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Vintage 101: As White as Snow


Howdy folks! It's 2019! It's time for the very first Vintage 101 of the New Year! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and we're kicking off this year with another jaunt into the world of Vintage. It's going to be an exciting year, full of hopeful thoughts and fun. We are very soon arriving at a new season of VINTAGE SUPER LEAGUE, in addition to looking forward to this years large events like the possibility of another StarCityGames Power Nine Championships and US Eternal Weekend!

This week we're taking a break from the Winter Chill (at least we hope we are... it hasn't actually snowed all that much in Ohio), and taking a look at another deck in the Vintage format. This week's deck is very powerful, full of creatures you more than likely know already from having played either Legacy or Modern. That's right, it's White Eldrazi!

A Brief History of Smashing Reality

Released in January 2016, Oath of the Gatewatch not only introduced us to the separation of generic and colorless mana, but it used this distinction to give us several new Eldrazi based cards, ones that cost far, far less than their Battle for Zendikar and Rise of the Eldrazi counterparts. Cards like Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher quickly became the talk of the town as players began abusing these cards in Modern, Legacy, and yes... even in Vintage. As Eldrazi Winter reigned supreme and after the banning of Eye of Ugin in Modern, people transitioned their tentacled friends to older formats, creating Eldrazi Stompy and Post in Legacy, and then furthermore an Eldrazi based build in Vintage as well.

One of the first lists for this posted to The Mana Drain placed well at an LCV Event in May 2016 showed that a white splash into Eldrazi was perhaps the most competitively viable version, and it has stuck ever since. Now, White Eldrazi remains one of the go-to ways to build an Eldrazi based strategy in this format, but it is worth noting that colorless builds still do exist. In fact, one of the more popular unpowered colorless builds "Jaco-Drazi" (created by Jason Jaco) is still a very powerful way to attack the format.

Deconstructing Thoughts

Now then, let's take a look at the list like we always do, shall we?

Now, let's deconstruct this list into its key components.

Mana

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Outside of the pieces of Power that litter this deck in terms of artifact mana, Sol Lands like Ancient Tomb, Eldrazi Temple, and lands that get around countermagic like Cavern of Souls are very important to this deck, since most of the more powerful creatures in this deck are Eldrazi.

Lock Pieces / Disruption

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

This deck is jam-packed with several massive pieces of disruption, from taxing effects like Thalia and Thorn/Trinisphere, to pure disruptive elements like Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Thought-Knot Seer. Notable mention goes to Glowrider, since its technical creature type is Human Cleric, meaning it can be put in via Cavern of Souls naming human, unlike the misaligned and flying Vryn Wingmare.

Land Disruption

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Another important piece of a deck that wants to tax and keep its opponent from casting spells, Wasteland/Strip Mine do both that and more. Karakas provides useful utility in saving your own Thalias or also bouncing creatures like Griselbrand.

The Beats

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Eldrazi Displacer is a beat-stick plus solid utility, being able to turn off strategies like Monastery Mentor by eating the tokens, in addition to being a 3/3, while Reality Smasher is the top of the curve, presenting a solid clock, plus a body with protection from a lot of the commonly played removal (by virtue of its ability but also because cards like Repeal also have a hard time hitting it) in the format. Smasher is a beast to present in multiples, as most who know anything about Legacy/Modern Eldrazi will tell you.

Playing with Power(ful) Eldrazi

Eldrazi as a deck is relatively one of the more straightforward aggressive hate decks in the format, since nearly most of its creature base can hate on opposing strategies, and can often be powered out as early as Turn 1. Part of what you're looking for in an opening hand with this deck is some form of hate / tax effect plus either a disruptive card like Thought-Knot Seer or a powerful clock like Reality Smasher. Sequencing is also incredibly important, since you can often catch your opponents unaware by deploying whatever fast mana you need to cast a card like TKS, playing Cavern of Souls last so that your opponent can't stop it.

Outside of deploying lock pieces and threats, it's also important to learn how to manage your life total using Ancient Tomb in addition to sequencing your disruptive plays appropriately. Thankfully, unlike Shops, Eldrazi can make do with some artifact mana and a single-land Thorn of Amethyst hand, given that most of its powerful threats are creature-based.

Eldrazi Displacer is also very deceptive in its strength, being able not only to save your own creatures from an utimely demise, but also being able to be used to devour tokens (such as Mentor and Pyromancer tokens), while also being able to shut off creatures like Blightsteel Colossus from ever attacking.

Sideboarding with Eldrazi

Let's break down the sideboarding as we always like to do!

Graveyard Hate

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Surprise, surprise that graveyard hate is a category we were going to cover! As always, decks need a way to deal with the dreaded Dredge. Usuallyin these decks with access to White, Rest in Peace is a great nuclear option that graveyard decks have a hard time dealing with.

Artifact Hate

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

As unsurprising as graveyard hate is, it's even less surprising to see artifact based hate. Being able to shut off artifacts as well as tax their existence is very powerful in a world where Paradoxical Outcome is a huge player. Factor in the taxing effects from the other permanents in this deck, and it can often be very difficult to play around resolved Stony Silence or Null Rod while having tax effects like Thalia in play.

Spot Removal

$ 0.00 $ 0.00   $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Spot Removal is sometimes very important when dealing with cards like Blightsteel Colossus, anything that is put into play off Oath of Druids, and cards like Monastery Mentor or Young Pyromancer. The gold standard in white for this is the classic two-mana exile effects in Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares.

Eldrazi without Power

In addition to the classic White Eldrazi shown above, colorless and powerless versions do exist in the form of "Jaco-Drazi". Let's take a quick peek at a list so you guys can get an idea of what it looks like.

The Spice Corner

Our very first spice of the year comes from Magic Online user Matthew Murray (aka ChubbyRain). Thousand-Year Storm in Vintage? Yes, please.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Please be on the lookout soon for some coverage of VINTAGE SUPER LEAGUE! According to the Patreon's public news post, Randy Buehler is looking at starting on January 8th, so not that far from here we will be able to see some sweet, sweet Vintage for roughly eleven episodes.

Always remember to hit me up on the Twitter, and join us next week as we talk more about VSL, as well as talking about a deck where Skulls are the most powerful thing of all. That's right, it's Dark Petition Storm on the menu next!

Until next time, stay warm and cast some Moxen!


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