Eldritch Brewin’

KevinJones

The SCG Tour stop that came through Columbus a few weeks back was the first chance for Eldritch Moon to unleash itself on the standard format. And it definitely made it’s presence felt, albeit not how everyone might’ve anticipated.
Bant company was absolutely dominant, the deck made up roughly one third of the day two metagame and accounted for three of the top eight slots, including the winner. It makes sense because the deck is very powerful, it’s flexible, and it mulligans well. Also, it makes great use of the premier standard weapon of Eldritch Moon in Spell Queller. I do think that there’s ways to attack it and while there’s not too many different ways, one solid plan is to play a large number of flying creatures, especially ones that dodge the tempo loss from Reflector Mage. Creatures that fit this criteria include Archangel Avacyn, Bruna, the Fading Light, Dragonlord Ojutai, Linvala, the preserver, Dragonlord Dromoka, Mirrorwing Dragon, and some others. One thing that’s quite obvious is that several of these creatures are angels, enabling you to reanimate them with Bruna, the Fading Light. I think Bruna is great and is likely the most underrated card in the set. Her four mana counterpart, Gisela, the Broken Blade, could be the most overrated, but combined they do some truly awesome things.

More recently, Pro Tour Eldritch Moon took place in Sydney, Australia and was won by Lukas Blohon and his creature and planeswalker heavy version of B/W control. The various emerge and delirium decks were the true breakouts of the weekend, however. Owen Turtenwald propelled himself to a second player of the year title and a 2nd place finish with an innovative Temur Emerge deck built around Emrakul, the Promised End and the green creature selection spells, Gather the Pack and Grapple with the Past. The deck uses these cards to search for, and ultimately recur, their giant Eldrazi, Elder Deep-Fiend and Emrakul. The green spells also fuel delirium and conveniently place Kozilek’s Return in the graveyard to be triggered by a giant alien. The deck is quite powerful, but will surely lose a bunch of it’s surprise value in the coming weeks. It is also a perfect segue to a unique idea that’s been bouncing around my twisted little brain ever since the set came out.

Bant Angels is my little brainchild that I’ve been too lazy to actually sleeve up and play. The issue here is mainly a fear of failure. If this deck sucks then I won’t have this little fantasy to fall back on. The idea behind the deck is essentially to play these green spells to help ensure that we can meld our giant Eldrazi Angel, Brisela on or around turn 7. Here’s a rough decklist.

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This deck might seem strange on the surface, and that’s because it is, but there’s a lot of speed bumps and this format isn’t particularly fast anyway. I originally included Declaration in Stone as a cheap removal spell but upon further revision I feel that having ways to kill your Brisela is bad with so many Emrakuls floating around. For what appears to be a slow ramp type deck this is actually capable of some faster draws with Wharf Infiltrator and Gisela, the Broken Blade. I’m not likely to bust this brew out at the invitational, but I can safely say that it’s coming soon to a side event or FNM near me! And onwards to the next idea I can’t get away from.

Spell Queller and Languish both push the format in two interesting directions. Queller makes expensive spells and creatures good and Languish makes large toughness creatures and flash creatures good. Some of these overlap, but then Reflector Mage makes expensive creatures bad. Or at least if you play them, they better have an enters the battlefield effect comparable to a card worth of value and/or be game winning on their own. Midrange creature decks that aren’t Bant Company have a pretty high bar to hop if they wish to be a factor in this format. Also, Bant Company has an intense restriction on the number of cards it can play that aren’t company hits. For these reasons we haven’t seen much of either card in the next deck on the brew menu despite them being two of the cards I’ve most wanted to play with for the entire format. The next deck is built around the awesome “combo” of Always Watching and Dragonlord Ojutai. This pairing saw some play in WU Humans right around the release of Shadows over Innistrad, but ever since the most popular humans deck became the white splash red version, Ojutai has seen very little play in standard. This is unfortunate because the card matches up very well against most of the format. The natural weakness to Languish can be easily remedied by Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and the aforementioned Always Watching. Giving Ojutai vigilance can prevent any of the conventional problems faced by expensive creatures. Reflector Mage, Declaration in Stone, Grasp of Darkness, etc. all of these are rendered moot when you can attack without losing hexproof. The one problematic card for this combination is Thalia, Heretic Cathar. Your Ojutai being tapped immediately upon entering the battlefield defeats the entire purpose of Always Watching. The marked decrease in Bant Company post PT Eldritch Moon should mean less Thalias and less Dromoka’s Commands as well. Both of these trends should fare well for the Always Watching and Ojutai deck. I like this deck so much that I almost played a version of it at SCG Baltimore. The last few slots were tough to nail down, but I was very impressed with Ojutai and Always Watching. Not to mention the strength of Knight of the White Orchid when used in tandem with anthem effects. The number of spirits in the format has greatly decreased since week one as well, and consequentially, Gideon is in a much better spot. The option to always crack for an emblem is important because you’ve got enough early creatures that you can leverage the emblem better than other Gideon decks, like B/W midrange and even better than some of the draws of the old G/W tokens deck. If I was battling with this deck in an event this weekend I would likely build it like this.

The last brew I have for everyone today is a resurrection of a forgotten archetype. The Cryptolith Rites decks were a force throughout the entire tenure of SOI standard. I’ve seen exactly one good finish from a Rites deck since the release of Eldritch Moon. A B/G Rites build took down the Orlando stop of SCG regionals, one of the largest regionals in the country. Max Molesch’s winning decklist is;

I’m interested in taking it a step farther though. I’ve always liked the rites decks that based themselves off of a Bant shell. I think the mana is a bit tight for the fourth color, but we can definitely merge the powerful emerge mechanic with a Bant rite deck. Elder Deep-Fiend will prevent your opponents from casting the sorcery speed sweeper effects that have always been the bane of Cryptolith Rites decks. This deck ends up looking very similar to one of the early decks from my testing gauntlet. It also shares several cards with the U/G Emerge deck that Gerry Thomspon wrote about when the set first came out. Eldrazi Displacer is a very powerful trump against the other creature decks. It’s also a fantastic foil to Spell Queller that has reasonable stats in it’s own right. Reflector Mage gives the Rites strategy some much needed interaction as well as a way to deal with Kalitas, even if only temporarily. You can Reflector Mage a tough threat and then emerge it to cast an Elder Deep-Fiend and prevent them from recasting their crucial threat for a second consecutive turn. This is a level of interaction the rites decks were previously unable to attain. Decimator of the Provinces is another way to break through board stalls and an awesome dimension the deck didn’t have before. The toughest questions regarding a deck like this are the correct creatures to play in the 3 drop slot. With 4 emerge creatures you definitely want the full allotment of Matter Reshapers. You also want Displacers and Reflector Mages and some utility creatures that help hit land drops, namely Nissa, Vastwood Seer, and Pilgrim’s Eye. Depending on the metagame, Eldrazi Skyspawner could also be great. Elvish Visionary and Duskwatch Recruiter are musts at the 2 slot and could be supplemented by a couple copies of Selfless Spirit to help against removal heavy decks. Loam Dryad lets you come out of the gates quickly and helps you hit your colors while still playing a handful of colorless sources. I like 3 copies of Elder Deep-Fiend and 1 Decimator of the Provinces to diversify the threats and give a payoff to your utility three drops. 4 Collected Company and 3 Cryptolith Rite, and you’ve got a sweet little pile of synergies. The list looks something like this.

These are three decks that this format hasn’t really seen yet. I can’t guarantee they’re all tuned and tier one, but they’ll definitely get some wins at your local FNM and weekly standard events. One downside to not playing a bunch of IQs is I’m rarely able to play brews in smaller tournaments. I usually only play in the bigger tournaments. And this weekend is one of the biggest tournaments the SCG Tour has to offer. My teammates and I will be inviting some friends to join us as we hole up for a few days and take cracks at standard and modern for the season two invitational in New Jersey. Come say hello if you see me there and hopefully next week’s article will be all about the token I get to make as an invitational champion. Thanks for reading, I hope you try out some of these creations, let me know how it goes!

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Kevin Jones

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