My name is Marcus Luong and I first picked up Magic starting with New Phyrexia. My interest for competitive Magic grew after entering my first GP in 2015 in San Diego,and since then, I’ve played in 6 GPs with 4 Day two’s, and most recently with a 36th place finish in Louisville. This is my first article for Numot Gaming, and I’d like to talk about a deck I’ve been playing for a while that has been surging in popularity, and was notably piloted by Brian Braun-Duin in his amazing performance at the Magic World Championship this year.
After Wizards banned Eye of Ugin, many people wrote off the Eldrazi menace. While the deck may have lost it’s crazy t1 Eldrazi Mimic plays, the deck can still power out t2 Thought-Knot Seer, and still has Eldrazi Displacer’s incredible power to single-handedly control the board state. Bant Eldrazi has been picked up and used to great success by players including Seth Manfield, Ben Weitz, and Steve Rubin.This deck allows you to abuse some of the most powerful creatures printed in recent history, and have game against almost every deck in the current modern metagame.This is my personal take on Bant Eldrazi, valuing flexibility and the ability to better combat your bad matchups in game 1 instead of the more streamlined versions you might see floating around.
How the deck works:
Bant Eldrazi is a very versatile deck because it can play proactively and churn out massive Eldrazi a few turns early, or it can use its mana advantage to simultaneously play reactively while developing your own board. Bant Eldrazi has a plan against the entire field, making it a great choice for anyone playing in a modern tournament where you are bound to face many different decks.
When playing Bant Eldrazi you have to recognize that you will mulligan to 6 very often, as there are many potential hands in this deck that are too clunky to compete with the other decks in Modern. As a general rule of thumb, I don’t keep hands game 1 without Ancient Stirrings, Noble Hierarch/Boreal Druid, or Eldrazi Temple.
Against fast creature decks, your path to victory is in stabilizing the board early, locking down the mid game with Eldrazi Displacer and Drowner of Hope, and using Reality Smasher to turn a race in your favor.
Against non-creature combo decks, you have to race by aggressively pressuring their life total as soon as possible.Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher will do a lot of the heavy lifting in this matchup, and aggressively mulligan for your hate cards and a way to power out a quick Thought-Knot Seer.
Against midrange decks, you want to be able to play out your hand and gain card advantage by forcing your opponent to make unfavorable exchanges. Prioritize keeping threat-dense hands that allow you to continuously build an insurmountable board state.
The deck’s primary goal is to cast overcosted Eldrazi creatures a turn early. The core of the deck reflects that in its use of casting a mana dork on turn 1 , or using Eldrazi Temple to provide you an extra mana. Not only do the threats in this deck force your opponent to spend a lot of resources to cleanly answer them, but they also disrupt the game plan of your opponents who aren’t looking to interact at all. Thought-Knot Seer strips a card, and cannot be killed by Lightning Bolt, Reality Smasher can turn the tide of most racing situations, and requires a 2-for-1 from most decks, Drowner of Hope provides several bodies as well as the ability to play both defensively offensively with its tap ability, and Eldrazi Displacer dominates the board state by allowing you to sink your extra mana to blink both your own Drowner of Hope for value, and making it impossible to effectively alpha strike and double block.
Ancient Stirrings is the best cantrip in modern. Its ability to dig deep gives the deck a lot of consistency, and allows you to keep both land-light and threat-light hands. Path to Exile is the most efficient removal spell against the creature decks of the format, and is a nice catch-all since it doesn’t care about the size of the creature, unlike Lightning Bolt and Dismember.
Personally, I am a fan of 3 Drowner of Hope, as you only really need multiples against fair decks, and you already have a fantastic matchup against fair decks. Shaving down to 3 maintains your ability to find 1 over the course of a game thanks to Ancient Stirrings, and reduces the frequency of seeing multiples early, thus making your hands less clunky.
The Flex Slots:
Spellskite is great at diverting critical spells, such as Become Immense, which helps this deck against the majority of linear aggro decks in the format. Cards like Ancient Stirrings help consistently find the card in these situations, however most decks are equipped to deal with it. Twisted Image and Viridian Corrupter are common inclusions in Infect and makes this card significantly less effective. Remember that Spellskite in combination with Eldrazi Displacer can protect your board state from removal spells for as long as you have the mana for it.
I think the most glaring difference between this list and other lists that have been popping up is the presence of Boreal Druid. I discovered Boreal Druid in one of Reid Duke’s Elves decklists and I was over the moon that there was a 1-mana dork that generated colorless mana. I often found that the deck has plenty of colored sources, and Boreal Druid has 1 power, which is great when you’re frequently attacking with 4/4’s and 5/5’s. Additionally, it allows you to name “Druid” with Cavern of Souls, and keep a what would normally be a sketchy hand like this:
If you haven’t already read Frank Karsten’s article on building a manabase, it might be one of the most useful deckbuilding articles ever written. According to his analysis, hands without a colorless land occurs approximately 10% of the time. Being able to keep hands like the one in the example, the ability to use Cavern of Souls for colored mana when you have no other colorless lands, as well as having a colorless source under Blood Moon add to why I chose to play it over Birds of Paradise.
Having Engineered Explosives in the main deck really add to the deck’s flexibility. Engineered Explosives has applications in almost every matchup, and it gives you an extremely powerful tool in game 1 against decks like Infect, Death’s Shadow Aggro, Bogles, and Affinity.
Having a 5th removal spell in the main deck is invaluable, since the deck lacks early interaction outside of the 4 Path to Exile.
I decided on a 3/1 split, favoring Matter Reshaper. I think the deck has room for 8 3-drop creatures, and I think Matter Reshaper is a more powerful card. I did want an Eldrazi Skyspawner to find off of Ancient Stirrings and the flying creature is nice to have against Affinity and Infect. The Eldrazi Scion also helps you power out your Reality Smasher a turn early, and lets you cast Thought-Knot Seer while leaving up Stubborn Denial out of the sideboard. I can see going anywhere from 0-4 of either, depending on how the metagame shifts around.
Phyrexian Mana is broken, and Gut Shot is no exception. One of the easiest ways to exploit Modern is to take advantage of the free mana you can get. Trading 2 life for a mana is fantastic when you’re sniping Steel Overseer, mana dorks, and Glistener Elf.
A card that people question often but it’s just lights out against Affinity and Bogles. The 5 mana looks suspect but Bogles has Path to Exile to ramp you into it, and you have mana dorks to power it out.
Some decks just cannot beat this card, and even if Worship hits the bin, it gains you a ton of turns. I like playing high impact sideboard cards that can get you free wins, and Worship does its job like a champ.
I wasn’t sure about this card, but it’s fantastic against midrange decks. This can also be World Breaker if you are afraid of Worship out of the mirror and it’s an out against Blood Moon. I’ve waffled back and forth on this slot, but for now, I’m going with Elspeth.
Blessed Alliance is a house against all in aggro decks. It gains you life, and it doesn’t target, leading to massive blowouts against Death’s Shadow and Infect. Fetching a Dryad Arbor in combat can’t save your opponent from this, so it’s also especially effective against Bogles.
This is the best sideboard card against Affinity on the play. I have lost many games against Affinity on the draw after casting turn 2 Stony Silence however, so I don’t want to lean on it too heavily. I have considered adding Hurkyl’s Recall and Creeping Corrosion for the matchup on the draw.
Having access to cheap permission is great, especially when your opponent doesn’t expect it. Stubborn Denial + Thought-Knot Seer is one of the best paths to victory against unfair decks like Scapeshift and Ad Nauseum.
Leaving home with less than 3 pieces of hate for Dredge is a mistake for any modern tournament player. Games often revolve around how many hate cards you can find vs how many answers they find. Grafdigger’s Cage gets the nod over Rest in Peace due to its ability to be found off of Ancient Stirrings, but I can see a 2/1 split if you want.
Engineered Explosives, like I said in the mainboard explanation, is extremely flexible, and having access to many copies is beneficial in certain matchups like Death’s Shadow. I’m locked on 3 between main and board, but the 4th copy is cuttable depending on your expected metagame
I hope you guys enjoyed this guide to Bant Eldrazi, if you have any questions, ask them in the comment section below and I’ll make sure to answer them the best I can!