Hey y’all, I’m back with some more cEDH content! Today we’re here with Selvala, Heart of the Wilds.
Selvala has two abilities, one triggered, one activated. Her first ability lets any player draw a card whenever a creature with greater power than any previously on the field enters the battlefield under their control. Her second ability costs G and you have to tap her, but it adds mana to your mana pool in any colors equal to the power of the largest creature you control. In this deck, we’re going to be adding exclusively green mana, but that comes in handy in other decks.
Selvala has the distinction of being the most popular non-blue deck in the cEDH meta. This is likely due to a combination of two factors:
- She’s one of the faster decks out there. She can’t keep up with Breakfast Hulk, but she can keep up with or outpace much of the rest of the meta.
- She’s cheap to build. She doesn’t require any duals or fetches, any of the expensive blue spells ($2500 for a Timetwister, anyone?), or any of the very expensive stax pieces (Tabernacle is >$1600). Most of her enablers are under $5, which is helpful.
Games with Selvala aim to play out along one of two lines:
- Ramp out Selvala as fast as possible, play an enabler, combo off, win.
- Ramp out Selvala as fast as possible, play an enabler, begin drawing cards until you find the pieces to combo off, win.
Let’s take those parts in order.
First things first: let’s look at the ramp package.
The goal is to cast Selvala as fast as possible, so we run quite a few mana dorks.
And one more I’ll get to later. Notably, all of these cost 1 mana. The goal with these is turn 1 land, dork, turn 2 land, Selvala.
We also run some artifact ramp, though not very much, since we can’t tutor for it, and we really only need to get to 3 mana. Most lists run Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, and Chrome Mox, and some lists (including mine) run Lotus Petal as well.
We have one other fast ramp line, which isn’t as commonly used or as effective, but works when needed. We can cast Green Sun’s Zenith turn 1 for X=0, and find Dryad Arbor.
With those pieces of ramp, we can be reasonably certain we’ll see a way to play Selvala on turn 2 in our opening hands.
Next step: play an enabler.
Selvala requires high power creatures in order to generate mana. Creatures with high power are generally mana-intensive, so we play creatures with significant downsides in order to avoid having to pay too much mana to get our combo started. For example, one of our biggest enablers is Phyrexian Soulgorger:
Normally, having to sacrifice an increasing number of creatures every upkeep would be a fairly significant downside. However, since we’re only using it to combo off, it’s rarely on the field long enough to matter. Another common one is Lupine Prototype:
Lupine Prototype generally can’t attack or block, but we don’t care, because its power means that casting it nets us 3 mana.
The biggest such creature we run is Phyrexian Dreadnought.
Phyrexian Dreadnought doesn’t stick around for very long, but that doesn’t matter, because with its ETB trigger on the stack, we can tap Selvala to generate 12 mana, and with untappers (which I’ll get to in a second), we can generate large amounts of mana off Phyrexian Dreadnought before its ETB trigger resolves, forcing us to sacrifice it.
The other thing we use are cheap buff spells. Things like Might of Old Krosa and Groundswell net us additional power, which nets us additional mana, at the cost of 1 mana.
Once we have our enablers, we get to our untappers.
We use these to untapped Selvala repeatedly (or ideally, infinitely) to generate large, usually unbounded, amounts of mana. Notably, several of our untappers have clauses stating they can only be used once per turn. We get around that by bouncing them to our hand with Temur Sabertooth or Cloudstone Curio and recasting them. If we’re using Quirion Ranger, some decks use Elvish Pioneer to put the Forests back into play, enabling an infinite combo. Cloudstone Curio requires us to use another creature to bounce
Once we have mana, we draw our deck. To do this, we use draw effects that rely on high power, since we have high power creatures available anyway.
Often times, if we’re using Umbral Mantle as our untapper, we’ll bring Selvala to a specific power (generally the number of cards remaining in our deck, or that number minus one, if necessary), then cast one of the draw spells that doesn’t require us to sacrifice Selvala, draw our deck, and win in ways I’ll explain later.
Sometimes we’ll use these effects even if we haven’t gone infinite yet. This is where the deck’s name comes from. We try to chain together as many draw spells and effects as we can, in a manner similar to storm decks, to draw through our deck, and eventually reach a point where we win. Often, we’ll get to infinite mana, then use one of our repeatable bounce effects to repeatedly cast something with a high enough power to draw us a card off Selvala’s first ability, then use that to draw our deck. We can also use something like Staff of Domination.
Once we get our entire deck into our hand, we get to the interesting part: How to win. This deck definitely runs one of the weirder combos that I’ve ever seen. We win by looping Memory Jar and Primal Command.
First things first. We use Beast Within to turn all of our opponents’ permanents into 3/3 Beast Tokens. Loop Beast within by bouncing Eternal Witness or Skullwinder with Temur Sabertooth.
Next, we loop Somberwald Stag the same way to kill all of our opponents’ Beast tokens.
Now we get to the actual combo.
First, cast a bunch of our buff spells. Target whatever’s on the field, the important thing is to get at least 7 cards into our graveyard. Dump as much of our hand as possible onto the board or into the graveyard.
Next, cast Memory Jar. Don’t crack it yet, though, since we have no cards in our library, and thus, would lose if that were to happen.
Next, cast Primal Command, shuffling your graveyard into your library. The other mode we choose doesn’t really matter, though I usually choose to gain 7 life, since it’s the only other mode that has any effect at this point.
Now, crack Memory Jar. Everyone sets aside their hands (this is why we want to empty our hand as much as possible) and draws 7 new cards. Use your Temur Sabertooth-Eternal Witness/Skullwinder loops to get back all of our combo pieces, and whatever draw mechanism you were using to draw the rest of our deck again.
Repeat this loop until our opponents have no cards in their libraries, and are forced to try to draw again. At this point, they all lose, and we’ve won the game.
Our backup win con is fairly simple. Destroy all of our opponents permanents as you did before. Then loop any permanent you have and Beast Within to create an unbounded number of 3/3 Beast tokens. Now pass the turn. Your opponents have no board state, and thus, hopefully can’t do anything with their one turn to significantly inconvenience you. When the turn order comes back to you, swing out with your beast tokens, and kill everyone else at the table.
Unfortunately, the deck does have several weaknesses.
Most notably, we have no access to blue. This means that we have no counterspells, and that our only defense against counterspells is Autumn’s Veil. As a result, a single well timed counter spell can destroy our entire gameplay. We also have no way to stop others from combing off.
Additionally, we rely heavily on our commander. Selvala is vulnerable to removal and counterspells, which are the usual ways to deal with her. We have one backup option, which I’ll discuss in a second.
Finally, we have very little in the way of interaction. As such, we can’t really deal with other decks, and the only way we have to deal with other players is to try to outrace them.
Now for the backup option I mentioned, which is also the ramp piece I mentioned earlier, the only two mana dork we run: Priest of Titania.
While this doesn’t usually come into play, we sometimes wind up in a position where we don’t have Selvala on the field, and can’t cast her. When this happens, we run enough elves that Priest of Titania can often generate enough mana to go off with our untappers and other combo pieces. We try to avoid this situation, but it does happen.
That’s it for Selvala Brostorm, here’s a decklist: http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/selvala-brostorm/
The only differences between this list and mine are that I run a Lotus Petal instead of Gaea’s Cradle, and a Blossoming Defense instead of Crop Rotation.