It feels weird to be playing a Grixis list and not having Cruel Ultimatum in it. But the truth is this is more of a Blue Moon deck that's splashing for Tasigur, the Golden Fang and some black removal spells...hence, Grixis Moon. I'll be honest, I'd love to add some Cruel Ultimatums, but that isn't the purpose of the deck. I'm not sure we'd even be able to cast them as we rarely want or have more than one black mana source in play.
This is the list that Dave Shiels used to Top 4 the Modern Premier IQ in Richmond last weekend.
It's interesting, and as a fan of Blood Moon decks in general, I liked the addition of Tasigur, the Golden Fang. It's an incredibly strong card. The best thing about writing about Modern is that very rarely does a brand new set have a sizable impact on the format, so it doesn't really affect us that Dragons of Tarkir isn't available on Magic Online until, well, today actually.
Next week we'll be sure to see some of the new cards making an appearance in the format, but let's see how we fare without them.
Grixis Moon vs. Monoblue Tron
Grixis Moon vs. Monoblack Discard
Grixis Moon vs. BW Tokens
Grixis Moon vs. Monogreen Devotion
So the deck was interesting to say the least. I think the thing I was the least fond of was land related. I felt like our mana base gave us the most trouble and the fact that we were only running 22 lands made it problematic to draw a third or fourth land at times. And this isn't the kind of deck that can Thought Scour itself into oblivion to cast Tasigur for one mana; this deck will usually be casting him on turn three on average. The other thing is that we want a high concentration of Islands for our Vedalken Shackles, and even taking a Tarmogoyf should require around four or so Islands. But that's difficult with such a low land count.
Another thing was that the deck had a lot of interesting choices, a lot of which ended up being dead against certain matches. One Remand? One Thought Scour? One Spellskite? One Shadow of Doubt? A lot of these are pretty narrow, but on the bright side, many of them cantrip. This made it fairly easy to sideboard, but against a deck like Tron, it felt like we had a ton of blanks: Spellskite, Spell Snare, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, etc. While the Shadow of Doubt could be useful if they try to use Expedition Map, you have to actually draw the one-of at the appropriate time. Personally I prefer more linear strategies where all my cards are a little more versatile.
As a deck with access to red mana, I found it odd that we didn't have a single way to deal with artifacts in the entire 75 cards. I faced off against RG Tron as well in an unrecorded match and I couldn't deal with things like Oblivion Stone or Wurmcoil Engine without a lot of fancy footwork on my end.
I did come up with a theory while playing, however. I feel like the reason these decks do so much better in real life than they end up doing online (Dave Shiels' deck for example, that made the Top 4 of the premier IQ) is basically the same reason that a lot of the more obscure decks I play for articles (of which I do not consider this one) often do so well. As a Blue Moon variant, I feel this deck is a pretty well known quantity. When you play at something like a Premier IQ, you expect a lot of the same decks: Abzan, Splinter Twin, Burn, etc. You know, your run-of-the-mill metagame. Online, however, you can face a little bit of everything. For example, the matches I lost to were RG Tron and Monogreen Devotion; two decks that probably don't show up all that often at paper events. This gives those decks a slight advantage as a deck like ours wouldn't be readily geared to Defeat them. It would be built in such a way to Defeat the decks one expected to play against in a real life environment like a Premier IQ with Blood Moon being a sort of catch-all.
Blue Moon was great as a blue and red deck, but I'm not sure we actually need the black. The thing is, you often had a hard enough time casting cards like Cryptic Command or Jace, Architect of Thought, or activating Vedalken Shackles with two colors. Now we have to worry about getting cards like Watery Graves (which will turn into Mountains with a Blood Moon) or a basic Swamp (which will help neither Cryptic Command nor Vedalken Shackles). Basically, the deck was fun, but it felt a little conflicted. It was a Blood Moon strategy that asked us to play with a seemingly not-so-Blood Moon manabase. It is what it is. I don't think the deck is bad; I just found it to have a few holes in my testing.
Alas, that's all I have for today! Dragons of Tarkir is available on Magic Online starting today and we'll be streaming some drafts all week starting today around three pm PST on my Twitch channel, so be sure to check it out and follow along! That also means that we should have some Standard action with Dragons of Tarkir come this Thursday so be prepared! Thanks for reading and I'll catch you guys then.
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV, streaming Monday - Thursday afternoons