Breaking Eldrazi

For this event, I was lucky enough to team up with Team ChannelFireball and Team Face to Face Games. We met up in Vancouver one week before the GP, and started testing Draft and Modern non-stop.

For Modern, each of us picked up two decks and focused on those. My choices were Ad Nauseam and Burn.

Ad Nauseam seemed great at first, a sweet 2-card combo now that blue has fallen off the radar—but it was losing too much to Affinity and Infect, and Thought-Knot Seer made the Eldrazi matchup unfavorable as well. Burn was solid, but was suffering against Affinity and fast combo decks, as well as sideboard cards like Phyrexian Unlife or Feed the Clan out of BGx decks.

Finding Eldrazi

We started working on various builds of Eldrazi: BW with Lingering Souls was too clunky and Mono-Black Processors wasn’t explosive enough.

Then came the idea of skewing aggro with Eldrazi Mimic, Matter Reshaper, and Endless One, first in a BG shell with Ancient Stirrings, then Jacob Wilson came up with Simian Spirit Guide and Chalice of the Void in a colorless version.

At first the deck seemed too clunky, good only if you draw one of your 8 Ancient Tombs. But we quickly realized how good was it, how powerful his starts were, and how good was his matchups against Burn and Infect were.

Card Choices

The 4 open slots remained in doubt until the very last night before the PT, and nobody could agree on the correct number of Ratchet Bomb, Spellskite, and Oblivion Sower to put in these 4 slots.

In the end we went for a split of 2 Ratchet Bomb and 2 Spellskite, since we figured that Oblivion Sower was good only once you board in Relic of Progenitus as well, and both Ratchet Bomb and Spellskite are good in some matchups but awful in others. They were clearly the worst cards in the deck, but there’s nothing you could do.

Other Options

2 mana is a lot for just +3/-3, creatures are usually too big to kill (Tarmogoyf and Thought-Knot Seer), and 4 Dismembers were sufficient.

Even if this card is versatile it’s still not quite good enough for the main deck. It was a solid sideboard card that comes in for many matchups, mostly because you have always many bad cards to sideboard out.

Mana Base

Working on the mana base was relatively easy since many slots were mandatory.

Blinkmoth Nexus was the best creatureland since it’s evasive and a 2/2 on defense, which is a huge deal against Lingering Souls and Vault Skirge, and it can pump Mutavault.

Mutavault was great as well, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough slots to fit 4. I really wanted to add the 25th land, but no one else on the team thought so.

4 copies of Ghost Quarter was mandatory, Tron was one of the big decks we were expecting, and if you have enough pressure, even 1 Ghost Quarter can be enough to lock the game up.

We chose to play 2 Wastes since there were so many Ghost Quarters floating around, and getting a basic out of it is very relevant in a deck with 5- and 6-drops. Also Blood Moon could be problematic without a Wastes in play, since you can’t cast 12 of your creatures without it.

Other Options

Having access to 3 mana on turn 1 is pretty appealing, and this card doesn’t have much of a downside if it’s not in your opener. The fact that we didn’t need the color fixing was enough to keep this card on the bench in the colorless version.

Jacob Wilson was pushing for this land, while I’ve always disliked it. I felt like games were resolved in the first stages of the game, and a creatureland would always be more relevant than Edge.

Way too slow to activate, 4 mana to draw a card is a lot for this deck and wasn’t worth it.

Cavern was in the main deck of our colored versions with Drowner of Hope or Dust Stalker, but once we went for the colorless version there was very little point in playing this, mostly because countermagic was nonexistent.

That led us to the final deck list that put up an insane win percentage at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, with 3 copies in the Top 8 and more than 10 copies in the Top 50:

Colorless Eldrazi Aggro

Is this deck better than its cousin UR Eldrazi?

1) UR Eldrazi is favored against us, since Drowner of Hope is a big game and Eldrazi Skyspawner is almost always a 2-for-1. Jiachen Tao definitely proved it by defeating all 3 of my teammates in the Top 8: Nakamura, LSV, and Floch with the same 75.

2) UR Eldrazi is worse than colorless against Affinity, since they don’t have either Chalice maindeck, Ratchet Bomb, or Blinkmoth Nexus. Other than that, Simian Spirit Guide can give you very explosive starts that let you race the Affinity player.

The Top 8 gave proof to this once again, since Colorless Eldrazi was able to defeat Affinity twice while the UR version quickly lost 3-0 to Patrick Dickmann.

3) The colorless version is better positioned against combo decks, since it doesn’t have expensive cards such as Drowner of Hope. Chalice of the Void on 1 shuts down many decks like Infect, Burn, or decks with cantrips. Mutavault can increase the pressure and shorten the clock.

4) UR Eldrazi is better positioned against midrange decks, since it has 4 Drowner of Hope which are very difficult to deal with, and also can activate Eye of Ugin way more easily thanks to the Scion-maker.

5) Scouting at the PT is easy, and you are able to know if you’d rather cast Chalice for 0 or hold it to play on 1 the turn after, at the GP this is not at all the case, which makes your Affinity matchup worse.

Overall, I’m not sure which is better. I’m confident that for the Pro Tour the colorless version was better positioned, mostly because of the 3rd and 5th point, but those balance themselves out in a larger tournament.

My sideboard guide will be going up later in the week, but if you have questions about a specific matchup, feel free to ask in the comments!

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