The (Gut)Shot Heard ‘Round The World: A Pro Tour Analysis

“Songs will be sung about this deck”
–Marshall Sutcliffe, PT Atlanta

It’s time to start singing. At Pro Tour Oath, the metagame was broken. U/R Eldrazi went 19-1 on Day One among the five players that ran it. The Top 8 saw six Eldrazi decks (three sub-archetypes) and two Affinity decks. But just because they “broke it” doesn’t mean Modern is broken. Today, I’m going back to my roots, analyzing the format, datamining lists for information, spotlighting gameplay, and throwing veiled insults at environmentalists. If any of that sounds interesting to you, buckle up.

Eye of Ugin Banner

Going into Pro Tour weekend, two questions were at the forefront of everyone’s minds. First, how will the format adjust to the removal of Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom? The timely banning of two format powerhouses ensured a shift in the Modern landscape from relatively stable, suburban living to gun toting, Wild West action. Pair this with a set full of new Oath of the Gatewatch cards making waves in Standard, and suddenly the stage is set for an exciting, uncertain event. Would an existing deck rise up to fill the shoes of Splinter Twin as the de facto “best deck”? Would Twin’s market share be split among the rest of the format equally? Would a new deck emerge from the shadows to exploit the hole left by Twin’s absence? How would Oath of the Gatewatch cards influence events? Say what you want about the positive/negative merits of bannings; Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch was one of the most exciting events I’ve seen in a while. Let’s break it down.

Pre-PT Conditions

Two weeks before the Pro Tour, Todd Anderson won the SCG Atlanta Classic with Temur Delver. Here’s what I said about the format then:

“Sidestepping Infect hate with diverse threats like Hooting Mandrills and Tarmogoyf, Todd Anderson capitalized on a lack of Lightning Bolt in the format and punished an apparent field full of greedy players looking to execute their solitaire combos with impunity.”

Deceiver ExarchWhen Splinter Twin was banned, Modern lost a powerful combo deck, a powerful control deck, and a powerful tempo deck at the same time. More importantly, it lost one of the best Lightning Bolt decks in the format. Splinter Twin was extremely adept at combating aggressive creature decks, as it has a plethora of tools available to both remove small creatures and buy time to execute its gameplan. Seven pseudo-fog effects in the form of Deceiver Exarch and Pestermite‘s tap abilities, along with eight Lightning Bolts (when paired with Snapcaster Mage) used to cause small creature decks fits, and now that pressure is gone.

In Atlanta, Todd sidestepped the Infect hate (the Level 0 deck) and attacked a weakness of the format in a slightly different way. Still an aggro deck that takes advantage of less Bolts, Todd’s deck did similar things differently, and it served him well in Atlanta. While Todd’s route to victory was just one option among a multitude of good choices for that event, it highlighted an apparent weakness of the format; linear aggressive decks resilient to conventional removal. Would we see something similar at the Pro Tour?

Our New Eldrazi Overlords?

The big question of Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch this weekend was clearly “did anyone find the right Eldrazi deck?”. Focusing primarily on shining the spotlight on new cards, one of the coverage team’s talking points throughout the event was “finding the Eldrazi deck”. Prior to Oath of the Gatewatch, some Eldrazi lists had been floating around Modern here and there, in different flavors and with different objectives, but at the center of almost all of them was a strong core of powerful cards. This was helped in large part by the new Eldrazi block. In Seth Mannfield’s interview for Team Blitz, he commented on the deck, saying “We’ve tested 10,000 different variations of that deck…I’m pretty sure none of us are going to play that deck”. Opinions were clearly pretty mixed regarding Eldrazi, but from the beginning of the tournament news started to spread that something had been “found.”

Coverage was quick to put Colorless Eldrazi on camera, spotlighting it in Round 5 (the second round of Modern) when Shuhei Nakamura of Team Channel Fireball faced Makihito Mihara on Burn. Before we start taking apart the Eldrazi deck, let’s take a quick look at the forerunners of this archetype.

B/W Eldrazi, Matthew Dilks (10th - SCG Cincinnati)

Creatures (14)
Oblivion Sower
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Wasteland Strangler
Blight Herder
Spellskite

Sorceries (9)
Lingering Souls
Inquisition of Kozilek
Thoughtseize

Planeswalkers (1)
Liliana of the Veil

Instants (5)
Path to Exile
Slaughter Pact

Artifacts (6)
Expedition Map
Relic of Progenitus

Lands (25)
Cavern of Souls
Vault of the Archangel
Eldrazi Temple
Bojuka Bog
Eye of Ugin
Marsh Flats
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Ghost Quarter
Godless Shrine
Swamp
Plains
Sideboard (15)
Liliana of the Veil
Stony Silence
Timely Reinforcements
Celestial Purge
Slaughter Pact
Crucible Of Worlds
Engineered Explosives
Disenchant
Duress
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The earliest respectable Eldrazi finish I can find is Matthew’s list from SCG Cincinnati. By pairing powerful new Battle for Zendikar Eldrazi creatures with the framework of Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple, Matthew was able to play a functional ramp/aggro strategy with combo elements as well, all while having access to eight copies of Ancient Tomb (Matt only Eldrazi Templeplayed six). Fair! While technically a “big mana” deck in a similar vein as R/G Tron and Amulet Bloom, Eldrazi had natural resiliency to the obvious big-mana foils like Fulminator Mage or Blood Moon. Most of its threats are colorless, so Blood Moon really only stops the special land bonuses, and Fulminator Mage is almost laughable in the face of Oblivion Sower.

One Oblivion Sower is almost guaranteed to ensure smooth mana for the Eldrazi archetype, as the combination of Relic of Progenitus vs. opposing graveyards filled with fetchlands all but ensures Sower grabs multiple lands from the opponent. This is all known information though. How has Eldrazi changed with the dual wild cards of Oath and bannings?

“Well, a Turn 1 Simian Spirt Guide allows for Chalice of the Void on 1, and one has to think that that is absolutely brutal against a Burn deck”.
–Tim Willoughby

Well said, Tim. Team CFB employed a variation on the “usual” updated list of Eldrazi, including the Simian Spirit Guide/Chalice of the Void package within an almost entirely colorless shell.

Colorless Eldrazi, Ivan Floch (2nd- Pro Tour Atlanta)

Creatures (30)
Eldrazi Mimic
Eldrazi Temple
Endless One
Matter Reshaper
Reality Smasher
Simian Spirit Guide
Spellskite
Thought-Knot Seer

Artifacts (6)
Chalice of the Void
Ratchet Bomb

Instants (4)
Dismember

Lands (20)
Eye of Ugin
Ghost Quarter
Mutavault
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Wastes
Blinkmoth Nexus
Sideboard (15)
Gut Shot
Oblivion Sower
Pithing Needle
Ratchet Bomb
Relic of Progenitus
Spellskite
Warping Wail
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Hold on, this is nothing like the old Eldrazi deck! Oath of the Gatewatch brought some incredible new tools to the table in the form of Eldrazi Mimic, Matter Reshaper, Thought-Knot Seer, and Reality Smasher. When played alongside eight Ancient Tombs, this new Eldrazi deck full of undercosted threats has the potential to explode onto the board and overwhelm everything in its path. Rather than bothering with grindy cards like Oblivion Sower and Blight Herder, Eldrazi 2.0 takes advantage of a set of clearly pushed linear aggressive cards. Here are a few common turn sequences:

Even a “fair” turn sequence can be nuts, but keep in mind that with a deck full of four-ofs, a playset of Simian Spirit Guide, eight Ancient Tomb effects, and 20 excellent creatures, the above draws are more indicative of the norm than actual goldfishes.

Ancient TombI’ve said it multiple times, and it’s worth restating, the ability of this deck to play eight Ancient Tombs pushes it farther up the power level scale than any other deck in the format. NO other deck is capable of draws like Eldrazi’s, except perhaps Grishoalbrand, and this deck suffers none of the consistency or fragility issues of Grishoalbrand.

With the majority of the room focusing on being aggressive, the Eldrazi deck is positioned favorably to both deploy to the board faster and hit harder, while also being more resilient to hate.

So, how do you fight this deck?

Infect is full of X/1s, and has to play awkward spells to fight cards like Spellskite. Affinity still dies to Stony Silence, and Burn is in big trouble if Eldrazi can find a Chalice of the Void. All the aggressive decks (and the midrange decks designed to prey on the aggressive decks) seemingly pushed the top end out of the format, making slow combo decks like Scapeshift a true liability. Control is almost a laughable choice, as they now have to contend with a deck that plays Thoughtseize on legs in the form of Thought-Knot Seer and built-in card advantage in the form of Matter Reshaper and Reality Smasher. It’s almost as if all these creatures just have incidental text to make them a nightmare for those evil control decks…

Colorless Eldrazi wasn’t the only flavor on the weekend. U/R Eldrazi, in the hands of Jiachen Tao and Andrew Brown went 19-1 on Day 1. That’s insane! So, spoilers!, here’s the winning list:

U/R Eldrazi, Jiachen Tao (1st - Pro Tour Atlanta)

Creatures (37)
Drowner of Hope
Eldrazi Mimic
Eldrazi Obligator
Eldrazi Skyspawner
Eldrazi Temple
Thought-Knot Seer
Vile Aggregate
Reality Smasher
Ruination Guide
Endless One

Instants (3)
Dismember

Lands (20)
Eye of Ugin
Cavern of Souls
Gemstone Caverns
Island
Scalding Tarn
Shivan Reef
Steam Vents
Sideboard (15)
Chalice of the Void
Gut Shot
Hurkyl’s Recall
Ratchet Bomb
Relic of Progenitus
Spellskite
Stubborn Denial
Tomb of the Spirit Dragon
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Numerous comparisons between the U/R Eldrazi Modern deck and Battle for Zendikar draft decks have been made already, so I’ll leave that alone. Regardless, this collection of seemingly underpowered cards have incredible synergy, and when everyone’s being linear, Vile Aggregate and Ruination Guide can get out of control quickly. Tao’s U/R Eldrazi deck went 9-1 in Swiss (and 3-0 in the Top 8 obviously) to finish with an incredible record.

Eldrazi MimicFor me, the strength in this deck lies in Eldrazi Mimic, and the fact Modern has just shifted to a point where the format is soft to these kinds of decks now. Everyone is focusing on doing their own powerful thing, and the wide variance of powerful things available makes it difficult for any general reactive deck to hold their own. This deck falls apart to an Anger of the Gods, but who can really play that right now? The diversity of Modern creates this environment where a foil exists to any problem, but often players can’t afford to dedicate sideboard slots to that effect without becoming too weak elsewhere. For players experienced with Modern this is nothing new, but the reality is these Eldrazi decks are here to stay and room must be made for them in other players’ sideboards.

The Moment(s) You’ve All Been Waiting For

This match is one of the most entertaining I’ve seen in a long time. We’ll take it step by step. Press play.

LUIS Turn 1: Eye of Ugin, Eldrazi Mimic, Eldrazi Mimic (off a mulligan to 6)

FRANK Turn 1: Land, Go

LUIS Turn 2: Land, attack for 4

FRANK Turn 2: Land, Eldrazi Mimic

LUIS Turn 3: Land, Thought-Knot Seer, take Frank’s last spell, attack for 8 (down to 8)

FRANK Turn 3: scoop

Game Time: 47 seconds

Game Two saw Frank go Eldrazi Mimic into Matter Reshaper into Thought-Knot Seer (on Turns 1-3) while Luis could only fight back with Relic of Progenitus, Spellskite, and a Matter Reshaper of his own for defense. A turn four second copy of Thought-Knot Seer put the nail in the coffin, pushing the match to game three. This game is very interesting to watch because under the surface (the surface being Luis getting his face beaten in) you can see how fast the Eldrazi deck is capable of playing to the board. Luis had stuff, but that stuff was irrelevant in the face of fast, powerful creatures. Rather than getting tricky, as some have suggested, perhaps the answer is just a bunch of Lightning Bolts and Terminate.

Gut ShotGame Three is excellent, and I won’t give a play by play to force you to watch the video (hopefully). One thing that is interesting is the effectiveness of Ghost Quarter from Luis to Strip Mine Frank, as he only plays two basics. Definitely something to keep in mind, I like Ghost Quarter as the opportunity cost to play it is often low, and in many situations it can be excellent. We already don’t mind Ghost Quarter against Affinity, Infect, and Tron, and it does work against Eldrazi in certain situations as well. Eye of Ugin can often ramp out threats and be “worth” four mana or more (as we saw in the above match) and is definitely a strong target going late Ghost Quarter would love to hit.

Finally, GUT SHOT.

“I think I’ve given Gut Shot a good name”
– Luis Scott-Vargas

If You Can’t Beat Em’…No, You’re Gonna Beat Em’

Silly gooses on the Internet are talking about banning Eldrazi Temple. Less than a month after complaining about Splinter Twin being banned?!? Some player somewhere is shaking his head slowly while cautiously sleeving up Colorless Eldrazi for a test drive. I’m going to level with you here: nothing needs to be banned. Change your shorts and let’s get down to business.

Sweepers are good against decks that play to the board. “Everybody get in here!” indeed. We all know this, but that only helps if we actually put those cards in our sideboard. It baffles me that, as humans, we make a big deal about recycling, like one individual can make some huge difference.Damnation The average American generates 4 pounds of trash a day (according to DoSomething), yet collectively the U.S. wastes 200 millions tons of garbage a year. In the big picture, changing my recycling habits only affects the yearly total by .0000364% (three-hundred thousandths of a percent for the math illiterate), yet my neighbor glares at me for not doing my part when he’s crazily digging through my trash. Wait, should I be worried? I can already imagine some of you wonderful readers rushing to the bottom of the page to rip me apart for not doing my part! Thus, I find it difficult to comprehend when players expect OTHER players to pick up the slack and put Stony Silence in their sideboard to fight the Affinity menace. Double standard man, I’m telling you. Play Damnation and get over yourself!

I’m not entirely sure land destruction is the way to go. It seems good in theory (Eldrazi decks are powering out threats at double speed, so I should slow them down) but in reality it’s probably too little too late. On the draw, your opponent goes Eldrazi Mimic into something 4-5 CMC on Turn 3, and you’re going to drop a Blood Moon or Magus of the Moon on that board? Good luck.

It might just come down to playing more Lightning Bolts. Ben Stark took a removal heavy Mardu Control list to 7-3 in Modern, alongside Paul Rietzl:

Mardu Control, Ben Stark (7-3 - Pro Tour Atlanta)

Creatures (8)
Abbot of Keral Keep
Dark Confidant
Fulminator Mage
Grim Lavamancer

Planeswalkers (4)
Ajani Vengeant
Liliana of the Veil

Sorceries (11)
Lingering Souls
Thoughtseize
Inquisition of Kozilek

Instants (14)
Terminate
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Helix
Path to Exile

Land (23)
Lavaclaw Reaches
Ghost Quarter
Godless Shrine
Arid Mesa
Marsh Flats
Mountain
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Plains
Sacred Foundry
Shambling Vent
Swamp
Sideboard (15)
Ajani Vengeant
Crumble to Dust
Damnation
Fulminator Mage
Lightning Helix
Rakdos Charm
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
Timely Reinforcements
Wear // Tear
Zealous Persecution
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Eldrazi Mimic should have some trouble getting any traction against all that removal! Lingering Souls is a great way to buy time, and this deck has just enough powerful cards that it can cobble together a midrange game against any opponent. This type of deck is the exact thing Twin pushed out of the metagame, as it was often searching for crucial interaction and had to play right into Twin’s pacing. I’ll definitely be trying this one out in the future.

Conclusion

For me, Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch was excellent. I enjoyed seeing the new Eldrazi deck run the tables, and it’s clear to me Wizards is focused on pushing a linear Eldrazi deck into the Modern spotlight to generate interest in their new set. On that account they succeeded, which, as players of the game, we should be taking as a positive. I don’t believe Eldrazi is too strong, and I’m certain the format can adjust to beat it. Interestingly enough, it seems the best way to beat Eldrazi is to reduce the solitaire characteristics of many decks in the format, as Eldrazi is just doing better things faster. If decks are forced to get more interactive to fight the king of the hill, isn’t that a good thing? It will be interesting to see how things develop! What do you think? Are you terrified of the poor metagame numbers coming out of the Pro Tour? Do you have any secret tech to combat our new Eldrazi overlords? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll see you next week.

Trevor Holmes
The_Architect on MTGO
Twitch.tv/Architect_Gaming
Twitter.com/7he4rchitect

Trevor started playing Magic in 2011. He plays primarily online and studies Architecture at UNCC. Recent paper Magic accomplishments include a 2015 Regional PTQ win qualifying for Pro Tour: Magic Origins and a Day Two performance at GP Charlotte. He also streams weekdays at twitch.tv/Architect_Gaming! Follow him at twitter.com/7he4rchitect and architectgaming.wordpress.com!

58 thoughts on “The (Gut)Shot Heard ‘Round The World: A Pro Tour Analysis

    1. Chalice for 1 bricks the sort of great interaction Red (of all colors!) could have against Mimics at the very least. Forked Bolt is filthy when played for full value, it makes Electrolyze look like hot garbage in terms of raw mana efficiency.

    2. Forked Bolt does sound awesome for stopping the powerful Mimic draws, which are really the core of everything the deck does that’s considered “broken”. Great suggestion, definitely something I’ll be trying to fit into the sideboard of that Mardu Control list!

  1. If you don’t think an Eye/Temple need to be banned, then you dont understand the game at a fundamental level. Which means, you probably just started playing in the last 5 years and have no idea what power is in Magic. Take is from the vets, fast mana is completely busted and Modern doesn’t look like it has the tools to control it reliably (i.e. no Wasteland or FoW). Have fun trying to ‘meta’ these decks with Spreading Seas and Blood Moons, which will probably steal you maybe 2 out of 10 games.

    Take any creature type, Merfolk, Elves, etc, and give them 8 sol lands; they would be overly good, too. Now, take those Merfolk and make them have insane value like TNS, Matter Reshaper. and Reality Smasher…

    Fast Mana and free spells, it doesnt take a genius to know how good those are in Magic and throughout Magic’s history. Especially when no other decks in the format has access to the same tools.

    1. This. Trevor doesn’t understand mtg but he sure does undeerstand how to be a brash and arrogant about jamming irrelavent deck ideas done our throat while backhanding us ‘with get over yourself’.

      Trevor – how about you do a video series with the best deck you can come up with to beat eldrazi – and back up your dribble with some actual data? Isn’t that what modern nexus is all about?

      I have now decided to exclusively read Sheridans content on here – this article was the final straw in a long line of garbage articles from the side authors..

    2. I agree. From Black Lotus to Dark Ritual to Summer Bloom (and everything in between): fast mana is fundamentally busted.
      Trevor, I think you can agree with me that a T1 manadork is a pretty good play for a lot of decks. You could have 3 mana on T2, 4 on T3 and so on. Great! This does come at a cost: you can’t play anything else T1, it costs you a card for a negligible board presence and opponents can easily interact with such a weak creature. Playing multiple dorks also leaves you open to stuff like pyroclasm and electrolyze.

      Now compare this with dropping a T1 Eldrazi Temple. This costs you 0 on T1, not even an extra card and you get to use it right away for a 2-drop. In modern your opponent has a very tough time interacting with it because modern is a format composed of sets which don’t support early game interaction with lands (Spreading Seas being your best option here). Playing multiples is super strong and has no drawback. A MASSIVE difference to our mana dork scenario.
      And Eye of Ugin is an even worse offender because it can can be “used” multiple times per turn.

      Put 2 and 2 together and you’ll see that the eldrazi engine is extremely powerful, if a bit inconsistent. But the deck is already evolving and GR lists are now dominating which use Ancient Stirrings to dig for temples, eyes or action. The best way to beat them while not getting beaten by the rest of the field is to join them (in a slightly bigger version until you can go under again). But I’d love it if you proved me wrong and made a list that has a decent matchup agains the drazi menace and the remnants of the competitve field.

    3. I’ll respond to Michael and Anonymous specifically, but this applies to many who have echoed similar sentiments.

      Michael – When compared with the rest of the format, the power level of Eldrazi Temple/Eye of Ugin in combination with the new Eldrazi creatures is clearly “overpowered”. The closest comparison I can make to a strategy that pushes the limits of what we consider “fair” would be Affinity, and perhaps followed closely by Infect. Affinity takes advantage of free creatures and enablers and backs them up with 12 “payoff” cards in a way that looks similar to a lot of what makes Eldrazi powerful. Mox Opal on Turn 1 is just as powerful as Eldrazi Temple, but having 8 copies of the effect instead of 4 definitely tips the scales. Affinity is also kept in check by the fact that most of their deck is junk without those payoff cards, whereas Eldrazi is still playing great creatures, albeit a bit slower.

      The biggest difference (aside from the obvious fast mana issue everyone keeps talking about) between Affinity and Eldrazi is that we’ve already found easy, natural foils to Affinity; Stony Silence, Ancient Grudge and the like. The “right” foil to Eldrazi has yet to be found, though I believe it is out there. This is why I took the position I took in my article, not to, as Anonymous cleverly said, “be brash and arrogant about jamming irrelevant deck ideas down our throat while backhanding us ‘with get over yourself” but rather to take a dissenting opinion to bring something unique to the table and promote discussion.

      It has always been my hope that the truly awesome readers of my articles would understand that my primary goal as a content producer for this site is not to “be right”, or “seem smart” or “get it first”. I have been, and always will be, focused on attempting to generate interesting conversation and a unique point of view. Because I have the opinion that I think a discussion about whether or not Eldrazi can be beat should happen first before talking about banning does not warrant comments calling me a “modern imposter”, relating my articles to “garbage”, calling me an FNM scrub, or, my favorite one:

      Trevor needs to straight up fuck off – he’s a laughably bad writer and just plain shit in regards to understanding modern – how’s that jank ass grixis bullshit going Trevor?

      I could go on, but that’s not moving the discussion forward. Which, again, is what I’m focused on, not on “being right”. This community (the Nexus community and the Magic community) is better and smarter than attacking an individual based purely on the way he writes and the opinions he has. Yes, Eldrazi is clearly, based on the PT results, doing more powerful things better than anything else in the format, helped immensely by the combination of Eldrazi Temple/Eye of Ugin. If we had a ban announcement tomorrow, if we decided on bans based on individual events, ABSOLUTELY Eldrazi should get nerfed. Let the rest of the Internet say that. I’m focused on saying something different. Not different for the sake of being different, but different in the hopes of moving the discussion forward and providing something unique and entertaining for Nexus’ readers. I welcome disagreements, but I hope we can have an actual discussion without some of the language that we saw this week.

      Thanks,
      Trevor

      1. Perhaps with all the similar sentiments being voice you might actually write a more balanced article next time instead of sensationalism and poorly thought out solutions.

        You also might get buy-in to your articles if you don’t offend your readers and acknowledge the issue at hand. Anyone can have a unique point of view – but for God’s sakes back it up with something or become irrelevant – which most ppl seem to think you are becoming.

  2. And you’ll be dead before you cast Damnation. Better yet, you’ll have to rip it off the top because Thought Knot certainly isn’t going to let you keep it.

    I agree with some of your points on why Eldrazi is so good, but I think your conclusion is flatout wrong. The interactive cards that can deal with Eldrazi only work on a mediocre Eldrazi draw. Even with your hate cards, you’re going to lose to the nut-draw from the deck. And interactive decks already have issues dealing with the plethora of solitaire decks in the format like burn, infect, affinity, etc., which is what’s going to keep people from playing sweepers in their sb.

    So with this conclusion, outside of financial reasons why would you play a fair deck that has issues with other degenerate decks that can *maybe* beat Eldrazi when it draws poorly over Eldrazi itself and just pick up free wins? I don’t see any reason to.

    1. I agree with all of your points. The worst part about Eldrazi is that is has all its bases covered. You’ve got the explosive draws, the built-in card advantage present in Matter Reshaper, Thought Knot Seer, and Reality Smasher, and that can make it almost impossible to fight it on every axis, especially when the fast mana is busting the barrier of what’s “fair” in Modern down completely.

      Thought-Knot Seer is the worst, taking sweepers out of the hand while developing a board, an actual Thoughtseize on a creature. Maybe, just maybe, Modern could handle Eldrazi if this guy wasn’t printed, but he was.

      I’m not going to call for a ban until Wizards puts it in writing. If the rest of the community is all saying the same thing, I do my readers a disservice by joining in the groupthink and not looking for a unique perspective. But things definitely don’t look good.

  3. Eldrazi Temple is inside the creatures category in the UR list you posted.

    Besides, Ensnaring Bridge is brutal against both decks. I play Lantern Control, though. There’s a chance Bridge is only worth it if you have a deck with adequate means to protect it, such as Lantern.

    On the subject of sweepers and Damnation, let’s not act like you will be doing nothing in the first 3 turns while you wait to clean the table with Damnation in the 4th. A simple Thoughtseize guarantees you’ll get the Seer from the UR list, always. Against the Colorless one they can only avoid it by T1 chalice on the play, and if they do that, against a properly tuned deck, they have spent their 1st turn, will attack as early as the 3rd and they are down to 5 cards.

    The problem, from my testing, is not that you don’t get to cast the sweeper. If you play appropriate numbers of terminate, path, discard and general disruptive cards you will get to play your sweeper. The problem comes when, after the sweeper, you have 2-3 cards, they have 1-2, and you are in an awful position if you can’t put any pressure quickly because (specially with the UR list) because whatever they are going to draw in the next 3-4 turns will almost surely outclass what you will draw.

    So the answer is more disruption, removal, sweepers AND a fast and kill. Control the board and then Kiki-angel. Or a very big creature that doesn’t die to dismember. Something that ensures once you have controlled the situation, you put them at the defensive fast. In the same vein, land destruction and lilianas are good at that point.

    1. A second problem is having that theck packed with Thoughtseizes and general disruption to not fold to burn. Generally speaking, I think a properly tuned Jund, ready to play that “survive 3 turns, then clean, then go on the offensive” might be decent.

      The problem is those kinds of decks tend towards a low threat count naturally, and you can’t afford to not have something very serious the moment you can finally breath against Eldrazi.

      The good part is Colorless Eldrazi has also a semi-low threat count plus horrible topdecks, and the UR list is decently soft to things like Pyroclasm.

    1. I like Ensnaring Bridge as a general answer, but I’m not sure I would play it in Affinity. Affinity is probably the deck best suited to fight Eldrazi, they are faster to the board and Eldrazi would really like to Chalice of the Void for two, giving Affinity some time to sneak spells onto the board.

      Moving past Affinity, Path to Exile and Ghost Quarter are both great options, most of the Eldrazi lists are only running a couple basics. One drawn naturally means a second Ghost Quarter/Path is often “no downside”.

      Removal backed up with card advantage is what I’m focused on, I really like the Mardu list I posted. Lingering Souls and all that removal is a nightmare for a deck focused on building a board and pushing damage.

  4. Does this mean you’re ditching your beloved Grixis Control deck? I know there’s a lot of talk about control decks going away, and you said it yourself that “Control is almost a laughable choice”, yet posting up a Mardu Control deck near the end of the article. Also don’t forget that Blue Moon came up short of getting into the Top 8.

    So far, I think a Grixis Control could be a great choice in dealing not only with Eldrazi decks, but other linear aggro decks that will come from this new meta as well. The only thing that holds the GC deck back from taking out the Eldrazi’s are Spellskite and Chalice IMO. It’s a tough nut to crack, but I think Snapcaster and Co. are not out of the picture yet.

    I’m interested to see what kind of deck you ultimately settle on in the coming weeks. I feel nearly everyone is searching around for answers, your input will be most appreciated!

      1. Yes, it is. Control means its game plan is to answer opposing threats. Looking at Ben Stark’s list, for example, 27 of the 37 cards are control cards (removal, discard, tappers, edicts). This isn’t counting Abbot of Keral Keep, because while he can and most likely will find removal with his effect, he beats down reasonably well. Even Dark Confidant, 10 of the remaining “non-control” slots, is not aggressive (2/1 for 2 is not an aggressive beater) but card advantage. I’m also counting bolts and helixes as control rather than aggro cards, because in this shell you are most likely using them as spot removal, at least in the first part of the game, rather than aiming them at your opponent’s face.

        My guess would be that it does in fact lose to Eldrazi, because I think just about everything loses to Eldrazi (80% win rate will do that), but as “control” is used to describe a style of deck, you are mistaken.

  5. The big problem with chuckling and wrathing Eldrazi out of the game is definitely the rest of the format and making it to the point where a wrath matters, rather than merely beginning a lopsided topdeck war.

    I’ve been seen many bannings come and go; if mana is broken in the context of a format, it is broken. An archetype that gets to run eight land that produce two mana for casting creatures that are already good will be an issue. From the first or second turn, eldrazi decks are often two or more turns ahead on mana development; they turn a midrange creature strategy into a swarm aggro strategy.

    Availability notwithstanding, there is basically no reason why everyone shouldn’t be playign or building decks that use 4 Eye of Ugin 4 Temple 4 Thought-knot 4 Reality Smasher X other Eldrazi as it is the best thing to be doing in Modern right now(this is reflected on MTGO already). As a longtime control player, I’m relieved that my interest in playing had already waned before OGW, so the PT was very funny to me and seems like quite the embarrassment to the R&D team: a superfluous ban AND an ultra homogeneous top eight.

    Slops to the Future League, unless they anticipated it all (a funny coincidence that Eldrazi’s impact on Modern paralleled the set’s story line, no?). Something will have to be done whether it is printing new cards, unbanning some, amazing tech or banning eldrazi temple. Hopefully, they will give Modern blue do-nothing control decks some new toys either way, so the format can balance out better.

    1. It is important to note that Wizards R&D have stated pretty specifically that they do not have the time/means to test for Modern. The Future Future League would not have been tasked with catching the error.

      This is made more obvious by the Eldrazi in that the original “cheap” Eldrazi in RotE did not have Devoid, and so Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple both mentioning “colorless Eldrazi” specifically was an important distinction. Devoid, and having a more appropriate curve for the Eldrazi in BFZ block (and using the colorless mana symbol to allow for more power at a lower CMC) is fantastic for Standard and Limited, where a lack of mana dorks and Lotus Cobra makes top-end spells more difficult to cast. In Modern, however, we’ve seen it ruin the distinction that Eye and Temple’s reliance on the word “colorless” created back in RotE.

      I feel like this sort of thing happens occasionally with older cards such as Painter’s Servant (2008) interacting so well with Grindstone (1997), but far less frequently in Modern.

  6. I’m liking the spot removal-into-hard sweepers plan for the decks to deal with Eldrazi, but what finishers would you advocate using to salt away the win? I’ll be honest and say that I’d rather have Angel-Kiki in there over what they’re going with. I’d also be interested to hear what the likes of a Grixis Control deck would use to close out a game once they’ve crippled the Eldrazi (Deceiver Exarch + Kiki?), as that color combination seems to have a paucity of big, evasive beaters to choose from.

    Also, I disagree with the notions some other commenters have put up regarding the Eldrazi being unbeatable and to wait for the inevitable ban. I think that they can be beaten, and that we’ll just have to adapt to their playstyle (lots of good ideas in Sheridan’s article from yesterday and its comments).

    1. I love your eternal optimism. What evidence do you have that there is a deck that can beat a better painless ancient tomb that produce as much as 6-8 mana in a turn and a mishra’s workshop in modern that can power out a variety of difficult to deal with beaters that also have etb effects? Every card that eldrazi players cast is simply better than would non-eldrazi players are casting.

      If such a deck exists what evidence do you have this deck isn’t a dog to the rest of the field?

      I think its just fashionable at the moment to label anyone that has an issue with eldrazi as a ‘hater, lazy, unwilling to adapt’. This is not the treasure cruise/delver era where there were tier 1 and 2 decks that could beat it. Even decks that are theoretically supposed to be good against eldrazi (ie. affinity, infect, merfolk) are unfavoured by a substantial margin.

  7. After a lot of testing against a lot of deck, a small program, the only decks that can beat Eldrazi are the almost as degenerate deck so Affinity, Infect or other Eldrazi.. The only fair deck having a chance is Blue Moon and that’s stretching it.

    The problem comes from Turn 1 chalice most of the time.. You shut down almost every deck with that.. Bogles have no chance. Burn is auto lose against a T1 Chalice.. Souls Sisters can’t play their threat… 8rack can’t really do something.. and that’s goes on like that,

    And that’s not the real problem.. Even without a Chalice they can Turn 1 Ugin 2 Eldrazi mimic.. Turn 2 SSG Temple Reality Smasher Hit for 15…

    Thought Knot Seer is a real nightmare.. Use the same sequence and you’re hit with 8 and 1 less good card in hand.

    Ratchet Bomb is also a killer.. they don,t really care for it since all their creature have high CMC..

    Pithing Needle stops a lot of the manlands and Planeswalker , etc…

    They even have graveyard hate if they need it in their SB..

    Sol lands are a real problem…

  8. Usually I pretty much just agree with the posts that take place in here, but this time its different. I must say that I disagree from the bottom of my heart with the post regarding “Natural” fix to eldrazi.

    I have no idea how to beat the deck, neither do the ones that are by far more skilled than I am. If the meta warps around one deck, doesn’t that ask for the hammer?

    If i have to play decks that have a good MU only vs eldrazi but not vs the rest of the field, gauah! even the idea sounds disgusting.

  9. J have played against UR eldrazi last night in the final game with my affinity. The eldrazis can be overcome. The thing is how do you board against them. While damnation is strong and such, they are top slow. You need pyroclasm. Eldrazi mimic, matter reshape, the scion and some if their eldrazi have toughness 2 and below. Mimic and thought-knot seer cam be stop by torpor orb. If you are talking about 1 for 1, I don’t think that is the best way in current meta. Linear decks will overrun you. You can complain all you want, but the fact is if you are slow, you need sweeper. My friend who pilot the UR eldrazi deck admit that it is broken, his deck run like affinity in a warp sense. While affinity dies to hate, his deck don’t gave a specify hate card that can stop him. In his opinion, banning the land will cause a few deck to not be able to function. The other variant if eldrazis are actually fair enough with their huge cost, therefore if we ban eldrazi mimic, endless one, we will slow the deck down and yet allow other form of eldrazi deck to exist which are more midrange. However banning the land, we still have the problem that they could runaway with the game by finding alternate fast mana. Also the repercussion it could have on other deck. As we want diversity, banning the land will not solve the problem. Those land are quite just eldrazi aligned and other decks can benefit from it. Rather the cheap creature could be removed and we have a fair and diversified eldrazi deck in modern format.

  10. Have you done any testing or is your role just to take the side of ‘eldrazi is fine stop whining’ regardless?

    Your naivety shines through in your empty rhetoric of ‘play damnation and get over yourself’. So you really think 1x of a sweeper against a deck that topdecks better than BGx is an answer? That’s if it resolves – 3x Stubborn Denial in the board. Your brash and arrogant tone is truly repulsive – furthermore it adds nothing to the conversation of a plausible answer to Eldrazi.

    Final point – I love how you think Twin deserved to be banned but this deck doesn’t – solidifies my views on how much of a modern imposter you are.

  11. It will be a very good day when several decks check Eldrazi over the next few GPs and all of these ridiculous commenters are forced to eat their words. Get over it is correct. Play Damnation is also correct. If you’re sitting here reading that line and not taking it as a step in the correct direction rather than some magical single card to destroy an entire archetype then you’re doing it wrong. Stop looking for easy solutions that require no thought. Adjust your decklists, don’t look for a single card to solve all your problems. In short, the naysayers are only proving how lazy they actually are. Abzan company sporting Big Game Hunter and Mono White Prison are only two decks that have seen strong data and showings against Eldrazi. There will be more.

    1. Chris – your comments are enlightening. So I should just pack some sweepers and call it a day – sweet – GP detriot here I come! Maybe some extra doom blades will get me there – all eldrazi creatures die to doom blade – lets theory craft away!

      Has it occurred to you that ppl might have done testing with obvious answer like this ? Eat my words – the only one eating there words will be those that are foolish enough to show up to the next GP with non-eldrazi deck. Mono-white prison – are you kidding me? Sounds super solid against the field – eldrazi players need to check themselves – im def not playing eldrazi now..

      1. Here’s the problem. Your argument still doesn’t say anything to respond to the actual point. My comment is build. new. decks. Not look for magic one shot answers. MWP puts up solid results in testing against the field. We are well aware of Abzan Company’s results. MWP turn 2 Sunscours off of a Squadron Hawk. And cantrips. Is it eldrazi? No. Can it stop the deck? Yes. Does it have equivalent power? Yes. Has anyone thought to try it in a shell that can support it before now? No. Why? Because there hasn’t been a need. So my point stands. The card pool is deep. There is unexplored deck design space, and it will take actual willigness to build new decks rather than look for easy answers to find the solutions. Artifact prison is a shell that also exists in Modern that hasn’t been played before. The eldrazi may very well be better than what the current decks are configured to beat. Doesn’t mean those decks cannot change, and does not mean those answers are not already there. The problem with every analysis that cries about the dominance of eldrazi is that those players utterly lack the capability to start over from ground zero.

        1. I think you overestimate the unique new design space available from “starting over from ground zero”, and underestimate just how hard truly progressive innovation is in this space, especially when the bar you’re trying to beat is Eldrazi. In an open system like this with thousands upon thousands of independent agents, the collective intelligence of the group as a whole is huge. Powerful things gain traction and spread very quickly, and many, many people are trying to find them, and have been with all of the available cards for years. Realistically, there three angles, in which the total possible archetypes have been explored to varying degrees, with varying room for innovation likely available.

          Aggro – card choices are pretty clear here, I think this has the least room for innovation and is least likely to have powerful new decks waiting to be found from “ground zero”. Cards have aggressive stats or they don’t, and the bar is already quite high here with several archetypes hitting on similar axis: Burn – direct damage to life total; Affinity and Merfolk – go wide very rapidly and pump team for big early beats – these are decks that seem promising vs Eldrazi, but are well-explored and probably not highly ripe for innovation; Infect/Death’s Shadow/Bogles – all-in on a single creature to get through for lethal, with all the best ways of boosting the guys well-explored. Where’s the room for innovation or “ground zero” rebuilding in those? Is there a card with more aggressively costed stats out there, a 4/4 for 1 that nobody has noticed?? Not likely, and this is the area with the least room for innovation.

          Control – a bit more room for moderate innovation here (see the new Mardu archetype, for example, or Lantern control which just came to be last year). There are lots of creative ways to try to lock out your opponent, but you do have to be able to survive the initial onslaught. Chalice for 1 and Cavern of Souls put some serious restrictions on what can work here, but there *may* be some room for moderate to high innovation in this area.

          Combo – also have to survive the early turns, maybe have some room for innovation in this space as well, as multi-piece combos can be tough to spot (see Grishoalbrand, and the several-year incubation of the completely busted Amulet Bloom). So there may well be some space for innovation here as well, but again, it’s easier said than done to just set out to invent a new combo better than everything currently out there, that the hive mind comprised of the collective thousands of players has yet to spot.

          Midrange – good luck, you’re outclassed both early and late by their threats. They’re faster out the gate. And grow bigger in the lategame as well. This seems very poor vs the Eldrazi.

          Vague notions of “innovating” to fix things sound great, but given the environment of distributed intelligence that has created all the current decks in existence, it’s much less likely there are a ton of as-yet undiscovered powerhouses just waiting to be discovered. I don’t think the format is by any means “solved”, but if something sweeps in and beats all the current best decks, the chances that there are multiple other, even better decks just waiting to be discovered seems idealistic.

          1. Preston,

            Thank you for your thoughtful reply, and I apologize to you for the acid in my prior post. It’s easy to get caught in the hate speech when so many refuse to stop and think, or write, responsibly. I see your point, and I understand your reasoning, but I do still strongly disagree with your position. I may be idealistic in having faith in the format’s ability to adapt, but I think we will all need to wait for more data. We have several GPs coming up. I think those tournaments will confirm or dispel the question of Eldrazi Winter.

  12. Herp derp broken lands don’t need to be banned.

    I swear modern nexus has really dropped the ball on this eldrazi thing. It’s painfully obvious people have no idea how good the deck is because they played it against some noob hay didn’t mull to their lands. I have played against them countless times now with countless decks that I’ve been building over the last six months and watched countless games now and the best draws from any deck are laughed at by a top deck bomb from eldrazi.

    This whole argument is between people who accept the reality of this situation and understand this mana base is broken and people who want to make a name for themselves with some garbage brew that will “beat the eldrazi”. I swear it’s like people have gone insane and want to get on their high horse to tell us how fair this clearly broken deck is. I mean these people don’t even realize how ridiculous they sound when they are trying to make these arguments. “Guys lets readjust our entire understanding of card and mana efficiency and play cards that are terrible in modern match ups except for eldrazi so we can beat one deck”. Ya that sounds like a real healthy metagame. Meanwhile, same people will just run the deck because it is painfully obvious there is nothing better to play in modern…if you want to win that is.

    If you don’t think one of these lands needs to be banned, you literally have no idea what you are talking about and either your knowledge of modern or your integrity are seriously in question

  13. I’m just going to quote Mark Nestico Jr here:

    “I like how the people who played at the Pro Tour and played against this deck/dedicated weeks and hundreds of hours to Modern are saying “it’s broken- probably needs a ban” and the people who have no idea what the fuck they are talking about are all of a sudden format experts and have all the answers.”

    1. Pretty much this. Only Sheridan writes with any humility in his statements. Guess what, everyone writing here and reading here are just FNM scrubs. We could all stand to write with more decency and less “know it all”-ness.

  14. Nothing needs to be banned they said. Is this something you’ve deduced from the fact that Eldrazi had 6 PT top 8s, 5 ptq top 8s Won at least one regional (even though the deck had just been on camera and few had access to it)? Or that it is currently 40% of all undefeated records in dailys/leagues on mtgo?

    As so many have already said, you’re talking as if every pro that said the deck is broken are wrong, because you figured out MD Damnation? The problem with the sweeper plan is that you can’t wait til’ t4 to use removal, so at best you’ll 2 for one, but most likely just tap out to maybe get another threat on board from reshaper and then eat the smasher they saved to play around your sweeper.

    Overly optimistic to say the least.

    And the point here isn’t that Eldrazi can’t be beat. It’s that no one deck should be so powerful that the whole meta has to warp around it.

    You posted this article because it makes you feel better about yourself to think that you’re above the brainless plebs that want to ban everything. You’re not backing up any claims with data. It’s just a fact that a no name MTG player knows better than everyone else.

    1. I go the opposite way, unban every card, let’s bring back Stone Forged Mystic, many Eldrazi players will all say it’s nigh impossible to beat a resolved Batterskull. I lost because of a Thragtusk tonight. Wurmcoil Engine scares me. Let’s unban Jace, bring it on…. Let’s also unban artifact lands, let Affinity run wild. There’s always Stony Silence, Vandalblast, Creeping Corrosion, and Hurkyl’s Recall. There’s even Strip Bare, which is hilarious on an ensouled artifact with a pair of cranial platings on it. Let’s print Counterspell in Modern. And let’s add Pyroblast and Hydroblast in too… Why is Ancestral Vision still banned?

  15. Kaiyla – you’ve named a ton of niche and cute interactions that seem unlikely to ever come off consistently. They might come off if you had time but you dont seem to grasp the concept of how fast this deck is (despite your claims to have been playing the deck for weeks/months – hilarious) – but again you seem to be theory crafting without actually doing any testing – which screams – wanker alert.

    How about you and Trevor get together and make a video series whereby you actually put your stupid ass bullshit theories to the test instead of just jerking off on a website.

    1. Bile Blight is good in any deck using against multiple copies of creatures, trust me…. There’s a lot of them. Surgical Extraction is amazing. No longer does my Tron lose to an unwinnable situation like Goryo’s Veangeance, Scapeshift about to go ham, any so many other bad situations. Obstinate Baloth and Loxodon Smiter is played in an environment with Liliana of the Veil and similar cards anyway. Painter’s Servant is hilarious in Affinity and Merfolk. Make’s Master of the Waves unblockable. Weaken’s Tron and Eldrazi. Sweepers have always been good, especially in an aggro heavy environment. Decks playing red has always played burn spells that were useful, Forked Bolt is still amazing as it can turn 1 kill two Mimics, kill elves, kill fish, kill a lot of Affinity creatures… I don’t see how this is weakening yourself against other decks.

      Loxodon Smiters and Obstinate Baloths have been used often enough before. Kitchen Finks ends up in many decks running green or white anyways… Hushwing Gryff is no stranger in an environment with CiP abilities. Hell, it’s played in Legacy.

      And the nastiest Eldrazi are all CiP abilities. Mimic, Thought Knot, and much much more…. Against the bigger threats with the when cast are late game threats most of the time. If you buy time using Wall of Omens into Kitchen Finks into Resto Angel into Kikki Jikki you pretty much win. Especially with Path to Exiles…. UWR Control’s been doing this for ages and anyone with access to UW has used Detention Spheres before. And just like Elves, RDW, etc… They pack very little in the way of cantrips and have a very bad mid to late game. Just like against any all in strategy Eldrazi will just lose in a situation where their early creatures are removed and no follow up is possible. My Evolutionary Elves deck is more bonkers than Eldrazi, Eldrazi can’t cast Emrakul on turn 3 and take infinite turns, my Elf deck can. But one sweeper my elf deck is pretty much dead in the water. Same goes for Eldrazi. Bile Blight is good against both decks. Bile Blight is good against Affinity. Bile Blight is good against creatures period as it even kills Wild Nacatl..

      The point I’m making, the strategies I place before you are there. They have always been there. And they will always be there. Sadly, Chalice for 1 bricks most decks… Engineered Explosives for 0, Remand, Ancient Grudge, and many other cards will buy you time to get around that too.

      People keep thinking if I do A then I’m weaker against B. Except… This is nothing like Bloom, Twin, DRS, Pod, and others. People at the PT was geared towards stopping Tron, and it didn’t even make a top 32 spot… And Cascade into Living End and Balace is still wonderful. You have a field, they don’t. You have ways to draw cards, they don’t. You win, they lose. After all, most of these decks will never win if they don’t give it a try.

      Last month people were screaming and crying over Twin and Summer Bloom being banned, but they were quick to hit that ban Eye and all these other cards because we are too lazy to do something about it ourselves hurdy hur hur… All this will accomplish is make the modern environment so volatile that people will quit. It’s been less than a month since they banned Twin and Bloom. Aggro and Combo has always done really dumb things. Control can beat both decks… Eldrazi is worse than Twin and Bloom, as it depents on creatures attacking to win. And yet again I point at sweepers to neuter these decks. But TNS can take X card and I lose… Hmmm… My elves splashes black with Overgrown Tombs, splashes white with Temple Gardens. One way I have Linvalla, the other I hae Thoughtsieze. A thoughtsieze can take your sweeper away just as much so too. I side in Thoughtsieze for the moments I’m playing against decks with sweepers.People playing black has always played Thoughtsieze and it turn 1 kills Thought Knot Seer.

  16. I’ve never read so much rancor and childishness in the Modern Nexus comments section. I think it’s overdue for MN to switch to Facebook commenting. The majority of these anonymous posts contribute nothing to the discussion, and do not deserve a response.

    As to the matter at hand: Trevor, you’re just absolutely wrong here. There is a problem. The lands in question are perfectly balanced when everything with an Eldrazi creature type costs 7 or more mana. They’re completely broken when those same creatures cost 2-5 CMC. Something WILL be banned in April. Meanwhile, the rest of us have to figure out how to keep Modern fun and interesting in the interim.

  17. Wow these comments are harsh…you guys need to show some decorum or they’re going to turn off comments (or require registration in conjunction with some other identity verification), and rightfully so. I do agree with most of you in principle, but not in your tone. I think this article is seriously lacking in the requisite qualifications to its remarks. The tone comes across as arrogant and condescending at times, and not even acknowledging that Eldrazi *MIGHT* in fact be broken, only confidently refuting that by suggesting removal and sweepers, both of which they have maindeck answers to (Chalice on 1, thought-knot seer to strip away sweepers), without any statistical data, even of a small sample size, is speculative and kind of insulting to the readership. Yeah, we’ve thought of those things too. How about showing us some playtest results that showcase a particularly favorable shell that has game against the rest of the format? That’d be much more compelling! Or at the very least if you’re going to write a piece like this, I think you should really check your tone and try not to:

    1. Overstep the confidence level warranted by any unproven ideas. Things like “might”, “may”, “we’ll need to try these things and see how things pan out”, go a long way towards demonstrating a more fair-minded and open attitude towards things, however they shake out.
    2. Come across as condescending.

  18. I don’t wish to be horridly aggressive as other commentators are, but I do believe that you have a naivete when it comes to the power of fast mana. I’ll lay things out in a couple of points:

    1. Fast mana has a history of doing unfair things in any form–Only rarely has something like dark ritual into a hypnotic specter been the “worst” thing happening with accelerants. The only categorical cards on the modern ban list with more than one entry are artifact lands (effectively 2 mana lands), rituals (fast mana), and card selection cantrips (ponder and preordain). There are 34 cards on the modern B&R list. Of them, most are banned in whole or in part for the ways in which they cheat on mana; these twelve are banned basically because they allow you to get WAAAY ahead on effective mana usage with minimal to zero deck construction cost; I haven’t included things like dread return or bloodbraid elf, or even stoneforge mystic. Even though a large part of the power of those cards is their ability to cheat on mana, the list below is much more apparently based in pure mana efficiency increases without serious cost.
    5 artifact lands
    2 rituals
    Deathrite shaman
    chrome mox
    cloudpost
    Hypergenesis
    Treasure Cruise

    So right off the bat, we have a pedigree for fast mana being format warping, just in modern. Most of the rest of the banned list in one way or another involves cheating on mana or obscene mana efficiency; only dark depths, (arguably dig through time), glimpse of nature, green sun’s zenith, jace the mind sculptor, the cantrips, top, splinter twin, sword of the meek, and jitte don’t explicitly cheat on mana (and some of these still cheat on mana in some way or another, but these are the least egregious in that category). That’s 11/34 cards. Of these, the cantrips and dig through time have been deemed too efficient for modern, and several of the remaining cards number among R&D’s worst design mistakes ever, period. Very few cards in any format are ban-worthy without some aspect of extreme mana efficiency, and as you can see in the modern format history, only the most POTENTIALLY format warping cards get banned without it (jitte, clamp, jace, green sun’s zenith, sensei’s divining top, splinter twin, sword of the meek).

    2. 2-mana lands have the most ban-worthy pedigree of any other mana accelerant because they come at a minimal cost to deck construction. The difference between legacy and vintage mostly comes in the form of the fast mana and tutoring that is available. Most vintage decks play as many or more sources of mana than most legacy decks, but they can generate it all in a much shorter time frame. Ever play vintage Steel City Vault against legacy miracles? Or maybe against legacy shardless bug? How about legacy RUG delver? Give you a hint–the legacy player is bringing a butterknife to a gunfight, and that vintage deck is basically a pile of fast mana and magic’s most broken card interactions, no serious synergy combo at all, just raw power. Some of the Pro’s on the eldrazi deck made the comment that it was like their opponents brought a knife to a missile fight, and the comparison is apt. SOL lands take up land slots in your deck, and in the case of the eldrazi deck they also enable the deck to run fewer mana sources in order to pack the nut draw potential even harder. At least pyromancer ascension storm has to run rituals AND lands, and the collected company decks have to play mana dorks with their lands. Eldrazi decks have to play neither.

    3. The eldrazi deck (and other fast mana decks) are totally beatable. I’ve beaten vintage shops with a modern legal mono-green deck. Not even kidding. Curve started at nature’s claim and ran up through acidic slime, every card in the deck either a basic forest or a thing that killed artifacts. Here’s a link to the mothership where Frank Karsten breaks down an old-extended metagame from MTGO: http://archive.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/fk28b

    In it, he breaks down stock affinity, and the next best deck in the format. The next best deck in the format played like 16 cards that were direct affinity hate. Yeah, that’s more than a sideboard’s worth of hate for ONE deck. It wasn’t too long after that article (6 months? I forget if it was a summer ban or a spring ban) aether vial and disciple of the vault got the axe in extended to kill the deck. I played extended in that time period, fairly heavily. It was actually the first competitive format I got involved with heavily. It was play affinity, play a maindeck full of affinity hate, or don’t expect to have a hope of making top 8. Eldrazi is similar–we can beat it. I personally have a 20-16 match record with the stock colorless list using draw-go esper control. How did I get that record? By playing a list with 8 slot removal spells, 6 wrath effects, a pile of card draw, and a bunch of planeswalkers. Sound like a standard deck? It pretty much is. Think it could actually work in an open metagame? Nope. Can’t beat infect or burn to save my life with that list. Have trouble beating midrange decks like jund. Can’t deal with zoo at all. Interact with a combo deck? not in game one. Affinity? Have you read what arcbound ravager does? Abzan coco? Do you know what the persist mechanic does?

    The problem isn’t that we can’t beat eldrazi. It’s totally doable. The problem is that we can’t do it using decks that are otherwise at all reasonable against the rest of the field. The reports I hear “from the trenches” of various archetype specialists in the modern format, both in person and in various online communities, is a consensus “we can beat eldrazi, but it costs too much everywhere else”. And when enough archetypes find that out, we’ll see dominance levels at the winners metagame (top 8/top 16) that very clearly indicates a lack of diversity in the metagame, and the deck will eat a ban.

    My fear is that this takes a while to come about, and that we have to suffer until next January with the eldrazi deck intact.

  19. One small data point:
    I played a little local Modern event, and I beat colorless Eldrazi 2-0 in the first round without attacking their lands. And lest you think I must have built a specifically anti-Eldrazi deck in order to do so, I also went on to beat Jund in round 3. My deck was “fair” and “interactive”.

    Do with that what you will.

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