The Best Deck In Eldritch Moon Standard

The duo of Michael Majors and Gerry Thompson are quickly placing themselves among the best deckbuilding teams in existence. And at #SCGCOL next weekend, you’re going to see the fruits of their latest Magic labors.

Last week, I wrote about the G/U deck that I really liked. As of this week, I’ve mostly abandoned it.

The concept is still solid, but it had some issues. Plus, Michael Majors did what he does and built a great deck. I did what I do and tuned it. Basically, we found something better. Much better. But I’ll get into that later.

My G/U Emerge deck, for reference:

First of all, Foul Emissary is an excellent addition to the G/U Emerge deck that wasn’t spoiled at the time. What to cut for it is interesting. Eldrazi Skyspawner might seem like the weakest card in the deck, but it complements the Reality Smashers well. I enjoy playing Nissa, Vastwood Seer as sacrificial fodder that helps fix your mana (not necessarily color-wise, but land drop-wise). Matter Reshaper seems like an obvious inclusion but could potentially be worse than Foul Emissary.

Basically, I’m not sure what to cut, and that I’m potentially making a mistake by moving on.

Duskwatch Recruiter plus Cryptolith Rite is still a hell of an engine, especially when you can dig for something as powerful as Elder Deep-Fiend. However, if you don’t have a Cryptolith Rite, Duskwatch Recruiter is underwhelming.

This format is fast; you don’t really have time to be activating Duskwatch Recruiter except in long, drawn-out games. There are several cards that break battlefield stalls or provide either player with a huge advantage. The creatures are large and a 2/2 doesn’t trade with much. Overall, Duskwatch Recruiter is much worse than it used to be. It’s still serviceable, but I expect most people to want to trade it off at their earliest chance.

Crytolith Rite helps with Duskwatch Recruiter, but most of the time, you’re just going to be casting your spells and (hopefully) smashing your opponent.

The tension of Sanctum of Ugin with Nissa, Vastwood Seer and Sylvan Advocate was very real. Basically, the two-drops were lackluster, and Nissa, Vastwood Seer wasn’t her typical amazing self. Cryptolith Rite is still great at providing you with a huge tempo boost, but overall, the green cards weren’t what I wanted.

In our VS Video this week, Majors battled with a rough first draft of a U/R Emerge deck. We both loved what the deck was doing, and we made it great. Here’s where we’re at right now, and if #SCGCOL were tomorrow, I’d happily register it.

I’ll get to the sideboard later.

The biggest turning point was when we realized that two-drops weren’t actually necessary and that Kozilek’s Return solves multiple problems. That works out pretty well, too, since most two-drops die to Kozilek’s Return anyway!

The biggest piece of technology in this decklist is how it is actively trying to get Kozilek’s Return into the graveyard by any means necessary. There are decks such as Boss Humans where casting Kozilek’s Return is actually great. However, against decks like G/W Tokens and Bant Humans, the front side of Kozilek’s Return doesn’t actually kill much. In the case of Bant Humans, you might not actually have time to cast Kozilek’s Return and trigger it before you die. Having a way to discard it early can be very profitable later.

So Jace returns!

With the absence of fetchlands (and cheap removal too, I suppose), Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy’s stock has plummeted. Now we actually have a reason to play Jace again, so I’m pretty excited. There isn’t much to -3 with Jace, but there’s enough. Also, using the +1 ability is still as good as it’s ever been. Since this is kind of a combo deck, we want the ability to filter through our various pieces. Both Jace and Tormenting Voice accomplish that for the cheapest price while also having the effects we’re looking for.

Plus, they both discard Kozilek’s Return!

What happens if people start killing your emerge enablers?

Bring it. The deck is designed to sacrifice those creatures for value, so if you’re spending time and resources going after them, I get value that way instead. With ten three-drop creatures (and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, who makes fine sacrificial fodder), it’s very difficult to keep the deck from emerging forever. If you’re going after the Matter Reshapers, can you beat the U/R deck before an Eldrazi Scion becomes a Wretched Gryff? Maybe, but it’s not like you lose the game if your three-drop dies.

In the meantime, the U/R deck is still trying to interact with Spatial Contortion and Titan’s Presence, so keeping them off emerge indefinitely is a tall order.

Clash of Wills is something I wanted to try in the maindeck. On the draw, it allows you to break serve because some of the most powerful cards cost three mana. This deck is also light on two-drops in general, so having another would be nice, albeit not vital. It’s also one of the few cards that trades effectively with Elder Deep-Fiend. If you have your own Elder Deep-Fiend, Titan’s Presence is the other.

Yes, I am already respecting the pseudo-mirror match.

Titan’s Presence is still serviceable, even if your opponent isn’t trying to tap all your lands in your upkeep. There are enough Eldrazi in the deck to make it feel like Murder, which is a perfectly fine card to include in your U/R deck, at least in small numbers.

How Do the Games Play Out?

I’ve seen suggestions for things like Ruin Processor (with more exile effects) and Herald of Kozilek, both of which demonstrate a misunderstanding of what the deck is trying to do. Your ideal draw involves a turn 4 Elder Deep-Fiend, but what happens if that doesn’t come together?

There are Jaces, little beaters, some removal, and Wretched Gryffs to trigger Kozilek’s Return. Sanctum of Ugin can find an Elder Deep-Fiend if necessary. Winning games doesn’t hinge on the ability to find or cast it, but doing so certainly makes the games much easier.

Many games are spent trying trigger Sanctum of Ugin. From there, you kind of snowball out of control with big play after big play. The deck might look controlling, but it turns the corner very quickly (think Jeskai Flash), and you end up sacrificing a land or two sometimes. There is no place for a seven-drop in this deck, at least if it doesn’t have emerge. We cut the Reality Smashers because of the nonbo with Sanctum of Ugin! Thought-Knot Seer curves just right with it, though.

The other big angle is Kozilek’s Return. While Herald of Kozilek does reduce the casting cost of basically every card in the deck, it’s something that gets swept up in your own Kozilek’s Returns for little value. There might be a Herald of Kozilek-based U/R Emerge deck at some point, but that deck will likely not feature Kozilek’s Return.

You will rarely be able to have more than a single relevant threat in play at any one time, at least until you start turning the corner. There aren’t many early plays, your opponents will likely be trying to keep them off the battlefield, and emerge sacrifices some of your battlefield position. Your Kozilek’s Returns are frequently one-sided. Cards like Tragic Arrogance or Planar Outburst do very little.

Other Options

I could see going down a path with Lightning Axe and some Drownyard Temples. Vexing Scuttler could allow you to go down a spell-heavy route. If you can do that, Bedlam Reveler is rather appealing. Silumgar’s Sorcerer is a way to beat keep parity against their Elder Deep-Fiends.

There are plenty of cool things to try.

Building the Sideboard

This should be fun. I went through Gatherer for every blue, red, and colorless card to give me an idea of my options, and as a reality check to ensure I wasn’t missing anything noteworthy.

W/R Humans

Tom Ross’s been building and winning with a lot of decks that form the litmus test for Standard. As a deck that is a little clunky and doesn’t have much in the ways of early interaction, Game 1 is about whether or not you draw Kozilek’s Return. Overall, it’s not the best spot to be in, so we’re going to need a lot of help here. On the bright side, they’re not getting much from the new set.

These are the cards I’m interested in:

As you can see, I want access to more removal. You could combo Lightning Axe with Fiery Temper, which also works with Jace and Tormenting Voice, but I prefer something with a little more power. Since U/R probably needs a powerful effect to catch up to Boss Humans’s best draws, Radiant Flames (and maybe Dual Shot) are the best options. Simply siding in some Shocks isn’t going to get the job done, especially since there aren’t as many red sources in the deck as you’d need to cast those spells early.



If we have additional slots, I could see playing some additional cards for this matchup. The Radiant Flames should cover us against their best draws, but if we can include something for Boss Humans that is also good against another archetype, that’d be great for consolidating slots.

Bant Humans

This is more of the same, except their clock isn’t as fast, so you have more time to find and set up Kozilek’s Return. They are grindier, have more ways to interact with you, and have disruption. It can be scary, but there’s also not a great way to stop Kozilek’s Return.

In addition to some of the above stuff, I’m potentially interested in these cards:

Radiant Flames is less good here, but still worth bringing in, at least in small amounts. Dispel would be useful for fighting Collected Company and potential sideboard cards.

The matchup is a little slower, especially post-sideboard, as they’ll probably be trying to pace themselves against your sweepers. Expect some sort of counterspell from them. Slowing down with them is a reasonable strategy, and one where planeswalkers could shine.



I’m not too sure what else to cut here. It probably depends on what your overarching gameplan will be. Titan’s Presence is likely important enough to keep in but could be a potential cut if we have better options.

U/W Spirits

This one is tough to pin down because I know it’s going to exist, but I have no idea what it will actually look like.

We have an excellent option:

Not only does this card work perfectly against U/W Spirits, but it functions as a bridge in the Boss Humans matchup also. Hopefully there are decks with small creatures that don’t require additional attention, because otherwise we could be in a bit of a pickle by playing cards so narrow.

Other than that, I’d like to see some counterspells, such as Clash of Wills or maybe even Dispel. Spell Queller is very annoying, but Clash of Wills helps you win that battle. Dispel is mainly for Essence Flux and Ojutai’s Command.

Generic Midrange or Control Matchups

There is a plethora of options here:

My advice would be to play some countermagic and some sticky threats and just leave it at that. We don’t know what these decks necessarily look like, so it can be difficult to look at something like Summary Dismissal (excellent in mirrors and against G/R Eldrazi) or Eldrazi Obligator and point to the matchup they are intended for. Instead, I would pick generic threats and answers, like Reality Smasher and Negate. While they aren’t going to be exactly what you want in any given matchup, they are going to help hedge your bets in an unknown world.

The Final Product

With all that, our decklist looks like:

I’ve still got a week to play some games and fine-tune the list, but rest assured, I will be playing Sanctum of Ugin, Kozilek’s Return, and Elder Deep-Fiend next weekend. If you’re looking to exploit the new synergies from Eldritch Moon, this is the deck.