You Lika The Juice?- Eldrazi Dragon Highlander

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Friday, April 23rd-I started my Saturday at the Richmond Convention Center ready to earn some Rise of the Eldrazi packs by helping administer the prerelease. I ended the day at a hotel bar playing EDH with Magic Historian Brian David-Marshall and WotC R&D and Magic Hall of Famer Mike Turian. Yeah, it was a pretty awesome day!

“Sand Warriors!” — Mike Turian

I started my Saturday at the Richmond Convention Center ready to earn some Rise of the Eldrazi packs by helping administer the prerelease. I ended the day at a hotel bar playing EDH with Magic Historian Brian David-Marshall and WotC R&D and Magic Hall of Famer Mike Turian. Yeah, it was a pretty awesome day!

Registering players for the prerelease throughout the morning, I noticed what seemed to be an extraordinarily large number of new players signing up. We blew through our pad of DCI registration cards, which I’ve never experienced before. Something about ROE has got the casual crowd excited enough to muster out people who’ve never been to a tournament to get their hands on some packs… and I’m sure the prerelease Emrakul didn’t hurt either. The excitement level was close to that of the Zendikar prerelease, without the enticement of “hidden treasures,” so obviously Wizards hit a home run with the casual crowd in this set. And speaking of casual, I did want to chime in with my perspective on the Elder Dragon Highlander applications for Rise of the Eldrazi. Of course, nearly every Magic card ever printed can see play in EDH, and no one-especially me-can see every funky multiplayer application of every card, but if you’re interested in what cards have my EDH-attention, here we go.

My Concern with Eldrazi Spells & EDH

I mentioned a couple weeks back that I had some concerns with the Eldrazi spells and their impact on Elder Dragon Highlander. Yes, EDH is all about haymakers and huge swingy spells that have a big impact on the game, and relatively few spells ever printed hold a candle to the power that many of the Eldrazi spells have. So what’s my problem?

Consider Sol Ring and Sensei’s Divining Top. As cheaply costed and colorless artifacts they can go in any deck and are so useful that there is really nearly no reason not to run them in your deck outside of availability or personal preference. Simply put, your deck is better with them than without them. I’m okay with that because the impact they have on a multiplayer game is relatively small in terms of big, splashy, haymaker plays.

Many of the Eldrazi spells are so potent that it would be nearly foolish not to at least consider putting them in your deck since you’d be basically conceding power for no good reason (against, outside availability or personal preference). All Is Dust in particular is an auto-include that I suspect a lot of people are going to get really tired of really quickly. Global resets are helpful for restoring sanity in multiplayer games when one or more players have just gone bonkers with tokens or Living Death or Open the Vaults. All Is Dust only costs seven mana, which is easily and consistently attainable in most EDH games where some douche isn’t dickering around with mass LD or trying to lock people down. It is also incredible powerful mass removal, since forcing self-sacrifice gets around indestructibility and regeneration, abilities that were helpful in blunting the force of cards like Wrath of God or Oblivion Stone. Now, if every deck can and should run All Is Dust, the odds go up greatly that EDH games get ground down by too many sweepers. I’m sure everyone’s had those EDH games, where Wrath or Disk or Stone effects have swept the board seven or eight times and exhausted the resources of every player except the blue mage who’s kept a grip of 15 cards for nearly the entire game, and now everyone just sits there living off the top deck, praying for a miracle or just waiting for McLottaCards to get about the business of winning. Unless you’re that guy, those sorts of games are incredibly anticlimactic and dull.

Then we’ve got the legendary Eldrazi that hit the board like a buzz saw if you’ve got the mana to cast it. And if you want to (and why would you not want to?) you can cast these suckers, whether it’s from Gaea’s Cradle, or Cabal Coffers, or Mirari’s Wake, Rofellos, or heck-High Tide! If you’re with five colors, run Fist of Suns. Keep in mind that even if choose not to play Eldrazi, if you play any of those cards for just general purpose mana boosting, people will suspect you’re packing Eldrazi monsters and will likely gun for those cards or just come for your life totals.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that Eldrazi won’t have that big of an impact once the new-card excitement wears off. People will probably adjust, building answers in their decks. I suspect Helm of Possession will get a bump in play.

By the way: It That Betrays and Skittering Invasion meet Gravepact and Butcher of Malakir. May your shenanigans run deep and wild.

I do really, really like Artisan of Kozilek. As a fan of creatures that too often finds them dead before their work is done in EDH, giving reanimation to any color makes me happy.

For those enterprising fellows who want to make an actual Eldrazi tribal deck, don’t forget your Urza’s Incubator and Planar Gate.

Deathless Angel – Her ability is not only helpful in saving your own creatures, you can also make friends by saving other people’s creatures too if saving them benefits you too (much like Cauldron of Souls can win friends too).

Gideon Jura – In multiplayer games, you rarely if ever want to attack with all of your guys, since that will often leave you open to every other player’s attack. It’s even worse if their defense is strong enough to mow down quite a few attackers. I think this will be one of the more surprisingly potent planeswalkers in EDH.

Lightmine Field – I would warn against playing this card, since it discourages attacking (slowing the game down) and also annoys the table.

Oust – Put me in the camp of liking this card too, and is much fairer than some of the other “tuck” cards that are so brutal (and rude) to use on people’s general.

Wall of Omens – I almost always play Wall of Blossoms in my green EDH deck; I suspect I’ll do the same with the white one. Cheap early defense that cantrips, and makes any sort of recursion even better (Reveillark, Karmic Guide, etc.).

Aura Finesse – While I don’t overly appreciate Control Magic’s and such, if that’s how you roll don’t neglect to check this card out, which can squeeze another use from your Aura if your controlled creature is headed towards an untimely demise.

Cast Through Time – Wow, talk about a splashy haymaker! I really like this card and feel confident it’ll find a home in nearly every EDH blue deck that packs enough instants and sorceries. Just don’t let me catch you rebounding Time Warps or Time Stretches…

Eel Umbra – The flash on this makes it useful in countering a creature removal spell that destroys, or surviving a mass destroy effect like Oblivion Stone, and don’t forget you can target someone else’s creature too if that’s politically helpful.

Lighthouse Chronologist – Let me say in no uncertain terms, you run an incredible risk when you play this card. His ability is so powerful and yet so slow to bring online, you really set yourself up for some serious repercussions from your opponents, who either need to kill the Chronologist quickly… or just go ahead and kill you quickly.

Reality Spasm – Being able to target any permanents belonging to any player, tapping or untapping, at instant speed is just an incredibly flexible and potent card I expect will be an EDH near-staple.

Renegade Doppelganger – Aside from the obvious combination with cards like Phyrexian Dreadnought, I have a suspicion there might be some sort of Full English Breakfast-type shenanigans that can be rigged with this card, where you play this, then a creature that can perhaps easily generate counters that stay on the Doppelganger, then play a creature that can do something degenerate with all those counters. I’m not seeing anything crazy yet, but there are a lot of Magic cards in the game’s 17-year history, someone’s going to do something nuts with this guy.

Shared Discovery – Card drawing doesn’t get much cheaper than this, and in EDH you can easily have a large number of relatively irrelevant creatures sitting around willing to get tapped for the cause.

Sphinx of Magosi – 6/6 flier for six mana is a really good start, but his ability is just off the chain amazing in EDH. If you untap with this guy on the board, you’re in a very good place. Might want to find a spot for Training Grounds in your deck too!

Consumer the Meek – Obviously, instant speed weenie sweepers (or super-efficient, low cost monster sweepers) are always helpful against some players.

Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief – Reusable creature removal is quite powerful, and this one scales more powerfully the longer the game goes.

Nirkana Revenant – Sturdier than Magus of the Coffers, and what self-respecting black mage wouldn’t want to double their available black mana?

Pawn of Ulamog – If you’ve got creatures that die a lot, this card can give you some returns, which can help boost your mana, feed hungry Demons, or toss out to Annihilating Eldrazi.

Conquering Manticore – There are lots of mean things you can do to creatures you temporarily steal, but a lot of times the effect isn’t worth the card in a big multiplayer game (even though you’ll typically have quite a few juicy targets). How about when the card leaves behind a 5/5 flier?

Disaster Radius – There’s a lot to be said for nuking most of your opponent’s creatures while your own feel no pain at all. Seven mana is very reasonable for this effect. Just watch out for something hideous like Reflect Damage that would totally ruin the fun.

Lord of Shatterskull Pass – Let me pause a moment for a rant on Minotaurs. Minotaurs are one of the coolest flavored mythical creatures ever, and are typically portrayed as scary opponents. When Magic first came out, I remember opening Hurloon Minotaur with that awesome Anson Maddocks art that totally belonged on a badass card, and yet being totally underwhelmed by its stats and lack of any special abilities. Throughout Magic history, Minotaurs have cropped up and, while they almost always have badass art, the cards are usually so weak as to not see play outside of Limited. Even the most bad-assed Magic Minotaur – Tahngarth, Talruum Hero – got blanked by Flametongue Kavu. How embarrassing to have the ultimate Minotaur Badass fall over to a fire-belching lizard. Would it have killed someone to make him a 5/5? We even had a “Minotaur matters” set with Homelands chock full of tribal stuff for Minotaurs. You know what? They sucked. Believe me, I had a Didgeridoo deck and the only thing it could beat was counterspell decks.

So now we have Lord of Shatterskull Pass. Badass name, check. Badass art, oh yeah, you better believe it. What does the card actually do? Well, for four mana you get a Hill Giant. If you spend two more mana, you get a 6/6 groundpounder with nothing else special, no trample, no haste, no tap to activate and do Arena-style combat like Tahngarth. Just vanilla 6/6. If you spend a total of sixteen mana, you then get a 6/6 groundpounder who can attack and deal 6 points of damage to creatures defending player controls. That’s it? For that sort of mana, I’d have expected him to deal 6 damage to all opponents’ creatures, and deal 6 damage to all opponents to boot. Do that, give him a casting cost of 1RR, give him trample… Now that might make for a scary minotaur worthy of the artwork and the name Lord of Shatterkull Path! Man, Magic has done wrong by Minotaurs, and it makes me sad… and don’t get me started on how badly they’ve treated dwarves!

Magmaw – If your playgroup has “tuck” effects that screw your general by putting him on the bottom of your library, cards like Magmaw that can sacrifice your general can be a big help.

Rapacious One – I heard several people at the prerelease rant and rave about how awesome this card was, and it has me wondering if it might be quite nice to try in EDH. Gotta be something you might want to do with a bunch of Eldrazi Spawn tokens…

Splinter Twin – I love me some Kiki-Jiki, so this has me intrigued. Sadly though, Splinter Twin locks you in on the creature you’re copying, and makes you tap him to make the copy. With Kiki Jiki, you can copy your Lhurgoyf and swing with both; Splinter Twin keeps your original Lhurgoyf at home. If I have the room I’ll probably give this a try, but I won’t be surprised if it keeps getting cut for other cards.

Surreal Memoir – So long as you don’t play bad instants, this ought to be pretty decent.

Tuktuk the Explorer – Note that Tuktuk suffers from the change in how generals work, in that if you want to put him in the Command Zone when he dies you won’t get the Tuktuk the Returned token, and if you let him go to the graveyard there aren’t too many ways to get him back into play if you’re playing monored. This makes Tuktuk challenging as an EDH general, though I may take up the challenge one day (while wielding my trusty Cauldron of Souls).

I covered Green last week but here are a couple EDH-centric thoughts.

Bear Umbra – Given how much land you can get in play in EDH, this enchantment could get really nuts. I’m probably going to squeeze it into my Karrthus deck, because we always can use more firebreathing mana, right?

Gigantomancer – For eight friggin’ mana you’d have thought he could target any creature, not just yours. Still fun, but not as fun as he could be.

Kazandu Tuskcaller – As a public service announcement, anyone who plays this in EDH most likely will be following up with a Seedborn Muse. You’ve been warned.

Pelakka Wurm – Pretty sure this is now a staple for any EDH deck with significant green.

Dreamstone Hedron – Yep, if your deck has high-cost, splashy spells (and what EDH deck doesn’t?) you’ll probably want to run this one. The cash-in-for-cards option is pretty awesome too.

Runed Servitor – For your Group Hug (a.k.a. Care Bear Magic) EDH deck.

Evolving Wilds – Yep, any multicolor deck needs one.

Okay, back to last weekend. I had extended an invitation to Brian David-Marshall and Mike Turian to take them out for dinner, drinks, and Magic Friday night when they got into town, but when I heard they were flying in pretty late I didn’t expect it to happen. It didn’t. I was pretty bummed, because most of the time when celeb gunslingers come to town they usually fly out Saturday evening, so I thought my window of opportunity to hang with those guys was closed. BDM brightened my day significantly when he took a break from gunslinging to seek me out and ask if I wanted to get together Saturday night, because he and Mike didn’t fly out until Sunday morning. The one speed bump was that my daughter had her dance recital at 7pm, but since last weekend was my ex’s weekend with the kids, I’d only be tied up for the actual recital. So I made arrangements to meet with them after the recital, picked them up after their Brazilian Steakhouse dinner (still haven’t had a chance to try one of those myself), and we made our way back to their hotel bar for beers and Magic. BDM said he had an EDH deck with him, and Mike asked if I had one he could borrow. Of course I had one he could borrow! I showed him my selection and let him pick one; Naya is his favorite color combination so he picked Jacques Le Vert, which pleased me because it is chock full of old-school cards I hoped he’d fine a lot of fun.

I chose my Karrthus deck because I hoped for some pretty spectacular, haymaker plays. BDM was playing Kami of the Naked Butt as his general, and he started out with some seriously fast mana, so that he played Blatant Thievery and took my Wall of Roots and Mike’s Aura Shards. BDM drew a ton of cards, and tossed out a few counterspells here and there to keep us in check. Taking the Wall was tough, because I was struggling with mana and kept drawing expensive dragons each turn. Mike was on offense, and kept the pressure on BDM while taking swipes at me. I did a few pokes back, but then decided to pull back because I thought perhaps BDM and Turian would go for each other’s throats and allow me to swoop in with my dragons and pick up the pieces. They must have sensed my motives because they almost immediately stopped attacking each other and we had a bit of a détente. I finally landed a Scourge of the Kher Ridges. Unfortunately for me, Mike had earlier played my tech white card Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant, which had immediately flipped and kept me from sweeping away his creature horde. I could however decimate BDM’s side of the board, and since it was getting late I do so and Brian scoops up his cards.

I’ve got Genesis, Eternal Witness, and Hull Breach in my graveyard, so my plan is to get back the Breach and hit the Rune-Tail enchantment, and mow down his side of the board with the Scourge. Unfortunately, on his turn he drew Tolsimir Wolfblood which, along with Jacques, made his 13 sand warrior tokens (thanks, Hazezon Tamar) into 3/5 beatings. Mike turned everyone sideways, and while I could block his six or so other creatures, the 39 points of sand warrior beats was too much for me. Score another one for what BDM called a “blue collar” working-class deck!

Here’s what Mike Turian played:

1 Jacques Le Vert
1 Basilisk Collar
1 Berserk
1 Carpet of Flowers
1 Expedition Map
1 Path to Exile
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Skullclamp
1 Sword to Plowshares
1 Artifact Mutation
1 Aura Mutation
1 Fellwar Stone
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Radha, Heir to Keld
1 Saffi Eriksdotter
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Skyshroud Elf
1 Sylvan Library
1 Wall of Blossoms
1 Aura Shards
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Coalition Relic
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Dauntless Escort
1 Eternal Witness
1 Kodama’s Reach
1 Opal-Eye, Konda’s Yojimbo
1 Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant
1 Stonecloaker
1 Yavimaya Elder
1 Anger
1 Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile
1 Captain Sisay
1 Harmonize
1 Jester’s Cap
1 Loxodon Hierarch
1 Magus of the Disk
1 Marton Stromgald
1 Masked Admirers
1 Pixie Queen
1 Singing Tree
1 Vedalken Orrery
1 Willow Satyr
1 Wrath of God
1 Genesis
1 Gerrard Capashen
1 Jester’s Mask
1 Karmic Guide
1 Memory Jar
1 Reveillark
1 Route
1 Voidstone Gargoyle
1 Adarkar Valkyrie
1 Deadwood Treefolk
1 Johan
1 Livonya Silone
1 Rith, the Awakener
1 Spirit of the Hearth
1 Tolsimir Wolfblood
1 Twilight Shepherd
1 Avenger of Zendikar
1 Hazezon Tamar
1 Titanic Ultimatum
1 Terastodon
1 Boros Garrison
1 Eiganjo Castle
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Gaea’s Cradle
1 Graypelt Refuge
1 Gruul Turf
1 Jungle Shrine
1 Kazandu Refuge
1 Mistveil Plains
1 Naya Panorama
1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Rith’s Grove
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Rupture Spire
1 Savannah
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Stomping Ground
1 Taiga
1 Temple Garden
1 Vivid Grove
1 Vivid Meadow
1 Wooded Bastion
3 Plains
4 Forest
6 Mountain

Here’s my Karrthus deck:

1 Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund
1 Diamond Valley
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Berserk
1 Carpet of Flowers
1 Rancor
1 Skullclamp
1 Sol Ring
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Dragon Shadow
1 Dragon’s Claw
1 Golgari Signet
1 Hull Breach
1 Manamorphose
1 Soulbright Flamekin
1 Vexing Shusher
1 Wall of Roots
1 Coalition Relic
1 Darksteel Ingot
1 Dragonspeaker Shaman
1 Eternal Witness
1 Pernicious Deed
1 Spoils of Evil
1 Taurean Mauler
1 Urza’s Incubator
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
1 Anger
1 Bladewing’s Thrall
1 Chameleon Colossus
1 Crucible of Fire
1 Door of Destinies
1 Filth
1 Fledgling Dragon
1 Greed
1 Harmonize
1 Sarkhan Vol
1 Black Market
1 Cryptic Gateway
1 Genesis
1 Hunted Dragon
1 Jester’s Mask
1 Mana Geyser
1 Memory Jar
1 Patriarch’s Bidding
1 Where Ancients Tread
1 Zirilan of the Claw
1 Broodmate Dragon
1 Dragon Broodmother
1 Flameblast Dragon
1 Hellkite Charger
1 Mordant Dragon
1 Predator Dragon
1 Rorix Bladewing
1 Shivan Dragon
1 Two-Headed Dragon
1 Bladewing the Risen
1 Dragon Mage
1 Imperial Hellkite
1 Kilnmouth Dragon
1 Knollspine Dragon
1 Shivan Hellkite
1 Spearbreaker Behemoth
1 Bogardan Hellkite
1 Hellkite Overlord
1 Scourge of the Kher Ridges
1 Dragon Tyrant
1 Akoum Refuge
1 Bayou
1 Blood Crypt
1 Darigaaz’s Caldera
1 Dragonskull Summit
1 Forgotten Cave
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Gruul Turf
1 Miren, the Moaning Well
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Savage Lands
1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
1 Smoldering Crater
1 Stomping Ground
1 Taiga
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Vivid Crag
1 Volrath’s Stronghold
2 Swamp
3 Forest
7 Mountain

BDM said he’d try to send me his EDH decklist when he has the time, but I didn’t get it by this column’s deadline, so with any luck I’ll have it to share next week!

Take care!


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com

New to EDH? Be sure to check out my EDH Primer, part 1, part 2, and part 3.

My current EDH decks:
Jacques Le Vert (lots of legends, good stuff)
Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (DRAGONS, RAHRRR!!)
Halfdane (Clone ‘n’ Kaldra)
Reki, the History of Kamigawa (more legends than you can shake a stick at)