Draw Three Brews: Eldrazi Stompy, Ancestral Sultai, and Blue Moon

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By now, we’ve all rejoiced at the Eye of Ugin banning and rejoiced even harder at Wizards’ reparations. It seems the banlist moderators understand that actions speak louder than words, so instead of issuing a plodding “we messed up!”, they actually gave us some new toys. Apology accepted!

sea gate wreckage art crop

Readers know I’ve spent some fine afternoons in the hot tub with Thought-Knot Seer, but the Eye ban came as good news to me, too. The Eldrazi deck all but solved itself in Louisville, and for me, the deck’s appeal counted on its brewing possibilities. Now, building a viable Eldrazi deck is actually challenging. In this article, I’ll unveil my new Colorless Eldrazi Stompy build and explore some ideas for blue-based decks running Ancestral Vision and Sword of the Meek.


The Fun-Banned Police

Not every card on Modern's banned list is "broken." Even the more busted ones have natural checks, and could potentially be okay in a format that grew around them (operative term: potentially). Trevor already described the implications of Ancestral Vision and Sword of the Meek in Modern, so I’ll mostly focus on integrating them into deck skeletons today. But first, I want to mention a few Modern cards that interact very well with the format’s new toys. I'll only consider cards that do something other than beat Modern's recently unbanned cards; you won't get any Nix discussion from me!

Ancestral Vision

Spellstutter Sprite: Even if it gets Bolted, Sprite will counter an Ancestral Vision. Michael Majors has already written about Visions-powered Faeries in the new metagame, and this interaction alone is a great reason to try it out.

Imp's Mischief: Redirects Bolts, Decays, Thoughtseizes… and now, Ancestral Recalls! Mischief might see sideboard play as a trump in the Ancestral Vision mirror. Resolving it against the card once should secure quite a lead.

ricochet trapRicochet Trap: Similarly, Ricochet Trap changes the target of Vision to the caster’s opponent. Control decks should be especially wary of this card against Living End, and should Vision decks explode onto the scene, even aggressive decks might start playing it.

Invasive Surgery: One of my favorite cards from Shadows over Innistrad. I wasn’t sure Surgery would prove good enough for Modern, but with Ancestral Vision and Traverse the Ulvenwald entering the format at the same time, it’s at least worth considering alongside Dispel.

Sword of the Meek

Night of Soul's Betrayal: We’ve seen this card used to combat Splinter Twin, BW Tokens, and x/1 decks like Infect and Abzan Company. Now, it stands to gain relevance even against control decks. With Night on the battlefield, the Thopter combo gains life, but doesn’t generate any bodies.

Illness in the Ranks: A far cheaper and more specific counter to the combo. Affinity has played this card in the past and I don’t doubt they’ll return to it should Thopter/Sword pick up steam.

Night of Souls' BetrayalIzzet Staticaster: Traverse-searchable, and in competitive colors. Staticaster might have to activate every turn and dodge a few removal spells, but he outshines Pyroclasm at keeping the field clear of Thopters.

Kolaghan's Command: A major player in pre-Eldrazi Modern, Kommand should make a big comeback with Thopter/Sword around.

Surgical Extraction: Grishoalbrand hate that happens to disrupt Abzan Company’s infinite life combo, and now control’s new potential win condition.

Rest in Peace: The best grave-hate card in Modern. Singlehandedly cripples so many decks, and prevents Sword from ever returning to the battlefield.

Stony Silence: Once reserved for Affinity, this sideboard staple keeps control opponents from ever activating Thopter Foundry.

Eldrazi on Life Support

On to the decklists. First thing's first: we've got to fix Eldrazi Stompy. This ultra-sweet deck ended up an unfortunate casualty of Wizards' refusal to test for Modern, but I think it can still survive in some form. Turn one Chalice of the Void is simply too good to pass up against a lot of the format. Chalice can even pre-emptively counter a suspended Ancestral Vision for zero... yum!

A husk of its former self, sure. But Eldrazi Stompy nonetheless. I've debated the card's inclusion before, but since the Eye of Ugin ban, Serum Powder becomes an absolute necessity in this deck. If we don't find an early Sol land (of which we now play only four, not eight), we effectively are playing a worse version of just about every midrange deck in Modern. Same deal with Simian Spirit Guide - we simply can't afford not to play this guy anymore. Eldrazi is too slow without it. That pushes the archetype into two directions: the more controlling GR version with mana rocks, Kozilek's Return, and World Breaker, and the aggressive Chalice version, featured here. I don't think UW will survive without Eye of Ugin fueling explosive Skyspawner plays.

Serum PowderBetween the set of Temples, four Spirit Guides, and Serum Powder, Eldrazi Stompy can still resolve turn two Thought-Knot Seer with some frequency. But the loss of Eye means the loss of Eldrazi Mimic, and with that card, our explosive aggro starts.

As a result, this version of Eldrazi Stompy plays a longer game right out of the gate. Endless One can be a great topdeck while flooding or put beefy pressure on opponents if we open the right lands, but it's no longer reliable enough to play at four. Thanks to the Eye and Urborg interaction, Endless One was a dream curve-fixer before, and now mostly plays "fairly:" come down for as much mana as we have. Considering Matter Reshaper, Thought-Knot Seer, Reality Smasher, and Oblivion Sower all benefit from improved stats or abilities for the same X cost, that makes our Ugin-less Endless Ones pretty unexciting. But I like that he can come down at any point in the game, so it's one for now.

More midrange also implies more interaction. My older versions of the deck excluded Ratchet Bomb and Spellskite from the mainboard, as I preferred to run Serum Powder and maximize my chances of an explosive hand. (A bit too late, I realized that if I desired explosive aggression over efficient interaction, I should have just played UW Eldrazi.) With Eldrazi Mimic out of the picture, though, I’m happy to include these cards alongside my Dismembers. Bomb removes problematic permanents like Ensnaring Bridge and Blood Moon, while Spellskite shuts down soup-em-up decks like Infect and Bogles while safeguarding our marquee threats.

Finally, a slower plan allows us to run more costly threats. Oblivion Sower is my mainboard fatty of choice, powering up Sea Gate Wreckage and allowing us to cast multiple expensive creatures in a turn. I've included an Ulamog in the sideboard for help against grindier decks, and Sower is crucial to hitting ten mana.

Sea Gate WreckageThat brings us to the deck’s deepest change. In my previous versions of Eldrazi Stompy, Sea Gate Wreckage showed a lot of promise as a mini-Eye of Ugin, netting me cards before I had seven mana to activate the Eye with. Unfortunately, games often ended before I could get any value from it, or I would hit seven mana before I wanted to use the Wreckage. In this deck, I’ve replaced Eye with Wreckage, running the full four copies to ensure we hit one by the time we’re out of cards.

Obviously, Eye is much better; searching for specific Eldrazi trumps drawing random cards, and Sea Gate doesn't pump out monsters any faster than Wastes. But hey, we can't have everything (anymore). Wreckage still does a decent job of securing the late-game. Interestingly, it stacks, so multiple copies are far from dead. The worst thing about Wreckage is that drawing multiple lands in a turn prevents us from keeping the engine going, since we can only play one land per turn. The next version of Eldrazi Stompy I’ll test will return to black for Liliana of the Veil, who solves this problem by discarding extra lands to the graveyard.

Rally the Ancestrals

We know Ancestral Vision slots into existing blue midrange strategies pretty handily; Jeskai, UW, and UR can all expect a boost from this card. I’m more interested in its applications for rarer color combinations. In Eat My Dust: Blowing Smoke With BUG Faeries, we discussed Sultai’s limitations in Modern. Vision’s card advantage should at least make the shard playable in the format, even if the deck ends up a worse version of something with Lightning Bolt.

This deck is more of a blue BGx deck than a green UBx one. Jund's and Abzan’s famous disruptive package of Inquisition of Kozilek, Abrupt Decay, Liliana of the Veil, and Tarmogoyf forges the deck’s backbone, while Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound, Serum Visions, and Ancestral Vision give it the digging faculties needed to play a slew of one-off bullets and out-grind control strategies. In exchange for this added late-game power, Sultai loses out on Jund's early interaction capabilities from Lightning Bolt. All it misses from Abzan is Lingering Souls and Siege Rhino, which I’m pretty confident are just worse than our blue cards at this point.

Snapcaster MageJace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound gets the nod here over the full Snapcaster Mage playset, since we primarily operate at sorcery speed. I don’t really buy the notion that Jace is incompatible with Ancestral Vision. Between Serum Visions, Abrupt Decay, Thoughtseize effects, and various removal spells, we’re bound to have juicy targets for his -3 regardless, and the play style Jace encourages meshes with the kind of deck that wants to play Ancestral Vision anyway. In this deck, the flip-walker loots past extra lands, grows Tarmogoyf at instant speed, and fuels Tasigur and Ooze. He also cycles through “dead” copies of Ancestral Vision in soon-to-end midgames, and forces opponents to keep their Lightning Bolts in against us for Games 2 and 3.

On to the bullets. Snapcaster Mage is a nice surprise card we can dig for, but I don’t think this deck can truly abuse a set of him. Since we primarily cast spells on our own turn, flash is mostly just relevant for combat tricks. Scavenging Ooze can take over grindy games and is a trump in the Goyf mirror. Kalitas helps stabilize against aggressive decks, and Tasigur helps stabilize against everyone. These bullets mostly serve as a starting point. Sultai colors have plenty of options in these slots, and depending how the meta shapes up, I can also envision Vendilion Clique or Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver making the cut.

Creeping Tar PitI think Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound works best with a spattering of different removal options, explaining the Dismember/Murderous Cut/Sultai Charm/Abrupt Decay split. Go for the Throat, Darkblast, and Disfigure might also have homes here, but it’s still too early to tell what the best removal spells will be in these colors. Again, our interactive choices depend on the decks that show up in the coming metagame.

Lastly, I really like our ability to play Creeping Tar Pit. Other UGx shells might favor Lumbering Falls, but as long as we’re in black, I think Tar Pit is the best manland for an attrition strategy. It overcomes board stalls to hit for a never-negligible three points every turn.

Once in a...

Blue Moon had a decent on-camera showing at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, until the Channel Fireball Eldrazi deck gobbled up al the coverage. We haven’t heard much about the Batterskull-toting control figurehead since then, but Ancestral Vision should change things. Blue Moon also seems well-equipped to splash the recently unbanned Thopter-Sword combo.

Like most control-oriented midrange decks, we boast a fairly compact threat suite. Batterskull, Keranos, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, and Vedalken Shackles are our dedicated beaters, and the Thopter-Sword combo sits on top of them for good measure. Pia and Kiran can decimate developing boards in small-creature aggro decks like Abzan Company or Infect, and provides at least four power on their own. Even without Foundry, a Thopter made by Chandra’s parents returns Sword of the Meek from the graveyard to the battlefield and makes a 2/3 flying creature, which trades with a Plating-equipped Ornithopter. I originally tried Stormbreath Dragon in this deck, but settled on Pia and Kiran instead because of their immense versatility.

Thirst for KnowledgeThis version of Blue Moon relies heavily on artifacts. Academy Ruins revives more than half of our threats should opponents find answers to them. We can also cycle artifacts away with Thirst for Knowledge, a big draw to packing Thopter-Sword in any blue midrange deck. Thirst is a card so efficient it was once restricted in Vintage, and it simply reads “Draw 3 cards” if we discard Sword of the Meek, which we want to have in the graveyard anyway. Remand also meshes well with Thirst for Knowledge. If we’re holding up mana to counter spells, we can capitalize on the tempo gained from opponents not trying anything by tapping out on their end step to reload. Another artifact I've included is Talisman of Progress, whose presence allows us to drop an early Moon and lock ourselves out of white, but still resolve Thopter Foundry later. Extra Talismen make terrific Thirst food.

I've also opted for a pair of Thought Scour. Scour makes our graveyard into Snapcaster Mage’s ultimate playhouse, giving him nearly endless targets. It also enables graveyard eaters like Grim Lavamancer in the sideboard, and messes up enemy scry, which should be relevant if a lot of decks start playing Ancestral Vision. Dumping Sword of the Meek with Thought Scour is our best-case scenario, since Scour then becomes a draw two for blue, at once cantripping and binning the equipment for later use.

Blood MoonBefore we wrap up, I’ll address the elephant in the room: this Jeskai-colored deck plays zero white spells in the mainboard! New metagames usually signal brief periods of hyper-linearity, and Blood Moon preys on the greedy strategies players opt for. Dipping too far into white compromises our ability to run the hoser effectively. On the other hand, with decks like Burn and blue anything surely in our immediate future, we don't want to play too many copies mainboard. I plan on sticking a third in the sideboard for now, and adjusting as the metagame shifts. As for the white cards, Path to Exile seems like our strongest option, but it butts heads with Blood Moon. I'd rather keep the splash as minimal as possible, just to enable Thopter-Sword. We can run powerful white cards in the sideboard, including Lightning Helix and Leyline of Sanctity.

Wreckage No More

I haven’t played much Magic since GP Detroit, and that’s entirely because of the state of the format. Luckily, the trash can that was Modern is now a brewer’s paradise again. I look forward to seeing the waves made by Vision and Sword decks, and adapting my Delver builds to take on the new challengers. Hopefully, so do you!

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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12 thoughts on “Draw Three Brews: Eldrazi Stompy, Ancestral Sultai, and Blue Moon

  1. Without eye I’m not sure colorless is the way to go. Blue or white for skyspawner and friends or path seem important; those eldrazi tokens will become more relevant for ramping without the extra Sol lands. Either way, eldrazi deserves a second chance, I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of results you can get! Keep brewing dude!

    1. Skyspawner/Displacer style builds seem lackluster to me without Eye of Ugin, since they lack the consistent speed to abuse fast starts. Mimic is also pretty bad with just four Sol lands. I think the Eldrazi decks going forward will be much more midrange oriented – probably Bx, Colorless, and GR.

  2. you don’t even get the sword back from the graveyard with thopter foundry/sword of the meek if someone has a night of souls’ betrayal in play, actually; See Comp rules 611.3c: if someone has a night of souls’ betrayal out, you can sack your sword to gain one life, once, and then you need another artifact in play to do it again.

  3. I think you’re right on the money with revisiting mono-C Eldrazi Stompy – that deck still has enough juice to be Modern-playable (maybe even tiered). That said, I’d like to leave some questions and/or comments.

    1. What do you think about lands like Cavern of Souls (to fight off counterspell-based control) or Radiant Fountain (to help hang in against aggro)? Sea Gate Wreckage is fine as a 1- or 2-of, but all 4 feels kind of clunky to me.

    2. I find myself to be a bit skeptical of Oblivion Sower now that the Eldrazi mirror will be a rarity instead of an inevitability, and thus I think Endbringer should be in the main, since it has more game against the field. Thoughts on this?

    3. Do we truly want to move on from Endless One to the extent that you have? I get that an X/X for X isn’t truly impressive now that the ramp factor is much less consistent, but it still does the dirty work of plugging gaps in your curve and providing you with an early board presence on the hands you do get the T1 Eldrazi Temple.

    4. I think this deck needs more hate for Abzan Company and Sword + Thopters, which looks like 2 matchups that could ruin your day if left unchecked. I recommend Grafdigger’s Cage and Relic of Progenitus in the sideboard for these purposes (Chalice of the Void will likely be terrible in both those matchups, so it’s an easy swap).

    5. I think Warping Wail is good enough to make your 75. It counters some sweepers and can be used for ramp or removal. It might not be mainboard-worthy (same as Invasive Surgery), but it’s probably too good not not have in the sideboard.

    Moving on to the other decks…

    I like the idea of your Ancestral Sultai (it feels like Shardless BUG, without the Shardless), but I have a bone to pick with the removal package you’ve chosen. I think cards like Maelstrom Pulse and Damnation need to be considered over the likes of Dismember and Sultai Charm, so that you maximize your odds to cash in on your Ancestral Vision (since you can’t cheat it in the way Shardless does).

    The Blue Moon splash list is just something I don’t feel comfortable with at all. I think the deck loses a lot of consistency when you try and force it into 3 colors, and lack of consistency tends to be doom for a control brew.

    1. I hear you on Endbringer, but I like that Sower nets us advantage even if he immediately eats a removal spell. Endbringer also requires us to play some Caverns, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Warping Wail is interesting, but what are the matchups we’d want it for? Lastly, good call on Cage and Relic – it’s great we have these options in colorless.

      1. You want Warping Wail against Scapeshift (counters the win-con), UXX Control (counters Ancestral Vision as well as any non-Verdict sweeper), and BGx Midrange (counters mid-to-late-game discard, Crumble to Dust, sweepers like Damnation, and pseudo-sweepers like Maelstrom Pulse). I think it’s worth a try.

        On the Sower vs. Endbringer issue… while it’s true that Sower yields immediate benefits, I’d argue that its benefits are pretty marginal compared to Endbringer’s. A 6-drop is the top of your curve – the fact that it gives you ramp doesn’t feel all that relevant. Pinging, disrupting combat math, and drawing cards all sounds much more potent, even if it can come up empty to the likes of a Terminate – only so many of those to go around.

  4. I’m trying to build a Colorless eldrazi deck too. But instead of trying to be as fast as before (since I think it’s impossible with only 4 sol lands), I’m trying to slow down opponents. I borrow the thorns of amethyst tech from legacy and I also added a couple of trinispheres. Then I kept all teh 2 cmc creatures (we have less sol land we can’t afford to raise the mana curve) also adding the full set of phyrexian revoker. Finally I play 9 manlands (mutavault, nexus and a single dread statuary) since we don’t draw much so we have to maximize the threats. I don’t know if it’s the right way of development, but I’m testing. Unfortunately at the moment I had to leave Chalices and ratchet bombs in sideboard. But I’m trying to catch the right configuration.

  5. Playing Black rather than White in the Blue Moon deck might be good. Gives you access to terminate, a singleton Tasigur, and avoids the nonbo with Path to Exile. Also, Signets seems superior to Talismans as they produce more colored mana when Blood Moon is out and avoids damaging yourself, this deck doesn’t really seem worried about being able to tap its artifact mana if it plays it out turn 2, It would be different if you were looking to keep up path or spell snare mana.

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