#10: Ingot Chewer
To deal with a turn 1 Chalice of the Void, you need something quick. It also needs to have a converted mana cost of “not one.” Ancient Grudge and its ilk are decent, but a touch slow. You want to solve the problem on your first turn if you’re on the draw or be able to also play another one-drop on your second turn. Ingot Chewer’s evoke ability lets it disguise itself as a one-mana artifact removal spell while really costing five.
There are several decks that can use Ingot Chewer to even higher potential. Anything with Kolaghan’s Command, like Jund or Grixis Control, can rebuy Ingot Chewer later in the game if another troublesome artifact enters the battlefield. Living End has used Ingot Chewer in the past as a cheap spell that bypasses the cascade from Violent Outburst and Demonic Dread en route to Living End; it should consider running Ingot Chewer in the maindeck, as well as more copies in the sideboard. Affinity looks to be the second-best deck in Modern, so extra hate against the robots is always welcome.
Shriekmaw hasn’t been good recently due to its inability to hit artifact creatures from Affinity. Otherwise, Shriekmaw is an inherently powerful card that hasn’t seen much play since the banning of Birthing Pod. Even the Chord of Calling decks that essentially replaced Birthing Pod strategies won’t touch it. Now is the time to take another look.
Shriekmaw is one of the better answers to Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher. Reality Smasher’s discard ability checks for spells, not triggered abilities. I expect cards that dodge Reality Smasher’s clause, like Shriekmaw, Journey to Nowhere, and Detention Sphere, as well as battlefield sweeper effects like Wrath of God to be more heavily played in the successful decks from #SCGLOU.
Like Ingot Chewer, Shriekmaw works well with Kolaghan’s Command and in Living End. Heck, maybe Living End should play their own Kolaghan’s Commands. Sometimes it’s a bad Electrolyze, but whatever, it’s a versatile card that is a situational problem-solver. Artifacts like Relic of Progenitus and Ensnaring Bridge which are hard to trade profitably with are the deck’s bane.
Sacrifice effects are pretty good at dodging Reality Smasher’s trigger. Three mana is on the slow end for a removal spell, but this one comes with a taste of lifegain to recover lost ground. If Burn makes a comeback in response to the higher Dismember numbers and other Phyrexian mana spells, lifegain will be at a premium.
This new legend out of Oath of the Gatewatch has been giving Standard Rally the Ancestors players fits for the past few weeks. Kalitas has the perfect size and fit to be a Modern player as well. At 3/4 Kalitas lives through Lightning Bolt, and with a converted mana cost of four, it’s immune to Abrupt Decay too.
Exiling creatures is what Kalitas does best. Lightning Bolt and Dismember look a whole lot better when they’re killing a Kitchen Finks, Voice of Resurgence, or Matter Reshaper for good. Kalitas doesn’t fare well directly in combat with Though-Knot Seer or Reality Smasher, but it does hold down the smaller Eldrazi and can outrace the bigger ones.
Nothing solves a bunch of big creatures quite like a Wrath of God. It won’t be enough to simply play lands and do nothing until you drop your sweeper on turn 4, so complement your Wrath of Gods with enough early disruption like Mana Leak, Kitchen Finks, and Path to Exile to stem the bleeding against Eldrazi.
#5: Magma Spray
I’m not sure why Magma Spray hasn’t seen play lately. Not going to the face and only dealing two put it a class below Lightning Bolt; still, there are plenty of good targets for it and I predict more juicy ones to litter #SCGLOU.
The biggest new addition is Matter Reshaper. Normally it’s a middle-of-the-road creature that no one really expects to win the game and no one wants to remove. It feels bad to spend a removal spell on Matter Reshaper and have it flip over something relevant (the worst being another Matter Reshaper for rub-ins).
The Eldrazi decks don’t have anything outside of a 3/3 Endless One that can be killed with Lightning Bolt but not Magma Spray. Eldrazi Mimic and Ruination Guide and Eldrazi Skyspawner are other targets for the Spray.
Chord of Calling decks tend to have great targets as well. Kitchen Finks and Voice of Resurgence are the big ones. Preventing haunt from an Orzhov Pontiff and exiling key pieces like Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker so they can’t be brought with Reveillark or Eternal Witness are also nice.
Perhaps Anger of the Gods has taken the role from Magma Spray for so long that it’s all but forgotten. While Anger of the Gods is still a decent card, it’s a touch slow and it doesn’t work all that well against Eldrazi.
Sacrifice effects are great against large creatures, and Liliana of the Veil is the pound-for-pound most powerful incarnation of a sacrifice spell. She’s a great complement to any deck intent on killing everything on sight while being a steady threat that must be dealt with before she reaches ultimate status. She’s the bane of creature decks and control decks alike.
Although she looks bad against Matter Reshaper, she works well against it at the same time. If you kill Matter Reshaper to give them a card, you can snag it with Liliana’s +1 ability if they didn’t previously have any. Some finesse and resource denial alongside a Tarmogoyf is a fine plan against Eldrazi.
Liliana is also a great combo with…
#3: Ensnaring Bridge
The number of Ensnaring Bridges showing up in MTGO League and Daily Event decklists is rising, and for good reason. It’s excellent against Eldrazi, as with their strict “colorless” requirements they have a tough time cobbling together a good, castable answer. Also, the fear of getting locked under an Ensnaring Bridge will cause Eldrazi players to oversideboard or bring in other cards without many targets or uses, like Vandalblast or Hurkyl’s Recall.
I personally like 8-Rackquite a bit in Modern. I’ve played it in the past without Ensnaring Bridge, even though most versions did. Now Ensnaring Bridge is an even better fit in 8-Rack, likely more so than in any other deck. Lantern Control, All-In Red, and Burn are other decks that use Ensnaring Bridge quite well. Any deck that can deploy a reasonable amount of control or a clock is a welcome home for Ensnaring Bridge.
Modern isn’t what it used to be. It was once a format where every new set brought cheaper spells and it edged toward something faster like Legacy. Fetchlands and shocklands pressured life totals, making Burn a significant player in Modern. Inquisition of Kozilek hit most things while not spotting the Burn players two life on their way to lighting you up.
The average converted mana cost of spells in Modern has gone up significantly since #PTOGW. Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher are now the fast cards that beat you and they need to be nabbed before they come down. The Eldrazi decks smash Burn as well, pushing Burn practically into unplayable territory.
Thoughtseize gets any nonland permanent from a hand unconditionally. For the same reasons we see an uptick in Dismember numbers, we should see Thoughtseize numbers increasing as well. For those who used to play four Inquisition of Kozilek and two Thoughtseize or something similar, I recommend switching those numbers around.
#1: Path to Exile
The Eldrazi decks have shown us that the reduced-cost Eldrazi need an answer to them quickly. Dismember numbers are shooting up as an answer that is cheap enough to be cast before too many licks have been taken. Path to Exile falls within the same vein while not requiring a hefty life investment.
The Eldrazi decks do have basic lands in their decks, whether Wastes or Island or whatever. However, their decks are often built to top out at “five” mana with Reality Smasher. It’s not like there’s much difference to an 8/8 and a 9/9 Endless One.
The Eldrazi decks tend to mulligan aggressively, albeit very well. If you deal with the first few things, chances are they’re be put into topdeck mode quickly. Path to Exile happens to be good against topdecks too.
I’m in the camp of trying to contain the threats from the Eldrazi decks rather than to attack their mana, especially on the draw, where you can face a 4/4 on turn 2 or a 5/5 on turn 3 before a Spreading Seas or Fulminator Mage can enter the battlefield. Going forward against the Eldrazi decks, I suggest moving away from trying to contain their mana and move towards beating them on the battlefield. Nothing is worse than spending a spell or a Ghost Quarter on an Eye of Ugin, just for them to play their previously useless second copy from hand.
A Land to Avoid Playing
Once upon a time, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth was a land that nearly always gave its controller more value than it did the opponent. It took the place of a basic Swamp and had very little downside. Double black for Liliana of the Veil was easier, as were double-discard-spell turns. Verdant Catacombs and Bloodstained Mire tapped for black mana, providing extra utility.
The Colorless Eldrazi deck and a few other Eldrazi variants run Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth so that Eye of Ugin can tap for real mana. Now, given the popularity of Eye of Ugin decks, Urborg runs a significant chance of helping your opponent more than it helps you.
#SCGLOU Looms Around the Corner
Modern’s first big tournament since #PTOGW is this weekend and it will be first real test of whether the format is solvable or not. Eldrazi decks are warping the format to the point where, even if a deck or two emerges that can beat Eldrazi consistently, we’ll likely be left with a metagame that’s very small and more like Rock-Paper-Scissors than what we had in the Splinter Twin era.
Can we pick up where the Gatewatch failed us? Or will the Eldrazi overrun Louisville like they did Zendikar and Atlanta?