Legacy Champs weekend was filled with lots of emotions for me. There was the high of selling cards, the adrenaline of winning round after round, the pressure of continuing the streak, the sadness at so many mistakes on camera, and then the pride at finishing as the number one seed in the top eight. We’re going to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly today, so let’s dive right in!
To start off, let’s dissect the deck.
Last year, I joined team Eldrazi. Colorless Eldrazi in Modern earned me a spot in the Star City Invitational and my first Pro Point at GP Detroit. When Eye of Ugin was unsurprisingly banned from Modern, I knew I was not done with the deck yet. I love casting Eldrazi quickly and bashing with them. As it turns out, I’m pretty good at overcoming nearly any opponent with this strategy. This isn’t your average Eldrazi deck, though. My version is much more colorful.
I’ve been working on Legacy Eldrazi for a while now and played it in some events with different variations. One of my biggest changes initially was the exclusion of City of Traitors. I guess some spectators this weekend were commenting that my build must be a budget version, and while it is, the reason has nothing to do with playing a cheaper deck. I think that City of Traitors is actually bad for the deck and I choose not to play it. The main reason is that this deck cannot afford to lose any of its lands. Especially when your opponent has Wasteland, but even when they don’t, you want all of your resources; City of Traitors is more like a double Lotus Petal than a land. The game is going to continue, and you are going to wish your traitorous city had stuck around to let you cast your higher-cost guys. Additionally, I needed to make room for more colored sources in the deck.
I feel the same way about Wasteland in this deck as well. Wasteland may be a necessary part of the colorless version, but setting yourself back a land isn't something you want to do regularly. If you are playing Wastelands, be careful when you sacrifice them to destroy your opponent's land.
Speaking of colored sources, we have a lot of sweet Eldrazi to talk about in this Jeskai Eldrazi deck. There are thirteen colored sources of mana in this deck, and usually that’s enough to cast the three Eldrazi Displacers, three Eldrazi Obligators, and one maindeck Drowner of Hope. Sometimes you will have to wait for one of your colored lands, but more often than not you’ll be good to go. This is the first event I’ve run this exact set up, but let me tell you – it was amazing.
The main reason I thought about changing up the deck from the successful colorless version to Boros and then eventually to Jeskai is because Matter Reshaper has been unimpressive for me. Sometimes the opposing deck has no removal spells, sometimes they use Swords to Plowshares or Terminus, and as a result Matter Reshaper basically never goes to the graveyard in order for you to gain benefit from its card-advantage trigger. So, in effect, because you have Sol Lands, you are playing a vanilla two-mana 3/2 and that’s not something you should be eager to include in your Legacy deck.
Both Eldrazi Obligator and Eldrazi Displacer are huge upgrades to Matter Reshaper. I also cut down on the number of spells that most versions play in order to squeeze a couple extra Eldrazi into the list. I know that Obligator seems janky, but it was absolutely amazing all weekend. It may not be able to steal a 20/20 Marit Lage token very often, but there are plenty of other threats your other opponents will be relying on right up until you Threaten your way to victory.
I made some sweet plays with Obligator over the tournament. I nabbed Reality Smasher in the mirror to unexpectedly swing for lethal. Stealing reanimated giant monsters to beat my opponent was fun too. You aren’t required to target your opponent’s creatures with the trigger – there were plenty of times when I targeted my own creature to give it haste. A common line is after the board gets cleared with something like Terminus, you untap and cast both Eldrazi Mimic and Eldrazi Obligator to swing for six damage. This usually only works if you have Eye of Ugin so you can get the mana reduction benefit twice, but it’s an important line to be aware of. You can replace Eldrazi Mimic with another creature too if you have enough mana.
Eldrazi Displacer was also good, but my opponents seemed to always have removal for it this weekend. Against Death and Taxes, for example, it’s a great mana sink in the mid game that allows you to swing through their board or slow them down so you can catch up. It has to stay in play for that to happen, though. Displacer is your best card verses a deck like Turbo Depths (like I played in the top eight) or Lands, which also utilizes Dark Depths as a win condition.
Finally, the blue aspect of Jeskai Eldrazi is Drowner of Hope. Before Legacy Champs, I didn’t have Drowner in the deck at all. My maindeck card was the always amazing Endbringer and my sideboard slots were Ashen Riders. On my way to pick up my friends on Friday, I had an epiphany about Drowner of Hope. My thought was: "Isn’t Drowner a better version of Ashen Rider?" I could cast it now that I had Aether Hub in the manabase, and it functions the same way as Ashen Rider by shutting down my opponent’s giant monsters. Another perk is that it also shines in the mirror. I’m anxious to see whether other Eldrazi players change over to this version or stick with their already proven colorless version.
The red, white and blue Eldrazi were great all weekend, and I’m definitely keeping them in the deck going forward. With this manabase, though, there are lots of other possibilities to explore.
As you know, this tournament went quite well for me. There are some things I want to mention about the deck here, but I’ll keep it quick. Firstly, I want to start with the decks I played against. Legacy is really healthy right now, and I played against a different deck nearly every round of the event.
Round 1 (1-0) – Storm
Round 2 (2-0) – Miracles
Round 3 (3-0) – Colorless Eldrazi
Round 4 (4-0) – Death and Taxes
Round 5 (5-0) – 12-Post Eldrazi Workshop
Round 6 (6-0) – Reanimator
Round 7 (7-0) – Miracles
Round 8 (7-1) – Death and Taxes
Round 9 (8-1) – Grixis Delver
Round 10 (9-1) – RB Reanimator
Quarter Finals (Loss) – GB Turbo Depths
As you can see, my matchups were quite diverse. There were two different Reanimator decks, two Death and Taxes, and two Miracles, but overall, the meta is balanced between many archetypes.
I had a couple feature matches on camera, and as many of you know, in my first camera match I made some huge blunders. Both mistakes came in round six, involved Chalice of the Void and could have easily been avoided. The first one came up once I had three mana. My goal was to cast both Pithing Needle and Chalice of the Void on one. I had the mana in the same turn but I cast them in the wrong order. Clearly, I meant to cast the Needle first so it would be in play before Chalice. Because I knew both would be fine to play that turn, somehow I got the order mixed up in my head as I rushed through my turn. Neither I nor my opponent noticed until his next turn. The judge ruled that the Needle should stay in play, but I tried to have it be put in the graveyard because it was my mistake for the order I sequenced.
The next turn my opponent played a card I haven’t seen in almost a decade, Steady Progress. This got him around Chalice set at one because he proliferated it up to two and then cast his one-cost spells. The problem with this is that Chalice set at two disrupts some of my cards, but I wasn’t thinking about that at the time. On his next turn he cast Thoughtseize. I had Warping Wail in hand so I thought I’d cast it instead of letting the hand hate spell resolve. Since I’m not used to Chalice affecting my play, and my opponent also failed to note the Chalice, it resolved. This time there was something I could do about the judge’s ruling to let my 1/1 token stay in play. So, on my turn, I proceeded to sacrifice the spawn for mana and then pass through phases so it would be unspent. This way even though I messed up, at least it didn’t affect the game.
I was quite upset at myself for these mistakes I made due to not diligently paying attention to the board state. My opponent and I were very cordial about the whole thing, and he could tell I was mad at myself for these blunders. Despite these two on-camera misplays, I was able to pull it together and win almost all of my other rounds.
One of the best aspects about any Eldrazi deck in Legacy is that it sports great matchups against not only the combo decks of the format, like Storm and Reanimator, but also because it has a phenomenal win percentage against any controlling deck, like Miracles, Grixis Delver, or Jund. Although these decks can win against Eldrazi, a lot has to go right for them to successfully bring down the horde.
One of the tougher matchups is Death and Taxes. Up until now, I have had no testing against this matchup, because I don’t know anyone with the deck and haven't been paired against the strategy. I think one reason this white aggressive deck is so good against Eldrazi is because it has removal spells coupled with disruptive creatures, while Eldrazi’s disruptive spells don’t really affect the white deck’s game plan. If you’re going to play Eldrazi, definitely find time to test this matchup, because it’s a tough one.
If you have a question about any matchup specifically, let me know in the comments and I can go into more detail. The best advice I have for success in Legacy and Modern is to play as much in the format as possible. With more experience in these formats, you’ll gain knowledge about the types of decks players come to battle with as well as experience playing against a variety of different decks.
Prepping for this article, I was set to hype up all of the Eldrazi and basically every card from this deck as a great financial target. Yesterday, though, Star City announced yet another downgrade in Legacy events, so I think that we have to adjust our perspective based on that. Now there will only be two Legacy Opens per year, and the only time you can play a Legacy Classic is at the two Invitationals in Roanoke, Virginia. With these new restrictions combined with the already slim support from Grand Prix, I think Legacy’s financial growth will slow considerably.
Although the prize support left a lot to be desired, Vintage and Legacy Champs were highly anticipated by many players. I know I will plan to attend next year as well, but fewer events means fewer players wanting to get into the format. Keep this in mind with your investments. There are some cards I would advocate picking up, though.
First up, Eldrazi Temple should be on your radar of cards to watch. Hovering around the rebounded price level of $5 or $6, this Sol land is now essential to tier-one Modern and Legacy decks. I doubt we will see this land printed again anytime soon, and I would expect it to increase in value in the meantime. No matter what type of Eldrazi deck you are going to pilot in an Eternal format, you need four Eldrazi Temples to play the deck. When you find a cheap set, pick it up.
Sitting in the low $30s, Chalice of the Void is great anytime you can cast it. With Legacy going on the back burner a little bit, I don’t know how quickly Chalice will continue its upward climb, but it feels like a $40 to $50 card. Without a reprint, I think it will get there in the next year.
Thorn of Amethyst is the unsung hero of Eldrazi. This taxing effect goes so far towards disrupting your opponent’s game plans. Often it acts as a pseudo Time Walk because they can’t cast their spells on time. I think Thorn will find another home in Modern as well. If it does, look for a quick double-up on this one. Under $15 is reasonable for Thorn right now, as I think it should be closer to the same price as Chalice of the Void.
One land that keeps going up and up is Cavern of Souls. I love this land in so many strategies, but I think it’s going to get a reprint soon in a Modern Masters-style product. We could even see it again in Standard. Either way, the price on Cavern is already high, but without a reprint, it will continue to climb. Multiple archetypes need this land to make their decks great, and that’s a sign of a hot card.
While I love Aether Hub in all formats, I think the foil version is the one that has the most promise. I doubt that this uncommon land’s price can crest much above its already strong $4 to $5 price tag. The foil, though, is sitting under $10, which isn’t bad at all. I already have my foil playset but lots of other players will need theirs too. I was able to get a couple of my copies at $7 each, so there are still some cheap copies to be had if you dig around your local shops a little.
Well, that’s all the time I have for today. If you have any questions about how the deck works, the tournament or the financials surrounding it, let me know in the comments.
Until next time,
Unleash the Finance Force!
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