Eldritch Evolution and Modern
Eldritch Evolution is getting a lot of hype right now, and to be quite honest I think that it deserves some of it.
Yes, I think this card is quite good. It may even be worthy of it’s $10 price tag right now. But it all depends on what you want to play it with, and I think that at least some of the hype may be a bit misplaced….
Where It Will Work
Now before I really get into this, please remember that this is my personal opinion on the card. First we’re going to take a look at where I think Evolution will fit into right off the bat, in established decks that should be better with the inclusion. This isn’t to say that some of the decks concepts from the second section will never see the light of day. It’s actually quite possible that people will try to make these brews work, and maybe they’ll even succeed!
Ok, with the disclaimer out of the way, I think that the best place for Evolution is in any of the creature combo decks in the format. I think the power of the card is much higher in decks that utilize a two creature combo to win, meaning it will function better in Kiki Chord (assembling Restoration Angel and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker) as opposed to Abzan Company (requiring Melira, Sylvok Outcast, Viscera Seer, AND Kitchen Finks). These are the two decks that have the most to gain by the addition of Evolution to the format.
Kiki Chord can easily cut some of the creatures in the list for a few copies of Evolution, or it could cut back a bit on the copies of Path to Exile, or it could cut the Nahiri, the Harbinger/Emrakul, the Aeons Torn combo that sometimes makes an appearance. The biggest downside is that you need to be sacrificing a CMC 3 creature for Kiki, or a CMC 2 creature for Resto. Wall of Roots becomes very good here, as it can be used to help power out a quick Chord of Calling for Kiki at the end of your opponent’s turn, then Evolution for the Angel on your turn to win.
Abzan Company will have a hard time squeezing it in, as it requires a certain creature count to accommodate Collected Company. The deck currently has very little interaction, and it’s possible that it may make sense to cut it entirely for better odds of assembling a combo quickly. A really nice perk of Evolution in this deck is that your combo pieces only go up to CMC 3, with the exception of Murderous Redcap, which means it’s very easy to be able to get a missing piece with Evolution.
One of the key points to Evolution is either using it in a spot where you just win, or using it for value and sacrificing something that you either don’t need anymore (often a mana dork) or something that has already given you value (Eternal Witness being the best example). Other good creatures to sacrifice that are commonly seen in either of these decks include Kitchen Finks, Voice of Resurgence, and Wall of Roots.
Places To Be Tested
There is another established deck where Evolution may make a splash: Elves. Being able to consistently get Ezuri, Renegade Leader OR Elvish Archdruid could be really convenient, and lead to many spots where you win out of nowhere. The idea of using “6” mana to Chord for one of these is not appealing, but using 3 is much easier (especially as one of that is coming from a dork you will sacrifice anyway).
There are also other two creature combos in modern. For starters there is Archangel of Thune and Spike Feeder, which is a shell that would love to abuse Finks (note that if you Evolution a Finks, you will persist and gain the life before Evolution resolves and you get your Archangel). There’s also the Grand Architect and Pili-Pala infinite mana combo, though that does require a third card to actually win the game with.
The other type of deck that may work out is designed to cheat out a high CMC creature quickly somehow, and then use Evolution to turn it into a game winning bomb (something like Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite). The first concept that seemed to be everywhere was to combine Evolution with Allosaurus Rider, which has already been featured on Modern Nexus and Jeff Hoogland’s Youtube. I think that this combo is actually not very good. Sure, sometimes you use Evolution on turn 2 and pretty much just win the game against certain decks. Often times, however, you don’t have the exact correct cards you need: 2 lands, a dork, Evolution, Rider, 2 other green cards. That’s 7 cards to combo off. By turn 2 you have 8 or 9 cards total. And when it doesn’t work, you’re most likely another glass cannon combo deck that will have a hard time winning, just with a much harder time setting things up compared to something like Grishoalbrand.
An option that I like the idea of is using a deck designed to abuse creatures with Emerge, which you can then Evolve into bullets (like Elesh Norn, or Iona, Shield of Emeria). This deck would take quite a bit of setup I would imagine, and a ton of testing, but the idea of being able to use Evolution to convert Finks or Voice into a higher value creature (Thragtusk or Huntmaster of the Fells perhaps), or use all of these value creatures to drop a gigantic Eldrazi with a relevant effect, seems pretty appealing. It’s just a question of how things will shake out, but that’s what testing will hopefully show.
Delve is another method of cheating high CMC creatures into play for a relatively low cost. The downsides, compared to the Emerge creatures, are that you don’t have other value creatures to help you out when you don’t get to combo and you need to do something to fill up your graveyard (which can hurt your combo options). It is quite possible to delve out a Hooting Mandrills on turn 2, which can then lead to any number of bomb threats on turn 3….
Overall I think that Evolution is super interesting and potentially evolves so many existing decks into more consistent (and thus more powerful) versions of themselves. Certainly a card to keep an eye on!