Video Daily Digest: Saddle Up

Is it time for this once-promising archetype to return to glory? Well, an undefeated Magic Online run doesn’t hurt! Ross Merriam takes this once-great contender through another ride toward SCG Atlanta!

SCG Prerelease Playmats!

When Eldritch Evolution was first printed, the hive mind was quick to find the potential combo with Allosaurus Rider. As a creature with converted mana cost seven that can be cast for free, you can potentially put a nine-mana creature onto the battlefield as early as turn two. Iona, Shield of Emeria and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite are the big creatures of choice here since the former tends to shut out combo decks and the latter does the same to creature decks.

However, while that combo is quite powerful, it requires a lot of pieces to come together to work. That kind of variance is fine if it’s not the primary plan. It needs to be something that can win a game when it comes together, but doesn’t hurt you too much when it doesn’t. That means finding another way to utilize Eldritch Evolution.

That’s easy in a color combination that has good sacrifice fodder for the card and access to the best creature combo in Modern: Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies.

Eldritch Evolution can easily set up that combo or find the win condition once you generate a ton of mana. The commitment to combos really shows in the choice of Chord of Calling as a secondary spell, thus eschewing Collected Company entirely. Of course, the fact that Eldritch Evolution necessitates playing some expensive creatures along with the Allosaurus Rider package means Collected Company is at its worst here.

But Eldritch Evolution isn’t the only way that these two combos intersect. Devoted Druid is an impressive mana creature in its own right. The choice of Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl as the one-drop acceleration package furthers this commitment to heavy mana acceleration so you don’t need to be afraid of drawing a dead Allosaurus Riders in the midgame. Seven mana is well within this deck’s range, achievable as early as turn three even.

The remaining spice comes from the choice of fair Eldritch Evolution targets. Sigarda, Host of Herons and Thragtusk are common, but I’m a big fan of the addition of Polukranos, World Eater here. These decks don’t have much interaction so stapling some to a solid creature and excellent mana sink gives the deck an added degree of tactical flexibility.

I’ve been unexcited by the fair game of the various Counters Company variants in Modern, so to see a list that embraces the combos by finding an elegant crossover as a pseudo-ramp deck is a step in the right direction.

SCG Prerelease Playmats!