Call them the Quendi, Eldar or simply Elves, the Lord of the Rings Commander decks have been spoiled. This time we’re looking at Elven Council. A tribal blue green deck, Elven Council features an Elf shell mixed in with powerful Legendary Creatures and staple Commander spells. Let’s see how the deck works and what are the stand out cards.
No Muss, No Fuss Commander
Let’s get one thing straight. Galadriel, Elven-Queen is not here to be your friend, give you free cards, or share the power of Middle Earth. No, she’s here to give you value…if the other players at the table are alright with that.
This deck features an absolute pile of Will of the Council, Secret Council and Council’s Dilemma effects, so if you’re not interested in voting, diplomacy and, table talk this would be a deck to avoid. Galadriel is the obvious choice over Gandalf, Westward Voyager because, let’s face it, she’s an Elf in an Elf Tribal deck and Gandalf is not.
Besides that, Gandalf will end up giving your opponents free cards which is a big disadvantage to his copy effect. If you’re unlucky and don’t get the copy effect, all he does is draw you a card. All of this only happens if you cast a spell that is five or more mana and the deck does not have many in the first place. Keep in mind copying a Legendary will result in one dying so a lot of the time you can’t even get extra value.
Commanders with a somewhat random effect are inherently unreliable. Combine this with the fact that you get no value from cards that are mana value four or less; which make up the majority of the deck. All of this is to say that, for this precon, Gandalf may not do it justice as a Commander.
Similarly, Cirdan the Shipwright has a built in Show and Tell voting mini-game but the inherently unreliability of the card is a strike against it.
How Does Elven Council Win?
An interesting aspect of Elven Council is that it does not need specific cards to win. You can go all in on one Ring Bearer like Legolas Greenleaf. Because of his innate ability, once The Ring Tempts You, Legolas will be fully unblockable and this is completely by design. He has built in card draw and powers up from your legendary Creatures and anthems. The deck also features both Whispersilk Cloak and Lightning Greaves so you have extra protection.
If you don’t “Voltron” one Creature, the entire deck is full of pump effects that go both wide and tall like Overwhelming Stampede, Arwen, Weaver of Hope and Haldir, Lorien Lieutenant among others. So, whether it is one unstoppable super Elf or a whole board of them, attacking is your primary win condition. Even with nothing on board, a huge Genesis Wave or Sylvan Offering can instantly rebuild your game.
So Elven Council has a game plan but how does the deck deal with everyone else? Control, and great cards.
Not only does Elven Council have the cEDH proven Swan Song it also features a lot of cards straight off the EDHREC Top 100 list. The deck is full of cards that are known to be good and see tons of play.
Many of these individual cards are on a higher level than what comes in the other LotR pre-cons. There are also strong cards like Devastation Tide to reset the board state and a one sided bounce spell Raise the Palisade to cement your winning position. Heroic Intervention and Asceticism helps beat wipes and removal.
Pound for pound this deck has more credible answers and protection than any of the other LotR decks. It sprinkles in just enough voting mechanics to appear to be diplomatic but really it’s buying time for the best cards to appear. Speaking of the best card…
Instant Speed Wheel of Fortune
Another draw seven card, also known as a “wheel” because of the card Wheel of Fortune, Sail into the West is an exciting card. In a four player game, you only need one other player to agree as it happens on both winning or a tie, so it’s going to work more often than not. The other outcome, getting two other cards back, is alright but the table can easily unify against that line if they see a combo coming. That means only the draw seven effect is worth considering.
Given that this card is in blue, many players will consider the effect with a card like Narset, Parter of Veils so that only you draw seven cards. At first glance it seems unlikely that you would be able to get away with this, however, think critically.
If one of the other players has no cards in hand, why would they not want to draw one card? This combo would not hurt them at all while helping you and crippling the other two players. With a little bit of diplomacy and the right timing, this combination will happen a lot more than you would think. Plus, it’s got a boat on it, you know how much we’ve wanted one of those.
Rating Elven Council
On a purely thematic level, Elven Council seems like a poor attempt at a diplomacy focused deck. Realistically, it needs many more cards that function like Erestor of the Council and Model of Unity to make voting the primary payoff and I would wager that games where you happen to play those two cards early will be drastically different than games where you don’t.Tivit, Seller of Secrets is a good example of a Commander for this style of deck, it’s a shame the colors do not work together at all. Furthermore, there are a couple of cards like Radagast, Wizard of the Wilds that are neither voting based or an Elf so they seem very out of place for the deck.
Does that mean the deck doesn’t function? No, not at all! It’s chock full of strong cards for Commander and some of the cards like Elrond of the White Council are singularly powerful even without an additional payoff.
It’s a bit different than other Elf Tribal decks and a little bit unfocused, but that just means enterprising players will modify the deck into a better direction. Certainly there is a lot of potential for a large number of the new cards, and there is very good value to a Commander player if you don’t own some of the staple cards that come in the deck. All in all, it’s a very decent buy and hopefully a fun game play experience.