Ravnica: Selesnya United Review (Part 2 of 2)
For our final match before leaving the plane of Ravnica, I’ll be taking the reins of the Selesnya Conclave. A Green/White swarming strategy that looks to make full use of the conclave mechanic, I’ll be up against the slower Dimir Intrigues piloted by Jimi. The Dimir deck demans a bit of time to fully develop its milling strategy. Will it be able to withstand the Saproling hordes and let it dominate the endgame, or will the Selesnyan beaters storm the gates of the ‘secret guild?’
Here are the notes from our match.
Jimi’s on the play, and we both spend our first turn dropping land and passing. Next turn, however, Jimi’s Dimir Guildmage arrives and we’re off from there! For my part, I play a Selesnya Evangel.
Now turn 3, Jimi swings for 2 with her Guildmage before adding a Lore Broker. Back to me, I counter with a Scion of the Wild– small for now, but with what’s in my hand he won’t stay that way for long. Next turn Jimi loots with her Broker (I draw and pitch a land, she throws away a Consult the Necrosages), then follows up with a Lurking Informant. Her mana development thus far is poor- she only hit her third land drop on turn 4, and there’s not a Swamp in sight. I start my engine by playing a Fists of Ironwood on the Scion of the Wild, who transforms into a 5/5 trampler when I add a trio of Saproling tokens (two from Fists, and one from the Evangel). I turn the Scion sideways and tear a chunk out of Jimi’s life total.
Now even more desperate for that Swamp, Jimi draws a card off the Dimir Guildmage and comes up short, laying another Island. Back to me, I create another Saproling with the Evangel and attack for 6 with the Scion. Jimi opts to take the damage, so I flash in a Scatter the Seeds to add three more Saprolings to the mix. That makes the Scion a 9/9, leaving her at 6 life. Next turn Jimi loots and draws off the Guildmage, adding yet another Island. It’s not to be- I use the Evangel to add one more Saproling, then swing in with my 10/10 trampling Scion of the Wild for the win.
A heartbreaker for Jimi, who died with two Disembowels, a Clutch of the Undercity, and Ribbons of Night in her hand.
Jimi’s turn-2 Lore Broker is the game’s first play, while I match it with a Selesnya Evangel. No mana troubles this time, Jimi Consults the Necrosages on turn 3 while I add an Elvish Skysweeper and create my first Saproling token. At the end of my turn, Jimi loots with the Broker- I pitch a Forest, she discards the Mausoleum Turnkey.
A second Lore Broker touches down on turn 4 for the Dimir. I play a Watchwolf, then enchant it with Fists of Ironwood for two more Saprolings. Back to Jimi, she picks off the ‘wolf with a Last Gasp, then loots with the Broker. This time I pitch a Centaur Safeguard– its body is too fragile and the lifegain less relevant against an opponent who wants to mill out my library. Jimi tosses a Vedalken Entrancer, a choice that tells me she has a fairly strong hand. Back to me, I play a Sandsower before bouncing a tapped land to replace it with the Selesnya Sanctuary. I tap two Saprolings and the Sandsower to tap down Jimi’s untapped Lore Broker, allowing me to swing in with my Skysweeper, Evangel, and a Saproling for the game’s first blood.
Now turn 6, Jimi again Consults the Necrosages and passes. I play a Dowsing Shaman, then create another Saproling with the Evangel. At the end of my turn, Jimi holds her nose and Disembowels my Skysweeper, allowing her to play her Belltower Sphinx next turn. I then create another Saproling, tapping it and three of its fellows to help me convoke out a Siege Wurm.
Jimi adds a Dimir Guildmage and Wizened Snitches on turn 8, then loots with her Broker (I pitch another land). Over to me, I use the Dowsing Shaman to pull Fists of Ironwood out of my graveyard, then swing in for 5 with the Wurm. Jimi declines a block, and is down to 12. It hurts, but Jimi has an answer in hand- Dream Leash– which she uses to steal the Wurm. She then attacks with her Sphinx and Snitches for 3, taking me to 17. I create another Saproling with my Evangel at the end of her turn, then use them to help me convoke out a Root-Kin Ally once it’s my turn proper. I send the Shaman in to hit for 3 more and pass.
Although an inconvenience, the abundance of Saprolings and my Sandsower means I can keep it locked down with little difficulty and I do so the remainder of the game. It’s worth noting here just how resourceful the Selesnya can be- the last time either one of us played a land was on turn 6, so we’re both somewhat constrained by what we can do. With convoke I hardly notice it, but it’s very telling for Jimi- her turn-10 Psychic Drain hits me for only 2. She swings in for 3 more in the sky, I create another Saproling with the Evangel, and her turn ends with us at 11-14, slight edge to me. I untap, then enchant my Root-Kin Ally with Fists of Ironwood, making two more Saprolings. I attack with the Ally and Shaman, while Jimi responds with a Clutch of the Undercity to bounce my Ally. Still, the 3 she takes from the Shaman now put her at 8, with me at 11.
Now turn 10, I make my tenth Saproling token with the Evangel, while Jimi plays a Sewerdreg after looting twice. Thanks to the Wizened Snitches forcing us to play with our top cards revealed, I can see that Jimi’s looting hasn’t given her very much- though there’s a shiny Overwhelm now sitting atop my library. To her sorrow, Jimi has nothing with which she can mill her way out of danger, so I cast it next turn and swing with furious might. Jimi is obliterated.
Our final game begins unusually slowly. We trade land drops for the first three turns, and the opening play of the game is Jimi’s Dimir House Guard on turn 4. I answer with a Nullmage Shepherd and Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree. Next turn Jimi adds a Vedalken Entrancer while I convoke out the Root-Kin Ally with the help of my Shepherd.
Jimi adds a Belltower Sphinx on turn 6, while I convoke out a Siege Wurm before playing my Selesnya Sanctuary. Back to Jimi, she lands a Sewerdreg then swings for 2 in the sky with the Sphinx. I then play Scatter the Seeds to put a trio of Saproling tokens into play before sending in my Wurm and Ally. Jimi chumps the Ally with her Sewerdreg (I pump it with the Saprolings to keep it alive), taking 5 from the Wurm.
Now turn 8, Jimi returns the Sewerdreg to her hand when she casts the Mausoleum Turnkey, then I attack again with both beaters. Jimi blocks the Ally with her Sphinx and the Wurm with her House Guard, then sacs the Sphinx to regenerate it. The result? She only loses one creature and takes 2 damage (the Wurm, of course, tramples). Undeterred, I then play a second Root-Kin Ally with the help of my Saproling friends, then follow with a Scion of the Wild.
The Sewerdreg reappears on turn 9, then Jimi ends her turn. She’s circling the drain, and quickly. I play an Elvish Skysweeper, then send the Wurm, both Root-Kin Allies, and the now 9/9 Scion into the red zone. Jimi blocks the Scion with her House Guard and an Ally with Sewerdreg, then sacs Sewerdreg to regenerate the House Guard. The Wurm is blocked by the Entrancer, so 1 point of trample damage is getting through in addition to the 3 from the lone, unblocked Root-Kin Ally. I pump it once with some Saprolings to give it +2/+2, so the final tally for Jimi is 6 damage. She’s now at 7 life.
Jimi tries to keep herself afloat on turn 10 with a 5-point Psychic Drain while I create another Saproling with Vitu-Ghazi. Back to me, I tap all four of my Saprolings to make one of my Root-Kin Allies a 7/7. I tap my Skysweeper, Siege Wurm, Shepherd, and Scion to make the other Ally a 7/7 as well. Then I cast Dryad’s Caress, giving me 10 life and untapping all my creatures. Once more Jimi is facing down overwhelming force across the table, and once more she has no answer for it.
Thoughts & Analysis
Four decks in, and we’ve all now experienced four different mechanics. None of us were particularly impressed by radiance, though the aggressive fun of the Boros deck made up for it. The Dimir’s transmute was useful, but not especially engaging or interesting- its high cost (three mana) made it something you couldn’t take advantage of all that often. The Golgari’s dredge was definitely unique, but of the three of us (Sam the Timmy, Jimi the Timmy/Spike and me the Johnny/Spike), I was the only one who seemed to appreciate and enjoy playing it. But convoke? This one was interesting.
As it happens, Selesnya United was a deck all three of us enjoyed playing. For Sam, the allure of plowing in with Green fatties was irresistible. Jimi- who often tends to favour aggressive decks with weenie creatures- enjoyed the Saproling multiplication engine, while I had the most fun maximising my creature generation so that I could power out the massive fatties at the earliest possible turn. In that sense, moreso than any of the others, Selesnya United had something for everyone. And to say that about a White/Green deck is something, as those are the two colours I happen to play the least.
If there’s a weakness in the deck it’s that it has precious little spot removal. That said, with the ability to churn out beefy beaters, a Selesnya pilot will often find that they’re the one being reacted to, and that their best course of action is to steamroll an opponent. Still, while Seed Spark isn’t entirely missed, the omission of even a single Devouring Light is criminal. The deck isn’t perfect- no deck is- and the slow start in Game Two attests to the fact that it can have its share of poor draws. But the truly aggressive plays its capable of with just a handful of Saproling tokens early on make this deck an absolute blast to play.
Hits: Convoke mechanic hits on both ends- not only does the mechanic support the deck’s strategy, but the deck’s strategy supports the mechanic in turn; playing early fat beaters that your opponent has few answers to is a ton of fun
Misses: Lack of pinpoint removal, even when its available in the set on-colour and on-guild; vulnerable to sweepers (Golgari’s Rolling Spoil can be murderous)
OVERALL SCORE: 4.35/5.00
I love this deck. I actually used a slighly modified version of this deck (since I don’t have all the cards) against the dragon deck from knights vs dragons. I love how fun token based strategies can be. I have been playing and collecting MTG since 2003, but had never used a real token deck like this before, saprolings are incredible. Closest thing to a token deck being an elf deck with Wirewood Hivemaster, or my sliver deck with Brood sliver making endless tokens. I find this deck to be more fun than Dimir and Golgari. The boros and this seem to be tied, and thats saying a lot because boros is my favorite combination.
You need to review Guildpact, have been waiting for those a long time now. The Gruul deck seems very underpowered, though (too slow), but Izzet and Orzhov aren’t fast either… But overall, I don’t think the gruul precon really represents what the red/green archetype are in general, I have built many green/red decks in the past and Gruul Wielding seems way too slow and burn lacking to what im used to for the combination.
Guildpact is definitely coming! Mark Rosewater frequently complains that the hardest part about his job is knowing what’s down the road but not being able to talk about it. We have it on the list, but of course when our publishing schedule (2 articles per deck, posting every other day) dictates that a set with 4 decks will be posted over the course of 16 days, our version of ‘on the list’ can seem pretty far away to the reader!
Needless to say, like many we really enjoy Ravnica, and the decks are top-notch for flavour. Indeed, Izzet Gizmometry is one of my personal favourites, so it’s one we’ll be getting to.
If I added two ‘devouring light’ to this deck, what should I take out?
Not looking at the deck, but I know there has to be something in it that’s “overcosted” for what it does. Something that takes a lot more mana to pull off that you’d rather have those Lights over.
Tinker! Spread the deck out. Make a pile of stuff you can’t live without, a pile of stuff that’s okay, and a pile of “I’d rather not draw it.” Replace 2 of those in that “Feels like a dead draw” pile with ’em.