(last updated 5/31/18)
Best Generic Sanctum Prelate Number: 2
Deck Strategy and Key Cards
At its core, the Eldrazi deck is the latest in a long line of Legacy stompy decks. Stompy decks tend to have three primary components: threats, lock pieces, and lands. For threats, the deck plays the various colorless Eldrazi creatures from Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch. For lock pieces, the deck usually plays 4 Chalice of the Void supplemented with some number of Thorn of Amethyst and/or Trinisphere. The lands in this deck serve double duty. In addition to powering out threats ahead of schedule, like in a traditional stompy deck, the lands also provide the colorless mana needed to cast the Eldrazi. The deck sometimes plays additional acceleration in the form of Simian Spirit Guide,Elvish Spirit Guide, or Lotus Petal.
The best card in the deck by far is Thought-Knot Seer. It serves as both a threat and a piece of disruption. Curving a Chalice of the Void or Eldrazi Mimic into a Thought-Knot Seer puts enormous pressure on the opposing deck. The rest of the threats are relatively value-oriented. Endless One can be a turn one 2/2 or an end-game 8/8. Matter Reshaper, Reality Smasher, and Oblivion Sower often provide a 2-for-1 of some nature.
More recent Eldrazi decks have a fewer lock pieces and more interaction like Dismember or Warping Wail. It’s not uncommon to see some degree of spice in the Eldrazi decks, ranging from an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger to Phyrexian Metamorph (which is effectively Thought-Knot Seer or Reality Smasher number five).
The Matchup and Important Interactions
Your role varies a little bit depending on how your draw lines up against theirs, but you are more frequently the control deck than the aggro deck. Your job is to stop the bleeding from the early aggression that Mimics, Reality Smashers, and Thought-Knot Seers provide. Your creatures are smaller than theirs; don’t be afraid to trade 2-for-1 when necessary, as your equipment will help you win the long game.
Though it isn’t what you want to remove, there are many times where it is correct to Plow an Eldrazi Mimic purely for the sake of tempo and mana efficiency. Similarly, there are plenty of game 1 scenarios where it is correct to suicide attack with a Mom into large creatures in order to get Jitte counters to kill a Mimic. I’m usually okay with doing that on my turn instead of trying to wait and block, as Warping Wail or a Reality Smasher off the top both mean bad things.
Serra Avenger is surprisingly important in this matchup. A sequence of Vial, Jitte, Avenger is relatively difficult for the Eldrazi deck to beat. The board often stalls in the mid game, and the vigilance is quite important. Flickerwisp is your most important card. It serves as a way to reset Chalice of the Void and as a removal spell for Endless One.
Phyrexian Revoker has two potential targets: Endbringer and Umezawa’s Jitte. Neither of these cards is guaranteed to be in your opponent’s maindeck, but Jitte is likely the safer name should you need to name something. Note that you cannot name Eldrazi Scion to shut off the tokens produced by Warping Wail, as Eldrazi Scion is not a card.
As the game goes long, recurring Batterskull or chumping with a germ and throwing it on something like a Serra Avenger becomes a great route to victory. Alternatively, having both a Thalia and a THC in play can create a wall that can kill even fatties like Reality Smasher with first strike damage.
Your Wastelands should be directed at lands that produce two (or more) mana whenever possible. Choosing your Wasteland target can actually be quite difficult, and it’s more board and turn dependent than many other matchups. For example, in the early game, Eye of Ugin has the potential to supply more than two mana worth of value, making it frequently the best target. Wasting a City of Traitors rarely feels great, but if you can’t beat a turn two Thought-Knot Seer, it’s sometimes necessary for tempo reasons. Keep in mind that Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors produce two true colorless mana, whereas Eldrazi temple only can produce two mana for Eldrazi cards. Similarly, Eye of Ugin doesn’t actually produce any mana unless paired with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. In some scenarios, you can actually Wasteland your opponent off of colorless mana, as an Eye of Ugin and an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth can’t actually cast something like a Matter Reshaper. Also of note, your Rishadan Port isn’t going to do much against Eye of Ugin, so make getting that off the board a priority if you have both Port and Wasteland.
I want to board in 6-8 cards for this matchup. At a minimum, I want to cut 4 Mother of Runes and trim some number of Thalia; the first strike is great with our Jitte and good against Matter Reshaper, but otherwise it’s one of the weaker cards in the matchup. In general, you will board out these cards for any additional removal you have in the sideboard. If you have Containment Priest in your sideboard, it probably comes in. While Containment Priest isn’t ideal here, anything that can help serve as removal is absolutely fine.
Banisher Priest is amazing in this matchup. In addition to being a removal spell on a body, it can also be reused in this matchup. If you Banisher Priest an Endless One and then Flickerwisp your Banisher Priest, the Endless One comes back, dies to state-based effects, and you exile a new creature.
I don’t think Pithing Needle is supposed to come in; the Endbringer-heavy lists are less popular than the more aggressive lists. A high density of bodies is pretty important, and the biggest problem is dying to aggressive starts, not to an opposing Jitte. The Revokers are fine since they come paired with a body, but I don’t think Needle quite makes the cut.
If your list has Wilt-Leaf Liege, it absolutely comes in here. In addition to trading with a Thought-Knot Seer on its own, it makes combat a little more favorable for you. You can also cheat it into play by Plowing a Reality Smasher and discarding Wilt-Leaf Liege to the trigger.
Your opponent is likely going to board out the lock pieces (Chalice of the Void, Trinisphere, Thorn of Amethyst) for more removal and answers. If your opponent did not have Jitte in the main, expect two to be coming in now. Your opponent may also being boarding in some generically annoying cards ranging from Winter Orb to Pithing Needle to Endbringer.
When the deck first came out, I considered this matchup to very positive so long as: 1) You had the appropriate matchup knowledge. 2) You made disciplined mulligans decisions. 3) You had 6-8 sideboard cards to bring in to replace the sub-par main deck cards. I’m not so sure that is true anymore, and I’m starting to believe the matchup is unfavorable. The more recent Eldrazi decks are starting to trim the cards that are bad against us (e.g. Trinisphere) for cards that are much better against us (e.g. Jitte, Walking Ballista). This means that some of the tactics that used to be great, such as recurring Batterskull, are now less likely to happen since your opponent is more consistently drawing relevant cards and ending the game sooner. You still have the tools to win, but you are going to die to aggressive starts. Thalia, Heretic Cathar will likely be key in this matchup moving forward.
Be sure to playtest both pre-board and post-board games, as the two play out very differently due to the number of relatively dead cards in the deck on both sides in pre-board games.
There are some versions of the Eldrazi deck running around that splash between one and three colors for extra versatility. Eldrazi Displacer, Worldbreaker, and Drowner of Hope can be really annoying for us. These versions do have a weaker manabase though, so it’s not uncommon for them to really get thrown off balance by a Wasteland or to take a huge amount of damage off of Corrupted Crossroads.
Data as of 5/31/18
Win rate with WW D&T: 4-7 (36.4%)
Win rate with RW D&T: 7-3 (70%)