Eldritch Moon is full of exciting new build-around-me cards, but perhaps the most build-around-me-able card of all is Eldritch Evolution.

Imagine a world where you don’t need 400 candies to evolve Magikarp—instead, you just cast Eldritch Evolution and put Gyarados directly into play!

The card allows you to upgrade one of your creatures by searching for a bigger creature and putting it straight onto the battlefield.

Tutoring is great. Making mana is great. Eldritch Evolution is great.

RUG Evolution

Brian DeMars

I kind of imagine this deck as a “big mana” midrange deck that is good even if you don’t draw Evolution. But when you do draw Evolution, it is likely to be the best possible card you can have, which will allow you to make really broken plays that cheat mana and generate value.

Kyle Boggemes came to playtesting with a UG Eldrazi Evolution deck that I really enjoyed playing and I decided to work on. I ended up not wanting the Eldrazi cards in the main deck, but I still think that package works pretty well out of the sideboard.

I actually got into Temur colors by accident:

IT DOESN’T WORK!!

I thought I had broken the format until I read the card. Oh well. Eldritch Evolution exiles itself upon resolution. You cannot search up a Dweller, flashback Evolution and search for Atarka.

Where the Value Is

The key to building a good Eldritch deck is to:

  1. Sacrifice things that don’t matter and provide value other than their body.
  2. Have really good things to go and get!

There are plenty of creatures in Standard where the body isn’t why you play the card, meaning that if the text box had been left blank the card would be downright embarrassing. Imagine some of these cards with no text:

Without their text, these cards wouldn’t have been good enough for draft 10 years ago!

All of these creatures generate their value with enters- or leaves-the-battlefield triggers, which makes them great sacrifice fodder for an Eldritch Evolution deck because even when you sacrifice them you still get value.

Primal Druid is a pretty nifty card in this deck that contributes to your best draws.

Turn 2: Primal Druid.
Turn 3: Eldritch Evolution sacrificing Dryad (getting a land) and putting putting Whirler Rogue into play.
Turn 4: Cast Sarkhan Unbroken.

Druid is pretty gross in this deck because sacrificing it actually turns it into Rampant Growth (a spell that is too powerful to be in Standard), which means your Evolution essentially makes a ton of mana by turning Druid into Rampant Growth and fetching up a 4-mana spell a turn ahead of schedule.

Just playing Druid and chumping with it in the early game is pretty great too:

Chump-block and get a land has been a thing before…

The 2-4-6 Chain

Another thing I discovered when I was working on tuning the list that Kyle brought over was that there was a tension between mana costs in the deck.

The biggest was between:

Matter Reshaper looked insane at first but there were some problems:

  1. Evolution sacrificing Matter Reshaper wasn’t a good turn-4 play. It wasn’t mana efficient.
  2. The 5-drop RUG creatures are surprisingly lame.
  3. There wasn’t room to support tutor targets at 4 and 5.

My eventual solution was to cut the Reshapers altogether and focus on an even number chain of creatures, which allowed me to more consistently cast my Evolution on turns 3 and 5 when they are at their best.

So you are looking to evolve with and into even-cost cards.

Rogue is the best 4-drop in the deck by a wide margin. The 2/2 body is perfect for sacrificing into a 6-drop and it leaves a pair of 1/1 flyers behind. The deck is also pretty good at creating a stalled board, which makes the evasion relevant.

When I cast my Evolutions, I want to turn Dryads and Visionaries into 4-drops and Whirler Rogues into 6-drops.

The Odd Curve

These are the cards that I’m playing because you can’t only play even-cost cards!

I kept Nissa (because Nissa is insane in this deck) and because you do need things to do on turn 3 if you don’t draw Evolution.

I’m also playing a Sarkhan Unbroken against the even curve because the card feels very powerful and is in the colors I’m already playing. I’ve been on the fence about cutting the Icefall Regent for a second copy.

The 5-drops do allow you to search for Dragonlord Atarka, which can on occasion be a blowout post-combat if they don’t see it coming.

I’m mostly planning on just naturally casting my top-end cards like Atarka and Elder without much intention of tutoring for them. The deck naturally wants to draw cards and ramp mana, which means you consistently reach your 8-mana late game.

The Tutor Targets

The most fun part about the deck is when you get to sacrifice a Whirler Rogue and search for a 6-drop.

The Bellower is pretty insane because it also grabs a Sylvan Advocate and puts it into play—it puts 10 power onto the board!

Drowner of Hope is just a gigantic beating and can really bog down the board while you come over the top with your planeswalkers and gigantic creatures.

The key to this deck isn’t that it is a busted combo deck like you might see in Modern. There are no Allosaurus Riders or Vine Dryads in Standard. The key to Standard Evolution is to create a shell full of cards that are already good, where every time you draw Evolution it is going to be a plus EV play that generates mana, value, and tempo for only 3 mana.