"Treeherder! A shepherd of the forest!" ~ Pippin, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Let's talk trees. No, not that... get your head out of the gutter (yes I live in Oregon), I mean animate trees - Wizard of Oz pine cone throwing, Lord of the Rings stomping through the forest, trees. Now we are on the same page.
One of the things that frustrates me about Commander is how often my commander gets nuked and is forced back into the command zone. Yes, I get it - it is part of the game, but I build commander decks typically as fun "build around the commander" events. I just enjoy the goofy synergies you can create in a Magic game when you are garanteed to have a single card in play. I rarely build for "competition". So when my commander continually gets "nuked from orbit" by decks that are tuned for the win, I get a little sad. Not because I'm going to lose, that's never been a factor for me in playing Magic; but because it limits my fun. To remedy this, I have been searching for a commander that has a bit more "sticktuitive-ness" than most. I was looking for a commander with that magic word... indestructible. My Gatherer search came up with thirty-five possibilities (including the Pantheon of gods from Theros) but a tiny, unassuming and goofy legendary creature caught my eye - and I knew I had to build it.
Treefolk in the game of Magic go way back - all the way to Alpha in fact with the classic "Wizard of Oz looking" Ironroot Treefolk being the very first. At 3/5 with a converted mana cost of five it wasn't the most effective of cards, but it did set a precedent with the creature race being a part of the Magic world. Not too far thereafter, Magic established the colors of treefolk as green and black with the Wormwood Treefolk in Magic's third expansion, "The Dark". While both of these are interesting from a historical perspective, neither are of the quality and power of a creature that would actually make my final 99. To find those Treefolk, we have to skip ahead quite a few years in Magic's history to the plane of Lorwyn - where for an entire block, Wizards gave favored nation status to the Treefolk race - and in doing so unknowingly spawned a deck for a format that wasn't even officially supported at the time.
I'm running no less than thirty-two Treefolk in my deck. "Go big or go home" I guess. I was actually surprised how low my creature curve was, all things considered. I mean its not great - but given that there is only a single Treefolk with a casting cost of one, I think it is pretty reasonable. That little one drop Treefolk is pretty solid too - the Treefolk Harbinger is as good of a tutor (in this build) as any tutor ever printed.
Out of the thirty-two I have a few favorites, the Woodfall Primus - a house in any deck (and a Commander staple), the Black Poplar Shaman who will save its bretheren, the Wickerbough Elder and Gaea's Avenger to provide artifact hate, and finally, the Heartwood Storyteller and Ulvenwald Observer to keep you in the cards. These are all solid Commander picks and I love that they represent Magic from its very earliest days right on up to cards that are still legal in Standard.
Making it work.
So this deck is really simple. Like mono-red simple (Sorry!). There is not too much to think about other than casting Treefolk, gaining life with your commander and outlasting the table. Two cards of note will help you get there Bosk Banneret reduces the cost of all Treefolk spells by one and, Verdeloth the Ancient is both a anthem - giving your trees +1/+1, and a nice supply of chump blockers via its kicker cost. Both are must-haves if you are going to build this deck.
Now then... there is one card that is really, really important. It is so important, in fact, that I have broken my personal rule and included way more tutors than I would in a typical Commander deck. That card is Timber Protector. You have to get this card onto the battlefield if you want to have a chance at sticking around. Timber Protector, you see, makes all Treefolk indestructible. Let that sink in folks, I'll be right here....
So yeah, we need to get this fellow out ASAP. Treefolk, as we have discussed, have high casting costs, and even with all the ramp Green will provide, once we manage to start getting Treefolk out, we just cant afford a board wipe. We are already at a huge disadvantage and this single card mitigates a lot of it.
So that's my Treeherder deck. The rest of the build consists of a whole lot of ramp and a whole lot of tutoring. I don't know if you would call this deck a "budget" build or just goofy jank - either way I love it. Funny thing.... after I built the deck I started doing research for the article and found out that both The Professor at the Tolarian Community College and Graham Stark at Loading, Ready Run play a Sapling of Colfenor deck - so I guess I am in pretty good company. I don't know how much my deck build differs from theirs - and probably not much as there are only so many Treefolk - but my full list can be found on TappedOut if you want to take a look.
Until next time, may the rings of your Treefolk be many and may they never be affected by drought! Enjoy the deck!