Taphouse Issue #3

Alex Sarver

 

Hey everybody, it has been a while. For those of you who don’t know in the months since my last article I have relocated from the temperate shores of Virginia to the harsh frozen wasteland that is the Midwest and Illinois. However, the upside includes a new region of local breweries, as well as a new meta to figure out and tear apart with the fury of the east coast magic. And speaking of fury today’s article is going to relate to a deck taking modern by storm. Like the mighty plane of Zendikar the Eldrazi have begun to show their ugly heads in modern. In case you are of the loop on this one the deck I’m talking about is mono black Eldrazi. The current iteration has been dominating modern leagues with several 5-0’s under its colorless belt.

Behold the new face of power:

Eldrazi Control

Creatures (15)

Spells (22)

Lands (23)

Sideboard (15)

So there are several things this deck does extremely well; get all its triggers from the creatures in the deck on cast not resolution, have extremely cost efficient creatures, ramp, and exile the graveyard. Why are these two things important? Getting triggers on cast ensures we get value out of the creatures even if they are met with counter magic or kill spells immediately. In fact, these creatures make Remand, one of the premier counter spells in modern, just plain bad. Not only do you still get the on cast effect, you get to do it again. The ramp package may not look like much but it is extremely efficient. Both Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple produce 2 mana for creatures, Eye produces 3 with an Urborg. Also Blight Herder produces 3 Eldrazi scions which can be 3 mana in a pinch for an Ulamog. As for the ramp artifacts in the deck, Mind Stone is a decent mana rock that also draws cards in the late game, and Expedition Map ensures we have Eye, Temple, or Urborg, the “Tron lands” of this deck.

In addition, most versions run 6 to 8 exile effect artifacts. 4 Relic is standard with arguments for and against Spellbomb and Claws and the numbers of them. The main purpose of the exile effects is to ensure the processor creatures will reliable have cards in exile for their abilities. The side effect of these graveyard hate cards is actually quite beneficial is several matchups. Let us quickly hit some examples where keeping the graveyard exiled or in check is good: Snapcaster Mage, Tarmogoyf, Pyromancer’s Ascension, Griselshoalbrand, Life from the Loam, Gifts Ungiven, Vengevine, Living End, Jace Vryn’s Prodigy, Lingering Souls, Murderous Cut, Kolaghan’s Command, Scavenging Ooze, and Kitchen Finks just to name a few. So just have exile effects main actually hoses several major deck archetypes by itself, Storm, Griselshoalbrand, Podless Combo, Gifts Ungiven, Living End, and Vengevine.

Modern is a format where you can’t test everything and can randomly lose to a fringe deck, this deck incidentally hedges some of those fringe decks without even meaning too, definitely a plus. If that already wasn’t enough let’s hit the mana efficient creatures. Wasteland Strangler is a 3/2 body for three that when it processes a card gives target creature -3/-3. So for three mana we get an aggressive bear plus half a dismember. That is a pretty sizable discount for a removal spell on a stick that comes down early to help stabilize the aggro matchups while ramping towards a bigger threat. Strangler can also be a good beater and clear a blocker out of the way in matchups where you are the aggressor. Also killing a creature puts another card in your opponent’s graveyard to exile to fuel future processing. Oblivion Sower is another great body for its cost, a 5/8 for 6 is already a discount. It also adds the benefit of exiling the top 4 cards of your opponent’s deck and putting any lands in exile in play. Now this is a double benefit, first it exiles cards from your opponent’s deck fueling future processing and playing a little rn jesus and maybe exiling answers and wincons or combo pieces. Second it can massively ramp your deck, it gets to play all lands in exile not just by it, so every fetch your opponent played that you exiled early with relic you also get and with Urborg we can use these lands without having to fetch. Sower will on mathematical average net at least two lands getting us ever closer to the finishers of Ulamog and Void Winnower. In fact, Ulamog and Void Winnower don’t need any explanation, they are just big beaters that close the game out very fast. Now the all-star of the deck, Blight Herder. This card does it all, its aggressively costed being a 4/5 that adds three power in scions for 5 mana. 7 power and 8 toughness over 4 bodies for 5 mana is a ridiculous discount. Add in the fact the scions can ramp out Ulamog is just icing on the cake. The scions also act as a Liliana shield; a card a lot of midrange decks struggle with.

They say variety is the spice of life and this deck is no exception. The mono black version is the most popular version for mana consistency reasons. But if you trust mana fixing and don’t mind losing a game every once in a while to screw to play more powerful cards then there are other versions for you.  Including creatures like Endless One, who appear in some versions and not others as a scalable, good any time creature or potential turn 2 4/4.  Also Liliana of the Veil has a lot of potential in this archetype as a way to pitch extra relics to her plus and ensure cards hit your opponent’s graveyard to exile for processing.  Also here minus can provide some much needed main deck removal for things to big for Strangler to handle.  There are versions of the deck splashing all 4 other color variations with merits to all of them so let’s get to them.

First up, white. The obvious inclusion for this color is more exile effects, better removal, and better sideboard. White gives us Rest in Peace and Path to Exile as additional exile effects to fuel processing as well as just value removal in path.  We can also consider Tidehollow Sculler to pull double duty as hand disruption and processor fuel, however, having bw mana on turn two running 8 colorless lands can be a tough feat.  White also gives us the best sideboard cards but also some nonbos.  Stony Silence, Suppression Field, and Kataki War’s Wage are all excellent sideboard cards but rough with relics.

Moving on to green, there are many things to be happy about here for Golgari fans. The big ones are Ancient Stirrings to dig for lands and creatures, as well as Abrupt Decay for premier removal. As well as the potential inclusion of From Beyond to fuel a scion army or tutor for any creature you deem necessary. Green gives us more life gain potential for the sideboard as well in a burn heavy meta.

Red is also arguably the best addition as it gives us a format staple in bolt. It also runs Crumble to Dust in the sideboard for the Tron matchup. As well as other great sideboard cards like Pyroclasm, Rending Volley, Anger of the Gods, Vandalblast, and Slaughter Games.

Even in a fringe deck there can be a fringe version and that is the Dimir version. Don’t get me wrong here there is plenty of merit to blue as it adds in some really good counter magic. For example, did you know you can run a hard counter spell in magic for 1U? Well you can in this deck with Delay. Many may not know this card but what it does is move the spell targeted to exile and put time counters on it to be cast later, however, it is in exile and can be processed so therefore getting hard countered. Blue also gets access to a new processor in Ulamog’s Nullifier which is a flash 2/3 flying body with counterspell attached, also sweet. In addition, blue gets a great processor enabler in the form of Ashiok. Now we get to use all the parts of the buffalo with Ashiok as itself puts creatures exiled in play, Sower puts lands in play and the rest fuels processors, talk about synergy. The biggest problem here is once again trying to have too many colors of magic at the same time while running too many colorless lands. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if a version of this deck surfaced (maybe in a future article) that skips on the Eye and Temple ramp and just played a lower to the ground more tempo control role. Now at this point you might be thinking for a brewing article I have been talking the whole time about what other people are doing, but fear not I have several versions of my own creation involving the Cthulhu tribal Eldrazi. Do you want to skip the graveyard hate and just jam the fattest of fatties? I hear ya, I too like to embrace my inner Timmy from time to time and jam 8/8 annihilator monsters on turn three or cast 6 drops for free. If you enjoy this than I summit to you Heartless Eldrazi.

Heartless Eldrazi

Creatures (19)

Spells (17)

Lands (24)

Sideboard (15)

Holy crap baskets can this deck hammer out some Eldrazi. Between Conduit, Eye, and Heartless Summoning we have 12 copies of cards that make our creatures cost 2 less.  Plus, Temple still taps for 2 here. Also we have 8 ways to tutor for Eldrazi between Conduit and Eye.  We also include Kozilek in this deck to refill our hand to ensure the beats don’t stop.  We abandon the processor theme in this deck as Blight Herder and Heartless don’t play nice, however, the same turn the other version is casting Herder we can cast Ulamog’s Crusher.  Attacking with a Crusher to annihilate 2 on turn 4 feels great and can quickly dominate the game.  Also this deck has potential for turn four Ulamog with Heartless, Eye, Temple, Urborg, and either a second Temple or a Conduit.

With Heartless cast on turn two we can have either Eye or Temple plus Cavern of Souls to cast an uncounterable 6 drop on turn 3. In addition, we get access to more dismembers to have spot removal to help ensure against twin and other combos. We also take advantage of the scalability of Endless One, he has potential to be a 4/4 on two a 6/6-8/8 on three or a straight monster late game. So if you like casting big creatures and reducing costs to free I suggest giving this deck a whirl.

I don’t suggest running this in a Tron heavy meta though as that matchup is pretty rough as we have no good answer for Karn. That being said if your meta is midrange go for it as this deck just goes bigger faster than almost everything out there. In all honesty I think the best thing about the Eldrazi decks is that they are very friendly to people trying to get into modern. The creature base is currently in standard and even though they are rare or mythic they are very attainable at the moment. Eldrazi Temple was an uncommon in Modern Masters 2015 so it shouldn’t exceed 3 dollars even though there was a buyout. Relic is also an easily attainable card and decently priced. Thoughtseize and Urborg were both in standard not too long ago and may still be on hand. Eye of Ugin is expensive but barring a banning of Tron it will hold value, the same is true for Expedition Map holding value. And Inquisition of Kozilek is a modern staple so you might as well invest. Plus, with Oath of the Gatewatch around the corner this deck has potential to get an upgrade very soon, something not common in modern.

I consider this a great way for people to get into modern and learn the format. If you find a different deck you like better this deck will hold all value and maybe even increase its value in the next couple of months. So may the Cthulhu tribal strike fear into the hearts of your opponents and may the flying spaghetti monster rear his ugly head again to slot directly into this archetype. Well this round was on the house as its closing time again here at the Taphouse. Grab your road decks and final sideboard shots and go hit the grind and enjoy some games. Until next time, thanks for reading and as always, thanks for the games.

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