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Modern Elves Primer!




The deck in here is 100% sample main deck, however I am going to go over every card and its effectiveness in the deck.

In this deck's current state, it can perform really well in a tournament setting, but there's always room to remove what you want and add your own little flare to it :)

Mana Ramp

So, there are a few cards in this deck that give us our entire kit to work with. These are the cards that are going to allow us to get our elves out fast, and get them out to deal big damage.

Elvish Mystic + Llanowar Elves - These are the backbone of our one drops. They can allow us to get 3 mana turn 2, or even up to 6 mana turn three if we get enough in our starting hand. Getting three mana turn two is huge, and when you run 8 of them mainboard, it's a fairly common occurence.

Having three mana turn 2 can get our important guy out, Ezuri, Renegade Leader, or more mana ramp providing us with an Elvish Archdruid, or more Elvish Mystic + Llanowar Elves .

Next is Elvish Archdruid. He's our big mana guy - kinda like the "devotion" part of elves, he gives us one mana for every elf we control, and each of our elves get +1/+1. Seems small when you say it in words, but if you get him out turn two, you can get up to 6 mana on turn three, which is a huge advantage. Elvish Archdruid, if he gets out, is generally the card targeted early by things like Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, and Abrupt Decay. He's scary effective, and if he stays out on the battlefield, he can turn a game around.

Next, we've got Heritage Druid. This card is just ridiculous because it adds for tapping three untapped elves. Now, this doesn't seem that amazing at first. An uncommon with a decent effect, right? But what makes it so amazing is that you can dump your entire hand out onto the board with this card by using the ability to tap elves with summoning sickness too! Yeah, tapping elves with SUMMONING SICKNESS! And as well, there's a pretty nasty combo that includes Heritage Druid + Nettle Sentinel . It's virtually infinite mana because you tap three Nettle Sentinel, play a green spell, untap them, rinse and repeat. Definitely the best mana ramp card in the deck by far. And very much so needed.

Wincons and Threats of Elves

Elves have two wincons. Both can allow you to win on turn 5 very effectively and really make your elves a force to be reckoned with.

First we've got Ezuri, Renegade Leader. Easily the offensive backbone of the deck, this guy is NOT something you want to mess with. He allows us to regenerate our elves, making it a lot easier to deal with early threats such as Lightning Bolts (if we are fortunate enough to get him out early), and he has an overrun effect which can win us the game. 5 mana, which is nothing big for elves, for +3/+3 and trample. And when you have a huge army of elves sitting out on the battlefield, swinging for 25 or more damage, if your opponent allows you to, is definitely not out of reach. He's one of the main forces of elves because of the utility he offers with regenerate, and the ability to win the game swiftly with his overrun.

Craterhoof Behemoth is our second wincon. Again, definitely not something to scoff at, Craterhoof Behemoth generally allows us to deal MORE damage in one turn than Ezuri, Renegade Leader. Turn 5, if you've got 7 elves out on the board, play Craterhoof, and swing with evreything, you're giving every one of your creatures +7/+7 and trample. And assuming they're all 2/2s (because let's say you have an Elvish Archdruid out), you're dealing 9 damage per creature, and swinging with 7 creatures including Craterhoof. In total, swinging with 6 9/9s and 1 11/11, you're dealing 65 trample damage in one turn. That's definitely something that's not particularly easy to block, and consistently wins games. However it comes at high cost, which is the only downside.

Our "big spells"

First, we're gonna start with Chord of Calling because it's the easiest to explain out of the two. This card is needed because it can call things like Ezuri, Renegade Leader, Craterhoof Behemoth, Elvish Champion, Spellskite, Reclamation Sage, and Eternal Witness to the board and give us some fancy and unexpected combat tricks. Easily one of the best cards in this deck just because of the effectiveness of being able to search your library for any creature card. And considering that 56% of your deck is creature cards, you've got a lot to pick from in there to choose. Definitely a mandatory card for elves.

Our second card, and our best "let's get all our important elves onto the battlefield" card is Collected Company. You pay four mana and look at the top six cards of your library and cheats out a creature with 3CMC or less onto the battlefield. This card is pretty fancy just because it every creature in this deck, minus Craterhoof Behemoth is 3CMC or less. So we can easily cheat things out like Ezuri, Renegade Leader, Elvish Archdruid, Elvish Champion and the likes. It really brings an awesome flavor to the deck, and makes the deck really, really fast and strong. And the best upside to it is it can be played on our opponents turn, which is generally one of the safest times to play it.

Other creatures we run

Alright, there are a lot of other creatures we run in this deck, but they're really, really carefully calculated creatures.

We've got Elvish Visionary for the card draw. It's basically only useful for the card draw, and being another elf on the battlefield. Definitely worth because it's a 2 cost card draw that is a 1/1 body that can chump block.

Elvish Champion is for those matchups where we may be against something that runs forests. Can be put out onto the battlefield through Chord of Calling or Collected Company, and when you're playing against a deck with forests, that forestwalk is a huge threat.

[[Eternal Witness] to bring back cards like Ezuri, Renegade Leader. Basically anything that's in the graveyard that you need comes back.

Fauna Shaman for fetching out creature cards that you need such as Craterhoof Behemoth, Ezuri, Renegade Leader, or if you need a defense mechanism, it's great for fetching a Spellskite. Really wonderful card to get a creature that you need out. However, we run four Chord of Calling, so we only need one of these to get work done :)

Nettle Sentinel because theyre a one cost 2/2, but as well, it pairs wonderfully withHeritage Druid because of the Heritage Druid + Nettle Sentinel combo.

Spellskite is fairly obvious. Early protection from things like burn - Lightning Bolt wont work, and it can counter combo decks like Splinter Twin.

Scavenging Ooze is decently effective lifegain, and really shuts down graveyard play.

Reclamation Sage in case we need to destroy artifacts. Pairs wonderfully with Chord of Calling. We get a body on the battlefield that positively impacts in the sense that it's an elf, and as well it destroys an artifact or an enchantment. I run two just in case the first one gets negated somehow, and it's as well in there just to run two of. Never too much enchantment removal nowadays with all of the fun enchanment combos running around :)

Our Landbase

Our landbase isn't particularly that complicated. We're mono-green, so it's expected that it's not, however there are still some things that are really mandatory within our landbase, just because we're tribal and it positively impacts us so much.

First is Cavern of Souls. It sits pretty at 48 dollars a piece, but with good reason. You name elves when it comes into play, and then if you use it to cast an elf card, it cannot be countered. We can use it on things like Elvish Archdruid, Ezuri, Renegade Leader - any elf that's game changing, and nothing can be done about it until it's resolved and on the battlefield. And because we run four, we can as well use one of these beauties on beasts so Craterhoof Behemoth cannot be countered, guaranteeing at least the +X/+X effect will resolve if it were to be exiled, or put into our graveyard.

Next we've got Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Wonderful card, and generally offers almost the same amount, if not more mana than Elvish Archdruid. Which is really surprising, because the Archdruid really gives us a shit ton of mana to deal with. Definitely needed in a deck like this, because we're mono green, and we're going to have a huge devotion to green. I only run two because it's a legendary land, and if I play a second, it's near useless because one will leave the battlefield anyways.

Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers for Ezuri, Renegade Leader. This can help negate things like Lightning Bolt on him if there's an Elvish Archdruid or Elvish Champion out on the battlefield. It can also be used to trick an opponent into thinking he's a 2/2 and block, and then instantly tap and make him 3/3. There isn't much you can do with it, however it doesn't hurt to have one in there.

Pendelhaven for our one drops. Protects things like Elvish Mystic + Llanowar Elves . Anything 1/1 can become a 2/3 for tapping a land basically. Really helpful with protecting against early aggro with our mana dudes.

And then we've got the Forest lands. Who doesn't run forests in a mono-green deck?

Sideboard Picks

So now we dive into the ever so complicated sideboard. You can really put anything into a sideboard and it's useful, but these are the general "standard picks" for sideboarding in elves.

I personally run Back to Nature for Selesnya Enchant decks that run hexproof creatures. The fastest and most effective way to deal with it, allowing yourself not to get completely murdered.

Creeping Corrosion for all the pesky artifacts, especially when playing against decks like affinity. I've found it to be really effective.

Beast Within because green spot removal is pretty rare, and this is the best thing that moderns got for green.

Bow of Nylea because attacking with a giant army of deathtouch elves is really scary. As well we get some pretty cool effects with it for two mana.

Dismember for more spot removal. Not as high priority as Beast Within because of the amount of life you have to pay, however you gotta do what you gotta do.

Dragon's Claw for playing against decks like burn and goblins. Negates the early damage really well by gaining one life for each red spell.

Kitchen Finks + Melira, Sylvok Outcast allows for an effective blocking combo that gains you 2 life for each time finks enters the battlefield.

One more Reclamation Sage just in case you're playing against a lot of artifacts or enchantments. Very useful for playing against combo.

One extra Spellskite just in case. In some cases, there's never too much protection for your elves. Makes very good use when going against any burn deck, or combo decks.

Torpor Orb just cause it's an awesome card and shuts down every single ETB effect.

Other options for sideboard include things like:

Tajuru Preserver if your local meta is very eldrazi heavy, or if someone plays that nasty cascade combo.

Naturalize if you need instant destroy on an artifact/enchantment. Very useful vs combos like Splinter Twin, and is as well good against affinity.

Surgical Extraction if you need to get rid of a card that's just destroying you. Really helpful against any type of control - can be used to get rid of things like Path to Exile

Elves matchups!

Elves has got some really good matchups, and some really bad matchups. I mean in general, a tournament ready deck only wins about 40% of its games, unless you're a complete boss and you just destroy everyone. However, in general, some matchups are either really easy, really hard, or just in general seriously flip floppy and can depend on who is on the draw. Yeah, being on the draw can determine whether you win or lose.


We're gonna start with Affinity because it used to be one of the decks that I played A LOT, and I let you guys know about a few tips and tricks to help sway wins in your favor.

The first mistake people make when playing against affinity, especially if they don't know it well, is they use their destroy artifact effects on things like creatures, or useless artifacts like Springleaf Drum , Mox Opal and Welding Jar. If you're going against a GOOD affinity deck, you're gonna have to know a few things. It's a tough matchup, because you're going to be hit with a lot of flying creatures, or creatures that are just too big and you can't block unless you sacrifice something. Affinity consistently gets wins turn 5 - more consistent than elves, however that does not mean we cannot win.

The first thing you're going to need to realize is a lot of affinity decks run Glimmervoid . It's 100% useless to destroy their supposed "mana fixers." Mox Opal and Springleaf Drum are absolutely useless. And if they don't have an Arcbound Ravager out by the time you're ready to use a destroy target artifact effect, and you need to get rid of something, do not, not, NOT get rid of Mox Opal and Springleaf Drum ! They seriously are useless once it gets to turn three or turn four because by the time you're ready to destroy something, I've already got all the mana I need from Glimmervoid s, and I'm going to be smashing you with my flying lands.

If you're going to prioritize something to kill, here are the weak point of affinity - Arcbound Ravager, Blinkmoth Nexus and Inkmoth Nexus (while in creature form of course), and Cranial Plating.

Here's the reason. Arcbound Ravager will just get bigger and bigger and bigger the more you kill their artifacts. They can sac an artifact if it were to die and use modular for a +1/+1 counter. Blinkmoth Nexus + Inkmoth Nexus are musts to kill too because they'll just tap a mana and swing at you for big with a flying land every turn. If you have the chance to destroy it, take it if there's nothing better to kill on the board. Cranial Plating is as well affinity's entire damage pool. If you take that out, you stall yourself for a few turns.

Now that we've concluded that Affinity is a tough matchup, how the hell are we gonna win? Well, it's quite simple. You're gonna sideboard in Creeping Corrosion, hope you get it, and stall the game. If they have an Arcbound Ravager out, get out a Spellskite, destroy it and pay 2 life to change the modular effect to Spellskite. If that happens, you should be able to stall out the game and block creatures with Spellskite while ramping up to get Craterhoof Behemoth out and swing to end. And as well hope to GOD that you get Creeping Corrosion, because once it's past turn 5, and affinity doesn't win, you're generally golden to take the game over from there.


Burn can be seen as the best matchup for elves, or the worst matchup, and I think that anyone can understand the reason why. Low cost damage spells that literally kill anything we play. Lightning Bolt, Lightning Strike, Anger of the Gods, Pyroclasm and all the other things alike just destroy our creatures and us. Literally and figuratively.

Your best bet versus burn is just to save up mana really. If you manage to get out a Spellskite early, you've pretty much won because most of their burn spells towards your creatures are going to be negated, and you're not going to be taking a huge amount of damage every turn by the time you get your elves out. You'll be able to stall until you can get your wincons out and swinging, and the burn deck will have no creatures to defend against your big army of elves attacking them for 50+ damage.

Combo Decks

Most combo decks are fairly easy for elves. Most. Not all. It depends on the type of combo we're looking at. Splinter Twin is fairly easy because it wont have a lot of defense early, nor a completely insane amount of removal, so you're pretty much free reign to do what you want until you think it's time to defend against their combo. To negate it, having a Chord of Calling + Reclamation Sage is generally really effective, or even Chord of Calling + Spellskite to redirect the enchantment to Spellskite.

Other combo decks, like Cascade into sac combos, are as well easy to deal with. Side in a Tajuru Preserver and you basically just made their combo useless. Chord of Calling him, and you've still got your army of elves.

Against things like Phyrexian Unlife and Ad Nauseam type decks, just have a Reclamation Sage ready on the side to destroy it.

Combo is huge nowadays, but really easy to negate for elves. Don't worry about combos at all :) an elf deck is generally going to be faster.


Against other aggro decks, it's fairly simple. You just be... faster. You have mana ramp, and bodies that can sacrifice. The difference between your aggro and any other aggro though, is elves have late game, while most aggro decks don't. It's basically a stall matchup until you can win with wincons. Take hands with lots of mana ramp and stall potential while you wait to get Ezuri, Renegade Leader out to allow your creatures to chump block and get regenerated.

The end of the road!

Well, this is the primer for Modern Elves! In the next couple of days when I get the time, I'm going to be updating this page with the general strategy of elves and best hands to draw against certain matchups, and the strategy versus certain matchups.

Here is my take on elves here at Selesnya Elves of the Sun! Go ahead, take a visit, and +1 it :)




ComradeJim270 says... #1

Hm, maybe I should run Craterhoof in mine. Can't afford to work on the mana base yet.

Anyway, awesome that you put this together!

July 27, 2015 1:01 a.m.

icehit6 says... #2

I never liked Craterhoof Behemoth sadly, but it's a wonderful card. I don't run it in my version of elves but this is a part of the primer :) so yeah. Anything missing?

July 27, 2015 7:28 a.m.

mindcrush says... #3

Very informative for someone (like me) who is trying to put a modern elves deck together. Much appreciated.

July 27, 2015 7:58 a.m.

icehit6 says... #4

I'm glad that it's informative :) in the next day or so I am uploading the list of easy matchups and hard matchups for elves soon :) and the best hands to take versus them.

July 27, 2015 2:23 p.m.

mindcrush says... #5

Looking forward to it :)

July 27, 2015 4:06 p.m.

Jojja says... #6

Nice work on the primer. Lots of interesting stuff!

I think you should include the White splash in the Primer. It really adds a lot to the deck. Espesially the protection againsa Pyroclasm effects.

July 29, 2015 3:53 a.m.

icehit6 says... #7

Yeah that's true :) I'll add it in later today! Thanks for the suggestion.

July 29, 2015 7:58 a.m.

Darkmagi1131 says... #8

Hey man you give some good ideas do you mind looking at my 2 elf decks? Elves with a Suprise inside!!!! and Elves Elves everywhere!!!!

August 13, 2015 12:58 a.m.

phaze08 says... #9

I'm really interested to see how you handle a control deck.

August 13, 2015 3:02 p.m.

icehit6 says... #10

So far from playing against control, it's seriously a flip flop. You have to play your cards around Cavern of Souls, Spellskite, and in my main board for spot removal in my version of elves, I run one Asceticism to deal with the control issue and general spot removal issue. It's a card that is definitely sideboarded most of the time, however it can make a real difference in a game if it comes out.

The reason it's a flip flop is you only can run four Cavern, so if you don't get one out, every time you play an elf you run the risk of losing it to a counterspell. In the offchance the control player taps everything out, you can do CoCo, and then next turn do some SERIOUS damage. But as I said, that's why it's a flip flop.

Honestly though, so far with my elves build I have a wonderful time playing it, and it hasn't fared terribly against control. I've won most games against control, in a tournament setting however (the only one to which I've recorded in my deck description), I lost 2-0 D: but it was a really, really, really competitive control deck. Definitely a very fun matchup, though.

August 13, 2015 10:18 p.m.

phaze08 says... #11

A friend of mine plays elves and in our limited play group its a pretty tough deck. It's similar to yours but it's a "rogue" deck if you know what Iu mean. I'd be interested to see how competitive it is but he's not interested in playing tourneys for some reason.

August 14, 2015 12:28 a.m.

Sloanan says... #12

Out of curiosity, why Chord of Calling over Green Sun's Zenith? I always thought Zenith was better, but is it just the convoke that makes Chord preferable?

August 19, 2015 8:20 p.m.

Sloanan says... #13

Oh, nevermind. I've been playing too much legacy lately and forgot the ban! D'oh!

August 19, 2015 8:23 p.m.

icehit6 says... #14

Haha all good! Even if Green Sun's Zenith wasn't banned, I still would run Chord of Calling over it. The instant vs sorcery speed is just too much to pass up.

August 19, 2015 10:57 p.m.

Sloanan says... #15

Good point, I guess. I'm generally more for cheaper casting costs, but in an elf deck that really wouldn't matter anyway!

August 19, 2015 11:27 p.m.

icehit6 says... #16

Yup! Very true :P The convoke effect helps a lot as well. But it's really helpful because it gives me a lot of things that I can respond to.

I can chord Spellskite and react to a targeted spell or ability.

I can chord Reclamation Sage and do an instant speed destroy enchantment or artifact.

I can chord Eternal Witness and take something from my graveyard - there are a lot of awesome uses to it. It's a very effective card for XGGG mana

August 19, 2015 11:38 p.m.

Darkmagi1131 says... #17

What about Summoning Trap? The mana cost is the same as a Chord of Calling searching for 3 is also an instant and has the added utility vs counters

August 20, 2015 1:23 a.m.

ComradeJim270 says... #18

It's not as functional in this deck. It's very likely to whiff when used the same way Chord would be (fetching answers and win conditions). Chord is very precise and the reason these decks can run one-ofs.

August 20, 2015 12:07 p.m.

icehit6 says... #19

The thing is, that card is seriously situational. I wouldn't be paying 0 mana for it very often, and as well, it doesn't let me search my library for any creature card - rather, it lets me look at the top seven. Chord of Calling is a strictly better card in the sense that I can search my entire library for a creature card, and then put it on to the battlefield at instant speed. So that allows me to have more reactionary play, while Summoning Trap is very little reactionary play because my reactions would be based off the top seven cards of my library, which could very likely allow me to miss if I do not get a one of that I need.

August 20, 2015 7:50 p.m.

ComradeJim270 says... #20

So I've got some questions about some problem matchups. There's a lot of Jund and other BG/x stuff in my meta and a ton of Grixis variants, and I get the strong impression I can win against any of these but I'm not clear on strategy. For Grixis, Cryptic Command is often a blowout. Scapeshift runs it too.

How do you deal with R/G tron? That match seems heavily influenced by luck and I want to tip it in my favor, because I see that deck quite often.

More interested in strategy than deck-tech... nailing down strategy has been a lot harder than working on my deck.

September 26, 2015 1:53 a.m.

icehit6 says... #21

I've actually never played against a red/green tron deck so I'm not sure D: Probably side in beast within, and your artifact destroys. As well hope to god you get a really good collected company.

October 22, 2015 10:53 a.m.

Stinkepete says... #22

Hey there! With the recent printing of Growing Rites of Itlimoc , transforming into a modern Gaea's Cradle, jk Itlimoc, Cradle of the Sun, the only question is, what to take out?

i suppose just dropping a land doesnt work, because 3 cmc fucks the curve. I guess dropping 1 Chord of calling does the trick? because its also a tutor-like card.

btw what to you think about Heroic Intervention in the sideboard?

September 23, 2017 1:42 p.m.

icehit6 says... #23

Stinkepete I would check out my Selesnya Elves of the Sun list! I have a whole new primer on there with my list and explaining each card choice.

As for heroic intervention I think it's definitely a decent card. Something to consider to protect against board clears.

September 23, 2017 8:42 p.m.

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Date added 2 years
Last updated 2 years

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.29
Folders goo goo muck, Modern Elves, Modern Decks to Try, Elf Decks, Amazing Decks, JRR Token deck ideas, elves, Interesting, Elves, Primers
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