Mindslaver is my favorite Magic card.
I'm a "Timmy" at heart. I was first introduced to Magic by my childhood friend, Tim. He enjoyed making Keldon Warlord as big as possible. I can remember opening Force of Nature in a Fifth Edition booster and shrieking in joy. My first decks contained Scaled Wurm, and Ghazban Ogre was never a consideration. I fell in love with big, powerful cards that can take over a game, literally in the case of Mindslaver.
Controlling another player's turn is the most powerful and unique effect in all of Magic, the ultimate act of Mind Control that turns the opponent's cards against their owner. Their creature removal destroys their own creatures, their Counterspells and discard stop their own spells, and their planeswalkers' loyalty can be used maliciously. Controlling their attack step can be rewarding, particularly when sending their creatures to their deaths against a wall of blockers. No matter the exact details, there are many ways to leave the opponent in a disadvantaged or irrecoverable position by controlling their turn.
What's especially dangerous about Mindslaver is that it can be re-used. This idea was especially alluring to me, and it was the inspiration for one of the first articles I ever wrote, titled "Bringing Slaver: U/B Infinite Mindslaver Recursion." Beacon of Unrest allowed me to re-use Mindslaver, and Bringer of the White Dawn allowed me to take all of my opponent's turns.
Years later I abused Mindslaver recursion in a competitive environment with Academy Ruins, which I included along with the Urza lands, the perfect way to generate Mindslaver mana, to reach the finals of a Grand Prix:
This deck displays another unique perk of taking control of the opponent's turn, controlling their decision on any cards that ask the opponent to make a choice; I used this fact to take all five cards with Fact or Fiction. I can't wait to make a similar play in Standard with Epiphany at the Drownyard, because Eldritch Moon brings a new way to control of the opponent's turn.
Emrakul, the Promised End twists the script on Emrakul, the Aeons Torn by taking an extra turn playing as the opponent rather than taking an extra turn yourself. It's power isn't as straightforward, but if Mindslaver taught players anything, it's that Emrakul, the Promised End can be game-ending.
Emrakul, the Promised End is not as unfair as Mindslaver; it doesn't steal their turn, it just gives them an extra turn that you control. Since it's a creature, it's easier to abuse than Mindslaver, and there are tailor-made ways to get multiple casts, like bouncing it to your hand. Protection from instants means it will usually be safe from disruption when you're setting up a way to re-cast it.
Emrakul, the Promised End is made cheaper by cards in the graveyard. Counting card types in the graveyard is already a part of Standard in the delirium mechanic, and it means the new Eldrazi enter a format with an existing infrastructure of delirium enablers. There are seven card types in Standard: land, creature, enchantment, artifact, planeswalker, sorcery, and instant, so at the lowest Emrakul, the Promised End will cost six mana — an impressive discount. Emrakul, the Promised End will bring about a resurgence in cards that enable delirium, and it will spur the use of cards there hasn't been enough incentive to use. I've assembled a short list of role-players that can support Emrakul, the Promised End:
Sanctum of Ugin
Oath of Nissa
Oath of Chandra
Call the Bloodline
Vessel of Nascency
Vessel of Volatility
Vessel of Paramnesia
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
Conduit of Ruin
Epiphany at the Drownyard
Traverse the Ulvenwald
Ruin in Their Wake
Gather the Pack
Pieces of the Puzzle
Pore Over the Pages
Kiora, Master of the Depths
Nahiri, the Harbinger
By the time Emrakul, the Promised End can be cast, there are going to be a few different card types in the graveyard without even trying, so it's realistically going to cost ten or fewer mana. The most obvious place to start with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is in the decks already generating the mana to cast Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Emrakul, the Promised End will add a new dimension to these decks and make them even more difficult to beat.
The two main Standard decks currently using Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger are R/G Ramp and U/R Control, and those will both be great homes for Emrakul, the Promised End.
The Pyromancer's Goggles version of ramp looks like an excellent home for Emrakul, the Promised End, because it can accelerate into play by combining its ramp strategy with its ability to get multiple card types into the graveyard, and it can use Traverse the Ulvenwald to search for it.
Another variation of R/G Ramp includes a wide variety of card types, including Evolving Wilds, Oath of Nissa, and lots of creatures, so it will reliably cast Emrakul, the Promised End with a discount.
Nahiri, the Harbinger is a great way to find Emrakul, the Promised End, which attacks for a bunch of damage, and then returns to hand to be cast. The obvious home for this combination is in a Naya Ramp deck, which already uses Nahiri, the Harbinger to find Dragonlord Atarka.
This deck includes Arlinn Kord, which can be used to give Emrakul, the Promised End haste to immediately get in for an attack. It's not quite as powerful as giving Emrakul, the Aeons Torn haste and hitting the opponent with Annihilator 6, but the extra damage will win a race.
Emrakul, the Promised End is exciting in U/R Control, a deck that makes great strategic use of controlling the opponent's turn. Its strategy seeks to trade cards with its opponent over a long game, so its graveyard will consistently be full to discount the cost of the Eldrazi.
A great use for the Mindslaver effect in this deck is playing the opponent's spells into Clash of Wills for X=0 and declining to pay. It also works to break Epiphany of the Drownyard, which can be used draw X cards on their turn.
One potential way to accelerate Emrakul, the Promised End into play is with Cryptolith Rites. A copy could be included in the deck to find with Duskwatch Recruiter, and casting it would break any stalemate. Some versions already include Nahiri, the Harbinger, so instead of finding Dragonlord Atarka to kill the opponent's creatures, we can find Emrakul, the Promised End to hit the opponent for a huge chunk of damage.
A more extreme idea is to dedicate slots to the new Coax from the Blind Eternities to access a wide-ranging Eldrazi toolbox from the sideboard, The toolbox could be far-reaching, topping off at Emrakul, the Promised End, and including cards like combo pieces Brood Monitor or Eldrazi Displacer, Drowner of Hope to lock the opponent down, Though-Knot Seer as disruption, or World Breaker for value.
Coax from the Blind Eternities can be used as a win condition in control decks like U/R, which would include it along with a package of one-ofs in the sideboard.
W/G Tokens, the top deck in the format, naturally plays a wide spread of card types, and it could easily be modified to include sacrifice lands and a more balanced mix of cards. Emrakul, the Promised End would give the deck a great late game tool to break any stalemate. The most natural home would actually be the Naya Version, which already includes Evolving Wilds to reduce the cost, and even Nahiri, the Harbinger to find it.
Another thing to consider about Emrakul, the Promised End is it doesn't shuffle itself into its owner's graveyard like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, so it can be reanimated with something like Ever After or Necromantic Summons. This might not seem like a big deal, but that 13/13 flying body is now the biggest and best thing to Reanimate in Standard. Reanimation strategies typically revolved around Dragonlord Atarka, which is situational, but Emrakul, the Promised End takes things to a new level.
Emrakul, the Promised End doesn't need to be completely built around to be effective, but using it to its fullest potential means keeping its unique requirements in mind when building decks. Subtle card choices and swaps can be made to spread out card types. The best deck for Emrakul, the Promised End might not be like any existing deck, because the most powerful cards in the game can completely change the way we approach deckbuilding. I can't wait to find out what new cards in Eldritch Moon we can use with Emrakul, the Promised End. Melissa DeTora wrote a fantastic article that discusses the finer details of building around Delirium, and it happens to be a great resource for building a deck with Emrakul, the Promised End.
On the day Emrakul, the Promised End was spoiled, the mothership released an article by my friend Quinn Murphy that discusses a the finer details of going big and over the top of the opponent, a topic near and dear to my heart. It's the perfect introduction to the broader concept of dominating the opponent with a big card like Emrakul, the Promised End.
There are a lot of really fun and useful things you can do while controlling the opponent's turn that might not be obvious, so I've assembled a short list:
Have anything to add to the list? How else can we use Emrakul, the Promised End? Do you have any brews with the new Eldrazi? Share your ideas in the comments!