That Which AroseEdit
The Eldrazi are fearsome creatures indeed - so much so, in fact, that the races of Zendikar didn't dare name them for fear of bringing bad luck to themselves, which was already the Eldrazi incarnate. In the face of such power, the ordinary denizens of the plane could only refer to them in an almost religious, mysterious sense. All the Eldrazi names have three words, the first of which is always "That". The naming convention emphasizes the aloof grandeur of the Eldrazi and the near-speechless amazement with which the other nations viewed them.
The Eldrazi in Alternate Rise, unlike in canon Rise, don't have 0/1 spawn. After all, the Eldrazi are all big and powerful, and it just wouldn't do to confuse them with something weak and pathetic like a 0/1 going to the sacrificial altar (although it does make for an interesting contrast). Also, I envision the Eldrazi to be somewhat lonesome creatures that rely on their own brute force rather than strength in numbers, and I envision them as avatars of obliteration and not of creature-spamming (that's white or green). With the use of hedrons for mana acceleration and for giving Eldrazi players something to do while waiting for their mana to pool up, Alternate Rise doesn't need Eldrazi Spawn, and nor does it need Eldrazi Drones. Therefore, even the weakest of the Eldrazi start at 6/6 - which, by the way, I made it a point that no non-Eldrazi creature in Alternate Rise would have even comparable power and toughness, to accentuate how the Eldrazi's and other creatures' strengths are worlds apart.
All the Eldrazi have Annihilator. However, this mechanic is a bit different from canon Rise's Annihilator. Alternate Rise's mechanic states "When this deals damage, destroy X permanents controlled by defending player, of defending player's choice." The only difference, as you might notice, is that I've swapped "sacrifice" for "destroy" and reworded the rest of the ability to suit. The problem I have with canon Rise's Eldrazi is that they for some reason cause the enemy to sacrifice permanents, rather than just destroying permanents without caring about choice of targets, which is of course the flavor that the set was going for. Also, the sacrifice effect in canon Rise makes for some pretty lame defenses on the part of the colored defenders of Zendikar - what good is indestructibility if you wind up having to sacrifice it? Also, it just didn't make sense that the Eldrazi would smash through resistance with sheer power, then induce an opponent to sacrifice permanents. I suppose that Wizards choose their wording of the mechanic because otherwise the wording might get a bit difficult for either the card or for game rules, but this was just too big of a flavor problem to leave unattended. Trust me, the rules texts of quite a few other permanents elsewhere in the set make a big deal out of the difference between destroying and sacrificing, and for good flavor effects too.
Without further ado, let's check out the first of the Eldrazi, which is not at all what you might have expected:
Your first response might be, "a 7/7 Annihilator 1 for just "? Yes, indeed: Some of the Eldrazi cards seem particularly low-costed. This has to do with the difficulty of playing Eldrazi decks successfully if they cost even more mana, since there aren't any weak Eldrazi. Also, two cards (this and That Broke Chains) come with downsides.
What's the downside? After the Eye of Ugin was broken, a great many Eldrazi were released back into the world. The hedrons scattered across the lands took notice and rose up in an attempt to bind the Eldrazi. The Hedron artifact tokens with Drain 1 are such pursuing hedrons - awakened by the release of the Eldrazi, they fled to the nearest towns and cities to aid the locals' defenses against the coming assault. Because an early-drop (at turn five or so) Eldrazi's initial attack could be quite devastating (after all, the Eldrazi are really powerful), use of this downside made for a much less surprising creature spell. The hedrons won't really do much against the Eldrazi other than slightly weakening it at the beginning (legitimizing its lower mana cost) and getting destroyed when the Eldrazi's Annihilator affect activates - especially important since That Rises Early has Haste.
That Broke Chains exemplifies the Eldrazi's resistance to being imprisoned once again after finally breaking free. This particular Eldrazi can't be removed from play in any way other than getting killed - which, for a 7/7, would be a great feat. Your hedrons can still slow him down, but don't expect a blue spell or two to get rid of him all that easily. Of course, when he first breaks free the hedrons are there watching and resisting too.
These are the cheapest Eldrazi in Rise. The rest tend to cost considerably more, and the Eldrazi know that's one of the greater weaknesses, so one of them has the express purpose of collecting a lot of mana so that you can get your more powerful creatures into play. That Bottomless Pit has a good mana-gathering ability and good power and toughness, but of course that doesn't come cheap, at eight mana:
This guy loves to swallow up the mounds of corpses left on the battlefield after the Eldrazi have come through. Much as you'd expect from Eldrazi in general, they revel in destruction and suck up mana from everything around it - whether they be living or dead. Nothing escapes the gargantuan maw that is the Eldrazi. As you see, That Bottomless Pit takes advantage of the set's tendency to have more than its fair share of wanton destruction by giving you an advantage every time something gets destroyed - be it creature, artifact, or land. Coupled with it's Annihilator mechanic and its high power, That Bottomless Pit can gather quite a lot of mana pretty quickly. Then it just becomes a matter of deciding which cool Eldrazi powerhouse you want to summon first.
That Which FollowedEdit
The Eldrazi in Alternate Rise are generally badder than that of canon Rise, as even these uncommons and rares demonstrate. As the Eldrazi ventured across the lands, they destroyed many of the hedrons holding down the other Eldrazi trapped across the world, and so their numbers slowly grew to include greater and stranger breeds. These are the creatures that followed the earliest Eldrazi out of their imprisonment, and do all kinds of cool things. Here we have That Always Feeds:
Flavor is, of course, incredibly important to the set. While just about none of the Eldrazi creatures have flavor text, their function comes through pretty handily. With this card, it's its tendency to get an awful lot stronger right after a battle, or even before battle if you throw in a deadly instant or two. The Eldrazi grow stronger with each chunk of land consumed after so many years of hibernation, after all.
That Begets Dread is an intentionally overpowered card among the Eldrazi, since its rules text is just so in line with what the set is all about. All flee before their might, and as this card would have it, your enemies can't do anything to stop your rampaging Eldrazi once this one gets loose. Practically a must-have if you're playing Eldrazi.
One of the major things that the Eldrazi do is ruining of lands and sucking away of all its mana. That Despoils Lands specializes in draining away mana to empower itself, and doesn't know where to stop, eventually resulting in the destruction of the land entirely (and not your land, either). In a short while you'll have a burgeoning creature and an opponent without lands!
I can't believe Wizards missed this incredibly obvious mechanic in their design of the Eldrazi. Trample works wonders on a big card, and especially if the other guy has tiny levelers that haven't gained much experience yet. It works even better if the damage can't be prevented at all, because then you're forcing your opponent to choose between some pretty difficult alternatives. And the Annihilator mechanic on this card is just another juicy added bonus. More so than most any other card, this one just flattens everything.
More so than the other cards, That Shalt Come embodies the Eldrazi's ability to last and endure. The lithomancers never stopped them; what can, against those monsters that would be labeled gods? This guy can't be put prematurely out of action; he can't be exiled or countered. And he's serious about staying, with an insanely low Regenerate cost. He'll almost certainly stay in play and keep putting on the pressure. And the most dangerous thing about him is that once he comes out, he opens the floodgates for all the other Eldrazi currently trapped in your hand. One by one, the Eldrazi will awaken, only they shall awaken faster and faster.
The lithomancers thought they had put an end to the Eldrazi threat. But the Eldrazi aren't easy to kill. They tend to come back to life when That Cheats Death is there to grant them a twisted form of immortality. Alternate Rise already features precious few creature-killing spells; destroying Eldrazi is in particular very difficult, and battles with the levelers usually stack up the casualties. But That Cheats Death makes your Eldrazi tribe outlast even the very experienced opponents you'll be facing late-game. And even without such an ability, That Cheats Death can't even die! Talk about a seriously badass card.
That Which DominatedEdit
Of course, the might of the Eldrazi doesn't just end there.
This is based off of the Spawnsire of Ulamog from canon Rise, and from Godsire in a previous canon set. However, if you ever do have an Eldrazi you'd probably want to be attacking with it, and this card's effect works very well to this regard, by allowing you to do what you want to do - and at the same time, giving you an awesome bonus when it hits! This is another card that showcases the Eldrazi's penchant for wanton destruction. Also, the Eldrazi that That Hatches Beasts spawns aren't your pathetic little critters (I also don't see why a player would dilute his or her mana pool on Eldrazi Spawn by the time he or she can get a Spawnsire of Ulamog, which costs , when he could just use that ten mana to cast another Eldrazi directly). No, the beasts that That Hatches Beasts hatches are truly powerful in their own right - making this a card much to be feared. Its second ability is direct from the canon Spawnsire of Ulamog, which I kept just because of its cool extremeness and because now that its first ability is producing real Eldrazi, the second ability matches it far better than it ever did the first ability on Spawnsire of Ulamog.
The ability of the Eldrazi to consume all things is perhaps best demonstrated by this card. That Eats Days not only swallows up resisting creatures, it actively drains away the essence of time! You can't get much more otherworldly than this one, which is somewhat reminiscent of the "Blind Eternities" - the homes of the Eldrazi. This is probably not what you'd expect from an Eldrazi, but it makes sense if you think about it as rushing the battle and giving the Eldrazi additional time to wreck havoc in battle, since it usually allows you to attack twice on what is effectively each of your turns:
Very few cards in Magic allow you to consistently get free turns (well, Panoptic Mirror combos aside). Coupled with the devastating power of the Eldrazi (including the Annihilator mechanic), and the ability to strike again and again is exceedingly devastating. To go along with the idea that That Eats Days is a devourer of time, you can't use time-related blue magic (read: exiling) to affect this guy - he just eats his way through time right back to the present!
Now this card is the very definition of bad-ass:
I just love the name of this card: it uses dwarfs as a verb, then combines it right away with giants, revealing the juxtaposition between large and small that is at the core of the Eldrazi versus everyone else struggle. What's better than an annihilating, overpowered, super-tough giant that is so big that by comparison everything you've got is a pathetic 1/1 ant? No matter how powered up your opponent's creatures might be, once this hits the table nobody else really matters, since he'll just walk all over everybody. Blocking him becomes a really, really bad idea. Since he also has Trample, your opponents can't even fall back on the sacrifice one guy a turn strategy often used against non-Tramplers. Definitely one of the most uber creatures of all of Magic. The reason he comes into play with opposing hedrons is because really, without them he will almost certainly result in a one-hit win condition. Not that the little hedrons can do much against something as great as That Dwarfs Giants anyways.
Next we have a trio of Eldrazi creatures each embodying a major facet of the Eldrazi presence. They aren't too overpowered considering that they're legendaries, but that's only because the best things are reserved for another trio of legendaries further down the list.
First off, the Eldrazi inspire fear in their opponents. That Called Terror's mere presence on the battlefield renders all your enemies cowards, allowing you to strike without fear of any casualties at all, usually a problem if you're running a mixed Eldrazi and color deck. Also, since just about nothing can hurt your army when That Called Terror attacks, he nullifies the 1/1 creature token strategy which, as you'll see later on, is quite a central theme to green's strategy in the war against the Eldrazi.
That Called Hatred makes all your Eldrazi really angry and ready to strike two blows in the time ordinarily needed for one. With your Eldrazi out in play, this is just absolutely devastating!
This guy isn't your ordinary Eldrazi. For one thing, he doesn't even want to show up on the battlefield until lots of stuff are already dead. But when he does, he lays waste to just about anything and would usually end the game in one turn with his 20 power - truly mythic for creatures in Magic. I mean one hit from that thing drains a fresh player's life to zero! One hit also causes the opponent to lose six permanents, which is a mighty blow. Essentially he's the guy that loves big battles and only arrives so that he can have an awful lot of fun blowing up anything and everything. Since levelers can wind up with a lot of toughness late game, That Called Destruction's primary role is to break even the most stalwart, most experienced defenders your opponent can muster.
That In PowerEdit
The Eldrazi usually wander alone, since they are already strong enough to take on just about anything and come out victorious, and are usually very proud. Hence, they rarely join forces. However, three special Eldrazi are each so powerful that they can easily "persuade" other Eldrazi to join their side. Even while still imprisoned, the truth that these beings exist is enough to distort the world. Each has a potent innate ability as well as being far larger than the other Eldrazi. They also cost fifteen mana, making them tie for second most mana-expensive creature in the game (after Draco, which essentially has Affinity, and is a lot weaker). Putting one of these Eldrazi into combat is just epic. As a further bonus, all three of these can't be exiled or countered, making them just that much more resilient of a threat to your foes!
These three Eldrazi are the gods of Kor and Merfolk religions of the present day. The revelation that the supposed enlightened deities are in fact colossal powerhouses of obliteration puts shivers up many a Zendikar inhabitant's back. All three have the same mana cost of so that there is a sense of balance to them, though their abilities are sufficiently different enough and unusual enough that they feel truly unique.
Each of these three has a Forecast ability. The reason they have such an ability is that for almost the entire game, having a fifteen-mana creature card in your hand will be absolutely worthless, and games are very likely to end before you get to play them. Hence, the cards would be far more valuable if you could use them to do something before you achieve the fifteen-mana mark. Especially since canon Rise's spawn tokens have been replaced with the Hedrons' Drain mechanic, you won't have to worry about saving up your mana sources. And by using Forecast instead of another mechanic like Evoke, the cards remain in your hand even after you use their abilities, since after all players don't want to lose their super Eldrazi cards for a Forecast effect.
Each of the three names have been chosen to be part of a group so that it feels like they're part of a closely knit triad with a very mystical, religious feel.
What is worshipped as Cosi is actually That In Deed:
As god of the earth, Cosi specializes in the creatures in the graveyard - or their removal from there. Anything you destroy will return to your control, their minds and bodies bent and corrupted by the sheer power of That In Deed. Also consider that he's a 14/14 with Annihilator 6, and the idea of him being not just powerful but also highly interesting really hits home. The idea for this came from canon Rise's It That Betrays (which, by the way, is also how I got the idea of using three-word names starting with "That"). It That Betray's ability is just fabulous and extremely overpowered. Being able to control anything that ever died makes That In Deed a terrific candidate for demigod, wouldn't you think?
That In Spirit is Ula:
Known for being the goddess of being blunt and always having her way, the mythological Ula is based off of That In Spirit, the invincible Eldrazi that can't be touched by pretty much anything and everything. But unlike other nigh-invincible cards like Darksteel Colossus and Progenitus, That In Spirit can actually grant its power to the other creatures you have on the field - turning them all into likenesses of gods. Not to mention the incredible power that That In Spirit wields as a 13/13 with Annihilator 5. A truly awe-inspiring demigod, isn't it?
And finally we have That In Kind, known as Emeria:
The goddess of wisdom truly exemplifies the properties attributed to her by lore. That In Kind is an unblockable creature that not only is the most powerful of the Eldrazi, but also can outsmart your enemies, preventing them from even fighting back. From afar, That In Kind can turn the battlefield into an absolute rout with a single casting of its Forecast ability, which makes phantasms of your opponent's most prized creatures. And even that ability pales in comparison to That In Kind's ability to take the abilities of any other Eldrazi you may have for its own. Have That In Spirit in play? That In Kind is indestructible and untouchable. Have That Eats Days in play? That In Kind and all your other creatures now get to attack three times each turn. Have That Hatches Beasts in play? You're getting two 6/6 Eldrazi creatures with Annihilator each turn. It's indisputable that That In Kind deserves a position as a demigod of the Eldrazi.
When I first began designing the Alternate Rise set, I focused in on the importance of Eldrazi to the set - since Wizards was making such a big deal out of Eldrazi as the set's selling point, and I knew that there would be 233 cards in Alternate Rise, I developed 40+ Eldrazi cards in the first batch. Since the Eldrazi were already costed so high, it made sense to add really cool effects to the card for just or more, allowing for a variety of interesting effects. Some of those have been presented above. I thought that 40/233 wasn't that bad of a ratio for a set heavily featuring Eldrazi, and wondered why the canon set only had around 15 Eldrazi cards (including the smaller Eldrazi Drones). After designing cards for the other five colors and adding artifacts, I quickly discovered that I was running out of card space, and so had to begin the process of trimming down. Those 40 cards went down to 31, then to the current number; about half of the original cards were lost. I realized along the way that in a set featuring the Eldrazi so heavily, there were more ways to show these creatures' importance than just including lots of Eldrazi. After all, all those Eldrazi turned out to be rares, which severely upset the balance of the set. Also, players can only play so many spells with mana costs of ten or greater, and so many of the Eldrazi cards I had designed couldn't really get played. I eventually discovered that I could better portray the Eldrazi from different facets than just the one (creatures); therefore I ended up designing a variety of cards showcasing the Eldrazi's effect on Zendikar, but which were not Eldrazi cards.