Well I called it!
Back in February, I extolled my thoughts for what I wanted reprinted in Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon. In there I predicted that Emrakul would be the big bad, and that Innistrad would be switching to a Lovecraftian cosmic horror from the gothic one. I talked about changes in the lineup that would happen, and made some bold predictions that didn’t quite come true. I predicted that an odd, difficult mechanic that made perfect sense would be pulled out and recast in a Lovecraftian sense. I guessed that would be Arcane, as a mystic form of magic that could be enhanced and pushed by the sense of dark, forgotten, and better-left-alone knowledge that pervades these stories. While I was wrong on the Arcane reprint, I was right on the basic concept; madness came back instead (which, in retrospect, makes more sense than Arcane, to be honest).
Anyway, it made sense that we’d see Emrakul here for a bunch of reasons. The title, Shadows over Innistrad is so evocative of Shadows over Innsmouth, a famous HP Lovecraft short story, that it could not have been otherwise. In fact, there have been some Call of Cthulhu things happening in the first set, such as the madness that comes right before Cthulhu rises. Well, we had madness, and now Emrakul rising. It’s a very, very similar plotline and concept.
So today, I want to drill down into a recently spoiled card. Which one?
Coax from the Blind Eternities
Well, we have our first Wish effect printed in a long time. It’s been a while since Glittering Wish was printed in Future Sight as an homage to the Wish cycle of Judgment. At the time they were printed, Wishes could be used to get any card you owned either removed from game zone, or outside the game entirely. (Tournaments ruled you had to use your sideboard for the card). As someone who played them a lot, that was a cool concept. I would use a Wish often to get something that had been exiled, like a flashback spell with a Cunning Wish, a vital creature with a Living Wish, or otherwise grabbing something from my own stuff.
Here’s the original language of Living Wish, as an example:
“Choose a creature or land card you own from outside the game, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Remove Living Wish from the game.”
It’s clear that where Living Wish goes, is outside of the game. So you can grab cards from there as well as from other decks, deck stock, sideboard, wish-board, or whatever
One great change Wizards of the Coast made to the game was to fix some of the language. They wanted it to sound more fantasy than realistic, and they had mixed names. You don’t have a discard pile, you have a graveyard. You don’t have a deck, you have a library. So why do you have an, “in play” zone? So they changed the removed from game zone to Exile, and then in play to battlefield and reclaimed the old cast language instead of playing a card, and so forth. Now, those changes were all solely cosmetic, but worth doing. But when they made those changes they didn’t modify the Wishes to work as had been originally written. So now, they read:
“You may choose a creature or land card you own from outside the game, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Exile Living Wish.”
So it still works in some aspects. You can get a card from your sideboard or personal collection. But you cannot grab one from the exile zone. Why not? Because they changed the name of the zone, and never bothered to fix the card to grab cards from outside the game or the exile zone. So, they got weaker, not because of a rules change like getting rid of mana burn but simply because of a cosmetic change to the game. That’s always bugged me. Anyways, the latest iteration of this effect is Coax from the Blind Eternities.
Now Coax lets you grab a card from the exile zone, or from outside the game, as long as it’s an Eldrazi. Not only does this line up with Spawnsire of Ulamog, who has a 20 cost activation to cast a bunch of Eldrazi from outside the game. So it’s been done there as well.
Anyway, you can grab any Eldrazi card you desire, and put it into your hand. Any Eldrazi card.
Now, this ability is new for a lot of folks out there. Back in the day Wishes got more play, in part because they hadn’t been neutered by WOTC. The Wishes are still good, but not as heavily played. Considering some playgroups or individuals may never have played with a Coax or similar card out there, I wanted to bring a handful of suggested rules to your table, to avoid the sort of fights I got into or saw:
1). You cannot trade for the card, and then Wish for it. We’ve all thought about it. Trade one of your cards for the perfect Cunning Wish target, and then play the Wish to get it and play it immediately. Create perfect flexibility. But you can’t trade cards during a game to get a card for your Coax / Wish / etc.
2). You can’t give it away either, sorry. No matter how much you might both want that All is Dust to get grabbed and played, you can’t give your copy to the Coax player.
3). Create a Wishboard of Potential Targets Pre-Game. Grab a stack of like 25 or 50 or 70 targets for your game and just search that stack. No one wants to sit 8 minutes while you find that copy of Random Eldrazi X because it’s the perfect fit for the board position and your level of mana.
4). Just name what you want, and move on. I have most of the Wishes in my 3000+ Highlander deck called Abe’s Deck of Happiness and Joy. I know my cards. (And I have a spreadsheet as well). All of the best cards are in my deck, obviously. So what we do is if I cast a Wish, instead of searching my extensive collection for that card, we just let me name the card that suffices. For example, I don’t run most of the counter-target-spell-unless-it’s-controller-pays-mana. They aren’t reliable enough. So if I need to counter a spell, and I cast Cunning Wish, I can just call Mana Leak, Force Void or something else to work. So letting folks cast Burning Wish for a Stone Rain or a Naturalize off a Cunning Wish to destroy something is going to be fine with most folks. And everybody saves times! (Because who doesn’t have like 18 Stone Rains or 44 Naturalizes?) I don’t mind.
So, given those various precepts, I’d recommend playing them to best use the various Coaxes that are about to get played.
I wanted to explore and evoke 10 different Eldrazi targets for Coax from the Blind Eternities I think would be wonderful choices to get. The great thing about running Coax is you can fetch the Eldrazi card you acquire based in large part on what turn you are on. Play Coax on the 3rd turn, and you might get a cheap, solid, midrange choice. Play it later, and you may instead grab an Eldrazi with the perfect cast trigger or just a big ol’ beefy body. What do you need?
Now unfortunately, we have some tribal Eldrazi cards from the first iteration of their arrival. Later Eldrazi flavored sets lacked the tribal mechanic. So you can’t get a card like Scour from Existence with your Coax. That’s sad. But there are still an epic amount of Eldrazi cards running around, some of which you might be surprised at how good they are as targets for you.
10. Conduit of Ruin
Conduit is a very good generic Eldrazi target from a Coax. It’s like getting Eternal Witness from a Tooth and Nail. You Coax it, play it, tutor for another Eldrazi that you really wanted all along, put it on your library, and got a 5/5 creature that can help you play your big Eldrazi threat next turn. It’s a great card. And you played it with 6 mana, so let’s suppose that you will miss your land drop next turn, due to your drawing your big Eldrazi. That means you can at least play any 8 cost Eldrazi, and more if you have more mana available or make your land drop. So you can do some fun and powerful things with Conduit. It flows very nicely.
In a similar way, I see Matter Reshaper as a nice, default early Coax target. You’ll only get it when you can play that colorless mana cost, and you can drop it early, and then swing, block, be involved in the early game, and post-death you’ll either get a free permanent on the board if the top card is cheap, or draw a card for free. It’s just this great, early, Coax presence, if nothing else matters and works.
I think a lot of times you are going to have a strong beatstick already in play, ready to swing. So why not Coax up the Conscription, and make it the biggest, bad-dest, nastiest creatures of them all? On a creature that wants to kill quickly with damage, like a Commander, this is an amazing play.
This card is no joke. It’s a finisher. Sometimes you’ll find yourself with an inability to finish the game in the red zone. A pillow fort with too many Maze of Ith, or too much mass removal to keep your stuff running, or creature hate. Whatever. The game has stagnated. Dread Defiler gives you a way to end it without attacking. Drop it, and start exiling your big Eldrazi beats from the graveyard, one at a time, dropping opposing life totals with great alacrity. It’s perfect to have this in the right circumstances!
I like recursion! I like big beaters! What I like even more is getting a big beater and a recursive creature from my graveyard at the same time, for just one card. Later in the game, you’ll likely want the 10/9 body and Zombify effect. It’s a nice double-dip, and it fits a ton of different strategies and board positions. Frankly, there will be times when you’d rather Coax up an Artisan than one of the higher profile Eldrazi.
This card has always been okay on its own. Maybe you’ll exile a land or two, and maybe you won’t. But you don’t always need the vanilla body. But it’s never been bad. And often, you get a broken Sower because one or three lands were already exiled. So getting a Sower only when you need the lands, or there are a few already exiled is a nice way to ensure you fire off a really nasty Oblivion Sower, complete with a bunch of lands for your battlefield.
Let’s see. We get a 5/7 beater, a way to draw lands and exile cards form opposing libraries at the same time while they play lands, and all for 6 mana. It’s a great card, it’s proven itself at the casual table, and it’s a solid choice for Coaxing.
World Breaker is an ideal Woodfall Primus, and that’s always been one of the more commonly tutored Green creatures in my decks. It has a cast trigger, which is nice, and then it can come back to your hand later as you sacrifice lands to it. Your cast exiles a problem and World Breaker can keep on keeping on. Meanwhile, you have a lot of strong options for removal, reach, beating, and recursion. I can see World Breaker as an ideal Coax target in a lot of builds.
2. Eldrazi Titans
I didn’t want this Top Ten list to include both copies of the three Titans in the 9, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2 spots or something like that. So instead we’re just putting here Ulamog, Emrakul, and Kozilek of both forms. You can play the perfect one for the situation. Want to take an extra turn? Want draw some cards? Need to answer some dangerous permanents? You can grab the best for the situation. Running Coax by itself is better then running Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, since you don’t know if you’ll have the mana when you draw it, or if you need the cheaper Vindicate / indestructible beater or something else instead. So Coax up the perfect Titan!
1. All is Dust
Because it’s both an Eldrazi spell and mass removal of a major nature, All is Dust will always be the best and most reliable Coax target. If you don’t have an extra copy, I could not recommend picking up one or three soon enough. The next load of Eldrazi cards is only going to increase the value of All is Dust and similar friends, and enablers like the Coax will increase the play value of a card that is already swimming in it.
If you are running an Eldrazi themed deck, with a number of colorless spells, than Coaxing up an engine like Barrage Tyrant makes sense. Meanwhile, I think Bearer of Silence is a perfect 4-drop (ish) to follow up an early Coax, but requires you to be running both Black and Blue. Just wanted to put that on your radar though. (Thought-Knot Seer ain’t bad either).
Some cards might be worth keeping near you, just in case the right situation comes up.
Want an example? How about Void Winnower? I can totally see someone doing the math, and realizing the vast majority of creatures out have even costs and thus Coaxes up Void Winnower. Similarly, I don’t see Spawnsire of Ulamog usually getting the cut over the other good stuff, unless you have enough mana to activate the massive “play all of the Eldrazi!” ability. The same is true of It that Betrays, that won’t normally be brought up until sacrificing is about to happen.
So I intentionally steered clear of two-color Eldrazi that I like, but which conflict with the Blue of Coax. Take Brood Butcher, which is a fun card. But how many decks are you running with Blue, Black, and Green where Coax from the Blind Eternities makes sense? I don’t know! So it’s not on the list, because this is not a list of Abe’s Favorite Eldrazi, but instead cards that work well with Coax.
Now I would advise you not to wait until later to Coax, unless you don’t miss it. People often miss powerful plays early because they wait too long for cool ones. Don’t wait until later to kicker Kavu Titan. Don’t wait to get the perfect card-drawing to drop Knollspine Dragon. You are good to go just getting a creature early that can impact the board. The value of a card like Matter Reshaper early in the game is arguably just as good, if not better, than Artisan of Kozilek late. Yes, the Artisan is a 10/9 beater who brings a friend to the party! But it’s so late the Reshaper has done a lot and, well, shaped the board earlier. (Sorry about that joke, it was pretty lame). So use your Coax early if you can, unless you have plenty to do and will fine to wait.
Are you ready to Coax Eldrazi Out? I am!