Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Playing Elf Decks in Magic
Elves are a prominent creature subtype in Magic that dominates green and occasionally spreads to other colors. While not particularly strong, most elves are inexpensive, and several produce mana when tapped, letting you steal an early resource lead and quickly access your best spells.
With hundreds of members, you can craft dedicated elf decks or use them to support other themes. And devoting to these forest-dwellers has its advantages, making the most of their powerful supplements. But with dozens of boosts available, which aces reign supreme? These are the ten best elf-supporting cards in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Dwynen's an interesting legendary with a little bit of everything. A 3/4 isn't bad for four mana, especially since Dwynen possesses reach, letting her block flying enemies (a useful tool for ground-based green). Additionally, she automatically buffs your other elves by +1/+1, skillfully fortifying your generally frail units.
And Dwynen rewards aggression by offering one life whenever she swings per attacking elf you control; counting herself, that's at least one, and potentially many more. In short, you've got a versatile warrior with lifegain on offense, aerial guarding on defense, and a passive boost for her kin.
9. Heedless One
Heedless One costs four mana but only needs one green, blending well in multi-color decks and accepting colorless resources from artifacts like "Sol Ring." She wields trample, letting her pierce excess damage through blockers, and her power and toughness equal the total number of elves on the battlefield.
That's at least 1/1 by herself, but since the trait tallies opposing elves in addition to your own, it's not uncommon for One to reach double digits, ravaging foes with her immense power.
8. Jagged-Scar Archers
Jagged-Scar offers a nice alternative to Heedless One, each enjoying their own advantages. Scar costs less mana, but is slightly more restrictive, making her better suited for mono-green decks. She lacks trample, and her power and toughness total only count your own elves, but it's still an impressive total for such a cheap unit.
Additionally, Scar can tap to deal damage equal to her power to any flying creature, another fierce anti-flying measure for green. This works similarly to the fight mechanic, but since your foe doesn't hit back, Scar can safely strike enemies from range.
7. Wirewood Symbiote
Unlike today's other spells, Symbiote is an insect rather than elf, meaning he won't qualify for their supports, and he's weak at 1/1. Fortunately, he only costs one mana and lets you return an elf you control to its owner's hand to untap any creature.
You can only do this once per turn, but it's a versatile ability with numerous applications. Use it to refresh attackers and increase your available blockers, rejuvenate mana-tappers for additional resources, or give yourself continuous creature-casting and monster-entrance triggers, spamming traits on cards like "Beast Whisperer". Note you can perform the effect once on your turn and once on each opponent's, all without ever needing to tap.
6. Joraga Treespeaker
One of the game's best level-up creatures, Joraga admittedly doesn't boost other elves until her final stage, but she's more than capable in the meantime. With a single mana, cast her on turn one. Then, on turn two (or any other round), you can upgrade her by spending two mana, which not only increases her stats from 1/1 to 1/2 but gives her the ability to tap for two green resources.
In many cases, you can simply stop there and enjoy your new mana factory, but if you manage to level Joraga up four more times (proliferating her counters can help), she further increases to 1/4 and lets all elves you control tap for two green.
5. Heritage Druid
This elf is another weak 1/1, but her low cost provides another great turn-one play. Druid's effect lets you tap three untapped elves you control (likely including herself) to add three green mana to your pool.
Druid scales better in the late-game than most one-cost units because of her speed; since her trait is an activated ability, you can apply it the turn she arrives even without haste, bestowing instant-speed mana. Plus, unlike traditional tap effects, you can utilize the trait multiple times in a single round if you have enough creatures.
4. Eladamri, Lord of Leaves
An errata changed Eladamri's abilities to only affect other elves (and not himself as the above wording implies), but he's still a daunting if slightly risky tool. Eladamri specifically needs two green mana, but he's sturdy for his price, carrying a fair 2/2 stats. Additionally, he automatically grants other elves both forestwalk and shroud.
Forestwalk renders units unblockable against opponents that control a forest land, and shroud prevents any player (including you) from targeting them, a prime defense against removals. Both are appreciated and rare bonuses, especially for such an early play, but note they also boost opposing elves, so watch your timing.
3. Elvish Archdruid
For his price, Archdruid's 2/2 aren't great, but they're easily forgiven since he gives your other elves +1/+1. Additionally, Archdruid can tap for one green mana per elf you control.
Again, counting himself, that's at least one, but if you've swarmed some of Archdruid's kin, you can easily obtain three or more resources, a massive sum to grant a mid-game lead in commander.
2. Marwyn, the Nurturer
Rather than supporting elves, Marwyn is supported by them; either way, she's a powerful synergy you'll definitely want. She offers several colorless slots in her cost, and while she begins as a weak 1/1, Marwyn gains a +1/+1 counter whenever another elf enters the arena under your control.
Additionally, she can tap to add an amount of green mana equal to her current power. Thanks to her self-producing counters, she'll soon score massive amounts, and you can further exploit the trait by adorning her with auras and equipment spells. Remember to take advantage of the block-tap technique, letting you declare her as a blocker, then immediately exhaust her for mana, guarding and producing mana in the same turn.
An easy pick for my own green commander decks, Marwyn is also much cheaper than today's other top cards, costing less than a single dollar!
1. Priest of Titania
As formidable as Archdruid and Marwyn are, Titania offers the definitive elf-empowered mana-tapper. While she doesn't increase her kins' stats and carries just 1/1, she only needs two mana and taps for one green mana per elf anywhere on the field!
Since Titania includes both allied and opposing elves, her production quickly skyrockets, pressuring foes to spend a removal (if they have one), something few two-cost units warrant. Powerful in 1v1 and absolutely deadly in multiplayer, Titania remains the ultimate elf-synergizing Magic card.
Swarming Elf Tokens in Magic
As we've seen, many of the best elf supports depend on either the number of elves you control or the total number on the field. Either way, you can empower these effects by churning out elf tokens with cards like planeswalker "Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury," whose +1 loyalty effect creates a mana-tapping elf token.
Note that many elves also harbor the druid subtype, comboing well with cards like "Seton, Krosan Protector", and you can give them haste with artifacts like "Lightning Greaves" for immediate mana-taps. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of elf-boosting spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill