Battle Royale Round 8 – Eidolons Ho!

StarCityGames.com - Battle Royale!

Billy steps up to the plate with a fresh deck based on some of the more overlooked creatures of Ravnica block. Can you guess what they are? Hint: there’s a clue in the article title…

I have to admit, I have an agenda for this week’s Battle Royale. And, no, it’s not just to

win so I can keep telling myself how good I am, how much better it is being a professional and

not some regular, old casual player. It’s just that I faced a lot of complaints last week, and

most of them were deserved… so this week I wanted to get things back on track. The major

complaint was that I had showed a lack of interest in and respect for the Battle Royale by

showing up late for and missing my match two Sundays ago. There’s not much else for me to say

about that unfortunate accident, because I understand a person’s actions do speak much louder

than their words. So part of my agenda this round is to try to show you how interested I am in

being a part of the Battle Royale.

A second complaint was that I didn’t do a great job writing my match report, that it was

devoid of real content, and overall useless to anyone interested in the results of my duel

with Evan Erwin. The reasons for my failure in that regard are unimportant; but, seeing as I

have a second chance (thanks to Richie winning my match for me), I will do my best to make it

up to you next week.

The final complaint, and the most enjoyable one to address, was that the U/W control deck

I presented last week was just plain boring. No one said it wasn’t good. In fact,

some of you said you were excited that such a deck could be built on a budget. But, honestly,

even if my Millstones provoked a hint of nostalgia, they certainly didn’t get any one’s heart

racing. I have heard your concerns and will try to build something both competitive and

exciting this week.

With that said, let’s build a deck.

I don’t know if you read my Phoenix tournament

report, but in it I talked about a draft deck that’s the inspiration for this week’s

creation. Eidolon-control is one of my favorite RGD archetypes and I wanted to see if I could

convert it to a Constructed format. The budget-restricted power level of Battle Royale seemed

like the perfect environment for a beta build.

In Limited, any Eidolon will do; it’s more important to figure out your colors based on

the removal and other spells that come through you during the draft. Sure, some Eidolons are

better than others. For example, the Blue and Black ones are the best for a control deck

because they can win games for you without charging into the red zone. The White one is best

at softening the harsh effects of rumbling. And, the Red and Green Eidolon abilities are next

to useless in a removal heavy control deck… except that, even as inefficient 2/2s for four,

they are combat relevant at almost every phase of a Limited game. For Constructed, I think the

Eidolons should be viewed more as an inexorable win condition than as a deck’s primary board

control mechanism. With that in mind, I’m guessing we probably want to try and build around

the Blue and Black ones. Am I already trying build another Mill deck… to be perfectly

honest, I don’t know yet. I’m working through this deck only a little faster than I write

about it.

It’s an obvious statement, I’m sure, but because we are building around Eidolons, the deck

requires a critical mass of multi-colored spells. We’ll just keep that in mind during building

and try to use mono-colored spells only to fill glaring holes.

Eidolons provide small amounts of incremental advantage through out the course of a game;

neither their recursion nor their activated abilities do anything especially powerful. We need

splashiness to come from our other spells.

Eidolons are excellent at keeping your hand full if you can return them consistently.

Since that’s exactly what we plan on doing, we should look for ways to take advantage of our

neo-Squees. A quick, organic perusal of the Standard card pool leads me quickly from Rakdos

Guildmage, to Lyzolda, to Avatar of Discord. That seems like a reasonable core for a Black/Red

aggro/aggro-control deck with an Eidolon engine.

Time to start brainstorming some cards.

Obviously, at this point in the process, we want to be pretty open about the cards we

consider, but we also have a direction in mind for the deck, so we can use that as a loose

guideline for ignoring some cards in our color. Those guidelines loosely are: a Red/Black

base, a predilection for multi-colored spells, spells that have synergy with recurring

Eidolons, and then whatever sub-themes develop during deck-building.

The Brainstorming List:

Entropic Eidolon
Verdant Eidolon
Sandstorm Eidolon
Enigma Eidolon
Aurora Eidolon
Rakdos Guildmage
Rise / Fall
Lyzolda, the Blood Witch
Golgari Guildmage
Avatar of Discord
Gutless Ghoul
Hit / Run
Wrecking Ball
Clash of Realities
Grave Pact
Stormscale Anarch

I have a much longer, much less interesting list of possibilities on my computer at home,

but a lot of the cards are pretty unimportant on this initial run-through. I’ve pulled out

what I thought were the exciting cards, the ones that shape the bulk of a deck’s play. Clash

of Realities was a nice surprise, and finding it prompted me to look for other in-color ways

of taking advantage of the Eidolon’s spirit status. Cards like Thief of Hope and even Infernal

Kirin just weren’t powerful enough to make up for being mono-colored. Of course, I think Clash

of Realities was quickly outclassed in the Eidolon-synergy department by Grave Pact. Golgari

Guildmage will probably be too slow, but it is a bear, so some number of them will probably be

included to round out the two-drop slot. Gutless Ghoul probably won’t make the deck, but it is

a cheap way to get yet another use out of those recurring Eidolons. Avatar, of course, is

huge, and I’m hoping the Eidolon-engine helps mitigate the equally huge drawback of the card.

With 8-12 Eidolons in the deck, it seems unlikely that I’ll ever be in a position where I

can’t play the Avatar, even as an empty-handed topdeck. Stormscale Anarch is outclassed by the

Rakdos Guildmage and Lyzolda, so he probably won’t end up in the deck. Hit / Run, Wrecking

Ball, and Rise / Fall are all just very strong, versatile multi-colored spells that provide

disruption and card advantage.

Right now, the base of the deck looks like this:

4 Entropic Eidolon
4 Sandstorm Eidolon
4 Rakdos Guildmage
4 Lyzolda, the Blood Witch
4 Avatar of Discord
? Golgari Guildmage
? Hit/Run
4 Wrecking Ball
? Rise/Fall
? Grave Pact

Because we’re building this deck for Battle Royale, I really want to try and limit color

requirements, keeping the deck heavily Black and Red with a light, mostly incidental splash.

What that means is that we will probably end up cutting Rise / Fall and supporting the green

halves of the Golgari Guildmage and Hit / Run off of Karoos (a.k.a. the budget duals). I chose

Green over Blue, because we aren’t really worried about missing the Green halves of our

spells; being able to activate them sometimes is just an added bonus. It’s Hit and the

Guildmages sac ability that we really want. On the other hand, Rise is the better half in that

twisted marriage, and it would be pretty awkward for everyone involved if she didn’t get

consistent play because of mana issues. I’m pretty sure we want to be running an incidental

third color regardless, because a lot of our cards are super mana hungry and we want more than

four Karoos in the deck.

Some notes on budget mana fixing: everyone knows about Signets, but sometimes you just

don’t have room for them; if you don’t have a lot of one-drops, there’s less drawback to the

Coldsnap Invasion-style duals. If you have a lot of artifacts or just colorless mana

requirements in your spells, the Kamigawa depletion lands become less terrible. If you have a

ton of multi-colored spells, as this deck does, then Pillar of the Paruns becomes viable; but

if those same spells have a lot of activated abilities, then the Pillar’s drawback gets even

worse. Tendo Ice Bridge has shown up in all kinds of decks to fill color gaps; I’d like to

note that the Bridge gets significantly better when a deck has a lot of Karoos. Also, while

Karoos are the gold standard of budget mana fixing, an abundance of Karoos, without special

regard for the ebb and flow of a deck’s optimal turns, can be hell on tempo (not to mention,

Boomerang and Stone Rain are everywhere these days).

After these color decisions, I think we’ve gotten to here:

4 Entropic Eidolon
4 Sandstorm Eidolon
4 Rakdos Guildmage
4 Lyzolda, the Blood Witch
4 Avatar of Discord
4 Golgari Guildmage
? Hit / Run
4 Wrecking Ball
3 Grave Pact
2 Golgari Signet
2 Rakdos Signet
4 Rakdos Carnarium
4 Tresserhorn Sinks
4 Golgari Rot Farm

I still have a question mark on Hit / Run because, if we have the mana to support it,

Putrefy is simply more consistent and powerful in most situations. While I noted earlier that

we have a lot of men with mana-hungry abilities, I still think that between the actual casting

costs of our spells and the high amount of Karoos this is a 22- to 23-land deck. I’m generally

greedy and often choose the extra spell over the land, but I’m gonna fight that urge in this

deck. We have room for eleven basics, which should be all Swamps and Mountains with a slight

lean Black. Now, lean Black wit me. Also, I’ve decided to go with Putrefy over Hit / Run to

finish off the maindeck.

Here’s the maindeck I’m bringing to battle Sean McKeown:

4 Entropic Eidolon
4 Sandstorm Eidolon
4 Rakdos Guildmage
4 Lyzolda, the Blood Witch
4 Avatar of Discord
4 Golgari Guildmage
4 Putrefy
4 Wrecking Ball
3 Grave Pact
2 Golgari Signet
4 Rakdos Carnarium
4 Tresserhorn Sinks
4 Golgari Rot Farm
7 Snow-covered Swamp
4 Snow-covered Mountain

So far, so cheap. After we finish the sideboard we might even be able to add some duals or

painlands. I know I could leave it, and compete with the cheapest deck possible, but I don’t

like handicapping myself where I don’t have to. If I’m able to increase my odds of winning

because I can afford better real estate, I’m going to capitalize on that. If you don’t have

the luxury, I think the list above is completely reasonable.

Now, on to the sideboard.

The first card that springs to mind, both for it’s effect and it’s goldness, is Savage

Twister. Gold mass removal has a strong synergy with the Eidolon engine. Also, after seeing

the Grave Pacts game 1, I expect my opponent will have an answer for the enchantment. I don’t

exactly want to get stuck with my eggs all in one basket.

Hit / Run is a solid answer to untargetable creatures, but I’d expect my opponent to be

playing signets in a budget environment, or even just to protect their Simic Sky Swallower.

It’s looking more and more like Hit won’t stick in this deck. What the hell, we’ll run two

copies just in case.

Rise / Fall, on the other hand, seems like the perfect disruption spell for control

matches. Interesting, how a card that was cut so early in the process still ends up playing a

role in the deck. It just so happens that the neo-Hymn becomes the better half in the matches

where it’s relevant.

Along those same lines, I think, budget permitting, I’d like to supplement Fall with

Rakdos Augermage. I don’t know if anyone else is thinking what I’m thinking, but Sean loves

playing plodding control decks and trying to win with sprawling combos. So yeah, I’m

metagaming a little bit.

Finally, to catch anything that falls through the cracks, because who really

knows what Sean’s gonna play, and because we can… Naturalize.

So the sideboard looks like this:

3 Savage Twister
2 Hit / Run
4 Rise / Fall
3 Rakdos Augermage
3 Naturalize

Therefore, the completed deck, for those playing along at home is:

As far as price totals, everything is pretty low, with Augermage being the most in demand

rare, and not by much.

4 Entropic Eidolon – FREE
4 Sandstorm Eidolon – FREE
4 Rakdos Guildmage – 2/1 = 2 tickets
4 Lyzolda, the Blood Witch – 0.75 = 3 tickets
4 Avatar of Discord – 0.33 = 1.33 tickets
4 Golgari Guildmage – 8/1 = 0.5 tickets
4 Putrefy – 1 = 4 tickets
4 Wrecking Ball – FREE
3 Grave Pact – 1 = 3 tickets
2 Golgari Signet – FREE
4 Rakdos Carnarium – FREE
4 Tresserhorn Sinks – 4/1 = 1 ticket
4 Golgari Rot Farm – FREE
7 Snow-covered Swamp – FREE
4 Snow-covered Mountain – FREE

3 Savage Twister – 4/1 = 0.75 tickets
2 Hit/Run – 4/1 = 0.5 tickets
4 Rise/Fall – 4/1 = 1 ticket
3 Rakdos Augermage – 2 = 6 ticket
3 Naturalize – FREE

For a grand total of: 22.83 tickets

Sick… Eidolons, Ho! Looking forward to seeing how it plays.

Until next time,
Billy Moreno

[The Battle takes place on Friday 22nd September at 8pm EST, in the Anything Goes casual

room of Magic Online. Be there! – Craig.]