Hello ladies and gentlemen, Harrison here with something a little different for you folks. Since I first started playing Magic: The Gathering back in 2011, one of my favourite tribes has always been the Eldrazi. Something about horrifying space aliens coming to consume all life as we know it appealed to the kid raised on Lovecraftian horror and Del Toro monster flicks (speaking of which, what is Ron Perlman doing these days? I want my Hellboy 3). For this article series, I will be looking at what makes the Eldrazi great, and breaking down the different decks and archetypes available for every format (yes, including Commander!)
For anyone who has played a game of Magic in … any format in the years since Oath of the Gatewatch, the core of the Eldazi deck consists of three creatures. Matter Reshaper, Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher provide great value bodies for their mana cost, as well as some pretty potent upsides. From this core of three to five mana creatures, players have several options.
In big mana style decks such as UrzaTron or Ramp, you can move up the curve and add the more expensive Eldrazi such as Oblivion Sower, Endbringer or the show-stopping Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Alternatively, aggressive decks with access to the free mana lands of Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin – such as Legacy Eldrazi – usually prefer to go lower with the explosive power of Eldrazi Mimic and Endless One. Prior to the banning of Eye, this lead to the infamous Eldazi Winter, where Modern was taken over by 2/1s for 0.
And behind door number one, we have … an army of terrifying space aliens!
Coloured mana, typically provided by (in Modern, at least) Painlands or Rainbow lands such as Aether Hub also add a lot of potent options to the Eldrazi arsenal. Eldrazi Displacer, Drowner of Hope and World Breaker again fit the theme of great value for mana, as well as powerful and unique abilities. There are also a suite of creatures that earn the honorary Eldrazi title by fitting into the theme, with the main culprit being Walking Ballista. As well, Winding Constrictor in Standard works well with Ruins of Oran-Rief, and also fills the two mana slot nicely. Finally, there are a pair of powerful instants in the Eldrazi shell for value and removal in the form of Warping Wail and Spatial Contortion, respectively. In particular, Wail does a lot of great work in Legacy due to the presence of format defining monsters such as Deathrite Shaman and Stoneforge Mystic.
But Why Are They Good?
For the past 20-something years in Magic‘s history, lands that produce colourless mana have been strictly worse than the five basics. Because of this, they always come attached with some sort of upside. Those upsides range from relatively minor, for cards such as Mage-Ring Network or Sunscorched Desert all the way up to format-defining monsters such as Rishadan Port or Eldrazi Temple. The only exception to this rule is the recent invention of Wastes, the first (and only) colourless basic land. However, because of the huge variety of Rampant Growth-esque effects available, the Basic supertype can be considered its own upside.
No tongue. Please, no tongue!
So, what happens when not producing coloured mana is no longer a downside? Well, you just added between 18 and 26 cards to your deck that all provide additional effects. As anyone who has played in the Modern format recently can tell you, UrzaTron decks can definitely find plenty to do with large amounts of colourless mana. But not only do all of the lands come with upsides, but all of the creatures come with them, as well!
Out of the entire stable of commonly played Eldrazi creatures, the only ones that don’t come with at least an even power-for-mana ratio are Eldrazi Skyspawner and Drowner of Hope. However, both of those creatures come with Scions attached, so you still put equal or better power on the board for the mana. Because every one of the Eldrazi creatures are scary threats at whatever point of the game they come out, the gribbly space monsters are capable of very quickly taking over games.
Lands with upsides, creatures with upsides, the Eldrazi truly have it all. And in the next article in this series, I’ll be sharing with you some of the decklists and strategies available in Standard and Commander when it comes to the invaders from the Blind Eternities.