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Somewhere between answering comments to Monday's article, talking Magic with my pals, and battling waves of forum doomsayers, I realized I'd yet again been lured into the ban discussion trap. Didn't I just promise, and then re-promise, to stay clear of banlist mayhem? Darn you, Wizards and your colorless hordes! Even beyond the warped Pro Tour field, the invasive Eldrazi species has vaulted to the top of recent metagame standings (it's 15%+ and rising on MTGO). This has prompted anyone with a keyboard and a penchant for Modern to ask a pair of questions: how do we beat Eldrazi and should we ban one (or more) of their staples? I'm tackling both questions today.
If you read Monday's plea for calm, you might wonder how this article is different. Fair question: I'm normally opposed to Modern's rampant banlist dialogue, and readers might disparage my return to the fray. To start, more than half of this article is about beating the Eldrazi, not banning them. I've gone on record saying it's too early to pull the B&R trigger. Following that stance, we must dedicate ourselves to defeating the Eldrazi on the tournament battefield, not banishing them in a Wizards boardroom. As for bannings, a number of important ban-related issues came up in Monday's comments and overall Modern conversation. I didn't address these in "Keeping Perspective" and I'm adding some numbers and positions on them today.
Three Reasons to Hold Off on Bannings
Across the Modern content-sphere and community, I see most players fit into one of two camps. On one side, players want Wizards to postpone ban decisions until the scheduled April 4 announcement. They believe the metagame needs time to adapt and that Wizards must respect the paradigm of gathering more data. On the other, players want Wizards to ban something immediately. They believe Pro Tour Oath afforded ample evidence about Eldrazi's brokenness (not to mention subsequent statistics from MTGO and paper) and that there's no reason to wait.
I'm mostly in that first group, and my normal response to the second is "trust the metagame." Unfortunately, there is mounting evidence to believe metagame shifts alone can't handle the Eldrazi plague. Even if the metagame ultimately fails to handle the threat, and even if we know that right now, we still need Wizards to wait. Regardless of your faith in Modern's ability to self-regulate, here are three reasons we should still reject emergency-ban discussion and instead support Wizards in their decision to wait until April.
1. Waiting helps Wizards identify the most broken card(s)
For now, let's assume Eldrazi does eat an April ban. What gets axed? Shaun McLaren blames Eldrazi Temple, but most Nexus and forum commenters think Eye of Ugin is the real offender. Others point to Simian Spirit Guide, Chalice of the Void, or even both. Eldrazi Mimic is another nominee. With so many options and so many arguments for each of them, Wizards needs to gather data on the diverse Eldrazi menagerie, looking for commonalities before making a decision.
Between the Pro Tour and the fallout on MTGO and paper, we've seen almost as many Eldrazi flavors as there were non-Eldrazi decks going 8-2 over the weekend: blue-red, blue-black, black-red, black-white, white-green, colorless, colorless plus the Urzatron, and more. Although this breakdown certainly points to the deck's prevalence, it also highlights the challenges in identifying its most dangerous piece, especially when most versions share all five cards mentioned earlier. Does Eye's removal stop the deck? Or are Guide and/or Chalice the problems? This also says nothing of possible collateral damage to historically safe decks like Tron and Ad Nauseam.
Even the seemingly simple question of "Does Wizards ban one or two cards?" is surprisingly complicated. Imagine if Wizards evicted Eye tomorrow and Eldrazi still occupied 20% of the metagame in March. Should they have banned Temple instead? Both? Without the March Grand Prix data, Wizards doesn't have enough information to make this consequential decision. It is better to wait until April to make the right call than to act now and make the wrong one, particularly if a bad ban leads to yet another down the road.
2. Failure to wait until April 4 sets a dangerous precedent
Memory Jar has the dubious distinction of Magic's only emergency ban. In looking at its history, we see both why it does not apply to the current Eldrazi situation, and why such a ban would harm Modern as a whole. Writing in 2003, Randy Buehler explained Jar's banning:
"The only reason the DCI chose not to wait until the next regularly scheduled date was because the very health of the Magic game was being threatened by "Combo Winter." Urza's Saga was four months old when Memory Jar came out in Urza's Legacy. During those four months, there was a large and loud public outcry about the way the game was being ruined by all the "broken" cards in Saga. [Players] either played against a steady stream of combo decks, or they didn't play at all [. . .] Players began leaving the game in droves."
Applying this to Modern, we see a number of inconsistencies. We have not had "four months" of "large and public outcry" about the game's or format's ruination before Eldrazi arrived. True, some were unhappy with Twin's ban, but many others were not. Moreover, this discontent happened over a three-week period, not four months. There's also little evidence to suggest players were "leaving the game in droves" before Eldrazi. Paper event attendance had held steady through November and December at 64 and 65 players respectively. What about the weeks after Twin's removal? 66 players, right on track with the preceding months: StarCityGames' Columbus Classic on January 31 had a spectacular 260 Moderners in attendance. Given these numbers, there is no reason to think Jar's rationale applies to Eldrazi.
What if Wizards ignored this and acted anyway? This would be a long-term Modern disaster. Whenever a deck had a breakout performance, emergency banning would immediately be on the table. This would rattle player confidence even worse than the Twin ban, as it would occur after every significant tournament multiple times throughout the year. It would also suggest metagame adaptations and internal regulation no longer matter. Does a deck look too good? Forget sideboarding: clamor for bans and it will be gone. Some might contend Wizards has already pursued this in its Modern ban policy, but that is unsupported in their timeline. Since the first Modern Grand Prix, Wizards has always given cards at least 3-4 months (and often longer) before acting: only Seething Song and the delve sorceries perished on this schedule. Even Amulet Bloom got a full year, and Twin and Pod had more time still. Wizards must preserve metagame confidence. Even if we believe recent events have rocked that faith, it doesn't mean Wizards needs to need to capsize it forever with an emergency ban.
3. Modern can recover from two months of Eldrazi
Many argue the risk of a bad banning precedent is less than the cost of two more months of the Eldrazi terror. Won't tournament attendance crash? Could Modern recover from Eldrazi winter? History suggests Modern is likely to endure even a major Eldrazi insurgence, which is further reason to wait until April.
By most accounts, Treasure Cruise's run was worse for the Modern metagame than for Modern attendance. In the nine months leading up to Khans of Tarkir, non-Grand Prix Modern tournaments averaged 105 players in an N=50 sample (excluding season-specific venues like Pro Tour Qualifiers and MTG States). After Cruise set sail? Attendance dipped to 93 in a 59-event sample, a noticeable but not statistically significant difference. StarCityGames' numbers didn't budge at all, with Cruiseless Modern Premier IQs averaging 147 players as compared with 144 after delve made its move. MTGO saw similar observable but insignificant drops. Pre-Cruise MTGO Dailies averaged 25 players (ranging from 10-39) in the 4-0 or 3-1 bracket. Post-Cruise, the average dipped slightly to 23, centered in a narrower 12-33 range. Complicating the MTGO and paper picture, Grand Prix attendance saw a much more decisive decline. Attendance at these flagship events plummeted from 2,681 in the first nine months down to 1,589 after Cruise. Even omitting Grand Prix Richmond's 4000+ players doesn't challenge the comparison, only lowering the pre-Cruise average to 2,140.
This late-2014 metagame saw Burn shares at 20% for over a month, Pod at 16% for two, and Delver climbing as high as 27% before settling in the 15%-20% range. Modern was a mess for four long months, and yet (as we saw above) this had only a very modest impact on attendance. The small dips didn't even last! After Cruise, Dig Through Time, and Birthing Pod went the way of Deathrite, Moderners did not bitterly shun future events. From January through February, attendance stayed in the 90-95 range before rebounding back to pre-Cruise levels of 110 in the summer. The 4-0 and 3-1 MTGO initially players jumped to 29 before reaching 36 by July. SCG Premier IQ attendance followed, leaping to a 170-player average.
All this shows Modern's remarkable resilience to short periods of even severe instability. If Modern can regain footing after almost four months of Cruise and Pod, it will easily endure an Eldrazi takeover for less than half that time. Reality Smasher's brief dominance will not imperil Modern's long-term health any more than Cruise's and Pod's much longer reign did in 2014-2015. But banning the wrong cards, or setting a frightening precedent, would be far more threatening. Besides, if Wizards is worried about player confidence, they can always unban something to sweeten the post-Eldrazi pot!
Wait and see!
I'm a believer in metagame adaptation, something we saw throughout 2015 as players kept Burn, Tron, Amulet Bloom, Infect, and other tides at bay. Today, I want to trust the metagame's ability to grapple with this new beast, but I admit early indicators are nerve wracking. Perhaps Modern's best technicians solve the Eldrazi problem and the format is saved over Grand Prix weekend. Or, perhaps even if decks can adapt, Eldrazi still proves itself a format-warping monster, forcing players to run narrow answers in a throwback to the Cruise era.
Fortunately, the three arguments in this section are independent of metagame confidence. Whether you casually despise the colorless overlords, or are quitting Modern until Wizards stuffs the monsters back in their hedrons, we must still acknowledge the importance of these points. The costs of premature action are too high: banning the wrong card, setting a dangerous precedent, the possibility of more bans, etc. Meanwhile, the risks of waiting are quite low: evidence strongly suggests Modern will recover from short-term Eldrazi shocks. Wizards needs to wait until April to act. Either the metagame adjusts and we keep a new decktype, or Wizards of the Gatewatch gathers the evidence needed to seal Eldrazi on the banlist for good.
Slaying the Monsters
Jace, Chandra, Gideon, and Nissa didn't imprison Ulamog and Kozilek by whining about it on the internet. They shut up, buttoned down, and blasted their way through some eldritch monstrosities. I've been testing Eldrazi matchups nonstop since Sunday and I want to share a few decks and cards which have showed early promise. I'm likely not going to any Modern events in the immediate future, but if I had to sleeve something up for an FNM or weekend IQ, I'd bring any of these sluggers to the inevitable Eldrazi brawl. Before we get started, remember that "Eldrazi" actually encompasses a huge array of color pairings which can make testing difficult and discussion imprecise. I'll try and focus on Colorless and UR Eldrazi, but if you have questions about other types, or notice something ambiguous, come find me in the comments.
Staying mainstream with Abzan Company
Last time we talked Eldrazi, I lauded Abzan Company's strengths in the matchups and overall Pro Tour performance. As Monday's numbers suggested, Abzan Company is at least as viable as Affinity in this format, and this is in no small part due to its commanding Eldrazi matchup. Melira's and Anafenza's posse is one of the safest top-tier bets in the Eldrazi world, and here's a draft of the list I'd play today.
Abzan Company, by Sheridan Lardner
If this looks like an Abzan Company greatest-hits list featuring Ari Lax, Logan Mize, and Lukas Blohon, that's because I started tinkering on this shell the moment we received the 8-2 and 7-3 lists from Wizards. This deck was already favored against Eldrazi before additional maindeck and sideboard tailoring. After, I'm batting a solid 60-40 in that matchup, with a heavier 65-35 in Game 1. Between immortal Kitchen Finks, the Gavony Township trio, a squad of Eldrazi slayers, and a combo the removal-light Eldrazi can't interact with, Abzan Company does a number on the Colorless and UR versions of the new format boss.
I loved Blohon's double Fiend Hunter so much I almost went up to three. Then I remembered the metagame wasn't (yet) 100% Eldrazi and I still needed to beat Infect, Affinity, and Burn. I'm comfortable on two now with a Big Game Hunter bullet in the board: free tech courtesy of the Pro Tour Oath coverage team! Both Hunters bring down Reality Smasher without triggering the discard clause, and can even be Chorded in at instant speed to stop large Eldrazi Mimics. Fiend Hunter can also be sacrificed to Viscera Seer in response to their entrance trigger for an eternal exile. Hunter recursion gets really nasty with Eternal Witness in the mix, guaranteeing grindfests go to the Company player. I cut Lax's lone Decay to fit my added Hunter: the instant is mediocre against Eldrazi and other Company players did well without it in the main 60.
Tidehollow Sculler also joined the Company, with one replacing a Spellskite and another two signing on in the sideboard. On the play, turn two Sculler is a huge pain for Eldrazi, proactively exiling Thought-Knot Seer before it hits or just taking an Endless One or Smasher out of the picture. Most Eldrazi variants don't have the removal to get their card back. Speaking of Endless One, I've always loved Flickerwisp in Modern and Eldrazi gave me newfound appreciation for the card. Between Elemental and Hunter, we're a little heavy on double-white in our curve, but I'm happy to take those risks for the upside. Flickerwisp fells even the largest Endless Ones, resets Mimics, Chalices, and Ratchet Bombs, and even slows mana development if Chorded in during the upkeep. This is on top of its natural synergies with Finks, Witness, and many other creatures. If Flickerwisp is too grindy for faster metagames, Orzhov Pontiff is a capable replacement (devastating against Affinity, Infect, and Eldrazi Scion swarms).
We round off the sideboard with the versatile Pithing Needle/Phyrexian Revoker duo, which are instrumental once Relic of Progenitus and Drowner of Hope come online. The rest of the sideboard matches up against the overall metagame, although I'm not sold on the Fulminator Mages in a world where RG Tron has been supplanted. Then again, I also don't want to auto-lose to Tron player who didn't get the Eldrazi memo, so I'm keeping two for now. All in all, Abzan Company has strong positioning in this metagame and I expect to see many players turn here before checking out wackier options.
Taking Command with UW Control
Old-school UW Control claimed a Tier 2 slot in both September and October of 2015, and although the deck has since lost tiered footing , I believe it's ready to Spread back into the metagame. As David discussed yesterday, Spreading Seas is just as scary against Eldrazi's Ancient Tombs in games as it looks on paper. UW Control brings not only Seas but also a punishing combination of sweepers, removal, and durable defenders. Control mages rarely need an excuse to go back to blue-based permission decks, which makes UW Control an attractive option over the next weeks.
UW Control, by Sheridan Lardner
Recently, we've seen a few takes on UW Control, including Henry Lams' win at a Grand Prix Vancouver side event, Ben Vrba's 6th place finish at StarCityGames' Roseville Regionals, and another Regionals performance, this one only at 7-3, posted by Justin Gennari. MTGO also saw UW Control take 3rd at a Sunday PTQ overrun by Eldrazi. I already had UW Control ideas stewing on the backburner, largely based on Lams' list, and I revisited them in light of the Eldrazi uptick. The above 75 takes Lams' build as a foundation, adding elements from previous UW Control winners in January.
Spreading Seas packs a wallop in the Eldrazi matchup in all phases of the game. In the first few turns, it keeps them off the turn three Smasher (or turn two Seer if you are on the play) while also cantripping for you around Chalice at one. Later, it turns off manlands and stops the Eye of Ugin inevitability engine. I'm only on two Seas because we don't have the same clock as a deck like Merfolk and they can be a bad topdeck if you're a turn or spell behind a developed Eldrazi board. In place of that third Sea I'm up to three Detention Spheres, already an underrated Modern card before Eldrazi made them even better. Spheres remove Smasher without any discard cost and are often two-for-ones against Eldrazi mages and their creature playsets. You can also bring back Flickerwisp in place of Angel to make Sphere even better: you can exile something early at parity and then bounce the enchantment later to ensure a two-for-one as more monsters hit play.
Turning to creatures, the Wall of Omens and Kitchen Finks playsets make it difficult for Eldrazi to capitalize on early aggression, especially if they don't have enough trampling Smashers. Curving turn two Wall, turn three Finks, and turn four Angel will stop all but the most obscene Colorless Eldrazi offenses. Wall is also another way we cantrip around active Chalices. Speaking of value, some UW Control lists eschew Snapcaster Mage in favor of more pressure in Vendilion Cliques 2-3, or haymakers like Sun Titan and Gideon Jura. Call me old-fashioned but Snapcaster is just too strong to pass up. Although I miss the burn-based reach we got in Jeskai variants, I feel invincible untapping on turn six with a Cryptic Command in your graveyard and a Snapcaster in hand.
Mana Leak rounds out the interaction over Remand (hard-countering those early Eldrazi goes a long way), along with Spell Snare for a metagame thick with two-cost staples. Even Eldrazi is a player here, with Mimic, Spellskite, and Bomb in the maindeck. Double Supreme Verdicts punish overextended Eldrazi players, especially those churning out tokens in the UR builds. Verdict has the added edge of being uncounterable by Warping Wail, a sideboard benefit you'll be thankful for past Game 1. Because we're only playing two colors, I'm all-in on four Ghost Quarters, which get even better off our Crucible of Worlds out of the board. Other sideboard bullets include the underappreciated Meddling Mage (another card Eldrazi struggles to answer), an extra Verdict and Seas, and Elspeth, Sun's Champion to obliterate the Eldrazi board or flood the battlefield with Soldiers; I'd maindeck her if it weren't for all the linear decks tearing through Modern these days.
UW Control has a relatively basic shell, but there's a surprising degree of nuance in how you fill out some slots. I agonized over the third Sphere (it's beyond horrible against Infect) before deciding I'd rather have it than the third Snare or fourth Leak. Similarly, I'd caution against that lone Dismember if you find yourself in a metagame packed with Zoo variants, Burn, Merfolk, and other aggressive, damage-based strategies. Decisions like these will be tough ones, but UW Control is there to reward you if you make the proper calls.
Rolling the dice and going rogue
I've been testing a half-dozen alternates to these more established options, and you can bet I'll report back when I have more refined lists and clean results. If you're willing to go really deep in your Eldrazi-slaying quest, here are some strategic approaches that have shown promise for me. I might eventually end up on one of these candidates, but there's much more testing which needs to go into offbeat lists like these.
- Restore Balance Combo
Like Living End, you hurl Eldrazi back to the stone age in resolving a Restore Balance off your cascade outlets. Greater Gargadon, Nihilith, and your choice of planeswalker can finish from there. Unlike Living End, you're less consistent without the cyclers and your clock is less decisive against an Eldrazi manabase that can recover given time. Also unlike Living End, you have zero vulnerability to graveyard hate, but are far softer to Chalice without reason to run Ingot Chewers. Depending on your preference and how you tweak the deck, this might still be a competitive choice. Go up to four Beast Within in the main to kill Chalice and go to town with a turn two Balance.
- RW Lockdown
In a fitting end for the Eldrazi blight, lockdown decks using Ensnaring Bridge, Blood Moon, and the brutal Magus of the Tabernacle are well-positioned to seal the Eldrazi on their side of the battlefield and throw away the key. The old-timer Extended combo of Flagstones of Troikar and Boom // Bust smashes Eldrazi's manabase early as Molten Rain and Magus abuse it later. UR Eldrazi lose much of their advantage once Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale's steward starts taxing all those tokens as Ajani Vengeant seals the shutout. All of lockdown's win conditions sneer at Dismember, and the deck can easily keep ahead with Simian Spirit Guide acceleration into land destruction and self-defense cards like Bridge and Ghostly Prison.
- Enduring Ideal Prison
This was one of my first Modern decks back in 2011, and also one of the first decks I lost to bannings (RIP, Seething Song). The deck was well under Tier 3 for ages, but the new Eldrazified world makes me a believer again. No Eldrazi build can negotiate a resolved Enduring Ideal into Form of the Dragon, and few can handle the Ghostly Prisons, Runed Halos, and Nevermores before that. Maindeck Leyline of Sanctity feels like cheating here, as does Halo naming Thought-Knot. Honestly, this has been my favorite deck in testing so far, with remarkable game against even Affinity with maindeck Suppression Field and Stony Silence out of the board. Guess I'm an Idealist!
- UB Tezzerator
Shouta Yasooka would be so proud to see Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas have his day in Modern again. It's no secret that Ensnaring Bridge is a dynamite answer to Eldrazi aggression, just as many players are interested in Pithing Needle, Torpor Orb, and Vedalken Shackles. Tezzerator crams in all that artifact goodness alongside hard counters like Cryptic Command, hard sweepers like Damnation, and hard disruption like Inquisition of Kozilek for a linear metagame. As a two-colored deck, Tezzerator can accommodate at least 2 Ghost Quarters, along with plenty of spot removal to chop down large beatsticks. You can even put those abhorrently overpriced Painter's Servants to good use in your Tezzerator toolbox!
Sadly, my love affair with Shape Anew didn't make the cut. Blightsteel Colossus was just not proving decisive in the Eldrazi contest: Spellskite, Dismember, Thought-Knot Seer, and really frikkin' big blockers were all recurring issues. Drowner of Hope lived up to its name and sealed that deal for now. I guarantee you there are other fringe options I haven't mentioned (Lantern Control, Through the Breach Scapeshift, BW Smallpox, Troll Worship, anything with Unburial Rites as a Plan B, etc.), along with plenty of other Modern regulars (Affinity, Merfolk, Blue Moon, etc.). You'll need to do some of that legwork yourself to confirm if any and all of these decks really have what it takes, but early signs suggest the format is packed with anti-Eldrazi opportunities.
Bringing Down Eldrazi
The March Grand Prix weekend is coming in just over three weeks, and I'll be testing up a storm until then. I'm debating making the trip to Detroit, but that will depend on finding friends to make the roadtrip bearable, finding a deck to make the tournament worth the trek, and finding the time between personal and professional life. If I can find something I'm really amped about, I'll either sleeve it up and brave the four hour drive out of Chicago into Michigan, or I'll write about it here and hope someone else champions my baby. Either way, we're not taking the Eldrazi threat lying down, and you can bet we'll put our best technology and strategies into the ring come March.
I've already added "Eldrazi" to my computer dictionary in anticipation of the next months (the red lines reminded me of that devilish paper clip assistant from old Microsoft Word), and I hope you are as ready as I am to plunge into battle against this new menace. What decks and strategies are you working on? How are you structuring your testing against Eldrazi's many iterations? Do you have any last words on bans before I try to stay away from this topic in our ban-frenzied format? Head down to the comments and I'll see you all there soon!
86 thoughts on “On Banning and Beating Eldrazi”
Resto Angel doesn’t work like that :/
Yeah Resto is non angel creature. He was probably still thinking of flickerwisp’s ability.
You are 100% right. Flickerwisp is all over my test lists! I cleared that sentence up; thanks for the catch and sorry for that error!
So wait and let 3 gp’s worth of people have a crap tourny?
I agree they will wait but it’s pretty scummy of them. Anyone at those 3 gp’s without a 8 sol land eldrazi deck is dead money, drawing dead. That deck is over a grand in paper and will probably get worst because the spikes will realize they have this chance to sneak a high gp finish against a dead field.
Again I think they’ll wait, but it’s scummy. Hell they may even wait until the next gp, they may hate Modern despite that fact that the most played formats are modern and commander.
I don’t think there’s anything to suggest Wizards hates Modern. Even if they’ve mismanaged some Modern elements, they have a lot of reason to support the format (and there’s a bunch of evidence to suggest they’ve overall done a good job). That said, the costs of waiting two months are relatively low, as compared to the risks of acting immediately which would be extremely high. That cost assessment should lead us to believe Wizards is actually helping Modern more by waiting. A snap-ban would be the real mismanagement.
Hey Sheldon, I more or less agree with your analysis here but I think you’re underestimating the negatives of having this deck stay around until April. We’re talking about waiting 2 more months and having lots of events, most notably the SCG Opens and GPs in March that will more or less be “ruined” by the presence of this oppressive deck. I agree that an emergency banning right after the PT would be premature, but I don’ see the point in waiting until April.
You can bet people will show up to the SCG open next week gunning for the Eldrazi decks. If we still see them put a strong showing, or if we see lots of anti-Eldrazi decks in the field, I say they should just go ahead and ban it.
What I really do not understand in all those discussion is the claim, that tailored decks, which have a good Eldrazi match-up is bad for Modern. Last year at the June (?) SCG Invi Tron won both the normal Open AND the Invi, Amulet Bloom also had a great finish there. One week later people adopted and both decks were nearly non existent at the GP. Guess why? Cause people changed their MD/SB accordantly (Jund didn’t run Tasigur e.g. since he is to slow vs those decks) since the METAGAME shifted.
While the Eldrazi deck(s) have a really good base power level, there are enough tools to “hunt” them down. However, they can punish something only Pod could really do back in the day: You cannot durdle around the whole game cause there is to much pressure early game AND they have normally a better lategame plan due to Eye/Manlands.
This means, that you have to change your deck accordantly to be able to “beat” the new metagame (very aggro/combo heavy). You are basically tailoring your deck vs the metagame, and you should always, ALWAYS do this, otherwise you will have a bad time on a big tournament.
Hence, your claim, that an “anti” deck is bad for Modern is not true, it just shows, that there might other decks be viable now, since the METAGAME became good for these decks.
PS: @Sheridan, nice article as always, I’m also pro wait till at least the set after SOI (and to be honest, at that point, depending on how big the metagame share really is, Wizard might wait another 6 months to ban the deck pre PT XXX to make the metagame “fresh” again). I’m currently testing a UW Vial Midrange deck with Reflector Mage, looks really good so far (and man, Reflector Mage is awesome with Resto Angel).
This comment is an imagined world with an overpowered deck. No opinions on eldrazi yet. Not enough data.
The problem arises when you have x decks that are truly overpowered and anti x decks. At this point you are basically forced to play one of these decks. This alone is bad for a meta like modern because it’s supposed to be the “open format where you can do a lot of things!” Diversity is already gone. Nobody likes HAVING to play a certain strategy… Heck I love prison decks, but if I HAVE to play them, then I (and others based off of the reddit sample size alone) feel like I’m not really choosing a deck which is one the founding ideas of this game. At this hypothetical point the format is already stifled in a way that nobody can objectively agree is healthy.
(This following is a more specific example to show a possible meta with an op deck though and doesn’t necessarily apply to all of them)To add while there are decks that can beat deck x, it doesn’t allow for any flexibility in the format. If those people stop playing the “anti-x” decks, then x continues its charge. To add, the “anti-x” decks have the opportunity to cannibalize each other how tron does to Jund for example. They may have common enemies in burn for example, but they’ll still destroy each other when given the chance. (Though tron is more hoping to kill Jund in this example.) So you don’t necessarily have this unified front against the eldrazi. People will try to beat the fair decks too reducing the “forces against x” chances. To add, because these anti-x decks can tend to be very linear, they have large weakness to other linear strategies so that they can deal with x, for example the prison deck vs burn matchup is not so cool. So basically you just spend the entirety of the format trying to survive and deal with one deck and dodge all the non-x matchups. Which isn’t how this game was designed. Also, while the x decks are ingesting each other as well… They would have greater numbers, and a greater baseline power. They are focusing on beating the “anti-x” decks too. Everything is in favor of the x decks.
Just to add, people don’t like boring formats like this. This is shown through the rtr theros standard when modern got its first huge immigration and is show widely in magic’s past. Monoblack was everywhere and it bored people to death. The good part about this game is that you can play different strategies and do well.
Basically when you have an unbalanced meta… Nothing good comes from it.
I’m personally working on an UBR-colored “Draw, Go” style of deck. The only things cast during my own main phase would be 1-mana discards and low-mana powerhouses like Tasigur. That way, I’ve always got mana up for counters/removal or an end-step “digger” like Anticipate. My read on Eldrazi is that the main threat is huge beaters played one at a time in the early turns (possibly preceded by Mimics), so countering the TKS or RS or MS seems really strong. Or if not countering, sweeping a pair of Mimics with Electrolyze in response to a beater and then Terminating it afterwards sounds good too (at least on paper). Mana denial (ala Seas or Crumble) would come later, to keep them in Leak range or from playing high-end stuff; they’re too fast for it to be preemptive.
Oh, and I forgot to mention: What I wouldn’t give for a Force Spike reprint to counter a T2 TKS on the draw!
I see zero reason s why U/R Delver decks can’t beat Eldrazi on the regular. If you are on the draw and they drop a turn 1 Eye, Mimic, Mimic/Endless One, you should be able to turn 1 SSG/Mountain/Pryoclasm and then play the counter/Bounce game going forward. Seems like the best strategy to me.
Remand is really bad against a free eldrazi mimic. Lightning bolt is bad against 4/4 and 5/5 hasty dudes that make you discard when you target them. All of their threats are as cheap as delver and are more powerful without having to flip. Delver seems really bad.
Also, why are you playing pyroclasm when all of your dudes are 1/1, 2/1, or 3/2? It seems counterintuitive.
@Anonymous the 2nd: I’m not sure Delver is the place for an SSG/Pyroclasm-based response to Eldrazi.
UR Delver is definitely not the deck, where you would want to run this form of interaction. Furthermore, you are lacking the hard removal, which is crucial vs them. Hence, either UWR Delver (due to Geist) or Counter-Cat (due to Delver + Nacatl as one drop backed-up with hard removal) would be better vs the current Eldrazi versions (I’m currently positive with Counter-Cat vs Eldrazi btw).
Forgot to add something: You want to run Mana Leak now over Remand, since you really want a hard counter vs Eldrazi AND Affinity (you HAVE to counter stuff like Ravager/Etched Champion, since those are a huge pain in the ass).
The counter cat that you’re positive vs. Eldrazi with, is the list unchanged from your Dec. 6th post in the Mtg Salvation Counter Cat thread? Or has it been updated to fight Eldrazi? Mind sharing the list? Are you positive against both the UR Eldrazi and the one with main deck chalices?
Yes, I made some changes (Send to Sleep main deck e.g.), especially the SB got changed a lot (no more Huntmaster (imo garbage in that deck), but instead Snapcasters, Threads, Deflecting Palm and co).
Main focus was against colourless Eldrazi atm, and I’m positive (only a little bit) due to the clock the deck represents AND the amount of Tempo it can generate (Send to Sleep is bonkers in that deck). I have to test the UR Eldrazi match-up more (which is imo the better Eldrazi deck), but Drowner of Hope is such a pain in the ass (I have to run Needle in the SB for him 🙁 ).
I will be able to play between 2 and 3 tournaments next week, I will write some small reports afterwards.
I can’t see how you can’t see U/R Delver just gets eaten by Eldrazi.
I’ve played delver v drazi online quite a few times and the match was way more even than I expected. I felt like I was beating UR, beating colorless on the play and losing on the draw, and getting crushed by GR or any build with maindeck return.
Turn one delver, turn two leak, turn 3 bloodmoon gets it done. And they can’t really cast anything scary before turn 2. Remand is less good. If you follow it with moon it can be ok but leak is just always good early. Their deck doesn’t have any card draw till late, so if you don’t get turn one chaliced and counter their first 2 big threats you typically win.
I feel like the above comment is theorycrafting and hasn’t actually played the matchup very much.
I think you are forgetting about the four maindeck chalice. Meaning Delver has zero shots of winning on the draw.
I won most of the times with Delver vs a Chalice on 1, you just have to be prepared for it AND know how to play against it. If you have neither a plan nor the required knowledge on how to play against it than you will lose for use. However, the “aggro” UR Delver version is more affected by a Chalice on 1 than nearly any other Delver deck, so yes, Chalice on 1 is great vs UR Delver (especially the aggro versions).
Delver still has tools like Gemstone cavern on the draw, along side hurkyl’s recall. The chances of having SSG & Chalice are low enough that delver isn’t completely dead just of those two cards.
Yeah, outside of the pro tour they don’t know what deck you are playing in advance and they don’t mull for chalice, they mull for drazi lands. Even if they do mull for challice it’s a two card combo. If you have any experience playing combo decks (which unless you’re old school and played old extended or current vintage / legacy you probably don’t) getting two cards together is hard, you need tons of cantrips and tutoring to make it happen reliably by turn three. Turn one natural draw both pieces is rare. Backbreaking when it happens, but rare.
You’re looking for Mana Tithe. Have fun!
I seriously considered it, but I felt like UBR might be stronger overall than WUB. Dunno, might have to flip-flop a bit and see what feels right.
Mana Tithe existz
This is a solid read on the situation, especially if you hold up those valuable Leaks and removal spells. Flash threats are critical here, especially Clique which both disrupts Eldrazi, can’t be blocked by most of their creatures, and exerts pressure. A turn three Tasigur with Leak mana up also seems very strong. Let us know how it goes!
Alas, I can’t afford Cliques any time soon, but they would indeed be ideal. Fortunately, other options might be “good enough” for the little local events I play. Heck, even good ol’ Pestermite.
Another thought: Opponent casts Reality Smasher. I flash down Pestermite and tap it. On my turn, I play my fourth land, evoke a Shriekmaw to 1-for-1 the Smasher while leaving 2 mana up for shenanigans. Later on, I can Kolaghan’s Command to blow their hand and get my removal “spell” back. Worthwhile?
the problem is that you must counter thought-knot, and you must counter reality smasher. Neither of those can be reliably killed with spot removal
It seems to me that people are going all crazy is for 3 huge reasons.
1. If you think about it, Tier 1 decks have been a “boys club” (so to speak) for the past few years. To have a deck come out of oblivion and dominate that standard fair, even without Twin being present, is always going to raise red flags from the faithful. Granted, we all knew Eldrazi decks were in the works and it was only a matter of time before someone cracked the code. Nobody at the PT thought Eldrazi was going to be this powerful so nobody prepared any sideboard options for it. I’m sure if there was even a small inkling of notice, you would have seem far more Ghost Quarter’s maindecked and far more Blood Moon’s in SB’s. Which didn’t happen. I think that because the 2 deck dominated so well, it left a bad taste in people’s mouths who didn’t see it coming but should have.
2. It has made a lot of midrange players (Tron, Jund, etc..) are angry because now they think their deck won’t work in the meta, which in turn costs them money. Cards like Karn, Lilianna & Tarmogoyf sit pretty high on the money tree and the fear of those cards losing value is scary. That’s understandable. To have a deck that is made of mostly draft chaff dominate like that is embarrassing, to a degree. I think if decks were more over valued monetarily, we wouldn’t be hearing such an outcry, IMO.
I think both of these issues are part of the outcry, and you are right to reference them. This is particularly true of players who have longstanding Modern investments that suddenly got much worse overnight. That said, I also believe the biggest issue isn’t just the deck’s newness, but also its metagme shares which are currently unbelievably high. They may even exceed the worst Delver shares during the TC era, although we only have a few datapoints to suggest it. Coupled with the Twin ban, which already peeved a lot of Modern players, and you have a perfect storm of unhappiness which whipped the community into a frenzy about the Eldrazi finish. The deck might also end up as broken as everyone believes (this is likelier than not), which further drives anger.
Or, you know, the deck is actually doing unfair things with the lands it’s playing….
I personally have neither of these 2 problems or issues you have outlined. I’m just a normal guy that sees what is happening right in front of me
I feel like a lot of people who never played the real eternal formats see these lands and see a superficial analogy to tomb, shop, city etc and assume that they are busted. But there is a big difference. Shop and city let you use the mana to do anything. You can cast show and tell, or donate or cards that just win.
Shop gives 3 mana which you can use to cast backbreaking spells like 3 sphere, or defense grid, or sphere of resistance which will completely shut down the other deck as soon as they are cast. A game with turn 1 3sphere will often end wihtout the other deck playing a spell.
The drazi lands give you two mana, but they have the drawback that you can only cast a very narrow set of cards. Things that die to doomblade can only be so scary. Creatures that need to tap to attack can only be so scary. The eternal lands are good because they accelerate non interactive brokenness. Accelerating creatures is night and day.
What? Shape Anew is my new baby. Dont tell me it doesnt work. I am trying it in a Jeskai/Twin like shell. Hmmm. What is the bigget problem against the eldrazi?
The bad news with Shape is that our targets are light to Dismember and maindecked Spellskites, and that Colossus isn’t a guaranteed win on turn four. An aggressive Eldrazi player could easily save one Reality Smasher as a blocker to stop a hasty Blightsteel, counterswinging for lethal with the rest of his army next turn. Even a lone Matter Reshaper or Mutavault stops the Blightsteel from going lethal.
The good news is that the Jeskai shell has strong positioning and that there might be better things to fetch than Blightsteel. Platinum Emperion is basically unbeatable here; the Eldrazi need to double Dismember it to win, something any control player worth his salt should be able to do.
Also, Shadows of Innistrad gives us Clue tokens, which are going to be AWESOME with Shape Anew.
Hey, thanks for replying. I do have platinum emperion on the SB for that reason and the burn matchup. I guess i will have to tweak some thing. Also, do you think its worth running the kiki/angel combo in there?
As always I appreciate your level-headed approach to the subject of bans, warranted or otherwise. I just wanted to chime in that while I went 3-3 drop playing Burn at a 600+ person SCG Regional in Rhode Island last weekend (the largest in the country I’m told), one brave soul went undefeated in the Swiss and ended in 5th place with a Glittering Wish Ad Nauseam deck. I think his deck looks sweet as hell, and with the Wish toolbox could be further tailored to tangle with the Eldrazi menace. How do you think a deck like this stacks up against the metagame?
Thanks for sharing that beautiful list! What a cool assortment of cards, and although I’m sad to hear you didn’t make it at the tournament, this Top 8 finish is awesome. Maybe we see more innovations and re-outfitting of old decks in the future! Ad Nauseam already had strong positioning against Burn and Affinity (not so much Infect…) before the weekend, and I think this gets much better after Eldrazi. You still need to watch out for TKS and Chalice (which really wrecks Bloom), but Games 2-3 Leyline deal with the former and smart deck construction deal with the latter. Ethereal Haze, Angel’s Grace, and Phyrexian Unlife should buy more than enough time to get you to the critical turn four!
Love the idea of a singleton Venser the Sojourner MB in the UW control list.
I love the singleton planeswalker concept, but think Venser is too board-state reliant to shine here. If you are behind he isn’t going to put you ahead. If you are ahead he’s win-more, so he really only shines if the board is stalled and you need to break through. Elspeth, Sun’s Champion is the exact opposite, completely reversing a screwed board state or winning at all points of the game. She’s expensive at CMC 6, but I think I’d rather her than Venser.
I very much agree with this article, even though I’m on the drazi train, I know for certain there are archetypes that can break it down enough to capture wins. The archetypes the should provide better match ups for those commanding eldrazi at the PT were few and far between. Essentially the decks that could have good to favourable match ups with the new eldrazi at the previous PT were more likely to meet up with other archetypes that had less favourable match ups. Another really important thing to note is that even though this was a PT and everyone earned their invitation, the pilot of the deck, decisions made during the match (when to keep, when to mulligan, proper sequencing), and even luck of the draw were HUGE components to the success of the new archetype.
I expect the metagame will do everything it can to react to the Eldrazi. If it can’t win, or if winning warps the format too much, a ban is always a possibility. But it’s good that we allow people to learn the Eldrazi foe, change card choices, and generally have time to respond before Wizards does anything too hasty. PT breakout decks are always tough to read and, although Eldrazi has a lot of scary early signs, we need to wait until the GP weekend to know for sure.
Magus of the Tabernacle! Seeing stuff like this in your article makes me very happy. I would absolutely love to see your thoughts on the R/W(/B?) lock down deck – a pet project of mine has been smallpox LD. Smallpox looks like a serious contender in this meta. So does Trinisphere if you can get it on line. All of the cost reductions of eye are negated by the sphere. Nothing dodges the sphere!
Crack the Earth (smallest pox)
Akki Blizzard-Herder (smaller creature-pox)
Boom // Bust (smaller pox)
Liliana otV (poxwalker)
These cards have driven my brews for a while now.
All of those cards are nasty in a big-mana metagame, and I am also trying all kinds of brews to maximize them. If I can get a good list together, or even a passable one, I’ll post it on the site as some anti-Eldrazi tech. I’m nervous about Crack the Earth because of all the cheap Eldrazi cards, and because Chalice at 1 stops it cold. But Smallpox and Boom/Bust are very impressive (Magus too!) and I’m pumped to try these cards out more. Trinisphere is cool tech too. Makes me want to pump out some 3Spheres and Moons like it’s back in the mid 2000s!
Not sure if you’ve weighed in elsewhere (I know other writers on this site have), but what do you think of Merfolk right now vs Eldrazi and vs the field as a whole?
Merfolk is very strong right now, but you need to avoid over-committing to Eldrazi in a field that still has a lot of Affinity. I really like David’s UW list and Merfolk in that style because they at least add Path to their interaction options, but maindeck Dismember can cut it in a blue list as well. Along with Abzan Company, Merfolk should be one of the more mainline solutions to Eldrazi in the coming weeks.
I think Merfolk has game against the colourless stompy list. However, the UR matchup does not appear very good in my testing. Merfolk cannot deal with all of the eight trample creatures very well and Drowner is an absolute beating in the inevitable race. Another problem is that people are advocating Phantasmal Image in Merfolk atm (and rightfully so). However, UR stompy eldrazi has many ways to deal with this – from Eldrazi Obligator (which ruins MoW tokens as well) to Drowner targeting and killing it..
I’ve actually done pretty well against the UR Stompy edition of it. It’s kind of a mirror match, with the Eldrazi trading in some tempo and disruption for big threats and inevitability. However, the lack of evasion (apart from trample) comes to bite them in the backside, and hitting them in the lands with Ghost Quarter and Spreading Seas has worked phenomenally. I have a winning record against it without altering my sideboard at all, and once I figure out what to cut for 2 Sea’s Claim there, I expect my matchup will be even better.
The colorless version is similar to what Jordan was advocating on this very site, so I feel pretty confident against that as well. Chalice does close to nothing against Fish (even when set on 2) thanks to Æther Vial and Cavern of Souls, and it’s missing the aggressive edge that pieces like Eldrazi Obligator and Vile Aggregate can provide.
My way to stay in modern after banning my pet Twin and Eldrazi rise?
Blue Moon all the way!
3x Blood Moon, 3x Spreading Seas
Add to this batterskulls and vedalken shackles
-Eldrazi world is not problem anymore 🙂
Get ’em, Blue Moon! Loved watching Jason Chung last weekend and hope to see more control players like him soon.
Unless they dump they dump their hand before blood moon comes down – in which case you are dead..
Unless they dump their hand before blood moon comes down – in which case you are dead..
While there is certainly a point to the dips you see when Modern is upended are temporary and it eventually does rebound, if the trend continues so that every, or every other, new block leaves Modern upset for a couple of months until bans occur, faith in the meta will just continue to dwindle. If there’s a Treasure Cruise, DRS or Eldrazi menace hiding in each (other) new block from now on(I know 2 sequential examples do not a pattern make), the overall faith will eventually just fade.
That definitely sounds like it would be a major problem for Modern. Compounding period of instability would get progressively worse for the format, and I think Wizards has tapped their reserve of player patience in that area. Between the Twin ban and now Eldrazi, the Modern playerbase seems much unhappier than usual, and I think Wizards is going to have to put in a lot of work to make sure this doesn’t recur in at least a year or more.
I’m on Bubble Hulk for the foreseeable future. I know graveyard based combo doesn’t sound great, but my sideboard is stocked with more cards then I can even take out. Pithing needle, steel sabotage and echoing truth just do a ton of work. The deck is surprisingly fast.
Honestly, many Eldrazi deck can’t run Relic in the main because of the nonbo with Chalice, so you have great positioning in Game 1. Games 2/3 can be rough, but if you have the right removal (not to mention the amazing Needle), you can get around that and win anyway. I think that kind of linear deck is great right now when people are so focused on other threats.
Sheridan. On your numbers about the slight dip in attendance during the treasure cruise era, did it take into account seasonality. That span of time covered winter and the holidays. Comparing that small window to the the average that includes spring and summer, when more players have time to travel, would show slightly skewed.
It did not take into account those factors, but we could certainly think about those numbers in the context of those influences. All considered, I think this would even support the theory that Cruise did little to hurt Magic attendance: those numbers still climbed significantly in the next year, and were far higher in the same seasonal period in 2015.
Thanks Sheridan. Our numbers had showed that Treasure Cruise was on the decline and Dig Through time was on the incline. The data set was far to small to show if this would have been a continuing trend. The scary thing for us is any new well performing deck/card immediately comes up for the banning discussion. Not because it’s to good for the format. But because it upsets the status quo. I believe this leads wizards towards more bannings. Banning of the offending cards and banning of tier 1 decks to force the format from being stale.
I will go on record again to say that I think you are wrong about needing to wait. The deck does an unhealthy thing to the metagame and makes for unfun Magic. I will not be attending tournaments until the situation is fixed. Anecdotally, I have already heard and seen that the deck is as busted as it seemed at the PT. (Twitch, FB, Chapin’s article, Tom ross’s thing about it going toe-to-toe with a Vintage deck, and just my own general understanding of Magic theory).
My guess is that WotC may bow to pressure from whoever the TO for the next Modern GP is to “fix” this mess- if anything, they will only wait for one bad tournament before they change things.
As for what should be banned- yes it would be nice to have more data, but I think the safest thing is just to neuter the most busted fast mana option, and that is Eye- which can net quantities of mana similar to Summer Bloom but in a repeatable fashion across turns. Eldrazi temple is still dangerous, but the lack of redundancy and explosiveness should really hurt the deck’s win%.
Look at it this way- one of the strongest arguments for neutering Bloom was that it’s win percentage in almost any matchup had a hard floor- the turn 2 nutdraw got in under most hate. Same thing goes for the Eldrazi deck. It will have that floor even if someone manages to come up with something that has a legitimately good matchup.
Incidentally, the vast majority of pros I have read seem to agree that Eldrazi should not receive a banning now and that Wizards should wait until April. I’m all for neutering the deck too, but we really need to respect the timeline and process of bans. An emergency ban sets such a bad precedent for Modern that will always be with us. Two months of a bad metagame won’t hurt at all in the long-run. But banning the wrong card for lack of data and then banning yet another card later, not to mention the emergency ban precedent itself, are just too dangerous.
As for Bloom, I don’t think we can compare the two. Bloom got banned for turn four rule violations. Eldrazi would surely be banned, if they got banned, for format diversity offenses.
From where I’m standing, an emergency ban is a lot less dangerous than just letting this fester. I think the eldrazi explosive mana turns are directly comparable to Bloom’s. Of Bloom wouldn’t outright win, but create an insurmountable advantage.
Nonetheless, I look forward to the next GP. If I’m wrong, the first tournament should make it fairly clear.
judging by forsythe’s comment… he just seems very apathetic to the problem right now… or that he doesn’t even recognize a problem rather….
it’s just very discouraging to say the least.. and i’m not confident that a ban will come in april even with all the mounting evidence….
I’ve read a lot of his comments and my guess is that he’s a bit frustrated with all the incessant negative outcry against Modern decisions. He probably doesn’t want to go on record promising something or setting some expectation, only to have things change down the road. He already suggested that Wizards was looking to see the metagame develop answers, and I’m sure if it doesn’t then they will act accordingly. This would follow a very similar window of time to Treasure Cruise’s banning, so the precedent is there.
So what you’re suggesting is that the format devolves into Eldrazi and decks that beat Eldrazi?
Seems like that’s already happened with another deck about 11 or so hears ago. Wonder how that turned out
Affinity was a disaster for many formats while legal, but Wizards handled it using a similar timeframe to the one they are using now. And we all know how that turned out: Magic kept growing into the game it is today. If multiple months of nonstop Affinity couldn’t kill formats and the game, two months of Eldrazi will certainly be fine in Modern.
Darn you revealing my secret side board tech against eldrazi of big game hunter. Oh well, he is sweet against them I have been messing around with all of the three drops from my Kresh EDH deck for a while which has a theme of creatures that kill other creatures. Big game hunter is by far the most useful one that is modern legal though I wish bone shredder was legal in modern.
I have been playing bring to light scapeshift and have been living pretty free of eldrazi in my local meta. I have no idea what the matchup will be like for me when it does come up though. I imagine quite poor. Ive been pouring through gatherer and checking with friends to try and find some hate i can play but nothing seems crazy back breaking to me. Guys, is there a way to hose this deck?
Maybe…just maybe WotC know that there are some cards they are planning to release in Shadows Over Innistrad to help even thing out perhaps? Just musing.
Or maybe they just want it to stick around for long enough to move OGW product.
Even if they would print an answer, unless it’s some great generic answer, sideboards are already filled to the brim with narrow hatecards, it’d be terrible if the Eldrazi decks would have to be dealt with in the same manner.
Nobody’s mentioned Torpor Orb yet? Deals with Mimics, TKS, Drowner of Hope, Eldrazi Skyspawer, Eldrazi Obligator, at least until more people start moving to the R/G version with World Breaker. Also is decent game against Kiki Chord and Abzan Company.
I think decks with tempo elements (particularly ones that can interact with lands) and combo decks that can gum up the ground game long enough to go off are best positioned against Eldrazi. A ton of people have talked about Merfolk, and my testing backs that up. The default 75 doesn’t even have to change much – I run 2 Ghost Quarter and 4 Spreading Seas in the main, and that’s been enough in most games once I got the sideboarding for the matchup figured out. I think that I’m favored right now, and once I toss in some Sea’s Claims, the matchup will be very manageable.
I also think that Death & Taxes can be well-positioned – they can assemble a wall of first-striking blockers that can deter even a Reality Smasher (Thalia + Blade Splicer = YOU SHALL NOT PASS!), Leonin Arbiter turning Ghost Quarter into Strip Mine is absolutely devastating to that mana base, and once the ground game is tied up, you can finish them off with Flickerwisp and Restoration Angel. Plus you also have Path.
Delver can toss either Molten Rain or Blood Moon in there (I prefer Rain because of the increased synergy, but I can understand people going for Moon) and threaten them with big fliers and tons of Bolts (a dirty little secret is how many targets the deck has for Bolt and Forked Bolt/Electrolyze – Mimic, Skyspawner, Obligator, Scions…). A T1 Delver –> T2 Mana Leak –> T3 Molten Rain hand on the play looks mighty difficult for the Eldrazi to overcome, and you have the likes of Spell Snare and Smash to Smithereens to deal with Chalice of the Void in the mono-C version.
Abzan Company is the obvious choice to deal with them from the combo POV, but I also think that Kiki Chord or Jeskai Kiki Control can do the job. Both have access to Bolt and Helix for the little stuff and Path for the big stuff, and both Deceiver Exarch and Restoration Angel can stuff the likes of Eldrazi Obligator. And they can always incorporate some land hate if need be.
I think overall this is a good place to start.
I’ve been battling the Eldrazi deck with good old eternal Ruse/eternal command and the combination of counters/aether vial and flash creatures works really well for me.
I’ve even put in a playset of my OWN Eldrazi, matter Reshapers. They are so much value in a deck that plays Clique/eternal witness/Snapcaster Mage or even puttihg in a huge goyf. You can cast off the aether vial or your colorless lands (ghost Quarter/flooded grove)
I agree that banning any cards right now is kind of ridiculous considering Wizards pretty much set the eldrazi up to have a good weekend at the modern pro-tour to help sell packs. Being a somewhat logical thinker they will not ban anything from the deck right away because that would hurt sales for oath to some extent.
However I think that it would be foolish to think that one of the lands doesn’t go away within the next year. Having only one deck in modern that gets access to 8 sol lands doesn’t really make sense from a competitive standpoint. If wizards were to release wasteland into the modern scene I think that could help to drive some tempo decks or give us a better option than ghost quarter tec edge. I know Modern isn’t legacy but wasteland is just a straight up 1 for 1 so nothing unfair about it. However seeing how slow they are to even lift cards off the current banlist I am less than optimistic that they will actually add good utility cards into modern unless an eternal masters set is going to be a thing or they use mm2017 more effectively.
In my opinion Eldrazi will have to be doing some major tournament wreckage in the next 3 months for wizards to axe the deck right away. Like multiple copies top 8 every tournament. From a business standpoint it would be terrible to introduce a new deck (eldrazi) into modern that is mostly fueled by their latest standard legal set and then kill the deck immediately. While I don’t see the deck being fair in terms of how much mana this deck can generate over the first few turns, I don’t see wizards wanting to ban the deck as soon as has been mentioned by people’s rants online.
If people are truly this upset about the eldrazi deck and the recent bannings of twin and bloom then just stop playing modern. Personally I haven’t agreed with wizards on most of their recent modern decisions but tournament attendance will send a much bigger message than complaining in the comment section of an article. If you are a grinder or love modern that much than how does 1 new deck into the meta piss you off that much? Instead of the vocal community at large being very hypocritical (modern is stale…new deck in modern oMG ban it!) why don’t you people voice a reason to help the format become better instead of wanting to kill every archetype that pops up?
Personally I will always be cheering harder for them to add more cards to modern’s card pool that will actually help make the meta more balanced and interactive (stifle, wasteland, a better catch all counterspell) which should enable other cards to become unbanned or at least give decks a better fighting chance. Also write to wizards and tell them to axe the modern pro-tour if you like this format so much and want it to stay healthy.
Sadly… Mark Rosewater doesn’t like land destruction. And he hates Wasteland with a passion.
Really really nice article.
Sheridan what do you think about ad nauseam? I’ve seen some good results this week, especially the 1st place in scg regionals columbus 6th February.
Here’s my thoughts on Eldrazi in Modern…
Eldrazi Temple is the problem card, not Eye. Eye may allow dumb turn 1 plays, but it does nothing when you have multiple eyes and no temples to play a turn 2 TNS. 2 Eldrazi Temples is always 4 mana. If Temple were banned, TNS would be turn 3, not 2. Then it’d be a Clique on steroids. Completely easy to deal with with an Eye…
Everyone forgetting most of these eldrazi depends on come into play abilities? Everyone forgetting about cards like Hushwing Gryff and Torpor Orb?
Also, many decks are already adjusting to the weaknesses of Eldrazi. I believe Eldrazi control in the long term is more viable, as it can go the long game. Where as a single pyroclasm easily deals with multiple x/2s and x/1s… Then there’s cards like Forked Bolt, Imposing Sovereign, Night’s Betrayal, Bile Blight, Echoing Truth, etc…. Reality Smasher? Let’s say this… pay 4 life, dismember Smasher, discard Big Game Hunter and Madness to kill another power 4 or greater. Or let’s get even dirtier, Loxodon Smiters, Obstinate Baloths, and the many other if you discard to an opponent’s ability X happens. Then there’s Madness coming back in Shadows, which makes the Eldrazi weaker yet….
There’s the new bolt… So let’s cast this spell, discard two bolts, lava axe a creature and madness bolt 2 more creatures or bolt to the face.
Or let’s get dirtier yet…. Hushwing Gryff is flash… flash it in, mimics get nothing, thought knot seer does nothing, and kill TNS and draw a card from killing it.
Let’s get into other weaknesses of Eldrazi, and I know from experience as having played the deck for about a month now…
It has an even matchup against Tron. It can lose to infect. Affinity can get the worse nut draw and win by pure life gain. It dies to control. Jund can do a number on it by chaining Fulminator Mages and K Kommand. Surgical Extraction can be played in any sideboard and I highly recommend it due to Goryo’s Veangeance running around. Ghost Quarter is excellent. Ensnaring Bridge is difficult to deal with. Supreme Verdict, Damnation, Wrath of God, and other 4 mana wraths are good. Black Sun’s Zenith for 1 can close out games.
Bonfire of the Damned is a damned good card, as is Terminus.
Seems everyone is also forgetting about Painter’s Servant. It’s a good way to turn off all the Eldrazi decks and even Tron. If you’re playing Merfolk, you just name red and go about your merry way. If you’re playing with the fish you’re also probably playing with Kira.. Then there’s always Sower of Temptation too… Maybe even playing control you might be running Restoration Angel too. Vedalken Shackles anyone?
The point I’m making is that it’s too early from a single tournament that wasn’t prepared for Eldrazi. There’s ways to deal with it, and I have just named a few ways to do so.. Can you think of others without complaining and calling for a ban? I remember last year when people were trying to break Glittering Wish and Jeskai Ascendancy combo which by the way…. Also did crazy stupid things early on until people figured out how to beat it and nobody is calling for Glittering Wish to be banned anymore.
Pair Blood Moon with pressure. A T2-3 Moon coupled with a clock like Goyf can close a game fast before the Eldrazi player can rally. The same is for anything that can run Moon. Blue Moon can actually make an Eldrazi deck stumble enough to allow you to take the game. Lantern Control can take Eldrazi out before they can do anything too dumb….
Bring back those Leyline of Sanctitys. Eldrazi gains a lot of its metagame power from targeted discard spells, and Leyline stops those cold. It also forces them to sink mana into blowing up Relic to get processor fuel from the artifact, shuts down Oblivion Sower, and stops the new Thought-Knot Seer.
Oh… There’s also Glare of Subdual…. Funny card in GW… I’ll play it in Elves. Glare is hilarious at tapping down my opponent’s field long enough for me to win.
Also cards like Kitchen Finks also deals with the Eldrazi issue. Hornet Nest is simply…. funny
I go the opposite way, unban every card, let’s bring back Stone Forged Mystic, many Eldrazi players will all say it’s nigh impossible to beat a resolved Batterskull. I lost because of a Thragtusk tonight. Wurmcoil Engine scares me. Let’s unban Jace, bring it on…. Let’s also unban artifact lands, let Affinity run wild. There’s always Stony Silence, Vandalblast, Creeping Corrosion, and Hurkyl’s Recall. There’s even Strip Bare, which is hilarious on an ensouled artifact with a pair of cranial platings on it. Let’s print Counterspell in Modern. And let’s add Pyroblast and Hydroblast in too… Why is Ancestral Vision still banned?
I know they hate a lot of things at wizards but wasteland is a great card with drawbacks. Also if you include it in an eternal set and make it modern legal then they don’t have to worry about it being in standard. I really don’t buy the bs statement that they don’t print certain hate cards anymore because new players don’t like it. If they don’t like it they will learn how to play around it or they can just play more casual.
I agree that more cards should be unbanned. Not to the extent where everything is necessarily but if you make more catch all answer cards then we wouldn’t see the format where it is right now. Which is basically running minimal interaction and just a race. The real problem is control has to fight on way to many axes’ without the proper tools to do so. It can’t hard lock other decks out like miracles. it has to really stretch to find good finishers since there are no good planeswalkers that can come down and win the game for you in a timely manner and it has to be able to lock out mana bases very early with spreading seas and blood moon being the best options. So maybe blue moon is a deck now but most people are just going to build a deck that has the ability to win by turn 4 or sooner than trying to fight all these different decks with sup-par tools. Basically if you can’t beat em, join em.
I am personally gravitating away from modern. I still have a couple decks but I am just looking more towards legacy now and probably commander. I think modern is a successful format and it has potential to be great but right now I personally don’t care much for the way it looks. Pro-tour has caused prices to go extremely volatile and stats show that even though they reprint big name cards in mm sets that decks get even more expensive. You drop goyf and confidants price by 10-20 but then every other card in those decks that didn’t get a reprint doubles in price so it is kind of a 1 step forward 2 steps back deal. Also goyf was $99 before modern became a thing. Now with 2 additional; reprints the card still holds over $120. A success problem for wizards and for lgs but bad if you are a newer player or on even a modest budget.
I believe wizards should ban chalice of the void, not the eldrazi lands (temple, eye). Like this, the eldrazi decks will still be playable but they will be in disadvantage against other aggro decks and we will create a new “clear” meta!
What about an Esper mentor deck?
You mention the Shape anew deck didn’t make the cut – if you were to play this deck in a non eldrazi meta, would you think it was better?
And are you still on the turn 3 blade splicer into turn 4 shape anew, or did you try the Master’s Call as an instant on turn three end step?
Unfortunately I’m one of the players who will suffer from the Eldrazi outbreak that will surely occur during the March GP. With 2 byes from a GPT win, I’m not facing a beat them (with tech) or join them.
Most of the decks I own and can play are outclassed by Eldrazi (Zoo, Merfolk, Burn) and I borrowed cards to make Blue Moon but am wondering if it’s good enough come GP Bologna where the Eldrazi metagame will also evolve to adapt to hate.
The join then solution requires dropping a couple of hundred bucks on top of GP costs in order to be competitive on a ‘fair’ level. And even then that ‘investment’ could go town the drain if Wizards bans the Eldrazi key pieces…what to do?
Them’s the breaks I guess!
Your 3rd reason “modern can recover” feels too positively spun. I saw it as a good argument for banning sooner rather than later. It basically says the eldrazi takeover means a small chance modern won’t recover. Maybe it won’t – tournament and competitive modern play is going to be on hold for me while eldrazi is steamrolling the deck builds i have cards for. A few months hiatus might create just enough impatience for a lot of people to stumble into a game other than magic.
The third argument is less a reason to wait and more a reason that the risks of waiting are low. The first two arguments are the reasons to wait. The third argument is the reason it’s okay to wait; the risks are very low. If it was just any one of those three arguments, a banning would maybe be warranted. But all three combined suggest waiting is absolutely the proper course of action.
A small point of data:
I played a tiny local modern event yesterday, and my first match was against colorless eldrazi, complete with Chalices and SSGs. I was playing a homebrewed, Naya-colored value creature deck featuring Flickerwisp with synergistic permanents (Oath of Nissa, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, Kitchen Finks, etc) and some choice removal (Path, Magma Spray). I swept him (2-0) without him suffering any serious anomalies (like mana screw/flood).
Just one match, but still: the deck is beatable, even without attacking their lands. In fact, I’d say the lands are a distraction that you need to avoid focusing on and just deal with what they’re actually *doing* with all that mana.