Although my mind has mainly been on things like work and such this week, I’ve also been checking in with all sorts of Magic coverage and considering what I might play well down the road in late June, at our next area PTQ. I’ve bounced between black-green and black-white-green aggro builds, as well as a sort of black-white-green hate-and-aggro deck, a similarly color-combined infinite combo build, and all the other sorts of somewhat midrangey goodness I tend to find myself drawn to. As I found myself continually circling around the same set of ideas, I decided to set myself the task of, instead, focusing on another area of deckbuilding.
Today, I’ve settled on the Grixis color band (blue-black-red), with the immediate thought being some form of control deck centered on my favorite planeswalker, Liliana Vess. Conveniently, iTunes offered up an appropriate song title as the deck’s name.
Click through to the extended for a deck list and some commentary.
|4× Broken Ambitions|
|4× Volcanic Fallout|
|2× Double Negative|
|4× Cryptic Command|
|3× Liliana Vess|
|2× Chandra Nalaar|
|2× Cruel Ultimatum|
|4× Crumbling Necropolis|
|4× Reflecting Pool|
|4× Sunken Ruins|
|4× Graven Cairns|
|2× Double Negative|
|2× Thought Hemorrhage|
This is one of those times I want to address the mana base first. One point of running a pure shard deck is the ability to run the appropriate tri-land and no Vivids. In this case, I’ve used Crumbling Necropolis and a full set of Pools and four of each of Graven Cairns and Sunken Ruins. This may be craziness, and it’s possible that I need to replace two of the Cairns with Vivids. That said, it’s refreshing to have most of your mana base come into play untapped. Perhaps two of the Cairns should become basics instead?
The main deck is straightforwardly packed with reactive control cards. We have ten counterspells, with four Broken Ambitions, four Cryptic Command, and two Double Negative. Given this deck’s mana base, Double Negative is basically Cancel with a bonus against cascade, which is pretty solid right now.
In terms of dealing with creatures, we have a full set of Fallouts, backed by three copies of Terminate and two Chandra Nalaar. As it happens, a resolved Chandra is a humorous counterpoint to a Bitterblossom, as she can just kind of hang off and snipe away Faerie Rogues for a while as you handle other concerns. She’s a good pal that way.
Given three copies of Lily in the main deck, I felt good running singles of Thought Hemorrhage and Pithing Needle (for the record, if I weren’t running tutors there would be no Hemorrhages in the main deck; it’s just not that great as a random one-of).
This deck has several paths to victory. I started with two Anathemancers and then moved up to three in the main, as it’s both a tremendously hard hit against many other decks and a nice body to stick in the way of incoming damage. Beyond those guys, you could probably swing with the Mulldrifters (hasn’t happened yet), and you can definitely do some harm with double Cruel Ultimatum and a single (again, tutorable) Banefire. Oh, Chandra is also a fine finisher.
The sideboard is incomplete, but a little less provisional than my not-yet-tested-for-tournaments sideboards tend to be. It features one more Terminate to come in when spot removal is a plus, double Infest for tokens, two more Double Negative for Cascade Swans, as well as double Thought Hemorrhage for the same matchup, and one more Anathemancer.
Incidentally, the first thing you should Hemorrhage out in the Swans matchup is Seismic Assault. As many writers have pointed out this week, a deck full of lands can do tremendous harm with a Seismic Assault in play, Swans or no. You have Terminates and counterspells to deal with the Swans, but honestly not a lot of action for a resolved Assault.
I’m sure this can be refined, but I’ve enjoyed this deck in my limited testing today. There’s a lot of power across the Grixis axis, enough so that I think it can stand well on its own in the control arena without resorting to true five-color control.