Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you all had a good weekend and a great Mother's Day! I know some of us have some Standard events coming up, while others have some Modern events in their future. Today, in celebration of Mother's Day, I want to talk about two Grixis decks. One of them is Standard, and the other is Modern. Hopefully this will fill a need for whatever tournament you might have coming up. Both of these lists are controlling, so I hope you enjoy a good control deck as much as I do!
First I'd like to talk about Ralph Betesh's Grixis Control deck in Standard. Betesh made Top 8 of Grand Prix New York with his deck, while our very own Seth Manfield ended up taking down the whole event with W/B Control. I'm sure Seth will have his very own article on his finish and the archetype so I'll refrain from going into detail about his brew and metagame deck, but a huge congrats to him and his finish nonetheless. Let's get on to Mr. Betesh's deck shall we?
This deck controls the game with removal and card advantage. The deck isn't like a traditional control deck where it tries to counter everything then land some small or big threat and close out the game, it's a tap-out control deck.
Transgress the Mind is a one-for-one spell that acts like removal by getting a card out of our opponent's hand. Transgress the Mind exiles, which is relevant in Shadows over Innistrad Standard. Cards like Transgress the Mind are fantastic in that they not only exile a card, but also give you knowledge on how the next couple of turns might play out.
These types of cards aren't all positive though — they can also backfire. If Transgress the Mind has no legal targets, it's just a really bad Peek. Another downside is that Transgress the Mind doesn't affect the board state in any way, so if you're facing down a swarm of creatures, it may not be of too much help.
Grasp of Darkness/Fiery Impulse/Ultimate Price/Ruinous Path: These are all one-for-one removal spells that serve different purposes. You want to vary your spells because none are superior to the other, and a variety will ensure choices when it comes to dealing with creatures or Planeswalkers. It's also good to have different choices for Jace, Telepath Unbound's -3 ability.
Chandra, Flamecaller/Radiant Flames/Silumgar's Command/Kolaghan's Command: These cards are attrition cards and are usually more than a one-for-one. Killing multiple creatures is the ideal when casting Radiant Flames or activating Chandra, Flamecaller's minus ability. Same when it comes to the Commands — they need to get as much value as possible. It's harder to do this under pressure, but keep in mind that you're usually trying to get value out of them.
Read the Bones: This is just straight up card advantage. Great at smoothing out your draws early and finding threats late.
The main reason to run Read the Bones over Painful Truths is so you can buy it back with Goblin Dark-Dwellers. This card is so versatile — it can become a Mulldrifter, Shriekmaw, Flametongue Kavu, and more depending on the size of your graveyard.
Chandra's 0 ability is card advantage. Chandra, Flamecaller can act as both attrition, card advantage, or a win condition depending on the gamestate. A great card, no doubt, but we can't really run many more because it does cost six mana.
An amazing card that filters your draws early on then can gain you life when it flips with its plus ability. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy will also start gaining you card advantage as soon as you start flashing back spells, so make sure to do that when the time is appropriate.
Card advantage… thanks to our opponents! Be a small child again! Steal their toys and make them yours! Works great on a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar that only has four loyalty.
This card needs a little help in order to gain you card advantage. It will need one of your opponent's creatures to die so it can start generating zombies for you. Great combo with Radiant Flames if your opponent has a couple of small creatures in play.
I'm in love with Ralph Betesh's list. The only thing I would really do right off the bat though would be to add three or four Fevered Visions for the mirror match or just any other grindy matchup. I'd most likely cut Transgress the Mind, Dragonlord Silumgar, and a Grip of Desolation from the sideboard to make room for the Fevered Visions.
Moving on. Next up we have a 5-0 Modern decklist by _Nguyenning. It's similar to the Standard Grixis control list where it's more about attrition instead of countermagic. _Nguyenning has gone 5-0 multiple times with his Grixis Control deck on Magic Online. This is the most recent list as I write this article.
Thoughtseize/Inquisition of Kozilek: These cards are similar to Transgress the Mind. The main difference is that they cost only one mana and they rarely miss. The converted mana cost of three or less from Inquisition of Kozilek is much less of a hindrance than the three or more clause from Transgress the Mind.
Lightning Bolt/Seal of Fire/Terminate/Izzet Charm: One-for-one removal spells. These don't usually generate card advantage unless flashing them back. I really like this suite of removal. The only thing I'm unsure about is the Seal of Fire. We don't need the enchantment to grow our Tarmogoyf. We also can't flashback Seal of Fire with Snapcaster Mage or Jace, Telepath Unbound, so I'm not really sure why it's here over something like Fiery Impulse or even Shock. I get that you can play it and just leave it in play for whenever you need it but I'm not sure that's worth it. Maybe because you can play it and continue upticking Liliana of the Veil? Not quite sure.
Kolaghan's Command is great in Standard and even better in Modern since we have plenty of artifacts to hit with it. Buying back any creature in this deck with Kolaghan's Command generates insane value, especially if you chain them with Snapcaster Mages or Jaces.
The queen of attrition. No other Planeswalker exists that is as good as Liliana of the Veil when it comes to attrition. Lingering Souls is less popular as it used to be, so Liliana of the Veil gets much better. The deck can gain so much incremental card advantage that an active Liliana of the Veil can easily cripple and overwhelm opponents. Which leads to the next section…
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy: Jace, Vryn's Prodigy does the same thing here as he does in Standard. Everything in Modern just happens to be cheaper!
The most recent unbanned card in Modern. People have been trying to find a home for Ancestral Visions and Grixis Control is a very accommodating home for this slow Ancestral Recall. This is another reason why Liliana of the Veil works so well in this deck now. When both players are hellbent, the one with a suspended Ancestral Visions is ahead.
Goblin Dark-Dwellers: Again, it does the same things as it does in Standard, except here it can actually draw you three cards by flashing back Ancestral Visions. Thanks to the wording on Goblin Dark-Dwellers, he can flashback any card that has a converted mana cost for three or less. That includes cards that have no mana cost! Hurray!
This is basically just an instant speed Jace, Telepath Unbound. For when you need the card in your graveyard to be played now. Can't wait for three-day shipping? Don't worry, Snapcaster Mage has got that next-day air shipping! He'll make sure your Mother gets her Mother's Day gift on time! He also attacks and blocks!
The deck's Tarmogoyf. Usually you can cast this spell for one or two mana thanks to delve. Tasigur, the Golden Fang will generate card advantage for you when you start activating his ability to rebuy cards from the graveyard. Just make sure when you cast him that you delve away cards that are not going to help you or are dead cards when you activate his ability. These cards are usually hand disruption spell for the most part.
I really like this deck for Modern. It seems to be one of the best control decks in the blazingly fast format. I hope one of these Grixis decks will serve you well in your next upcoming tournaments.
As always, thanks for reading!
Until next time,