#SCGCHAR is in the books! I had a blast doing commentary with Andrew Boswell and really hope that everyone enjoyed watching us just as much as we enjoyed calling the shots from the SCGLive booth. As it was my first show on commentary, I know that I have a lot to work on (Serum Visions is absolutely not Preordain), but I am looking forward to putting in the work and practice with Andy so that we can become an entertaining and engaging commentary duo.
I’ve traveled a lot for Magic, but this was the first time that I went without bringing any Magic cards with me. My bag was still full, but it was a suit with all the trimmings rather than my trusty Amulet Bloom and trade binders. Andy and I met up in Charlotte a day early so that we could hang out and get to know each other a little better. We were “friends” already, but more the sort of Magic acquaintances that you gather as you grind competitive events, and we felt like it might lend a lot to our on camera chemistry if we were to spend a day or so kicking it around downtown Charlotte.
I got to learn a lot about Andy, and he about me. I really felt like the cast was much smoother that it would have been had we not done this, and I hope that we came across as a bit more fluid and relaxed.
There has been quite an outpouring of support and kind words about enjoying our commentary and I am so grateful for it all. Your votes of confidence really empower me to try and work even harder, and I’m going to use the time leading up to our next show at #SCGPHILLY to stream and produce more video content to practice talking patterns, articulating complex thoughts, and just simply recognition of cards and calling game states.
Needless to say, I couldn’t have made it through without the awesome guidance of the SCGLive staff, especially Daniel Schoenbach, Dan May, and Ken Crocker. They all did a great job making it as easy as possible for a pair of commentary noobs to just get in the booth and call some sweet matches of Magic.
As for the tournament itself, there were quite a few sweet decks, headlined by Jacob Baugh’s Heartless Eldrazi.
Watching Jacob cast Oblivion Sower on turn 3 and then follow it up with an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on turn 4, both powered out by Heartless Summoning, was quite the experience, and I can imagine that a lot of you are eager to recreate the experience just as much as I am. I definitely plan on trying to assemble this deck on Magic Online as soon as I get back to Seattle!
This is your reminder that if you aren’t checking out GerryT’s Daily Digest column every day, you might be missing the obvious next big thing!
I really like how Jacob is innovating his deck from week to week, as we saw him on Mono-Black Eldrazi the previous weekend at #SCGCIN, and after getting a tournament in with the deck, he has changed it around to use Beena’s Heartless Summoning tech.
The one addition that I really like with this strategy is Conduit of Ruin. Being a reasonable body is great, but the ability to go and find an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger that we are likely to cast if they don’t answer the Conduit of Ruin (and might even be able to cast even if they do answer the Conduit of Ruin) is just the bee’s knees.
The weakest link in the deck, I feel, is Kozilek’s Channeler. I feel like most of the time we’re going to already have a lot of mana, and using this expensive mana accelerant is going to be superfluous. This is the slot that I think we will have to work with when the new Eldrazi come out, and there are quite a few new Eldrazi in the upcoming Oath of the Gatewatch that I think may have some potential in a deck like this.
On raw stats alone, this is a very exciting card! A 5/5 haste, trample for five mana with an ability that punishes your opponent for interacting with it is already a decent rate. Once we add in the fact that it’s an Eldrazi, that’s when the juices get flowing.
With Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple doing their best Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors impersonations, getting this guy out on turn 3 is going to be easy. Being immune to Lightning Bolt and Abrupt Decay is huge, and while it can be hit with Path to Exile, the discard punisher effect is great. Can you imagine a deck needing to use two spells to kill this thing? Talk about value! In addition to that, if they don’t have any cards in their hand, then they actually can’t use a top decked removal spell to kill it.
I’m not sure if this is the type of card that we are wanting in a Heartless Summoning-style deck, but I do think it’s extremely powerful and a card to keep an eye on as long as Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin are legal. It may even have some applications in Standard as a great midrange threat that’s going to be difficult to answer effectively.
Sticking on the Eldrazi theme, another card that I’m excited for is Reaver Drone. I don’t think this little thing is going to make a splash in Modern, but it has the potential to be a real role player in Standard for a Devoid/Colorless aggro deck.
I feel like we were close when Battle for Zenidkar came out and I even wrote an article that talked about the potential of a Devoid/Colorless aggro deck. I still think that Forerunner of Slaughter is what will end up making this deck tick, but with all the extra beefy creatures (with or without value) that we have coming in Oath of the Gate Watch, I think we might want to revisit this possibility.
Between Reaver Drone, Matter Reshaper, Thought-Knot Seer, and Reality Smasher, we have some quality creatures that are either extremely powerful at their mana cost, or can generate some value. We even have some innocuous cards like Eldrazi Mimic, Spatial Contortion, and Bearer of Silence that might find a home. The best of all is that we now have a couple of amazing lands that we get to play that can smooth out all of our potential mana issues and allow us to gain some value as we go into the mid-game: Corrupted Crossroads and Ruins of Oran-Rief.
- 4 Hangarback Walker
- 4 Forerunner of Slaughter
- 3 Sludge Crawler
- 2 Flayer Drone
- 3 Thought-Knot Seer
- 3 Bearer of Silence
- 4 Reaver Drone
- 4 Matter Reshaper
Now, this is a rough draft that combines a handful of ideas I have all into one thing. I’m going to start with this list to see if there is some potential there, which is why there are some weird numbers on a lot of the cards.
Primarily, I really like how great Ghostfire Blade is with all of these Devoid and colorless creatures. Having a two-power one-drop with Devoid can potentially be very powerful when we are curving out, and while one-drops are generally pretty poor in the late game, we have Ghostfire Blade and Ruins of Oran-Rief to power them up. Sludge Crawler also has potential to be great in any stage of the game and make combat rough for our opponents.
I love the value that we can gain out of Matter Reshaper and Bearer of Silence has the potential to be backbreaking. A lot of times our opponents will land an Anafenza, the Foremost; Siege Rhino; or something like Dragonlord Ojutai or Silumgar, the Drifting Death and hope to stabilize, and having an edict effect attached to a creature allows us to push through damage while not giving up board presence. I also love that it’s an on-cast trigger, so it will get rid of a Dragonlord Ojutai even if they have a counterspell of some kind.
Hangarback Walker is all-around great, and I do like that Matter Reshaper has a “may” clause on putting the card on the battlefield, so if we happen to hit a Hangarback Walker off it, we’re simply just drawing a card.
I’m not quite sure on the mix of lands, but I don’t think that we really need too many colored sources, and we want to make sure that we have true colorless sources for our Eldrazi creatures and spells that require it. Crumbling Vestige is interesting since we can use it to curve out on our colored spells and it can still provide us with colorless mana for our Eldrazi spells. We just have to pay attention to how we are sequencing our lands.
This list doesn’t utilize Reality Smasher, but that’s mainly because when I was going through the card options it just didn’t look like we were wanting to go all the way up to five mana. I could potentially see a colorless midrange deck utilizing some of these cards and Hedron Crawler, but I think that trying to find room in an Eldrazi Ramp deck for those cards is going to be good enough.
Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher seem like they would both be great somewhere in an Eldrazi Ramp style of deck, and we might even be able to take advantage of something like Ruin in Their Wake. It’s going to be interesting to see just how many Basic Land – Wastes you’re going to have to play to get reliable value out of the Rampant Growth variant on turn 2, but with Hedron Crawler, Rattleclaw Mystic, and Ruin in Their Wake, we have three options for mana acceleration on turn 2.
Being able to go from two to four that easily really makes me want to see what we can do with it!
- 4 Rattleclaw Mystic
- 4 Thunderbreak Regent
- 2 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
- 4 Hangarback Walker
- 4 Reality Smasher
- 4 Thought-Knot Seer
- 4 Hedron Crawler
I had initially wanted to brew this with Pia and Kiran Naalar, but I think having the Thunderbreak Regent and getting some value out of the Haven of the Spirit Dragon and Draconic Roar are worth it. With access to the two-mana ramp creatures, we can easily power out Thought-Knot Seer and Thunderbreak Regent along with Reality Smasher and just take over the game. All of these creatures are resilient and do a good job of trying to make our opponents not get much value off killing our creatures.
The manabase is an experiment, and I really want to see how Crumbling Vestige plays out in these decks. Having access to the color you want on the turn you play it along with providing colorless mana for the cards that need it seem like a pretty sweet deal. In fact, this kind of deck may even want Matter Reshaper somewhere. Oath of Nissa can help us find our ramp creatures for turn 2 and then play a role similar to Ponder in the mid- to late game in finding us the cards that we need.
I am really excited by a lot of these new cards, but I have a gut feeling that we may have to wait for Khans of Tarkir and company to leave Standard before they start to shine. Cards like Siege Rhino and the rest of the Abzan menace all seem like they are just too powerful and will likely put a stop to any smaller Eldrazi shenanigans.
Speaking of Eldrazi, while I did allude to Eldrazi Ramp in this article, I did not provide a deck list. This is because I am still trying to work on it and would love to hear what is on everyone’s minds for this. Kozilek, the Great Distortion obviously seems insane, as does Kozilek’s Return, but I’m not quite sure where it all fits in.
Good luck to everyone in their Oath of the Gatewatch Prerelease endeavors! Maybe I can talk my fiancee into coming out of retirement so that we can brandish the “Wow. Such Giant. Many Heads” 2HG team name again. See you there!