Modern Spotlight: Grixis Control

The StarCityGames Modern Classic in Baltimore this past weekend showcased a much healthier metagame than other recent modern events. Grixis control, while not breaking into the top 8, did put up a few good results and I though it would be nice to showcase one of our “new” cards.

Over the past year the idea of combining Tasigur, the Golden Fang with a mix of removal, discard, and card advantage has been pretty potent. The power of the deck started to go down over time, however, presumably due to people focusing more on graveyard hate which the deck is very weak to (as much of it’s card advantage comes from utilizing the graveyard as a resource). Now with Eldrazi being diminished we’ve run into a format where graveyard hate (which Eldrazi needed to combat Abzan Company) has actually become less common, and decks have almost become a little bit more fair. This sounds like a prime time for Grixis Control to make a come back, and I have two lists to share below from Baltimore.

Matthew Nester – 10th Place

Creatures (12)
Snapcaster Mage
Thing in the Ice
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Lands (23)
Island
Mountain
Swamp
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Creeping Tar Pit
Drowned Catacomb
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Watery Grave

Spells (25)
Dismember
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Mana Leak
Terminate
Thought Scour
Ancestral Vision
Inquisition of Kozilek
Serum Visions

Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Spellskite
Fulminator Mage
Izzet Staticaster
Blood Moon
Counterspell
Dispel
Keranos, God of Storms
Anger of the Gods
Damnation
Shatterstorm
Vandalblast

Raymond Griffith – 11th Place

Creatures (13)
Goblin Dark-Dwellers
Snapcaster Mage
Young Pyromancer
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Vendilion Clique
Lands (23)
Island
Mountain
Swamp
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Creeping Tar Pit
Darkslick Shores
Ghost Quarter
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Watery Grave

Spells (24)
Electrolyze
Izzet Charm
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Mana Leak
Remand
Terminate
Tribute to Hunger
Ancestral Vision
Serum Visions

Sideboard (15)
Leyline of the Void
Dispel
Negate
Spell Pierce
Terminate
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Crumble to Dust
Damnation
Molten Rain

Here we have two very similar decks that have been tweaked by their pilots to fit their personal play style. This just goes to show how wide open modern is at this point, where there is plenty of room for experimenting with cards and seeing how they end up doing. Or perhaps it’s more something to do with Grixis as a whole, as there are a bunch of different ways to build the deck and have the core idea remain the same (let’s not forget that Cruel Ultimatum lists exist, as well as decks featuring Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas and the ThopterSword combo).

Both of these decks do, however, showcase the power of Ancestral Vision in modern (and I believe were the highest placing decks featuring AV in the maindeck). Grixis, much like Jund, usually relies on trading resources one for one with the opponent until they are both in top deck mode, at which point Grixis plans to come out ahead due to raw card advantage (Snapcaster Mage, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Tasigur, the Golden Fang being the weapons of choice). The biggest issue that Grixis has, much like decks, is the problems fighting the unfair decks of modern. A large amount of removal often does not help against decks like Ad Nauseam, and you often have issues presenting enough of a clock to win before they can beat you.

I’ve always been a big fan of Grixis as a color combination, and hope to continue to see the deck evolve and perform well going forward (especially as it’s very likely I’ll be sleeving up my own brew in a few weeks). Looking forward to next weekend to see if any other neat new decks pop up, or if we’ll revisit Baltimore’s lists next Wednesday.

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.