Fall of the Titans

Posted in My Favorite Flavor on January 5, 2016

By Cassie LaBelle

Cassie LaBelle is a freelance writer. When she's not at her keyboard dreaming up stories, you can find her playing with his cats, listening to records, or building yet another Magic deck.

I have never actually beaten Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.

Oh, sure, I've defeated opponents who have summoned Ulamog; Valakut Invoker and Rolling Thunder teamed up to do the job in last Friday's draft. I've removed Ulamog from the game before, too—Stasis Snare took him out for a couple of turns before my opponent's vines reclaimed my ring of hedrons and his Eldrazi titan lumbered back onto the battlefield. I've never straight-up defeated Ulamog, though. And based on what happened to my good friend Lorthos a couple of weeks ago, Kozilek, the Great Distortion isn't going to be any easier for me to take down.

Part of the problem is that I am usually entering the fray alone. As we learned during Team Week, finding a partner who has your back during the toughest part of the fight can be the difference between victory and defeat. I can't take out Ulamog by myself, but neither can Jace. Or Nissa. Or Gideon. Or Chandra.

But all of us together? That's a different story.

Whoa. First off, let's take a moment and discuss the story implications of these two cards. Although the fate of Zendikar is still unknown, Emrakul is still missing, and I'm still not sure an Eldrazi titan can ever be fully wiped from the Multiverse, this looks an awful lot like a victory to me. Jace is here, and Nissa, and Gideon, and Chandra, and they've all teamed up to take down Ulamog and Kozilek. The flavor text on Fall of the Titans reads, "Chandra incinerated the bound Eldrazi titans." Unless the Eldrazi have developed a recent immunity to immolation, I think this is it. The good guys win!

If you analyze these cards one at a time, the Planeswalkers' battle plan becomes clear. Bonds of Mortality represents the efforts of Jace and Nissa to tether the Eldrazi titans to their reality on Zendikar. As we learned from Ugin during Jace's journey to the sanctum, the Eldrazi are beings of the Blind Eternities. Untethered, they cannot be stopped. Anchored to reality, they can be defeated. Without their efforts, Chandra and Gideon wouldn't stand a chance.

Fall of the Titans highlights the moment we've all been waiting for. With the titans bound to the world by Nissa and Jace, Gideon and Chandra are finally able to take them out. The surge cost is what really pushes this card's flavor over the top for me—the "if you or a teammate has cast another spell this turn" requirement could represent Gideon's crowd control efforts, keeping the broods from descending on Chandra until she has finished taking out the titans. It could also represent Bonds of Mortality, cast by Nissa and Jace as their part of the plan unfolds. If you're facing down Ulamog and Kozilek, both efforts are sorely needed.

And the best part? These two cards work together exactly the way you'd hope. If you cast them both with enough mana available, you can defeat both Ulamog and Kozilek in a single shot. Without Bonds of Mortality, Fall of the Titans cannot kill Ulamog. Without Fall of the Titans, Bonds of Mortality can't stop the Eldrazi. Killing a titan is actually possible, then—it just requires a little help from your friends.

Fall of the Titans | Art by Chris Rallis

Of course, my immediate reaction after seeing these cards was to start thinking about how to build around them. You could put together a pretty good red-green concoction featuring Bonds of Mortality and Fall of the Titans, but it wouldn't tell the whole story. Gideon couldn't be included, Jace wouldn't be there—and it would be very difficult to take down both Eldrazi by yourself regardless.

Teamwork was needed to take down the titans, and in order to showcase that aspect of the Battle for Zendikar, you're going to need at least two decks at your disposal. I think it's time for some Two-Headed Giant, don't you?

On the Zendikari side, I'd suggest building a blue-green deck focusing on Jace and Nissa and a red-white deck with Chandra and Gideon. If we use Bonds of Mortality as a guideline for the blue-green deck, we can focus that deck on ways to slow down the Eldrazi and play support. We know that Noyan Dar was at the battle for Sea Gate, so it's not a stretch to think that Jace might have learned how to cast Dampening Pulse during the fight. Part the Waterveil is fantastic in Two-Headed Giant, and it's the exact sort of trek that Jace and Nissa might take in search of answers for the titans. I'm not sure what her fate is at the moment, but Kiora, Master of Depths is a great way to give your teammate some extra mana that they can use to fire off their Fall of the Titans. Aligned Hedron Network is a must, of course, and I'd load up on as many awaken cards as possible to showcase Nissa's tie to the land.

Gideon and Chandra's deck is going to be more aggressive almost by default. In addition to Fall of the Titans, you'll need ways to ramp up your mana production while taking down as many Eldrazi as possible. Boiling Earth is a fantastic card here, as are Quarantine Field, Stasis Snare, Gideon's Reproach, and Radiant Flames. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar will inspire the rest of your creatures, and Hedron Archive is a great on-flavor way to make sure that your Fall of the Titans will be powerful enough to annihilate your targets.

On the other side of the table, I'm planning to build two Eldrazi decks—one featuring Ulamog and the other featuring Kozilek. If you're having trouble telling their lineages apart during deck construction, remember that Ulamog's brood have those skull-like bony faceplates on their heads. Kozilek's brood has sharp, poky things either sticking off their heads or floating next to them. Most of the Eldrazi in Battle for Zendikar are from Ulamog's brood lineage, but Oath of the Gatewatch and Rise of the Eldrazi both feature plenty of Kozilek's crew.

If you have five players and feel like having an even more epic team-up, you can consider building a deck for each Planeswalker at the battle—Gideon, Jace, Chandra, and Gideon—and pitting them against a single superpowered Eldrazi opponent. You'll have to tweak the rules in order to give the Eldrazi player a fair shot: some combination of cards that start the game in play, reduced casting costs, and allowing that player to draw up to seven at the end of each turn should do it. Remember, you want to create a four-on-one battle that feels like it could be easily won by either side, so you should err on the side of giving the Eldrazi deck a large head start. That way, beating the titans will feel even more epic. If you have any Schemes from the old Archenemy set still kicking around, this might be a great time to bust them out. After all, who is more arch an enemy than the Eldrazi?

May you and your teammates always emerge victorious.

—Chas Andres

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