Those who know me know that I am a sucker for a good toolbox deck. A card I have been infatuated with in Modern since it was printed is Eldritch Evolution. In a post Birthing Pod world, this card is the best thing we have for turning creatures we already have in play into something better out of our deck.
While I have tried and failed with many different iterations of Eldritch Evolution over the last year, I have recently come to a decklist that I have really been enjoying. The core of this list comes from a decklist that was submitted by one of my twitch subscribers that I quickly fell in love with:
Eldrazi Evolution ? Modern | Jeff Hoogland
- Creatures (29)
- 1 Avacyn's Pilgrim
- 1 Boreal Druid
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Thragtusk
- 2 Kitchen Finks
- 3 Eldrazi Displacer
- 4 Matter Reshaper
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Reality Smasher
- 4 Thought-Knot Seer
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- Instants (4)
- 4 Path to Exile
- Sorceries (4)
- 4 Eldritch Evolution
- Lands (23)
- 1 Plains
- 3 Forest
- 1 Wooded Bastion
- 2 Temple Garden
- 4 Brushland
- 4 Eldrazi Temple
- 4 Hashep Oasis
- 4 Windswept Heath
The core idea behind this deck is fairly straightforward — these cards are busted:
Thought-Knot Seer provides a reasonable body in addition to a disruptive element by taking away our opponent’s best card in hand. Reality Smasher has pseudo evasion thanks to trample and has a built in resistance to spot removal.
Because these cards are so strong, we want to put them into play as fast as possible as often as possible. In addition to the typical Eldrazi Temple and Noble Hierarch that are often found in these Green Eldrazi lists, we also have an alternative route to get these scaries into play:
While Eldritch Evolution can provide us some toolbox options in this deck, the primary use for it is to do the best thing our deck can do far more often.
Voice of Resurgence on two into Eldritch Evolution on three finding Thought-Knot leaves us 6 power in play across two bodies, while also taking away their interaction. This is a nice curve because it enables us to have aggressive starts even when we do not draw a mana creature. Voice of Resurgence is also excellent against decks that might be looking to use counter Magic to stop our Eldritch Evolution.
I have mentioned mana creatures a few times now and while we play the fairly typical Noble Hierarch we also have one copy of two different less popular mana creatures:
While these creatures provide a bit less generic fixing than something like Birds of Paradise, they more importantly have a point of attack. Boreal Druid also provides an additional colorless source for our Eldrazis which no other mana creature can do.
We round out the core of our main deck creatures with a couple of bullets and some additional quality creatures:
Eternal Witness is great in most toolbox decks. Being able to reuse a card we have already played is fantastic. Kitchen Finks is a modern staple for a reason. It buffers our life total against aggressive decks and leave behind some value after it dies for the first time. Both Finks and Eternal Witness also provide additional three cost bodies that we can use to Evolve into Thought-Knot and Reality Smasher without losing any value.
Thragtusk is both a value play and a brick wall against aggressive decks. While we often want to be smashing as much as possible, occasionally it is right to pump the breaks and Thragtusk lets us do this very well. Especially when we find it in conjunction with Eldrazi Displacer which can blink Thragtusk over and over again to keep giving us five life and a 3/3 beast token.
While our primary game plan of playing lots of Thought-Knots and Reality Smashers is great against interactive and slower combo decks, they often come up a turn or two short against the faster combo decks in the format. This is where Eldritch Evolution can really shine in this deck post board. We can fetch a variety of different cheap creatures as early as the second turn to make our opponent’s life difficult:
Kataki, War's Wage is an ace against popular decks like Robots and Lantern Control, while also being reasonable against some more fringe decks like Eggs. Gaddock Teeg is a card I really like in the current Modern format. He shuts down most sweepers against control decks, Gifts Ungiven out of Storm, Karn Liberated out of Tron, and Collected Company against creature combo decks. Eidolon of Rhetoric is great against Storm, while also being reasonable against Snapcaster decks. Loaming Shaman is a touch narrow, but Dredge has been on the upswing lately so I like having access to it.
We also have a few larger bullets that are good in different places:
Sigarda, Heron's Grace is a card I have really grown to love in decks that can play it in Modern. While us gaining Hexproof seems like a small thing, it is not only excellent against obvious decks like Burn, but it also makes it so we cannot die to Grapeshot and our opponent cannot cast Gifts Ungiven.
Cataclysmic Gearhulk is our pseudo sweeper of sorts against any deck that is trying to go wide. Because Gearhulk is an artifact we can always keep our Gearhulk in addition to one other creature which means we likely have a larger board presence then our opponent will have remaining. In addition to decks that go wide with creatures Gearhulk also cleans up decks that go wide with artifacts such as Lantern and decks that go wide with enhancements such as Bogles.
Acidic Slime is the best way we have in to interact with people’s lands in creature form. This can stunt the growth of both Tron and Valakut decks while we take some time to assemble enough pressure to beat them down. Slime can also get out of hand pretty quickly when used in combination with Eldrazi Displacer.
Finally we round out our sideboard with a couple more singletons and some hateful permanents:
Chameleon Colossus is a difficult to kill 4-drop that is nice to board into against grindy decks like Jund and Abzan that tend to empty their hands quickly. It is also excellent against Death's Shadow since most of their creatures are Black and it can kill them in a single combat step most times. Reclamation Sage is like a baby Acidic Slime that is a bit easier to Evolution into.
Relic of Progenitus is just a very flexible card in Modern. It acts as hate for common combo decks like Storm and Dredge, while also being fine against fair decks like Death's Shadow looking to use their graveyard as a resource. We prefer to play Relic of Progenitus as opposed to something like Rest in Peace because Rest in Peace does not play well with our Voices, Reshapers, and Finks.
Stony Silence is at an all time power level high in modern. As always, Stony is fantastic against Robots, but in the current format it also acts as splash hate for Tron and Lantern.
Splashing a “4th” Color
While playing iterations of this deck I tried splashing in different fourth colors for utility. Black gives us access to cards like Orzhov Pontiff and Siege Rhino, while Blue gives us access to more grindy cards like Mulldrifter and countermagic like Glen Elendra Archmage.
The important thing to remember when trying to splash something like this is that this added strain to our mana base will hurt our consistency. Drawing our splashed cards when we do not have the colors to cast them can easily lose us a game. Also in order to fit a fourth color into our mana base we need to give up the power of Hashep Oasis in our mana base for the sake of better fixing.
Overall, I do not think I would recommend splashing another color in this evolution deck, but if your local format has a lot of X/1 creatures in it Pontiff might be worth it.
Matchups and Playing the Deck
To say there are a lot of decks that see play in Modern is an understatement. While this section does not provide an exhaustive list of all the decks you will play against, hopefully you can take some of the tidbits here and extend them to playing against other decks in the format in general.
VS UWx Control
This matchup feels generally favorable for the Eldrazi deck. Between our large body troops and our Voice of Resurgence we stretch their Path to Exiles thin. So many of our troops generate value when they get swept away by something like Supreme Verdict that it is difficult for them to run us out of cards if we play smart.
Post board we trim some of our mana creatures as well as our cards that are not individually powerful to bring in some additional threats. Gaddock Teeg does a good job of holding off Cryptic Command and Supreme Verdict while he stays in play. Be wary of attacking him into two open mana though as Snapcaster Mage trades with him inside of combat.
Cutting Eldritch Evolution may feel odd, but remember Evolution is not a threat on its own. Also we want to keep the front half of a lot of our cards around in these grindier matchups to be better off against sweeper effects.
VS GBx Midrange
Similar idea to playing against Control — with the only difference being that Relic of Progenitus is a higher impact here so we bring it in over some of our more expensive cards. Cataclysmic Gearhulk acts as a nice “catch up” card if we ever fall too far behind on board.
This matchup is very much a race Game 1. If we end up keeping one of our more midrange/grindy hands in the dark we are fairly likely to start the match off with a loss. Finding Thought-Knot is our first priority, while running them down with Reality Smasher comes in second.
- 2 Gaddock Teeg
- 2 Relic of Progenitus
- 1 Eidolon of Rhetoric
- 1 Cataclysmic Gearhulk
- 1 Sigarda, Heron's Grace
Post board we trim a lot of our clunk for quality disruption. Remember that when you get Sigarda, Heron's Grace into play that not only does it stop you from being Grapeshot’d, but it also prevents your opponent from casting Gifts Ungiven.
VS Green-X Tron
Another matchup where we mostly need to race. Their best card against us is easily Oblivion Stone, thankfully post board we get a few copies of Stony Silence to turn this one off. Thankfully since our creatures are largely colorless we get to mostly not care about Ugin. A fast Thought-Knot is ideal in this matchup since most Tron hands are generally leaning on just one or two threats to close the game out.
Against aggro we can occasionally play defense for a small while with our larger troops. Eldrazi Displacer really shines in this matchup — especially post board with Cataclysmic Gearhulk. Thought-Knot Seer is my go to cut since our opponent will often be dumping their hand onto the table fairly quickly.
This matchup is mostly a race, like many of the matches here. The details of disruption are a bit different, but the end is the same — kill them faster. It may seem odd to board out Path to Exile against the Primeval Titan deck — but trust me when I say that you are not winning most games you Path a resolved Titan anyways.
If you are someone like myself who has been looking for a toolbox deck in Modern recently then I would highly recommend giving Eldrazi Evolution a try! It has a strong proactive game plan that lets you pressure interactive decks nicely, while having access to a powerful silver bullets that can help us a good deal against the more linear decks in the format. If you are interested in seeing this deck in action check out my stream archive here.
Have a question or idea about the deck that I did not cover in the article above? Let me know in a comment below!