The Danger of Eldrazi Conscription


The Danger of Cool Things ∙ Chad Ellis ∙ Eldrazi Conscription
Sovereigns of Lost Alara ∙ “the stack” ∙ … and Eldrazi Conscription

Eldrazi Conscription

A new version of the Mythic deck centers around Sovereigns of Lost Alara setting up Eldrazi Conscription. You attack, the Sovereigns of Lost Alara goes and finds that normally cost prohibitive enchantment, sticks it on your guy, and all of a sudden you have a gigantic monster that should kill the opponent in just 1-2 blows. The second time you attack with such an Eldrazi-proxy, you probably get to set up Annihilator 2 as well, which is just cool (on top of being wicked deadly).

Recently my new protege Kar Yung Tom stated that the only way that King Hulk / Raka XXX can possibly lose to Mythic is to be smashed by this Eldrazi Conscription combination… So plan for it, anticipate, prevent, etc. For King Hulk — a deck with precious few ways to interact with the Sovereigns of Lost Alara combination itself — must use mass removal or Planeswalkers on its own turn to prevent getting smashed. But what about decks with actual instant speed removal, viz. Doom Blade or Path to Exile? How should they play against Eldrazi Conscription?

This is how the combination works.

The opponent attacks.

Any of the “attacks alone” text abilities go on the stack; these include both Exalted and the Eldrazi Conscription-finding ability on Sovereigns of Lost Alara. Let’s table Exalted for the moment. How do you deal with the second ability?

I think most players — acting “automatically” — will be tempted to let the ability resolve, let the opponent attach Eldrazi Conscription to the attacking creature, and then point the Doom Blade at the attacking bugger. After all this is “cool”. This is “card advantage”.

Or is it?

True, if you point a removal spell at an Aura’d-up Eldrazi wannabe, you are technically destroying two cards — both the creature and the creature enchantment. Is this card advantage? At that instant, the answer is yes. You are using one resource to remove two resources. But for practical purposes it isn’t. The Eldrazi Conscription in this case is “extra” … The opponent went and got it for free. Your “card advantage” play — your “cool” card advantage play — is really just a break even, despite the fact that at that instant, the exchange itself is card advantageous.

Let me propose a counter-automatic play:

What if we respond to all that jazz, and kill the creature before the Eldrazi Conscription hits the battlefield? Or even in response to all of it, before in many cases the Exalted triggers hit (when our removal spell is Lightning Bolt and the Eldrazi-to-be is a Noble Hierarch, this may actually be a necessity)?

I would argue that leaving the Eldrazi Conscription in the opponent’s deck is actually desirable.

First of all, if we prevent the ability from resolving, we are preventing the opponent from getting an extra card; we don’t have to make up the card on the two-for-one… because the opponent never got the Eldrazi Conscription for us to two-for-one. Grok? Good.

The reason this might be subtly better is that now the opponent can accidentally draw Eldrazi Conscription. Awesome, right? That is a card he never wants to draw. Not only is it essentially dead in hand, drawing both basically turns off Sovereigns of Lost Alara.

Now of course if the opponent has an army of little guys, and the ability to reload next turn and the turn after, you might want to pull out his Sovereigns’ teeth (especially if you have, say, two copies of Terminate). But if he isn’t long on threats on the battlefield already — as will often be the case — I think giving him the opportunity to get unlucky can be desirable.

Neither play is right all the time… But I figured presenting the opposite as a viable option might be a useful suggestion to many of you with automatic — but not necessarily automatically better — MO’s lined up.


P.S. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, I heartily recommend The Danger of Cool Things by my friend Chad Ellis. Chad was a former columnist at Star City and the mother ship, a Pro Tour Top 8 competitor, and a hell of a strategy writer. The Danger of Cool Things is his best work, and kind of a companion to Who’s the Beatdown if that makes any sense.

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#1 MTGBattlefield on 05.09.10 at 12:16 am

The Danger of Eldrazi Conscription…

Your story has been summoned to the battlefield – Trackback from MTGBattlefield…

#2 Triphos on 05.09.10 at 3:02 am

I totally agree with you in principle, but I think it’ll always be hard for me to make the play that’s only better if the opponent gets unlucky.

#3 netgineer on 05.09.10 at 8:00 am

I disagree with letting it stay in their library. By allowing the ability to resolve, they are pulling one of their Conscriptions out of their deck. There are a limited number of Conscriptions, so each one removed from the library and put into the graveyard is one that is not going to make it to the battlefield ever again. Also, if you’ve hit 6 mana for Soverigns, it is not unthinkable to later in the game hit 8 mana and hard cast Conscription. that way you get the annihilate trigger too, so thats a little worse!

The only time I could ever see responding to the trigger is if you know they’re going to go get Canopy Cover, or your removal is Lightning Bolt (like you mentioned).

#4 Gifts Ungiven on 05.09.10 at 8:11 am

I don’t agree with this one, as Mythic can straight-up /cast/ Conscription just a turn or two after the point at which it can cast the Sovereigns. If you’re in such dire straights that you must kill the attacker (rather than capping the Sovereigns pre-main phase), letting the Conscription ‘resolve’ lets you clear a copy from their deck.

Or, more briefly, it’s not at all bad for Mythic to draw that Conscription in the mid-game — it’s like drawing a Sovereigns, only slightly less surprising, but with Annihilator hitting one turn earlier.

#5 Dochetwas on 05.09.10 at 8:21 am

You know what also “turns off” Sovereigns of Lost Alara? Eldrazi Conscription sitting in the graveyard.

Not to say that sometimes it won’t be right to let it fester in their library, but I feel that those cases are few and far between.

#6 wobblesthegoose on 05.09.10 at 10:53 am

I really don’t see many combinations of plays that going to necessitate using a genuine kill spell on the single attacking guy before the sovereign trigger resolves. I mean, it it’s a bolt or somthing, fine. In that case, you have to use it before the ability resolves because once your opponent’s fetched the enchantment, it’s too late to bolt it in response. But if you’ve got never want to point it at the guy before the trigger resolves. You probably don’t even want to point it at that guy at all, you want to point it at the sovereigns before your opp gets to attack. I mean, if your opponent is attacking with a lotus cobra and has a sovereigns in play, do you kill the cobra or the sovereigns? The 2/1 or the guy that gives any creature attacking alone +11/+11 and trample? I mean, even if you kill the cobra, he can just attack with the sovereigns next turn.

In short, the automatic play of killing the creature after the sovereigns trigger resolves is usually wrong. It’s usually correct to just kill the sovereigns on sight.

#7 moggfnatic on 05.09.10 at 4:46 pm

Less a matter of concern over the right play and more over deckbuilding – do you think that now with more Mythic Conscription running around the Raka list should switch out its lightning bolts for path to exiles? I understand how terrible fixing their mana when you can get the manascrew draw is, but it seems like the deck is really crying for instant speed targeted removal that can bring down sovereigns.

#8 BottsThoughts on 05.09.10 at 9:47 pm

@ Moggfnatic:

It is a matter of preference (eg – deckbuilding) as you made note of in your aforementioned comment. Where I would disagree (and this is purely of my own school of study) is shifting the Lightning Bolt’s in favor of Path to Exiles MD. Now, of course, this is all subjective to the meta that is in question. We have 1-2 players in my area that run Mythic, and I have yet to feel the woebegone stories scripting in my head when I have playtested with them.

Path to Exile is an amazing spell. Spot Removal. Catch-all in the event a Raging Ravine has gained 1 to many +1/+1 counters. In which case Lightning Bolt is sadly slumped over in either your hand or somewhere rummaging about in your library.

The only relevance where Path to Exile trumps Lightning Bolt (in regards to Man Lands) is when a Celestial Colonnade, Stirring Wildwood, or an already boosted Raging Ravine are barreling down your throat via the Red Zone mumba.

I am well aware that such a vaccuumed statement exists only in hypothetical land, but it could also very well come about when the physical 75 are being sleeved up and shuffled.

I played, King Hulk, again just this Saturday – and This go’round had me sporting 4 PTE’s in the board. I sadly moved Scepters and Telemin’s out of the boarding options and gave myself a bit more flexibility for reduced mana cost spot removal in the Control mirrors. When leaving 1-3 lands open gives your opponent more hesitation when they decide on committing to the table a creature then quite possibly left wide open for spot removal.

Lightning Bolt handles any & all X/3’s, X/2’s, and X/1’s (sanz the chance of Shroud, Boost spells, and/or Exalted Triggers wherein you punted the play by then anyways).

I believe what Raka XXX / King Hulk needs is a spell in which it nets lifegain while neither overcommitting, nor causing themselves to be left open beyond an acceptable measure. Overall I enjoy the Mythic match-up. I have a really good friend who is both a smart player, and a great teacher. His sideboarding (regardless the deck in question) always challenges me to consider angles with which I am then able to better my game over the long haul.

I have yet caught an unanswered Conscription to the dome, but I have watched him [my friend] decimate plenty of people who, “Just knew he got lucky”.

Mythic Conscription reminds me of Rafiq or Uril for EDH generals. They tell you immediately what the game plan is, yet leave it up to you to do something about it – Whether you stall them, beat them, or if you just fail – it should never be a surprise.

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#10 sm3 on 05.13.10 at 2:04 pm

In my experiences with this deck, my opponent’s harbinger of the exalted ability has been Deft Duelist… in such a case, the only viable response would be a board killer, or a answer to sovereigns before the attack.

#11 Five With Flores » Sovereigns of Lost Alara Update on 08.30.10 at 10:51 pm

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