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By: Lord Erman, Nafiz Erman
Apr 27 2010 12:10am
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My Rise of the Eldrazi
Part II

by Nafiz Erman

Hello dear readers, I'm back with the second part of my Rise of the Eldrazi set review. Last week in this article, I talked about Ersatz Gnomes, Wurm's Tooth and Dragon's Claw. And this week I will talk about the remaining ones; Demon's Horn, Kraken's Eye and Angel's Feather.

Please allow me to start immediately.


Demon's Horn

I always said that I'm a Control player. And therefore when a new set is released, Black is one of the first colors I start examining closely (after Blue of course). The history of Black is full with cards that Control players loved and played heavily, and therefore I'm always curious about the new ones that arrive with a new set.

But this recent Zendikar block as a whole was a little bit... "different". Right now our beloved Black is not a defensive color but it is an offensive one. Mono Black Vampires is a very fast and aggressive deck, and I wonder where it will be and what will happen to it after Jund rotates out of Standard.

So these days Black can't be seen going out with its old buddy Blue that often. Normally these days Black likes to hang out on its own but when it isn't alone, it is always seen with Red. As in Terminate, Bituminous Blast, Blightning and the recent Sarkhan the Mad.

And in this article we will take a look at Black and see if it remains to be an aggressive color or not. But before we do that, we should first talk about this color's relationship with the Eldrazi themselves. After all, this set is called Rise of the Eldrazi and Black is one of their servants.

There are actually a few Black cards in the set that are in direct relationship with the ancient titans. Such as Corpsehatch, Dread DronePawn of Ulamog and Essence Feed. But do we need any one of them in our Eldrazi decks? Definitely no. Pawn of Ulamog has its uses but that's another deck which I will talk about in a moment.

So basically this color may look like its serving the Eldrazi but in reality there is nothing it brings to the table that the Eldrazi might use. So I will say the same thing I said last week; Eldrazi decks will be Green. One may splash Black for Maelstrom Pulse or Red for Earthquake (or other burn spells) but these cards won't change that fact. Eldrazi is Green. Period.

So we can't use this color in our Eldrazi decks. Okay, what about the set's other themes? Such as defender and totem armor? Uhm, sorry to disappoint you but Black doesn't care about them either. There is not even one Black defender and not even one Totem Armor. So what do we got actually? Actually what we got for Black in Rise of the Eldrazi are hole fillers and replacements. We got new cards that can make already established strategies better.

Let's start with those replacements.


Both are 4/4 flying vampire shamans for . But I think the legendary one is a little bit(!) better. Malakir Bloodwitch's protection from White and her Drain Life ability are surely nice but I think I will prefer having Drana, Kalastia Bloodchief on table; both as an attacker and as a removal spell on legs. And please do note that she doesn't have to tap to kill creatures.


When judging those so called "sac outlets" one should always remember the following: These cards are in the deck to be able to sacrifice creatures so that a certain combo can be enabled. Therefore the power / toughness ratio of these cards are absolutely not important. Look at the above two cards; one is a 1/1 and the other is a 2/2 but the 1/1 one is clearly better. Why? Because it costs  less, that's why!!

And by the way I must say that I like the way how WotC is pushing a Tier-2 rogue deck with Bloodghast and friends. Sacrifice it to Bloodthrone Vampire and finish your opponent with Kalastria Highborn. Definitely a nice deck. And this is also the deck for Pawn of Ulamog I mentioned above. Every time you sacrifice your Bloodghast to either Carnage Altar or to Bloodthrone Vampire, you will get a 0/1 Spawn token with Pawn of Ulamog, which you will later use to cast a big Black fattie (such as Butcher of Malakir) to end the game.

And don't forget the new Mortician Beetle either. The new Scute Mob it is not, but in this deck it can be quite effective. I foresee it being played as a two-of in this deck. Oh and of course I am aware that this is a very fragile Combo deck and that's the reason why I say that it is a Tier-2 deck.


Of course without doubt Duress is way better than this new "Smotherduress" as people call it. But as I always say, something is always better than nothing. Decks that use Duress are always happy to have their Duress 5-8 and this new Inquisition of Kozilek gives them that. I know it's a very limited one but we can't have Thoughtseize in every block, can we (actually that would be great)?


One mana Black instant speed removals are always nice and I am happy to see Vendetta back. It will definately see some play both in Standard and in ZEN Block. It is much better than Disfigure but that "nonblack" clause makes it unplayable against Jund and Vampires. I think we will truly understand how important it is after Jund and Terminate rotate out of Standard.

Ravenous Trap

Of course I'm aware that Suffer the Past is meaningless for eternal formats and it can even be considered as a crime to compare it to Ravenous Trap. But what about Standard and Block? It's not that easy to cast Ravenous Trap for in those formats just because the decks that interact with the graveyard don't always send a lot of card there. But wouldn't it be nice to side Suffer the Past in against Open the Vaults decks? You just remove four important cards and Drain Life them for four. And now that Relic of Progenitus is about to leave Standard, I say this one is at least worth testing.

These are the fine replacements we got for Black in this new set. Some are really playable and for some it will take time to get accepted. And now let's talk about those hole fillers for Black.

The most important hole filler in the set is without doubt, Consume the Meek. So this is basically an all Black Culling Sun with a better art, better flavor text and better card type (instant). But will it see play? Let's see. First of all, Consume the Meek will only be useful against a few types of decks. It won't do much against Jund and Naya. It kills most of the Vampires but cannot harm the real troublesome ones. Eldrazi Green is a perfect target surely, as is Boros and Kor Aggro. But there is a problem. And a big one.

Sometimes even a fourth turn Day of Judgment cannot prevent us from losing against those Aggro decks; especially the Boros one. And this card, even though it is very nice because it's an instant, costs one more! Of course I will not declare it as unplayable because it is most certainly playable, but I just don't think it will be that great as people think it will be. It's a nice sideboard card and that's all.

And the final problem with it is that it needs a home. Which decks will play this? Jund? Why would it bother? Grixis? Possible. A mono Black Control deck? Unfortunately such a deck doesn't exist (yet). What else? A new post Rise of the Eldrazi deck maybe? So as you see, nice it is but it looks like its only home is Grixis decks (currently). Of course I say this without having a clue about M11 and Scars of Mirrodin.

The next hole filler I want to talk about is Consuming Vapors. What an excellent card this is! Edict spells are always useful and this is actually two build into one. Perfect. And please do note that it also makes you gain life. So basically this spell can kill one Devout Lightcaster and one Sphinx of Jwar Isle and will make you gain seven life in the process! 

I dare to say that Consuming Vapors is one of the best cards of this new set. It's just that good. And I don't want to sound too optimistic but can this one and Consume the Meek be considered as a signal for a future Tier-1 Mono Black Control deck? Like, Consume the Meek kills the small critters and Consuming Vapors takes care of the rest type of deck. Is this possible? I sure do hope it is.

And the final card of Black I want to talk about is Guul Draz Assassin. A 2/2 creature that can cast Disfigure every turn is nothing one can ignore. Of course I'm aware about the Level Up costs of it. Of course I know it's a 2/2 after all. But I still think that there are a few decks out there which may like to add this one to their sideboards. How about vampires.dec for example? Wouldn't you be siding this one in against Boros decks? I'm not saying it's an automatic four-of, but maybe one in the maindeck and one in the sideboard could work. Isn't he at least worth testing? I definately think he is.

And the rest of Black is full with casual goodies. Arrogant Bloodlord will surely see tons of play in casual vampires decks. I'm sure others will try to win games with Baneful Omen and the new Pestilence on legs called Pestilence Demon. I'm also sure some others -which may also include me as well- will try to break Hellcarver Demon. Cadaver Imp can be a nice card for some Pauper decks as well. And finally cards like Induce Despair and the new Douse in Gloom called Last Kiss can be seen in some casual decks too.

And now, it's time for my Black podium.


Black of Rise of the Eldrazi is looking at the future. Other colors have more cards that will effect today's Standard but Black is apparently designed for a future one. A future where the color's both sides are strong. Until now only the offensive side of Black was strong (aka Vampires). Now Rise of the Eldrazi gave a lot of cards to strengthen the defensive side of it. I am truly curious where Black will go from here.


Kraken's Eye

And it is finally time for my favorite color of all times. Just above when talking about Black, I said that Black cannot be seen hanging out with Blue anymore. This fact actually has two reasons. The first one is that Black likes Red a lot these days. But the other has nothing to do with Black. The other reason is that Blue decided to stop hanging out with Black. Don't tell anyone but Blue nowadays is in love with White!

Last year these days the majority was playing Faeries and only a few players were having some small success with Jund decks. But what happened then? The Fae menace rotated out and Jund immediately took this opportunity. And today it is still the deck to beat.

But today  Control is also seeing some serious play. As a matter of fact, it is seeing much more play than Jund did last year. And what do you think will happen after Jund rotates out? Will the mighty  Control deck turn into the "deck to beat" of Standard?

Actually that won't be a surprise for anyone I think. With each set WotC is giving more and more goodies to  Control. Zendikar gave it its removal spells and its beaters. Worldwake gave it its planeswalker, some card drawing and gave its manland. And let's see what Rise of the Eldrazi offers to it.

Actually the best parts came with White. But even so, Blue in this set didn't leave players empty handed. First it gave us a hard counter for two mana. If we really can't get Counterspell anymore, if it really is that broken, then I believe Deprive will be the closest we can get to it.

But be careful with it. I don't think it's an auto four-of to Control decks. The drawback is meaningless when you have eight lands. It can even be a good thing to bounce back Halimar Depths or Kabira Crossroads for further use. But do you really want to cast this spell on your turn two? So yes, use with caution. Two copies are a must for any deck that needs counters, I can even understand three but four would be obviously an overkill.

And then we have See Beyond. What can be said about it that you don't already know? That it's fantastic in any Control deck? That your Polymorph deck loves it?

I think that you know those things already. It's a fantastic card no matter in which Blue based deck you will use it.

The third card I will mention is just another Common; it is the younger brother of Court Hussar and the elder brother of Sleight of Hand. I'm actually talking about Sea Gate Oracle

Right now building the optimal  Control deck is very hard. But not because of the lack of playable cards. On the contrary, because of the number of highly playable ones. Here are a few ways go you can go with your  Control deck:

1- Play a bunch of defenders such as Wall of Denial, Perimeter Captain and the new Wall of Omens. Then bring in an Iona, Shield of Emeria and attack for the win.

2- Or play the currently popular "Tapout" version with Baneslayer Angels and Knight of the White Orchids and stuff.

3- You may also try a more defensive version with only one single Iona, Shield of Emeria and then play tons of counters and mass removal. Then you can finish either with your lone Iona, Shield of Emeria or with your Gideon Jura.

4- Of course the good old Sphinxes are still available; Sphinx of Lost Truths and Sphinx of Jwar Isle. And now there's even a new one called Sphinx of Magosi. Maybe you prefer playing some early removal spells and counters and then you can finish with one of those Sphinxes.

5- Or just stall the game with counters and removal, bring in your planeswalkers and your Luminarch Ascension and activate it. Then finish your opponent with your neverending army of 4/4 flyers. Or with your Gideon Jura. Or with your Celestial Colonnade. Or with your Jace, the Mind Sculptor or your Elspeth, Knight-Errant. But basically first stall the game.

As you see, there are many possibilities to play a good  Control deck. We will see which one of those strategies will emerge victorious.

Even though nowadays Blue mainly means  Control, there are also other ways we can enjoy this color. Such as pairing it with Red which is actually one of its main enemies. Last week when I was talking about the Red aura spell called Splinter Twin, I also briefly mentioned using it with the new Mnemonic Wall. The whole idea was actually this:

So basically if you can enchant your Mnemonic Wall with Splinter Twin when you have Time Warp in your graveyard, you will create a loop and your opponent will never ever have a next turn. It will always be your turn. You can build it as a two color deck or you can also add White to it. White gives the deck Wall of Omens which is another fine target for Splinter Twin, but more importantly it gives Ajani Vengeant.

The next card I want to mention is Coralhelm Commander which could actually be a useful addition to the Classic Merfolk deck. Once the Aether Vial engine is online, Merfolk decks usually end up with some untapped Islands. And considering both Force of Will and Daze don't use mana, the Merfolk player might put that open mana into good use with Coralhelm Commander.

And these are actually all the new Blue cards I find exciting. The rest of this color is mainly for casual entertainment. A few honorable mentions are Dormant Gomazoa which is a 5/5 flyer for which can only untap itself after you become the target of a spell, Echo Mage who is Twincast on legs, Enclave Crpytologist who starts as Merfolk Looter and ends up as Archivist and Lighthouse Chronologist which is a very fine design if nothing else.

And now it's time for my Blue podium.


Surprisingly instead of Rares or Mythics, my Blue podium is full with a bunch of Commons and an Uncommon. Interesting!


Angel's Feather

And we finally arrived to the color which got the lion's share from Rise of the Eldrazi. There are really a lot of extraordinary White cards in the set and I really don't know where to start. Maybe I should start with something familiar. A card we met years ago. But back then it was Green. And now it became White. I'm talking about Wall of Omens of course.

We all do know that actually Wall of Omens makes no sense. It absolutely does not fit into White but hey; remember what we talked last week? Screw the color pie! White is not the color of such cantrips (I can only remember Unquestioned Authority actually) but if All is Dust can be a real card, then it makes no sense to argue about this one.

So here's another prediction: In M11 we will see a White Cryptic Command and Scars of Mirrodin will give us a White Rampant Growth. Don't you believe me? If so then please remember our motto dear readers and say it out loud: SCREW THE COLOR PIE!

Yes, that felt better.

The card may be completely wrong but to be honest I'm in love with Wall of Omens. I'm not making the cards; I only play them. And I will fully enjoy this one in many different formats. As a matter of fact, many people already started talking about its applications even for Extended. They believe that this will be a perfect defense against Zoo decks. My Extended experience is very limited but I can see what they mean.

Let's move forward. The second card I want to mention is Gideon Jura (obviously) which seems to be the money card of Rise of the Eldrazi. But let's see if it's really that good or if it's a bit overhyped.

First of all it's actually an interesting design because it doesn't have an ultimate. So he can stay on table forever and Lure creatures and then Assassinate them over and over again. And then he can actually turn into a real warrior and start hitting the opponent. Very nice. So far so good but how can we use him? Which decks would need him? After all,  is not something every deck can pay.

First of all, as I mentioned above when talking about Blue, Control decks would love to have this planeswalker on their side. An early defense with removal spells, counters and Wall of Omens' will make the life of Gideon Jura very easy. Then he will Lure the opponent's creatures and with his high loyalty he will absorb most of the damage; if anything can get past through your defenses that is. Then he will start Assassinateing them one by one.

And when paired with Elspeth, Knight-Errant he will turn into a 9/9 gigantic flyer during your turn. And please remember that he can also protect himself from damage too (any damage)!

So yes, Gideon Jura is very impressive. He Lures you to hit him with your creatures but know that he will hit you back and he will hit you harder. And  Control is not the only deck that will play him. Any mid-range deck that can afford to pay double White will welcome this planeswalker. Just use his first ability and then during your turn alpha strike with everything you got. Definitely a nice plan.

Okay so far White seems to be full with bombs. And what do we have else? We have two great creatures for Aggro decks; one is Student of Warfare and the other is Transcendent Master. Let's start with the master.

Transcendent Master starts as a mere Trained Armodon and to be honest he stays there for a while. So it takes a total of nine mana to play him and to turn him into a 6/6 lifelink creature. Hmm... Not very impressive considering that Walletslayer Angel is a 5/5 flyer for only five. But we are smart players are we not dear readers? And therefore we will use Transcendent Master in the right deck using the right quantity.

My prediction is that we will use this one in some  mana ramp decks with some Eldrazi Spawn tokens involved too. He will lurk around as Trained Armodon until the right time and that right time is after Gideon comes in and joins your army. He will Lure all the opposing forces towards him and the next turn you will first pump your Transcendent Master, possibly with your 0/1 Spawn tokens, and then attack with all you got.

So if one day a  mid-range deck becomes popular, expect to see Transcendent Master in that list.

And then we have Student of Warfare. First of all we can clearly say that this creature is by far the best Level Up creature in the set. So you play her on turn one and then play your second Plains and level her up to the second level where she will be a 3/3 first striker. On turn two! Is this just insane or what?

I will say this: This is by far the best turn one play  decks EVER had.

Apparently this card will also make Ranger of Eos even better; as if he wasn't good enough. So expect to see this lady a lot in your future matches. Oh by the way, I know what I'm saying; that's a lady on the card. Please don't be rude when you refer to her and do not call her "he" or "him". Because Student of Warfare is a female.

I continue digging the gems of White and come across this new one mana removal called Oust

White is good in a few things and spot removal is one of them. From the mighty Swords to Plowshares to the recent Condemn and Path to Exile, one mana spot removal spells were always very important and this new one is also a fine addition to that list. But if you examine this card a little bit closely, you'll see that this isn't just a regular one mana removal spell. This card is actually a real gem when played in the right deck and when played at the right time.

Oust isn't an instant and just like any other one mana White removal spell, it has a drawback. It makes the opponent gain three life. That is absolutely not something a  Aggro deck would like of course. For those decks, Path to Exile is still a much better choice.

And also technically Oust isn't helping us getting rid of a nasty creature; unless of course we are using it with Hedron Crab. So what we send back will eventually come back. And exactly this is the part I find particularly interesting.

"Buying time" is a concept some decks like to use such as  Control. They need to buy time so that they can play their high cost cards and still have some untapped mana to counter things. And Oust is actually custom tailored for those decks.

Some respected writers already mentioned how devastating it will be to send back a turn one Noble Hierarch with this one. But even sending a turn two Putrid Leech or a turn five Baneslayer Angel is still a very powerful play. Surely they will get it back but when they do, you will have a much better board position already.

Path to Exile isn't helping you buying time. It gets rid of a creature but in return it mana ramps the opponent. Path to Exile means facing a turn four Baneslayer Angel or facing a turn five Broodmate Dragon. Oust on the other hand temporarily solves the problem, buys you time and helps you to strengthen your board position.

Okay lets move forward. White in Rise of the Eldrazi is actually like a bottomless well of candies. The deeper you get, the tastier your prizes are. And next we have two angels; Deathless Angel and Linvala, Keeper of Silence.

Actually Deathless Angel is a very nice creature but the competition for that big fattie to end games is very tight. We have so many great such creatures and therefore I doubt that she will see serious play.

But the same isn't true for that hot blond called Linvala, Keeper of Silence. There are tons of creatures with nasty abilities if you think for a second. From the harmless Llanowar Elves and Arbor Elf, to Jund's most precious Putrid Leech and Siege-Gang Commander, there are many reasons why you would need her.

She shuts down Level Up creatures, she shuts down all mana creatures, she shuts down troublesome creatures such as Cunning Sparkmage, Knight of the Reliquary, Qasali Pridemage, Sphinx of Magosi, Thornling etc... The list looks like it's never-ending and even those few names should be enough for you to at least add Linvala, Keeper of Silence to your sideboard. She may not be that useful against Control decks with few creatures but against the rest, she's a real bomb.

The next card I want to talk about is Hyena Umbra. There are so many great cards in White and it's therefore easy to overlook this one. Giving a creature +1/+1 and first strike and also making it immune to the first Terminate for just a mere White mana is incredible!

Then there is this new casual goody called Near-Death Experience. Such a lovely card for casual entertainment. I will definately buy me a playset of this one just to have fun.

And I think that these are all the cards of White I find interesting. There are still a few gems in this color such as Lone Missionary, Soul's Attendant, Nomads' Assembly, Survival Cache and Emerge Unscathed. I think that these cards also have the potential to be used in some Tier-1 decks.

And here's my White podium.




And so I finish my Rise of the Eldrazi set review. White is clearly the color that got the best cards from this new set; both for defensive and offensive play. Blue got only a few utility cards but all are highly playable. Black is interesting. The only playable card it got is Consuming Vapors but the rest is nice hole fillers and replacements as I talked above. Black is already a part of many Tier-1 strategies and I'm sure we will continue seeing it played widely.

And finally it's time for my ultimate podium.

The Best Card of Rise of the Eldrazi My Favorite of Rise of the Eldrazi Best Art of Rise of the Eldrazi Best Flavor Text of Rise of the Eldrazi

All is Dust and Wall of Omens... they are so wrong but they are so beautiful!


The Final Curtain

As a tradition, the next article after my set review will be a look at the new Block constructed format. How will the Eldrazi effect the ZEN Block constructed? What will happen to those known strategies such as vampires,  Control and others? Any new deck possibilities? Next week we will talk about those things dear readers.

Thanks for reading.

See you online
Nafiz Erman, aka Lord Erman


Forked Bolt is surprisingly by Paul Leicht at Tue, 04/27/2010 - 03:27
Paul Leicht's picture

Forked Bolt is surprisingly good in the set. I would have said no as it is a weaker version Arc Lightning but at 1 cost it can't be beat for dealing with a couple pesky elephant makers or other 1/1s or just a removal of a bear before it levels out of range. Not sure if it has any potential outside of limited though. Wall of white blossoms is definitely a nice card but I am not hugely thrilled with it. In particular it is far inferior in art to the original wall (in terms of colors, I dislike yellow in large amounts in a drawing that has lots of shadow.)

All is dust + Erzats Gnomes?

Also Oust vs your own Mulldrifter isn't a terrible play. Too bad it isn't doable at instant speed (without outside help anyway.)

good stuff, but I'm a little by JustSin at Tue, 04/27/2010 - 09:41
JustSin's picture

good stuff, but I'm a little disappointed to not see mention of at least Training Grounds, at worst it can be like a turn 3 casual combo win

1) I don't think Wall of by ArchGenius at Tue, 04/27/2010 - 10:23
ArchGenius's picture

Great article as usual. I think you get me thinking about strategies more than anyone else.

1) I don't think Wall of Omens is as out of color as you think it is. Drawing a card or a cantrip effect is an ability that has been applied to cards of all colors for a long time now. (Zap, Recover, Wall of Blossoms, Twitch, Bandage, etc) Drawing multiple cards is still a blue effect (black if it involves using life) but drawing just one card isn't. And white is supposed to be a defensive color and therefore get a good share of good defender cards.

2) Are they really going to combine ROE with Zendikar Block? I thought that they were going to have two separate block formats since ROE is mechanically different from Zendikar and is going to be drafted separately. I guess I'm really out of the loop on that one.

3) I think that Smite is going to be pretty good with the new standard. There are going to be a lot of Eldrazi tokens and walls lying around just looking of the opportunity to Smite something. Especially with Wall of Omens and Wall of Denial running around.

4) I disagree with you a bit on Consuming Vapors. It's good, but it's also slow and has a tendancy to hit things you might not want to hit, such as Eldrazi tokens, Bloodghast, Vengevine, Sprouting Thrinax.

Thanks guys for the by Lord Erman at Tue, 04/27/2010 - 15:22
Lord Erman's picture

Thanks guys for the comments.

@Paul: Oust-ing your creatures is actually a very powerful play and that's the reason why Oust is a sorcery instead of an instant. For example Oust-ing your own Kitchen Finks while Bloodbraid Elf is in your hand is also very nice.

@JustSin: To be honest I was expecting a comment about Training Grounds. I'm sure there is some sick creature somewhere that will do some broken things with it. I'm just not sure which one(s).

@ArchGenius: Yes, RotE is a part of the ZEN Block in Block Constructed.

Wall of Blossoms can't be White because "draw a card" cantrip on permanents is Green and/or Blue. It's true that White is the home of the best defenders but that doesn't mean that you can give every kind of defender to it. MaRo recently said "Why then did we do it in white? Because at the time we were finding more ways to pump up white". For me, this isn't a very satisfactory answer.

Oh and you're right about Smite; it is definately a very nice combat trick. Wizards indeed pumped up White in this set.

Thanks again for the comments.


Turn 1: Training Grounds Turn by JustSin at Tue, 04/27/2010 - 15:40
JustSin's picture

Turn 1: Training Grounds
Turn 2: Izzet Guildmage
Turn 3: Manamorphose

from there u can do crazy crazy things