Marwyn, the Nurturer - Illustration by Chris Rahn

Marwyn, the Nurturer | Illustration by Chris Rahn

A classically powerful mono-green EDH deck is Marwyn, the Nurturer. There’s a cEDH build of this deck, which shares 80% of the cards and the plan with the better Selvala, Heart of the Wilds deck, but I think Selvala, even down at cEDH tier 2 or 3, is still the stronger version of that plan. Instead, let’s go through a deck which leans into Marwyn’s facility as an “elfball” commander, which is a more casual deck even though it has a few similar themes and wincons.

Marwyn is the most popular elfball commander because it can give you a huge splash of mana and can go tall with +1/+1 counters while your team goes wide. You can see the appeal of that compared to second and third most popular mono-green elf commanders, Ezuri, Renegade Leader and Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury.

This is a very fast, very powerful elf deck that eschews the cEDH pretensions of Mana Vault, Mox Diamond, and Gaea's Cradle, so it’s a much more affordable deck that you can still pack along for the higher powered EDH tables at CommandFests.

The Deck

Allosaurus Shepherd - Illustration by Randy Vargas

Allosaurus Shepherd | Illustration by Randy Vargas

The Commander: Marwyn, the Nurturer

Marwyn, the Nurturer

Marwyn, the Nurturer is a super-efficient elf who gets tall and taps for a ton of mana if left unchecked. There are various ways to build a Marwyn deck, but in this deck, it serves as early game mana ramp. It doesn’t run enough protection to keep Marwyn around for long, but there are other elves that also tap for big mana when you want to go off with Staff of Domination, which is a simple infinite mana combo with Marwyn. It’s there but you can’t tutor for it, and opponents will think you’re running it even if you aren’t, so might as well.

Theoretically you can use Marwyn for commander damage, but I’ve never actually been able to keep it alive long enough for that!


You have a whole ball of them! I could sort them all into categories, but a lot of them do double duty.

Llanowar Elves

You’ve got small mana dorks like Llanowar Elves from Alpha.

Circle of Dreams Druid

You have bigger mana dorks like Marwyn itself and cards like Circle of Dreams Druid.

Imperious Perfect

You’ve got lords that pump the team like Imperious Perfect.

Leaf-Crowned Visionary

You’ve got card draw elves like Leaf-Crowned Visionary.

Ezuri, Renegade Leader

You’ve got trample mass-pumpers like Ezuri, Renegade Leader.

Lys Alana Huntmaster

Lys Alana Huntmaster is the best of your small suite of token generators.

Skyshroud Poacher

You have a few tutor elves like Skyshroud Poacher. I’ve otherwise removed the traditional green tutors from this deck to moderate the power. By all means, have at it if you want to amp it up!

Quirion Ranger

And you have a few untappers like Quirion Ranger.

Reclamation Sage

And there are a few one offs like Reclamation Sage.

Other Creatures!

There’s a minimum here. Some are basically elves, like Realmwalker and Roaming Throne. Others do big things like draw a bunch of cards ta the right time, like Regal Force or finish the game, like Craterhoof Behemoth.

Spells and Enchantments

This is small suite. Mostly you have card draw like Guardian Project, protection like Heroic Intervention, and a few more finishers like Triumph of the Hordes. There are a few protection spells for Marwyn like Tyvar's Stand as well.


The two most important are Staff of Domination and Umbral Mantle, which can go infinite with your commander and a few other creatures in the 99. But you’ve also got a tiny bit of mana ramp, some protection equipment and a Skullclamp, because creature decks shouldn’t leave home without it!

The Mana Base

This is a leaner deck than usual. It’s mono-colored and has a lot of mana dorks, so you can shave a few lands and some mana rocks.

The Strategy

Cast a lot of elves. Attack!

There’s more to it than that, but there doesn’t have to be. You can do some card draw and tutoring and the classic elfball Craterhoof table smashing attack. That’s the fun of this deck. You don’t have a large swath of interaction here, but you can make up for that in volume against everything but that annoying “Board Wipe Typal” deck your friend plays sometimes.

I’d avoid trying to chip in too much commander damage with Marwyn if that’s not going to be your end game. A burst of mana at instant speed or the threat of such is much more powerful. You have important mana sinks like Allosaurus Shepherd and even Temur Sabertooth, and threat of activation can be a huge factor in winning with this deck.

Note that this deck often seems stronger than it really is if you get off to a fast mana dork start. Not that you can’t go off quickly with this deck, but not necessarily quicker than high-powered combo decks, and sometimes they cloak all their pieces in their hand until the right time. You kind of have to spew elves onto the battlefield, and it makes you look scary. Think about some slow play and what you might gain from that as you decide how heavily to commit to the board, especially if there are lots of board wipes about.

Combos and Interactions

Aside from the untap oriented Staff of Domination combos with Marwyn or other elves that tap for big mana, and making pump decisions with your activated abilities, there’s not a huge amount of mental complexity, which I think is the classic unfair knock against elf decks and elfball players.

Roaming Throne

You might sometimes want to name “beast” with Roaming Throne in order to maximize a couple of cards you might have in hand.

Staff of Domination Umbral Mantle

Note that you do have infinite mana combos with Staff of Domination and Umbral Mantle.

Wirewood Symbiote and Quirion Ranger are cards to be aware of here, though. They can save a creature at instant speed. But they also can untap a Marwyn or Priest of Titania at the same time to generate a pile more mana. With the kind of mana you are tapping for in this deck, the once a turn restriction is not that big a deal. And note that opponent turns count here, so you can do quite a bit, especially with a Yeva, Nature's Herald out.

Budget Options

This is sort of the budget option! Without the tutors, you're spending the most on cards like Craterhoof Behemoth, which is a classic green finisher you might already own. You can add back the tutors and pricey artifacts and lands I removed for power-level reasons if you really want to double down on this deck, but I see an elf deck as a fast bit of fun, and I don’t want to break the bank for that kind of deck. The most expensive elf is pretty much Eladamri, Lord of Leaves, and you can do without.

Other Builds

If you want the highest power deck, take a look at Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, which is how you’d build up this deck to be faster and better. It requires a lot more tutors and a bunch less elves to ensure that you’re able to draw into your infinite mana payoffs more reliably.

You could take a half measure with a few more tutors spending on how you want to stack up against your local EDH meta. If so, remove a few of the less direct elves like Rishkar, Peema Renegade to make room for some power.

There’s also a kind of sneaky build of this deck where you can use cards like Crop Rotation, Open the Way, and Expedition Map to grab your Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth to turn everything into forests, then go full boomer on them by giving things forestwalk! Then you use cards from the following list (in addition to your Eladamri) to grant unblockability to your stuff and party like it’s 1993:

Is that a good idea? I mean, one Field of Ruin does exactly that if no one at the table has any green, but the land tutors can be used for some of your other utility lands, as well, and packing a few of these forestwalk enablers for fun won’t break the deck in half.

Commanding Conclusion

Temur Sabertooth - Illustration by Mike Sass

Temur Sabertooth | Illustration by Mike Sass

I think this is one of the more fun mono-green decks to play. It’s not necessarily a great deck to play in a combo-heavy local meta, but it can win fairly quickly. And when you’ve been playing Commander for many hours, there’s an appeal to a mono-colored deck where you can just tap lands to do things and not worry about saving certain colors, etc. You also don’t generally have a ton of triggers to obsess about, especially on opponent turns. Not that this deck is chill, but it’s chill-er, maybe, than some of the more popular decks.

How about you? Is this in your mono-green wheelhouse? If not, what’s your mono-green deck of choice? We all have at least one, don’t we? Let us know in the comments below or on Discord.

Stay elfy!

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