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Elf Belcher Tips and Tricks

On Saturday we went over the Elf Belcher list and this coming week I’ll showcase it on video. But today I’m going to look at some tips and tricks of how this deck works.

The premise of Elf Belcher is to use special mana and the power of the Elf tribe to blast off with Goblin Charbelcher or overrun the opponent with an Elf army. It’s an extremely bizarre 5-land deck with lots of weird interactions so I will try to cover some of them today.

First, let’s review the list:

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Elf Belcher Opening Hands

The big question is what the opening hands are like and how often you have to mulligan. While there will be some games where you mulligan to oblivion and do nothing, this deck is surprisingly consistent at producing 7- and 6-card keeps.

All you need is a start that unlocks more mana. For starting mana you have 5 lands, 4 Simian Spirit Guides, and 4 Chancellors of the Tangle. At 13/60 you have pretty good odds to draw at least 1.

Once you have a starting mana, you can see if that unlocks other spells in your hand to get going. If it does it’s a keep.

All that said, I recommend reciting an Elf/Goblin prayer before looking at opening hands. It’s unlikely to change the odds in your favor but it’s likely to help you find peace amidst chaos.

Now let’s look at some openers.

Turn 1 Chancellor + Simian to play Sylvan Ranger for a Forest to play Llanowar Elves, which unlocks a second Sylvan Ranger, which unlocks Elvish Archdruid, and now you have enough mana for Charbelcher.

If the Elf gets Bolted, oh well, your deck is 55 mana sources with many of those castable for 1 mana. It’s easy to topdeck mana when you already have a land in play.

Turn 1 Chancellor to play Safewright Quest for a Temple Garden to play an Elvish Mystic. Simian Spirit Guide to play Aether Vial. Wood Elves will come out soon and you have Path to Exile for defense or additional ramp.

Wow two lands! This fast Elf hand could kill with Ezuri or by Wargating for Goblin Charbelcher.

Turn 1 Chancellor for Vial and Stomping Ground for Llanowar Elves. This hand doesn’t have everything already in the opener, but that’s why we get one draw step every single turn.

Turn 1 double-Chancellor for Safewright Quest for a Forest and 2 Llanowar Elves going into the second turn.

These are what the good hands look like, and the bad hands are easily identifiable—they do absolutely nothing. Mulligan those, keep these.

Chancellor of the Tangle is an amazing card for this deck as it’s a mana turn 1 when you need it and it’s a big fatty for 7 mana when you need it. It’s an amazing card in the early game and late game.

Beyond casting Chancellor, there will be times you tick Aether Vial to 7. Games of Magic can easily last past 8 turns so it’s something to consider with your Aether Vials.

Goblin Charbelcher does double damage when it flips a Mountain so leaving a Stomping Ground in the deck can double your expected damage output.

In general it’s best to leave the Stomping Ground for last, unless your last land fetching effect only finds a basic.

Speaking of Goblin Charbelcher, this card is amazing. If you fetch a few lands its likely to be a 1-shot kill. And even if you don’t fetch any lands it’s a fast kill that could take over the board.

In this deck Goblin Charbelcher is not all-in. You don’t sacrifice much to put it into play and tap it. If it gets countered or you miss you will have opportunities to try again next turn.

Goblin Charbelcher is an amazing 4-drop in this deck. You don’t need to get all the way to 7 mana. You can dump this on the 2nd or 3rd turn potentially and go from there.

Goblin Charbelcher also has a great metagame position—it is immune to Abrupt Decay and Inquisition of Kozilek, and Path to Exile sets you up perfectly.

Yes, Path to Exile, the greatest removal/ramp split-card ever printed. I think it is definitely worth stretching your mana for Path. It gives you so much more game against decks like Twin, Infect, and Affinity, while being a great proactive spell in your ramp game plan as well.

One issue with Path is that you can’t use it to fetch Island for Wargate in the main deck. The Island can be hard to find and gums up Goblin Charbelcher. So even with more white spells than blue spells you might want to fetch Breeding Pool first as you have more ways to find white later.

These 2-for-1s do so much for the deck—ramp, beatdowns, and CHUMPING.

While you want to kill as fast as possible you won’t always be able to, and chump-blocking is a great way to buy time against many strategies. These can give you extra turns so look for times to save life.

Heritage Druid is very important with the Elf 2-for-1s to get you to 7 mana. At 7 you unlock Chancellor, Wargate for Belcher, or Belcher + activate.

7 is a lot against anyone gunning removal spells and interaction at us. Rather than try to accumulate 7 things that produce 1 mana, Heritage Druid lets you double-up your 2-for-1 Elves so you only need 5 or fewer cards to get to 7 mana.

This plan might not be the strongest against sweepers but it can easily grind through spot removal. A key part of this plan is holding the Heritage Druid in hand when necessary. Dropping it in can give you a huge mana boost out of nowhere.

The beatdown plan of this deck is real and always important to consider. It will be plan A if you don’t draw a Belcher or Wargate, but there will be times where trying to overwhelm the opponent will be better than Belching even given both options.

Always look out for times when turning sideways can win the game.

Elf Belcher Sideboarding

I think this is a fantastic sideboarding deck—it’s likely to improve most matchups in games 2 and 3.

While you are vulnerable to certain cards and strategies, having multiple plans gives you angles against various kinds of hate. They may just draw hate for the wrong half of your plan.

To compensate for the potential of hateful sweepers against our mana critters I recommend sideboarding in up to 2 extra lands with Kodama’s Reach and Civic Wayfinder to find them. Few things are more effective against “Bolt the Bird” than just playing lands into Kodama’s Reach. With an opener like this you don’t necessarily even need an Elf to live to win.

You also get additional access to absurd sideboard cards because of Wargate. Wargate is a huge stretch on the mana base, especially game 1, but that card is in the deck to win sideboarded games. Wargate finds lands, finds creatures, finds Charbelcher, and finds your sideboard hate.

Finally, you are one of the best Blood Moon decks around, with the ability to play it on turn 1 and not care much about the effects.

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Additional spicy sideboard options include Kor Firewalker, Circle of Protection: Red, Worship, Ensnaring Bridge, and Choke.

As for the question of what to sideboard out, that really depends on what the opponent is on. If the opponent does not rely on creatures, Path to Exile can come out. If the opponent has 60 spot removal spells, Elvish Archdruid could come out. Elvish Mystic is always an option to trim.

Overall the deck is unlikely to sideboard very much and you shouldn’t have to.

Elf Belcher Tips and Tricks

I hope this article helps recruit potential Elf Belcher players and arms them with the knowledge of the hows and whys of this deck. If anyone has extra questions, comment below.

Everyone stay tuned for the Elf Belcher Video series coming soon!

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