of Atlantis.
Elvish Lyrist --- As I said above Lyrist is darn good.
Armadillo Cloak --- Why 4? well imho this a darn sight better than Giant Growth or Wax. Yes it will fall off of a dead creature but that is the payoff for a beating on a stick. It is hard to find a more efficient creature enchantment.
Gerrard's Command --- I like this slightly better than Giant Growth. Yes it is more expensive but as combat tricks go it can make the difference with an alpha strike defense. (Untap that Armadillo Cloaked Archer and block the Shivan worm? Sure thing!)
Wrath of God --- Well creatures still seem to rule the format so having a reset button is a must for this deck. Especially when there are so many good evaders.
Creeping Mold --- Utility Removal. Bothersome Port? Ensnaring Bridge? Opposition? No problem just mold it.
Coat of Arms --- Why not 4? Well to be honest I think this is a tricky card that can cut both ways against a lot of decks. I am not sure it even deserves a spot. The reason it is here is more because traditionally old elfball decks had them. This is a card that may come out during playtesting.
Skyshroud Poacher --- 2 seems like the right amount of these to balance the expensive Coat of Arms. Poachers are useful late game when you need card advantage to tilt the game in your favor. Like the Coat of Arms hopefully this card should be unnecessary since you want to get the early rush. Of course having a backup plan is always a good idea.

Dodecapod --- With discard rampant these latter day Sand Golems are quite handy indeed. If you prefer to fight against Control Blue instead use Gaea's Herald
Story Circle --- This is the universal Hoser against everything except mill decks and Urza's Rage. If you find yourself facing creatures that you cant deal with otherwise this card will save the day.
Compost --- My personal vendetta against black continues. If you want to hose black there are few better cards to sideboard. Card Advantage is often all you need to win.
Reverant Mantra --- Occasionally a red deck pops up like Fires and Redzone. Crush them with pro red or pro green creatures. Prevent a Terminate or a Recoil or just alpha strike for the win.

Conclusion: Elfball is always fun no matter the format. Unfortunately it is not well known for winning. I recommend you play it for fun against other fun decks where it will have a chance to thrive. Playing it in tournament with the number of uninventive yet efficient decks out there might be a mistake. However I would love to see someone prove me wrong by winning with it. Let me know if you have success with it.

Paul Emerson Leicht
armyhead on IRC
email: pauleleicht@cs.com
Visit neutralground.net to read my articles along with many great writers.