A couple weeks ago, I wrote a strategic guide to mulliganing with Colorless Eldrazi Stompy, a deck I've championed on Modern Nexus for almost two years now. Today's follow-up piece focuses on the deck's second-most-challenging (and important) aspect: sideboarding.
This article covers build variations and possible sideboard includes before jumping into the matchup guide. But first, the list:
I've been testing a couple of changes to the sideboard recently, cutting All Is Dust and Grafdigger's Cage for additional copies of Surgical Extraction and Pithing Needle. As we'll see in the next section, there are multiple ways to construct the sideboard, although the bulk of our 15 is locked in. But before deciding on a sideboard configuration, players should tune their mainboard for the decks they want to beat.
Mainboard Flex Spots
Colorless Eldrazi Stompy has five flex spots. In my build, they're currently occupied by 2 Matter Reshaper, 2 Endless One, and 1 Smuggler's Copter. Before we jump into sideboarding, let's cover the merits of each option.
Matter Reshaper: Ideal against highly interactive decks (Jeskai, Shadow), and combat-focused ones that don't love sitting across from a three-power creature (Zoo, Humans). Lackluster against any deck that plans to ignore it (Storm, Tron, RG Valakut).
Endless One: One shines in matchups that demand a lot of pressure very quickly. In those, it's servicable as an additional two-power creature on turn one, but truly excels alongside Eldrazi Mimic itself. The X-costed Eldrazi plugs whatever hole in the curve we need filled to ensure we can continuously apply pressure. Its glaring weakness is Fatal Push, but One's still acceptable against midrange decks thanks to its potentially huge size.
Smuggler's Copter: Looting past dead cards is powerful enough in this deck that opponents basically have to deal with Copter if possible. That makes the Vehicle a Splinter Twin-style tempo play that forces interactive opponents to keep up mana each turn, lest we crew our two-mana consistency engine. It's naturally great against decks that skimp on removal, too, and useful for flying over board stalls generated by Tarmogoyf, Gurmag Angler, or Knight of the Reliquary. Copter's failings become apparent when we fail to find a pilot (rare) or when opponents load up on small removal like Bolt and Push (less rare). The card is also awful in multiples, as we can sometimes draw two Copters and no pilot, and we struggle to consistently crew a pair of them.
These days I'd advocate for a single Copter in the main in all but the Jundiest of metagames, and advise players to carefully weigh their Reshaper/One split based on the anticipated field. An open metagame calls for a 2/2 split, although I can understand the argument that Modern's variety rewards us for ramping up on proactivity (which would favor Endless One). Still, Reshaper is so nasty against removal spells that I'd be hard-pressed not to include some amount in most of my future lists.
The only other cards I'd consider for flex spots are sideboard options, namely Spatial Contortion and Ratchet Bomb. Both of these picks are highly metagame dependent. As for Relic of Progenitus, I think if you want to run that main at all, it should be at 4, with Chalice of the Void relegated to the sideboard and Simian Spirit Guide replaced by other flex spot options, including one Ghostfire Blade.
Dissecting the Sideboard
Colorless Eldrazi Stompy's sideboard can be neatly divided into three categories: spot removal, grave hate, and utility. Understanding each component and its uses is critical to success with the deck.
Our sideboard removal package compliments Dismember (or flat-out replaces it against Burn and Jeskai Tempo) to give us ample ways to stomp combos, blow out blocks, and neuter aggression. Boarding in the full removal suite turns us into a Jund-style midrange deck, which is exactly where we want to be in certain matchups. Spatial Contortion is our most flexible removal spell, as it's got Bolt's admirable coverage and doubles as Lava Spike while swinging with a large creature. Gut Shot's best at pinging Dark Confidant, mana dorks, and infect creatures; All Is Dust is an option to combat value-centric Collected Company decks and random stuff like Pillow Fort.
Our baseline grave hate package is 4 Relic of Progenitus, which also serve a unique function with Eternal Scourge. Combined, these cards allow us to "go Dredge" and essentially prevent midrange decks from ever grinding us out. Relic then replaces Bant or Tron's pricey curve-toppers like Drowner of Hope and Karn Liberated when it comes to going over fair decks, in addition to its traditional applications as graveyard hate.
Joining Relic is Surgical Extraction, another card that's nutty with Scourge (becoming a zero-mana "draw 4" once opponents manage to deal with one) and particularly effective against graveyard-based combo cards such as Past in Flames, Kitchen Finks, and Goryo's Vengeance. The floor is so high on a single Surgical that I'd never dip below one, although the second can theoretically rot in hand once all our Scourges have been exiled.
And rounding out the suite is Grafdigger's Cage, a card that provides incidental grave hate while actually owing its inclusion to Chord of Calling and Collected Company. As we'll see, our Counters Company matchup needs no help, but Knight of the Reliquary still annoys us out of the fringe Bant builds.
The top dogs as far as utility goes are Ratchet Bomb, which sweeps away wide fields and kills problematic permanents, and Pithing Needle (alternatively, the slower-and-steadier Sorcerous Spyglass), which prevents combos and turns off planeswalkers. Beyond these, a wealth of cards can be ran in utility slots. Listed are those I've found passable for certain fields.
- 2-4 Ratchet Bomb
- 1-3 Pithing Needle/Sorcerous Spyglass
- 0-2 Warping Wail
- 0-1 Ghostfire Blade
- 0-1 Damping Matrix
- 0-1 Crucible of Worlds
- 0-1 Witchbane Orb
- 0-1 Endbringer
Tier 1 Sideboarding Guide
This guide covers all nine Tier 1 decks according to Modern Nexus's November metagame update, in descending order of popularity. There may of course be superior plans to the ones I propose here, but know that these are the best I've found so far, and that each has served me well.
Given some lucky scouting, we can cheese Affinity in Game 1 with a Chalice on 0; otherwise, pre-board Cranial Plating presents an uphill battle. We become favored post-board, when we have plenty of removal to break up their synergies. I like Chalice regardless of play or draw as on 0 it shuts off a large portion of their deck, and in multiples, another on 1 gives Affinity even more dead draws. Since we're counting on one-for-oneing the threats that do stick and playing a tempo game, blanking some number of opposing draw steps comes in handy.
Smasher turns the corner pretty well, and helps us steal Dismember-fueled Game 1 victories. But after siding, we're more interested in beating down with little guys while disrupting. Powders help us get to those interaction-heavy hands while dumping Scourges into exile, helping us go lower looking for hate without giving up our pressure.
Burn is already quite easy to beat thanks to Chalice of the Void and Thought-Knot Seer. Our many three-drops wall Burn's threats, and Simian Spirit Guide accelerates us into broken openings. Destructive Revelry comes in from their sideboard, but our combat plan will often race them anyway. On that note, it's usually correct to aggressively mull for Temple post-board, and to curve threats into Thought-Knot before slamming Chalice when possible.
Ratchet Bomb is an admittedly weak bring-in, but it beats out Smuggler's Copter and Dismember. To its credit, Bomb helps defeat Burn hands featuring multiple one-drops and provides an out to the stray Ensnaring Bridge.
Humans is a lot like Affinity: tough to beat Game 1, and much easier post-board. Their Game 1s are a little worse than Affinity's (no Cranial Plating) and their post-board game is a little better (thanks in large part to Reflector Mage). A key difference is we can remove Affinity's creatures before they have the opportunity to generate value, but Humans's creatures cast spells when they enter the battlefield. Additionally, Chalice of the Void blows against this deck thanks to Aether Vial and Cavern of Souls.
Reshaper is something of a double-edged sword here; while it's likely to trade with some of Humans's creatures to our benefit, the first-striking Thalias both eat it in combat.
Eldrazi Tron (unfavored)
The strong Gx Tron matchup is one reason to play Colorless Eldrazi Stompy, but the midrange-slanted Eldrazi Tron gives us problems. Alas, the "go Dredge" plan generally reserved for midrange is of little value against one that still tops out with colorless planeswalkers and Batterskull.
Eldrazi Tron forces us to take a hyper-aggressive role, Powdering into hands with Mimic and Seer and throwing Ghost Quarters on draw steps. Needle effects and Ratchet Bomb are crucial for dealing with Walking Ballista, quietly the deck's strongest card in the matchup---it guns down Mimic and our manlands and keeps Scourge clean off the table. Contortion removes those pesky Reshapers, pushes through damage, and helps kill big Eldrazi in a pinch.
Counters Company (favored)
While Counters Company walks all over Eldrazi Tron, our many removal spells ensure we have a great time against the deck. Relic gives us an endless supply of threats while negating Kitchen Finks and Eternal Witness, Needle proactively attacks whatever combo opponents seem to be assembling, and Bomb gives us a functional board wipe.
Another good matchup Colorless Eldrazi Stompy has over Eldrazi Tron, Storm simply can't keep up with our combination of pressure and disruption. Between Guide to pop Relic and the phyrexian-costed Surgical Extraction, we threaten many ways to interact with their combo while tapped out. Guide's other uses include rushing out Thought-Knots and Chalice for 2, our preferred number here. We keep Dismember for the mana bears, and Ratchet Bomb gives us an elegant answer to Empty the Warrens. Bomb should be sandbagged in hand until opponents go for some Goblins.
Jeskai Tempo (favored)
This matchup only gets tricky when opponents slam us with multiple Geists. Otherwise, it's trivial to wall just one. Bomb comes down proactively to start ticking up to three, since Geist is the only shot this deck has at beating us; Ghost Quarter takes care of Colonnade, Chalice on 1 shuts off most of their burn, and Relic again plays double-duty, invalidating their attrition plan with Scourge while nerfing Snapcaster Mage and Logic Knot.
Dismember's a little too costly to keep in at 4, but joins Contortion as a way to snipe Spell Quellers. Relic already hinders Snap, so we don't need the second Surgical as much. Powder can also be cut for more threats to hedge against Stony Silence.
Grixis Shadow (medium)
This matchup can really go either way. Sometimes we lock them out handily with a fast Chalice or Relic, and sometimes they strip our good cards, By Force our disruption, and control the field with a huge Shadow. Interestingly, our disruption combines to completely lock down their threat base should we set them up fast enough: Chalice prevents them from casting Shadow (and Bomb keeps it off the table), while Relic prevents them from casting delve threats (with resolved ones handled by Dismember). Grixis Shadow never grinds us out thanks to Eternal Scourge, which here serves as both recurring attacker and chump blocker extraordinaire.
I'd say this matchup is better for us than it is for Shadow, but it's tight enough that I'd call it medium. Some games are close and many end up wildly favoring one player or the other.
RG Valakut (unfavored)
Our plan against Valakut is to race them, which is often a bleak proposition. Thought-Knot Seer's our best spell, closely followed by Eldrazi Mimic; our priority while mulliganing is to find an opener with Eldrazi Temple and one or both of those cards, which puts a lot of strain on our hands. Matter Reshaper almost never triggers here, but we keep him just for the body. Similarly, Gut Shot comes in to remove Sakura-Tribe Elder (a task also regularly executed by Dismember).
Sometimes, we can cheese victories against the deck. Chalice for 2 locks Valakut out of ramping should we land it early enough, and for 0 stops Summoner's Pact. And Surgical Extraction pairs with Ghost Quarter to remove Valakut itself (or with some removal spells to exile all the Titans). We shouldn't count on these scenarios occurring, but one key to navigating this matchup is to always look for windows to make a blowout play.
It's the Bomb
I've been asked numerous times for entry-level strategic content on this deck, and am happy to have finally written some. Between the mulligan guide and this sideboarding guide, players picking up Colorless Eldrazi Stompy for the new year should have plenty to work with to get started on the deck. Good luck to those of you who do, and be sure to let me know how it goes!
Read Part 3 of this article series, “Colorless Eldrazi Stompy Mini-Primer: Play Tips,” here.