Where did the Elementals go?
By - Fyrithil
I think for the most part it got replaced by the "Not Quite Elementals" 4c ephemerate lists that are still playing Solitude, Fury, Omnath, and I think Endurance out of the board but trimmed stuff from Elementals in favor of stuff from the old Bant Ephemerate decks like Ice-fang Coatl, Wall of Omens, and Eternal Witness as well as some additional red stuff like W6
I was unclear as to why it wasn't these things and why people were running Risen Reef
Its very easy to look at new cards and be like "Oh, these are elementals - I should play them with elemental synergy cards".
True, it's an iteration to work back to playing the most powerful composition after incorporating new cards.
It's easy to be "blinded" (for lack of a better term) by the creature type. Since most of their creatures were elementals anyway, and Risen Reef is quite good with elementals, it's easy to see why it would be played.
Not only that but cards like cavern of souls are strong reasons to commit to a tribe
The initial idea was we wanted to have a way to mitigate the drawback of pitching Solitude/Fury by triggering Reef, while also just winning when we hardcasted them with Reef in play. It had a purpose. It wasn't really an Elementals deck, it was an Incarnations deck with Omnath and Reef as support.
I’m curious, since you were one of the primary ppl working on it, do you feel the 60 (75) card deck has just been replaced, or do you still feel it’s a top tier contender? I ask this as someone who dreads trying to shuffling 80 card decks (yes, I don’t play commander).
Haha I get you, Yorion piles are not for me either.. Looking at the new 4c blink deck I already know it will not be for me. Shame to lose a cool deck like Elementals
I think there's a split in MTGO vs. paper as well here. I tried 4C Blink (Yorion) after playing Elementals for ~2 months and I found it really hard to finish matches in 50 minutes. Fetching and shuffling 80 cards, tracking colors of Utopia Sprawl and which lands have been enchant with Abundant Growth result in a slower game in paper. I just don't think it's a smart choice for any big paper tournament. I went back to 60-card Kaheera and was happier in paper. Not saying Elementals is better, but 4C Blink is really tough in paper.
Not bamzing but I’ve been playing the decks for a while too. Elementals hasn’t really been “replaced” it tends to do much better when Murktide and Black/Red/X Midrange decks are doing well. In the current meta, with UW Control and Rhinos and Tron being much more prevalent, Elementals struggles while the 4C “goodstuff pile” tends to be much more powerful.
Risen Reef will be back. When Murktide started dominating, people were claiming Rhinos was gone for good too, it just came back a month and a half after because we’ve entered a cyclical format.
Because the last two years of magic design have pushed out the idea of cool synergistic decks in favour of ‘how many good cards can I cram into this’ decks.
What cool synergistic decks have ever been good in modern? Modern has always had an extremely high bar to clear in terms of power lever and risen reef a lot of the time is a 3 mana 1/1 that draws a card, very unlikely to be good enough in modern at any time in the formats history. The problem with cards that are only good when they synergise with other cards is when you draw them on their own they basically do nothing and will always be worse than cards that have a high base level of power level.
- Urza and all variants
- All tribal decks inc humans elves elementals wtc
- All coco decks like Heliod, devoted Druid
- Older decks that had their time on the top shelf affinity, mardu pyromancer
The list goes on. ‘Synergistic’ doesn’t mean ‘a combo card that does absolutely nothing without another combo card’.
Emry, for example, is a synergistic card that has a high potential power level if you have some cheap cantrip artifacts like bauble and chromatic star. But it has a failure rate if you don’t draw or mill any of them and have to pay 3 mana for a 1/2 that doesn’t do much. This promotes interesting deckbuilding because you have to balance this enabler/payoff idea without ending up with a deck full of bad artifacts just to make Emry good. It’s engaging and exciting and you feel that you as a player are responsible for your wins if you get this balance right.
Cards like Darcy, Voidwalker, Ragavan etc are the opposite. They have an arguably equal power level but they have NO failure mode and need no enablers to make them as good as they can be. So they’re just these one-card-engine, never-wrong-to-play boring things that people can just stick into decks with no thought or support and they’ll just be brilliant always. This leads to boring pile decks that have the same power of the synergistic decks but none of the drawbacks/failure potential, and means that when you win it’s likely the cards that won for you, you just put them into play.
Hmmm we obviously have different ideas of what synergistic decks look like, tribal decks like elves and elementals have exactly the problems I was talking about, humans is an aggro deck with lots of powerful disruptive pieces that basically just abuses the fact that humans are the most common tribe in magic. The tribal element gives them access to good fixing in cavern of souls and unclaimed territory.
Devoted druid and Helios are two card combos there's no way in hell a pile of value three drops with Coco would be playable in modern without the infinite combos to tutor for. Mardu pyromancer and affinity were both being held together by one of the most broken cards in the format and have either fallen off the map or dropped down a tier after losing those cards in looting and opal.
Also bringing up Urza is interesting because the year after the card came out was full of people with exactly the same complaints you have for ragavan and friends. What's the bet in a couple of years there'll be people hearkening back with nostalgic goggles to the more synergistic days of Darcy and murktide.
Sad yawg noises
The only non-Elemental creatures in the new Blink decks are [[Eternal Witness]] and [[Ice-Fang]].
Not having EWit allowed the Elementals deck to run [[Rest in Peace]], and at that point Ice-Fang really isn’t worth being the only non-Elemental. You can easily replace it with [[Risen Reef]] if you want, and also get to cut other card advantage engines like [[Expressive Iteration]] and whatnot.
Essentially Murktide/Darcy/Heat created a metagame where [[Risen Reef]] and [[Rest in Peace]] and your free spells were the most important cards. Chalice Control killed that metagame, making it worth getting rid of Reef and having the other Blink synergies.
Reef will be back once the metagame cycles back.
[Eternal Witness](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/d/7/d74e7ded-d063-4d90-a9ff-91c44a8098d7.jpg?1608917430) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=Eternal%20Witness) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/cmr/425/eternal-witness?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/d74e7ded-d063-4d90-a9ff-91c44a8098d7?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text)
[Ice-Fang](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/6/a/6a55cfed-e76c-4ade-ac78-a546e05fe8da.jpg?1562202341) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=Ice-Fang%20Coatl) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/mh1/203/ice-fang-coatl?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/6a55cfed-e76c-4ade-ac78-a546e05fe8da?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text)
[Rest in Peace](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/9/f/9f2b39be-0fec-4647-ade1-8e1626dc5470.jpg?1562439074) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=Rest%20in%20Peace) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/a25/32/rest-in-peace?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/9f2b39be-0fec-4647-ade1-8e1626dc5470?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text)
[Risen Reef](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/8/2/82389aaa-9f32-4169-a71c-1aea5af9e935.jpg?1592517569) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=Risen%20Reef) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/m20/217/risen-reef?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/82389aaa-9f32-4169-a71c-1aea5af9e935?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text)
[Expressive Iteration](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/3/1/31b770cc-09e7-4c0b-b2a4-462ab4f7200d.jpg?1627428991) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=Expressive%20Iteration) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/stx/186/expressive-iteration?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/31b770cc-09e7-4c0b-b2a4-462ab4f7200d?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text)
^^^[[cardname]] ^^^or ^^^[[cardname|SET]] ^^^to ^^^call
I think people have just figured out that cutting the cute elemental synergy stuff for just Good ™️ cards is the way to go.
You're not as shoehorned into a tribe as you used to be, your list has a lot more flex spots to adapt to various things in the meta, and it's *really* hard to "go bigger" than a good Yorion ETB value pile.
I think Burn has been pretty popular recently. Elementals has a pretty bad burn matchup. It also has a bad Tron matchup, but don't think that has been quite as popular as of late.
Aren’t those both true of the 4c deck which has definitely been around?
G tron is on the rise again and probably ate a bunch of that elemental share.
Plus UW isnt a great MU either and its everywhere.
4x cavern of souls seems white against u/w though
Part of Elementals challenges vs UW is spreading seas taxing their greedy mana base and is why you see some Elementals lists without Utopia Sprawl now. Cavern is still very good vs UW but it’s not like they’re stone cold to it.
Spreading Seas hoses Utopia Sprawl
Speaking from the UW side, I don't think the elementals match was bad despite the caverns. They had enough cards against you that you wanted to counter that didn't get protected by cavern (Wrenn, teferi, ephemerate) and they often had to pitch cast stuff so you could counter those elementals. You also go up to 4x spreading seas post sideboard against them and would cut chalices since they don't have much at 1 mana so you often cut off their early caverns. It's definitely a tough match up but not bad.
The other day someone was asking which deck would be favored against burn AND control and someone suggested elementals.
Just because a deck has access maindeck lifegain doesn't mean it will instantly has a favorable burn match-up. Burn can still go under it before it has time to set itself up.
Really hard for burn to go under elementals when Fury is essentially freecast Supreme Verdict, and if Omnath hits the field the game is just over.
Yeah if they manage to land omnath you kinda deserved to lose. But you can definitely go under them. Don't forget you're creatures are only part of your game plan and fury can only get rid of two of them (assuming don't pump the mentor).
I'd think Omnath made the burn matchup pretty good?
As someone above mentioned, Omnath is just a bit too slow to reliably win you the matchup. He's good if you stick him with a land drop available, but that's not til t4/5. Plus it's just one playset. The rest of your cards don't gain you life (except Solitude but that's even higher cmc) and don't interact with Burn spells. You can handle the creatures ok, but then they just Boros Charm you to death.
I dunno why, but every time I play against elementals they have t3 omnath with t4 fetch. I do realize now that solitude and fury are way worse against burn than other aggro decks though so it kinda makes sense that it's a rough matchup.
[Ari Lax wrote an article about exactly this recently. ](https://articles.starcitygames.com/select/why-four-color-blink-yorion-is-back-and-ready-to-dominate-modern/)
The short summary is that by going from Risen Reef to 4c Blink the deck sacrifices a bit of late game power for a net gain to early game power (W6 becomes a real threat, for example) and much more meta flexibility by being able to run more good non-elemental cards.
Thanks for this, interesting read for sure!
All it's low to the ground cards except wrenn suck cause Prismatic Ending so more and more people are doing bant ephemerate or the RW brought back deck.
I think most people here are wrong. It's very easy to oversimplify the truth and say "the new piles are just better" but that's a bad take imo. The metagame has slowed down a bit and there is control everywhere whilst tron has been steadily on the ascendancy as well, I think these meta-shifts will be largely to blame.
Beyond that a lot of modern players just chase the hype of whatever performed well at the last tournament or whatever the top streamers/grinders are playing. Because of this you often have perfectly fine decks that everyone just kind of ignores while they chase whatever the latest hype is. A lack of people playing a deck will stop it putting up results so they can just sit in obscurity for a while until a streamer/grinder decides to pick them up again.
I agree, the online meta shifts more quickly than Modern paper. Now the trends seems to be around control good stuff decks and of course the Yorion version is better in a slower metagame. Now we have to see if the meta will remain slow or if Tron will punish these greedy piles and the meta will accelerate again.
People here saying the midrange Elemental version was never a deck, seems to not know/have played the archetype themselves. It's absolutely a threat in a creature-centric meta and will continue to have a % share in paper.
Meh, I still play the Midrange version, with Risen Reef (paper), and last week managed to win a 16 player tournament. Yeah, Control and Burn are annoying, but not unbeatable. Neither is Tron - but I prefer Subtlety and FoN from the sideboard, rather than Mulldrifter.
No disrespect, but a 16 player tourney is probably onpar with a 5-0 league in determining deck strength.
I hate 4c "good stuff" piles, whatever they are. Uro piles, Omnath piles, I hate them all.
Yep. Someone top 8’d with a list that wasn’t quite elementals so all the 4cE players just shifted to that because it looked like a fun change of pace or they legitimately thought it was the new tier deck. The number of viable decks in modern is damn near endless
UW Control is a very, very prevalent matchup on MTGO at the moment and that matchup is pretty hard. Adaptations to this matchup are the 4c Ephemerate piles with Eternal Witness and Wrenn and Six.
It's very important to beat UW Control currently, and thus right now I'd rather play 4c Ephemerate over 4c Elementals. When everyone thinks that way, popularity of the deck will decrease.
Hope this helps
Isn’t elementals good against uw control? Seems like elemental would just be able to overwhelm uw control with etb’s and uw doesn’t usually run torpor orb.
Your threatbase is designed to beat creatures (Solitude, Fury) or to extend (Reef, Omnath). The former are really bad against them, and the latter are easily beaten by Verdict. Counterspell is also pretty solid considering our deck is so expensive in mana, and Spreading Seas is an all-star against Cavern and greedy mana.
The sideboard Chandra Awakened Inferno you see so often in sideboards isn't because we want to overkill that matchup. It's because we need help.
Not really. Elementals can’t generate pressure early so UW gets to draw cards at will for a few turns and by the time they start resolving stuff going +1 card on Omnath isn’t enough to carry the matchup. There’s also few targets for the evoke elementals to generate value, there’s really not a ton that lines up well in the matchup even thought it seems like you *should* be able to generate card advantage.
elementals is miserably slow at closing the game, uw control can use their verdicts pretty leisurely and all the synergy value in the world isnt as good as teferi, hero of dominaria.
Thanks for the info! Do you have a 'stock' example list of the 4c Ephemerate builds? Might try that tomorrow if I have the cards available.
Glacier is a great player who recently lost to UW Control in the finals of one of the recent PTQs. I'd start from there
The deck is still very good and actually quite popular at my LGS. I think it’s fallen off on MTGO because of a few problems:
1. The deck is very difficult to master and can be frustrating at times. It can generate tons of value but at the end of the day it’s still a tribal deck dependent on swinging for lethal, something that’s easier said than done in this meta. Getting there can be a headache. There’s also a lot of triggers involved and land management can be tricky (especially in paper). Even the best players go to time with it often.
2. The deck’s two worst matchups are popular as ever online and in paper: Tron and Burn. Since the deck usually only gets going on turn three, that race cannot be won game one and it’s still an uphill battle post board. I think Elementals sideboards have mostly solved the Tron problem, but Burn is everywhere and it eats the deck alive.
The deck is still competitive but it takes a lot of practice to compete with the more common tier decks, and I think people are just mostly interested in faster or more controlling non-midrange strategies right now unless they’re playing Yorion piles, which use a lot of the same cards.
Honestly, it really was never good. It had a few weeks of MTGO success when no one knew what it was or how to beat it (in the hands of one of the best players, no less) and then people realized it wasn’t good and moved on.
This is why people say "Wait for the meta to settle before jumping to conclusions after a new set shakes everything up". Sorry to the hundreds of people that dropped $1,500 on an Elementals deck after it was so played right after MH2.
Have been wondering this as well.
Anything meaningful (like risen reef) starts on turn 3. Thats way too slow for the deck to function. The deck also doesn't really have that much killing power, your opponent only really concedes once you essentially have your deck in your hand after evoking MH2 elementals with multiple risen reefs on the board.
Did the deck not just second in the PTQ?
In working on Grixis myself https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/890323964822437970/900636802803724318/Magic__The_Gathering_Online_10_21_2021_2_47_41_AM.png
Turns out it was the zero cost elementals that were busted, and not the deck.
So they live on in every other deck while the tribal deck is gone.
The set of cards that people underestimated but are really good. Just a shame that the deck is already disappearing though as it really fit what I was looking for. Played the 'Jeskai' Stoneblade list that did well in a couple of challenges last week at FNM tonight and must say that was fun as well. Also Fury and Solitude pulling a lot of weight
Cuz 4C blink is strictly better?