It’s time for yet another Deck Spotlight! I was really trying to focus most of my articles on Standard lately, since Modern is getting less and less attention from Wizards of the Coast, but as you all probably noticed, nothing crazy is going on in Standard. I went to Utrecht for a Standard GP, even though I didn't really want to and went 10-5 (losing the last round) with B/G constrictor. Nothing too innovative, I just tuned it a bit for the mirror, and a mirror fest it was. I have played 8 mirror matches, and many of them were also very well prepared for the mirror. The matchup is often decided by tempo and curving out and keeping a hand without removal on the draw is more often a loss than not. Other than mirrors, I faced some Mardu vehicles and some Copycat decks. I haven't played against any other decks. Understandably, Standard is the last thing I want to write about at this time, so I took a step backwards and dug into some Modern deck lists. We have Modern Masters 2017 coming up soon and Modern should be pretty hot in the coming period.
So, what to play in Modern you ask? There is no good answer to that question, and that is why I like the format! The top 16 finishing decks from GP Brisbane and GP Vancouver are pretty diverse, with some decks being a total surprise (a Vial-less Death and Taxes variant??) and others a bit less so, but there is certainly a lot of space for creativity and angles to attack the format. I am especially glad to see R/W Prison, a deck that I featured in a Deck Spotlight before, make top 8 in Brisbane. It was stopped there by Dredge, but that is still far from a bad matchup with main deck Anger of the Gods and Rest in Peace in the sideboard. But, that deck already got its own article, today I am bringing you something different, but not completely so.
A couple of decks appeared in the top 16 of both Modern GPs, but out of those, the deck that I liked the most was definitely Eldrazi Tron. I really like tron decks in the current Modern format, and while there was a very interesting G/b Tron deck in the top 8 of GP Brisbane, I decided on talking a bit more about Eldrazi, since, apparently, I can't get enough of that.
There were three Eldrazi Ramp decks in the top 16 of both GPs, but let's take Pascal Maynard's list as a stock list for the deck:
|Converted Mana Cost|
Certainly, this decklist is nothing to be compared to the Eldrazi decklists from the Eye of Ugin era, it is just not in the same league, but still shouldn't be discarded easily. This list is obviously very dependent on the mana base and how you draw your lands. Even though there are four Expedition Maps to find the pieces you need, if you manage to naturally draw multiple Eldrazi Temples or all the parts of the Urza's Tower, Plant and Mine trio, you should be doing some pretty unfair things to your opponent. That said, this deck isn't one of those one-trick-pony decks that does something busted if you draw right but does nothing when you don't, no sir. Eldrazi Tron can put reasonable plays together even without the help of a broken mana base thanks to some pretty great XX-costed artifacts - Chalice of the Void and Walking Ballista. Chalice is the perfect turn two play (or turn one with some help from ye olde Simian Spirit Guide, while Ballista isn't as great, but still does the job of saving your life total or just being a body when you need something to sacrifice to Liliana of the Veil, who was generally always very strong against Eldrazi.
The rest of the creature suite consists of the aforementioned Simian Spirit Guide and a bunch of Eldrazi! Some are well known quantities like Reality Smasher and Thought-Knot Seer, very strong cards, especially when powered out ahead of time, but also some other less popular ones - Matter Reshaper, who got little love in Modern before and Endbringer, who was rarely played in Standard even, let alone Modern. While Matter Reshaper is a more or less logical choice and fits the curve really well, Endbringer is a bit more peculiar. Is presence in this deck might be explained by the fact that this particular deck really wants a big, completely colorless Eldrazi that it can reasonably cast and does something relevant. There are many cards that fit into three out of four of these categories, but only Endbringer fits into all of them. Endbringer is no joke, powered out on turn three or four; it can do quite a bit, in pretty much any matchup, since in the worst case it draws cards.
Even though the only real removal card in the deck is Dismember, there are other cards that also kind of fit into the removal category - Walking Ballista and Karn Liberated. Both of these are pretty great if you can assemble Urzatron early, but are pretty decent in the mid to late game even if you don't have Urzatron right away. If the game goes long enough you will get to a bunch of mana eventually and then your big hitters can shine. It is really amazing how versatile and great Walking Ballista is, but, when a card sees Vintage play you know it is really good.
The rest of the deck is made out of glue - Expedition Maps as slow extra copies of important lands, Mind Stone to help out in those slow land situations and a one-of Batterskull because you want some life gain main deck to be able to stabilize against decks with access to burn spells.
The sideboard is an interesting affair. With only one Grafdigger's Cage and three Surgical Extraction I feel that Maynard somewhat underestimated Dredge and graveyard strategies in general, but on the other hand, Modern sideboards just aren't big enough to fit in everything. There are additional removal spells in Spatial Contortion and Ratchet Bomb, which I understand, since there are some things you have to deal with, I just don't think the numbers are right. All is Dust is a great card; albeit a bit slow and dependant on how fast you can assemble the needed lands to cast it. I might even consider more of those. Pithing Needle is in the board as a classic catch-all card that you are rarely ever sure why exactly you need it, but then you end up sideboarding it more often than not. A one-of Gemstone Caverns is a nod to the fact that the deck is much weaker on the draw, more or less like every other Modern deck. Last, but not the least - there is Basilisk Collar as a one of. I feel this is wrong, since the card just wins some matchups by itself (ok, not by itself, but certainly in combination with Walking Ballista and Endbringer) so there should be a one or two more in the sideboard.
Eldrazi Tron is not a super-interactive deck, but it is certainly more interactive than what you would expect from a completely colorless deck. Chalice is great in the format and Eldrazi is always great if you manage to get on their good side and draw lands in the correct order. If not, this deck is still not going down without a fight! Try it out, it might look clunky on paper, but it is posting decent results with consistency, and that usually means that with a big enough sample size you will see that deck is actually doing pretty strong things pretty often.
Good luck and have fun!
About Stjepan Sučić
Stjepan started his Magic career in 2003, and had some decent finishes over the years, including a World Magic Cup top 8, Pro Tour and Worlds top 32 finishes, and a GP top 8, with 61 pro points total.
During the summer months he is also a Magic Online grinder who you can easily find in the draft queues. Stjepan boasts a 74% win rate in his real life Magic career. When he is not playing Magic, Stjepan enjoys watching Starcraft and playing MOBA games.