The first time I faced down Eric's Lord of the Pit, I figured it must be the most powerful creature ever printed. It has 7 power! It has 7 toughness! Flying! Trample! My only hope was to draw my Shivan Dragon, slam it onto the battlefield, and hope I had enough red mana left over to take down the Demon with my Dragon's firebreathing.
I thumbed the top card of my library, held my breath, and drew . . . a Wind Drake. I lost that game in short order, but it was okay. I knew what deck I wanted to build next.
A few weeks later, I had my very own copy of Lord of the Pit. I dropped it onto the table during a four-player game, cackling like a maniac. It wasn't long before I learned how rotten it feels to take 7 damage each turn from your own Demon while your friends laugh at you for not having any creatures to feed it.
"Don't worry," Eric told me after I had scooped up my deck and was pawing through the cards, my face red with embarrassment. "He's Lord of the Pit, remember—not Lord of Punching Chas in the Face. You have to give him a pit to lord over if you want him to stay in line."
Eric handed me a copy of the card Breeding Pit, and my eyes widened. I knew that the two cards had been printed several sets apart, but they were clearly made for each other. "Keep it," he said. And just like that, I had my first-ever combo.
My preview card today is Lord of the Pit's weird alien cousin several times removed. It's not quite as big as Alpha's most fearsome Demon, but it's far more efficient. Oh—and its sacrifice clause is a benefit instead of a drawback.
Intrigued? Check it out:
Awesome, right? Let's unpack Smothering Abomination so we can see what we're dealing with.
My first reaction is that I'm glad to have been born human instead of Eldrazi. The Eldrazi are known for their desire to consume all life and mana that they come across, but this is the first time I've actually seen them depicted devouring their own young. Is this what happens when you sacrifice an Eldrazi Spawn or Eldrazi Scion token in order to generate a colorless mana? Or, perhaps, have the Eldrazi been forced to turn inward in search of energy as the battle for Zendikar rages on?
It's also worth noting that both of the Eldrazi depicted on Smothering Abomination—devourer and devouree alike—appear to be part of Ulamog's brood lineage, as noted by the bone-like mask and writhing tangle of tentacles. This isn't even brood-versus-brood tribal violence, then. It's very possible that the Eldrazi Spawn dying here is actually Smothering Abomination's hatchling and not just a precocious Eldrazi kid from the next neighborhood over.
And how about that funky mana cost? We know that Eldrazi born on Zendikar were once capable of having color alignment, but Smothering Abomination requires black mana in its casting cost without actually being a black card. The consequences of a deeper tie to the land and a more established presence on Zendikar, perhaps?
From a mechanical perspective, Smothering Abomination is a very powerful Magic card. A 4/3 flier for 2BB isn't a card you'd play in Standard without an additional ability, but it would still be a Limited bomb even if it didn't have any other text.
But oh man, that other text is really, really juicy.
Smothering Abomination draws you a card whenever you sacrifice a creature. That counts the creature you have to throw at the Abomination every turn, of course, but it also counts any creatures that you may be sacrificing for any other reason.
If you want, you can throw Smothering Abomination into a deck with a bunch of exploit cards and two or three copies of Dictate of Erebos. The deck might not be be very flavorful, but it won't be long before your opponent doesn't have any creatures in play and you've got a full grip of spells.
I'd like to keep things closer to home, though, and as luck would have it, one of the cards that plays best with Smothering Abomination is right there in the art:
Smothering Abomination burns through these guys just like Lord of the Pit devoured Thrulls. I don't know how many sweet cards in Battle for Zendikar will make Eldrazi Scion tokens for us to feed to the Abomination, but I do know a thing or two about spells that produce Eldrazi Spawns. For example, did you know there's an Eldrazi Spawn version of Breeding Pit? And that it's really, really good?
Yeah, if the Smothering Abomination wants a fresh supply of meat, it's probably going to spend a great deal of time hanging out in the Awakening Zone. Eldrazi Spawn and Scion tokens are perfect for this deck, because they can either be fed to the Abomination or sacrificed for mana. Either way, you'll come out ahead as long as you've got a Smothering Abomination in play.
I like the idea of sticking a bunch of Smothering Abominations and Broodwardens in the same deck and seeing whether your Eldrazi Spawn will be allowed to grow and thrive . . . or whether they'll simply be fed to the machine. Draw enough Broodwardens, and your army of Spawns will overrun your opponent. Draw your Abominations, however, and your nurseries will soon be empty and your hand will be full.
If Smothering Abomination is doing its job, Corpsehatch will allow you to kill your opponent's best creature while providing you with two more sacrificial Eldrazi Spawns to throw into the fire. If your Abomination is wreaking too much havoc, however, you can target it with your Corpsehatch (Smothering Abomination doesn't count as a black creature, remember) and watch as its body is turned into fuel for a generation of Eldrazi Spawns that otherwise would've been shoveled into the Abomination. That's life in the brood—quick, brutal, and efficient.
That's it for this week! Join me next time when we get a chance to see what Ugin's up to while the Eldrazi are stomping all over Zendikar.