I’ve been itching to break the rules of deckbuilding. To produce competitive tuned decks that are visually shocking. That create a reaction: “how the hell does this deck work?”
Specifically I want to play as few lands as possible. Six lands or fewer in 60 cards. Convention demands around 24, with land-heavy decks creeping toward 30 and uber land-light decks around 16.
Lands are important. They tap for mana. Mana casts spells. Spells can turn into creatures that win the game. So how can we even build a deck that doesn’t rely on lands?
My starting point for this challenge is actually Aether Vial. A turn 1 Aether Vial can produce the creature mana of another deck entirely on its own.
A turn-1 Vial is enough mana to win games of Magic. I’ve done it. How about Goblin Piledriver into Goblin Matron into Goblin Ringleader into Siege-Gang Commander? How about Grand Architect into Master of Waves? Pestermite into Kiki-Jiki? Merrow Reejereys for days!
4 Aether Vial is the start.
Chancellor of the Tangle and Simian Spirit Guide are two ways to get a turn-1 Aether Vial without even drawing a land. If we really want to play as few lands as possible these are two of the options available.
5 lands + 4 Chancellor + 4 Simian Spirit Guide = 13 initial mana sources to play a turn-1 Vial which is a good number.
Goblin Charbelcher is a good place to finish. With 6 lands, one activation does 9 damage on average, or 18 if we flip a Mountain. That’s good enough for a kill, and if we start pulling lands out of our deck Goblin Charbelcher becomes a consistent one-shot.
We need 7 mana for Belcher which is a lot for a deck that doesn’t play many lands. We need a powerful mana engine to make this deck fast and consistent.
Here’s the start of our mana engine while pulling lands out of our deck to power up Belcher. Safewright Quest can turn 1 Forest or Plains into another, while Sylvan Ranger and Wood Elves come in through Vial with a body and a land.
Heritage Druid gives us something to do with those Elf bodies that are collect on the battlefield. They give a job to Sylvan Ranger and Wood Elves letting us double up on mana. This way we can push our mana up even against a disruptive opponent.
Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic fill in our 1-drops for Vial while powering our curve. Llanowar Elves + Forest is one of the oldest combinations in Magic, why not in a Belcher deck?
Elvish Archdruid tops our creature curve at 3 and provides two powerful effects. First Archdruid taps for tons of mana and then buffs our Elf team to the point that we can actually think about winning the game with beatdowns.
A 1-of Ezuri bolsters our Elf combo potential for surprise kills.
If we’re looking for a disruptive spell in the main deck, Path to Exile is the best option. When we need a removal spell to buy time we have one. And when we need a ramp spell, we have that too.
Both modes of Path to Exile are great in this deck.
Wargate is an amazingly versatile spell in this deck. For 3 mana we can grab a land and ramp. Beyond that we have Chord of Calling to fetch a creature. And finally for 7 mana we can pull a Belcher and go for the win.
In post-board games Wargate can pull our hate card for a quick win, making Wargate an all-star.
An alternative to fill out the deck that I do like is Nettle Sentinel + Cloudstone Curio. Cloudstone Curio can be an infinite mana or draw loop with Heritage Druid, Nettle Sentinel, and Elvish Visionary. So if you want to push in a more Elf combo direction, it doesn’t take much.
Elf Belcher is now and forever one of my favorite archetypes of all time. The deck is shocking to look at and hilarious to play. Surprisingly consistent and resilient.
This deck isn’t totally all-in as Belcher can be played and activated multiple times, we have slight disruption, and a decent back-up plan.
I’ve chosen to run FIVE lands in this deck and have found it to be plenty. Lands just get in the way of Belcher. Five is all we need in the main.
Elf Belcher Sideboard
This deck is built with the sideboard to be a great 75 for games 2 and 3. PVDDR is right that hosers are busted so why not build a plan around it? Wargate ensures that we will usually find a 1-of and we can actually prepare for every single matchup!
So I’ve built a sideboard full of 1-of hate cards with turn-1 Blood Moon potential.
I’ve rounded it out with the lands, Kodama’s Reach, Civic Wayfinder package to bolster our mana against opponents trying to kill our guys. Leading with lands into Kodama’s Reach can help us ramp all the way to 7 with no creature mana in post-board games.
I feel this sideboard gives us a plan and preparation for every matchup, and since our deck has multiple lines to win we should be decent in post-board games.
This deck has performed in testing and I’m excited for the videos to drop this week. If you’re looking for something competitive and totally different I highly recommend some variation of Elf Belcher.
Stay tuned for more content coming on shockingly low land-count decks in other colors, as well as the possibility of a more in-depth look at some of the situational play of Elf Belcher.
Let me know what ya’ll want to see!