This past weekend was so busy! I attended the SCG Invitational in Somerset, New Jersey. My weapons of choice? Naya Eldritch Evolution in Modern and good ol' Sultai Control for the Standard portion. Sadly, I ended the Modern portion at a record of 1-3 and then played Bant Company every round of the Standard portion, succumbing to one of them, which put me with a very underwhelming record of 4-4. So I did not make day two and I had to pick a deck to play in the Modern Open. I didn't want to play Eldritch Evolution, especially after doing so poorly with the deck the day before. So I talked to Grand Prix Master and good friend Brian Braun-Duin. I asked him what he was playing and he gave me this Bant Eldrazi list. I switched one card in the sideboard and then entered the Modern Open with a deck that I've never played before. The deck was extremely powerful and it put me into the Top 8. Now this isn't a new deck or anything but it is slowly picking up steam. Is Eldrazi Winter truly over?
This is one of the few Modern decks that get a free Ancient Tomb. Eldrazi Temple doesn't require you to have a bunch of other lands in play or anything crazy. Instead it just gives you two generic mana for your colorless Eldrazi spells. This is obviously extremely powerful, allowing you to cast things like Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher turns before they are meant to be cast. A turn two Thought-Knot Seer is backbreaking in Modern, especially since the best removal spell in the format, Lightning Bolt, doesn't kill it. Casting a turn three or four Reality Smasher will put the pressure on our opponents, especially if you follow it up with another Reality Smasher or a Drowner of Hope. Not many decks can deal without outside a wrath affect and those decks are few and far between.
Eldrazi Displacer may look inconspicuous, and it may just be a three mana creature that dies to Lightning Bolt, but if that's all you see when you look at this little alien, then let me enlighten you. Eldrazi Displacer protects all our creatures and with Spellskite they won't be able to kill anything as long as you have mana to use the Displacer's ability. Eldrazi Displacer is also fantastic at killing opposing tokens, removing counters from creatures, or just fogging for you. Late in the game you can neuter your opponent's creatures by keeping them tapped with Eldrazi Displacer or by displacing your own Drowner of Hope to make scions that will keep all their creatures tapped down. Not only does Eldrazi Displacer do all these things but it even allows you to win through an Ensnaring Bridge or Worship, which normally is extremely difficult for Eldrazi decks to deal with. How you ask?
Well, Eldrazi Displacer and Thought-Knot Seer work very well together. You can Displace your Thought-Knot over and over again and stack the triggers however you want to either make your opponent draw a bunch of lands so you can bash through Ensnaring Bridge or just deck them through a Worship by continuously making them draw cards. Just keep mana around for an emergency blink that you might have to do if your opponent draws a removal spell for your Thought-Knot Seer to remove it.
Another card I want to talk about in this deck is Ancient Stirrings. If you thought Oath of Nissa was a good card, then you're in for a treat. Ancient Stirrings digs five cards deep and can get any land or Eldrazi in the deck! This is huge. Ancient Stirrings is basically a Peer Through Depths for one mana and without the restriction of having to be a certain card type. If that wasn't good enough it's also a great way to find your sideboard hate cards in Engineered Explosives and Grafdigger's Cage. Ancient Stirrings is arguably the best cantrip in Modern and for good reason.
What does this deck lose to? Abzan Company and just Collected Company / Chord of Calling decks in general can be tough for this deck. Dredge has also made a resurgence and game ones can be hard to win. The full set of Graffdigger's Cage really helped here. Infect is another one that can give you trouble, but Spellskite can also just win you the game against them, especially when protected with Eldrazi Displacer.
The thing is, all your "bad" matchups aren't even that bad. Sure, they might be favored but it's not like R/G Tron versus Jund. You have a good chance of still winning, especially if you play and sideboard correctly.
The deck just felt strong in general and I never felt like I was completely out of a match. I really liked the deck but one card that I really didn't like was Matter Reshaper. Flying creatures were an annoyance and most of the time Matter Reshaper just didn't die and was just a 3/2. I know it's harder on the mana but I'd rather just have a 2/1 flier that puts another creature into play. If I had to play the deck tomorrow, this is the list I would play.
Nothing too crazy, we basically made the changes we talked about and I added a couple of copies of Oath of Nissa as Ancient Stirrings five and six to help find creatures or Eldrazi Temple. Oath of Nissa also helps find and cast the two Planeswalkers in the sideboard. These Planeswalkers are for the grindy matchups where our opponents try to kill our creatures and strip our hand. Elspeth, Sun's Champion or Ajani, Mentor of Heroes can take over a game against any of these grindy decks. Even if we have a full board, Ajani, Mentor of Heroes can easily put on the pressure by growing our creatures or even put some of our creatures out of Lightning Bolt range — I'm looking at you, Eldrazi Displacer. I also cut Worship for World Breaker to help us deal with annoying permanents like Ensnaring Bridge or an opposing Worship. It's also a recurring threat that has to be Path to Exiled or it just keeps coming back.
This deck still has a lot of room to change or to take in a different direction. For example, we could make it more combo-oriented by including Training Grounds.
We were so preoccupied with whether or not we could do it that we didn't stop to think if we should. Eldrazi evolved!
Training Grounds will reduce all these cards' activated abilities. It will allow you to just pay one green mana to Anticipate for a creature, or one colorless mana to blink a creature with Eldrazi Displacer. If you only have one out then Prophet of Distortion still requires you to spend two mana to draw a card but that's not all that bad, especially since we can use Eldrazi Temple to activate its ability.
With Training Grounds on the battlefield Eldrazi Displacer can blink two things with a single Eldrazi Temple. That's pretty absurd! If you have Training Grounds, Eldrazi Displacer, and Drowner of Hope you can make as many Eldrazi Scions as you want and kill your opponent with a bunch of scions. If you can't attack for some reason, then you can throw Thought-Knot Seer into the mix and force your opponent to draw their whole library in one fell swoop by blinking your Thought-Knot Seer a million times and putting a bunch of draw triggers onto the stack.
What if you never draw Training Grounds?
Well, you're still playing a deck with four Thought-Knot Seers, four Reality Smashers, and three Drowner of Hopes. These cards, alongside Eldrazi Temple and Noble Hierarch, will allow you to pump them out before they were meant to be. Duskwatcher Recruiter does a good Matter Reshaper impersonation and if he lives for a couple turns then you'll be able to generate more value than Matter Reshaper would've generated.
Bant Eldrazi is here to stay and I'm nervous and excited to see the deck adapt in Modern. You can't keep a good alien down.
As always, thanks for reading and I'll see you all next week!
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