Smells Like Burnt Tentacles: Eldrazi Stompy Deckbuilding Primer

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For all the moaning about the Pro Tour and its lack of diversity, did anyone not have fun watching it? I had a blast. The whole thing felt very surreal. We knew Chalice of the Void and colorless Eldrazi made a perfect match in Modern, but had no idea they would crush the format. I couldn't do anything this week without faintly hearing the announcers' incredulous exclamations bounce around my head: "Reality Smasher off the top!" "CRUNCH in for nine!" "This deck is absurd!" "Fifteen damage!" "CRUNCH!"

chalice art crop

Eldrazi decks are staking out their Modern territory as we speak, surpassing a horrifying 40% metagame share online since Saturday. "Crunch," indeed! I worked on the deck a little leading up to the Pro Tour, but didn't engineer the consistent monster the pros did. Those players opened my eyes to Simian Spirit Guide and Endless One, and man, are they worth the slots. This article explores the directions deckbuilders can take when piecing together Modern's brand new Chalice of the Void deck: Eldrazi Stompy.


What Is Eldrazi Stompy?

Eldrazi Stompy is an aggressive Eldrazi deck that combines fast mana from Sol lands and Simian Spirit Guide with early lock pieces like Chalice of the Void. With a lock piece in place, the deck starts slamming threats, hoping to finish opponents off before they draw their answers. In lieu of a Chalice, the deck can simply play enormous creatures and race even linear opponents with minimal disruption.

What Isn't Eldrazi Stompy?

It seems like new Eldrazi decks rear their heads in Modern daily. GW builds with Path to Exile, BG lists with Chalice of the VoidTarmogoyf, and Tron-succeeding GR World Breaker strategies have all seen success on Magic Online. These Gx variants, and many Bx ones, do not play Chalice of the Void, or any lock piece, in the mainboard. They instead rely on staple one-drops like Ancient Stirrings and Lightning Bolt to win their games.

These decks aren't necessarily worse than Eldrazi Stompy. In many metagames, they may perform better. But this article deals specifically with Eldrazi Stompy decks as I see them in Modern, so we'll leave those to another article. Subsequently, we won't focus exclusively on lists from the Pro Tour. Some differences between my builds and the Pro Tour Oath ones include the perceived value of Eldrazi Mimic and the argument for playing four copies of Serum Powder.

Serum Powder and Consistency

Laying a turn one Chalice (or in other formats, a turn one Blood Moon) is about as peachy as it sounds, but the play comes with a slew of consistency issues. Historically, stompy decks have struggled in this regard. They can blank early on lock pieces, threats, or mana, and need all three to execute a dream game plan. That's where Serum Powder comes in.

In my experience, the games we lose with this deck are the ones in which we don’t draw Sol lands.Serum Powder Powder remedies this issue. Between four Temples, four Eyes, and four Powders, it's tough not to see one of these twelve cards in an opener. Almost always, if I draw Serum Powder and no Sol lands, I'll exile the hand and take a new seven. If I draw a nice hand with Serum Powder (i.e. threats, Sol lands, disruption), I'll just keep it. This seven-card hand sans Powder would probably get there, since Sol lands bring Eldrazi Stompy so far ahead. Having Powder in an already keepable opener to pitch at enemy Reality Smashers, discard to Liliana, or protect against mainboard Blood Moon is just icing on the cake.

Owen Turtenwald's article, "Modern Shouldn't Be a Pro Tour Format," outlines the pro's gripes with the format - among them, its heavy reliance on mulligan decisions. He writes:

"The nature of the Modern format is such that in most or all of the matchups you play, the influence of a single card in your hand is enormous. I know that if I play Infect against an Affinity or a Collected Company deck that I will have a much easier time winning if I draw Blighted Agent versus¬†when I do not. It‚Äôs just so good against those decks, and they play little-to-no removal. Or look at¬†Eye of Ugin¬†in the Eldrazi deck‚ÄĒevery matchup is better for them when they have that card in their opening hand, and the rest of the draws simply aren‚Äôt anywhere near as good."

Owen posits the card disadvantage of mulliganning matters less for decks as fast as Eldrazi, especially when they get so far ahead by opening a specific card. Similarly, the card disadvantage of keeping a "virtual mulligan" with Serum Powder in it is offset immediately by the card advantage of the Sol lands present in that hand. Besides, Eldrazi Stompy is no stranger to trading card advantage for mana - check out Simian Spirit Guide! Like Guide, Powder makes a pretty miserable topdeck. But so does Eldrazi Mimic, and I know which of the two cards I'd rather draw as I count my way up to seven mana for Eye activations.

Eldrazi Stompy Core

Assuming 24 lands, the following proposed core only makes room for eight other cards. For reference, the Pro Tour’s Colorless Eldrazi decks skipped over Serum Powder and played 4 Eldrazi Mimic, 4 Matter Reshaper, 2 Ratchet Bomb, and 2 Spellskite in the flex slots. Without Powder, pilots get 12 slots to tinker with; with Powder, they just get eight. The flex cards chosen - and their colors - impact the lands this deck plays.


Thought-Knot Seer, Reality Smasher: There aren't many novel things left to say about these Pro Tour superstars.

Endless oneEndless One: My first take on Eldrazi Stompy included Oblivion Sower as a wall for sated Goyfs and other huge creatures. Endless One simply fulfills this role better, despite its softness to Decay and Flickerwisp effects. It comes down for six mana as a 6/6, or at any earlier time for however much we can spare (notably, at 4 off Urborg and Eye of Ugin, two lands that can't cast any other creatures together since they don't produce colorless). This flexibility gives it a sizable edge over Sower in matchups for which we want early pressure (Tron, Ad Nauseam, Burn) and allows us to outgrow 5/8 in a longer game.

No Matter Reshaper: This creature shines against Bolt-Snap-Bolt strategies, but pales in comparison to bigger Eldrazi in the mirror. Despite his Pro Tour ubiquity, Matter Reshaper might not do enough moving forward. MTGTop8 reveals that players are already winning with Endbringer by trimming Matter Reshaper, and I'll bet my previously worthless Launch Day promo playset this trend continues into Eldrazi Winter.

Eldrazi MimicNo Eldrazi Mimic: Let's start with the positive: Mimic allows Eldrazi Stompy some truly explosive starts. Coming down at zero mana with an Eye of Ugin and attacking for 4+ as early as the second turn, few cards allow us to initiate aggression as effectively as Mimic. That said, it's a horrible topdeck, and dead to Lightning Bolt and even Gut Shot in the mirror. I anticipate URx decks in the same vein as Jason Chung's Blue Moon from Pro Tour Oath cropping up, but better tuned to fight the Eldrazi menace. Mimic is a liability against these decks, which boast Electrolyze and Anger of the Gods in addition to their set of Bolts (not to mention Izzet Staticaster from the side!). With Eldrazi in mind, the modified URx midrange strategies I've tested against have little trouble dismantling Mimic-powered Eldrazi builds, leaning on Remand, Snapcaster Mage, Mana Leak, and Blood Moon to shut colorless pilots out of the game. Mimic is a strong include for linear metagames, but in my eyes, not versatile enough to warrant auto-inclusion.


Chalice of the Void: Last weekend showed us how susceptible Modern is to a Chalice at one. In a shell that naturally avoids one-drops and can therefore run the artifact cost-free, Chalice seems poised to completely turn Modern on its head. This card is the reason to play a stompy shell at all. I would start with four, but I can see boarding some for mirror match interaction should the deck pick up a lot of steam in a given meta.

Dismember: Team East West Bowl's UR Eldrazi lists ran only three Dismembers. Stompy builds prefer to run the set. Dismember is a first-turn play that gets around Chalice, and it’s free while we’re tapped out with Simian Spirit Guide. We can cast it off a turn three Serum Powder, or tap three mana with Urborg to not take any damage. It kills almost everything in Modern, and shrinks larger creatures at instant speed so Reality Smasher can finish them off in combat.


Eldrazi Temple, Eye of Ugin: Everybody and their parents know how powerful these lands are by Eldrazi Templenow. All weekend, I heard people debating whether Temple or Eye was the "problem land." In fact, they're just busted together. No reason not to play full sets of these, despite Eye's legendary supertype - Eldrazi Stompy wants to maximize the odds of opening one or both every game.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth: One of the primary incentives for moving into black, Urborg makes Dismembers painless and turns Eye of Ugin into Lotus Vale. Even colorless builds should include this land in some number (I suggest three).

Ghost Quarter: Taps for <> and disrupts almost every deck in the format. Allows us to race Tron and keep the mirror off his Eye. Modern has no shortage of utility lands, and the Eldrazi archetype lends itself to a variety of color combinations. But stompy decks should pack four Quarters before filling the manabase out with anything else.

Simian Spirit GuideSimian Spirit Guide: A card I missed in my first draft of Eldrazi Stompy. Never again! Enables first turn Chalice of the Void, second turn Reality Smasher, and other highly fair plays.

[mtg_card]Serum Powder[/mtg_card]: We talked about maxing out on Sol lands to increase the probability of hitting them in our openers. Should we miss anyway, Powder gives us extra chances to draw seven cards with explosive potential. More on the card here.

Staying Colorless

Simplicity often predicates success for stompy decks, and nothing screams simplicity like an entirely colorless deck. The wave-making Pro Tour decklists ran with this principle to great effect, hogging the camera for the entire event. Staying colorless has a few benefits over splashing, primarily in the creature department.

More Eldrazi

Oath of the Gatewatch doesn't stop at Reshaper, Seer, and Smasher when it comes to incredible Eldrazi.

Eldrazi Mimic: I went over Mimic's downsides above, but the card still fronts more early aggression than any other option in Eldrazi decks. In highly linear metagames, Mimic races like nothing else.

EndbringerEndbringer: While Mimic loves linear metas, Endbringer dominates interactive ones. We haven't seen much of Endbringer yet, but I think this card is the future of Colorless Eldrazi. It literally does everything. Think of it as an Eldrazi planeswalker. Endbringer crashes in for five with pseudo-vigilance, draws up to two cards per turn, and shoots enemy Mimics, Glistener Elves, Blinkmoth Nexi, Signal Pests... you name it. It even gives the deck reach since it can tap to ping the face, providing an out to Ensnaring Bridge and Ghostly Prison locks.

Eldrazi Temple conveniently activates Endbringer's draw ability for cheap. A bomb in the mirror and against the Crumble to Dust-backed midrange decks taking form to combat more aggressive Eldrazi variants.


The creatures above can be argued for or against depending on the metagame. But Modern’s storied history makes it hard to disparage the inclusion of flying manlands in a colorless deck.

Blinkmoth Nexus: Our preferred colorless manland. Aggressive decks love reach, and in Modern, flying is pretty close. Blinkmoth frequently gets in under Ensnaring Bridge, flies over the mirror, and trades with Vendilion Clique and Insectile Aberration // Insectile Aberration on defense.

Mutavault: The next best manland, Mutavault brings twice the pressure of a Blinkmoth on an empty board, and trades with attackers like Goblin Guide in a pinch. It's even a Blinkmoth itself, allowing other manlands to give it a pump on offense or defense.

Limited Sideboard Options

Playing colorless doesn't reward us in the sideboard, lacking the land destruction, life gain, recursion, and board wipes of black. Still, the Modern card pool contains plenty of colorless tools:

Gut Shot: This card does a lot even against opponents who aren't at one life. Shoots dorks, Confidants, Cliques, Delvers, and Intrepid Heroes.

Marrow Shards: A Phyrexian-mana sleeper that addresses some of Eldrazi's troublesome matchups: fast, linear aggro decks that go wide. Mono-red Goblins, Elves, and Young Pyromancer decks can all pose problems for Colorless Eldrazi, which can't Pyroclasm. Shards toasts a flock of Lingering Souls tokens, an aerial assault from Affinity, or just a lone, smug Vendilion Clique. It's also phenomenal against UR Eldrazi, killing Skyspawners, Scions, and untriggered Mimics.

relic of progenitusRelic of Progenitus: Graveyard strategies, notably Grishoalbrand, can be tough for Eldrazi to interact with. Relic shuts them right down and cycles when we're through with it. A massive stick in the spokes of graveyard value decks like Temur Delver and Blue Moon.

Pithing Needle: Pre-emptively counters planeswalkers and breaks combos. Also turns off Ghost Quarter. While not an ideal answer, Needle also stops enemy Eyes.

Ratchet Bomb: Along with Spellskite, Bomb is one of the two interactive tech choices featured in the mainboard of PT OGW's Colorless Eldrazi decks. It destroys difficult to remove permanents like Blood Moon and Ensnaring Bridge and keeps aggro from overcommitting.

Spellskite: Modern's iconic sideboard hero. A godsend for players facing Bogles and Infect, Spellskite also has utility against Affinity and Burn.

Sun Droplet: When it comes down early, Droplet eventually negates each attack aggro opponents get in before we neutralize the board. In multiples, the card actually nets us life. Relatively worthless later on.

Warping WailWarping Wail: An innocuous sorcery with a lot of utility. Exiles a bevy of staple creatures, and counters Crumble to Dust/Scapeshift.

Damping Matrix: The poor man's Stony Silence. Unfortunately doesn't touch Affinity's mana, but still shuts off Cranial Plating, Arcbound Ravager, and Steel Overseer. Also deals with Aether Vial, Oblivion Stone, and Viscera Seer effects.

Crucible of Worlds: Recycles Ghost Quarter against Tron, or Eldrazi lands against Ghost Quarter decks.

Ensnaring Bridge: Nope, you read that right. Eldrazi shells incorporating Endbringer can easily fit this devastating lock piece themselves.

Oblivion Sower: A top-end fallback for grindy matchups that over-performs in the mirror.

Splashing Black

Splashing black means cutting manlands for Swamps, and playing all the Urborgs. In return, we get a competent sideboard suite, advantages vs. other Eldrazi decks, and Modern's best planeswalker.

More Interaction

Black is traditionally synonymous with creature removal, but the color's options ironically pale in Modern to those in white or even red. We can't Liliana of the Veilreally run Thoughtseize alongside Chalice of the Void, either. That means the interaction we gain from splashing black mostly comes from the sideboard, but Liliana of the Veil may be powerful enough on her own to earn the splash. Liliana interacts very efficiently with goodstuff aggro-control decks, including Jund, Temur Delver, and even Colorless Eldrazi - especially Endbringer builds. She chews through the hands of control opponents and often removes two threats otherwise.

Thanks to Simian Spirit Guide, we can land Liliana on turn two with an Urborg. Also of note: Liliana's favorable interactions with spare legendary lands and Sea Gate Wreckage.

Dynamic Sideboard Options

Eldrazi pilots can access some fantastic sideboard cards by splashing black. Among them:

Fulminator Mage: The longstanding champion of Modern land destruction. Mage blows holes in the mirror, slows down combo, and holds his own against various midrange strategies. Perhaps worthy of the mainboard, depending how the meta takes form.

Flaying Tendrils: Wipes the board of smaller creatures and an Abzan Company opponent's face of a confident grin.

Night of Soul's Betrayal: Permanently handles mana dorks, Viscera Seer, Signal Pests, 1/1 Spirits, 3/1 fliers, Snapcaster Mage, etc. Dominates UR Eldrazi.

Slaughter Pact: Surprise, nearly-unconditional removal that dodges Chalice.

Whip of Erebos: A trump in grindy matchups or against damage-based aggro decks.

Adaptability and the Future

The wealth of choices afforded to Eldrazi decks makes me feel like they can take on anything. If players turn to fast, wide strategies to combat the boogeyman, we can always count on Marrow Shards. If Delver surfaces to police us, Liliana of the Veil has them in for a rude awakening. And should Blue Moon start popping up in droves, Cavern of Souls and Oblivion Sower wait in the wings. Beefy curve toppers like Endbringer overpower the mirror, and faster critters like Eldrazi Mimic can get under inevitability decks like Tron.

Regardless of whether Eye of Ugin is broken beyond policing, Eldrazi decks have enough options at their tentacle-tips to passably adapt to anything, and definitely won't go away in the next couple of months. "CRUNCH!"

Jordan Boisvert

Jordan is Assistant Director of Content at Quiet Speculation and a longtime contributor to Modern Nexus. Best known for his innovations in Temur Delver and Colorless Eldrazi, Jordan favors highly reversible aggro-control decks and is always striving to embrace his biases when playing or brewing.

View More By Jordan Boisvert

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20 thoughts on “Smells Like Burnt Tentacles: Eldrazi Stompy Deckbuilding Primer

  1. Strong article, and thanks for highlighting the trend of decks packing Endbringer as yet another piece those of us facing the Eldrazi should prepare to face. I understand that playing any two of Mimic, Matter Reshaper, and Endbringer is a metagame call, but I’m surprised that you’ve opted for Reshaper and Endbringer, as that points to a grinder, more interaction-heavy meta than what we’ve seen so far. Are you expecting Delver to arise and pick those Mimics off with Bolts/Electrolyze? Based on your writing, I would have thought that you considered Matter Reshaper the most poorly positioned of the 3. I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts on this point.

    1. I bet it is a concession to the mirror. Matter reshaper is never a dead draw, and even if he is outclassed on board, he still represents a card. Typically, the slightly bigger agro deck wins over the slightly smaller

      in addition, being able to play chalice on 2 without compromising any threats is just a huge game

      1. ^All of this! Reshaper can actually kill opponents on his own, too; 3 is a way bigger number than 2 when it comes to clocking. Chalice for two is really nice against most interactive decks, and it usually shuts off artifact removal at that number.

        I think Mimic is usually win-more. The dream is turn one Mimic, turn two Thought-Knot, turn three Smasher, right? That draw probably wins without Mimic, and I don’t think he’s worth running to improve good draws because he’s such a bad topdeck later.

        1. Disagree. Turn 2 Thought-Knot usually wins by itself, sure.
          But T1 Mimic into T2 smasher is one sequence with SSG that isn’t a likely win without mimic.
          Yes mimic is weak to removal, but dealing with it T1 will often mean the opp needs to take extra damage from a shock land or something, which is non-negligable when you are playing an aggro deck. If the only removal they have is say Path and I curve into smasher, I’m happy to deal 2 and either get ramped or have them discard to deal with my T1 play. And I’m still hitting for 5.
          Let’s see how it fairs vs some archetypes:
          (a) against aggro, they are usually too busy trying to drop their threats to deal with mimic. And if they use their first turn to deal with it, then I retain tempo and I will win the race, which is all I really care about vs aggro
          (b) against combo, you really just want the most explosive starts possible, since you aren’t winning the long game
          (c) against control, what T1 removal are you really worried about? Probably just bolt, which actually isn’t seeing much play in the matchups you care about right now.

          Plus, mimic is *not* a bad topdeck, since you can often play it for free along with whatever else you were doing that turn, which is a nice tempo swing. Unless you are already far behind on cards and/or board, which for an aggro deck usually means you’ve already lost, eldrazi doesn’t have many cards that let you pull back in. Better to just get ahead and try to stay there.

          1. “Unless you are already far behind on cards and/or board, which for an aggro deck usually means you‚Äôve already lost, eldrazi doesn‚Äôt have many cards that let you pull back in. Better to just get ahead and try to stay there.”

            Of course, but that doesn’t always happen. I prefer to build the deck so we can claw our way back into games we fall behind in relatively painlessly. With Eldrazi like Reality Smasher and Endbringer, or stabilizers like Liliana of the Veil, that’s more than possible.

  2. Have you tested graffdigger’s cage in the sideboard for the annoying abzan coco matchup? The only card it has a nonbo with in the deck is matter reshaper, and you can simply chose to put the card into your hand to not lose the card advantage.

  3. Nice to see the term Stompy used correctly for once.

    I would be surprised if cutting Mimic ultimately proves to be correct for this archetype.

    If we’re playing Serum Powder, why not cut the Spirit Guides for Gemstone Caverns? Curving out 3-4-5 from turn 1 seems appealing. We can even pitch the Powder to Caverns in a non-zero number of games.

    1. I started with 3 Gemstone Caverns and eventually cut them down to 1. Guide is much more reliable and great on turns outside of the first (i.e. for turn 2 Smashers or Lilis).

      Mimic is a great card in certain metagames, especially when you need to race and aren’t expecting many Bolts. I’m anticipating a metagame shift towards interactive strategies that have no problem killing a turn one Mimic, and Reshaper will be better there. If the metagame remains highly linear, Mimic is a stronger choice.

      1. I know that, but they are beatable in testing. The main reason the eldrazi went so well in Pro Tour Oath was chalice….. the winner (UR eldrazi without chalice) was favorite also because in top8 met all the time good match ups (colorless eldrazi decks with main chalice, a card the UR didn’t care). But all these colorless eldrazi did their job previously and eliminated all the aggro decks – small combo decks (as infect), the reason was chalice.

        1. Chalice is a meta punishing card. It’s not always good. In a linear aggro meta, chalice is just the right card to play. No card should be banned because it punishes a narrow field.

    1. If Wizards bans any thing it will be lands. The majority of all the creatures are still playable and will see some play without the fast mana.

      In my testing it is still very difficult to beat them even if they dont hit a sol land. They are OPed creatures for the cost most with a built in 2-1. Its only ever busted with the fast mana; with the format quickly devolving into Modern Oath of the Gatewatch block cunstructed if this keeps up banning wills will happen. It wont be chalice, im on UR Delver and tbh T1 chalice sucks but easy to board against; but being able to drop T2 3/4 drop and following it up on T3 two 4 drops or a 6 all of which put you down on cards if you manage to kill them.

      I was trying UW control leaning on supreme verdict gave it up for now; to often would i be SVing a bunch of matter reshapers and endlessones just to have the opponennt untap into TKS+Reality Smasher.

  4. So can we ban eye now? You guys have eldrazi at 44% of mtgo meta.

    Guarateed it will continue to climb, as crazy as that sounds, because there are still plenty of people, like me, who haven’t bought in yet. And many others who are realizing the deck is real and broken. And no one will be leaving the deck because why would you? It is infinitely customizable as the base is colorless. Literally can work with any freaking color.

    Just watch. I’m going to build a Mono U eldrazi deck and jam 4 copies of Storm Crow and I will probably still have a lot of success.

  5. Is 4 Liliana really a good idea? It doesn’t feel like the strongest draw to the deck and I’d rather pack Oblivion Sowers for a long game or a 2nd Cavern of Souls to up your explosiveness rather than a grindy threat to stick. I have 3 but I never thought I’d need a 4th because of the Planeswalker rule and how bad they are in multiples.

    What do you think? If you only had 3 Liliana, what would you replace?

    1. She’s great against a few decks. Strategies that put a lot of stock into a few threats, like Delver and midrange, and strategies that rely on hand advantage like UWx Control, really hate seeing Liliana on the other side of the table. Combined with postboard removal, she does a number on creature-based aggro too, including Abzan CoCo and Merfolk.

      There are plenty of options you can play over Liliana, but the ones you want depend on your metagame. In a linear meta, play Mimics and skip Lili altogether. In an Eldrazi meta, try Endbringer or Sower. In a meta full of Twin knock-offs and Infect, play whatever you want and you’ll win anyway.

  6. “What Isn‚Äôt Eldrazi Stompy?”

    Well designed.
    Skill intensive.
    Playable by anyone who likes to actually play Magic.
    Breeder of good taglines; as exemplified by “CRUNCH!”.

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