I tried to stay focused on reworking each of the Commander 2015 decks. I’ve done three of them and had planned on finishing up the final two this week and next… but it’s spoiler season for Oath of the Gatewatch, and I cannot keep focus on anything other than all these sweet new cards! Especially all the sweet new toys we’re getting to boost our favorite Lovecraftian monsters from beyond that are so intent on devouring Zendikar. I’ve played a couple different decks since Standard rotated in Battle for Zendikar, but I keep coming back to the Eldrazi. Not the Eldrazi Ramp decks that have been so popular in the Standard metagame—I’ve never been a fan of ramp strategies because they always gave me too much of a combo-vibe. If you can draw the right mix of ramp and payoff spells, you win. If your draws are a little off balance, you lose. This is why I loved the Green Devotion decks so much—the “ramp” was pretty much just doing what I like to do: play permanents to the board, and once you’ve got enough green pips in play your Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx allowed you to do absurd things. If you drew the right mix of cards with Green Devotion, you could do spectacular things; but if your draws were a little off balance, you could still play a regular game of Magic casting creatures and turning them sideways.
When I first saw Herald of Kozilek, I knew this was a powerful card, and while it hasn’t caught on in the bigger Standard metagame, I’ve certainly been impressed with it in my local brews. Shaving a generic mana off colorless spells can be a big game, and after several different approaches, I settled in on a Grixis build that I was mildly happy with. The problem I found was that I quickly ran out of high quality colorless spells to fill out the deck and was forced to either play some sub-par artifact or devoid cards, or branch out into actual colored spells. Neither choice was particularly appealing, so imagine my delight as spoiler season revealed these two gems:
The obvious home run is Spatial Contortion. I was around when Nameless Inversion found good homes in various Standard decks back in the day, and I think this card is quite good in the new Standard. For one thing, we’ve a dearth of removal spells at two mana that can deal with smaller creatures without having restrictions attached. Much like Honey Badger, Spatial Contortion don’t care what color, colors, or non-colors the creature might be or whether it’s indestructible; it’s going to be shrunk to death and put into the graveyard. The fact that it can be “splashed” into any deck that can produce colorless mana makes this a multi-deck all star. Then there’s Warping Wail, which is a Swiss Army knife of small abilities that you can choose from depending on the circumstances. It reminds me of Brutal Expulsion, which is a card that I’ve been very happy with in my various U/R and Grixis Eldrazi decks. For big Eldrazi decks that fear Infinite Obliteration being brought from an opponent’s sideboard, the counter target sorcery spell mode is comforting. Worst case scenario, being able to cash the spell in for a 1/1 Eldrazi Scion can enable you to be one turn faster at dropping the big guns onto the battlefield.
I was also thrilled to see these fine fellows:
When building the various versions of my Herald of Kozilek decks, here were the cards I was happy with:
I had a couple good two-drops in Hangarback Walker and Fathom Feeder, and a bunch of three-drops, and then a one-drop and a four-drop that were conditional. I tried to round things out with early burn, but the later game was where things got challenging. I tried running Blight Herder, but I found that too often my opponents didn’t have enough cards in exile to reliably get the extra three Scion tokens. Some of my cards could exile and sometimes it would work out perfectly, but there were too many times when I was forced with the choice of casting Blight Herder without getting its processor trigger. Even shaving off a mana with Herald of Kozilek, a vanilla 4/5 for four just wasn’t cutting it in a land where Siege Rhinos roam.
Reality Smasher though, now that’s a hard-hitting weirdo! Alongside Vile Aggregate and Ghostfire Blade it can equate to some serious trampling beatdown. Blight Herder is getting shipped off to Modern where it can do better work.
Thought-Knot Seer is another good mid-game card that plays nice with all the colorless themes we have going on, has a solid body, and provides some good intel and disruption.
So here I am merrily sketching out updates to my Grixis Eldrazi deck when they spoil this insane card:
What nerve of Wizards to make such a powerhouse Eldrazi card and make it white. How am I supposed to cram this into Grixis? I mean sure, we live in a world where there are decks like Jeskai Black and Abzan Blue, but Eldrazi need colorless mana to gas up and these four-color mana bases don’t have room for colorless sources of mana. Herald of Kozilek means that red and blue isn’t going anywhere, but black wasn’t really all that important—I’d hate to lose Fathom Feeder, but that wasn’t exactly a crucial card. Switching from Grixis to Jeskai really shouldn’t be that problematic, especially given that the painlands Battlefield Forge and Shivan Reef can provide us with colorless mana.
Looking at good cards to top off my curve left me feeling a little empty. Many of the six-mana Eldrazi like Oblivion Sower and Conduit of Ruin are “gateway cards” to more expensive Eldrazi, which isn’t really what this deck is all about. I tried Drowner of Hope and while the card is okay, it isn’t exactly exciting, though it gets a little better with Eldrazi Displacer letting you crank out some additional Scions. That might be the best option, but one new card caught my eye:
One issue I found with the Eldrazi decks was running out of gas. In the Grixis version, I had Fathom Feeder and a few Painful Truths to draw cards with, but dropping the black shut down that avenue of refueling. A 4/4 body for six mana with these abilities is still sub-par on the power scale, but for five mana (thanks, Herald of Kozilek)? Maybe, just maybe… If I can crack open my Hangerback Walker for a handful of Thopters, I can draw quite a few cards, and the creatures with trample can potentially snag a card or two the turn I play Deepfathom Skulker.
Here’s what I want to try out:
- 4 Hangarback Walker
- 4 Herald of Kozilek
- 4 Vile Aggregate
- 3 Deepfathom Skulker
- 4 Eldrazi Displacer
- 4 Reality Smasher
- 4 Thought-Knot Seer
It’s a brave new world for mana and I’m not entirely sure I’ve got it right, but here’s where I am:
Blue sources: 15 Red sources: 15 White sources: 13 Colorless sources: 14
Tomb of the Spirit Dragon has been doing good work in my U/R and Grixis Eldrazi decks, gaining me quite a bit of life. I think it’ll do even more work here, providing colorless mana and also recouping lost life from the painlands and Corrupted Crossroads. I sprinkled in Ruins of Oran-Rief and Sea Gate Wreckage for additional utility for free with our colorless slots.
I really like how Spatial Contortion can switch gears in this deck and provide three additional points of power since most of our creatures have a toughness greater than three. It can also crack open a Hangarback Walker with three +1/+1 counters on it, or even bigger if you mix in damage from a chump blocker or attacker. A lot of times the best way to contain a Hangarback Walker is to avoid killing it, and Spatial Contortion makes that tricky.
Another new Eldrazi card that’s got me really stoked is World Breaker!
Okay, sure it’s just a glorified Creeping Mold – or for the new kids, Reclaiming Vines – but for three extra mana you get a 5/7 body with reach, and it has the ability to recur itself. And it doesn’t destroy target artifact, enchantment, or land; it exiles it, which can be pretty sweet in conjunction with this card if the target is a land:
And this card:
Here’s what I’m thinking: You cast World Breaker with a Sanctum of Ugin on the battlefield and sacrifice Sanctum to go find a colorless creature card. The awkward part of this interaction is, if you cast World Breaker on time and sacrifice Sanctum, you either need to get a colorless creature that costs six or less, or you’re going to have to sit until you draw enough lands to cast what you tutored up. So… we sacrifice Sanctum and go get Oblivion Sower! This should help us recoup the lost lands, but better yet, it can potentially give us lands to get back World Breaker from the graveyard if our opponent has countered or destroyed it. You know how sometimes the lands you get from Oblivion Sower are fetchlands that don’t get anything from your mana base? With World Breaker you now have a use for them! Plus Oblivion Sower can help ensure you get enough mana to cast World Breaker in the first place.
- 4 Whisperwood Elemental
- 4 Den Protector
- 4 Deathmist Raptor
- 3 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
- 4 Hangarback Walker
- 4 Oblivion Sower
- 4 World Breaker
- 4 Thought-Knot Seer
In a mono-green shell we can run lots of colorless sources and still have plenty of Forests for Nissa action. Den Protector, Deathmist Raptor, and Whisperwood Elemental give us a lot of action and resilience in the face of removal until our Eldrazi show up to wreck house. What’s particularly nice about focusing on World Breaker is that it gives us a way to put the kibosh on Eldrazi Ramp decks who want to go big.
Another possibility is to branch into red so we can make use of the mighty, mighty Return of Kozilek!
We already know Jaddi Offshoot and Hangarback Walker can give us some decent early defense, but we can really boost up the creature control with Spatial Contortion, Kozilek’s Return, and Exquisite Firecraft. I like having that sweeper, which makes tapping out to play From Beyond a bit less scary. I also like the sort of cosmic justice in using Kozilek’s Return alongside World Breaker to prevent our opponent from actually casting Kozilek, the Great Distortion. Suck it, Koz!
How do you like that mana base?
Green sources: 14 Red sources: 13 Colorless sources: 13
I’m not entirely sure this is the right approach to fixing our mana in a colorless mana matters world, but it feels pretty good to me. Am I wrong?
So what do you think of the Team Eldrazi decks I’ve put forth today? What sort of Eldrazi cards from Oath of the Gatewatch have got you excited?
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)