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Much Abrew About Nothing: Modern Heartless Eldrazi


Hello everyone! It's time for another edition of Much Abrew About Nothing. This time we are playing a version of one of the hottest, most hyped decks in Modern, Mono-Black Eldrazi! While there are countless builds of the deck in the format, and I've tested each and every one of them, today we are playing Heartless Eldrazi. Our deck is an all-in combo build of Mono-Black Eldrazi, with 24 cards that essentially add two mana to cast Eldrazi spells. Our deck's over-arching goal is to play a six drop like Conduit of Ruin or Oblivion Sower on turn three and a Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on turn four!

Anyway, let's get to the videos. For the written section, instead of spending a ton of time talking about Heartless Eldrazi (if you want a full breakdown of the deck, watch the intro video), we are going to break down the different flavors of Bx Eldrazi in Modern. 

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Heartless Eldrazi Intro

Heartless Eldrazi vs Lantern Control

Heartless Eldrazi vs Amulet Bloom

Heartless Eldrazi vs Infect

Heartless Eldrazi vs Kiki Chord

Heartless Eldrazi vs UB Eldrazi

Let's talk about Eldrazi decks in Modern. The version we played on video, Heartless Eldrazi, is basically the all-in combo build of the deck. It plays Heartless Summoning, Eye of Ugin, Eldrazi Temple, Kozilek's Channeler, Conduit of Ruin, and Oblivion Sower and tries to maximize the odds of playing a six drop on turn three followed by Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on turn four. 

One of the things I learned while playing the deck is that it is essentially a combo deck. Most of the other builds of Eldrazi play more like midrange decks. If you try to play Heartless Eldrazi in this manner, you're setting yourself up for failure. When we have a choice between doing something to further our game plan (like playing Expedition Map on turn one to set up a turn three Oblivion Sower) or doing something interactive (casting Thoughtseize), we are almost always better served furthering our own game plan.

You should think of Heartless Eldrazi as Eldrazi Storm. We ignore our opponent, goldfish into a turn four Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and hope it is good enough to win (spoiler: it usually is). While Heartless Eldrazi is the most consistent at playing big Eldrazi early, it is the worst build of Eldrazi against aggro and fast combo. The aggro matchup suffers because we don't have Wasteland Strangler, which can be a game-winning tempo swing on turn two. Our combo matchup is slightly worse because we don't get main deck graveyard hate, which can randomly beat Goryo's Vengeance, Living End, and the like.  Plus, we have very few outs to Burn or Infect. Basically, Heartless Eldrazi ranks near the top on raw power and nut draws, but near the bottom at playing a fair game of Magic. On the other end of the spectrum we have the forerunner of all the Bx Eldrazi builds, Mono-Black Eldrazi. 

The Mono-Black build of Eldrazi is where it all began. Basically someone realized that, with Eldrazi Temple, Eye of Ugin, and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth (the "Eldrazi Tron") you can basically play eight sol ring lands in Modern, which is just absurd. Compared to the Heartless Summoning build of Eldrazi, the differences are clear.

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Instead of storming into Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on turn four, Mono-Black Eldrazi is a much more robust midrange deck. It actually cares what the opponent is doing and has a bunch of ways to interact. Wasteland Strangler is extremely good in creature matchups, especially when played on turn two. Blight Herder is a great way to ramp into Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, while also cluttering up the board. It also picks up free wins by having access to a million copies of Relic of Progenitus in the main deck, which is surprisingly good in the format. 

While pretty much any build of Eldrazi will crush midrange creature decks like Grixis or Jund, the Mono-Black build is definitely better than the Heartless build when it comes to fighting aggro. Against combo it really depends on how relevant Relic of Progenitus is in the matchup. If you are playing against Storm or Goryo's Vengeance, Mono-Black is clearly superior. If you are playing against Tron or Scapeshift, the increased speed of the Heartless build gives the deck a chance to play an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger before a Karn Liberated or Scapeshift ends the game. On the other hand, both builds of the deck will struggle to Infect and Affinity. Although Wasteland Strangler makes the Mono-Black build slightly better, those decks are still rough matchups. Instead, enterprising Mono-Black Eldrazi players have started branching out into other colors. 

BW Eldrazi is an attempt by Eldrazi players to shore up some of the weaknesses of the Mono-Black build. BW Eldrazi is essentially Eldrazi Midrange. Not only does the deck only play a single copy of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, as a late-game tutor target, but it also cuts down on the number of sol lands, with only three Eye of Ugin and two Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth.

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While the manabase of sol lands is the most powerful aspect of any Modern Eldrazi deck, playing four copies of the legendary Eye of Ugin and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth comes with a cost. Sometimes you draw multiples in your opening hand, which is equivalent to a mulligan to five. BW Eldrazi looks to minimize this problem by only playing three Eye of Ugin and two Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. The deck is far less explosive, but also far less likely to lose to itself. The other additions are super powerful White cards designed to shore up bad matchups.

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Lingering Souls goes a long way towards improving the aggro / combo matchups, especially Infect, by offering four chump blockers at a reasonable cost. Even with only a single copy of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, BW Eldrazi has a better late game than most decks in the format — it's just a matter of getting there. Lingering Souls is really helpful in this regard. Timely Reinforcements does basically the same thing out of the sideboard, while also helping against Burn, one of Eldrazi's worst matchups. Meanwhile, Stony Silence is a trump card in the Affinity matchup and Celestial Purge is a clean answer to Blood Moon

Basically, the BW build of Eldrazi gives up some late game power, gets a bit worse against control and midrange (the matchups are still good), gets much worse in the mirror (whoever casts the first Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger wins), but gains some percentage against aggro / combo decks like Burn and Infect. While the field is still wide open as people try to figure out which Eldrazi deck is the best, BW Eldrazi is the most popular build of the Eldrazi deck in the format. 

Black-Red Eldrazi is actually quite similar to the Black-White build. It cuts down on the sol lands and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger in an attempt to improve the aggro matchups. Instead of Lingering Souls you get Liliana of the Veil. Instead of Path to Exile you get Lightning Bolt, plus you get Anger of the Gods to help against aggro, and Vandalblast as a trump against Affinity. However, there are two things that really make the BR build of the deck stand out.

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First off, the deck has access to Crumble to Dust, which is a huge trump card, not only in the mirror, but also against Tron. Tron is a really interesting matchup for the Eldrazi decks. If Tron gets their nut draw (i.e. turn three Karn Liberated), they are extremely favored to win the game, They can exile a sol land and put the Eldrazi deck far behind on mana. However, if the Tron deck stumbles in the slightest, the Eldrazi deck can stick an Oblivion Sower or Blight Herder, which are strong cards in the matchup. Having a Crumble to Dust on turn four, or even turn three with the help of Mind Stone will almost always buy enough time for the Eldrazi deck to take over the game. Having access to such a trump against Tron is one of the biggest selling points of playing BR Eldrazi. 

The other card I wanted to mention is Kozilek's Return. While it isn't even legal yet, there is a chance that it pushes the BR version of Eldrazi up the rankings. It seems so good against any creature based deck. It should be an auto-include in the list, at the very least over things like Anger of the Gods and/or Pyroclasm

Finally we have UB Eldrazi, the Eldrazi deck I have the least experience with. I'm going to keep this brief. The deck list above is the only one in the MTGGoldfish database, and it looks pretty strange. For me, the biggest reason to play the UB build are cards like Serum Vision, counterspells like Remand, and, strangely enough, Sire of Stagnation

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While it might look horrible, Sire of Stagnation is quite the mirrorbreaker. Whenever I've had this card played against me while piloting Heartless Eldrazi, it feels like I can't win. While it's probably horrible against aggro, or even midrange, the Eldrazi mirror is all about making land drops and playing Oblivion Sowers, all of which feel horrible with a Sire of Stagnation on the opponent's board. If you don't do anything, you get beat down by the 5/7, but if you continue with your gameplan, your opponent draws so many cards that you just can't win. Plus, the BU build gets Drowner of Hope, which offers a way of not dying to Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. If you are expecting a meta full of Eldrazi, the BU build might just be the right choice. 

TDLR

  • Heartless Eldrazi is basically Eldrazi Storm. You goldfish, play Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger on turn four, and hope it's good enough. On the other hand, it suffers from clunky draws, and may be the worst of all builds against combo and aggro. If you want to go over the top, and do it quickly, Heartless Eldrazi is the build for you.
  • Mono-Black Eldrazi is the forerunner of all Modern Eldrazi lists. It is more robust against aggro thanks to Wasteland Strangler, but still suffers from clunky draws because of the number of legendary lands. While this build is still popular, all of the splash builds are designed to fix problems inherent in the Mono-Black build.
  • Black-White Eldrazi is the midrange Eldrazi deck and is currently the most popular build of Eldrazi in the format. It's designed to shore up weaknesses against aggro / combo. While it is certainly better in the "bad" matchups, it gives up the nut draw and late game power. If your goal is to beat aggro and combo, BW Eldrazi is one of the better choices. 
  • Black-Red Eldrazi is very similar to Black-White Eldrazi. It improves the same matchups (aggro, some combo, Affinity), but gives up late game power and nut draws. However, Crumble to Dust does help in the mirror and against Tron. The addition of Kozilek's Return may push this build towards the top of the heap.
  • Black-Blue Eldrazi is an enigma. I have no experience with this build (yet), although I have gotten crushed by Sire of Stagnation in the mirror multiple times. It feels like winning the mirror is the biggest benefit of splashing Blue.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. What's your favorite build of the Eldrazi deck in Modern? What cards from Oath of the Gatewatch could make a splash in the archetype? Is the deck here to stay, or is this a flash in the pan? Let me know in the comments, or you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 


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