Matchup Mulligan: Elves

Final Ad Nauseam Tendrils Hand Answer

Hand No. 10: (on the play)

[[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Taiga|]] [[Brainstorm|]]


“This hand doesn’t do anything!” Exactly. We’re not looking to be proactive when the opportunity presents itself. A better way of looking at this hand is to see it for what it actually is, a hand with a lot of potential. While we don’t have Metalcraft for [[Mox Opal]], and that’s okay, because we have time thanks to three copies of [[Veil of Summer]] which act as a [[Time Walk]]. You don’t need to Cycle the copies of [[Veil of Summer]] to advance. I would only cast them if our opponent plays a discard spell such as [[Duress]] or [[Thoughtseize]] or they put a lethal [[Tendrils of Agony]] on the stack. Eventually, we’ll have three draws off of the copies of [[Veil of Summer]] paired with our draw steps and that will be enough to for us to win the game. There’s also [[Brainstorm]] if we need it, but I would likely sit on that as long as possible.



Hand No. 1: (on the play)

[[Dark Ritual|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Verdant Catacombs|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]]


Know your opponents and what their decks are capable of. Elves for example, has zero main deck ways to interact with us which means that any hand we open in game one that’s able to win on the first turn is free to do so. With this specific hand, we can cast [[Peer into the Abyss]]! Start by playing [[Verdant Catacombs]] followed by [[Lotus Petal]]. We use these initial mana sources to then cast [[Rite of Flame]] into [[Rite of Flame]], cast [[Dark Ritual]], and then [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]. At this point, we play [[Burning Wish]], hold priority, sacrifice [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] for before retrieving and playing the [[Peer into the Abyss]].

Hand No. 2: (on the draw)

[[Ponder|]] [[Brainstorm|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Volcanic Island|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Ponder|]]


This is an important lesson, do not underestimate the speed of Elves (Mono-Green Storm). They can win quickly, and if they can’t, you can believe that they kept a hand that is capable of a second turn [[Green Sun’s Zenith]] for [[Collector Ouphe]]. These hands that take a lot of time to sculpt with cantrips such as [[Ponder]] and [[Brainstorm]] are often traps. When on the draw, you should not expect to ever get a third turn.

Hand No. 3: (on the play)

[[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Underground Sea|]] [[Rite of Flame|]]


This hand is really a continuation of Hand No. 1, the lesson there was that our opponent doesn’t have free interaction. Well, Elves also doesn’t have first turn interaction in game one. Which means that any hand that can set up for a second turn win, is a must-keep. I would start the game off by playing [[Underground Sea]], [[Chrome Mox]] (Imprint: [[Burning Wish]]), and then cast [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. On the second turn, we can play [[Mox Opal]] into [[Rite of Flame]] and [[Dark Ritual]] before casting [[Ad Nauseam]].

Hand No. 4: (on the draw)

[[Rite of Flame|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Taiga|]] [[Brainstorm|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]]


This mulligan decision goes back to Hand No. 2, don’t disrespect their speed or the ability to put [[Collector Ouphe]] on the second turn. With this hand, we’re able to “force mulligan” the opponent and potentially take away that [[Green Sun’s Zenith]] with the potential to win the game with our new seven. How I often view these hands is we’re starting the game with a mana source on the table ([[Taiga]]), a [[Mox Opal]] that’s not active, and handful of Storm count.

Start off by playing [[Taiga]] into [[Rite of Flame]], cast [[Burning Wish]] for [[Echo of Eons]], and then play our artifacts ([[Mox Opal]] and [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]). At this point, discard our hand to the [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and Flashback the [[Echo of Eons]].

Hand No. 5: (on the play)

[[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Polluted Delta|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]]


While in post-board games the pair of [[Veil of Summer]] can protect us from [[Thoughtseize]], they’re actually just blank pieces of cardboard in game one situations, which means that this hand is essentially a mulligan to five without an action spell. While we are roughly 34 percent every single turn to draw a piece of action, is that actually any better than leveraging the London Mulligan? I believe not.


Recommended sideboarding:


[[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]]
[[Chain of Vapor|]] [[Chain of Vapor|]]


[[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]]
[[Mox Opal|]] [[Galvanic Relay|]]

Hand No. 6: (on the draw)

[[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Echo of Eons|]] [[Chain of Vapor|]] [[Tropical Island|]] [[Ponder|]] [[Ponder|]] [[Chrome Mox|]]


Yes, we’re allowed to keep hands that play interactive Magic in post-board games. Our opponent’s transform their library using their sideboard to be quiet effective against us. We need to play around the following: [[Thoughtseize]], [[Endurance]], [[Force of Vigor]], and [[Mindbreak Trap]] on top of the main deck copy of [[Collector Ouphe]]. It’s a lot, but the key is picking and choosing what you can afford to beat or play around. Sometimes it’s none of it, but in this situation it’s likely all of it.

While this isn’t a slow and steady situation due to the speed of Elves, it is a “you don’t have to go fast” moment where we can cast a pair of [[Ponder]] looking for [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to allow us to get underneath [[Mindbreak Trap]] and [[Force of Vigor]]. If our opponent is on the [[Collector Ouphe]] strategy, we already have answers to that.

The post-board games have an entirely different feel to them, they’re a lot more difficult which puts added pressure onto winning the first game.

Hand No. 7: (on the play)

[[Chrome Mox|]] [[Defense Grid|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]] [[Underground Sea|]]


This hand is really interesting because you can beat whatever you want, but you can’t beat all of the opponent’s disruption. Here are the options as I see them:

  • Holding open [[Veil of Summer]] off of [[Bloodstained Mire]] stops the four copies of [[Thoughtseize]].
  • We’re able to play a first turn [[Defense Grid]] which stops their 1-2 [[Mindbreak Trap]] and 0-2 [[Force of Vigor]] (they could hit [[Chrome Mox]] but this isn’t crucial) followed by [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to prevent it from being discarded.
  • If we play [[Bloodstained Mire]] and search for [[Volcanic Island]] followed by [[Chrome Mox]] (Imprint: [[Veil of Summer]]), we can cast [[Burning Wish]] for [[Echo of Eons]]. Now comes a fork in the road. We can play out [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to avoid four [[Thoughtseize]] or we can hold it to beat somewhere between 0-4 copies of [[Mindbreak Trap]] and [[Force of Vigor]].

I don’t love the holding open [[Veil of Summer]] line because it’s not advancing our game plan at all and inevitably leads to a [[Collector Ouphe]] locking us out of the game. I don’t hate the second option, but you aren’t playing to the best odds. They’re almost guaranteed to have four [[Thoughtseize]] while the copies of [[Mindbreak Trap]] and [[Force of Vigor]] fluctuate list to list. This means you’re leaving the [[Burning Wish]] high and dry in your hand. The third line makes the most sense to me, but I think you’re pressured into playing out the [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] or your plan is now weak to [[Thoughtseize]]. Yes, you open yourself up to the “free” spells, but you need to play to what the math says to do. On your second turn, you’re still able to play [[Defense Grid]] before casting [[Echo of Eons]] to protect yourself moving forward.

Hand No. 8: (on the draw)

[[Burning Wish|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Defense Grid|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Volcanic Island|]] [[Polluted Delta|]] [[Mox Opal|]]


How many times do I need to reference Hand No. 2? You can’t keep glacial hands even when trying to thread the needle between all of their interaction points. Stay disciplined, when when against a tough challenge.

Hand No. 9: (on the play)

[[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Taiga|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Brainstorm|]]


Play to the odds, it was the main message from Hand No. 7. With this configuration of cards, we can assemble a turn-one win, but can we afford to play around things? In order to cast our [[Wishclaw Talisman]], we’ll need to enable Metalcraft for [[Mox Opal]]. This means that we’re opening ourselves up to [[Force of Vigor]]. If we then decide to cast [[Wishclaw Talisman]], we’re already accepting [[Mindbreak Trap]] as a possibility. If that’s the route you decide to take, you might as well put [[Ad Nauseam]] on the stack.

Alternatively, instead of casting [[Wishclaw Talisman]], we just past the turn. We have [[Brainstorm]] to protect our hand from [[Thoughtseize]] on their turn. By doing this, we can untap, cast [[Wishclaw Talisman]] into [[Ad Nauseam]] underneath [[Mindbreak Trap]] and then see what our options are.

Reading a situation based on the context is really how you get good at these matchups, we dissected that they didn’t have [[Force of Vigor]] and then found an avenue around what we could manage. If this hand didn’t contain another action spell, I would probably just put [[Ad Nauseam]] on the stack.

Hand No. 10: (on the draw)

[[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Verdant Catacombs|]] [[Verdant Catacombs|]]

Stay tuned for the next article!

I’ll provide my answer in the next article. For now, make sure to post your thoughts!