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Thread: Evolutionary Elves

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    Evolutionary Elves

    Evolutionary Elves seems to have largely disappeared from the Modern meta, with the Collected Company variants of Elves being the more popular choice. While Elf Company is better equipped to play a longer game, the Evolutionary build is more explosive, allowing for a full combo as early as turn 2. I've decided to revisit the Evolutionary build and am looking to fine tune the list. Here's my starting point:

    Evolutionary Elves
    CREATURES
    4 Dwynen's Elite
    4 Elvish Mystic
    4 Elvish Visionary
    1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
    2 Essence Warden
    4 Heritage Druid
    4 Llanowar Elves
    4 Nettle Sentinel
    1 Regal Force
    SPELLS
    3 Cloudstone Curio
    4 Evolutionary Leap
    1 Garruk Relentless
    1 Rhonas's Monument
    4 Summoner's Pact
    2 Weird Harvest
    LAND
    15 Forest
    1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
    1 Pendelhaven

    SIDEBOARD
    1 Back to Nature
    2 Creeping Corrosion
    2 Essence Warden
    1 Gaea's Herald
    1 Garruk Relentless
    1 Loaming Shaman
    2 Nature's Claim
    2 Reclamation Sage
    1 Scavenging Ooze
    1 Throne of the God-Pharaoh / Walking Ballista
    1 Weird Harvest


    For the unfamiliar, the deck looks to play an Elfball style game plan. Cloudstone Curio allows true combo shenanigans in conjunction with any of the following:

    Heritage Druid + Nettle Sentinel + Dwynen's Elite = infinite Elf Warrior tokens
    Heritage Druid + Nettle Sentinel + Elvish Visionary + any 1CMC elf = infinite draw
    Heritage Druid + Nettle Sentinel + 2 1CMC elves = infinite green mana

    An Essence Warden in the mix will gain you an abundance of life and with additional copies of Nettle Sentinel, you can easily generate copious amounts of mana.

    The primary win condition is casting Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, but you can also amass an army of elves and win in a more classic way. It's also possible to use Cloudstone Curio to bounce Emrakul after casting her, allowing you to take infinite turns.

    Rhonas's Monument is a new piece of tech that I'm trying out. The cost reduction for your green creatures makes it easier to combo off by chaining into your needed elves without hitting a bottleneck on mana. Also, by repeatedly targeting a creature devoid of summoning sickness, you can attack with an arbitrarily large trampler (this is particularly effective with Nettle Sentinel, as the cast of each green creature both untaps it and provides the +2/+2 boost).

    Evolutionary Leap allows you to sacrifice tapped/expended elves to dig for fresh bodies to continue generating mana and cards. Summoner's Pact and Weird Harvest are your tutors. Garruk Relentless can also be a tutor, once transformed, and serves as a source of removal for problematic creatures, as well as a potential win condition in drawn out games. Regal Force lets you refill your hand if you were unable to combo off with your initial draws.

    Possible Adjustments, Inclusions, Etc.
    As with many combo decks, there isn't much room for adjustment in the list, as the pieces are all there for a reason and you can't afford to dilute the combo shell. That said, there are a couple of cards I'm considering/testing.

    Rishkar, Peema Renegade interests me. He can potentially act as a stand-in for Heritage Druid by placing +1/+1 counters on Nettle Sentinels. There's also some potential to play and bounce him repeatedly with Cloudstone Curio, distributing +1/+1 counters en mass to your team. The biggest strike against Rishkar is his mana cost.

    Devoted Druid is another option I'm considering. I actually contemplated trying to squeeze the Devoted Druid + Vizier of Remedies combo into the deck, but Vizier seems far too clunky, as it would require adding white to the mana base and, ultimately, the vast majority of the mana the deck will produce is going to be coming from its creatures, so Vizier would likely just be stranded in your hand. Devoted Druid offers some utility without Vizier though. Specifically, it has combo potential with Rhonas's Monument, as casting a creature spell would allow you to give the Druid +2/+2, thereby allowing you to activate its untap ability multiple times in a turn. Additionally, the untap could potentially allow you access to a critical third untapped elf to continue activating Heritage Druid. The main drawback with Devoted Druid is that it seems like it may need to be included in somewhat greater numbers to have any relevance, and the deck can't really sustain many more 2+ CMC creatures.

    Sideboard thoughts:
    Most of the sideboard inclusions noted above are pretty straight-forward. Back to Nature is a house against Bogles and random brews that are enchantment focused. Creeping Corrosion beats up Affinity. Additional copies of Essence Warden come in against Burn/aggro. Gaea's Herald is there for fear of counterspells. An extra Garruk Relentless serves as a piece of creature removal and allows you to grind better against midrange. Loaming Shaman is graveyard hate that can also recycle some of your fallen elves. Nature's Claim is a quick answer to Affinity's early plays and provides pinpoint artifact/enchantment removal to avoid the potential collateral damage of your sweepers. Reclamation Sage is your searchable artifact/enchantment hate and can be crippling when bounced/replayed with Cloudstone Curio. Scavenging Ooze is additional graveyard hate and life gain. An extra Weird Harvest comes in when you're loading up your sideboard bullet creatures or against creature-light decks.

    Throne of the God-Pharaoh and Walking Ballista serve a similar role, but I'm not sure which is better. Their primary purpose is to provide a win condition that doesn't require attacking. Throne works nicely with Heritage Druid allowing you to tap down your creatures each turn and has the upside of not being a creature itself, thereby dodging removal. Ballista, on the other hand, can be tagged by creature removal, unless you're in a situation where you're able to play it for a sufficiently large size from your hand. The real upside of Ballista, though, is that you can tutor for it and have inevitability to find it with Evolutionary Leap. If you're able to set up a loop for infinite mana, which can turn into infinite creatures pretty easily, you can then guarantee that you'll find the Ballista and go infinitely large with it. So, ultimately, I think Ballista gets the nod.

    Leyline of Vitality is something I'm considering for Burn-heavy metas. Eidolon of the Great Revel is a real problem for this deck. The primary answer is to get multiple Essence Wardens into play and gain life to offset the damage from casting your spells. Leyline allows you to do this as well, but potentially without the mana investment. Despite the urge to want to max out on Leylines to increase the odds of starting with at least one in play, I don't know that running a full set in the board would be worth it; possibly if you cut the Essence Wardens for them. If Pyroclasm or similar effects make a resurgence, Leyline may gain some utility as an anti-sweeper measure.
    Last edited by CaptainTwiddle; 06-28-2017 at 02:10 AM. Reason: added sideboard

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