Writing Magic articles is hard. You’d think it’s relatively simple, but I assure you after you’ve done over two hundred of them that figuring out what to talk about gets increasingly difficult over time.
Thankfully, this Modern season has been very kind to writers because it gives us something to consistently talk about.
Much to the chagrin of players.
Eldrazi this. Eldrazi that.
You’ve had it.
I’ve had it.
We’ve had it.
Writers have had it.
So let’s talk about Eldrazi today, or more aptly, how to beat it consistently with a new, innovative deck that myself and fellow author Ross Meriam were able to deduce would be the most potent way to take down the Devoid menace. We’ll get to that later.
One of the biggest criticisms levied against writers today is that we’re lazy. There’s no doubt about that. I’m sitting on a leather sofa watching Zombeavers on Netflix while I craft this and make a peanut butter and jelly pizza. None of that is made up. It’s literally what I’m doing at this very moment. It’s a testament to my opulence.
The laziness we’ve been accused of is more clearly defined as a “lack of creativity.”
Allow me to paraphrase some of my favorite article comments!
Modern has thousands of cards. Are you telling me you people can’t find a way to beat the Eldrazi decks? I’m glad I don’t have to pay for this.
Eldrazi decks aren’t that big of a deal. I beat it all the time. I’m glad I don’t have to pay for this.
I’m sick of reading about Modern. I’m glad I don’t have to pay for this.
Yawn. A cut-and-paste article about Eldrazi. I’m glad I don’t have to pay for this.
You pros flip-flop on if the deck should be banned or not, especially after Aaron Forsythe’s tweet. I’m glad I don’t have to pay for this.
Want to work from home? I made $5,670 dollars last week!
That last one is probably not pertinent, but it sure as hell pops up a lot.
Comments are usually split into two camps: the people who try to be constructive and the people who try to prove that being constructive is a waste of time because the deck is almost certainly going to get banned. There’s also a lesser-known third camp where people just berate us or complain that – while we’re trying to be proactive – they’re simply sick to death of this form of coverage. It’s a lot like complaining about the fact that major news outlets are constantly reporting on who the next president will be. You know it’s the most important issue out there for politics, but not everyone cares. The problem is that a lot more people care than don’t, but they usually just read and move on, whereas those who don’t see fit to tell you that they’re not interested… with extreme prejudice.
This new deck beats Eldrazi and is a temporary answer to a temporary problem.
Ross Merriam and I talked about this at length and weren’t able to come up with anything substantial. Eldrazi is a really tough nut to crack, and the newest iterations with artifact and enchantment removal were making our decisions tougher and tougher. U/W in particular, with Disenchants, Pithing Needles and other goodies, were ruining the dream of an effective Lantern Control deck.
The control decks I came up with faced similar problems when coming up against Warping Wail, Spell Pierce or Stubborn Denial. A U/W Control deck with Supreme Verdict and Spreading Seas felt good, but ultimately it was too narrow and would lose matches to other decks because people inexplicably decided to bring non-Eldrazi decks to the format. How dare they break decorum?
I faced several sleepless nights before I was finally able to have some measure of a breakthrough. If there’s one thing I learned from reading Mike Flores articles it’s that reaching into the past for previous decks can often yield amazing results in the present. I looked at decks from the advent of Modern like Aggro Loam or previously-dominant Standard strategies. That’s when it hit me.
The answer had been there all along!
The synergies, the speed and efficiency, the power… all of it!
Finally I think I came up with a deck that can handle Eldrazi. I shared the results with Ross and he immediately agreed that this revelation could not only save Modern but could lead to a renaissance of how we approach defeating the Eldrazi until something is inevitably banned.
Without making you wait longer, or for those of you that scrolled down really fast without reading all of the lead-up that will help this make sense to you, I submit Battlebots!
- 4 Arcbound Ravager
- 4 Ornithopter
- 1 Master of Etherium
- 2 Steel Overseer
- 3 Memnite
- 2 Etched Champion
- 4 Signal Pest
- 1 Spellskite
- 4 Vault Skirge
Take a moment and study it. It might look weird to you, but for those of us that have played Magic for years it’s a really nice face-lift on a long-forgotten juggernaut.
However many years ago, this deck was comprised of cards like Frogmite, Myr Enforcer, and Disciple of the Vault. It was an aggressive powerhouse that could kill you very quickly with Modular tricks and Cranial Plating, or it could combo you out with Ravager as a sacrificial outlet and Disciple of the Vault triggers. It devolved Standard into a game of “play it or beat it,” much like Eldrazi has warped Modern today. In the words of Ken Watanabe from Godzilla, “let them fight.”
Alas, I don’t want to take all of the credit for this innovation.
No… only like… 99% of it. A friend of mine recommended calling it “Battlebots,” so I feel like I should be forthcoming and at least admit that I wasn’t the one who named the deck. Other than that, this list is a completely new and uncharted concept, so forgive me if there are some kinks to work out. I’ll go through and individually explain most of the card choices to help out those of you that are either unfamiliar or too in shock right now to process how awe-inspiring this is. Take a seat. Grab a drink. Snag some peanut butter and jelly pizza. We’ll get through this together.
Knowing what we know about the weaknesses of Eldrazi, this unassuming little creature is what really brings the deck together. Its Modular ability will let you turn their removal against them by sacrificing your spare artifact permanents to create a huge Arcbound Ravager that can, in turn, make an unblocked creature a lethal threat. It also works very well with Inkmoth Nexus for an Infect kill. Combine it with Cranial Plating for a devastating one-two punch!
Seems underwhelming, doesn’t it? I assure you this little creature can pack a big punch. Even though the Eldrazi are colorless and can block it, the rest of the creatures in the format that aren’t Devoid are unable to. Combine it with Cranial Plating for a devastating one-two punch!
A couple of zero-mana creatures? Has Mark finally lost his mind? No, dear reader who thinks this is all serious. He hasn’t. These two costless minions help you power out ridiculously-fast starts in combination with this:
Understand for a moment that this isn’t just a 0/1! Have I lost it? Mark, seriously! It doesn’t even get bigger like Tarmogoyf does! Relax, silly-pants. It pumps up your cheap creatures and can help deal big chunks of damage. It can only be blocked by creatures with flying, and that’s huge. Combine it with Cranial Plating for a devastating one-two punch!
Shockingly we even have our two own Lord-type creatures. And you thought that Merfolk were the only decks to have them! Move over, fishmen and fishwomen, Battlebots are coming to town! Each creature is a huge threat on its own that pumps your team (See? Those zero-mana creatures make tons of sense now!) and help you close out games quickly. Combine it with Cranial Plating for a devastating one-two punch!
Thankfully, a 1/1 flier with lifelink for two mana is already a bargain, but Phyrexian mana makes it only cost one! Imagine if Kitesail Scout had flying… well… imagine no more. Vault Skirge provides a threat that can only be answered by removal spells or other flying creatures that could block it. Getting pumped by one of your lords or Signal Pest makes this card even more powerful. Combine it with Cranial Plating for a devastating one-two punch!
Identifying a barely-used mechanic was next on my list. Metalcraft? Wasn’t that mechanic lame? Of course it was, but you folks wanted us to be creative so we’re trying out new and different things. Eldrazi decks aren’t the only ones out there with fast mana because we’re packing Mox Opal and Springleaf Drum to power out broken starts and plenty of creatures! Galvanic Blast might seem like shock, but once you hit Metalcraft it becomes a Lightning Bolt that deals one more damage for the same cost! In a deck with nothing but artifacts, that theoretically shouldn’t be too hard. We all know how good Dispatch has been over the years, so I won’t even delve into the details. Combine it with Cranial Plating for a devastating one-two punch!
There’s no doubt that creature-lands are powerful, and Battlebots gets to play two of them! One of them deals damage and the other deals poison, so diversifying your threats is a perfect route to victory! Combine it with Cranial Plating for a devastating one-two punch!
Humorously enough, this card might seem powerful, but it’s the first thing Ross and I debated about cutting. We’ll leave it up to you. It dies to all forms of artifact removal, so it might not be necessary. Combine it with Oxidize for a devastating one-two punch!
Once I was able to figure out the maindeck on my own, I had to come up with a sideboard worthy of this here Battlebots deck. These fifteen cards allows us to transform into almost a Lantern Control deck without the Lantern of Insight, bringing in Ensnaring Bridge and Ghirapur Aether Grid to hand out the harshness to opposing Eldrazi. The trick is that you can draw your card for the turn and get in an attack with your creatures, then pump up your creatures with any Battle Cry triggers and using the instant-speed equip ability of Cranial Plating. Seems too good to be true? It only feels that way because you didn’t think of it first like I did.
Look… I’m sure it will take a while before this deck gains any sort of traction, but I truly believe if you give this rogue strategy a try you’ll see just how strong it can be. It provides a fantastic clock and can deal huge bursts of damage that might even be faster than the Eldrazi deck. Who knows? It’s the Wild, Wild West out there in Modern. Anything is possible. Even a little deck called Battlebots can be a winner with how diverse and open the format is.
Consequently, at the expense of keeping this deck under wraps for the next big Modern tournament, I at least hope you’ve learned a few things today.
Offering your opinion, you told us to try and be more creative.
My my my. There you have it.
Boy howdy was I creative.