Uncontrolled Overgrowth – Building Sylvans

Once a format-dominating Championship strategy, the Plant Synchro deck of 2011 was disassembled over a span of several F&L lists, much in the same way Dragon Rulers were over the past two formats. Since the deck was a melting pot of ambiguous synergies, all of which were powerful but none of which were central per se, the deck continued to thrive at the highest echelons of competition even as it continued to lose individual cards and combos.

The main issue was presented in Starstrike Blast; [ccProd]Glow-Up Bulb[/ccProd] was (well, still is) the most powerful Tuner in the game, without even considering all of the support cards that supported it. Not only was [ccProd]Glow-Up Bulb[/ccProd] eventually Forbidden, but the rest of the deck’s core components, like [ccProd]Lonefire Blossom[/ccProd], were Limited to 1 along with it. Thus, after one too many blasts on the F&L lists, Plants fell quiet entirely. We saw people pick them up once in a while at the beginning, and later on some of those cards made appearances as minor complements in other strategies, but Plants as a support site never compared to the fully-flegded strategy they once were.

Legacy of the Valliant introduces a new set of opportunities for the iconic Plant engine, debuting a new archetype that gives Plants some of support they need to become a viable deck concept once again. They’re called Sylvans, and they use the new key word, “excavate“.

…What’s That?
Excavating is the official term that now describes the act of revealing cards from your deck, not to be confused with the unofficial player-created term “milling”. The difference between milling and excavating is the same difference between the effect of [ccProd]Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Archfiends Oath[/ccProd].

Because Ryko sends cards directly from the top of your deck to the graveyard without first revealing them, it doesn’t trigger the effects of Sylvans, which specifically state that they “excavate,” or must be excavated themselves to trigger powerful abilities. Cards that do include [ccProd]Magical Merchant[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Reasoning[/ccProd], just reprinted to specifically include “excavate” in Astral Pack 4.

In a nutshell, it’s a word that replaces the phrase “reveal [cards] from your deck”, and nothing more complicated.

“Well, What Do Sylvans Do?”
Each Sylvan monster has two functions: an effect that can be activated while it’s on the field, and a separate effect that activates when it’s excavated and sent to the graveyard. All of their excavating effects will only send Plant-type monsters to the graveyard; those effects will return all other Spells, Traps, and monsters to the bottom of your deck.

It’s a bit difficult to explain the theme in a structured manner. There isn’t any one central concept we can focus on without making the Sylvan strategy seem incomplete. Rather, it comes together once you look at every element of the theme as a whole. In my attempt to make sense of that, I’ll start by showing you a current build.

Legacy Sylvans – 40 Cards
Monsters: 20
3 [ccProd]Sylvan Peaskeeper[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Sylvan Komushroomo[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Sylvan Marshalleaf[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Sylvan Guardioak[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Lonefire Blossom[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Effect Veiler[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Spore[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Copy Plant[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Dandylion[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Tytannial, Princess of Camellias[/ccProd]

Spells: 15
3 [ccProd]Mount Sylvania[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Miracle Fertilizer[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Terraforming[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Super Solar Nutrient[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Foolish Burial[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Book of Moon[/ccProd]

Traps: 5
2 [ccProd]Call of the Haunted[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Torrential Tribute[/ccProd]

Extra Deck: 15
1 [ccProd]Formula Synchron[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Armory Arm[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]T.G. Hyper Librarian[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Ally of Justice Catastor[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Armades, Keeper of Boundaries[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Dewloren, Tiger King of the Ice Barrier[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Black Rose Dragon[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Ancient Fairy Dragon[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Stardust Dragon[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Scrap Dragon[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Constellar Ptolemy M7[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Photon Strike Bounzer[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand[/ccProd]

The three Sylvans you’re looking to excavate and send to your graveyard most frequently are [ccProd]Sylvan Marshalleaf[/ccProd], which can destroy a monster; Syvlan Komushroomo, destroying spells and traps; and [ccProd]Sylvan Peaskeeper[/ccProd], which allows you to Special Summon a Level 4 or lower Plant from your graveyard. Komushroomo’s also an insane excavation tool on its own: it’s got 2000 DEF and an efefct that excavates the top five cards of your deck, sending all Plants excavated to the graveyard.

But the immediate question raised when you first look at these cards is still: How else can I reliably excavate these? With that question in mind, we’ll take a look at one of the theme’s most important set-up cards, [ccProd]Mount Sylvania[/ccProd]:

You can send 1 Plant-Type monster you control or from your hand to the Graveyard; choose 1 “Sylvan” card from your Deck and place it on top of your Deck. You can only use this effect of “Sacred Sylvan Peak” once per turn. Once per turn, during your opponent’s End Phase: You can excavate the top card of your Deck, and if it is a Plant-Type monster, send it to the Graveyard. Otherwise, place it on either the top or bottom of your Deck.

[ccProd]Mount Sylvania[/ccProd] lets you set up any of those three Sylvan monsters – Marshalleaf, Komushroom, or Peaskeeper – by placing them on the top of your deck. By doing so, you open up the possibility of using their effects that same turn by excavating and sending them with something else. That means you can put Peaskeeper on top of your deck and excavate it with any one of your other Sylvan monsters, then revive a [ccProd]Lonefire Blossom[/ccProd] from your graveyard to start making big plays.

[ccProd]Sylvan Guardioak[/ccProd] might not seem that fancy on paper, but it’s a solid beatstick that you can Special Summon from your deck with [ccProd]Lonefire Blossom[/ccProd], or bring back later with [ccProd]Miracle Fertilizer[/ccProd]. It’s decent field presence and can do some damage, but Guardioak’s main purpose is to trigger the effect of whatever Sylvan you placed on top of your deck with [ccProd]Mount Sylvania[/ccProd], while thinning your deck deeper than the other high-Level Sylvan you might consider playing, [ccProd]Sylvan Hermitree[/ccProd]. After a lot of testing, I’m playing Guardioak over Hermitree here since it’s more practical to Normal Summon if you draw it (while Hermitree’s Level 8 and requires two Tributes, Guardioak’s Level 6 and only needs one).

After extensive testing with both cards in seperate builds, I found that Sylvan Guardioak’s ability to dig deeper into your deck gave a much bigger edge than Hermit’s draw effect. And after convincing a handful of other Sylvan players to try this alternative, many have reported back to tell me how surprisingly effective it is. Guardioak’s potential is often underestimated and overlooked, but I strongly suggest to at least try it over Hermitree before judging.

The Goals Of The Garden
To set everything up here, you generally want to abuse [ccProd]Lonefire Blossom[/ccProd] as much as possible. As such, your first goal is to get Lonefire into play as early as possible. You can do that with [ccProd]Super Solar Nutrient[/ccProd], Tributing smaller plants like [ccProd]Sylvan Komushroomo[/ccProd], [ccProd]Sylvan Peaskeeper[/ccProd], or even [ccProd]Dandylion[/ccProd] Tokens. There aren’t many practical ways to fetch Lonefire, so Solar Nutrient’s your best bet.

Once you get [ccProd]Lonefire Blossom[/ccProd] into the game the deck rolls smoothly from there. You can summon [ccProd]Sylvan Guardioak[/ccProd] with Lonefire; use [ccProd]Mount Sylvania[/ccProd] to put [ccProd]Sylvan Peaskeeper[/ccProd] on the top of your deck, then use Oak’s effect to excavate it. Sending Peaskeeper to the graveyard with Guardioak will trigger the Peaskeeper’s ability effect and let you Special Summon a Level 4 or lower Plant from your graevyard; bring back Lonefire and you can Special Summon a field-controlling beatstick like [ccProd]Tytannial, Princess of Camellias[/ccProd], or even a second Guardioak for more excavating.

There’s no huge combo here, just a decent set-up that gives you a strong grind game. Once [ccProd]Lonefire Blossom[/ccProd] hits your graveyard you can keep abusing it to Special Summon cards from your deck with Miracle Fertalizer, [ccProd]Call of the Haunted[/ccProd], and Peaskeeper. Those same cards let you revive your boss monsters over and over too. Miracle Fertilizer’s particularly important: regardless of how you build your Sylvan deck, I’d recommend running no fewer than three copies. Although triple [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] may be really popular right now, Fertilizer doesn’t actually work in the way most people tend to assume.

First things first: Typhoon has to be chained to Miracle Fertilizer’s activation. Unlike [ccProd]Call of the Haunted[/ccProd], if a monster is already “attached” to Fertilizer and [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] destroys it, the monster stays on the field. There’s no destruction effect tying the survival of your monster to Fertilizer’s continued existence on the field, despite what a surprising number of people tend to believe.

Because [ccProd]Miracle Fertilizer[/ccProd] works that way, chaining [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] to the activation of the card means you’re not barred from Normal Summoning as you would be if Fertilizer resolved normally. That condition’s only applied when you manually activate the “once per turn” effect of [ccProd]Miracle Fertilizer[/ccProd]: there’s no restriction just for activating the card itself when you first place it on the field. That finally transitions to Fertilizer’s next benefit: spells and traps that work like this circumvent [ccProd]Solemn Warning[/ccProd]. If you’re familiar with [ccProd]Infernity Launcher[/ccProd] rulings, [ccProd]Miracle Fertilizer[/ccProd] functions the same way, for the previously stated reason.

Fertilizer can be especially annoying for your opponent to get rid of, particularly when you really exploit all of its quirky benefits. Remember, you can activate Miracle Fertilizer’s effect to Special Summon once per turn, and it only leaves the field when one of the monsters attached to it leaves. The Xyz mechanic makes that drawback kind of laughable: you can bring out a Plant, use it as an Xyz Material, and Fertilizer will remain on the field since the monster never technically “left.” That kind of play limits your opponent’s options, because it forces them to deal with Fertilizer by wasting destruction effects; if there isn’t a monster tied to it that would allow Fertilizer to be destroyed indirectly, they have no choice. If your opponent doesn’t destroy you’ll just keep spamming Special Summons.

Looking Ahead
Similar to how Spellbooks struggled when they were first released, Sylvans have some challenges they just can’t overcome with their current card base. But it just needs a small push with the right cards: Primal Origins will bring new additions like Sylvan Charity, Sylvan Sagequoia, and Oreia, the Sylvan High Arbiter; those cards address the current range of issues. Because of that promising future, cards like [ccProd]Miracle Fertilizer[/ccProd], [ccProd]Sylvan Marshalleaf[/ccProd] (which upon my time of writing this, was at $7), and [ccProd]Mount Sylvania[/ccProd] will undoubtedly spike in value when more people catch on, regardless of the Sylvan deck’s limited viability in the next few weeks. Let’s take a look:

When a “Sylvan” monster is sent to the Graveyard: You can Special Summon this card from your hand. Once per turn: You can excavate the top card of your Deck, and if it is a Plant-Type monster, send it to the Graveyard. Otherwise, place it on the bottom of your Deck. If this card is excavated from the Deck and sent to the Graveyard by a card effect: You can target 1 “Sylvan” Spell/Trap Card in your Graveyard; add that target to your hand.

Primal Sylvans – 40 Cards
Monsters: 20
3 Sylvan Sagequoia
3 [ccProd]Sylvan Peaskeeper[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Sylvan Marshalleaf[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Sylvan Komushroomo[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Lonefire Blossom[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Effect Veiler[/ccProd]
1 Sylvan Sproutcolyte
1 [ccProd]Copy Plant[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Dandylion[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Tytannial, Princess of Camellias[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Sylvan Guardioak[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Spore[/ccProd]

Spells: 17
3 Sylvan Charity
3 [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Mount Sylvania[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Miracle Fertilizer[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Terraforming[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Foolish Burial[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Book of Moon[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Super Solar Nutrient[/ccProd]

Traps: 3
1 [ccProd]Torrential Tribute[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Solemn Warning[/ccProd]

There are three major components that redefine the strategy post-Primal. Sylvan Sagequoia serves as Rank 7 fodder with its own Summon ability, an ignition effect that lets you excavate when it’s on the field, plus an effect that when excavated gives you a +1, grabbing a Sylvan Charity or [ccProd]Mount Sylvania[/ccProd]. Charity provides hand correction and gives you the potential to topdeck Sylvans from hand and excavate. What makes the Rank 7 engine especially worth playing is the new Xyz Monster, Oreia, the Sylvan High Arbiter:

2 Level 7 monsters

Once per turn: You can send 1 Plant-Type monster from your hand or face-up from your Monster Card Zone to the Graveyard; look at a number of cards from the top of your Deck, equal to the Level of the sent monster, then place them on the top of the Deck in any order. Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; choose a number from 1 to 3, then excavate that many cards from the top of your Deck, send any excavated Plant-Type monsters to the Graveyard, also place the other cards on the bottom of your Deck in any order, and if you do, return cards on the field to the hand, except this card, up to the number of monsters sent to the Graveyard this way.

The effect doesn’t need much explanation. It’s insane. You’ll indefiniely excavate exactly what you need if you have a Tytannial, Sagequoia, or even a [ccProd]Copy Plant[/ccProd] to Tribute or pitch. You can reuse Miracle Fertalizer or [ccProd]Fiendish Chain[/ccProd] (if you choose to run it) in the same turn by bouncing it with her effect, along with your opponent’s cards.

Sylvan Sproutcolyte, though not as substantial as the other Primal support, is a surprisingly useful addition. [ccProd]Copy Plant[/ccProd] plays are more important than ever before, and Sprout makes it even better. Topdecking a Sprout using Charity or [ccProd]Mount Sylvania[/ccProd], then milling it with Sagequoia gives you immediate access to Rank 7’s. You can do the same thing with Guardioak to make Constellar Ptolomey M7 or [ccProd]Photon Strike Bounzer[/ccProd]. It’s an incredibly versatile card that can be used as a Tuner or to synchronize levels with any Plant you control for a huge pool of Xyz. I used to run [ccProd]Fallen Angel of Roses[/ccProd] until I realized how redundant it was when you have so many better ways to Summon [ccProd]Copy Plant[/ccProd], which serves the same purpose and more.

When this card is Special Summoned: You can choose either 1 or 2, then excavate that many cards from the top of your Deck, send any excavated Plant-Type monsters to the Graveyard, also place the other cards on the bottom of your Deck in any order. If this card is excavated from the Deck and sent to the Graveyard by a card effect: You can Special Summon 1 Level 1 Plant-Type monster from your Deck. You can only use this effect of “Sylvan Sproutcolyte” once per turn.

The deck’s playstyle changes a lot with all of the new cards. I usually start the duel by dropping a [ccProd]Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack[/ccProd], then gradually Summon more monsters like Tytannial or Stardust via Peaskeeper + Lonefire combos and Miracle Fertalizer plays. Without proper countermeasures like Maxx “C” or properly-timed mass removal – big stuff like [ccProd]Evilswarm Exciton Knight[/ccProd], or [ccProd]Torrential Tribute[/ccProd] – the Sylvan player’s field tends to get out of hand really quickly

Overview
With just their first group of cards released in Legacy of the Valiant, Sylvans still don’t have quite enough star players to run with the big leagues, but they’re a great investment: aside from the exalted [ccProd]Sylvan Marshalleaf[/ccProd], they’re very affordable for the moment, and they’re going to get killer support in the next set. For now, it’s still an incredibly fun and relatively inexpensive deck.

I’ve already picked up my Sylvan stuff so I can hold onto it for Primal Origins, and in the mean time I’ve got a secondary deck to have fun with. What are your thoughts on Sylvans so far? Is it all hype, or will Primal bring it up to par with other popular straegies? Tell me what you think in the Comments section below!

-Amanda

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