The Great Distortion

With Jim Davis conquering the SCG Tour® at #SCGPC last weekend, the Eldrazi are officially running the tables! CVM talks about how this deck will do during Oath of the Gatewatch Standard! Also, Commander kids, it’s your time to shine! Help CVM finalize his Sidisi deck!

The #SCGPC is over, and with the dust all settled, Jim Davis is our new champion. He ran into some tough luck in the first Modern portion with his G/R Tron deck, but was able to clean it all up on the final day with his Standard choice of G/R Eldrazi – cutting through the field of Jeskai Black and Abzan decks.

His choice of going to big mana strategies in both Modern and Standard definitely worked out for him, and I would like to congratulate a very deserving champion! Splashing for Hallowed Moonlight out of the sideboard is something that I think can be adopted by just about every G/R Eldrazi deck moving forward. Four-Color Rally is such a bad matchup, and Hallowed Moonlight disrupting them for a turn can really just close the door on the game. Rending Volley was obviously good with how many Jeskai Black decks showed up, and I like having access to both Roast and Radiant Flames. Adding the Plains to the deck lets us Radiant Flames for three, which might be relevant.

I was a bit sad that he had to defeat Todd to do so, but with so many people in the event that I enjoy seeing succeed, it was unavoidable.

Now everyone gets to rest for a bit and enjoy their Holidays!

A New Eldrazi

With that being said, Christmas came a bit early with a few Oath of the Gatewatch spoilers, and while Patrick Chapin did a great job talking about just how awesome Goblin Dark-Dwellers is, I’m pretty excited about Kozilek, the Great Distortion.

With the introduction of <> (colorless) mana, we get a new Eldrazi Titan that costs 8<><>, which is essentially ten total mana; eight of which are generic (which mean they can come from any source) and two of which have to be strictly colorless, hence the <><>. Now, this is going to take a little bit of getting used to, but we already have some lands in Standard that are seeing play in the Eldrazi Ramp decks right now that can take care of this for us.

Both of these lands tap to produce actual <> (colorless) mana, and in Shrine of the Forsaken Gods’ case it can even produce the <><> needed to cast the new Kozilek. I think that Kozilek, the Great Distortion fits right into the Eldrazi Ramp decks.

There is also a new “basic land” called Wastes that taps for <>. This land seemingly can be found with Explosive Vegetation and Map the Wastes, but I don’t think that we even need to play one. With Sanctum of Ugin, Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, and a Haven of the Spirit Dragon, I think that we have enough <> lands to cast our Kozileks.

We already have a pretty good top end with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger; Ugin, the Spirit Dragon; and Dragonlord Atarka, but I think that Kozilek, the Great Distortion can offer a pretty unique effect.

Let’s take a look at what exactly the new Kozilek can do for us.

To start, it is the same mana cost as Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, which we have already seen is doable. Ulamog does have a huge benefit on cast of exiling two of our opponents’ permanents, but Kozilek has an on cast ability that has the potential to be pretty bonkers.

When you cast Kozilek, the Great Distortion, if you have fewer than seven cards in hand, draw cards equal to the difference.

This effect is extremely powerful and is generally going to end up being at least a “draw three.” While Ulamog might be a bit better to cast while our opponent is pressuring us, if we aren’t in any eminent danger, then Kozilek, the Great Distortion can put a real hurting on our opponent.

The on-cast ability of Kozilek works in tandem with its other ability:

Discard a card with converted mana cost X: Counter target spell with converted mana cost X.

This is a pretty powerful ability, and I think is what puts this card on the map as playable. If we look at an example G/R Eldrazi deck, like Jim Davis’ from the #SCGPC, this is what we see in terms of mana costs.

1: 4
2: 4
3: 7
4: 4
5: 0
6: 2
7: 2
8: 4
9: 0
10: 4

That is a pretty nice spread in terms of converted mana cost, although Hangarback Walker is a gnarly zero for this interaction. The main numbers that I think we’re going to be looking at is going to be three and four since those hit Crackling Doom, Foul-Tongue Invocation, and Utter End, which are the removal spells that are likely to be able to handle one of our big mana payoffs.

Kozilek also has menace, which is pretty relevant since it doesn’t have trample. Being able to lock our opponent out of casting spells to interact with our 12/12 is great and all, but having a sort of evasion to close the game out in two attacks is quite strong.

I really like that we can go get Kozilek, the Great Distortion with our Sanctum of Ugin once we’ve cast another of our big colorless threats. It was never that scary when you went and got a backup Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon with your Sanctum of Ugin, but leading Ulamog into Kozilek, or even Kozilek into Ulamog is quite the daunting line-up for our opponents to rumble with.

This interaction really makes me wonder just how many copies of Kozilek that we can fit into the deck. I don’t think that I want to play less than four Ulamog, and we have to find a delicate balance between ramp and things that we are ramping into.

In addition to the new Kozilek, we are also getting another great gift for this style of deck. Last week there was a leak of all the mythics in Oath of the Gatewatch. In general I am against leaks of this magnitude. Personally, I enjoy the excitement of spoiler season and that includes pining over the next batch of spoilers, waiting and hoping that something breaks the internet.

Among these is a red instant called Kozilek’s Return. As if heralded by the actual card itself, this card is going to be pretty awesome. For me, mythics that are three mana or less and aren’t permanents tend to feel weird. I generally expect mythics that end up being good to be very impactful, and it doesn’t feel like the price tag on spells in that range do that. Here we have something that fits the bill perfectly. At 2R, it’s easily castable and can take care of the majority of early threats that we are seeing.

Soulfire Grand Master Monastery Mentor Jace, Vryn's Prodigy Hangarback Walker Snapping Gnarlid Heir of the Wilds Den Protector Hordeling Outburst Monastery Swiftspear Zurgo Bellstriker Warden of the First Tree Nissa, Vastwood Seer

As we can see, the list goes on and on in terms of cards that we are interacting with on the front side of Kozilek’s Return. Where things get real gross is on the back side. Imagine casting Kozilek, the Great Distortion, getting to draw five cards and recast Kozilek’s Return to wipe the battlefield.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang Siege Rhino Wingmate Roc

Dragonlord Ojutai Dragonlord Silumgar Anafenza, the Foremost Mantis Rider

And just about every other creature in Standard is going to bite the dust on the back end of Kozilek’s Return. I think that this card is also going to make a splash in Modern in G/R Tron as an upgrade to Pyroclasm. It’s also pretty neat that it has devoid, so it can’t be stopped by Burrenton Forge-Tender and kills Kor Firewalker.

Let’s Talk Commander

As some of you know, I was previously looking to build a Commander deck. I narrowed it all down to Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, and while scavenging the internet I found a pretty interesting list on mtgthesource.com. It’s not quite what I initially had in mind, but I could easily try to fit in Tradewind Rider. It’s a bit more focused on self and/or targeted mill, which is pretty cool.

I would love to hear what people think about the list and make any suggestions on what could or should be changed. I’m going to attempt to build the deck on Magic Online so that I can get some games in with it before I try to build it in real life, especially since Bazaar of Baghdad is much cheaper online than in real life.

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
Chris VanMeter
Test deck on 12-23-2015
Magic Card Back

I hope that everyone had as much fun watching the #SCGPC as I did last weekend. Cedric and Patrick are quite an amazing combination in the booth, and Patrick will be missed for sure. I know he’s not 100% done, but not being able to tune into them each weekend just won’t be the same. I know that there are some new faces that will be in the booth next year, but that can only add to the awesome new SCG Tour® and all of the great Magic that SCGLive will be bringing everyone.

I’m looking forward to spending some time with my family and loved ones this Holiday season, and I hope that everyone else gets to relax and unwind. Next year is going to bring some awesome things, and I really can’t wait!