Hey everyone! This past week, I held another Twitter poll to let readers vote for my deck choice. Today, I’m running back Grixis Control. But I don’t like playing the same thing time and time again. Therefore, I’m changing it up. As the title may suggest, Opt is now legal in Modern because of its printing in Ixalan. You could try it out in Grixis, but I’m actually taking a step in the opposite direction—I’m cutting cantrips for more action.
Why would you cut cantrips from your deck? Cantrips reduce the variance in your ability to draw a specific card, as they allow you to see more cards during the course of the game. But that comes at a cost, usually in the form of a single blue mana. You see, Modern is currently pushed to the extremes among the best decks. We believe that we’ve found the best combo decks of each variety: lands (Scapeshift and Amulet), creatures (Elves and Abzan Company), and spells (Storm and Ad Nauseam). We believe that we’ve found the best linear decks (Affinity and Burn). We also believe that we’ve found the best tempo (Grixis Shadow and Eldrazi Tron) and big mana decks (Tron). The format is pushed to the extremes, but it’s very fast. If you’re not interacting by the first turn in some matchups, you’re dead meat. In others, you need to be consistently interacting from turns 3-5 (again, if you’re an interactive deck). Thus, I wanted to try a version of Grixis Control that removed Serum Visions from the deck for extra forms of interaction because I need to trade cards for time, rather than cards for the ability to find specific answers.
The Updated Grixis Control
You’ll see a number of changes here. Starting in the lands, the mana base is biased more toward black. There are 3 copies of Creeping Tar Pit now, to help cast Liliana of the Veil and attack your opponents. These additional creaturelands become important, as you need to hit land drops up to 3-4 lands more often in sideboard games to be able to keep up with some of the strategies that other decks in the format employ.
The spells are a bit more painful. This version plays zero Lightning Bolt, making Burn a truly miserable matchup, but matchups like Eldrazi Tron and Grixis Shadow become much more manageable. Dismember is great in Modern right now, and if you want an interaction card, put it into your deck. The other painful spell is Thoughtseize. 2 copies of Thoughtseize entered the deck as a way to gain information, and to strip important cards from the enemy’s hand. In sideboard games, Thoughtseize combines with Surgical Extraction against opposing combo decks, but in most matchups, it plays out just as Thoughtseize did in Standard, by taking the card that’s best against your hand.
The discard spells protect your Liliana strategy. You’re more “all-in” on Liliana of the Veil or Tasigur, the Golden Fang to run away with the game, as you don’t have Serum Visions to sift through a bunch of cards. Therefore, the discard can remove key elements from your opponent’s hand and allow you the ability to run away with a close game with one of these spells. It’s similar to Grixis Shadow, but cuts cards I’m not a big fan of like Gurmag Angler (just a bunch of stat points rather than a powerful Magic card) for cards that have a meaningful effect on the game, like Cryptic Command.
This version of the deck is less fundamentally sound than the versions of Grixis I’ve played at Grand Prix before it. It has the “tap out” or black control mage style with planeswalkers and discard, but it also has all of the flash elements that my tried-and-true Grixis Control deck has. This leads to some awkward positions in those games where you need a strong ability to be able to read the situation and your opponent’s hand. You need to be able to discern their likelihood of having another Collected Company, or the counterspell, or the mana to go off, etc. You cannot sit there forever. You are playing a high land count for Modern, and you should expect to flood at some point during the game thanks to all the cards you draw. Thus, figuring out the best way to leverage your threats as well as your mana each turn for the first 3-6 turns is really important until the game develops with both players nearly empty-handed.
We’ll see if I can manage that this week as I play this new version of Grixis Control through a Modern League on MTGO. Next week I’ll get back into Standard! Ixalan is on MTGO, and Worlds is this week. I’ll likely be looking into some of the decks the competitors bring to battle, I’ll get in depth on what the newest and coolest strategies are, and as always I’ll get some real testing in against some more opponents on Magic Online.