Pursuit of Knowledge – Selesnya

(Selesnya Guildgate | Art by Dimitar Marinski)

Cream of the Crop

Welcome back to Pursuit of Knowledge, the series where we use EDH gameplay data and EDHREC statistics to design a deck around a featured commander. In this installment, we will study our final guild: Selesnya. 33 Selesnya commanders helm 12,009 decks in the EDHREC database.

For this article, we will take a look at Karametra, God of Harvests, the second-most popular Selesnya commander on EDHREC, with 1,524 decks. As we will see later, War of the Spark introduces a few tools that can make Karametra shine.

Karametra, God of Harvests fetches a Forest or Plains to the battlefield every time we cast a creature spell. The most common Karametra builds revolve around enchantments, but for this article, I would like to put a stronger focus on creatures and lands. Our Commander rewards us for casting creature spells by bringing lands onto the battlefield, so our deck will put more emphasis on playing creatures and maximizing the use of the lands at our disposal, whether we gain some advantage when our lands enter the battlefield, make use of utility lands to perform some action, or take advantage of the excess mana potential that we end up getting from all of the Karametra triggers.

The following pie chart shows the average card type distribution for Karametra decks on EDHREC. The card distribution for our deck will be similar in the creature and land counts, but will have a lower focus on enchantments, allowing us to play more instants and sorceries. This will allow our deck to make better use of the additional lands while providing additional tempo acceleration.

Average Card Type Distribution

Our EDH gameplay card pool data lists 771 spells and 151 lands compatible with the Selesnya color identity, each ranked according to how much they’re used across the thousands of Selesnya decks; this ranking is what we will use to select the best cards in each category. In addition to the typical categories of ramp, card advantage/filtering, disruption, mass removal, standalone creatures and spells, and lands, we will introduce four core synergy categories: Cares About Creatures, Cares About Lands, Tokens, and Reanimation. The first two categories directly leverage our commander’s main ability. With more emphasis on casting creature spells, and the fact that we will have access to a greater pool of lands, some of which we could animate to grow our ranks, it makes sense to bring in a core tokens package to further fuel a go-wide strategy.

We will now look at each of the individual categories, listing the best cards for each and reporting the rank in parenthesis beside each card name in the tables below. The cards selected for our deck are highlighted in each table with a colored background. We will select the cards for our deck mostly from our ranked card pool; however, some unranked cards with noticeable affinity with our core synergies will also make it in to our deck, including three newcomers from the latest set, War of the Spark.


Ramp

As we plan to include a number of cards with Landfall triggers to leverage Karametra’s ability, our land-based ramp package is designed to be very aggressive.

Cultivate (4) Sol Ring (20) Chrome Mox (38) Ulvenwald Hydra (97)
Kodama’s Reach (5) Explosive Vegetation (21) Mana Crypt (39) Chord of Calling (140)
Skyshroud Claim (6) Llanowar Elves (22) Solemn Simulacrum (40) Shaman of Forgotten Ways (202)
Sakura-Tribe Elder (7) Nature’s Lore (25) Expedition Map (42) Genesis Wave (488)
Wayfarer’s Bauble (14) Harrow (28) Birds of Paradise (49) Karametra, God of Harvests (610)
Blighted Woodland (~14) Temple of the False God (~28) Nissa, Vastwood Seer // Nissa, Sage Animist (50) Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx (~734)
Astral Cornucopia (16) Rampant Growth (32) Gilded Lotus (53) Nissa, Who Shakes the World
Fyndhorn Elves (17) Phyrexian Altar (35) Wood Elves (80) Nissa, Worldwaker

Half of our ramp cards bring lands onto the battlefield. We are fortunate that some of the best ramp spells, Cultivate, Kodama’s Reach, and Sakura-Tribe Elder, fall in this category. Although more of a late-game ramp effect, Ulvenwald Hydra allows us to tutor for our best land as it enters the battlefield.

Llanowar Elves, Sakura-Tribe Elder, and Sol Ring, our only mana rock in this ramp package, provide the early ramp. Nissa, Who Shakes the World doubles the mana that each of our Forests generate. With Karametra and Nissa on the battlefield, each creature spell we cast has an Explosive Vegetation tacked onto it. A nice inclusion from War of the Spark, Nissa can also turn our lands into creatures, which reinforces our go-wide strategy.


Card Advantage/Filtering

Green provides a good source of card advantage spells and some of the best creature tutors. White brings in some of the best artifact and enchantment tutors. Card advantage that leverages the casting of creature spells is especially good in this build.

Enlightened Tutor (1) Praetor’s Counsel (30) Crop Rotation (69) Soul of the Harvest (96)
Eternal Witness (2) Green Sun’s Zenith (31) Alhammarret’s Archive (70) Ulvenwald Hydra (97)
Sylvan Library (3) Solemn Simulacrum (40) Primal Amulet // Primal Wellspring (71) See the Unwritten (100)
Harmonize (9) Eldritch Evolution (41) Tamiyo’s Journal (72) Nissa, Voice of Zendikar (106)
Worldly Tutor (10) Regrowth (43) Slippery Karst (~81) Chord of Calling (140)
Reliquary Tower (~10) Kozilek, Butcher of Truth (44) Filigree Familiar (82) Mentor of the Meek (192)
Survival of the Fittest (11) Path of Ancestry (~44) Recruiter of the Guard (84) Academy Rector (310)
Skullclamp (12) Greater Good (46) Traverse the Outlands (87) Genesis Wave (488)
Seasons Past (23) Birthing Pod (58) Greenwarden of Murasa (93) Beast Whisperer (607)
Sensei’s Divining Top (27) Sanctum of Ugin (~64) Stoneforge Mystic (95) Finale of Devastation

Enlightened Tutor and Academy Rector bring in more consistency in finding enchantments like Cathars’ Crusade, Beastmaster Ascension, Aura Shards, or Primeval Bounty, each of which helps solidify our board state. Recruiter of the Guard gives us access to most of the disruption cards and some of the card draw options that we may need.

As stated earlier, cards that trigger when we cast creatures are especially advantageous in this deck, so creatures like Beast Whisperer, Soul of the Harvest, and Mentor of the Meek provide a good source of card advantage because of the extra synergy with our commander and jump-start the casting of numerous creature spells each turn.


Disruption

The disruption spells in this deck are split into two major categories: targeted removal and protection. We also add a little bit of bounce to get more Karametra triggers and repeat some of our best enter-the-battlefield (ETB) triggers.

Krosan Grip (8) Lightning Greaves (33) Gift of Immortality (78) Shaman of Forgotten Ways (202)
Strip Mine (~13) Scavenging Ooze (34) Frontier Siege (90) Shalai, Voice of Plenty (273)
Swords to Plowshares (15) Path to Exile (37) Soul of New Phyrexia (102) Aura Shards (308)
Nature’s Claim (18) Kozilek, Butcher of Truth (44) Kor Haven (~104) Heroic Intervention (646)
Arachnogenesis (19) Teferi’s Protection (52) Thalia, Heretic Cathar (105) Temur Sabertooth (673)
Yavimaya Hollow (~22) Gaddock Teeg (56) Qasali Pridemage (108) Knight of Autumn
Beast Within (24) Scour from Existence (62) Collective Effort (139) Kor Skyfisher
Scavenger Grounds (~29) Sylvan Safekeeper (76) Constant Mists (175) Whitemane Lion

To protect our permanents, we include cards like Yavimaya Hollow, Sylvan Safekeeper, and Shalai, Voice of Plenty. Shalai, Voice of Plenty also has the ability to pump our creatures with our excess mana.

Some of the targeted removal takes advantage of the high creature count. Aura Shards and Collective Effort, for example, could almost be considered mass removal in this deck.

Constant Mists can deter our opponents from attacking while we wait to draw the spells we need to secure the win.

Whitemane Lion and Temur Sabertooth give us a way to recast creatures to leverage Karametra’s land-grabbing and our other creatures’ ETB triggers, but they can also be used to protect our creatures from targeted removal.

Finally, we include a standalone wincon, Shaman of Forgotten Ways, which is especially effective in a creature-intensive deck that ramps so quickly.


Mass Removal

As we expect to go wide, we are not as worried about getting overrun by our opponents’ creatures, so we can keep the mass removal to a minimum.

Fumigate (36) Ezuri’s Predation (157) Mass Calcify (324) Ugin, the Spirit Dragon (463)
Bane of Progress (45) Martial Coup (217) Cleansing Nova (348) Walking Ballista (468)
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite (98) Silklash Spider (225) Hour of Revelation (352) Catastrophe (485)
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion (113) Divine Reckoning (248) Hour of Reckoning (364) Retribution of the Meek (500)
Austere Command (145) Akroma’s Vengeance (283) Armageddon (416) Wave of Vitriol (505)

We do, however, bring in two cards that address two potential weaknesses: Elspeth, Sun’s Champion to take care of opponents that go tall, and Cleansing Nova to answer problematic artifact- and/or enchantment-heavy board states.


Core Synergy: Cares About Creatures

Our first core synergy category revolves around cards that care about creatures. We expect to cast many creature spells, so we value cards that profit from playing creatures or get stronger with the presence of many creatures.

Worldly Tutor (10) Siege Behemoth (54) Elspeth, Sun’s Champion (113) Cleansing Nova (348)
Skullclamp (12) Verdant Confluence (55) Collective Effort (139) Dryad Arbor (549)
Triumph of the Hordes (13) Birthing Pod (58) Chord of Calling (140) Beast Whisperer (607)
Green Sun’s Zenith (31) Somberwald Sage (60) Cathars’ Crusade (141) Karametra, God of Harvests (610)
Lightning Greaves (33) Sanctum of Ugin (~64) Mentor of the Meek (192) Emeria, the Sky Ruin (~683)
Fumigate (36) Recruiter of the Guard (84) Shaman of Forgotten Ways (202) Finale of Devastation
Path to Exile (37) Primeval Bounty (92) Champion of Lambholt (220) God-Eternal Oketra
Eldritch Evolution (41) Beastmaster Ascension (94) Craterhoof Behemoth (277) Kor Skyfisher
Greater Good (46) Soul of the Harvest (96) Aura Shards (308) Whitemane Lion

We already mentioned how good cards like Mentor of the Meek, Aura Shards, and Collective Effort are in this deck. Primeval Bounty and a newcomer from War of the Spark, God-Eternal Oketra, are each a perfect fit here: each awards us with a sizable creature token each time we cast a creature spell.

Cathars’ Crusade, Beastmaster Ascension, and Triumph of the Hordes are undoubtedly very threatening in a deck designed to go wide.

One of our finishers, Craterhoof Behemoth, can be tutored up by Chord of Calling, with or without help from our horde. Talk about creature synergy! If we did not succeed in overrunning our opponents with Craterhoof, we can even bring it back from the graveyard with Finale of Devastation.


Core Synergy: Cares About Lands

Karametra will bring additional lands to the battlefield, so we therefore include cards that care about lands.

Cultivate (4) Explosive Vegetation (21) Sylvan Safekeeper (76) Emeria Shepherd (570)
Kodama’s Reach (5) Nature’s Lore (25) Windswept Heath (~78) Emeria Angel (583)
Skyshroud Claim (6) Marsh Flats (~25) Rampaging Baloths (79) Karametra, God of Harvests (610)
Sakura-Tribe Elder (7) Avenger of Zendikar (26) Wood Elves (80) Emeria, the Sky Ruin (~683)
Verdant Catacombs (~8) Harrow (28) Primeval Bounty (92) Knight of the Reliquary
Strip Mine (~13) Arid Mesa (~28) Ulvenwald Hydra (97) Kor Skyfisher
Wayfarer’s Bauble (14) Farseek (29) Rude Awakening (155) Nissa, Who Shakes the World
Blighted Woodland (~14) Rampant Growth (32) Constant Mists (175) Sylvan Awakening
Wooded Foothills (~14) Misty Rainforest (~33) Ramunap Excavator (194) Waker of the Wilds

Rampaging Baloths and Emeria Angel create tokens with their Landfall abilities. Some cards like Avenger of Zendikar and Ulvenwald Hydra get more bang for their buck with lots of lands in play. Primeval Bounty brings our life total up every time one of our lands hits the field.

Rude Awakening has the potential to win games on its own. It is well within the realm of possibility that we end up with 15 to 20 lands late in the game. Turning each of these lands into a 2/2 creature creates an additional 30 to 40 damage to send to our opponents.

We also include cards that use our excess land for value. Constant Mists protects us from our opponents’ attacks, and Sylvan Safekeeper protects our creatures from targeted actions. Both of these cards would normally put a not-insignificant dent into our mana pool, but with Karametra bringing in lands every time we cast a creature spell, the cost of sacrificing a land is minimal.


Core Synergy: Tokens

One of the best uses of our Landfall payoffs comes in the form of token generation. In addition, a number of token-oriented cards allow us to use our excess mana, and the token aspect of our deck complements a go-wide strategy.

Arachnogenesis (19) Khalni Garden (~81) Bramble Sovereign (134) Caller of the Claw (184)
Avenger of Zendikar (26) Mycoloth (85) Sprout Swarm (137) Sacred Mesa (186)
Nissa, Vastwood Seer // Nissa, Sage Animist (50) Primeval Bounty (92) Increasing Devotion (148) Doubling Season (213)
Heliod, God of the Sun (51) Nissa, Voice of Zendikar (106) Nahiri, the Lithomancer (150) Martial Coup (217)
Spawning Pit (59) Elspeth, Sun’s Champion (113) Hero of Bladehold (152) Hour of Promise (247)
Intangible Virtue (64) Legion’s Landing // Adanto, the First Fort (127) Garruk, Primal Hunter (167) Wolfbriar Elemental (262)
Rampaging Baloths (79) Trading Post (128) Rootborn Defenses (171) Emeria Angel (583)
Anointed Procession (81) Luminarch Ascension (132) Verdant Force (177) God-Eternal Oketra

God-Eternal Oketra in a creature-heavy deck shines even without Karametra on the battlefield, and the same goes for Primeval Bounty.

Heliod, God of the Sun not only gives our creatures vigilance, which is often one of the most underrated combat abilities, but also provides a way to turn our unspent mana into creature tokens.


Core Synergy: Reanimation

To recover from our opponent’s disruption, or to repeat the casting of an important spell, we include a small reanimation package.

Eternal Witness (2) Wildest Dreams (88) Den Protector (118) Life from the Loam (143)
Praetor’s Counsel (30) Greenwarden of Murasa (93) Drownyard Temple (~120) Marshal’s Anthem (147)
Regrowth (43) See the Unwritten (100) Saffi Eriksdotter (121) Creeping Renaissance (174)
Hermit Druid (47) Karmic Guide (101) Haven of the Spirit Dragon (~125) Emrakul, the Promised End (178)
Reveillark (48) Command Beacon (~101) Grapple with the Past (124) Ramunap Excavator (194)
Verdant Confluence (55) Genesis (109) Moldgraf Monstrosity (126) Emeria Shepherd (570)
Altar of Dementia (74) God-Pharaoh’s Gift (110) Trading Post (128) Emeria, the Sky Ruin (~683)
Nim Deathmantle (83) Skullwinder (112) Crucible of Worlds (131) Finale of Devastation

Our ability to recur cards from the graveyard adds resilience to our deck. The combination of Survival of the Fittest with Emeria Shepherd in our library grants us access to all of our creatures, whether they be in the graveyard or in our library. Genesis also grants us access to creatures in our graveyard.

Worldly Tutor is the best-ranked creature tutor in our card pool, but the flexibility of Finale of Devastation to get creature spells from both the graveyard and our library may make it a better choice in this deck.

If we can get to seven Plains on our side, Emeria, the Sky Ruin will start returning creatures from our graveyard to the battlefield at no cost. This is quite achievable with Karametra pulling in a Plains card every time we cast a creature.


Standalone Creatures

Although we have not selected any of the standalone creature cards listed in the table below, if we wanted a stronger focus on evasion, combat support, or going wide, there are some great choices here. Listed below are the best standalone creature spells that do not fall in any of the previous categories but are highly-ranked in our card pool.

Felidar Guardian (125) Yosei, the Morning Star (299) Vigor (367) Immaculate Magistrate (456)
Stuffy Doll (197) Primordial Hydra (322) Oreskos Explorer (389) Rhox Faithmender (478)
Loaming Shaman (228) Polukranos, World Eater (323) Frontline Medic (391) Jazal Goldmane (483)
Chameleon Colossus (252) Joraga Warcaller (327) Armory Automaton (395) Leonin Shikari (494)
Verdurous Gearhulk (271) Surrak, the Hunt Caller (345) Mirror Entity (397) Hydra Omnivore (497)
Sunscorch Regent (294) Odric, Lunarch Marshal (347) Nylea, God of the Hunt (400) Adaptive Automaton (522)
Gisela, the Broken Blade // Brisela, Voice of Nightmares (295) Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa (350) Ezuri, Renegade Leader (449) Dauntless Escort (542)

Standalone Spells

We are covering a lot of ground with our core synergy categories, so little is left in that makes a difference for our deck other than Amulet of Vigor, an auto-include in a Karametra deck. I do list the rest of the Standalone Spells in the table below for completeness, in case you would like to create similar Selesnya decks but with different synergies.

Sigarda’s Aid (104) Rings of Brighthearth (517) Font of Mythos (693) Keening Stone (721)
Clock of Omens (206) Voltaic Key (518) Mesmeric Orb (710) Altar of the Brood (728)
The Chain Veil (226) Phyrexian Unlife (558) Darksteel Forge (714) Mindcrank (729)
Mirari (422) Howling Mine (669) Codex Shredder (718) Amulet of Vigor

Lands

We need a good portion of our lands to be Forests or Plains for Karametra to be fully operational. Emeria, the Sky Ruin also puts a higher premium on Plains. For this reason, basic lands make a higher proportion of our deck than normal.

Forest (1) Yavimaya Hollow (8) Path of Ancestry (15) Scattered Groves (78)
Command Tower (2) Marsh Flats (9) Temple Garden (16) Oran-Rief, the Vastwood (85)
Verdant Catacombs (3) Temple of the False God (10) Savannah (17) Stirring Wildwood (107)
Reliquary Tower (4) Arid Mesa (11) Canopy Vista (24) Krosan Verge (112)
Strip Mine (5) Scavenger Grounds (12) Windswept Heath (27) Emeria, the Sky Ruin (133)
Blighted Woodland (6) Misty Rainforest (13) Khalni Garden (29) Plains (143)
Wooded Foothills (7) Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth (14) Treetop Village (32) Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx (148)

Temple Garden and Scattered Groves count as both Forest and Plains, and can be retrieved by Karametra or Krosan Verge. Blighted Woodland, Krosan Verge, and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx provide some additional ramp, and the former two can be recurred if we can get Ramunap Excavator onto the battlefield.

Otherwise, Oran-Rief, the Vastwood buffs our green creatures the turn they come in, and Stirring Wildwood and Treetop Village can help us continue to damage our opponents after a board wipe or allow us to go a bit wider in a final strike.


Putting It All Together

With a significant focus on casting creatures in a deck that makes optimal use of extra lands, we present a deck that should allow us to go wide to take down each of our opponents. To help us make the best use of the excess land that we’ll have access to after Karametra comes online, a good portion of cards either create value on each land drop or give us the ability to sink mana for value. Some other cards use the excess land to either protect our board from our opponents’ threats or to prevent damage coming our way. We also added a small reanimation package to make our deck more resilient.

Along the way, we have presented the best-ranked cards based on EDH gameplay data for our last guild, Selesnya. We have now covered each of the ten two-color combinations, and the tables introduced in our journey make a good starting point for a new set of deckbuilding tools based on gameplay data. Although there is a limit to how much we can derive from this data due to its size, it guides us in highlighting the cards that some of the best content creators use in their decks, and it helps us identify which of these cards perform best in real game situations. With a larger and more diverse dataset, and the ability to cross-reference the card value, we could add additional filters to highlight the best cards for different budgets.

Best of the Crop

Commander (1)
Creatures (34)
Artifacts (3)
Instants (7)
Sorceries (10)
Enchantments (7)
Planeswalkers (3)
Lands (35)

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Martin has been playing Magic since Fifth Dawn. He has explored many formats over the years and his favorite one is Commander. Curious by nature, Martin enjoys deckbuilding as much as playing the game. He likes to experiment new deck archetypes, explore new synergies and learn about crazy combos.