My time has come. The call of the Eldrazi had me, almost immediately. While I had been playing Magic the Gathering throughout most of my high school and college years, it was the one-two punch of 2009’s Magic 2010 and Zendikar that brought me back from a hiatus, after Lorwyn scared me away nearly two years prior. And with the call of the Eldrazi that Spring, I became a huge fan of the potential of these gigantic creatures presented. Needless to say, I was primed for the return to Zendikar that would eventually manifest in 2015. From the sets Battle for Zendikar, Oath of the Gatewatch, and Eldritch Moon I was finally able to have a card pool big enough to support a Commander deck I had been hoping to assemble for quite some time. 

For the next few years, I would pay attention to the different colorless options that were being made available. It was a slow and steady process, but the time allowed me to experiment with different forgotten effects, like rediscovering Faceless Butcher or Reap and Sow. This intimate understanding of the deck has meant that even when other options presented themselves, I kept returning to the Shattergang.

From my experience updating Commander decks, I’ve found that changing even a dozen cards can mean a very distinct change to the overall feeling of the deck.  So, while I am ecstatic about the new colorless cards that we’ve been given in the Commander Masters Eldrazi deck, I do want to look at each of the ten cards with a critical eye and ask myself what the realistic possibility is that these cards will make an impact in my Shattergang Brothers deck. Today, we’re looking at these cards, grouped by typing, to understand the effect they will have. I believe that even if you are considering creating a more traditional colorless deck for the first time, the Eldrazi Unbound deck is going to be a great starting point.

In Need of Leadership

Outside of the context of my own deck, I think that Zhulodok, Void Gorger and Omarthis, Ghostfire Initiate both enable vastly different strategies. As a commander, Zhulodok really helps to mitigate risk that comes with trying to support larger colorless spells. With twelve spells in my established Shattergang Eldrazi deck affected by Zhulodok, I could see them as a strong roleplayer in the games they are cast in. I’m not ready to part ways with Sunbird’s Invocation just yet, but it is the best candidate for the eventual swap.

Looking over Omarthis, Ghostfire Initiate, I am open to playtesting and being wrong, but I don’t know that I’m going to have a lot of use for them. Unless Ugin’s Mastery proves to be a defining card that can be amplified by Omarthis. Both cards feel like they prop up an archetype all on their own: manifest. I have been a fan of the keyword ever since Fate Reforged, but it was never given the card pool or commander really needed to allow it to thrive. I remember trying to make Ixidor, Reality Sculptor work and later, Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer, but Omarthis might be the second-in-command to allow the deck to more consistently bring the theme to life. On their own, I see Omarthis as a decent artifact-matters commander and excitedly await what the community makes of them.

Altered Realities

The colorless instant and sorceries of the Eldrazi Unbound deck are the cards I think will have the biggest lasting effect on my deck. While it is admittedly hard to overcome the impact All is Dust can have on a game, I am open to trying Calamity of the Titans. I imagine the card will function more like a mass removal Titan’s Presence. I think the card beats out Kindred Dominance, which has always proven to be an excellent card that can be too difficult to cast. Not to mention, it continues the shifting in the direction of colorless, an aspect I’ve wanted to embrace, but often couldn’t.

I really love Desecrate Reality, in the same fashion as Void Winnower. This card has an odd quirk I feel is entirely appropriate for the eldrazi. The use of adamant is incredible and the effect feels wholly original. I do think Desecrate Reality is indicative of one issue I have with most of these cards. I understand this represented Wizards best chance to support larger spells that would be on-theme for the eldrazi, but they may have misunderstood lots of mana instantly being what an eldrazi deck needs in 2023. Even saying this, knowing full well that I will probably be able to cast this very easily with Ugin, the Ineffable and Forsaken Monument at my disposal, I would have rather cut two or three mana off and had this be single target removal. Sure, it doesn’t synergize with Zhulodok, Void Gorger anymore, but that’s a sacrifice I’d be willing to make.  

Finally, we have Rise of the Eldrazi, one of the most exciting cards in the deck for me. I don’t realistically think this card will get cast nearly as much as the internet may have you believe. But the ability to cast removal, quadruple cantrip, and take an extra turn off of one card is game altering for the times it sees the stack. Playing with the power of the original titans, I don’t know where I’m fitting it in, but I’m finding space for this haymaker.

Eldritch Cacophonies

In my experience, the creature base of my Shattergang Brothers deck is the most hotly contested real estate. Each selection has become sacred to the point where there is a high bar to clear to replace a card. That said, the three cards we get in the Eldrazi Unbound deck all make compelling arguments to be included. Abstruse Archaic is the kind of card where I assume I don’t have a valid target, only to discover that I overlooked an infinite combo until mid-game. That said, it certainly feels like a card I don’t properly support, yet. 

Flayer of Loyalties is the creature I am most excited for. While I have dabbled with Eldrazi Obligator in the past, it never properly scaled well to Commander for me. Obviously, a total of five mana for an effect and ten are in completely different ballparks, but the power/toughness alteration and addition of annihilator is a huge upgrade. With those effects, I may even be tempted to target my own creatures.

If not for the existence of Liberator, Urzas Battlethopter, it would be fair to say that Skittering Cicada would be a needed factor for a colorless deck. That said, I would be in favor of trying to fit both into a deck, as the ability to have a colorless Leyline of Anticipation can be very impactful. In the event you can only choose one, beyond granting flash, both cards have differing upsides. This makes deciding which of the two is prioritized a core theme of a deck. My read is that Skittering Cicada will prove to be more valuable in a deck leaning towards aggression, making for a more perfect fit for me.

Colorless Permanents

The two new colorless permanents both have me very hopeful, but with tempered expectations. I think my biggest conflict with Darksteel Monolith is ultimately going to be trying to figure out what I can take out to fit it into the deck. The paradox I’m fighting, at least in the thought experiment phase, is that spells I would want to take out are the same ones I would love to be casting for free. While it may be easy to say that the deck will run fine without cards like Decimator of the Provinces or Fevered Suspicion, these cards have far more applications than the hope that I draw Darksteel Monolith and enable my deck to go off. Regardless, it is something that I will be strongly hoping to make work. 

As I noted, manifest is an underappreciated mechanic in my mind. And Ugin’s Mastery feels like the enabler we need to really make a deck really thrive. What I like most about Ugin’s Mastery over something like Scroll of Fate is that you have the ability to regain noncreature cards you may have manifested out of necessity. One of the problems I would run into trying to use the Scroll was that too many cards would be stuck as 2/2s, not dying to combat or board wipes, when I thought I might be able to recur them during past builds of the deck. With only fourteen instants or sorceries currently in the deck, I might get some use out of the face-down permanents. While I am not sold on the card yet, I am hopeful.

For any nitpicks I may have about some of the cards we got in the Eldrazi Unbound deck, I think we were given ten interesting designs. They all have their own use cases, even if they might not be something I feel would strongly impact the colorless deck I have. 

Overall, I would like to think the biggest lesson from this deck for Wizards will be they should not let another thirteen years go by before they design in this space again. While I will always advocate for the Eldrazi, I also would love to advocate for any other colorless archetypes that have an audience. I can’t wait to get my hands on these cards, thanks 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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