Jun 8, 20171265 views

Putting Down My Beloved Bant Eldrazi - Massdrop East/West Article #20

Hi everybody! I am Ben Weitz, a member of Massdrop West, Gold Pro Magic player, and frequent MTGO grinder. One of my favorite cards of all time is Thought-Knot Seer, and I have long been a huge fan of the Bant Eldrazi deck in Modern. This was the last build I played with:
4 Ancient Stirrings
4 Path to Exile
4 Noble Hierarch
1 Birds of Paradise
2 Engineered Explosives
4 Eldrazi Displacer
4 Eldrazi Skyspawner
1 Matter Reshaper
1 Dismember
4 Thought-knot Seer
4 Reality Smasher
4 Drowner of Hope
4 Eldrazi Temple
3 Cavern of Souls
3 Brushland
2 Yavimaya Coast
1 Breeding Pool
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Temple Garden
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Windswept Heath
1 Forest
1 Plains
1 Island
1 Ghost Quarter
3 Disdainful Stroke
2 Natural State
2 Blessed Alliance
3 Rest in Peace
3 Stony Silence
1 Stubborn Denial
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
I think the deck is a strong, resilient midrange deck that is capable of broken starts (which is one of the most important properties of a good Modern deck in my opinion). Unfortunately, today I’m here to tell you that I don’t think the deck is well-positioned at the moment in Modern. There are a number of factors which contribute to my reluctance to play Bant Eldrazi.
  • Reality Smasher Isn’t the Biggest, Baddest Dude Around
Tarmogoyf has always been a popular card in Modern. Jund and Abzan have been playing ‘Goyf for years, and will continue to do so. However, when Bant Eldrazi was first starting to gain traction, the Tarmogoyfs out of these decks would usually be 4 / 5, or if you were particularly unlucky, 5 / 6. The Bant Eldrazi deck did not play many uncommon card types, just Land, Instant, Sorcery, Creature. There were a few Artifact cards, but you might simply not draw them. Similarly, Jund and Junk had only Planeswalker as an odd type to grow the Tarmogoyf, so there were many games where the ‘Goyfs were just outsized by Reality Smasher and Drowner of Hope. However, nowadays the Death’s Shadow builds of Jund and Abzan are much more common, and these decks are capable of making their Tarmogoyfs enormous. The Death’s Shadow builds are heavily incentivized to play a wide range of card types because of Traverse the Ulvenwald, so it is not unusual for them to have 5 / 6, 6 / 7, and even 7 / 8 Tarmogoyfs. Furthermore, Death’s Shadow itself is of course routinely much larger than a 5/5. Even though I believe the old Death’s Shadow decks were unfavored against Bant Eldrazi, the new Traverse builds have around 12 creatures that outsize even the biggest creatures in Bant Eldrazi, which means that you no longer can just focus on keeping Death’s Shadow off the table. These two creatures are the most prominent example, but I’ve even seen a few Torrential Gearhulks pop up and eat my Reality Smasher!
  • Rise of Unfair Combo Decks
Bant Eldrazi has never had a great matchup against combo decks. It will never be too badly unfavored because of Thought-Knot Seer and access to powerful blue and white sideboard cards, but you definitely don’t show up to the tournament hoping to play against Ad Nauseam. You definitely don’t want to play against Living End, because that combo deck is very consistent and their main combo interacts with your main game plan. Similarly, Dredge is a miserable matchup and you can basically only win game one when their deck just totally malfunctions. Finally, I don’t think I have ever beaten Storm in any match, and I’ve played against it at least ten times. That’s a lot of decks that are bad matchups! These decks used to have a significantly less share of the metagame so I didn’t mind having bad matchups, but some new printings have boosted their power levels to the point that I’m seeing them in leagues regularly. Baral, Chief of Compliance, the Amonkhet cycling cards, Gideon of the Trials, and Cathartic Reunion are all new tools for the unfair combo decks, and they represent a metagame shift that moves in a pretty hostile direction for Bant Eldrazi. There is also the new but relatively fair combo deck involving Vizier of Remedies and Devoted Druid. Collected Company matchups were close in the past, and were usually shored up post-board by supplementing your small amount of removal with graveyard hate cards. This new combo does not use the graveyard, so although I have never played against it, I have to assume that a Company deck utilizing Devoted Druid is not going to be a favorable matchup.
  • More Bad Matchups, Fewer Good Matchups
As discussed above, there has been a surge in popularity for many bad matchups for Bant Eldrazi. One might hope that they steal market share from other bad matchups, but it looks to me to be the opposite. The good matchups for Bant Eldrazi have gotten less and less popular, due to bannings or other pressure. I believed Infect to be one of the best matchups for Bant Eldrazi, but since Gitaxian Probe was banned it is almost nowhere to be seen. Two formerly good matchups for Bant, the traditional Death’s Shadow combo decks and the traditional Jund or Abzan midrange decks, are rare sights nowadays. They have basically merged into one archetype: a grindy Death’s Shadow deck, combining the components of each deck that were best against Eldrazi. Burn and Affinity have mostly stayed the same, but those matchups were barely favorable, and mostly neutral. Since Bant Eldrazi was such a popular deck only a few months ago, most decks have adapted to its presence and tooled themselves to incorporate cards or strategies that are effective against the Bant builds. This caused a metagame that is quite hostile to Reality Smasher and Thought-Knot Seer.
  • More Blood Moons
When Bant Eldrazi was starting out, Blood Moon was borderline-unplayable. One of the biggest attractions of the Bant Eldrazi deck was that there are almost no sideboard cards that are super-effective, except for Blood Moon. When my team was discussing strategy for the Eldrazi deck at Grand Prix Los Angeles, we decided that we would have no plan for Blood Moon, and just count on not playing against it. Unfortunately, the popularity of Bant Eldrazi caused people to react strongly and start including more Blood Moons in their decks. At Grand Prix San Antonio, I had to play against multiple decks with maindeck Blood Moons, and even more including the powerful hate card in their sideboard. I changed my Eldrazi deck to be able to fight against Blood Moon, utilizing Eldrazi Skyspawner and a basic Island (one time I even played a basic Wastes), but if there are as many going around as I had to play against in that tournament I would rather just play a different deck. What About a Different Eldrazi Deck? One of the best things about Modern is that the card pool is so enormous, it is almost certain that the best build of relatively new decks has not yet been discovered. Death’s Shadow and Jund strategies existed for years together before someone thought to combine them and create a version that, according to consensus, is better than both. There are enough powerful cards with the creature type Eldrazi that I think it’s definitely possible that there could be another build of Eldrazi that is more effective in this metagame. Some problems I discussed above are inherent (the main reason to play Eldrazi is to play huge creatures for not much mana, so any Eldrazi deck will have issues with Death’s Shadow and Tarmogoyf), but many can be sidestepped depending on the build. I think that Elder Deep-Fiend is a criminally under-explored option in Modern, and it’s especially effective at sneaking in final points of damage against Death’s Shadow decks. Distended Mindbender also shores up some weaknesses against combo decks, so I wonder if there could be a powerful emerge deck in Modern like there was in Standard. Maybe something like this:
BUG Emerge Eldrazi
4 Ancient Stirrings
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Fatal Push
3 Thoughtseize
4 Matter Reshaper
4 Eldrazi Skyspawner
4 Thought-knot Seer
3 Reality Smasher
3 Elder Deep-Fiend
3 Distended Mindbender
4 Eldrazi Temple
3 Cavern of Souls
4 Llanowar Wastes
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Watery Grave
1 Breeding Pool
1 Island
1 Forest
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Yavimaya Coast
2 Sanctum of Ugin
There is also Eldrazi Tron, which is an alternative Eldrazi deck that already exists. Unfortunately I have basically no experience with this deck, although I know that it has done very well in a number of capable hands. It is also a strange enough deck that I don’t really feel comfortable at predicting how good it is against the metagame. I will say that I love Eldrazi Displacer and the Tron version makes a lot of mana, so I wonder if there’s some way to fit Displacer in there. Overall, I think there’s still plenty of hope for Eldrazi Temple, although I’m not optimistic for Bant Eldrazi itself in the near future. My Deck in Vegas Because I have decided to put down my trusty Modern deck, I have to learn a new one. There isn’t much time until Grand Prix Vegas, which is a very important Modern tournament for me. I really need Pro Points, and this is one of my last five chances to earn them for this year. I believe that familiarity with your deck is one of the biggest edges you can get in Modern, so I’m pretty much just locking in a deck now and spending my time practicing with it. Several of my friends and fellow Pros have recommended Dredge as a powerful option. It certainly fits with my philosophy of playing a deck which is capable of powerful starts, so I’ll be trying to learn that. If something completely disastrous happens and I cannot win a match with Dredge, I’ll probably audible to Eldrazi Tron under the assumption that I’ll be able to play it well since it is somewhat similar to Bant Eldrazi. Other decks I think are good but I don’t really predict myself playing include Elves, Collected Company Combo, Affinity, Storm, and Death’s Shadow. Hope you enjoyed this article, and if you have any ideas for new decks with Eldrazi Temple I would definitely love to discuss them with you!

Thanks for reading, and please post any questions or feedback below!
We had an exciting reveal of two Amonkhet masterpieces , check out the video here: https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1482/scouting-report-massdrop-east-west-on-2-amonkhet-masterpieces
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2. Approaching New Magic Drafts by Ari Lax (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1193/approaching-new-magic-drafts)
3. Constructed Testing for Pro Tour Aether Revolt by Jarvis Yu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1213/recap-of-constructed-testing-for-massdrop-east-west-for-pro-tour-aether-revolt)
4. Breaking into Eternal Formats - Case Study: GP Louisville by Jon Stern (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1240/breaking-into-eternal-formats-case-study-gp-louisville-massdrop-east-west-article-4)
5. In Good Company - Top 8 at GP Vancouver by Eric Severson (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1285/in-good-company-top-8-at-gp-vancouver)
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I think the deck is bad right now. But I 5-0'd a league today with a new take on the deck. I play 2 Birds and play 4 Tireless Tracker since I found the Skyspawners have gotten worse. Tracker is a great card and it also helps post board when you dilute your deck.