It’s Elementary, my Dear Watson

Posted in Building on a Budget on September 24, 2004

By Nate Heiss

Wand of the Elements
I used to build a lot of Tribal decks for Building on a Budget. One deck that I always wanted to build was an elemental Tribal deck. However, this was always impossible to do because there were not quite enough elementals in any two colors to do so. A three color deck featuring creatures that usually cost at least four mana seemed out of the question. Now, I have finally figured out a way to get your elemental groove on. Sure, this deck isn't tribal legal, but if you have a hankering for using a lot of elementals, this is the deck for you.

This deck has exactly one card that is pivotal to elementals – Wand of the Elements. This card has a very powerful ability, letting you turn useless excess lands into fearsome fighting machines. In a way this generates a type of card advantage - 'card quality'. It is the reason why cards like Brainstorm are so powerful – it turns useless cards into useful ones, thereby generating effective cards out of nowhere. Of course, when you combine Wand of the Elements with Crucible of Worlds, then the card advantage really starts flowing!

This combo revolves heavily around playing lands, so when Azusa, Lost but Seeking becomes available with the Champions of Kamigawa release chalk that up to an “adding more money to the deck” suggestion. It would be super good in here.

Building on a Budget: It's Elementary...

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This deck does one thing really well – put lands into play. There is also one thing that it doesn't do very well – fend off creature rushes. You are going to play catch-up once you get Wand of the Elements in play, turning your lands into creatures and trading them off in combat if possible. Luckily, you will always be able to generate more elementals to fight by your side. Assuming you can make enough guys to stall the creature war, you will soon be able to generate enough to overwhelm your opponent.

In case you need some backup, you can use Trade Routes to your advantage with Crucible in order to search through your library, finding Tangle Golems and Tornado Elementals. I chose these guys because they seem like pretty good monsters to have – really any other fun monster would do the trick. I chose these because they do the job well, and besides…Tornado Elemental is an elemental! You will likely generate a lot of mana via Rampant Growths and Explosive Vegetations. Sometimes you might even abandon the Wand plan and just go Tornado Elemental beatdown!

Your optimal draw is probably: Turn 2 Vine Trellis, Turn 3 Wand (making a guy), Turn 4 Explosive Vegetation (making a guy) Turn 5 Journey of Discovery with entwine (making a guy and having Mana Leak mana up).

Be sure to use your countermagic wisely- you don't have a lot of it. Essentially, just make sure you stop any mass removal spells from resetting all of your elemental progress; especially if it is something like Echoing Truth! By the time you get the Wand going, there won't be many creatures that you want to counter – but beforehand it would be wise to buy yourself time.

Tips on Playing the Deck

  • Crucible of Worlds
    Turn 2 Vine Trellis is better than turn 2 Rampant Growth.
  • There are two Mountains in the deck...they aren't for casting spells! Be sure to fetch one of these up, since you can make a 3/3 elemental instead of a 2/2 flying one. Both kinds are good to make, but the 3/3 will certainly be better in many situations.
  • Getting two Wand of the Elements in play seems bad, but it is actually quite good. With Rampant Growths and Explosive Vegetations, you can keep up with producing two guys a turn for a while.
  • If you have a Crucible out, always play the land from your graveyard first! This is just common sense – but if the Crucible gets killed you would feel pretty dumb.
  • Journey of Discovery will let you play extra lands from your graveyard as well in combination with Crucible.
  • Trade Routes is your best friend in this deck. It basically says 2: Draw a card. Or, if you have a land in your hand, 1: draw a card. This is because you can play all that discarded land anyhow. You would rather play it from the graveyard than from your hand, since it means that you already got some use out of it, right?
  • Fabricate for that Wand – what else? This is just better than normal card drawing since the card it will get you is so crucial.

Adding Money to the Deck

I already mentioned Azusa, but there is oh-so-much more that can be done with this concept. Of course, Blinkmoth Nexus or Stalking Stones might provide some interesting backup in the form of creatures that always come back when killed, but this may be overkill since the Wand sort of already does that. Birds of Paradise is great if you have them, since this deck is a bit slow getting going. You can even turn this into a combo deck with Intruder Alarms – just animate your Wand via some effect (March of the Machines works) and you can make a number of creatures equal to the number of lands you control all in one turn. If you can figure out some way to tap your guys for an effect (this shouldn't be that hard to find – Llanowar Behemoth comes to mind) you can probably do something that will kill your opponent in one turn!

Until next time, it is Time Elemental!

-Nate Heiss
BuildingOnABudget and nateheiss on Magic Online

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