Deck Tech: Eldrazi Stacks with Valentin Mackl

Posted in GRAND PRIX PRAGUE 2016 on June 12, 2016

By Tobi Henke

Today's breed of Eldrazi decks had first found its way into Modern, but the extraplanar invasion didn't stop there. Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin had led to a number of turn-two Thought-Knot Seers already, so you can imagine what happens when Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors are added to the mix.

One of the players flying the Eldrazi colors (or lack thereof) this weekend was Gold Level pro Valentin Mackl, veteran of six Grand Prix Top 8s and a semifinalist at last year's World Magic Cup with Team Austria.

Valentin Mackl

However, Mackl didn't just copy any old Eldrazi list from the internet; he created his very own version. "It was clear at first sight that the Eldrazi deck's mana base was super strong, super unfair. But it still left things to be desired. Specifically, Chalice of the Void was among the deck's biggest strength, yet Eye of Ugin didn't help in casting that. Eye was also problematic for opening hands. You can keep many hands with even as little as one land. But every one-land hand with Eye of Ugin is an automatic mulligan. In general, Eye makes the deck more inconsistent, which is a good thing when you get the mad Eldrazi Mimic start, but a huge liability otherwise."

That sentiment was echoed by fellow Austrian and fellow Gold Level pro Oliver Polak-Rottmann. "Eye is the worst card in the deck."

"So I decided to cut the Eye which led to a cascade of changes," Mackl went on. "If you cut Eye, Mimics get worse. If you cut Mimics, Endless One and Endbringer get worse. So I threw out all of them and replaced them with more of the good artifacts, specifically with Trinisphere and Smokestack. I ended up with a more control-oriented deck with a better late game. It's not the hyper aggressive deck anymore, although it's still plenty aggressive with fast Thought-Knot Seers and Reality Smashers.

"The final piece of the puzzle was Hangarback Walker. I was looking for a 2-drop and Hangarback Walker is obviously great with Smokestack. Smokestack itself is basically the deck's late game. You hardly ever go beyond one or two counters, but that's all it takes, especially in conjunction with Trinisphere," Mackl explained.

How did that change affect the deck's matchups?

"Well, obviously combo matchups get better when you add four Trinisphere to the usual package of Chalice of the Void and sideboarded Thorn of Amethyst. Storm is probably my best matchup. I could play against that deck all day long. Sneak and Show is also great, especially with Warping Wail to counter Show and Tell," Mackl said. "People say Miracles is a good matchup for regular Eldrazi, but I don't really believe that. In any case, it gets better with Smokestack. Trinisphere is amazing against Delver decks, and there are hardly any targets left for Lightning Bolt and very few for Abrupt Decay. Overall, the deck is now better against people overloading on creature removal, because Smokestack adds a whole new layer, gives the deck a whole new angle of attack."

As for bad matchups, Mackl mentioned one deck he absolutely didn't want to play against. "Lands is scary, just like with regular Eldrazi, but probably even more so. The mana denial plan can't keep up with what they're doing, and removing so many of the more aggressive elements from the deck clearly didn't help. I didn't meet any Lands players so far which makes me quite happy."

The deck had been working well for Mackl so far, as he was 11-2 when I spoke with him, still well in contention for a Top 8 berth. "The deck can do some truly crazy [stuff]," Mackl said. "In the first two rounds I played yesterday I didn't even get to see what my opponents were playing before sideboarding. Both simply conceded after my turn-two Trinisphere …"

Valentin Mackl's Eldrazi Stacks

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