With the release of Shadows over Innistrad, Khans of Tarkir Standard comes to an end. Its year-and-a-half lifetime was renowned as one of the most diverse and dynamic metagames of all time, but the format rotation can not come soon enough. Four-Color Rally has proven truly dominant; the format is now "solved." Reflector Mage broke all semblance of balance in the format by making aggressive and midrange creatures a losing proposition. Each additional set that was added to Standard over the past year increased the cardpool and created more synergies. Individually powerful cards like Siege Rhino, once the pillar of the metagame, fell flat in the face of decks that were greater than the sum of their parts. The end product of the metagame, Four-Color Rally, is a monstrosity with intense mana requirements that cherry picks the best cards from all sets in the format across nearly all colors, made possible only because of easy access to high-quality mana fixing. In practice it functions like a three-color deck that splashes a double-white card, which is an absurd notion.
With rotation comes the removal of fetchlands and the return of two-color and even mono-colored decks. Three-color decks will be a harder sell. The recent spoiling of a new cycle of allied-color dual-lands further drives this home. The new Shadows over Innistrad duals work well in manabases that include the Battle for Zendikar dual lands and plenty of basics. Enemy-colored decks get access to creature lands and painlands, so they have the highest quality lands and the most potential, but the quality fixing of the Shadow-lands put ally-colored decks in good standing.
There is a hidden sixth color, colorless mana, that powers the Eldrazi. It's important to look towards the horizon and focus on new cards, but it's easy to look past what we already have. Shadows overs Innistrad is sure to steer the direction of Standard, but the vast majority of the cardpool is already known. The Eldrazi stand out as some of the most individually efficient cards in the format, but they are also a tribal theme with potential for synergy. The deck can be built focused squarely on its own game plan, so it will set the pace for the new format and define the week zero metagame.
Eldrazi decks are unique because their core strategy will not be changed by any new cards, so everything Eldrazi decks need is already available. Eldrazi decks may add some tools from the new set, and eventually they will have to adapt to the new archetypes Shadows of Innistrad brings, but we have everything necessary, right now, to build Eldrazi decks for post-rotation Standard.
Potential Shadows over Innistrad Standard decks is a popular social media discussion, and I have had multiple people ask me about what decks will be competitive post-rotation. There is a legitimate option already available, a deck you could make today that will be very viable in any post-rotation tournament: an Eldrazi deck.
The colorless nature of Eldrazi means they can be adapted into any color combination, so they offer a lot of room for creative deckbuilding. Today I'll explore a few different directions to take Eldrazi decks after rotation.
Last weekend Kent Ketter took the idea of a post-rotation Eldrazi deck a little too seriously, because he registered one in a tournament! He was a few weeks too early, because his field was filled with four color decks like Jeskai Black, Mardu Green, and Four-Color Rally, but he still managed to finish day one undefeated and put himself in top 8 contention!
Every nonland card in Ketter's maindeck is post-rotation legal, and the only land that rotates out is Tomb of the Spirit Dragon. It's a great tool, but it's not integral to the deck and can be replaced. I see Ketter's deck as the perfect starting point for Shadows over Innistrad Standard.
Typical Standard Eldrazi decks are aggressive blue decks built around Ghostfire Blade, but Ketter takes a different approach. Playing Hedron Crawler allows the deck to play higher up the curve and get Eldrazi online earlier. Modern taught us that the best way to use Eldrazi is with mana acceleration, and the lesson applies to Standard. With Ghostfire Blade rotating, Eldrazi decks will be forced to adopt Hedron Crawler and a bigger game plan, which is a shift Ketter's deck has already embraced.
Chandra, Flamecaller sticks out like a sore thumb because it's not an Eldrazi, but it's clearly the incentive to be playing red, and it's the reason this deck is so good. It's powerful and it fits the Eldrazi theme of using high-impact cards that can shift the tide of a game. Her ultimate is incredible here because it can leave the robust Eldrazi in play while clearing opposing creatures away. It's also a source of card advantage in the lategame, which the deck sorely lacks and is typically one of the few weaknesses of the Eldrazi. It's also a threat reminiscent of Rorix Bladewing, so it's the perfect offensive follow-up to Reality Smasher. Incorporating Planeswalkers into otherwise excellent decks is a recipe for success, and it leaves this deck without a hole in its game plan.
It's important that the deck does not overload on lands that enter the battlefield tapped, especially when it wants to topdeck lands to play a six-drop, so I want to stay away from cards like Mirrorpool or extra Ruins of Oran-Rief. Sea Gate Wreckage gives this deck ability to generate value from its lands over an extended game, so it's my starting point. Another card to explore is Spawning Bed, which I like here because of its great interaction with Vile Aggregate. Rogue's Passage is another great colorless land for Eldrazi decks, and it's worth mentioning here because of its ability to push Vile Aggregate through a board stall.
Here's my post-rotation Red Eldrazi decklist:
Ketter's deck establishes the framework for mono-colored Eldrazi decks of any hue. The next place to go is blue, and we need to build a deck that moves past Ghostfire Blade and towards a Hedron Crawler-based gameplan. Drowner of Hope is the obvious six-drop of choice for a blue deck. It pushes the deck in an aggressive direction, and along with Whirler Rogue, gives the deck the ability to go wide and flood the board with creatures. Ruination Guide provides the deck with an additional aggressive boost that takes advantage of all the tokens.
Exploring red Eldrazi and blue Eldrazi decks necessitates thinking about U/R Eldrazi. This combination takes the best of both colors to create a deck with additional synergies and a higher overall power level. Combining the two colors provides access to Herald of Kozilek, which makes the deck explosive in the midgame. The best approach for U/R Eldrazi may be to shift away from Hedron Crawler and amp up the aggression with Eldrazi Mimic. It works very well in a deck with both Vile Aggregate and Drowner of Hope, but it's also great with Endless One, another card that benefits from Herald of Kozilek.
Another potential color combination for an Eldrazi deck is black/green. It may not seem like there's a lot of incentive to go that route, but Deathcap Cultivator could give the combination an edge. An additional mana-acceleration creature to supplement Hedron Crawler would be great in an Eldrazi deck, and Deathcap Cultivator is a lot more exciting than Leaf Gilder. The extra mana-fixing it provides makes playing black cards more appealing, because any extra fixing goes a long way in post-rotation Standard, where mana is harder to come by.
Black opens the door to Bearer of Silence, which remains the Eldrazi with the most untapped potential in Standard. Its ability is useful, and the fact that it's also effective as a two-mana flier makes it great on many situations. Eldrazi Skyspawner is my favorite card in any blue Eldrazi deck, but Catacomb Sifter makes it blush. It's a great piece of board presence on offense or defense, and its scry ability is invaluable in a deck that lacks traditional card drawing.
With so much mana acceleration, this deck needs a big mana play. Oblivion Sower was my first thought, but it's not a great card when it's not ramping into something even bigger. I thought this might be the deck for Endbringer, and it would work, but I realized the perfect card here is World Breaker. This deck is true to its Golgari roots as a grinding, attrition-oriented aggro-rock deck. It's aggressive, but it's comfortable playing a longer game where it trades resources with the opponent before winning with its higher card quality. World Breaker is the perfect capstone to that plan, and it gives this deck inevitability into the late game and allows it to be comfortable taking on the control role.
I included Matter Reshaper in this deck, where it's typically missing from other builds of Eldrazi. Matter Reshaper primarily revolves around generating card advantage, and it's the perfect fit into a deck that wants to grind out its opponent. It's also capable of putting lands into play and functioning like mana acceleration, so it gives this deck an additional way to jump ahead on the curve.
This deck seems like the perfect fit for Westvale Abbey. One of the Eldrazi's weaknesses is its lack of card advantage. Westvale Abbey is pure value, turn after turn, and it fits right into the Eldrazi deck's plan of doing nothing but spewing creatures into play and turning them sideways until the opponent is dead. Compared to Foundry of the Consuls, which yields two tokens, Westvale Abbey slowly produces a stream of tokens. It's not nearly as aggressive, but over a long game it's capable of producing many tokens and will grind out an opponent. It seems like a great way to end a board stall, which is the exact situation where there would be enough time to get five creatures together but not the opportunity to kill the opponent. Between all the tokens and Matter Reshaper, Westvale Abbey's flip ability makes sense here.
White/black is another color combination with potential. Anguished Unmaking is a great removal spell that helps to support Wasteland Strangler. Sorin, Grim Nemesis sits at the top of the curve as a finisher.
One route is to forego colors altogether, because there's no lack of playable colorless options. It means that the deck needs no basic lands and mana fixing of any kind, so every land in the deck can provide some sort of value, which alleviates Eldrazi's issue of running out of fuel.
The colorless deck is open to a lot of customization. I included Shrine of the Forsaken Gods to help the deck do everything it wants to do in the late game, but these could easily be replaced with more value lands. They help this deck experiment with playing higher up the curve, which is why I've included a transformational sideboard that includes Oblivion Sower and Conduit of Ruin to power out a toolbox of the most powerful Eldrazi.
The Eldrazi serve as a great base for a deck after rotation — the challenge is figuring out how best to use what they offer. Do you have any suggestions for the decklists I brewed? Do you have any ideas on how to use the Eldrazi, or decklists of your own? Share in the comments!