Strangling Zendikar

Posted in Reconstructed on September 15, 2015

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

The Eldrazi aren't like other creatures in Magic. Odd and inscrutable, they attack in ways that don't quite match anything else.

Or, in this case, they exile.

Save for the stray Warden of the Beyond, it's not very often cards mess with the exile zone. Usually, it's a sacred, off limits place where flashbacked spells and Soul of Innistrad get to hang out together. The Eldrazi, however, are anything but normal, and off limits areas are very natural places for them to show up.

And what to do with those cards? Process them, of course.

By now, you've seen your fair share of ingest creatures. You've seen some exiling spells. You've seen a few Processors. And you might be wondering, "What is the reward that makes this deck tick? What kind of effects can I unlock by eating my opponent's cards?"

Well, let today's preview card be part of that answer.

Wasteland Strangler isn't subtle, tricky, or mysterious. It's not the kind of Eldrazi that makes you rethink everything you know about Magic. However, what it absolutely is can be summed up adequately in a single word: powerhouse.

Let's start by looking at the body. If you're looking to curve out in an Eldrazi deck, 3 power for three mana certainly fits the bill. It can sit on your curve and be an entirely fine body, smashing in or defending as necessary.

But what really makes it juicy is its enters-the-battlefield ability.

Nekrataal saw plenty of play in its era. Skinrender saw a moderate amount (no thanks to Stoneforge Mystic and Sword of Feast and Famine ruling the roost) and was always on the precipice of showing up more.

But at three mana? Now we're talking! That's an incredible two-for-one.

The trick? Of course, you need to jump through the hoop of putting one of your opponent's cards in exile. And if they're not going to be so kind as to delve it away for you, you're going to need some action to help make that happen.

Fortunately, that's pretty easy for an Eldrazi. Let's take a look at a couple of options for playing with Wasteland Strangler in Standard.

Eldrazi Indigestion

Perhaps the first and most obvious place to try Wasteland Strangler in is a deck fielding plenty of ingest! Attack early, ingest some cards, and then take advantage with the Strangler and other Processor cards.

Here's an example of what that might look like:

Gavin Verhey's Consuming Eldrazi

Download Arena Decklist

What's Sludge Crawler, you ask? Keep checking DailyMTG to find out!

You may not know what all those cards do just yet, but the way this deck works is pretty straightforward: Play some early ingest creatures, attack and exile cards, and then reap the rewards with the Eldrazi Processors.

There are all kinds of cards you may may not have considered as enablers for decks like this one already sitting in Standard. Reality Shift is one of my favorites: For two mana, it's a removal spell that also puts a card into exile that's just ripe for processing.

Infinite Obliteration is another. Normally, I wouldn't want to main deck a card like that, since there's a good chance it won't affect your opponent's hand at all. However, when it gives you four pieces of fuel for your Processors, it becomes a lot more interesting! Imagine you slam it on turn three and name, say, Siege Rhino—then you've dealt with all their Rhinos (hopefully one of which is in their hand), plus generated four cards in exile. Bam!

Ghostfire Blade helps tie decks like this together, giving you a benefit for having plenty of devoid creatures. Tomb of the Spirit Dragon helps you race against faster decks.

This is the face of the ingest deck. Once your engine gets rolling, you get a bunch of highly undercosted-for-their-effect creatures. Mist Intruder doesn't look so scary—until it's powering up all of your best cards. (And perhaps wearing a Ghostfire Blade.) I expect to see people building plenty of decks like this one, so prepare yourself now!

Eldrazi Abzan

Of course, Wasteland Strangler fits in more decks than just those centered around ingest. While that deck makes it easy to turn on the ability, there are plenty of other decks in Standard that have incidental exiling.

And what deck features a surprising amount of exile plus a deep-seated love of value creatures? Why, Abzan of course! Let's check out exactly what I mean.

Gavin Verhey's Eldrazi Abzan

Download Arena Decklist

If you thought there weren't already the tools to do some exiling in Standard, think again! Anafenza, the Foremost, Abzan Charm, Silkwrap, and Utter End are all totally reasonable cards for a deck like this to play—and they all happen to exile cards in the process!

Abzan is going to have to adapt in this new format without cards like Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix, and this is one such way for it to show up. With that said, it remains as value-laden as ever, looking to pick up overstatted creatures at every opportunity.

Keep your eyes to the Card Image Gallery—I think you'll find there are plenty of cards for decks like this to utilize coming out with Battle for Zendikar. Prepare yourself for the new Standard!

Into the New Standard

To deck builders, there is little as exciting as a brand new Standard format post-rotation. New cards get to make their mark, and cards from the previous block that never quite blossomed finally get to shine. The world waits and holds its breath as players around the globe simultaneously race to come up with the decks that will shape the entire Standard format!

And that includes you.

Wasteland Strangler | Art by Jack Wang

So take a look over the Card Image Gallery (or wait until the entire set is revealed this Friday, if you'd like) and then send me your decks!

Here's what I'm looking for this time around:

Format: Battle for Zendikar Standard

Restrictions: Your deck should use at least one Battle for Zendikar card

Deadline: Tuesday, September 22, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

Submit all decklists by emailing me at

Decklists should be submitted with YOURNAME's DECKNAME at the top. Underneath should be one card per line, with just a leading number. For example:

12 Mountain

4 Zurgo Bellstriker

3 War-Name Aspirant

4 Wild Slash

. . .and so on. Please don't use anything but a space to separate the card numbers and names—don't write "4x Lightning Bolt," for example. Well-formatted decklists have a much better chance of being read and making it into the column. Poorly formatted decklists are more likely to be ignored. If I can't read your decklist, I certainly can't talk about it!

What wild new archetype will you come up with? It's all in how you use the cards! Send me the best you can do, and I look forward to checking it out.

I hope you've enjoyed the Battle for Zendikar previews so far! This set has a lot of exciting cards—and I can't wait to see them in action!

If you have any comments on this article, the decks, or even Battle for Zendikar in general, I'd love to hear them! Feel free to contact me by sending a tweet or asking me a question on Tumblr.

Well, every song must end—that's all for this week! But don't worry; there's always a fresh new tune right around the corner. I'll be back next week with my first foray into a reader's deck for the new Standard. Join me then, as we begin to chart these fresh waters together. Have fun, and I'll talk with you again soon!




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