Wallet Warriors: Elves and Goblins
Welcome back Wallet Warriors! 2017 has been a great year for tribal fans and I’m continuing that train today with a double deck tech: $50 Elves and Goblins! That’s right, 100 bucks for both decks!
These are two tribes that have been around since the very beginning and are definitely some fan favorites. Elves and Goblins are interestingly very similar, and at the same time, polar opposites. Elves are kind, peace loving forest dwellers that seem like great company at a chill bar or at a Grateful Dead concert. Goblins, on the other hand, thrive on chaos and destruction. Goblins will multiply rapidly and completely take over any land just because they can.
With all that being said, when it comes to war, both races have a very similar approach: Swarm! In this article I won’t be going over a lot of individual card choices because there’s a lot to get through. Instead I’ll be providing an overview of each deck with my suggestions on how best to upgrade them.
Let’s start with Ezuri, Renegade Leader and his army of Elves!
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One of the common traits between Elves and Goblins is that they are both very explosive. However a key difference is that Elves do a lot less of the literal exploding than Goblins. An elf deck is very good at dumping its hand onto the battlefield because so many of the low-cost elves can help you produce more mana. This specific elf deck has ten 1 mana elves that produce or help us produce more mana (Ramp creatures/Mana dorks). It has eighteen ramp cards in total.
This high amount of ramp combined with the fact that most of our creatures cost 3 or below means we are able to flood the board extremely early. From there we will have access to a lot of mana and have lots of creatures on board. This is where our commander comes in very handy since Ezuri has a repeatable Overrun effect for all our elves. This is a tremendous place to dump our extra mana. If we are able to activate this ability once or twice in a turn, it can often make our elves too big to block profitably and we can decimate one or two players at a time.
Now, this game plan works out if no one is interacting with us. We want to have some contingency plans in place for the imminent Wrath of God Billy over there is smugly shuffling around in his hand. Our Plan A is to kill everyone before they get the chance to do anything about it. Barring that, Plan B is to draw a bunch of cards after we’ve emptied our hand to give us a way to refill the board. For that we have cards like Regal Force and Collective Unconscious.
Here we can look at where to go first when upgrading our elven army.
You’ll want to go straight for the more expensive elf lords. These are elves that boost all our other elves and are very powerful threats to have access to. Here are just a few suggestions.
After beefing up the core elves you can easily increase the power level by throwing in some green EDH staples such as Sylvan Library for some efficient card filtering/draw, Growing Rites of Itlimoc as the poor man’s Gaea’s Cradle and Oracle of Mul Daya (which happens to also be an elf).
These final three suggestions don’t really fit into a specific category together but are all very powerful. Heroic Intervention is a rare piece of board wipe protection that is difficult to find in mono-green. Herald’s Horn not only reduces the cost of most of our creatures but gives us extra cards for only 3 mana. Lastly, Coat of Arms is an extremely efficient mass pump effect which can often win the game the turn it comes down.
Now, we are moving swiftly past the simple, nature-filled, lifestyle of the elves to the bumbling chaotic goblins.
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Piloting a goblin deck is less about having a plan and more about throwing goblins at the problem until it stops being a problem. Annnd if that doesn’t work. Well you wait until you have more goblins and try again!
Krenko is another very explosive deck but it is much more reliant on its commander than the elves deck. For this reason the first piece of advice I will give for any Krenko player is try your best to only cast Krenko when you will likely get to activate his ability at least once. This will not always be possible but keep in mind that when you are playing goblins you will not have access to very much mana. This means if Krenko gets sent back to the command zone even once or twice it will almost be impossible to bring him back. This is why haste enablers are so important here. We have eight cards in the deck that can let Krenko get going right out of the gates.
Another way to protect the big boss is to eat up the removal with other threats first. If you have the option of playing Krenko or Siege-Gang Commander for example, it will usually be better to drop the commander first because Krenko is much more powerful in most cases. You want Krenko to land and do his thing at all costs.
Apart from Krenko we have a formidable group of ragtag goblins that he was somehow able to wrangle into his mob. I won’t go over every one but I will mention the key members to look out for.
Krenko has some additional leaders in his mob which can make our angry little 1/1s a lot angrier. Unfortunately due to our budget we don’t have access to all of them but I’ll get back to that in the Upgrades section. Don’t worry, we’ve still got about 12 anthem effects in the deck so we’re not lacking.
The deck has a few goblins that come with buddies which are great to land before playing Krenko or one of our other lower level leaders. We also have a bunch of utility goblins which are often powerful enough just by having the Goblin creature type but have nice bonuses tacked on.
This deck plays a bit differently to a typical edh deck in the sense that we ideally want to use all our mana every turn otherwise we can fall behind very quickly. We’re looking to take advantage of the fact that our opponents will be spending their early turns either just playing lands or ramping.
Now that you’ve got the gist of it. Let’s look at how best to improve the deck by spending a bit more cash.
I’ve mentioned how important lords are back up there in the elf upgrades section but their value is even higher for our goblin friends. Elves are a lot better on their own but Goblins need a bit of support to actually pose a threat. The Chieftain also provides haste to all our goblins and I’ve already explained why that is very important for Krenko.
Here we have even more ways to give Krenko haste. Lightning Greaves and Thousand-year Elixir allow Krenko to fire off immediately. One protects the boss while the other lets him not just double your goblins but quadruple them in one turn! Purphoros’ Hammer is just an additional way to give all your goblins haste, the activated ability will rarely ever come into play but it’s nice to have.
These are just two incredibly powerful cards that will add a big punch whenever they land. Coat of Arms is a card I’ve already talked about but when you are playing goblins and have even a handful of tokens out it can provide a huge amount of power. Purphoros is great on a few levels. It provides damage without entering combat which gets around Ghostly Prison and similar effects. It is very difficult to get rid of after it resolves. Then after all that it has a repeatable pump effect so it acts as a pseudo-lord.
Elves and Goblins, two decks, 50 bucks each. I hope you enjoyed my budget builds and if you were on the fence about putting together one of these tribes I can sincerely tell you both are super fun if you love to flood the board and end games quick.
Seeya in a couple weeks! Cheers!
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