Turbo Grixis

turbo grixis

by Charles Trottier

Hey, I’m Charles.  I’m from Montreal and am mostly renowned around here for spicy brews and strategy.  For this first article, I won’t focus on competitive play, but on a list that will perform and impress your local FNM.  I’ll let you enter into my thought process for building this sweet original decklist.

As usual, all started with a conversation regarding what could have potential in Standard.   One card came out: Havengul LichHavengul Lich is one of those cards that has those desired shenanigans going.  Oh!  Didn’t I tell you?  I love finding shenanigans and messing up with the group of players I play with to find some sweet interaction they need explanations to.  That said, I know I wanted to build something around a graveyard-based recursion of some sort.  One interaction that came across my mind was the Heartless Summoning and Priest of Urabrask combo.  With Heartless in play, Priest’s mana cost basically becomes one Red mana. Also with the -1/-1 he dies as he enters the battlefield. You cast him for R, he dies giving you RRR and you then use RR with the Lich to bring him back giving you RRR as many times as you want for “infinite mana”.

Of course, checking out the Gatherer database, I realized that Priest is currently out of Standard. I had to find something else, but remembered this interaction as it will become useful.  As a matter of fact, Heartless Summoning would bring somewhat of a much needed mana acceleration aspect to the desired shenanigan.

The idea was implanted.

What was the best deck and angle I could build involving around Lich and Heartless combo.  The first aspect I thought of was the mana.  Often you will see that manabase is the key to a deck being viable or not. Mana curves and tempo are too important to ignore.  Still speaking of the deck, Rooftop Storm came to mind.  The idea was simple: what if we can just recreate a Melira Pod kind of layout in Standard?

  Melira, Sylvok Outcast    Birthing Pod

Some old Modern T3ch !

If we could just use a triggered ability of some sort to make creatures enter the battlefield and deal damage somehow to the opponent.  For this idea, Rooftop Storm seemed perfect, it was enabling a combo. By putting Havengul on play, activating it and bringing a bunch of Zombies back from the grave without paying their mana cost.

I brainstormed some more and here was the result :

Lands

6 Island
1 Alchemist’s Refuge
5 Swamp
1 Woodland Cemetery
1 Isolated Chapel
1 Hinterland Harbor
1 Glacial Fortress
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Cavern of Souls

Creatures

4 Gravecrawler
1 Diregraf Captain
3 Armored Skaab
2 Grimgrin, Corpse-Born
4 Havengul Lich
1 Geralf’s Mindcrusher

Other Spells

3 Chromatic Lantern
4 Heartless Summoning
4 Forbidden Alchemy
2 Jarad’s Orders
2 Increasing Ambition
2 Unburial Rites
4 Rooftop Storm

Havengul Lich

To use Havengul Lich at maximum capacity, we needed to find a way to fill the graveyard. 

The main colors also had to be Blue and Black for the deck to work.  Diregraf Captain was our way to deal that needed damage and we could bring back any zombies sacking them into Grimgrin for damage.   Geralf’s Mindcrusher also brought us an alternate win condition by milling our opponents.  Unburial Rites as first color splash, being easy with the incredible manabase brought by this set would make the self-milling strategy more efficient. Also to back the Lich up, as Jarad’s Orders would be the perfect tutor.  Armored Skaab seemed to be one of the stronger card of this archetype, just like Gravecrawler.  The first, self-milled 4 for U, which is what seemed to be needed for the deck, but most of all allowed to bring a milled Gravecrawler back into play.  Gravecrawler had the advantage of not needing any sacc outlet with a Heartless on the table.  Remember this, because eventhough this first take created a fun deck, this was only the first step towards a bigger picture.

As expected, Rooftop Storm was too highly costed and running multiple copies just felt like a hand cycler such as Faithless Looting was required.  Jarad’s tutor seemed pretty good, but it was also highly costed. In a game with 3 copies of Rooftop Storm and Heartless Summoning each made me see the inevitable truth that lies in this combo deck:

red mana

I had to go red.

The idea of Faithless Looting brought us our second angle on this deck take.

    Faithless Looting

Both drawings are cool, but I still prefer the original.

Here is what the brewing gave place to :
Lands

2 Island
1 Cavern of Souls
2 Dragonskull Summit
4 Drowned Catacomb
2 Glacial Fortress
4 Blood Crypt
2 Isolated Chapel
4 Steam Vents
2 Sulfur Falls
2 Swamp

Creatures

4 Havengul Lich
4 Gravecrawler
4 Armored Skaab
2 Grimgrin, Corpse-Born

Flayer of the Hatebound

Other Spells

4 Pillar of Flame
4 Faithless Looting
4 Heartless Summoning
1 Burning Vengeance
3 Forbidden Alchemy
1 Increasing Ambition
2 Unburial Rites
1 Rooftop Storm

Jarad's Orders

Jarad’s Green requirement  proved to be too much.

Cutting it allowed to also cut the Chromatic Lantern for some much more needed pieces, although Increasing Ambition seemed to be a good replacement.

Seeing as Rooftop Storm was expensive, but still insane when in play, the number of copies went down to one. More card draw was included as well.  The basic zombie entering the battlefield layout remained but Diregraf Captain was replaced by Flayer of the Hatebound and Burning Vengeance.

One was better at getting brought back by the Lich, and the other easier on the casting cost.  Althought, the best thing to come out of this list was the : ‘Machine Gun”. Burning Vengeance  paired with Heartless Summoning (which is not a natural expected pairing) just proved to be much broken with Gravecrawler.  Basically, with a zombie on board, you play it similar to the Priest combo.  You just cast your Crawler from the grave using its own ability then Burning Vengeance will deal 2 to any creature or player.Then Crawler will enter with 0 toughness and be sent right back to the graveyard for you to shoot some more targets.

        Gravecrawler Burning Vengeance Heartless Summoning

This was just way too good. 

The next angle had to be based around that combo.  But, what was the best way to use both Burning Vengeance and Heartless Summoning ?
Grixis Machinegun/Turbo Grixis

A while ago, in Scars of Mirodin Standard, there was some decks trying to base themselves on Burning Vengeance and flashback draw spells.  Filling the graveyard, cycling spells and Machine gun comboing was the way to make it all happen.  Althought, what would Heartless Summoning be used for?  Well, Gravecrawler needed some friends to get the combo going. the Lich was still good, but the remember that Armored Skaab ?  Filling the grave for 1 Blue mana (with Heartless in play)  and enabling the combo seems to be the perfect fit.

Armored Skaab

Also, he becomes a great target to simply block and be brought back with Havenghul Lich. 

This is my final take on the deck:

Machinegun Grixis

by Chuck Trottz

Lands

2 Swamp
1 Island
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Steam Vents
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Blood Crypt
1 Mountain

Creatures

4 Gravecrawler
4 Armored Skaab
2 Havengul Lich

Other Spells

4 Faithless Looting
2 Pillar of Flame
4 Heartless Summoning
3 Desperate Ravings
3 Think Twice
2 Izzet Charm
2 Syncopate
4 Burning Vengeance
2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

Sideboard

3 Vampire Nighthawk
2 Olivia Voldaren
4 Bloodgift Demon
3 Sphinx of Uthuun
1 Pillar of Flame
1 Syncopate
1 Izzet Charm

In essence, your main plan is to self-mill, get the combo going and do some damage by flashing back spells on the way.  It is a Burning Vengeance deck, with the “Machinegun” combo. Izzet Charm can also protect your combo with the help of Syncopate and can also act like a 5th – 6th Looting or even as Pillar of Flame number 3-4.  Tamiyo, is simply there to deal with threats by buying you some time. She can also become an alternate win condition: her ultimate with Pillar of Flame being quite ridiculous.

Post-side, you have responses to the graveyard hate.  As a matter of fact, you just transform the deck into a full-on Heartless Summoning deck, gaining  acces to cantrips and also bigger and better threats that don’t rely on your graveyard.  Of course, you still o keep Havengul Lich in for value.

This is a deck with a lot of choices to be make, but mostly is an alternate way of playing the game.  If you are tired of doing UWRFlash/RB Aggro/GW mirror matches then you should definitely give this deck a try at your next local FNM.

Until next time, with more Shenanigans to come,
Chuck Trottz, Montreal’s own Rogue Deck Builder.

Gatecrash Preview: Whispering Madness

whispering madness

 

Cipher? Well, it sure sounds cool. Kinda futuristic and cryptic.

So we have a Windfall effect that you can recur by dealing combat damage with one of your guys (probably with something like Invisible Stalker). Pretty neat, just put the card under your creature card kind of like an aura or equipment. Play some stuff out of your hand and reload before your opponent can really profit from his new hand. In theory it all works out great eh? Probably in limited too.

Will it have the power level required to see some serious constructed play? It’s hard to say, but I can see it in some kind of weird mill deck.

Gatecrash Preview: Treasury Thrull

treasury

 

Extort? Yeap, that definitely sounds Orzhov-ish!

So this is like a kicker cost that you can apply to all your random spells you cast when the Thrull is in play. Not bad, especially in limited if it’s been like pacified or tapped and can’t attack anymore.

Speaking of its second ability: It reminds me of the titans from M11 only slightly toned down and a bit more interesting. What nice little trinkets will you be able to re-use with this beast?…errrr…Thrull? It’s also the ability that will make it fun to use in EDH decks and I can imagine that FOIL versions of this card will be sought after early on. Any self-sacrificing creature can be great with it too (kinda like Sakura-Tribe Elder).

This is the coolest Thrull I’ve ever seen. It’s nice to know they’re making a comeback since Fallen Empires and Guildpact. Go Thrulls!

Gatecrash Preview: Simic Fluxmage

simic flux

 

 

This card was apparently opened in a Return to Ravnica booster (reminiscent of the Rootbound Defenses, which was opened in a pack of M13). It seems to be Wizard of the Coast’s way of ‘accidentally’ spoiling new cards. It’s kind of cool in my opinion.

Other than that, the card is sure to be a good casual seller. It boost your little army and can give itself a +1/+1 counter by boosting an equal powered creature upon its enter the battlefield trigger.

I know that I’ll definitely be trying to abuse this in limited formats.

Gatecrash Preview: Fathom Mage

fathom mage

 

 

 

We now have the Simic guild’s keyword spoiled: Evolve.

It’s a nice twist on the old one: Graft (from Dissension). This card rewards us for playing bigger and bigger creatures. Also, you can combine it with other things like Mikaeus, the Lunarch’s ability or things like Scavenge from the Golgari guild to get some nice card drawing.

It looks a tad on the week side, but most of the set is yet to be spoiled. Who knows what the future has in store for Fathom Mage?

Gatecrash Preview: Rubblehulk

rubblehulk

 

 

 

While Boros seems to have gotten the ‘quicker’ creature spoiled, the Gruul guild does indeed bring the beef. The Bloodrush keyword is reminiscent of the Channel ability from the Kamigawa block. This guy just gets better the more you ramp, only that he is smaller if you accelerate via mana dorks. Fair enough, but does this mean that there is another Rampant Growth-style spell in Gatecrash?

Stay tuned…

Gatecrash Preview: Firemane Avenger

firemane avenger

 

 

Staying true to their more aggressive archetype, the Boros guild receives an ultra-aggressive 3/3 flyer for 4. You can always swing with it and a couple of friends n turn 5 by probably dropping a little guy on turn 5 and activating Slayer’s Stronghold to haste it. It will definitely be a staple to watch. Only time will tell if this deck will be fast enough to compete.

What are everyone else’s thought on this?