Tribal creature decks have always felt exciting to play for me, given the tribe can keep up with my opponent. Elves in Modern are great as long as the opponent isn't playing an unfair combo deck. Against the unfair combo decks you are going to be behind most of the time, but the sideboard definitely helps. On the flipside, in a metagame filled with midrange creature-based strategies, Elves thrives. There is something to be said for choosing a consistent deck that preys on the more controlling strategies and has a fast combo of its own, and Elves fits that bill.

This version is a bit different from typical lists. While playing straight black/green in the maindeck is standard, most lists also opt to play white cards in the sideboard. While it is true that the cost of adding white mana to the deck isn't that high, the white sideboard cards have not impressed me all that much.

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This isn't a control deck that wants two or three copies of this or that spell, but after sideboarding, this changes considerably.

After playing Elves on Magic Online I am more confident on the power level of the deck. Being able to win on turn four or grind out the opponent with card advantage is a tough double-edged sword for opponents to fight against.

Burn is a deck that has a lot of close matchups and Elves is one of them. We aren't playing much lifegain so at a certain point if the opponent draws enough burn there isn't much to be done. While the opponent was drawing one of the most annoying creatures pretty consistently — Grim Lavamancer — they never followed up with the other annoying creature — Eidolon of the Great Revel. These games tend to be pretty high-variance, but trading off Elves to preserve our life total was worth it. Cards like Searing Blaze and Searing Blood are the best burn spells in this matchup.

The one game that I continue replaying in my head was game two against the Blistercoil Weird combo deck, a deck that I know of but have rarely played against. It is possible that on the last turn of the game we could have tried harder to play around the Temur Battle Rage, but to be honest at the time it wasn't a card I was thinking about. Hindsight is 20/20. However, it felt like in the other two games we were able to keep the opponent off their primary game plan and preserve our life when possible. The Abrupt Decay in game three was such a blowout it almost ended the game on the spot.

The last match against Jeskai Control felt very favored for Elves, though our opponent didn't actually do all that much. As long as you can dodge sweepers, the matchup shouldn't be a problem. Game one though, that Collected Company was just unfair, as our opponent instantly losing after casting the Timely Reinforcements was really something else. Controlling decks like Jund and Jeskai tend to be pretty good matchups for Elves, and this helped prove that. Spot removal only does so much, as there is always a replacement Elf to play.

Thanks for reading,

Seth Manfield