A few weeks ago I was struck by inspiration for a deck I wanted to play for Friday Night Magic. It involved these two cards:
For a couple weeks prior I’d been theory-crafting various approaches to harnessing Jeskai Ascendancy alongside awaken spells so that I can generate mana
for each Ascendancy trigger, which should help keep the engine going. The problem of course is that casting a spell to awaken a land is at a minimum five
mana, and waiting until you get to five or six mana before you start doing your deck’s cool things will leave you dead until you figure out a way to
survive the earlygame against the aggressive decks out there. Halimar Tidecaller popped up on my radar in this regard: You can burn off an awaken spell
early in the game, and then later when you have enough mana and Jeskai Ascendancy, you can use Halimar Tidecaller to get back the awaken spell and begin
The problem with this plan is Halimar Tidecaller’s casting cost. Assuming I want to play four copies of Jeskai Ascendancy and four copies of Halimar
Tidecaller, I’m pretty close to maxing out the three mana slots in my deck if I want to keep some semblance of a mana curve. Roil Spout is an interesting
awaken card I might want in the mix, and I’d sure like to have Jeskai Charm too. That’s a lot at three.
Then I played in States, and someone was telling me that an opponent played Mirror Mockery on his Siege Rhino to neutralize it and it shook me up. I hadn’t
realized that Mirror Mockery could be played on opponent’s creatures! Mirror Mockery is an interesting copy card but is pretty narrow considering you’ve
got to put it on a creature that wants to attack and also has a good enters the battlefield trigger. Being able to use it as pseudo-removal (preventing a
creature from effectively attacking) pushes its value up a notch.
Another thing to keep in mind is that good removal is very limited right now, which makes playing an aura for value less risky.
What if I put a Mirror Mockery on Halimar Tidecaller? Assuming I could attack with Halimar Tidecaller and it would survive, this would give me the
potential of getting back a card with awaken each time I attacked.
Let’s take a look at the available awaken spells right now:
For one moment I thought that Halimar Tidecaller + Mirror Mockery + Part the Waterveil could be a crazy infinite combo, but it looks like Wizards R&D
added the “Exile Part the Waterveil” clause to the card to prevent those sorts of shenanigans. It’s probably for the best.
When looking at the awaken cards to pair with Halimar Tidecaller + Mirror Mockery, the focus would be making sure that Halimar Tidecaller is able to attack
(and get the Mirror Mockery trigger) without dying so you can repeat the process. The cheap cards Clutch of Currents and Rush of Ice seem very good at
doing just that by tapping down or bouncing any blocker capable of killing Tidecaller. Roil Spout is interesting in that it can clear a blocker while also
setting your opponent back a turn; if your opponent keeps casting the creature, you’re effectively getting that extra turn effect we were briefly
considering from Part the Waterveil by stealing their draw step over and over. Instead of making them recast the blocker, or tapping it, we could just
destroy anything they put in our way with Ruinous Path over and over. That actually sounds pretty strong!
Since I didn’t yet have any Prairie Streams, I decided to give U/B a try as proof of concept instead of U/W. Here’s the deck I wanted to play:
Sidisi’s Faithful and Whirler Rogue came in as additional targets for a Mirror Mockery if I couldn’t get the Halimar Tidecaller engine going. Whirler Rogue
was particularly exciting since it brings its own way to avoid combat with the Mirror Mockery trigger, providing artifacts to tap and make it unblockable.
Sidisi’s Faithful is resilient with a huge toughness and combines with Mirror Mockery to just keep bouncing a problematic creature each turn.
I didn’t include a sideboard because as I was pulling cards for the deck, I realized I didn’t have a single copy of Halimar Tidecaller or Ruinous Path, so
I put in an order for them along with some other cards I wanted. Unfortunately, it was too late, and it became clear I wasn’t going to have them in time
for Friday Night Magic.
With just a day before FNM I was scrambling for a Plan B. I wasn’t entirely happy with the G/W deck I played at States and was itching to do something
different. I decided now might be a good time to run one of the deck ideas I wrote about in my Team Eldrazi column, namely the Izzet Eldrazi Thopter deck
but with some modifications. Here’s what I played:
- 2 Pilgrim's Eye
- 4 Hangarback Walker
- 4 Whirler Rogue
- 4 Herald of Kozilek
- 4 Kozilek's Sentinel
- 4 Vile Aggregate
I ended up going 4-0 and winning FNM with the deck, and no one was more surprised than me. I mostly wanted to see how the individual parts worked and
couldn’t believe so many of them ended up working so well. Vile Aggregate was such a beating and put enormous pressure on opponents to have an answer for
it quickly, especially when backed up with Whirler Rogue to make it unblockable. Herald of Kozilek was as good as I could have hoped for-the games where I
had one in play were so much more powerful than the game when I didn’t. Brutal Expulsion was a rock star, and I constantly wished I could draw more copies
in a given game.
Ghostfire Blade is just ridiculous in a deck filled with artifact and devoid creatures. That said, I usually didn’t want to draw more than one, so in
future iterations of the deck I’ll probably cut down to three. Tomb of the Spirit Dragon was also nuts-often you could put enormous pressure on an opponent
by just holding the ground, pumping your Hangarback Walker, and activating Tomb of the Spirit Dragon to put your life total further and further out of
Having the burn suite of Fiery Impulse, Touch of the Void, and Brutal Expulsion was really good at containing my opponent’s early creatures until I could
set down a potent defense. The exile effect on Touch of the Void and Brutal Expulsion was excellent in getting rid of Hangarback Walkers and to make sure a
dead Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy or Dragonmaster Outcast wasn’t brought back later from Ojutai’s Command.
I’m torn on Kozilek’s Sentinel. On the one hand, it saved me a ton of damage from early attackers since it’s got such a huge toughness, and being colorless
matters. On the other hand, it usually couldn’t do much outside of blocking except for the games where my opponent didn’t have early blockers and I could
jab in for two points of damage a few times as I curved out with my devoid spells. Since I’ve got a strong burn suite, next time I run this I’m going to
try Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy in their place in the hopes that being able to Flashback the burn spells will be worth the trade-off losing an early blocker and
colorless creature. I might also squeeze in a copy or two of Pyromancer’s Goggles to leverage the burn even more — and it only costs four mana to cast
when I’ve got Herald of Kozilek in play! Turn 3 Herald, turn 4 Goggles, tap it and cast Fiery Impulse copied. Turn 5 cast Brutal Expulsion off Goggles for
an extra copy-Boom!
I was pleased to see other Eldrazi Masters come out of the woodwork in recent weekends too. At Grand Prix Quebec, Jake Mondello did some good work on his
Eldrazi Ramp deck and earned 3rd place:
I particularly liked his Jaddi Offshoot innovation, which can buy a lot of time blocking and gaining life throughout the game until you take over the
lategame with your huge Eldrazi. As you know I’ve been mulling over new-style Villainous Wealth in our new Eldrazi world and wondering if Jaddi Offshoot
might help my approach. Considering that even the more controlling decks out there are playing more proactive spells due to the power of Jace, Vryn’s
Prodigy leads me to believe that Villainous Wealth could be really, really good right now if I could find the right shell to run it in.
Here’s where I’m at currently but not entirely happy with:
- 4 Avatar of the Resolute
- 4 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
- 4 Hangarback Walker
- 4 Oblivion Sower
- 2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
- 4 Jaddi Offshoot
Moving away from red leaves me vulnerable to a fast Mantis Rider, which is why I’ve tried to ramrod Avatar of the Resolute into a three-color deck. Wanting
to either have GG for Avatar of the Resolute or 1U for Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy on turn 2 is tough on the mana, and I’m not sure I’m close to having it right
here. I’m pretty sure I want Jace in the mix here since flashing back ramp spells has got to be good, but I’m not sure what would be a viable alternative
to Avatar of the Resolute for early Mantis Rider protection.
I’m a little shaky on Oblivion Sower in a world with infinite Crackling Dooms, but at least there’s the potential for getting a bunch of lands no matter
what happens to our mid-size Eldrazi friend. People are delving like crazy, fueled in large part by fetchlands, which is why I’ve added a few odd-looking
Battle lands to the mix to improve the odds that exiled fetchlands can actually translate into real mana.
For reference, here are some more big Eldrazi decks that did well over the past month at some other tournaments.
I’m curious about Foundry of the Consuls in this deck. I’m not sure that I’d want to set myself back a land when I’m trying to reach for Ulamog even if the
two extra 1/1 fliers might buy you some time. Spawning Bed would give you some blockers while also potentially ramping you in mana.
I’m a big fan of Catacomb Sifter and need to find a deck I like with that card. This deck makes me wonder about running Languish and Crux of Fate as a way
of cracking open your Hangarback Walkers if your opponent hasn’t been decent enough to do so. You can break the symmetry of the sweepers if you get scry
triggers and 1/1 Thopters when it resolves.
Here’s another G/B Eldrazi deck played to a strong finish at GP Indianapolis. I’m digging the Oblivion Sowers of course, and find Complete Disregard
interesting-the card seems a bit expensive for my tastes, but the exile effect is very helpful. Playing a “fog” with Winds of Qal Sisma is a fascinating
approach to dealing with aggressive decks that win with a flurry of spells like Atarka Red. Scott Robins got 12th place with a near identical deck at the
Standard Open in Philadelphia (he had a few changes to the sideboard).
- 4 Rattleclaw Mystic
- 4 Whisperwood Elemental
- 4 Whisperer of the Wilds
- 2 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
- 4 Oblivion Sower
- 3 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
- 4 Blisterpod
Now this is my kind of deck, all nice and green! Flying defense is minimal, and he tries to shore that up with his sideboard selection. I’m a big fan of
From Beyond, I just love the inevitability it represents if you have enough time. Hm… this makes me wonder if a deck with Hangarback Walker, Catacomb
Sifter, From Beyond, Languish/Crux of Fate could be a thing? Maybe with Citadel Siege?
Okay, maybe somebody needs to cut me off.
What do you think of my Izzet Eldrazi Thopters deck? Any ideas for improving the Villainous Wealth Eldrazi deck in the current metagame?
Be sure to join me next week as I recap my experiences last weekend at the Commander Celebration at Grand Prix Atlanta!
New to Commander?
If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:
Commander Primer Part 1
(Why play Commander? Rules Overview, Picking your Commander)
Commander Primer Part 2
(Mana Requirements, Randomness, Card Advantage)
Commander Primer Part 3
(Power vs. Synergy, Griefing, Staples, Building a Doran Deck)
Commander Starter Kits 1
(kick start your allied two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 2
(kick start your enemy two-color decks for $25)
Commander Starter Kits 3
(kick start your shard three-color decks for $25)
Commander write-ups I’ve done
(and links to decklists):
• Nahiri, The Lithomancer (Lithomancing for Fun and Profit)
- • Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice ( new player-friendly)