There are many commanders you can choose to use for an elfball commander: from Ezuri, Renegade Leader himself to other multicolor commanders like Tana, the Bloodsower. Let’s see if the blue splash for Ezuri, Claw of Progress is worth it.
You can find a Tana and Thrasios Elfball as well if you want to look at another Elfball deck.
The Main Strategy
Any elfball deck is either trying to obtain an overwhelming boardstate or achieve some type of infinite combo. These two win conditions obviously have lots of overlap and the two goals benefit from shared synergies.
This Ezuri, Claw of Progress has four main win conditions. While they are all a little different they all have roughly the same thing in common: you want to play mana dorks quickly and play elves for value until you reach one of your combos or have a huge boardstate and can beat someone up.
Have a boardstate of creatures + Craterhoof Behemoth. This is a classic Elfball combo where you shove your boardstate forward after you resolve a Craterhoof, often dealing way above lethal damage onto all of your opponents. Green Sun’s Zenith, Chord of Calling, and Natural Order help with this win condition a lot.
Staff of Domination + a creature that can generate 5 or more mana (like Elvish Archdruid or Priest of Titania ). This lets you untap the Staff netting mana, thus letting your draw your deck with Staff and winning the game however you want.
Sage of Hours + Ezuri, Claw of Progress with five experience counters: during your combat step you can put 5 +1/+1 counters on Sage of Hours and activate him to take an extra turn. Repeat for infinite turns.
The last win condition is to just occur more value than everyone else and be able to withstand any Wrath of God effects and be able to rebuild from any setback. If you achieve this type of wincon you need to know when to start “wasting” resources and pushing creatures in for damage because you need to close the game out before people start to combo you. The best value cards in this deck are Skullclamp, Wirewood Symbiote, Evolutionary Leap, Cloudstone Curio, Garruk, Caller of Beasts and Regal Force.
The Ezuri Question
Is Ezuri, Claw of Progress actually good for this deck? I think the blue splash is worth it. We get a powerful alternate win con that is easy to set up (Sage of Hours often feels unfair when we have tools like Chord of Calling at our disposal) and we get a few cool blue splash cards like Rhystic Study, Coiling Oracle, Momir Vig, Simic Visionary and Master Biomancer.
I think a problem a lot of Elfball decks have is that it can be very easy for an Elfball deck to unintentionally or otherwise overextend and for someone to pounce on the opportunity to punish that player by Wrathing and killing everything. To me Ezuri, Claw of Progress gives us a moderately cheap commander that can help us rebuild our strategy after a wrath and pressure our opponents by putting lots of +1/+1 counters on creatures. Some of these creatures like Selvala, Heart of the Wilds and Master Biomancer can be either combo-centric or aggro-centric (or both) once you load them up with counters.
The strangest thing about Ezuri is that he costs four mana. This is a little odd for an Elf deck because it is hard (ignoring Sol Ring ) to cast Ezuri on curve. You can’t go turn 1 mana dork into turn two Ezuri. I think this is a good and bad thing. It’s good because I think it doesn’t let you over-commit too early on in the game but its bad because it can be difficult to wrack up experience counters very early in the game. From my experience I get the most mileage off of my Ezuri experience counters in the midgame when I can cast Ezuri and immediately start deploying small creatures to make counters in the same turn.
Cards I’m Excited For From Aether Revolt For This Deck:
Paradox Engine : It’s sweet to untap our creatures with each spell cast, netting us more mana and activated abilities with each cast. Anything that lets you chain-draw cards should win you the game. I might take out Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury for this card.