If you read my last article, you know that I gave up on Demonic Pact. This leaves the question of what to play in Standard? I’ve been having a fair bit of success with Eldrazi ramp, which I’ve posted about, but with the Thought Knot Seers and Reality Smashers running around, I felt like the tried and true strategy of ramp into Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger was wearing thin. Yeah, I’ve spruced up the deck a bit, but it’s not performing any better, and I don’t feel it’s different enough to warrant another article, or play in anything with higher stakes than FNM.
I’ve got it in my head that Eldrazi Displacer is a good card, and I want to explore it a little. Of course, Flickerwisp effects have been around forever, but this is Standard, which means our toolset is constricted. Forefront in my mind is Siege Rhino, and although the Battle Cattle will stretch the mana base quite a bit, I think that current Standard can support it. Here’s the deck I came up with.
Abzan Flicker Cattle.dec
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Caves of Koilos
2 Windswept Heath
2 Flooded Strand
1 Polluted Delta
2 Evolving Wilds
2 Canopy Vista
1 Prairie Stream
1 Sunken Hollow
1 Shambling Vent
So, for starters we have the 2 card combo I’m most excited about, Eldrazi Displacer and Siege Rhino. My theory is that, at 3 mana for a 3/3, Eldrazi Displacer is a serviceable creature for attacking and blocking, it’ll also creates massive life point swings with Siege Rhino. While you’re at it, you can also make 5/5 demons via Priest of the Blood Rite, or just go infinite with Brood Monitor and Zulaport Cutthroat. On the subject of Zulaport Cutthroat, it’s easily the worst card in the deck. I expect it will often be right to sideboard him out, or just straight up cut him and the Brood Monitor.
Thought-Knot Seer is the other premium creature to flicker with Eldrazi Displacer. I will have to confirm this with a judge, but I think that since Thought-Knot Seer’s ETB and LTB triggers are triggered separately, but as a result of the resolution of the same effect, the controller of the triggers gets to choose what order they go on the stack. Under those conditions, I would choose to put the “target opponent draws a card” effect on the stack last, meaning it would resolve first, and you would have the option of exiling the drawn card with the Seer’s ETB effect. At the very least, this solves one of the fundamental problems that discard strategies have always had, which is the scenario where your opponent has no cards to discard. (EDIT: confirmed, http://www.starcitygames.com/article/32427_Ask-A-Judge-Colorless-Conundrums.html)
For the rest of the deck, I decided I didn’t want to get fancy, I just wanted an Abzan core that could play for value. Thus, the 4 Abzan Charms which can hit basically every major threat in standard, Languish for swarms, and Den Protector to squeeze the value out of them. The main deck Dromoka’s Command could really be about any good removal spell, and Murderous Cut is probably the best possible one-of that any black deck can have.
I struggled with whether I should play Anafenza, the Foremost in the main deck, since I’ve had very good results previously. But with the Eldrazi Displacers crowding that slot, something had to give. I’m still keeping 3 in my board for the Rally matchups, and if I had any copies of Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, he would also be competing for those slots.
Finally, some words about lands. Mana is crazy in Standard right now, so I don’t feel bad about running this mana base. There is the argument that since I have blue fetchlands to find my black mana, I should just play Bring to Light or splash Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Instead, I made the decision to just focus on Abzan colors and colorless. I believe this takes a lot of pressure off of the pilot to fetch correctly, and the deck to produce a playable sequence of cards. Also, having such good mana means that otherwise great lands like Sandsteppe Citadel and Blighted Fen fall by the wayside. Shambling Vent, one of my favorite cards in the deck, barely has 1 slot, and it’s probably my worst land because it always enters the battlefield tapped.
I’m excited about picking up a midrange deck again, since I’ve been playing control and I prefer a more proactive game plan. Keep in mind that this deck will largely stop existing come rotation, so it’s not a great option for Standard long-term. It’s very much a last hurrah for Siege Rhino before he gets relegated to fringe play in Modern. That said, there’s a few Modern staples in the build, between the fetchlands, Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher, although word is the last two might not stay that way. I hear the Modern Eldrazi deck is pretty good.