Last weekend I had the pleasure of sleeving up Bant Eldrazi again with an impromptu stop at GP Dallas. Despite a 12-3 finish with the deck, it didn’t feel as powerful as it did in previous tournaments, and today I’ll go through the factors that made me come to this conclusion, as well as show you new lists to improve the positioning of Eldrazi Temple in Modern going forward.
The Mana Base
Since its first appearance at GP Los Angeles 4 months ago, Bant Eldrazi’s mana base has always been a debate over the number of Cavern of Souls, the number of colorless lands like Ghost Quarter, the right mix of pain lands, the number of Forests, and Hallowed Fountain. I talked about the one I liked the most in other articles, but the format has moved toward a more aggressive and less grindy metagame that makes Eldrazi Skyspawner necessary, which leads to an unreliable mana base no matter how you build it.
When Drowner of Hope was the only blue card, it was easy to dismiss getting blue in the early game and have a nearly perfect mana base, but once you add a blue card that can be cast on turn 2, that makes the turn-1 land decision awkward.
Leading with a blue/white dual land on turn 1 sounds like your optimal line if these 2 cards are in your deck—that makes your turn-2 Eldrazi Temple able to cast anything. The issue with that is not being able to cast Noble Hierarch or Ancient Stirrings on turn 1 with that dual land. But say you decide to start with a green-white dual land to cast Noble, it dies to a Lightning Bolt, and you draw Eldrazi Skyspawner—awkward, isn’t it? You could say it’s a very minor problem, which honestly, yes, it is. Despite that happening multiple times last weekend, I still did well, but that was annoying enough for me to consider going down a color, or even down to 0 colors …
This brings me to the next topic:
The dreaded red enchantment is becoming a staple again. Since the departure of Splinter Twin, there haven’t been tier 1 decks that played the card, which made it quite uncommon—a very good thing for Bant Eldrazi.
Skred Red winning a Grand Prix and the rise of U/R Kiln Fiend make me wish I had a basic Island to cast Eldrazi Skyspawner and Drowner of Hope, which both help cast your other colorless Eldrazis with the Scions.
You could have a basic Wastes in your deck, but with just Path to Exile and your sole Ghost Quarter to fetch it, it’s mediocre. Adding an Island would require swapping Windswept Heath with Misty Rainforest, but that would make Path to Exile a lot worse. The solution might be to cut white entirely, or only splash for Eldrazi Displacer and replace Path to Exile with Vapor Snags and more Dismembers, but you’re still left with the problem of two 3-drops of different colors.
Grindy Decks Are Fading Away
Most of my games just ended so quickly, and the late game plan felt unnecessary. Extra mana for Eldrazi Displacer was very rare to find.
All these factors led me to build non-Bant lists of the deck.
Other Ways to Build Eldrazi
This list was inspired by Andrew Tenjum, who played in an Open about two months ago. I thought about it because my list from last weekend had a single Botanical Sanctum and it was pretty impressive—it made me consider a strictly blue-green mana base, and I came up with this. With the speed of Modern right now, I’m even more attracted to the idea of casting Vapor Snag than Path to Exile. Elder Deep-Fiend is the only question that remains unanswered. I’m unsure of how good it is in Modern, but it won’t take long for me to find out. Expect a video with this version very soon!
Without access to green, finding Eldrazi Temple is much harder and that’s why Serum Powder is useful—you can just mulligan even more aggressively. Because you are more likely to have Eldrazi Temple in your opener, I brought back Eldrazi Mimic, a card that is fantastic if cast before all your other creatures.
This list is inspired by the Team F2F version of Eldrazi when Eye of Ugin was legal. I removed Endless One since Eye of Ugin is gone, but I kept the Simian Spirit Guides, which make Chalice of the Void quite appealing.
I’m not done talking about Serum Powder. This card is very puzzling in many ways but the most unimpressive thing it can do—be a mana rock—is far more useful than you would think. It beats Blood Moon. You can now cast all your creatures if Serum Powder is in play!