Elf Ramp

Written by James Heslip on . Posted in Casual Magic

Elf Ramp

James Heslip

James is a budget Magic connoisseur who values silly strategies and rogue decks. He has been playing Magic since 1998, and competing in Legacy events since 2010. When he is not teaching high school English, he can be found brewing Casual and Legacy decks to play with his students and peers. Always appreciative of feedback, he loves it when people send suggestions and share crazy decks with him!

 

Continuing our theme of green ramp decks we have an archetype that almost every player has piloted at some point in their career: Elves! Llanowar Elves is the OG ramp creature, and since his printing there has been an enormous amount of support cards as well as copycats. Thanks to the sheer number of each, we can build our very own elf ramp deck for less than $10!
 
The Core

Llanowar Elves, Elvish Mystic and Arbor Elf are our core rampers. Each can ramp into extra copies of the other, providing a steady flow of mana and bodies. Most elf lists would then continue the chain into cards like Priest of Titania and Elvish Archdruid. While these are both powerful options, they also put us over budget, so we need to improvise. In the same way that budget players will often replace Gaea’s Cradle with Wirewood Lodge, we can find a similar effect on a cheaper card. Enter Elvish Guidance.

Guidance is much cheaper than its counterparts, but can still gives us mammoth amounts of mana to bolster our elf army. What’s more, much in the same way that player will use Quirion Ranger to abuse the mana production of Priest of Titania, we can use Arbor Elf in combination with Elvish Guidance. In a callback to our last article, we can untap the enchanted land to abuse the aura’s mana ability.

 
The Backup

Elvish Mystic, Sylvan Messenger, and Lead the Stampede are all included to make sure the flow of elves does not stop. Whereas most ramp decks attempt to gain large amounts of mana to play large creatures, we use our mana to play as many small creatures as we can, eventually swarming out the opponent. 1/1’s don’t do much for us in the end game, though. We need something to make these small beaters bigger.  Traditionally, players have used cards like Overrun to end the game after sufficient swarming. Messenger and Stampede limit our choices, though. When cast, they will pass right over the sorcery. Our solution? Gempalm Strider and Tajuru Warcaller. Both are creatures, so they won’t be passed over by Stampede or Messenger, and they have similar effects to the famous Overrun. Strider can also be played early if needed, and even replaces himself after you use his Overrun ability!

Wirewood Hivemaster and Lys Alana Huntmaster help swarm the opponent out even more. Though he can come down earlier, Hivemaster’s tokens will not be buffed by Gempalm Strider. The effect is still powerful, though, and it even stacks! Besides, Warcaller’s got the insects’ backs.

The Final List
Playing the Deck
  With so much synergy and simplicity, the deck is very intuitive. It is rare that you have to make a choice beyond “What do I cast with all this mana?” Play order is important, though. Wirewood Hivemaster, for example, should always come down as soon as possible so that his token production potential does not go to waste. The same can be said for Lys Alana Huntmaster. If you ever have a choice, get these guys down before anything else.

Try to save Lead the Stampede and Sylvan Messenger for last. Empty out your hand until you have no other options. Otherwise, you’ll be filling your hand with too many cards you can’t cast instead of filling the board with creatures. There are a few cases where you don’t want to follow this game plane, though. For example, when you need a specific elf sooner rather than later.

Gempalm Strider and Tajuru Warcaller should be your end game. They don’t need to end the game with a single swing, though. Cycling a Strider one turn, attacking, and then casting Warcaller on the next is still a fine set of plays. With so much elf draw available to you it won’t uncommon to have more than one overrun effect in your hand. Take advantage of it. And again, don’t be afraid to just cast the strider for the Grizzly Bear body. You’ll find another one.

Many staple elf cards have been included in the additional options list simply for reference. The vast majority of these cards are way past our budget, but if you want to improve your deck over time these are the cards you want to look into. Glimpse of Nature can turn your deck into a sort of elves combo deck when combined with Nettle Sentinel and Birchlore Rangers or Heritage Druid. Quirion Ranger can untap mana producing elves like Priest of Titania much in the same way that we are using Arbor Elf to untap our Elvish Guidance enchanted forests. Regal Force and Craterhoof Behemoth can end games in a single turn, especially when you add in Green Sun’s Zenith for consistency.Keeping on theme with mana ramp, you can’t get much better than Gaea’s Cradle, Priest of Titania, and Elvish Archdruid. We’re on a tight budget, though, so the only realistic one out of the bunch is Archdruid because of his $2 price tag. That’s only If you want to spend a couple extra bucks above our budget, though. Wirewood Channeler has a similar ability to the rest of them, but with a casting cost of four, he’s probably not worth including in any number above two.

All elf lords are potential inclusions. Imperious Perfect and Elvish Clancaller give us more elves, which means more mana. Even Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen is playable just because she makes your guys stronger. Ezuri, Renegade Leader is probably the best lord this deck could play (next to Archdruid) because you can activate his Overrun ability multiple times in a turn, making him an amazing mana dump.

Conclusion

With tons of room to grow, this deck is a great starting point for any aspiring elves player. Over time, with the right additions, it could even become something competitive in Legacy. Or not, in the end it’s all up to you. Check out my facebook page for updates on new articles and decks. Do you have an idea for an inexpensive and fun deck you want me to see? send me an email at Spooky386@gmail.com.

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