Constructed Criticism – Eldrazi for a New World

Wednesday, September 22nd – There’s a reason that Eldrazi Ramp was one of the biggest contenders in Zendikar Block Constructed, and you have so many new weapons to combat the elements you couldn’t effectively fight before.

Standard will be thrown into upheaval after the release of Scars of Mirrodin.

Mythic will most likely cease to exist due to the rotation of Alara Block and Magic 2010. This leaves a gaping hole as far as the “best deck in the format” is concerned, but that’s always the case when new sets are released. While there’s potential for new decks to crop up, there are always those who try to re-invent or alter previously known strategies. Today, we’re going to discuss a deck that’s kept almost entirely intact with the rotation and is a deck that I currently consider the second best deck in Standard: Mono-Green Eldrazi Ramp.

For reference, here is my current list:

For those of you who’ve never played the deck before, we’re going to go over some of its strengths and weaknesses.

As far as any other deck in the format is concerned, this one probably has the best ultimate end game. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is nearly unbeatable once cast, and he can be cast as early as turn 4 with a god draw, turn 5 with a great draw, and turn 6 with an average draw. If you’re forced to use Eye of Ugin, it might take an extra turn, but you’ll be doing things to help stall or just crush your opponent in the meantime. While Emrakul isn’t always the plan, he is a great backup if things start to get out of control.

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre is the Eldrazi you plan on casting more than any other, if only for his indestructibility. His Vindicate effect is awesome when combined with Tectonic Edges and the sideboarded Acidic Slimes, keeping your opponent’s mana in check and keeping them from doing anything too powerful.

One of the strongest cards in the deck is Joraga Treespeaker. If you’re playing against another Ramp deck or a deck with very little removal, then he is by far the best card you can have in your opening hand. He puts you two mana ahead of your opponent, and lets you cast your six-drops on the third turn, which is just unreal. Conrad Kolos decided to sideboard these at US Nationals – and I’m sure he had good reason to – but Treespeaker is just bonkers, and I’d never consider building this deck without these guys in the maindeck. They’re just


The workhorse for the deck is Primeval Titan, acting as a win condition, a tutor for your awesome lands, or just a ramp to your big guys. He grabs Eye of Ugin, which is amazing, but he also gets every other land in the deck for whatever situation is called for. If your opponent is playing Mythic, then Mystifying Maze is ridiculous, as are Tectonic Edges. Primeval Titan gives your deck the ability to have options and gives you less of a linear game plan.

Primeval Titan gives this deck new life, since it allows your deck to contain a mini-toolbox. Khalni Garden and Mystifying Maze are great answers to creature rushes, buying you enough time to land one of your large aliens - but grabbing a few Tectonic Edges can be devastating to many strategies. The original plan should be to grab Eldrazi lands to help cast your more expensive monsters, but you should tutor for whatever the situation calls for.

Be sure to keep an eye out for lands in the new set that could be fun to tutor for, since Primeval Titan is always looking for new friends to play with. He definitely earns his price tag in this deck, and I wouldn’t recommend touching Eldrazi Ramp without this big green idiot. Aside from being the card you hit the most on Summoning Trap, he is absolutely devastating if you can cast him on the third turn via Joraga Treespeaker.

I’d like to personally thank Primeval Titan for giving me a reason to like Standard again, as I think he’s the most broken thing you can do for six mana in the format. He single-handedly kills the opponent with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle if you’re allowed to attack with him, but that deck has far too many lands coming into play tapped for my taste. Also, you should never expect your Titan to be able to attack, because that doesn’t happen very often.

Summoning Trap is a great strength for the deck, acting as a way to cheat out a finisher, but it also punishes decks sitting on counterspells. Summoning Trap usually snags an Eldrazi, ending the game in a few swings, but it will often just hit a Primeval Titan, which should eventually win you the game once you search for an Eye of Ugin. Without access to a lot of the instant-speed removal that’s rotating out of Standard, there won’t be very many ways to deal with Titan or Eldrazi at the end of an opponent’s turn, making Summoning Trap an absolute massacre if you connect. While you do miss on occasion, Summoning Trap connects far more than the opponent would like it to.

The weaknesses of the deck are pretty obvious in that you have no removal in the maindeck. Early aggressive rushes are your bane, but it’s not hard to beat any reactive deck. They can’t handle all of your insane threats, and your Eldrazi triggers will eventually get them if Summoning Trap and Primeval Titan don’t.

I’ve always thought that All Is Dust is just a bit too slow, but hopefully Ratchet Bomb will cure what ails you. Aggressive decks are only a problem for you if they also contain disruption or have a ridiculous clock. Summoning Trap helps fight against the normal disruption, i.e. counterspells, but discard can be really painful if they decide to print more cards like Thoughtseize.

You’re also fairly weak against combo decks that are faster than you. You don’t have much in the way of interacting with them, so your only real option is to try to race them. Decks like Polymorph are a huge problem unless you draw Hornet Sting - but Polymorph is rotating, so your biggest fear now is Pyromancer Ascension (or some other new combo deck popping up). Fortunately, Time Warp will be gone, so you won’t have to worry about them going

There’s a reason that Eldrazi Ramp was one of the biggest contenders in Zendikar Block Constructed, and you have so many new weapons to combat the elements you couldn’t effectively fight before. For a Ramp deck, there’s nothing sweeter than an entire set featuring a plethora of colorless bombs to accelerate into.

If you read Eye of Ugin carefully, you’ll see that you can search for any colorless creature, not just Eldrazi Tentacle Monsters. With an upcoming set based around artifacts and artifact creatures, you can be sure that Eye of Ugin will be seeing a lot more play in the future. Among the current spoiled cards, the biggest targets for it besides the Eldrazi are Platinum Angel, Platinum Emperion, Triskelion, Memnite (if you desperately need a blocker), Molten-Tail Masticore, Myr Battlesphere (to generate a small army), as well as a few others. Don’t be surprised if the Myr Aggro deck plays a few Eyes of Ugin to help search up combo pieces once they attain an infinite mana loop.

While Eye of Ugin

get artifact creatures, you probably aren’t using it correctly if you aren’t grabbing Eldrazi more than 90% of the time. It does, in fact, make them cost less, and it doesn’t tap for mana otherwise, so it will be difficult for most decks to play more than one. Primeval Titan makes playing one even easier, since once you’ve reached six mana, grabbing an Eye of Ugin shouldn’t hurt you too much as far as casting non-Eldrazi spells is concerned.

Now, for the current Standard, the old list is fine. However, some things will obviously need to change once Scars of Mirrodin becomes legal. As far as this particular list is concerned, Rampant Growth is the only card rotating but can be easily replaced with a fourth Explore, fourth Everflowing Chalice, and possibly a Growth Spasm or something similar. Losing Rampant Growth will make casting a turn 3 Primeval Titan a tad more unlikely, but the deck’s consistency won’t be changing all that much.

Ratchet Bomb is the real deal. The ability to contain an early rush of creatures shores up the only real problem I’ve been having with this deck in testing, since it seems to me that you lose whenever someone casts Steppe Lynx on the first turn, not to mention Goblin Guide. Fortunately for us, many of the cards in Red Deck Wins are going the way of the samurai, which gives this deck a lot of breathing room. With Rachet Bomb, you should have plenty of time to stop newer versions of Red that rely on a mostly creature-based form of attack, and it also gives you the best answer in the format to Devastating Summons.

All Is Dust is another story entirely. While I’ve been waffling between having All Is Dust in the maindeck and not, I think that with Scars of Mirrodin coming in, it should be in the sideboard or even cut completely. With all the buzz about Myr Aggro being the new deck to beat, I think it’s safe to say that All Is Dust isn’t the sweeper you want to rely on.

Unfortunately, this also means that your deck will be a little softer against planeswalker-based control decks. but those haven’t really been a problem in testing anyway. With so many must-answer threats, as well as all of the Eldrazi having sick enter-the-stack effects, on top of Summoning Trap punishing people for casting Mana Leak, the U/X Control matchups shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

As far as sideboarding is concerned, the entire set hasn’t been released yet so it is difficult to speculate.

I do think that Hornet Sting is no longer needed, since Mythic is mostly gone, but it’s still a decent card to have access to if the metagame calls for it. People really underestimate its potential, but it was great at stopping first-turn mana accelerators and as Ball Lightnings.

Obstinate Baloth is a card that I’d prefer to have access to – simply because he’s the best creature for gaining life in the format. However, if the format becomes incredibly slow, Pelakka Wurm is a pretty fine creature as well.

With Mythic-based Bant decks rotating, I think it is safe to say that Fauna Shaman and Vengevine will become the new default game plan for green aggro decks, which means that you should consider a singleton Bojuka Bog in the sideboard. These decks can be a real pain in the neck, and if you can cast a timely Primeval Titan to get rid of their graveyard, it can easily win you the game. At that point, it will be almost impossible for them to race, so you should have an easy time wiping the floor with them.

With Alara rotating, expect most of the shard-based decks to be leaving with them. Jund, Bant, Esper Control, Grixis Control, and Naya Aggro will all be transformed into much weaker two-color versions – or simply disappear altogether. I expect green decks to revert back to being Eldrazi Monument decks, which should be a tad problematic for you if they become degenerately fast. However, All Is Dust absolutely murders them, so that’s a plus. When combined with Ratchet Bomb, I’m not sure if they’ll be able to kill you before you get an annihilator online. If the green decks do revert back to Eldrazi Monument, then expect U/W decks to become insanely popular since they have access to plenty of sweeper effects and counterspells for any Overrun-type shenanigans.

The new Standard is sure to bring a lot of goodies along with it, and I’m really looking forward to a world without Bloodbraid Elf. With Mana Leak being reprinted and with a lot of the more powerful cards in Standard rotating, it should be fun to see what decks start to become popular.

Who knows, you just might see Kali and me battling with Eldrazi Monument at the StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Nashville.
Déjà vu
, anyone?

Thanks for reading.
strong sad on MOL