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Against the Odds: Froggin' Elspeth in Standard

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 331 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had a Streets of New Capenna–in-Standard Against the Odds poll, and Luxior, Giada's Gift won easily. There was a bit of worry in the comments that the end result would be some boring superfriends deck that just used Luxior, Giada's Gift for value by turning a random planeswalker into a beater. But don't worry—we're playing Against the Odds, not tier Standard. So, what is our plan for Luxior, Giada's Gift? Our main goal is to see how many copies of Elspeth Resplendent we can get on the battlefield at once by turning Elspeth into a creature with Luxior, playing Mirror Box to avoid the legend rule, and then froggin' Elspeth with Croaking Counterpart. Once we make a bunch of Elspeths, we should be able to win by beating down by using Elspeth Resplendent's +1 to grow a creature-Elspeth into a massive flying, lifelinking, first-striking, vigilant threat. How many Elspeths can we get on the battlefield at once in Streets of New Capenna Standard with the help of Luxior, Giada's Gift? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Froggin' Elspeth 

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The Deck

Building around Luxior, Giada's Gift in Standard was actually a bit trickier than I had expected. Some really strong planeswalkers in Standard already see a lot of play (in fact, I think Esper Control / Superfriends is perhaps the most powerful deck in the entire format), and simply jamming Luxior, Giada's Gift into a tier-ish deck with Kaito Shizuki, Lolth, Spider Queen, and a bunch of sweepers and removal isn't the Against the Odds way. As such, the challenges of building around Luxior, Giada's Gift in Standard were twofold. First, we had to try to make the card work and do something cool with it; second, we had to avoid making the deck look too much like the tier Esper Superfriends deck with some Luxiors thrown in.

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So, what are we trying to do with Luxior, Giada's Gift in Standard? Mainly use it to turn a planeswalker—primarily Elspeth Resplendent—into a creature so we can make a bunch of copies of it. While we do have a few backup planeswalkers (The Wandering Emperor for removal, Niko Aris for card draw, and Tamiyo, Compleated Sage for reanimation value), Elspeth Resplendent works especially well with Luxior for a bunch of reasons. First, it's a flavor win since, apparently, Giada gifted Luxior to Elspeth in Streets of New Capenna lore. Beyond Vorthos implications, Elspeth Resplendent is the perfect planeswalker to creature-ify with Luxior because of its +1 ability. Let's say we play Elspeth Resplendent and put a Luxior, Giada's Gift on it. If we +1, Elspeth will go up to six loyalty counters while also getting a +1/+1 counter and our choice of a lifelink, vigilant, first-strike, or flying counter. Luxior, Giada's Gift's ability giving the equipped creature +1/+1 for each counter on it will make Elspeth into a 9/9, which will continue to grow turn after turn.

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The other reason why Elspeth Resplendent is our best planeswalker with Luxior, Giada's Gift is her –3 ability, which digs seven cards deep to find a permanent with mana value three or less. If we don't have a Luxior, Giada's Gift, we can use Elspeth's –3 to help find it. And if we do have a Luxior, we can –3 Elspeth to find a land, which we can use to equip Luxior to Elspeth immediately to keep her from getting attacked. Elspeth's –3 is also essential for digging for our next most important combo piece...

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While getting an Elspeth Resplendent on the battlefield and turning it into a massive creature with Luxior, Giada's Gift is sweet, it's not enough. We want as many Elspeths as possible. Of course, the problem with this plan is that, as a planeswalker, Elspeth is legendary. To get around this, we have Mirror Box, which eliminates the legend rule. While we can draw and cast Mirror Box naturally, getting it with Elspeth's –3 is even better since Mirror Box will have a shield counter, so our opponent will need two removal spells to kill it, which is a huge deal. The nightmare is that we make a bunch of Elspeths only for our opponent to kill Mirror Box, forcing us to sacrifice most of them to the legend rule. A Mirror Box with a shield counter makes it much more likely that our Mirror Box (and Elspeths) will stick around.

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The final piece of our puzzle is to frog Elspeth a few times with Croaking Counterpart (or Glasspool Mimic or Littjara Mirrorlake). Once we have Mirror Box and Luxior, Giada's Gift on an Elspeth Resplendent, we can use these cards to copy Elspeth, usually for just three mana, quickly growing a hilariously huge board of Elspeths. Every time we make a new Elspeth, we can activate it immediately, either to grow our creature-Elspeth with the +1 or to dig through our deck with the –3, which can then find Glasspool Mimic to make another Elspeth and keep the chain going or more copies of Luxior, Giada's Gift to turn our additional Elspeths into creatures. Eventually, we'll make a huge Voltron Elspeth and win by beating our opponent down!

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Outside of our Elspeth / Luxior plan, we have two two-drops to help gum up the board in the early game and potentially draw through our deck to find our combo pieces in Ledger Shredder and Spirited Companion. Both are fine on their own and make good backup targets for Croaking Counterpart if we don't have a Luxiored planeswalker to copy. While it's pretty unlikely we'll win by attacking with these creatures, it is technically possible if we can make enough copies of them and then use Mirror Box to pump them.

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Last but not least, we have some removal and sweepers. The biggest problem with our froggin' Elspeth plan is that it's slow. We need a bunch of pieces, and Elspeth Resplendent herself costs five mana, which means we need to make sure we have some ways to slow down our opponent while we're getting things set up. Fateful Absence, Doomskar, and Farewell get the job done while also leaving our planeswalkers unharmed if we happen to have some on the battlefield.

The Matchups

Honestly, I'm not sure that our Luxior deck really has any good matchups, but I do know that Esper Control is our worst matchup. Cards like Vanishing Verse, Void Rend, or even just counterspells are super hard for our deck to beat because they keep us from keeping Elspeth Resplendent, Mirror Box, and Luxior, Giada's Gift on the battlefield. Creature decks are easier, in part because our sweepers are good and in part because they are much, much less likely to be able to easily kill our combo pieces.

The Odds

Record-wise, Froggin' Elspeth was pretty bad. I played eight matches with the deck overall and only won one, giving us a 12.5% match win percentage (although we did get several game wins along the way). Thankfully, once we finally pulled off the froggin' Elspeth combo, it was spectacular. We managed to get eight Elspeth Resplendents on the battlefield at once; turn four of them into 20+-power flying, lifelink creatures; and win with hundreds of life by smashing our opponent to death with the biggest froggin' planeswalkers in Magic's history! Basically,. the deck isn't likely to be good enough to allow you to rank up on Arena or win an FNM, but the games you do win are going to be so awesome that they will make up for all of the losses you pick up along the way!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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Next week we're going to switch things up by trying a Streets of New Capenna cards in Magic's newest format Explorer! But which one? Click here to vote!


Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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