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Modern Eldrazi Metagame

The Modern Grand Prix in Detroit is just around the corner and the question on everybody’s mind is: “How do I beat Eldrazi?”

The really annoying thing is that two months ago, Modern was the darling format of Magic and nobody could get enough. Modern Grand Prix were selling out several days in advance of the tournament and needed to be re-capped to meet demand. People were excited to play a Modern GP because the format and games were fun, vibrant, and exciting.

I don’t mean to come across as overly negative, but there is a big difference between how a lot of people feel in anticipation of this Modern Grand Prix in comparison to the past few. The big difference is that people are very quickly getting fed up with the format being dominated by Eldrazi decks.

I played around with the UW Eldrazi deck in a few local events over the past week and it was every bit as good as advertised.

UW Eldrazi

I haven’t been this impressed with a deck in a very long time. The problem with the Eldrazi is that the archetype is actually better than all of the other available decks. So what do you do when there is a deck that is better than everything else?

I’ve only made slight changes from Kent Ketter’s list that got second at the Modern Open. I love Calciform Pools in this deck. It gives you something to do in games that grind to a halt and it also allows you to ramp a little bit to be able to activate Eye of Ugin or get in a bunch of “blinks” all at once.

Sadly, in this case, I think the best option is to play Eldrazi until it gets banned. There is a 99.9% chance that I will be playing Eldrazi in Detroit. I learned a valuable lesson last year about what happens when there is an absurd best deck in a format.

At the Legacy Grand Prix where Treasure Cruise was legal, I tried to “outthink” the format and played a super hateful Chains-based Death and Taxes deck. The deck was geared as hard as possible toward beating various URx Cruise decks.

Even though I went to extremes to beat the deck, I was only maybe 60% against the field of blue decks. I was terrible against everything else. It was not a great place to be. I remember thinking that maybe some day my kids will ask me, “Did you play at the Treasure Cruise GP?” and I’ll have to say, “Yeah, but like a dope, I played Mother of Runes and Serra Avenger instead…”

The lesson being that if something is broken, go ahead and play it. With that being said, there are a few justifiable options available…

Affinity

Austin Holcomb, 1st in the Modern Open Louisville

Playing Eldrazi does not make you invincible—it just gives you a big advantage over most people not playing Eldrazi. There are plenty of decks capable of winning matches against the deck and Affinity is a prime contender for Detroit.

Affinity has always been a great deck in Modern and this version packs Ensnaring Bridges out of the sideboard to stop Eldrazi from being able to attack.

Let’s not forget that Affinity has Moxen which are on the same power level as Eldrazi Temples.

Sitting behind an Ensnaring Bridge and pinging people to death with Grid is a pretty sweet endgame. In fact, that is exactly the strategy that allowed the deck to win the Open!

Another thing that I’ve seen floating around quite a bit lately is various decks that are packing Worships in the main deck with hexproof creatures.

The Worship plan is only good against people who are completely unprepared to deal with it. I think that with it getting as popular as it has that it will be a less ineffective way to actually beat Eldrazi in Detroit.

I’m playing one copy of Cyclonic Rift in my main deck as a catch-all for all kinds of weird hate card scenarios. The cool thing about Rift is that it answers all of the Worships and creatures at the same time. If my opponent’s plan is to sit behind a Worship and hope that I can’t win, I’ll eventually be able to get out of it by going big, playing defense, and eventually drawing my Rift.

Generating copious amounts of mana when the board stalls out and overloading Cyclonic Rift is another reason I’m really digging Calciform Pools right now.

It is also worth noting that if your opponent can’t actually kill you that you can beat Worship by decking them with Eldrazi Displacer and Thought-Knot Seer.

One thing I didn’t understand is that if you blink a Thought-Knot Seer with a Displacer that you get to choose the order that both of Thought-Knot’s triggers go onto the stack. So, even though the Seer leaves play before it returns to play, both of the triggers go onto the stack at the same time and you can choose to have them draw first and exile a card from their hand second.

Of all the Eldrazi hate decks out there, I still like the Abzan Company deck that I wrote about last week the best. The deck is good enough to win games against a wide array of decks on its own strength and the infinite life combo is something that is very difficult for Eldrazi to beat. There is no Cyclonic Rifting away a googleplex life!

Abzan Company

Brian DeMars

I wrote extensively about the Abzan deck last week.

Lantern Control is another option that will be extremely well positioned next weekend because of how effective Ensnaring Bridge is at halting Eldrazi. The Lantern deck is great at not only consistently having Bridge but also protecting it.

My top picks of decks to play in Modern right now:

  1. UW Eldrazi
  2. Affinity
  3. Abzan Company
  4. Lantern Control

I wish I had something more off-the-wall to share with you all this week in preparation for a Modern Grand Prix. Unfortunately, I’ve been playing a ton of Modern the past month and my view of what you can actually do in the format is pretty bleak. It isn’t bleak because I don’t enjoy playing Modern—it’s just bleak because the existence of Eldrazi severely limits the types of things that are actually effective in the format.

Honestly, I think that the Eldrazi as you know them are not long bound for this Modern world. I will be shocked if something doesn’t change at the next banning. So let’s embrace this Eldrazi madness for the time being. Whatever you decide: whether to play Eye of Ugin or to hide behind a Worship or Ensnaring Bridge, remember that this is a very weird and interesting moment in Magic history so be sure to take it in!

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