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The Ultimate Pauper Elves Primer: Sideboarding

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Be sure to check out previous articles! Week one - introduction and main deck coverage, week two - lesser used cards in main decks, week three - sideboard cards, and week four - matchups!

Hello and welcome back to the Ultimate Pauper Elves Primer! In the final part of this series, I'm going to be writing out a sideboard guide for three different builds of Pauper Elves to give you some ideas and aid in stepping up your game. The three lists include my own, other renowned Pauper Elves expert c_is_for_cookie's similar build, and grinder lindoso01's Mono-Green Build from September. Keep in mind that I have not consulted either c_is_for_cookie or lindoso01 for their input, so the sideboarding suggestions are strictly my own and may not reflect what the people who made the lists intended.

I won't be going too in depth in talking about the hows and whys of sideboarding, but rather focus on the "put these in, take these out" part. Use your intuition with what I've covered and explained over the last four parts of this primer and the small blurb to help understand what the role of each card might be and how you can sideboard best.

With that, let's check out the lists!


As I've been streaming a bit more in these last few weeks, I've gotten a lot of questions as to why my current list looks so much different from the first part of this series. The answer is quite simple. I've been writing this piece over the last couple weeks and as such metas shift a bit. When I used my last list, I felt that Burn was showing up an unusually high amount in leagues on Magic Online, hence the uptick of Essence Wardens. I also felt that some cards in my sideboard needed adjusting. Remember that these lists aren't the be all, end all - which is why I'm showing multiple lists - and that you should re-work your lists to play better in your local meta.


C_is_for_cookie, who I'll shorthand to simply "Cookie" going forward, has a similar build to my own with some numbers tweaked and a different sideboard. Not much to discuss here.


Lindoso01's list is from back in September. As players tend to netdeck, more and more had a tendency to gravitate towards Cookie's list as it was putting up better numbers. This meant a downturn in Mono-Green Elves to the point that I had to go back all the way to September to find a decent list. Lindoso01 makes some interesting choices here, foregoing cards like Birchlore Rangers and Nettle Sentinel as the list doesn't make use of non-Green cards.

Tron

My List:

In:

Prohibit
Prohibit
Harsh Sustenance
Harsh Sustenance
Relic of Progenitus
Viridian Longbow

Out:

Wellwisher
Wellwisher
Spidersilk Armor
Timberwatch Elf
Timberwatch Elf
Lys Alana Huntmaster

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Viridian Longbow
Viridian Longbow

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Faerie Macabre
Faerie Macabre
Viridian Longbow
Viridian Longbow

Out:

Essence Warden
Scattershot Archer
Ulamog's Crusher
Spidersilk Armor

When it comes to Tron, our current focus should be on breaking out of their Fog locks, as that will be what stops us cold in our tracks. Longbows and Mob Justice-style effects are at their best here, as is graveyard hate. Prohibits are excellent too at battling back opponent's countermagic, whereas Hydroblast isn't quite as effective. Tron is the deck that you will absolutely need to adapt to the most given that it can come in so many shapes and sizes. I'm covering Fog Tron here, but if you run into a more removal or Fangren Marauder-based list, then you'll want some Spidersilk Armors as well.

Boros Bully

My List:

In:

Prohibit
Prohibit
Scattershot Archer

Scattershot Archer
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Harsh Sustenance

Out:

Elvish Vanguard
Wellwisher
Timberwatch Elf

Timberwatch Elf
Distant Melody
Distant Melody
Lys Alana Huntmaster

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Scattershot Archer
Scattershot Archer
Wrap in Vigor

Wrap in Vigor
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard

Elvish Vanguard
Timberwatch Elf
Distant Melody
Distant Melody

Lindoso01's list:

Scattershot Archer
Scattershot Archer
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard

Boros Bully is where we really want both sweeper/removal hate and ways to wipe out their legions of creatures. Thankfully, most of their creatures are 1/1 fliers, so cards like Scattershot Archer, Viridian Longbow, and Sagittars' Volley will take them down with ease. Additionally, Spidersilk Armor helps you both block and evade board wipes, but watch out for Aura Fracture and Leave No Trace.

Burn

My List:

Weather the Storm
Weather the Storm
Spidersilk Armor
Harsh Sustenance

Out:

Viridian Longbow
Distant Melody
Distant Melody
Lys Alana Huntmaster

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Wrap in Vigor
Wrap in Vigor
Hydroblast
Hydroblast
Hydroblast

Out:

Wildheart Invoker
Timberwatch Elf
Distant Melody
Distant Melody
Distant Melody

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Wellwisher

Out:

Scattershot Archer
Ulamog's Crusher
Viridian Longbow

Burn is just a ridiculously tough matchup for us, so I'm going to say ultimately we should be focusing on lifegain. A little bit of board wipe prevention is probably solid, but seeing as your opponent can spot remove until you can't play anymore or else utilize Martyr of Ashes, cards like Spidersilk Armor matter less than ever. Cookie's list is best suited for this matchup, baring both Wrap In Vigor and Hydroblast to beat back both while also having good life gain in the main deck.

Izzet Faeries/Delver

My List:

In:

Prohibit
Prohibit
Scattershot Archer

Scattershot Archer
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Relic of Progenitus

Out:

Elvish Vanguard
Wellwisher
Wellwisher

Timberwatch Elf
Distant Melody
Distant Melody
Lys Alana Huntmaster

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Scattershot Archer
Scattershot Archer
Wrap in Vigor

Wrap in Vigor
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Elvish Vanguard

Wellwisher
Wellwisher
Distant Melody
Distant Melody

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Scattershot Archer
Scattershot Archer
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Lys Alana Huntmaster
Wellwisher

Faeries is somewhat difficult, but we get Spidersilk Armor, Scattershot Archer, and more to fight them back. Don't be afraid to sideboard pretty hard here. No matter what you bring in, you're in for a tough time battling the usual countermagic and spot removal in addition to the sweepers. In addition, I often get a lot of questions as to why I side in Relic of Progenitus. The reason is because it allows us to stop their Swirling Sandstorms, as well as stop Mystic Sanctuary in the current builds.

Stompy

My List:

In:

Weather the Storm
Weather the Storm

Out:

Viridian Longbow
Spidersilk Armor

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Moment's Peace
Moment's Peace

Out:

Wildheart Invoker
Distant Melody

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Wellwisher

Out:

Scattershot Archer
Ulamog's Crusher
Spidersilk Armor

Stompy's one of our easiest matchups, so just find your best way to add a few cards to soften their blows and take them out handily.

Boros/Mardu Monarch

My List:

Prohibit
Prohibit
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Harsh Sustenance

Out:

Nettle Sentinel
Elvish Vanguard
Wellwisher
Timberwatch Elf
Distant Melody

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Viridian Longbow
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Distant Melody
Distant Melody

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden

Sideboarding against Boros Monarch is very similar to sideboarding against Boros Bully, as you have to worry about the same thing: fliers and sweepers. The difference here is that Scattershot Archer isn't as good because they often sideboard out their Battle Screeches expecting hate and Scattershot isn't as good against Glint Hawk and Kor Skyfisher. Definitely bring in Scattershots Game 3 if you see Battle Screech Game 2.

Elves

My List:

In:

Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage
Viridian Longbow

Out:

Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Spidersilk Armor

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Viridian Longbow
Viridian Longbow
Moment's Peace
Moment's Peace

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Viridian Longbow
Viridian Longbow
Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage
Wellwisher

Out:

Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Scattershot Archer
Spidersilk Armor

Pretty simple sideboarding: bring in more Longbows and bring in options to destroy their Longbows if you can.

Affinity

My List:

In:

Prohibit
Prohibit
Prohibit
Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage

Out:

Viridian Longbow
Nettle Sentinel
Distant Melody
Distant Melody
Lys Alana Huntmaster

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Hydroblast
Hydroblast
Hydroblast

Out:

Wildheart Invoker
Distant Melody
Distant Melody

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage

Out:

Scattershot Archer
Ulamog's Crusher
Viridian Longbow
Spidersilk Armor

Affinity is just a matter of blowing up their board and stopping their board wipes. Why then aren't we really bringing in anything against board wipes? In the Melody lists, we are, but in the form of countermagic. Affinity's most common board wipe spell is Krark-Clan Shaman, which unfortunately can only really be stopped by countering it. Wrap In Vigor doesn't work since they can just respond by doing it again. Best to just try getting ahead of them. In the Mono-Green build, it's best to just try and recover using Winding Way and Lead the Stampede since it's much easier to bounce back with this kind of list.

Mono-Blue Tempo

My List:

In:

Scattershot Archer
Scattershot Archer
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Scattershot Archer
Scattershot Archer
Viridian Longbow
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Scattershot Archer
Scattershot Archer
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Viridian Longbow
Viridian Longbow

Out:

Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Essence Warden
Essence Warden

This has long been one of our easier matchups, as we just go low to the ground super fast. Bring in Scattershots and Longbows to take out their faeries, and Spidersilks to allow us to block them.

Orzhov Pestilence

My List:

In:

Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Harsh Sustenance

Out:

Wellwisher
Timberwatch Elf
Distant Melody
Distant Melody
Lys Alana Huntmaster

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Viridian Longbow
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Distant Melody
Distant Melody

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Scattershot Archer
Lys Alana Huntmaster
Timberwatch Elf

Pestilence is tough because of their namesake card. If they get it online - especially with Guardian of the Guildpact - then we probably lose. The options we're bringing in are mostly to give us a shot just in case the game goes long, but my recommendation is very much still simply try and win before they can use Pestilence.

Familiars

My List:

In:

Prohibit
Prohibit
Harsh Sustenance
Harsh Sustenance
Relic of Progenitus
Viridian Longbow

Out:

Wellwisher
Wellwisher
Wellwisher
Spidersilk Armor
Timberwatch Elf
Lys Alana Huntmaster

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Viridian Longbow
Viridian Longbow

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Faerie Macabre
Faerie Macabre
Viridian Longbow
Viridian Longbow

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Scattershot Archer
Spidersilk Armor

Familiars is just a race to see who can win first. We don't need much life gain, since their main victory condition is milling us, but a bit helps in case they go on the beatdown plan. Just try and kill them fast and utilize your Longbows as needed.

Bogles

My List:

In:

Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage

Out:

Viridian Longbow
Spidersilk Armor

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Wrap in Vigor
Wrap in Vigor
Moment's Peace
Moment's Peace

Out:

Wildheart Invoker
Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Distant Melody

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage
Wellwisher

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Scattershot Archer
Ulamog's Crusher
Viridian Longbow

Bogles is another race for the most part. Go wide, go tall, and gain lots of life. A number of builds run Electrickery, but can't always stick it well, so be careful of it but also I wouldn't recommend worrying too much about it most games.

Mono-Black Control

My List:

In:

Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Distant Melody
Distant Melody

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Essence Warden
Distant Melody
Distant Melody

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Scattershot Archer
Essence Warden

Mono-Black is a near total loss for us. Just bring in some Spidersilk Armors to try beating their Shrivels/Nauseas and Cuombajj Witches and do your best.

Dimir Control

My List:

In:

Prohibit
Prohibit
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Harsh Sustenance

Out:

Wellwisher
Wellwisher
Distant Melody
Distant Melody
Lys Alana Huntmaster

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Wrap in Vigor
Wrap in Vigor
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Wellwisher
Distant Melody
Distant Melody

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden

Dimir Control is just a total grindfest. Spidersilks can help, but we need to hit multiples most of the time to stop Evincar's Justice. Cookie's Wrap In Vigors help a ton here. I also like bringing in Harsh Sustenance as a way to try helping your race because you're up against a harder limit of turns than normal here, but I also recognize that some may disagree with that. Use your best discretion here.

Jeskai Blink

My List:

In:

Prohibit
Prohibit
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Harsh Sustenance

Out:

Wellwisher
Timberwatch Elf
Distant Melody
Distant Melody
Lys Alana Huntmaster

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Hydroblast
Hydroblast
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Wellwisher
Distant Melody
Distant Melody

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Faerie Macabre
Faerie Macabre
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Scattershot Archer
Timberwatch Elf

I haven't played against the post-Astrolabe version of this deck, so I can only guess as to the specifics of how to best sideboard against them. Here, I'm using tactics similar to what I used pre-ban, expecting board wipes and Prismatic Strands.

Goblins/Red Deck Wins

My List:

In:

Weather the Storm
Weather the Storm
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Viridian Longbow
Timberwatch Elf
Distant Melody
Distant Melody

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Hydroblast
Hydroblast
Hydroblast
Moment's Peace
Moment's Peace
Moment's Peace

Out:

Elvish Mystic
Wildheart Invoker
Timberwatch Elf
Lys Alana Huntmaster
Distant Melody
Distant Melody

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Wellwisher

Out:

Scattershot Archer
Ulamog's Crusher
Viridian Longbow
Timberwatch Elf
Lys Alana Huntmaster

Goblins/RDW largely focuses on aggro and has a tiny bit of removal. Spidersilk Armors help both with blocking and the board wipes. Cookie's list has Hydroblast which both stops board wipes and can act as removal. Beyond that, use lifegain and/or Fogs to soften the opponent's blow - and pray they don't have Sparksmith.

Slivers

My List:

In:

Viridian Longbow

Out:

Spidersilk Armor

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Viridian Longbow
Moment's Peace
Moment's Peace

Out:

Elvish Mystic
Essence Warden
Essence Warden

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Wellwisher

Out:

Scattershot Archer

Slivers is largely an easy matchup for us, since we tend to go wider, taller, and gain a ton of life unanswered. We still want Longbow to take down their army a bit and make sure they can't overtake us. Cookie's list has Moment's Peace which I also recommend to help in case of cards like Virulent Sliver.

Rakdos Monarch

My List:

In:

Prohibit
Prohibit
Prohibit
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Viridian Longbow
Wellwisher
Distant Melody
Distant Melody
Lys Alana Huntmaster

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Hydroblast
Hydroblast
Hydroblast
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Wellwisher
Wellwisher
Distant Melody
Distant Melody

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Scattershot Archer
Viridian Longbow

As mentioned previously, this matchup is like our Mono-Black Control matchup cranked up to 11. Do your best to hang in there by stopping their board wipes, but know this is one you almost certainly won't win.

Inside Out Combo

My List:

In:

Weather the Storm
Weather the Storm
Spidersilk Armor
Viridian Longbow

Out:

Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Lys Alana Huntmaster

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Viridian Longbow
Viridian Longbow
Moment's Peace
Moment's Peace
Moment's Peace

Out:

Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Wildheart Invoker

Lindoso01's list:

In::

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Viridian Longbow
Viridian Longbow
Wellwisher

Out:

Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Scattershot Archer

Life gain, Fog effects, and maybe a dash of Spidersilk Armor in case of Holy Light help a bunch here. Beyond that, extra Longbows help because they are a guaranteed way to kill a Tireless Tribe after Inside Out has been used. This means it's harder - perhaps even impossible - for our opponents to kill us.

Mono-White Heroic

My List:

In:

Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Viridian Longbow
Nettle Sentinel
Lys Alana Huntmaster

C_is_for_cookie's List:

In:

Moment's Peace
Moment's Peace
Spidersilk Armor
Spidersilk Armor

Out:

Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard

Lindoso01's list:

In:

Essence Warden
Essence Warden
Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage
Gleeful Sabotage
Wellwisher

Out:

Scattershot Archer
Viridian Longbow
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard
Elvish Vanguard

Heroic is another one in the vein of Bogles and Slivers. We have enough life gain and such that we can usually beat them back, though our creatures are less likely to be effective blockers against their suite of spells that give Protection from Green. Holy Light may be an issue, so prep as necessary.


That concludes the Ultimate Pauper Elves Primer! I hope you've enjoyed this journey with me and that this becomes a resource for everyone looking to play the deck for years to come. In the future, I'll write additional update pieces when I feel they're necessary. This may come every couple set releases to talk about the state of the meta, or else talk about new tech. It may even be to cover how to fight against a new deck that may have shown up.

Kendra Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: Kendra Smith