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BMoor's Magic The 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 release.

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 turn.
-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 evasion.

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.

Momentous Fall
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 opponent off.

Hedron-Field Purists
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.

Luminous Wake
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 take.

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.

Surreal Memoir
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 hand quickly.

See Beyond
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.

Keening Stone
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.

Ancient Stirrings
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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