Modern is in a very healthy place right now. 5-color Humans has exploded and already established itself as a top tier deck. The meta is trying to adjust, as a healthy format will do, and right now just about anything feels viable. I built a deck similar to this when I first dipped my feet into the Modern format, and I think right now is a prime time to dust off the deckbox and bring it back.
U/B Processors by Jeremy Lichtenberger
1 Bojuka Bog
2 Cavern of Souls
4 Eldrazi Temple
4 Ghost Quarter
3 Polluted Delta
1 Sea Gate Wreckage
4 Underground River
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
3 Watery Grave
4 Blight Herder
2 Dimentional Infiltrator
3 Ulamog’s Nullifier
1 Oblivion Sower
4 Thought-Knot Seer
4 Wasteland Strangler
2 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
4 Fatal Push
3 Warping Wail
4 Relic of Progenitus
1 All Is Dust
2 Chalice of the Void
2 Essence Depleter
1 Flaying Tendrils
1 Mindbreak Trap
1 Pithing Needle
1 Ratchet Bomb
2 Spell Pierce
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Go For the Throat
On the surface it looks like a hot mess, but I assure you that I’ve spent many, many hours tuning this. Competitiveness aside, this deck is incredibly fun to play when it’s working. I’ve been a fan of Eldrazi since they were first printed, and when I found out that they would be coming back when we originally returned to Zendikar, I knew I wanted to bring them to Modern. I could talk forever about this deck, so let’s just get right into the nuts and bolts.
Processing In Modern
It doesn’t always require as much work as you may think. Sometimes our opponents even do the work for us. However, we need to maintain a stream of exiled cards, as our deck doesn’t function as well otherwise. Relic of Progenitus is the key to exiling cards so that we can process them and then send it right back. It really is a beautiful thing. I’ve outlined some cards and decks to look for free processing below.
“Normal” Exiled Cards
It’s not always you exiling cards from your opponent. Sometimes they do it themselves. We have Delve cards (Become Immense, Tasigur, Angler), Hideaway lands (Shelldock Isle), Chandra, Torch of Defiance (Jund, Skred), Flashback cards (Snapcaster Mage, Think Twice, Faithless Looting), Simian Spirit Guide (various decks), Eternal Scourge (seeing fringe play), Flickerwisp(Taxes), Imprint cards (Isochron Scepter), Grim Lavamancer (Burn), Eldritch Evolution (Kiki combo, value decks), Gemstone Cavern (seeing more play now, various decks), Serum Powder (fringe play, various decks), and Mistbind Clique (Faeries.)
As you can see, once you start to get a feel for potential processor targets, you start to learn the edge needed to get the win.
Blight Herder is the inspiration behind the deck—it is an insane amount of value when you get the process trigger. It can be cast through Blood Moon and produce colorless mana for your other spells. It’s also 7 power spread between four creatures that can be cast as early as turn 3. The 1/1’s chump block for days, give us mana, and even deliver a beat down sometimes. This is the payoff in our deck.
Payoff number two is the Wasteland Strangler. -3/-3 in the current meta is enough to kill the vast majority of the creatures. With 5-color Humans gaining popularity, Strangler carries a heavy load. Not only does it take out creatures, but a 3/2 beater is pretty reasonable. It’s not ideal, but we can always just cast it and not process if we need to as well.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Eldrazi deck without Thought-Knot Seer. We actually gain extra value from the card exiled with the ETB trigger, so it’s even better in this list than a typical Eldrazi deck. There’s not much else to say about TKS though, as I’m sure everyone has played with, or against it at some point. The key to remember is that we want our opponent’s cards in exile, so keep that in mind when sequencing.
Ulamog’s Nullifier is a card I initially balked at. Meeting the requirements to counter a spell seemed difficult when I first built the deck. 2 cards in exile, 4 mana—it just never quite did it for me. But, I think I’m starting to come around to the power of this card. It’s a less efficient, slightly different Spell Queller that makes us jump through some hoops, but a bad Spell Queller is still good enough. Not only does this counter spells, it fuels the engine and it’s on a creature, so Negate and Dispel can stay home. With Cavern of Souls, you have yourself an uncounterable counter.
A recent addition, and a cheeky one at that, is Dimensional Infiltrator. It has flash, so it can surprise an attacker to help stabilize you, but it can also apply some aerial pressure out of no where. The large text box may seem like an added bonus, but it’s the reason this card I love this so much. You can start your processing engine by activating this, (Eldrazi Temple mana can be used here, remember.) but the ability is so much more than that. It can dodge removal in a pinch, which makes it a headache to deal with. Given enough mana, it’s not unusual to chump block, activate and bounce it back to your hand, then recast it on your opponents turn. It also can just mill out your opponent in a super grindy game. This card is great fun!
With many Tron and Eldrazi decks running around, I needed a card that could multi task, like the rest of the creatures in the deck. I wanted a way to get more mana, but I also needed a big body that could clog up the ground and deter attackers. The 5 power on Oblivion Sower is enough to kill just about everything in Modern, and the 8 toughness can absorb so much abuse. Stats aside, the cast trigger is the true payoff here, allowing us to steal every land we’ve exiled. Sometimes it doesn’t do anything but give you some cards in exile, but sometimes it gives you enough mana to cast a 2nd or 3rd spell in the same turn.
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver is wonderful in the current meta. I used to run copies in the board, but I really wanted to bring Ashiok to the forefront. Left unchecked, Ashiok will weave multiple nightmares for your opponents (No, not that Nightmare.) either by stealing their creatures, marching up towards that ultimate, or just threatening to mill them out via exile. Like many cards in this list, Ashiok also serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, it’s an exile engine, but can quickly become a threat engine if your opponent plays cheap creatures like Goyf and friends.
Let’s start with the spiciest of the group. Delay is a card that I used to play in Commander, so when I started building a Modern deck, I had no problems throwing it in as a 4 of, even if my friends looked at me sideways.
Delay is not a top tier counterspell.
However, Delay is a pretty interesting counterspell that is underutilized. It’s actually gets better as the game goes on, as 3 turns usually means the game will be over before it resolves. This is another way to get your processing engine going. On the play, you drop land and pass. You opponent plays a Noble Heirarch, you play a land and pass. Then they pay three mana for turn 2 Knight of the Reliquary, which you Delay, then process the suspended Knight with Wasteland Strangler, killing the Noble and netting you a 3/2 beater. It is not only hilarious, but it feels dirty—like you’re playing a different game of Magic. The downside is having to counter a spell that you cannot answer or process later, but that doesn’t happen very often.
Warping Wail has three very relevant options in this deck. Exiling an opponents creature turns on our engine, creating a 1/1 can either get us that colorless mana we need, or ramp into a bigger spell ahead of curve. Finally, countering a sorcery with 2 colorless mana often leaves your opponent speechless. This answers some heavy hitters, like Scapeshift, Past in Flames, Sylvan Scrying, andThoughtseize. It is great having it in an opener against an unknown deck because it just does so much.
Finally, Spatial Contortion isn’t in the current version of the deck, but it’s reasonable to run a copy or two, especially with 5c Humans running around. I’ve also flirted with Go For the Throat and Dismember as alternatives for removal.
Relic of Progenitus
A few Modern decks run Relic of Progentius in either the main or sideboard, but none of them get as much value out of it as we do. Even against decks that don’t use their graveyard, Relic is one of our primary exile engines. We process, it exiles, rinse and repeat. These are quite valuable once you start processing, so try to not throw them away unless you have a backup or you’re in dire need. Against decks that utilize the graveyard, these are vital to taking them off of their game plan while advancing ours at the same time.
I won’t talk about all of the land choices, so I’ll just touch up on a few choices. Bojuka Bog can feel awkward sometimes in the early turns, but it is a critical way to get some cards into exile as well as interact with our opponent’s graveyard. As with many other cards in this list, sequencing and timing is key.
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth used to be played back when Eye of Ugin was legal as a way to make extra mana. I have it in this deck for Oblivion Sower, and as a way to cast our double black spells out of the sideboard. Sometimes Sower gets you fetchlands that cannot find a land in your deck, so Urborg makes those lands usable. Occasionally playing this helps your opponent make mana too, so be wary of that. If you expect to run into Blood Moon, you can swap this out for a Basic Swamp.
Sea Gate Wreckage has proven itself in Eldrazi Tron and it serves the same purpose here. We’re light on card draw/card advantage, so the singleton copy can pull extra weight. Other than that, everything is pretty straightforward.
We have some flexibility over Eldrazi Tron since we run two colors, but as the current sideboard stands, we don’t really utilize them too much. E-Tron runs Chalice of the Void in the main, where we have 2 in the board. They generally come in against decks with spells clumped in a single casting cost (i.e. 1 cmc for Burn/Grixis Shadow, 2 for Storm, etc). Ratchet Bomb could be an Engineered Explosives but I have the bomb instead for the flexibility and need to cast on time.
Essence Depleter is 100-percent a competitive playable card! It comes in against burn or grindy match ups and it has won me several games that came down to just a few lifepoints. You can use Eldrazi Temple to activate this, so it’s not uncommon to have 3 or more activations per turn, ala Lightning Helix. It also can punch through prison style decks like Lantern Control that won’t let you attack. Additionally, combined with other Eldrazi on the battlefield, it makes it very difficult for your opponent to attack out, as you can drain a bunch then crack back for lethal.
Flaying Tendrils may not be the most powerful sweeper, but it serves its purpose when it exiles creatures. Humans tend to get large enough to outsize this almost immediately, but you can kill their Thalias or Meddling Mages with it, giving you precious cards in exile. Tendrils come in against any deck with multiple 2 toughness creatures. Spell Piece is also more than enough to bring your opponent to tears. It is vital to establish early game control and counter the key spells from combo decks. Also, no one ever sees it coming, and once they do, they tend to respect it. It gives the deck added interaction and multiple spells per turn.
The rest of the sideboard is pretty basic. I’m trying to push this deck into the spotlight via MTGO 5-0 decklists and paper events. If you love Eldrazi and synergy, then sleeve this deck up and bring it to your FNM! I’m going to be playing it on Saturday for North Dakota States. Thanks for reading!
Jeremy Lichtneberger has been playing Magic since the mid 90s. He loves to brew in all formats – especially Standard and Modern – but is more than happy to just talk decks and game theory. He also writes for MTGStocks.com.