Sunday, October 4, 2015

Almost All the Eldrazi

It's been a long and tiring weekend, but I did manage to get the second part of my Standard Pauper review of Battle for Zendikar submitted over at PureMTGO, and it should be up as early as tomorrow. But for now, I want to post a quick preview of the Black Eldrazi from the set. As I've mentioned in previous posts, there are 20 of these at Common, and so far I've covered all of the colored ones except Black as well as most of the true colorless ones.

1. Culling Drone is our first Ingest creature in Black, and it gives us an otherwise decent vanilla creature as a 2/2 for 1B. If you need creatures to setup your processor cards, this at least won't force you to play a completely mediocre creature to do so. Of course, your deck has to be pretty aggressive even in Standard Pauper to want to play a 2/2 for 2 without any abilities that affect the board, which typically won't be of much use in a more Control oriented deck that is probably required to make use of the processor cards. As such, I certainly am not optimistic that this will see much play.
2. Grave Birthing immediately harkens back to Brood Birthing from Rise of the Eldrazi, in that it gives us three small effects rolled into one. It only generates a single token instead of three, but instead acts as graveyard-hate, sets up processor cards, and even replaces itself upon casting. It also costs one more mana than Brood Birthing, but happens at Instant speed, which means it also can be used as a virtual combat trick, albeit a meager one. So while most of the time you're still probably not getting a card worth of value, in the right circumstances I could see this being useful.
3. Mind Raker is the first processor card we've looked at this time, meaning that it requires you to have exiled one of your opponent's cards in order to activate its ability. Apart from that, you're getting a 3/3 for 3B vanilla creature, which once more is borderline playable but not generally good enough to make the cut. In this case, you place one exiled card back into your opponent's Graveyard, and then that opponent has to discard a card. Getting a creature and forcing a discard is almost a two-for-one most of the time. However, you have to jump through some significant hoops to get there.
4. Silent Skimmer is an odd one. As an 0/4 you would expect this to have Defender, and as such you wouldn't ever want to pay 3B for such a defensive creature, even if it could block other flyers. In this case though, it's a virtual 2/4 unblockable that dies if your opponent could have dealt lethal damage to it in combat, with the additional downside of never being able to kill another creature defensively. It's probably easier if you just think of it as a 2/4 for 3B with Flying, which is fine but not particularly exciting. So, I would let this one pass you by.
5. Sludge Crawler is an interesting variant of a Black Shade creature that starts small but can be pumped up by investing mana in it each turn. Generally have to pay 2 mana for each point of Power and Toughness is pretty bad, but at least in this case you can pay it with any color of mana. Additionally, it's very cheap for a Shade, allowing you to drop it into play early and make it difficult for your opponent to block it, since you always have the option of pumping it up to survive combat. So while this card has some serious drawbacks, the fact that it's so cheap saves it from being unplayable dross.

Next time, I'll finish off my evaluation of the last few Eldrazi, then offer some thoughts on how these creatures will shape the upcoming metagame. Thanks for reading!

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