White Eldrazi

  • TMD Supporter

    I played this archetype in the VSL prelim event (my decklist here), based upon the assumption that White Eldrazi was probably the best positioned achetype to attack 1) Mentor strategies and 2) PO strategies. The two people who played this archetype in the last P9 event, I think, came to a similar conclusion.

    Without assessing the position of this archetype in the post-AER metagame, and whether or not it gains or loses more from cards like Walking Ballista, I would like to offer a brief comments on this archetype.

    1. I've noticed that many White Eldrazi players play cards like Swords to Plowshares, Disenchant, Rest in Peace, Stony Silence or other white non-creature spells in the sideboard, and sometimes even maindeck. In my experience, and based upon simple math alone, I don't think this deck is capable of reliably playing white non-creature spells, simply because there aren't enough white non-cavern mana sources to reliably cast such spells. 6 white producing lands and Pearl and Lotus is not reliable enough. I think this archetypes colored spell complement has to be strictly delimited to creature spells.

    2. I read Jaco's excellent Eldrazi book before building my list, and one of the things that comes up throughout is the challenge of playing a mana heavy deck. In my experience in the recent metagame, however, I actually found that running a deck with 30 mana sources is an asset. Gush Mentor decks not only run Null Rod effects, but many now run multiple Wasteland effects. I think there is a good case to be made to run 31 or even 32 mana sources post-board in some matchups. In other words, I think that the large mana base, normally a cause of variance and a drawback in most vintage environments, is actually a big upside in the current metagame.

    This is especially true with how effective Displacer is in the metagame. A single Displacer and a ton of mana can control a battlefield.

    1. Finally, based upon my experience with Workshop decks and hatebear/Beats deck, I was not prepared to understand how very difficult this deck is to play by comparison. Aside from the developed technical skills needed to pilot certain strategies, like timing Gush, or the experience needed to identify possible lines in the first place, as with Doomsday or other tutors, this may be one of the most difficult decks to play in the format, in terms of selecting the optimal line of play among multiple available options. Put another way: in some decks, the challenge is spotting the best line, with the best line hidden or less visible. Here, the challenge is evaluating lines, not spotting them. That's something I haven't really seen to this degree in modern Vintage.

    One of the problems with Beats and Workshop decks is sequencing decisions based upon imperfect information. Yet, usually the sequencing decisions can be reasoned with a bit of logic and thought. There are probably more situations with this archetype than probably any other I can recall in recent memory where among multiple options, the optimal choice is extremely difficult to identify. Without purporting to definitely identify why, I think there are a couple of key factors behind this:

    • Almost every decision with the deck is also a role decision, whether to assume the beatdown or try to maintain a soft lock. Therefore, it's not simply a choice of plays, but a choice of roles. And this role framework is shaped not simply by the nature of the matchup, but the configuration of your hand, your opponent's board, and the overall situation (i.e. what turn, what stage of the game, etc.). Even attacking decisions have role implications. For example, whether to attack a player or a planeswalker.

    • Eldrazi Displacer. In most decks, the main decisions are what cards in hand to play, and whether to attack or not. But, with Displacer, you not only have to select among what spells to play, but whether to play a spell or leave mana up to displace, and if so, what to displace. Displace a TKS to snag a card, or keep up mana to protect your own cards, etc.

    • Your creatures give you lots of options, multiplying the potential for error. Cards like TKS and Phyrexian Revoker, which is commonly played in the archetype, present wide ranging and open decision making options.

    • Design challenges. There is a huge range of possible cards to include, but each have trade-offs in different metagame contexts. Some cards are so powerful that they are auto includes, but some are better or worse in different metagames. For example, whether and in what contexts you play Thalia 2.0 or Wingmare.

    • Land sequencing is challenging. Not only do you have to commit to a creature type with Cavern, but each land drop opens and forecloses potential future lines of play. So you not only have to interface cards in hand and potential lines of play with your mana production possibilities, but you have to develop your mana in such a way as to maximizes your capacity to pursue different routes of play. Workshop mana bases, by comparison, are much easier to play, despite having similar lans diversity.

  • @Smmenen The first point of your post is exactly why I moved away from Eldrazi Temple/Ancient Tomb and basically went mono white. The mana in that deck can be an absolute nightmare at times, and I've been much happier with my matches since. You do lose out on a few more explosive turns and TKS, but I never even tried Reality Smasher since I didn't think what basically amounts to a dragon is good enough for this format. That's obviously not to say that it isn't as it's won many games including against me, but I'm not sold on the 5/5 trample haste for 5 in a world where you can just die to Tendrils.

    I definitely think the deck is strong; but like you said, it really limits what you can include in your deck both mainboard and sideboard. Thankfully, due to the recent upswing in popularity for Fragmentize, I don't think playing Null Rod over Stony Silence is really a liability at this point (assuming that's a card you want to play- and I think it is).

  • TMD Supporter

    I finished in the top 16 of the MTGO P9 today White Eldrazi with 4 Walking Ballista.

    Ballista was easily one of the best cards in my deck. It's the card I wished I would draw more than almost anything else. I had a few game states against Mentor decks where I had tons of mana, a Cavern ready on Construct, and if I topdeck Ballista, I instant win.

  • TMD Supporter

    @Smmenen very interesting. Did you tend to cast it for 2-4 or more? Did you miss big Thalia at all?

  • TMD Supporter

    I never ran Thalia 2.0, because I think it's weak in the most important matchups. I'd prefer to have a Thorn effect like Vryn Wingmare against Gush decks, Null Rod against PO decks, etc.

    I had at least one game where I could have cast an uncounterable Ballista for 5, but I didn't draw it.. I don't remember casting it for more than 2, but it's often larger than 2 power.

  • @Smmenen said in White Eldrazi:

    I never ran Thalia 2.0, because I think it's weak in the most important matchups. I'd prefer to have a Thorn effect like Vryn Wingmare against Gush decks, Null Rod against PO decks, etc.

    I had at least one game where I could have cast an uncounterable Ballista for 5, but I didn't draw it.. I don't remember casting it for more than 2, but it's often larger than 2 power.

    In my opinion, Thalia 2.0 is good across all matchups but very good against Dredge and, most importantly because it's the weakest matchup, Shops. I would never cut it.

  • I've been playing this archetype a lot over the past two weeks, and it has potential as an anti-Shops weapon at least until Workshop, Ballista, Tangle Wire, or Sphere gets restricted in a few months. I went 3-2 in non-mirrors in the P9, but have also cashed my last six daily events. The deck has very good matchups across the format. Being pre-boarded for Oath and Dredge, the two decks people most like to play to try to pick on Shops, is just ridiculous.

    Some advice:

    • Play 4 Thalia, Heretic Cathar. She is great in every single matchup. She creates free wins against Shops and Eldrazi if you have her early enough. I have beaten Dredge with her, the smaller Thalia (Smalia), a Wasteland and no other hate. She is great against Paradoxical Outcome because often their only out is topdecking Tolarian Academy. If I had a dime for every Mentor pilot who has wasted their turn trying to flash in a Containment Priest to ambush something I'd have enough to buy a fifth Thalia, and she's like a $4 card! Steve's dismissal of her is ignorant; she's probably the best creature in the deck. I don't trust the judgment of pilots playing fewer than 3.

    • Play 4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. This is obvious but for some reason people keep playing 3. I like that not everyone plays 4 because it makes it really quick to figure whose lists to ignore.

    • Play 0 Thought-Knot Seer. The card is weak in your close matchups and unnecessary in your good ones. Cutting this improves every other card in your deck. Your Wastelands get better. Your Thalias get better when you can actually use your Wastelands. Your Reality Smashers get better when you cast them instead of letting them sit in hand. Your Displacers get better because less often does activating them mean a TKS is rotting in your hand. Your mulligans get better. You get to cut some temples for Flagstones, which makes your sideboard options a lot better. Crutching on Temples to cast your mediocre Thought-Knots ripples through your sideboard. By cutting this vanilla 4/4, you improve like 30 cards in your 75.

    • Play 0 Vryn Wingmare. Three mana for an X/1 is embarrassing against Ballista. This card isn't garbage but usually people who play it are replacing some number of Thalias, which is incorrect. Your worst matchup is Shops. If you build with that in mind, it's at least 50/50, so build with that in mind.

    • Play 0 Lodestone Golem. This card probably shouldn't even be played in Shops right now.

    • Play 2-3 Mental Missteps in the board. You don't need redundant Thorns affects. They are marginal against combo because you don't have time to play them all. Misstep is actually good on the draw. It's a blowout against anyone trying to play Swords to Plowshares. This was the lone suggestion of mine Steve actually took, and his matches in VSL illustrated how great a sideboard tactic Misstep is against Gush decks.

    • Mulligan aggressively. Very rarely keep hands that don't have a turn one play. Use the scry rule.

    • Eldrazi Displacer is good (and probably correct right now) but not an automatic include. I have played lots of similar, reasonable board-affecting cards. Stoneforge Mystic, Smuggler's Copter, Fairgrounds Warden, Gisela, the Broken Blade, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Archangel Avacyn, Toolcraft Exemplar, Ranger of Eos, Walking Ballista, Hero of Bladehold… there are a lot of rares and mythics you could play.
      I turned off the Copter after Ballista came online because of how much removal rational blue players should have for their Shops matchup. Additionally, having an empty vehicle in the face of Ballista isn't a great feeling either.

    The core of the deck is so strong it's hard to tell which auxiliary cards are better or worse. It's easy to play the deck, even get good results with it, and have no clue about where your wins are coming from. You have to be pretty honest with yourself and detail-oriented to evaluate what is actually good. You can't be results oriented because even good results are misleading. This is what leads people to continue playing 3 Thalia or Wingmare or Thought-Knot Seer. I've played:

    4 Copter, 4 TKS (gave it a second chance to rule it out definitively)
    4 Fairgrounds Warden, 2 Gisela, 0 TKS
    2 Fairgrounds, 2 Gisela, 4 Copter, 0 TKS
    4 Displacer, 4 Copter, 0 TKS
    4 Displacer, 2 Fairgrounds, 2 Gisela, 0 TKS
    4 Displacer, 2 Fairgrounds, 2 Linvala, 0 TKS
    4 Displacer, 1 Fairgrounds, 1 Gisela, 2 Linvala, 0 TKS

    What you should take away from that sample is that the core of the deck is so strong that a lot of your other creatures end up being marginal. Displacer is probably correct at the moment because of Shops, but even then, playing 4 Fairgrounds Warden and Linvala/Gisela also seems fine in that matchup.

    This deck has an absurd number of matchups that are just close to byes, and it's lone "bad" matchup isn't even that bad. It's the best deck I've played since Rally the Ancestors was in Standard. Contrary to Steve, I think it's a pretty easy deck to play, and I don't doubt its pilots get an edge from lack of mental fatigue.

  • @wappla Thanks for the awesome write up Wappla, look forward to trying your latest suggestions. I think the major improvement is the cutting of Temple from the Mana base - makes the deck far more consistent. Bravo for that innovation.

    Been mostly playing other formats the past few months but look forward to playing this going forward in Vintage. And trying out stuff like Prelate, Ballista and anything else not mentioned above.

  • @wappla

    Have you ever considered Palace Jailer over Fairgrounds Warden, or is the mana cost too much of an issue?

  • @msg67183 it's probably fine, but it doesn't exist online.

  • @wappla awesome write up
    I've played W eldrazi and always felt like TKS was the worst card in the deck.
    I also agree with new Thalia. 4 seems solid, and I like Linvala and the Fairgrounds Warden is also great in some mu's
    But the best thing with W Eldrazi is the fact the game 1 mu's vs dredge and Oath are amazing

  • @wappla said in White Eldrazi:

    @msg67183 it's probably fine, but it doesn't exist online.

    That sucks. Fairgrounds Warden is the best option there? Seems meh imo.

  • When you consider that it usually costs the same as Swords to Plowshares in a Thorn mirror (the matchups you want it most in) without Plow's drawback and with the bonus of a 1/3 body (hard enough to kill with Ballista and big enough to block Factories and Revokers), yeah I think so. Unlike Path, Plow, or Dismember, it can just be cast and attack in irrelevant matchups. Note that it combos with Priest the same way Displacer does, making it better than this effect usually is.

    All that said, whether you want any removal at all is definitely an open question.

  • Can't believe you want to play dudes with WW in their casting costs...
    I'll give that fairground a try.
    I tried copter in shop and didn't like it because it was pretty slow and hardly beat by revoker (and could not use one to remove the other one I was drawing....)

  • I'm playing like two cards with WW and they cost four or five mana. If you haven't drawn double-white by the time you are casting them, then you have drawn such a density of other effects you are winning anyway.

    The matchups I want them most, I also have Ghost Quarters post-board. These can fetch another white source if necessary.

    While I'm not on Copters either at the moment (specifically because everyone has a ton of artifact removal and/or Stony Silence in response to a correct expectation of how good Ravager Shops are) please note that Copter is a different card in a shops deck with 25 mana sources and White Eldrazi, which has 28 or 29. This mana base is the endemic problem of the archetype, you flood a lot but also can be pretty weak to Wasteland. Copter is good at attacking this problem while being a fine card otherwise. You also play 4 copies of two different legends and have matchup-dependent hatebears like Revoker and Priest. Looting is just drawing a card in this deck.

  • There was $30 entry tournament at The Geekery HQ, in Astoria, NY this weekend.
    I think there were 16 players, but the final standings had 14 players. Maybe some players dropped and I just did not pay attention.
    5 rounds, cut to top 4.

    For some reason I cannot find my notepad, so I do not have the play by play, but I will list the matchups and the results.

    R1: Sylvan Mentor (2-0? I don't quite remember, I apologize.) (ended up 4-1)
    R2: Bomberman Oath (2-0)
    R3: Jeskai Mentor (2-1)
    R4: White Eldrazi (1-2) (This person had a better sideboard for the mirror, and went 5-0.)
    R5: Ravager Ballista Shops (2-1)

    My opponent for Rd 4 was 1st in standings, I was 2nd, another Shops player was 3rd, and my opponent for Rd 1 was 4th. Upon reaching Top 4, we all decided to split the prize, and as such, there is no report for Top 4 matches.


    • I did not play any 1 drops (except Sol Ring) intentionally to blank Mental Misstep. This hurt in my mirror match, as I had no StP for opposing Displacer. Opp won games 2 and 3 due to him wrecking my lands and then using Displacer / Containment combo to clear my board. Both games 2 and 3 his life total was low, but I could not kill him fast enough before he was able to use Displacer to win.

    • I ended up sideboarding in the Fairgrounds Warden in every single game. I was desperate for more removal, as the Displacer combo did not show up in most games. It worked very well in the Bomberman Oath matchup. Game 2 I ended up using Thought-Knot seer to exile Auriok Salvagers in opp's hand, then he Oath'd a Blazing Archon. I used Warden to exile the Blazing Archon, and opponent did not Oath for the rest of the game.

    • I believe my sideboard needs a little work. HOWEVER, THIS FEELING IS PRIMARILY DUE TO MY INEXPERIENCE IN VINTAGE.
      Rest in Peace was useless, at least for the matchups I had, but it is vital for the Dredge matchup.
      Leyline of Sancticty is for Oath and Tendrils.
      Stony Silence and Kataki are for Shops and Paradoxical Outcome matchups.
      I wish the Fairgrounds Wardens were in the maindeck.

  • I know @wappla has had success with White "Eldrazi", you should talk to him about it. He cut Thought Knot Seer and Eldrazi Temple from the list.

  • @aceofjacks Nice list, looks very solid (apart from all the W cards in the SB).

    How come you cut Ancient Tomb? Too much damage in the mirror and against Shops?

    On your SB, I think I would play Null Rod/Grafdiggers over Stony Silence/Rest in Peace, just to ease the W mana burden.

    Leyline seems alright, but that might be better as Mental Misstep, since it's much easier to cast. Aegis of the Gods and Spirit of the Labyrinth are other options (the latter also useful against Mentor), but they're more vulnerable to removal.

  • @msg67183 Cutting TKS is maybe fine in this meta, but doesn't that make Cavern of Souls much worse?

    I've seen @wappla 's version but I feel like you might as well just cut the Eldrazi entirely and play Human/Angel Stompy then.

  • @hyperborea
    I prioritized the ability to get White mana over Ancient Tombs, as I did not think Ancient Tomb was that important. Adding a 15 white card Sideboard meant that I needed to have White mana in every opnening hand if possible. The only thing that NEEDS multiple colorless are the Eldrazi. With any other land + 1 Mox, I can cast most of the 2 drops in the deck.

    I went for enchantments over artifacts for multiple reasons.
    1- No Grafdigger's Cage or Pithing Needle so as to blank Mental Misstep. I already have 1 Sol Ring as the ONLY target, and I like to make my opponents have as many dead cards as possible.
    2- No Null Rod, as it helps to partially blank cards like Ancient Grudge and Hurkyl's Recall. Not to say that an opponent might actually USE Hurkyl's Recall against me, but hey, you might get lucky against that guy who doesn't know the correct sideboard plan.
    3- No Aegis of the Gods or True Believer in an attempt to lessen the effect of Supreme Verdict and Balance, both of which resolved against me when I played this weekend. With Balance, I still have a lock piece on the table, whereas with the creatures, I have nothing but mana sources on the table.
    4- I originally had 2 Spirit of the Labyrinth in the sideboard where the 2 Fairgrounds Wardens were, but I made a (literal) last minnute change to add the creature removal in it's place. I chose to lean heavily on Thorn/Thalia effects, and have removal with 3 toughness instead of shutting down card draw. If all your spells cost 3 or 4 mana, then you can spend 3 mana to draw a card, and do nothing for the rest of the turn, pretty much Time Walking yourself.

    I consider the mentality of "Mono White Time Walks" when I play this deck. Barring my opponent is playing hyper-control, always having a Force of Will, Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Bolt, or "insert the right answer at the right time" in EVERY draw step, I am going to get at least 2 free turns against them over the course of the first 5 turns. Turn 1 Thorn/Thalia, turn 2 Thalia 2.0, turn 3 T-K Seer or Reality Smasher, seems like a "nuts" draw for this deck, but it happens more often than you think.

    It's almost like a Shops deck, in the sense that you make your opponents spells cost more, make their lands come into play tapped, thus buying you a few extra turns to beat them with dudes. By the time they can stabilize, you have them at less than 6 life. Just push trough the last points of damage if you can.

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