You will not win on Turn 1 !

by Mario Armenti

You will NOT win on the first turn of the game in Magic the Gathering (in Standard play). If your goal however is to win on the first turn, you might consider playing Type 1/Vintage MTG and spending vast sum of money compared to Yugioh.

Magic the Gathering is a turn based game that relies on costs. Yugioh has cards that are banned if they become too powerful and cause you to gain significant advantage over your opponent.

The  following should give you a fair idea about what Magic the Gathering is when starting it after playing Yugioh.

Yugioh has a style of gameplay that allows you to play many cards in one turn and many abilities. However, the term cookie-cutter is a term very commonly used in the game of Yugioh. Whether you’re playing an Inzector or Dino Rabbit deck in the present yugioh metagame, these decks are all similare because they are all playing mostly the same cards (with a few exceptions here and there). These exceptions are called “Tech” and are considered cards that adapt to a player’s playstyle and allow him/her to just have fun with these cards. A personal favorite of mine in the Advanced play of Yugioh is Enemy Controller.

 

This quick-play spell card allows you to either turn one of the opponent’s creatures to defense mode or by sacrificing one of your creatures, you can take control of one of theirs for the turn. Pretty powerful stuff!

I’ve been through it all. From Beatdown decks in 2002 with Gemini Elves and Spear Dragon, to Hand Control with Yata Garasu and Don Zaloog (massive favorite back then for me, still all-time favorite card today) in 2003, to Chaos Control in 2004 with Chaos Emperor Dragon and Black Luster Soldier (that is still played today). Afterwards, the first-ever banlist came and all of these decks were literally shot to the ground. Most of the aformented cards were not able to be played and new, weaker versions of cards that were banned started to appear. Lightning Vortex was an imitiation to Raigeki that targets face up monsters. Pretty weak stuff!

    

From this point on, I started to drift away from the game of Yugioh. I still remained in the loop however. New decks started to emerge and anything with individuality was very appealing to me. Theme decks do not have a grasp on my interest as a player, so when I mix and mash powerful cards together is when I’m having the most  fun.

Also, the player base in yugioh is generally adolescent. I do however play here and there and get criticized at how I must be very knowledgable about a game that is mostly for them. This is when you know that it’s not your time anymore.As a card gamer  and as an Italian, there is more than just Scopa and Briscola (Italian card games).

Now enters Magic: the Gathering. I tried the game as I was on a descent of interest in Yugioh, but the rules were just so complicated at the time. I did however win important matches, but we can say that my wins didn’t solely come from my skill in the game. The game became more like Yugioh in terms of difficulty in remembering key terms and became fun and enjoyable for me. Many things you had to watch out for were essentially gone, and I started this ‘new’ card game.

Here are key lessons I’ve learned playing Magic the Gathering:

–          The financial cost of key cards are significantly cheaper

–          There is not only a Standard play (Advanced in Yugioh), but Draft and Sealed play

–          Draft and Sealed play bring their own way of playing Magic to the table and can be played with friends, and is very cheap compared to creating your own deck

–          Knowledge is acquired very fast. This is admittedly much easier done in Yugioh because the card text is simpler when compared to magic, but the gameplay is tremendous.

–          The only way to get better at yugioh is by playing the only format that exists, Advanced, and playing versus better players.

–          The many ways of getting better at magic is playing Legacy (older format), Modern (moderately latest format), Standard (latest format), Draft and Sealed (Limited formats).

As you can see, Magic has many ways of offering practice to a player of any level. It is also much, MUCH harder to win at Magic than it is Yugioh. I’d honestly differentiate both games between University and High School and/or College, because the gap is definitely that big.

Yugioh would be much more enjoyable on a short term basis because the games do not last very long. Everything is very straight forward, even if there are rules questions as there are in every game, questions of card combinations arise much more often than what a card does. Magic’s rulings are much more hidden. A card can state a text but much more often than not the text can be confusing if we haven’t seen much of it already.

Essentially, a new Magic player would want to start Drafting. That is how most players I know have started the game because not only is it the cheapest method of learning how to play the game, but it also brings a flavor of Magic that only playing Draft does. Players are given 3 packs then they open one, pick a card and pass it around. This goes on until all three packs are opened and you make a 40 card deck with provided lands (usually 17 lands and 23 non-lands). Sealed play is more simple, but twice to three times the price. 6 packs and lands are provided, and you again make a deck of 40 cards.

However, the main lesson that every starting magic player that has transitioned from yugioh needs to learn is the concept of a Cost.

Not the kind of cost in Yugioh while playing with your cards, but the cost of actually playing the card. Lands are required in a deck of 60 cards and this is used to pay to play your cards. Symbols of colors on the top right hand corners of cards are what is needed to play the card from your hand. Therefore, a sole green (forest) symbol from the top right hand corner means that once your turn starts, you play a Forest, tap it (turning it to Defense mode like in yugioh) then play the card which you paid for its cost for from your hand.

Finally, a key way to transition skills acquired in Yugioh is to play with colors and cards that you like. Usually, player will want to play something more aggressive such as White, Red or Green colors and their monsters. Black and Blue are usually more control-based and are less aggressive which might not be as appealing to new players who mostly want to have fun.

Thank you for reading!

A Limited Review : Black in M13

by Ronald Be

Blood Reckoning

I never really play this card as I consider it a little too sketchy in a limited environment. I suppose if you are playing a really controlling deck or your opponent is playing more of a token-spam strategy, you might want to play this card.

Otherwise I would almost always pass this in Draft and ignore it in Sealed.

Bloodhunter Bat
It’s hard to argue with this, since:

A) it’s a decent-sized flyer with a good ability.

B) You will always include this in your decks for both the agressive and the control type of deck since you get an attacker, blocker, some damage and lifegain.

Bloodthrone Vampire
What made this vampire playable in M11 was because of two card, Act of Treason and Fling.

They had an amazing synergy between each other. In this set though, the Act of Treason effect is now an uncommon card in Mark of Mutiny and Fling was not printed. I could see Bloodthrone Vampire working alongside Disciple of Bolas if you want to process all your useless creatures to draw and gain a lot of life or with Fungal Sprouting as a method of boosting your Vampire or having a high powered creature.

Cower in Fear
I haven’t had much experience with this yet. It looks like a neat combat trick while removing all of your opponent’s one toughness guys, of which there are a lot in this set. This is a decent pick in draft but it’s still not as good as Murder.

Crippling Blight
This deals with the problematic one toughness creatures and puts a stop to Giant Scorpion and Deadly Recluse. I would play at least one in my deck, and side in some more if necessary.

Dark Favor
I have mixed feelings about this enchantment.

On one hand, if they don’t deal quickly with your enchanted creature, you will win (i.e. putting this turn two on a Tormented Soul). On the other, you always have the chance of getting two-for-oned. When making your deck, you can go either way and during sideboard you adjust accordingly to the number of removal you’ve seen in your opponents deck.

Diabolic Revelations
This card is powerful but very hard to use in my opinion. The main difficulty stems from how long do you keep it in your hand. If you’re a greedy person by nature, try to cast this for less value than you’d like. If you think about it, getting any two cards in your deck is already great.

Disciple of Bolas
Disciple of Bolas fits a deck with big creatures, so it pairs well with Green. Even if you sacrifice a four-power guy, you can get a lot more in 4 cards.

Disentomb
This sorcery can be regarded as adding B to any of your dead creatures, so if you have any creatures worth bringing back, add this to your deck.

Duress
Usually decks have between 4 to 8 non-creature spells, so playing this maindeck can be decent. Personally, unless I see something that I really need to get rid of or that I don’t have enough playables, this will stay in my sideboard most of the time.

Duskmantle Prowler
The question you ask yourself here is, would you pay 3B for a 3/3 haste? I would in a heartbeat. Of course, it’s not always going to be a 3/3 but that’s balanced by the fact that he has Exalted and that it would stack with other Exalted triggers.

 

Duty-Bound Dead
This is probably my second favorite black common from this set. It can provide the early attack, stay back and defend later in the game while still boosting your attacker. One of the most versatile creature in M13.

Essence Drain
Removal is removal even if it costs 5 mana to cast.

Giant Scorpion
Great defensive creature. If you compare this to Deadly Recluse, it doesn’t have Reach and costs one more. But the biggest difference here is the additional toughness, it gives him so much more survivability in combat. Usually creatures can simply trade with the spider, The Scorpion just blocks most of them because your opponent won’t want to trade a 3 powered guy for this.

Harbor Bandit
You need an Island to play this creature, don’t add him to your deck if you don’t. When you do have the required land, this guy becomes a scary monster for your opponent.

Liliana of the Dark Realms
Whenever you play a Planeswalker, it’ll immediatly put a target on their head. In Liliana’s case, I think that’s her best ability, followed by her removal and her deck thinning, land searching ability. It’s quite an awful Planeswalker to have in Limited.

Knight of Infamy
A very cost-effective creature. It affects the next attacking creature and if you drop it early enough, it can get some serious damage in.

Liliana’s Shade
This is a good Shade. First, you don’t lose any card if it gets destroyed. Second, the land you get is useful to his Shade ability.

Mark of the Vampire
Auras are always a risky gamble, if you control a Blue Ring, Black Ring, Hexproof guy. You might side it in if you see that your opponent has no removal.

Mind Rot
In all my years of playing Magic, I still don’t have any clue on how to rate this card. You can get card advantage if you draw it early enough, but late game, when all of the spells are ripped from the top of the deck, it becomes a dead card. I would play it if I don’t have anything else to play.

Murder
Best Black Common. It gets rid of almost anything. In a Draft, the good (and bad) thing about this card is that it costs 1BB, which means that it’s not splashable. It’s bad because when you’re gonna see it while you’re not in Black, you’ll just pass it. And good when you’ll be in Black because there is going to be a higher number of Murder in circulation.

Mutilate
Even if you’re playing light Black, as long as you’re able to cast it, you’ll at least get -2/-2, which is in my opinion, very good.

Nefarox
Flyer. Check
High power and high toughness. Check
Reasonable casting cost. Check
Good abilities. Check
This is a Bomb.

Phylactery Lich
Maybe if you have between 5-8 artifact, this could be playable. And even then you still have the problem of the harsh mana requirement of BBB.

Public Execution
This is what you get when Murder and Cower in Fear have an infant.

Ravenous Rats
It’s very good in this set since you have exalted in Black, which can give the rats a second use.

Rise from the Grave
Black is the color that kills creatures. It can effectively bring back any creature you’ve had trouble with and turn it back against its master.

Servant of Nefarox
It has a direct effect in game when played and it has a nice attacking body.

Shimian Specter
If your opponent can’t deal with this, he’ll go into top deck mode. Plus, you get to see what he plays in his deck to make your future choices including sideboard.

Sign in Blood
Good card draw. I prefer this over Mind Rot in terms of card advantage, also it can kill your opponent if needed.

Tormented Soul
Very good in aggressive decks. The only thing I dislike is his one toughness, which is very important in this set, since there’s so many things that can affect that single point of life that the creature has.

Vampire Nocturnus
I would always play it if I play heavy black but else i’d leave it out for a few reasons, if you don’t play heavy black you might not get the bonus and you always have to reveal the top card of your library which is information that your opponent can make use of freely.

Veilborn Ghoul
This is better than I thought, it’s basically target opponent sacrifices a creatrure. and if you have exalted, he or she will have to have more power.

Walking Corpse
Okay creature, fits the curve if needed.

Vampire Nighthawk
One of the most solid creatures in the format. It’s one of the best defensive card in the set while still being very useful offensively. It has evasion, it can kill any creature and wins in a race situation, what else is there to add.

Vile Rebirth
Good combat trick, can remove cards like Veilborn Ghoul or creatures that are targetted in the graveyard.

Wit’s End
This has Wit just like Battle of Wits, both dearly unplayable.

Xathrid Gorgon
It a very good ground blocker and slowly transforms your opponents creatures into walls. Combined with either evasion creature or alternative win conditions, this becomes a great support card. Worse case scenario, this becomes a 3 powered attacker.

Zombie Goliath
Usually you have better 5 drops instead of this, but if you have no finisher, you could reluctantly insert this in your deck

Nothing to See Here

by Sebastien Owens

Killing your opponent by bringing his life points to zero is sooooo mainstream!

I mean there are so many other ways to do it!

Ok, hipster glasses off!  Defeating our opponent by bringing him/her  to zero is a fine way to win the game, but frankly we’ve done it so many times it just isn’t that special anymore. Am I right? Ok maybe not.. Taking down an opponent is always great no matter what. But it is always cool to win by other means! That’s why some people are drawn to infect or stuff like High Tide or combo such as Hive Mind.

Alternate win conditions are fun and will always be. Be it by dealing 10 poison or by having more than 200 cards in your library. Thing is: most of those alternate win conditions exept for infect (but frankly to me it just feels the same as punching him right in the Hit Points) are out of Standard. Also, Battle of Wits is already beeing explored by many pro players. Strangely enough, Battle of Wits isn’t the only alternate win condition M13 brought along with it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Door to Nothingness!

This card is so cool, it doesn’t just win you the game… It makes your opponent LOSE IT! BLAM! Right in the self-esteem!

Thing is, Door to Nothingness isn’t as easy to win with as Battle of Wits. It doesn’t win on its own.You need to get 2 of each color of mana in order to activate it AND you must be able to untap with it!

So in order to win with this card you have to work for it… Hell! I’m a control player if I didn’t like to work for my wins I don’t know why I would ever play that archetype! So I set on a quest to build a deck that can reliably open the Door to Nothingness! (Epic quest music playing in the background … maybe something from the Lord of the Rings)

– Flavor text from door to nothingness

Oh,ok so I’m an imbecile too ? That was uncalled for Wizards!

The first requirement to open the Door to Nothingness : Lands!

And how do we get such lands into play? Ramp spells!

… And other stuff that fetches us lands. So here is what I was thinking:
4x Farseek
4x Rampant Growth
4x Mycosynth Wellspring
4x Sphere of the Suns
4x Primeval Titan
4x Solemn Simulacrum

Phew!  that is a lot of ramp spells! Thing is : you want this if you want to be able to have the right mana consistently. Plus these spells let us have the core of a Wolf Run deck which is good. Also, I like having the Wellsprings because while not ramping you it does at least assure you a land drop so you can be sure that you at least play a land per turn. The Sphere of the Suns are great here because even though someone would destroy one of your lands you know you have the Spheres as backup. Solemn Simulacrums are great because they provide defence and card drawing until you can find your Door.

Ok so what is next?

I don’t like to have the whole deck based on drawing and winning with the door. I wanted to be able to tutor it up and have other ways to win, so I splashed black for tutors and Grave Titans and added a Kessig Wolf Run. That way, we could use our lands for damage.

2x Diabolic Tutor
4x Ichor Wellspring
2x Grave Titan
1x Kessig Wolf Run

As I said in my previous articles I think Grave Titan is the best titan because he can take over a game on his own, giving you an army to block and attack with. Even if they get rid of the titan his remains are still very powerful (Hehe, remains) . Ichor Wellspring just draws you cards, which is usually good. With all of this said I ended up with something like this:

Door to Nothingness deck wins!

2x Grave Titan
4x Primeval Titan
4x Solemn Simulacrum

2x Diabolic Tutor
4x Farseek
4x Rampant Growth

4x Door to Nothingness
4x Ichor Wellspring
4x Mycosynth Wellspring
4x Sphere of the Suns

10x Forest
2x Island
1x Kessig Wolf Run
2x Mountain
3x Phyrexia’s Core
2x Plains
4x Swamp

Notice the absence of Standard dual lands. The thing is that I wanted all my lands to be fetchable, so that I don’t have any problems with my colors to activate the door. The sideboard is still a work in progress, but feel free to add anything from any color.

The mana configuration is so good that you won’t ever have any problem casting anything. This deck has been performing very well for me thus far and  I am sometimes able to activate door to nothingness’ ability on turn 6! With all that said, I don’t think this deck will ever be a serious contender but it is a hell of a lot of fun to play!

Alright folks, thats it for now! Before I go, next FNM I will be playing a deck that I have been itching to play for a while:

Stuffy Doll !

Here is the list so far.I will try to make a small report on how I did in my next article. See ya folks!

4x Stuffy Doll

2x Harvest Pyre
2x Volt Charge

4x Blasphemous Act
4x Faithless Looting
4x Pillar of Flame
4x Slagstorm
4x Whipflare

4x Shrine of Burning Rage

4x Chandra, the Firebrand

2x Buried Ruin
2x Cavern of Souls
4x Hellion Crucible
16x Mountain

Commander’s Arsenal

These contents seem very commander-like.

Oversized Commanders. Check!

-/+ counters. Check!

Sleek sleeves. Check!

FOILY staple cards. Check!

Exclusive life counter. Check? woah!

Pretty epic, huh?

Value?

Definitely Check!

Full contents:

  • 18 premium foil cards
  • 10 oversized premium foil cards
  • 120 UltraPRO foil card sleeves
  • 20 double-sided Battle Marks (+ and –)
  • A life counter that goes up to 99

These are sure to go fast, so make sure to grab them when you can at your local card store.

A Limited Review: Blue in M13

by Ronald Be

After quite a bit of bugging Ronny to continue with his Limited Review series, we struck oil!

Archaeomancer

Scrivener + Anarchist = Archaeomancer. BUT!!!  This guy can pull just about anything from your graveyard and he’s better when combined in a red or black deck, since that’s where you find most of the instant and sorcery removals.

Arctic Aven

A 2/1 flyer for 2U is slightly under the curve but if you control a plains, this becomes a semi-bomb. It becomes nearly impossible for your opponent to race you early game if he doesn’t have an answer to this. Pick this very highly when in White, else treat this as a fragile Wind Drake.

Augur of Bolas

Let’s look at his stats, a 1/3 body for 1U is not too shabby, it gets the defensive job done. The Augur will fit the deck with evasion creatures or decks that need to stall the game for other purposes (i.e. Milling), it will also go in the deck with lots of instants and sorceries. Remember that for card of that type in a 40-card deck, you add a 7.5% chance to draw a card.

Battle of Wits

There are a few problems with this deck. If you go the one Battle of Wits and all lands route, you can simply lose by not having 200 cards in your deck when you play Battle of Wits. You could chug all the card in your draft or sealed and add the rest as lands. What’s happening here, is that you’re going to reduce the card quality of your deck simply to add one alternative win condition that might not even work. And lastly, it’s a pain to shuffle.

Clone

You can’t have a more versatile creature. If your opponent has the best creature, you get it. If you have the best creature, you get it twice. If no one has any creature on board, you get a dead Clone.

Courtly Provocateur

Since Blue has a lot of defensive creature, you can have your opponent’s creatures run into your guys. This combos well with Green because they have the fattest creatures in the game.

Divination

Card advantage staple, this will fit most decks.

Downpour

This has two functions, it can either Fog for a turn or let you strike. In my opinion, this works better in an aggressive deck that needs to get the last points of damage in than an overcosted fog.

Encrust

Don’t forget that this can target artifacts as well. It’s an okay removal for blue, you do have to take a hit before Encrusting a creature though.

Essence Scatter

Since in Limited the main way to win is through creature, Essence Scatter fits the bill to stop that.

Faerie Invaders

Faerie Invaders does what Blue wants to the most. You get to stay untapped during your opponents turn, so you can counterspell. It’s also a removal if your opponent attacks you with a mid-sized creature. And lastly, this is a 3/3 with evasion that pressures well.

Fog Bank

Very good blocker, it deals with everything except Trample.

Harbor Serpent

Side this in against other Blue decks.

Hydrosurge

Awful combat trick

Index

It seems like Indexing is worse than Pondering. There are two problems with this card, first of all, it doesn’t replace itself and second, the cards that are on the top 5 will stay there unless you have a shuffle effect, which is rarer in Limited than in Constructed.

Master of the Pearl Trident

This is most likely not worth running unless you’re playing against islands and you have lots of Merfolks (which there are only 4 of in this Core Set).

Negate

This is a debatable card to include in your main deck. Most of the decks have some form of noncreature spells.

Scroll Thief

Ophidian Strikes Back! It’s really hard to get a hit in because most of the time your opponent will have a 2 toughness guy. It works well with Tricks of the Trade.

Jace’s Phantasm

Unless you have a mill deck, I would avoid playing this.

Jace, Memory Adept

I want to focus on one thing with this card:

YOU DON’T HAVE TO FORCE A MILL DECK IF YOU OPEN THIS CARD.

This card can win by itself by using its second ability.

Kraken Hatchling

It blocks pretty well from the early game to the mid game. If you have Exalted creatures or Auras, don’t forget that this can also attack.

Merfolk of the Pearl Trident

Very mediocre creature, even if you have the Master. Don’t play this.

Mind Sculpt

I like the support of the mill deck in M13, you have Archaeomancer and Vedalken Entrancer, which are both great on their own.

Omniscience

No.

Redirect

I would keep this in the sideboard and put it in against removal heavy decks.

Rewind

Personally, I don’t really like leaving 4 mana up for a counterspell but it does work well with other instant speed spells or mana activated abilities.

Spelltwine

Unless you see some instant or sorceries in your opponent’s deck that you’d like to copy and that you play an okay number of them, I would recommend against playing with this.

Sleep

You can play very slowly like me, which causes your opponent to fall asleep or if you’re less fortunate, just consider this as a sorcery speed Downpour but with the upside that you can attack two turns in a row and that it does not need to target creatures if your opponent controls Hexproof guys.

     

Sphinx of Uthuun
Stormtide Leviathan

They both do the same thing, they’re finishers for Blue. I prefer Sphinx of Uthuun since he’s easier to cast and offers card advantage but Stormtide Leviathan can make it so that some decks (mostly Green and Red) can’t win anymore.

Switcheroo

(Editor’s note: I am not sure on Ron’s official rating on this, so i’ll just go ahead)

This care is cute. So cute in fact that we have a playmat of it.

Other than that, it’s another Control Magic, Mind Control. It can definetely be bad if your opponent can destroy/bounce the target you are trying to give them. This will cause the Switcheroo to ‘fizzle’ as both targets still need to be on the battlefield and the exchange needs to actually take place for the card to properly resolve.

Talrand, Sky Summoner

In a draft, if you manage to get this early, you can easily build around it and mix it with colors that are good with it, like black or red. I would suggest having at least 5 instant or sorceries.

Talrand’s Invocation

This is blue’s answer to Lingering Souls and you only need to play the best color of Magic to cast it! You have Archaeomancer to recast it. Your opponent better invoke a higher being to draw his way out of the Drakes.

Tricks of the Trade

Auras are getting better and better, they really want to get you to play these think of cards. so this combos well with the only Hexproof creature in the set, Primal Huntbeast. You also have the blue ring but you’ll need to keep your mana up to give it Hexproof. Other than that, it’s good with Lifelink.

Unsummon

I’m certain that Delver decks changed the way people perceive bounce spells, for the best of course. You can use this to have your opponent recast creature, save some points of damage, save your own creatures and to use for combat tricks. This is probably the cheapest and fastest way to get rid of a Rancor while it is being cast.

Vedalken Entrancer

It seems that a lot of people are excited to see this reprinted, because it’s a Horned Turtle with an alternate win condition slapped on it.

Void Stalker

Notice that this creature’s power is higher than its toughness which is a rare thing for blue ground creatures. Of course, the most important part of it is its ability. This is probably the closest thing blue can get for permanent removal.

Watercourser

Might this be a mini-Morphling?

Somewhat. It gives you a few options during combat. It can act as a mana sink if you don’t have to do anything for a turn. It’s also a good combination with Exalted since you can pump it for an extra mana if needed.

Welkin Tern

This flyer fits in most decks but finds its home more in either a U/W flyers deck or an aggresive deck.

Wind Drake

It has the base stats for a 3 mana flyer. I would always play it.

Keeping Control, Part 2

by Sebastien Owens

Control isn’t dead!

Yes, yes, I assure you. Although it pretty much is on the brink of dying. The reason we think control is dead in Standard is because the the aggro decks are just way too dominant. It’s a big task to analyze the whole thing in order to come up with an answer for all the threats, but as I said in Part 1 of my article,I think one deck can make it. And make it big!

Grixis has all the right colors and the right cards to fight the current aggro decks. It has acces to so many good sweepers and spot removal that can deal with both fatties and Undying threats.

In Part 1 I presented to you what I think would constitute a good list. I still stand by that affirmation and as I said, in this article I will be going over the game plan. (Aka: how to play Grixis) and explaining why I chose each card as well as the sideboard plan.

So lets get started!
The Game Plan

Not to long ago when I was talking about playing Grixis at my LGS (Local Gaming Store) once M13 came out. The usual responses would be stuff like: “oh my you better be really motivated to play the deck” or “God! I wouldn’t play the deck. It’s just way to stressful.” Everything they said was true.

Grixis control isn’t the kind of deck you can just pick up and know how to play. It is a complicated and stress-testing deck. It’s complicated because every card in it is very versatile and can be good/bad in tons of different situations. It’s never obvious when you should play what card. It’s a stressful deck because stabilizing at 3 Life or slightly lower isn’t strange for Grixis Control.

You also can’t just slam your victory conditions whenever you have them. With Grixis, one must wait to have the board totally under control and have answers to possible upcoming threats in order to play your win condition. Trust me, this deck often gets there and once you play your win condition you usually win while your opponent is curled up in a little ball crying because he can’t improve his situation. Like I stated: Grixis isn’t an easy deck but once you get the hang of it, it will reward you greatly for making the right plays.

The Win Conditions

Nicol bolas, Planeswalker

This guy on a board you control is an auto win. He enters the battlefield and destroys a noncreature permanent, thus putting pressure on their mana base, blowing up another planeswalker,enchantment or artifact. As soon as they play a creature, guess what? It’s yours!

In the end, activate his “Ultimate ability” and you pretty much win that game. I cannot think any deck can bounce back from sacrificing 7 permanents when you have been destroying one every turn.

Hellion Crucible

This land can really get you out of a lot of trouble. It’s 4/4 body that is able to profitably block a lot of creatures in the format. It takes care of Strangleroot Geists, Blade Splicer tokens, Huntmaster of the Fells (even trades with its other half). It can even shut down a Geist of Saint Traft. Also, it’s a win condition that can be of used ‘early’ in the game. Utilize your unused mana keep it at 2 counters and spawn the token safely once you control the board. It also provides you with mana in the meantime!

Inferno Titan

I only put one of these guys in the deck. The reason being that unlike Grave Titan, once he leaves the board there isn’t much left of him. He can also actually work against you in a worse way than Grave Titan against decks with maindeck Zealous Conscripts.

Grave Titan

Grave Titan in my opinion, is the best of the the Titans. He enters the battlefield accompanied by 2 other dudes and grows your army every time he swings. Even if he gets zealous conscripted it’s ok since you can chump block with a zombie, and even though they get 2 zombies also… Hell man you’re playing Grixis! You can get rid of two 2/2’s any day without much effort (blocking them with your zombies is a possible play too)

The Sweepers

Bonfire of the Damned, Slagstorm, Whipflare

No I did not forget to include black sun’s zenith, the reason I use these sweepers is because none of them actually hurt your win conditions. Bonfire doesn’t even touch them and wipes your opponent’s whole board away.It can also deal with planeswalkers.

Slagstorm is similar: your Titans can just shrug it off. I t usually takes care of most of the creatures in the format, there aren’t many creatures with more than three toughness that are played in the most dominant decks (Restoration Angel is another story but she isn’t that much of a problem). Whipflare is just a quick sweeper that takes care of small creatures or finishes off what Slagstorm didn’t kill.

Spot Removal

Doom Blade, Go for the Throat

I like to split these two and two because while both of them take care of a lot of creatures, it’s always good to know that you have doom blade for that Wurmcoil Engine ( so that you can sweep the tokens after of just Pillar of Flame it so you can exile it, mouahahaha) or Go For the Throat for what ever pesky black creature you need taken care of.

Pillar of Flame

This card is amazing.It might not look like much, mostly since it’s sorcery speed removal.It does however, take care of so much. You don’t have to kill it to exile it! This is something most people forget! Pillar of Flame then Doom Blade kills a Wurmcoil and doesn’t let it spawn any tokens. Playing against Frites or Grites? Same thing for their reanimation targets! And then, it’s obvious use, it easily deals with undying creatures.

Mana Leak

Yes yes, I know it’s a counterspell or whatever, but when you think about it: it’s a bit like a catch all removal spell only that it does it’s job on the stack.

Mana Leak is getting worse and worse if the format. It can still be a useful card for dealing with stuff we may have problems dealing with once they’re on the battlefield. Mana Leaking a planeswalker is always a good thing. Do not waste this card on creatures or artifacts post sideboard, unless they are a huge threat to you or could potentially be game ending.

Card drawing/ Recycling

Think twice/Forbidden Alchemy:

Forbidden Alchemy here is used for obvious reasons it lets you choose from the most relevant card from the top four cards of your deck qnd gets rid of the useless ones or just keeps them for later with flashback and Snapcaster Mage. Think Twice though has more reasoning to it, it’s one card for two. It filters you deck immensly and the upside of potentially casting a Bonfire of the Damned during your opponents turn is just huge!

Augur of bolas

This little guy does a whole lot for us, hes fetches us an instant or sorcerie card, gets rid ofthe less relevant stuff and is an amazing blocker. Three toughness is huge in the format. It blocks strangleroot geists’ first half, can keep a Huntmaster in check or basically any two power creature. This guy provides early game defense for the deck and survives a Whipflare.

Snapcaster Mage

I think the inclusion of this guy is quite obvious, but for those who aren’t sure let me resume what this guy does. Every single instant and sorcery card in your graveyard is in your hand and ready to use at anytime the spell is castable for only two more mana.

Pretty sweet huh?

Acceleration

Gilded Lotus

The deck can exploit this artifact to its full extent all the time. Tap five to cast the artifact then use it to cast a Slagstorm then untap and cast Nicol Bolas or even just a huge Bonfire of the Damned even if it’s in your hand. The deck gets so much value theturn it’s cast and then uses it even more every turn after, once this little gem is in play, you wont ever have any mana problems.

The sideboard

Before I go over the sideboard I have made a slight change to it:
– 2xKarn liberated
+ 2x despise

I made these changes because if nicol bolas can’t deal with that permanent or steal the troublesome creature, what can karn do that bolas can’t? Plus I found that despise is crucial in some matchups, especially the delver matchup.

Pod decks

In: 2x ancient grudge, 1x devil’s play
Out: 2x mana leak, 1x inferno titan

The reason behind this plan, well for the grudges it can be quite obvious, but here is my reasoning. We don’t want mana leak in this matchup because once pod is online, it won’t do us any good, and they have a low enough curve to go right under mana leak. Why do I remove Inferno titan here? Because most of the pod decks play zealous conscripts there is nothing more frustrating that stabilizing with an inferno titan only for it to get stolen and smash us for 12 damage (which is usually a killing blow). And I think the reach devil’s play gives us can be useful. Going over his lines of defense for massive damage is always a good thing.

GR aggro and mono green

In: 2x ancient grudge (not for mono green if they don’t play swords), 2x despise,
Bring in curse of death’s hold versus mono green.
Out: 2x Nicol bolas, 2x mana leak (only one for mono green)

The reason I brought in despise for this matchup is that both decks have a brand new toy we must get rid of: Rancor. You want to get rid of this ASAP because it will ruin your day when a birds of paradise kills you. And I brought ou Bolas because the guy doesn’t do much versus the decks, he can’t really steal a creature that is worth it and they don’t have any non creature permanents that matter when destroyed (not even their lands) and withthe huge presence of.haste creatures or big hexproof guys I doubt he will ever get to ult level.

Zombies

In: 1x Curse of Death’s Hold, 2x nihil spellbomb, 1x surgical extraction
Out: 2x mana leak, 2x doom blade

I have found, by playtesting many hours with my girlfriend who plays BR zombies, that curse of death’s hold can cripple zombies beyond the point of no return. Mostly if they’re playing the black and red version, which is in my opinion the best one (falkenrath aristocrat swings so hard and can win games with a blood artist). The nihil spell bombs and the surgical extractions are an obvious inclusion. Surgical on geralf takes out pretty much the only creature that causes you a problem in this deck.

Delver

In: pike delver: 2x Nihil Spellbomb, 2x Tribute to Hunger.

In: Sword delver: 2x ancient grudge, 2x tribute to hunger

Out: 2x Mana leak, 2x Pillar of flame

Against pike delver in my opinion ancient grudge isn’t of much more use than nihil spell bomb since the pike is worth nothing if they don’t have a graveyard and that it doesn’t give a toughness boost so their cards still die to our sweepers. And I brought in tribute to hunger for both match ups because I want more ways to deal with geist and restoration angel. I bring in ancient grudge versus sword delver because a sword of war and peace can ruin your day. The creature equipped with it gains protection from on of the most relevant colors in our deck: red. Meaning that it doesn’t die to any of our sweepers, so we have to heavily rely on our spot removal and artifact destruction. The tribute to hunger is probablement more relevant in this matchup than anything else.

Wolf Run

In: 1x curse of death’s hold, 2x memoricide, 2x zealous conscripts
Out: 2x whipflare, 2x pillar of flame, 1x slagstorm

I take away some of of our smaller sweepers, whipflare mostly because it doesn’t kill solemn, because they don’t deal with titans and aren’t instant speed so you can’t deal with an inkmoth. I brought in curse of death’s hold for the obvious reason of not letting them activate inkmoth. Memoricide deals with titan permanently and zealous conscripts lets you use their titans to ramp yourself and hurt them or just swing in for 12 damage if they play inferno titan.

So there you have it my guide to bringing back control to standard (or at least to your LGS) now remember everyone, this isn’t the kind of deck you can just pick up and play. Play test a bit with it learn how it works and how much damage you can take before you sweep the board. And also for the creative ones, the list is very versatile and many good changes can be made to make it fit your play style. So until next time!

Keep on controling, control freaks!