Building On A Budget - ElfBall

I hope everyone had fun in the Worlds Qualifier tournaments this past weekend--I think it is great that there are online Qualifiers for those people who cannot make it to a Regional. It brings new perspective to the game. Congrats to the winners!

For the past two weeks I have been focusing on Standard because of the Worlds qualifiers, but I now I would to change pace and talk about Tribal Wars. Sometimes we get caught up in the competitive aspect of the game and forget it's all about having a good time. Tribal Wars brings us back to that in the best way possible. This week I want to talk about a staple of Tribal--the Elf deck. I know that many of you are thinking "I am sick and tired of playing with/against Elf decks," but there are many different types of Elf decks, and this one has a little more spice to it.

Those of you who played back in the day will remember Elf-Ball--a deck that seemed terrible but always won. The premise of the deck was to use a large amount of mana generating cards and Fireballing your opponent for 20. Over time the deck got cards like Priest of Titania, Gaea's Cradle, and Rofellos.

But what about now? None of those cards are legal in Magic Online play, so I put together this deck to bring back the good old feeling of 20 to the nugget.

Building on a Budget - Elf-Ball

How it works

Ok, so the deck doesn't actually do 20 to the nugget. Instead, it does infinite damage, gains infinite life, makes infinite mana, and attacks infinite times with infinity/infinity creatures. I felt that would be close to the good old two-oh.

Of course you wouldn't go infinite, though--I mean, that's a lot of clicking! Your finger might fall off!

The combo is basically Aggravated Assault and the ability to produce 5 mana from a Wirewood Channeler (or 4 mana and have a Llanowar Elves in play, or 3 but have a Seeker of Skybreak, etc.). This will give you many combat phases. If your opponent has a creature to stop your attackers, you may need Timberwatch Elf or Stonewood Invoker to make things happen. Timberwatch will be able to do a pump each time it is untapped, and Stonewood Invoker grows extremely large if you can make infinite mana. If all you have is a Wellwisher, then infinite life will have to do until you can find something better to use.

Note that there aren't a lot of mountains. That's because you can rarely go off without Wirewood Channeler, and it makes red mana. Truth be told, the deck might run more smoothly with no mountains at all.

You will find that the deck has trouble with burn-heavy decks, especially those with Violent Eruption. My best advice is to play as many creatures as possible and try to run your opponent out of burn, while holding the Timberwatch back for the finish. If it lives for a turn, you might be able to pull the game out. If your opponent draws six burn spells against you, you'll have trouble unless you slow roll a Caller of the Claw to help make some card advantage. If you want to add a little money to the deck, Ravenous Baloth always helps against burn.

Tips On Playing The Deck

  • Wirewood Herald is your first line of defense and offense in many cases. Many people are afraid to attack into or block it for good reason. Some decks just can't deal with the sheer life-gaining power of Wellwisher or the massive pumps of Timberwatch. It's also your best friend against Wrath of God effects--just fetch up your Caller of the Claw and have your bears go to town. (Editor's Note: Just remember to keep three mana open if you have a Herald in play and you're expecting some global destruction. Nothing's worse than getting Wrathed, going after your Caller, and having it stare at you accusingly from your hand.)

  • Use your Sylvan Safekeepers responsibly. Even though there is a lot of mana to go around in this deck, sometimes it's not worth making a creature untargetable.

  • Don't trade your Seeker of Skybreaks against random creatures. They're awesome in helping Wellwisher, Timberwatch, and Channeler. Wirewood Lodge has a similar effect.

  • Don't wait for the combo. Many times you can win just on the sheer power of Timberwatch Elf.

  • Untapping Timberwatch Elf has to be one of the more satisfying moments in Magic history. I highly recommend it.

Adding Money To The Deck

If you really want to put more money into this deck, you can always go for the lands, although it isn't really necessary. I like adding white with Brushlands and Windswept Heaths and then putting in Exalted Angels.

Birds of Paradise are nice too, not just for the mana, but also because they fly. Flying Timberwatch targets can get very deadly and annoying. Ever see a 21/22 Bird flying your way? It isn't pretty.

In more competitive play, the infinite combo isn't that great, but the Timberwatch/Wellwisher part holds up surprisingly well. Have some fun and experiment with different variations!

Till next time, may all of your Goblins have haste!

Nate Heiss
Team CMU
Nateheiss on Magic Online

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