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 because 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 6 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.

The 6 infamous decks

Selesnya is open in many drafts

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 AccordEmmara, Soul of the Accord, March of the MultitudesMarch of the Multitudes or Trostani DiscordantTrostani 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 is unpopular enough that this will generally work.

So here are the six decks I’ve drafted:

You will notice some trends here. All of them have some powerful cards as explained above, they all have low curves, four to six combat tricks, multiple 1-drops and I aggressively put my convoke cards low on the curve when showcasing a deck.
This is how I like to draft these decks. You will notice that I don’t run any expensive convoke cards (except for that one last minute addition Siege WurmSiege Wurm), no Sumala WoodshaperSumala Woodshaper, no Generous StrayGenerous Stray.
Obviously these decks don’t prove that Selesnya can win without rares, but I have seen my friends do it, so I am a believer. Do remember that an average Selesnya deck will be worse than an average Boros deck, so you do need a reason to be in the archetype (red being closed is a good reason).

The recipe

Can you smell what the Dane’s cooking?

One archetype that I’ve always liked to draft in any Limited environment is green-white two-drops and 1-mana tricks. It hasn’t been viable for a long time, but finally we once again have a set where getting tons of 2-drops is fairly trivial and where we have access to a good 1-mana trick in both white and green, Take HeartTake Heart and Pack’s FavorPack’s Favor, as well as Might of the MassesMight of the Masses at uncommon.
You might not think of Pack’s FavorPack’s Favor as a 1-mana card, but in a good Selesnya deck it’s comparable to Giant GrowthGiant Growth, often even costing you 0 mana!

When drafting Selesnya, you’d want to prioritize cards in this order: Bomb Rares > Premium Uncommons > Healer’s HawkHealer’s Hawk > Removal > Flower // Flourish > good curve fillers > combat tricks > Rosemane CentaurRosemane Centaur > mediocre curve fillers

As you can see, some cards deserve a category for themselves. And yes, I do pick Healer’s HawkHealer’s Hawk over Luminous BondsLuminous Bonds once I know I am in Selesnya. A Selesnya deck without Luminous Bonds is still much better served than one without the Hawk.
The only removal spells you can really play are Luminous BondsLuminous Bonds and Conclave TribunalConclave Tribunal, but they aren’t really vital. Oftentimes you can just replace them with more tricks and it’s not the end of the world. Righteous BlowRighteous Blow is better off in the sideboard, as it’s oftentimes just a bad combat trick (still okay to maindeck one), and our creatures are too small to utilize Prey UponPrey Upon. DemotionDemotion does work in the removal slot, but is a much lower pick and is often boarded out.
Flower // Flourish is another irreplaceable card. You can play it instead of a land as it is essentially just like a Selesnya GuildgateSelesnya Guildgate, but instead of being a useless topdeck in lategame it can be a very useful tool once the board stalls or you plan to swarm them out.
I like to have up to 3 Rosemane CentaurRosemane Centaur in my deck and consider it relatively important, but they usually table, so I don’t really bother picking them early. What you really want to do with these is play 1-drop, 2-drop, turn 3 Centaur. These decks usually only have small creatures, so it’s nice to have a sizeable body. It helps you develop a board quickly even if you can’t play it turn 3, and has vigilance which is very important for Pack’s FavorPack’s Favor. Also note that Venerated LoxodonVenerated Loxodon is just Centaur on steroids, but has a similar play pattern.
I wouldn’t play any cards that cost 5 or more, unless they’re 5-mana Convoke or Trostani DiscordantTrostani Discordant. Still unsure if Bounty of MightBounty of Might and CamaraderieCamaraderie are great or terrible due to this.
I aim towards 16 lands, and of course even less if I have Flower // Flourish. One of the decks above even has only 14 lands!

The 1-drops

Getting on the board early

Pelt Collector
Healer’s Hawk
Haazda Marshal
Hunted Witness

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

One-drops

Premium (2)
Pelt CollectorPelt Collector
Healer’s HawkHealer’s Hawk

Average (1)
Haazda MarshalHaazda Marshal

Mediocre (1)
Hunted WitnessHunted Witness

We already know how good Healer’s HawkHealer’s Hawk is, and since Selesnya cares about just having cheap creatures, it’s even more important here.
Haazda MarshalHaazda 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 FavorPack’s Favor and Rosemane CentaurRosemane Centaur!
Hunted WitnessHunted 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 Centaurs and/or 2-power mentor.

The 2-drops

We can get a lot of these

Emmara, Soul of the Accord
Sunhome Stalwart
Kraul Harpooner
Conclave Guildmage
Chamber Sentry
Vernadi Shieldmate

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:

Two-drops

Premium (3)
Emmara, Soul of the AccordEmmara, Soul of the Accord
Sunhome StalwartSunhome Stalwart
Kraul HarpoonerKraul Harpooner

Good (7)
Conclave GuildmageConclave Guildmage
Chamber SentryChamber Sentry
Skyline ScoutSkyline Scout
Vernadi ShieldmateVernadi Shieldmate
Bounty AgentBounty Agent
Fresh-Faced RecruitFresh-Faced Recruit
Ironshell BeetleIronshell Beetle

Average (2)
Devkarin DissidentDevkarin Dissident
Tenth District GuardTenth 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 AccordEmmara, 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 convoke 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 ShieldmateVernadi Shieldmate too high 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 FavorPack’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 token makers 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 BeetleIronshell 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 PatrolParhelion Patrol.

The 3-drops

Here the curve gets difficult

Roc Charger
Ledev Champion
Knight of Autumn
Blade Instructor
District Guide
Sprouting Renewal

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 CentaurRosemane Centaur a 3-drop often enough that you skimp a bit on this part of the curve. Also just combat trick plus another 2-drop is a more than fine turn 3. And this is good, since Selesnya‘s 3-drops are less than exciting, because green provides virtually nothing.

Three-drops

Premium (2)
Roc ChargerRoc Charger
Ledev ChampionLedev Champion

Good (3)
Knight of AutumnKnight of Autumn
Blade InstructorBlade Instructor
District GuideDistrict Guide

Average (4)
Sworn CompanionsSworn Companions
Sprouting RenewalSprouting Renewal
Wary OkapiWary Okapi
Ledev GuardianLedev Guardian

Mediocre (1)
Centaur PeacemakerCentaur Peacemaker

Of the average choices, I’d vastly prefer to have one of each, instead of multiple of any of them. Sworn CompanionsSworn Companions is the one that works best in multiples, as it has synergies with Parhelion PatrolParhelion Patrol and Flower // Flourish, but it can often be too low-powered.
Wary OkapiWary Okapi is actually better than it looks, as I mentioned before the vigilance is key.
I’d aim for three to five real 3-drops from this list, leaning towards more if you have fewer Centaurs.

The 4-drops

The top of the Selesnya curve

Nullhide Ferox
Beast Whisperer
Conclave Cavalier
Inspiring Unicorn
Rampaging Monument
Parhelion Patrol

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:

Four-drops

Premium (3)
Nullhide FeroxNullhide Ferox
Beast WhispererBeast Whisperer
Conclave CavalierConclave Cavalier

Good: (3)
Inspiring UnicornInspiring Unicorn
Parhelion PatrolParhelion Patrol
Rampaging MonumentRampaging Monument

Mediocre: (2)
Wild CeratokWild Ceratok
Siege WurmSiege Wurm

Caveat: Rampaging Monument is only good when you have 6+ multicolor cards.

It’s apparent that Conclave CavalierConclave 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 GuildgateSelesnya 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 UnicornInspiring Unicorn in a deck with lots of combat tricks and a low curve. It is truly wonderful

The tricks

What really powers Selesnya in Draft

Assure
Might of the Masses
Pack’s Favor
Gird for Battle
Take Heart

I’d like to fill up my six to eight noncreature spells with mostly tricks. So you need a lot of these, but luckily most of them table very often. I think the fact that Pack’s FavorPack’s Favor always tables is singlehandedly what makes Selesnya viable. Don’t @ me.

Combat tricks

Premium (1)
Assure // AssembleAssure // Assemble

Good (3)
Might of the MassesMight of the Masses
Pack's FavorPack's Favor
Gird for BattleGird for Battle

Average (4)
Take HeartTake Heart
Integrity // InterventionIntegrity // Intervention
Status // StatueStatus // Statue
Righteous BlowRighteous 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, so that seems like a good number. The card goes very late, is super underrated and you should draft as if you know you are going to pick up multiples.
Gird for BattleGird 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 HawkHealer’s Hawk, Sunhome StalwartSunhome Stalwart and Parhelion PatrolParhelion Patrol.

Sideboard cards

How to beat other guilds postboard

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 HopeDawn 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 PeacemakerCentaur Peacemaker and Loxodon RestorerLoxodon 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 match-ups to a midrange deck that trumps the aggressive deck. You can do the same thing against Boros, especially on the draw.

Prey UponPrey 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 WoodshaperSumala 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 HopeDawn of Hope or a splashed Experimental FrenzyExperimental Frenzy (out of the board, wouldn’t splash this maindeck. Never splash in Selesnya).

Join ShieldsJoin 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 WurmSiege Wurm and Worldsoul ColossusWorldsoul Colossus, and try to get the game to turtle up in a boardstall. This way, once you draw Join ShieldsJoin Shields you get to alpha strike and leave the opponent in ruins almost no matter what happens.

Candlelight VigilCandlelight 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 HawkHealer’s Hawk, Sunhome StalwartSunhome Stalwart or Parhelion PatrolParhelion Patrol, it can just singlehandedly win the game.

The rest of the sideboard options are usually fairly straightforward, like bringing in situational removal against the right targets and lining up your creatures stats better against their creatures. Beware of Mephitic VaporsMephitic Vapors and Cosmotronic WaveCosmotronic 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 DissidentDevkarin Dissident and Tenth District GuardTenth District Guard, gets to shine.

Wrap-up

Assemble the Conclave

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 mtgmintcard.com

Simon Nielsen

Author Simon Nielsen

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