If you're a fan of Elves and want to the play them in Standard then this deck is for you. The main strategy is to obviously fill the battlefield with Elves, but beyond that are four different distinct strategies being used: Elf tribal, energy, +1/+1 counters and ramp. Metallic Mimic is the Elf tribal payoff, it rewards me for playing Elves. Energy fixes mana colors with Servant of the Conduit, Aether Hub and Attune with Aether to converge Skyrider Elf making him a potential 5/5+ flying Elf. Energy is also used as a way to gain life with Aethersphere Harvester. The +1/+1 counters strategy starts with Winding Constrictor and is reinforced by Elves Rishkar, Peema Renegade and Metallic Mimic. These Elves combine with Constrictor to make a +1/+1 counters layering effect that's very synergistic as well as powerful.

The Elf tribal strategy comes from Metallic Mimic. I can call this deck a tribal deck because of it. Once it's on the battlefield it makes any other Elf that enters better. Mimic itself can be an Elf which lets multiple copies of it stack. A second Elf Mimic enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter from the first one. Likewise if there are two Mimics on the battlefield any Elf that enters gets two additional +1/+1 counters. Mimic is a two drop letting me get it into play as early as turn two which is the best possible scenario because any other Elf that enters gets a counter boost. Since Mimic is an artifact creature it has a colorless cost which is great when using three colors. Being an artifact Elf also has other sideboard advantages.

The energy strategy is here for Skyrider Elf. He's the reason this deck is using blue. He's an incredible Elf because he has flying. Skyrider is powered by energy in the sense that I'm using energy as different colors of mana to best converge him. This deck is using many ways to make energy Servant of the Conduit is the lone mana Elf who uses energy to make any color of mana which is just what Skyrider needs. Attune with Aether is a one mana way to make as well as tutor for a basic land of my choice. Both these abilities are great with Skyrider. Aether Hub is an energy land that combined with an energy strategy can make any color of mana throughout a game.

Flying evasion in combination with the +1/+1 counter strategy makes Skyrider a real threat who must be dealt with. He creates a bridge between energy and +1/+1 counters strategies because he's an Elf that begins by entering the battlefield with +1/+1 counters and I use energy to make different colors of mana to put up to five starting counters on him. Because he's an Elf Metallic Mimic can make him better by putting an additional counter on him for each Mimic I control. Skyrider enters the battlefield with counters already this is excellent with Winding Constrictor because it adds additional counters to him.

Getting a 4/4 Skyrider turn three or a 5/5 turn four are the reasons to play him. Any single two drop of Servant, Mimic or Constrictor turn two can do this with three other different colored land sources. This brings a lot of consistency to using the flying Elf.

Winding Constrictor does two important things in this deck it's the build around card for the +1/+1 counters strategy and it boosts the amount of energy I can make. Constrictor adds an additional counter to any creature that a counter is being placed on this includes when the creature enters the battlefield. Elves enter the battlefield with a counter for each Metallic Mimic I control; Constrictor can then add an additional counter for each one of it I control. This layering of counters on Elves is the reason to use Constrictor with them; they can get very big. Constrictor also increases the amount of energy I can make. When I get one or more energy counters it adds an additional one for each Constrictor I control; as a result a lot of energy can be made.

For Winding Constrictor to be an option with Elves I need Elves to start off with counters on them or to use Elves who can put counters on other Elves. Skyrider Elf is the lone Elf that starts off with counters on him when he enters the battlefield. Metallic Mimic and Rishkar, Peema Renegade are the Elves that put +1/+1 counters on other Elves thus creating this layering effect of counters with Constrictor. Rishkar's ability puts two counters on two different creatures this can include himself as one of them; for each Constrictor I control an additional counter is placed on those creatures.

The ramp strategy comes from Servant of the Conduit and Rishkar, Peema Renegade. Servant is the lone mana Elf in this deck and Rishkar ability makes any creature that has a counter on it into a mana dork. Just like Skyrider Elf Rishkar is also a bridge between two strategies, +1/+1 counters and ramp. Riskhar's main job is a counter distributor, putting counters on other Elves this combines very nicely with using those same creatures as ramp. With Metallic Mimic on the battlefield any Elf that enters after it gets a counter thus turning it into a mana Elf. Rishkar and Mimic are a +1/+1 counters and ramp Elf team. I'm not looking to use Elves primarily as ramp. It's a strategy present here, but it's a backup strategy. I would rather attack with my creatures than use them as ramp. The mass production of +1/+1 counters can make Elves very big, actual threats. More damage can be done by attacking with Elves than tapping them for mana.

If I'm choosing to use ramp then I'm ramping into not only other Elves, but two other powerful artifact creatures Walking Ballista and Verdurous Gearhulk. Both these creatures use +1/+1 counters making them ridiculously good with Winding Constrictor and the +1/+1 counters strategy. Ballista is a Swish Army knife of utility because it uses counters that are on itself to do damage. Ballista can kill creatures, Planeswalkers and players with counters. It starts off entering the battlefield with counters which is excellent with Constrictor because it adds additional counters to it. Another ability that Ballista has is to put a counter on itself. With just a single Constrictor also in play makes that two counters instead of one. This can get out of hand very fast for my opponent. This ability is very beneficial because I can play Ballista as a two drop 1/1 creature getting it onto the battlefield with one counter on it and then when my board state is more established or I get a Constrictor also into play I can start adding counters to it. Ballista is a creature that I can build up over time by just using mana.

Verdurous Gearhulk is the top end win condition it's a five drop who can spread out up to four +1/+1 counters among creatures I control including itself. It's ability to spread out counters makes it amazing with Winding Constrictor and Elves. Suddenly a single counter placed on a creature from Gearhulk becomes two or more counters. Gearhulk has the ability to make tons of counters spread out among Elves.

Two other Elves fit nicely into this deck. Sylvan Advocate pairs great with both Metallic Mimic and Rishkar, Peema Renegade. Getting just a single counter on Advocate from either gives him four toughness which is very good. Getting a counter on Advocate is especially good with Rishkar because he can turn Advocate into a mana Elf. Since Advocate has vigilance he becomes a possible attacking Elf threat as well as a ramping option; I can attack with him and then tap him to make mana. Like Winding Constrictor Advocate continues the anti-aggro creature trend in this deck. 2/3 two drops do a great job at holding down the fort against aggro. Due to the low land count, it's rare to get six lands in my control and the fact that this deck is three colors Hissing Quagmire is currently not being used. This is unfortunate because this leaves out Advocate's ability to give Quagmire a boost in power.

Armorcraft Judge is the dedicated draw spell in this deck. Judge is amazing because she's not just a draw spell, but also an Elf to put counters on this makes her especially good with Metallic Mimic who puts a counter on her before her draw trigger happens letting me draw at least one card. This interaction is great, but the real reason she's in this deck is because of her potential to draw a ton of cards. Depending on my board state, the number of creatures I control with +1/+1 counters I can draw anywhere from 2-8+ cards. This is pretty incredible for a 4 drop Elf. Even just being able to draw 2-3 cards can give me a huge advantage in any game. Matchups where the battlefield gets clogged up with creatures are where Judge shines giving me tremendous card advantage.

Vehicles in Standard have shown that they're some of the most broken cards to be in the format. Aethersphere Harvester continues this trend. It has a great advantage over all other Vehicles; it creates and uses energy. Harvester can gain me life using energy, giving it lifelink for a turn. Flying 3/5 stats with a crew cost of 1 is the reason Harvester is so good, any creature in this deck can crew it. 5 toughness makes it amazing vs aggro as well as being able to block any other playable Vehicle. 3 power makes it a potent attacker and since it has flying a real threat and Planeswalker killer. Being an artifact Vehicle also has other sideboard advantages.

Attune with Aether lets me use a low land count because it can tutor for any basic land of my choice. Using a low land count only 20x lands has advantages because the average cmc is very low with 2 drops taking up the majority of the mana curve. Using less lands lets me hopefully draw more Elves instead of lands. Servant of the Conduit also helps with this lower land count. Attune just happens to also make Servant better since both make energy for Servant to use as mana.


There's some set-up involved with this deck to bring the power level up a notch. Better gameplay options are opened up by playing certain cards on certain turns. This is Magic though and getting the perfect turns all the time is not realistic. Fortunately, this deck is packed with many great turn plays to make up for this. Elves are the name of the game here, but sometimes I don't even need them in a game to win.

Here's a breakdown of the best cards on the best turns:

  1. Turn 1: Attune with Aether
  2. Turn 2: Winding Constrictor or Metallic Mimic or Servant of the Conduit
  3. Turn 3: Rishkar, Peema Renegade or Skyrider Elf or Aethersphere Harvester
  4. Turn 4: Skyrider Elf or Armorcraft Judge or Walking Ballista
  5. Turn 5: Verdurous Gearhulk

The option for turn one is Attune with Aether. The reason it's being used as a 4 of is to have the best possible way to play it turn one. There are 16x come into play untapped green sources for a turn one Attune. A turn one Attune gives me great mana color fixing which is needed to help to cast Winding Constrictor and Skyrider Elf who have restrictive double different color mana costs. It also sets me up with two to begin the game. Attune makes two making Aether Hub a fine turn one land drop paying to play Attune because it powers up Hub for two more times after using any color while also for sure giving me a land drop for the next turn.

A turn two Winding Constrictor or Metallic Mimic is the best case scenario in this deck. Either of these creatures turn two sets up great plays with other cards. If I have both in hand to play turn two which ever one I play is completely determined by the other cards in my hand. If I have Rishkar, Peema Renegade and a third land or Walking Ballista I'll play Constrictor. If I have a Sylvan Advocate and Armorcraft Judge in hand I'll play Mimic instead of Constrictor. It's best to get one of both of Constrictor and Mimic on the battlefield before I start to play other cards, but this is unrealistic because either are magnets for removal, Constrictor much more than Mimic. Another fine two turn play is Servant of the Conduit. If I don't have a third land in hand I will most likely play Servant over either Constrictor or Mimic. It's best to play Servant when Constrictor is already on the battlefield to make more energy, but sometimes this doesn't work out.

The most powerful plays begins with a turn two Winding Constrictor. Turn two Constrictor into turn three Rishkar, Peema Renegade is the best play in this deck. This curve gives me a 4/5 Snake who can attack turn three and a 4/4 Rishkar who can attack turn four letting me attack with 8 power of creatures turn four. Add to this curve a turn four 5/5 Skyrider Elf lets me attack with 13 power of creatures turn five potentially winning the game. There are many other powerful lines of play in this deck for instance a turn two Mimic into a turn three Constrictor into a turn four Rishkar into a turn five Verdurous Gearhulk.

Any one of the three of Winding Constrictor or Metallic Mimic or Servant of the Conduit turn two sets up a possible turn three 4/4 Skyrider Elf or turn four 5/5+ Skyrider. This brings a lot of flexibility to using Skyrider since 12x cards can be used to set him up.

Skyrider Elf is a very versatile Elf because of his mana cost. He can be played from a two mana 2/2 all the way up to a five mana 5/5. This versatility and his flying ability lets me stick him anywhere on the mana curve giving me many many options in gameplay. Skyrider's biggest problem is he's a target for Fatal Push which unfortunately is currently the best removal spell in Standard. Sometimes I will use energy resources to get a large Skyrider into play, but no matter how big his power and toughness are he can be killed by Push because his base casting cost is two. The threat of Push looms over every game if my opponent is playing black and I must be aware of this at all times.

Just like Skyrider Elf, Walking Ballista is also versatile because of it's mana cost. I can play a Ballista for any amount of mana, any amount of mana I use it will get a number of +1/+1 counters equal to half that amount. It's another fine turn two play in some matchups such as control. A 1/1 Ballista with one counter on it turn two can most likely make it into play without being countered. Just getting Ballista onto the battlefield opens up a lot of gameplay options. Ballista's ability to put counters on itself brings with it interesting gameplay. It's best to play a Ballista when a Winding Constrictor is already in my control to get an additional counter when it enters the battlefield, but it's ability to put counters on itself makes it a fine play also without a Constrictor. Games where I can set it up to have both in my control and the ability to make four mana to use Ballista's ability to grow itself can be game winning, putting two counters per four mana onto Ballista. In this situation who needs Elves?

Ramp is a great strategy with Ballista. With Rishkar, Peema Renegade, Servant of the Conduit and other Elves with counters on them I can pour mana into a big Ballista which may or may not just be able to finish off and kill my opponent. I can remove any number of counters from Ballista targeting a creature or player with them. I don't have to empty all counters from Ballista I can leave it as a 1/1 using all counters on it, but one. I can then start to rebuild it up with counters.

Turn three is the pivotal turn in this deck because it most likely puts me in a strategy for the game. Skyrider Elf puts me in an energy strategy, Rishkar, Peema Renegade puts me in either counters or ramp strategy and Aethersphere Harvester puts me in a defensive life gaining stance. What I play turn three is determined by what I played turn two. Rishkar is the best turn three play if I previously played a Winding Constrictor. If I previously played a Servant of the Conduit than Skyrider is the turn three play. If I'm against aggro or had no turn two play then Harvester is the play because any creature I play after can crew it. Likewise if I played a creature turn two it can crew Harvester to block any aggro creature.

Due the low avg. cmc of this deck turn four and after can be explosive. Depending on my board state Armorcraft Judge is a great turn four play I really want to play her before a board wipe happens to get some draw value. If a turn two Metallic Mimic survived then Judge has the potential to draw three more cards which can put me very far ahead in any game. If a turn two Winding Constrictor survived then Walking Ballista is a good turn four play. If either Mimic or Constrictor or Servant of the Conduit survived then getting a 5/5+ Skyrider Elf into play is also excellent. Ramp also adds to many gameplay options turn four. Verdurous Gearhulk can be ramped into play turn four which can be powerful. If I don't need to be afraid of a board wipe then just ramping two or three more Elves into play can also be good; putting more threats on the battlefield who my opponent needs to deal with.

The best turn five play is Verdurous Gearhulk. He can also be played turn four with the help of ramp, but turn five lets him do the most damage having more creatures to target to put counters on. Gearhulk is best when I control a Winding Constrictor before playing him because this doubles the amount of counters I put on each creature I target with his ability. Sometimes it's benefical to wait to play Gearhulk getting a Constrictor into play first.

Fatal Push is the main deck removal spell and due to it's single cost to play makes it excellent. Knowing when to leave up a black source for Push is important, but it's not as important than you might think. This deck can produce a lot of blockers both on the ground and in the air because of this Push is not as needed. It's being main decked to slow down aggro because aggro can have some very explosive early turns with Heart of Kiran. Heart is the number one target for Push with Winding Constrictor as the second. Getting rid of a Constrictor is just as important as killing Heart because Constrictor sets up great plays after it's on the battlefield without a Constrictor these plays from my opponent are much less powerful.

Gameplay Tips

Here's some random tips to help with the gameplay of this deck:

  1. Blooming Marsh and Aether Hub are the most important lands. If I have the option as Marsh for my turn one land drop I will always do this.

  2. If I control a Winding Constrictor then I will always make Aether Hub as my land drop for the turn to make sure I get the extra energy before Constrictor dies.

  3. After the first Attune with Aether I will wait to play other copies unless I'm having land troubles until I control a Winding Constrictor to get the the extra energy.

  4. If I control a Rishkar, Peema Renegade and play another one due to the legendary rule I can choose which one I want to keep and which one to destroy. I can keep the one already on the battlefield and still get the two +1/+1 counters trigger from the second one I played. When the second Rishkar enters the battlefield I distribute the two counters and then destroy it keeping the first one in my control.

  5. If I control a Metallic Mimic Rishkar enters the battlefield already with a +1/+1 counter he doesn't need to use his ability to put a counter on himself, but instead can put the counters on other creatures.

  6. If I control a Sylvan Advocate he's the best Elf to put a counter on with Rishkar, Peema Renegade's ability

  7. I can crew Aethersphere Harvester with Rishkar before triggering Rishkar's enter the battlefield ability and put a counter on Harvester.

  8. Harvester can gain me life by attacking or blocking because it's ability to gain lifelink can be done at instant speed at any time as long as I have energy.

  9. If I know that my opponent is playing Grasp of Darkness I'll wait to play Skyrider Elf as a 5/5 instead of a 4/4. If I suspect my opponent isn't playing Grasp, but instead Fatal Push then it doesn't matter when I play Skyrider.

  10. If I expect a board wipe I will keep second copies of Metallic Mimic and Winding Constrictor in my hand instead of playing them. I do this because either of these creatures set-up good plays with other cards after a board wipe letting me better recover.

  11. I don't attack with either Winding Constrictor or Metallic Mimic unless I know for sure the coast is clear and they will survive combat. I take this precaution because both these creatures are very important to all strategies in this deck. I would rather keep either of them alive then do a little damage with them.

  12. Due to Armorcraft Judge I try to distribute counters among all my creatures not just build them up on one creature making it very powerful. The more creatures with counters on them the better, more cards I can draw from Judge the better.

  13. Emptying a Walking Ballista thus destroying it is a fine way to trigger revolt making Fatal Push better while at the same time doing some damage with counters

  14. Fatal Push can kill Walking Ballista with any number of counters on it without having to trigger revolt because Ballista's base cmc is 0.

More Tips Coming Soon...

This Deck is Born

My Elvish journey in Standard started with the release of Magic Origins and a powerful three drop Elf creature, Shaman of the Pack. She allowed Elves decks in Standard to actually work and possibly be competitive. The first version of this deck was Golgari colors (G/B) and called Golgari Elves. The very first decklist was:June 30, 2015

Chord of Calling

During the first day of playtesting on I came to the conclusion that Thoughtseize is not really needed game 1, but rather games 2 and 3 to take your opponent's board wipes and Planeswalkers. I moved 4x Seize to the sideboard for 4x main deck Chord of Calling. I quickly found out that Chord was bonkers in this deck and with Elves in general. Convoking a Chord for six to get Shaman was easy for this deck and extremely powerful.June 30, 2015

Woodland Bellower

Adding Bellower gave this deck a fantastic one of Chord target since he can find and put Shaman directly into play. At the time I could convoke a Chord for 9 using my Elves on the battlefield and lands to get a Bellower which was a powerful play, but I realized much later that Bellower really does cost too much to reliably play in this deck.July 1, 2015

Sylvan Messenger

The name Messenger Elves is born. At first I wasnt playtesting with Messenger at all. Someone in the comments section recommended that I add some Messengers because Chord can get her and since then I haven't looked back. I Added 4x Messenger to the deck and took out 4x Company.July 5, 2015

First Sideboard

Up until now I wasn't using a sideboard in my playtesting since the meta had not even remotely started to become clear. The first sideboard for this deck was a mess:I quickly found out that Deadbridge is not a good card and Seize should go back into the main deck.July 6, 2015

Winning Decklist

After taking a few weeks off from playing this deck I returned to it and developed the first completive decklist. I started winning a lot on and was feeling really good about the deck.July 20, 2015

Thoughtseize Back

I moved 4x Seize out of the sideboard and put it back in the main deck. The main reason for this change was because of Abzan and main deck Languish.

July 22, 2015

Gilt-Leaf Winnower

Winnower was a completely overlooked card by me at first. I didn't think it was a good card at all. Then Abzan with Siege Rhino became the best deck in Standard so I decided to start playtesting Winnower and was very much surprised how good he is. 1x Winnower was added to the main deck and sideboard.July 24, 2015

Chord Toolbox

This was the first really thought out sideboard plan using a variety of singleton creatures and using convoke with Chord of Calling to get any one of them when I needed them. Some interesting creatures included:This sideboard plan while neat turned out to not be needed and after a while I changed the sideboard back to a traditional plan.July 27, 2015

Downfall and Obelisk

Hero's Downfall was added main deck in place of Murderous Cut basically because of Abzan with Rhino and Elspeth. I had cut Downfalls for Cuts in the early stages because of the double black casting cost of Downfall which was a misstake. 2x Obelisk of Urd was also added which gave this deck another powerful way to win the game if I wasn't finding or drawing Shaman or Chord.Aug 15, 2015

More Nissa

At one point I was playing 4x Nissa main deck with 20 lands. I quickly found out that four Nissa is too much and 20 lands is not enough. I ended up using 3x Nissa and 21 lands for a while until I finally settled on 2x Nissa.

Aug 18, 2015

Collected Company

All this time I wasn't playing Company at all instead deciding to go with 4x Messenger as my card advantage. Company is too powerful of a card not to play in this deck because of the interaction with Shaman. I added 2x Company main deck.

Aug 19, 2015

Self-Inflicted Wound

By this time Abzan Aggro and Midrange was rampant in Standard. Wound turned out and still is a terrific sideboard card vs Abzan. Added 4x Self-Inflicted Wound to the sideboard.

Aug 24, 2015

Standard Rotation

Standard rotation was a month away, all cards from Theros block and the M15 core set can no longer be used in Standard. This deck lost a lot at this rotation with the biggest losses being Elvish Mystic, Chord of Calling, Thoughtseize and Downfall. All other elves in this deck were not affected which still left a great core in place moving forward.Sept 3, 2015

Battle for Zendikar

Battle for Zendikar while a pretty poor set in general, did give this deck three great new Elves. The returning creature type Ally and its new mechanic Rally added three Ally Elves to this deck, an excellent mana Elf in Beastcaller Savant, a flying Elf Skyrider Elf and an Elf that can mass pump a team of creatures for a turn Tajuru Warcaller. Battle also brought new powerful fetchable dual lands to Standard which allows this deck and many more to easily include a third color or more.Sept 15, 2015


With the release of Battle for Zendikar and Skyrider Elf this deck takes on a new shape by including blue as its third color, turning Messenger Elves into Sultai. Up until this point this deck was Golgari making this the first time I was splashing a third color in this deck. The first Sultai decklist was:Sept 19, 2015

Rattleclaw Mystic

I decided to replace Leaf Gilder with Rattleclaw Mystic because Mystic could help to cast since he can make blue mana a turn 3 Kiora, Master of the Depths or a 5/5 Skyrider Elf much easier then Gilder could. This change worked very well if I had either a Kiora or Skyrider in my opening hand, but was not the best with all the other elves, specifically Dwynen's Elite and Shaman of the Pack. Sept 26, 2015

Reality Shift

Before GW Megamorph was such a popular deck this deck used Reality Shift as its main deck and sideboard cheap removal spell. Shift replaced Murderous Cut. Shift could exile Hangarback Walker giving no value to your opponent in the process. Once GW Megamorph became so popular then the big drawback of giving your opponent a manifest after using Shift was too much of a negative to continue using the card.Oct 1, 2015


Added Drana, Liberator of Malakir to the main deck as another aggressive single creature threat and a powerful threat with a battlefield of Elves. Drana is another Ally creature for Tajuru Warcaller and Beastcaller Savant can help to cast her.

Oct 6, 2015

Gnarlroot Trapper

Since turning this deck into Sultai colors Gnarlroot Trapper hasnt been used because I didn't think a good manabase could be configured to have turn 1 Trapper, turn 2 Beastcaller and turn 3 Skyrider. I have retooled the manabase to make Trapper work including 10x come into play untapped black sources for a turn 1 Trapper. Trapper giving deathtouch to Skyrider is very powerful.Oct 11, 2015


Since the first version of Sultai Messenger Elves I haven't been playing Dwynen, which has been a mistake. Dark Jeskai is a very popular deck in Standard. This deck really struggles vs Jeskai and Mantis Rider. Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen is a four toughness lord Elf with reach that can attack through and block a Rider. Dwynen is also very good with Skyrider Elf because Skyrider is an Elf creature so he gets the pump from Dwynen. I added 2x Dwynen to the main in place of Drana, Liberator of Malakir because Drana is terrible vs Rider.Oct 27, 2015

Windswept Heath

After taking a break from playing this deck for a while I returned to it. All this time I have been using Bloodstained Mire and Flooded Strand as my two fetch lands because both can get all three of Sultai's color requirements. Both Mire and Strand can't fetch a Forest; this has turned out to be a large oversight by me of the building of this deck's mana base. Windswept Heath is replacing Strand in this deck because it can fetch a Forest and a blue source with Prairie Stream. Heath can't get a black source, but Mire can. Being able to have a fetch land that can fetch a Forest in the early game is very beneficial for this deck I just wish that I had realized this much earlier.Nov 21, 2015
Dec 14, 2015

Leaf Gilder

Added 4x Leaf Gilder giving this deck another two drop mana Elf. Gilder allows the possibility of a turn three Collected Company or Sylvan Messenger. Mana created by Gilder can be used to cast any spell in the deck which is great with Company. As a result of this Company has been increased to 3x main deck. The new Sulati decklist:
Jan 22, 2016

Oath of the Gatewatch

The set Oath of the Gatewatch is released. Oath gave this deck four very good main deck-able cards Sylvan Advocate, Oath of Nissa, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Hissing Quagmire. Advocate with Quagmire has turned out to have excellent interaction. To make room main deck for these new cards the Sultai Elf Ally strategy with Skyrider Elf, Beastcaller Savant and Tajuru Warcaller was cut.
Jan 22, 2016


With the release of Oath of the Gatewatch and having a new G/B Dual land Hissing Quagmire this deck moves back to Golgari colors. This move really simplified the manabase making it more consistent, not having to rely on fetch lands and battle lands. Cutting blue of Sultai colors was the biggest change for this deck in a while. Sylvan Advocate replaced Skyrider Elf, Oath of Nissa replaced Beastcaller Savant and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar replaced Tajuru Warcaller. The new Golgari decklist:
March 27, 2016

Shadows Over Innistrad

SOI didn't have any Elves in the entire set. Instead it brought combo back with Elves in the form of Cryptolith Rite and Westvale Abbey  Flip. This marks one of the biggest overall deck design changes for this deck in a while. No longer having to rely on just Shaman of the Pack or an Elf swam to win the game. Collected Company completely replaces Sylvan Messenger and the deck name Messenger Elves is changed to Rite Elves. The new Rite Elves decklist:
May 25, 2016


Rite Elves becomes Abzan to take advantage of the powerful cards Eldrazi Displacer and Declaration in Stone. Displacer adds yet another excellent combo piece to use with Cryptolith Rite and Shaman of the Pack. Continually, blinking Shaman now becomes the win condition of Rite Elves. This deck is now packing three powerful combo pieces to be used with Rite and Elves, Displacer, Duskwatch Recruiter  Flip and Westvale Abbey  Flip. Declaration is added mostly to combat Humans. Unconditional creature exile that can also completely wipe a battlefield of tokens is excellent. Abzan Rite Elves decklist:
July 17, 2016

Eldritch Moon

Eldritch Moon the second set in the Shadows Over Innistrad block also has no Elves just like the previous set. Huge Eldrazi Distended Mindbender and Decimator of the Provinces brought a new powerful mechanic to Magic, emerge. Emerge was great with the Cryptolith Rite combo strategy with Elves. Both these Eldrazi were included in this deck with Mindbender as the stand out and Decimator ending up in the end in the sideboard. Due to the double black emerge casting cost of Mindbender I cut white leaving behind the more complex Abzan manabase for a much more consistent Golgari one. Golgari Rite Elves decklist:
Sept, 2016

Shaman Rotates

The end of an era. Since the beginning Shaman of the Pack has been the center piece of this deck, but she rotated at this rotation. This was a huge rotation, rotating 90% of Elves out of Standard. The rest of Khans of Tarkir block rotated meaning Collected Company is gone as well as all of Magic Orgins. Magic Orgins was a great set for Elves because it had Shaman, Dwynen's Elite, Elvish Visionary, Sylvan Messenger and Nissa, Vastwood Seer  Flip. The loss of Shaman means this deck and Elves as a tribe are in trouble. Kaladesh the next block in Magic has to have Elves or the tribe is extinct in Standard. Because of this impeding rotation and the unknown fate of Elves I took a break from playing this deck until Kaladesh.
Sept 30, 2016


Thankfully, Kaladesh had Elves which really saved the Elf tribe in Standard. A new mechanic was introduced, energy. I liked energy right away and build the next version of this deck around it. Rite Elves is dead, but Energy Elves lives on. I changed this deck's name to Energy Elves. Skyrider Elf returns, the first time using him since the Sultai version of this deck back in Battle for Zendikar(BFZ). I used energy as a mana color fixer to take advantage of the converge creatures Skyrider and Woodland Wanderer from BFZ. A new type of artifact is also introduced, Vehicles. Smuggler's Copter ended up being the best Vehicle in the set and the best one with Elves. For the first time red is used in this deck for Harnessed Lightning, an excellent creature removal spell that uses energy. I started out in Sultai colors, but ending up in Temur. The Temur Energy Elves decklist:
Oct 16, 2016

More Tribal

Even though Energy Elves as it was built was fine I wasn't happy with the lack of tribal synergy. The deck was changed including an equipment for the first time, Stoneforge Masterwork as the tribal card with Elves. The energy strategy with Skyrider Elf remained and Peema Outrider joined the tribe giving this deck two Elves with evasion, flying and trample to best take advantage of Masterwork. The new Temur Energy Elves decklist:

Budget Energy Elves

Standard multimedia



+1/+1 counters is the new strategy of Energy Elves. It combines very nicely with the already existing energy strategy as well as ramp. I've decided to stay with Sultai colors and the decklist is mostly the same except now with the additions of Grasp of Darkness for creature removal. This deck is now categorized as midrange/ramp/+1/+1 counters/energy. The main reason for using this new +1/+1 counters strategy is Winding Constrictor has excellent interaction with both the new Elf lords, Metallic Mimic and Rishkar, Peema Renegade. These interactions with Elves are much better than any other possible new strategy to add to this deck. Blue is staying for Skyrider Elf while also allowing access to counter magic in the sideboard. Skyrider makes this deck unique which I like, but a more practical version would be straight Golgari. Just Golgari would bring a lot of consistency to using Constrictor and Grasp. Having said this for the time being I have too much fun playing Skyrider that I want to continue to do so. This update is comprised of explanations of some cards choices, the great new interactions among Elves and the first potential sideboard to combat the upcoming Standard metagame. Elves are once again fun to play due too all the great interactions they can have in Standard while also being pretty powerful.

Card Choices and New Interactions

Winding Constrictor becomes the new build around card. It does two things increases +1/+1 counters on my creatures and boosts my energy creation. All cards in this deck except removal have interaction with him. Constrictor is best friends with both Rishkar, Peema Renegade and Metallic Mimic because any creature I put counters on using Rishkar's ability instead gets two counters likewise for any Elf that gets a counter from Mimic when it enters the battlefield it gets two counters instead of one. The curve of turn two Constrictor into turn three Rishkar is well known now, but adding Mimic to this curve can also be powerful. A curve of turn two Mimic into two three Constrictor into turn four Rishkar gives me a 4/4 Rishkar, 4/5 Snake and a 4/3 Mimic letting me attack with 8 power turn four. Multiple copies of Constrictor as well as Mimic stack. Their ability to put counters on creatures doubles if two of either are in my control. This makes having multiplies of them on the battlefield or in my hand not a hindrance, but a strength.

Both Constrictor and Mimic have great interaction with Skyrider Elf because of the fact that Skyrider enters the battlefield with +1/+1 counters and he's an Elf. Skyrider can get huge and since he has flying he becomes a must kill threat. A huge appeal of Skyrider is being able to get a 4/4 flying Elf on the battlefield turn three or a 5/5 turn four. This deck is now using three different cards: Constrictor, Mimic and Servant of the Conduit who can be played turn two to help to make a turn three 4/4 Skyrider, giving amazing consistency. Constrictor may be the new build around card, but Skyrider is still the back-bone of this deck. Just like Constrictor all cards except removal have interaction with him. It's this streamlined approach that makes playing this deck very fun while also packing a tremendous punch.

My motto for this deck is to keep it tribal, Elf tribal. I've accomplished this with Metallic Mimic. Mimic is the tribal card and really the reason +1/+1 counters can be a tribal strategy with Elves. Mimic is a great card with Elves because it's a 2 drop. This low casting cost is the real reason it's playable with Elves. It can itself be an Elf when it enters the battlefield and it pumps any Elf that enters after it. Games where I get a turn two Metallic Mimic or Winding Constrictor are so much different than games where I don't. Either of these two creatures turn two sets up amazing plays afterwards for Elves.

There's not much more to say about Sylvan Advocate he's been a force in Standard since Oath of the Gatewatch and he will continue to be, especially in this deck. Since Advocate is an Elf he's amazing with Metallic Mimic getting just a single +1/+1 counter on him gives him 4 toughness which is very good. Turn two Advocate curves very well into turn three Rishkar, Peema Renegade. Advocate has vigilance this ability makes him an excellent mana Elf because with a counter on him he can first attack and then be tapped to make . Doing damage and helping to ramp other Elves into play seems pretty ideal for a 2 drop Elf.

The heart of the Elf tribe are it's mana Elves. Making mana is the mantra of Elves and this deck is taking advantage of that, but using the mana in a more unconventional way. Servant of the Conduit is the main mana Elf of this deck he helps to be able to cast a larger Skyrider Elf and Winding Constrictor consistently because he can make any color of mana taking some strain off the manabase. Servant is also incredible at ramping into turn four 5 drops such as Verdurous Gearhulk. Constrictor makes Conduit better because he makes instead of two. The same can be said for Aether Hub it makes instead of one. This boost in energy really helps making both these energy cards so much better. Previous versions of Energy Elves used Attune with Aether, Sage of Shaila's Claim and Harnessed Lightning to try to keep up with the need for energy. Something other than Conduit and Hub was needed in those versions to be consistent. Constrictor's ability fills this need.

Rishkar, Peema Renegade is the best Elf from Aether Revolt. His ability turns any creature with a counter on it into a mana dork. I love the flexibility he brings for counters and ramp strategies letting me shift gears in a game to using either. He's a ramp engine who also uses +1/+1 counters. However, ramp is the tertiary strategy here. I'm not looking to ramp with my Elves, but having the option to do so is great. Rishkar is not being used as a pure ramp engine because I want to be attacking with my army instead of using my creatures to make mana, ramping bigger things into play. Elves can get very big in power due to the production of +1/+1 counters in this deck. I want to be attacking with them not tapping them to make mana. Even though I would rather be attacking with creatures there are exceptions Metallic Mimic and Winding Constrictor. Getting a counter on either of these creatures with Riskhar also in play turns them into mana dorks letting me use them to make mana to ramp. Mimic can be fragile; I don't want to be attacking with it most of the time because its ability, which requires that it's on the battlefield, is too important. Constrictor is the same way he's not as fragile as Mimic, but he's much better to have on the battlefield then not. Having the flexibility that Rishkar brings able to make these creatures into mana dorks is awesome.

Having an Elf Metallic Mimic on the battlefield before I play Rishkar makes him better because he automatically gets a counter from Mimic. I can then use his ability of putting a counter on up to two target creatures with other creatures. Normally Rishkar gets a counter with his ability because this makes him a 3/3 for three mana letting me use him as a mana Elf turns after. Since Mimic puts a counter on him he's free to pump other creatures which depending on my board state can be very good.

If I'm ramping then it's for two powerful creatures, Verdurous Gearhulk and Walking Ballista. Verdurous is well known as the one of the most powerful cards in Standard. The interaction he has with Winding Constrictor is also known and beyond great. Verdurous is the perfect 5 drop for this deck because of his amazing ability to spread out counters among my creatures. His spread ability can produce many more counters per creature than if I can only target one creature. Constrictor, Gearhulk and any other combination of Elves can combine for turn five wins which is absurd.

Walking Ballista brings an unconventional way of using ramp. Pouring mana into Ballista might seem counter productive, but it's not because I can use any of the counters on him for no additional mana cost as damage to my opponent, creature or Planeswalker he/she controls. This ability is super powerful, super versatile giving this deck an uncounterable way to kill creatures, Planeswalkers or finish off my opponent at instant speed. I say uncounterable because when I take away a counter from Ballista targeting either a creature or my opponent this ability can't be countered. Using counters to kill things fits right in with what this deck is doing. In response to being killed I can empty all counters from Ballista which is a another nice feature. Ballista has excellent interaction with Constrictor because any counters that he starts with or that are placed on him later an additional one is added for each Constrictor I control. Ballista has another ability, for it can put a counter on itself this lets me get it onto the battlefield early and then once my board state is more established I can start adding counters via itself or with other creatures such as Verdurous Gearhulk.

Ballista is a non narrow way to stop the Felidar Guardian and Saheeli Rai combo. I can use Ballista to kill Saheeli Rai at instant uncounterable speed thus preventing the combo. This is done after Saheeli's -2 ability is used targeting Guardian. With this trigger on the stack I can kill Saheeli removing just a single counter from Ballista because Saheeli will be at one loyalty, targeting my opponent and redirecting the damage to Saheeli kills her. I call Ballista a non narrow way to stop the combo because it has many other uses than just that. It's the versatility of it's abilities that Ballista brings to a game that makes it pretty incredible.

Armorcraft Judge is the most surprising Elf who got amazing support from Aether Revolt. The main theme of Elves in Aether Revolt are +1/+1 counters which happens to be great with Judge. Judge is the dedicated draw engine in this deck because she's an Elf, a creature to put counters on not just a draw spell. The interaction that Metallic Mimic has with other Elves and Judge is great. Mimic puts a counter on an Elf when it enters the battlefield which is exactly what I want when using Judge. This interaction also works with Judge. Mimic puts a counter on Judge right as she enters the battlefield before her draw trigger happens meaning I get to draw at least one card no matter what. Because of the amount of counters that can be produced and placed on creatures in this deck it's not unheard of to draw an entire new hand from Judge. Even just drawing 2-4 cards is amazing for a 4 drop Elf. Judge does require other cards to make her good. I don't normally like to play creatures like this, but I'm making an exception for Judge because of it's great over-the-top potential.

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar is back and in a big way. Her card price is skyrocketing; she was only $2 right before Aether Revolt. She's now pushing into $14 and climbing. This increase in price is understandable because Nissa loves +1/+1 counters and that theme is very strong in Aether Revolt. Nissa -2 ability is the reason to use her with Winding Constrictor. These two can make any small army into a terrifying one. Nissa is a Planeswalker her abilities can be used more than once. Getting to use her -2 ability two times in a game with my army can be game winning. Armorcraft Judge and Nissa are best friends because putting counters on all my creatures makes Judge amazing.

I'm main decking creature removal to begin Aether Revolt Standard because the metagame is not clear yet. Grasp of Darkness and Fatal Push are the two instant speed removal options in black to choose from. Grasp is my choice for creature removal mainly because it can kill just about all creatures that Push can without needing a revolt trigger as well as 5 drops such as Archangel Avacyn  Flip. Revolt is surprisingly hard to trigger without using Evolving Wilds or playing other sub par cards just to trigger it. Grasp puts much more strain on the manabase for black sources than Push does, but being able to outright kill Felidar Guardian at instant speed is going to unfortunately become a much needed task of any main deck removal which Grasp is much better at doing than Push. Push can't kill Guardian without triggering revolt which is a huge drawback. If aggro and +1/+1 counter strategies turns out to dominate Standard then Push will be the safer of the two options for the speed alone, but for now this isn't the case.

First Sideboard

The first sideboard is really a prediction of the metagame because the metagame hasn't even started yet. The banning of three powerful cards in Standard, Smuggler's Copter, Reflector Mage and Emrakul, the Promised End will most likely shake things up letting hopefully new archetypes come to the forefront. This banning could completely kill the top four archetypes, but my guess is this will not happen, but it will most likely take them all down a notch. Delirium can still function just fine without Emrakul it still has Ishkanah, Grafwidow and Liliana, the Last Hope. Aetherworks can just replace Emrakul with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and more ramp. Azorius Flash lost Mage, but it still has Spell Queller, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Archangel Avacyn  Flip. Copter was the driving force behind aggro, Mardu Vehicles, with it gone I don't know if aggro can really survive. I think Dwarves are now dead. Heart of Kiran can't in my opinion be a substitute for Copter it doesn't do enough for aggro strategies. Energy might take the place as the premium aggro deck in Standard.

New archetypes will spring to life thanks the Aether Revolt. Jeskai Saheeli built around a control shell is the most obvious because of the infinite cats combo with Felidar Guardian and Saheeli Ria. This combo is very powerful and backed up with control cards can be a real problem. Because of the unknown, not knowing how good this combo will be, I think players need to start out main decking instant speed answers to the combo. If players don't then this combo will dominate them. The main reason I'm main decking Grasp of Darkness is because of this combo. If it turns out not be as degenerate as it seems then I can reevaluate my main deck creature removal options.

The snake, Winding Constrictor will make an impact for midrange. I'm not just saying this because I'm using it, but because of the overwhelming number of excellent cards that deal with +1/+1 counters. The snake makes all these cards so much better. 2/3s for two mana are very hard for aggro to deal with look at the success of Sylvan Advocate for evidence. Constrictor is a 2 drop 2/3 with these powerful abilities tacked on top it. Verdurous Gearhulk saw some play, but not a lot so far in Standard. I have a feeling that the snake will make this Gearhulk one of the best and most feared creatures in Standard.

I'm basing the first sideboard on three cards, Walking Ballista, Negate and Transgress the Mind. It's based on them because all of them are versatile and can also deal with Planeswalkers. The banning of Smuggler's Copter means that Planeswalkers can be much better in Standard. The threat of a flying Copter really did keep most Planeswalkers in check. I'm envisioning Planeswalkers becoming a huge problem for decks to deal with. Ballista can be a removal spell with legs. It's a colorless way to stop the Saheeli combo. I can use it's damage ability at instant uncounterable speed which will be needed with the counter magic that I expect to see when facing this combo. Ballista can kill Planeswalkers as well as creatures using +1/+1 counters which I can produce a lot of them with this deck. Negate is a cheap way to counter any Planeswalker it can also counter board wipes and removal that hurts my Elves. Transgress the Mind can exile any Planeswalker, but it also has many more uses like slowing down Delirium since it exiles and preventing a turn four Aetherworks Marvel, etc.

I'm filling in the rest of the sideboard with situational cards. Aethersphere Harvester uses energy and can gain me life. Having some life gain is good when going up against an unknown metagame. Harvester is also a vehicle which gives me some resiliency vs board wipes. It also flies which makes it a possible Planeswalker killer. Several one ofs are next, Noxious Gearhulk, Nissa, Vital Force, Heroic Intervention and Natural Obsolescence. All these cards have a distinct purpose. Gearhulk is an unconditional creature removal spell who can also gain me a ton of life depending on what creature I kill with it. Nissa gives me some recursion of permanents as well as a very powerful ability to use vs control to recover from board wipes. Intervention is a mass protection spell as well as a trump card vs midrange and aggro strategies giving my Elves indestructibility in combat. Obsolescence is an out to an artifact such as Aetherworks Marvel or Paradox Engine. Having some way to interact with artifacts I feel is needed.

Final Thoughts

In the coming weeks and after the Pro Tour the metagame will begin to shape. During this time the sideboad will most likely change a lot which to me a very fun aspect of playing Magic. I'm very happy so far with Sultai; this version is one of the most interactive versions as well as most powerful with Elves I've played with since I started this Elvish adventure in Standard.

Comments View Archive

Please login to comment

Compare to inventory
Date added 1 year
Last updated 1 week

This deck is Standard legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.00
Folders Standard TRS-M15-KTK-ORI, Standard, standard to build, Golgari, Standard, ok, Elves, Standard, Interesting Decks, Inspiration, See all 264
Top rank #3 on 2016-02-07
Views 91912

Revision 165 (1 week ago)

+1 Walking Ballista main
-1 Sunken Hollow main
+1 Swamp main
+1 Island main
-4 Botanical Sanctum main
+1 Aethersphere Harvester main
-3 Narnam Renegade main
+4 Evolving Wilds main
-1 Walking Ballista side
-1 Noxious Gearhulk side
-1 Nissa, Vital Force side
-1 Metallic Rebuke side
+1 Ob Nixilis Reignited side
-1 Aethersphere Harvester side
+2 Negate side
+2 Natural Obsolescence side
-1 Nature's Way maybe

See all