Feb 23, 20185368 views

Gestation of RG Eldrazi

Hi everybody! Ben Weitz here once more, and this time I’m going to talk to you about one of my favorite Modern decks in recent memory. RG Eldrazi recently won GP Lyon in the hands of Grzegorz Kowalski, the only person brave enough to play it at the PT as well. We worked on the deck together, so I thought I would share a bit on how I approach building Eldrazi shells (because Bant and RG are not the only ones I’ve ever tried), and conclude with some discussion on where to go in the new Modern format. If you’re interested in a sideboarding guide you won’t find that here, but Grzegorz wrote a great article you can find here: http://www.hareruyamtg.com/article/en/category/detail/275.
Bant Eldrazi and the Eldrazi Blueprint My love for the Bant Eldrazi deck is no secret, and although the Modern metagame has slowly moved in a direction where I don’t think Bant is very good, I will always have fond memories of the deck. The Bant Eldrazi deck is a midrange deck that leans on Eldrazi Temple to have broken starts in the same way that Affinity leans on Mox Opal to have broken starts, although you trade raw broken-ness for having more reasonable stand-alone cards. The deck plays some cheap acceleration in Eldrazi Temple and Noble Hierarch, or Ancient Stirrings as a way to find Eldrazi Temple. Because of these sequences, you really want to play lots of three drop Eldrazi, since those are your most common turn two plays. The deck is rounded out with the very powerful, expensive Eldrazi in Thought-Knot Seer, Reality Smasher, and Drowner of Hope. Notably, Eldrazi Displacer pulls double-duty in the deck, being both a proactive three drop, and providing a sink for your excess mana when you run out of expensive spells to cast. In my opinion, this idea of having a manasink is absolutely crucial to the construction of good Eldrazi decks. You are playing a deck with expensive cards, so you’re going to draw a lot of lands, so you better have something to do with the lands. Finally, Bant Eldrazi is rounded out with some interaction in Path to Exile and Dismember. The last few slots are usually flex, and can be filled by more removal in Engineered Explosives, more grindy threats like Eternal Witness, more acceleration in Birds of Paradise, or fake sideboard cards like Scavenging Ooze. Let’s take a look at the RG Eldrazi deck and see where it mimics these philosophies:

1 Forest 1 Mountain 1 Stomping Ground 2 Wooded Foothills 4 Karplusan Forest 4 Grove of the Burnwillows 4 Cavern of Souls 4 Eldrazi Temple 1 Kessig Wolf Run 4 Noble Hierarch 4 Ancient Stirrings 4 Lightning Bolt 1 Forked Bolt 2 Dismember 1 Birds of Paradise 3 Scavenging Ooze 1 Mind Stone 4 Eldrazi Obligator 4 Matter Reshaper 4 Thought-Knot Seer 4 Reality Smasher 2 Endbringer
We see the powerful Eldrazi core of Matter Reshaper, Thought-Knot Seer, and Reality Smasher, as well as the initial start of Noble Hierarch and Ancient Stirrings. The removal suite is also nearly identical, with Lightning Bolt taking the place of Path to Exile. I mentioned that earlier that 3 drops and manasinks are vital to the Eldrazi midrange strategy, and in RG we see Displacer … well, displaced by Eldrazi Obligator. Obligator lives in a similar space as a creature we can cast on turn two, on top of being a powerful late game topdeck. I have ended many games by drawing Ancient Stirrings on turn 9, finding an Obligator and bashing for millions. One important observation is that Lightning Bolt and Obligator both skew much more aggressive than Path and Displacer. These cards really complement each other, and more importantly they complement Reality Smasher much more effectively than Bant Eldrazi. There were many matchups with Bant where I would sideboard Reality Smasher out of my deck, because I wanted to play a control role and buy time to assemble the Displacer/Drowner combo. With RG Eldrazi I would rarely take out Reality Smasher because it is the focal strategy. Another expensive manasink is given by Endbringer. You might think that Endbringer is mediocre outside of Eldrazi Tron because you cannot cast it on turn three (at least not often), but I have enjoyed a small number of them. You simply have to play expensive cards because you have to play enough lands to support your Smashers, and while Endbringer is no Drowner, it serves in a pinch. Finally, we see the flex slots in Scavenging Ooze, Birds, Mind Stone, and a Forked Bolt. Scavenging Ooze is a house against all the graveyard-based midrange-ish decks like Death’s Shadow or Mardu Pyromancer. Forked Bolt shines against Mardu Pyromancer as well. I think Grzegorz rounded out the deck with cards that are good against what he perceived the metagame would be based on the PT. Grzegorz also played a single copy of Kessig Wolf Run. I would have chosen to play two had I played the deck, mainly as another manasink that complements your aggressive gameplan.
The comparisons I draw between the two colored Eldrazi decks are no accident, I firmly believe that this is the way colored Eldrazi decks need to be designed. You have to play three-mana Eldrazi in order to properly exploit the advantage that Eldrazi Temple gives you, and you need to play Ancient Stirrings because it’s broken. Noble Hierarch gives you the consistency for playing three drops on turn two when you don’t draw Temple. You have the core of expensive Eldrazi colorless creatures, and you expand into a few more expensive cards to make use of your high land count. Because you’re playing a midrange deck, you need to play some sort of interaction with your opponent so you pick the best interaction available in your colors, and round out the rest with some flex slots depending on how you like to play the deck or what you expect in the metagame. I have applied these principles to try and develop a number of Eldrazi strategies in Modern, although most of them don’t really pan out. Here is another deck that I tried to play for a while:

4 Noble Hierarch 4 Ancient Stirrings 4 Matter Reshaper 4 Eldrazi Skyspawner 4 Thought-Knot Seer 4 Reality Smasher 4 Elder Deep-Fiend 1 Drowner of Hope 2 Phantasmal Image 2 Dismember 3 Vapor Snag 4 Eldrazi Temple 3 Sanctum of Ugin 4 Yavimaya Coast 2 Breeding Pool 4 Misty Rainforest 2 Island 1 Forest 3 Cavern of Souls 1 Venser, Shaper Savant
As you can see, it is built in a very similar manner to the other colored Eldrazi decks. Ultimately I discarded it because Vapor Snag is not a particularly good card, and the EDF plan is somewhat unreliable, although extremely powerful.
RG Eldrazi, Jace, and Bloodbraid Elf It just so happens that decks that are both red and green got a huge boost in the arm from the recent Modern unbannings. Bloodbraid Elf is an extremely powerful card, loves three drops, and is an aggressive card. Kind of just sounds like a perfect match, doesn’t it? I think that Bloodbraid Elf will be very good in RG Eldrazi in the coming months, and I love that it is yet another hasty creature. Imagine for a moment, if you will, casting Bloodbraid Elf, cascading into Eldrazi Obligator, obliging your opponent’s creature, and attacking them for millions + 3? You get to cascade into a five-drop! (Even though you only get three of the mana for it). Also, by playing so many haste creatures, you are well-insulated against Jace, the new boogeyman of the format. Even though Jace is so powerful against Thought-Knot Seer, it is quite weak to most of the other cards in the deck. I think it’s pretty easy to cut the two Endbringers and a few other cards for four copies of Bloodbraid Elf, probably a Scavenging Ooze and the Forked Bolt. It’s possible that four is too many, but in the early stages of the format I prefer to push the new cards as far as we possibly can.
Now that we put Bloodbraid into our deck, we have to think about how it affects the other choices we’ve made. I would be tempted to add more three-mana Eldrazi to the deck, if it weren’t for the fact that there aren’t any playable ones in just red and green (sorry Vile Aggregate. You are but a pale shadow of your former glory). You would have to branch out into blue or white to grab another playable three drop. This is certainly possible, but I think brewing that up would be another article in itself. I do think that since Bloodbraid Elf makes our deck significantly more aggressive, we can cut the Scavenging Oozes for something better. I’ve always been tempted to try Eidolon of the Great Revel in Eldrazi decks because of how asymmetric the effect is when you’re casting Reality Smasher, but the double colored cost has always scared me off. In red and green it could be possible to play it because Grove of the Burnwillows makes your mana so much better. A safer route is just playing good ol’ faithful Tarmogoyf. However, I think that the majority of the cards are pretty locked in because of the principles we discussed earlier, so there aren’t many more changes we can make. Having said that, I’m sure I’ll immediately be proven wrong when the next set of Modern 5-0 lists come out.
I love playing with Eldrazi Obligator, so I’m really excited to see how RG Eldrazi evolves, and you can bet I’ll be testing it for GP Phoenix!

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CongoBill, Sengi, and 2 others

Have you tried r/b eldraz? This is a list my friend made: https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/924112#online Do you have any suggestions ?
Great article, can't wait to see what you put together and push this deck further along!