If we thought there were enough Eldrazi after Battle for Zendikar, think again. I am surprised just how many Eldrazi have been incorporated into Oath of the Gatewatch. Not only are there the huge creatures topping out with Kozilek, the Great Distortion, but now we have small Eldrazi creatures as well. There seem to be Eldrazi at every mana cost starting at one with Reaver Drone and going through ten. These creatures will not just have a large impact on Standard, but there are Modern implications as well. Already we are seeing decks revolving around lands like Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin do well in Modern, and those strategies have a lot of new tools.
The color which may have gained the most here is black, as the Modern Eldrazi decks almost always have black in them, so let's take at what a current version looks like. Here is an undefeated list in a Magic Online league, played by Chiralane:
This particular version opts to not play Heartless Summoning which is another tool the deck has access to. There are a lot of cards which seem like they could be upgraded, but even so, this deck is obviously performing well without any updates. The creature package certainly could be switched around a bit now that Oath of the Gatewatch is going to be legal. Here is what an updated list with Oath of the Gatewatch might look like:
There are definitely a few different ways you can go as far as card choices, but this build has really been working well for me so far. The creature base is completely different from the other version, as it doesn't revolve around Wasteland Strangler. The Relic of Progenitus are now in the board, which means that there really isn't enough ways to exile stuff, in order to maindeck Wasteland Strangler. While Wasteland Strangler is good when it works properly and you successfully kill a creature there will be other times when either there isn't a creature to target or anything to process. The new three here from Oath of the Gatewatch which should see a ton of play is Matter Reshaper.
This is a card I will be talking about a lot as it really does everything you want and more. First of all this deck doesn't have an issue casting him with so many colorless sources. In fact, with both the presence of Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin, Matter Reshaper will often come down on turn two, which is pretty absurd. When this guy dies, which will happen a lot of the time, you are netting a card. Sometimes this will mean dropping a permanent into play, which is insane and even works with Heartless Summoning. Other times this will mean simply drawing a card, and revealing it to the opponent. In any case this guy is great and should likely be in any deck that can properly take advantage of it.
The other new addition is Thought-Knot Seer, which is a creature reminiscent of Vendilion Clique. This creature is capable of being cast on turn two with an Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin. That's right: turn two! Not only is this a four toughness guy that gets around Lightning Bolt, it can also strip a key card from an opponent's grip. These Eldrazi give this deck more to do on the early turns, and are just very powerful and under costed in this deck. These creatures seem to be better than the more expensive options we end up cutting, and we can still top out with the ten-mana plays.
Oblivion Sower is a card I see in a lot of these lists, but the card has never impressed me all that much. The issue of hitting a fetch land with Oblivion Sower is very real, as this deck can really only fetch out swamps. It will average less than one additional land that is relevant versus most decks. The deck aims to simply stabilize and disrupt the opponent long enough to cast Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, or Kozilek, the Great Distortion. These creatures are how we close out games, and cards like Kozilek's Channeler and Heartless Summoning allow them to be cast quicker. It is already evident that once Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger resolves it is very difficult to lose, and Kozilek, the Great Distortion is similar. Kozilek the Great Distortion can stop your creature being removed from play with something like Path to Exile or Terminate, as the Counterspell effect is very relevant. Remember that even though this deck "only" has five ten-mana threats, the deck also has Eye of Ugin, and Expedition Map to find it. This means that you should pretty much always have the late game inevitability.
There are still a host of reactive spells to help stop some of the faster combo decks. Discard is great because it is useful no matter what you are playing against, though the life loss from Thoughtseize can be annoying versus aggressive decks. There are also a variety of removal spells to be able to interact with annoying creatures that come down early. The most likely way to lose is the opponent getting an early clock going before you can stabilize. This is where the removal really shines as simply killing something like a Tarmogoyf immediately goes a long way. This deck could still use some work but it is clearly very powerful, and I wouldn't even be surprised if Wizards thinks a deck like this is too powerful. With the banned list update less than a week away, I can't help but wonder if this deck gained enough from Oath of the Gatewatch that it warrants having a piece banned.
The implications of black-based Eldrazi decks in Modern is apparent as those strategies are currently doing well, even before the introduction of Oath of the Gatewatch. The same can't really be said for Standard. The Standard Eldrazi Ramp deck is typically green/red-based, topping out with Ulamog the Ceaseless Hunger. Now I'm not sure that an Eldrazi deck actually needs to rely on huge creatures, as there are smaller creatures that have a lot of potential as well and are in fact Eldrazi. I mentioned Reaver Drone earlier and this is a guy I'm excited to be bashing with. This is what my version of Black Eldrazi Aggro looks like, though it is just the maindeck:
Mono-color decks are virtually non-existent in Standard at the moment. Even red aggressive decks are splashing green, and we know the trend is to play more colors rather than less. Here though is an example of going the opposite direction. The deck is synergistic but the power level of the cards individually is high too. While I am calling the deck an Eldrazi deck, that's because all of the creatures are Eldrazi! Wait, can an Eldrazi deck with no creatures costing higher than five really be considered an Eldrazi deck? We are entering a new age where Eldrazi creatures will be looked at very differently than they have been in the past.
The deck starts putting creatures into play on turn one and then goes up the curve through five mana. The creatures have various effects when coming into play, or having other creatures coming into play. Eldrazi Mimic gets to become a three power guy when ether of the three mana creatures hit play, and then even bigger alongside a Thought-Knot Seer or Reality Smasher. Eldrazi Mimic is difficult to evaluate since its own stats are unimpressive, but since there are so many colorless creatures to make it bigger in the deck I think it makes since to play Eldrazi Mimic here. The other creature which can be cast on turn two or later in the game, is Bearer of Silence. Bearer of Silence alongside Blighted Fen provide this deck edict effects that can be particularly useful in certain matchups. Taking care of, say, a Dragonlord Ojutai or a different large creature of some sort is optimal. Otherwise at worst Bearer of Silence helps fill out the curve.
At three mana we of course have Matter Reshaper, which is nothing short of spectacular here. There are a number of creatures that will come straight into play if he does die, and otherwise it is just a good card that can be easily cast here. The other three mana creature is Wasteland Strangler. This guy wasn't originally in the deck as I wasn't sure there would be enough ways to exile stuff, but that has changed. First of all one of our best utility spells is Transgress the Mind, and we are also running Thought-Knot Seer. Wasteland Strangler is great with both of these cards.
Transgress the Mind allows Wasteland Strangler to immediately kill something on turn three. With Thought-Knot Seer you do have to wait until turn five, but that normally isn't a huge issue. In total there are ten ways to exile cards, as there are two copies of Complete Disregard as well. This is a removal spell that effectively answers Matter Reshaper and I expect it to start seeing more play. Rounding out the curve we have the aforementioned Thought-Knot Seer and then on five there are a couple of Reality Smashers. Not only is this card a really powerful haste threat, but it is very annoying to try and deal with. You are already making the opponent discard cards, and there will often not be much left in their hand to spare, so killing Reality Smasher isn't fun.
There are certainly other directions you can take as far as creatures go, though this creature suite has been performing well. There is an argument for playing more expensive threats, though that does mean the mana curve takes a serious hit. Inverter of Truth is a card I really want to fit in, but it is of course a huge liability. This card might be a reasonable sideboard option, but the idea of decking yourself is pretty scary. In the end, while Inverter of Truth can close the game out quickly, the drawback is too great.
The manabase here is very different than anything seen in competitive play before. This deck clearly needs access to both black and colorless mana in order to function correctly. Evolving Wilds allows you to find either a Swamp or a Wastes, and helps fill up the graveyard for delve purposes. I expect decks that do play a copy of Wastes to only play one of them alongside Evolving Wilds to be able to search for it. The deck does want access to double black for Grasp of Darkness as early as turn two and, with only one actual one-drop, having a land come into play tapped isn't that bad. The other colorless lands are better than Wastes in general because they also have other abilities.
Blighted Fen is known as a reasonable utility land, but Mirrorpool and Sea Gate Wreckage still have a lot to prove. Honestly I think both of these lands have a ton of potential and give the deck ways to use its mana later in the game. I'm not sure how many of each should be in the deck, so those numbers could change moving forward. Being able to copy a big creature or removal spell with Mirrorpool is definitely attractive. Also copying Matter Reshaper is nice because you still get the trigger when your token dies, just like when Matter Reshaper dies. Sea Gate Wreckage on the other hand is a card that will allow you to win a long game against a variety of archetypes, as drawing an extra card every turn is what this land can provide.
Thanks for reading,