Eldrazi are forging a path of destruction through Modern, but Zendikar is not going down without a fight. Modern has a ton of great decks that have been established for months and years, and they won't be oppressed by the floating, flagellated invaders. The Modern card pool is deep, and it holds a vast chest of tools that are being used to fight back against the Eldrazi. With everything on the line, players have been forced to discover unique cards that can be used to cut Eldrazi down to size. Today I am going to share how players are using these cards to succeed in a world where many have resigned to failure. Rise up against the Eldrazi!
It's impossible to beat the Eldrazi through sheer strength, but through craft and cunning they can be outwitted and outlasted. The massive size of Eldrazi can be used against them.
A colorless artifact available to everyone, Ensnaring Bridge is a no-nonsense way for any deck to stop Eldrazi in their tracks. The lumbering Eldrazi fail to cross the treacherous bridge, and they are rendered harmless. It's a two-way street, however, and Ensnaring Bridge keeps the opponent away from harm as much as it keeps its controller safe, so decks that use it must have some way to win through it. Ensnaring Bridge is most effective when its controller will be quickly emptying the hand, so it's better in some decks than others. It's great in the sideboards of Burn decks, which can win by hurling burn spells across the Ensnaring Bridge. It has potential in Affinity, which can win around the bridge with its small creatures, and Cranial Plating can be attached to boost power after the creature has attacked. Arcbound Ravager can even sacrifice Ensnaring Bridge to clear the way for a game-ending attack!
The tallest blades of grass are the first to be mowed, so the Eldrazi have clear targets on their heads. Zendikar's finest hunters are following behind the Eldrazi along their path of destruction, stalking them, waiting until the perfect moment to pounce. At three mana, Big Game Hunter is an efficient answer to more expensive Eldrazi like Thought-Knot Seer, and it's a clean answer to Reality Smasher that doesn't require discarding a card. Alternatively, Big Game Hunter can even piggyback the discard of Reality Smasher as a benefit. For example, targeting Reality Smasher with Path to Exile, discarding Big Game Hunter, and casting it with Madness to destroy another Eldrazi is a great line of play. It's the perfect card to find with Chord of Calling or Collected Company, and it leaves behind a creature that can chump block or even be used again with Restoration Angel.
The bigger they come, the harder they fall, and the Eldrazi fall hardest of all. Not content with just one trophy, the Intrepid Hero threatens to fell Eldrazi one-by-one until there are no more foes left. Eldrazi decks rely on their heavy-hitters to close out games, so Intrepid Hero demands an answer. It's a serious strain on an opponent with few ways to destroy creatures. Intrepid Hero is a great tutor target for Chord of Calling or something to find with Collected Company, and sneaking it into play at the end of the opponent's turn is a recipe for staging a comeback. It has some synergy with other creatures, like Deceiver Exarch untapping it or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker copying it to get extra activations. Spellskite is a great way to protect Intrepid Hero from any removal spells they may have. Intrepid Hero even has other applications, such as keeping Merfolk from getting out of hand and even containing Master of Etherium and creatures equipped with Cranial Plating.
The battle against Eldrazi is never-ending, but reinforcements have arrived. Providing an army of chump blockers and a pad of life, Timely Reinforcements is that extra push necessary to turn the corner and establish control. Make no mistake about it, the Eldrazi are as aggressive as any red deck, and they must be defended against accordingly.
One way to fight back against Eldrazi is to take advantage of their aggressive ways. Single-minded in their destruction, the Eldrazi's rapid and total push into Zendikar has left them overextended and exposed. Well-placed defenses will slow their advance and grind the gears of their assault into a standstill. There are even options that can completely wipe the Eldrazi from the battlefield. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Ghostly Prison presents the Eldrazi with a tollbooth along their turnpike to hell. Making them pay a fee for every attacker ruins their most explosive draws, and it slows them them down considerably in any situation. The Eldrazi deck seeks to quickly develop the battlefield while attacking the opponent, but Ghostly Prison forces them to budget their mana and sacrifice development or damage. Ghostly Prison helps to make up for the mana advantage the deck otherwise gains with its lands. While not a game-winning card by itself, it's a great tool as part of a larger plan.
The Eldrazi proliferate their spawn at a tremendous pace, but their focus on destruction leaves them unaware of their own vulnerability. The Eldrazi have stirred the old gods from their slumber, and awakening in anger they will exact retribution from the heretics. Wrath of God, Damnation, and Supreme Verdict are their judgements to scour the land and restore peace to Zendikar. All of the complicated text aside, the Eldrazi are nothing more than mortal creatures, and they can be dealt with as such. These powerful sweepers effortlessly clean up any Eldrazi and scions along with them, bypassing the discard clause of Reality Smasher and triggering card draw from Thought-Knot Seer. It's possible to take the sweeper approach in the mirror match with Cyclonic Rift, which will set the opponent behind and will clear the way for a lethal attack.
Pray to whatever it is you believe in and beg for mercy, because the Eldrazi are here. Some have sound salvation in Worship, which keeps the devout protected through even the most overpowering Eldrazi assaults. As long as its controller can keep a creature in play, which isn't difficult in a creature deck against a removal-light Eldrazi deck, they can't die, and it leaves most Eldrazi decks unable to finish the job. This forces them to rely on sideboard cards like Disenchant. Ideally Worship is used not as a master plan but as a way to buy time before winning the game through other means.
The Eldrazi devour resources at an unsustainable pace, and their insatiable thirst for fuel leaves them exposed to attacks on their supply lines. The competitive advantage that sets the Eldrazi decks apart from the field is their overpowered two-mana lands, and attacking them on this axis proves to be one of the most reliably strategies for winning the matchup. Eye of Ugin makes beating the Eldrazi deck in a long game through attrition a losing strategy, and its access to answers to any permanent makes hosers only a temporary solution. Attacking the mana of the Eldrazi deck is the only way to prevent them from playing the game, and cutting off access to their overpowered cards leaves them stuck in the Zendikar mud.
The most definitive way to cut off Eldrazi's access to mana is Blood Moon, which turns the two-mana lands into basic Mountains. The most important aspect of Blood Moon is that it all but completely cuts off access to colorless mana, which means it shuts off Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher. With just a couple of basic lands in most Eldrazi decks, Blood Moon also cuts off access to colored mana, which is especially relevant now that the colorless Eldrazi deck has fallen out of favor and most Eldrazi decks are two colors.
The invasion has instilled life into the waters of Zendikar, and it pushes back against the invader. The tides of the Spreading Seas prove too strong even for the Eldrazi to overcome. Keeping their mana in check slows down their development and buys time for establish further resistance. Spreading Seas cast on a two-mana land sets behind their development by one mana, and it has the potential to wreck their most unstable draws. Eldrazi aggressively mulligan into the two-mana lands on which their draws hinge, and being able to profitably disrupt that as early as turn two is a benefit Spreading Seas provides over other land destruction.
The Eldrazi aren't immune to Tectonic Instability and the dangers of land destruction. Cards like Fulminator Mage, Molten Rain, Rain of Tears, Boom/Bust, Crumble to Dust, and even Stone Rain attack the Eldrazi where they are most vulnerable. All of these cards have their pros and cons. Boom/Bust is very appealing, but it requires Flagstones of Trokair or fetchlands to target to break the parity. Fulminator Mage destroys lands, but it also gets aggressive or even chump blocks in a pinch. Add in the ability to find it with Chord of Calling or Collected Company, or re-use it with Reveillark or Kolaghan's Command, and you have one of the best ways to attack the Eldrazi decks. Molten Rain is ideal in Burn and Zoo decks where every point of damage counts. Rain of Tears is a great non-red option that can be cast from the graveyard with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy or Snapcaster Mage.
A subtle but potentially highly effective way to attack the mana of Eldrazi deck is Painter's Servant. Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple only produce two mana towards colorless Eldrazi, so turning these creatures into any of five colors with Painter's Servant disqualifies them from the discount. For the low price of two-mana Painter's Servant cuts Eldrazi Temple in half and renders Eye of Ugin completely useless, even cutting off its ability to search the library for colorless creatures. It's a great toolbox target for Chord of Calling or hit with Collected Company, and as an artifact it has potential synergy in Affinity.
Another toolbox creature to hose Eldrazi is Hushwing Gryff, which shuts off come-into-play abilities. It doesn't fundamentally cripple the Eldrazi deck, but it cuts off a lot of their value, including Eldrazi Scion generation from Eldrazi Skypawner and Drowner of Hope, and eliminates Thought-Knot Seer's enters-the-battlefield trigger. Hushwing Gryff's ability even stops creatures from triggering Eldrazi Mimic. That's a lot of upside for a creature that also presents a threat that flies over blockers, and extra help like this could spell the difference between being beaten by the Eldrazi and beating them at their own game.
If Zendikar can't stop the Eldrazi, then maybe the only thing stopping them is themselves. Our scientists in hiding have been working tirelessly through the night to understand the Eldrazi, and we are just now beginning to uncover their secrets. The undiscerning Oblivion Sower swallows all earth, land, and sky in its path, generating a massive mana advantage while presenting a creature that is probably the largest in play, which makes it worth its weight in gold in Eldrazi mirror matches. It is being played maindeck in R/G Eldrazi, and a couple of copies are popular in the sideboard of W/U Eldrazi decks. The extra mana is perfect for getting to mirror-breaker Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, the ultimate example of resorting to using the Eldrazi to defeat the Eldrazi.
No situation is hopeless, and the Magic ecosystem shows us that life always find a way to overcome any challenges presented by the multiverse. As the Eldrazi continue to evolve, so too will the resistance. How are you helping in the fight against the Eldrazi? What sideboard technology are you using to hold the Eldrazi at bay? Share your ideas in the comments, and I'll answer any questions!