The Dragonmaster’s Lair – Rise of the Eldrazi Decks

The StarCityGames.com Open Series returns to Atlanta!
Thursday, April 15th – With the Rise of the Eldrazi prerelease mere days away, Brian Kibler presents a collection of interesting Standard decks including the new cards! He shares preliminary lists for Blue/White Counterless Control, White Aggro, and the perennial favorite Mono-Black Control. With Nationals Qualifiers approaching apace, let bmk lead the way!

It’s about that time again. Time for every writer in the world to chime in about the new cards that have been spoiled as we all clamor to figure out if the next Baneslayer Angel is out there. The world’s first look at the full set is this weekend, but the spoiler is out there, so while (at the time of writing) we don’t have perfect information about what things will look like one the Eldrazi break out of the Eye of Ugin, we can certainly make some educated guesses.

Last time I talked about how the cards that had me most excited were All is Dust and Gideon Jura. In spoiler time, however, that was ages ago, and since then we’ve seen all sorts of new action. Rather than wax poetical on the potential of everything we’ve seen in the past week, I’m going to jump right into the action with some decklists featuring the new cards.

U/W Control

4 Wall of Omens
3 Knight of the White Orchid
3 Elspeth, Knight Errant
2 Gideon Jura
4 Path to Exile
4 Divination
3 Day of Judgment
4 Martial Coup
4 Mind Spring
4 Everflowing Chalice
3 Fieldmist Borderpost
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Glacial Fortress
2 Tectonic Edge
6 Island
6 Plains

This is the first direction I plan on pursuing when it comes to a Standard deck for Grand Prix: Washington DC. One of the biggest issues I had with Tap Out U/W was how it could take a lot of early damage and lose to Jund’s incidental damage from Blightning plus a Lightning Bolt off the top. Previous incarnations included Baneslayer Angel as a way to dig out of such a hole, but I found Baneslayer often left you in a situation where you just had to tap out and pray your opponent didn’t have an answer to let them kill you.

Wall of Omens goes a long way toward slowing down the game and preserving your life total, and that’s all this kind of U/W Control deck really wants — time. Keeping a Sprouting Thrinax or Bloodbraid Elf at bay for a few turns, or even just jumping in the way of a Putrid Leech and saving you four damage without costing a card, can easily give you enough breathing room for your big spells to come online and take control.

The second coming of Wall of Blossoms is also awesome in combination with the two planeswalkers in the deck. Just imagine a board with a Wall, Elspeth, and Gideon Jura in play. You make a soldier and use Gideon’s +2 ability to force them to attack him. You block a Putrid Leech with the soldier, Sprouting Thrinax with the wall, and let a Bloodbraid Elf through to hit Gideon. Next turn you off the Leech with Gideon’s -2 ability, make another soldier, and do whatever you want with your mana because you have a board that can passively defend you (and itself!) quite easily. I’ve never been so excited by how good a deck is at blocking before! I can even imagine the team of Elspeth, Wall of Omens, and Gideon making Jace easy enough to defend that it’s worth playing even in a sea of Bloodbraids!

One card that looks exciting for a deck like this but I’m not sure about is Oust. It’s pretty clearly awesome, since as I’ve mentioned many times, this deck is primarily interested in buying time, and that’s exactly what Oust does. The problem is that it competes with Path to Exile, which as an instant can deal with manlands while Oust cannot. I can certainly see the possibility of Oust becoming the go-to White removal spell once Path is gone, but as much as I hate the drawback on Path, I don’t see it becoming second-best just yet.

White Aggro

4 Student of Warfare
4 Steppe Lynx
4 Kor Firewalker
4 Kor Skyfisher
2 Stoneforge Mystic
3 Ranger of Eos
4 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Sigil of Distinction
1 Basilisk Collar
1 Trusty Machete
4 Oblivion Ring
3 Path to Exile

4 Arid Mesa
4 Marsh Flats
3 Dread Statuary
14 Plains

In my testing for San Diego, I played a lot of different White beatdown decks, and the one thing I lamented more than anything else was the lack of a quality one-drop to fetch with Ranger of Eos. Steppe Lynx can be a powerful threat in the early turns of the game, but he’s certainly not what you want when you’re reloading post-Day of Judgment with everyone’s favorite French 3/2.

Enter Student of Warfare. This little guy is exactly what White beatdown decks need right now. He is an aggressive beatdown creature who can attack for three as early as the second turn who also threatens to be huge in the late game. He may not get quite as big as Figure of Destiny quite as fast , but he can also level up in small increments and doesn’t require the same mana commitment as his Kithkin counterpart, which is a huge deal for White decks of today that don’t have the same incentive to play tons of lands as their predecessors did. He provides the muscle that White decks need to power through against boards where their pro-color creatures don’t quite cut it. Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of Elspeth-jumping a fully leveled Student has me pretty excited…

I haven’t had a chance to test this deck yet, and there’s a few things I’m uncertain about. It’s not clear if you really want to play Dread Statuary anymore because of the way they interact with Student of Warfare’s leveling. The same is true of your two-drop suite. I retained Kor Firewalker here because Jund is still certain to be public enemy number one, at least initially, when ROE comes out, but it’s possible your curve demands something else with Student on Board. One really nice effect Student has on your curve is increased ability to play out a turn 2 Skyfisher without stunting your development — and you even get to attack for one in the meantime!

One card I’ve tried to find a home for and haven’t had a great deal of success with is Vengevine. The problem with Vengevine is that it has so much competition at four mana already, and the creatures against which it competes are those that you’d really want to play to maximize its effectiveness. I can certainly envision Naya wanting some number of Vengevines, but over what? Bloodbraid Elf? Ranger of Eos? Baneslayer Angel?

Vengevine is clearly a very powerful card, but without some way to cheat the trigger (Kor Skyfisher maybe?), it’s not going to be as effective as Bloodbraid Elf or Ranger at keeping the action coming, and it doesn’t dominate the board in the same way Baneslayer does. I definitely see it being the card that keeps Jace in check once Bloodbraid and Blightning are gone, but for now I don’t see it being a huge force in Standard. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, though, because it’s a card that I can see myself having a lot of fun with.

Lastly, I want to take a look at trying to live the dream

Mono Black

4 Smother
4 Consuming Vapors
4 All is Dust
4 Sign in Blood
4 Last Kiss
3 Sorin Markov
3 Mind Shatter
4 Everflowing Chalice
2 Skittering Invasion
1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
1 Ulamog the Infinite Gyre
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Eye of Ugin
4 Eldrazi Temple
20 Swamp

The card that got me thinking about this sort of deck was Consuming Vapors. Consuming Vapors is a very powerful card, acting as a 2-for-1 as well as buffering your life total to help prolong the game. Last Kiss doesn’t have quite the same credentials, but it has much the same effect, and gives Black a reasonable way to handle an incoming Bloodbraid Elf. It may be that this descendant of Vicious Hunger doesn’t have what it takes to cut it against today’s creatures, but I think it’s worth a shot.

This is very much like the Black version of Tap Out U/W, using Everflowing Chalice to accelerate out big spells while the cheap removal keeps you alive. All is Dust gives the deck a sweeper and catch-all answer, much like Nevinyyral’s Disk in necrodecks of old, which is certainly important as this deck seems like it would have a seriously hard time dealing with planeswalkers. Mind Shatter seems pretty awesome in this kind of deck, since you can power it out with Chalice to rip someone’s hand apart very quickly. Frankly, this deck is probably terrible, but I wanted to share it just to give a sense of the sort of direction the new cards might be able to take things and get your creative juices flowing. What about B/G with Realms Uncharted and Grim Discovery to find the Temples? Hmmm….

Anyway, that’s it for this week. Have fun at the prerelease!

Until next time…