Evolution of the Resistance: New Kids on the Block

Posted in GRAND PRIX BOLOGNA 2016 on March 6, 2016

By Frank Karsten

We already explored how some players were trying to beat the Eldrazi yesterday, but there are plenty of alternative approaches in contention today. Here are three that were doing well in Bologna.

Leszek Luty – 8-Rack – Grand Prix Bologna 2016

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Planeswalker (4)
4 Liliana of the Veil
Creature (2)
2 Pack Rat
Artifact (8)
4 The Rack 4 Ensnaring Bridge
Enchantment (4)
3 Shrieking Affliction 1 Bitterblossom
60 Cards

Leszek Luty

It has become common knowledge that Ensnaring Bridge is a pretty good foil to the lumbering Eldrazi. The artifact is commonly seen in Lantern Control or in the sideboard of Affinity, but Leszek Luty exploited it in another strategy: 8-Rack, the deck that overloads on discard spells and ultimately wins with The Rack or Shrieking Affliction.

"I figured that with the Eldrazi supposedly everywhere, this deck with Ensnaring Bridge and discard for their Thought-Knot Seer could work," he told me. "I like it over Lantern Control because I have experience with it, which I think is one of the most important things going into a GP, and it has more angles of attack with creatures and planeswalkers."

When asked about his record against Eldrazi decks, he answered that he had played against two: one red-green and one white-blue. "The red-green deck didn't care much about my Bridge due to World Breaker, but against the white-blue deck, I played a turn-three Ensnaring Bridge, and my opponent just scooped!"

Nils Gutierrez Von Porat – Ascendancy Ascension – Grand Prix Bologna 2016

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Nils Gutierrez Von Porat

Enchantments are a weak point of the Eldrazi decks, as they typically have no way to remove them. Creatures are not that big of an issue thanks to Path to Exile, Kozilek's Return, and/or Dismember, but enchantments are a more problematic card type. Nils Gutierrez Von Porat capitalized on that with a combo deck featuring not only Pyromancer Ascension but also Jeskai Ascendancy. Cards like Path to Exile and Gitaxian Probe fuel the enchantments, and the deck eventually wins by attacking with a huge Fatestitcher.

"Before the Eldrazi, I was testing this deck together with Danan Morera, who is also in Day 2," he told me. "We liked the strategy of mixing Jeskai Ascendancy and Pyromancer Ascension, and it worked really well against Abzan Company and control decks. I personally first played more of a combo deck with 4 Manamorphose instead of 4 Remand, but I eventually made the switch to Remand."

"Then the colorless Eldrazi came out," he continued. "They played 4 Chalice of the Void, so I switched to a different deck. But then, when we saw that Chalice was going to be a lot less played and the blue-white Eldrazi version was going to be more played, we went back to our deck. I think it's 50-50 against Eldrazi---we bring in the token strategy with Young Pyromancer and Timely Reinforcements for game 2, which won't be 1/1s thanks to Jeskai Ascendancy---but I think this deck was mainly a good choice for this tournament because there was quite a lot of Abzan Company, a good matchup, and not a lot of Burn, the bad matchup for our deck."

Jacob Sorensen – Living End Moon – Grand Prix Bologna 2016

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Jacob Sorensen

Living End is a good way to sweep a board infested by a bunch of Eldrazi creatures, no matter how big they are. While Jacob Sorensen isn't the only player on Living End today, he has the relatively unique addition of Blood Moon to his main deck. Especially with Simian Spirit Guide, he can shut down Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin before they enable a discounted Thought-Knot Seer or Reality Smasher.

"I tested a lot against blue-white Eldrazi, and the turn-2 Blood Moon was lights out for them." Sorensen did have to figure out the challenge of how to not get locked under his own Blood Moon, but the landcyclers offered the solution to that conundrum. "Twisted Abomination and Valley Rannet are better than Pale Recluse because you can actually hard-cast them, and Lightning Bolt is not played much these days so three-toughness bodies are fine."

I had one final question for him: why the snow-covered basic lands? "Because they're pretty!" he answered. "And it even prompted one of my opponents to make a wrong choice: he thought I was on Skred Red, so he put Chalice of the Void on one rather than zero!"