General Game Plan:

Elves wants to utilize its core of mana dorks to rapidly flood the board with bodies, pump them with tribal lords, and swing wide to exhaust the opponent's blockers and removal. Because the deck can dump its hand very rapidly and subsequently produce ever greater quantities of mana, the deck is well-suited to utilizing cards such as Lead the Stampede to refill your hand, Collected Company to quickly field creatures, and Chord of Calling to dig for win conditions such as Craterhoof Behemoth or Shaman of the Pack.

Win Conditions:

  • Beatdown: The most straightforward way of winning is to flood the board with elves, pump them via lords, and swing wide. We can also borrow a page from the Merfolk playbook utilizing an Elvish Champion and Nylea's Presence combo to ignore potential blockers thanks to forestwalk.
  • Overrun: Another means of winning is to simply smash through whatever blockers the opponent currently has. We can do this by either repeatedly using Ezuri, Renegade Leader's second ability as a mana sink, or by resolving a Craterhoof Behemoth.
  • Life Loss: Resolving a Shaman of the Pack will result in our opponent losing life equal to the total number of elves we have fielded. This can be used as the last bit of reach needed to finish off an opponent on low life, or for the rarer total blowout for 10-20 damage.

Food for Thought:

  • An opening hand with four plus lands is flooded, and is an immediate mulligan.
  • One ideal turn sequence is turn one Blooming Marsh into Heritage Druid, turn two Cavern of Souls into Dwynen's Elite into Elvish Archdruid. Following this start with a Company paid by the Archdruid and/or a Lead paid via a third land on turn three can readily overwhelm your opponent.
  • When sideboarding creatures, first determine if your mainboarded flex creatures are valuable in the matchup. Then begin rotating other creatures into the slots occupied by Nettle Sentinels.
  • Remember that Pendelhaven cannot pump elves already bolstered by any lords on the field.
  • When casting creature spells, it's always best to use Cavern of Souls to pay for the most important creature in your hand. Save it for your lords, Ezuri, Renegade Leader, Shaman of the Pack, and for changelings like Mirror Entity and Chameleon Colossus.
  • Our mana dorks cannot tap for mana the turn they're played due to summoning sickness. This means you always want two lands in your opening hand to guarantee being able to play Elvish Archdruid, Imperious Perfect, or Elvish Champion on turn two.
  • The deck is capable of generating massive amounts of mana on turns two and three via the interactions between Heritage Druid, Dwynen's Elite and Nettle Sentinel. Heritage Druid on turn one into a turn two Dwynen's Elite nets three mana, enough to play one of our lords the same turn despite having two tapped lands. The other option is enabling an infinite or near-infinite mana-generating loop by paying the Heritage Druid's activation cost by tapping two or three Nettle Sentinels. The next spell you play will untap the Sentinels, meaning you can then repeat the process ad nauseum so long as you can keep tapping elves by groups of three.
  • Chord of Calling is essentially copies two through five of any one of our win conditions or silver bullets. Opponent played a threatening planeswalker and you don't have enough creature to remove it when attacking? Chord for Phyrexian Revoker. Opponent has a hand full of nothing but counterspells and targeted removal? Chord for Thrun, the Last Troll. Need a finisher? Chord for Craterhoof Behemoth or Ezuri, Renegade Leader. The ability to attack is impeded by an artifact or enchantment? Chord for Reclamation Sage. Need to stretch for that last bit of damage for lethal? Chord for Shaman of the Pack. Just need a big beater on the table? Chord for Chameleon Colossus.
  • Regenerating an elf does not prevent the damage that would be dealt to it. Rather it prevents the destruction of said creature. This ability bricks against exile and flicker effects.
  • The deck is surprisingly resistant to board clears with the right cards in hand. Lords, Ezuri, and optional sideboard regeneration tech offer great protection from most wraths and "-x/-x" effects. The only clears that pose serious threat to our board state are Wrath of God and Damnation. Should the opponent cast one of those, however, following up with a Collected Company can quickly bring us back into the game.
  • Artifacts and Enchantments, however, can be very difficult for the deck to deal with. While opting to mainboard Abrupt Decay or Reclamation Sage readily handles many pre-sideboard permanents, expect your opponents to bring in every last means of disrupting the ability to flood the board or swing wide in games two and three. You can bring in the additional copies of additional sideboard hate, and in extreme cases, Fracturing Gust.
  • Shaman of the Pack and Craterhoof Behemoth will include themselves in calculating their ETB triggers should the creatures remain on the board when said triggers resolve.
  • Flipping a Westvale Abbey  Flip can quickly move an opponent's difficult position to an unwinnable one. It's an excellent tertiary win condition for those games where you fail to draw into your close-out lines of play. Furthermore, it can often be wise to hold onto the Abbey and treat it as a creature instead of just playing it as another land. Just remember that flipping the Abbey as it's played from hand is an all-in play that can quickly result in a loss if it gets targeted by Path to Exile or similar cards; it is always a smart choice to protect this play with Thoughtseize if you have it available.

Alternative Card Choices:

  • There are three options that can be replacements for our mana-producing one drops. For those on a tight budget, Arbor Elf can replace the playset of Heritage Druid. Though not as efficient as the Nettle/Heritage combo, it's more than capable of supplying the mana needed to swarm elves onto the board. For those very dependent on having black mana, Elves of Deep Shadow is a dork that can produce at the cost of one life per mana. Lastly, if you want some extra utility, Gnarlroot Trapper is an inversion of EoDS, costing and paining you to produce ; however, it also comes with an added ability of tapping to give an attacking elf deathtouch rendering combat math a real pain for your opponent. Just remember Trapper only dorks to cast elf creatures, and only gives deathtouch to attacking elves you control.
  • Chameleon Colossus is a potential from-left-field win condition. It's a self-pumping beater with protection from black, making it effectively bolt-proof and untouchable by any black spells/creatures. It's pumped by our lords, gains forestwalk from Elvish Champion, can be regenerated and pumped by Ezuri. Renegade Leader, unable to be countered if payed for with mana from a Cavern of Souls, and can even tap to pay for Heritage Druid's ability cost! The only threats are removal like Path to Exile, Wrath of God, and the like.
  • Melira, Sylvok Outcast is a silver bullet for infect decks. She is a sideboard auto-include if you still see that deck floating around your local meta.
  • Eternal Witness is your emergency recursion should a spell you needed to resolve get countered or a creature you need to stay on the board be removed. The regrowth effect is exceptionally potent, though typically best in grindy mid-range games where you really need to fight for the board when closing out the game. The casting cost and not being an elf can make the Witness a tad less-than-ideal in games that will end no later than turn four.
  • Wheel of Sun and Moon can completely shutdown both Mill and Dredge decks, and lock out any other decks from deriving bonus value from their graveyard. While not the best option for it, it can also help protect against wraths, though exiling effects make reliance solely on Wheel problematic. Furthermore, Wheel renders Eternal Witness a dead card for your own use.
  • Creeping Corrosion is a potential replacement for Fracturing Gust; though it lacks the raw power and must be cast during a main phase, you can afford to play it a turn sooner. It's an excellent choice when building on a budget. Both act as silver bullets for artifact and enchantment heavy decks like Lantern Control and Affinity, though, and it'd be remiss to not include one of the two options in your sideboard.
  • Lead the Stampede is the obvious stand-in for Collected Company, but do be aware that it is both slower and less effective, as it's a sorcery that places the creatures you hit in your hand instead of an instant that puts them on the battlefield. Particularly fast lists may prefer to pack in both Company and Lead, eschewing Chord partially if not entirely.
  • Chord of Calling has two neat replacements, though it should be noted both are slower due to playing at sorcery speed. Eldritch Evolution is a great alternative for lists that run a bit lower to the ground, relying more on Ezuri and Elvish Champion to ignore and overrun blockers through a series of swings instead of an outright Behemoth blowout. Primal Command is the other option; when you use it to dig for a finisher, the downside is negligible (what would we be digging for but a Behemoth?) but the additional modes make this a great Swiss army knife we can use alongside Chord as readily as in place of it in slower lists.
  • Thoughtseize has two possible replacements: Inquisition of Kozilek is about a quarter of the price, but can only hit cards with 3 CMC or less. Duress is dirt-cheap, but can only hit noncreature, nonland cards. Thoughtseize is somewhat irreplaceable for the reasons this deck uses it, and thus should not be substituted, however.
  • Targeted removal comes in three flavors: Dismember is the cheapest option, and mono-green friendly since it can be cast for and 4 life. Abrupt Decay is unique in that it's both uncounterable and can hit any non-land permanent, providing it the greatest flexibility in application; however, it's the hardest to cast costing , and limited to targets of 3 CMC or less. Fatal Push is the most expensive inclusion per piece of cardboard, but the most efficient creature removal of the three options at merely , and being able to stretch to hit a 4 CMC creature with the revolt trigger. Gauge all three options compared to your local meta and your budget when deciding which to include.
  • Golgari Charm is an ideal anti-wrath tech choice for your sideboard in builds due to it's added flexibility of "Choose one" options. Wrap in Vigor is the mono-green friendly substitute. A third, more unique option is to embrace the boardclears with Prowess of the Fair - this tribal enchantment not only counts as an elf permanent (thus working as a mana producer with Archdruid, or Heritage Druid in a pinch), but replaces each non-token elf sent to the graveyard from battle with a 1/1 elf token.



Bulldawg1310 says... #1

I just don't get it it, why do people play Nettle Sentinel? am I missing something? throw them Elvish Champions in the mainboard! get them elves pumped!

July 15, 2017 12:16 a.m.

Bulldawg1310 says... #2

also, since youre running Chord of Calling have you considered Throne of the God-Pharaoh? I added it to my golgari elves deck and has turned into a nice little win-con for me. just something to think about, since youre goin wide.

July 15, 2017 12:18 a.m.

EWDijkstra says... #3

To answer your question and suggestions Bulldawg1310:

Nettle Sentinel is already great value having the stats of a bear but the cost of a mana dork. What's really pushes it over the top is three paired with a Heritage Druid can generate mana infinitely - tap three sentinels to get , play a green spell causing your sentinels to untap, then repeat until you run out of green spells of 3 CMC or less.

Secondly, Elvish Champion can be detrimental mainboarded against mirrors, as it affects all other elves, both those you control and those your opponent controls. If the opponent doesn't have forests, all you're getting is the anthem effect; this is why I find Imperious Perfect to be the better default mainboarded lord since you can always afford to produce the token, although you can easily throw other utility creatures such as Eternal Witness or Scavenging Ooze in the same slot.

Lastly, I personally view Throne of the God-Pharaoh to be inconsistent since there are multiple variables that the opponent can readily change to reduce it's effectiveness. You need to swing wide, not be at risk of a lethal crackback, and have your elves and the throne stick to the board while you're building numbers up. Chord is more for fishing out silver bullets from our deck than snagging the exactly-lethal Shaman ETB trigger in most cases. I've yet to close out a game chording Shaman, while I've won multiple games hitting one or two Shamans off a Collected Company, or by playing Ormendahl directly from hand. Elves wants to ideally close out around turn four or five latest, and the "grind them down" plan of Throne is not that appealing as a back-up, especially on the mainboard.

July 15, 2017 8:04 p.m.

Bulldawg1310 says... #4

you may just be unlucky then. because ive gone from about a 55% win percentage to about 70% with the addition of throne, especially if you can co-co, then tap the newly entered elves on top of what you've already had for a chord of calling to grab a shaman, its detrimental, pretty much every time. as for the added lord, I understand what youre sayin about mirror matches, but it still puts everything on a level playing field, youll both just be building up armys to swing unblockable lethal. it becomes a race.

July 15, 2017 11:38 p.m.

WiltLeafElves says... #5

+1, although I may have already done so in the past (sorry, I'm forgetful)

You've got a very good deck here!

Has Spellskite been helpful to you? I used to run it, but found that it ended up turning out like this.

  1. I cast spellskite
  2. My opponent casts a removal spell on an important elf.
  3. I redirect to spellskite.
  4. I'm short a creature, and my opponent is short a removal.

Usually, it ends up becoming a 2 mana evoke creature with give one time hexproof.


Nettle sentinel is simply there, as stated by EWDijkstra, because it works very well with heritage druid, and is good with chord of calling. Sentinel is also used in a different elf deck, which runs cards such as Beck / Call (a modern legal of Glimpse of Nature, which got banned at the start of modern), Cloudstone Curio, and Elvish Visionary. The scenario in which nettle sentinel can basically end games is this;

Tap 3 sentinel for 3 mana (off heritage druid), cast Elvish Visionary. You leave 1 Green floating, and you draw a card. Because of Cloudstone Curio, if you have another visionary, you can return it to your hand.

Next, you cast another visionary. This time, you have 2 Green floating, and you use cloudstone curio to return visionary.

You can continue by using your nettles to cast the same 2 visionarys over and over, until you have a whole ton of mana, which can be placed into a spell such as Banefire, casting a Craterhoof Behemoth, activating an ezuri multiple times, etc.

Dont forget nettle also can be a vanilla 2/2 with pseudo vigilance (sometimes better than vigilance)

July 20, 2017 11:03 a.m.

EWDijkstra says... #6


I've generally found Spellskite to be really hot or a brick. The ability to suddenly ruin your opponent's ability to reach or cast combat tricks is great, but if those aren't integral parts of their strategy, it becomes less valuable. The 0/4 is also a decent body to chump, but that really isn't something you should be needing the creature for in this deck. It's a safe sideboard pick for playing in either an unknown meta or a one full of burn, pump and combat tricks.

I've yet much practicing to do to really have my general knowledge become habit with this deck; alongside that, I want to see if I can better slim down and tune my sideboard for my local area. It is possible in the future that skite will be replaced down the road by something slightly better suited for me. It'd be remiss to not have one available to throw in your sideboard when needed, however.

July 20, 2017 11:34 p.m.

WiltLeafElves says... #7

Yeah, spellskite is really a funny sideboard. Some people who run it actually need it for their meta, and as you said, its a good sideboard if you don't know your meta yet.

There are some people who mistakenly believe you can redirect a counterspell onto skite, which you can't,

6/1/2011	You can activate Spellskite’s ability even if Spellskite wouldn’t be a legal target for the spell or ability. However, the target of that spell or ability will remain unchanged.
July 20, 2017 11:39 p.m.

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Date added 5 months
Last updated 1 month

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.19
Tokens 1/1 Elf Warrior, 1/1 Human Cleric
Folders Green, Decks i like
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