In my article last week, I mentioned that I was high on the Blue Eldrazi list, but I wasn’t completely convinced that the blue version was superior to the red version. That was my preference the week leading up to GP Houston and I still have it slightly higher right now.
The same creatures that make Modern Eldrazi such a force form the backbone of this deck. Thought-Knot Seer is an important piece of the Modern puzzle, disrupting an opponent’s game plan as early as turn 2.
But Standard is a different world than Modern. Decks show up with Crackling Doom, Roast, and Murderous Cut—all in the same deck. With so many ways to kill Thought-Knot, and with no Temples or Eyes to accelerate them out, this is actually not a 4-of in Eldrazi.
Reality Smasher is still an excellent rare even without the Sol lands, though. I’ve even made room in some of my colorless Abzan decks to get the Smasher in there. The damage adds up so quickly. All of the removal spells I listed to kill Thought-Knot Seer can kill Reality Smasher, but it will come at the cost of an extra card from anything that isn’t Crackling Doom. The Smasher will also often get an attack in first, is bigger than Siege Rhino or Goblin Dark-Dwellers, and mostly ignores chump blockers. It is a great card for any big aggressive deck that can cast it.
Ghostfire Blade may be the centerpiece to the entire deck. The UR Thopter deck from Pro Tour Magic Origins was the breakout best deck of the tournament and Blade was the glue that stuck it all together. Ensoul Artifact was by far the best card in that deck, which isn’t legal here, but you have so many powerful devoid creatures that weren’t previously around to slap this thing on. A +2/+2 bonus for a cheap investment is fantastic.
The Thopter deck would have killed for a quality 2-drop. Phyrexian Revoker ended up getting the slot alongside Hangarback Walker. Hangarback isn’t nearly as good in this deck without Chief of the Foundry, Ensoul Artifact to pump up a flyer, or Shrapnel Blast to sacrifice the Walker when it’s sufficiently large. Eldrazi Mimic is okay and is the best option we have. In conjunction with the larger creatures, it can get in for real damage, but it gets outclassed by everything when it’s on its own. It does wear a Ghostfire Blade quite well, which is a key characteristic for this deck.
Dimensional Infiltrator, on the other hand, is awesome. A 2-mana, 2-power flier is a reasonable rate, and there are multiple bonuses tacked onto that—like being able to hold up counter magic and still cast a threat. Turn-1 Blade into turn-2 Infiltrator is an excellent start.
Eldrazi Skyspawner is taking over Standard, finding its way into Dragons decks, Esper Token, and Bant Company. 3 power worth of stats for 3 mana, evasion, and a potential mana boost? I’m almost surprised it took everyone so long to figure out how amazing this card is. Perhaps the biggest pull into playing blue, Skyspawner is a complete beating. Flyers are amazing with Ghostfire Blade, and being able to accelerate into Reality Smasher or having another creature to Blade up is all upside.
The other 3-drop slot is up in the air between Ruination Guide and Matter Reshaper. There are many matchups where the Guide is underwhelming, but it’s easily the most aggressive option. An awesome turn-3 play following anything on turn 2, and turning Eldrazi Mimic into a 4/2 is extra awesome. Matter Reshaper is a great sideboard card against decks with sweepers or where the game is likely to go longer.
Whirler Rogue may be the best card in the deck. 4 power for 4 mana is a reasonable deal, half of it being evasion is even better, and the ability to grant other creatures pure evasion is amazing. Being able to tap Blades to give creatures unblockable is another awesome function of the Rogue. This is a necessary card to win many matchups and can finish up any game after an aggressive start.
I like main-deck Stubborn Denial. I liked it enough in the Thopter deck to advocate playing 4 copies and I think that was correct. It’s less powerful when you can’t combo with Ensoul Artifact, but still excellent in any deck with Ghostfire Blade. You happen to naturally have a handful of creatures that already have 4+ power, and countering a key spell for a single mana is a huge tempo swing.
There are many selling points for this deck, but the lands really put things over the top. Tomb of the Spirit Dragon is straight-up busted in this deck. Getting a couple of these going can put your life total into the triple digits fairly quickly in drawn-out matchups. It absolutely changes a race. Foundry of the Consuls is another excellent land that many decks can’t utilize due to being a colorless source. In this deck, it happens to be a mana fixer. Getting a huge benefit to go with your color fixing is awesome, functioning as an overpowered “creature land.” Hissing Quagmire is a fixer and late-game creature as well.
Here’s the list that I ended up on and that Athena Huey piloted to a 9-3-2 record in GP Houston with 0 byes:
I was told that the original Blue Eldrazi lists were developed by Dan Ward, but there has been some progression across top players in trying to perfect the optimal list. My first exposure to the UR version of Eldrazi came courtesy of Chris Fennell:
GATORMAGE , 3-1 in an MTGO Standard Daily
Fennell had quite a bit of success with this deck, but for me it missed the mark. I love Vile Aggregate. The card is huge and amazing. But the sacrifice to play red is tough. Losing Whirler Rogue is a lot to ask for as that card is huge in so many matchups. The real loss for me is coming in not being able to effectively play countermagic.
Fennell’s list has 6 counters in the sideboard, and the Island there will help cast them, but even with that, there are only 9 sources of blue that can cast a noncolorless spell in this deck. Versions with even more blue sources still can’t reliably cast a card like Dispel or Disdainful Stroke at critical moments.
Going heavier in red also doesn’t add much for me. Pia and Kiran Nalaar is a good card, but there are 11 sources that can cast this card. It’s not good enough to play a card that challenging to cast.
While I was playing various Eldrazi decks, I would often watch Neal Oliver play. Neal is a fantastic player and streamer, and he put serious work into making the UR Eldrazi deck one that I would be happy playing myself. His latest list:
I think that Neal did an outstanding job with this deck. I still slightly prefer the blue version, but if I was going to play UR, it would definitely start right here.
Now, this isn’t necessarily the best time to play Eldrazi. Some of the midrange matchups with Kalitas and a lot of removal can be extremely challenging, although you can certainly win. Hardened Scales, however, is a really tough matchup. Some early damage allows Whirler Rogue to finish things off if you can get into anything resembling a stalemate, but their creatures are better and their synergy is strong if they have a good draw.
Blue Eldrazi Sideboard Guide
I am looking to get a little lower to the ground with cards like Matter Reshaper that trades at a profit. Stubborn Denial is too unreliable, but Dispel can be critical for a removal spell, combo piece, or most importantly, an Atarka’s Command. Endbringer is the best late-game with so many 1-toughness creatures. Although slow, it will win the game if you can get there.
Tomb of the Spirit Dragon does serious work.
Thought-Knot Seer gets outclassed by a deck with removal spells, Anafenza, and Siege Rhino, but a couple can be useful. Evasion is key and Encase helps you stay alive long enough for those flyers to win the game.
You get so much disruption in counters after board. Contortion is great against Jace and you can play bigger creatures that also have evasion to stop them from getting ahead. With 8 counters and 4 Thought-Knots to stop Collected Company and Rally the Ancestors, Blue Eldrazi has a much better Rally matchup than the UR version.
Reality Smashers come out since it’s too hard to get through with them.
I’m happy to play this matchup. Counters are great, as we know, and Thought-Knot Seer is serious disruption. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is not an exciting answer to a swarm of colorless creatures and there aren’t many answers to Reality Smasher.
Against the red versions with Kozilek’s Return, Ruination Guide loses some value since it’s hard to flood the board. Bring in Matter Reshaper in its place. Kozilek’s Return is a really strong card against a deck with fast, aggressive creatures with 2 toughness or less, so try to play around it as much as possible. Equip Ghostfire Blades whenever you can.
Many-Color Midrange Decks
Dispel is awesome against a deck like Jeskai Black, bad against Abzan, and decent against the various Mardu decks. I prefer Disdainful Stroke versus Mardu to stop the big threats, like Siege Rhino and Goblin Dark-Dwellers.
Eldrazi Mimic tends to get much worse after sideboard, but if your Stubborn Denials are good, you are more likely to want access to a couple more 2-power creatures for 2 in order to equip Blade and leave ferocious turned on. When Ruination Guides come out, your explosive Mimic draws become even less likely.
Against decks with access to Kolaghan’s Command, consider shaving Ghostfire Blades. Getting your Blade and creature killed is an absolute blowout. If they have several Kolaghan’s Command, look to sideboard down to 0. This is really tough to come back from.
I still have Jeskai Black as my top deck, especially in a world of Hardened Scales, but I think Eldrazi is an excellent deck with a very real chance to be the best deck in Standard down the road. All of the creatures are going to be legal after the rotation, so expect Eldrazi decks of various flavors to be a prominent force in Standard for the foreseeable future!