I've written on a variety of different topics since August, including Kaladesh standouts, brews, and Temur Delver. But each week I've brought the same exhilarating deck to my weekly locals: Colorless Eldrazi Stompy. I introduced that deck's Eyeless update three months ago and have been tuning it since. With Pascal Maynard's recent blurb renewing interest in the strategy, now seems like an ideal time to share what I've learned.
What Is Colorless Eldrazi Stompy?
Colorless Eldrazi Stompy is a disruptive aggro deck that chains lock pieces into undercosted threats. It hinges on the power of Eldrazi Temple to do the latter and counts on Serum Powder and Gemstone Caverns for fast mana consistency, bolstering the Relic of Progenitus/Eternal Scourge interaction that creams interactive decks on its own.
The Deck Core
Nothing too flashy going on here. As Pascal noted in his article, a big draw to Colorless is the ability to play Eldrazi Mimic, granted by the improved mana consistency of Serum Powder and Gemstone Caverns. But Pascal omitted Endless One from his build, which I think is a mistake.
Endless One is a card I was down on for most of Eldrazi Winter, but I came around with a vengeance. In this deck, the One fills a very important, if intuitive, role: it comes down whenever we need it to. One can act as a chumper for one, pressure linear opponents early for two, bait Leaks and resist Bolts for four, or present the biggest body on the block for seven. While Endless One is individually weaker than any Eldrazi at the same cost we actually pay for it, the card's ability to plug holes in our curve makes it an integral component of our aggressive game plan.
The other creature I'd like to discuss here is Eternal Scourge. Scourge has tested as well as I'd hoped when it was spoiled in Eldritch Moon, and now even has a GP win to its name. The newcomer plays two roles in this deck:
1. It ensures we have threats to cast after aggressively mulliganing into Eldrazi Temple. Whether via Serum Powder or Gemstone Caverns, Scourge often gets exiled incidentally before the game begins. With a Scourge in exile, we have fewer qualms about mulling to four in search of Temples, and are still promised a fast start if we find one rather than risk a do-nothing hand of all lands.
2. It prevents removal-heavy decks from quelling our assault. Dark Confidant, Snapcaster Mage, and Kolaghan's Command have all proven their aptitude at the grind game by now. Without Eye of Ugin, Colorless Eldrazi Stompy runs into the problem of getting out-stabilized a lot more often. But these decks aren't counting on dealing with a threat that returns after any removal spell, let alone one that actually never dies with a Relic in tow. Control and midrange decks aren't as prevalent as aggro strategies in Modern, but they still exist, and Scourge gives us a superb plan against them.
The eight noncreature, nonland cards I've included in the core are Serum Powder and Dismember, but these should be supplemented by at least four lock pieces. We have Chalice of the Void and Relic of Progenitus to chose from, and each shines in a different field. The other piece should be played in the sideboard.
I've found the numbers on Gemstone Caverns to be just right. At three copies, we open it often enough to justify running it, but still draw multiples relatively infrequently. Drawing more than one usually means we've started the game with a copy in play, which often leads to a game state so favored that pulling a blank doesn't matter (see: Serum Powder).
The creature lands still do it for me, killing planeswalkers, blocking fliers, and adding an angle of attack by dodging sorcery-speed removal. While Blinkmoth remains a four-of for its air coverage and evasion, I'm still not sold on a playset of Mutavault. It's possible to flood on creature lands and not have the mana to activate them all, although that usually means we're in a good spot; should opponents start killing them off during combat, we can just animate the next one next turn. The main reason to move away from four Mutavault is Sea Gate Wreckage.
Wreckage has shown itself to be the best non-Temple land in the deck. We often mulligan down to four or five, start most games with fast mana, and play mana rocks, making the hellbent Library of Alexandria ultra-reliable. It's possible to exile Wreckage to Serum Powder while taking mulligans, or to simply not draw it when we run out of cards. It became so important to me to draw one Wreckage or at least have more in the deck after casting my last Eldrazi that I've moved to four copies in my current build, despite multiples generally being useless (except in the face of Tectonic Edge & friends).
Double Wastes catches a lot of opponents off-guard and ensures we have searchable lands for Path to Exile, which is everywhere right now, and Ghost Quarter, which at least still exists. These cards can give us a hard time if we don't have a basic to search up. Ensuring the first two Paths don't go unpunished just makes life harder for our opponents. Double Wastes also decreases our softness to Blood Moon, although with a set of Serum Powder in the deck, this isn't a huge issue to begin with.
Filling the Flex Spots
With the core out of the way, we can focus on the ten funnest cards in the Colorless Eldrazi Stompy deck—the ones that fluctuate!
I'll begin with this section to stress the importance of playing 24 lands, even on Simian Spirit Guide. Two of the flex spots should go to lands.
There are many options to choose from; as mentioned above, I prefer two more copies of Sea Gate Wreckage. Mutavault shines in metagames full of linear combo. Quicksand can work against small aggro decks like Burn and Infect. Cavern of Souls trumps the counterspell matchup, although Relic/Scourge/Sea Gate should perform well enough here.
Chalice shines in metagames full of Infect, Burn, Delver, Grixis, and Tron. It slows these decks to a crawl, and can lock them out of the game on turn one when combined with Simian Spirit Guide. We saw the card's potency at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, and it's still just as good as it used to be.
One major benefit of playing mainboard Chalice is that it heavily incentivizes us to pack Simian Spirit Guide. Guide is already pretty decent in this deck, helping power out early Eldrazi and turn on Sea Gate Wreckage. With Chalice in the sideboard, it becomes less appealing to play Guide in the main, which makes Chalice worse when it gets boarded in.
Relic is my go-to lock piece in this metagame, dismantling Jund, value creature decks, and of course Dredge. I think Dredge is the best deck in the format right now, and believe it crushes most decks that don't pack specific hate for it. Whether or not that's a bad thing is a discussion for another article. For now, I like to be as prepared as possible, and that means running Relic in the main.
Another draw to mainboard Relics is the Eternal Scourge interaction, which gives us extra points against x/3 aggro decks like Zoo. Scourge can trade with attackers forever as we recur him with the Relic, which makes it harder for go-wide decks to stay wide and for big-threat decks to actually land a blow.
Spatial Contortion: A sideboard all-star that should be at 4 between the main and the side, Contortion helps us slow down go-wide decks long enough for our Eldrazi to race.
Spellskite: Cramps pump decks and protects our other Eldrazi from removal.
Bonesplitter: I admit I haven't tested this one yet, but it looks sweet on paper. Turns Eternal Scourge into a very dangerous recurring threat, allows us to clock seriously with a lone Blinkmoth or Eldrazi Mimic, and adds points of trample with Reality Smasher. Its low mana cost works well with Sea Gate Wreckage. Splitter wouldn't work in versions that run Chalice in the main.
My current list:
Matchups and Sideboard
These few months of playing Colorless Eldrazi Stompy have revealed to me the deck's biggest weakness: go-wide aggro decks. Generally speaking, the worse the deck is, the harder it is for us to beat. Affinity is actually very good post-board. Merfolk is tougher. Bant Spirits is a hard matchup. And the rogue-ier UW Spirits is our hardest, bar-none.
Go-wide aggro. UW Spirits's combination of fliers and soft disruption, combined with its lack of reliance on Vial or Hierarch, makes it very tough to beat. Our best bet is to Powder into a hand full of aggression with a couple Dismembers and try to race. This weakness explains the sideboard's nine-card removal package, which comes in against most aggro decks with a few exceptions (Gut Shot doesn't make it against Burn, for instance).
Out: Relic, Reshaper
Linear combo. These decks can also pose some issues for us, with Ad Nauseam being the primary offender. Chalice stops their cantrips and Lotus Blooms, but it doesn't affect the Phyrexian Unlife-Ad Nauseam combo at all. Relic is even more useless, and the grind game offered by Scourge and Reshaper is laughable in this matchup. Thought-Knot Seer is tremendous, though, and will win us games if we open multiples.
In: Chalice, Bomb
Out: Dismember, Reshaper
Dredge. Without Relics in the main, this matchup becomes a lot trickier. But with them, things are generally pretty good for us. Dredge has trouble beating strong starts, so our plan is to mulligan into a hand that chains a small creature (Mimic, Endless) into a big one (Thought-Knot, Endless). Multiple Smashers will often do the trick too. Dredge forces us to mulligan even more aggressively than usual in search of threat-heavy hands, which can result in some bad keeps.
Sun and Moon. The WR Prison strategies popping up lately can also hassle us, but only if their pilots draw the correct half of their deck. As mentioned, Blood Moon doesn't faze us much, especially considering we're likely to have pressure on the table when it resolves. The real killer in this matchup is Elspeth, Sun's Champion, which is close to impossible for us to remove and can nuke our board after we set up some bigger beaters. Our plan is to get under them with Mimics and disrupt with Thought-Knot.
In: Bomb, Needle
I stand by my claim that most of Colorless Eldrazi Stompy's matchups fall into this third category. We're faster than Bant and Tron, can out-grind Jund, Grixis, Jeskai, and Abzan, and disrupt Burn, Affinity, and Infect too well post-board to have to worry about the aggro trinity.
Sideboarding for these decks is pretty straightforward following the blueprint laid out above.
A Bright (Gray) Future
Playing Colorless Eldrazi Stompy is the most fun I've had playing Magic in a while. Unlike Temur Delver, which asks a lot of me over the course of a few matches, this deck is very straightforward and easy to play. Its only challenging aspect is in mulliganing, one of my favorite things to do in Magic anyway! That makes it the perfect deck for me to bring to smaller events without too much on the line. Still, I can't help but wonder if the nagging voices in the back of my head will ever convince me to register the 75 at a higher-stakes tournament.