Getting Nassty – GP Oakland Report, *1st*


Grand Prix Oakland was a bit of an awkward tournament for me. A year ago, if there was a Grand Prix an hour away from me, I would have been spending all of my free time testing for it. However, this year, I was going to the big leagues: I won a Magic Online PTQ and qualified for Pro Tour San Diego. The Pro Tour was Standard and Draft, neither of which would help much for the extended Grand Prix.

As a result, my main sources of testing were a few local GPTs and the last-chance GPTs before the Grand Prix. In those, I mainly played Elves and only did o.k. I knew that there were some weaknesses in my deck but I couldn’t pinpoint the mistakes. Right before the Grand Prix, I talked through the deck with Josh Utter-Leyton and we had two important insights. Most important was that I needed to splash White rather than Black: that allowed me to play Ranger of Eos (which ended up winning me a bunch of games). The other important change was that I needed a fourth Cloudstone Curio. Here is the list that Josh and I came up with for Grand Prix Oakland (unfortunately for Josh, he elected to play Thopter and did not perform quite as well):

This list turned out to be very tight; the only change I would make is to figure out something to cut in the main for a Viridian Shaman. Candidates I would consider are Ranger of Eos (which is still great in the sideboard), Elvish Archdruid, and Arbor Elf, but they are all valuable in the main deck. The only other change that seems cute is potentially running Dark Depths as Ghost Quarters 5-8 in the Sideboard. Depths has some synergy with the deck because if you get infinite mana, you can use it as a mana sink.

This deck is probably the most misunderstood deck I have ever played. For example, players are often criticized for not mulling enough. However, this deck allows you to keep lots of hands. In fact, at the Grand Prix, I mulliganed significantly less than my opponents, leading to a lot of free wins. The key idea is that instead of the usual optimal hand being three lands, with two and four land hands being keepable, this deck prefers two land hands, and doesn’t mind one or three landers. Because the deck only plays 17 lands, one to three land hands are very probable; almost every hand is a keeper. Four-land hands are dangerous (but fortunately uncommon) unless the spells are something like Heritage, Nettle, and Glimpse.

One criticism of the deck is simply how complicated it is. It just isn’t easy to see how the deck wins just from looking at a decklist. The most common win is via Cloudstone Curio and Heritage Druid. Here is a list of the loops the deck can create with those two powerful cards.

The Loops

Heritage + Nettle + one drop: Create infinite mana by tapping all three for mana with the Curio trigger on the stack and then bouncing back and forth the one drop and the Heritage. You will be in the same place up one mana each time you do this loop. Once you’ve made infinite mana, you can use any comes-in-to-play ability as many times as you want.

Heritage + Essence Warden + one drop: Create infinite life by trigger on the stack floating three mana and then bouncing all three and replaying them. You will be in the same place up two life with this loop (Warden doesn’t trigger on itself)

Heritage + two one drops + Glimpse: Draw infinite cards by looping all thee guys after floating mana. You will be in the same place up three cards each time you do the loop.

Heritage + Nettle + Visionary: You can also draw infinite cards by floating mana with the trigger on the stack and then bouncing the Visionary and the Heritage back and forth. You will be in the same place up a card each loop.

The other way to combo with this deck is with Glimpse, which isn’t quite as clean and doesn’t have as many hard and fast rules. The most important thing to do is to figure out whether you are going to be tight on mana or cards. Usually you will have lots of one of these resources, but be very tight on the other. Once you have figured out which you are more desperate for, you make plays based on that. For example, if you have a Glimpse going but need cards, playing Elvish Visionary before Nettle Sentinel would be right, but if you have a Glimpse going and need mana, playing Nettle first will gain you much more. Another thing to note when comboing with Glimpse is that you will almost always end up looping with Curio. That is, the second you have the mana to play Curio and a creature to get one of the loops going, the combo is a sure thing and thus is the safer play.

Another important advantage of this deck is that it exploits a hole in the metagame. The cards that make Elves players sweat aren’t found in many sideboards because they are not good against the major decks. For example, players won’t sideboard cards like Chalice of the Void, Ethersworn Canonist, or Rule of Law because they are ineffective against the most common decks, and sweepers are only good against Zoo. Anti-aggro cards that are particularly good against Zoo–Eyeblight’s Ending (totally ineffective) and Exile into Darkness (far too slow)–(as in Gerry Thompson’s Depths build) don’t hurt Elves. Similarly, Umezawa’s Jitte is incredibly powerful in the abstract, and great against Elves, but wasn’t great for this tournament because it’s only o.k. against Zoo and weak against everything else. Interestingly, Petr Brozek’s deck exploited the lack of Jitte’s in the meta in a similar way. These are the type of sideboard cards I hoped and expected to see later in the GP.

The bottom line is that playing around the cards that are designed to attack the metagame can be very successful: half of the decks that made Top 8 at the Oakland GP were designed with this strategy, including avoiding metagame hate cards: My Elves deck, Travis Woo’s Living End deck, and Tomoharo Saitou’s Hypergenesis deck and Petr Brozek’s Boros deck.

Avoiding Hate

Unfortunately, when you look at weak players’ sideboard, there will almost always be “4 graveyard hate 4 combo cards 4 sweepers and 3 cards he heard were good against the best deck” (probably Damping Matrix for this Grand Prix). This type of sideboard can be very difficult for decks trying to exploit holes in a metagame, because while it is not very well prepared for the major decks, it does have something for everything, including decks that weren’t planning on having to deal with sideboard hate.

When you play a deck like Elves that is trying to attack a hole in the metagame, bad players and bad decks are much more difficult to play against than good players and good decks, because generic sideboard cards work against you. Conversely, better players analyze the actual value of each card with respect to the dominant metagame decks. For example, Conley Woods (who created a stir with his deck) understood that although Umezawa’s Jitte was a perfect fit for his deck, he only played one main and one side. Furthermore, pros don’t just play sideboard cards for aggro control and combo; they play the card that fits best for the particular aggro, control, or combo deck that is popular at the time. Because of this, niche decks often do well at higher level tournaments like Pro Tours and Grand Prix Day Twos, but are not as successful at local FNMs or other tournaments with less serious players.

A great example of this was my experience in the last chance GPTs. Between the three GPTs, I went 2-3. My wins were against Dark Depths Thopter and Zoo and my losses were against Scapeshift, Hypergenesis, and All In Red, all tier two-three decks. Firespout is an ok sideboard card right now, but the Scapeshift build I played against surprised me with it game one. Iona is not very good against the field right now, but the Hypergenesis build I played against had it and crippled me with it twice. AIR has tons of dead Blood Moons, but my opponent decided to draw Chalice of the Void game one when I was lacking a Viridian Shaman. Ironically, because I didn’t do well at local GPTs, my rating dropped below 1950. Thus, I only had one bye for the tournament.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember too much from Day One, but there are a few highlights that are worth mentioning. Early in the tournament, I faced AIR. Game one was my favorite game of the tournament. I went land Heritage go. He went land go. I went Heritage Druid attack for one (no land). He went land Chalice at one. I went land go. He went land Magus of the Moon. I went go. He went Seething Song, Deus of Calamity, attack for two. I then went into the tank on my turn. I had two lands out, and only one of my lands was a Forest, which Deus was about to kill. My hand was Summoner’s Pact, Summoner’s Pact, Primal Command, and a bunch of other Chalice-able one drops including Glimpse and Nettle so it would be easy to go off if Chalice was gone. I ended up casting Pact for Elvish Visionary, since it is my only non-one drop that only costs one Green and then Pact for Elvish Archdruid and play both. I took eight going to ten, and lost my Forest. I then paid for both Pacts and passed the turn. I then took another eight going to two and lost a Mountain. I then cast the Primal on his Chalice, and went off with Glimpse and lots of Elves. Of course, this sick game would not have been possible with a Viridian Shaman in my deck because killing Chalice would have been a lot easier, so maybe one should make the cut

Fortunately, I did get through the early rounds and it was smooth sailing from there on Day One. Round after round I just confidently played my cards and won with ease. That is, until I faced the surprise deck of the tournament–Brozek Deck Wins–with a feature match at 8-0 each. Fortunately, Brozek Deck Wins against almost everything  except Elves! I had accidentally next-leveled Petr Brozek by playing the deck that beats the surprise deck. My clock was a tad faster than his (yes, I know his deck is explosive) and I had plenty of chumpers for his super-powered Lynxes and Geopedes. In Game 2, I had four Umezawa’s Jiites in from the sideboard which I could consistently get active on turn three, which forced him to keep removal mana up in post-board games. I also had Rangers to keep the gas flowing and potentially tutoring up Burrenton Forge-Tender to safely hold a Jitte or Essence Warden to get out of burn range. I beat Petr pretty handily. My sideboard plan for this matchup was -4 Archdruid -1 Curio -2 Summoner’s Pact -1 Regal Force +4 Jitte +3 Ranger +1 Forge-Tender

That ended my 9-0 day one and I was feeling good. However, I made sure not to be too cocky because at the last Grand Prix in California, one of my friends was 9-0 after Day One. He was overconfident and instead of going to sleep early he simply hung out, drafted, celebrated, and talked about how he only needed to 3-3 to top 16 and make the Pro Tour. Next thing he knew, he was begging his opponent to draw with him so he could guarantee his top 64 spot and 200 dollars. I did not repeat my friend’s mistake, and went to bed at a reasonable hour (about 11:00).

My Day Two started with yet another feature match, this time against Adam Yurchick. This match is on the Wizards coverage, so I won’t talk about it too much, but it was basically mulligan crazy. Fortunately, I was doing less mulling than Adam, and took the two where Adam was two cards behind me to start off. My sideboard plan for this matchup, which was Elves vs. Depths, was -4 Summoner’s Pact -1 Regal Force -1Curio +2 Ranger of Eos +4 Ghost Quarter

For round eleven, I faced John-Paul Kelly. He was playing an interesting Tezzeret list. John was 9-0-1 and got paired up to me, as I was the only 10-0. In game one, John played land go. Then I played land mana elf. John then did the thing I least wanted to see: land Chalice of the Void. On the next turn, without even blinking, I slammed down my Summoner’s Pact and put an Elvish Archdruid into play. I was not going to win this game if he had much gas, and the Chalice ruled out Path to Exile. John had nothing and I paid. The turn after I paid for my Pact I Primaled his Chalice on top and then shuffled it and his graveyard into his deck. The next turn I had an untapped Archdruid and went off easily. I didn’t feel as bad about drawing my one Primal to answer his Chalice this time, as the Chalice was probably a one-of for him. Again, this interesting game was brought to you by the lack of Viridian Shaman in my deck (which would have made my life simpler). My sideboard plan for this matchup was -1 Arbor Elf +1 Viridian Shaman

In the next game I used the beatdown plan effectively for the first time. I got John down to four life with an army of Elves including Archdruid to pump the team. John had a Thopter Foundry in play, and was forced to Transmute Muddle the Mixture for Sword of the Meek and play it to make sure he didn’t die to an onslaught of Elves, which gave me the perfect opening to combo kill him.

For round twelve, I was surprised to see a familiar face across the table. A player at my local store, Lokman Chen, was 10-1 with a Krark-Clan Ironworks / Thopter Foundry / Sword of the Meek combo deck. Once again, a powerful metagame choice with a poor match against Elves. The race was clearly in Elves’s favor and Lokman never got the chance to combo as I raced game one and Viridian Shaman + Curio ate away at his mana game two. My sideboard plan for this matchup is -2 Arbor Elf +1 Viridian Shaman +1 Gaddock Teeg.

It would have been interesting if Lokman did combo and created infinite tokens and gained infinite life. Even in this case, it would probably end up being a win for me assuming I could combo the next turn because I could use Primal Command to make sure I didn’t deck while gaining infinite life myself.

In round thirteen, I faced Travis Woo. Travis was playing Living End, which I think is a slightly favorable matchup for Elves. I took game one simply by racing, but in game two I was in a position where Travis had a few cycled guys in his grave and Violent Outburst mana up. I did the math and found that he was a few points short of killing me with the cyclers. I passed the turn after playing a Visionary. Travis Outbursted at the end of the turn, and then had another one on his main phase. I thought the additional three points was lethal and scooped up my cards. First of all, this is unacceptable. NEVER scoop until you are absolutely sure you have lost or have serious time concerns. However, I think there were a few mistakes I made that others including me can learn from. First, I was a lock for Top 8 at this point. I focused less because of this, and it cost me. Second of all, I assumed Travis would save the Outburst as an instant speed Wrath if it wasn’t lethal. As it turned out, his play was completely reasonable because the previous Living End had destroyed three Visionaries, so casting a Living End mid-combo would probably help me–by giving me three cards more–than it would hurt. Note that Travis did nothing shady and in fact played very tight and the mistake was completely my fault and cost me a game. Fortunately, I was on the play for game three and simply comboed him before he got to cast a cascade spell into Living End. My sideboard plan for this matchup is: -1 Summoner’s Pact +1 Loaming Shaman

In round fourteen, I was paired against Joby Parrish. Joby was playing a pretty generic Zoo list. I feel like the Ranger version of Elves has a pretty favorable matchup against Zoo, but my hands were pretty weak and Joby played pretty tight. He managed to kill the right things at the right time, and made some good reads with [card]Meddling Mage[/card] to win. This was my first loss of the tournament (and ended up being my only real loss). My sideboard plan for this matchup was -4 Elvish Archdruid +3 Ranger of Eos +1 Burrenton Forge-Tender (if you see lots of Jittes post-board, you may have to work in the Shaman for an Arbor Elf)

In round fifteen, I was paired against Conley Woods. I didn’t know Conley, but he is a member of ChannelFireball, and since my pursuit of perfection was over, I happily scooped him into Top 8 (plus, I had a good matchup against him!).

The Top 8 was set, and I seemed relatively well-positioned. I was facing Brozek Deck Wins round one, which is very favorable, and the only deck I was really concerned about was Saito’s Hypergenesis. All three of my top eight matches are on coverage, but I will try to do a quick rundown of each anyway.

Against Brozek, game one his hand was just too slow to really clock me, and grindy games are in my favor. Game two, Brozek was on the play with a very fast draw and my draw was kinda slow, so the game wasn’t too close. Game three, I was in a pretty dominant position. I played around the Volcanic Fallouts I knew were in his board very carefully by keeping up Pendelhaven, not overcommiting, and Rangering for Forge-Tender at the first chance I got; I eventually won.

In the semifinals I faced Conley Woods. For some reason, no one wanted to scoop this time so we actually had to battle! This match was very fun considering the gravity of the match, as we were both quite relaxed and were joking around. This matchup is quite favorable for as Jitte is pretty powerful against him, and I could legend rule his best hate card. The game I lost was due to a fast draw from Conley in which he used removal on the creature I tried to equip with Jitte a couple times to slow me down. Game three was the only time in the Top Eight I felt flustered due to pressure. I accidentally searched my whole library (instead of the correct four cards) after a Path even though there was an Aven Mindscensor in play. Fortunately, that was just a warning and I easily won the game due to pressure from Jitte forcing Conley to explode his own Noble Hierarch. My sideboard plan for this matchup was -4 Archdruid -1 Cloudstone Curio -1 Regal Force -1 Summoner’s Pact +3 Ranger of Eos +4 Jitte.

The first game of the finals was not too interesting. I had a pretty mediocre draw, and simply ripped a Glimpse the turn after getting a Glimpse Duressed to kill him. Game two was much more interesting. I had a hand that lent itself to simply playing out a bunch of guys and using that as my clock, so that’s what I did. I played out most of my hand and sent my creatures into the red zone when the opportunity came. There was a turn or two where I had a chance to Ghost Quarter an Academy Ruins when he had Engineered Explosives in his graveyard. Although it surprised some commentators, I chose not to do so because I did the math and realized that recurring Explosives was not going to be good enough considering my board and hand. In addition, if he assembled the Dark Depths combo at any point I did not want to be on a one turn clock. As it turned out, he did assemble the Depths combo on the second-to-last turn and would have killed me if I had made the other play. Ironically, the final game of the tournament was the first time I actually killed someone without fully comboing the entire tournament. Using aggro as a threat is fine, but this deck rarely uses it to actually win.

Suddenly, I was Grand Prix Oakland champion. Before I could soak it all in various media people were grabbing at me and trying to interview me. I held up my trophy for the photo op, did my interviews, and went on one of the best drives home of my life.

If anyone has any questions about how to play the deck, my sideboarding plans, or anything else you are curious about, feel free to put them in the comment section and I will respond as fast as possible.

41 thoughts on “Getting Nassty – GP Oakland Report, *1st*”

  1. You’ve mentioned a few times you think you should add the viridian shaman to the main deck? Do you really think it’s worth it? How do you side against dredge? Just bring in the loaming shaman ? What’s the Teeg for? Would you change anything in your sideboard ? (i’m probably going to ptq with this in Mobile next week, I went 5-2 in Lafayette a few weeks ago with R/G elves, so I’m familiar with the deck, but going W/G instead does change a bit). Do you think this is still a good deck to play? (I have also considered dredge, it seems unhated lately)

  2. Hi Congrats for your first Place. Great article.
    I’m from Chile, and i want to play this deck for a ptq in march. Do you recomended?… any special tips-tricks SB. May be you can help me out more. Thanks and good luck in everything.

    PS: Sorry if my english is poor


  3. What am I missing here? How does this deck combo-win? I understand drawing your entire deck and playing all the elves, does it then pass and swing the next turn?

  4. The deck uses Primal Command and Eternal Witness to topdeck all their lands and then just uses regular combat to win. Make sure to Primal them enough that they can’t cast a wrath effect the next turn. Remember to pay for your Summoner’s Pacts on the turn you are going to kill them. As far as tricks and sb tips they are all in the article. If you have any specific matchups you want advice on I would be more than happy to give a plan to you.

  5. @jay

    yeah you can bash but also with infinite mana you recur your primal command with your witness and curio and lock them out of the game by bouncing all their non creature perms to their library. pass turn and what can they do with nothing in play you just gg swing.

  6. Congrats on the win.

    A couple of questions about the deck. Why would you rather side out an arbor elf than a boreal druid, they do effectively the same thing but one gives you green/white mana? Did you always feel like you could recur primal command with eternal witness enough or did you ever feel like you needed a second primal command?

  7. Arbor Elf doesn’t tap for mana when you have Pendelhaven or Canopy out. There are arguments for both but I have concluded that Boreal is better.

    The second Primal Command is not necessary as you can go infinite with just one in your deck because of witness. If you need more cards in deck because you have played two glimpses already or something like that you can cast summoner’s pacts and fail to find. just keep track of how mana you’ve played and pay for them with elvish archdruids.

  8. sorry for the double post here but i just wanted to add that not only do i think that the second primal command is unecessary, but adding any kill cards is a very bad decision. these two kill cards are both fine draws, and i certainly never felt close to losing when i comboed. Running things like a second primal or grapeshot or anything like that is a waste of slots. having blank draws is terrible in such a tight clean combo deck.

  9. Hi Matt,

    I’ve been working on a G/R version of elves, was wondering what to do in G/W against meddling mage on Heritage druid. Was considering running G/r/w so I could keep the occasionally faster grapeshot kill, as well as be able to run magma jet to kill disruption creatures and fix the top of my deck,

    And I would love to see your sideboard plans, since I may end up just taking your deck to PTQ in portland on saturday.

    Thanks, and congradulations,


  10. PS

    I think everyone would love to see your sideboard plans, if nothing else, so us lesser players can understand the motivation behind it, so as to better understand how to screw the metagame,



  11. no problem. the plans for zoo and depths should be in the report part of the section. What matchups do you want a sideboard plan for? As far as answers to Meddling Mage, I think the best thing to do is just play around it. If they Mage Heritage you should just grind them out by Rangering for multiple Nettles and gain card advantage via Curio recursion and things like that.

    Also, if you really think Meddling Mage is going to be popular, you shouldn’t play this deck. This deck isn’t quite as powerful as other extended decks, and thus needs there to be very little hate for it to succeed. meddling mage isn’t good against decks like zoo or depths, so it isn’t a big issue. again, decks like connely woods’ deck where mage might fit did not play it simply because it sucks in this meta. If you find a lot of meddling mages in your meta it isn’t worth trying to find a solution with elves but instead just picking a deck that is better against mage.

    I do not like the idea of grapeshot at all. unlike primal and witness, it is a terrible draw. there is no reason to have a card that is a terrible draw in this deck, because the deck has no problem killing people when comboing as is. Also, the red splash is hard to execute because there are no good gr dual lands besides stomping ground. grove of the burnwillows isn’t terrible i guess, but it doesn’t seem nearly as good as horizon canopy or gilt-leaf palace. Also, if you are considering blood moon please play ghost quarter instead. against depths ghost quarter is waaaaay better as it can’t be duressed or thougthseized and in other matchups blood moon just isn’t that backbreaking. Also, a hand like boreal canopy stomping ground blood moon actually screws yourself over.

  12. excuse me mr nass, but i would like credit for the idea of the depths in the SB ….cuz u know that was all me. I would like an edit. lol. congrats on the finish again even tho ur a huge donk.


  13. HI Matt

    Congrats on the victory!

    I’m preparing for a PTQ in South Africa. I have been testing out elves for awhile now and built a list similar to yours. Just wanna run past a couple ideas past you – main deck I play one horizon canopy to minimise pain and improve arbour druid. I’m just wondering how good you find the canopies – from testing I’m not over the moon about them. I also find that arbour is superior to boreals as boreals can hurt you by only producing colourless mana. I also find that the deck is so prone to stalling if your opponents disrupt you – so I added two weird harvests for 1 boreal and a 61st card. Sideboard – I also running knight of the reliquary which can tutor up Ghost Quarter/canopy. It is a really solid beater and really difficult to kill in the current environment. I also know that at my PTQ there will be a fair number of hypergenesis/living end. I have found the match-up tough, would it be worth adding 2 chalice of the void against them?


  14. Hi Matt

    Congrats on the victory!

    I’m preparing for a local PTQ and i’m gona play elves G/W. I have a few questions…
    – Whats your sideboard plan agaist Smallpox and Faeries?
    – What do you think about Proclamation of Rebirth (I don’t have Ranger :S and I think Proclamation is a ok replacement, you can cast proclamation and combo the same turn 🙂 )?


  15. I think horizon canopy is insane. I was considering wether to play 3 or 4 and eventually decided 4 was too painful. Three definitely seems powerful though. Knight of the Reliquary I haven’t tried at all so I don’t really have an opinion on. I certainly enjoyed playing with the card at san diego 🙂 I think it might dilute the deck a little too much and doesn’t seem powerfu;l enough in any one matchup, but it is a cute idea.

  16. Congrats on your win Mr Nass.

    I have playtested the BrozekDW matchup and there is something i must be doing wrong, because i keep losing.

    They always have the lightning bolt/path to exile/lightning helix/searing blaze for my elves and i never get to combo them out while losing to 7/1’s, lynx and geopode.


  17. Above comment is hilarious, sounds like a letter to Dear Abbey.

    You should be able to play elves faster than they can kill them. You have more of them, they’re generally cheaper, and you have mana accel and card draw. If you keep losing, you’re either keeping terrible hands or forgetting to cast spells.

  18. Congratulations on your win.

    I have a couple questions:

    – Why don’t you sideboard Jitte in against Zoo?
    – Can you explain your strategy post board vs. Zoo?

    I’ve had problems in the post board matchup when Zoo brings in a couple Jitte and a set of Meddling Mage. Thanks.

  19. The brozek matchup is favorable, but the way you play it is very important. You have to make sure you are always ready to chump as long as they have steppe lynx and geopede out. You have to use your glimpses for value, usually drawing something like three cards as opposed to waiting till you can fully combo. Post board you have four jittes and lots of ways to get it active, but you dont just want to willy nilly slap it on a guy the first chance you get because often they will kill it and on the next turn kill you because you tapped all your guyys to equip jitte. In one of my games against brozek I equipped a jitte and then used glimpse of nature just to untap my nettle sentinels to make sure i had chumpers. also, make sure to use ranger to get essence warden and forge-tender more than heritage and nettle. obviously play around fallout in post board games by keeping up pendelhaven and saving a jitte counter to pump your guy.

    as far as the zoo matchup goes, the matchup is a grind. It is hard for them to kill you quickly when they dilute their deck with lots of removal and meddling mages, and it is hard for you to kill quickly when they do that. thus, you should focus on not trying to combo, but again just trying to gain value all the time. Things like curio + ranger can get pretty ugly sometimes even if they have a mage on heritage. The reason I don’t bring in jitte is because it is unimpressive in these games. You get a huge tempo loss every time they kill a guy you attempt to suit up, and their guys are so much bigger a jitte isn’t going to make up the difference. Seal of jitte isn’t an awful card if you see jittes on their side you want to legend rule, but I would rather just bring in the tutorable viridian shaman.

    I think the key to playing these aggro decks is analyzing when you have to combo. Sometimes they will have a removal light draw iwth a fast clock and you will have to combo quickly, but other times they will have tons of removal and you should take your time and just keep setting it up so you can combo through more and more removal. Pretty soon you should get to the point where you can combo through basically anything. It is almost always best to combo the turn before they are going to kill you.

  20. the author’s forum comments are way more informative than anything he wrote in the actual article

  21. Hey matt, congrats on the win, it was nassty.

    How viable do you think this deck will be if people are prepared for it?

    thanks : )

  22. “It would have been interesting if Lokman did combo and created infinite tokens and gained infinite life. Even in this case, it would probably end up being a win for me assuming I could combo the next turn because I could use Primal Command to make sure I didn't deck while gaining infinite life myself. ”

    It depends on the specific list

    As long as you make sure to always keep a primal command at your disposal you win.

    Primal all non thopter permanents, he probably makes tokens in response (if he’s smart enough to kill every creature in your deck 50 times if you swing) for a total of X dudes and Y life.

    As long as you can keep recurring primal command (I think witness in play, dude in hand or vice a verse and command in hand does it ). Then just make sure after all his non thopter things are gone and you curio up to a healthy live total (probbaly X*1000000 for safety ;))

    The only problem I can see here is if he runs crypt/relic since iirc this is one of those situation that does not fall under the loop rules (maybe it does, there’s some fringe cases that can’t such as “infinite” milling with a gaea’s blessing in the deck) so it might be a stand still. You can’t not command the crypt since if you do he crypts your command, but that means every turn is just him crypt you command.

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  24. Hello,

    For Matt or anyone that can provide insight, how exactly does comboing off happen if often there is a Glimpse active and you need to play witness and also get it returned back to your hand (+2 cards). Is playing dummy Summoner’s Pacts the only way? Am I missing something obvious?


  25. Yes casting pact for nothing is the plan. Assuming you draw the primal early, it shouldnt be an issue, but if primal is your bottom card you play pacts for nothing then when you need to play something to return the witness via curio you make it an archdruid so you can pay for infi pacts. obviously keep track of how many pacts you are playing if you do this.

  26. I made top 4 with your deck in the local PTQ, just with a change in the main deck (-1 ranger, +1 viridian)

    Lost to Tezzeret in Semis 🙁

  27. Hi Mr. Nass! Congratulations for your victory!

    I have liked the article and I have found very interesting the point of the hole in the metagame.

    I have been trying your deck for a couple of week now and, although I think to have caught up the mechanic, I still find difficulties in some matchups, likely for the reasons about the metagame in small places that you pointed out.

    In particular, I can’t really succed in beating Thopter Combo: it has Path to Exile and counterspells which slow me down in game one, and when I try to race in game two, they get the combo on gaining life a turn before losing. I know I am not a very experienced player, but it seems I can’t figure out the strategy against this deck.

    The other really though matchup I’ve found is zoo with punishing fire. The recursion of the spell seems unstoppable, it seems to me the worst matchup of all. What do you think about it?

    I am curious about siding out the Archdruid: I thought it was part of the beatdown plan, can you make me this point clearer?

    A last question: given the increasing number of enchantment in the meta, such as Night of Souls’Betrayal and Leyline of the Void, do you think would it be worthy adding an enchantment hoser (and if yes, which one?), or maybe this means that the meta is not suitable for elves any more?

    Thank you for your kindness, best regards!

  28. @Donato: I’m considering 2 cards against artifacts and/or enchantments:
    -Nullmage Shepherd
    -Harmonic Sliver

    The Nullmage Shepherd is for Tezzerator and Harmonic Sliver is a replacement of Viridian Shaman

    The siding out of archdruid is because you dont need him in those matchups. You cant expect to win attacking against zoo and it’s slow against Brozek DW.

  29. I love playing elf combo. However one of the problems im coming down with is playing against Living End. Its a really bad matchup for me if i dont combo out in time. Any ideas?

  30. donato: against thopter you should board in rangers to help grind through their removal and counters. they don’t have a very fast clock so it shouldn’t be an issue to slow down a bit. As far as enchantment hate, Viridian Zealot is the best since it’s an elf. However, Leyline is not enough of a reason to bring it in since you should just be able to beat them with an army of elves even if you can’t recurr primal.

    The Living End matchup is interesting. The best sideboard card is Glutonous Slime. Tutoring for it with Summoner’s Pact and devouring all of your creatures in response to a Living End can be a huge blowout. If you just want advice on how to play the matchup, I would reccomend being super careful about playing around Violent Outburst. In addition, start off with Elvish Visionaries so that when they Outburst you and kill your Visionaries, you can get your Visionaries back and draw some cards when they have to Living End again.

  31. against scapeshift I would go -4 archdruid +3 ranger +1 forge-tender (they should have spouts post board)

    against hypergen im not rly sure. On the one hand, ranger is waaay to slow to cast in this matchup. on the other hand, it is a great thing to bring in to set up a combo after a hypergen. Unfortunately, they often either have violent outburst, which gives them an attack step to kiill you, or they have such a poewrful hypergen that it is too hard to combo after it even with ranger. Therefore I would board almost nothing. Also of note, assuming they hypergen main phase, cloudstone curio is a great way to prevent a lot of your guys from dying.

  32. Pingback: » Rishadan Pawnshop #28 Pound for Pound: Extended Edition

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