SMIP #70 The End of the Mentor Era



  • The 7th place deck at NA Champs last year famously played 3 Thorns (and Worldbreaker). So maybe that's where Steve is coming from. But the majority of Null Rod / Budget builds appeared to have eschewed Thorn.

    lists with Null Rod / Smasher and Eye

    same criteria but with zero Thorns



  • If I were to build budget Eldrazi or Hatebears, a strong disruption package would be the obvious starting point. Leading that effort would have been 4 Thorns, if permissible. Since those decks don't have many good turn-1 plays, they might be forced to accelerate with full Moxen, likely precluding optimal Null Rod usage. At that point, I would abandon Thorn only if I just didn't believe in the power of the incremental value of the disruption (Thorn, Thalia, Wasteland/Strip, Big Thalia, Thought-Knot Seer). If that deck could have survived with 4 Thorns, it seems a shame to have lost it. Global-effect builds also exist (Kataki, Spirit of the Labyrinth), but they have their own problems too.



  • The core problem is bad hands of Magic: the Gathering (tm) cards ... and mulliganing to them with no way of 'unmulliganing' via a restricted draw spell. I think the short text is that thorns restriction likely hurt / killed the White Eldrazi archtype, which had already been kicked in the face by Ballista. Pre Ballista it was arguable that White Eldrazi was a stronger Thorn super-archtype than Shops, and results last Fall helped support this opinion. With 1 Thorn that archtype as previously constructed is hurt far more than 1 Thorn shop archtypes.


  • TMD Supporter

    I loved the podcast! I'm hopeful that a non-Workshop Eldrazi deck still exists, as well as a serviceable Yawgmoth's Bargain deck, but overall the assessment felt spot on. I look forward to the Ixalan review!



  • Completely agree. I have been playing White Eldrazi since the restriction of COTV (and Oath of Gatewatch). I used to play Merfolk. COTV getting nuked hurt that archetype. Now Thorn getting restricted killed White Eldrazi. I have been fumbling around to other builds, color splashes, Spheres in place of Thorns to no luck. I have even splashed Blue to play Ancestral time walk and Tinker. No luck. Some one prove me wrong, but White Eldrazi is dead. The mana base was already terrible. Naming Cavern and then having a Human, Eldrazi, AND spirit in your hand was awful. Playing Golem in place of a Thorn doesn't help against PO. Playing Sphere doesn't help when trying to resolve a TKS/Smasher. And of course Thalia is legendary, by design; can't even Metamorph Thalia. So I don't know. Back to the drawing board.

    Wonderful podcast guys. Keep them coming. Will there be one more before Champs?



  • @ssasala said in SMIP #70 The End of the Mentor Era:

    Completely agree. I have been playing White Eldrazi since the restriction of COTV (and Oath of Gatewatch). I used to play Merfolk. COTV getting nuked hurt that archetype. Now Thorn getting restricted killed White Eldrazi. I have been fumbling around to other builds, color splashes, Spheres in place of Thorns to no luck. I have even splashed Blue to play Ancestral time walk and Tinker. No luck. Some one prove me wrong, but White Eldrazi is dead. The mana base was already terrible. Naming Cavern and then having a Human, Eldrazi, AND spirit in your hand was awful. Playing Golem in place of a Thorn doesn't help against PO. Playing Sphere doesn't help when trying to resolve a TKS/Smasher. And of course Thalia is legendary, by design; can't even Metamorph Thalia. So I don't know. Back to the drawing board.

    Wonderful podcast guys. Keep them coming. Will there be one more before Champs?

    I think you'll see with -3 2 colorless mana plays that the deck is sunk. You reliably had 8-9 2 colorless mana plays. Now you need to mull to white mana and your Cavern is appreciably worse when you just throw Wingmare in. Additionally adding more 1 toughness dudes (Glowrider or Wingmare) makes Ballista an even more savage beating. I think the deck will go away and move further to the left (Jacodrazi) or right (dedicated white prison / hate bear).


  • TMD Supporter

    @chubbyrain said in SMIP #70 The End of the Mentor Era:

    @smmenen said in SMIP #70 The End of the Mentor Era:

    Tribal Eldrazi was the single best budget deck that ever existed in this format. 10% of the players at the NA Vintage Championship last year played it. Wiping that off the map in the interests of a slightly deeper cut makes absolutely no sense when considering paper.

    The vast majority of Tribal/Colorless Eldrazi decks at Vintage Champs were Jacodrazi variants that ran Null Rod instead of Thorn. The construction of those decks is unaffected by recent restrictions and their metagame positioning is arguably much improved - Mentor was a very significant impediment to a deck that was trying to attack with large creatures, both as a ground stall and the ability to trade a couple of Monks with Prowess triggers for your opponent's Smasher. Null Rod + Eldrazi seems like it would be strong against a field of PO and Ravager Shops. So how is this Tribal Eldrazi "wiped off the map" by this most recent restriction?

    Edit: @JACO, maybe you can chime in here?

    As soon as I wrote "wiped off the map," I considered editing it, despite being hyperbolic, at best.

    I did not go through and look at every list, but I did note that, as someone else pointed out, the Top 8 Jacodrazi deck ran Thorns. So, it's still assymetrical harm.

    I HOPE you may be right that Tribal Eldrazi is not as impacted. But the impact on White Eldrazi is damaging enough. I was heartened to encounter a strong White Eldrazi deck on MTGO recently, so I don't think that the deck is dead either.

    But the fact remains is that restricting Sphere instead of Thorn would have left both Eldrazi variants less harmed.



  • My hope is that Sorcerer's Spyglass from the new set will fill the spot of Thorn. Same CMC. First turn playable off Mox and land or Tomb. Information is valuable so peeking at your opponents hand will help you decide if you should play Thalia 1.0 or 2.0 next or land your Displacer. We will see.



  • This hate bears deck from sept 2 was very cool.

    http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mtgo-standings/competitive-vintage-constructed-league-2017-09-02

    It played 8 spirit guides on top of several artifact sources and had maindeck stony silences instead of null rods. The deck also plays 21 white sources so it probably always plays something serious on turn one and two.



  • @chubbyrain the powerless JacoDrazi strategy really only wants Thorn of Amethyst when Storm-based combo presence is high. With the rise of Paradoxical Outcome combo it was definitely a nice tool in the toolbox, but it can be worked around when deck building. Null Rod is by far the best disruption in the deck, followed by Chalice of the Void, so if you want to add more disruption you can play 1 Thorn and 3-4 Sphere of Resistance in the 75 (they don't all have to be main deck, which is important). Mindbreak Trap has been back in my sideboard for some time now (instead of Leyline of Sanctity) to help combat combo decks, but some number of Spheres can also be at your discretion.

    The far more devastating effect of the Thorn of Amethyst restriction is to White Eldrazi. Thorn + Thalia was the basis for that deck to begin with, so I think now is the time for those White Eldrazi decks to widely adopt Null Rod/Stony Silence, as well as fully integrate Sanctum Prelate in to their builds, and change their manabase slightly to accommodate the necessary change. I played a fair amount of Prelate in the end of 2016 and early 2017 (in both Eldrazi and Junk Hatebears decks), and it is as good as advertised, if you can cast it on time.

    If the DCI wanted to hit something from Workshop decks, but still leave other decks more playable, they should have hit Sphere of Resistance, as mentioned by Steve in the podcast. They followed this logic in Modern when banning Eye of Ugin, but leaving Eldrazi Temple unbanned (when Eldrazi Temple was the stronger card in all of the problematic Eldrazi decks). That precedent and logic left Modern format Eldrazi decks hampered and slowed, but still playable, as evident with current iterations in Modern of Bant Eldrazi and EldraziTron.

    With the past 9 months of Banned & Restricted List Announcements by the DCI, and the ensuing aftermath, the most generous pundit could only claim that 2017 has been a year of questionable DCI judgement at best, and capricious or incompetent judgement at worst.



  • @walking-dude said in SMIP #70 The End of the Mentor Era:

    This hate bears deck from sept 2 was very cool.

    http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/mtgo-standings/competitive-vintage-constructed-league-2017-09-02

    It played 8 spirit guides on top of several artifact sources and had maindeck stony silences instead of null rods. The deck also plays 21 white sources so it probably always plays something serious on turn one and two.

    That deck is 37 mana sources out of 60 cards. Good luck over a 7+ round event with that.



  • This was a good podcast as always, but a sad one. Mentor has fallen. And, frankly, I don't see any future except one where more and more of Workshop gets restricted until Workshop itself gets the axe. Your point about how restricting Thorn will, ironically, INCREASE the amount of Workshop in the meta as it absorbs Eldrazi seems spot-on.

    I just hope we get enough new toys to allow Workshop to survive what appears to be inevitable restriction of its namesake. :(


  • TMD Supporter

    @nedleeds said in SMIP #70 The End of the Mentor Era:

    That deck is 37 mana sources out of 60 cards. Good luck over a 7+ round event with that.

    Maybe there's a happy middle ground between the excessive mana of that list and the anti-synergies in this deck:

    https://www.mtggoldfish.com/archetype/vintage-w-39580



  • @hierarchnoble said in SMIP #70 The End of the Mentor Era:

    @nedleeds said in SMIP #70 The End of the Mentor Era:

    That deck is 37 mana sources out of 60 cards. Good luck over a 7+ round event with that.

    Maybe there's a happy middle ground between the excessive mana of that list and the anti-synergies in this deck:

    https://www.mtggoldfish.com/archetype/vintage-w-39580

    Not a fan of a deck that can't rod or stony and whose creature base is 3/4's X/1's. Also turning on 3.8 Mental Missteps in 55% of the format is wasted on Militant and Sol Ring. I'd rather just play Plows than a Savannah Lion that gets Missteped and at least have my Misstep bait be good against Shops. If I am building a W/x hate deck I'm either playing Missteps or ignoring them and am all in on not getting crushed by Shop, Mox, Ballista on 2. But I'm not building that deck because it won't do anything in a 7+ round event. None of the busted shop opening hands and none of the consistency of blue stew. Oh you also can't beat a 4/4 or a 5/5 trample for the budget bracket.


  • TMD Supporter

    You're preaching to the Fish choir, @nedleeds. The community needs more deckbuilders and less deck critics, so I presented another successful White Weenie list in hopes that someone can find the happy medium playable deck.



  • MKM just had one of their Vintage Events and the results are surprising.

    3 White Eldrazi (W, Powerless W, and W/r) decks made the top 8, though all three lost in the semifinals. The metagame included 6 White Eldrazi decks out of 34 players, which actually made it the most popular deck. The throughput was above one (37.5% of top 8 / 17.6% of metagame). While this is just one event and the metagame definitely differed from MTGO events, it certainly doesn't look like the Thorn restriction has killed the archetype. Ah well, time will tell. It will be interesting to see what adjustments the pilots made when the decklists get published.



  • @chubbyrain I don't think the archetype is dead at all, but it's not a great budget choice as Colorless Eldrazi was before the restriction. But I'm glad this decks are getting there too! The meta seems great!


  • TMD Supporter

    @chubbyrain Thanks for finding and sharing this! Those are all pretty spicy lists, especally the Geier Reach Sanitarium and Spirit of the Labyrinth soft lock in Oscar's list. Cavern of Souls is my favorite pillar, and I'm glad it hasn't crumbled.


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