The 'Gold Leaf' Deck
Written by Lynolf on February 22, 2010
The “Gold Leaf” Deck
Greetings, fellow magic players! This is the first time I’m writing an article for magic-league. Since there’s been a lack of them these days, I decided to take this chance to do one.
I’ll be talking about the “Gold Leaf” deck I designed. You may be wondering “What kind of name is that?”. Don’t worry, you will find the answer to that ahead.
This idea started out with me trying to find a deck for the current Extended season that I felt comfortable playing with and was strong at the same time. I begun searching for the decks that people were playing and started scrambling with some of them. Some of them didn’t fit my play style, while others were losing horribly to combo decks. And I hate losing to combo! Only one deck survived from that list: Zoo. However, Zoo is a deck played by many players, and I usually don’t like to play with decks that the majority of people use or know. Also, because of that, those decks lack the “surprise factor”, so players know how to proceed when facing them, or even have a proper sideboard against them. So I decided to create my own.
It came to my mind an old deck from Standard that I absolutely loved to play. That deck was GW Elves, and I even managed to top4 once with it in a trial. You can find that deck here: http://www.magic-league.com/deck/42607/gw_elves.html
So if I wanted to play this deck in Extended, obviously changes needed to be made. The first conclusion that I arrived, after analysing the current Extended format, is that the deck had to stop being tribal: elves (apart from the combo version) have neither the means nor the speed to deal with the faster and more powerful decks from this format. Second, the deck could keep the “Wilt-Leaf Liege mechanic” in it, because both Loxodon Hierarch and Kitchen Finks are important tools against aggro decks, and Gaddock Teeg and Qasali Pridemage are strong weapons against control and combo decks. Besides, the Liege is a very strong card and was one of my favourites from Shadowmoor, hence the “leaf” in the deck’s name. Now that the deck is being transferred from an old Standard format to Extended, I could also take advantage of the larger card pool and more powerful cards.
After testing the deck alone, in some Extended minis, and making a few changes after, its final version turned out to be the following:
Basically this is an aggro deck, with a mix of haterator incursion (the “gold” part comes from here. I was thinking of calling it “Light Leaf” but the name seemed funky to me, so I changed it to “Gold Leaf”) to be able to stand up against the powerful decks of the current Extended metagame, like Thepths and Elves Combo. So its time to explain my card choices:
The mana base: I decided not to add fetchlands to keep my life total high and live the longest possible against red decks and other aggro archetypes. Stirring Wildwood turned out to be an extremely useful card for Extended. Having reach allows you to block Faeries (this, actually, gave me the victory in one match) and the powerful Marit Lage, allowing you to survive for a turn. Having 4 toughness puts him out of Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix range. It is also pumped twice by Wilt-Leaf Liege.
Gaddock Teeg: Engineered Explosives, Gifts Ungiven, Mystical Teachings, Repeal, Scapeshift, Wrath of God, the list goes on and on. Control decks just can’t do their thing when this old man is around.
Kitchen Finks: Excellent weapon against aggro decks, hard to destroy, and a fine attacker all in a single package.
Loxodon Hierarch: Another fine weapon against aggro. Besides, a 4/4 for 4 mana is never a bad deal, and it can save your other guys if needed.
Noble Hierarch: When I looked to this card, I thought: Is there any good reason not to put it in this deck? Having found no reason at all, I just added 4 of them.
Oversoul of Dusk: I actually had Baneslayer Angel in this slot before. I managed to play it in two games. In one of them it was destroyed by Deathmark; the other was sent back to my library by Bant Charm. I got tired and replaced it with the green-white Demigod.
Qasali Pridemage: Artifacts and enchantments, like Oblivion Ring, Thopter Foundry and Umezawa’s Jitte, are an important part of the current metagame, so it’s important to have a main deck solution to them. Besides, it has exalted as an added bonus.
Samurai of the Pale Curtain: Too bad it only works for permanents. Still, a fine combatant, that is also good against Dredge, Thopter Foundry and other graveyard shenanigans. Kitchen Finks doesn’t like him, though.
Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers: A 3/4 creature for 3 mana that can apply pressure to my opponent and still protect me from enemy attacks? Sign me up!
Wilt-Leaf Liege: The deck’s namesake and biggest star. Let’s put it this way: it’s a 4/4 body with a Glorious Anthem effect that doubles if your creatures are green and white. If your opponent tries to discard it, you put it in the battlefield instead. And it only cost four mana! How is that not powerful?
Brave the Elements: Sometimes an Overrun for a single mana, others a spell to prevent your creatures from leaving the battlefield ahead of time. It’s perfectly fine as a 1-of.
Mana Tithe: A cheap spell that can stop anything if played correctly.
Path to Exile: Creature removal is a must in the current format, especially one that can take any creature, including Marit Lage, out of the game at instant speed.
Umezawa’s Jitte: Another strong weapon against opposing aggro decks, this card alone wins games, and in a deck with 28 creatures, why shouldn’t it be used? At worst, it destroys opposing Jitte.
Sideboard: I designed my sideboard mostly to beat combo decks, since it’s the most played archetype at the moment: Chalice of the Void and Ethersworn Canonist take care of Elves Combo and Hypergenesis; Celestial Purge and Damping Matrix, as well as Samurai of the Pale Curtain, annihilate Thepths; Guttural Response against control and, sometimes, combo, to stop their answers to your answers; and Saffi Eriksdotter to replace any of your two-drops (usually Gaddock Teeg) with an ability that doesn’t affect your opponent’s deck.
But this is not enough for you to know exactly how this deck works. In order to do that, I’m going to share with you three matches I had, playing in tournaments in magic-league using this deck.
Game 1 vs. Mono-Red Burn
My opponent started off with Goblin Guide, followed by Spark Elemental next turn, revealing two Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers from the top of my library. I didn’t have a move until he attempted to attack with a third turn Hellspark Elemental, which I send to the exile. This time his Goblin Guide revealed a Forest for my side and I was able to play my first Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers. Next turn I was at 8 life, having taken 3 damage from a previously suspended Rift Bolt. My opponent just laid a land and passed the turn. I played my fourth land and cast Wilt-Leaf Liege, and sent the Cavaliers to finally do some damage. Unfortunately, it was too late for me, as my opponent played Flames of the Blood Hand at end of turn, and then proceeded to cast Rift Bolt and Shard Volley on his turn.
Sideboard: -3 Gaddock Teeg; +2 Saffi Eriksdotter, +1 Samurai of the Pale Curtain.
Because I had no basic lands or Temple Garden in my hand, I had to play a tapped Sunpetal Grove first turn, and another one second turn, followed by Noble Hierarch. My opponent played Teetering Peeks first turn, and then Incinerated my Hierarch in the second. I just played a Stirring Wildwood and passed. He attempted a Keldon Marauders, but I had a Mana Tithe ready to stop them. Hate finally came in Kitchen Finks form, earning me two life. He then cast Lava Spike and left a Goblin Guide in defense. Truth is, he was pretty much screwed now when I showed off my Loxodon Hierarch and attacked with an unblocked Kitchen Finks. He just suspended a Rift Bolt and passed. I drew for the turn and showed my God’s hand to my opponent, revealing two more Hierarchs and an Umezawa’s Jitte. He promptly conceded.
Unfortunately we had a problem during game 3 and I lost the logs of that game. I ended up winning 2-1, though.
Game 1 vs. Elves Combo
My opponent begins with Verdant Catacombs into Forest into Llanowar Elves, where I only play a Plains and pass the turn. He attacks for one, plays Horizon Canopy and casts Elves of Deep Shadow. I laid down a Samurai of the Pale Curtain next turn. He cycles his Horizon Canopy at the end of my turn and plays another on his and passes. I cast Qasali Pridemage, leaving mana open in case he tries to put Cloudstone Curio online next turn, and attack with my Samurai for three. He cycles his Canopy again at the end of my turn, cracking a Verdant Catacombs on his turn and playing Elvish Visionary. I attack with both my creatures, dropping him to 10, and cast Kitchen Finks. He just plays another Forest and passed the turn. I attempt a big turn with Wilt-Leaf Liege and attack with everything. He blocks my Finks with his Visionary and goes to just 3. My opponent draws for the turn and concedes.
Sideboard: -2 Gaddock Teeg, -1 Oversoul of Dusk, -3 Mana Tithe; +4 Chalice of the Void, +2 Ethersworn Canonist.
My opponent cracked yet again a Verdant Catacombs and played a second turn Elvish Visionary. I played a Qasali Pridemage and passed. He played a Neetle Sentinel and a Llanowar Elves and passed. I was afraid he was comboing off next turn, so I played another Qasali Pridemage and passed, leaving one mana open. I knew I was right when he went: Glimpse of Nature, Heritage Druid, Summoner’s Pact into Nettle Sentinel, then a second Glimpse of Nature. When He cast Nettle Sentinel, I responded with Path to Exile on the Druid, but it was useless, as he simply shrugged and cast another Summoner’s Pact for another Heritage Druid. He then killed me with a gigantic Banefire.
My opponent took a mulligan, and, again with no Noble Hierarch opening, I played a land and passed. My opponent copycatted me. Again I played another land and passed the turn. Strangely enough, my opponent didn’t have a turn two play, other than a land, and passed back. I cast Kitchen Finks, and he casts Elvish Visionary. I then attack with it and cast Loxodon Hierarch, bringing the life totals to 26 – 17 in my favor. He just plays a Misty Rainforest on his turn. I attack with both of them and bring another Kitchen Finks to the table, leaving one mana open. When all seems lost for my opponent, he tries to go off next turn and starts with Summoner’s Pact for Heritage Druid, followed by two Glimpses of Nature, then casts Heritage Druid, drawing two cards in the process. I intervene when he attempts to cast a Nettle Sentinel, casting Path to Exile on his Heritage Druid. And this was the end, because in my turn, all it took was a Brave the Elements set to green to attack for lethal damage.
Game 1 vs. Thepths
I won the die roll, but had to mulligan to six cards. We both started with tapped lands, Stirring Wildwood and Tolaria West, respectively. I then cast Noble Hierarch and my opponent kicked off with an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, into Dark Confidant. With no third land to play, I attacked with my Hierarch, and then proceeded to exile his Confidant, just to see another pop up the next turn, followed by Thopter Foundry. I drew a Plains and tapped out to cast Loxodon Hierarch. My opponent revealed a River of Tears, drew a card and transmuted a Tolaria West into Dark Depths. Things weren’t looking very good to me. So I attacked with my elephant for 5, then tapped out again to play a second copy, bringing the life totals to 28 – 14 in my favor.
Things were even worse when he revealed a Vampire Hexmage with the Confidant, playing it right away. I then held my guys at defense and played Gaddock Teeg and Samurai of the Pale Curtain, waited for Marit Lage to appear, and passed. At least now he couldn’t get the Thopter Combo going when he revealed a Sword of the Meek from the top, dropping to 10. He attacked with Marit Lage, dropping me to 8, played a second Vampire Hexmage and passed. I drew for the turn and paused for a moment. I then decided to cast Brave the Elements for black, but he had Muddle the Mixture to stop me. But I wasn’t finished just yet. I attacked with both my Loxodon Hierarchs, which were blocked by Dark Confidant and Vampire Hexmage, and my Samurai, which went through, dropping my opponent to 8. With one card left in hand and a Stirring Wildwood ready to block, I passed. My opponent transmuted a Muddle the Mixture for a Smother to stop my Wildwood from blocking, attacked with Marit Lage, and it was finally time to play the last card in my hand: Path to Exile. My opponent still cast a Dark Confidant, but it was no use. My army was too great now to be stopped, and I attacked for lethal.
Sideboard: -2 Gaddock Teeg, -1 Kitchen Finks, -1 Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers, -1 Wilt-Leaf Liege, -1 Brave the Elements, -2 Umezawa's Jitte; +2 Celestial Purge, +3 Chalice of the Void, +1 Damping Matrix, +2 Samurai of the Pale Curtain.
It was time for my opponent to mulligan to six cards. He then proceeded to play Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, and I played Temple Garden and passed. He got a scary turn two, playing a Chrome Mox, imprinting Repeal, casting Thopter Foundry, then played Dark Depths and passed. I just laid another land and passed. He simply played another Thopter Foundry and passed. My first play came in the form of Kitchen Finks in the third turn. My opponent did nothing and I proceeded to cast Wilt-Leaf Liege and attack with Kitchen Finks. He sacrificed one of the foundries and blocked it with the token. My opponent only played a Tolaria West and passed again. I tried another attack, but my Kitchen Finks met a Smother. I then tapped out to play Loxodon Hierarch and Noble Hierarch, bringing the life totals to 28 – 17 in my favour.
The game threatened to end the following turn when my opponent transmuted a Muddle the Mixture for Swords of the Meek, then cast it by imprinting a Sphinx of Jwar Isle on another Chrome Mox. I attacked with all my guys, but it wasn’t enough, leaving my opponent still with 2 life. That seemed to be enough, though. On my next turn, I attacked with all my guys again, only to see them being chump blocked. Then I made an incredibly stupid move: Cast Chalice of the Void with two counters on it. This would be a very strong move for me if only he hadn’t reached one of his combos yet. The next turns were pretty much the same thing, with him producing tokens after tokens, and with me trying to pass through them, with no success. When I finally lost, I just facepalmed, looking at my hand with two Celestial Purges and one Qasali Pridemage in it. Guess I still have a lot to learn…
We both kept our hands this time, and I started with a turn two Noble Hierarch, just to watch him get Repelled. So, in payback, I played two of them the following turn and passed. My opponent just drew and passed. This time I played correctly, casting Chalice of the Void with two counters on it and passing. My opponent played a Thirst for Knowledge at the end of my turn, discarding Vampire Hexmage and Muddle the Mixture, and then played Thoughtseize, discarding my Oversoul of Dusk. I tried to attack with a Stirring Wildwood, but it met a Slaughter Pact. I then attacked with a Noble Hierarch for two and passed. My opponent, still with no play on sight, passed back. I then cast Wilt-Leaf Liege and attacked with Noble Hierarch, making him get Repelled for the second time. My opponent played Deathmark on the Liege and passed again. I brought my Hierarch back and attacked for another two.
It continued like this until my opponent tried to cast Oona, Queen of the Fae, which met a low-trick Mana Tithe. I finally found another creature to play: Kitchen Finks. My opponent played Threads of Disloyalty on one of the Hierarchs, and then transmuted a Tolaria West for Engineered Explosives. I destroy my own Hierarch with a Kitchen Finks attack, and then passed. My opponent played Engineered Explosives and blew up my Chalice. Fortunately for me, it did its job, holding off my opponent from ever playing his combos and buying me enough time to find more hate cards. And I did just that when he attempted to play Thopter Foundry, then Sword of the Meek, with me casting Celestial Purge on the Foundry in response. With my opponent now tapped out, it was my turn to shine. I cast Qasali Pridemage and attacked with Kitchen Finks for five, dropping my opponent to 5 life. My opponent found no answers on his next turn and conceded.
I hope you all enjoyed this article, and that it gave you ideas for any other decks you might want to build, or any articles you would like to write. And remember: never give up on building new decks. If one isn’t doing very well, try to twist it a bit more with different cards, or if you really don’t like it, wrap it up, dump it in the toilet, and think on another strategy that can work. ;)Until next time! Lynolf (Maluko)
by Frylocke on 2010-02-22 03:06 CET
by Psycho_sexy on 2010-02-22 03:13 CET
I will definetly run Knight of the reliquary, obv adding some fetchlands
by brimstone on 2010-02-22 04:13 CET
Is this a real deck? Like, come on, you only beat thepths because you're opponent must have been a bit handicapped. If he had simply smothered samurai in game 1 he would have just crushed you. Your sbing strat is laughable in that match as well.
by DOminarian on 2010-02-22 04:59 CET
man if u have a chalice for 2 he cant repeal your hierach.
by yokai on 2010-02-22 14:11 CET
"by Psycho_sexy on 2010-02-21 21:13 EST
by McBallin on 2010-02-22 18:27 CET
really dominarian? lol.
by Lynolf on 2010-02-22 18:59 CET
Brimstone: You are aware that mana is not infinite, right? He had to have at least 10 mana to actually survive the next turn: 3 to transmute, 2 to play Smother, 4 to cast Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek, and 1 more mana to create a Thopter to block. He had no idea I had a Path to Exile in my hand, instead expecting me to block Marit Lage with Stirring Wildwood. So no, my opponent was not handicapped. Next time, analyse the situation more correctly.
by Psycho_sexy on 2010-02-22 19:32 CET
I didnt read the explanation xD sry
by Engrishskill on 2010-02-22 22:01 CET
This is what forum posts would like like for new decks in my ideal little world. Cool deck. I like the logic behind it. One damping matrix seems really odd to me though. I imagine that your sideboard will be tightening up over time.
by SugarShark on 2010-02-22 22:04 CET
on the topic of bad opponents
by dAEdaL on 2010-02-22 22:13 CET
by ovmlcabrera on 2010-02-23 02:21 CET
GW SLOW PILE.deck :)
by AMER on 2010-02-23 02:21 CET
ya wtf? no play before turn 3 are u high?
by Engrishskill on 2010-02-23 02:27 CET
Uhm...you guys trolling or just fucking stupid?
by Lynolf on 2010-02-23 22:29 CET
Engrishskill: its usually easier for people to jus trashtalk a deck than to test it before to prove the veracity of their arguments. And thanks for the complements! ^_^
by Shagrath on 2010-02-24 16:26 CET
Lynolf, your deck could be good as u say, but plz dont use trials as a backup support.U pointed out that u finished 2nd in one, but trials dont mean shit. U can be unlucky in a round of a trial and then the tournament is over for you. Play a ptq or a good swiss tournament to support your theory.
by Engrishskill on 2010-02-25 08:45 CET
Land a solid finish on something that will be put up on DC. Haters will always be fags and the finish will never be good enough unless it is first, but the more thoughtful/open-minded, albeit cynical players will appreciate the "tangible" data.
by Gibbers on 2010-02-26 16:03 CET
I played against a deck very similiar to this the other day in a RL extended tournament. My opponent didnt use Qasali Pridemage, Samurai or Gaddock Teeg (as far as I can tell), I didn't give him enough turns to draw many cards and play them, he only got to his 4th or 5th turn in each game.
by Lynolf on 2010-02-26 22:33 CET
Not at all, Gibbers. I have cards that disrupt the combo for the Elves Combo deck, more especifically: Chalice of the Void, Ethersworn Canonist, Gaddock Teeg (for Primal Command) and Path to Exile. I can say that my matchup is good (I consider good a matchup with between 55 and 70 win percentage) against that deck. If they try switching to the aggro version, its not a problem, since my creatures are bigger, and I have ways to destroy Umezawa's Jitte if it comes online.
by Gibbers on 2010-02-27 00:03 CET
Good choices for the SB there! I think my opponent's list was not as good as yours, I suggested he play Qasali Pridemage and he rejected the idea and his solution for the matchup was Worship, not a bad card, but easily solvable by the elf player. Maybe he was trying to conserve his SB space and used worship for Zoo or other decks.
by xSNACKSx on 2010-02-27 00:49 CET
So basically you took G/W little kids, added jitte, mainboard tech and a new gay name.
by Lynolf on 2010-02-27 13:56 CET
Gibbers: The worst matchup I've found so far is RG Scapeshift. If they play Scapeshift with eight lands in play, I just lose. Then, the deck packs the Grove of the Burnwillows/Punishing Fire combo, and unless I draw Oversoul of Dusk or my opponent has an inferior board position, I'm screwed. Another problem is I only have one card that stops Scapeshift from being cast, and the deck packs at least 8 burn spells to take him out of the battlefield. I've recently discovered that Zoo isn't as a great matchup as I thought it was. They pack faster creatures than my deck, and equally big. The trick is use their low life total against them and attack with your creatures whenever you have the chance, rather than leave them in defense mode. You usually win when this works.
by geestyler on 2010-02-27 19:33 CET
I actually really like the deck, lemme stil ask the obvious question - no Goyf? Whoohoo, it's even affordable! Thing is, though, why not? I mean, we're talking online right now, and I am aware of the not-quite-synergy with the Samurai. But it's a goddam goyf. D:<
by Lynolf on 2010-02-27 22:37 CET
Tarmogoyf: I never tested it, but it was enough for me seeing opposing ones getting usually as big as 3/4 creatures (creature, instant and land) to know I wouldn't want one in my deck, as Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers its just better.
by geestyler on 2010-02-27 22:57 CET
Hmm, reading is tech. Got that right. I mean, i'm not gonna run Goyf anyway, since I don't have any - i'm just sayin'. ;]
by Gibbers on 2010-03-13 09:21 CET
me again. How has the deck been fairing? You shouldn't run saffi merely because it is maybe slightly more better than teeg, an extra jitte and qasali pridemage, or extra damping matrix, gutteral response would be better.
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