#SCGNY this past weekend was won by a very good friend of mine, Dan Musser, who was piloting the same deck I was, Eldrazi Tron. In the finals he defeated Jeffrey White, who was also playing Eldrazi Tron. Any time there's a mirror match in the finals, it's eye-opening, and now, going into #SCGRICH this weekend, you're going to need to be able to beat Eldrazi Tron. I've written multiple articles about Eldrazi Tron and why I thought it was the best deck to play in Modern after winning #SCGCHAR with it, and now I'm going to write about the other side of the format: how to beat Eldrazi Tron.
That's right: I'm going to be helping the bad guys today, because I know not everyone is interested in playing Eldrazi Tron and instead wants to play something that beats it this weekend, so I'm here to help you out. I'll most likely be sleeving up Eldrazi Tron again this weekend still because I love the power and consistency that the deck has, but if you're also going to be at #SCGRICH and want to know what to play to beat me, well then let's get to it! But first, an explanation of Dan Musser's winning decklist:
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 1 Wurmcoil Engine
- 2 Endbringer
- 4 Matter Reshaper
- 4 Reality Smasher
- 4 Thought-Knot Seer
- 1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Many Eldrazi Tron decklists are quite similar these days, but Dan had one major change. He took out the two Mind Stones that have become pretty stock in order to play a Wurmcoil Engine and an Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger in the maindeck.
Even though both Dan Musser and Jeffrey White, the two players in the finals, had maindeck Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger in their decks, my position on whether or not you should be playing the card hasn't changed. It's easy to remember the times when you have the mana and you cast an Ulamog that ends the game, but in all honesty I don't think those games are hard to win with the other cards in your deck. There will be plenty of other games, like Game 1 of the finals, where Jeffrey White had an Ulamog in his opening hand and died way before being able to cast it. Even though I myself am not able to play Ulamog in my deck, don't be surprised to run in to opponents this weekend that have it.
The biggest reason why Dan went away from Mind Stone was the lack of Blood Moon in the current format, even though Blood Moon is extremely well-positioned against the top decks. There simply isn't a great shell to put Blood Moon in these days, with the most likely place to find it is in the sideboard of a U/R Gifts Storm deck. It's likely the format adapts and we start to see more Blood Moons again soon, but for this weekend, it was the perfect time to cut Mind Stone.
The rise of Affinity being the most-played Day 2 deck at both #SCGATL and #SCGNY has increased the number of Stony Silences in the field to combat them. Although people don't necessarily think of artifacts when they think of Eldrazi Tron, Stony Silence is still a very good card against the deck, especially in creature matchups where Walking Ballista, Basilisk Collar, and Ratchet Bomb get turned off. This was another consideration for Dan dropping the Mind Stones: he didn't want to have too many cards get shut off from opposing Stony Silences. Overall, I like the move he made of dropping Mind Stone for now, and if I play Eldrazi Tron this weekend, I won't have them in my deck either, so a return of Blood Moon in some form will most likely be a good idea for #SCGRICH.
There are plenty of other ways to attack Eldrazi Tron, though, so let's take a look at the decks that I recommend playing this weekend if you want to defeat Eldrazi Tron.
Ad Nauseam is the nightmare matchup for Eldrazi Tron. They have a very consistent turn 4 or turn 5 win that Eldrazi Tron simply doesn't interact with well. Chalice of the Void, which is Eldrazi Tron's usual way to interact with combo decks, isn't as good here because the spells Ad Nauseam uses to win cost three and five mana. It's very difficult for Eldrazi Tron to gain enough life with Basilisk Collar or Wurmcoil Engine to get out of range of Lightning Storm quickly enough. Common consensus is that Ad Nauseam struggles to defeat Grixis Death's Shadow, but with the rise of Eldrazi Tron and Scapeshift, this could be the perfect weekend to cast Angel's Grace.
Speaking of Scapeshift…
Honestly, at the beginning of the tournament, I really thought Collins Mullen was going to win it. TitanShift is my pick for the best deck to be playing right now in Modern, as it doesn't really have too many bad matchups, and there are plenty of matchups that are very easy. Eldrazi Tron for example has an incredibly hard time beating TitanShift, and if you want to defeat Eldrazi Tron, this is a wonderful place to be. Once pretty big misconception people have is that Grixis Death's Shadow beats up on TitanShift and has been holding it back, but with the printing of Hour of Promise, I don't think that's true. I believe TitanShift to be slightly favored in the matchup, which really means that TitanShift should be the deck in the format to play.
Yes, I know that every deck I like to play loses to TitanShift, and letting you know this hurts my chances at #SCGRICH, but if you want to win this weekend, I think there isn't a better deck than TitanShift. Hour of Promise is the real deal and gives the deck four more reliable win conditions, and this one is able to be cast before Primeval Titan and Scapeshift, which may catch people off-guard.
So if TitanShift with Hour of Promise is such a good deck right now and the way to beat Eldrazi Tron, why did Collins Mullen finish seventeenth when Eldrazi Tron won the tournament? Well, I didn't watch any of his matches, so I'm sorry to Collins if I'm a little off about this, but I have some theories.
I understand what Collins was going for with having a playset of Khalni Heart Expedition in his deck and no ways to interact with his opponent Game 1 besides Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. He wanted his deck to be as linear as possible to be able to win the game as quickly as possible. The problem is that there are still just faster decks in Modern that he most likely had a very tough time against. For example, Storm was a deck he didn't want to face very much and there was plenty of it at the top tables. I think if he simply had Lightning Bolts in his maindeck over some of the Khalni Heart Expeditions and Prismatic Omens, the latter of which is a weak card on its own, I believe he would have had a better chance of beating faster combo decks.
I really liked what Collins had with the four Hour of Promise in the maindeck but wish there was just a little interaction, so this would be the TitanShift decklist I would recommend for #SCGRICH this weekend:
Even though U/R Gifts Storm had a pretty good showing last weekend, I don't like its position in the metagame for this next weekend because the deck struggles to beat not only Grixis Death's Shadow but also Eldrazi Tron. With more Eldrazi Tron and less U/R Gifts Storm, TitanShift looks like the deck to play at #SCGRICH, even though it's my least-favorite deck in Modern.
My pick for the current most underrated deck in Modern: the Green Tron variants. Jim Davis played G/B Tron last weekend to a Top 16 finish, and if you want to go over the top of Eldrazi Tron, this is the deck for you. Eldrazi Tron can't profitably interact with G/X Tron's ability to assemble Tron and has too slow of a clock to finish games before heavy hitters like Oblivion Stone and Karn Liberated change the face of the game. Besides Ad Nauseam, G/X Tron is my personal lowest win percentage deck to play against when playing Eldrazi Tron, and it's the sole reason why I'll never take Surgical Extraction out of my Eldrazi Tron sideboard. If you don't Ghost Quarter and Surgically Extract a Tron land from G/X Tron, you almost assuredly won't win. It's as easy as that.
So what's stopping people from playing G/X Tron these days? Well, there are some unfavorable matchups that are popular choices these days, but they aren't unwinnable. Even with Affinity, U/R Gifts Storm, and Burn being decks you aren't happy to play against, G/X Tron has a strong chance against all of them. I think the Grixis Death's Shadow matchup is actually more favorable for G/X Tron than it is for Eldrazi Tron, and the biggest reason people aren't playing the deck as much these days is because they don't see other people playing it.
I respect Jim Davis's choice to play G/B Tron last weekend, and he was rewarded with a Top 16 finish. Now, with Eldrazi Tron finishing first and second at #SCGNY, there isn't a better time to play G/X Tron than this upcoming weekend. I prefer Mono-Green Tron to G/B, however, as I really don't like the two lands above. Blooming Marsh seems to always enter the battlefield tapped, and I've always disliked taking damage from my own lands. Fatal Push and Collective Brutality are quality cards, for sure, but I think the consistent manabase of Mono-Green Tron is the way to go for this weekend.
This is very similar to what I brought to the #SCGINVI, and a deck I really like still in this metagame, especially if you want easy wins against Eldrazi Tron. There's probably one card in the sideboard that may look a little strange:
Is it silly? Absolutely. Is it playable? Absolutely. There are plenty of decks right now, and ones that are usual tough matchups for G/X Tron, that have only a couple of cards that matter in their deck.
There are a few other combo decks in the format as well, but these four are the main ones that can be tough matchups that Jester's Cap changes the complete dynamic of.
G/X Tron is a great choice for this weekend if you want to beat Eldrazi Tron, and I think you may be surprised how good its overall position is in the format right now.
- 4 Cursecatcher
- 3 Harbinger of the Tides
- 4 Lord of Atlantis
- 4 Master of the Pearl Trident
- 3 Master of Waves
- 3 Merrow Reejerey
- 4 Silvergill Adept
- 2 Vendilion Clique
The next place to look for a deck to beat Eldrazi Tron this weekend is under the sea, where the Lord of Atlantis presides. Daniel Duffee absolutely destroyed the Swiss rounds of #SCGNY and didn't lose a match until the semifinals. Even though his one loss was to Eldrazi Tron, I'm assuming he was unlucky there because I think the matchup is quite good for Merfolk.
And this is a big reason why. Ceremonious Rejection is most likely the single best sideboard card in the format versus Eldrazi Tron, and Merfolk has the capability to play as many as they want in the sideboard. Even Negate and Unified Will, also in Daniel Duffee's sideboard, are powerful cards in the matchup, because if All Is Dust is countered, then Merfolk will most likely win. After G/X Tron, Merfolk is likely the next most underrated deck that too many people write off, and it's a very solid choice for #SCGRICH.
- 4 Arcbound Ravager
- 2 Etched Champion
- 2 Master of Etherium
- 3 Memnite
- 4 Ornithopter
- 4 Signal Pest
- 4 Steel Overseer
- 4 Vault Skirge
My last recommendation for a deck to beat Eldrazi Tron with this weekend is Affinity. Now, I'm a known Affinity hater, and I've never been under the impression that the deck is very good, but for as long as I've been playing Modern, I think Affinity is in its best spot, mostly because of Eldrazi Tron. Now, this matchup isn't exactly one-sided, but I can't deny that Affinity is the favorite. Affinity has been the most-represented deck in Day 2 of both #SCGATL and #SCGRICH, and although only one Affinity deck made the Top 8 of the two events combined, it's still a solid choice if you want to beat Eldrazi Tron. I like all four previous decks much more this weekend than Affinity overall, but it wouldn't be right not to mention it.
Bonus Section: #SCGRICH Eldrazi Tron Decklist!
I've given you the decks to play to be able to beat Eldrazi Tron this weekend, so now it's time to help out the good guys. Here's the Eldrazi Tron decklist that I recommend for #SCGRICH:
I'm only changing a couple of cards from Dan Musser's #SCGNY-winning decklist. I agree with him that Mind Stone is not a necessity in the deck right now, as mentioned above, but instead of the expensive creatures that he added, I want two copies of Warping Wail in my maindeck. Just take a look at some of the popular sorceries it can counter:
Or some of the important creatures it can exile:
If you don't need to do either of those, Warping Wail can create a surprise chump-blocker, let you cast an All Is Dust a turn earlier than expected, or even give you some slight reprieve from Blood Moon. I really like Warping Wail's position, especially with Scapeshift being as good and as scary as I mentioned earlier, and for all of you Eldrazi Tron players out there, I would recommend having it in your maindeck this weekend. Scapeshift and Affinity are both very popular and very scary, and Warping Wail is an excellent split card against both.
For myself I'm undecided still whether I'll be sleeving up this 75 or traveling with some other Company to #SCGRICH this weekend. One thing's for certain, though: if you want to win the tournament, you're going to have to go through Eldrazi Tron, and these are the decks that are the scariest to see on the other side of the table.