Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are the Best Elves in Magic?
In Magic, elves represent an abundant subtype generally found among the forests of the green faction. These long-eared mystics are typically weak, but compensate with low costs and excellent mana ramp as well as several clan effects; many strengthen as you summon additional elves.
With so many powerful elves running rampant, we'll later tackle the best of their legendary members. But for now, let's explore their common units, troops who can't serve as commander in EDH, but let you field multiple copies at once. So, which forest shamans reign supreme? These are the 10 best non-legendary elf creatures in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Gyre Sage
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 2
Gyre Sage only wields 1/2 stats (one power and two toughness), but she's one of the best evolve cards in the game. This mechanic lets her gain a +1/+1 counter whenever a creature with either larger power or toughness enters your field!
Not only does this strengthen Gyre for battle, it also combos with her next trait, where she taps for an amount of green mana equal to the number of +1/+1 counters on her. Evolve should supply you with several, butcounters gained elsewhere also fuel the effect, so be sure to empower Gyre and seize an early resource lead. As a final bonus, Gyre wields the druid subtype in addition to elf, offering a few extra clan combos.
9. Skyshroud Ranger
Skyshroud Ranger only costs a single mana and sadly doesn't bear any secondary subtypes, but her excellent trait taps to place a land from your hand onto the battlefield. You can only do this any time you could cast a sorcery (your main phase), but it's still an excellent way to mana ramp and gain a resource lead.
The effect diminishes your hand, but lands are difficult to remove; even if your opponent manages to eliminate Ranger, any lands she's fielded will remain, making her less troublesome to lose than other mana-tapping elves (whose supply ends when they die).
8. Sylvan Advocate
Sylvan Advocate breaks the weak elf stereotype, costing just two mana but arriving with a sweet 2/3 stats. Additionally, he's a rare non-white creature who possesses vigilance, letting him swing without tapping and ensure he's ready to block on your turn.
Advocate also scales well into the late game; when you control at least six lands, he grants both himself and any land creatures you control an extra +2/+2, now offering a fierce 4/5! As if all that weren't enough, Advocate carries three useful subtypes, making him a great partner for elf, druid, and ally cards.
7. Elvish Piper/Norwood Priestess
Piper and Priestess are very similar, each costing four mana and bearing a puny 1/1 stats; keep these weaklings out of battle. However, they're both incredible for fielding stronger creatures without paying their mana cost. Piper taps and spends a green mana to play any creature from your hand for free; Priestess does the same without having to spend mana, but her effect only works on green creatures and only during your turn.
Additionally, Piper bears the shaman subtype and Priestess has druid, each stacking well with other factions. Choosing one over the other depends on whether you need to field nongreen creatures; Piper's effect is a bit more costly, but helps play the game's formidable colorless eldrazi, daunting behemoths that few decks can endure.
6. Quirion Ranger
Quiron Ranger only costs a single mana and offers a unique refresh effect. By returning a forest land you control to your hand, you may untap any creature. Use this to return tapped forests, untap a unit (hopefully one who can tap for mana), then play the forest and tap it again for even more resources!
Additionally, remember that green cards like "Oracle of Mul Daya" and "Exploration" offer additional land plays, quickly refielding your bounced lands in addition to your usual land per turn. Finally, although Quiron only lets you use the effect once per round, since it doesn't require her to tap, you can activate it on both your and your opponent's turns, providing plenty of fuel no matter whose move it is.
5. Elvish Archdruid
For a three-cost creature, Archdruid's 2/2 stats don't impress, but he offers your other elves an extra +1/+1, fortifying your generally-frail mystics. Even better, Archdruid can tap to add one green mana for every elf you control! Counting himself, this should be at least one, but if you've diligently swarmed his brethren, you can amass incredible amounts of mana each turn with this trait.
Throw in the druid subtype and you've got one heck of an elf who improves both the endurance of your clan and your ability to cast powerful but resource-draining spells.
4. Elvish Spirit Guide
Elvish Spirit Guide's not terribly useful in the arena, costing three mana and only harboring 2/2 stats. However, you can exile from your hand (for free) to gain a single green mana.
That may not sound like much, but it can give you an early mana lead your opponents may never recover from, letting you play higher-cost spells early on and attain a huge speed advantage. Plus, Guide's elf and spirit subtypes can help search her from your library or empower other elves if she somehow ends up on the battlefield.
3. Bloom Tender
Despite needing only green mana, Bloom Tender's a potent force for multicolor decks. Like most mana units, her stats are a wimpy 1/1, but Bloom can tap to add one mana for each color you control! Her own green will give at least one, but if you control all five colors, you'll gain a massive five mana with each tap!
Thankfully, multicolor permanents will count for each hue they possess, but remember that lands aren't colored (regardless of what types of mana they produce), so you'll need appropriate creatures, enchantments, or planeswalkers to fuel Bloom.
2. Llanowar Elves/Fyndhorn Elves/Elvish Mystic
These three units bear the exact same cost, effect, and subtypes, differing only in name. For a single green mana, you field a 1/1 elf druid who can later tap to add a green mana. These guys make excellent turn one plays, who (combined with a land each turn) can access three-cost spells on your second turn.
"Birds of Paradise" and "Arbor Elf" also deserve honorable mentions for their similar effects. Even outside of combat, remember that the elf subtype empowers other clan members, like the potent...
1. Priest of Titania
Priest of Titania offers an affordable Archdruid with a similar—in fact superior—mana effect. Her stats are lower at 1/1, and she doesn't grant other elves Archdruid's +1/+1 boost, but she costs one less mana and maintains both the elf and druid subtypes. Even better, she taps to add a green mana for all elves on the field, counting herself, your other troops, and now even your opponent's mystics!
With just your clan members, this can add insane numbers of resources, and if you're lucky enough to face other elves, it becomes a near-broken effect. Priest of Titania has won me several matches thanks to her unrivaled ramping, and I especially enjoy her bargain price, costing well under five dollars!
How to Support Elves in Magic: The Gathering
Many elves stay off the frontlines, hanging back and tapping for mana while your other creatures engage in combat, but it's still nice to buff them with Archdruid in case they're ever forced to fight or endure -1/-1 effects. And to quickly swarm elves and strengthen the mana abilities of Archdruid and Titania, use cards like the planeswalker "Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury," whose loyalty effects continuously create elf creature tokens.
Elves rank among my favorite subtypes, offering early-game leads that lead to massive amounts of mana, and I recommend testing them for yourself. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of powerful forest-dwellers, vote for your favorite unit and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill