If you know me, you know I love a challenge. I appreciate taking an established Modern strategy and turning it into something affordable, with the option to upgrade into an optimal build later on. 

Death's Shadow, however, is a different kind of challenge.

I'm not saying building Death's Shadow on a budget is impossible, but it's tough. When looking at Jund and Golgari Rock, there are budget options available, such as Putrid Leech as a stand-in for Tarmogoyf or Eliminate for Abrupt Decay. Death's Shadow employs a unique game plan that is tough to replicate from a budget perspective. Death's Shadow cares about life resource management and dealing yourself damage to leverage a huge threat. There are a couple of ways to achieve this, and the main one is a vital component of Modern.

Yeah, you guessed it; I'm talking about fetch lands. 

Currently, there are no cheap alternatives on fetch lands which Death's Shadow would be interested in. Fabled Passage is affordable, yet it doesn't meet the criteria. There is endless discussion about the affordability and accessibility of fetch lands, but, for Death's Shadow to be at all a viable option in Modern, you will need to buy a few.

Being able to fetch and shock not only improves your mana, but allows you to pull your life total down to grow your Death's Shadow. I'm a big fan of Death's Shadow as it's so complex and is the best tempo strategy in Modern (sorry, Delver of Secrets). Yet, it feels so exclusionary given the price. Often we mention Jund as an example of expensive Modern strategies. Still, I think fully optimized Grixis Death's Shadow is a perfect example of this as it needs the correct tools to function, which are costly at present. 

When it comes to building Death's Shadow, there are a few essential staples to consider.

Thoughtseize is a crucial card within the strategy. Running four is an absolute must as you need information to play around your opponent's hand, and losing 2 life is a critical upside in this deck. Fortunately, Thoughtseize has seen a reprint in the recently released Double Masters, which allows you to grab these at a cheaper rate.

I recommend picking these up as soon as possible, as Masters sets usually have shorter print runs. If it's like Iconic Masters a few years back, the price of Thoughtseize will creep back up thanks to usage in Pioneer and Modern—so I suggest picking these up now. 

Street Wraith is a staple within Death's Shadow which has seen various reprints over the years, so it's not expensive to pick up. Often you'll use this for its cycling ability, but there will be times when casting a Street Wraith on an empty board will win you the game. Also, Death's Shadow itself features in Double Masters too, making this almost a bulk-rare within the set.

It's worth mentioning that the budget entry into Death's Shadow will seem higher compared to other strategies given the cost of required cards. While discouraging, this article is for players who have decided to pilot Death's Shadow but are unsure where to start. Due to the nature of the archetype, I'll be breaking this down into two articles given how many variants of Death's Shadow there are in Modern.

Budget Mono-Black Death's Shadow

It is possible to build Death's Shadow as mono-colored and fetch-less, but it demands a different approach. 

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Mono-Black Death's Shadow (Budget) by Emmmzyne

'Mono-Black Death's Shadow (Budget)' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Emmmzyne

Event:

Rank:

Modern

Market Price: $171.83

Cards

Damping Sphere

Market Price: $1.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/162250_200w.jpg

If a land is tapped for two or more mana, it produces {C} instead of any other type and amount.
Each spell a player casts costs {1} more to cast for each other spell that player has cast this turn.

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Noxious Revival

Color Identity:G

Market Price: $9.57

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/39555_200w.jpg

({G/P} can be paid with either {G} or 2 life.)
Put target card from a graveyard on top of its owner's library.

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Caves of Koilos

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.79

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212368_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{T}: Add {W} or {B}. Caves of Koilos deals 1 damage to you.

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Death's Shadow

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.77

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218843_200w.jpg

Death's Shadow gets -X/-X, where X is your life total.

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Street Wraith

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161827_200w.jpg

Swampwalk (This creature can't be blocked as long as defending player controls a Swamp.)
Cycling—Pay 2 life. (Pay 2 life, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Nihil Spellbomb

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161909_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Nihil Spellbomb: Exile all cards from target player's graveyard.
When Nihil Spellbomb is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay {B}. If you do, draw a card.

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Cling to Dust

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.52

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206655_200w.jpg

Exile target card from a graveyard. If it was a creature card, you gain 3 life. Otherwise, you draw a card.
Escape—{3}{B}, Exile five other cards from your graveyard. (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its escape cost.)

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Duress

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215662_200w.jpg

Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a noncreature, nonland card from it. That player discards that card.

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Dismember

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/98390_200w.jpg

({B/P} can be paid with either {B} or 2 life.)
Target creature gets -5/-5 until end of turn.

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Silent Clearing

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $4.77

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/190796_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life: Add {W} or {B}.
{1}, {T}, Sacrifice Silent Clearing: Draw a card.

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Fatal Push

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/126331_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature if it has converted mana cost 2 or less.
Revolt — Destroy that creature if it has converted mana cost 4 or less instead if a permanent you controlled left the battlefield this turn.

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Plague Engineer

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.49

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/190985_200w.jpg

Deathtouch
As Plague Engineer enters the battlefield, choose a creature type.
Creatures of the chosen type your opponents control get -1/-1.

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Collective Brutality

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/120116_200w.jpg

Escalate—Discard a card. (Pay this cost for each mode chosen beyond the first.)
Choose one or more —
• Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose an instant or sorcery card from it. That player discards that card.
• Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
• Target opponent loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.

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Thoughtseize

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $11.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218934_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. You lose 2 life.

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Hex Parasite

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/39417_200w.jpg

{X}{B/P}: Remove up to X counters from target permanent. For each counter removed this way, Hex Parasite gets +1/+0 until end of turn. ({B/P} can be paid with either {B} or 2 life.)

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Unearth

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191138_200w.jpg

Return target creature card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Eliminate

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.41

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215516_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature or planeswalker with converted mana cost 3 or less.

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Ifnir Deadlands

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.24

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/135088_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{T}, Pay 1 life: Add {B}.
{2}{B}{B}, {T}, Sacrifice a Desert: Put two -1/-1 counters on target creature an opponent controls. Activate this ability only any time you could cast a sorcery.

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Stitcher's Supplier

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.78

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/169236_200w.jpg

When Stitcher's Supplier enters the battlefield or dies, mill three cards.

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Fulminator Mage

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.97

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218951_200w.jpg

Sacrifice Fulminator Mage: Destroy target nonbasic land.

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Gurmag Angler

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/180787_200w.jpg

Delve (Each card you exile from your graveyard while casting this spell pays for {1}.)

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Ashiok, Dream Render

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $1.43

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188627_200w.jpg

Spells and abilities your opponents control can't cause their controller to search their library.
−1: Target player mills four cards. Then exile each opponent's graveyard.

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Inquisition of Kozilek

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.52

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128476_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it with converted mana cost 3 or less. That player discards that card.

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222820_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Grafdigger's Cage

Market Price: $1.35

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192909_200w.jpg

Creature cards in graveyards and libraries can't enter the battlefield.
Players can't cast spells from graveyards or libraries.

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Night's Whisper

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.81

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/118762_200w.jpg

You draw two cards and you lose 2 life.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/eternal-masters/nights-whisper

You would have to pilot this list differently to other Death's Shadow builds. Usually, Death's Shadow offers a tempo approach where you control the opponent's board until it's safe to cast your threats. Whereas with Mono-Black Death's Shadow, you have to treat this as a midrange strategy given that you cannot lower your life total early enough to cast a huge Death's Shadow. This is where Stitcher's Supplier and Gurmag Angler come in, as a means to interact with the board early on.

Silent Clearing, Ifnir Deadlands and Caves of Koilos may seem odd here, but these are to allow chip damage for Death's Shadow. Otherwise, you have Dismember, Noxious Revival, Street Wraith and Night's Whisper which can help lower your life total. It won't be as effective as optimal Death's Shadow builds, but it will provide you with an idea of how to play the strategy despite the limitations.

Semi-Optimal Orzhov Death's Shadow

Next is Orzhov Death's Shadow, which has seen minor success on Magic Online. If you are serious about playing Death's Shadow, I recommend starting here despite the steeper price tag.

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Orzhov Death's Shadow (Semi-Optimal) by Emmmzyne

'Orzhov Death's Shadow (Semi-Optimal)' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Emmmzyne

Event:

Rank:

Modern

Market Price: $329.14

Cards

Hex Parasite

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/39417_200w.jpg

{X}{B/P}: Remove up to X counters from target permanent. For each counter removed this way, Hex Parasite gets +1/+0 until end of turn. ({B/P} can be paid with either {B} or 2 life.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/new-phyrexia/hex-parasite

Cling to Dust

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.52

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206655_200w.jpg

Exile target card from a graveyard. If it was a creature card, you gain 3 life. Otherwise, you draw a card.
Escape—{3}{B}, Exile five other cards from your graveyard. (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its escape cost.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/theros-beyond-death/cling-to-dust

Unearth

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191138_200w.jpg

Return target creature card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Disenchant

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227260_200w.jpg

Destroy target artifact or enchantment.

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Godless Shrine

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $6.30

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182836_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W} or {B}.)
As Godless Shrine enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Tidehollow Sculler

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.90

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/68431_200w.jpg

When Tidehollow Sculler enters the battlefield, target opponent reveals their hand and you choose a nonland card from it. Exile that card.
When Tidehollow Sculler leaves the battlefield, return the exiled card to its owner's hand.

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Windswept Heath

Market Price: $13.71

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/92832_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Windswept Heath: Search your library for a Forest or Plains card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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Collective Brutality

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/120116_200w.jpg

Escalate—Discard a card. (Pay this cost for each mode chosen beyond the first.)
Choose one or more —
• Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose an instant or sorcery card from it. That player discards that card.
• Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
• Target opponent loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/eldritch-moon/collective-brutality

Silent Clearing

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $4.77

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/190796_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life: Add {W} or {B}.
{1}, {T}, Sacrifice Silent Clearing: Draw a card.

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Fatal Push

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/126331_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature if it has converted mana cost 2 or less.
Revolt — Destroy that creature if it has converted mana cost 4 or less instead if a permanent you controlled left the battlefield this turn.

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Lingering Souls

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128649_200w.jpg

Create two 1/1 white Spirit creature tokens with flying.
Flashback {1}{B} (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222820_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Kaya's Guile

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.90

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191070_200w.jpg

Choose two —
• Each opponent sacrifices a creature.
• Exile all cards from each opponent's graveyard.
• Create a 1/1 white and black Spirit creature token with flying.
• You gain 4 life.
Entwine {3} (Choose all if you pay the entwine cost.)

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Fulminator Mage

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.97

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218951_200w.jpg

Sacrifice Fulminator Mage: Destroy target nonbasic land.

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Nihil Spellbomb

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161909_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Nihil Spellbomb: Exile all cards from target player's graveyard.
When Nihil Spellbomb is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay {B}. If you do, draw a card.

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Gurmag Angler

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/180787_200w.jpg

Delve (Each card you exile from your graveyard while casting this spell pays for {1}.)

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Burrenton Forge-Tender

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145276_200w.jpg

Protection from red
Sacrifice Burrenton Forge-Tender: Prevent all damage a red source of your choice would deal this turn.

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Street Wraith

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161827_200w.jpg

Swampwalk (This creature can't be blocked as long as defending player controls a Swamp.)
Cycling—Pay 2 life. (Pay 2 life, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Inquisition of Kozilek

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.52

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128476_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it with converted mana cost 3 or less. That player discards that card.

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Kaya, Orzhov Usurper

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $2.90

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182951_200w.jpg

+1: Exile up to two target cards from a single graveyard. You gain 2 life if at least one creature card was exiled this way.
−1: Exile target nonland permanent with converted mana cost 1 or less.
−5: Kaya, Orzhov Usurper deals damage to target player equal to the number of cards that player owns in exile and you gain that much life.

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Ranger-Captain of Eos

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $8.69

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/190873_200w.jpg

When Ranger-Captain of Eos enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a creature card with converted mana cost 1 or less, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.
Sacrifice Ranger-Captain of Eos: Your opponents can't cast noncreature spells this turn.

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Death's Shadow

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.77

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218843_200w.jpg

Death's Shadow gets -X/-X, where X is your life total.

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Celestial Purge

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/98738_200w.jpg

Exile target black or red permanent.

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Thoughtseize

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $11.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218934_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. You lose 2 life.

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Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227283_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

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Path to Exile

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $2.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128479_200w.jpg

Exile target creature. Its controller may search their library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle their library.

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Bloodstained Mire

Market Price: $22.44

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/92830_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Bloodstained Mire: Search your library for a Swamp or Mountain card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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Plague Engineer

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.49

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/190985_200w.jpg

Deathtouch
As Plague Engineer enters the battlefield, choose a creature type.
Creatures of the chosen type your opponents control get -1/-1.

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Dismember

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/98390_200w.jpg

({B/P} can be paid with either {B} or 2 life.)
Target creature gets -5/-5 until end of turn.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/modern-masters-2015/dismember

Yeah, I know what you are thinking, $350 for an entry-level Death's Shadow build is hardly budget. But, Grixis and Jund Death's Shadow often peak at $1200, and when you look at it that way, a semi-competitive list for a third of the price doesn't seem bad, does it?

If you already have Mono-Black Death's Shadow and want to upgrade into Orzhov, then I recommend these upgrades in this order.

Maindeck Lands

Maindeck Spells

Sideboard

Orzhov Death's Shadow is a newer take on the archetype and opts for two colors for smoother fixing than the three-color version. What makes the strategy so powerful is it uses all the best removal and disruption in Path to Exile, Fatal Push and Thoughtseize. The inclusion of Tidehollow Sculler grants extra disruption, but if you prefer evasiveness, then Kitesail Freebooter is an excellent alternative.

Given the namesake card, you need options to find Death's Shadow, and this is where Ranger-Captain of Eos comes in.

Jund and Grixis Death's Shadow have more accessible options in Serum Visions and Traverse the Ulvenwald, but the Ranger-Captain does more than enough in Orzhov. The Ranger-Captain's second ability will be relevant in games against Burn, which can be a tricky matchup. Also, it's a fantastic target for Unearth, allowing you to grab any of your one-mana creatures when needed, such as Hex Parasite.

I'll admit, I'm a big fan of Hex Parasite as it's a versatile answer to various threats. Hex Parasite can deal with planeswalkers, Chalice of the Void or even remove counters from a Gemstone Mine—all while paying life to do so, which is vital in Death's Shadow. Hex Parasite is far from a staple, but it's excellent as a one-off thanks to Ranger-Captain of Eos.

Optimal Orzhov Death's Shadow

In terms of optimizing this list, you can add a few on-color fetches and Giver of Runes to offer protection. 

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Orzhov Death's Shadow (Optimal) by Emmmzyne

'Orzhov Death's Shadow (Optimal)' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Emmmzyne

Event:

Rank:

Modern

Market Price: $472.19

Cards

Ranger-Captain of Eos

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $8.69

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/190873_200w.jpg

When Ranger-Captain of Eos enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a creature card with converted mana cost 1 or less, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.
Sacrifice Ranger-Captain of Eos: Your opponents can't cast noncreature spells this turn.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/modern-horizons/ranger-captain-of-eos

Collective Brutality

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/120116_200w.jpg

Escalate—Discard a card. (Pay this cost for each mode chosen beyond the first.)
Choose one or more —
• Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose an instant or sorcery card from it. That player discards that card.
• Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
• Target opponent loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/eldritch-moon/collective-brutality

Path to Exile

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $2.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128479_200w.jpg

Exile target creature. Its controller may search their library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle their library.

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Bloodstained Mire

Market Price: $22.44

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/92830_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Bloodstained Mire: Search your library for a Swamp or Mountain card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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Kaya's Guile

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.90

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191070_200w.jpg

Choose two —
• Each opponent sacrifices a creature.
• Exile all cards from each opponent's graveyard.
• Create a 1/1 white and black Spirit creature token with flying.
• You gain 4 life.
Entwine {3} (Choose all if you pay the entwine cost.)

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Death's Shadow

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.77

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218843_200w.jpg

Death's Shadow gets -X/-X, where X is your life total.

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Disenchant

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227260_200w.jpg

Destroy target artifact or enchantment.

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Burrenton Forge-Tender

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145276_200w.jpg

Protection from red
Sacrifice Burrenton Forge-Tender: Prevent all damage a red source of your choice would deal this turn.

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Gurmag Angler

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/180787_200w.jpg

Delve (Each card you exile from your graveyard while casting this spell pays for {1}.)

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Inquisition of Kozilek

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.52

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128476_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it with converted mana cost 3 or less. That player discards that card.

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Plague Engineer

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.49

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/190985_200w.jpg

Deathtouch
As Plague Engineer enters the battlefield, choose a creature type.
Creatures of the chosen type your opponents control get -1/-1.

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Cling to Dust

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.52

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206655_200w.jpg

Exile target card from a graveyard. If it was a creature card, you gain 3 life. Otherwise, you draw a card.
Escape—{3}{B}, Exile five other cards from your graveyard. (You may cast this card from your graveyard for its escape cost.)

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222820_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Hex Parasite

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/39417_200w.jpg

{X}{B/P}: Remove up to X counters from target permanent. For each counter removed this way, Hex Parasite gets +1/+0 until end of turn. ({B/P} can be paid with either {B} or 2 life.)

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Arid Mesa

Market Price: $29.00

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128275_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Arid Mesa: Search your library for a Mountain or Plains card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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Godless Shrine

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $6.30

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182836_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W} or {B}.)
As Godless Shrine enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Fatal Push

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/126331_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature if it has converted mana cost 2 or less.
Revolt — Destroy that creature if it has converted mana cost 4 or less instead if a permanent you controlled left the battlefield this turn.

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Celestial Purge

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/98738_200w.jpg

Exile target black or red permanent.

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Tidehollow Sculler

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.90

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/68431_200w.jpg

When Tidehollow Sculler enters the battlefield, target opponent reveals their hand and you choose a nonland card from it. Exile that card.
When Tidehollow Sculler leaves the battlefield, return the exiled card to its owner's hand.

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Fulminator Mage

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.97

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218951_200w.jpg

Sacrifice Fulminator Mage: Destroy target nonbasic land.

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Silent Clearing

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $4.77

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/190796_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life: Add {W} or {B}.
{1}, {T}, Sacrifice Silent Clearing: Draw a card.

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Unearth

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191138_200w.jpg

Return target creature card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Street Wraith

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161827_200w.jpg

Swampwalk (This creature can't be blocked as long as defending player controls a Swamp.)
Cycling—Pay 2 life. (Pay 2 life, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/masters-25/street-wraith

Kaya, Orzhov Usurper

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $2.90

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182951_200w.jpg

+1: Exile up to two target cards from a single graveyard. You gain 2 life if at least one creature card was exiled this way.
−1: Exile target nonland permanent with converted mana cost 1 or less.
−5: Kaya, Orzhov Usurper deals damage to target player equal to the number of cards that player owns in exile and you gain that much life.

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Dismember

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/98390_200w.jpg

({B/P} can be paid with either {B} or 2 life.)
Target creature gets -5/-5 until end of turn.

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Thoughtseize

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $11.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218934_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. You lose 2 life.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/double-masters/thoughtseize

Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227283_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

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Marsh Flats

Market Price: $34.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128221_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Marsh Flats: Search your library for a Plains or Swamp card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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Anguished Unmaking

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $7.83

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/115262_200w.jpg

Exile target nonland permanent. You lose 3 life.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/shadows-over-innistrad/anguished-unmaking

Nihil Spellbomb

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161909_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Nihil Spellbomb: Exile all cards from target player's graveyard.
When Nihil Spellbomb is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay {B}. If you do, draw a card.

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Giver of Runes

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $6.21

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/190865_200w.jpg

{T}: Another target creature you control gains protection from colorless or from the color of your choice until end of turn.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/modern-horizons/giver-of-runes

These are the changes I would make, in the following order.

Mainboard

You can get away with Flooded Strand or Windswept Heath, however this does limit you to only grabbing Godless Shrine and Plains. Black is the primary color of the strategy, but as long as you are smart in your fetch choices it should not be an issue. However, grabbing an Arid Mesa and Marsh Flats opens you up to running Mardu Death's Shadow in the future, which is another fun take on the archetype.

Death's Shadow Stoneblade

If you want to add more power, there are variants of Orzhov Death's Shadow which feature the Stoneforge Mystic package.

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Orzhov Death's Shadow (Optimized - SFM) by Emmmzyne

'Orzhov Death's Shadow (Optimized - SFM)' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Emmmzyne

Event:

Rank:

Modern

Market Price: $610.63

Cards

Sword of Feast and Famine

Market Price: $37.84

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218926_200w.jpg

Equipped creature gets +2/+2 and has protection from black and from green.
Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, that player discards a card and you untap all lands you control.
Equip {2}

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/double-masters/sword-of-feast-and-famine

Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227283_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-legends/plains

Hex Parasite

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/39417_200w.jpg

{X}{B/P}: Remove up to X counters from target permanent. For each counter removed this way, Hex Parasite gets +1/+0 until end of turn. ({B/P} can be paid with either {B} or 2 life.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/new-phyrexia/hex-parasite

Kaya, Orzhov Usurper

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $2.90

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182951_200w.jpg

+1: Exile up to two target cards from a single graveyard. You gain 2 life if at least one creature card was exiled this way.
−1: Exile target nonland permanent with converted mana cost 1 or less.
−5: Kaya, Orzhov Usurper deals damage to target player equal to the number of cards that player owns in exile and you gain that much life.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ravnica-allegiance/kaya-orzhov-usurper

Street Wraith

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161827_200w.jpg

Swampwalk (This creature can't be blocked as long as defending player controls a Swamp.)
Cycling—Pay 2 life. (Pay 2 life, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/masters-25/street-wraith

Ranger-Captain of Eos

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $8.69

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/190873_200w.jpg

When Ranger-Captain of Eos enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a creature card with converted mana cost 1 or less, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.
Sacrifice Ranger-Captain of Eos: Your opponents can't cast noncreature spells this turn.

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Stoneforge Mystic

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $17.70

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218860_200w.jpg

When Stoneforge Mystic enters the battlefield, you may search your library for an Equipment card, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library.
{1}{W}, {T}: You may put an Equipment card from your hand onto the battlefield.

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Batterskull

Market Price: $5.93

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218861_200w.jpg

Living weapon (When this Equipment enters the battlefield, create a 0/0 black Germ creature token, then attach this to it.)
Equipped creature gets +4/+4 and has vigilance and lifelink.
{3}: Return Batterskull to its owner's hand.
Equip {5}

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Disenchant

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227260_200w.jpg

Destroy target artifact or enchantment.

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Sword of Fire and Ice

Market Price: $35.96

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218611_200w.jpg

Equipped creature gets +2/+2 and has protection from red and from blue.
Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, Sword of Fire and Ice deals 2 damage to any target and you draw a card.
Equip {2}

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222820_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/zendikar-rising/swamp

Fulminator Mage

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.97

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218951_200w.jpg

Sacrifice Fulminator Mage: Destroy target nonbasic land.

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Fatal Push

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/126331_200w.jpg

Destroy target creature if it has converted mana cost 2 or less.
Revolt — Destroy that creature if it has converted mana cost 4 or less instead if a permanent you controlled left the battlefield this turn.

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Gurmag Angler

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/180787_200w.jpg

Delve (Each card you exile from your graveyard while casting this spell pays for {1}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ultimate-masters/gurmag-angler

Nihil Spellbomb

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.26

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161909_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Nihil Spellbomb: Exile all cards from target player's graveyard.
When Nihil Spellbomb is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may pay {B}. If you do, draw a card.

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Collective Brutality

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/120116_200w.jpg

Escalate—Discard a card. (Pay this cost for each mode chosen beyond the first.)
Choose one or more —
• Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose an instant or sorcery card from it. That player discards that card.
• Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.
• Target opponent loses 2 life and you gain 2 life.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/eldritch-moon/collective-brutality

Thoughtseize

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $11.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218934_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it. That player discards that card. You lose 2 life.

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Giver of Runes

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $6.21

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/190865_200w.jpg

{T}: Another target creature you control gains protection from colorless or from the color of your choice until end of turn.

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Bloodstained Mire

Market Price: $22.44

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/92830_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Bloodstained Mire: Search your library for a Swamp or Mountain card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/khans-of-tarkir/bloodstained-mire

Unearth

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191138_200w.jpg

Return target creature card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Cycling {2} ({2}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)

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Godless Shrine

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $6.30

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182836_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W} or {B}.)
As Godless Shrine enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

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Plague Engineer

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.49

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/190985_200w.jpg

Deathtouch
As Plague Engineer enters the battlefield, choose a creature type.
Creatures of the chosen type your opponents control get -1/-1.

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Arid Mesa

Market Price: $29.00

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128275_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Arid Mesa: Search your library for a Mountain or Plains card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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Dismember

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/98390_200w.jpg

({B/P} can be paid with either {B} or 2 life.)
Target creature gets -5/-5 until end of turn.

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Celestial Purge

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/98738_200w.jpg

Exile target black or red permanent.

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Silent Clearing

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $4.77

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/190796_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life: Add {W} or {B}.
{1}, {T}, Sacrifice Silent Clearing: Draw a card.

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Inquisition of Kozilek

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.52

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128476_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it with converted mana cost 3 or less. That player discards that card.

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Path to Exile

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $2.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128479_200w.jpg

Exile target creature. Its controller may search their library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle their library.

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Kaya's Guile

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.90

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/191070_200w.jpg

Choose two —
• Each opponent sacrifices a creature.
• Exile all cards from each opponent's graveyard.
• Create a 1/1 white and black Spirit creature token with flying.
• You gain 4 life.
Entwine {3} (Choose all if you pay the entwine cost.)

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Death's Shadow

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.77

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218843_200w.jpg

Death's Shadow gets -X/-X, where X is your life total.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/double-masters/deaths-shadow

Marsh Flats

Market Price: $34.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128221_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Marsh Flats: Search your library for a Plains or Swamp card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/modern-masters-2017/marsh-flats

Burrenton Forge-Tender

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/145276_200w.jpg

Protection from red
Sacrifice Burrenton Forge-Tender: Prevent all damage a red source of your choice would deal this turn.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/iconic-masters/burrenton-forge-tender

If you're going to include this, I suggest making these changes.

Mainboard

Again, another positive is Stoneforge Mystic and the equipment above feature in Double Masters. They're not an essential part of Orzhov Death's Shadow, but they offer a different approach backed up with Giver of Runes protection. If you want the option to default into a midrange strategy, then adding Stoneforge Mystic could work for you. Both Sword of Fire and Ice and Sword of Feast and Famine are excellent tools which mitigate the use of Temur Battle Rage. Batterskull is a weird one because of lifelink; however, there will be instances where this can be relevant, especially if you don't have access to your Death's Shadow

Next week, I will be delving further into ways to upgrade toward Mardu and Grixis Death's Shadow. Similar to Jund, Death's Shadow strength lies in its deckbuilding options and how you can customize it to attack the metagame. Death's Shadow is a highly versatile archetype, coming in different colors and approaches, and over time, you can tailor Death's Shadow in a way that suits you.

Orzhov Death's Shadow may not be the top-tier option, but what it grants you is the experience to become comfortable with one of Modern's most complicated strategies to play. Life resource management is an undervalued skill in Magic, and by picking up Death's Shadow, you will learn how to manage this effectively.