I hope everyone enjoyed their Prerelease! Today I'm going to review all of the Standard Eldrazi cards in Oath of the Gatewatch. Eldrazi are weird creatures and are pretty hard to evaluate with no context. I hope to provide a little insight for you guys and maybe you can see some cards in a new light!
There's a lot to go over so I'm only going to talk about cards that I believe are strong enough for Standard. If I fail to mention a card in this article it's safe to say that I don't think it's good enough. If you disagree with any of my evaluations, feel free to let me know in the comments.
Eldrazi Mimic is definitely strong enough to see Constructed play and while I think he's better in Modern than in Standard, I do think he has a home in some Eldrazi decks. I'm talking about decks like mono-colorless, not so much the cuter decks like processors. For this guy to reach his full potential, you need to be curving out and playing a creature better than this every turn. Think this guy into Matter Reshaper into Thought-Knot Seer into Reality Smasher. If you choose to go the black aggro route and want to play cards like Bearer of Silence and Reaver Drone, Eldrazi Mimic is not the two-drop you're looking for.
Kozilek, the Great Distortion
Kozilek has a home in Eldrazi Ramp decks, and with the <><> in its cost, it's really hard to play it in other kinds of ramp decks like blue/green. You'll need to play Wastes in your deck to reliably cast this spell, but with Explosive Vegetation and Ruin in Their Wake it's pretty easy to add a couple to your manabase. I think that Eldrazi Ramp decks going forward will be playing less Nissa's Pilgrimage and more Ruin in Their Wake or even Map the Wastes if you choose to only play two copies of Wastes. I think some Eldrazi Ramp decks will only play two Wastes since they are already playing four copies of both Sanctum of Ugin and Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, and playing only two Wastes gives you the option of splashing another color, like red for Kozilek's Return.
Ruin in Their Wake adds something new to the environment. Rampant Growth and Farseek have proven themselves to be too strong for Standard (turn four Titans weren't very fun to play against), and since then our ramp has either cost more mana or been in the form of creatures. Ruin in Their Wake is our first actual "Rampant Growth" in three years but it does require us to build our decks a certain way. I'm fine with building a green/colorless ramp deck if it means I can ramp on turn two, but I'm not sure if it's worth the cost of having to play less colorless lands that actually do something besides add mana like Mirrorpool or Sanctum of Ugin. Ramping on turn two is strong enough that it's worth trying out.
Unlike Eldrazi Mimic, Matter Reshaper will go in every colorless deck regardless of what it's doing. If you're playing an aggro deck for example, you can attack and trade with your opponent's stuff and potentially get a new creature out of the deal. Bearer of Silence is a pretty cool creature to Reshape into. While you're going to be casting it for four mana most of the time it still has a converted mana cost of two.
What I'm most excited about with Matter Reshaper is ramping when he dies. Any land you reveal goes directly onto the battlefield and Oath of the Gatewatch has a ton of cool lands with abilities other than producing mana. I'll take a Sea Gate Wreckage or a Ruins of Oran-Rief for free, thanks. Also worth noting is that Tomb of the Spirit Dragon, a land from Khans of Tarkir that was previously unplayable, is now great thanks to colorless creatures. It seems quite strong to cast a Matter Reshaper on turn three, trade with something and find a land, then cast a Reality Smasher on turn four.
Reality Smasher is not a card that I'd just jam into any Eldrazi deck I build. It's pretty expensive and hard to cast depending on what colors you are. I like this in the mono-colorless Eldrazi deck as a curve topper for sure, but where I think this card will shine is actually in Eldrazi Ramp. It's very easy to cast with four Sanctum of Ugin and four Shrine of the Forsaken Gods in your deck. The Eldrazi Ramp deck sometimes struggled with having too much to do very early and very late but not so much to do in the mid game. Reality Smasher is a great card to fill this role. Another plus is that your opponents will be forced to leave their removal in against you after game one, potentially creating dead cards against Ulamog (should you chose to side your Reality Smasher out).
It's pretty obvious that this card is strong. A 4/4 for four is already a great rate and this guy also Removes your opponent's best card out of their hand. Sure, they get to draw that card back when it dies, but odds are that the card they draw is not as good or better than the card they lost, as you are choosing their best card and they are replacing it with a random one.
This is another card that I think shines in Eldrazi Ramp as a midgame play. Having access to Thought-Knot Seer really helps you protect your Ulamog as there aren't too many ways to kill Ulamog anyway and Thought-Knot Seer can get rid of their exile spell or Crackling Doom. Thought-Knot Seer also gives your opponent tough decisions. Do they use their only removal spell on the Seer to get a new card? Or do they save it for Ulamog and get beaten down by a 4/4?
With Thought-Knot Seer in the format, the Eldrazi aggro deck will play out a lot like Faeries. There are creatures that provide card advantage and plenty of disruption, as well as efficient removal in the form of Warping Wail and Spatial Contortion. There are even flash creatures in the deck ( Dimensional Infiltrator), making this deck really difficult to play against.
While this card is technically an Eldrazi, I think it will make the biggest impact in non-Eldrazi decks. First, it's white, and Siege Rhino is white. We also have access to Llanowar Wastes and Caves of Koilos, colorless mana sources that help cast Siege Rhino. I think I see a blinking Siege Rhino deck in the works. Currently Abzan Aggro is a very strong deck with a solid fetch land/battle land manabase with barely any pain lands, but this combo is too strong to ignore. Abzan as we know it may adapt into more of a control deck that makes use of this combo.
Eldrazi Displacer also gives us access to an infinite combo in Standard. It takes three cards to get going but once all three are on the battlefield you will win on the spot. In addition to the Displacer, you also need a Zulaport Cutthroat and a Brood Monitor. Brood Monitor makes three Eldrazi Scions, and if you sacrifice them for mana you can blink your Brood Monitor and get three more Scions. Just keep doing this until your opponent dies to Zulaport Cutthroat triggers. This combo fits in a shell with Collected Company and Evolutionary Leap. If you play a deck that's light on creatures but high on tokens, Evolutionary Leap will find you what you need pretty easily.
I really like this little guy. Having flash allows you to play a deck full of instants and always have something to do, and the ability is great in a processor deck. Maybe we'll finally see a blue/black Eldrazi deck with Wasteland Strangler and Ulamog's Nullifier. Even better, if your opponent uses removal on this guy, activating the ability gives you close to a 50/50 shot at saving it for free. If you have another two mana lying around, you can even recast it that turn!
Bearer of Silence
Bearer of Silence pretty much does it all except block. In an aggro deck like red/black devoid it gives you the option to play a 2/1 creature with evasion on turn two or save it for turn four to use as a two-for-one. Not being able to block really limits the types of decks that this guy will go in. You're probably not going to play it in Esper Control despite how strong the edict effect is, but decks like Devoid Aggro, Eldrazi Processors, or just Black Aggro that splashes colorless will love this guy.
I also think that Bearer of Silence has a home in Abzan Aggro. The two-drop slot is pretty light as it is. It's not really clear if Heir of the Wilds or Snapping Gnarlid is more worthy of the slot. Bearer of Silence fits right in the aggressive two-drop curve while also giving you an added bonus of being able to "kick" it on turn four or later. Of course if you decide to play Bearer of Silence in Abzan the mana will have to be reconfigured and you'll have to play more pain lands than what we're used to.
Reaver Drone is simply a 2/1 creature for B with the word "devoid" slapped onto it. If you're playing an aggressive black deck you are likely playing four of this guy. Having devoid is actually a small bonus. It works with cards like Forerunner of Slaughter and Dust Stalker, making Reaver Drone a perfect fit in a black/red devoid deck.
Most of the things I said about Bearer of Silence can be applied to Eldrazi Obligator. It's a cheap aggressive creature that has a colorless "kicker." I think that the Red/Black Devoid deck will love this card. Most of the time Eldrazi Obligator will be your finisher as you'll steal their biggest creature and alpha strike with it, your Obligator, and whatever else you've cast before it. Red/Black Devoid is the toughest archetype to splash colorless mana into. We don't have Sulfurous Springs to give us all three colors, and Corrupted Crossroads as the only tri-land may not be enough.
While this card isn't an Eldrazi, you're going to want to play Eldrazi creatures in your deck to use it to its fullest potential. Kozilek's Return fits perfectly into Eldrazi Ramp. Currently we don't really have a good Pyroclasm effect in Standard but with Oath of the Gatewatch we have one at instant that you can use twice! A three-mana instant Pyroclasm would have been strictly a sideboard card but with the added bonus of being able to clear the board of Siege Rhinos when you cast an Ulamog or Kozilek it's definitely worthy of a maindeck slot. I also believe that this card will give players a reason to build other big Eldrazi decks that are not ramp, like Blue/Red Control perhaps.
This card is not even close in power level to Catacomb Sifter but it's doing something very similar. If a deck wants access to the fifth through eighth Catacomb Sifters then this is your card.
This is another bizarre Eldrazi card (maybe they're all bizarre). It's very similar to Caller of the Claw: a card that, in theory, is great against decks playing Planar Outburst or Languish but rarely works out in practice. This is not a card I'd really consider playing to fill that role but where this card really does shine is in Rally the Ancestors or sacrifice decks playing Nantuko Husk. Vile Redeemer can give you those extra creatures you need to make your Husk lethal or to kill with Zulaport Cutthroat. I just want to throw it out there that Nantuko Husk is an incredibly powerful card outside of Rally decks and there are plenty of value creatures like Blisterpod and Sultai Emissary that make both Nantuko Husk and Vile Redeemer stronger. Rogue's Passage is even in the format to guarantee kills without fear of blockers.
World Breaker is yet another card that fits perfectly in the Eldrazi Ramp deck. I imagine that there will be some split of Ulamog, Kozilek, and World Breaker with more World Breakers in the sideboard for the grindy matchups. One thing to note is that although World Breaker is only seven mana, which is so tiny compared to Ulamog and Kozilek, it still triggers your Sanctum of Ugin and Kozilek's Return. Plus, sometimes you just don't have ten mana and only have seven, and this guy is practically Ulamog Lite in those situations.
I think this card has potential but its one toughness is really holding it back. I think there are better three-drops for your aggressive devoid decks but Flayer Drone definitely works as a combo piece in sacrifice decks. If you're making lots of Scions (maybe with Vile Redeemer, Eldrazi Displacer, or Brood Monitor), then this guy is definitely worth considering as your fifth and sixth Zulaport Cutthroats.
Wow, that's a lot of Eldrazi! This set appears to have many Standard cards compared to Battle for Zendikar and while it's likely that some of the cards I talked about today won't hit, it's pretty cool that there's so much to brew with. If you liked this style of article please leave a comment; I could potentially talk about more Oath of the Gatewatch cards next week! Thanks for reading and enjoy brewing for Standard!
Until next time,
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