Sunday, January 1, 2012

About Elf Decks (Magic: The Gathering)

After a solid decade of card collecting, I have suddenly been hit with the realisation that no functional deck can be made up of only all my favourite cards. Oh, no. There’s strategy and deck themes to be had.

This fact is glaringly obvious with such trading card games as Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon, where you are limited to using only one or a few different colours within a deck. Sure, you can be unique and chuck in all the pretty colours of the rainbow, but you’d be screwed if you actually tried duelling with it.

The last collectible card game I really played was Yu-Gi-Oh, which actually did allow me to put most of my favourite (non-weak) cards into my duelling deck. But at the end of the day, if you’re going to play competitively in any card game, there are certain cards you must put in your deck. Even if they’re ugly, even if you hate them, and even if they killed your pet turtle.

With me always being more of a collector of rare cards rather than a bloodthirsty player, along with my internet speed being cut for over a week, I did what any other self-respecting card devotee would do – Vigorous research into Magic: The Gathering (MTG) deck possibilities.

Having been only recently introduced to MTG, I spent some time getting to know the game better through playing Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012. I managed to plow through the majority of the game by using a set dual Forest/Swamp deck (Guardians of the Wood) which I unlocked. Then I hit an extra fancy Vampire deck and had to switch to a Forest/Plains deck (Auramancer).

You may recall that I am running a green deck. This has worked out okay despite my lack of non-creature cards, but only because nearly all of the cards I possess at the moment are super-special-fudge-coated rares. Most of the creatures in my random deck don’t have anything in common outside of being green. Some of them are big behemoths, some are defenders, some produce mana... there’s no recurring theme or purpose to the deck as a whole yet.


I could improve this deck by choosing a theme so that all the elements in it would work together. But I also don’t want to put in anything I don’t like, which means that there will be nothing visually challenging or redundant in any deck of mine. That’s right, I refuse to play Timbermaw Larva on principle.

After some investigation, I discovered that there were three major flavours of green deck to choose from: Elf, Squirrel, or Beatdown. The options for a miscellaneous beatdown deck didn’t seem to hash together too well, and the squirrels were fairly expensive and confusing. That leaves me with probably the best choice of all - elves.

I already happen to have a few rare elf cards sitting around, and have some idea of how I would play such a deck from the Planeswalkers game I mentioned earlier. I also started thinking about using dual lands to counter some mono-green weaknesses. Out of all the matches, my mostly green deck fared the worst against red and black. The main issue was that too many elves were being destroyed almost immediately upon being placed on the field. (Most of the lesser problems were due to not being able to customise the in-game deck.)


I decided that I would be sticking with good old green, and then perhaps expand a bit into black later on. So over the next few days, I tirelessly compiled and categorised a checklist of all the finest stand-alone cards I might need to build this new elf deck.

(All rankings are subjective, and priority is given to green elf creatures. Images all courtesy of their respective authors. ^^)


1] Imperious Perfect
2] Immaculate Magistrate
3] Elvish Archdruid





1] Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
2] Priest of Titania
3] Oracle of Mul Daya





1] Lys Alana Huntmaster
2] Wolf-Skull Shaman
3] Wren's Run Packmaster




1] Elvish Visionary
2] Sylvan Messenger
3] Harmonize



1] Elvish Piper
2] Green Sun's Zenith
3] Tooth and Nail



1] Drove of Elves
2] Asceticism
3] Canopy Cover



1] Beast Within
2] Naturalize
3] Nevinyrral's Disk



1] Silhana Ledgewalker
2] Treetop Scout
3] Gaea's Revenge



Never Die

1] Nissa's Chosen
2] Masked Admirers
3] Vengevine


Other Effects




Special Additions



You should be able to create a fairly decent elf deck by selecting from the assortment of cards featured above. I will just mention that there are some very powerful half-green legendary elves included up there which I highly recommend.


The standard unlocked Guardians of the Wood deck is a solid one, although it would definitely benefit from some modification. It has already evolved to make use of dual green/black, and holds up well against most other colour decks. I had significant trouble with one particular rare-filled vampire deck, although maybe that was merely bad luck.


I actually played with the Blood Hunger deck and found that it fared worse than Guardians of Wood, but perhaps I’m just not used to how vampires work. Auramancer was fun to play, despite the fact that the deck didn’t seem to have enough functional creatures in it. After working my way through all the stages of the Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 game, I concluded that green elves are best paired with black or white spells. Black allows opponent creatures to be more easily destroyed, while white offers enchantment support and life gain.

As for playing Magic with only your favourite cards, I have a solution. Just use MSE to make your own MTG cards, print them out using your laser printer, and glue the resulting cut-outs over a bunch of common cards. Slide your creations into some protective sleeves, and then hope none of your friends notice the difference.
See? It’s easy.

Good luck with your quest for the ultimate MTG deck, and try to keep your cat off the playing field. :3

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