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Leaving a Legacy - Eldrazi

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Hello every one! welcome to "Leaving a Legacy". This thread of articles will talk about specific cards or a group of cards that changed the game either in good, bad, or horrifyingly oppressive ways. Today I wanted to talk about something that has sprung up and became problems not once, but twice! The colorless titans of Zendikar have destroyed hopes and dreams multiple times. So today, we're going to talk about the multiple Rises of the Eldrazi.

Birth of Titans

The Eldrazi type cards came out during the third set of the first Zendikar block, "Rise of the Eldrazi". The premise behind these giant mana-eating monsters was an apocalyptic race that feeds on mana. It's the contrasting element to the "lands matter" plane that is Zendikar. They feed on the mana of the land and leave nothing but waste behind. During the lore, they were released from the Eye of Ugin when Chandra, Jace, and a Bolas-controlled Sarkhan used their powers and broke the seal containing them. No one in the lore was prepared for the destructive power that the Eldrazi had. No one was safe, not even us.

Eldrazi in the game

Wizards did a number on the special Eldrazi mechanic with their release. They had a mechanic to display their almighty and overwhelming power, Annihilator. Annihilator is a triggered ability that whenever the Eldrazi attacks, defending player must sacrifice permanents equal to the Annihilator count. For example, Annihilator 2 meant the defending player had to sacrifice two permanents whenever that Eldrazi creature attacked. It sounds as horrible as it is. Kozilek and Ulamog, two of the three Eldrazi lords, had Annihilator 4; and Emrakul had Annihilator 6. These Eldrazi were the most scary creatures the game has seen to date. The justification with their over-the-top abilities was their converted mana cost higher than 10 generic mana. This, however, posed no wall with cards in the same block like Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin. The Eldrazi were oppressive, and were gladly dismissed when rotation occured. That is, until we returned to Zendikar.

When a new Zendikar block was released in fall of 2015, Wizards made it clear that Annihilator was a mistake. It would be a mechanic that would never see the light of day. When Battle for Zendikar came out, Eldrazi received Devoid and Ingest. Devoid is a passive mechanic that made them colorless everywhere: in the hand, on the battlefield, in the library, etc. Ingest in a very creative mechanic that 'mills', but puts them the cards from the top of the deck to exile. They had a sub-type of Eldrazi called "processors" that played around with cards in exile to give some sort of value. These mechanics were very flavorful in terms of Eldrazi, but not too breaking for the standard and modern meta at the time. That all changed when Oath of the Gatewatch was released. The second set of the Battle for Zendikar block didn't introduce any new mechanics in terms of Eldrazi specific, but it did create a new mana type, Wastes. This new land type introduces new live to the color wheel, switching up mana bases in all EDH decks to comply with new colorless requirements. It split the colorless mana we all new and love into colorless and generic. The flavor comes from the wastes the Eldrazi leave behind after consuming all the mana in the area. Oath also released some new Eldrazi that I personally think was a mistake in their own right. The original premise of Eldrazi were supposed to be these huge titans consuming that land. They were powerful for the relatively large converted mana costs back in OG Zendikar. What if you make powerful Eldrazi with a lower converted mana cost?

Enter Thought-Knot Seer, Reality Smasher, and Eldrazi Mimic, really powerful Eldrazi for converted mana cost 5 or less. The release of these built a new deck themselves, appropriately called Eldrazi. It is a aggro/midrange deck designed to put Eldrazi on the board and run you over. After Oath was released, Eye of Ugin wasn't banned. You could have hands that played turn one Mimics, turn two Though-k\Knot and swing for 4, then play turn 3 Reality Smasher with Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temples. This prompted Eye of Ugin to be banned in Modern upon the release of Shadows over Innistrad. There is a deck much like this in Legacy right now, having access to cards like City of Trators, Ancient Tomb, and Chalice of the Void.

The Legacy They Left

The Eldrazi titans are uniquely wonderful, but oppressively horrible. Having Eldrazi in the game makes every format scary. There are trace decks in Modern; and Eldrazi Stompy is running over in Legacy. You can find Eldrazi in a nice home in EDH with Mayael or Xenagos decks. These things are big, nasty, and scary. After both Zendikar blocks, Eldrazi have risen and are here to stay.

Lasraik and JesGolbez like this
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Well, WOTC did want the Eldrazi to be the biggest and scariest things in the game. In that regard, they've succeeded.


I agree that annihilator was a huge mistake, and glad they didn't bring it back (apart from 1 card). My only beef with the current Eldrazi is that they break the colour pie, especially Thought-Knot Seer. Big dumb creatures are always around, but being able to rip an opponents best answer and see their entire hand? That's usually only a Black ability.

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Or blue since it reminds me of Vendilion Clique. 

They also seem very powerful compared to the coloured creatures. 

I am not quite sold on the colour pie argument since you MUST have a colourless to cast these guys. Its no different than being forced to play green in your blue deck if you want to play Mystic Snake. 

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Colourless is an easier requirement these days, especially with some older lands. Yeah, it might take a bit of mana tweaking, but it also means ANY deck can play them.


It's also why I despised a lot of the Phyrexian mana cards, especially the instants. Birthing Pod was fine, as it was already an artifact (normally colourless), but giving any colour a -5/-5 spell breaks the colour pie :(

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I remember reading an article WOTC explaining their thoughts and wishes with the phyrexian mana. They wanted to add diversity and versatility to decks at the cost of life. They probably didn't realize what that effects would have on standard. What it really did was have a "every deck must run these cards" effect since the draw back wasn't too hindering for the effects.

The addition with the new colorless requirement is doing the same thing. adding versitility to every deck being build, in the form of a new mana symbol. Is changing the mana base too much of a hinderance to run cards like Thought-Knot? Absolutley not conserding they keep reprinting pain lands and have colorless generators. Thought-Knot is accessible to every deck with the Thoughtseize ability. I was relieved to see Thoughtseize rotate out last year, only to have the same ability comeback.

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Annihilator is devestating.  And with those creatures being so expensive to cast it kind of made sense.  Great article, really enjoyed it

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