Hello, all! Unmistakable back again with another full length deck tech! In my deck tech series so far, I’ve shown you a variety of decks; from Erebos, to Roon, all the way through to Grand Arbiter Augustin. I’d like to ease back on my throttle this week, and take you through one of my proudest janky creations, Doran Full Treefolk Tribal. As a quick introduction to how this deck came to be, I was at my LGS when I experienced my first TRULY casual game in a long time. I attempted to tune down, but unfortunately I had forgotten to bring Erebos that day, so my only real option was my janky (but still utterly soul-destroying) Uril Land Destruction deck. As I looked upon the decimation and destruction, I realised this wasn’t fun. This wasn’t scratching the itch I set out for when I looked to make a deck. Erebos isn’t always going to be the deck I want for the situation, so I need something my personal style of jank. Enter: Doran. He speaks for the trees, and The Trees say ‘Mind your Own Business’.
Now, in my quest for jank, I stopped on hard tribal. No goodstuff. No Eternal Witness, just ’cause (Unless you know, I stopped on Humans or Shamans). I eventually stopped on Treefolk, as a tribe that had some support, but wasn’t supported to the point of infamy like Elves or Goblins. I chose Doran for this because:
- He’s a Treefolk, first and foremost. This immediately narrowed my choices down to 3, Doran, Sapling of Colfenor, and Verdeloth the Ancient.
- He’s in 3 colours. While the white in the deck is very much a splash, the third colour pushed him far ahead of the other two for a Treefolk tribal commander, allowing me to grab great cards like Indomitable Ancients or Aura Shards.
- I like big butts, and I cannot lie. Though, all jokes aside, Doran sets himself apart from the other commanders with a solid build-around theme. While Sapling cares about high toughness too, and Verdeloth is a lord in his own right, Neither of them help their individual theme as much as Doran himself!
Now, this deck is a lot less.. focused… compared to previous decks featured on Rain of Salt. This is semi-intentional; I want to be able to see as much of the deck as possible, while keeping variance high. Interestingly, I have no hard win cons, just threats to end the game:
Chameleon Colossus – Erebos’ worst nightmare, the changeling was my only (technical) non-treefolk addition to the deck, but I allowed it because:
- It’s technically a treefolk
- It’s a REALLY great beater, with selective evasion and a powerful ability
- I REALLY needed more creatures cheaper than 5 cmc.
All of these combined make these a very powerful card, and one I’m almost never unhappy to see early on.
Dauntless Dourbark – As I’m sure you may have noticed, this deck runs a lot of treefolk. Handily, it’s also effectively monogreen, with almost 3x more basic forests than plains and swamps combined. A lot of great lands in this deck (like Murmuring Bosk or Canopy Vista) are incidentally forests. It’s not uncommon for this guy to eat a removal spell before he gets the chance to swing, as he is often hitting way above curve for the price you pay.
Dungrove Elder – Make no mistake, I LOVE this card. I started playing near the end of Innistrad block, right before M13; so my first core set experience was M12. To my younger self who was a complete novice to TCGs in general, this was love at first sight. The idea of a huge beater that couldn’t be interacted with and was huge in a monogreen deck was mind-blowing to me, and I’ve crammed it in every monogreen deck I’ve had since, be it Baru, Nylea, God of the Hunt, or Ruric Thar that one time. Not only is this deck effectively monocolour, he also brings a handy tribal synergy. I couldn’t have jammed it in here harder!
Great Oak Guardian – Recent Treefolk love has been dwindling, but Wizards knocked it out of the park with this guy. A niche pick in EDH still (not sure why), nobody ever plays around this. Even on an empty board, a flash reach creature can be critical in removing a threat that’s been taunting your treefolk which are (mostly) ineffectual at blocking flyers. Its wider effects are real though, and the mini-craterhoof at instant speed to screw combat math or untap your blockers to blow out an alpha strike have earned this guy his place as one of my MVPs.
Indomitable Ancients – Yes. This is a 2 power threat. In a Doran deck, on curve for the turn after you drop your Doran, this guy is attacking and blocking for 10. for 4 mana. This guy is insane, and I’ve never seen a vanilla creature eat removal faster (and for good reason, a 4 mana 4 turn clock is absolutely no joke).
Kalonian Twingrove – Another guy that stands out from a synergy perspective; this deck being effectively monogreen makes this guy (and his playmate) huge! This guy has a habit of showing up at the best possible time for me; he’s helped me rebuild from a crushed board state with the multiple bodies he brings and gets me right back into the game swinging.
Magnigoth Treefolk – Another nostalgic card for me; this guy was my first legacy-bordered card, given as a free rare in the packaging of some of my early singles orders. I dreamt of making him work one day, and he is the nuts in Doran. When your commander’s online, it’s not difficult to make this guy an unblockable 6/6 for at least one person. With the other treefolk tribal support in the deck, this guy makes players sweat with minimal effort on your part.
Sapling of Colfenor – Mechanically one of my favourite cards in the deck, she also threatens to grind people out when Doran is online. While being indestructible. And gaining you life/drawing you cards roughly a third of the time. While she isn’t a fantastic deal on her own, she’s still a slot in the deck I wouldn’t give up for the world.
Unstoppable Ash – This lovably derpy Treefolk is huge. His incredibly splashy effect makes your guys almost unkillable in combat, and translates to a huge +5/+5 when blocked with Doran online (as is to be expected from the previous two points, Doran is online A LOT). Having trample himself, swinging while Doran is out makes him a very tough customer to beat. The champion trigger is relevant, as the temporary Oblivion Ringing an ETB creature like Deadwood Treefolk or Treefolk Harbinger can allow you to reuse the effect in the event of his unfortunate (and most likely inevitable) demise.
Verdeloth the Ancient – A harbinger of the end times, a multikicked Verdeloth spells the end of a game if he isn’t answered immediately. For every additional mana after the original cost, he comes with a 2/2. And this deck ramps, a lot. He will most likely get a board wipe out of your opponents; if he doesn’t, get to swinging and the game will be yours in short order!
Now, this deck crammed treefolk, and only treefolk. Needless to say, a lot of the small ones are quite bad, but an absolute necessity if we want to vie for board control before turn 7.
Battlewand Oak – While I said MOST were quite bad, this one is one of the better ones. If you’re hitting lands every turn this guy is always a 3/5 at least on your turn, a 5/7 if you drop another creature after that. An unassuming juggernaut, he allows for a lot of clever plays such as milking even more value out of Skyshroud Claim, or holding fetchlands back to use as a combat trick. If building Treefolk, you NEED this guy (and his wand).
Black Poplar Shaman – This guy is pretty good in the deck, he’s good as an early body (hitting for 3 with Doran around), and late he can protect your Treefolk from removal. He is a bit intensive on black mana which we aren’t hugely heavy on, but he’s still a good addition.
Canker Abomination – This guy’s effectiveness is based on meta. Me, with at least one player playing a creatureless deck per game, this is easily either 5/5 or 6/6 on turn 4 or earlier. This is a hell of a lot of pushing power in the early game, and is difficult to deal with outside of hard removal, so may end up eating a Path (Which is completely fine, by the way)
Cloudcrown Oak, Heartwood Treefolk – I’ll lump these two together, as they cover the niche of [4 mana french vanilla Treefolk to fill curve]. They are each reasonably helpful, however. The Oak is one of the only Reach creatures in the deck (surprised me, too), so is handy to discourage small flyers like rogue Thopter tokens or the little Aven Mindcensor that could. The Heartwood Treefolk has its applications in my meta, as two of the guys are fond of Green. While not a massive bargaining chip, it’s good to cheese out a little bit of damage here and there.
Lumberknot – This guy is pretty cool; he often doesn’t do much, but he has potential that I aim to shoot for whenever I use him. While a lot of games don’t tend to have mass creature combat early on (in my meta, at least) Lumberknot sits, and he waits. Being hexproof, he’ll only really be removed incidentally by a board wipe, but if creatures are being pinged off left and right, he’ll soon be sitting at Dungrove Elder levels, growing with each chump block. In a meta of cheap value creatures, that’s pretty fine.
Treefolk Seedlings – A great card, this guy is a wall in the early game. While his power remains static, he becomes an ironclad bastion to ward off anybody who comes near, taking hits from Praetors and Eldrazi titans alike. As with most creatures in this deck, he also goes completely bonkers with your commander on the field; it won’t be early by the nature of his toughness being dependent on a developed landbase, but when it does… oh boy. Your opponents will know.
Like any tribal deck, this deck thrives on its anthem effects. These are effects that typically make your boys bigger, but in this case I’ve coined it as an umbrella term for everything that hits the team, from Creature Type-wide Shroud to Cost Reduction.
Assault Formation – If Doran can’t stick, we’ll throw this out there. Often the asymmetry of this will be good, as unlike Doran this one only makes your creatures giant. However, this also comes down the turn before, and offers a pricey (but so worth it) teamwide pump to make you difficult to block.
Bosk Banneret – Always a welcome addition to your opening hand, this guy allows you to pile pressure on early, vomiting your hand out for less (these do stack too – Your second cast of Doran becomes tax free!).
Coat of Arms – Undisputed Tribal staple. When this drops on a stalled board state, often you’re the only one with a tribal theme. While other players might be getting a +1/+1, you’re probably getting a +5/+5 or more, across your team. When this card lands, somebody’s gonna die.
Cover of Darkness – Against some decks, this is a good sign of an alpha strike. It’s easy to set up situations where this will outright kill somebody, but it doesn’t mean it has to! It also limits their blockers, and this could force people to be… ‘persuaded’… out of their black or artifact value creatures, like Phyrexian Revoker or Magus of the Coffers.
Door of Destinies – Another super simple tribal staple, this one is huge in that 1) it only affects your guys, unlike Coat of Arms, and 2) it doesn’t require your board to be full to make your guys massive. If your threats keep dying, you can run out single threats that get bigger and bigger as the Door continues to trigger. Great bit of inevitability.
Gravity Well – Contingency Plan A vs flyer decks; Gravity Well plucks would-be assailants out of thin air and forces them to fight on your terms – terms which you will dominate them in. While it’s niche, there have been times where the only thing I’ve wanted to top deck has been this or the next addition…
… Spidersilk Armor – This card is great, in an understated way. Of course it’s main use will be giving your guys reach, allowing them to block flyers (a key weakness of the deck, being all ground creatures), but it also possesses synergy with Doran in that +0/+1; which in this deck might as well be +1/+1. This doesn’t seem big, but it can push your guys over creatures that walled them before, allowing them to crash through for free damage as your creatures grow.
Steely Resolve – This card feels unfair. Rightly so; given as it’s a card balanced on the fact that it’s symmetrical – as long as people are running creatures of the creature type. Not many people run Treefolk, as I’ve found. As such, you can completely forget about their removal and swing freely!
Timber Protector – My favourite of the Anthems, this guy is a house. He acts as creature pump, creature protection, and Armageddon resistance strapped to a 4/6 body. While I don’t condone obfuscating the boardstate, the Indestructible Forest clause is definitely something that unfamiliar players will gloss over, and has lead to many, many favourable post-Armageddon outcomes.
Urza’s Incubator – One more tribal staple to round it out (Treefolk have above average tribal support, but not much), this is a Bosk Banneret without its legs. The good news is, however, that is affects all of your treefolk by 2, regardless of whether it’s a shaman or warrior! Untapping with this card on board is nuts for your tempo, untapping on 4 straight into an Ulvenwald Observer, or Magnigoth Treefolk AND Dungrove Elder!. With these cost reducers, your hand empties quickly. That’s why I also included:
I’ll accept my ‘Seemless Transition’ award later. In a monogreen deck I expected to lean on my splash colours for draw; one of those colours being white, this was far from the case!
Abundance – This card feels criminally underused to me. I hardly ever see it around, but in this deck it’s fantastic. It’s hitting your land drops if you have Woodfall Primus eating up your hand, and it’s guaranteeing you keep drawing into nonlands when you have your landbase and need some more gas. A hefty recommendation for me, this card has been nothing but great.
Harmonize – The first non-enchantment card draw I thought of, drawing 3 cards for 4 mana is absolutely great, and this deck can hit that as early as turn 2. Combos well with Abundance as well, as it can guarantee you draw a certain balance of land-nonland, if you didnt want all of one or the other (for example, if you dropped it turn 2 with an awkwardly balanced hand)
Heartwood Storyteller – Another card from my Magic youth, I loved playing with this guy in Duels 2013. In this deck he’s a great aggro drop that actively discourages ramp – the card draw may benefit other decks as well, but in a deck that focuses primarily on the board instead of the stack, keeping the stack clear makes us as Treefolk happy.
Leaf-Crowned Elder – In a tribal deck, this card is busted. Borked. Bah-roken. With a third of the deck (exactly as we can, 33 creature count) being creatures, this guy can flip the top card a third of the time and still allow us to draw something else fruity. Worst case scenario, you get to peek at your top card to decide if you want to crack your fetch before your draw!
Phyrexian Arena – The only nongreen card in this section (I found it strange, too), this handy black staple allows us convert life into drawing a second card a turn, which is fantastic in most situations (Looking at you, Notion Thief). Playing two threats a turn in the late game is difficult to keep up with, and can give you the extra fuel to go the distance!
Sylvan Library – Easily the single most expensive nonland in this deck (and even then, only barely being beaten out by some of the more choice fetches), Sylvan Library occupies a similar role to the Arena, except it doesn’t cost you life (unless you want more than one extra card a turn, you greedy green player), and it gives you an option of what your other card is. When you run out of decent options, hopefully you have a shuffle effect (and, with multiple land tutor effects in the deck alongside 3+ fetches, you’d hope so) and then you can just straight up reset them! Fantastic source of card advantage that I don’t think any deck could be without.
Ulvenwald Observer – One of the most recent additions to the deck, the Observer brings a fair amount of weight with him. A respectable body for his cost, he also means that most (all but 3-5 of the 33 creatures) draw a card when they die. Every time. This adds a hefty amount of boardwipe insurance lest you unload a handful of bark and fury on your next turn, and makes it easier to go on the offensive, as you are reimbursed with a card in exchange for pressuring your opponents’ resources. Win-win.
No deck is without a removal suite, and the trees pack plenty:
Aura Shards – Never a welcome sight for your opponents, even if you only get a trigger or so a turn this card can cause an obscene amount of havoc. Smashing mana rock suites, destroying combo pieces, annihilating Sad Robots, every tree takes you a step closer to restoring the natural balance – and I couldn’t be happier.
Lignify – The only Treefolk non-creature left in the deck (Sorry Reach of Branches, I will always remember you), this sorts a creature for a while. It’s by no means permanent (besides being a permanent), but it removes indestructible, makes them smaller, and can be flipped off the top with Leaf-Crowned Elder for a free spell. It also works as a handy second copy of Song of the Dryads. But I’ll come to that in a second.
Path to Exile, Swords to Plowshares – Essential White removal, these remove threats and blockers without a second of regret, for only one mana. Path comes with a steeper downside than Swords by quite a stretch, but that doesn’t stop them both being ridiculously efficient pieces of removal, and most likely the best options in these slots.
Song of the Dryads – Infinitely better than Lignify. For one extra mana, you get to hit ANY permanent. AND, you don’t turn it into a creature, it becomes a land. A bodyless, abilitiless (barring T: Add G to your mana pool) land. The guy getting hit with this turns on your Forestwalk guys, and loses one of his best things to one of the best green removal spells in the game. It also adds a dash of humour to the game; last time I used this card my victim couldn’t be more amused by the fact that he could tap his Purphoros for mana.
Thorntooth Witch – While the body may be underwhelming for the cost, make no mistake; this lady does work. It turns every treefolk succeeding her into a removal spell. Small creatures won’t last long under the thumb, and even larger bodies feel uncomfortable when you have multiple cards in hand. Always draws attention, and for good reason.
Wave of Reckoning – The only wrath effect in the deck (Board control is important to us, we don’t really need wipes all that often), This one is just conditional enough to hurt. Besides our threats that scale with Forests like Dungrove Elder, or more recent trees like Ulvenwald Observer, none of our monsters die to this. A lot of other decks aren’t that lucky, however. As an amusing aside, I once blew out a player playing Phyrexian Obliterator using this card; the creature does damage to itself, triggering things like deathtouch (and lifelink), and triggering combat triggers, too.
Wickerbough Elder, Woodfall Primus – I’ll put these together because they form a similar role but for different costs; The elder is an acceptable on curve drop, powering up by naturalising a card in the early game swinging. But once you’re able to make the investment, Woodfall Primus arrives to mop up the rest, twice. Bramblecrush effects are popular in this deck, and other decks can be put off their gameplan solely because of it.
As with any deck, the ability to grow quickly and consistently is important. Luckily, we have:
Cultivate, Explosive Vegetation, Kodama’s Reach, Rampant Growth – This deck is particularly land hungry. It cares about forests in bulk, and as such it’s necessary we lean on (often slower) land ramp. This is the suite we need (but not necessarily all of it, Three Visits cough cough) to ensure we keep a critical mass of basics forests around at all times.
Farseek – Decided to give this its own segment because let’s be honest, it’s great. Fetches our nonbasic nonforests (though it grabs Temple Garden and Overgrown Tomb) and is a fantastic way to fix our mana.
Fellwar Stone, Golgari Signet, Mana Vault, Selesnya Signet, Sol Ring – While we need a certain amount of lands, land ramp is slow. Dorks are right out because of the tribal restriction, so we turn to rocks. Each of these is a quick 1-2 mana bit of acceleration to get you to where you need to be, be it more lands or a quick bit of meat (or wood) to tide your early game over.
Nature’s Lore, Skyshroud Claim – These are also separate from the other spells. 1) They fetch forests, but includes nonbasics, making them actually much more flexible, able to fetch things such as Murmuring Bosk for fixing, and 2) they are impressive in that they bring the lands in untapped. This can allow them to be cast at a technical discount if you have a use for those untapped lands straight away. Using six lands for Skyshroud Claim into another 4 drop is one hell of a tempo advantage that is hard to beat.
Seedguide Ash – The final piece of ramp is one unique to Treefolk, and probably my favourite. For a modest 5 mana, you have a respectable body that your opponents don’t want to block, lest it ramp you into more difficult to deal with threats. The fact that they grab nonbasic forests is also great, as it ramps your forest count while grabbing you any fixing you might need.
A miscellaneous part on the list, all of these pieces are handy when you need them, and helps you come back from the brink.
Deadwood Treefolk – For a price, Deadwood Treefolk gets a bit of recycling action going on, helping you reuse threats and other good effects (like that Seedguide Ash) for a relatively achievable cost. It’s even got a decent body on it, so could probably take a blocker or two with it before it goes down, granting you another trigger of its Disentomb ability.
Enlightened Tutor – This card needs no introduction. Incredibly versatile, can be ramp in the early game, removal in Song of the Dryads when you need it, and even a Coat of Arms haymaker in the final turns of the game. No real reason not to run it.
Everbark Shaman – While this is technically ramp, this card isn’t consistent enough to be relied on for ramp. I’d prefer it to be known as a reasonably priced beater with additional upside in the later game when you need to power up those Kalonian Twingroves.
Fendeep Summoner – Like the Everbark, this is only ever really a beater with optional upside due to the low swamp count in the deck. But in a pinch, this guy can conjure temporary armies at instant speed, and represent a lot of stats (the lands – while it hurts if they die – trigger Ulvenwald Observer on death, too).
Orchard Warden – A beefy wall (aren’t they all in this deck?), this guy is probably a little win more, but I like him. On an even footing, the ability to crank up the life total quickly and efficiently on every succeeding summon can often give you a life buffer that is irrecoverable once you start punching others.
Patriarch’s Bidding – Oh boy. This card, man. Whenever I’ve played it I’ve only been in games with tribal decks, unfortunately. However, that doesn’t mean this card isn’t totally nuts. Twilight’s Call that only hits some of your opponent’s creatures seems a pretty great deal for 5 mana, and you will almost always come out on top (and will most likely devastate the noncreatures on the board through your copious amount of noncreature disrupting ETBs).
Tilling Treefolk – A great little value creature, this card can recur your fetches, your other saclands like Blighted Woodland, or even swamps that died with a little help from Fendeep Summoner. I’m certainly not going to say no to a little bit of gas.
Treefolk Harbinger – One of the best turn 1 drops we have, this guy usually means your next draw’s either a forest or a Bosk Banneret, depending on how the rest of my opening hand turned out. Late game, he ensures your next draw is gas; an incredible boon in such a small package.
So we’ve sat down with Doran, What’s our game plan?
Doran is a reasonably simple deck to pilot. Opening hand for him are typically around 3 lands, with some degree of ramp and something chunky to cast with that ramp. While the deck is reasonably tuned, your creatures aren’t really threats until 4+ mana. Turn 3 Doran is almost always definite, and having a 5/5 on turn 3 is almost always the correct line to take.
Lay down all the ramp you can in the early game. Once you’ve achieved ~2 sources of each colour, go heavily all-in on increasing your forest count, be it basic or nonbasic. Your ramp spells drag lands out of the deck very quickly on conjunction with the land ramping creatures like Seedguide Ash, so while the concept of ‘Deck Thinning’ is often met with smirks and raised eyebrows, it is a genuine factor in this deck that means as the game goes on and you start churning out land, your draws are going to become more and more likely to be nonland.
After you’ve reached your critical mass of land (typically about 8, that allows you to cast any creature in your deck), start dropping bombs. I like to tutor for a card advantage engine like Phyrexian Arena here, to make sure I maintain momentum for an extended period. Even the most removal heavy decks can only have so much hard removal, so your beefy threats can only be delayed for so long. This deck winds primarily through combat damage, so as soon as you see an opportunity to start swinging, do so! With the speed you can drop creatures, you will almost always have the upper hand in early combat.
As a casual deck, I don’t really have competitive improvements in mind for it:
Obviously the original duals would help it get a little closer to where I want it to be, replacing the painlands or checklands with Savannah or Bayou would increase the forest count a little more, while adding more nonbasic forests to the fetch list and allowing for an even easier way to fix with my nonbasic land ramp.
In a more competitive meta, I could even see the inclusion of some hate suites to stop combo decks or stax decks going over your head. If combo is a problem, I can see reducing the artifact ramp count to include Stony Silence or Trinisphere to mess with their combos, while Rule of Law outright shuts other decks off.
If I wasn’t so hard in on the Tribal theme I could also see a couple of nontreefolk creatures sneaking in too, such as Linvala, Keeper of Silence, or Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. I have a deep love for hatebears, and feel that utilising the ones that least affect our deck would greatly increase its success in the long run.
Well guys, that turned out a bit longer than I had planned, but that’s Doran! Thank you so much if you made it this far, and I hope that it was worth it in the end. If you like what you saw check us out on Facebook, as we keep that up to date with the latest releases as they happen. For now, Unmistakable out!