It was nearly two months ago that SFM saw the light of day in Modern and quickly climbed to the format’s top tier. We have been working on this brew since that very day and today we can finally share it. It may be a bit late but we wanted to strike before the iron was ice cold. Today I would like to introduce my favorite brew of all time: Humans, Eldrazi, and Kor! Oh My!
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Eldrazi Temple
2 Temple Garden
4 Windswept Heath
4 Eldrazi Displacer
4 Giver of Runes
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Ranger-Captain of Eos
4 Reality Smasher
4 Stoneforge Mystic
4 Thought-Knot Seer
1 Walking Ballista
4 Once Upon a Time
4 Path to Exile
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
2 Blessed Alliance
2 Collector Ouphe
2 Damping Sphere
2 Nature’s Chant
2 Rest in Peace
2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2 Veil of Summer
It has been an interesting journey to settle on this decklist. Readers who know me personally know my longstanding love for Eldrazi builds; in particular the Spiderspace builds known as Thalia Stompy. The very day Stoneforge Mystic was unbanned I wanted to jam it into Thalia Stompy. Then I recalled that this would be a nonbo with Leonin Arbiter; an invaluable part of the deck. Furthermore, I wanted to curve Giver of Runes into Stoneforge Mystic. A great line but not something we can use in a Chalice of the Void deck. It was time to return to the drawing board. So I went further back to my Bant Eldrazi roots. With these new early game tools the deck could be more aggressive and drop Drowner of Hope; blue entirely actually. So I set about working on Selesnya Eldrazi. However, Eldrazi Displacer was now low on blink targets and Matter Reshaper was as mopey as ever. This led me to swap in Ranger-Captain of Eos and boy was it impressive. Unfortunately, this greatly weakened Ancient Stirrings as I was down to a dozen Eldrazi. It seemed that at every turn I was causing one problem by fixing another. So I shelved the deck and said that I would revisit it if we ever had an Ancient Stirrings that was not focused on colorless cards. It only took a couple days for them to spoil Once Upon A Time and we were back in business. Now let’s break down the build card-by-card.
The manabase really is nothing special. We use the standard fetch-shock set up for Selesnya decks with a slight pull toward white. Brushland shows up as our functional tri-land to provide whatever mana is required for any spell in the deck. Eldrazi Temple is there to race out our dozen spaghetti monsters but is not as vital to our build as a typical Eldrazi deck. Cavern of Souls feels better than ever in this deck though. In Bant Eldrazi I would often hate naming anything other than Eldrazi but that is not the case here. You can name human to set up a Noble Hierarch into Ranger-Captain of Eos curve or name kor to set up a Giver of Runes into Stonefore Mystic curve. I do want to address a common question I have gotten about this manabase though. A dozen colorless lands is plenty to consistently have it on time for this build. You need one in your first three lands at the absolute earliest and this will occur 93.7% of the time. Always remember that the higher on your curve a “color” is, the larger sample size you will have before you actually need it; so you can run fewer. The manabase feels perfect.
In the one drop slot we have Noble Hierarch and Giver of Runes. I have gushed about these both in other articles but I do not mind running over it again. Noble Hierarch produces both the white and green mana we need, accelerates us, and provides exalted triggers. This is Modern’s most played green creature for a reason. Giver of Runes is a more underrated one though. This plucky mother is a 1/2 to live through W6 and will give your creatures mana-free protection every turn. Note that this on-demand protection can be from a color or even colorless. This is removal insurance, evasion in most board states, and the ability to stonewall a non-evasive threat forever. If you manage to get two Givers into play you can even declare them both as blockers and then tap each of them to protect one another. This can be a frustrating prison for creature decks to fight through. It also makes it extremely difficult for opponent’s to effectively use spot removal. They want to remove your threats but Giver will protect them. So they want to remove Giver but if you have another Giver, it will protect that one. No matter where they aim, it just will not work out for them. People need to quit sleeping on this one.
From here we have a straight curve with Stoneforge Mystic at the two drop spot. We all are quite familiar with her by now. Usually you will just grab a Batterskull but you definitely should have a Sword to pair with it. We have previously covered these options for you here. For this deck we chose Light and Shadow as we are quite creature heavy and lifegain is meta-relevant at the moment. I would not fault you for choosing the other typical options listed in the previous article. A reminder that will save you some embarrassment though: when you need to recur Batterskull, start by activating SFM and hold priority on it to then bounce your Batterskull. If the opponent removes SFM in response, you will be fine because the stack will resolve from top to bottom. But if you just bounce the Skull, they can remove SFM in response. You could then respond by activating the SFM but the Skull is not yet back in your hand to replay so the ability fizzles. This comes up far more often than you would think. Also keep in mind that giving the germ token protection from colorless with Giver will cause Batterskull to fall off.
At the three-drop spot we have Ranger-Captain of Eos and it has been awesome. It can grab Noble if you are in a pinch for mana or exalted, but this is the last choice. The best option is often the singleton Walking Ballista. Yes, Ranger grabs zero drops as well so you can get some real value. This is Modern’s most played artifact creature and we are happy to have it in our toolbox. The other common option is Giver due to the aforementioned utility that it offers. It is quite easy to get two copies into play this way and we have already explained how absurd this becomes. Do not forget that Ranger-Captain can also be used to timewalk spell-based decks or effectively counter a Snapcaster Mage. I do not always want to trade in a 3/3 body for this but it comes up more than you would think.
The other three-drop, and Captain’s BFF, is Eldrazi Displacer. I think every longtime Modern player has been dunked on by a Displacer at this point. Sometimes it counters your removal spell, sometimes it prevents you from attacking, sometimes it prevents you from blocking. It reminds me a lot of Giver with the great exception that it lets us repeat ETB abilities. This is exceptionally spicy with an SFM as you can activate the SFM with no equipment in hand, hold priority, and then blink it to fetch a new equipment. The SFM ETB ability will resolve, then the activated ability will resolve, and you will put that equipment into play immediately. Many opponent’s will miss this line and walk face first into a Batterskull. It is also quite good with the Captain to grab additional one drops; easily setting up Giver locks. Displacer with Giver is an effective lock of its own. Much of what you can do with two Givers can be done with a Giver and a Displacer. They attack with two creatures, you declare Giver and Displacer as blockers, then have Giver protect Displacer and have Displacer blink Giver. Or when it comes to interaction, they want to remove your threat but you will protect it with Giver. So they want to remove Giver but you will blink it with Displacer. So they want to remove Displacer but you will protect it with Giver. Is your head spinning yet? There is also the classic line of blinking Thought-Knot Seer at the end of the opponent’s draw step to effectively fateseal them. Often it feels like we are playing a reverse-prison deck. We are not locking down the opponent’s gameplan; we are making it impossible for them to stop ours.
Then finally we come to the heavy hitters. Thought-Knot Seer is our deck’s Kitesail Freebooter and sometimes it even shows up on Turn 2. If not for him and Captain, combo matchups could be quite rough. It is a disruptive 4/4 and we are pretty good at keeping our opponent from taking advantage of the LTB ability. A simple card but a damn good one. Then our curve-topper is the big nasty Reality Smasher. Sometimes we do not have Giver or Displacer to provide protection and/or protection. So Smasher brings his own and has haste to boot. This is our most effective way to deal with planeswalkers and prevents our opponent from getting comfortable at mid to low life totals. I wish I had more to say about these guys as they are critical to the deck. But they are simple, effective and absolute staples of any Eldrazi Temple deck.
We have already covered the equipment package so that leaves Path to Exile and Once Upon A Time. We cannot rely on Eldrazi Displacer to take on every attacker or blocker and Path is the best white spell in the format. Unconditional, one mana exile is a dumb effect and we are more than happy to jam four copies. I am going to do my best to not rant about OUT again. I wrote an entire article about the math behind it and then another article addressing readers’ questions. The card is bananas and is our version of Ancient Stirrings. When you fire it off looking for a specific four-of, you will get exactly what you wanted 33.6% of the time. When you keep a one land hand, it will find you a second land 95.2% of the time. When you keep a hand without an accelerant, it will find one 57.4% of the time. The same odds apply to needing a one drop creature or large threat. You are going to begin 39.9% of your games by firing this effect off for free. It is a dumb card and each use will give you a weighted average of 4.13 cards to pick from. I could go on and on.
Now for the sideboard. I will start by pointing out the singleton Hexdrinker is there to give Captain extra juicy targets against grindy decks. I originally had it in the main but twenty lands felt a touch low with Captain’s somewhat strict cost and our high curve. To rough up artifact decks we have Collector Ouphe and Nature’s Chant. Ouphe is superior to Stony as we can defend it with Giver or Displacer and we can dig it up with OUT. Nature’s Chant is a mana flexible out to troublesome cards like Ensnaring Bridge and Blood Moon; note that we can cast it off either basic. We are also packing Blessed Alliance to pick up the slack against creature decks. There is added utility against Humans and Shadow where the different modes can pop Images and Shadows respectively.
I did not want to run Damping Sphere because of our Eldrazi Temples but our opponents, such as the surging Amulet Titan, are hurt by it far more than we are. It also helps us out with the dicey combo matchups. We also have Rest in Peace to help against Jund, W6 and Goyf, as well as the currently underrated Dredge decks. Though I am tempted to cut if for something less narrow. Thalia makes an appearance to complement Sphere against combo decks but she is quite effective against interactive decks as well; her ability also barely affects us. Then finally we have Veil of Summer, which has blown me away in Modern so far. This is the best color hate spell we have seen since Pyro/Hydroblast. It is an absolute blowout against blue and black decks for a single mana. I am not being even a bit hyperbolic when I say that every deck that can reliably cast this should have it in their sideboard.
Well I ended up going overboard again on another Brewed Up article. But I have been working on this deck for too long to understate it. As I have toiled we have seen GW Eldrazi decks rise and I implore them to give this build a shot. You do not have to give up Stirrings and run Ranger-Captain but please at least give Giver her due. So what do you think about it? Can this take on the archetype stand on its own? Or have I independently developed an inferior build? Please share your thoughts 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.