I've played a lot of Grixis Death's Shadow in Modern over the last few months. Over that period of time I've grown to dislike the deck. I think it's still, clearly, a very solid deck in the Modern format, but it has lost a lot of its power in the format as other decks adapt to it. The last two times I have played the deck in an event, I've gone 5-4. While I'm certain to have been making some amount of mistakes with it, I didn't feel like I was getting particularly unlucky. Sometimes you lose and you feel like you probably should have won, but I was losing matches and feeling like I probably was supposed to lose those matches.
As a result, I was looking to change decks. The two decks that I felt were the best in the format were Bant Knightfall and Jeskai Control. Well, Bant Knightfall ended up winning a Grand Prix in Sao Paulo last month and Jeskai Control just won the most recent SCG Open, providing some amount of support for my suspicions.
I battled with Bant Knighfall Humans through a Modern league on Magic Online. While I'm not sure how this deck stacks up to traditional Bant Knightfall, I am interested in playing a version with a more aggressive bent. This deck made the Top 8 of Grand Prix Birmingham in the hands of Ivan De Castro Sanchez the same weekend that Joao Lelis won GP Sao Paulo with the traditional Bant Knightfall version.
To provide a basic summary of this deck, Bant Knightfall Humans is a fair Collected Company deck that can win games on the back of its aggressive Human theme, including two Human lords in Mayor of Avabruck and Thalia's Lieutenant. It also has a two-card combo that almost always just wins the game. This combo is Knight of the Reliquary plus Retreat to Coralhelm. Retreat to Coralhelm allows you to untap Knight of the Reliquary whenever a land comes into play, which means that you can use Knight's ability to search up a land and then untap it and use it again and again until you run out of lands to find. This makes Knight of the Reliquary large enough to generally one-shot the opponent. Because fetch lands allow for you to get two triggers from Retreat to Coralhelm, you can use one trigger to untap your Knight and the other trigger to tap down would-be-blockers, paving a clear path.
There are some cards I wanted to change in this deck immediately before playing any games, but I wanted to battle with it before making any adjustments.
The deck seemed all right, but not great. I made a lot of mistakes while playing it, including throwing away one game for sure and losing another game or two that I think I was favored to win. With that being said, I still feel like the deck was lacking something and the sideboard wasn't powerful enough. I think the sideboard should have access to graveyard hate, Mirran Crusader and a way to destroy enchantments at the very least. I think the main deck could benefit from fewer mana dorks that don't play well with the aggressive lord plan and more creatures that do, like Mirran Crusader, Thalia, Heretic Cathar, Tireless Tracker or some other powerful 1-2 drop Humans that I'm not thinking of right now.
I think the archetype has potential, but isn't quite there yet.
- Brian Braun-Duin