I consider myself a pretty avid fan of Magic: The Gathering’s unique, existential monsters, the Eldrazi. Which is why in August of 2021, I found myself looking forward to 2022 with a lot of excitement. Not only would we be returning to Kamigawa after nearly 20 years, but in the announcement of Jumpstart 2022, we were told that one of the packs would be Eldrazi-themed.

By my own misconstrued logic, this led me to believe that the tribe that could not easily slotted into a typical Magic product would be able to see at least one new design that was centered around it. Now that preview season for the set has come and gone, even being available on store shelves, unfortunately the Eldrazi pack did not include a new card featuring the spotlighted typing.

While I had been looking forward to the first Eldrazi card in six and a half years, that doesn’t mean that the set does not have a wealth of stellar new cards that I will probably include in a deck or two over the course of the next year. In truth, my disappointment stems from the fact that I am just such a big fan of the creature type and have a deck that has been explicitly curated to try to highlight the weirder parts of Magic design through the otherworldly creatures.

Even if the card didn’t fit my purposes, I figured that it was going to be an ample opportunity to discuss the current state of my Eldrazi deck and weigh in on whether any new developments would actually fit within the confines of what I had been working on for the last seven years. Regardless, that’s what today is still going to be. I want to discuss the current state of my Shattergang Brothers Eldrazi deck and the woes that came with missing out on a new card for the tribe.

A lot of the changes that I made to this deck over the course of the last year have been hidden gems of previous years, which speaks to how the deck is a constant work in progress. But I also want to touch on the Streets of New Capenna-and-forward cards that I have been debating for inclusion. Through this I hope to touch on what I think will be the positives and negatives of about a dozen cards from this year.

Shattergang Brothers, general of the deck. Conduit of Ruin, a tutor and cost reduction engine. Return of the Wildspeaker, a card draw and mass pump.

State of the Eldrazi

General: Shattergang Brothers

Creatures: Artisan of Kozilek, Barrage Tyrant, Brood Monitor, Catacomb Sifter, Conduit of Ruin, Decimator of the Provinces, Distended Mindbender, Dread Defiler, Emrakul, the Promised End, Endbringer, Endless One, Eternal Scourge, Eyeless Watcher, Faceless Butcher, Immobilizer Eldrazi, It That Betrays, Kozilek, the Great Distortion, Matter Reshaper, Oblivion Sower, Oracle of Mul Daya, Reality Smasher, Sifter of Skulls, Temur Sabertooth, Thought-Knot Seer, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Vile Aggregate, Void Winnower, Wandering Archaic, World Breaker

Planeswalkers: Ugin, the Ineffable, Vivien Reid

Artifacts: Forsaken Monument, Inspiring Statuary, Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot, Moonsilver Key, Mystic Forge, Relic of Progenitus, Shadowspear, Talisman of Impulse, Talisman of Indulgence, Talisman of Resilience, Urza’s Incubator

Enchantments: Greater Good, Lurking Predators, Mirri’s Guile, Spreading Plague, Sunbird’s Invocation

Instants: Bedevil, Crop Rotation, Kindred Summons, Kozilek’s Return, Return of the Wildspeaker, Titan’s Presence

Sorceries: All Is Dust, Ancient Stirrings, Fevered Suspicion, Kindred Dominance, Patriarch’s Bidding, Reap and Sow, Sylvan Scrying, Threats Undetected

Lands: 5 Forest, 2 Mountain, 4 Swamp, Ancient Tomb, Blood Crypt, Bloodstained Mire, Command Tower, Corrupted Crossroads, Dust Bowl, Eldrazi Temple, Eye of Ugin, Fire-Lit Thicket, Graven Cairns, Guildless Commons, Mikokoro, Center of the Sea, Mosswort Bridge, Mutavault, Overgrown Tomb, Sanctum of Ugin, Spinerock Knoll, Stomping Ground, Temple of Abandon, Temple of Malady, Temple of Malice, Twilight Mire, Unclaimed Territory, Underdark Rift, Verdant Catacombs, Wastes, Wooded Foothills

As I have discussed in the past, this deck has always been built with the intention of focusing more on the smaller members of the tribe than the three legendary titans. I like to touch on the state of the deck from time to time and for a shockingly brief time, I thought the deck might have evolved into a Morophon, the Boundless deck. But as time has passed, I’ve realized that this deck was always Jund at heart and had to change it back at some point in 2020.

The last year has seen a lot of small changes that have made a huge shift in the deck after all is said and done. There were a lot of one-for-one changes, including mainstay Rishkar’s Expertise getting swapped out for the more flexible Return of the Wildspeaker. Similarly, Scroll of Fate had overstayed its welcome, so it was removed to make room for Reap and Sow, which I believed could give the deck options it had never had before. I also found that Nihil Spellbomb wasn’t playing a part in games, with the a graveyard being exiled as a side effect of just wanting to draw a card, so it was replaced with Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot, which fit my needs a lot more.

But I think the biggest change was reinvesting in Eldrazi creatures: Barrage Tyrant, Dread Defiler, Immobilizer Eldrazi, and Vile Aggregate all entered the deck this year, some for the first time in over five years. The intention was to give the deck more avenues for closing out games in ways that felt thematic. Barrage Tyrant and Dread Defiler are both on-board threats that turn my colorless creatures into immediate life loss. Immobilizer Eldrazi is a subtle redundant copy of Void Winnower in many ways, causing players to reconsider combat options. And Vile Aggregate is either a sizable blocker after a board wipe or a threatening creature with trample on an established battlefield.

Overall the deck proves to be a consistent mainstay when I go out to play in public. It effectively works as a straightforward aggressive deck, looking to win through combat with big creatures while also highlighting an awful lot of niche effects—see Immobilizer Eldrazi. It’s the reason why my list now uses Faceless Butcher, a card that predates my time playing the game and was also added in 2022. The deck really wanted something akin to Oblivion Ring and the exact card already existed. In truth, what I think I love the most about the deck is that it never feels like the underdog and can sometimes produce the right Hail Mary to allow me to win games I had no right to.

The Gitrog Monster, Quintorius, Field Historian, and Sram, Senior Edificer. Three cards that taught me that expectations can be misguided.

Misguided Expectations

While it was admittedly very disappointing that come Jumpstart 2022 previews, we actually did not get a new card with an Eldrazi subtype, I think this speaks to something that a lot of Commander players may experience without even realizing it. That is the sense of anticipation that a new set or product poses and how one may try to convince themselves that they read the tea leaves to predict what may be seen in it. In a non-Commander example, the day Wizards announced Scars of Mirrodin block, I bought a playset of Stoneforge Mystic, because what if a Skullclamp-level error happened again? Well, it kind of did, but I was never able to afford the subsequent deck and the experiment never really paid off.

But I think that with most supplementary products, mostly Commander decks, a theme or mechanic can be announced that really feels like it might make an impact on an established Commander deck I have. Shadows Over Innistrad is going to finally enable a werewolf deck, Aether Revolt is going to give us the Red/Blue artifacts-matter commander, War of the Spark is going to have a Pernicious Deed that hits planeswalkers to fight Superfriends decks.

When these things eventually didn’t pan out, it was disappointing, but unexpected cards came from these sets. Shadows Over Innistrad gave us The Gitrog Monster, Aether Revolt printed Heroic Intervention and Sram, Senior Edificer, and War of the Spark finally gave Vorthos Feather, the Redeemed. At the end of the day, determining a set’s success based on personal wants is doing a disservice to what Wizards created.

Most recently, I certainly had a similar feeling when I heard that we were going to be going back to Kamigawa. I was thrilled that after over 20 years, we would return to the Japanese-inspired plane and hopefully see the return of Samurai, now in a world with Commander. But something I was wrong about, without being especially invested in this line of thinking, was that my prediction of a strong spirits tribal theme would serve as an ample chance to make Quintorius, Field Historian not only relevant in Commander, but possibly in Standard as well. As the set came out, I was a little let down that I was wrong, but not discouraged anymore.

Notable 2022 cards that have been considered for this deck at some point. Riveteers Ascendancy, Reaver Titan, and Cityscape Leveler.

Evaluating 2022

Finally, let’s talk about what we’ve seen in the nine months that could have joined the Shattergang Brothers or just might in the future. Because my general can sacrifice creatures for an edict effect, I considered Riveteers Ascendancy for a long time, thinking it would provide card advantage to the same degree as Tuvasa the Sunlit often does. The issue I ran into was that while I am not above using my general to prey on Voltron decks or easily compromised board states, there is a lot of time where buying back a smaller creature might not even happen for me. As such, the Ascendancy was quickly in-and-out of inclusion.

Another Capenna card that I considered for a long time was The Beamtown Bullies, who felt like they would compliment Eldrazi very well. But to my chagrin, my lines of play never worked out well for me. While donating a big creature like Artisan of Kozilek or Void Winnower sounds incredible, only having one attack before losing them to exile repeatedly told me this was not the right place for the Bullies.

Regardless of the fact that Warhammer 40,000 Commander reprinted a lot of cards with art that may be more aesthetically in-line with my deck and also had a potent artifact theme, I struggled to identify any cards that I thought might have a place besides Reaver Titan. While I don’t feel beholden to colorless cards, because All is Dust and Spreading Plague are only 2% of the deck, I just found that I have more fun piloting a mostly colorless deck that embodies strange aesthetics. Reaver Titan’s protection from mana value 3 or less ability is jarring in a way that feels thematic with the Eldrazi. And while I’m not entirely sure if it will fit into the deck, I have my hopes up.

The Brothers’ War reads like a godsend that I just haven’t processed yet. While I don’t expect that most of the cards that I have identified as possible inclusions will actually make it to the deck, I have little doubt that the only thing standing in the way of Liberator, Urza’s Battlethoper replacing something like Eternal Scourge is card availability. By simply granting flash, Liberator would change how I deploy threats and answers. And then there is Cityscape Leveler, who is an Eldrazi in everything but their typing. The sheer fact that it has a cast trigger and trample is enough to grab my attention, but as powerstones have yet to prove themselves to be a crucial part of Commander, it feels like a drawback that won’t affect me.

I also want to keep an eye on prototype creatures like Cradle Clearcutter or Skitterbeam Battalion. With how effortlessly this deck ramps and also reduces the cost of large creatures, I have to wonder if cards like these can find their way into Shattergang Brothers simply by being large colorless spells that also fill in my lower mana curve. Lastly, I have a soft spot for Scavenged Brawler, as it feels like a card that will win me the game, while leaving my opponents completely at a loss for words.

All I really wanted at the beginning of the year was more Samurai and Eldrazi. I didn’t get everything, but I happen to really like what has developed in that time. I finally got a sense of vindication when Kamigawa Neon Dynasty was an extremely well-received set. Kamigawa gave me a cool samurai deck. And I successfully built a deck around squirrels where the original intention was to emulate the Magic’s first competitive combo deck, Prosperous Bloom, in Commander. For the first time in more than a year I don’t actually know what my next article will be, but I hope you will join me but either way. Thank you for reading.

Ryan Sainio (he/him) is a Graphic Designer exploring the Commander format and Magic history on a regular basis. Notable decks that value flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks include Shattergang Eldrazi, Doran Soul Sisters, and Chatterfang ProsBloom.

MTG Content Creator Awards 2022 nominee: Format Specialty Writing & Excellence in Writing Overall

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