When it comes to Magic decks, you usually have to pick one.
Fast or slow?
Fun or competitive?
Good early game or good late game?
Well, what if I told you that you didn't have to choose?
LOLementals | Historic | Jim Davis
- Companion (1)
- 1 Kaheera, the Orphanguard
- Creatures (30)
- 2 Yasharn, Implacable Earth
- 4 Akoum Hellhound
- 4 Brushfire Elemental
- 4 Cavalier of Thorns
- 4 Creeping Trailblazer
- 4 Leafkin Druid
- 4 Omnath, Locus of the Roil
- 4 Risen Reef
- Lands (26)
- 1 Island
- 1 Plains
- 2 Forest
- 2 Mountain
- 1 Steam Vents
- 2 Rootbound Crag
- 2 Unclaimed Territory
- 3 Breeding Pool
- 4 Fabled Passage
- 4 Ketria Triome
- 4 Stomping Ground
The last time we saw Risen Reef and friends was when they were legal in Standard and mostly used in ramp shells. The "elemental package" as it were was essentially just four cards:
The two, three, four, five curve of Leafkin Druid, Risen Reef, Omnath, and Cavalier of Thorns wasn't really a tribal deck per say, but more of a ramp package that led to bigger and better things. Whether the end goal was a huge Hydroid Krasis or making a million zombies with Field of the Dead, the elemental package was a means to an end.
This all changes with the addition of Zendikar Rising to Historic.
Both Akoum Hellhound and Brushfire Elemental have already seen a solid amount of play in Standard, but almost primarily in pure aggressive decks. However, it's important to note that they are, in fact, both elementals. The way landfall synergizes with the ramp effects from Risen Reef and Cavalier of Thorns as well as Fabled Passage bridges the necessary gap to turn what was an elemental ramp package into an entire elemental deck.
Both allow for blisteringly fast starts, as this deck is easily capable of putting two or three lands into play every turn. Brushfire Elemental in particular is particularly good, as it is very difficult to block and because it haste it can trigger a land for itself off of Risen Reef before attacking.
Rounding out the more aggressive side of the deck is a forgotten pseudo-lord in Creeping Trailblazer and the seemingly out of place Chandra, Acolyte of Flame. Creeping Trailblazer isn't a powerhouse, but is a perfectly reasonable 2-drop that can help pump up your attackers while triggering necessary tribal elements. It also works great with Chandra, Acolyte of Flame, which may look a little out of place with no spells to flash back. However, Chandra's token generation is amazing here, attacking for four out of nowhere with Creeping Trailblazer, as well as more importantly offering double repetitive triggers off of Risen Reef. Chandra is most importantly a sticky threat against decks that rely on lots of removal spells.
Topping off the deck is the very underrated Chandra, Awakened Inferno. While it may seem a bit weird to be playing a six mana planeswalker in your aggressive Akoum Hellhound deck, Chandra is the absolute best curve topper imaginable. Because of all the incidental ramp it's not hard at all to cast Chandra on turn four, and she does basically everything you could want. Against control decks she is a non-creature threat that can't be countered, allowing you to take it into the late game against Wrath of God decks. Against other creature decks she is a one-sided Wrath of God that can mop of boards of Goblins or Mayhem Devils and allow you to take over the game.
Speaking of Mayhem Devil, the deck also has a light splash for Yasharn, Implacable Earth. As a 4/4 elemental for four mana that can grab a land or two, Yasharn is perfectly serviceable most of the time, while also being one of the best cards in the format against one of the best decks in the format in Jund Sacrifice. Various flavors of Sacrifice have been the top deck in the format for a while and getting to play a maindeck, on-plan hate card (with two more in the sideboard) is a phenomenal characteristic for a competitive Historic deck.
And to top it all off, we get a companion too!
Kaheera, the Orphanguard is usually only seen in creatureless Blue/White control decks as a bit of extra value, but we get the full package here. As a deck with 26 lands and a lot of ramp we have the downside of mana flooding sometimes, which makes a free 8th card for some extra mana exactly what we're looking for. Kaheera can help buff the board, while vigilance can help us make safe attacks in creature mirrors.
There's also the hidden benefit of fooling your opponent into thinking you're a pure control deck in Game 1s. Hands that would be good against LOLementals are awful against creatureless control, with the converse being true as well. This is going to cause your opponent to abandon that two land, double Fatal Push hand for one that is better against a control deck a non-zero amount of the time!
Despite being four colors our mana base is pretty awesome, with Unclaimed Territory standing in as an untapped land that can help with the splash. We'd love to play the full set, but Chandra, Acolyte of Flame and sideboard cards can be a little difficult to cast with too many. Fabled Passage works overtime in a four color deck based around landfall, while the other duals and Triomes round everything out.
One of the benefits to playing so many colors is we get a wide berth of sideboard options, with the Blue ones being perhaps the best.
With many big spells being thrown around like Emergent Ultimatum, Muxus, Goblin Grandee, and various big planeswalkers and mass removal spells, having access to countermagic in your creature deck is awesome. Aether Gust needs no introduction as it doubles removal in many matchups as well, while Disdainful Stroke gets the nod over Negate with respects to Muxus, Yorion, and most spells you want to counter costing 4+ anyway.
However, the real interesting one is Pact of Negation. For a format with a lot of big spells and effects, Pact of Negation is very underplayed. The ability to tap out for your awesome threat, while still stopping your opponent's big threat, can't be understated. Furthermore, with so many of our big plays putting extra lands into play anyway, paying five really isn't so bad.
Grafdigger's Cage continues to be one of the best sideboard cards in Historic, in no small part due to its effectiveness against Jund Sacrifice Company. Turning off the Cauldron Familiar engine while also blanking Collected Company is mighty powerful, and of course it is excellent against more dedicated graveyard decks like Rakdos Arcanist.
The remaining two Yasharn are there to shore up the Sacrifice matchup, while Abrade is just a fantastic sideboard card for a wide variety of matchups when you need a little more interaction. It's hard to play too many non-synergy cards because of how we need our cards to work together, but Abrade is just too good to ignore.
Rounding out the sideboard is a pair of planeswalkers for your grindy matchups. The third Chanda can also occasionally come in if you're looking to take a more defensive stance against a creature deck, while Vivien Reid can both draw cards as well as tag random enchantments or fliers like Baneslayer Angel as necessary.
Typically, your goal when sideboarding is to identify if you're going to be aggressive or more control/ramp. Your landfall creatures don't block well and you don't have a ton of direct removal, meaning that against decks that are going to get under you there needs to be an adjustment. Chandra, Acolyte of Flame is also very poor against any deck that is attacking you aggressively.
On the other hand, if your opponent is very heavy on removal or sweepers, you're going to want to cut down on Leafkin Druid as you need all of your cards to be effective on their own. Creeping Trailblazer also can be a weak link when everything is getting killed. Focus more on your best threats as well as the card that can generate card advantage.
Yasharn will often be cut against non-sacrifice decks, but don't sleep on a 4/4 that can draw a land or two if you're taking a more defensive stance or want something that's more threatening than an 0/3.
An Elemental Good Time
This deck is an absolute blast and I look forward to continuing to work on it. It asks your opponent a lot of different questions over the course of a game, and even if they can answer one or two of them you usually have some other angle to come in at to still catch them off guard.
I'm going to do a double dip this week, so look for me playing this deck on Monday right here in my video on CoolStuffInc.com!