Remember the good old days of Eldrazi Winter? It’s okay, I’ve tried to block them from my memory too. Under-costed giant Eldrazi are just not very fair, but they’ve also fallen out of favor in Standard recently with pushed energy decks and faster, leaner creatures like Toolcraft Exemplar. Thanks to stream viewer thomasgobeli, it’s time to bring back the Eldrazi! This version perfectly encapsulates the Eldrazi flavor, and is an update to a sweet Standard deck from last season.
One of my favorite things first looking at this deck is the mana base. Just look at all those utility lands! Collectively, they ensure that you’ll almost never flood out with this deck and give you all kinds of awesome abilities:
Sanctum of Ugin/Shrine of Forsaken Gods
These have always been the Eldrazi ramp staples, and this deck is happy to include them as 4-ofs. One of the nicest interactions from Aether Revolt is to cast a Walking Ballista on 8+ mana to trigger Sanctum and go get whatever creature you want (let’s be honest—you want Ulamog).
Ruins of Oran-Rief
Speaking of Ballista, Ruins is a sweet combo that lets you shave off a mana. 3 mana now gets you a 2/2, 5 gets you a 3/3 etc. Of course this card is also just great with all the other colorless creatures in the deck. Don’t forget that it works on Vehicles too! Sometimes you’ll want to play a Vehicle and crew it right away just to put a counter on it and set up even bigger attacks on the following turn.
I’ve always been sad Mirrorpool hasn’t seen more play. It can draw-stepThought-Knot Seers, copy Titan’s Presence to kill more creatures, and generally does a lot at the low cost of entering the battlefield tapped.
I’ve already searched up a Skysovereign and a Walking Ballista with this and wow that feels great. Combined with Sanctum of Ugin, this can actually chain into any artifact or colorless creature in your deck. The life gain is not to be underestimated in such a fast Standard format, either.
Geier Reach Sanitarium
This one’s a bit of a reach, but the card works well against non-Scrapheap-Scrounger decks when your card quality will top your opponent’s—which is to say it is situationally great versus Saheeli and control decks. While that isn't jaw-dropping, for the low price of including a singleton land in your deck, it does enough.
Spawning Bed/Westvale Abbey
These function together as a 1-2 punch. Usually you’ll want to slowroll the Abbey until the turn you can flip into Ormendahl, though there will be grindy games against G/B decks where making a Cleric each turn will be great. Spawning Bed also accelerates into Ulamog when he might otherwise sit in your hand.
I admit I was baffled with this inclusion at first look. The rest of the lands all provide awesome utility and this deck can’t really put Wastes to good use, so why include it? It’s not like Path to Exile is in the format. The answer is your Oblivion Sowers. Sometimes you’ll hit an Evolving Wilds, and it’s nice to crack that and go find a land when otherwise you wouldn’t be able to.
Besides all those lands, this deck also has Hedron Crawler, Hedron Archive, Cultivator’s Caravan, and even Oblivion Sower to ramp you, although the Sower and Caravan are pretty good at beatdown too. What is the deck trying to ramp to?
Kozilek, the Great Distortion/Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
This dynamic duo is annoyed with Emrakul’s ban, and are here to exact revenge. This deck doesn’t have Marvel to cheat them out. It doesn’t use cute things like Inspiring Statuary and Clues to help cast Ulamog for free, as awesome as that is. It just makes lots and lots of mana! Kozilek helps reward the ramp strategy because your hand is usually empty when you cast your 10-drop. The deck plays a good variety of mana costs, though it is noticeably light on 1s and 5s. Ulamog does what Ulamog does when it resolves: nom nom nom.
Ballista is clearly an incredible mana sink, but also maximizes the various lands in the deck. This is the perfect card for this deck and feels more synergistic and at home than it does when it’s simply put into a deck like Mardu Vehicles for its sheer power. It’s not quite at the level of Winding Constrictor synergy, but does play the important role of Saheeli combo protection which you’re somewhat weak to otherwise. I’m personally still waiting to unlock the achievement of removing an opposing Shielded Aether Thief with Titan’s Presence revealing Walking Ballista.
Matter Reshaper/Spatial Contortion/Thought-Knot Seer/Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
These are your core midrange cards. They help bridge to the late game dominated by your utility lands and monstrous Eldrazi. Sadly, Thought-Knot is a bit worse in a land ruled by Grasp of Darkness and Fatal Push, but can still play an effective disruption role in most games. Spatial Contortion isn’t the best at what it does. Still, it offers early interaction. Its best uses are killing Winding Constrictor before it gets out of hand and early threats like Toolcraft Exemplar or Sylvan Advocate, but later it can turn into a Lava Spike when you cast it on your own unblocked creature. Every time you win that way it feels like a double win.
The clearest omission from this list is Reality Smasher. Smasher does some good things like pressure unsuspecting Gideon, Ally of Zendikars and attack control decks out of nowhere, but it doesn’t actually contribute much overall to the deck’s plan. First, the deck wants to ramp as much as possible, and Archives + Oblivion Sower help that more. Second, Reality Smasher is best when curved after a bunch of efficient threats to help close the game. This Eldrazi deck is working from a different angle. It wants to get on board and slowly kill the opponent over a long game. Where most Eldrazi decks are vipers, this one is a boa constrictor.
In longer games the legendary Eldrazi will perform much better than Smasher, which is a card you might normally see in the board with this style of deck. Since it isn’t actually that good in that role I like omitting it entirely. I think this is a good example of omitting an obvious card because it doesn’t actually help the overall plan of the deck. A common deck building error is simply to include a card because it “should” be in the deck without considering what the deck actually needs to accomplish.
The Sideboard and Playing the Games
This deck plays a midrange game well and as such will have access to a strong sideboard, especially for a colorless deck. It can board up or down according to the matchup, though it’s important to watch out for transformative board plans from your opponents. Saheeli decks can keep in the combo or board it out and just try to out-grind you. Mardu can and usually will board up into a bigger planeswalker deck, at which point bringing in a bunch of Warping Wails will end badly for you. That said, there are some common ways to board you’ll want to be aware of with this deck.
The first and most obvious plan is to take out weak removal versus control decks. This opens up space to bring in a few more threats, but I also like going one step further if you expect a lot of control decks in your local metagame. Leave in too much ramp and you risk losing to horrible topdecks in the middle turns. The current iteration doesn’t have enough to board out its Hedron Crawlers in these spots, but you could include even more threats if you expect a lot of Jeskai Copycat or Temur Tower.
Against aggressive decks, Thought-Knot Seer will often under-perform. It’s too slow and doesn’t actually deal with the board. It is better on the play though, and I wouldn’t cut any there. You also will want to trim down to a singleton Ulamog and only a couple Oblivion Sowers. That’s a lot of cards to cut, but as you can see the board is full of anti-aggro cards, which can really halt opposing attacks. I really like Aethersphere Harvester for this reason—it helps stabilize, but it’s also good at pressuring planeswalkers when your opponents board up.
All in all, this is an exceptional deck. It brings back the Eldrazi in a refreshing way and utilizes them in a midrange ramp hybrid build, which is unusual. It has the tools to compete versus the top decks and also has a surprising amount of space for strong board cards. The Eldrazi have been a bit forgotten, but this deck will remind your opponent of the horror days. Thought-Knot Seer is back!