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Budget Magic: $85 (45 tix) Modern Beatdown Elves

Mir-dita, Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. This week, by popular demand, we are heading to Modern to play a Beatdown Elves deck that is essentially the Green version of Merfolk. Instead of comboing off with Nettle Sentinel and Heritage Druid or casting Chord of Calling for Craterhoof Behemoth, we are looking to play as many Elf lords as possible and beat our opponent down before they have a chance to recover! 

Let's get to the videos, then I'll talk more about Beatdown Elves. A quick reminder: if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Beatdown Elves Deck Tech

Beatdown Elves vs Norin Sisters

Beatdown Elves vs Tron

Beatdown Elves vs Burn

Beatdown Elves vs Eldrazi

Beatdown Elves vs Blistering Rage


The Deck

Beatdown Elves is fairly straight-forward. Ideally we'll have a one-drop mana producing Elf on turn one, and then resolve Lords for the rest of the game. Eventually we win by giving our entire team trample or forestwalk, and put our opponent to zero with one massive attack!

The Mana Dorks

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As I mentioned in the intro, probably the best comparison for Beatdown Elves is Merfolk. However the fish have one big advantage over Elves in that many of their lords cost only two mana, while all of the Elf lords cost three. On the other hand, the biggest advantage for Elves is that we have access to a ton of one-drop mana producers, which allow us to start playing our lords on turn two even though they cost three mana. 

Arbor Elf, Llanowar Elves, and Elvish Mystic are all the same card in our deck as 1/1's for one that can tap to add a Green mana. As such, it really doesn't matter which one we have on turn one, all that matters is we have at least one of them because our deck really, really wants to start playing Elf lords on turn two. Otherwise we end up being too slow for the Modern format. 

The Lords

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Elvish Archdruid is by far the best lord in our deck. It's ability to tap for a bunch of mana often allows us to empty our hand on turn three. With an Elvish Archdruid on the battlefield, all of our one drops and Dwynen's Elite are essentially free. As such, our nut draw is something like turn one mana dork, turn two Elvish Archdruid, turn three Dwynen's Elite plus two more one-drops, tap Elvish Archdruid, play another lord. 

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Elvish Champion is one of our finishing lords, giving our entire team forestwalk and allowing us to attack for lethal through blockers. The only problem is not every deck in Modern plays Forests, which means we have to steal a page from the Merfolk playbook and play Nylea's Presence. One of the tricks in Merfolk is to play Spreading Seas to give the opponent an Island and make all their islandwalk lords even more powerful. Nylea's Presence lets us do the same thing by giving our opponent a Forest to make sure our Elves are unblockable. Just be careful, Nylea's Presence allows the enchanted land to tap for any color of mana. It has the potential to inadvertently fix the mana of a color screwed opponent. As a result, it's sometimes better to wait until we find an Elvish Champion before resolving the enchantment. 

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You've probably noticed that three mana lords almost always have some sort of upside. Elvish Champion gives forestwalk, Elvish Archdruid taps for mana, but all Joraga Warcaller does is pump our team. However, thanks to multikicker, it can have the effect of two or three lords in one card. One of the downside of our budget build is that we don't have powerful mana sinks like Chord of Calling or Craterhoof Behemoth, which means we sometimes end up in situations where we have the ability to product an ungodly amount of mana, but don't have anything to do with it. This is where Joraga Treespeaker comes in. Since we can pay multikicker any number of times, there are times where we will spend 11 mana, kick it 5 times, giving all our other Elves +5/+5! 

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Ezuri, Renegade Leader doesn't actually pump our Elves like the other lords, but it's super important to our deck for two reasons. First, the ability to regenerate another Elf for only one Green mana let's us save our creatures from Lightning Bolt or Abrupt Decay. Second, the Overrun ability is another way of finishing off the game quickly once we have the board flooded with creatures.

While playing the deck, one thing I realized is that almost every matchup is a race. Against aggro decks we are literally racing life totals, but against control decks we are racing sweepers. Cards like Anger of the Gods, Supreme Verdict, and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon are extremely difficult for our deck to beat, so our best bet is to be aggressive enough to win the game before our opponent can untap. Ezuri, Renegade Leader is very helpful in achieving this goal. 

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Imperious Perfect is in the deck mostly because I wanted to test it out, but after playing with it, I'm pretty sure it would be better as an additional copy of Joraga Warcaller or Ezuri, Renegade Leader. While giving all of our Elves +1/+1 is nice, the second ability is very rarely relevant in our deck. The main problem is we really want to attack with our Elves, not leave them back to make extra 1/1 tokens. The ability is simply too slow, not impactful enough, and sort of a no-bo with our deck's aggressive nature. Just about any other three mana Elf lord would be better in this slot. 

Other Stuff

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Dwynen's Elite and Elvish Visionary are pretty much filler Elves. Dwynen's Elite works well with our lords since it produces two bodies to get pumped, and is free with Elvish Archdruid. Meanwhile, Elvish Visionary is just a 1/1 body that benefits from all our "Elves matter" cards, while not costing a card itself. 

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Lead the Stampede serves two important purposes in our deck. First, it helps us dig through our library to find our "finishing" lords (Elvish Champion and Ezuri, Renegade Leader), while also generating a ton of card advantage thanks to the fact we have 34 creatures in the deck. Second, it can help us recover after a sweeper by refilling our hand and board. 


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I'm not going to break down every sideboard card in-depth, but basically we have Skylasher for heavy counterspell / Blue decks, Chameleon Colossus for decks with lots of Black removal, Grafdigger's Cage for graveyard and Nahiri, the Harbinger decks, and Reclamation Sage to deal with artifacts and enchantments. However, the single most important card in our sideboard is Wrap in Vigor, because it gives us a chance against sweepers. 

After playing a bunch of matches with Beatdown Elves, one thing that stuck out is the deck's ability to win game ones. Unfortunately, in many matchups, things get much harder after sideboarding because the opponent brings in Pyroclasm, Anger of the Gods, Supreme Verdict and other sweepers. Wrap in Vigor is our foil to these sweepers, and most of the time if we can use it to counter the first sweeper, we can win the game on the backswing before our opponent has a chance to find a second one. 

The only significant changes to the ultra budget version of Beatdown Elves are in the sideboard where we lose Choke and Grafdigger's Cage. While both of these changes make the deck weaker in specific matchups, it shouldn't change the look or feel of the deck at all. I was hoping to get the deck even cheaper, but realized there really isn't a way to make it work. Right now, there are two kinds of cards in the deck: (1) Random Common and Uncommon Elves and (2) Elf lords. Cutting random Commons and Uncommons doesn't really impact the budget, and cutting lords isn't really feasible, so $50 in paper is about as cheap as it gets for Beatdown Elves. 

One of the things I like about budget Elves is that the deck can be upgraded into a very powerful and competitive build. While the version above is less beatdown and more combo, it plays many of the same cards as the version in our videos. That said, there are a ton of huge upgrades. First is the package of Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinel, which produces a ton of mana and makes super explosive Elvish Archdruid-esque draws even more common. Second is Chord of Calling, which allows the deck to tutor for missing combo pieces in the early game, while also providing a way to end the game at instant speed by finding Shaman of the Pack or Craterhoof Behemoth. Finally, Collected Company is a big upgrade over Lead the Stampede because even though it gets one less creature (on average), it puts those creatures directly on the battlefield. 


Anyway, that's all for today. Overall we went 3-2 in the videos. I played a few extra games for fun after recording, and the actual win percentage was slightly worse than the on-video record. If you can dodge sweepers or counter them with Wrap in Vigor, the deck is extremely explosive, but it can have a hard time recovering from wraths since we don't have access to Collected Company. Regardless, I had a blast playing the deck, and if you enjoy aggressive tribal strategies, I think you will too!

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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