Past decklists have always had trouble getting off the ground in my local meta. It was too easy to overall disrupt, or at the very least - take out key pieces at crucial times. In addition, past versions had a tendency to burn out of cards FAST. In this version, I'm aiming to address those two key weaknesses - strategically amp up the amount of protection and card draw available. With the latest release in Kaledesh and Aether Revolt, there have been some interesting additions to help on that front.
Finally, while this decklist has typically been piloted by Ezuri, Renegade Leader leading the charge, I thought I'd mix it up a bit and try out Yeva, Nature's Herald instead. There are pros and cons to this approach. 'Flash' on a stick can be pretty handy to provide pseudo-haste for a huge swing. However, losing out on the 'Overrun on a stick' effect takes away from the consistency of that huge swing. To balance both sides a little better, I've included more win conditions and ways to pump up my elves.
All my decks try to adhere to these guidelines:
1) Be able to win.
2) Be mostly true to a flavor and a theme.
3) Be good against one or multiple opponents.
5) Be fun to pilot or to play against and interactive.
6) Have multiple paths to victory.
7) Have lots of cool interactions and synergy.
8) Play out differently every game to keep it fun over a long time.
9) Be streamlined and fast to play without excessive upkeep, time-consuming play or overcomplicated boardstates.
10) Integrate the Commanders abilities into the strategy at least a little, but be able to win without ever playing the commander.
As a note, the number in front of the card will denote CMC of the creature/spell.
Hey! I have a Yeva deck as well (found here), although my deck is focused a bit more on establishing control over the game and, while it does have some elvish synergy, it's really not an elf deck as such. I do have a lot of experience playing elves in multiplayer settings, both EDH and casual multiplayer.
That having been said, it looks like the sort of game you'd like to play with this deck is drop elves, generate large amounts of mana, play more elves, swing for the win. I think that Ezuri would probably be more effective for that role because of his ability to protect overextended elves against (some) board wipe effects, as well as providing his own win condition so you can focus on generating more mana and more card advantage.
If you do want to stick with Yeva, I have a few suggestions. I'm not sure what your budget for the deck is, so forgive me if I suggest something out of your price range.
Seedborn Muse - With Yeva, the Muse is effectively Prophet of Kruphix, a card so busted that it got banned. Seedborn Muse kicks a Yeva deck into overdrive, allowing you to drop more creatures every go around, then have enough mana on your turn for a finisher. I know that it's pretty expensive right now (~$25), so for a semi-budget alternative (~$6) Patron of the Orochi can do a halfway decent impersonation.
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx - this is one of the most busted cards that's been printed for a deck like this. I'm assuming you don't have a Gaea's Cradle handy or it would have already been in the deck, but Nykthos can do a darn good impersonation of one for like 1/25th the money.
Blighted Woodland - I've found this to be better than a forest in mono-green decks. you'll usually have something better to do with 5 mana every circuit, but if you don't it still comes into play untapped and produces colorless mana. Opportunity-cost free mana acceleration is hard to come by. I'd run this over Temple of the False God, which in my experience has been consistently worse than a basic land would have been.
Joraga Treespeaker - One of the most busted plays for elves, assuming no interruption, is T1 Treespeaker, T2 level up + Priest of Titania, T3 untap with 7+mana (possibly much more depending on how many cheap elves you can drop before using Priest). Even outside of that godhand, Treespeaker is pretty good. It's like a Sol Ring that has the elf and druid creature types.
Evolutionary Leap - I'm falling in love with this card. It's a great thing to do in a creature based deck that likes to keep its mana up to respond to mass removal.
Temur Sabertooth - This is neither an elf nor a druid, sadly. But it's one of the best plays Yeva can make and super solid protection against a board wipe. Since Yeva always wants to hold her mana open until the last player before her turn, the Sabertooth can protect an overextened board by bouncing and replaying all the elves. Also, he makes himself indestructible! I really cannot overstate how powerful this card is.
Emerald Medallion - you can't play this at instant speed, so you have to weave your plays around it on your turn. It's not a creature, it can't be overrun, and your deck is almost all mana dorks anyway, with about 10% of the deck being natural 1cc and unaffected by this. I'd say this can be cut.
Durable Handicraft - this seems much less strong than the rest of the deck. I'd say it's an easy cut. You have enough finishers, even more so if Ezuri returns to the command zone.
Curse of Predation - again, this seems like small potatoes. If you're attacking someone instead of mana ramping, then you probably don't need the extra help.
Dwynen, Gilf-Leaf Daen - I love the flavor of this card, but mechanically she's just not very good. There are much better lords available for the elves, and Wellwisher is better lifegain if that's what you're worried about.
Thank you for taking an interest in my elves. You have provided some very interesting insights and suggestions on how to further improve the build.
At first this deck was going to be an Ezuri, Renegade Leader style deck, as it was before..in 2014ish. However, as I was constructing it, I found myself including several more pumps and win-cons than my Ezuri build had in the past. In addition, Yeva, Nature's Herald has a spot and it just seemed like an good choice to mix things up a bit and keep it interesting.
Elves need 2 things to be successful - Draw & Haste. I don't own a Concordant Crossroads, and since I had other pump effects throughout the deck, I thought Yeva may be the better choice to sit in the Command chair this time around. Draw has always been the trickier problem to resolve. However, when Lifecrafter's Bestiary was released, I just knew I needed to try elves again.
Regarding your comments, I have the following responses:
I am a budget player. $2-3/card is my limit (and that's in Canadian ) Of the cards that I own that are more, I've bought them when they were cheap, won them in drafts, or traded in for them. Many of the suggestions you've made are solid cards - just expensive ones.
- If I ran a deck that would make use of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, this one would certainly be on the shortlist. I've been keeping my eye on it. If it drops in price a little more, I'll be tempted to trade in for a copy or two.
- Blighted Woodland is an excellent suggestion. Will get a copy.
- I've ran Joraga Treespeaker in the past and found her to be very mana intensive. However, with my recent play experience with Yeva, I don't think mana is going to be a problem anymore. And she's a 1-drop druid which further helps me trigger Gilt-Leaf Archdruid.
- Fyndhorn Elves is another good druid, but I love the 20 art and it's too expensive atm.
- Evolutionary Leap is perfect for what this deck needs. Was playing around with Fresh Meat and Caller of the Claw, but it just didn't feel right. This card does. Will get a copy.
- I agree with your reasoning on Temur Sabertooth. Really looks like Wirewood Symbiote#2. Will get a copy and test it.
- Elvish Visionary was cut early on because I don't have many bounce effects. Wirewood Symbiote and Temur Sabertooth wouldn't be enough to include it.
- I own one copy of Regal Force and it's in another deck already. I know it would be fantastic here too.
- I wasn't sure if I should include Genesis Wave here. It's sorcery speed and without haste, it's a lot of activity for very little gain in a multiplayer boardwipe heavy meta.
And for the cuts, thank you for providing suggestions. It's not often commenters do and doing so really helps me visualize how my deck could take shape with the additions suggested.
- Emerald Medallion was recently acquired and I wanted to give it a shot. Every green spell costing 1 less seems really good, especially since elves like casting many spells on the same turn. Is it 'win more'? I don't know yet. Going to test it for a bit more.
- Durable Handicraft and Curse of Predation are in for the same reason as Forgotten Ancient. I want to get the most of Inspiring Call, Armorcraft Judge and Rishkar, Peema Renegade. The +1/+1's added applies tempo pressure to an opponent too. With 5 elves fielded, first turn +5 damage. Second turn +10 damage. Third turn +15 damage and they are likely dead. So few elves become threatening elves and I not forced to empty my hand to impact the board state....at least that has been my reasoning. Still have to see it in play and test.
- You make a good point about card draw. Drawing wide is better than drawing tall. I've just been so concerned with empty-hand syndrome that I've maybe packed in the wrong kind of draw. I'll re-evaluate.
- Blossoming Defense I agree is weak. I need to protect wide. Temur Sabertooth as you've suggested is solid. Evolutionary Leap and/or Asceticism would also fill the hole better.
- Sylvan Messenger is in because he typically gives me at least what Elvish Visionary does, plus he has trample which can be quite threatening with a couple of Immaculate Magistrate and/or Timberwatch Elf triggers. I actually wouldn't mind one or two more creatures with trample - Soul of the Harvest is likely an ideal choice.
- Rishkar, Peema Renegade is new for me and it's there to be tested.
- Benefactor's Draught is questionable. It replaces itself, but I would agree probably doesn't have a home in any deck (at least none that I can think of)
- Frontier Guide is there for the same reasons Blighted Woodland would be there - just slower, but has more uses. I'm on the fence as is, he may be cut.
- Bloom Tender and Druid of the Cowl are there for Gilt-Leaf Archdruid. Better druids would replace or add to them.
As for the wishlist cards, you are the first to comment on those. Thank you.
- Strength of the Tajuru is down to further my 'we few elves' tempo strategy. I've never been convinced on it's success. Really the card needed 'and each creature with counters gains trample until end of turn'. I doubt it will be included. I agree, Overrun would be better.
- Triumph of the Hordes is a card I'd strongly consider adding - only have one copy atm, but would instantly find a home here if I pulled my other deck apart.
- The advantages Zendikar Resurgent would have is that you replace each creature you cast with another card. In elves, that's huge. Regal Behemoth does have the benefit of some card draw, and is a creature with trample in addition to the mana doubling. I'll consider it.
- Reason I have Champion of Lambholt listed is because she doesn't have to attack for the effect to trigger. Also in multi-elves hitting the field in a turn, it's very easy to become 'unblockable'. However, she falls prey to the same fate as Door of Destinies and Joraga Warcaller. Same reasoning for Coat of Arms (plus this card because insanity at the table with trying to track interactions).
- Craterhoof Beheamoth would be an auto-include if he wasn't already in another deck...and I only have 1 copy.
Thank you once again for stopping by and proving comment. You've been very insightful and helpful to further improve my build.