From time to time we need to let go of things and just relax. We need to unwind, kick off our shoes, and pound a few “brewskies”. This can sometimes lead to no holds barred brawling where you try to beat your opponent senseless by any means necessary, but most of the time it’s just a good feeling. Of course by “brewskies” I mean decks that we brewed with new cards that have just come out in the newest set.
Star City Games recently had their SCG Open in Atlanta, and the Super Sunday Series championship was also held at Wizards of the Coast in Washington. A number of decks showed up to each tournament, but in the end it was the Eldrazi and Rally decks that made the biggest splash. One only had to look at the spoiler for Oath of Gatewatch to know that it was going to be a great deck for both of these archetypes. Reflector Mage was a nice addition to Rally decks, and there was no doubt in anybody’s mind that World Breaker wasn’t going to show up in Eldrazi decks.
I was happy to see multiple Eldrazi decks show up in the top 32 of the SCG Open, as well as at the Super Sunday tournament. In fact, one mono green Eldrazi deck actually finished in 2nd place. After hearing that a mono green ramp deck had made top 8 of the Open, I had thought that the list would be similar to the deck I’ve currently been working on with new Oath of the Gatewatch cards, but it’s actually quite different. The deck used at the open seems to be all over the place and rather inconsistent with all the silver bullet effects.
There are a number of card choices I don’t agree with:
- Haven of the Spirit Dragon – With only 2 Ugins and no Dragonlord Atarkas, why is this still needed in the deck? I think this slot could be used for something better.
- Crumbling Vestige – If you need green, play green, if you need colorless, there are better choices. This is a card that I think would be better in a 2 color Eldrazi deck such as GB or GR.
- Thought Knot Seer – this seems like more of a sideboard card than a main board card. It lacks the punch of other new Eldrazi cards, but in some instances it can be really strong. I just don’t see it as a 4 of in the main.
- 8 Mana creatures – a bit too much I think. You want to be able to hit 4 mana turn 3, but 8 is too much. It makes for poor late game draws.
- Bane of Bala Ged – If you’re looking for ways to recur Kozilek’s Return it’s alright, but when would you side this in? I think World Breaker would be much better.
There were somethings I liked however, like Titan’s Presence in the main, but overall the deck feels sub-optimal. Over the past week or so I’ve been working with my fellow cardboard samurai and I’ve come up with my own spin on mono green Eldrazi. However, it’s not really mono green at all, it’s actually colorless Ramp.
|75 cards, 15 sideboard|
4 Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
4 Sanctum of Ugin
2 Sea Gate Wreckage
1 Tomb of the Spirit Dragon
|4 Explosive Vegetation
2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
2 Titan’s Presence
2 Nissa’s Pilgrimage
2 Map the Wastes
2 Hedron Archive
2 Nissa’s Renewal
16 other spells
15 sideboard cards
The core of the deck is still the same. You still have your ramp spells, Ugin, and Ulamog, however I decided to go in another direction with the deck instead of your traditional ramp strategy. Ramp’s problem has always been aggro, especially hyper fast aggro like BW warriors and Atarka red. They get in and kill you before turn 4 and it’s over. What this deck tries to do is smooth out your curve to make you less vulnerable to those fast decks while still providing you with win conditions to end the game quickly.
Hangarback Walker had been in the original Eldrazi ramp deck but it was mostly hated out by the metagame thanks to Anafenza the Foremost. While Abzan aggro is still a force to be reckoned with, it doesn’t nullify Hangarback Walker as much as it did before. Without Anafenza or Kalitas seeing heavy play in the metagame, I believe Hangarback is a good card that gives you lots of defense early on in the game and later on provides you with a way to tutor with Sanctum of Ugin for a colorless card. This is a flex spot, but I think it should be good for now.
For mana creatures I decided to go with Hedron Crawler instead of a playset of Rattleclaw Mystic or Leaf Gilder because being able to rely less on colored mana gives you more options for land. You won’t be trading with attackers early on like the green mana creatures can do, but at the same time you won’t be losing any creatures to an Ugin activation. I’m still playing Rattleclaw Mystic, but only as a 2 of. You really don’t want more than 6 mana creatures in your deck if you can help it. What you want to be doing is casting a mana creature turn 2, then a 4 mana ramp spells such as Explosive Vegetation or Hedron Archive turn 3. From there you can possibly play a card like Nissa’s Renewal or Reality Smasher, but in the best case scenario you’ll play a land on turn 4 to give you 7 mana to work with so you can cast a World Breaker.
This is what the Eldrazi decks were sorely lacking in the previous standard metagame. They could sometimes ramp up to 6 or 7 mana on turn 4, but if they didn’t play a land like Shrine of the Forsaken Gods the following turn they wouldn’t be able to cast an Ugin to wipe the board and would be at the mercy of their opponent until they could play an 8th mana source turn 5 or put out an Ulamog turn 6. Having the versatility to play a big blocker that puts your opponent at a disadvantage or an aggressive 5/5 attacker puts you in a much better position turn 4 instead of just playing more ramp and hoping you have enough life to survive one more turn. Once Ugin or Ulamog hit the board the following turn you can pretty much lock up the game. Smasher and Breaker stop Siege Rhinos, Ojutais and Mantis Riders, and even Tasigurs. Being able to return World Breaker any time from the graveyard makes him amazing against control as well as Mardu decks running various removal. Infinite Reflection and Transgress the Mind were other problem cards for Eldrazi ramp decks, but adding in 2 more threats to the mix puts your opponent in a much tougher situation. You can still win a game with just a Reality Smasher or World Breaker if your opponent gets rid of your Ulamog.
One thing I did get from the SCG list though was going down to 2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon in the main. It’s still an amazing card against the likes of Abzan and Jeskai, but I believe there will be a lot more colorless creatures in standard now which greatly reduces his effectiveness. However, playing a 1 off of Kozilek gives me a lot of card draw when I play him around turn 6 or so, which gives me a chance to dig for an Ugin more easily in case I need him.
Going to a more colorless mana base also lets me take advantage of Sea Gate Wreckage to dig through my deck instead of relying on a top deck. There are plenty of colorless sources in the deck (20), which includes Tomb of the Spirit Dragon. The deck could use something mainboard against aggro decks, and Tomb of the Spirit Dragon seemed like a good choice. The deck runs 17 colorless creatures (more if you count after a dead Hangarback Walker) so it shouldn’t have a problem gaining you a few life each turn in a pinch. Speaking of colorless sources, I decided to run Wastes to make them available for fetching with both Explosive Vegetation and Map the Wastes (also the reason I’m running Map instead of 4 Nissa’s Pilgrimage). I had originally planned to play some Walker of the Wastes so that I’d have another large threat on the board, but I was advised against it due to how easily it can be killed with spells. 5 sources might be a little bit too much, but for now I’m trying it out.
The tried and true Shrine of the Forsaken Gods and Sanctum of Ugin are much better in this deck than they ever were before. In this colorless build, Shrine can be used to play every creature in this deck later on in the game (even Rattleclaw if morphed), and Sanctum now tutors for 17 (SEVENTEEN) creatures instead of 3-5. There are also 11 ways to activate it now, and this isn’t even taking into account what happens post sideboard. Sure you could probably play a Conduit of Ruin or From Beyond if you want some redundancy, but I feel like drawing cards with Hedron Archive or Sea Gate are better.
I decided to try out Titan’s Presence in the main board to start out, but in reality those 2 spots are floater. You can throw in Spatial Distortion (good against aggro decks) or Warping Wail (good against control or Rally to get rid of Cutthroat) depend on the situation. Eldrazi decks have never had instant speed removal, so it will be interesting to see how these cards will effect how people play against them. Being able to counter a Planar Outburst, exile an opposing Ulamog, or kill a 3/3 Warden of the First Tree will really shore up the decks previous weaknesses.
Thought-Knot Seer is another great card from OGW, but I don’t think it belongs in the main deck. I would much rather have a Reality Smasher in play against an Ananfenza, Siege Rhino, or other 4/5 power creature. Sure Seer lets you see their hand and exile a powerful card from it, but without a way to protect it you’re just giving your opponent more gas. I will keep mine in the sideboard and bring it in against control or the mirror match to deal with problem cards.
I decided to drop Jaddi Offshoot this time in favor of 3 Winds of Qal Sisma and 2 Feed the Clan for aggro match ups. This is for two reasons. The first is because I’m running a more colorless focused deck which means having a turn 1 forest is going to be a little harder to pull off. The other reason is because I believe that Winds is a better card against a variety of decks such as Dark Temur, Jeskai Ascendancy, and to an extent Rally decks. You’ll still have to watch out for Atarka’s Command, but I think Feed the Clan can still stabilize you long enough to gain the upper hand.
As for the other cards, I have Windstorm against Dragon based decks (Mardu and Esper), Void Winnower for the mirror, an extra Ugin for Jeskai and Abzan match ups, and a 2nd Kozilek for longer games with lots of removal or counterspells (namely control).
This is only my initial build, but it turned out a lot better than I thought. It still has the same power level as GR Ramp and the other Eldrazi builds, but it does lack in removal outside of Ugin’s ability and the instant speed cards in the sideboard (no Kozilek’s Return could hurt against a few match ups). That being said, I do like how this card affords you the ability to play more colorless and Eldrazi cards to build on the synergy that was there before. Better creatures, getting creative with your land choices, and having outs against certain decks that you didn’t have before will really help this deck. I’d like to try out a couple more cards in the future with this to see how they do, namely Walker of the Wastes and Den Protector. I also think that GB Eldrazi has a lot of new additions that can make the deck more effective than before (Bearer of Silence, Kalitas), but I’m going to need more time with the new metagame before I go too deep.
What do you think? Is colorless ramp a thing? Are we looking at another tier 1 variation or the Eldrazi strategy or will it fall flat on its face? I look forward to testing it out at GP Nagoya this weekend and you can be sure that I’ll have some updates for you in the coming weeks with how its doing. If you have any comments or suggestions on the deck, feel free to leave them down below. I’ll be at GP Nagoya from Friday to Sunday so if you’re interested in what’s going on at the event feel free to follow me on Twitter @yoschwenky. I’ll be interviewing people, taking pics, hanging out with friends, and enjoying myself all day until the doors close on Friday. Be sure to check back here next week for an article about the event! Thanks for reading.