I wanted a new Emrakul in the second Zendikar block, and I did not get it. My dream had been for a rainbow version with devoid, powerful enough to be a good commander but not so powerful it gets banned within the first season.


I’ve resolved Emrakul, the Aeons Torn off of Jhoira of the Ghitu. It feels gross.


You would think four turns would be enough warning, but it’s not all that long to play defense, and you can usually speed up the clock.


I wanted this because as soon as I saw the colored devoid Eldrazi, I knew a deck I wanted to make: Rainbow Eldrazi. And, in the absence of an Emrakul-esque option, I had to find a different commander. My first thought was Karona, False Godshe’s basically my go-to Rainbow Tribal commander. But in this case, I knew of an even better option, that would look on theme even if it kinda wasn’t: Reaper King.


“It’s harvest time” may be one of the better flavor texts to ever grace a potential commander.


It’s not colorless, but it’s the closest one can get in the five-color legendary pool.


Now, any Reaper King deck demands the inclusion of two cards: Conspiracy and Xenograft. Even my initial build of the deck, back before Xenograft was ever printed, ran Conspiracy. It also used a lot of changelings. It was not the strongest deck I’ve ever built, but it could Vindicate like a champ.


Conspiracy! I don’t know what type of conspiracy turns Eldrazi into Scarecrows, but I’ll roll with it. Seems sufficiently creepy anyway.


This version, though, will make better use of the Reaper King’s abilities than most. What I like about Conspiracy and Xenograft in this deck is that it doesn’t need them to go off. They’re generally more complicated cards than they might seem to be, since with too many tribal synergies they’re unnecessary and with too few you’re beholden to these two cards to make all the pieces work. In this one, since the cards only interact with the commander, Reaper King, it doesn’t matter whether or not you draw them.


I still think New Phyrexia has the dubious distinction of being the most grotesque, unpleasant Magic set ever printed… and that’s just the Phyrexian mana. The aesthetic was really bad.


If you don’t, you’re still on the Eldrazi beatdown plan, and I hear that’s good! Something about a Modern Top 8 at the Pro Tour, no? A lot of those pieces translate to Commander. Not all of them, but enough. And if you do, not only will resolving Skittering Invasion give you five power on the board (and ten toughness), but it will Vindicate five permanents at the same time.


It’s kinda perfect, and definitely something for me to consider next time I want to make a Conspiracy deck.


Next comes an important decision: to play the big four or not? Kozilek, the Great Distortion, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, and Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre tower above the other options. They are all incredibly powerful cards, but that’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they can steal games, but on the other hand, building up a board presence and then drawing an Eldrazi that wins the game on its own… it seems unfortunate.


I really like the power balance on the new titanic Elder Gods. They’re both really good, but since they don’t have Annihilator they’re significantly less crippling a threat.


For this build, at least, I think I’m going to pass on them, though I reserve the right to change my mind. A significant portion of deckbuilding comes down to individual whim.


Also, card availability. I only got two of these jerks before they tripled in price. It turns out that was fewer than I wanted! Here’s hoping they crash again post-rotation.


Since I’m already going to run Conspiracy and Xenograft, I think I’m going to relax the eligibility requirements. At first I wanted to make a pure colorless deck, but that seems a bit excessive. It’s definitely not worth passing up on that interaction with Reaper King, and once the seal is broken… well, that’s left up to our imagination.


And the card pool. While I am fine running colored creatures, I find myself balking at the ones that generate Eldrazi Spawn tokens. There are still decent Eldrazi Spawn cards to play, like the aforementioned Skittering Invasion or Spawnsire of Ulamog. But, going through all the colored Spawn producers, the only ones that grab me are Growth Spasm (which can grab Wastes) and Pawn of Ulamog.


A very strong choice to reprint in Duel Decks: Zendikar versus the Eldrazi.


Pawn of Ulamog is very good, whether or not you’re running an Eldrazi theme. I have high hopes for Sifter of Skulls, due to its underlying similarity. The extra point of mana is made up by the easier color commitment, and the body it inhabits and the Eldrazi Scions it spawns are beefier options than the Vampire that came before. Being able to run both of them, say in a Meren of Clan Nel Toth or Prossh, Skyraider of Kher deck, just seems delightful.


One of the relatively few members of Ulamog’s brood in Oath of the Gatewatch, which is a nice callback to Pawn of Ulamog. Sometimes I wonder the exact boundaries of each brood.


But then I lose steam. Sometimes that happens when putting together a deck. It’s rarely done in one shot, but instead takes nights of sitting with stacks of cards and sorting them into pattern after pattern. It’s one of the things I like about this hobby: it’s often peaceful. Luckily, the start is pretty loose. With only about seven cards set, one of which may not make it into the final draft, I still have plenty of room to develop this deck.


One thing’s for certain, though… I’m going to be running Eldrazi Displacer and Smothering Abomination. Those cards are bonkers.


Jess Stirba is getting back into the swing of things.

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