31, Jul, 23

MTG Eldrazi Unbound Upgrades, Tips, and Gameplay Review

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Article at a Glance

While there has been a bit of controversy regarding the mana base and monetary value of the new Commander Masters pre-con decks, one thing must be said. They all play pretty well! At the absolute top of the stack is the first colorless Commander pre-con Eldrazi Unbound. It’s a thoughtfully crafted deck that simply works out of the box. First let’s look at the deck’s structure and how it works. Then we’ll talk about the most valuable payoffs and finally some of the easiest upgrades you can make.

Nothing is Accidental…

Everybody knows that Eldrazi means big huge monsters that cost a ton of mana. But with 38 land and 25 other cards at three or less mana, almost two thirds of the deck is low or no cost. Furthermore, the deck features many cards like Stonecoil Serpent or Omarthis, Ghostfire Initiate that allow you to play them early or late as their mana value scales. Not only that, but these creatures in particular are either hard to kill or give you a pretty good payoff when they die.

This makes you resilient to aggression early on so you can continue to develop your board. Historically speaking, most Eldrazi decks are relatively naked in the early game and simply have mana rocks but no protection. This means you can get pretty beaten up by the entire table. Not only does Eldrazi Unbound not have that problem but it also includes this additional scaling element. A turn seven mana rock is generally not that great but a huge Omarthis, Serpent or Walker is a decent draw when it goes late. There’s also another really compelling reason.

But What About Cascade Anti-Synergy?

Zhulodok, Void Gorger is definitely in the conversation for best colorless commander. While Kozilek, the Great Distortion is massively popular according to EDHREC, it’s ten mana. If the board understands how powerful this card is they should punish you, heavily, for playing this commander. The worst part? Because your early turns are playing mana rocks you simply don’t have much you can do about it. Therefore, every attack trigger and combat damage trigger is entirely free against you. Artifact removal stalls your commander and table should definitely be stalling your commander which hurts the deck.

Other colorless commanders either favor a more Artifact heavy strategy or cost just as much mana or more. Zhulodok, though, can go into either type of deck and is a bargain at only six mana. Because it has seven power, it’s protected by Not of This World and of course what commander deck doesn’t run Lightning Greaves? Protecting Zhulodok is critical to gaining the maximum value from your double Cascades as it sets up the rest of the deck for success.

Now, Cascading into mana rocks isn’t very good but will eventually get you advantage. Cascading into X spells is even worse. Why, then, does it make sense to have at least a few of these X spells in the deck? Simple, you need to have a critical mass of spells that are seven or more mana and you also need a way to go over the top and Cascade into spells that are even larger. Variable cost spells let you gain that extra value later while also giving you something to play in the first few turns of the game.

Think about how poor your opening hand would be if you had 15 or 20 colorless spells that cost seven or more in your deck. You really don’t want to be drawing too many high casting cost cards early on. Having X cost cards in the deck is a risk/reward ratio. Competitive players hate risk and variance but you’re playing a Cascading commander; it does risk and variance!

Additionally cards like Abstruse Archaic reward you further but only if you have a Cascade trigger to copy. In that case the math is very simple, having an extra chance at starting a Cascade chain is worth more than having one more bad Cascade possibility. Furthermore, Mystic Forge allows you to know if, at least, the top card of your library is safe so you’re not always counting on the heart of the cards to dictate your fate. Zhulodok is well supported in this deck.

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Board Wipes and Comeback Cards

Historically, Eldrazi decks had All Is Dust with an option of playing Oblivion Stone and much later Perilous Vault but not too many better options. Furthermore both the Stone and Vault killed all your own rocks so that wasn’t great. Calamity gives you another wipe that keeps your mana base intact and also exiles hard to remove creatures while hitting planeswalkers as well.

Then there’s the powerhouse Desecrate Reality. It’s hard for this card to miss and it’s always going to be Adamant. Keep in mind as an Instant, you can return a Creature to play while you’re being attacked as a surprise blocker making this card up to a four for one. But if you returned, say, Meteor Golem and killed a small attacker that could bump it to an incredible five for one! This card is almost as good as a board wipe and can give you tremendous comeback potential.

In any case, the deck has plenty of sources of removal.

Maybe a bit Overhyped, but Still fun!

Twelve mana is an awful lot of mana. While it’s nice that Rise cannot be countered, it can be returned to hand, exiled or the worst yet, it can be Deflecting Swat so that someone else draws the cards and destroys a permanent. Sure, you do still get the extra turn but it feels awful.

Did I already mention that twelve mana is a lot? With X mana spells you can potentially cast this off Cascade but it’s much more likely it ends up on the bottom of your deck from a Cascade trigger or two, and then you can never find it by the time you do have that much mana. Overall my personal experiences with this card have been on the lower end. I can see the potential, it’s an obviously powerful card, but it does require an extreme amount of mana and most games are generally decided before then. Because of all the effects it has, Rise can give you a bit of comeback potential but it’s much less likely than the other cards available.

Now if you do have access to pricey cards like Grim Monolith and Mana Crypt, this gives you a much better chance of casting Rise or Darksteel Monolith fairly early and in that case it’s back breaking. With the mana base in the deck as is, it’s a bit of an ask.

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The Free-est Upgrades

For just a couple of dollars it’s hard to think of a better upgrade than Expedition Map. It can always fetch a variety of two mana lands that are already in the deck or if you’re lucky enough to already own an Eye of Ugin you could alternatively get that. It also helps you complete the Urza lands set which is a boost of up to four extra mana.

Another nice upgrade that’s less than one dollar is Moonsilver Key. At the worst it can get you Sol Ring. In a pinch it can fetch up Unstable Obelisk for colorless removal. Ideally, you can go grab Forsaken Monument and start pulling ahead quickly. It’s a versatile card that is effectively a low cost mana rock but one with way more utility.

Zhalfirin Void, Crystal Grotto and The Grey Havens are almost strictly better than the Wastes they replace and they can help you significantly both early for card selection and late for Cascade selection. They take up absolutely zero space in the deck and monetarily speaking are pennies. Certainly a card like Ancient Tomb is very strong for the deck but it’s pricey.

Here’s the part where I mention adding more Eldrazi to an Eldrazi deck… It goes without saying that Eldrazi Unbound is happy to accommodate more beings from the beyond! However, what’s your budget and are you paying attention to ratios? If you’re trying to get the most out of Cascade, maybe a Strionic Resonator just makes more sense than adding in something that costs ten mana. With an unlimited budget, you definitely want more Eldrazi heavy hitters in place of a few questionable choices like Scaretiller and Suspicious Bookcase. Of all the Eldrazi to add it may be surprising but Conduit of Ruin should be your first choice as it helps set up your next turn, is cheap enough to cast early, and gives you a crazy late game option to auto Cascade into anything with the right sequencing.

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Better, Stronger, “Funner”

Right out of the box Eldrazi Unbound plays well and needs nothing while delivering a unique play experience if you’ve never piloted a colorless deck. Monetarily speaking, it delivers as well with a good base of reprints and interesting brand new cards. You should have no trouble playing on an even footing at a table with other pre-cons and with just a few adjustments you can easily ratchet up the power level.

Speaking of power level, if you’re purely about power then it is pretty tough to beat Kozilek the Great Distortion as the commander. That is why some might say it’s overplayed as a colorless commander and it lacks in flavor that only a double Cascading replacement can provide. Still, make no mistake, the deck is good and you will not regret picking it up.

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