I played Grixis Control to an 11-3-1 finish at Legacy Grand Prix Richmond. I was highlighted by the event coverage, so if you’re interested in the deck list, sideboarding guide, and commentary on what I played, you can find tons of information in the links below.
Instead of repeating the old, I’ll be focusing on the new. What will be Grixis’s position in Legacy after the results of this tournament?
What I Learned
Well, a record of 11-3-1 against some pretty tough competition is solid. I liked my deck and didn’t have any major regrets. I managed a 1-1 record against Lands, which is one of the more challenging matchups, as well as a 1-1 record against Temur Delver, which I believe to be slightly favorable (but certainly not a shock to lose to it once).
For me, the biggest surprise was the prevalence and the success of U/W Miracles. I played the matchup four times, and came out with a 2-1-1 record, despite considering it one of my best matchups going into the tournament. The problem is the strength of Counterbalance and Back to Basics, which are permanents that can come down early and generate long term advantage in games that drag on. With no way to remove an enchantment in game 1, they would demand a Force of Will if I was lucky, and beat me outright if I wasn’t.
I went in with the goal of being prepared for a diverse field. I packed Ensnaring Bridge for Eldrazi Stompy and Turbo Depths, and two copies of Blue Elemental Blast for Burn and Mono-Red Prison. Given my matchups and the results of the tournament, I wish that I had prepared more for the top 5 decks in the format, and worried less about decks number six through number twenty.
What to Change
I’m on record that U/W Miracles with Back to Basics is going to be a major player moving forward. Miracles is a popular choice among Legacy experts, so I think that this will be even more true at larger events, if you’re hoping to go deep in the winner’s bracket at tournaments.
Next time, I would main deck a Pyroblast, which is an out to Back to Basics and a generally great tool for a deck that goes long and has access to Snapcaster Mage. I’d still keep three in the sideboard, offering the ability to really load up on them for games 2 and 3.
The best way to beat Back to Basics is with a basic Mountain (repeatable access to Pyroblast), but I think that’s too extreme. Mountain doesn’t cast most of your spells and doesn’t help against Blood Moon. That said, a second basic Swamp might be just what the doctor ordered.
Finally, Dread of Night holds a lot of appeal to me, and should be a strong consideration for any deck with access to black mana. Death and Taxes remains a major player, despite not putting up a great finish in Richmond. Plus, bringing in one Dread of Night is a good option to have against the Miracles builds that lean very heavily on Monastery Mentor.
Grixis remains a solid choice in Legacy, with good matchups against many of the top decks. If you want to play control, choosing Grixis or Miracles is a close call that will come down to personal preference.
Miracles has a more solid mana base, with potent single cards (like Back to Basics) and reset buttons (like Terminus). It’s going to be stronger against niche strategies like Lands, Turbo Depths, and Mono-Red Prison.
Grixis is more about keeping pace and paring down resources with 1-for-1 and 2-for-1 trades. It’s stronger against combo because of the two-pronged disruption of discard and permission, and I still believe that it’s at least a little ahead in the control mirror, particularly if you go with my recommended deck list.
Baleful Strix is a major headache for anyone who wants to attack you with creatures. Kolaghan’s Command is shockingly great in Legacy as a long game card advantage engine, as well as an answer card for annoying artifacts like Chalice of the Void, Aether Vial, and Batterskull. Hymn to Tourach and Liliana, the Last Hope are amazing cards that not many other decks get to play with, due to their demanding double-black mana costs.
I believe that Grixis is slightly favored against each of: Miracles, Death’s Shadow, Delver, Death and Taxes, Stoneblade, Sneak and Show, Storm, and Reanimator (provided you keep all three Surgical Extractions). That leaves Lands, Eldrazi, and fringe decks as the matchups that can be a little dicey.
If you value consistency, enjoy having a wide range of effective answer cards, and don’t mind playing long, challenging games, then Grixis Control might be the right Legacy deck for you.