Eldrazi Stompy – much like the events of Zendikar – ravaged through almost every format during the early 2016 season. Much like their story-driven counterparts, Modern, Legacy, Vintage, EDH, and even Standard saw an insurgence in Eldrazi-based decks. With the EDH and Standard decks fairly balanced, all seemed to be going well – that is, until someone discovered the insane powers that are Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple. The deck soon became a Legacy-powered deck in Modern, completely destroying the format’s meta (taking up almost forty percent of all played decks). At the time, the Modern ProTour had almost exclusively Eldrazi decks in its top eight, and for the next three months, the strategy continued to dominate the format. The deck was so incredibly powerful, in fact, that people began brewing specific decks to beat it.
Eventually, what had come to be known as the Eldrazi Winter finally ended with the banning of Eye of Ugin from Modern. However, it wasn’t quite over: the deck continued to live on and develop in both Legacy and Vintage. The Legacy version of the list added to it a playset of Cavern of Souls, Wasteland, and Ancient Tomb, substantially increasing the consistency of the mana base. Soon enough, people began seeing Eldrazi Aggro rise up in Legacy, eventually overtaking almost the entire aggro meta game. It became about ten percent of the tournament-winning decks, dethroning the previous king, Grixis Delver.
Here’s a sample decklist for the Legacy version:
2 Warping Wail
4 Chalice of the Void
2 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Thought-Knot Seer
4 Reality Smasher
4 Matter Reshaper
4 Endless One
4 Eldrazi Mimic
3 Eldrazi Displacer
4 Eye of Ugin
4 Eldrazi Temple
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Ancient Tomb
3 City of Traitors
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Caves of Koilos
2 Ratchet Bomb
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Phyrexian Revoker
2 All Is Dust
4 Thorn of Amethyst
Everyone thought it was here to stay, but something quite interesting occurred recently. It seems that the former king of aggro has fallen off of its pedestal and almost completely disappeared.
So what happened? Why has a deck that was over ten percent of the meta fallen to a mere one percent? Should we expect to see a resurgence in Eldrazi once again? Or is the deck similar to Merfolk in Modern, and isn’t actually a “pillar of the format” as it was previously considered?
In spite of popular belief, the Eldrazi deck was and is beatable. While capable of insane plays (sometimes winning by turn three or even two), it’s by no means an unbeatable deck. In fact, the Eldrazi deck has some substantial weaknesses to various strategies that are actually quite prevalent in Legacy. All it took was a slight meta shift to cast the facade of Eldrazi away.
But first, let’s discuss what the deck is favored against to understand why it was able to take over the meta.
During the Eldrazi winter, Miracles was around twenty percent of the Legacy meta game. Miracles being one of Eldrazi’s fairly favored match-ups automatically put the deck in a fantastic position to start winning tournaments. The deck’s match-up against Grixis Delver (which was another substantial part of the meta) is very close to even. Storm, another popular deck at the time, is also a fairly favored match-up.
It just so happened that during the early 2016 season, these were the very decks that were most played in Legacy; in fact, it couldn’t have been planned better. Eldrazi sped quickly through the format, winning tournament after tournament and convincing the Legacy community that it was an incredibly substantial contender – however, it wasn’t as broken as some might have made it out to be.
The format was completely set up for Eldrazi to take over.
With the printing of Conspiracy 2, Take the Crown, the Legacy meta game shifted once again. Death and Taxes slowly grew in popularity, due to its increased availability as a top tier deck, and Eldrazi fell with it. While the DnT match-up is fairly close to even, DnT is slightly favored. Additionally, the increased prevalence of the creature control deck set the wheels in motion for Eldrazi’s downfall at the hands of DnT hate decks (i.e. Elves, True-Name BUG, and Shardless BUG).
This meta game shift led to an increase in decks that Eldrazi isn’t particularly favored against. The increased hate for Death and Taxes seemed to make Eldrazi lose popularity more than the former. With Death and Taxes on a decline, as well, one would think that Eldrazi would begin reappearing as the meta evened out. But the damage was already done; more difficult match-ups, such as Show and Tell, began entering the format, making the situation even more tricky for Eldrazi to contend in. In the last couple of weeks, it’s fallen to a mere one percent of the meta game – which is an incredibly substantial amount, considering that a couple months ago, it was at around eight percent.
Fear not, Eldrazi players – these kinds of swings in meta games are completely normal. The deck is still incredibly powerful under the right conditions, but for now, things aren’t quite up to speed. It’s unknown if Eldrazi will rise again, but since there seems to be an increase in Miracles (due to Elves), it appears that the stage is slowly setting itself for Eldrazi to regain its former glory. This time, however, it may not be quite as extreme; now we have True-Name BUG and an increasingly solid Death and Taxes list to keep it under control. This time, players will be prepared.
It’s very possible that Eldrazi is becoming a heavily meta-dependent deck like Elves, Dredge, and Burn. We shouldn’t forget about it entirely, however, as another Eldrazi outbreak is always looming in the shadows, waiting to strike when no one will suspect it.
Hope you enjoyed the article! If you want to read more about Legacy, check out our Legacy format section. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them below.
And, as always, happy gaming, everyone!