When Are Trees Like Grass

A particularly strong memory I have from my time playing Magic in my youth was attending a tournament at Wright State University. I didn’t participate in the tournament, but went there to play games and get cards, however, being a teenager meant not having much money. This was early enough in the timeline of Magic that we didn’t know what cards existed, so looking over the vendor tables was akin to opening presents on Christmas morning. It seemed that anything was possible.

This was the day that I discovered lands with actual powerful abilities. I remember returning to the vendors to ogle Library, Bazaar, Diamond Valley, and Elephant Graveyard. One of my acquisitions of the day had been a couple of War Elephants to add some more punch to my mono-white monstrosity, so the idea of being able to regenerate them, and combine them with powerful enchantments like Castle, Crusades, Blessing, and Jihad had my mind on overdrive! You see, we didn’t know a damn thing about deck construction, so I thought that having a dozen Elephants, some Serras for backup, and a couple of these new, wonderful lands would create a very powerful deck. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford even a single Graveyard, and I wasn’t savvy enough to trade; a drawback that was probably beneficial in a time when people in the know very much took advantage of the younger players.

Fast forward to when I got into Old School, and I was at a GP, having just traded in a load of modern cards and was flush with store credit. Then I saw it. That gorgeous black border, the scorched grasslands, the Arabian Nights set symbol, and that awesome ability to really kick off a tribal elephant deck. Some twentyish years since I first saw it, I finally owned one. I immediately went home to brew an elephant aggro deck, and my hopes were pretty quickly dashed. Old School has a scant two elephants in it, and even though they are both 3/3 Tramplers, eight creatures isn’t really enough to make a proper tribal deck. Since they are green and white, I couldn’t even make use of anthem spells like Crusades to effectively buff the team. I toyed with the idea of making an EDH deck since the full card pool includes many powerful and synergistic elephants and Loxodons, but my heart wasn’t in it. I wanted old borders and 60 cards.

The moment I saw Magnus’s post about his carefully cultivated new set, Scryings and that he wanted other sites/people to spoil cards, I had to get in on it. Lo and behold, he had a green common elephant that was just waiting for a place to be debuted, so here it is, the next card in Scryings:

Rogue Elephant

Now this I can work with, so I got to thinking about how to use this card and started brewing. Obvious the Graveyard is required, and the other elephants join in, but what else? The loss of a forest slows you down a bit, but at least it can be a tapped forest, meaning this is still a first turn play, and can race opposing Factories (yeah, it’s a two for one trade though). The idea of Forest, Mox, Rogue Elephant followed up by Forest, Berserk, Giant Growth and swinging for 12 trample excites me more than I care to admit. But, when brewing with this, we have the two and three drop spots available before we get to the other pachyderms, so what could go in there?

assemble the team (also I somehow don’t own an Arabian Nights War Elephant?!)

In the spirit of spoiler season and new set hype, I figured I should embrace what we know of Scryings. I’d use River Boa as a two drop, alongside some usual green toolbox cards, of course including the other two elephants, a Nettletooth Djinn, white removal, and some combat tricks. Keep in mind that I’m terrible at building “good” decks, and mostly focus on fun decks, so with that caveat, these are the base cards I’d start with.

something like this

My personal opinion is that a strong one drop, that’s not Kird Ape, is a solid addition to green aggro decks, and it’s drawback isn’t so terrible in a world full of birds, elves, and mana amulets. Will this card drastically change much about the current Old School world? I have no idea, but it’s absolutely a card that will make it into my decks.

Thanks to Magnus for all the work that went into creating this set of cards and working out the spoiler schedule.

3 thoughts on “When Are Trees Like Grass

  1. This post is one of the reasons I check the internet. This is gold my man. I have been jamming an elephant deck in 93/94 for a few months now, and one crippling weakness becomes very clear rather quickly and even constantly….it’s missing that f******* Rogue ELephant!! Genius.

    Been trying to convince my playgroup Moorish Cavalry are riding elephants. Skinny hairy elephants.

    If you are a real schmo (me) you run Consecrate Land to protect that Graveyard. Watch your opponents face when they try to Strip it. Similar to my expression when I found an article on Rogue Elephant!

    P.S. – War Elephant honestly could cost 3. For Pete’s sake.

    1. It is a shame how terrible all the other elephants’ CMC are! I used to run Moorish Cavalry alongside War Elephants too. So good. I honestly had never seen Rogue Elephant until MG gave it to me to spoil, but hot damn was I stoked on it! A Consecrated Graveyard makes so much sense. Personally, I feel like Consecrate Land is tragically underplayed, given how influential a few lands are in the format. But, I’m pretty terrible at competitive magic 🙂

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