Dual Shot - Processing Power

(Oracle of Dust | Art by Jason Rainville)

Remember the Titans

We find ourselves in a place we know: a room that’s… What? It’s empty? Oh, everything’s been exiled.

Because today we find ourselves in the latest episode of Dual Shot, where we brew two decks at the same time... in one deck. This time, we’re hiding Eldrazi tribal inside an Exile deck, piloted in tandem by Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker and Reyhan, Last of the Abzan.

Well, it’s not Eldrazi tribal, not exactly. It’s a little weirder than that.

It’s Processor tribal.

Please note that for our exile-drazi masterpiece, Kozilek, Ulamog, and Emrakul will be suspiciously absent. Consider it an additional challenge (and a more budget-friendly approach) to leave them behind. If you really wanted to sneak one in, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is the optimal choice.

But the Processors need some love! Cryptic Cruiser, Ulamog’s Reclaimer, Murk Strider, and Mind Raker don’t even show up on the Eldrazi Tribal page on EDHREC. Is that because they’re bad? Well, yes. The other Processors make some occasional appearances, owing to general utility, so they’re definitely on this list (except Void Attendant, who is outperformed by Blight Herder). But otherwise there just wasn’t a whole lot of Processing going on to begin with. Maybe if Emrakul had been running on an i7, she wouldn’t have been sent to space jail.

And in truth, we’re running fewer than ten Processors, so it’s not technically Processor tribal, but it’s close enough – you’ll have access to plenty more non-processing Eldrazi that fill up the exile zone, like Bane of Bala Ged, Fathom Feeder, and Mindmelter. Between the jobless Eldrazi, a few Drones, and a huge suite of spells that exile cards, you’ll have constant Processing fuel. There's always a risk of putting something back into an opponent’s yard, since they then may have renewed access to it, so choose your targets wisely.

Or, if you’ve gotten Leyline of the Void out, the Processed card goes from exile… to exile.

Forgetting Something

Wait, shouldn’t there have been a proper introduction to this deck? Oh, it must have been exiled. Well, by Processing the intro back into the graveyard, we can then elucidate the brew's purpose.

The primary goal of this deck is to exile everything and then land some powerful threats, many of which also exile things, just because. Counterintuitively, the subtheme at play – those funny Processors – actively goes against our philosophies of permanent removal and graveyard hate. But since they need a populated exile zone to function, and since you get to pick which card to pull back, their various uses are worth the wonky synergy. Murk Strider can bounce a creature, Wasteland Strangler can provide early removal that works around indestructible, and Cryptic Cruiser can repeatedly turn something sideways to clear the way for bigger, scarier things like Phyrexian Ingester (which also exiles a nontoken creature).

This pilots rather like a control deck – there is a massive removal suite coupled with a handful of sticky-fingered win conditions. Lord of the Void, Ashen Rider, and Sire of Stagnation are all threats providing advantage in one form or another, and Oblivion Sower can steal utility lands, providing ramp along with a tactical boon.

Plus, since we’re in Witch-Maw Nephilim’s colors, it seemed only right that the thing be included – honestly, it’s at least as uncanny as the Eldrazi, so maybe they won’t notice. Diluvian Primordial is another evasive threat (and sufficiently weird-looking, I guess), although it’s tricky to get its trigger to go off since we’re constantly banishing everyone’s graveyards. However, if you time it right, sticking a 5/5 flier and playing three sorceries for 5UU can result in a game-winning change in tempo.

With a couple notable exceptions, our heavy lifters are pretty much exiling in isolation – that is to say, when Nightveil Specter exiles a card, you have access to it through Nightveil Specter, but not through Hostage Taker. But Kaya, Orzhov Usurper does have a unique exile interaction in the form of her ultimate. By removing five loyalty counters, she can burn an opponent, and heal you, for a number of points of damage equal to the number of cards that that player has in exile. It’s not easy to get this to go off, but by the time you do, you’ll almost always have an opposing player with enough cards in exile to make for a sizeable swing in life totals. This is a fun, if extremely niche, lane to take, so if you draw into Ignite the Beacon, you might be better off tutoring for Ashiok, as the enigmatic planewalker can reliably inflict some hate – Ashiok, Dream Render, in particular, shuts off tutors (which is always useful) and empties everyone else's graveyard.

Ashiok, Nightmare Muse is a wonderfully multifarious element in this deck. An earlier version of this brew had Deathgorge Scavenger, because targeted graveyard hate on a stick (shaped like a Dinosaur) seemed a fun way to try and utilize an otherwise lackluster card. Ultimately, though, this slot was a weak link in the deck, and the new Ashiok (whose ultimate does not care how an opponent’s card was exiled) is just too good.

Central Processing Units

While they’re not exactly units, our two commanders, Reyhan, Last of the Abzan and Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker are color-enablers for the deck. That’s not usually enough to justify running a general (or two generals), but Ishai and Reyhan also play very well together, acting as synergistic, mid-ranged nuisances, eating removal spells so you can make your Specters and hungry Eldrazi stick around on the field. Additionally, Reyhan can move Ishai’s myriad counters around, as well as her own – between Ravenous Slime, Witch-Maw Nephilim, and Phyrexian Scriptures, there will occasionally be a lane for progress in there.

Let’s see just exactly what these two CPUs can do.

These Two Used to Hate Each Other, but Their Feelings Got Exiled

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Commander (2)
Creatures (25)
Instants (13)
Sorceries (5)
Artifacts (8)
Enchantments (6)
Planeswalkers (4)
Lands (37)

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Wait, shouldn't the decklist have been featured way earlier? Oh, it must’ve gotten exiled.

Anyway, the thing is that neither of these themes are terribly nuanced. Going pure Eldrazi tribal is very feasible, but the Exile theme is woefully underdeveloped, with only 353 decks as of this writing, and most of those just play like typical control decks but with theft effects. It goes like this: spot removal (but exile), Wraths (but exile), graveyard hate (which is exile), stick a creature that steals a card, or stick a creature that attacks a player’s hand.

It has a little more depth than that, but there isn’t a wealth of wacky synergies. I had hoped that Processing things back out of exile would have made for some unexpected cross-theme shenanigans, but you’re unlikely to encounter a scenario where you’d rather have Ulamog’s Reclaimer than… well, Ulamog. Even if you were to run all 11 Processors (thereby making it solidly Processor tribal), you’d still probably feel bad for not just running better Eldrazi.

But let’s take a look at the other Processors. Something like Ruination Guide won’t really help our gameplan, since the Processors (and a few non-processing Eldrazi pals) are here in a supplementary role, and if this brew is going to work, gaining five life is not going to be what blows the dust out of the cartridge. Oracle of Dust was excluded due to being too costly, but targeted removal for a card in the yard along with looting for two mana isn’t the worst deal. Ulamog’s Despoiler actually plays pretty well with our generals, it turns out, but, without any evasion, it’s too often a big dumb spaghetti monster.

As it stands, this deck is something like a 90/10 split, so it’s really more of an Exile-themed deck with a few gimmicky cards that care about exile (and less so about winning the game). Like many of the less-explored themes, however, the potential synergies that immediately spring to mind aren’t always the best route, and esoteric theory-crafting may be required for optimal performance.

And this is a four-color deck, remember, so there’s a lot that can be done. Small adjustments, sure: you could run Vraska’s Contempt in lieu of Void Shatter if you’re finding you don’t need as much counterplay. A hard counter could replace flexible spot removal in that control slot – but the 1UU cost is slightly more demanding than Contempt’s 2BB. However, big changes, like thinning out our removal package in favor of more ramp to allow wacky finishers like Mind’s Dilation, Villainous Wealth, or Sphinx’s Revelation – or removal on a stick like World Breaker – or changing directions entirely and pursuing a subtheme of +1/+1 counters to make our commanders feel better about themselves… a Witch-Maw color identity enables this and more.

What it doesn’t enable is more Processing power. Eh, maybe someone will find a workaround, or a way to overclock the brew. Otherwise, we’ll all have to wait till i9s are more mainstream.

That’s it for this edition of Twin Bolt! Uh, I mean, Dual Shot! What are some smaller subthemes you've incorporated that otherwise didn't seem to be capable of carrying a deck on their own? Things like Gates, Surveil, and Mentor immediately spring to mind as tools that are difficult to bring to center stage in a brew. What else have you run into? Let us know in the comments below!

Till next we find ourselves in this strange place.

SLVS is a journalist and biotechnician for the U.S. National Park Service, where he makes sense of science jargon and takes pictures of bears. Otherwise, he spends his energy writing weird fiction about robots with anxiety, bothersome elder gods, and rare plant species that cause mild insanity. He once sold a Volcanic Island (3ED) for thirty dollars.

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