by Zane Rowland
Several weeks ago, a new deck archetype made its debut in the Modern Format in a big way. Everything about this deck is big, big casting costs, big creatures, big abilities and big surprises for its opponent!
Yes, I’m referring to the new Modern Eldrazi decks that have shown up recently in the format. This article hopes to explain what this new deck is, and what direction we might see the deck go after Oath of the Gatewatch cards become legal and taking into account the new Modern banned list.
Because the deck is still new, there are several iterations of it running around. The most noteworthy being the monoblack, black/red, black/white and Esper versions. Although each version plays distinct cards, they all seem to work basically the same way. So here’s the rub:
Step 1: Get your opponent’s cards into the exile zone
Step 2: Use Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temples to quickly cast powerful Eldrazi processors. (Although not a keyword ability, processors are the Eldrazi creatures that take advantage of your opponents for having cards in the exile zone; think Wasteland Strangler, Oblivion Sower, Blight Herder etc.)
Step 3: Beat opponent’s face into submission with Eldrazi fatties
The deck’s early game usually consists of disrupting your opponent with discard spells like Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtsieze, then exiling everything that has gone into the graveyard with cards like Relic of Progenitus, Nihil Spellbomb or Bojuka bog.
On turn three, this deck has the capability to start dropping creatures with CMC 6! Lands like Eldrazi Temple, Eye of Ugin and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth make this possible, and Expedition Maps search out the missing pieces.
After playtesting against this deck, I’m here to tell you after turn three things get really scary. If your opponent cast Blight Herder or Oblivion Sower turn three, then they could easily have 10+ mana available by turn four using Eldrazi Scions or lands stolen from the opponent’s exile zone.
That means the Eldrazi deck just hit the top of its curve and their opponent will be saying hello to their new friend Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger from across the table – well, after he exiles two of their permanents that is.
I’ve heard it said that this deck seems to be just a slightly worse version of Tron. While I’ll admit both decks are very similar in a lot of ways, they’re also very different. And, the deck seems to do a little better than 50/50 vs Tron, thanks, Ghost Quarters.
So what is it good against? The deck does extraordinarily well against most “fair” decks, a.k.a. decks that use a lot of creatures or can’t win instantly via some sort of combo. That said, the deck also does very well against decks that rely too heavily on a graveyard strategy to win.
It also plays very well against control, due to the fact that most Eldrazi are notorious for having powerful triggers that happen upon casting and not upon resolution, so counterspells or removal aren’t always effective.
Conversely, because of its initial slow start, and lack of lifegainers, like Wurmcoil Engine found in Tron, the deck’s worst matchups seem to be against aggro, burn, and affinity.
But wait, didn’t they just release a new set with even more Eldrazis?! That’s right, with Oath of the Gatewatch, Modern Eldrazi will get even more options to tinker with.
Reality Smasher – This card can do several things for the deck, it can make it much more aggressive, putting your opponent on a very speedy clock, and forcing them to use up two cards to get rid of it, one removal spell and one discard. Everybody loves a two-for-one! Because of Reality Smasher’s low cost, (Yah I know, five is low for this deck, smh) it can also just serve as an aggressive blocker or deterrent against other decks that come out to fast.
Kozilek’s Return. So how about an instant speed, mass removal spell that you can play twice? Any takers? Anybody? If the red/black version of Modern Eldrazi wasn’t appealing before, this card alone should make someone reconsider. Suddenly Aggro matchups don’t seem so bad anymore. For $100 you can have your very own playset!
Thought-Knot Seer – .So wait, wasn’t there another card that, when it entered the battlefield we could look at our opponent’s hand and get rid of one of their cards we didn’t like and give them another one hopefully less useful? That’s right, Thought-Knot Seer is the Vendilion Clique of the Eldrazi world.
While we can’t target ourselves for a free draw and it doesn’t have flying or flash, it does pack a bigger punch with its 4/4 body. And instead of putting the card on the bottom of your opponent’s library it actually gets to exile it; which works in conjunction with the deck’s processing plan. And unlike Vendilion Clique, instead of getting to draw a card right away to replace the one that was exiled, the opponent will have to wait until after Thought-Knot Seer goes away. Hope you didn’t need that removal spell for anything, bro!
And while I feel the new Kozilek, the Great Distortion is very cool and certainly very scary, I’m not sure it will replace Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger at the 10 CMC spot because it doesn’t impact the board-state in the way Ulamog does. But hey, I’ve been wrong before!
To wrap this up, although I wouldn’t say the new modern Eldrazi deck has “taken the format by storm” as some have stated, it certainly has seen a lot of discussion and a fair amount of air time. Not to mention sending card prices through the roof! ($26 Inquisition of Kozilek, $40 Eye of Ugin while writing this!)
This is a very exciting time for the modern format, and new decks that can seemingly show up out of nowhere and steal a spot in the top rankings of large tournaments signal to me that the format is healthy and continuing to grow and become more versatile.
Splinter Twin and Amulet Bloom decks have consistently made top finishes in nearly every large Modern tournament they were found in. Now that both these decks have seen key cards banned (Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom) expect a lot of decks to be vying for control of those open spots. Surely we can expect to see a lot of variances of the new Modern Eldrazi deck in the near future as the Meta continues to adapt to the new changes, but I feel we can also expect it to be one of the strong contenders starting off this new year.
© 2016, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.