One of the biggest draws to playing Death's Shadow is that it's functional with any other color pairing. It's incredibly flexible and allows you to switch up as much as you like. However, there are challenges when it comes to building and piloting Death's Shadow. Not only is life resource management a tricky skill to learn, but knowing when to turn the corner is another. Turning the corner is when you have developed parity and need to close out the game before your opponent can pull back. The window is often smaller with Death's Shadow due to the balance with your life total, which takes a lot of time to understand when playing the strategy.

Fortunately, Temur Battle Rage makes it a little easier.

Temur Battle Rage is the key reason you play red in your Death's Shadow lists. It allows you to be fast in the matchups where you are unfavored, and beat blockers through creature matchups. Modern is maintaining a creature-focused metagame thanks to Stoneforge Mystic, and Temur Battle Rage is in an incredible spot right now. As a result, both Grixis and Four-Color Death's Shadow are excellent options at present. If you can't go for the quick kill, you can default into a grindy midrange strategy given the high card quality Death's Shadow offers.

Grixis Death's Shadow is an excellent approach to playing one of Modern's hallmark strategies, though it comes at a price. No, I'm not talking about the price of your life total, but the overall cost of the strategy. Expanding on the point made last week, Death's Shadow requires a particular set of tools to function which are costly at present. As a result, the price of entry is higher compared to other Modern strategies, and this guide is aimed at players who have decided to play the archetype long-term.

Budget Grixis Death's Shadow

Before I begin, I highly recommend reading my article last week that covers how to start building Death's Shadow on a budget. As a starting point, picking up Mono-Black Death's Shadow is a decent way to begin. However, if you can afford it, building this Grixis semi-optimal list below from the start is a suitable opening that can save you money long-term, depending on your budget.

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Grixis Death's Shadow (Semi-Optimal - Part 1) by Emmmzyne

'Grixis Death's Shadow (Semi-Optimal - Part 1)' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Emmmzyne

Event:

Rank:

Modern

Market Price: $345.85

Cards

Sulfurous Springs

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $15.70

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/15345_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{T}: Add {B} or {R}. Sulfurous Springs deals 1 damage to you.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/10th-edition/sulfurous-springs

Lightning Bolt

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $1.95

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216484_200w.jpg

Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to any target.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/jumpstart/lightning-bolt

Engineered Explosives

Market Price: $2.90

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218293_200w.jpg

Sunburst (This enters the battlefield with a charge counter on it for each color of mana spent to cast it.)
{2}, Sacrifice Engineered Explosives: Destroy each nonland permanent with converted mana cost equal to the number of charge counters on Engineered Explosives.

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

Mishra's Bauble

Market Price: $2.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218598_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Mishra's Bauble: Look at the top card of target player's library. Draw a card at the beginning of the next turn's upkeep.

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

Blood Crypt

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $15.35

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182838_200w.jpg

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

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Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230465_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Dismember

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.12

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

Underground River

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $8.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/166879_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{T}: Add {U} or {B}. Underground River deals 1 damage to you.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-anthology-volume-ii/underground-river

Drown in the Loch

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $3.64

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199207_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Counter target spell with converted mana cost less than or equal to the number of cards in its controller's graveyard.
• Destroy target creature with converted mana cost less than or equal to the number of cards in its controller's graveyard.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/drown-in-the-loch

Abrade

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227309_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Abrade deals 3 damage to target creature.
• Destroy target artifact.

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

Damping Sphere

Market Price: $1.23

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.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/dominaria/damping-sphere

Shivan Reef

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $1.27

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212465_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{T}: Add {U} or {R}. Shivan Reef deals 1 damage to you.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-2020/shivan-reef

Nihil Spellbomb

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.30

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.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/masters-25/nihil-spellbomb

Inquisition of Kozilek

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.48

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.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/modern-masters-2017/inquisition-of-kozilek

Dreadhorde Arcanist

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $2.58

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/187242_200w.jpg

Trample
Whenever Dreadhorde Arcanist attacks, you may cast target instant or sorcery card with converted mana cost less than or equal to Dreadhorde Arcanist's power from your graveyard without paying its mana cost. If that spell would be put into your graveyard this turn, exile it instead.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/dreadhorde-arcanist

Steam Vents

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $9.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175202_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U} or {R}.)
As Steam Vents enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/guilds-of-ravnica/steam-vents

Collective Brutality

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.90

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

Disdainful Stroke

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230900_200w.jpg

Counter target spell with converted mana cost 4 or greater.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaldheim/disdainful-stroke

Death's Shadow

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.47

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

Gurmag Angler

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.24

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

Ashiok, Dream Render

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $1.42

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.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/ashiok-dream-render

Cling to Dust

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.65

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

Thoughtseize

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $12.28

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

Polluted Delta

Market Price: $26.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/92829_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Polluted Delta: Search your library for an Island or Swamp card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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

Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230466_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaldheim/swamp

Watery Grave

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $9.41

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175205_200w.jpg

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

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/guilds-of-ravnica/watery-grave

Fatal Push

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218830_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.

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

Eliminate

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.42

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

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

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/core-set-2021/eliminate

Stubborn Denial

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.50

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/93033_200w.jpg

Counter target noncreature spell unless its controller pays {1}.
Ferocious — If you control a creature with power 4 or greater, counter that spell instead.

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

Ceremonious Rejection

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/122644_200w.jpg

Counter target colorless spell.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaladesh/ceremonious-rejection

Young Pyromancer

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.41

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216454_200w.jpg

Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, create a 1/1 red Elemental creature token.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/jumpstart/young-pyromancer

Thought Scour

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.74

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216526_200w.jpg

Target player mills two cards.
Draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/jumpstart/thought-scour

Street Wraith

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.43

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

Temur Battle Rage

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227059_200w.jpg

Target creature gains double strike until end of turn. (It deals both first-strike and regular combat damage.)
Ferocious — That creature also gains trample until end of turn if you control a creature with power 4 or greater.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-legends/temur-battle-rage

Bloodstained Mire

Market Price: $24.27

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

This build of Grixis Death's Shadow is the best we can do on a budget as it's a strategy that demands the correct tools to function. Fortunately, the commons and uncommons are affordable at present.

Death's Shadow cannot work without Thoughtseize, especially with fewer ways to shrink your life total. You can go up to a set of Inquisition of Kozilek and add a few more Dismember instead of running Thoughtseize, but this will take longer to grow your Death's Shadow appropriately. Naturally, you would fall closer to a slower midrange strategy rather than a proactive tempo one. As long as you understand the initial limitations in comparison to an optimized list, this won't be an issue.

If you have Mono-Black Death's Shadow already and are looking to shift into Grixis Death's Shadow, then I suggest these upgrades in order.

Mainboard

Lands

Spells

Creatures

Sideboard

I cannot emphasize enough that Bloodstained Mire and Polluted Delta are critical to acquire first. Unfortunately, they are costly due to their deep-rooted application in Modern. You can get away with running a combination of up to six to start with, but ideally, you want a playset of each ultimately. As mentioned above, the noncreature spell suite is affordable thanks to their rarity.

Also, Mishra's Bauble has dropped in price thanks to Double Masters, which is sorely needed. Mishra's Bauble is an unusual card which will likely rise in price again due to its unique effect, so picking these up now will save you money later on.

Rounding out the changes are Young Pyromancer and Dreadhorde Arcanist, which is a placeholder for Snapcaster Mage. Young Pyromancer rewards you for playing instants and sorceries, which can be re-cast with Dreadhorde Arcanist. Granted, it's not quite the same as Snapcaster Mage, but it's a decent alternative.

Building into Semi-Optimal Grixis Death's Shadow

Once you have laid the foundations for a semi-competitive Grixis Death's Shadow build, optimizing the land base is next.

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Grixis Death's Shadow (Semi-Optimal - Part 2) by Emmmzyne

'Grixis Death's Shadow (Semi-Optimal - Part 2)' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Emmmzyne

Event:

Rank:

Modern

Market Price: $438.32

Cards

Thoughtseize

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $12.28

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

Lightning Bolt

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $1.95

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216484_200w.jpg

Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to any target.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/jumpstart/lightning-bolt

Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230465_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaldheim/island

Ashiok, Dream Render

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $1.42

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.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/ashiok-dream-render

Polluted Delta

Market Price: $26.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/92829_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Polluted Delta: Search your library for an Island or Swamp card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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

Abrade

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227309_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Abrade deals 3 damage to target creature.
• Destroy target artifact.

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

Flooded Strand

Market Price: $20.32

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/92828_200w.jpg

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

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

Eliminate

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.42

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

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

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/core-set-2021/eliminate

Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230466_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaldheim/swamp

Mishra's Bauble

Market Price: $2.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218598_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Mishra's Bauble: Look at the top card of target player's library. Draw a card at the beginning of the next turn's upkeep.

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

Blood Crypt

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $15.35

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182838_200w.jpg

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

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/ravnica-allegiance/blood-crypt

Watery Grave

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $9.41

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175205_200w.jpg

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

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/guilds-of-ravnica/watery-grave

Young Pyromancer

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.41

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216454_200w.jpg

Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, create a 1/1 red Elemental creature token.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/jumpstart/young-pyromancer

Fatal Push

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218830_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.

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

Gurmag Angler

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.24

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

Thought Scour

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.74

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216526_200w.jpg

Target player mills two cards.
Draw a card.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/jumpstart/thought-scour

Inquisition of Kozilek

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.48

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.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/modern-masters-2017/inquisition-of-kozilek

Bloodstained Mire

Market Price: $24.27

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

Collective Brutality

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.90

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

Kolaghan's Command

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $5.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96518_200w.jpg

Choose two —
• Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.
• Target player discards a card.
• Destroy target artifact.
• Kolaghan's Command deals 2 damage to any target.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/dragons-of-tarkir/kolaghans-command

Death's Shadow

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.47

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

Nihil Spellbomb

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.30

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.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/masters-25/nihil-spellbomb

Drown in the Loch

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $3.64

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199207_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Counter target spell with converted mana cost less than or equal to the number of cards in its controller's graveyard.
• Destroy target creature with converted mana cost less than or equal to the number of cards in its controller's graveyard.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/throne-of-eldraine/drown-in-the-loch

Temur Battle Rage

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227059_200w.jpg

Target creature gains double strike until end of turn. (It deals both first-strike and regular combat damage.)
Ferocious — That creature also gains trample until end of turn if you control a creature with power 4 or greater.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/commander-legends/temur-battle-rage

Damping Sphere

Market Price: $1.23

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.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/dominaria/damping-sphere

Steam Vents

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $9.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175202_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U} or {R}.)
As Steam Vents enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/guilds-of-ravnica/steam-vents

Disdainful Stroke

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230900_200w.jpg

Counter target spell with converted mana cost 4 or greater.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaldheim/disdainful-stroke

Stubborn Denial

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.50

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/93033_200w.jpg

Counter target noncreature spell unless its controller pays {1}.
Ferocious — If you control a creature with power 4 or greater, counter that spell instead.

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

Dismember

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.12

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

Engineered Explosives

Market Price: $2.90

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218293_200w.jpg

Sunburst (This enters the battlefield with a charge counter on it for each color of mana spent to cast it.)
{2}, Sacrifice Engineered Explosives: Destroy each nonland permanent with converted mana cost equal to the number of charge counters on Engineered Explosives.

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

Street Wraith

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.43

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

Dreadhorde Arcanist

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $2.58

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/187242_200w.jpg

Trample
Whenever Dreadhorde Arcanist attacks, you may cast target instant or sorcery card with converted mana cost less than or equal to Dreadhorde Arcanist's power from your graveyard without paying its mana cost. If that spell would be put into your graveyard this turn, exile it instead.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/dreadhorde-arcanist

Ceremonious Rejection

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/122644_200w.jpg

Counter target colorless spell.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaladesh/ceremonious-rejection

Maindeck

Sideboard

Kolaghan's Command is another reason why you play Grixis Death's Shadow. It's a highly versatile card which creates tempo, and at worst, can return Death's Shadow to your hand. You don't want to run too many given it's three mana, so a split between the main and sideboard is best.

You can get away with running Flooded Strand as it can grab all of the relevant shocks, but not basic Swamp. Scalding Tarn is the preferred option. However, Scalding Tarn commands a high price which hopefully will become affordable with the anticipated reprint later this year. Until then, Flooded Strand is more than good enough.

Optimizing Grixis Death's Shadow

Lastly, the remaining upgrades can be pricey given their overall usage in the format.

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

'Grixis 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: $644.02

Cards

Gurmag Angler

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.24

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

Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230466_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaldheim/swamp

Steam Vents

Color Identity:R,U

Market Price: $9.22

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175202_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U} or {R}.)
As Steam Vents enters the battlefield, you may pay 2 life. If you don't, it enters the battlefield tapped.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/guilds-of-ravnica/steam-vents

Stubborn Denial

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.50

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/93033_200w.jpg

Counter target noncreature spell unless its controller pays {1}.
Ferocious — If you control a creature with power 4 or greater, counter that spell instead.

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

Ashiok, Dream Render

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $1.42

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.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/war-of-the-spark/ashiok-dream-render

Engineered Explosives

Market Price: $2.90

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218293_200w.jpg

Sunburst (This enters the battlefield with a charge counter on it for each color of mana spent to cast it.)
{2}, Sacrifice Engineered Explosives: Destroy each nonland permanent with converted mana cost equal to the number of charge counters on Engineered Explosives.

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Watery Grave

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $9.41

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175205_200w.jpg

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

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Disdainful Stroke

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230900_200w.jpg

Counter target spell with converted mana cost 4 or greater.

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Thoughtseize

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $12.28

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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Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230465_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Thought Scour

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.74

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216526_200w.jpg

Target player mills two cards.
Draw a card.

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Street Wraith

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.43

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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Drown in the Loch

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $3.64

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199207_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Counter target spell with converted mana cost less than or equal to the number of cards in its controller's graveyard.
• Destroy target creature with converted mana cost less than or equal to the number of cards in its controller's graveyard.

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Temur Battle Rage

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227059_200w.jpg

Target creature gains double strike until end of turn. (It deals both first-strike and regular combat damage.)
Ferocious — That creature also gains trample until end of turn if you control a creature with power 4 or greater.

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Fatal Push

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218830_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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Death's Shadow

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.47

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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Abrade

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227309_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Abrade deals 3 damage to target creature.
• Destroy target artifact.

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Ceremonious Rejection

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/122644_200w.jpg

Counter target colorless spell.

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Blood Crypt

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $15.35

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182838_200w.jpg

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

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Lightning Bolt

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $1.95

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216484_200w.jpg

Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to any target.

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Collective Brutality

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.90

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

Dismember

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.12

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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Polluted Delta

Market Price: $26.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/92829_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Polluted Delta: Search your library for an Island or Swamp card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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Surgical Extraction

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $14.56

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/98646_200w.jpg

({B/P} can be paid with either {B} or 2 life.)
Choose target card in a graveyard other than a basic land card. Search its owner's graveyard, hand, and library for any number of cards with the same name as that card and exile them. Then that player shuffles their library.

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Inquisition of Kozilek

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.48

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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Scalding Tarn

Market Price: $55.96

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128282_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Scalding Tarn: Search your library for an Island or Mountain card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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

Damping Sphere

Market Price: $1.23

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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Mishra's Bauble

Market Price: $2.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218598_200w.jpg

{T}, Sacrifice Mishra's Bauble: Look at the top card of target player's library. Draw a card at the beginning of the next turn's upkeep.

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Kolaghan's Command

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $5.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96518_200w.jpg

Choose two —
• Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.
• Target player discards a card.
• Destroy target artifact.
• Kolaghan's Command deals 2 damage to any target.

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Snapcaster Mage

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $37.95

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/179455_200w.jpg

Flash
When Snapcaster Mage enters the battlefield, target instant or sorcery card in your graveyard gains flashback until end of turn. The flashback cost is equal to its mana cost. (You may cast that card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then exile it.)

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Bloodstained Mire

Market Price: $24.27

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

Eliminate

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.42

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

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

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/core-set-2021/eliminate

Maindeck

Sideboard

Snapcaster Mage is a long-time lynchpin of Modern; it's a fantastic win condition that creates plenty of two-for-ones. As a result, it keeps a high price tag and slots into Grixis Death's Shadow with ease. You can get away with running two Snapcaster Mage and one Dreadhorde Arcanist, or a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy for example. Most Grixis Death's Shadow lists vary from two to three Snapcaster Mage depending on the configuration.

Surgical Extraction is here to respect graveyard archetypes in Modern, and comes with the benefit of losing life. Sideboards vary depending on the metagame, and I could easily see a set of Leyline of the Void instead of Surgical Extraction, Abrade and Eliminate. Otherwise, the sideboard is able to deal with various threats within the formats.

Mardu Death's Shadow

If you aren't feeling Grixis Death's Shadow but picked up Orzhov Death's Shadow recently, then splashing into a third color may be an option. Firstly, Mardu Death's Shadow is a decent choice as it won Modern Grand Prixs and various Magic Online Modern Challenges last year. It's the cheaper competitive alternative of Death's Shadow which keeps Temur Battle Rage as a win condition.

Please note, I'm using the Semi-Optimal Orzhov Death's Shadow list from last week to upgrade these into different variants.

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

'Mardu's Death 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: $553.14

Cards

Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.99

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230464_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaldheim/plains

Giver of Runes

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $9.68

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

Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230466_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/kaldheim/swamp

Dismember

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.12

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

Kolaghan's Command

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $5.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/96518_200w.jpg

Choose two —
• Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand.
• Target player discards a card.
• Destroy target artifact.
• Kolaghan's Command deals 2 damage to any target.

Buy This Card! https://shop.tcgplayer.com/magic/dragons-of-tarkir/kolaghans-command

Unearth

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.21

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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Burrenton Forge-Tender

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.24

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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Dreadhorde Arcanist

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $2.58

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/187242_200w.jpg

Trample
Whenever Dreadhorde Arcanist attacks, you may cast target instant or sorcery card with converted mana cost less than or equal to Dreadhorde Arcanist's power from your graveyard without paying its mana cost. If that spell would be put into your graveyard this turn, exile it instead.

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Lightning Bolt

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $1.95

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216484_200w.jpg

Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to any target.

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Kaya, Orzhov Usurper

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $3.02

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: $11.91

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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Godless Shrine

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $7.73

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: $0.85

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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Goblin Cratermaker

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.16

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/176420_200w.jpg

{1}, Sacrifice Goblin Cratermaker: Choose one —
• Goblin Cratermaker deals 2 damage to target creature.
• Destroy target colorless nonland permanent.

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Bloodstained Mire

Market Price: $24.27

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

Blood Crypt

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $15.35

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182838_200w.jpg

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

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Fulminator Mage

Color Identity:B,R

Market Price: $0.90

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

Sacrifice Fulminator Mage: Destroy target nonbasic land.

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Wear // Tear

Color Identity:R,W

Market Price: $0.37

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227383_200w.jpg

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Silent Clearing

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $5.89

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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Thoughtseize

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $12.28

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

Plague Engineer

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.42

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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Fatal Push

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218830_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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Arid Mesa

Market Price: $32.45

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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Marsh Flats

Market Price: $36.43

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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Street Wraith

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.43

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

Sacred Foundry

Color Identity:R,W

Market Price: $11.89

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175200_200w.jpg

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

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Collective Brutality

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.90

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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Celestial Purge

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.23

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

Exile target black or red permanent.

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Hex Parasite

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.66

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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Death's Shadow

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.47

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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Inquisition of Kozilek

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.48

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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Temur Battle Rage

Color Identity:R

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/227059_200w.jpg

Target creature gains double strike until end of turn. (It deals both first-strike and regular combat damage.)
Ferocious — That creature also gains trample until end of turn if you control a creature with power 4 or greater.

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In terms of changes, I would begin here and add these upgrades in order.

Maindeck

Sideboard

As you are in Mardu, you have various options when it comes to removal. I've added Lightning Bolt as it's decent generic answer to the Modern metagame which can grow your Death's Shadow at worst. Over time, you will figure out which removal works best for you. Also, you can run a playset of Mishra's Bauble if you want interaction. I would suggest taking out 1 Dismember, 1 Inquisition of Kozilek and 2 Giver of Runes to accommodate.

Esper Death's Shadow

If you aren't feeling the red splash, then adding blue to create Esper Death's Shadow may be for you.

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

'Esper 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: $507.31

Cards

Fatal Push

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218830_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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Hex Parasite

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.66

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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Engineered Explosives

Market Price: $2.90

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/218293_200w.jpg

Sunburst (This enters the battlefield with a charge counter on it for each color of mana spent to cast it.)
{2}, Sacrifice Engineered Explosives: Destroy each nonland permanent with converted mana cost equal to the number of charge counters on Engineered Explosives.

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Ceremonious Rejection

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.20

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/122644_200w.jpg

Counter target colorless spell.

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Collective Brutality

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $2.90

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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Death's Shadow

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.47

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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Teferi, Time Raveler

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $9.80

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/187194_200w.jpg

Each opponent can cast spells only any time they could cast a sorcery.
+1: Until your next turn, you may cast sorcery spells as though they had flash.
−3: Return up to one target artifact, creature, or enchantment to its owner's hand. Draw a card.

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Inquisition of Kozilek

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $3.48

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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Tidehollow Sculler

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $0.85

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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Path to Exile

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $2.73

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: $1.24

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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Unearth

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.21

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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Disdainful Stroke

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.25

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230900_200w.jpg

Counter target spell with converted mana cost 4 or greater.

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Stubborn Denial

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.50

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/93033_200w.jpg

Counter target noncreature spell unless its controller pays {1}.
Ferocious — If you control a creature with power 4 or greater, counter that spell instead.

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Plains

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.99

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230464_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {W}.)

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Polluted Delta

Market Price: $26.13

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/92829_200w.jpg

{T}, Pay 1 life, Sacrifice Polluted Delta: Search your library for an Island or Swamp card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.

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Flooded Strand

Market Price: $20.32

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/92828_200w.jpg

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

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Marsh Flats

Market Price: $36.43

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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Aether Gust

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.48

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192535_200w.jpg

Choose target spell or permanent that's red or green. Its owner puts it on the top or bottom of their library.

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Ranger-Captain of Eos

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $11.91

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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Watery Grave

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $9.41

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/175205_200w.jpg

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

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Celestial Purge

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.23

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

Exile target black or red permanent.

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Hallowed Fountain

Color Identity:U,W

Market Price: $6.39

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/182831_200w.jpg

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

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Thought Scour

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.74

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216526_200w.jpg

Target player mills two cards.
Draw a card.

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Godless Shrine

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $7.73

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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Street Wraith

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $1.43

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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Burrenton Forge-Tender

Color Identity:W

Market Price: $0.24

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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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.98

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230466_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Silent Clearing

Color Identity:B,W

Market Price: $5.89

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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Thoughtseize

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $12.28

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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Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.66

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/230465_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Gurmag Angler

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.24

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: $1.42

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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Esper Death's Shadow rarely sees play due to the omission of Temur Battle Rage. However, it's an excellent option if you see plenty of Death's Shadow into your metagame. Having access to both Stubborn Denial and Teferi, Time Raveler allow for a control approach that can be tough to manage. As a result, there is less emphasis on deploying an early Death's Shadow, and the namesake creature is treated more like a late-game control threat.

As for upgrades, I would follow this plan.

Maindeck

You can get away with using Bloodstained Mire and Arid Mesa instead of Flooded Strand and Polluted Delta. However, it can create nuances in which land to grab (especially basic Island). If you intend to keep both Bloodstained Mire and Arid Mesa in your list, then I would recommend picking up another Watery Grave over an Island.

Sideboard

To fully optimize Esper Death's Shadow, I would recommend making these changes.

Like with Grixis, you can get away with two Snapcaster Mage and keep in a Tidehollow Sculler or a Kitesail Freebooter instead. Snapcaster Mage works particularly well in Esper Death's Shadow as it's an excellent target for Unearth and Teferi, Time Raveler's minus ability, generating plenty of two-for-ones.

* * *

Grixis Death's Shadow remains an excellent option for Modern, with the potential to extend into other colors to tackle the answers of the format. Despite Esper and Mardu Death's Shadow seeing little play, there is merit to playing these strategies in the future. Modern changes all the time, and having a swath of answers backed up with a Death's Shadow feels like a stable place to start. If nothing else, it allows you to amass an impressive collection of Modern staples which see play outside of Death Shadow strategies.

Next week, I'll be rounding off with a budget guide to building Jund and Four-Color Death's Shadow. Four-Color Death's Shadow is pulling the most results at present, using Tarmogoyf and Traverse the Ulvenwald to significant effect. Naturally, this all comes at a price... but of what kind?