Vorthos Deck-Building – Selesnya Standard
I bet you’re expecting a set review today, aren’t you? A beautiful article full of smart quips dissecting the art and flavor text of our beloved homecoming to Ravnica. Unfortunately, I must disappoint. Trick, director of the mothership, recently dropped a full list of theme weeks over the coming months.
While Vorthos loves walking paths others dare not tread, this is one instance in which we should be joining everyone else—if not leading. That means no set analysis today. Check out next week’s article for awesome reviewage, and enjoy today’s new take on Vorthos Deck-building.
My first thought was to fill this space with some stories on Earth’s real-life Selesnyans: the Japanese. (Think about it: sacrifice of the individual for the greater good, concept of religion, and they even manicure their gardens.) I’ve done a lot of personal storytelling lately, however, so I discarded that idea. Then, I thought of my recent Commander article on Rakdos. There were calls to do the entire cycle, and what better excuse than theme weeks? Finally, I remembered my promise at the end of that very same article:
While I’m not abandoning the idea of doing all five—and eventually ten—guilds in Commander, I value keeping promises. Selesnya is set up well for the coming Standard environment, so let’s capitalize on that and make a deck that is both flavorful and possibly competitive. I say possibly because there’s no telling where the metagame will end up just a few short months from now.
All right, too much talking. Let’s do it!
The Selesnya Conclave
Why does Selesnya love tokens? Because they care about community. Because they care about growth. There’s a lot more we can take from those ideas.
When building the deck, I kept this in mind, and I ended up with a deck that cares about creatures, but also the prosperity of nature. Ramp cards, mainly in the form of creatures, will smooth out the mana and allow you to cast bigger creatures sooner. In addition, a community wouldn’t be complete without all kinds of critters. So, we have everything from 1/1s to 8/8s, giving the deck the ability to apply pressure at all points in a game.
Selesnya Keyrune – Here’s more ramp, but instead of a creature, we have something slightly more difficult to remove from the game. It also doubles as a 3/3 when needed.
Loxodon Smiter – This is not exactly the most flavorful of Selesnya’s new cards, but who can argue with a 4/4 on turn two?
Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage – A bear is never horrible in a deck full of creatures, and her abilities will come in handy when there’s extra mana available. Her second ability will be extra-spicy in combination with Armada Wurm, Thragtusk, and Grove of the Guardian.
Armada Wurm – The Wurm is one of the deck’s many bombs we want to be ramping into. Having 10 power worth of trample damage is going to beat most decks that don’t have a Wrath within arm’s reach.
Collective Blessing – Speaking of turning your creatures into something formidable, let’s meet our final bomb. While we could’ve gone with a Collective Blessing deck, I opted for once again being a bit more subtle. Selesnya isn’t just about pumping up creatures, so we’re avoiding that focus. However, it’s still an awesome card that fits into the deck in both flavor and power.
Thragtusk – Sure, it’s already garnered a lot of talk and publicity, but its abilities create another Selesnya impersonator. You’re giving us a token and life? Yes, please!
Fiend Hunter – This doesn’t carry spectacular flavor, but I can see Selesnya training special forces to eliminate those they view as heretics. This deck lacks removal. Perhaps it does not require much, but to keep the flavor at as high a level as possible, we’d rather have removal attached to a creature. Oblivion Ring would be great in terms of power, but it doesn’t evoke Selesnya in any significant way.
Forest – I’m a huge fan of both Yeong-Hao Han’s and Anthony S. Waters’s Forest from the new and old Ravnica sets, respectively. Use whichever Forest suits you as long as you’re using a Forest from Ravnica. If you don’t, watch your back for the Vorthos police!
Plains – Something about Yeong-Hao Han’s lands speak to me. I’d go with his Plains, or Richard Wright’s classic that was printed in both Ravnica blocks. Sadly, none of Ravnica’s Plains are truly Selesnyan, so if you find one from an older set that works you have my blessing.
As you can see, I’ve skipped a sideboard. There are some cards, such as Sundering Growth and Dryad Militant, that would work quite well, but I’ll let you fiddle with that once we start seeing actual decks in the new Standard.
Cutting Room Floor
Gutter Grime – This was originally in the deck when I thought there would be more populate cards. I don’t think the flavor fits perfectly, but it’s good enough to work if the deck actually wanted the card.
Elder of Laurels – Selesnya values elders, especially those who take care of others. This guy would be a great finisher in any Selesnya deck with extra mana. Sadly, there just wasn’t room.
Parallel Lives – This is another great card for Selesnya. Double populate? Yes, please! There just wasn’t enough token making in the final deck to justify a slot for this.
Silverblade Paladin – This is another good card for Selesnya weenie.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben – She would probably be in my sideboard. She works so well in creature decks, and she speeds up your clock.
Ulvenwald Tracker – This guy has enough flavor—though I’d want more to call him an auto-include—to justify his inclusion. He’s probably the first card I’d call upon if I felt the deck wanted more removal.
Ajani, Caller of the Pride – Ajani is a much better fit in terms of flavor. Again, he’s not directly associated with Selesnya, so he was cut.
Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice – I imagine some people will be a bit angry I left out Selesnya’s acting guildmaster. I just couldn’t imagine populate being strong enough to last in the upcoming Standard environment, and that’s exactly the type of deck where she (they?) would really shine.
Primal Surge – A deck with all permanents? Check. I really wanted to make this a one-of in the deck, but let my better (i.e. Vorthos) senses rule the day. The flavor of the card feels a bit too much like Gruul to justify adding it to the deck.
That’s All, Folks
That went a bit longer than I had planned, but we managed to avoid any Mark Rosewater–length comparisons. Did you enjoy hearing about every card and their reasons? Or would you prefer a slightly shorter article with fewer cards highlighted? Let me know in the comments, the forums, or on Twitter.
Join me next week when we dive into the pool of flavor that is our return to Ravnica.