Milan 🇮🇹 | Winning the CMS with Chaos Elves

“In the beginning, there was Chaos as a primaeval state of existence. Chaos was the primal emptiness — a dark, silent, formless and infinite oddity with no trace of life. Out of Chaos, Gaea first came to existence.”
— Hesiod, Theogony (c. 700 BC)

For longer than I can remember, Natural Order has been the most sided-out card in Elves for me. No matter whether I was up against Miracles, Sneak Show or this month’s flavor of Delver, the card often felt more like a liability than the dreaded “I Win” button it used to be. It’s not that it’s a bad card, but especially after sideboarding, most opponents will have very strong plans against it and there’s only so much Abrupt Decay can do about that. Combine that with Elves’ ability to play a strong grindy game and you will understand why I’ve always felt a strong desire to get rid of the card. Early version of a Natural Order-less build could already be seen during the later stages of Dig Through Time‘s e̶r̶a̶ reign of terror where my friend Sebastian “Basti” Bartl built a version based around fast mana, board presence and Collected Company. Most of the time it would just beat down the opponent, with the occasional Glimpse kill and/or Shaman of the Pack to finish them off. We never fully followed-up on that build after Dig Through Time got banned, but it laid down the groundwork for what would later become Chaos Elves.

Fast forward half a year to a local tournament near Munich. After I scrubbed out of the event, having played against just one-too-many Perish, Basti hands me a list and I’m instantly hooked: no more Natural Orders, but instead of using Collected Company this deck maintains the explosiveness of a more traditional Elves list, while also incorporating a large array of silver bullets. I took the list home with me and gave it a try in a Daily Event in the very same night — what can I say, it worked amazingly. The first event I hit with this I immediately ended at 4-0. In fact over the next five events I played with the list, some of them streamed, I ended at a combined 17-3. That record was good enough for me to actually give it a try at the big stage: MKM Milan:

Creatures (30)
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Wirewood Symbiote
4 Elvish Visionary
3 Nettle Sentinel
Heritage Druid
3 Quirion Ranger
2 Llanowar Elves
1 Craterhoof Behemooth
1 Birchlore Rangers
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Shaman of the Pack
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Wren's Run Packmaster
1 Gaddock Teeg

Spells (10)
4 Glimpse of Nature
4 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Sylvan Library
1 Crop Rotation
Lands (20)
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Gaea's Cradle
2 Bayou
2 Cavern of Souls
1 Forest
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Pendelhaven
1 Savannah

Sideboard (15)
3 Abrupt Decay
3 Cabal Therapy
2 Thoughtseize
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Pithing Needle
1 Null Rod
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Karakas

Note that I made two small adjustments from Basti’s original list: instead of playing the second Birchlore Rangers and a Dwynen’s Elite, I opted for two Llanowar Elves; reason being that I really wanted the additional speed as well as another enabler for a turn2 GSZ for Gaddock Teeg.

While the general core of the deck remains largely untouched, here are my thoughts on a couple of cards:

Craterhoof Behemoth: the second copy has always just been a concession to Natural Order as there’s nothing worse than stranding your only Behemoth in your hand — except for drawing useless NOs afterwards. I’m happy to cut back down to a single copy even though I have to admit I rarely do miss the second one in Hatebear-heavy but slow matchups like Death & Taxes. Often times they would get down Containment Priests, Ethersworn Canonists protected by Mother of Runes, only to see you Cradle out a nearly untouchable win. Overall though, it seems like much better value to just play a single copy.

Shaman of the Pack: Especially over the last couple of weeks, I’ve read a lot of comments about this card. People seem to look at it as one of the cornerstones of Chaos Elves, citing its flexibility as one of the main reasons to play this deck over classic Elves. I disagree. To me Shaman is just one of those “nice to have” cards. What I love about it is how it swings damage races against Delver heavily into your favor. With Cavern of Souls and Wirewood Symbiote in the mix, it’s usually well-protected and as a 3/2 it is also able to swing for a sizeable amount if your mana doesn’t allow for casting it twice a turn. It of course provides another angle of attack against cards like Glacial Chasm, which is “nice”, but not the reason I’m playing this deck in the first place. Another cool use for it is to force your Miracles opponent into a weird Terminus. Usually, they would get you mid-combat, thus not allowing you to properly use your Cradle to rebuild. With Shaman, you can force them into a Terminus during your mainphase, allowing for a much strong immediate reinforcement.

Wren’s Run Packmaster: or as we Elves players call him #REKTmaster is one of the main reasons to play this deck. Unlike Natural Order it’s less risky to play, much easier to resolve and incredibly difficult to deal with. Neither Lightning Bolt nor Abrupt Decay can touch it, while Wirewood Symbiote provides comfortable Swords to Plowshares protection. And even if it gets removed, you will still get a favourable trade from a championed Elvish Visionary. Altogether, this card is every BUG decks biggest nightmare! Even just the first Wolf will put you ahead a lot on most board states and should you ever get to untap with WRP, most creature-based decks will never be able to recover. I suggest getting the Lorwyn Wolf tokens as they also have an Elf in the background. Just make sure to get enough of them as commanding armies of 4+ Wolves is the expected minimum. Note that there are also some cute (and unnecessary) tricks you can pull with a Packmaster and Wirewood Symbiote: a championed Reclamation Sage for example allows you to Disenchant at instant speed, should it ever become relevant; the even rarer thing is to set up a spell on the top of your deck with Sylvan Library, then draw into it at Instant speed with a championed Elvish Visionary. The later scenario has never come up for me yet but can potentially be useful with cards like Surgical Extraction or Mindbreak Trap vs Storm combo’s discard. Overall though, it’s just a cute thing to keep in mind for fancy plays during camera matches.

Gaddock Teeg: Gaddock is one of those cards that’s much stronger in the maindeck than as a sideboard card. We can probably skip the part where I keep talking about what it is good against and move right on to the implications he has on deckbuilding. It’s quite clear that he puts certain constraints on what you’re doing and sometimes you will hate how he blocks your GSZ, but overall I do think he’s a good addition to the deck, especially since he will give you a certain number of turn2 free wins against combo decks, where you’re otherwise significantly behind game1. One of the positive implications are that you want to play as many Llanowar Elves as you can reasonably fit into the build. With 4 GSZ, 4 DRS and 2 Llanowar Elves, as well as some Heritage Druid draws, this gives us 10+ cards that enable a second turn Gaddock in the first game. On top of that, this version of Elves is incredibly mana hungry, which is why I think that even if you didn’t play Gaddock, having access to 2 Llanowar Elves gives you even more really explosive draws, allowing you to set up for a much strong midgame. I could see going without our Kithkin overlord though, but wouldn’t really recommend doing so for now. With Natural Order gone, you’d probably still want another permanent hate card vs Storm in the sideboard and by putting him into the main, you earned yourself another even more dedicated sideboard slot.

Crop Rotation: “Crop Rotation is basically like Natural Order in this deck” Basti somewhat jokingly explained to me. The reason being that with GSZ or Behemoth in hand, Crop Rotation will usually turn your board into the giant army of trampling Elves, we’ve all grown to know and love. Of course, the comparison isn’t really sound, but you get the idea. On top of this “nice” bonus of chaining Cradles, Crop Rotation provides a lot of other uses that justify it being part of this more silver-bullet-oriented build: the first and most important one being the instant speed land tutoring it provides. Getting either Pendelhaven, Karakas or Cavern of Souls can often have a huge impact on the board, throwing off your opponent’s combat math or providing a huge edge in the Sneak Show matchup. The other use I really like about this card is how it messes with your opponent’s decision-making process. Especially during the early turns, opponents often find themselves in positions asking themselves whether they should continue developing their board or Wasteland Elves in order to try and contain their explosiveness. With Crop Rotation in the mix you get to heavily punish opponents opting for the latter alternative. Suddenly they find themselves down a land drop against an Elves opponent who’s about to untap with Gaea’s Cradle. I like.

Pendelhaven: Boy is this card important to Chaos Elves — much more so than in classic builds, where it could already be considered a valuable mainstay. With Chaos Elves playing a primarily beatdown-focussed game, Pendelhaven will often make the difference of allowing to attack for 5 or 0. Consider situations where you got a bunch of 1/1s staring down something like a Snapcaster Mage or Deathrite Shaman and you will see how Penvelhaven makes all the difference in the world. At this point, I should probably also mention surprise combat tricks with Crop Rotation but at the point, we’re already heading down way too deep into the danger of cool things. Other cards this land shines against include Umezawa’s Jitte, Grim Lavamancer, Punishing Fire, Containment Priest, Ethersworn Canonist, Meddling Mage, most -1/-1 effects, Shardless Agent, Stoneforge Mystic, Zombie Tokens and many more!

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben: When Basti gave me the list, Thalia was the one card that stood out to me as something I’d probably want to replace. After playing with her, I’m still not 100% convinced she’s the right girl for the job against combo, but I’m madly in love with her against anything Grixis. She slows them down a lot, is great at blocking and slices through most boardstates involving Young Pyromancer and a couple of tokens. I’ve recently been wondering whether I want to replace her with Aven Mindcensor, who’s got a wider variety of uses, but as of yet am still undecided. If you’re looking to start tinkering with sideboard cards, this is your go-to slot.

Karakas: Outside of the obvious uses vs Reanimator and Sneak Show, there’s two more things I love about this card: the first is allowing you to protect your Gaddock Teeg and or Thalia vs Miracles. It’s not a huge edge, but every once in a while it can definitely help you out. The other thing that’s great about Karakas is how it can stop an attacking Marit Lage. Be aware that you should probably try to Crop Rotation into it if possible or at least have a Pithing Needle set to Wasteland and/or Rishadan Port as those cards can turn off your Karakas. With Karakas, you get the chance to shut down the first 20/20, giving you time to Surgical Extraction Dark Depths, which can swing the matchup heavily in your favour, especially if Lands was on the more all-in’ish start and didn’t pull ahead quickly with Exploration and Punishing Fire.

Friday- Big Legacy Side Event

With the return-flight from Munich to Milan at just 55,- € I decided to fly in in the early morning, getting to the site just in time for the Big Legacy Trial, while the rest of my crew crossed the Alps by car later that day. Unfortunately, there were only about 30 people who showed up for the event so we just played 5 rounds of Swiss followed by Top8. Here’s how my tournament went:

Marius had a present from Germany for Angelo Cadei

Round 1 — Zombardment 2:0 Win
Round 2 — Oldschool Aggro Loam 2:0 Win
Round 3 — Lands  0:2 Loss (incl. Game Loss for decklist)
Round 4 — Merfolk 2:1 Win
Round 5 — *ID*
Quarterfinals Infect  2:0 Win
Semifinals 4c Delver  2:0 Win
Finals 12 Post  2:1 Win


Except for that 3rd round loss to Lands, the tournament was pretty smooth sailing for me. Unfortunately, I registered the wrong Fetchland configuration which earned me a game loss, followed by a mulligan to 5 without sideboarding. Fun story: while the judge was going through his routine of explaining to me why I would receive a game loss and what configuration of Fetchlands I actually wanted to play, the head judge walks by and interrupts him: “Dude, he just wants to play any 8 green Fetchlands!”

My match vs Merfolk stands out as incredibly odd. To the outsider, it must have looked like to overdosing hippos trying to get a grip on each other. My opponent was on the play and had a turn2 Chalice of the Void set to 1….and then nothing else for the next five turns, at which point he started hardcasting THREE Silvergill Adepts over his next couple. Apparently, he just kept drawing into them on his turn, thus always requiring the full five mana, while the rest of his hand was just countermagic. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t draw a Cavern or anything else than 1 mana spells for the entire game, meaning that his gang of overcosted Elvish Visionaries did me in.

After winning the second game in quick fashion, game 3 came down to a race situation in which he was pulling ahead with True-Name Nemesisand a couple of Lords. My hand at this point was Gaea’s Cradle, Cavern of Souls, some Elves and a Craterhoof Behemoth. The way my opponent had played the game up to this point had pretty much telegraphed that he was probably holding a Force of Will in his hand, so I decided to bait a maybe sandbagged Wasteland by playing my Gaea’s Cradle and summoning a bunch of Elves. Even if he had had the Wasteland, I needed those Elves to generate just enough mana to hardcast Craterhoof Behemoth on the following turn. After passing the turn he takes me down to 3 life and is at least 2 turns ahead in the damage race, which must have made him feel pretty good sitting behind his Force of Will…and you could clearly see how the terror started setting in the moment I set my Cavern to “Beast” to quickly turn the game around. FINISH HIM!

In the finals I quickly steal game 1 with a fast Glimpse before he even gets to do anything. In the second game things look to be over rather soon before he manages to Crop-Rotation-Glacial-Chasm-walk me for a turn before clearing my board with Ugin, Planeswalker and following it up with a bunch of lethal Eldrazis. I had actually anticipated that Crop Rotation but just couldn’t put together a lethal string of Deathrite Shaman activations. In the third game however I quickly Glimpse of Nature’d him on the third turn, too early for him to have any meaningful interaction. This earned me a booster box and free entry into the Legacy Main Event including one *BYE*.

Saturday – Legacy Main Event

With our apartment literally on the very other side of the street, our crew got to enjoy a good round of sleep. I still head out a little earlier to hit the local supermarket, where my 20,- € bill is double and triple checked for authenticity before accepting it. Apparently I make the impression of a small time counterfeiter.

Having restocked my supplies for the day, I arrive back at the tournament site well in time for the first round. Here’s is how my tournament went:

Round 1 — *BYE*
Round 2 — 4c Delver 2:1 Win
Round 3 — Shardless BUG  2:1 Win
Round 4 — Canadian Threshold 1:2 Loss
Round 5 — Miracles  2:1 Win
Round 6 RG Lands  2:1 Win
Round 7 *ID*
Quarterfinals Infect  2:0 Win
Semifinals  4c Delver   2:0 Win
Finals  ANT   2:1 Win

I’m really happy I got to make good on my new year’s resolution of trading all these x-2 results at big tournaments for Top8s. Round 2 it was looking like I was up to a bad start when I mulliganned to 6 in the final game and had my only two business spells countered and discarded, leaving me with just three (for all intents and purposes vanilla) 1/1s in play. After not drawing anything meaningful for the next three turns and facing down an opponent with many more cards in hand, I pretty much expected to lose this game. Fortunately, my opponent had trouble applying pressure, drawing into just more countermagic, cantrips and discard. Every once in a while he finds the occasional Lightning Bolt, Snapcaster Mage and eventually Delver of Secrets, but none are a real match for my Pendelhaven. And while I don’t draw into any more business, a constant string of random 1/1s from the top of my deck eventually gets me there as my opponent proves reluctant to throw his Force of Will on any of them. Weird game; I took him down all the way from 20 to 0 in increments of 3, with the occasional Fetchland on his part. Pendelhaven guys, play it!

108 Players for the Legacy Main Event

In the third round, I beat my friend Daniel Rehmann on Shardless BUG, mostly thanks to the power of Wren’s Run Packmaster. It’s just crazy how much this card dominates this matchup with little to no reliable ways for them to remove it. And with the current build much more focused on acceleration and using your mana most efficiently every turn, Packmaster is just the best creature you could ask for. If your meta was really Shardless-heavy, I’d actually recommend a second copy of it because it’s that good.

My fourth round loss was to Matthew Johnson on Canadian Threshold, who ended up Top8’ing all three main events. I quickly run away with our first game and got him on the edge of defeat in the second one when we arrive at a situation where he needs to draw a removal spell on his very next turn to win or otherwise lose. He draws a Ponder, shuffles and I cut his deck to his last copy of Submerge. Not gonna complain, I myself had much more insane topdecks over the course of the tournament. In the third game I struggle a bit early on but eventually start racing his Delver of Secrets before he finds a Nimble Mongoose that’s about to hit Threshold next turn. With him on 5 life, I attack with two Heritage Druids, with an active Deathrite Shaman staying behind. When he declares no blockers I try to Crop Rotation into a Pendelhaven for the win, but Matthew knows what’s up and Dazes the Rotation thus forcing me to tap my only black source, delaying my Deathrite Shaman activation for a turn and eventually turning the game around on his next turn. Great games and a great guy to play against!

My next round against is much less eventful. I lose the first game to a combination of Monastery Mentor and Entreat the Angels but fight back with not only an already great maindeck but all the additional sideboard hate I got. In the third game I go for a move that should be part of every Elves player’s repertoire: end of the opponent’s turn I Abrupt Decay his Sensei’s Divining Top, thus denying him the opportunity to Miracle Terminus on my turn and then just take him down with a Glimpse chain, finishing him off with two uncounterable Shaman of the Pack triggers. My opponent seemed rather pissed about his loss, but I guess it’s not easy losing what you consider to be one of your best matchups — especially when you don’t know it isn’t anymore.

20 minutes time extension..

For my win-and-in I’m paired against RG Lands. I get an ok start while my opponent goes for just a turn1 Crop Rotation into The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, which usually indicates weakness on their part. Unfortunately, I don’t have the Gaea’s Cradle yet and have to go through a lot of complicated Heritage Druid and Wirewood Symbiote activations, but keep prodding him for 1-2 damage every turn, while my Deathrite Shaman makes sure he doesn’t Dredge into anything meaningful. He eventually starts drawing instead of dredging, but at this point I eventually find Gaea’s Cradle which allows me to take him down in two clean swings. Game2 I realize on my second turn that he probably kept a hand that Crop Rotation‘s into Marit Lage on his third turn. Armed with that knowledge I try my best to find my own Crop Rotation to blow him out with Karkas, but neither Sylvan Library (pay 8 life) nor an Elvish Visionary get me there, so his 20/20 does me in. In the final game, I lead with Llanowar Elves. After my opponent made a Molten Vortex on his first turn, I explode with Glimpse on turn2 and pass the turn with 20+ Elves in play. My opponent untaps and congratulates me on making Top8. Another great guy and a pleasure to play against. I just really feel like pointing this out since not everyone always takes important losses with a genuine smile.

Marius had a bad Main event, so he turned towards destroying people in chess.

After ID’ing in the 7th round I once against find myself up against the same Infect player I already played in Friday’s quarterfinals. With him on the play I don’t expect to win the first game but variance once again swings my way and sees him mulligan to 4. But my relief only lasts for a turn as his Tropical Island into Glistener Elf could threaten a quick kill nevertheless. Fortunately his hand seems to be all Noble Hierarchs, Spell Pierces and Force of Wills, so I quickly get there on the back of Shaman of the Pack. Before game2 my opponent asks for the Oracle text of Shaman and then starts with Leyline of Sanctity; made me giggle as it’s a clear adaptation to our game the previous day where I took his hand apart with Cabal Therapy — of which I am already holding another copy in my opening hand. With Reclamation Sage sided out, the Leyline was there to stay and Shaman of the Pack wouldn’t be able to touch my opponent. I still get off to an ok’ish start, establishing some board presence and pressure but neither Abrupt Decay nor Pithing Needle to interact. When my opponent gets down a Sylvan Library and finds a Blighted Agent, I think I’m done for, but to my surprise, he just keeps crashing in for 2 exalted poison every turn. I wish I could tell you more about this game but despite his Sylvan Library, he never draws additional cards and eventually loses to me building a big enough board and just outracing him. After the game my friends tell me that he had been holding a Brainstorm and Invigorate for several turns…and eventually died with both cards still in hand. While I can see that he didn’t want to Brainstorm because he always knew his top2 cards because of Library, I wonder whether he should have drawn more aggressively. Of course, he was acting in fear of Abrupt Decay on his agent, but when you can already tell that you’re not beating the board, I really think you have to try and milk variance in order to get back into the game. Otherwise, you just die by a thousand stings. Also, since he got Library down before any of his creatures, there’s a good chance I would have sent a potential Decay that way anyways.

Deep in thought in the finals

In the semis I was up against 4c Delver. Both games go quite long but especially in the first one, Elves is quite favoured because of their lack of mass- or more efficient removal. The game still goes quite long with the board stalled every which way, with his Delver racing my Deathrite Shaman superiority thanks to Quirion Ranger. When he shuts down my Ranger we eventually get to a point where there’s exactly one card I need to find in order to stay alive and probably win the game: Scavenging Ooze. I peel the top card of my deck and it’s Elvish Visionary, which draws me into exactly Scavenging Ooze with just enough mana left to beat his Deathrite Shamans (which he couldn’t tap, otherwise my 1/1s and 1/2s would take him down). With Ooze on the field, I slowly turn around the game, happily making some otherwise bad attacks, just because they end up putting more creatures into the yard while dealing a couple points of damage. Ooze eventually gets there. The second game plays out a lot like the first one as my opponent apparently doesn’t see a lot of sideboard cards. I make a stupid mistake of not preemptively emptying his graveyard with Ooze which allows him to at least have a fighting chance thanks to Gurmag Angler. While my Ooze was slightly larger than the Angler, his additional Deathrite Shamans made it so that I would end up just trading the Zombie Fish for the Ooze in case I attacked. So we once again reach this weird stall with him at 10 life, a Delver, a 5/5 Fish and 2 Deathrite Shamans against my board of a 7/7 Ooze and a couple of Elves. I think my life total must have been around 9, putting me dangerously close to being burned out with the help of Delver. Fortunately, my opponent is hellbent, but when he draws for his turn, his entire body becomes a giant tell he hit something amazing. Fire Covenant paying 8 life, 7 damage to your Scavenging Ooze and 1 damage to your Quirion Rangerhe declares and the crowd erupts. Why? Because he just threw away the game. Instead of dealing 8 to my Ooze, he just goes for 7 and 1 on the random Quirion Ranger, allowing me to eat the one and only card in both graveyards, a random Elvish Visionary to grow my Ooze out of burn range. When he realizes he just paid 3 mana and 8 life to kill a Quirion Ranger, he just concedes out of shame, but not before having a good laugh about his misplay. Good sport!

Got there!

You can read about my finals on the MKM website, which has really good text and picture coverage of almost every aspect of all of our games. Very much recommended not only for people looking for pure information:
Finals: Julian Knab (Elves) vs Stefano Mauri (ANT)

So, I won. Yeay! I’m really happy I got to prove myself and also have an amazing weekend with Basti’s latest creation. There’s nothing worse than trying something new, getting everyone hyped about it, only to return home with an 0-2 drop. Thanks to everyone who congratulated me on the site and via social media, it always does mean a lot to me, really!

Sunday – Modern Main Event

For Modern I played Rodrigo‘s Ad Nauseam deck that he used to win the last two MKM Opens with. I’m far from good with it and my knowledge about Modern is still limited, but somehow I still got there. I’m not sure how, especially because I made horrible mistakes in a lot of games, like not countering a Bring to Light for 4, only to have all my Ad Nauseams Slaughter Games‘ed. In the end I think the deck just has some really good matchups, especially against most control decks, that it just carried me to the Top8. If I look back, my matches against Grixis Control, UWr Midrange and RG Tron were over in less than 10 minutes. Part of that is probably owed to my opponents misplaying, but even the long game should favor Ad Nauseam quite a bit; at least if they don’t have Blood Moon.

Here’s the list I played:

Here’s how my tournament went:

Round 1 — 90 Card Kiki Living Endshift 2:1 Win
Round 2 — Grixis Control 2:0 Win
Round 3 — UWr Midrange  2:0 Win
Round 4 — Abzan Siege Rhino 1:2 Loss
Round 5 — 5c Scapeshift 1:1:1 Draw
Round 6 RW Land Destruction  2:1 WWin
Round 7 RG Tron — 2:0 Win
Quarterfinals RGw Burn/Zoo  1:2 Loss

I’m still pretty unhappy about losing that quarterfinal. Not only did I have a great matchup, but my subsequent two matchups would also have always been quite favourable (Scapeshift+Merfolk), which means I messed up a great shot at becoming a double champion for the weekend — something that only Pascal Wagner had done before in Rome. In the end, I lost to my stupid keep because I really, really do hate taking mulligans. Interestingly, I would have still won game3 had I left 2 instead of just 1 Pact of Negation in the maindeck. The situation was that I could have drawn my entire deck on his turn and Slaughter Pact’ed his lethal attacker and Pact of Negation’ed his Boros Charm, then untapped and with both triggers on the stack have killed him with Lightning Storm. I couldn’t do this on my turn as I needed my Lands to untap in order to have enough mana for the Lightning Storm. The problem was that this would still make me lose to his Deflecting Palm since I already needed to spend my only Pact of Negation on his Boros Charm. I guess that’s just how it goes: as long as you can’t win it all, you just keep going!

Epilogue – Chaos Elves in Legacy

As you can probably tell, I’m very convinced and happy about this new build of Elves. I just took it to an MKM Trial for Frankfurt this weekend and took it down. That makes me 3/3 of tournaments played and won with Chaos Elves. Could I have done the same with Natural Order Elves? Nobody knows. It would have been a lot harder though. Here’s the tradeoff you’re making when playing Chaos Elves:

Matchups Chaos Elves is better in:

– Any Delver deck
– Miracles — by a lot
– Storm
– Sneak Attack — by a lot
– Shardless
– Any Stoneblade deck, but those aren’t really a thing anymore

Matchups Chaos Elves is worse in:

– Merfolk
– Burn
– Natural Order Elves
– Eldrazis
– Some other non-blue matchups like Jund, but the difference is pretty small

It’s up to you what you want to beat. Elves is still huge trouble for most fair non-blue decks and even without Natural Order you will still get there through overwhelming forces and critical mass. At the MKM Trial for example, the decks I beat were Shardless, Pox, Eldrazi, RGBw Jund and GWb Maverick. If you wanna count Shardless as a blue deck (it’s the least blue blue deck) that’s still 5 matchups that are (even) better with Natural Order Elves, but it ended up not mattering. When your opponents keep bringing in all that hate for what they think is your big haymaker, just getting whatever Wirewood Engine you have running will probably get you way too far ahead for them to catch up, while they just timewalked themselves with e.g. Containment Priest.

Overall, you should play what you’re comfortable with, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t sometimes venture outside your comfort zone to make progress. I think that Chaos Elves very well exploits a current hole in the metagame by having a favourable matchup vs Miracles and Delver with a decent matchup vs most combodecks ON TOP of already being favoured against everything non-blue. That weekend in Milan I kept jokingly referring to it as the deck without any bad matchups. While that’s of course not true, it hints at what I’m trying to tell you: it’s really well positioned and you should play it. Overcome your fear and drop the order — let’s embrace chaos together!

Until next time,

Insert Coin

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