Turning Eye of Ugin into a Swamp creates effectively an active Urza’s Tower, but with only 2 lands needed to assemble this “mini-Tron.” The combination of Eye and Urborg with any other lands means a Blight Herder can come down as early as turn 3.
Eldrazi Temple is the other big winner from this new archetype. Many of your cards are already colorless, but with the expensive ones all being Eldrazi, the Temple is excellent at accelerating. I’ve always focused on the actual spells in a deck when breaking down a Deck of the Day, but in this case the lands are definitely what make the deck.
Blight Herder and Oblivion Sower are massive threats that can come down early thanks to Eye and Temple. One of my favorite aspects of this deck is that the creatures all have powerful triggers that go on the stack when the spell is cast.
You want to Remand an Oblivion Sower? You might have to in order to keep a 5-power creature off the board on turn 3. It will still trigger, and the caster can still put all the exiled lands into play. Modern is a format with many fetchlands, which can be pretty useless in decks without the right lands to search up. Steal an opponent’s Scalding Tarn in your mono-black or BW deck? Another great instance of Urborg being an all-star as you now have a land that can cast your spells!
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is just the sweetest card from Battle, and you can actually hard-cast this thing pretty easily in this deck. You already have lands that reduce the cost of your Eldrazi, but Blight Herder and Oblivion Sower also can potentially provide additional ramp. Casting an Ulamog ahead of schedule is incredible as you’re either getting a mana advantage, wiping out their threats, or destroying their mana base beyond repair (assuming they don’t just die to Ulamog itself).
Wasteland Strangler is the final creature we see in almost every version of the deck. A black source with either an Eye or Temple lets Strangler come down on turn 2. If you’re able to exile a card to process, a Skinrender on turn 2 that kills a creature and trades for another is an amazing amount of value. This is big enough to counter a number of plays that happen in the midgame and is just a solid card, even if you’ll board it out in a number of matchups.
We’ve established that this deck full of Processors can do some filthy things with its triggers, but we are going to need cards to actually process. Relic of Progenitus and Scrabbling Claws are 1-mana tools that can conveniently be cast with any non-Eye-of-Ugin land on turn 1 and get to work. Modern is full of fetchlands and early spells. Serum Visions, Thought Scour, and Gitaxian Probe are all early plays that can turn Relic or Claws on, and there are very few decks in the format that don’t have either early spells or an abundance of fetchlands (most decks have both). Both of these cards start exiling on turn 1, and then replace themselves with a new card for a cheap price later in the game. They are outstanding enablers.
Expedition Map is a nice way to get either Eye of Ugin or Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, but it’s also not very fast—if you’re overloaded on copies of lands, this card becomes really mediocre. Getting Eldrazi Temple is still nice, but when your most powerful lands are all legends that you’re already playing many copies of, there are diminishing returns for searching out lands.
Inquisition of Kozilek is likely the best discard option, at least for game 1. Not having to pay any life is a huge benefit in a deck with a reasonable set-up cost. Your best draws can cast huge threats early in the game, but there are combo decks that don’t care about getting Oblivion Sowered or Blight Herdered. Having some early disruption is nice and Inquisition is likely a notch above Thoughtseize and Duress.
Mind Stone has always been one of my favorite cards, so I like the fact that many lists include it. Early ramp that turns into a new card when it’s no longer needed basically means that Mind Stone does it all. Like Relic, being able to play this early to get its main benefits while not being a dead draw late in the game, all at a cheap cost, is a lot of upside.
The inclusion of removal in this deck is a subject of some debate. A few lists load up on removal, looking to use interaction to survive to the midgame, while others are happy relying on the combo to take care of business. Go for the Throat, Dismember, and Slaughter Pact are some of the better removal spells because of how cheap they are. Being able to cast a big spell and leave up Dismember or Slaughter Pact is going to be easy, but the necessity of that may have dissipated with the removal of Splinter Twin from the format. Casting a big Eldrazi without the ability to interact with a combo was not a great place to be in Modern, but the door to shave on spot removal has opened.
Conduit of Ruin isn’t seeing much play, but it does potentially search up an Ulamog while acting as a ramp spell. All Is Dust has seen a bit of play as a sweeper that is accelerated dramatically by the lands in the Eldrazi Black deck.
Jacob Baugh, 99th Place at a Modern Open
The decision whether to include another color is an interesting one. The most popular choice is currently white, which gives you access to the best removal spell in Modern—Path to Exile. It also lets you play Lingering Souls. Lingering Souls is among the most powerful cards in the format and does incredible work in a deck like this. It’s a potential threat, providing a number of small fliers, but more importantly it can buy a lot of time. If you’re trying to defeat a deck like Affinity or Infect, some extra blockers go a long way toward giving you a chance to set up a long game.
The biggest allure for me to play a second color comes from the sideboarding options. White has long been the best color for sideboard cards in Modern, so it’s the first place I would look if I wanted to splash. The value of a powerful sideboard option like Rest in Peace is certainly diminished in a deck overloaded with main-deck Relic of Progenitus, and Stony Silence hurts this deck a bit in order to completely shut down Affinity, but we also have cards like Timely Reinforcements. Timely can act as a Time Stretch in some matchups, which is pretty exciting!
Matthew Dilks, 10th Place at a Modern Open
Splashing red opens the door for Pyroclasm or Lightning Bolt as excellent removal options. The sideboard options are also powerful, yet, quite different from what white offers. Vandalblast is a big threat against Affinity, while Slaughter Games can decimate a combo opponent. Rending Volley has lost some utility, but Crumble to Dust gained in a world of Tron and Eldrazi. Crumble wasn’t a very effective answer to the mana in the Amulet Bloom deck, but it’s fantastic against the current big mana decks.
Kozilek’s Return does some exciting things for the possibility of splashing red. Return is amazing and may push the deck into playing some cards that cost 7+ other than Ulamog. Instant speed with a free flashback is truly an exciting effect that should shake up Standard dramatically while also being solid in Modern.
TOYOKWSK, 5-0 in an MTGO Modern League
One of the best parts about sideboarding in a deck like this is that there should be some clear cuts in any given matchup. Wasteland Stranglers as well as other removal spells, Lingering Souls, discard, etc. all have matchups where they are clearly good and clearly poor. That’s also one of the worst aspects of this deck in that you will likely have some dead cards in game 1 in many matchups. The power level of your cards is so high that there’s a reasonable chance of being able to win even through bad draws, but it’s a risk.
You also have a fair amount of main deck hate for much of Modern. Relic of Progenitus can completely pick apart a Living End deck, cripple Snapcaster Mages, disrupt Kolaghan’s Commands, make Tarmogoyfs small enough to be eaten by Scions—the list goes on. Main-deck Ghost Quarter can hamstring Tron, stop Inkmoth Nexus out of Affinity, completely change the clock of a Scapeshift deck trying to set up Valakut, the Molten Pinnacles, and more. All of these aspects combine to make the Eldrazi deck a real player in the metagame.
There are too many decks in Modern to cover them all or to have a sideboard that can interact with even most of them. In a format with 30 or more decks, 15 cards can only go so far. I’m going to do my best to provide a general overview or how to prepare for the major archetypes, though.
These are decks like Burn, Zoo, Affinity, Infect. You would love early interaction with Bogles, but since their creatures are all hexproof you’re either going to need Liliana of the Veil or be on the play and have a turn-2 Pyroclasm—neither of which are especially likely (although an early All Is Dust could be sufficient).
Affinity is the nightmare matchup. To start, it’s the best deck in Modern that doesn’t send any cards to the graveyard—not until they are killing you with Arcbound Ravager. They play zero fetchlands and their spells are all permanents. Your Relics do little to nothing and there is essentially nothing to process. They also kill you long before you can set up—an early Blight Herder rarely does much to change the way the game plays out. You will need lots of sideboard cards, early interaction, and mass removal. Pyroclasm or Stony Silence can both turn a game, as can Vandalblast. Lingering Souls is a nice road block, but still won’t do much without more interaction to stop their decent draws.
The other aggro decks are also going to be tough in game 1, but at least they are likely to fetch and cast burn spells that you can exile and process. Blight Herder is a quick clock and provides lots of blockers, but your nut draw isn’t killing anyone before turn 5, so you can’t do much to stop a fist full of burn spells. Eidolon of the Great Revel isn’t outstanding against you, which is the bright side, but it’s still quite good, as is every other card in their deck.
After sideboard, early removal that doesn’t damage you is important. You can’t let Goblin Guides keep hitting you if you want any chance to win, but Dismember and Slaughter Pact aren’t going to cut it. Rest for the Weary is narrow but awesome, as it counters a minimum of 2 burn spells (assuming you don’t get caught under a Skullcrack or Atarka’s Command). Timely Reinforcements is very good. Sun Droplet is quite nice and buys you a fair amount of time, but they should also have access to artifact removal after board, so it is far from a sure thing.
Night of Souls’ Betrayal can singlehandedly beat a deck like Infect while being amazing against most Affinity boards.
Midrange and Control
This is what you’re looking to face. Discard doesn’t do much against you as many of your best cards are lands. You have all sorts of inevitability with your Processors, Ulamogs, and Eye of Ugins. Your cards that are good in the early game, like Relic and Mind Stone, will get cashed in later in the game for a higher threat density. This is what you’re looking to play against.
Counters just aren’t effective tools against constant processing. Blight Herder or Oblivion Sower will still get the triggers, leading to a massive land advantage that will only get you closer and closer to both activating Eye of Ugin for more of these processing threats, or eventually for an Ulamog to close the door. Relic and Scrabbling Claws are incidentally quite good against many of the best cards in Modern, such as Snapcaster Mage, Tarmogoyf, and Kolaghan’s Command. Midrange and control decks rely on these big threats and card advantage to pull away in the mid- to late game, but they can’t do that against Black Eldrazi.
After sideboard, most of your cards will still be good, but you can change around some of your flex slots. Against control decks, Wasteland Strangler may not provide any sort of real advantage. It’s still a 3-power creature, so it’s not the worst card ever, but you will likely be able to upgrade. Discard is usually the best option as you don’t have any need for more threats. Your threats are so powerful and so hard to disrupt that you’re just looking to mess up their game plan a little bit to guarantee you have the time to cast the bigger and better spells.
Combo can be tricky and it comes in many flavors. There are a number of decks that rely on the graveyard, so having main-deck hate there can be crucial. There are many other combo and big mana decks that rely on having specific lands, like Urza lands or Valakut, which Ghost Quarter can disrupt nicely. There are other combo decks that rely on setting up the perfect combination of cards in hand, which discard can stop entirely. You also have some quick clocks, so even a single piece of disruption threatens to buy the time you need.
Eldrazi Black looks to get into the mid- and late game to cast creatures with game-changing triggers, but these are not always relevant against the combo decks in Modern. Access to cards like Memoricide, Slaughter Games, or Cranial Extraction is critical against a number of Modern strategies. More discard tends to be good in the vast majority of combo matchups. Your removal spells are more likely to be weak or dead in combo matchups, so trimming there for active disruption will improve your matchup dramatically.
Sideboarding Against Eldrazi Black
I think the best way to fight the Eldrazi deck is the same as any other big mana deck: attack their lands. Blood Moon is still quite good, although pretty far from lights-out. Blight Herder is still only a 5 mana spell. Mind Stone will still accelerate to an early Blight Herder, and so while Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin are absolutely amazing and the engine for the deck, Blood Moon won’t win the game on its own. But, if you have a quick clock, it might help give you the time you need.
Crumble to Dust is similar. Wiping out a key element of the deck, like Eye of Ugin, can be crippling. Eye threatens to provide lots of card advantage in the late game, so if you don’t have access to a card like this and are expecting to win the extremely long game, you don’t have much of a chance.
There aren’t too many threats in the deck, so attacking them is certainly viable. Countering these creatures doesn’t stop the value if you have cards in exile, but Thoughtseize or Slaughter Games to remove threats from their hand or library is legit. I don’t think I would want a card like Slaughter Games without a lot of discard in my deck, or at least ways to see my opponent’s hand, because a 4-mana spell that doesn’t at least guarantee a 1-for-1 is pretty depressing.
There are already so many decks with positive matchups against a deck like Eldrazi that I don’t think it threatens to take over the format. Aggro decks and many combo decks should be happy to see Eldrazi on the other side of the table, but the matchup will get considerably tougher after sideboard. Having a few options available to stop the powerful sideboard trumps Eldrazi has access to will likely be sufficient, especially if you’re a huge favorite to win game 1.
With Oath of the Gatewatch about to join the Modern format, one of the most exciting cards from the set may have a perfect slot in Eldrazi Black.
Thought-Knot Seer is just an amazing card. There are a number of combinations that allow you to cast this card on turn 2, and the effect is tremendous. It is an excellent card in so many of the tougher matchups. It can heavily disrupt combo and provide a huge road block that’s bigger than Wild Nacatl against aggro. It also conveniently doesn’t deal damage to you if there is an Eidolon of the Great Revel in play. I haven’t had a chance to test with the Seer yet, but it looks absolutely fantastic and could take an already strong deck to the next level.
Are there any other Oath cards you think will help shape this Modern deck going forward? Sound off in the comments!