One of the issues to fix when you think of a deck in pretty much any format is how to properly build a manabase. The more a given format matures, the more manabases tend to be optimized. Most Standard decks are at the stage where their manabases have mostly been fixed. The brains behind the great concoctions found ways to minimize the impact of enter-the-battlefield tapped lands, even though they play three or more colors.
The easy way to avoid getting in the tank and think through the dozens of options available to build your manabase is to play only one color and basic lands to make sure that every land you draw will provide the right color and will come into play untapped. One of the reasons Mono-White Humans was so dominant a couple of weeks back is the consistency of its manabase (~18 Plains). The decks have evolved since then, and Humans don't dominate as much as they used to.
Building a mono-colored deck has its advantages and its drawbacks. The biggest one of them is the limited pool of cards you have access to. Just for example, you'll have a hard time finding removal in your mono-blue deck, or enchantment removal in a mono-red deck.
The other problem comes from your manabase itself. In the mid-to-late game, topdecked lands won't do much. If you don't need extra mana, the seventh land is unlikely to help. In multicolor decks you have access to creature lands, which will minimize the drawback of drawing yet another land.
What if all your lands gave you the colored mana you needed AND had an effect in the late game? Look at the following list of colorless lands:
Sanctum of Ugin
Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
Foundry of the Consuls
Sea Gate Wreckage
Ruins of Oran Rief
Some of them are really powerful, yet you can only play a handful of them in your decks. What if we tried to play a manabase that included as many of them as possible?
Oath of the Gatewatch reinvented colorless as Magic's sixth color. In Standard, there are two ways to develop the "colorless deck": either go slow, big and rampy, or aggressive. Today I'm going to explore these possibilities and give you the two decklists I came up with.
26 "colored lands" that enter the battlefield untapped. That's the start I wanted. In this deck (as well as in the next one), I decided to set aside Ruins of Oran-Rief and Mirrorpool. Both cards may have potential, but the enters the battlefield tapped clause runs against the main concept. Ruins of Oran-Rief helps very little, as you can never really afford to keep one extra land untapped, and Mirrorpool is even worse.
What we're trying to do here is get to a lot of mana as fast as possible and either set up an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or swarm your opponent with tokens and eventually awaken Ormendahl.
The most interesting part of the deck: all the lands have special abilities and can be sorted in 3 categories:
Shrine of the Forsaken Gods
These two lands can produce more than one mana and help you get to Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger faster. Oblivion Sower helps turn on Shrine of the Forsaken Gods. Mage-Ring Network is a good mana sink.
4 Spawning Bed
4 Foundry of the Consuls
4 Westvale Abbey
This is the part of the deck that I like the most. Once you've committed all your creatures to the board, or when all of your threats have been taken care of, these lands come to put the final nail in your opponent's coffin.
Spawning Bed requires the most mana to activate, but it gives you the most tokens at once to either get to 10 mana on the next turn, or have gifts to offer to Ormendhal.
Foundry of the Consuls makes two flying tokens, important when you need to deal the last few damage or block an Eldrazi Skyspawner or an Archangel Avacyn.
While you often have better things to do than summon a cleric transforming Westvale Abbey into the Demon Prince is one of your main win conditions. Even though you don't have that many creatures in your deck the other lands make it a reality.
Sacrificing your lands usually happens in the late game, but keep in mind that your land count often goes under 7 after you do so and that Shrine of the Forsaken Gods won't be active once you do. Also, Shrine of the Forsaken Gods doesn't produce two mana to activate token lands.
2 Rogue's Passage
1 Sea Gate Wreckage
2 Sanctum of Ugin
It's unlikely you'll empty your hand fast enough to take full advantage of Sea Gate Wreckage, but it's still a nice land to have lined up.
You can trigger Sanctum of Ugin with either Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger or a 4/4 Hangarback Walker to get to fetch any other creature in your deck. You usually won't have the chance to play a second Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, but it's good to have the option.
Rogue's Passage is also a good option to have if you need some reach to close the game. It's not unusual to have your opponent at 18 life and get to attack for 9 unblockable damage twice for the win.
While the utility lands aren't as powerful in this version as the mana lands or the token lands, it's all about having options in the late game and that's exactly why this deck is fun and interesting.
4 Hedron Crawler
4 Matter Reshaper
4 Thought-Knot Seer
4 Oblivion Sower
4 Hangarback Walker
2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless
The poor man's Sky Diamond. In a format where the only Signet requires you to have a colored card in the graveyard ( Corrupted Grafstone), I guess this little fellow isn't too bad. It's one of the only ways to play a turn-three Thought-Knot Seer or Hedron Archive. In a perfect world, the sequence is Hedron Crawler on turn two, Hedron Archive / Hedron Crawler on turn three, Oblivion Sower on turn four and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on turn five.
Well, even if you don't get that draw, having extra mana, as mentioned above, is never going to hurt, there will always be something to do with it, most likely activating a land a turn earlier, or just casting a bigger Hangarback Walker.
With so many lands in the deck, there's a good chance (about 45%) that every time Matter Reshaper dies, you get a land into play. In some other setups/decks, you'd be quite disappointed. Here, you'll just be happy. That's get one land closer to an active Shrine of the Forsaken Gods, and most of your lands do something besides provide mana anyway. It's a fine creature to hold the fort for a turn or two or a way to attack control decks' Planeswalkers.
The best quality/price rate you can get. Not only it's a beater, it also clears the path for Ormendahl. The decision to make creatures and sacrifice five creatures to bring the demon into play is often risky, but Thought-Knot Seer makes sure it's not going to be captured by a nasty Stasis Snare.
A colorless 5/8 is hard to kill in Standard. Oblivion Sower allows you to ramp to Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, even after sacrificing token lands. In a format where a lot of decks are running Westvale Abbey, getting one from an opponent is extremely satisfying.
If you were wondering why there's a Forest in the list where all the lands are supposed to "do something" — sometimes Evolving Wilds comes off Oblivion Sower, so I had to add a basic land in the deck. Sure, an Evolving Wilds on the board counts as a land for Shrine, but it's much better when you can use it for mana. The one basic land could actually be any other basic land: a Swamp, an Island a Plains or a Mountain. It doesn't need to be a Waste as the other basics will still cast all the spells of your deck (as long as you're not playing two basics that aren't colorless).
The green mana is the most likely to help you activate the creature lands you'll get off Oblivion Sower. If you hit a Swamp along with Hissing Quagmire, or an Island with Lumbering Falls, you'll be able to activate them. It's as simple as that and can actually be super relevant. Feel free to change it to a Swamp if you feel you have more chances to activate a Shambling Vent.
An auto-include when relying on colorless spells to hold the fort at the beginning of the game. It does a lot for you as it provides tokens to sacrifice to Westvale Abbey, provides a mana sink, triggers Sanctum of Ugin…
Along with Matter Reshaper, Hangarback Walker is a way to not go all-in when you sacrifice your board. It happens a lot that you need to kill your own Walker to get flying blockers, and you either have to use a Spatial Contortion or sac it to the Abbey.
The top of the Food Chain, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger isn't that hard to cast and can arrive fast. I've tried to play a mix of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Kozilek, the Great Distortion, but Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger solves a lot more problems than the 12/12.
So far, the deck doesn't seem to run bad cards, but it needs removal spells and that's where its weakness lies.
2 Spatial Contortion
4 Warping Wail
2 Titan's Presence
These cards are pretty good overall, but they're lacking versatility and are just 1 mana too expensive. But let's have a look at them:
All three modes of Warping Wail are relevant:
-Make an Eldrazi Scion to allow a turn-four Hedron Archive or Thought-Knot Seer, make a chump-blocker, have an extra creature to sacrifice to Westvale Abbey.
-Counter a Languish, a Ruinous Path, a Tragic Arrogance, a Declaration in Stone, an Explosive Vegetations or a Nissa's Pilgrimage.
-Exile a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, a Hangarback Walker; or remove your own blocker so your opponent doesn't gain life from an attacking or blocking lifelinker (Ormendahl or Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet).
Warping Wail can be awesome or underwhelming. For example, it doesn't do much if they don't draw a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. It's a necessary evil against B/G Company to deal with Zulaport Cutthroats, but it's at a cost of one card when B/G Company most likely got the card for free off a Collected Company or a Duskwatch Recruter.
Spatial Contortion also isn't a bad card on its own. Sometimes all you need is to kill a Duskwatch Recruter to unfold your game plan before you get Overrun.
Titan's Presence is also a good card in the right situation. It's the only efficient way early in the game to deal with Avacyn, Kalitas and Dragonlord Silumgar. It can even deal with Ormendahl, given that you're holding an Ulamog in your hand.
However, it can sometimes be too expensive…
Hedron Archive isn't part of the subpar spell suite as it works as a ramp card and a draw engine. It makes the aforementioned removal fine in some cases, as you can play Hedron Archive and removal on the same turn.
The sideboard is the other weak point of this deck. There's very little you can do to improve your chances against the bad matchups (Humans, W/G Tokens, Bant Company) and you don't need anything against your good matchups (pretty much any control deck). You can stuff your board with extra removal (the other two Spatial Contortion and two Titan's Presence to change the removal suite around a bit if Warping Wail isn't great in a specific matchup, for example), change your creatures (add Reality Smashers, maybe a Kozilek, the Great Distortion against control).
I've been toying around with Eldrazi, and while I had this Ramp version for a while, I also liked to play a more aggressive version:
This looks a lot more like a slower version of the explosive Modern deck that rocked Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch. It's not nearly as good as the Modern version (obviously), but it's still a fine deck. The differences between the aggressive and the ramp version is that one deck tries to reach a lot of mana and go over the top, the other is trying to put a lot of pressure early and finish with tokens.
Reality Smasher replaces Oblivion Sower, while Endless One and Eldrazi Mimic replace Ulamog, the ceaseless one and Hedron Archive.
Eldrazi Mimic could be replaced by Runed Servitor. I've been going from one to the other, unsure which one fits the deck best.
It's totally possible to have both decks ready in your 75 — play the Ramp version main and switch to the aggro version after board, and that's what I was doing while I was testing the deck, trying to find ways to improve the deck or just find the best version. The problem is, both of these decks have the same matchups, very good against heavy control decks as in both cases, you have way too many threats and angles to attack your opponent, and pretty bad against anything too aggressive, as you are too slow and don't have the right answers to their threats. Unfortunately, I have yet to find the solution to beat these decks; the options are very narrow when your pool consists of colorless spells only.
This is probably not a deck I would take to a tournament as you'll be facing too many bad matchups, but it is extremely fun to play. I can only hope the next set brings something awesome to fill the void, rumors say an Eldrazi god is roaming over Innistrad… Who knows, Emrakul might be the one that saves the day in the end (or at least Salvage this deck and make it a good contestant!)
In any case, it's a deck that deserves some attention, and there might also be other ways to improve it… and that would be by adding a little splash of another color. It's another puzzle to solve, but maybe you guys will help me figure it out!