(Standard) GW Emeria Renegade Primer

On our last cast, Darrel and I got on the topic of how great Renegade Rallier worked with Eldrazi Displacer and started to brew a deck around this engine.

This week, I began brewing around this idea and came up with something that I am quite excited to share.  In the process, I’ve uncovered some incredible interactions between many of the cards in standard that aren’t outwardly obvious.  Rather than posting the decklist first, let’s start by going through the opening to a hypothetical game.

Let’s imagine that this is our opening hand on the play…

The plan with this deck is to ramp to Emeria Shepherd and overwhelm with repeatable creature recursion (via Rallier/Selfless Spirit) but can frequently win before reaching 7 mana in based on the resiliency of it’s midrange creature base.

This hand has all of the necessary pieces of a ramp engine (Rallier/Displacer/Wilds) and a way to dig for end-game threats and removal (Vessel).  Definitely a keeper.

The centerpiece of this deck is truly casting or blinking a Renegade Rallier to reanimate a 2-cmc permanent.  Here is the menu of our choices:

While at first glance, this list might look underwhelming, these choices can provide quite a bit of versatility and impact.

  • Evolving Wilds: The ability to put an additional land onto the battlefield as early as turn 3 is quite powerful.  Wilds is ideal because it so easily can place itself back into the graveyard to trigger subsequent revolt abilities or to be reanimated again by later Renegade Ralliers.
  • Selfless Spirit: Spirit is both the best way to activate revolt and the best target for revolt that this deck could ask for.  Many of this deck’s game plans involve having a a slew of creatures that seem to be have more chances to become indestructible than your opponent has removal spells.
  • Vessel of Nascency: Another great way to trigger revolt which also doubles as a great target for Rallier.  This card allows your Rallier draws off the top of your deck to dig for threats like Emeria Shepherd or Nissa, Vital Force when needed.
  • Thraben Inspector: This one is not the first choice target but often ends up in the graveyard after chump blocking a much larger creature.  The upside here is that it makes Renegade Rallier a functional 4-power, 4-toughness clue machine for three mana.  As a last choice option, that’s still pretty appealing.

So what’s our goal with all of this?

Having Renegade Rallier and Eldrazi Displacer means that you can pay 3 mana to reanimate any of the previously mentioned choices.  The primary plans, spamming Evolving Wilds or spamming Selfless Spirit, can often lead to two different lines of play.

Ramp Ramp Ramp…
Reaching 7 mana to cast Emeria Shepherd is not hard to do.  But what do we do when we get there?


Really we’ll be wanting 8 mana when we cast Emeria in order to activate it’s landfall right away but because we’re running 4 Selfless Spirit, we just might be able to stick an Emeria on 7 and hope that she survives long enough for us to untap and play a land the next turn.

Ideally, the first land we play is Evolving Wilds.  Now the fun begins…

  1. Landfall: Return target any non-land permanent to your hand
  2. Crack Evolving Wilds: Put a plains in play
  3. Landfall: Return target Renegade Rallier from your graveyard to the battlefield
  4. Revolt: Return target Evolving Wilds from your graveyard to play
  5. Landfall: Return target any non-land permanent to your hand
  6. Crack Evolving Wilds: Do you have any more Renegade Ralliers in your yard?

Leaving one untapped Evolving Wilds at the end of this chain allows you to keep an instant speed Selfless Spirit option open vs. any opposing removal that your opponent may be holding.

Ok, it’s finally time for the list…


Decklist on MTGGoldfish

The Endgame and Sideboard

The primary win condition is to go wide with creatures and tapping opposing blockers down with Displacer or overwhelming your opponent with indestructible creatures. As a back-up, we’ve got one Westvale Abbey.  The sideboard provides a number of alternatives…
Typically, Emeria Shepherd is a strong enough top end to finish off the game but in some cases, we need to side into more impact.  World Breaker provides a big splashy Eldrazi option that can not only deal with vehicles on the front end, it can also block the heck out of them.  Additionally, it can be placed in the yard via Vessel of Nascency to be returned to hand later via it’s own recursion ability.


Fumigate can take advantage of our heavy use of Selfless Spirit and break up some major stalemates.  Board in all three vs. decks like GB Snakes and bust the game wide open.


Retreat is a very versatile card in a deck like this one.  Being able to landfall four times in a single turn can mean that we get major mileage out of this card.  A turn 3 Retreat followed by turn 4 Rallier and Wilds can mean either 8 life, +4/+4, or a combination of both, for example.  This potential for lifegain can make it quite difficult for Dynavolt-based decks to keep up.

Worth Noting

Eldritch Evolution – It’s tempting to run more than 2 but this card can be total disadvantage more often than it’s good. Best case scenario we can go from a Thraben Inspector to Rallier. Our creature selection allows us to grab a Gearhulk at 5 and then an Emeria Shepherd at 7 from there. I’m looking for a better option at 5 as another alternative to Gearhulk. Perhaps Avacyn?

Cataclysmic Gearhulk – I love this repeatable “wrath” but I’m not 100% sold.  In some match-ups, it’s just plain bad.  I’ve explained above why I’ve chosen to include a 5-drop creature in the main (Evolution target) but other great reasons to include this permanent-based removal spell include Nissa and Emeria’s “return target permanent” ability allowing repeatable effects.

As always, your feedback is welcomed below.