Standard Brews! Not Broken Eldrazi Decks!

Pro Tour Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin is trying to focus on Standard! #SCGLOU has everyone talking Modern, so it’d be a shame if Patrick lost focus and talked about that. Or Legacy. Or Vintage…

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<p>My next event is Grand Prix Houston this upcoming weekend, which is Standard. I’ve been thinking about a variety of blue decks, attempting to capitalize on a format unprepared for control. </p>
<p><i>But don’t you want to think about Eldrazi in Eternal formats…?</i></p>
<p>Not a broken Eldrazi deck!</p>
<p>There’s so, <i>so </i>much room to explore in Standard, particularly since the lack of a Standard Pro Tour this time around means the format is less developed than usual. At the moment, there’s a boatload of Four-Color <a href=Rally, along with some Mardu Green, Eldrazi Ramp, Atarka Red, and a bit of Jeskai Black and Abzan.

What about blue decks?

What about Eldrazi in eternal formats?

I’ve been really interested in Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, not only because of its natural anti-Rally strengths but also because of how immensely valuable it is to find good lifegain outside of white and green. A common weakness of Grixis decks is their lack of it, leaving them somewhat vulnerable to red aggro strategies.

I also love how good Duress is right now, which can also help clear a path for Kalitas to come down and just take over the game. He doesn’t have to live very many turns to have a profound impact on the battlefield.

Normally, I would start with a couple of Goblin Dark-Dwellers in a deck like this, but there’s a part of me that wonders if maybe there’s a bit of a trap going on there. I mean, probably that’s the way you’d have to do it, but it’s easy to get tunnel vision and get so focused on what you’re “supposed to play” that we can miss so much of what we could play.

See, Goblin Dark-Dwellers is an excellent Magic card, it really is. It’s just that it is a two-for-one that leaves you with a fine body but nothing that’s going to take over the game. By contrast, both Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet completely take over a game on their own. Likewise, Dragonlord Silumgar and Chandra, Flamecaller are cards that can be reactive if needed but can also take over a game completely.

That said, I do love Rakshasa’s Secret (which readers rightfully pointed out was just better than Mind Rot for our purposes, since it fuels delve) as a way to interact with ramp decks. I love that it fits nicely with an “overload on disruption” plan, and it can actually disrupt both their mana and their big creatures like Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.

I wonder if we’re supposed to use efficient interaction like Duress and Negate to try to minimize our opponent’s ability to kill our bombs, and then rely on them to win the game for us. Even against opponents without a ton of removal, they are going to be able to hit ramp spells or Rallies.

You can use Radiant Flames and Painful Truths in a deck with Goblin Dark-Dwellers, even though they don’t actually combo. However, both of these cards work fantastically with Kalitas and I wouldn’t mind powering them up even more (that is, removing the nombos). I particularly appreciate Radiant Flames’s ability to kill all the 2/3s people play now without taking down our Kalitas.

More likely than not, the real answer is to just play Jeskai Black with maindeck Kalitas, but I can’t help myself. I dunno, maybe something like:

I’m fairly sure I want to play blue delve card draw and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Black offering Kalitas locks us into two colors. How much do we need the red, though? Getting to play white’s lifegain is so attractive that I wonder if I’m supposed to be going back to Esper. White also brings Hallowed Moonlight and Monastery Mentor (an auspicious pairing, to be sure).

Hallowed Moonlight is a pretty easy one, generally cycling but absolutely blowing out Rally the Ancestors, Collected Company, Hordeling Outburst, and Secure the Wastes. It feels like it’d be absolutely awesome maindeck in the format right now.

Monastery Mentor is a little bit more subtle. It’s a strong card in its own right, but I’m particularly interested in using the Mentor as a maindeck plan against Eldrazi Ramp decks, letting us actually outrace how big they can go. We’d have to be pretty disruptive to ensure we don’t just get trumped by Kozilek’s Return or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, but I think we want to be disruptive in that way anyway with Duress, Negate, and so on.

Even though they seem a little odd together, they actually work just fine. It’s not like Hallowed Moonlight is always in effect, so it’s not going to mess up your Mentor nearly as often as it gives you an extra token because of it. For instance, if you have two mana in your opponent’s end step, you can Hallowed Moonlight and then get a token before the Moonlight resolves.

Another big draw to the Mentor is how much it takes over the game on its own (like Jace and Kalitas). If we’re attacking people’s hands pretty aggressively with Duresses, each of our “must-kill” threats becomes that much more deadly. It only takes one to seize control of the game, so each removal spell one threat draws out increases the chances for the rest.

In fact, we could go even harder and get some sweet, sweet Dragonlord Silumgar action in there, or some Dragonlord Ojutais. The thing I keep coming back to, however, is how much I want to maximize Dig Through Time and Painful Truths. Those two card draw spells are cheap, efficient, and much stronger than most of the cards in the format. I would love to use as many of them as possible. Hell, I wouldn’t rule out using seven or eight in the right deck. The more of them we use, though, the more we need the rest of the spells in our deck to be as cheap as possible (which is perfect for Monastery Mentor, anyway).

Can we talk about Eternal Eldrazi?

Just a second. I considered playing straight U/W and just fueling the Mentor with cantrips, but I’m concerned that we’re sacrificing too much power for little gain, since it’s not like the mana is hard in Esper.

As a note, we’ve got to be careful to play at least two or three different victory conditions in our sideboard, as the last thing we want to do is lose to an Infinite Obliteration. A Dragonlord Ojutai; a Linvala, the Preserver; and a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar make a pretty nice mix, but there are a lot of options to choose from.

I started working on a draw-go style of U/W Control deck, experimenting with zero Jace. Winning with Ugin, the Spirit Dragon kind of ruled out Silkwrap and Stasis Snare, which left me with the question of what to do about two-cost removal.

Spatial Contortion is an exciting option to consider in a U/W control deck, if only we can get enough colorless to cast it. Outside of stuff like Mage-Ring Network and Haven of the Spirit Dragon, we could Evolving Wilds and play a Wastes. However, I wanted to try avoiding that path and maybe see if some painlands might be the solution.

Splashing green gives us access to Lumbering Falls and whatever sideboard cards we want. The four Yavimaya Coasts are a nice boost to our colorless sources without making our manabase too shaky. I’m still not sure we’re getting enough power to be worth the trouble we’re going to.

We could have splashed black instead, with Shambling Vents and Caves of Koilos, but that leads us to a ton of non-blue lands. Another option would have been red off of Shivan Reef and Battlefield Forge; however, once we’re red, we’d rather have Fiery Impulse than Spatial Contortion in general.

This path is straying too far from the real goal, though. This isn’t a format where we want to be overly reactive. Three-mana counterspells are not particularly well positioned or anything. Why are we playing such a reactive strategy?

Eternal Eldrazi! What about Eternal Eldrazi?!

Look, I hear you, okay? I know some of you are heading to #SCGLOU to battle Modern. But my big event coming up is going to be spent playing Standard. Can we maybe focus on that? Here, here’s an Eldrazi deck:

#SCGLOU is Modern! That’s our last stand against the Eldrazi!

Okay, you want Modern tech? Play Endbringer and Deceiver of Forms in your Eldrazi deck. You want to see what I’m working on for #GPDetroit?

Here’s my Modern deck:

Taste it, Eldrazi scum!

You think Modern is the only format Eye of Ugin can get banned in?

Wait, you think Eldrazi might actually be broken in Legacy? You don’t think that might be a bit hyperbolic?

When you’ve got too many Ancient Tombs to play them all, you’ve got yourself a messed-up format:

Okay, I gotta admit, that’s a pretty sick deck. I could actually see even more Lodestone Golems. They may not be Eldrazi, but they do come down early, thanks to Grim Monolith, Ancient Tomb, and City of Traitors. They also power up Eldrazi Mimic big-time.

Legacy Eldrazi seems super-sick, and it’s just getting started. Chalice of the Void for one is absurd in that format, and getting to play with twenty busted lands is unheard of.

What about Vintage?

Sure, I guess. I mean, I’m sure it’s fine, but the bar is really high. I mean, you’re cutting Mishra’s Workshop for Eldrazi Temple. How much are you even doing? I do like Mental Misstep, though, and Mana Crypt is a hot little number.

I wonder about a version with Ancestral Recall, Time Vault, and Tinker. Blighteel Colossus is kind of fun when you actually search it up with Eye of Ugin sometimes and just hardcast it. Four Mental Missteps and four Gitaxian Probes and maybe we’re getting close to supporting Force of Will?

If I were going to play Vintage, I still think I would just want to tune a Gush deck to beat Shops. There’s so much more hate people could be playing maindeck. For instance, what about something like:

I kind of heart Serenity right now. It’s cheap and devastating, and you can typically put it to work against other people in some way, particularly if you don’t play a lot of Moxes.

Another possibility is to build around Ancient Grudge. It’s a classic way to fight back against artifact decks effectively, though I am skeptical of not playing Monastery Mentor.

Yeah, see, I look at this deck, and the first thing I want to do is add Monastery Mentor. That card seems so absurd in Vintage. If you just don’t lose to artifacts, Mentor beats all creatures and Gush beats spells.

Wait a minute! How the hell did you get me talking about Vintage Gush decks? I’m trying to prepare for #GPHouston! You are really distorting my playtesting…

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