Conclave Mastery: How To Draft Selesnya

by Simon Nielsen on 14 November 2018, Wednesday

Simon Nielsen

It wasn't long after a member of our testing team had declared Selesnya unplayable in draft that I tried the archetype for the first time. Partly I wanted to prove him wrong and I was rewarded with a 3-0. I had a hunch that people were just drafting it wrong in Guilds of Ravnica draft, as they attempted to draft a midrangey convoke deck with lots of big creatures. I do agree that this approach leads to an unplayable archetype.

I seem to have struck gold with my approach of eschewing any expensive cards and just drafting an efficient aggro deck with lots of combat tricks. I have now drafted it six times in competitive single-elimination drafts on Magic Online and sit at an impressive 15-3 record with the archetype!

Today I will share with you my draft strategy of this very underrated guild.

Six infamous Selesnya decks

First of all, let me precede this by mentioning that I don't force Selesnya. I have it ranked 3rd among the guilds, and still prefer Boros to Selesnya. So I will still need a reason to be in the guild, which can be opening a great rare or identifying that Selesnya is wide open so that the good cards will come to me.

These decks might look like they have more rares and good cards than you normally expect out of an average Limited deck, and this explains part of my success with the archetype. But remember that I don't just go Selesnya out of the blue and get lucky with the cards I open and get passed.

Either I see that nobody else is in Selesnya (relatively common, as the guild isn't very popular) and move in, expecting to get all the good cards opened at the table. Or I open a great rare and that is the reason why I'm Selesnya. I believe that if I open Emmara, Soul of the AccordMarch of the Multitudes or Trostani Discordant it's correct for me to pick it and try my best to force Selesnya. The on-color rare will provide me the incentive to be Selesnya over other guilds and the archetype unpopular enough that this will generally work.

So here are the 6 decks I've drafted:

My first Selesnya draft was pretty nuts. 3-0 

My second one was a lot worse, but the legends pulled me through. I replaced Skyknight Legionnaire with a Siege Wurm. 2-1 

This was first-picking Emmara and then forcing Selesnya. Result was nice! 2-1 

Another first pick Emmara; the shell is worse but still got there. 3-0 

First-picked March of the Multitudes. Played against two opponents who had it too! 2-1 

Here I identified Selesnya as open and was rewarded with rares and victories. 3-0

The 1-drops

I aim to get around two to four 1-drops when I draft Selesnya. Three is a good number for supporting Rosemane Centaur, but they also just help you get in damage early, be good bodies for mentor and help out withPack's Favor. This is my ranking of them:

Premium:

Pelt Collector

Healer's Hawk

Average:

Haazda Marshal

Mediocre:

Hunted Witness

We already know how good Healer’s Hawk is, and since Selesnya cares about just having cheap creatures, it’s even more important here.

Haazda Marshal might look bad, and it’s certainly miles worse than the Hawk, but it’s kind of like a mini-Emmara. It works very well in a deck with lots of creatures, a low curve and a slew of combat tricks, as once this guy gets to attack multiple times, it will be worth it. Also, the token comes into play untapped so can be used with Pack’s Favor and Rosemane Centaur!

Hunted Witness is certainly less than desirable, but when you need 1-drops, you need 1-drops. Play it if you lack 1-drops and have multiple Rosemane Centaurs and/or 2-power mentors.

The 2-drops

This format has so many reasonable 2-drops - partly thanks the hybrid ones - that it’s usually quite easy to get lots of them, so don’t prioritize these too high even though you want six to eight in this archetype. My ranking is:

Premium:

Emmara, Soul of the Accord

Sunhome Stalwart

Kraul Harpooner

Good:

Conclave Guildmage

Chamber Sentry

Skyline Scout

Vernadi Shieldmate

Bounty Agent

Fresh-Faced Recruit

Ironshell Beetle

Average:

Devkarin Dissident

Tenth District Guard

As you can see there are plenty of options to choose from, and even the bottom two are still totally serviceable if you need to fill up your slots.

I think Emmara, Soul of the Accord is absolutely busted in this deck, as we have both combat tricks to let it attack, as well as plenty of cheap convokers to let it sit back and generate tokens. This deck also takes advantage of wide boards very well, as with combat tricks you can usually just alpha strike every turn, eventually overwhelming them.

I might have put Vernadi Shieldmate too highly as it usually goes later than some of the other options, but it’s just really important to have a couple of these, as they make Pack's Favor so much better. Being able to tap out for a creature precombat and attack with everything while still leaving up your combat trick because of vigilance and tokenmakers is frankly absurd. Also it’s nice to have a 2-drop you can always play even if you’re missing either one of your basic lands.

Ironshell Beetle also fulfills an important role, as it can sometimes just pump up Healer's Hawk on curve, or buff a mentor creature while either receiving the counter back or just hanging around for your convoke cards. It works exceptionally well with Parhelion Patrol.

The 3-drops

Now it gets a bit murky to describe the optimal curve, since now convoke cards start kicking in. With enough 1-drops I do consider Rosemane Centaur a 3-drop often enough that you skimp a bit on this part of the curve. Also just casting a combat trick plus another 2-drop is more than fine on turn 3. And this is good, since Selesnya's 3-drops are less than exciting with Green contributing virtually nothing.

Premium:

Roc Charger

Ledev Champion

Good:

Knight of Autumn

Blade Instructor

District Guide

Average:

Sworn Companions

Sprouting Renewal

Wary Okapi

Ledev Guardian

Mediocre:

Centaur Peacemaker

Of the average choices, I’d vastly prefer to have one of each, instead of multiple of any of them. Sworn Companions is the one that works best in multiples, as it has synergies with Parhelion Patrol and Flower // Flourish, but it can often be too low-powered.

Wary Okapi is actually better than it looks, as I mentioned before the vigilance is key.

I’d aim for three to five actual 3-drops from this list, leaning towards more if you have fewer Rosemane Centaurs.

The 4-drops

I prefer two to three 4-drops in my Selesnya decks. We gotta keep the curve low. You can add more if you don’t have any centaurs. This is my ordering:

Premium:

Nullhide Ferox

Beast Whisperer

Conclave Cavalier

Good:

Inspiring Unicorn

Parhelion Patrol

Rampaging Monument (if you have 6+ multicolor cards)

Mediocre:

Wild Ceratok

Siege Wurm

It’s apparent that Conclave Cavalier is busted, but it can be hard to cast in a deck with just 8 of each basic land. So if you have these, prioritize Flower // Flourish and Selesnya Guildgate. Normally I don’t like Guildgates in Selesnya as I want to play a low land count, have 1-drops and usually no double-cost. Also, it competes with Flower // Flourish, but in this case I’d run it.

You should try to play Inspiring Unicorn in a deck with lots of combat tricks and a low curve. It is truly wonderful. 

The tricks

I’d like to fill up my 6-8 noncreature spell slots with mostly combat tricks. You need a lot of these, but luckily most of them table very often. I think the fact that Pack's Favor always tables is singlehandedly what makes Selesnya viable. Don’t @ me.

Premium:

Assure // Assemble

Good:

Might of the Masses

Pack's Favor

Gird for Battle

Average:

Take Heart

Integrity // Intervention

Status // Statue

Righteous Blow

As long as you have followed the recipe so far with a low curve and a decent amount of vigilance, I have not yet found the limit of how many Pack’s Favor you can play. I’ve had 4, and that seems like a good number. The card goes very late, is super underrated and you can draft as if you know you are going to pick up multiple.

Gird for Battle is very situational and isn’t really a trick, but it can range from unplayable to great depending on your numbers of Healer's HawkSunhome Stalwart and Parhelion Patrol.

Sideboard cards

This article has been very thorough, so if there is a card I didn’t mention, it’s because I don’t want to play it. (I’m just going to mention that Dawn of Hope is obviously a great card, especially if you have Healer's Hawk. Now nobody can get at me for forgetting a good card!)

One thing I do think Selesnya is decent at is sideboard options. Here is a quick guide to some of them:

Centaur Peacemaker and Loxodon Restorer

These cards are key against aggressive decks, as they oftentimes have a very hard time beating the lifegain. You get to shift your deck in these matchups to a midrange deck that trumps the aggressive deck. You can do the same thing against Boros, especially on the draw.

Prey Upon

This one goes very well with the sideboard plan of bringing in those lifegain creatures against Boros, as you will get to a spot where you have enough creatures that are bigger than theirs and can actually utilize this card.

Sumala Woodshaper

Against removal heavy decks with lots of walls rather than x/1s it’s actually reasonable to bring in some of these instead of some tricks and try to grind. Especially if you have a trump enchantment like a Dawn of Hope or a splashed Experimental Frenzy (out of the board, wouldn’t splash this maindeck. Never splash in Selesnya).

Join Shields

This is a weird one, but an important tool for your worst match-up: the Selesnya mirror!

Since most Selesnya decks haven’t got the memo and draft these big midrange decks with lots of lifegain creatures maindeck and easy ways to stall up the board, they usually just end up stomping over your small Selesnya deck.

So you have to be prepared. Bring in Siege Wurm and Worldsoul Colossus, and try to get the game to turtle up in a boardstall. This way, once you draw Join Shields you get to alpha strike and leave the opponent in ruins almost no matter what happens.

Candlelight Vigil

This card can be important when you are up against removal-light Selesnya and Golgari decks. If you strap this on a Healer's HawkSunhome Stalwart or Parhelion Patrol, it can just singlehandedly win the game.

The rest of the sideboard options are usually fairly straightforward, such as bringing in situational removal against the right targets and lining up your creatures' stats better against their creatures. Beware of Mephitic Vapors and Cosmotronic Wave postboard, so don’t be afraid to lower your amount of x/1s. This is also where 2-drops that didn’t make the maindeck cut like Devkarin Dissident and Tenth District Guard get to shine.

Wrap-up

As you might have noticed, Green doesn’t actually provide that many cards for this archetype. The color is generally pretty poor in Guilds of Ravnica, and this is one of the reasons I just prefer Boros to Selesnya. But there is some value to be in the color if everybody else keeps underrating the key cards for my strategy.

Definitely don’t force Selesnya or think it’s the secret best strategy. It’s just not. But now that you know how to properly assemble this weapon it’s certainly a useful tool to have in your arsenal.

This article was written by Simon Nielsen in a media collaboration with Snapcardster.com.

 




Articles you might be also interested

Martin Dang declares for House Dimir! Find out how you can do so too!




Copyright © 2002 - 2019 MTGMintCard.com