A couple months ago, I took Counter-Cat to an RPTQ and had my ass handed to me on a silver Shriekhorn. The lesson I learned: bring only a deck you're intimately familiar with to an event you want to do well in. While I've put in plenty of games with Counter-Cat during my Modern career, I hadn't been playing the deck leading up to the RPTQ, and conjectured after the tournament that I'd have been much better served by sleeving up Colorless Eldrazi Stompy for that event. But I'd never brought Colorless Eldrazi Stompy to a Competitive REL tournament before, and the terrifying prospect of relying on something without Serum Visions bullied me into bringing a deck I hadn't tested enough for the current metagame.
But the RPTQ didn't leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. Instead, it left me full of optimism, confident that if I used my brain and played what I knew, success would be mine. I put this lesson to the test at Star City Games' Massachusetts Regionals tournament last Saturday, registering Colorless Eldrazi Stompy on an official decklist for the first time and piloting the deck to a 4th-place finish.
Notes on the Deck
I sleeved up the exact list from last week's article:
For starters, I'll say that this deck is worse in the new metagame than it was in the old one. With Infect gone, linear combo decks that aim to win on turn four have made a comeback. These decks are the hardest for Colorless Eldrazi Stompy to beat, especially when they play Through the Breach. I knew I'd have some natural predators in the room between Grishoalbrand and RG Valakut. There's no way to hedge against Through the Breach strategies in colorless; we kind of have to pray we open Temple and Thought-Knot.
Midrange decks also seem to have picked up, especially Jund. BGx is a great matchup for us, but things can get a little rocky if they draw multiple copies of Kolaghan's Command in the first few turns and we fail to stick an Eldrazi Temple. Command is especially dangerous with Fulminator Mage. As for Abzan, a lucky Stony Silence can blow some of our openers out of the water (although it notably does nothing against others).
I still like this deck's midrange matchups, but they're definitely harder to win than matches against Gitaxian Probe Infect and Grave-Troll Dredge, which were practically byes. Either way, I felt great about my odds going into the event—even better, I knew my matchups.
Tournament Report: SCG Regionals, MA
Colorless Eldrazi Stompy doesn't just mulligan a lot, it Serum Powders a lot. At the beginning of every game, I'll use a key to simplify relaying die rolls and the mulligans taken by each player. Some examples:
(Play; MPM 5 - 7): I'm on the play. I mull to 6, Powder for 6, and then mull to 5; my opponent does not mulligan.
(Draw): I'm on the draw. Nobody mulligans or Powders.
(Play; P 7 - MM 5): I Powder for 7. My opponent mulligans twice.
Round 1 vs. Burn (2-1)
Game 1, L (Play; MPMMM 3 - 7): I dig deep for Eldrazi Temple but come up short, keeping a three of Simian Spirit Guide, Reality Smasher, and Blinkmoth Nexus. My opponent leads with Goblin Guide and promptly finishes me with some Lava Spikes after I fail to make a third land drop.
Game 2, W (Play): I keep a hand of Eldrazi Temples, Chalice of the Void, Sea Gate Wreckage, two Blinkmoth Nexi, and Spatial Contortion. My opponent casts Goblin Guide, and I resolve a turn-two Chalice before taking a second hit. Spatial Contortion resolves on his third battle phase and my opponent suspends a pair of Rift Bolts. I can't stop drawing lands and begin beating him down with Blinkmoth Nexus.
The Bolts resolve and put me down to 10; an Atarka's Command brings me to 7; a Boros Charm brings me to 3. In the meantime, I draw Mutavault with my opponent at 13, and start to seriously get my beats on. The three manlands take him all the way to zero and I'm left assuring my opponent this deck contains Eldrazi creatures.
Game 3, W (Draw): My opponent leads with Monastery Swiftspear, and I pitch Simian Spirit Guide for a turn-one Chalice. The artifact eats Destructive Revelry, and I take four more damage. I manage to Contortion the Swiftspear, but I'm now stuck on two Blinkmoths for lands. My opponent resolves Goblin Guide and reveals Eldrazi Temple on its second attack. I resolve Thought-Knot Seer, then draw another land and cast Smasher. My opponent drops me down to three and has me next turn, but I pitch Simian Guide and make a land drop so I can animate Mutavault and both Nexi to attack for an exactly lethal 9 after he chumps the Seer.
Round 2 vs. Eldrazi Tron (0-2)
Game 2, L (Play; M 6 - 7): I Quarter a Power Plant on my opponent's draw step, since I know he has the third piece in hand from an Expedition Map. Next, I land a turn-four Thought-Knot Seer, which exiles Reality Smasher over two Warping Wails and an Ulamog. He rips another one off the top, casts it with Eldrazi Temple, and hits me for 5. I crack back with Thought-Knot and play Eldrazi Mimic, which my opponent Wails before following up with Endbringer to put away the game.
If I could play this round again, I would keep Guide and the Scourges over Contortion and Bomb. I tested this matchup extensively with a friend who swears by Eldrazi Tron and had good results. Unfortunately, Eldrazi mirrors often come down to who draws more Temples.
Round 3 vs. Affinity (2-1)
Game 1, L (Draw; P 7 - 7): Powder grants me a hand with two Temples and I get a little cocky with a pair of Reality Smashers. Somehow forgetting my opponent can chump Eternal Scourge at 13 life, I make an all-in attack and lose to Signal Pest, a pair of Blinkmoths, and Cranial Plating on the crack-back.
Game 2, W (Play; PP 7 - 7): After two Powders, I settle on Dismember, Thought-Knot Seer, two Temples, and some more lands. I manage to trade Blinkmoth for a Vault Skirge, and Dismember a Ravager after taking Plating from my opponent's hand with Thought-Knot. Reality Smasher comes down and cleans up the mess.
Game 3, W (Draw): I keep my opener of 2 Dismember, Temple, Smuggler's Copter, Chalice, and 2 Quarter. My opponent starts us off with two Vault Skirges off a Mox Opal. I land Chalice on zero and pass. My opponent hits for two and passes back, so I kill one of the Skirges on his end step, then resolve Copter. Next turn I play Mimic and start looting through the deck, finding Needle that turn to shut off my opponent's two Inkmoth Nexi even though I have drawn all four Ghost Quarters at this point.
Like clockwork, my opponent topdecks a third Inkmoth. Copter keeps my hand full of removal, allowing me to kill off Ravager and other creatures that can wear the Plating he managed to resolve. My opponent concedes when I draw Smasher and attack him down to 2, showing me a hand full of Ornithopters.
Round 4 vs. Mardu Tokens (2-0)
Game 1, W (Draw; M 6 - 7): I keep two Temples on six, and Young Pyromancer and Dark Confidant are no match for Chalice of the Void and Reality Smasher. My opponent Thoughtseizes away the first Smasher before I can Chalice, but I draw a second one and resolve it turn three, copying his stats with my first-turn Mimic. Sea Gate Wreckage threatens to pull me back into the game if my opponent can neutralize the board, but he can't.
Game 2, W (Draw): I open a seven of Quarter, Temple, Endless One, Gut Shot, Thought-Knot Seer, Wastes, and Relic. My opponent Inquisitions me and inexplicably takes Endless One, then follows up with a dead-on-arrival Pyromancer. I manage to draw Eternal Scourge and take over the game with Scourge and Relic, forcing my opponent to throw removal at my unkillable attacker. I drop my hand of stockpiled fatties once he gets low on cards.
Round 5 vs. Burn (2-1)
Game 1, W (Draw; P 7 - M 6): My opponent leads with Lava Spike. Powder hands me a seven with two Temples and a Simian Guide, which gives me a blazing fast start: turn one Scourge from exile; turn two Thought-Knot; turn three Smasher. Our neighbors have each made one land drop by the time we start sideboarding.
Game 2, L (Draw): I start with two Temples again, but my opponent opens much better than before. He leads with Goblin Guide and I don't have a turn one play. By the time I stabilize and prepare for a lethal attack, I'm down to four life; I shuffle my opponent's deck after he fetches instead of simply cutting it, joking that I'm bound to put Boros Charm on top if I don't mix up his cards properly. Alas, I leave Boros Charm on top anyway.
Game 3, W (Draw; PM 6 - M 6): I land turn-one Chalice with a Guide, then Mimic, then Powder, then Thought-Knot Seer, all without seeing a Temple. My opponent keeps a one-lander, and Thought-Knot shows me Boros Charm, Searing Blaze, Shard Volley, Grim Lavamancer, two Bolts, and Eidolon (which I take). He then makes a second land drop but I kill him two turns later with my Eldrazi and a Mutavault.
Round 6 vs. Ad Nauseam (2-0)
Game 1, W (Play; P 7 - 7): I was afraid of this deck going into the tournament, but it seems much easier to beat than I initially thought, in large part thanks to Chalice pulling a ton of weight. I lead with Mimic off a Temple, then play Chalice on one, then Reshaper, and then Thought-Knot. I see Simian, Pact of Negation, Seachrome Coast, Gemstone Mine, Ad Nauseam, and a pair of Angel's Grace, and take the deck's namesake spell. My opponent makes a couple more land drops and dies.
Game 2, W (Draw; M 6 - 7): My opponent leads with Serum Visions and suspends a pair of Lotus Blooms, and I play another Chalice on one off a turn-zero Gemstone Caverns. I have another Chalice in tow for the Blooms, and put that one on zero with the Blooms at two counters each. In the meantime, I cast a pair of Simian Guides and start clocking as my opponent resolves Phyrexian Unlife.
Soon enough I draw a third Chalice and stick it for two, afraid of Peer Through Depths finding Ad Nauseam and Echoing Truth bouncing my artifacts. (After the match, I wondered if Chalice on two would have taken away my opponent's ability to win at all.) Thought-Knot finally comes down and helps the Apes deliver my opponent 10 poison counters.
Round 7 vs. Death's Shadow Jund (2-1)
Game 1, L (Play; 7 - M 6): My opponent Traverses for three Death's Shadows, halting my assault. I foolishly play around Mutagenic Growth, forgetting Death's Shadow Jund doesn't play it anymore. He brings himself all the way down to 2 life, but my Smashers can never pierce his defense, and he takes the game with a Temur Battle Rage.
Game 2, W (Play; PMMPPM 4 - M 6): Things look bleak as I end up at four cards: Blinkmoth, Quarter, and two Dismembers. My opponent fetches Tomb and Traverses for a Swamp, and I miraculously rip Chalice of the Void off the top and stick it for one. Ratchet Bomb's up next, followed by Smuggler's Copter, which connects a few times with Blinkmoth in the driver's seat and provides me with some much-needed filtering. I fight through a Fulminator Mage and eventually get to three lands, allowing me to cast one of my many exiled Scourges and crew the Copter with that. My opponent shows me a grip full of one-drops and lands.
Game 3, W (Draw; PP 7 - 7): I Powder away a pair of Scourges in search of my dream hand, which I hit on the third try: Temple, Guide, Copter, Gemstone, Blinkmoth, Smasher, Relic. I pitch Copter to the Gemstone, and my opponent spends his first turn Traversing for a basic. I land a turn-one Scourge and he follows up with a 2/3 Goyf. I play Relic and swing, impervious even to a Mutagenic Growth. Smasher comes down soon after to further embarrass my opponent's measly Goyf and quickly take him to 0.
Round 8 vs. Abzan Company (2-1)
Game 1, W (Play; M 6 - M 6): I keep a six of two Temples, Simian, Mutavault, and two more lands, scrying Endless One to the top. My opponent starts us off with a mana dork and I land a 5/5 on turn two. Thought-Knot Seer follows, and my fatties get there with some help from Mutavault despite my opponent resolving two Companies.
Game 2, L (Draw; M 6 - M 6): I keep a sketchy one-lander with Relic, Bomb, Needle, and a pair of Dismembers, and don't make a second land drop until way too late. My opponent beats me up with Pridemage and Melira. I should have gone to 5, but chickened out with the Powders in the side.
Game 3, W (Play; M 6 - M 6): My six cards have Eldrazi Temple and Blinkmoth, and I resolve Smuggler's Copter turn one with Gemstone Caverns. Then I suffer for pitching Wastes and am choked for mana, using Copter to look for more lands as my opponent resolves Pridemage and Melira again and starts hitting me. Pridemage trades for my Ratchet Bomb, but he can't answer a second Bomb, which ends up eating the Witnessed-back Pridemage and Melira as well as my Copter.
I lose Gemstone Caverns to a second copy to cast Thought-Knot Seer, which takes Chord of Calling and leaves my opponent with Gavony Township. After having looted away one of my Smashers, I topdeck a second Eldrazi Temple and play another Smasher to close out the game.
Round 9 vs. Jeskai Control (2-0)
I'm eighth seed at this point but need a win to guarantee a Top 8 spot. Luckily, I'd scouted the top tables after last round, and end up pairing with a player on Jeskai Control.
Game 1, W (Draw; PM 6 - 7): I pitch Ghost Quarter to Gemstone Caverns, my other four cards being Thought-Knot, Temple, Mutavault, and Chalice. My opponent leads with Colonnade and is shut out by my Chalice at one, missing his third land drop. I swing with Mutavault and cast Mimic to bait a counterspell (it gets Remanded), then cast Thought-Knot next turn. My opponent finally lands Flooded Strand, but I animate my lands and attack him down to one, rendering it unusable.
Game 2, W (Draw; P 6 - 7): Another turn-zero Gemstone Caverns pitches Needle this time and ensures a strong curve from me: turn one Chalice, turn two Scourge from exile, turn three Thought-Knot, turn four Thought-Knot. I get Electrolyzed in response to the second one and take Supreme Verdict with its ability. My opponent, caught with a grip of Snare, Path, Snapcaster, and Elspeth, Sun's Champion, never makes a fourth land drop. Smasher comes down the turn after to finish him off.
Top 8: Quarterfinals vs. Ad Nauseam (2-0)
Going into Top 8, I hold the second seed, meaning I get to play first in my matches.
Game 1, W (Play; PMP 6 - 7): My third hand has turn one Chalice, so I keep it. I follow that play up with Smuggler's Copter as my opponent suspends Lotus Bloom and casts Pentad Prism. Next, I cast Eternal Scourge from exile to start hitting with Copter and look for Smashers or more disruption. Phyrexian Unlife resolves just before Thought-Knot comes down to take Ad Nauseam, and I loot away my one land in hand, forgetting that Lightning Storm actually does things besides win the game. My opponent Storms the Seer and I don't have a land to redirect with, but he still fails to draw another Ad Nauseam, and I manage to pile on 10 poison.
Game 2, W (Draw; M 6 - 7): My opponent leads with Serum Visions, and I resolve turn-one Chalice again. Copter comes down on turn two to give everyone deja vu. I draw a second Copter instead of a creature and feel bad, and then two Seers in a row get countered by Pact of Negation. Finally, Eldrazi Mimic resolves, and I start looting. Ratchet Bomb comes down and ticks up to 3, ready to blow up Phyrexian Unlife should my opponent try any funny business. Smasher seals the deal.
Top 8: Semifinals vs. Breach Titan (0-2)
Game 1, L (Play; PMM 5 - 7): I keep an unexciting (for the matchup) five of Temple, Smasher, and three more lands. Smasher comes down turn four, but gets Bolted and Angered after one attack. I end up casting a pair of Scourges that can't compete with a Breached-in Titan. Ghost Quarter hits a Valakut in response to the Giant's activation, but two new Kuts clear my board and kill me the turn after.
Game 2, L (Play; MPPMM 4 - 7): I open double Temple and cast turn three Smasher. I also land Chalice for zero before my opponent gets to Pact mana, and my Thought-Knot shows me two Pacts and a Forest—score! My opponent lands a Titan to kill Smasher, but I have him with next turn's attack whether he swings or not (Valakut triggers included) so long as my top card is Spatial Contortion, Smasher, or Gut Shot. Unfortunately, my opponent topdecks Reclamation Sage, blows up Chalice, Pacts for Baloth, casts it, gains 4 life, and kills me. My next card? Gut Shot!
This matchup is brutal, and way tougher to win than matches against Scapeshift variants. I might have had a better shot if Chris had lost to Scapeshift in his quarterfinal match, but truthfully, I was hoping to pair with one of the Jund or Company decks at our table. Breach Titan seems like one of this deck's absolute worst matchups.
A Different Kind of Serum
Although I was a little bummed to pair with Breach in the Top 8, and completely lost my voice after 11 rounds of chatting while getting over a cold, I had an exhilarating tournament. Colorless Eldrazi Stompy performed admirably all day; I felt like I had the best deck in the room.
I was also glad to do so well with the deck I had practiced so diligently. Who needs Serum Visions when you have Serum Powder? I took a total of 25 mulligans and used Powder 19 times over the course of the tournament, averaging four new hands per match.
I'm also sold on Smuggler's Copter for now. The card continues to impress me in interactive and linear matchups alike, and I'm excited to see the card work its way into more Modern decks as time passes.
Until next time, may you find your Temples!