Eldritch Moon became tournament legal when it hit store shelves last Friday, which means the new cards saw play in all of last weekend's events. There are already some high-profile and widely-discussed decks that will be imitated and set the direction of the metagame, but there have been other tournaments with fascinating decks that very few people have seen, and today I set out to share the best of them. These decks are notable for their successful use of Eldritch Moon cards and mechanics, and they display insight into how we can better wield them in our own decks. I'm excited about the following decklist so I have to get it out of the way first:
Upon first sight of Deploy the Gatewatch I, like many, looked at it in a very serious light; it shares obvious similarities with Collected Company, undeniably the best card in Standard and a Modern staple, which took quite some time before being discovered by the masses for what it is, and no one wants to repeat a mistake.
Upon more detailed inspection, however, Deploy the Gatewatch has been dismissed as impractical: there just aren't enough good planeswalkers, and the legend rule means the card is inherently even more unstable than Collected Company. This decklist might prove all of that wrong, using an assortment of 16 planeswalkers supported by control elements, including Oath of Liliana.
Yuuta Takahashi is a long-time Pro and I have always been a fan of his deckbuilding, so I was excited to see his name sitting among a list of results, and even more excited to see that his deck was a take on the Eldritch Moon tribe that I've found most befuddling. It's a Zombie deck, but what's immediately striking is the nuance of using this core to enable a top-end of emerge creatures, complete with Sanctum of Ugin to chain them together. It's a natural combination given that the blue/black core supports the two premier emerge creatures: Elder Deep-Fiend and Distended Mindbender.
My favorite card here is Haunted Dead, which not only creates value from the graveyard but is also fantastic emerge fodder, and is notable because it functions as a way to "cheat" extra converted mana cost into play to help enable these creatures.
A madness deck with black and red offers all of the best tools available for a Vampire deck, but the overwhelming amount of choices means whittling down the selection to a functional deck is difficult. I've seen numerous takes on the strategy, and shared my own, but those pale in comparison to a decklist honed in a competitive tournament, so I am excited to share this decklist.
What really stands out to me here is the inclusion of Stormkirk Condemned and Voldaren Pariah, presumably the best madness enabler and the best madness card in Standard respectively. I assumed that these cards could only function in a mono-black deck, but this deck displays that they can function in a two-color shell.
Nine red dual-lands allow the deck to include red mana without sacrificing black sources, and keeping red cards down to a minimum means that just nine red sources are sufficient. It's worth noting which red cards Kodera deemed worth the splash: a set of Fiery Temper and pairs each of Olivia, Mobilized for War and Bloodhall Priest. I'd be remiss not to mention Swift Warkite in the sideboard, which is a fantastic way to Sneak Attack the opponent or their Planeswalker while generating value from the graveyard, a potentially useful tool against control decks.
This deck aims to take full advantage of Stormkirk Condemned and Voldaren Pariah by building as much of a combo deck around the cards as possible. Twelve madness enablers, including Olivia's Dragoon, give the deck as good a chance as possible to power out Voldaren Pariah on turn three.
To ensure access to fodder to sacrifice to flip into Abolisher of Bloodlines, the deck goes beyond a set of From Under the Floorboards by splashing a full four Secure the Wastes. To make Secure the Wastes even better as an alternate win-condition, the deck includes a set of Drana, Liberator of Malakir as a pseudo-anthem. Duress helps protect the synergies this deck can put together, and it can help the deck decide which path is best to go down in any particular game.
Another direction for madness is to pair red with blue, ditching the vampire subtheme and focusing on the control game. This deck displays the awesome raw power of Wharf Infiltrator, which functions as a looter more aggressive than Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, and with the upside of serving as a creature-generation engine enabled by the rest of the deck. It's supported by another new madness enabler, Nahiri's Wrath, which is capable of tremendous power, and this deck seeks to harness its full potential by actively looking to discard cards.
Blue/red also happens to lend itself to a self-mill style graveyard plan because it contains two of the best spells in the new set: Take Inventory and Galvanic Bombardment. Pieces of the Puzzle digs into the deck to find these cards while stocking the graveyard, and it can even generate card advantage by finding two spells. The deck is loaded with burn, including Incendiary Flow, to help the deck convert card advantage into killing the opponent.
It backs up the spells with a cast of creatures, headlined by Bedlam Reveler, which revels in this deck's ability to fill the graveyard with spells. Last week I started writing an article about sleeper cards from Eldritch Moon, and Bedlam Reveler is the card I was most excited about. Here's what I had to say about it:
Its ability is like a fixed Delve in disguise, and it says "Draw three cards". I'm not comparing it to Treasure Cruise, but I'm not not comparing it to Treasure Cruise. Discarding your hand isn't really a cost by the time you cast it, and it even enables madness or fuels the graveyard. Not to mention it also comes with a body. What's especially crazy is unlike delve it doesn't require actually removing anything, so each subsequent Bedlam Reveler gets cheaper. Multiple copies could easily be chained together to create a legit endgame. It's nice in Standard, and could be crazy beyond. The new Magnivore!!!
Don't let the high mana cost fool you — Bedam Reveler is one of the most powerful cards in Eldritch Moon hiding in plain sight. Any deck with a sufficiently high spell count gets access to a fantastic card that doubles as card advantage and a sizable piece of board presence. It has a lot of possibility in various shells, like the following deck that reminds me of the Heroic strategy from last year's season:
This deck won without a sideboard.
A much more aggressive take on the U/R spell concept is this focused deck, which combines cheap prowess threats along with Elusive Spellfist and an assortment of cheap red and blue spells that help them kill the opponent. Borrowed Hostility is a great new addition, as is Incendiary Flow, but the new all-star here is Bedlam Reveler as the finest prowess creature of all.
Decimator of the Provinces brings back memories of Craterhoof Behemoth, another creature that was often put into play for less than face value. Both creatures are at their best when supported by many creatures, ideally mana creatures, and this deck pays great homage to Craterhoof Behemoth by showcasing what's possible when one focuses on making Decimator of the Provinces the best it can be.
Loam Dryad, Hedron Crawler, and Scion Summoner are perfect ways to forge ahead towards Decimator of the Provinces, but they are also great supporting cast for the powerful Eldrazi creatures we have become familiar with, Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher. Eldrazi Mimic gives this deck an extra explosive push, but it's best of all when copying Decimator of the Provinces to give the deck an additional huge attacker.
This deck also showcases the power of Eldritch Evolution, which is fueled by the same cheap creatures that the rest of the deck is based on. The ability to turn Hedon Crawler into a Thought-Knot Seer or Scion Summoner into a Reality Smasher gives the deck a level of consistency unseen since Green Sun's Zenith.
Note the three Westvale Abbey, which also work well with the cast of cheap creatures in the deck. Turning into Ormendahl, the Profane Prince gives the deck an alternate path to victory, but also consider that 1/1 creatures are more useful than normal in a deck with Decimator of the Provinces to pump them.
Eldritch Moon promised to bring delirium from an afterthought mechanic to the competitive scene, and it's already making a mark. Delirium promises a lot of power to any deck that can unleash its potential, but there's no clear path to doing so. It's difficult to find a balance of cards to make it happen while making sure it's worth doing in the first place, but this deck makes the best use of delirium I've seen so far.
The card that could bring delirium over the top is Grim Flayer, which functions as both a delirium enabler and a delirium payoff rolled into one. Each time it connects with the opponent it generates real value in a graveyard deck — it's almost like drawing a card — so there's a lot of value in protecting Grim Flayer and getting it through the red zone.
Lilliana, the Last Hope provides delirium decks with a fantastic planeswalker, which helps towards hitting four card types, but it's particularly useful because of its own ability to fuel the graveyard and profit from it. Grapple with the Past is part graveyard-enabler and part payoff, and it's the perfect grease for the delirium gears.
Whispers of Emrakul is a powerful payoff for delirium that disrupts the opponent in a way unknown to Standard for ages. To the Slaughter is another payoff and seems particularly strong now that there are additional Planeswalkers to contend with in Standard.
Tamiyo, Field Researcher is easy to identify as a card with huge potential, but it's restrictive in colors and not obvious how to best use. This deck does a fantastic job of using the Planeswalker's abilities by using it to support a Spirits deck.
Nebelghast Herald does work protecting the Tamiyo, Field Researcher and getting attackers through to draw cards. The deck also includes a set of Reflector Mage, which isn't a Spirit but is fantastic for managing the battlefield and ensuring breathing room for Planeswalkers.
Rather than eschewing Collected Company, this deck embraces four-drops, and to keep up the creature count it foregoes Dromoka's Command, which the deck can't take advantage of with its small creatures being poor fighters.
Thalia's Lancers is one of my favorite cards in Eldritch Moon and one of the set's sleeper cards, and last weekend Ronnie Ritner showed off its power for enabling the combo of Gisela, the Broken Blade and Bruna, the Fading Light in his W/B Control deck.
This deck adds the combo to a ramp shell, where it provides an alternative plan to the traditional Dragonlord Atarka and Chandra, Flamecaller. I'm attracted to the consistency of Thalia's Lancers, and Bruna, the Fading Light's ability to recur threats means this deck will have great game against anyone hoping to contain it with creature disruption. The deck also uses Emrakul, the Promised End to take advantage of its wide-ranging spell types. The deck also makes me reconsider the playability of Primal Druid.
What Eldritch Moon Standard decks have you seen that we haven't? What are you playing?
Share your ideas in the comments, and I'll answer any questions!