Owen’s Pick of the Week – Skyspawner Tokens

I’d heard rumblings on social media about Eldrazi Skyspawner making the leap from Limited all­-star to Constructed… regular star. Turns out the deck is for real. If I were playing a Standard tournament tomorrow, here’s the deck I’d take to battle:

Real Esper Tokens

By SWPC 5­0 in an MTGO League

The more Battle for Zendikar Limited I play, the more impressed I am by Eldrazi Skyspawner.

In a recent draft I had to choose between Skyspawner and Coastal Discovery—and it wasn’t close. I’ve noticed more and more how great my results are with it, and how poor they are against it. Back when Block Constructed was a Pro Tour format, I made a rule for myself that whenever I was impressed by a card in Limited, I would force myself to try it in Constructed, no matter how far-fetched it seemed. Routinely a card would rise to prominence as a Constructed staple and I would be sitting there wishing I had thought of it first and chastising myself because “it’s so obvious—that card is busted in draft.” I’m not here today to claim that Eldrazi Skyspawner is the best card in Standard—but it’s probably not as crazy as it may look to some hardcore skeptical readers.

Jeskai Black turned Standard on its head after the Pro Tour, and the most effective way to beat it is with tokens. Jeskai Black plays all 1-for-1 removal, so anyone going with a heavy token theme should be inherently advantaged. I went to Grand Prix Indy with the same Jeskai Black deck I’ve always had, no updates. Everyone in the room was more prepared, and I lost to multiple token decks. It just works.

I can’t really condone playing only 3 copies of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.

I see the motivation behind it, but I still believe it’s incorrect. This deck has fewer spells in it than a normal Jace deck and so the ability to give a spell flashback is less valuable, but this deck even plays 3 Seeker of the Way and that card is just as reliant on spells as Jace is, with a lower ceiling for potential and a lower average payoff.

Jace reminds me of Vendilion Clique—and not just because they’re both extremely expensive, blue, legendary, and great. At the height of their popularity, I would continually see deck lists with exactly 3 copies, which tells me that the deckbuilder was worried about drawing two copies of the card. The reality of the situation is that Jace, like Clique, is so powerful that you want to draw it every game, and it’s unlikely that you lose a game in which the opponent doesn’t kill it immediately, so it’s great to draw multiple copies.

Lastly, if you know the opponent can’t interact with it, then drawing 2 is even still acceptable. With Clique you could target yourself and cycle away the additional copy, much like Jace can just use the loot ability to discard an excess copy. Jace is even more extreme because the legend rule is mitigated by the fact that you can flip it and have two in play and a flipped Jace can kill itself for a profit, so there is almost never a point at which a 2nd or 3rd copy of Jace is a dead draw.

I love the fact that Painful Truths has started to make its way into main decks, though its numbers are still way too small.

If you’re playing a 3-color deck with black in Standard, I think you should play 2 copies of Painful Truths in the main deck. It’s not mandatory by any means since there are some deckbuilding constraints you must follow, and there is some risk. It’s a weak card to have on the draw against Abzan in game 1 and it stinks against Atarka Red, but in most other situations it’s one of the better cards in your deck.

I’ve seen Catacomb Sifter in its share of winning decks and as a result there’s no reason for me to believe that Eldrazi Skyspawner would be suboptimal. It’s easily the best enabler I’ve seen for a Wingmate Roc given its evasion combined with the ability to ramp from 3 mana to 5. I’m a little shocked there aren’t 4 copies of Wingmate Roc in this deck since drawing those two cards together is going to result in a turn-4 kill. Think that’s extreme? I’ve been on the receiving end of a Wingmate Roc enough times to know that when you cast it with raid, there’s a ridiculously high correlation with winning the game.

Today it’s Eldrazi Skyspawner—what’s next, Roil Spout?

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