Ever since the first time I saw the official preview of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn rising up out of the mist it instantly became my favorite creature for all eternity.
Let me get this straight… you’re saying I get an extra turn, a FIFTEEN/FIFTEEN flyer that has protection from colored spells, and has, what is this annihilator 6 thing??
How much does it cost? Don’t tell me! I don’t care! I’ll pay anything! Anything I say!
As it turns out it costs 15 mana, which I don’t consider to be very much mana at all. Consider the classic Channel–Fireball combo that is trying to make 21 mana. Yeah, Emrakul costs pennies bro. Pennies.
So I have cast some Emrakuls in my day. Various ways to ramp to 15. Easy. But I have to admit that I am an impatient human. Fifteen mana implies a mid-game, maybe even a long game. Most of the time you can’t get 15 mana by turn 1, let alone turn 4. I’m not one to wait. I want to start a game and quickly end it with Emrakul!
So I have experimented with ways to cheat out Emrakul quickly. There’s actually quite a few, and today I’ll be looking at just a couple of them.
A couple of them all jammed into one deck of course. The more ways the better.
First of all we have the classic Through the Breach Emrakul combo. I’ve been pushing this since Modern came into existence. It’s an insane combo with a minimal amount of fiddling and Magic Online clicking which is really important to some of us.
The best part about it is it’s a win combo that usually doesn’t actually end the game. Usually it reduces them to no or few permanents and just a few life. Perfect situation to continue playing a game in a highly advantaged situation. Lightning Bolt can end the game from here, or hell, why not march Dryad Arbor across the finish line?
Speaking of Dryad Arbor…
I remember vividly during the summer in college working some minimum wage, yellow jacket, “event staff” job where you’re like security except you’re not allowed to do anything. It was one of those jobs that would be excruciatingly boring except it was a perfect opportunity to combine Magic cards in my head.
It was while working a Meatloaf concert at Snoqualmie Casino that I began obsessing over a Polymorph deck that used only Dryad Arbor and fetchlands as the Polymorph target. It was such an elegant solution to a complicated problem.
Traditionally Polymorph decks have played token generators, but those token generates require card slots and are a huge tip-off as to what’s about to happen. But with Dryad Arbor the answer is all in the mana base. Turn 3 play a Mana Leak, fetch for an Arbor, turn 4 get an Emrakul. Boom!
Of course this is still all possible because Green Sun’s Zenith took the fall (from that same Through the Breach deck). Neither Green Sun’s Zenith or Dryad Arbor was too good without the other but Dryad Arbor has made for a way more interesting card, so thank you Wizards for allowing this tree to keep giving.
For the longest time we have only had Verdant Catacombs and Misty Rainforest as Arbor fetchlands, which limited us to playing either BUG or a suboptimal mana base that takes extra damage and telegraphs Dryad Arbor. But the Wooded Foothills has really opened things up for red Polymorph strategies.
Red happens to be the natural complement for blue in Modern so this innocuous printing is tremendous for the Emrakul strategy.
Another important new card for this deck is Dig Through Time. This deck takes advantage of Dig Through Time as well as any other blue combo deck, which is very well.
Simply put this card is absurd. Selecting 2 of 7 is amazing for this strategy, as it digs deep for whichever piece we need while letting us nab an additional disruption piece or mana source as well. Amazing card.
Blue/Red Emrakul Cheat
Some decks are sweet, some decks are good, some decks are sweet and good. This is one of those decks. It’s disruptive, is hard to play against, and wins fast. I’ve got a video series dropping later this week to show it off and I’m excited for you to see what it can do.
Blue/Red Emrakul Cheat Card Breakdown
We’ve talked about the most important cards but let’s get to some of the as yet unsung cards that make the deck tick.
Did you know that Lightning Bolt was a good card? Fantastic removal spell and finisher for the last few points of damage.
It complements our strategy nicely in the early and midgame as it gives us time to breathe and ramps us towards Dig Through Time. The more early trading we can do the better.
Pentad Prism is potentially replaceable by other cards but it really pushes the speed of this deck. It gives us turn-3 Emrakuls of multiple varieties, and speed is good.
Remand and Izzet Charm are two of the best disruptive options available for combo decks. Both provide a nice speed bump while giving us the option to dig deeper for our combo. These don’t require too much explanation other than that they are a big pull toward blue/red combo strategies in general.
Gitaxian Probe is a great Magic card that fits in a variety of strategies and it is especially important for Polymorph. Casting Polymorph and having the Arbor get Bolted is a game-losing scenario and Gitaxian Probe gives us the information to pick our spot and go for it.
I have only 1 Spell Pierce in the main but it could easily be more. It’s a minimal drawback disruptive piece that helps protect our combo.
I know some people like Swan Song, and it does produce a token, but I personally hate that card. The drawback can be tremendous and I would rather not lose to the Bird, though I am happy to beat opponents because they chose to cast this card.
Mutavault is a semi-important one in the main as it gives us additional Polymorph targets if something bad happens to Dryad Arbor. It’s also another way to finish the opponent off post Breach-Emrakul and the more we have of those the better.
Blue/Red Emrakul Cheat Sideboarding
When sideboarding with this deck the most important thing to consider is whether you revealed the Arbor Polymorph plan. If you did, you can expect the opponent to leave in removal and that plan becomes unreliable. We can sideboard so that it’s unnecessary and strand the opponent with useless removal.
If we won strictly through Breach-Emrakul and didn’t reveal any targetable creatures of any kind we may be able to assume the opponent boards out all removal and the Polymorph plan becomes even better.
There’s a lot of tension in the decision here and it depends on information revealed and guesswork by the opponent.
If we did reveal Polymorph the most important thing we can do is cut them and bring in storage lands.
No Emrakul deck would be complete without the realistic possibility of casting the monster and charge lands do just that.
If we play to a long control game these storage lands give us an inevitability. Eventually we will hit 15 mana and that’s that.
The storage lands also enhance our game against countermagic. The easiest way to win a counter war is always to out-mana the opponent to overload their counter magic. The storage lands do just that, as with Through the Breach as a deadly instant the opponent can’t tap out for risk of death, and that waiting games gives us more and more mana.
These lands have a history of tounament success and in general I think they belong in the sideboard of more decks. They are insane in almost any blue matchup, and this deck takes advantage with the best of them.
Another nice option to have from the board is some kind of haymaker threat as an additional win condition. We have the option of morphing into something close to a true control deck and anything that is big and can win the game on its own is welcome.
Wurmcoil Engine is my de facto choice but Inferno Titan would do nicely as well.
The rest of the sideboard is a collection of what I consider to be the best cheap disruptive options at this time. Whatever we can do to better align our answers to stop the opponent from doing whatever it is they want to do.
There’s lots of additional options, and we could even splash another color pretty easily if we wanted to. These 15 are my choice but if you are interested in the deck, you don’t have to limit yourself as there are countless options and infinite combinations.
I doubt that Emrakul will ever get old to me. It’s such an elegant way to win and whatever strategy it fits into is something I’m into.
This is the Blue/Red Emrakul Cheat deck and I find it to be quite satisfying and good. But it is not the only Emrakul Cheat deck and I have plans to dip into other options for next week. Let me know what you think and stay tuned!