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Against the Odds: Spawnsire of Ulamog Eldrazi-ocalypse (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 255 of Against the Odds. This week, in celebration of our return to Zendikar, we had an Against the Odds poll featuring cards from past Zendikar sets. In the end, Spawnsire of Ulamog took home the victory, which means we're heading to Modern today to see how many Eldrazi we can cast from outside the game with the help of 20 mana and Spawnsire of Ulamog. How easily can we get to 20 mana? How many Eldrazi can Spawnsire of Ulamog find? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Spawnsire of Ulamog Eldrazi-ocalypse

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The Deck

When Spawnsire of Ulamog won the poll, the "what" of today's deck was pretty obvious: we'd be trying to get to at least 20 mana, activate Spawnsire of Ulamog, and cast a bunch of Eldrazi from our sideboard. The "how" of getting to 20 mana was a bit more challenging, considering that 20 mana is an absolutely absurd amount in a format as fast as Modern. The good news is that there are a few spicy ways to make it happen, either involving Spawnsire of Ulamog directly or cards that work well with Spawnsire of Ulamog.

Spawnsire

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Along with having a big annihilating body, Spawnsire of Ulamog has two relevant abilities in our deck. The most important is the 20-mana "cast any number of Eldrazi from outside the game for free" ability, and activating it is the primary goal of our deck. The way our deck is built, if we can actually activate Spawnsire's 20-mana ability, it should be one of the most spectacular turns in the history of Magic. The second important ability on Spawnsire of Ulamog is making two 0/1 Eldrazi Spawn tokens for four mana. Since we can sacrifice these tokens for mana, we can theoretically ramp into Spawnsire of Ulamog and spend the next couple of turns making Eldrazi Spawns to get up to 20 mana to activate Spawnsire of Ulamog's second ability and win the game with our Eldrazi-ocalypse. So, how are we getting up to 10 mana to cast Spawnsire and then 20 to activate it?

The Mana

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That's right, we've turned to the dark side of the mana force and are playing Tron lands along with ways to find them, including Expedition Map and Sylvan Scrying. However, Tron isn't really our main plan for activating Spawnsire of Ulamog. Instead, we're mostly just playing Tron for value. Our deck needs such an absurd amount of mana to go off, and having some lands that tap for two or three mana really helps to speed up the process. 

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While Tron can help us get up to 10 mana to cast Spawnsire of Ulamog, it's pretty unlikely to get us all the way to 20 mana to activate it. In reality, 20 mana is essentially infinite mana in the context of the fast Modern format, so we have two infinite-mana combos to get up to 20 mana. The first involves Zirda, the Dawnwaker (which is both our companion and a main-deck card) and Biomancer's Familiar, which reduce the cost of activated abilities by two. While these cards do lower the 20-mana cost to activate Spawnsire of Ulamog's Eldrazi-ocalypse ability, more importantly, they reduce the cost of making Eldrazi Spawn tokens with Spawnsire of Ulamog, With two Zirda, the Dawnwaker and / or Biomancer's Familiar on the battlefield, the cost of making two Eldrazi Spawn tokens drops to just one mana. Since we can sacrifice each Eldrazi Spawn to make one mana, this gives us both infinite 0/1 tokens and infinite mana, which we can use to activate Spawnsire of Ulamog to grab our "outside the game" Eldrazi and close out the game.

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Our second infinite-mana combo takes advantage of Tron's ability to make seven mana: Chromatic Orrery and Filigree Sages. With the help of Tron, we can potentially cast Chromatic Orrery on Turn 3, giving us an artifact that taps for five mana. On the next turn, we can play Filigree Sages, which can untap Chromatic Orrery for just three mana, leaving two mana floating whenever we tap and untap it, again giving us infinite mana to activate Spawnsire of Ulamog. The other upside of this combo is that it also provides infinite card draw (although this takes an absurd number of clicks on Magic Online) since after we make a bunch of mana, we can keep paying five to tap Chromatic Orrery to draw at least one card (thanks to Filigree Sages being a blue permanent) and potentially three or four, if we have Biomancer's Familiar or Zirda, the Dawnwaker on the battlefield. This means that if we manage to assemble Filigree Sages and Chromatic Orrery but don't have Spawnsire of Ulamog in hand, we can use the combo to find it. 

Other Tricks

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Before we talk about what happens once we activate Spawnsire of Ulamog, I wanted to mention a few other important cards briefly. You might have noticed that we only have three copies of Spawnsire of Ulamog in our main deck, even though the unwritten rule of Against the Odds is that we always play four copies of the card that wins the poll. The reason is Coax from the Blind Eternities, which can tutor up an Eldrazi from our sideboard. By playing one Spawnsire of Ulamog in our sideboard rather than in the main deck, we sort of have seven copies of Spawnsire of Ulamog in our main deck, so we're actually more likely to find a copy than if we just played four in the main. Plus, since we need our sideboard to be full of Eldrazi for Spawnsire of Ulamog's "play Eldrazi from outside the game" (which means the sideboard in competitive play) ability, we can also use Coax from the Blind Eternities to snag a different Eldrazi, if the situation calls for it. 

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim gives us another ramp spell to help us find Tron while also being a backup way to find Spawnsire of Ulamog. With the help of Zirda, the Dawnwaker or Biomancer's Familiar reducing the cost of activating Golos's ability, for just five mana, we can not only draw three cards but also play them for free! Speaking of finding Spawnsire of Ulamog, Planar Bridge gives us another tutor that can also do some funny things with our Filigree Sages / Chromatic Orrery combo since we can make infinite mana and then use Filigree Sages to keep untapping Planar Bridge, which in turn allows us to tutor every permanent from our deck onto the battlefield!

Eldrazi-ocalypse

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Activating Spawnsire of Ulamog's 20-mana ability isn't about winning—there are much easier ways to win. It's about winning by as much and as spectacularly as possible. So, let's assume we play a Spawnsire of Ulamog, get to 20 mana, and activate it. What Eldrazi are we casting for free from outside the game? All of them. Outside of our companion Zirda, the Dawnwaker, every single card in our sideboard is an Eldrazi, which means we get to cast 14 Eldrazi spells, giving us a total of 133 power! Most importantly, Spawnsire of Ulamog actually allows us to cast the Eldrazi, which means we get the "cast" triggers of cards like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (for an extra turn), Emrakul, the Promised End (to steal our opponent's next turn), two different Ulamogs (to exile permanents), two different Kozileks (to draw cards), and more. We also have one Forerunner of Slaughter, which we can use to give all of our Eldrazi haste, allowing us to kill our opponent immediately with the biggest, most annihilating attack in the history of Magic!

The Matchups

By far the worst matchups for Eldrazi-ocalypse are aggro decks. While our deck can do absurdly powerful things, they don't happen until Turn 4 at the earliest (and more commonly, Turn 5 or 6). And since we don't really have much removal in our main deck and our sideboard is full of Eldrazi, we usually get run over before pulling off our combo. Decks packing a lot of Tron hate like Damping Sphere can also be tough. While we can win without Tron with an infinite-mana combo, the problem is that both combos require one really expensive piece (either Chromatic Orrery or Spawnsire of Ulamog), so without the extra mana from Tron, it's hard to get either combo online. On the other hand, our deck can be extremely powerful against midrange and control, with Spawnsire of Ulamog and our various infinite-mana / creature / card-draw combos allowing us to go over the top of just about anything our opponent is doing.

The Odds

Somehow, we actually ended up going 3-2 with Spawnsire of Ulamog Eldrazi-ocalypse, giving us a 60% match win percentage. Really, though, this week wasn't about winning; it was about winning spectacularly by casting 14 Eldrazi for free from our sideboard, and we managed to do that quite often. In fact, all of our wins came from Spawnsire of Ulamog's ability. Our deck was shockingly good at finding its namesake card and getting to 20 mana. While some opponents scooped before we could actually see the Eldrazi-ocalypse, a few stuck it out so we could see it in all of its horrifying glory (shout-out to them for being good sports)!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

We are just over a week away from playing with new Zendikar Rising cards, but in the meantime we need a theme for the next episode of Against the Odds. In celebration of Zendikar Rising's party mechanic, with underpowered tribes joining forces and helping power each other up let's play a "bad" tribal deck in Modern next week! Which tribe should we build around? Click here to vote!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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