I ended up skipping the Pre-Release for Rise of the Eldrazi. My Magic schedule is fairly packed over the next month, and it didn’t seem fair to take up four of the next five weekends with Magic. I have other hobbies, you know. (And a wife who would prefer that I do some of those other hobbies with her on occasion, rather than THIS hobby with a bunch of guys.) So I took off last weekend… and now will be hitting as many Release Events this weekend as my wallet can handle. The real issue is that I need to pull together the commons and uncommons I need for a PTQ next weekend – Staggershock and Wall of Omens, I’m looking at you! – and so my options are:
a. Draft at every Release Event to try and pick them up
b. Purchase them from our dealer on May 1
c. Pray my box from this here site here arrives before April 30, and hoping it has a playset of Wall of Omens in it
Of the three, at least option (a) includes some good times playing Magic, and with a new set to boot!
Last week we looked at the top commons from Rise of the Eldrazi. Not much debate came from the article other than whether or not I would include the two common Eldrazi in the list – and my response is that they’re just okay. They pale in comparison at the mana cost to even the uncommon guys, but if you’re desperate for Eldrazi (or you didn’t get a promo Emrakul, like yours truly), then they should probably be considered.
So on to the uncommons! Rise of the Eldrazi is a “big set,” which should mean there’s a ton of good uncommons around for budget players to build around – right? Right? Not really. The uncommon slot is where Wizards played around with the Leveler mechanic, and while they shine in Sealed, it’s yet to be determined if they’ll be good in Constructed beyond Kazuul Dragonlord and Student of Warfare. There’s also a fair amount of the Eldrazi support cards – cards that create Spawn tokens and stuff. There are some uncommons, of course, that will see play – and here are my thoughts.
10. Forked Bolt
The real question about the usefulness of Forked Bolt is how many one-toughness creatures are in the format; while you COULD cast it to Shock a target, you’d almost never want to – there’s a plethora of options that already do that, and probably do it better. (Or, at least, at instant speed.) All of Naya’s mana creatures, Goblin Ruinblaster, Bloodghast, Eldrazi spawn tokens … maybe. It also does the last point to a 4-toughness Wall that blocks a Sprouting Thrinax, although that’s really stretching to find a useful job for it. I loved Fire/Ice in Extended because it helped against Elves, and this could serve the same purpose in next year’s Extended, along with killing Thopter tokens and Vampire Hexmage.
9. Not Of This World
Sure, those Eldrazi are huge frickin’ monsters, but they die to Doom Blade – just ask Doom Blade Guy. (OK, MOST of them die to Doom Blade.) Free protection for your Eldrazi? Seems fair.
8. Pelakka Wurm
A lot of people will look at Pelakka Wurm’s casting cost and think it’s too much. Seven mana is a lot, but it’s reasonable in today’s Standard – you don’t see anyone complaining about Cruel Ultimatum costing seven. And that’s different colors! Pelakka Wurm packs a lot into its seven mana – seven life, a 7/7 trampler, and a card to replace him at the end of it all. The only thing that might prevent Pelakka Wurm from being considered in these Eldrazi Ramp decks is the fact that, once you get to seven mana, you may as well just keep going and cast something costs eleven. But I like him as a possible candidate in budget Eldrazi Ramp decks. The fact that Not Of This World protects him for free shouldn’t be overlooked either.
Someone, somehow, will figure out how to make a bunch of mana with this, although I have no idea what the end result will be – probably giant Eldrazi. There are enough objects that make 2+ mana in Standard right now that tapping them for mana, then untapping to get a second use out of them could be profitable – Khalni Gem, Dreamstone Hedron, Everflowing Chalice in some cases, Eldrazi Temple… although you’d have to be specific that you’re using some other mana to untap Eldrazi Temple, I guess. It doesn’t hurt that you can also use Reality Spasm in a defensive mode as well, tapping out the hordes of creatures on your opponent’s side to give you time to summon your giant monster.
6. Unified Will
The important things to consider about Unified Will: First, it’s a hard counter – no “pay three mana” or conditional target. Second, it costs two mana, something that’s rare in a hard counter. Obviously it’s not for every deck, since you need more creatures than your opponent in order for it to work, but an aggro-control deck like Mythic that will easily out-creature control decks like Blue-White Control AND is already running Negate somewhere in its 75 would be able to upgrade their countermagic to something that stops everything – Day of Judgment, opposing Baneslayer Angels, you name it. Probably a sideboard choice, since it’s a little dicey against other creature decks, but seems really good against the low-creature / creatureless decks that are running around.
While not a permanent solution, in some cases it’s actually better than straight removal – in instances where you can affect the board, or in instances where you don’t want to give them an additional land thanks to Path to Exile. It creates dead draws in the way that Plow Under or Fallow Earth did. The fact that it’s sorcery-speed will probably mean that it won’t replace Path to Exile, but it will still be one-casting-cost removal come the rotation in October.
I can see Treespeaker becoming a solid foundation for a green-based (probably Elf-based) Eldrazi ramp deck; she comes down on turn 1, covers the cost to level her up on turn 2 (and let’s you make another mana-elf) – somewhere around turn 4, you’re definitely going to have enough mana to drop a big Annihilator on the table. Definitely a better one-drop in this type of deck than Arbor Elf.
While I don’t think this necessarily has a home in Standard (simply because the decks that are running Black are Jund and Vampires, and both want to be able to Duress out a Day of Judgment), I do think it will see play in Extended, where it can hit all of Zoo’s creatures, both Vampire Hexmage and Thopter Foundry against Depths, all of the Cascading spells in Hypergenesis, and has decent utility against the format. Someone’s already pointed out why it won’t be too great in eternal formats – it doesn’t hit Force of Will, so Duress or Thoughtseize are still kings there. But definitely keep Inquisition in mind for next year’s Extended Q season.
The Artisan, to me, has everything going for it. His (its?) 10-power trims down the number of turns you need to attack to win; Annihilator 2, while not flashy, is still substantial enough to impact your opponent’s board; and his built-in reanimation gives you some recursion – and some reliability if one of them somehow makes its way to the graveyard. Yeah, looks like I decided it’s an “it.” It’s yet to be determined how much mana will be “enough” in the Eldrazi decks that will invariably pop up in the next few weeks, but I think nine is a reasonable number, achievable around turn four or five or so – and if the Artisan brings back a Nest Invader that died early on, you’ll just be able to keep pushing the ramp up for the next Eldrazi in your hand. I am probably “too enamored” with the Artisan, but he (sorry, IT) will be a candidate for inclusion in every Eldrazi deck I build.
There’s just no denying that this is THE most-talked about card in this set. Does it provide the measure of defense that control decks need to set up behind in order to survive Jund’s creatures? The two-casting-cost and the extra card make it a great early drop; the four toughness blocks a LOT of today’s creatures and survives. On the surface, it sure seems like Wall of Omens provides a big-enough stumbling block to slow down the aggro decks in today’s format. I know I’ll be testing it out in Single White Guys, the Red-White Planeswalker Control deck that I’ve been playing around with, since Jund seems to be what I have the most trouble with – 3-0 versus everything else at my local WPN Championships Q, but 0-3 against Jund. I’m starting to feel like I felt against Faeries, where I was sideboarding 12-15 cards against them; probably I’ll just start playing Jund rather than sideboard 12-15 cards against it. (Yes, I would ‘can’t-beat-em-join-em’ with Jund, but I would never with Faeries. Those guys were just too jerky.)
Next week: I have an upcoming PTQ that I should have a deck chosen for, and if not, then we’ll take a look at what’s being tested out in terms of getting these huge Eldrazi monsters into play.
Until next week…
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