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When you’re here, you’re Eldrazi

Written by Tim Bachmann on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

When you’re here, you’re Eldrazi

Tim Bachmann

Hailing from northeast Pennsylvania, Tim has been playing since Mirrodin, and has been playing competitively since Dragons of Tarkir. With aspirations of playing on the Pro Tour, Tim plays in as many PPTQs and GPs as he can.

Let me tell you, finding a deck that you mesh well with feels really great. Something just clicks, you know? I did some soul searching recently. The past few months, I’ve been playing Grixis Death’s Shadow, and not just because it was the best deck in the format. I mean, that was a factor, I won’t lie, but I just liked the cards in the deck. I had some experience with Grixis Delver previously, and I felt like I was really good with that deck.

But at the same time that I’m crushing my local shop with Grixis Death’s Shadow and Grixis Delver, I’m taking a break from competing on the weekends. The PPTQ season was Standard with Aetherworks Marvel, something that did not appeal to me in the slightest, and the local shops were either not firing IQs, or I was unable to attend because they were either Standard, which again, that format wasn’t for me, or I had prior commitments on days the IQs would fire.

This disconnect really seemed to hurt in a lot of ways. First, I thought I was better with the Grixis deck than I actually was. This same thing happened so many years ago now when Jeskai Black was the best deck in Standard. I was also no longer as familiar with playing at that higher level. I’ll be the first to say, my local shop is full of nice guys that like to have fun. There are not really too many people that play competitively, and I wouldn’t say the caliber of those who do play there competitively isn’t too high. It’s fine for what it is, but the competition in the store is relatively low compared to how competitive other shops are in my reason.

So I took Grixis Death’s Shadow to an IQ, my first in months, thinking that it’s the best deck, I can do pretty well with it. We sleeved up, sat down…and went 2-2 drop in the 50+ person event. I lost to a Jeskai Control deck, and the mirror. I played against and lost to that mirror in the fourth round, and after playing it, realized a few things.

I was falling into the same trap in this modern format that I was falling into when I thought I wanted to play Jeskai Black. These Grixis cards are great, Tasigur is a great creature, and I tricked myself into thinking he was my favorite creature ever printed. Outside of this trap of playing cute albeit powerful cards and outsmarting my opponents was one I constantly struggle with. There’s no denying that the deck is powerful, but maybe my brain just isn’t suited to playing with blue cards that aren’t in the sideboard.

So coming out of that IQ, I was not only unhappy with my play, but also the position of my deck in the metagame. It wasn’t fun playing a deck where people knew they were going to play against it, and having a plan against my deck was the number one priority my opponents had going into a tournament. I knew how Affinity players felt.

I knew I wanted something different in Modern. Something less mentally taxing, and something that could fight through hate more easily. Maybe even something that was…more easy to play, at least to me.

I re-evaluated my plans and my strengths in Modern, and decided that I had a lot of success with Bant Eldrazi. At least the most success in the format since Splinter Twin was banned. But there was just something in my head telling me that playing a single spell a turn meant I wasn’t truly playing Magic. I felt like if I wasn’t playing with Thoughtseize and Thought Scour, I was making a grave mistake.

So I ran Bant Eldrazi through my local shop, and did very well with it. It was just my audible deck, so I always have the cards lying around. After that performance, I felt like I was falling into the same trap again that I had already fallen into with Grixis. I was beating up the local shop, and was not confident in playing it outside of there. Meanwhile, I had sold my Grixis cards. I was done. I love Snapcaster Mage and Tasigur, but I’m not smart enough to play in these Blue/Black mirrors. My brain just can’t handle, especially for anything longer than four or five rounds.

I kept falling in love with Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher, and all their little friends. But I’ve also been on the losing end of Bant Eldrazi. I know how it loses, and with the resurgence of Blood Moon, it wasn’t something I really felt confident in playing for the current PPTQ season.

So I made a decision. I wasn’t very happy with any of the decks I was trying, and felt like it was time to try something new. Well, not new, as I love my Eldrazi Spaghetti monsters. I ended up buying the rest of the pieces I needed for Eldrazi Tron. I played the deck for two weeks at my local shop, and beat hate cards like Blood Moon and Stony Silence. I was hooked. So I took the dumb deck to TOGIT for my first PPTQ of the season. I was expecting to just show up and get games in. I know the field in these bigger shops gets pretty strong, and even the players at the middle tables are to be respected.

Realistically, I had no aspirations for doing well. I even lost round 1 to Jund. Good ol’ fashioned Tarmogoyfs and Fulminator Mages. Losing was fine, even in round 1. Again, I was looking at just getting practice in with the deck.

Five rounds later, and I’m 5-1, ready to play my top eight quarterfinals match as the 2 seed against my round 1 Jund opponent. I’m not sure if it’s because the Eldrazi have been inside of me this whole time, trying to escape, much like they were on Zendikar, but we put up impressive results for the first time playing the deck outside of my routine Monday Magic. I beat Grixis Death’s Shadow, TitanShift, BreachTitan, Naya Zoo, and G/W Value Town, and lost to Jund. And here I was, in the quarterfinals, with a shot at redemption against Jund. We were able to do it, too. We did get a little lucky when my opponent misplayed against my Walking Ballista and Basilisk Collar, but luck is part of the game.

I ended up losing to Esper Death’s Shadow in the semifinals, but I was wayyyyy more than happy with how that event went. I couldn’t help but think though that I was pretty fortunate in my play, though we did play exceptionally well, like remembering manabases on the reg now that I’m playing with so many Ghost Quarters. One example was my game 1 against TitanShift. I was stuck on a single Tron land, Eldrazi Temple, and Ghost Quarter for about six turns, I was able to kill a Primeval Titan to keep the game going, and was racing my opponent back with a Matter Reshaper wearing a Basilisk Collar, until he cast what would be a lethal Search for Tomorrow with two Valakuts on the board. I tanked for a while, and finally noticed he had six Mountains on the battlefield, so in response to his Search for Tomorrow, I Ghost Quartered one of his Valakuts, and he scooped. It was great.

The following weekend, this past weekend as a matter of fact, was a Modern IQ. A lot of my friends were planning on going, and the shop was a lot closer than most of the shops I play at. I expected a large turnout, and while it wasn’t as large as the PPTQ the week before, it was still six rounds.

Again, I thought I was extremely fortunate to have done so well the week before, so I went in with the same attitude. I was just going to practice my deck against real opponents on (hopefully) real decks, and see what I could accomplish while hanging out with my friends. The best part was that if I did end up doing poorly, the shop was in a mall, so I could just walk down the hall to the movie theater (with reclining leather seats!) and just watch a crappy move with some popcorn. No big deal.

Well, I don’t know what happened. Somewhere along the way we decided we weren’t going to lose, and we entered top eight again at the second seed. I went 4-0-2 in the swiss beating Jund, Enduring Ideal, Burn, and the mirror, and grabbing an unintentional draw against the mirror in round 4. It was sort of my fault, I should have pushed my opponent along, but resigned myself to being the nice guy. Thankfully I wasn’t punished for it.

In top eight, we beat the mirror, and Merfolk. We split prize in top 4, and since I was now in the finals, I don’t care about the SCG Points right now, so I just took my envelope and left while the other semifinals was still playing out.

While I still feel like I was pretty fortunate in my pairings, I feel like in general I played very well, and I attribute that to the deck not affording me too many decisions. It lets me use my brain more on critical decisions instead of “which land do I play on turn 1 so I can cast which spell” for thirty games.

Over the last two weekends, I’m a total of 12-2-2 in matches I’ve played with the deck. I’m still not sure if I’ve been lucky, or if that’s how good I actually am with the deck. I’m still leaning toward the former, but my wife has also been making me PB&J sandwiches to bring with me to these events, so maybe those are the real ticket.

I’m a big fan of Eldrazi Tron right now. It feels like the best 50/50 deck in the format, and while the mirror match can be a bit of a slugfest, there is a lot more play to it than I had realized. Anyway, I’m on the Spaghetti train now. I’ve realized after so much soul searching that the Eldrazi are my people. You don’t have to make thirty critical decisions each turn to win Magic cards. You can just play some powerful spells, and as long as you’re enjoying what you’re doing, the deck you’re enjoying is the deck for you. For reference, here is my current list:

Also, shameless plug, I’ve rebranded myself! Come follow me on twitch.tv/timmybmtg. I’m going to be streaming every Monday and Friday beginning between 8 and 9pm EST. I’ll be tweeting when I go live over on twitter.com/timmybmtg, so give me a follow there as well!

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