Ulamog, the Defiler | Modern Horizons 3
24, Jun, 24

Elite Eldrazi Combo Can Make the Opponent Sacrifice 15 Permanents at Once!

Article at a Glance

One aspect of Modern Horizons 3 that is quite appealing is the focus on huge Eldrazi throughout the set. Many of the strongest Eldrazi titans in MTG’s history, such as Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, are still quite expensive as they remain in high demand. This trend continues with MH3, with Ulamog, the Defiler currently sitting as the most expensive traditional card in the whole set.

While Ulamog, the Defiler may get most of its recognition in Commander, the card plays a vital role in a new surging Modern deck. In an ideal scenario, this deck can assemble a win with Ulamog as early as turn two! If you’re a fan of cheating huge haymakers into play ahead of schedule, look no further. This deck appears to be the real deal, as it made it all the way to top eight of the 372-player Magic Online Modern Showcase Challenge.

Maximizing Through the Breach

Ulamog, the Defiler

Ultimately, this deck is built around abusing the power of one card in particular: Through the Breach. Through the Breach is a strong card that lets you cheat in any huge monster and attack right away. The downside, of course, is that your threat goes away at the end of the turn. As such, you typically want to either win the game the turn you resolve Through the Breach or generate an insurmountable advantage. Luckily, this deck is built to make Through the Breach a reliable win condition.

As you might expect, a playset of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn makes an appearance here. As a 15-power Flier, a single Emrakul attack can often end games by itself if the opponent paid some life with Fetchlands and Shocklands. Of course, even if the attack wasn’t enough to reduce the opponent’s life total to zero, the fact that they had to sacrifice six permanents should buy you a ton of time to scrap together a win.

Interestingly, as devastating as an Emrakul attack off Through the Breach is, Ulamog has the potential to do far more damage. In this deck, Ulamog’s cast trigger won’t come up very often. However, Ulamog can still enter with +1/+1 counters on it as long as a non-land card is an exile when Ulamog comes into play.

With this in mind, if you can find a way to get Emrakul into exile, Ulamog threatens to enter the battlefield via Through the Breach with 15 +1/+1 counters, forcing the opponent to sacrifice 15 permanents when it attacks! As we will see, getting a large bomb into exile for Ulamog is actually trivial.

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Abusing Ugin’s Labyrinth

Ugin's Labyrinth

The easiest way to enable Ulamog is to simply play Ugin’s Labyrinth, exiling any colorless card with mana value seven or greater. Ugin’s Labyrinth is one of the most powerful MH3 cards in Modern, and no deck in the format can use it more consistently. Between Ulamog, Emrakul, Devourer of Destiny, and a couple copies of All is Dust, there are ample cards to exile to Ugin’s Labyrinth. For a deck that relies on casting Through the Breach as quickly as possible, having access to a “Sol” land is incredible.

In games where you don’t draw Ugin’s Labyrinth, there are still plenty of other ways to get cards into exile. Take Devourer of Destiny, for example. We mentioned Devourer of Destiny as another big Eldrazi, but Devourer’s duty is quite different than Emrakul’s or Ulamog’s. Devourer is mainly run for consistency purposes. When in your opening hand, it helps you dig for Through the Breach or a big Eldrazi to pair with it. Importantly, the cards you don’t select to put on top of your library get put into exile, which is very relevant in the case of a future Ulamog attack.

Worst case scenario, you can always use Thought-Knot Seer to try to nab a card with high mana value from the opponent. Thought-Knot Seer may seem a bit out of place, but it does get a lot of mileage out of this deck’s acceleration. The presence of Ugin’s Labyrinth, Eldrazi Temple, and Talsiman of Impulse means you can often cast Thought-Knot Seer on turn two and pave the way for your Through the Breach.

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Other Elements of Consistency

The One Ring

With Ugin’s Labyrinth in the mix, this deck is fully capable of having extremely fast starts. With such a high density of top-end, though, it’s important to be able to find Through the Breach in a reasonable time frame. Devourer of Destiny does help, but there are a couple other cards that help make the deck more consistent.

The best tool by far in this department is The One Ring. The One Ring is an incredible source of card advantage and being able to play it early off Ugin’s Labyrinth or Talisman of Impulse makes the card extra powerful. Another card that can do some digging is Kozilek’s Command. Kozilek’s Command isn’t the normally the most efficient card, but thanks to Ugin’s Labyrinth and Eldrazi Temple, you can cast it for X=2 on turn two pretty often.

In many board states, you’ll want to use Kozilek’s Command as a removal spell for a cheap creature while getting to Scry and draw. In games that go longer, though, Kozilek’s Command becomes a bit threatening as a ramp element. Making some Eldrazi Spawn tokens on the opponent’s end step, then untapping and hard-casting Devourer of Destiny or Ulamog is a perfectly valid gameplan.

Being able to find Kozeilk’s Command off of Ancient Stirrings is a huge boon, too. Ancient Stirrings is a nice tool that can find basically any card you might need except for Through the Breach itself. Because this deck plays more giant Eldrazi and ways to find them than copies of Through the Breach, in matchups where speed is a priority, you may want to mulligan aggressively. This deck is capable of some broken starts, so don’t settle for a mediocre hand.

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Ways to Combat the Archetype


Overall, this deck has solidified itself as an elite option in Modern. It’s fast, surprisingly consistent, and not the easiest to fight against. This deck can race other combo strategies like Amulet Titan and Nadu, Winged Wisdom combo. The presence of Ugin’s Labyrinth gives you a good shot at slamming elite sideboard cards in a variety of matchups as well, such as Trinisphere against red Storm or Chalice of the Void versus Prowess.

Where this strategy can run into some issues is when facing decks that can interact favorably with Through the Breach. Decks like Scam can strip you of your important resources and leave big haymakers stranded in your hand. Azorius and Jeskai control variants can use counter magic to keep Through the Breach in check.

On top of that, even if the opponent is tapped out, an Evoked Solitude can exile both Emrakul and Ulamog before they attack. Ulamog does make the opponent sacrifice two permanents when it becomes targeted, but one of those permanents can just be Solitude, which was on its way to the graveyard momentarily anyway.

In this sense, the archetype is far from broken. Still, it’s a great choice in the format and truly showcases how amazing Ugin’s Labyrinth can be when built around. If you’re looking to play Modern in the coming weeks, make sure you’re prepared to face Through the Breach. Otherwise, you may be in for a rude awakening.

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