Elves with (14) Reid Duke

Posted in Event Coverage on June 12, 2016

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Elves has been one of the defining decks in Legacy for years. The deck combines explosive speed with tremendous resilience. As one of the most difficult decks to play in Legacy, Elves presents a steep hurdle for players looking to pick up the deck. However, those willing to put in the time and effort to master the deck are rewarded handsomely.

(14) Reid Duke knows his way around some Legacy. Duke has been playing Elves off and on for a few years and it's his weapon of choice for this weekend.

So, why Elves?

Duke likes the deck's speed and resilience in a wide open Legacy field. The deck is capable of very quick wins and can often maneuver its way to victory when the opponent spends their time trying to disrupt. It's a good deck that lets the pilot do very powerful things.

Gaea's Cradle may be the most powerful card that's legal in Legacy.”

I asked what kind of decks were the best matchup for Elves? The worst?

“Elves is very good against fair creature decks like Eldrazi or Death and Taxes. Miracles can be difficult; Counterbalance with Sensei's Divining Top is rough before sideboarding and Terminus is quite good in games two and three. The matchup is winnable, but not good. Other than that, the decks bad matchups are just combo decks that are faster like Storm and Reanimator.”

Recently, a lot of Legacy Elves players have cut Natural Order from their deck. I asked Duke his thoughts on Natural Order's place in Legacy Elves.

“I still think it's very good. I like being able to close games quickly and a lot of decks don't have an answer for it. I like Glimpse [of Nature] combo a lot and I don't think Natural Order should be the focal point of the deck. Wren's Run Packmaster didn't seem like a good replacement because I'm not trying to win as a slow creature deck. That's not what I want to be doing in Legacy.”

The difficulty of Elves is a real issue for a lot of players. The deck requires keeping track of so many activations and triggers that players tend to use a lot of mental capital very early in their tournament. This often leads to brain fatigue that can have a huge negative impact on one's ability to play well, especially in the later rounds of the day. I asked how Duke addresses this problem when playing the deck through a tournament with so many rounds.

“It's important to have a process. An order of operations to help prioritize decisions. I've played enough with the deck that I know what I should be doing as I go through the motions of the combo. Without enough games, one might do a lot of things and then freeze and have to think about a lot of things at once. Pacing is important, I take my time with each action so I don't get ahead of myself.”

In a world seemingly dominated by Miracles, Eldrazi, and Grixis Delver, Elves occupies a unique place in the Legacy metagame. Will Duke and his army of elvish complexity continue to do well as we enter the second day of competition here in Columbus? Stay tuned to continuing coverage of Grand Prix Columbus to follow all the action as it unfolds!

Reid Duke's Elves - GP Columbus

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