I wanted to write some kind of top-level strategy article but I’ve been having way too much fun drafting Red-Blue control in triple Rise of the Eldrazi draft that I couldn’t pass this up. Its exactly the type of deck I adore to draft, one that completely bypasses the normal rules of limited Magic, such as the need to attack. The best build of this deck involves little to no creatures that beat, other than an occasional Sea Gate Oracle or Emrakul’s Hatcher, both of which are excellent in the deck. I love how Rise of the Eldrazi draft offers so different playable strategies. This is for the control players out there.
Ways the deck wins:
I’ve had the chance to draft this archetype six times now, with favorable results. A small sample size of course, but I like my odds here. I don’t promote forcing it, but it you see it open, I recommend giving it a try. I typically fall into it after taking my share of good removal while still staying open. If you see a Vent Sentinel or a Mnemonic Wall make the lap after pack 1 there’s a good chance you’ll be able to pick up this deck. If multiple players are trying to get a Vent Sentinel or Mnemonic Wall deck they’re all gonna come up short.
Here’s a list Heat Rayof key cards of each rarity – roughly in order of importance. An actual pick order is different as you can easily lap cards that will only be valuable in this deck. An example would be taking Heat Ray over Vent Sentinel early since the chance it’ll come back is fairly high.
Narcolepsy – Not every creature can be removed with burn, Narcolepsy deals with those.
Mnemonic Wall – Very key, take them highly as they’re the engine behind both the Walls and the Spells plans.
Regress – You have few nondamage-based way to deal with permanents, Especially ones enchanted with Totem Armor.
Deprive – The deck wants about 2 counterspells and Deprive is the best of the bunch.
Sea Gate Oracle – Helps in most situations to find the right answer, or to hit your 4th land. And its not a bad blocker either.
See Beyond – Its good to have one of these to filter away sometimes useless cards like Ogre Sentry and excess lands.
Fleeting Distraction – I like playing 1 in the deck since its a clutch Surreal Memoir target if needed. I take these higher if I see some Valakut Fireboars going by. A cheap cycler that can sometimes 2-for-1 like letting your Ogre Sentry live through a battle with Kozilek’s Predator.
Staggershock – Often a win condition. Having multiples of these revs up a Surreal Memoir engine.
Vent Sentinel – Core to the deck and best in a critical mass of defenders, which tends to be 8-9.
Emrakul’s Hatcher – The tokens provide for good blocking against lifelinkers and creatures that are too large for your walls. Sometimes the tokens won’t be good for combat and you’ll use them to cast walls while leaving up [card]Deprive[/card] mana.
Heat Ray – Never super efficient but fills several roles.
Ogre Sentry – Much better with a Warmonger’s Chariot in the deck, he’s around to strengthen Vent Sentinel and to trade when he can.
Spawning Breath – Fine to run, though they’ll get sided out in some matchups. Paired with
Guard Gomazoa – One of the few ways to deal with really big creatures and flyers
Domestication – Merely “ok” in the deck but too good to pass up. Its almost worth hating sometimes since every creature in your deck can be taken and you don’t have any pumping options to get it back.
Enclave Crypologist – Though most levelers should be avoided, this one follows the non-attacking theme and provides good card advantage.
Unified Will – About as good as Deprive and you tend to cast it about the same time…. around turn 6. When the games play out you kill off most of their small guys then subtlety gain a creature advantage with Spawning Breath, Mnemonic Wall, Sea Gate Oracle, and Emrakul’s Hatcher.
Surreal Memoir – Unplayable or great, mostly dependent on your Staggershock count.
Forked Bolt – Necessary cheap removal, similar to Flame Slash.
Rare and Mythic:
Four of the deck’s best win conditions are rares, but given that they aren’t very high picks for other decks, you’re likely to see one floating around in your draft.
Splinter Twin – One of the best rares for the deck. Emrakul’s Hatcher, Mnemonic Wall, and Sea Gate Oracle are all sweet common targets. The best is the wall as it lets you lock people out of the game with counters and removal.
Keening Stone – A nearly impossible to remove version of Vent Sentinel that kills in about 3 turns.
Sphinx-Bone Wand – Surprisingly awesome here. Your deck should be packing 8-10 instants and sorceries (some with rebound) and some number of Mnemonic Walls. Growing the charge count high isn’t a problem.
Echo Mage – This guy leveled put them in burn range really quickly. Also with Echo Mage and Reality Spasm, it’s possible to create infinite mana and cast another spell infinitely…making killing your opponent with something as simple as 20 Spawning Breath copies possible.
Other nice rares for the deck that tend to come around late are:
Angelheart Vial – Really, really underrated and it shines in this deck. Lifegain and card draw is exactly what you need and Angelheart Vial should be taken highly… you won’t be disappointed.
There are other rares and mythics that are good but don’t offer anything special with the deck’s them. Go ahead and take Conquering Manticore or Sphinx of Magosi if you see them. However, Eldrazi Conscription is at its worst here.
Cards that don’t work so well
Levelers. Too often you need to leave mana open to burn a creature in response to their leveling or to counter a spell. Champion’s Drake and Venerated Teacher will never be good for you.
Invokers. Neither Lavafume Invoker or Frostwind Invoker do much with their activation since you don’t have any actual attackers.
Many of your opponents will be blanked or weakened when your creatures have such high toughness and you don’t have to worry about attacking. Vendetta is pretty bad against you and you’ll never get Smited. Their high-toughness creatures like defenders Sporecap Spider, or Jadda Lifestrider lose a lot of value. I had a game tonight where my opponent Vendetta’d my Ulamog’s Crusher to go to 12 then died to 2 end of turn.
Staggershocks then Forked Bolt + Mnemonic Wall for Forked Bolt. Another boon is that you can pass the turn while representing quite a number of instants that you opponent will want to play around. Deprive is a great card in 3x Rise of the Eldrazi but its pretty obvious most of the time when you need to represent it. Having red instant removal, Vent Sentinel to activate, and minimal levelers makes your counterspells much harder to read.
Bala Ged Scorpion always hits one of your walls or an Eldrazi token. Grotag Siege-Runner has good value against you too as it you’re playing 8-10 creatures with defender. Large flyers are sometimes a problem for the deck to deal with and big Heat Ray, Narcolepsy, Regress, and Guard Gomazoa are your best answers. Equipment, Battle-Rattle Shaman, or similar effects that force you to deal with a single big creature each combat can be tough if you don’t have a flow of Eldrazi Spawn to block with. It’s more important than normal to get all the necessary pieces for the deck and not just “play a bunch of good cards.” It can be filthy unfair or downright awful if there are holes in 22 or 23 you play.
Rise of the Eldrazi is incredibly skill-intensive. I think I drafted about seven different archetypes in my first ten drafts. After drafting the initial GR ramp and WU levelers I just started picking interesting rares and seeing how to get the most out them, which took my down some crazy roads. I like how you can stay open for awhile to shift strategies on the fly. Close attention should be paid to the other cards in the draft as they change the value the cards you drafted so far and your remaining picks. The format is very deep and I’m still leaning it myself. For my next few drafts I’ll try to pick up RBU and RUW decks of similar style to get a feel for what’s best.
Good luck nugging opponents with walls!
CitrusD on MTGO