Gathering Deck Garage
Rise of the Eldrazi
April 23, 2010
Fixing decks always gets a little tricky near the release of
a new set. Before the fact, there's always the wondering if
the new set contains a card
that would be much better in the deck than what I'm
suggesting. A new set might be full of cards
that any given
deck would be crazy to ignore, or it might have teh seeds of
a counter-strategy that could render any given archetype
obsolete, especially in Standard formats. And then after the
fact, the new set colors my perspective for a while-- I
always find myself recommending cards from the most recent
set and not giving much consideration to older sets.
Today's article doesn't have a deck fix, but instead
contains my thoughts on Rise of the Eldrazi , both in
Limited and in Constructed.
I suppose the best place to start is with my experience with
Rise of the Eldrazi: the prereleases. My local shop had two
tournaments last weekend, and I went to both. Two promo
Emrakuls! And two opportunities to build RotE decks and play
them against a fine selection fo players. And both times, I
learned a few things about the format and the cards in it.
Allow me to share, for all of you planning on attending the
My first day's deck was a green/blue affair, with several
Umbras and levelers and a pair of Ulamog's Crushers. The
best rares in the deck were Momentous Fall and Kazandu
Tuskcaller. That deck taught me:
-Ulamog's Crusher is the most underwhelming
of the Eldrazi. The Annihilator 2 is nice, but no trample or
any other evasive ability means that your opponent is just
going to sack the two permanents he needs the least and then
throw a spare 1/1 under the bus, and then most likely swing
back with his army. I was disappointed at how little the
Crusher actually did once I got it into play.
-Eldrazi need mana acceleration, and plenty of it. Maybe the
real reason Ulamog's Crusher didn't do anything for me is
that my only acceleration in the deck was an Ondu Giant and
a Dreamstone Hedron, and I didn't have any Walls or other
delaying tactics. By the time I could cast a Crusher, I was
alreday a turn away from loss. This format is slower than
what you're used to, but it's not so slow that you can get
to nine mana or more just by making your land drops each
-Snake Umbra and Drake Umbra were MVP's in the deck. Snake
Umbra on a flying creature pretty much guarantees you an
extra card a turn, and Drake Umbra makes anything into a
dangerous beatstick that must be dealt with, and can't
easily thanks to Totem armor.
The next day I had enough cards in my pool to build two
decks: one was red and blue with lots of burn, card draw,
and two Narcolepsy, and the
other was green and black and had plenty of Eldrazi Spawn,
plus three Eldrazi: two Hand of Emrakul and a Pathrazer of
Ulamog. Here's what I learned this time:
-Nine creatures is not enough for a deck, even if it does
have at least seven kill spells.
-Drake Umbra on a Tuktuk the Returned token will make
opponents DROP EVERYTHING to deal with it. Unfortunately, if
they do you've wasted two cards.
-The green/black deck had two Growth Spasm, two Ondu Giants,
a Dread Drone, and an Eldrazi Temple, and this time I had
little trouble playing out my big Eldrazi. They definitely
hurt like hell when they hit. Pathrazer of Ulamog was
probably my favorite; with Annihilator 3 and needing to be
blocked by at least three creatures, it's basically
guaranteed to make your opponent sacrifice six permanents
every time it swings. And even if your opponent has a
Daggerback Basilisk (2/2 deathtouch), he can't just chump
with the Basilisk and kill it, he has to chump with at least
two other creatures as well.
-If I had it to do over again, I would've paired the colors
of the two decks differently. The red/blue deck had too few
creatures and the green/black deck had no removal and little
So that was my Prerelease experience. Now I want to talk
about a few cards from the set that I suspect I'll be
recommending in quite a few decks over the next few years.
It's easy to fail to see the power of this card, since
you're giving up a creature and spending the card itself,
but as long as the creature you sack has 3 or more power,
you're incurring a net gain in cards. Momentous Fall is an
excellent way to recoup your losses in response to a kill
spell or a necessary bad block, as well as pad your life
total a bit, or even just restock your hand once you've
played out all your cards and can spare a 4/4.
Suffer the Past
This card is interesting because it does two things: exile
cards in an opponent's graveyard, and drain that opponent's
life total. As such, you can play it for X=1 in response to
your opponent's Rise from the Grave or whatnot, or you could
just pour all the mana you can into it to try and finish an
A bit expensive, but it prevents damage to you AND every
creature you control once it levels up. Meaning as a 1/4, it
takes 5 damage from a single source to kill it. Also, it
prevents damage from EVERY source, meaning you can let
attacking creatures through and the Purists will apply to
each one. This card will make punching damage through VERY
difficult once it gets rolling.
Pawn of Ulamog
You get a free Eldrazi Spawn any time a card of yours goes
to the graveyard, including itself. Once this gets on the
table, everything of yours your opponent tries to kill goes
toward paying for your bigger, better spells.
Before Lifelink (the card) replaced Spirit Link in the core
set, Spirit Link was often used not just to gain life, but
to neutralize an opponent's attacker by playing it on their
creature-- then when the creature attacked and did damage to
you, you'd gain that much life back. Luminous Wake can
basically do both of the things Spirit Link used to-- play
it on your own creature as a life gain effect, or play it on
an opponent's attacker to gain back teh life they try to
I'm counting these two together because they both serve the
same purpose: to replace Path to Exile once it rotates out
of Standard. I personally like Oust better, since it doesn't
require you to block the creature you want to kill, like
Smite does. But it does allow them to redraw it, and it's a
sorcery, so Path will be sorely lamented I'm sure.
This card screams to be built around. It is an engine that
will power instant-based decks for years to come. Remember,
most burn spells are instants, and burn decks have always
struggled to overcome the fact that they run out of cards in
This card is a cheap way to adjust your hand according to
what you need right now, without the sting of having to
pitch something you want, just not yet. In the prerelease, I
loved this card because if I had an Eldrazi in my opening
hand, I could draw two cards and then throw the big guy back
until I was ready for him. And I've seen plenty of combo
decks in my day that relied on havin a key combo piece still
in the lirary when they went off-- Summoning Trap and
Polymorph are the tip of the iceberg. See Beyond will be a
crucial tool in those decks, allowing folks to fish for the
pieces they need to draw with no danger fo drawing the piece
they don't want to.
Deckbuilders love to tease out a viable milling archetype
where they can, and Keening Stone is an excellent tool. The
fact that it counts cards in the graveyard while adding
cards to the graveyard gives it a momentum that other
milling cards lack.
This card lets you fetch a land, artifact, or Eldrazi out
the top five cards of your deck. Since most mana-producing
cards are colorless, this is a great way to make sure you
get the mana you need in the crucial early turns. Or in an
artifact deck, it's practically "scry 5, then draw a card".
So, that's my initial thoughts on Rise of the Eldrazi. The
release events and launch parties are this weekend, so if
you're planning on going to one, I hope I've helped you
prepare for what lies ahead. Either way, have fun with it,
and good luck!
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