Everyone knows the Eldrazi have been stomping through the Modern metagame, but while our attention has been diverted they have been quietly seeping into Standard. The best cards are often the most difficult to figure out and apply to established decks, so the invasion has happened slowly. Take a look around — Eldrazi are everywhere. Eldrazi have spawned homebrews and brand-new decks, and they have infiltrated even the established top decks of the format. They are being played in decks of all types, from the aggressive to the controlling, and they are found in decks of every color combination. The Eldrazi are here, and there is no stopping them, but we can use their power for good. We can use them to defeat our opponents.
Last weekend's MOCS event invited Platinum Pro Tour players along with top Magic Online competitors, which led to an extremely tough tournament. Many pros chose to wield the Bant Collected Company deck. This deck takes advantage of Reflector Mage with Collected Company to find it, and it includes plenty of aggressive creatures to push through the red zone. Brad Nelson trumped the field and sailed to the top 8 by adding four Eldrazi Skyspawner to the deck.
Eldrazi Skyspawner stands out as a Collected Company target, and it's the centerpiece of Nelson's deck. Played on turn three, it enables turn-four Wingmate Roc with raid, which is included in the deck as a mirror-breaker and as a trump against midrange decks of all sorts. As a 2/1 flier, Eldrazi Skyspawner is already great for breaking board stalls. It's also exceptional against one-for-one creature removal spells, thanks to its Scion. The extra mana from spare Eldrazi Scions is sure to be useful in a mana-intensive deck, and having an extra mana to activate Lumbering Falls or unmorph a Den Protector could easily be the difference between victory and defeat.
Adding just playset of a Battle for Zendikar Eldrazi to a top deck might not seem like a full-scale Eldrazi invasion, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
B/R Dragons has been quickly gaining popularity as a foil to the Rally the Ancestors deck, which struggles against a deck filled with discard, creature removal, and fliers. Savvy players now include Bearer of Silence in the deck, where it serves as an additional flying threat and as another way to destroy opposing creatures.
This deck previously lacked an effective two-mana flying creature, but Bearer of Silence fills the void. Draws starting with a Bearer of Silence on turn two are significantly faster than those without it, so it makes this deck more consistent in its aggressive role. Rather than fade in power late in the game, Bearer of Silence retains value with its Cruel Edict ability as a powerful tempo play and source of card advantage.
The B/R Dragons deck already includes Haven of the Spirit Dragon, so this convenient source of colorless mana brings out the full potential of Bearer of Silence without much additional help. Sea Gate Wreckage is a welcome addition to a deck that doesn't otherwise have any card drawing, and Foundry of the Consuls is great in a deck with four Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury to pump its Thopter tokens. Supporting both its aggressive fliers strategy and removal spell suite, Bearer of Silence is an excellent inclusion in the B/R Dragons deck.
Why should the Eldrazi stop there? The flying Eldrazi Skyspawner feels right at home in B/R Dragons, and some players have decided it's good enough to merit a blue splash.
Shivan Reef adds colorless mana, so it makes Bearer of Silence even more effective in this deck than in B/R Dragons. Fetchlands make finding blue mana easy, and the deck has enough of it to support Negate in the sideboard, which provides a new way to attack the field. Blue also buffs up the number of dragons with sideboard Dragonlord Silumgar and Silumgar, the Drifting Death, which are sure to be surprises for opponents expecting a stock B/R Dragons decklist.
Eldrazi creatures good enough for Modern are strong enough to earn their place in Standard's heavyweight, Abzan Aggro, alongside Siege Rhino. Abzan has access to eight on-color painlands in Caves of Koilos and Llanowar Wastes, so supporting colorless-costed cards is no stretch for the color combination.
Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher are unique creatures that each add a new dimension to the strategy. The disruption of Thought-Knot Seer is a useful addition to the deck, which has found itself lacking playable maindeck discard since Thoughtseize rotated out of the format. Reality Smasher is extremely aggressive and a great fit in the core aggressive gameplan. Haste is valuable as an unexpected way to Threaten opponents and Planeswalkers. Its triggered ability provides added value against non-Crackling Doom removal spells, so Reality Smasher is a welcome addition. These colorless creatures also add some resilience against the board sweeping ability of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.
Spatial Contortion is another benefit of turning to the Eldrazi. It's among the most efficient removal spells in Standard, and in Abzan Aggro it's more flexible than Silkwrap and more reliable than Dromoka's Command. It can also convert to extra damage as a pump spell on a large attacker, so it comes with a unique upside over traditional removal spells.
Abzan Aggro has been slowly losing metagame share in an increasingly hostile world, and re-inventing itself by including the best new cards and pushing its power level to the limit is something worth pursuing.
An intriguing Eldrazi development of Mardu Green includes Wasteland Strangler as a build-your-own-Flametongue Kavu.
Wasteland Strangler offers a massive advantage when its enters-the-battlefield condition is met. It's the perfect fit in a midrange deck built around ground pounders and removal spells, so it's a payoff worth working towards. Silkwrap and Transgress the Mind are already excellent cards in the metagame, so it makes sense that this deck is combining them with Wasteland Strangler to create an advantage.
The story so far has been about Eldrazi making their way into established decks, but what about Eldrazi spawning decks of their own?
The earliest Oath of the Gatewatch Standard Eldrazi decks were Mono-Black Aggro, which combines efficient aggressive devoid creatures with Ghostfire Blade to pressure opponents. I like this recent version, which plays all the way up the curve to include Matter Reshaper, Thought-Knot Seer, and Reality Smasher.
Another look at the Eldrazi deck is to move away from Ghostfire Blade and towards a more midrange strategy. Blue provides access to the valuable Eldrazi Skyspawner, but it also brings excellent two-mana creature in Fathom Feeder and Dimensional Infiltrator.
Eldrazi can move even further away from aggression and towards a control deck like this Orzhov build.
This deck lacks the support creatures found in other builds and instead focuses squarely around the best Eldrazi creatures from Oath of the Gatewatch. Eldrazi Displacer can be used with Thought-Knot Seer, but its primarily role here is to protect creatures from removal spells and to keep opposing creatures tapped. A wealth of disruption spells buy time for the Eldrazi creatures to take over, and this deck goes even bigger with planeswalkers. Beyond a playset of Shambling Vent, this deck also uses a pair of Mirrorpool to gain extra value from its lands.
I'm sure the thought of combining Reflector Mage with Eldrazi Displacer is a dream every player has at least considered. If this early result is any indication, it's something that could very well have a place in Standard.
This deck pushes Eldrazi Displacer to its limits by including Harbinger of the Tides and Icefall Regent as additional creatures that benefit from a blink. This deck has a relentless ability to contain opposing creatures, and by building an army along the way it quickly shortens the time the opponent has to recover.
The largest and most powerful Eldrazi are mana intensive, and they require specialized support in the form of mana acceleration. Various big-mana decks have been around ever since Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger was printed, but recent additions have made these decks more effective than ever.
Thought-Knot Seer gives this deck a way disrupt its opponents, which isn't something the deck otherwise has access to. It's a great source of board presence that demands attention, and it's effective as a blocker that buys time for bigger plays. World Breaker comes down later to shut down the battlefield, and with reach it stops even dragons from getting through. Its ability will usually remove lands to constrict opposing options, but it will occasionally find a Silkwrap or Hangarback Walker to target. Oath of Nissa is a subtle addition, but it makes this deck more consistently able to execute its plan.
Along with the Eldrazi creatures come their devoid spells, and some ramp decks splash red for Kozilek's Return to combat aggressive opponents.
Kozilek's Return is a great sweeper against small creatures, but its triggered ability makes it a functional Wrath of God that kills nearly all of the commonly-played creatures in Standard. Mono-Green Eldrazi decks have serious issues with aggressive decks, but Kozilek's Return completely changes the equation.
This deck makes the most of Kozilek's Return by doing away with mana-ramping two-drops and instead moves towards a suite of three-toughness creatures that survive Pyroclasm. Sylvan Advocate helps the deck stay aggressive and shines as a roadblock against aggressive decks, and it's often at full power in a deck designed to ramp its lands. Shaman of Forgotten Ways is a great source of mana in a deck built around creatures, and if Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple have taught us anything it's that producing two mana is unfair.
Another devoid spell is Ruin in Their Wake, which offers valuable mana ramp the likes of which haven't graced Standard since Farseek rotated out over two years ago.
Ruin in Their Wake requires Wastes in play to be effective, but Evolving Wilds provides additional ways to find one. With so much mana-fixing, splashing red is no problem.
Drowner of Hope has stood out as an excellent Modern card, and some Standard players are splashing blue to take advantage of it in Eldrazi ramp decks.
Blue provides Lumbering Falls, which provides additional incentive to include Sylvan Advocate. This deck also includes Elvish Visionary and Nissa, Vastwood Seer to generate card advantage and clog up the battlefield. It all combines to make a deck very capable of playing a straight-forward and fair creature plan, so it's a great alternative to decks that are solely focused on generating mana.
The Eldrazi have arrived in Standard, and we are just beginning to feel their impact. Eldrazi are going to have an increasingly important role in the future of the format. How are you using the Eldrazi in your decks? What cards are you using to fight back against the Eldrazi? Share your thoughts in the comments section, and I'll answer any questions!