Seton, Krosan Protector | Illustration by Greg Staples
Seton, Krosan Protector is hipster elfball. It’s a rare choice as a commander and sometimes feels a bit like you’re playing elves on hard mode. But I have more fun winning with Seton than any other green deck I have. Is #hipsterfeels a thing?
The most popular and powerful commanders for elf decks are Marwyn, the Nurturer and Ezuri, Renegade Leader, and for good reason. Marwyn points you directly toward infinite combo land with some untap cards, and Ezuri is an overrun on a stick.
But what Seton can do is throw out creatures so fast you can almost empty your entire deck in some games. A lot of the same green cards are used in all of these decks, so this might be a fun project for you if you already play elves but want to branch into something a bit different.
But that’s enough talk, let’s get into the deck!
Craterhoof Behemoth | Illustration by Chris Rahn
Augur of Autumn
Circle of Dreams Druid
Great Oak Guardian
Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse
Marwyn, the Nurturer
Priest of Titania
Shigeki, Jukai Visionary
Soul of the Harvest
Vizier of the Menagerie
There are some outrageously expensive cards you can use in this deck (I’m looking at you, Gaea’s Cradle!), with builds that can get close to $3,000. This version cuts everything over $20 except for a handful of clear wincons that the deck needs to function.
Seton, Krosan Protector taps your druids for mana. That’s it.
But look at the card again. Seton taps your druids to make mana, which means you can drop an Elvish Pioneer with your commander in play and immediately tap it for mana. That means you can just start storming through your deck with something like Beast Whisperer in play if your deck has a lot of low-cost creatures.
Seton has a few specific wincons given that pattern, but you can also build the deck around the classics. There’s grabbing Craterhoof Behemoth with one of the ways to fetch it, like Fierce Empath. You’re running Marwyn and can churn pretty quickly to get to it, so packing cards that let it untap and create even more mana the way you would in a Marwyn deck is also a possibility.
But what Seton’s storm of creatures likes doing is pairing with an artifact wincon like Cloudstone Curio that lets you play and bounce 1-drop druids to generate infinite triggers for use with Marwyn, other mana abusers, a card like Glimpse of Nature, or other spells that let you draw through your deck. You can even go that-deck-is-soooooo-2016 with Aetherflux Reservoir for enhanced hipster cred.
Sound fun? Let’s break it down!
- Arbor Elf
- Birchlore Rangers
- Boreal Druid
- Caustic Caterpillar
- Druid Lyrist
- Elvish Mystic
- Elvish Pioneer
- Fyndhorn Elves
- Heritage Druid
- Joraga Treespeaker
- Krosan Wayfarer
- Llanowar Elves
- Quirion Ranger
- Village Elder
This deck works based on Seton’s ability to play a 1-drop and immediately tap it to make that play mana neutral. The deck falls flat if you don’t have enough 1-drops.
Most of these are druids to synergize with that ability, but there are a few utility creatures in here too. The focus here means cutting higher-curve creatures that look like they make sense for the deck, like Elvish Harbinger.
A lot of these tap for mana in case you can’t keep Seton on the battlefield or want to drop it on a turn when you can go off for a win. Others are utility creatures that can get lands or interact. All of them can keep the creature chain going if you have a card-draw-on-ETB effect going.
Some of these cards that aren’t mana dorks aren’t great, and there are quite a few more druid 1-drops out there if you want to just swap some that you have in the storage boxes for these.
- Devoted Druid
- Elvish Visionary
- Gala Greeters
- Incubation Druid
- Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse
- Llanowar Druid
- Masked Vandal
- Shigeki, Jukai Visionary
Sometimes you need a bit more value than 1-drops to smooth out the deck. Most of these are mana dorks but there’s a few other utilities in here, from lifegain to creature creation to all the recursion you can get from Shigeki.
Augur of Autumn, Realmwalker, and Vizier of the Menagerie are creatures that let you manipulate the top of your deck and maybe even cast creatures or lands from the top. Most are Cube staples that you’re likely familiar with.
Beast Whisperer, Gilt-Leaf Archdruid, Primordial Sage, Regal Force, and Soul of the Harvest either draw cards as you drop creatures or hit with a big burst of card draw, both of which you need. I ‘ve never seen the Archdruid’s chase ability ever resolve. Maybe you have? Either way, don’t count on it.
You can easily pack more things that recur from your graveyard or destroy artifacts or enchantments than Eternal Witness and Reclamation Sage, but I find speed is of the essence with this deck and I prefer to be minimal in this area. Shigeki plus Bala Ged Recovery can loop things out of the graveyard pretty easily so you can often get it back if you really need one of these.
- Craterhoof Behemoth
- Earthshaker Giant
- Great Oak Guardian
- Temur Sabertooth
- Walking Ballista
- Wirewood Symbiote
These are the things you tutor for or plow through your deck for. They can win on the spot or at least get you close. Most of these are big over-the-top creatures, but there’s a combo in here I’ll explain in a bit.
There are so many more great creature tutors in green, but they tend to be really expensive. These are kind of an almost-budget list.
Collective Unconscious, Genesis Wave, Kindred Summons, and Shamanic Revelation are expensive, but you have enough mana via Seton taps to get these out pretty easily if you have enough creatures to make them worth casting.
There are lots of awesome cards that can go here if you wanna spend the dough, but only one makes the budget criteria for this deck: Guardian Project. It’s a nice card draw effect for any green EDH deck.
There’s not as much here as you might expect. This is a mono-color deck with a huge ability to generate mana, and these can really get in the way of storming your creatures. But you still gotta have the unofficial mascot of EDH, Sol Ring.
Tangleroot can really start accelerating your deck, but it sort of also accelerates everyone else with mana. Best to drop on the turn you go off.
Skullclamp is a house, but it literally eats away at your mana base in this deck so use it wisely.
Then you’ve also got Lifecrafter’s Bestiary.
There are two finishers here.
Cloudstone Curio is the card that breaks the bank. I left it in because it’s a great combo finish and it’s fun to play if you haven’t had the chance. It’s what differentiates Seton from the other elfball decks: the ability to use this card.
Curio allows you to play and bounce two 1-mana druids with Seton out to generate huge mana with Marwyn, or to generate pretty constant card draw if you have something like Beast Whisperer out too. But the deck can win fine without this, so feel free to adjust the list.
Throne of the God-Pharaoh can really finish the table at the end of a creature storm turn.
The Mana Base
Note how low this count is compared to other decks. A lot of 1-drops and mana abilities allow this. And you have to be able to churn through creature drops and avoid hitting too many lands for your deck to win, a bit like a Bolas’s Citadel deck.
That lean number of lands also means that utility lands that tap for colorless are especially dangerous in this deck. All your 1-drops need green mana only, for example.
You can win on turn 4 if you get the right pieces out. But that usually doesn’t happen. You need Seton, something like a Marwyn, and other combo pieces.
So it’s probably wise to slow play a bit and keep Seton in the command zone if your table looks a little gun crazy with removal and counterspells. It’s okay to leave Seton on the sideline for as long as possible so that other commanders suck up the table’s spot removal since it can drop and immediately start making mana.
A marker for when to drop Seton is whether or not you have a big card draw spell or something like Beast Whisperer out so that you can start the creature storm. You can win with a big creature attack if you drop a big green finisher creature, and you can also combo kill.
Your big green creatures like Craterhoof Behemoth are pretty obvious to use. Tutor, drop, win. But something like Great Oak Guardian gets better and better if you can bounce and recur it with Cloudstone Curio or Temur Sabertooth.
Similar combos using those bounce abilities can give you lots, even unlimited mana with a Marwyn out. Your untappers can also produce piles of mana that way.
The other big combo is with Wirewood Symbiote and the bounces. You reset the once-per-turn clause when you return it to your hand. This gets you infinite mana with anything that taps for more than one. Then Walking Ballista kills everyone.
Rule 0 Violations Check
Removing the bounce and untap effects ends the combo possibilities and powers down the deck if that kind of thing is needed for your playgroup. In that case, swap out that Curio money for a few more tutors and do a more traditional elfball beatdown.
This is already kind of budget for a deck that has some tutoring.
The expensive cards in this deck are mostly the combo pieces, so removing those options would save you some cash. Craterhoof isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s kind of required in green beatdown decks, isn’t it? You might just have one lurking in another deck.
I will say that I tried Seton out with a deck of only cards that cost less than $5 that was heavy on extra 1-drops, adding a few more clunky card draw cards I had lying around and trying cards like Overrun to try to party like it’s 1999. How’d it go? Not great, Bob. But there’s probably a happy medium for the budget conscious.
There are lots of expensive artifacts this deck would enjoy running, like various legal Moxen to The Great Henge, but those are second-mortgage kinds of cards. And of course Gaea’s Cradle and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. And while Allosaurus Shepherd isn’t a druid it is a blue hoser and wincon all in a 1-drop body, so put one in if you have it.
Yisan, the Wanderer Bard is an auto-include for certain kinds of players. If that’s you, by all means add that and maybe its chosen weapon, Instrument of the Bards, for your slow-motion telegraphed victory.
I also have a hard time saying no to a Kamahl in this deck. Be warned that it’s never quite as good as it seems like it will be, but tutoring up an Overrun on a stick with Kamahl, Fist of Krosa or Kamahl, Heart of Krosa does feel pretty good. My actual factual Seton deck has these two in place of the Curio and the Ballista for powered-down boomer feels.
Dryad Arbor | Illustration by Brad Rigney
As a starter deck for elfball players, it’s probably simplest to just run Marwyn and a more traditional crop of elves. There are a lot of key elf cards that aren’t druids and shouldn’t really show up in this deck, like Elvish Piper.
But Seton is a particular challenge in terms of gameplay, and I find this deck more skill testing. That makes this deck a bit more fun to play for me.
If you have mono-green EDH decks already, you likely have more than half the pieces for this deck so it might be worth a build to see is Krosan style is right for you. What do you think of the list? Any tweaks you think I should know about? Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.
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