This entry is part of 2 in the series Tiny Leaders

Hayes1 (1) panda Hayes and Clay here again to bring you content on Tiny Leaders! Let’s jump right into the elves and goblins matchup.

The elves are trying to race the goblins in this battle. Their mana dorks and ways to cheat with cantrips like glimpse of nature gives them way more ways that they can be explosive and proactive. The goblins are trying to break up the synergy of the elves. While there are a few explosive hands that the goblins can have they are trying to control the board, cast Grenzo, Dungeon Warden, and ride the card advantage train to victory. Let’s take a look under the hood of Clay’s Elfball deck.

While we could write an entire article breaking down this decklist let’s go in and take a closer look at some of the cards that are more important in this matchup from the elf perspective.

Beyond racing the elves have the potential to combo against the goblins. This is usually their backup plan if their Ezuri+Overrun effect plan doesn’t work out.

The combos that elves have access to center around Genesis Wave and Staff of Domination. A large amount of mana from Elvish Archdruid,Priest of Titania or Gaea’s Cradle can be dumped off on a Genesis Wave to create such an overbearing board position that it is almost impossible to win. Staff of Domination lets you draw your entire deck off of the mana druids. Both combos can let you finish the game the turn you initiate them with Concordant Crossroads.

Beyond these mid to late game combos the only thing the goblins fear is Beastmaster Ascension, which they have almost no way of interacting with. Better kill those elves before they can attack!

Throwing Mud

The best cards for these decks were Pithing Needle and Phyrexian Revoker. We both wanted to silence the other’s commander so that we wouldn’t get run over. Songs of the Dryad was also very good for clay because he got to basically remove the Grenzo and deny me from recasting him.

Cards like Goblin Sharpshooter and Spikeshot Elder were also getting named on the goblin side as that’s what the goblins rely on for keeping the elves out of the game.

The normal lines of play that occurred for us went something like…

First 1-2 turns: Elves ramp out and try to play out their hand. Sometimes Gaea’s Cradle stomped my goblin deck.

Turns 3-4: The goblins continue to sling removal and utility creatures. The elves land cards like Talara’s Battalion or a huge Joraga Warcaller. Talara was really successful in this matchup because she was big enough to survive blocks and the small incremental damage from Goblin sharpshooter.

Image (3)Turns 3 and 4 was also where the phyrexian revokers and pithing needles did the most work. I think these tools were much more useful for the goblins than they were for the elves. When I pithing needle Ezuri I’m not getting killed the next turn. When Clay needles Grenzo he’s just denying me indirect card advantage that would help me win the game at a much slower rate.

If the game went past turn 4 into 5 and 6 the Goblins started to become much more favored. Just as long as I was able to fade a Genesis Wave or Staff of Domination draw I was probably in the clear. Grenzo’s good at closing out games that are at a stalemate.

Overall I would say that the matchup is 60-40 in Clay’s favor before sideboard. Usually I have at least a little bit of disruption so that we can play a game of magic, but for those games where my starting hand was naked Clay could jam and if he had the solid aggro opening there was nothing I could do about it. The games were fun though; especially after sideboard when I have access to pyroclasm effects. The game can turn into a ‘gotcha!’ gambling game where Clay tries to gauge how far he can expand his elf army before I try to punish him for leaving his mana tapped. If he left the regen mana up he would play slower and I could build up a board if I wanted to. But if I don’t pyroclasm by a certain point he can expand to a boardstate where he can hold up mana while deploying his whole hand. For both sides the timing of tempo becomes incredibly important. Clay can also not do anything and build up a big hand and try to glimpse of nature into a huge chain of cantrips.

Ezuri, Renegade Leader’s regenerate ability was much worse than I thought. In a lot of the scenarios where clay held up the mana to regen his team I would snipe the Ezuri, watch him regen his team in response, then wait till his upkeep to go back in and burn out his team. The regen is especially bad against cards like drown in sorrow, which I expect to be very popular in other decks. I should probably be playing that now that I think about it.Image (1)

My Grenzo deck seems really disabled against artifact strategies. We goblins can’t do much of anything against enchantments either. Sure there are the needle effects, but if the ability is passive like Ensnaring Bridge’s then I have to hope that I can pluck it out of my opponent’s hand with a duress effect before it lands on the battlefield. Adding non-creature spells into my main after sideboard options also dilutes the value of my Grenzo (2) ability. While I could run stuff like Manic Vandal he says that you have to destroy an artifact, so I could have to destroy my own needle if it was in play.

Thanks for checking in on this edition of Tiny Leaders! The next article is going to be a tournament report. I’m going to hypothesize what the meta will be, go to the event and write about how it went and report the findings. If I get the time there will also be decklists for the top decks that were at the event!

If you like this series be sure to follow me @hayesthehayes and check back later here on Commandercast for more updates. Please comment down below with any criticisms, Tiny Leader experience or questions you may have. I want this article series to be the best it can be.

Till next time,

@hayesthehayes

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