[Note: This article was written before Day 2 of Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch.]
Welcome to the Pro Tour.
Granted, the turn-2 kill isn’t very realistic, but the fact that this deck is capable of it is impressive. As it turns out, getting to play eight copies of Ancient Tomb is pretty nice, and this deck has the potential to get some absurd draws.
This is the deck list our team played (with the Spellskite/Ratchet Bomb numbers being slightly different across the board). I have to give credit to all my teammates who worked on the deck in the Vancouver testing house, as they took what looks like a pile of incredibly dubious cards and turned it into a well-honed killing (smashing?) machine.
Let’s take a look at what this deck does.
These lands are why the deck is good. The interaction between the Eldrazi lands and the Eldrazi is what’s truly busted, and Urborg letting Eye tap for black mana just adds to that. Once your Eldrazi all start costing 2 or even 3 less, you are really doing it. Casting 2-mana 4/4s that disrupt the opponent’s hand or 3-mana 5/5s with haste is unfair even for Modern, and that’s all this deck is really trying to do.
You can even get more than 2 mana out of Eye each turn, as playing multiple Eldrazi means it essentially added 4-6 mana. Casting two Matter Reshapers on turn two off of Eye + Temple is something that can happen, and is as good as it sounds. Eye also works with Endless One, essentially giving it +2/+2.
By playing only colorless cards and Phyrexian mana cards, the deck also gets to play 11 lands with extra abilities. Having Nexus, Ghost Quarter, and Mutavault is a huge edge, and you win a lot of games by having a ton of lands with relevant text. Nexus blocks opposing Nexuses very well, and Ghost Quarter is great at disrupting all sorts of decks. Mutavault is a touch behind the other two, but deals enough damage that it’s better than Tectonic Edge or Inkmoth Nexus.
It may look funny, but having two “basics” for Path to Exile and Ghost Quarter is a necessity. These also function under Blood Moon, and let you cast all your <> cards despite having a pile of Mountains.
These are what finish the game. Mimic is the weakest individually, but jumps out for free when Eye is in play, and is part of your most busted draws. Reality Smasher is the most impactful of the bunch, and what you hope to topdeck every turn after about turn four. Thought-Knot is crucial against unfair decks, as it slows them down dramatically, and even against fair decks is a very powerful effect when played early. Matter Reshaper and Endless One fill out the roster, and provide respectable bodies at a cheap cost, even if they aren’t quite as flashy.
All of these cards fill the same role, even if they target different cards. They all give you interaction, which is necessary in such a fast format. Even a deck as aggressive as this is slower than some of the other decks you’ll face, and removing blockers is important. Chalice for 1 is the default play, though 0 is good against Affinity and Living End. Later in the game, Chalice for 2 is a reasonable call, though that does shut off cards in your deck.
Dismember and Bomb kill whatever you need to kill, and even though Ratchet Bomb isn’t the most powerful card, it does give you a lot more game against decks like Infect and Affinity. Spellskite is a catch-all that sucks up removal at the very least and has a huge impact against Infect or Bogles.
This is all monkey business. Casting Chalice for 1 on turn 1 is unfair, as is casting Thought-Knot or Smasher a turn ahead of schedule. You can even SSG into Dismember when tapped out, which is about as filthy as it gets. Spirit Guide is an atrocious late-game draw, and it’s one of the more all-in cards, but hey, this is what you are signing up for when you play a deck like this.
The plan here is simple: put as much power onto the board as possible, and use disruption if needed. You do sometimes need to slow down the beats to play Chalice, Spellskite, or Ratchet Bomb, but for the most part you just want to curve out and clear the path later. Thought-Knot is the best way to apply pressure + disruption at the same time, and Reality Smasher is the best way to end the game.
When this deck does its thing, it looks and feels broken. You get to play 5-7 mana worth of spells on turns 2 or 3, and sometimes can even do better than that. All the lands provide extra value, and as a result you get to curve out and still have a lot of gas in the tank.
When you don’t draw the 2-mana lands, or your cards show up in the wrong order, you can get some awkward draws. Simian Spirit Guide is a prime offender here, but extra Chalices, extra legendary lands, and draws without colorless are all pain points. The fail rate isn’t untenably high, but the flip side of having absurd nut draws is having some draws that don’t do anything.
The sideboard is limited to colorless cards, so there aren’t a ton of options. Oblivion Sower gives the deck some high end, and Relic is a powerful graveyard hate effect that is easily castable. Gut Shot and additional copies of Bomb, Spellskite, and Warping Wail give the deck more removal, and Needle helps answer a wide variety of permanents.
This deck is a ton of fun, and did incredibly well for us on Day 1 of the Pro Tour (we had a 68% win rate, though 3/20 team members did play other decks). Hopefully Day 2 is a smashing success as well, and I’d encourage you to give it a spin.