Surviving In The Eldrazi World

GerryT logged a lot of miles on Pro Tour weekend! Read about his ups and downs, his great #SCGRegionals finish, and how he plans to work the Eldrazi into Legacy!

Grand Prix Washington, DC: March 11-13!

I blew it.


You’d think I’d learn my lesson, but this time, I was close.

“When has the Level 1 deck ever been bad at a Pro Tour? Sure, people try to beat you, but Eldrazi is an unknown quantity and the stuff people are currently trying to beat it with don’t actually work. We just need to find a good list.”

“All right, let’s lock it in. We’re playing Eldrazi.”

That was the conversation I had on Sunday night with Brian Braun-Duin after Grand Prix Vancouver. We recognized the potential in the Eldrazi deck, but unfortunately we couldn’t capitalize. Despite three weeks of playing various versions, we didn’t have anything we liked. We couldn’t find a good list.

A quick Gatherer search would have turned up Chalice of the Void, and from there, perhaps we would have wanted Simian Spirit Guide and/or Gemstone Caverns.

Instead, I played a “solid” deck (which was actually unplayable). But we’re not going to talk about that. The real story is how a text from Todd Anderson sent me on a trip to #SCGRegionals and the ensuing knowledge I gained.

This is the list I played at #SCGRegionals in Nashville, TN:

Finding Chalice of the Void and Crucible of Worlds wasn’t exactly easy, but BBD and I did it. The single card that eluded me was a Gemstone Caverns. BBD happened to own one already, but I wasn’t so fortunate! That was kind of unreal, since I tend to own the nonsense cards because I’m more likely to play with them than anybody else, and I even own them on Magic Online.

Aside from that, we were ready to rumble. Again, massive thanks to all who lent us cards. It was much appreciated!

I lost Round 1, but I was still waking up after my four-hour nap while also becoming more familiar with the archetype. After battling my way back to 7-1, including several mirror matches, I found myself facing the mirror again. This time, James Hames soundly defeated me, leaving me on the outside looking in.

We had to stick around to wait for BBD and James to split in the finals, but then it was back to Atlanta to witness basically the same sight. The Eldrazi were killing everyone.

Making History

There was no shortage of people talking about how this Pro Tour was horrible Magic or some other nonsense. I, on the other hand, very much enjoyed it. Yup, I got crushed in the tournament, but it was yet another Pro Tour where I got to witness history in the making. People are going to point to this tournament well into the future and say, “Remember when…?”

We have to deal with the fallout from this event, but I think it’s cool.

You may not remember, but the California guys from East West Bowl also played U/R Thopters at Pro Tour Magic Origins. That tends to go unnoticed when a bigger team plays the same archetype and also has a player or two end up in the Top 8. I imagine that going into Day 2, those same thoughts were running through their heads.

As it turns out, they actually had the better deck this time. As such, they won’t be short any sort of recognition. However, I do think it’s worth pointing out that these guys have consistently been killing it in the deck selection / deck-building department.

I expect big things.

If everyone played the “true” mirror, Crucible could be very good at allowing you to shrug off their Ghost Quarters and keep their mana in check. The matchup is determined first by tempo and then by sizing (so hold those Endless Ones!), but barring that, the ground is going to stall out. At that point, whoever can assemble the most Blinkmoth Nexuses or activate Eye of Ugin is going to be the winner.

Crucible allows you to win each of those end-game fights, plus it’s nice with my next addition.

With Tectonic Edge and Ghost Quarter, land destruction was a legitimate plan against weirdo decks like Scapeshift that are incidentally poor matchups. Blinkmoth Nexus didn’t seem very impressive, so I wanted to try something else.

In the end, I didn’t like playing the full four Tectonic Edges as I didn’t activate them often. Blinkmoth Nexus would have been very helpful in spots as well, so I think this is a clear mistake. Still, I like the idea of potentially sideboarding some Tectonic Edges with Crucible of Worlds, assuming that sort of plan is still good. Against the U/R Eldrazi, it’s not where you want to be.

Then again, if you’re playing against U/R Eldrazi, you don’t want to be on Colorless Eldrazi.

The U/R vs. Colorless Matchup

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a pseudo-mirror matchup where one deck has the other dominated on every street. While playing Regionals with the Colorless Eldrazi deck, I noticed that the deck clearly wanted some way to break through a stalled battlefield. Unfortunately, being colorless means you don’t exactly have a lot of options. Going bigger with Oblivion Sower was my best option.

Endbringer was another card that some people played, and it could potentially solve that problem. The only issue is that some people out there have access to cards like Drowner of Hope, meaning they get to re-trump you.

With abilities like trample and flying at their disposal, it’s not difficult for U/R Eldrazi to close out a game. They even have Eldrazi Scions to make more mana, threatening the first Eye of Ugin activation. If the game goes long, Colorless Eldrazi is drawing slim.

The best way for Colorless Eldrazi to win is by getting a fast start. That can be difficult when Vile Aggregate brick-walls any draw that doesn’t include a Reality Smasher. That’s why I won’t be playing Colorless Eldrazi going forward. Between the strategic disadvantage and the dead Chalice of the Voids maindeck, it doesn’t seem like the best version to play.

If you like Chalice of the Void but still want to have an edge in the Eldrazi mirror, there’s no reason you can’t have both.

How to Build a Hybrid

If you wanted to, you could merge the two decks. Vile Aggregate wouldn’t mind some Simian Spirit Guides running around and the deck naturally has red mana to hard-cast the Apes. It may not seem important, but there are some games where the extra body is significant. The only reason for merging the decks would be a world in which Chalice of the Void is still good.

This is a rough draft that is basically JC Tao’s deck with fewer Ruination Guides and Eldrazi Obligators. They were adamant about Ruination Guide being good in the deck, but not only was I skeptical, something has to go to make way for the Chalice of the Voids.

While Chalice of the Void was likely great at the Pro Tour, it probably doesn’t have a place in the maindeck of Eldrazi decks going forward just because of the density of mirror matches.

The Colorless Eldrazi Mirror

Sizing is super-important here. The most important thing I learned was that I should hold onto my Endless Ones until absolutely necessary. It’s not uncommon for a 6/6 or 7/7 Endless One to run rampant in the mirror match. Getting it to an 8/8 is even more important in the post-sideboard games because of Oblivion Sower.

It might be time to maindeck some of these. While Affinity and Infect aren’t exactly difficult matchups, they can be tricky because they are both fast and the Eldrazi deck doesn’t interact very much. It relies on its fast clock and small amount of disruption to get the job done.

In the mirror match, Gut Shot is passable. Not only does it stop some of the fastest Eldrazi Mimic Draws, but it can also take down an Eldrazi Skyspawner or Blinkmoth Nexus that’s flying over all the ground-pounders. There were also battlefield states where the ground would be clogged and Gut Shot would allow a Matter Reshaper to attack into a Thought-Knot Seer or Spellskite, so I think it has its uses.

G/R Eldrazi

My Daily Digest from February 10 is a spicy one. While everyone else was busy building the decks that were doing well in the Pro Tour, _GoblinLackey was building a deck that was trying to beat them. Additionally, it has most of the broken stuff that makes the Eldrazi decks good in the first place!

The front end of Kozilek’s Return isn’t very impressive, but if you ever trigger it from the graveyard, it’s going to be lights-out. World Breaker is bigger than most things, can be recurred, and helps keep their mana production in check.

Mind Stone is your failsafe against Blood Moon. If you play more Ghost Quarters, I would try to find room for a Wastes as well. Ancient Stirrings kind of ties everything together.

By adding some colors, your sideboard options increase dramatically. Ancient Grudge and Nature’s Claim might be excessive against Affinity, but those cards are also great against the permanents people will play to try to beat you. You already have some help in that department with World Breaker, though, so it’s hard to say how much you actually need.

Oddly enough, Lightning Bolt may or may not be better than Gut Shot. Modern is very fast right now, and the difference between one and zero mana is huge.

I’m a little surprised to not see any copies of Dismember in the deck, as spot removal for a big creature seems pretty nice right now. Kozilek’s Return doesn’t strike me as the type of card to handle all your problems.

What I Would Play

I typically like playing the version of the best deck that beats the mirror, and right now, that might be G/R Eldrazi. This weekend doesn’t have any big Magic tournaments, so I basically get the weekend off! For the next week or so, I’ll be spending a lot of time trying to figure out what Eldrazi configuration is right for me.

I’m going to be ready for #SCGLOU. Just try to beat me.

Looking Forward To #SCGPHILLY

At first, I wanted to play in a Regional PTQ over #SCGPHILLY, but now that I have a brew, I’m not so sure.

Obviously this is a rough list, but it’s where I’m starting from. There are plenty of options, but here are a few things that I’d like to highlight:

Grim Monolith is a massive source of colorless mana, even under Blood Moon. It’s similar to a Simian Spirit Guide except that it doesn’t work like a Simian Spirit Guide if your only lands are Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin. Despite that, I think having a card that is good against Blood Moon is worth it. Plus, if the game goes long, you can spend a turn untapping it and use it to activate Eye of Ugin, which I think will come up a lot.

Endbringer should probably see more play in general. This deck effectively has fifteen Eldrazi Temples, making it seem like a three-mana play.

Warping Wail is gas in Legacy. Show and Tell, Terminus, Delver of Secrets, and Deathrite Shaman are some popular cards that it’s great against.

Also, nice ability, Mother of Runes.

See you guys soon.

Grand Prix Washington, DC: March 11-13!