Wizards of the Coast was kind enough to send us one of the intro packs for Innistrad. Eldritch Onslaught contains the following cards:
2 Armored Skaab
1 Charmbreaker Devils
3 Deranged Assistant
2 Fortress Crab
2 Merfolk Mesmerist
2 Murder of Crows
1 Pitchburn Devils
1 Scourge of Geier Reach
2 Burning Vengeance
1 Cellar Door
2 Curse of the Bloody Tome
2 Desperate Ravings
3 Dream Twist
1 Ghoulcaller’s Bell
2 Grasp of Phantoms
1 Harvest Pyre
1 Into the Maw of Hell
1 Rolling Temblor
2 Silent Departure
2 Think Twice
This deck appears to be the most disjointed out of all the starter decks, but that’s largely because it employs an unusual strategy. Eldritch Onslaught encourages you to mill yourself (Milling is dumping cards from your library into your graveyard), then using your spells’ flashback ability to hinder your opponent and eventually zap them to 0 life. This makes Burning Vengeance the real MVP of the deck.
The big sexy rare, Sturmgeist, doesn’t really interact with the main strategy. It, along with Scourge of Geier Reach is there to keep your opponents from stomping you while you try to set up your graveyard.
At first I thought that Harvest Pyre’s inclusion was one of those “This is obviously the card you’re supposed to trade out to improve the deck.” but then I realized that if you’re milling yourself at top speed you’re going to have a lot of useless lands in your graveyard and turning those into a sizable amount of damage is very helpful.
TIME TO EXPERIMENT!
As I hinted at before, Wizards of the Coast purposefully builds their intro packs with good cards along with spells that are sub-optimal so that blossoming deck builders will modify them. That said, Eldritch Onslaught is pretty clunky, even for a pre-con. It seems like it would have A LOT of trouble dealing with the other intro packs, especially Spectral Legions, which would send progressively more lil’ spirits at your head while you’re trying to set up your fairly expensive blue-red, self-mill, flashback gambit.
So let’s talk about what I would change:
First off, this deck needs to get its mana fixed, I played a few games with it and I lost count of how many times I started the game with four blue cards and three mountains. If you’re willing to shell out some cash (or have friends willing to trade) Scalding Tarn will do a lot of work to make sure that you have the color of mana you need when you need it (and also put another card in your graveyard).
Second, there is an obvious change that can be made to the deck, which I think most players will notice fairly quickly.
Yup, you have two options. Option 1, add black and make it straight-up grixis colors. Throw in utility stud Viscera Dragger, along with Shards of Alara buddy Dregscape Zombie for creatures that you can use in your hand and your graveyard. Add old-school flashbacker Dread Return and you’ve got a solid way of returning your creatures to the battlefield. Shards had plenty of support for blue-black-red allowing you to use lands that are comparable to scalding tarn, but not as expensive (real-world moneywise).
Option 2 is replacing red with black, making similar changes, and focusing less on the zappyness and more on dumping black monstrosities into your graveyard and then digging them up via Zombify, Dread Return or whatever the kids are using to reanimate the dead these days.
Lastly if you want the deck to stay red-blue but you want something even weirder I got two more suggestions for you.
The first is to mash this deck up with the Mirrodin Besieged’s MIRROMANCY. Galvanoth will help you plow throw your deck even faster, the second is to add Cast Through Time, if you can get a hold of it, which gives all your cards rebound, allowing you to cast each flashback spell a total of three times. (Hand, then rebound then flashback).
All around I’ll give this deck three out of five stars, I like it and it’s nice that they’re introducing new players to weirder strategies… but the deck itself seems to need more work than most other Intro Packs I’ve seen.