Brewed Up: Bant Snowdrazi

We are not done brewing snow decks yet. You may remember when we wrote about the decks that Modern forgot. Our personal favorite among them was Bant Eldrazi. With loads of new toys from Modern Horzions, we figured it was time to give it another look. If you have a soft spot for flying snakes and spaghetti aliens, this might just be the deck for you.

Land (22)
1x Breeding Pool
2x Cavern of Souls
4x Eldrazi Temple
1x Hallowed      Fountain
2x Misty Rainforest
4x Prismatic Vista
1x Snow-Covered Forest
1x Snow-Covered Island
1x Snow-Covered Plains
1x Temple Garden
1x Wastes
3x Windswept Heath
Creature (28)
4x Boreal Druid
4x Eldrazi Displacer
4x Eldrazi Skyspawner
4x Giver of Runes
4x Ice-Fang Coatl
4x Reality Smasher
4x Thought-Knot Seer
Spells (10)
4x Ancient Stirrings
4x Arcum’s Astrolabe
2x Path to Exile
Sideboard (15)
1x Celestial Purge
2x Deputy of Detention
1x Nature’s Chant
2x Path to Exile
2x Rest in Peace
2x Stony Silence
2x Unified Will
2x Veil of Summer
1x Worship
75 Cards Total

The Build
I know. I know. What the hell are we looking at? This is a stab at taking our dearly departed Bant Eldrazi deck and reviving it with snow mana and other Horizons goodies. So let us begin with the manabase. It is an Eldrazi deck so of course it begins with a set of Eldrazi Temple.  One land making two mana is a good thing; more at 11:00. The most vital land to the strategy though is Prismatic Vista. We could not realistically function without it. Between Bant, colorless, and snow we are nearly a five color deck. Along these lines, Vista’s fetch options are three different painless duals and the hardest to access basic: Wastes. It finds any of our five “colors” and I wish we could run more than four. After that we have Cavern of Souls and I have been bouncing between two and three copies. Of course it is good for Eldrazi because it is a quad land but it will not cast any non-Drazi, of which there are many. Our creature types are diversified to the point that naming any one of them with Cavern is a desperate choice; Snakes, Kor, Elves, etc. Beyond that it is mostly a simple Bant fetch-shock manabase. The singleton basics are for Vista and the fetch split helps us to have access to all of them.

As far as the spellbase goes, let’s start with the snow package. The role of Noble Hierarch has effectively been split between Boreal Druid and Arcum’s Astrolabe. Boreal Druid has been very impressive as it is a colorless source for the large Eldrazi as well as a snow mana source for Astrolabe. Astrolabe has been great as well as a discounted Prophetic Prism. While it does not produce colorless, it will take care of anything else we could need while breaking even on cards. These cards and the snow basics are not worth running on their own though. We are running it to enable Ice-Fang Coatl of course. Baleful Strix is an amazing card. Give it flash and we are looking at one of the best creatures in the game. 25% of our mainboard is snow permanents so that we can enable it consistently. With Giver, it can deathtouch opposing threats again and again. When games go late, we can even start blinking it with Displacer to draw cards. It is the keystone around which the deck is built. That being said, it can be a touch difficult to cast as Wastes, Eldrazi Temples, Plains, and Cavern typically will not help you unless you have Astrolabe in play.

Then of course there are the spaghetti monsters and most of the usual suspects are here. Skyspawner and Displacer can come down as early as Turn 2 and act as ramp and a Swiss-army knife respectively. Displacer is likely the second best creature in the deck. You can blink your creatures to protect them or repeat ETB abilities and you can blink opposing creatures to keep them from attacking or blocking. It really shines alongside Giver of Runes though to lock out opposing removal. If they target Giver, you blink it. If they target Displacer, you give it protection from whichever color is targeting it. A cheaper version of what we did with Spellskite years ago. Then finally we have the decks primary win conditions: Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher. These beefy boys typically come down Turn 3 and 4 respectively and pack a wallop. TKS is vital for beating combo decks in Game 1 and Smasher is our fast, evasive, hard-to-remove finisher. I think we all have been crushed by these multiple times over the years.

Then finally we come to the remainders. Giver of Runes has been mentioned throughout and for good reason. On-demand, manaless protection is amazing. This makes our large threats even harder to remove and functions as unblockable in the majority of board states. On defense it allows one of our creatures, hopefully a Coatl, ad nasueam. If you manage to have to Givers in play you can declare them both as blockers and then have them grant protection to one another to wall out aggression. Opponents do not want to chuck their precious removal at a one-drop but they often have no choice. Then of course we have Ancient Stirrings and Path to Exile. These are two of the best cards in Modern and we leverage them well. More than 75% of the cards in the mainboard can be grabbed with Stirrings and we could not consistently play Eldrazi Temple without it. Path is the best white spell in the format and in a pinch we can Path one of our own creatures to find whichever of the four basic lands we need. I only wish that we could find room for four copies; perhaps trim two Skyspawner?

The sideboard has been the highlight of the deck for me. I will admit though that my beloved Celestial Purge is not nearly as good as it was pre-B&R. Veil of Summer on the other hand has quickly been proving itself as Modern’s best color-hate spell; at least for the current format. The obligatory white enchantments, Stony and RiP, make an appearance as usual. The missing Paths have shown up in the side, but using your sideboard as spillover for your maindeck is generally poor practice. The Deputies have been good once we get them in play but are surprisingly hard to cast with our finicky manabase so I am looking to cut them. Worship is a carryover from Bant lists of old and decks like Burn just scoop to it so it earns the singleton. I do want to call special attention to Nature’s Chant though. This sleeper hit from Modern Horizons takes Disenchant and Naturalize but makes the cost more flexible for GW decks. With Batterskull running around, I certainly want this over Natural State.

The Verdict
Well it works. It was a challenging deck to build because we are being pulled in so many directions and is functionally five colors, but it works. You can cast your spells consistently and you are playing seventy-five good ones. That being said, it is just okay. In the way that traditional Bant Eldrazi is just okay. Adding snow does not fix any of the inherent problems that the strategy had. The nut draws are not that insane for how rare they are and none of the matchups are overwhelmingly favorable. You can grind Jund down pretty well but ramp decks go over you. It has been a fun walk down memory lane but that is about it. I am not sure that this is any better than traditional Bant Eldrazi and we all know how dead that deck is. Playing it is a cute and novel experience. You will win plenty of matches but it is nowhere near a great deck. It is Tier 3 at best and I have moved onto brewing another eldrazi deck, stay tuned for it, in the wake of the B&R announcement. I would not call this a fail but at the same time, what point is there in playing a below average deck?

It was fun to relive my Bant Eldrazi memories but I am not sure this fixes any of the issues that killed the strategy. Post B&R it has become clear that spaghetti monsters have a new lease on life in Modern but this ain’t it chief. What interesting snow decks have you seen in Modern recently? Should eldrazi decks even consider blue at this point? Please share your ideas with us in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back tomorrow with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.

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