The Eldrazi Overlords

Posted in Event Coverage on February 6, 2016

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

The big story of Modern this weekend is the success of Eldrazi decks that accelerate into powerful cards like Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher using Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple. The deck was known coming into Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, but few could have predicted its complete and utter dominance.

Two versions of the deck have been particularly successful. Powerhouse teams ChannelFireball and Face-to-Face Games joined forces to create an interactive and consistent version of the deck that attacks the current Modern metagame from every angle. Meanwhile, the upstart team East West Bowl put together a Blue-Red version of the deck that's been putting up remarkable numbers here at the Pro Tour.

Face-to-Face Games and ChannelFireball are two of the best teams in Magic. It's not surprising that this group of masters came up with one of the most successful decks for this weekend's Pro Tour.

ChannelFireball and Face-to-Face Games Colorless Eldrazi

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There had already been a lot of buzz surrounding Eldrazi in Modern, but most players were experimenting with various color combinations: White-black with Lingering Souls and Path to Exile, blue-black with Drowner of Hope, and even black-green with Ancient Stirrings. Jacob Wilson said that he tried versions with Drowner of Hope and other versions with Eldrazi Obligator before the two super-teams eschewed all of the above options in favor of a colorless version of the deck that gains a lot of consistency. Sure, the deck can pay black mana for Dismember using Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, but Urborg's true purpose is that it actually generates multiple mana when combined with Eye of Ugin.

Wilson explained that being colorless also gives the deck access to a lot of creature lands and Ghost Quarter. Blinkmoth Nexus is great against Infect and Affinity, while Ghost Quarter is great in those match-ups while also helping against Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Urzatron lands like Urza's Tower.

Face-to-Face Game team member Jacob Wilson was one of the Eldrazi pilots this weekend.

Wilson knew that Living End and Affinity were the deck's worst match-ups and added Chalice of the Void to swing the tides in their favor. The deck punishes the combo decks that would be faster than it with Chalice of the Void, which can be played for one to shut out decks like Storm or Infect. What's even more impressive is that Simian Spirit Guide enables the deck to play Chalice for one on the first turn of the game to functionally win on the spot against a lot of the Modern field. Wilson knew that most Modern decks play 12 to 28 cards that cost 1 mana, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring Chalice of the Void into the mix.

Wilson is confident that Simian Spirit Guide is worth the card disadvantage. This version of the deck needs to make big plays on turn two or three, and losing one card to stick Reality Smasher a turn early is just fine.

Main deck Spellskite protects the deck's giant Eldrazi from removal while also punishing Infect, the rising star among Modern combo strategies.

Ratchet Bomb lets the deck take care of huge swaths of Elves, Merfolk, or tokens to allow its larger monsters to swing in and end the game in short order.

Jacob Wilson and Samuel Pardee led two of the best teams in Magic to one of the best Modern decks for this weekend. However, a ragtag gang of upstarts that make up Team East West Bowl made their own version of the Eldrazi deck that's been putting up impressive numbers of its own.

Team East West Bowl's Blue-Red Eldrazi

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I spoke to Andrew Brown about the deck and how it functions differently than the other versions of Eldrazi we've been seeing.

Andrew Brown and the other three members of Team East West Bowl that sleeved up Blue-Red Eldrazi have seen great success with their choice at the Pro Tour.

The first thing that Brown pointed out was the number of 3-mana creatures and how that allows the deck to have explosive games with Eye of Ugin. The first 3-mana creature hits play on turn two, but a pair of three mana creatures can come down on turn three.

Speaking of three-mana creatures, Brown acknowledged that Eldrazi Skyspawner seems out of place in Modern, but it's actually a great card for the given format thanks to its strength against Affinity and Infect. Eldrazi Obligator is great in the mirror, allowing the deck to turn the corner and close games quickly. Vile Aggregate provides a brick wall that plays great defense against things like Wild Nacatl before becoming a monstrous threat in the later stages of the game.

Brown says Drowner of Hope is another mirror breaker that matches up very nicely against the field. Sometimes it feels like the best card in the deck," he added.

A new villain has emerged in the world of Modern, as the Eldrazi have begun to lay waste to the competition. Join us for coverage of the Top 8 from Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch tomorrow to see whether the new deck on the block takes down the tournament, or if one of Modern's other archetypes is able to stop the Eldrazi overlords.

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