April 2, 2016

All Those Faces Under The Hoof


Hello everyone! I’m Jun Mendero, and I have been playing Magic: The Gathering on and off since 1997. I’ve sold out of and bought into the game several times, but I’ve been playing Legacy, Vintage, and (reluctantly testing) Modern since 2010 and I don’t think I’ll quit anytime soon.

The Legacy scene in Cebu is quite small at the moment, which is understandable considering the prices of Legacy decks. It’s so small that when two players stopped playing, we could not fire a tournament for two months. Fortunately, we managed to get our tournaments running again, with a major milestone of running two in the same week! We are hoping to run weekly Legacy tournaments after this.

I could only join one of the two tournaments, and I won it with Elves. It’s the first deck I bought into when I started playing Magic again, so I can say I've had some practice with it. Elves used to be just a cute and terrible deck that could only really win through insane Glimpse chains, but with several fantastic printings, it slowly turned into the powerhouse it is today.

I love playing Elves. This deck walks the line between fair and broken. It plays multiple copies of Ancestral Recall, Tinker, and Tolarian Academy, yet it is somehow very difficult to play optimally. I believe these cards give it the flexibility it needs to change its gameplan on the fly, but the difficulty comes in identifying and evaluating the lines available.

It is inherently powerful, but very weak to faster combo decks. There is nothing it can do against Storm decks Game 1, and the discard in Game 2 is often not enough to stop them. Belcher and other T1 kill decks are practically automatic losses. It is also weak against Miracles because it is difficult to recover through a Counterbalance lock after a Terminus. It is not soft to spot removal, though, because it simply draws too many cards for spot removal to keep up. Sweepers are not backbreaking against Elves for the same reason. I have won so many games where I had my board swept twice.

I replaced the fourth Natural Order with a Sylvan Library because I prefer to play this deck patiently - as if it were a really broken midrange deck. I usually don’t try to set up a combo until I am sure that it will finish the game or I have no choice but to go off. With this game plan, setting up the “green Dark Confidant” team of Symbiote + Visionary is almost always priority #1. Once that is established, the opponent will struggle to deal damage, and will often fall so far behind on cards that the Elves player can just keep casting Hoof tutors until one resolves and kills the opponent.

A note on playing Glimpse: there is rarely any need to hold Glimpse of Nature for bigger combo turns. I consider it the green Ancestral Recall and I play it that way. It is often a value card that can draw 3-5 cards without ending the game. Some people are not satisfied when a Glimpse chain ends without killing, but I like drawing tons of cards for 1 mana without playing blue...in Legacy.
My tournament went this way:

R1: BG Reanimator

G1: T1 Entomb, T2 Elesh Norn off a mull to 5. I scoop.

-4 Elvish Visionary -4 Wirewood Symbiote -1 Reclamation Sage
+2 Cabal Therapy +3 Thoughtseize +2 Surgical Extraction +1 Scavenging Ooze +1 Pithing Needle

G2: Snap keep a T1 Deathrite hand. He loses.

This card single-handedly gives Elves an honest chance against Reanimator. 

G3: I kept a weak hand with some elves and a Surgical. He mulls to 5 and has nothing, which is good. Eventually I find a Deathrite, but he casts a Griselbrand with 3 Dark Rituals. He has 6 life, and I have 2 Bayous and two other lands. I float B, activate Deathrite, bounce the Bayou to untap with Quirion Ranger, play the Bayou, activate Deathrite again, then Green Sun’s Zenith for another Quirion Ranger to untap the Deathrite again to blast him for exactly 6. I absolutely hate this matchup, especially Dark Ritual versions. It's really draw dependent and produces some really boring games.

2-1 in Games
1-0 in Matches

R2: Omnitell

G1: I know he is on Omnitell, so I just keep a hand with a few creatures so I can actually attack if his deck messes up. That’s exactly what happens: He cantrips for 5 turns while I have next to nothing. I just attack for some damage. He ends up Showing an Emrakul. I Show the Gaea’s Cradle I’ve been holding, then cast a Glimpse and chain into a bunch of elves but no kill. He attacks, I take 15 and sac 6. I finally manage to Hoof next turn against his hand of Spell Pierces.

-3 Elvish Visionary, -3 Wirewood Symbiote, -1 Heritage Druid, -1 Nettle Sentinel
+1 Gaddock Teeg, +2 Cabal Therapy, +2 Surgical Extraction, +3 Thoughtseize

G2: His deck durdles to death again. I have a T2 Sylvan Library. He attempts to race by casting EOT Wish for Intuition. I pay 8 to Sylvan just to increase my weenie clock. He passes the turn. I pay another 4 for Cradle + Hoof, which I cast immediately. It gets Forced, and he casts Intuition for Show and Tell at the end of my turn. When it resolves and he passes priority, I hit Show and Tell with Surgical Extraction and take the match.

When you Extract the only thing your opponent's deck ever does

4-1 in Games
2-0 in Matches

R3: Death and Taxes

G1: I just Hoof through some stuff. This is just a horrible matchup for Death and Taxes.

-1 Heritage Druid -2 Nettle Sentinel -1 Natural Order -2 Glimpse of Nature
+2 Abrupt Decay +1 Null Rod +1  Pithing Needle +1 Shaman of the Pack

I sideboarded this way because I figure that I will rarely want to hold creatures in hand against Death and Taxes. Jitte is the only card that can beat Elves, and the rest of the deck is so good against Death and Taxes that I can afford to pile up the hate on Jitte.

G2: He gets a Jitte in play from his hand, and I Zenith for Wirewood Symbiote to prevent combat damage. He plows it and gets Jitte counters, I lose shortly after.
G3: I don’t remember exactly what happened here. I know he wasted a land and played Mom on his Turn 3. I Glimpsed into the kill right after that, and he showed me the Ethersworn Canonist in hand. He wanted to protect it with Mom before playing it, but that didn’t pay off.

6-2 in Games
3-0 in Matches

R4: All Spells

G1: Here we go, unwinnable matchup! Well, my opponent mulls to 4 and has nothing against the Turn 1 Deathrite from my 6-card hand. That was pure luck!

-4 Elvish Visionary -4 Wirewood Symbiote -1 Reclamation Sage
+2 Cabal Therapy +3 Thoughtseize +2 Surgical Extraction +1 Scavenging Ooze +1 Null Rod

G2: Alright, time to lose. He starts with a Chrome Mox with an Undercity Informer imprint. Elvish Spirit Guide, Summoner’s Pact for another one, then casts an Undercity Informer. Then he Passes the turn! I win! Nothing like winning a game on Turn 1 with Elves, right?

I lost to my own Pact trigger many years ago. I finally saw it happen to someone else.

8-2 in Games
4-0 in Matches

It has been a long time since I played this deck in a tournament, and I’m glad I managed a good showing with it. This is also the first time I played this deck since I finished pimping the maindeck. I really wish I had played against blue tempo and control decks, though. I find those matchups far more interesting than the rather linear decks I played against in this tournament. I’ll leave you with a relatively old photo of my maindeck, but I’ll be back with more Legacy and Vintage posts. Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...