Daily Digest: Highly Evolved

Aetherworks Marvel is getting all the press in Standard, but don’t overlook Eldritch Evolution! Ross Merriam scopes out a surprising toolbox version from an Invitational Qualifier!

Remember Eldritch Evolution? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

Well, them and Seth Nelson. While the rest of us have been lamenting how stale Standard is and how unfun Aetherworks Marvel is, Seth was brewing a sweet little number that has to be impossibly difficult to play against.

Has there ever been a deck in Standard with eight creature tutors? Eight is a lot.

Per usual, those creature tutors find or sacrifice an array of value creatures. Most of them are meant as sacrifice fodder for Eldritch Evolution, so they are lower on the curve, like Primal Druid, Pilgrim’s Eye, and Filigree Familiar.

This leads to some deceptively aggressive starts for the deck. For example, I imagine the “Primal Druid into Eldritch Evolution for a Thought-Knot Seer, follow up with a five-drop” curve is very potent regardless of the matchup, and it started with a 0/3 on turn 2, so you can easily shift gears and play more defensively should the game state call for it.

The amount of value this deck provides, along with the presence of Traverse the Ulvenwald as a means to create added threat density, means that you can go long in attrition games as well. And, of course, a deck with eight creature tutors is going to have some sort of combo action, and we see the Eldrazi Displacer / Brood Monitor / Zulaport Cutthroat combo on display here.

With so many customizable slots and so many different plans, this is a deck that no one can properly prepare for. You can play every game in a match differently based on how your opponent approaches the matchup, always keeping them off-balance and blunting the effectiveness of their cards.

You can also customize it to any metagame by switching around the toolbox. Outside of the early value creatures, the Thought-Knot Seers, and the combo pieces, I don’t see anything as being essential. The one thing you do have to keep watch over is your curve. Eldritch Evolution, like Birthing Pod before it, is a very curve-sensitive card, so you need to be vigilant when tweaking the deck and sideboarding.

I’m a huge fan of creature-based combo decks because, unlike spell-based combo, when things don’t come together, you can still attack. Often opponents overprepare for the combo, thinking that your aggro plan is too anemic to work, which of course makes it more potent. Moreover, Eldritch Evolution is one of the cards that most benefits from more sets being added to Standard; you need the right collection of pieces for a given metagame or the entire toolbox is bunk.

So keep an eye out for this one and Eldritch Evolution in general. It’s a powerful card still looking for a home, and if and when it finds one, it can make some waves.