With Stompy Decks, Delver, and Miracles on the rise, I figured I’d try out a build of Trap Elves. Chalice of the Void on 1 slows down Elves immensely, but it does trigger the alternate casting cost of Summoning Trap. If Miracles gets out an early Counter-Top, Summoning Trap lets you get out creatures still (hopefully). Casting your turn 1 elf into a Daze lets you get out something bigger faster (unless they also have Force of Will backup).
In match ups against Delver and Miracles, we expect Natural Order to get countered, and usually hard cast or Green Sun’s Zenith for Craterhoof Behemoth. Summoning Trap is a 6 drop, so it might be harder to hard cast, but in matches where we expect to cast Natural Order, we can hopefully expect to cast Summoning Trap. In some match-ups where Burn or Fatal Push is heavily played, and we want to Natural Order ASAP, Summoning Trap may decrease our odds of winning.
Summoning Trap is also instant speed, so we can float mana in response to a Terminus, then cast Summoning Trap at the end of their Draw step.
This is just an experiment with limited results, but I figured I’d share.
Most of the build is the standard Elves build with some tweaks.
Since we no longer have to sacrifice a creature, we change the number of Dryad Arbors to 0, and we add in 2 Priest of Titania. This allows us to have backup in case we need to hard cast Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
We then swap out our 4 Glimpse of Nature for 3 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and 1 Progenitus. The reason for this is to help our Summoning Traps hit more often. Progenitus has protection from everything, so he’s good against Karakas, where Emrakul can be bounced. We only have 2 Progenitus because we can’t hardcast him.
Maindeck, Eternal Witness allows us to cast Summoning Trap twice the same same turn letting us look at 14 cards instead of 7 (so hopefully will hit 1 of the 6 fatties out of half our deck).
Thoughtseize, Surgical, and Cabal Therapy let us deal with faster combo decks. Against Sneak and Show, we can take away Sneak Attack and Through the Breach in hopes of Show and Telling in our own fattie.
Stax tends to be an easier matchup for Traditional Elves. Game 1 took a while because he was able to land 2 Ensnaring Bridges. I was able to GSZ a Reclamation Sage in to hit a Chalice of the Void on 1. I had used all my Wirewood Symbiotes, and was unable to wreck the Ensnaring Bridges. He got a Chalice back out on 3. I had to bounce and cast my Rec Sage into the Chalice, hard cast another Emrakul, and then GSZ back in the Rec Sage to hit the Chalice and the Bridges, then swing for the win.
Tezzerator is another matchup Elves generally does well against.
I play weekly Thursday nights at Mox Boarding House. I tried to take some notes, my memory is pretty bad though. I tend to feel intimidated when faced with my opponent face-to-face.
Game 1, was a bit grindy. His hand was a bit slow, so we got there mostly swinging with creatures.
Game 2 was slightly shocking. I sided in 3 Abrupt Decays, and took out a Heritage Druid, Progenitus, and Llanowar Elves. I was able to quickly get out a Deathrite, some Visionaries, and a Priest of Titania. When he got out a Chalice, I cast into Chalice, and Summoning Trapped in a Emrakul. He got in Jace, the Mind Sculpter and bounced my Emrakul. I was able to use Priest and Cradle to GSZ for Craterhoof which led my opponent to scoop.
Game 1 was a little frustrating. My opponent had a turn 2 Counterbalance, but no top. I had 2 Summoning Traps in hand. I kept casting creatures, but Counterbalance hit nothing. He was able to Entreat the Angels for 2 Angels, but I had already beat him down to 7. Still at 18, he couldn’t risk attacking or I’d swing back. I played a Deathrite Shaman, which lured out a Force of Will. Summoning Trap found me an Emrakul, so my opponent scooped.
Game 2 I kind of scooped quickly. I brought in 2 Surgical Extractions, 2 Thoughtseizes, 1 Nissa, Vital Force, and 3 Abrupt Decay. I don’t remember what I took out, I think it was 1 Summoning Trap, 1 Emrakul, 1 Progenitus, the Llanowars, and a Heritage Druid. My mindset was I want Quirion Rangers and Priest of Titanias to make big mana, and the Wirewoods and Elvish Visionaries are my card draw engine. Unlike the Natural Order route, we’re hoping Counterbalance hits, and that we can Summoning Trap.
My opponent got out an early Counterbalance, but didn’t counter anything. He had a turn 4 Humility. I don’t have any removal for Humility. I had a Nissa, but creating a 1/1 creature doesn’t seem too helpful. He also flipped Moat off one of his reveals, so that game would be waiting for him to Ult Jace.
Game 3 was more grindy than I hoped. I Thoughtseized him and took his Swords to Plowshares. After building up a bit more boardstate, I Surgicaled the Swords. His hand contained an Ethersworn Canonist and a Counterspell. On his turn, he wound up tapping all but 1 land to play the Canonist. I cast Nissa, and started animating my land to beat down.
Bant Deathblade (1-2)
This match up was pretty tough. With normal Elves, it can be tough, but I didn’t realize how difficult it’d be to hit 6 mana.
Game 2 was also painful. He started off with 2 Forces in hand. I started with Wirewood Symbiote. Turn 2, I played Elvish Visionary, which got Forced (yes!), but my first Summoning Trap got Forced. I played a second Summoning Trap, and hit a Deathrite Shaman. I was able to get out a Nissa, but he flashed in 2 Containment Priests. I had Emrakul in hand, but could only get up to 13 mana. I also had Summoning Trap and Green Sun’s Zenith, but with Containment Priest out, I couldn’t use them. After a few Forest beats, he got out a True-Name Nemesis. It was pretty much a stale-mate. My opponent got frustrated and scooped because it was pretty much if whoever tops deck a way to get out of this lock wins (if either of us attacks first, we lose). I wound up Ultimating Nissa, which would allow me to draw more cards faster. The clock was counting down, and yeah.
Game 3, my opponent told me he had the “God Hand.” He started off with 2 Stoneforge Mystics, 1 Containment Priest, and enough mana to get them in. So as long as he didn’t counter anything I put in, he was probably safe. I played some creatures; he ignored them. I was able to Abrupt Decay his Jitte, but he had the 2nd Stoneforge and got out a Sword of Fire and Ice. It was at this point I learned you should block a creature with Sword of Fire and Ice. I noticed he kept 2 mana open, probably for Containment Priest. At that point, I could only get to 3 mana, so I couldn’t even attempt to GSZ in a Reclamation Sage.
He also cast Zealous Persecution several times. I’m not sure if running the normal build would have made much of a difference.
Deadguy Ale(?) (2-0)
I’m still pretty bad at identifying decks.
Game 1, my opponent landed an early Liliana of the Veil. This kept my board presence small. He got out a Dark Confidant, which almost helped me catch up. Liliana kept my board presence small and let me discard Emrakul back into the deck. He was able to Inquisition of Kozilek away my Leovold, Emissary of Trest. He Wastelanded my Cradle, and I lost pretty badly.
Game 2, my opponent landed an early Dark Confidant and Liliana. He was then able to get out Mirran Crusader. Dark Confidant was my MVP, but Mirran Crusader and Dark Confidant beats were enough to take me out. I didn’t really do much this game. All my hands only had Gaea’s Cradle as land. I wound up mulling down to 5. Maybe I should have gone down to 4.
In a few games, I really wished I had Dryad Arbor and Natural Order instead. I’m not sure if those games would have turned out too differently. I definitely would have gone for Progenitus in those games, but I don’t play Progenitus in my normal build. Those match-ups are the one’s where I can get to 4 mana easily, but my opponent has an early Jitte or a lot of removal. Craterhoof can help to potentially stabilize those games, but I’m not sure he’d turn them around.
I think removing all the Glimpse of Natures was a mistake. I’ll try to tweak this a bit to see how things go. I think Online, this is a lot more viable as the meta is heavier on the stompy decks than the paper meta seems to be.