Strictly speaking in the context of Modern, there’s one card from Dominaria that I’m much more excited about than any other. It’s
not only the likely most hyped card from the set, but it also fits
perfectly into decks that feature my favorite tribe in Magic: Eldrazi. With
that being said, I probably don’t need to give you more than one guess for
which card I’m talking about.
That’s right, Karn, Scion of Urza could be the exact card that Eldrazi Tron
has needed to get back towards the top tier of the format. Eldrazi Tron
would have incredibly powerful topdecks available most of the time, but it
didn’t have a card advantage engine that reliably saw enough cards to stay
in every game long enough to find those topdecks. That’s precisely what
Karn can provide though, as it starts seeing two extra cards a turn right
away when it comes down. You don’t get the better of the two cards right
away, but it still reliably churns through your deck in search of what’s
needed at the time. Unfortunately, a four-mana planeswalker won’t solve all
of your problems in Modern.
The Humans Problem
When Five-Color Humans emerged at #SCGCIN last fall in
the hands of Collins Mullen, Eldrazi Tron was one of the best decks in the
format, preying on both U/R Gifts Storm and Jeskai Control, two of the most
popular decks. Ever since then, Humans has broken out to be the best deck
in the format and dominated Eldrazi Tron to such a degree that it’s
basically disappeared as well in the last couple months.
The problem for Eldrazi Tron in the matchup is that it was too slow for the
fast starts that Humans would consistently have. Even if it looked like
Eldrazi Tron was going to stabilize in the mid-game, both Mantis Rider and
Reflector Mage were big problems for Eldrazi Tron, by either flying over or
clearing out blockers. It basically ended up revolving around whether
Eldrazi Tron could have an early large Walking Ballista or All is Dust,
which were also both held in check by Meddling Mage, or the game would be
How Does Karn Help?
Simply put, Karn, Scion of Urza doesn’t help solve the Humans matchup on
its own. However, it does two very important things for the Eldrazi
archetypes: First, it’s the perfect threat the deck needed against the
removal-heavy midrange decks that are built to beat Humans. Second, and
most important, it breaths fresh air into the archetypes, allowing people
to really examine the previous holes of the deck and design new
adaptations. I honestly believe Eldrazi Tron simply never adapted to the
new metagame after Humans burst onto the scene and that’s why it died. So
with that in mind, let’s try building some better Eldrazi decks now that
Karn has entered the metagame from Dominaria.
Now I haven’t been able to get in a ton of matches with Eldrazi Tron yet
since Dominaria was released, but this is the list I’ve been using
so far and have been mostly satisfied with it. As you can see I only have
one copy of Karn in the maindeck but have replaced the Hangarback Walkers
in the sideboard with more copies for the midrange and control matchups.
Besides that, you may notice that I’m much more geared to beat creature
decks than normal, including a new sideboard card specifically for the
Torpor Orb is the perfect hate card for a colorless deck against Humans, as
it stops every single enters the battlefield effect which is what their
deck is built around. No longer will you have to worry about Reflector Mage
bouncing your creature, Kitesail Freebooter taking a card from your hand,
or even Champion of the Parish or Thalia’s Lieutenant gaining +1/+1
counters. Instead, you’ll just need to deal with each creature with its
base power and toughness, where your threats should match up well. They
won’t even be able to use Reclamation Sage or Hostage Taker to get rid of
the Torpor Orb, as they will not trigger either.
To note, Meddling Mage will still be able to name a card that won’t be able
to be cast when it enters the battlefield, but that shouldn’t be too big of
deal with this deck. The biggest problem after having a Torpor Orb on the
battlefield will still be Mantis Rider, but hopefully you have some removal
spells at the ready.
Speaking of removal spells, I’ve been playing three copies of Spatial
Contortion in the maindeck, as it’s a nice answer to Mantis Rider among
other creatures. It can also team up with either Walking Ballista or
Endbringer to remove a larger creature like Hollow One. The secret mode to
the card, and therefore my favorite, is using it on your own large
attacking creature such as Reality Smasher to turn it into a pseudo-burn
Basilisk Collar is another important include to the deck with the gluttony
of creature decks as it turns each Walking Ballista counter or Endbringer
activation into a removal spell. This is especially important to deal with
early large creatures like Hollow One, Gurmag Angler, or Tarmogoyf. The
lifelink is a nice added bonus against Burn, especially because I cut the
best card against Burn from the maindeck.
The current Modern format is simply too fast and aggressive for Chalice of
the Void and I’ve been happy with leaving them on the bench. There are
still a few matchups where Chalice would be incredibly useful, mostly
against Burn, G/W Hexproof, and Storm, but most of the time I’ve had
trouble even getting one-for-one value from them. I don’t believe Chalice
of the Void to be a very good sideboard card for the deck for those
matchups either since your opponents will be ready for them after
sideboard, so they are absent from the 75. If you play against a larger
than normal amount of decks where Chalice of the Void is very good and want
to continue to have it in your deck, then this is the decklist I’d
recommend to test out:
As you notice the value of one drops diminishes significantly with Chalice
of the Void, and therefore Basilisk Collar didn’t make the cut and Pithing
Needle is replaced with Sorcerous Spyglass. The other thing that you may
have noticed in both of these decklists is the absence of a vital card in
Eldrazi Tron previously.
Graveyard hate cards used to be one of the biggest strengths of Eldrazi
Tron, but in the current format it’s not nearly as vital. Both Grixis
Death’s Shadow and Dredge are hardly seen, and even Tarmogoyf decks are a
rare pairing after being everywhere when Bloodbraid Elf was unbanned. The
best current use for Relic of Progenitus is against Hollow One, but even
there it can be too slow to prevent a delve threat from entering the
battlefield. Instead I prefer Surgical Extraction to try and remove
Flamewake Phoenix for good. Something had to be cut from the sideboard to
be able to add in Torpor Orbs to help the Humans matchup, and the graveyard
hate cards have been reduced dramatically.
With Humans and Affinity being the two biggest decks in the current
metagame I certainly prefer having more creature interaction like the first
decklist as compared to the second, but it’s also gotten me thinking. It’s
possible the actual Eldrazi creatures don’t match up well enough right now,
and instead the best part of the deck are the control elements backed by
the huge mana advantages. What if we took the control aspects of Eldrazi
Tron to the extreme and didn’t actually play any of the Eldrazi creatures?
I’m honestly very excited about the prospects of this deck as I believe it
has the tools to fight the top of the current Modern metagame. Since we’re
built to beat creature decks, Chalice of the Void returns as our way to
interact with combo decks as well as any deck that can ignore combat. For
all of the decks that rely on combat, however, they’re going to have to
keep from getting tangled up.
This deck doesn’t ever need to attack to win the game and instead can rely
on Walking Ballista or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon to shoot the opponent down.
Therefore, we get to play one of the most powerful cards in Modern –
Ensnaring Bridge. Humans, G/W Hexproof, and Hollow One among others all
really struggle to beat Ensnaring Bridge, especially game 1, and therefore,
it’s our main gameplan. Unfortunately the card advantage Karn, Scion of
Urza provides can be awkward with Ensnaring Bridge, especially if you don’t
have the Tron lands online to cast your expensive planeswalkers, but in
that case it’s best to simply -2 Karn to keep cards out of your hand.
I’m playing the full four copies of Karn Liberated because it’s the deck’s
main win condition to take over the battlefield. When you do start using
Karn, Scion of Urza to net extra cards, your opponents will often choose to
give you more lands, which should allow you to cast Karn Liberated even
when you don’t have access to the extra mana from Tron. You can target
yourself with the plus ability to get rid of cards from your hand when
needed, or even use the minus ability to exile your Ensnaring Bridge if you
have plenty of Construct tokens on the battlefield from Karn, Scion of
Urza. Restarting the game is always a welcome option as well, especially if
you exiled your own Tron lands or planeswalkers from your hand.
Over in the sideboard, we get to play many powerful options for our control
deck. Sun Droplet is a decent card against anyone trying to attack or use
burn spells to win the game and can buy us enough time to get our
planeswalkers going. Witchbane Orb can stop direct damage from spells or
from Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, which is a problematic permanent for
this deck. Crucible of Worlds is a particular favorite of mine that can be
crucial either defensively against decks with land destruction or
offensively when paired with our Field of Ruin and Ghost Quarters.
I’ve only played one league with this deck so far after making it, and I’m
excited to continue working on it. Not only does it have incredibly
powerful cards like Chalice of the Void, Ensnaring Bridge, and Karn
Liberated, but it also fits my play style quite nicely. Karn, Scion of Urza
has me excited to break out the old Tron lands once again and innovate with
an old deck in Eldrazi Tron as well as try out a completely new deck in
Colorless Control. Finding a deck that consistently beats Humans has turned
out to be a challenging proposition, but I’m very excited at the potential
these decks hold.
Time to get to work!