Start This Party Right: Brewing Gx Eldrazi

With Throne of Eldraine released, it’s only a matter of time until the set’s real players make themselves known. But despite the lack of data we’ve got at this stage, certain candidates are already hogging the conversation. Perhaps the most polarizing card in the set is Once Upon a Time. The instant has all the makings of a Modern playable: it’s fast; it’s free; it’s powerful. But since “Leyline of Given Spell” has never been Modern-legal before, Time’s true potential, or lack thereof, remains up for debate.

For my part, I’ve been especially happy with Once Upon a Time in green Eldrazi shells. Black pushes the deck too far into midrange territory to occupy its own niche; here, it’s overshadowed by Jund. And blue doesn’t really offer much to the strategy. That leaves white and red, two splashes my testing has indicated are super legit.

The Gx Eldrazi Core

In “Weird Science: Dissecting Modern’s Eldrazi Decks,” I compared the draws to Colorless Eldrazi Stompy, Eldrazi Tron, and Bant Eldrazi, delving into how each deck sought to fill the fast-mana void left by Eye of Ugin‘s banning. Stompy ran Serum Powder to quickly locate Temple; Tron packed Urza lands as an additional mana engine that, while off-theme, was more explosive. And Bant ran Noble Hierarch, a card that buffed Eldrazi creatures via exalted, further improved Temple draws by leading to dreaded turn-two Thought-Knot Seers, and compensated for hands without Temple by nonetheless reaching one turn higher on the mana curve. While Hierarch cost players a mana and opened Eldrazi pilots up to disruption in the form of ubiquitous small-creature removal, it also let them run Ancient Stirrings, one of Modern’s strongest enablers.

These decks all still exist in Modern, in one form or another. But it’s the Gx builds of Eldrazi that improve directly from Throne of Eldraine, which grants them Once Upon a Time. Time is similar to Serum Powder in that it fixes opening hands, but dissimilar in that it makes for a pretty big topdeck in a deck that’s already interested in making its land drops and sort of prone to flooding. In other words, Time is pretty much all upside.

Gx Eldrazi Core, by Jordan Boisvert

Creatures (12)
Noble Hierarch
Thought-Knot Seer
Reality Smasher

Instants (4)
Once Upon a Time

Sorceries (4)
Ancient Stirrings
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Featured here are the best-of-breed Eldrazi creatures, Noble Hierarch, and a suite of eight heavy-duty green cantrips. Between Time and Stirrings, both of which find Temple and Thought-Knot, resolving the four-drop a couple turns early should be par for the course in most games.

Where the deck goes from here depends on whether white or red is splashed.

Splashing White

Some of white’s perks include:

The above benefits are ranked from most important to least. While Rest is backbreaking for opponents in some metagames, it’s by no means necessary. Similarly, there are other removal options available to this strategy, such as Dismember. But I think Stoneforge gives the deck a very potent angle of attack against other creature decks. Best of all is Displacer, which is a hoser in its own right against certain decks (Infect for instance) as well as a must-answer threat for attrition and aggro-control strategies alike.

GW Eldrazi, by Jordan Boisvert

Creatures (20)
Eldrazi Displacer
Thought-Knot Seer
Reality Smasher
Noble Hierarch
Stoneforge Mystic

Planeswalkers (3)
Karn, the Great Creator

Artifacts (3)
Batterskull
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of Light and Shadow

Instants (8)
Once Upon a Time
Path to Exile

Sorceries (4)
Ancient Stirrings

Lands (22)
Brushland
Cavern of Souls
Eldrazi Temple
Forest
Horizon Canopy
Plains
Prismatic Vista
Wastes
Sideboard (15)
Damping Sphere
Dismember
Ensnaring Bridge
Grafdigger’s Cage
Knight of Autumn
Collector Ouphe
Liquimetal Coating
Mycosynth Lattice
Phyrexian Revoker
Basilisk Collar
Walking Ballista
Weather the Storm
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This list is based on Ally Warfield’s suggested build from last month. To make room for Once Upon a Time, I’ve cut a Karn and the Talismen. Once should help find Temple often enough that the additional ramp isn’t so necessary; in the late game, it finds closers like Reality Smasher, making the need for Karn less pressing. I have left the number of lands intact, though, reasoning that the Karn package does benefit from pilots making their land drops.

Splashing Red

I think red’s allure is a little subtler than white’s, but I’m overall more excited by this splash.

Something something Lightning Bolt good something. But Modern’s best card isn’t the best reason to go red. That honor goes to Wrenn and Six, the planeswalker that has revitalized Jund and even rendered wedges as suspect as Temur playable.

In this deck, Wrenn combines with fetchlands to ensure we hit our land drops, which has some serious implications for the deck’s construction. For example, we can now top out the curve with World Breaker, giving us mainboard outs to Modern’s available prison plans. Making land drops also helps pay for mid-game Times, which we can more easily chase with whichever fatty we rip off the top of our library.

Wrenn also gives us some utility dimensions. Dryad Arbor makes the cut as a fetchable, repeatable blocker, or even attacker in the right situation. And Tranquil Thicket turns Wrenn’s plus into an actual plus. Finally, we can’t really lose to land destruction anymore, eliminating a common pathway for opponents to deny us our gameplan.

Magus of the Moon is another exciting addition to the red build, and it comes with a couple Birds of Paradise. Time finds either creature, which lets us set up “Magus hands” with some ease, and lock opponents out of the game as early as turn two. Not everyone can answer a Magus; having access to that plan Game 1 without needing to commit to a bloated Blood Moon package is a huge boon.

One factor to address in GR is the absence of Eldrazi Displacer. We still need another Eldrazi to round out the curve and make Temple worthwhile. I’m currently on Matter Reshaper, with Obligator relegated to the sideboard. While the 3/1 haste has certainly put up numbers for the strategy in the past, I feel that with so much aggro and midrange in the format right now, Reshaper earns its slots. Obligator is high-impact, but also high-variance, only proving relevant in certain matchups. Additionally, it’s more of a four-drop than a three-drop, and its ability requires a colorless source besides the first Eldrazi Temple. I didn’t want to be locked into fetching Wastes every pre-board game.

Joining Obligator in the sideboard is Grim Lavamancer, which has proven a house against small creature decks. GR is fully capable of stuffing its graveyard, and with Time in the picture, we can open the little guy quite easily.

GR Eldrazi, by Jordan Boisvert

Creatures (22)
Matter Reshaper
Thought-Knot Seer
Reality Smasher
Noble Hierarch
Birds of Paradise
Magus of the Moon
World Breaker

Planeswalkers (4)
Wrenn and Six

Instants (8)
Lightning Bolt
Once Upon a Time

Sorceries (4)
Ancient Stirrings

Lands (22)
Wooded Foothills
Prismatic Vista
Eldrazi Temple
Stomping Ground
Tranquil Thicket
Dryad Arbor
Forest
Mountain
Wastes
Sideboard (15)
Collector Ouphe
Eldrazi Obligator
Grim Lavamancer
Damping Sphere
Grafdigger’s Cage
Torpor Orb
Ancient Grudge
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As far as the sideboard goes, Ancient Grudge is the only non-searchable card here. But I think it’s too strong in this metagame not to include in a GR deck. The 3 Collector Ouphe may raise some flags, so let my mission statement be clear: I’m through losing to Whirza!

Christmas Come Early

Is GR the future of Eldrazi? Or will the just-released Stoneforge Mystic finish by proving its worth in this ultimate test? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Until then, may you assemble the nut!

4 thoughts on “Start This Party Right: Brewing Gx Eldrazi

  1. “Perhaps the most polarizing card in the set is Once Upon a Time. The sorcery has all the makings of a Modern playable: it’s fast; it’s free; it’s powerful. But since “Leyline of Given Sorcery” has never been Modern-legal before.”

    I don’t understand how you can brew a whole deck around one card and get its typeline wrong twice in the opening paragraph.

    This site has been great before, but between the utterly mailed-in “brew reports,” which are done better on reddit twice a week, and Dave’s head-buried attitude toward Hogaak based on his deck’s matchup in his personal local meta, it’s hardly even readable.

    Back when data used to be easy to get and a focal point of this site, it was amazing. But with so much content about Modern out there now, I think this site needs renewed vigor or it’s going to bust.

  2. “The 3 Collector Ouphe may raise some flags, so let my mission statement be clear: I’m through losing to Whirza!” So then why not play removal that hits urza, emry, or goblin engineer instead of the cards they can basically recur for free? None of the removal in the RG deck can kill urza and on top of that ouphe is easily dispatched by galvanic blast or a plethora of sideboard cards. It would make way more sense to play cards like abrade or beast within that uave the flexibility to hit all of the important parts of the deck.

    1. ” To make room for Once Upon a Time, I’ve cut a Karn and the Talismen. Once should help find Temple often enough that the additional ramp isn’t so necessary”

      The whole point of talisman is that you can curve t1 stirrings into t2 talisman and t3 karn, and it doesn’t get disrupted by common removal like push or bolt like birds and noble does. If you’re still on the karn plan I think cutting talisman is a mistake, regardless of how often you make your land drops or find temples. If the focus is going to be on finding temples and powering out eldrazi and other auxiliary creatures, do that instead of including a gimped planeswalker backup plan that eats sideboard slots.

      I shouldn’t really have to tell you this, since a gw list has already top 8’d at scg indy with Once upon a time

      http://www.starcitygames.com/decks/133580

      1. Cutting Karn altogether definitely seems more legit. The walker can’t be scooped by Once, either. In testing so far the cantrip just makes the Plan A far more consistent, to the point that, as you said and the Top 8 list demonstrates, there’s no reason for that kind of backup.

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