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Thread: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

  1. #1

    [Primer] UB Death's Shadow



    I. Introduction

    UB Death’s Shadow is a Delver Deck that leverages Death’s Shadow as a powerful and cheap creature that can push a ton of damage to the opponent to close the game before they recover from the deck’s efficient disruption. Your cheap discard and permission let you pick apart combo decks and if your threats can stick, you will have a good chance of outclassing fair decks on the ground before they can stabilize with more powerful cards.

    Because you have a surplus of free and one mana spells and card selection, you often make many decisions per turn and you have to carefully manage your fetching patterns and life total. This makes the deck difficult and rewarding to play.

    II. Example Deck Lists

    Josh Utter-Leyton, 2nd Place Pro Tour 25th Anniversary (Team Trios)
    August 2-5, 2018

    Main
    4 Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration
    4 Death’s Shadow
    2 Gurmag Angler
    2 Reanimate

    4 Brainstorm
    3 Ponder
    1 Preordain
    4 Street Wraith

    4 Thoughtseize

    4 Force of Will
    4 Daze
    2 Stubborn Denial

    2 Fatal Push
    2 Snuff Out

    4 Wasteland
    3 Watery Grave
    2 Underground Sea
    2 Bloodstained Mire
    1 Flooded Strand
    1 Polluted Delta
    2 Verdant Catacombs
    1 Marsh Flats
    1 Misty Rainforest
    1 Scalding Tarn

    Sideboard
    3 Dread of Night
    3 Surgical Extraction
    1 Diabolic Edict
    2 Hymn to Tourach
    2 Liliana, the Last Hope
    1 Engineered Explosives
    1 Nihil Spellbomb
    2 Throne of Geth


    Noah Walker, 4th Place Grand Prix Richmond
    August 31-September 1, 2018

    Main
    4 Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration
    4 Death’s Shadow
    2 Gurmag Angler
    2 Reanimate

    4 Brainstorm
    3 Ponder
    1 Preordain
    4 Street Wraith

    4 Thoughtseize

    4 Force of Will
    4 Daze
    2 Stubborn Denial

    2 Fatal Push
    1 Dismember
    1 Snuff Out

    4 Wasteland
    3 Watery Grave
    2 Underground Sea
    3 Bloodstained Mire
    3 Flooded Strand
    3 Polluted Delta

    Sideboard
    1 Darkblast
    1 Dread of Night
    1 Flusterstorm
    3 Surgical Extraction
    2 Diabolic Edict
    1 Hymn to Tourach
    1 Marsh Casualties
    2 Ratchet Bomb
    2 Liliana, the Last Hope
    1 Massacre


    III. Main Deck Card Choices

    Threats
    4 Death’s Shadow
    On its face, a big vanilla creature for one mana and some setup. Because it lacks evasion, you will often want to make it big enough to threaten lethal and put your opponent in “the Abyss” by forcing them to sacrifice chump blockers every combat step. When you untap with two, you can usually threaten lethal immediately. The avatar also has pseudo-vigilence at times because you can find yourself in a position where your opponent’s attack won’t kill you but would make your Shadow lethal.

    When playing against red decks, you usually want to wait to play the Shadow until it is big enough, or can become big enough at instant speed, to not die to the opponent’s damage-based removal. You also need to manage your life total carefully to not unnecessarily die to direct damage, a removal spell, evasive creatures, or creatures with flash or haste.

    Two commonly played cards force you to gain life, thus threatening to kill your Shadows:
    • Swords to Plowshares - this card threatens to exile one of your creatures and take all your Shadows with it. You can play around this scenario by not deploying multiple Shadows against this card and by making sure your life is low enough that a Plowed Delver or Angler won’t kill your Shadows. When this just exiles a single creature, you can usually recover from the life gain easily. Sometimes it is even welcome as it can turn on dead Street Wraiths, Reanimates, and Thoughtseizes when your life is low. There will be times where the risk of blowout is outweighed by the need to close the game out quickly and you will be forced to expose yourself to Swords. Remember, you can use your removal on your own creatures to “counter” the exile and life gain clauses of Swords to Plowshares. This way you can stay low for your Shadows and rebuy your threats with Reanimate or Liliana, the Last Hope.
    • Grove of the Burnwillows - this offers your opponent a source of uncounterable and reusable forced life gain. However, you have Wasteland and you can often plummet your life total faster than the opponent can force it back, just don’t get surprised by playing out a Shadow when you are at 11 or 12.

    Combat damage is marked on you and on Death's Shadow at the same time, so a small Death's Shadow can block a bigger creature and let another creature hit you. By the time lethal damage is checked, the Shadow can grow out of lethal range. For example, if you are at 12 and your 1/1 Shadow blocks an opponent’s 1/1 while letting another 1/1 go unblocked, the Shadow will deal 1 damage to the blocked creature but survive as a 2/2.

    4 Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration
    An evasive one-mana 3/2 that lets you close out the game while disrupting the opponent. It requires you to run a critical mass of instants and sorceries to reliably flip it. You can use Ponder and Brainstorm to flip it as well. It also provides 4 more blue cards to pair with Force of Will. A turn one Delver is usually a good play, as early pressure is important to keep your opponent scrambling to catch up and unable to play around your soft permission.

    Some other interactions of note:
    • You often want to leave up a fetchland so you can decide to shuffle before drawing the card you see off of the upkeep trigger.
    • You may want to fetch before casting Ponder or Brainstorm if it is important to flip your Delver using the cantrip.
    • Delver can be important as your only blocker against fliers like Marit Lage or creatures with protection from black like Mirran Crusader.
    • Feel free to Brainstorm on upkeep to flip a Delver if you need to get aggressive, especially with multiple Delvers on the field. However, this deck plays enough instants and sorceries that you can usually blind flip in a few turns.


    2–3 Gurmag Angler
    Like Shadow, this is a big vanilla “one mana” creature that requires some setup. In that sense, it plays as Shadow five and six. However, it provides some nice resistance to Fatal Push and Abrupt Decay. Some interactions of note:
    • You’ll sometimes prefer to play a fetch over another land just to fill your graveyard for the delve cost.
    • Angler is a Zombie for Liliana, the Last Hope emblem.
    • Angler is weak to bounce effects, like Jace, the Mind Sculptor's -1, however, because you you are not heavily taxing your graveyard, you can often afford to replay an Angler once or twice.
    • When choosing what to Delve, you will want to preserve creatures as potential Reanimate and Liliana, the Last Hope targets. If your opponent plays Snapcaster Mage, you will want some good instant or sorcery targets in case you Reanimate the Snapcaster. If you are facing Tarmogoyf, you will want to try to eliminate card types. Also, don’t over-delve if you can afford to tap mana, as you may need to cast another Angler later.


    0–2 Reanimate
    Reanimate is a threat that suffers from sometimes doing nothing. On the other hand, it serves as main-deck graveyard hate and helps flip your Delvers. All your creatures are good targets if you can afford the life loss. The turn one play of cycle Street Wraith, Reanimate it, go to 10 to 13 life, usually sets you up to close the game out. This spell also works great against the decks with Griselbrand and other huge creatures as well as value creatures like Snapcaster Mage and Baleful Strix.

    Cantrips
    4 Brainstorm
    The best blue card selection spell when paired with fetchlands. Use with a fetchland to shuffle away bad cards in your hand, but remember, you don’t always have to shuffle two cards away if some of them are good. Use it to flip Delver. Use it to hide cards on the top of your deck to play around discard. Use it to dig for needed cards and sculpt a strong hand. A turn one Brainstorm is usually not a great play, as you won’t have a shuffle effect ready. Still, a Brainstorm on your opponent’s turn before your turn two can make sense to protect yourself from discard, try to find a Force of Will or Daze to stop a crucial spell, or to setup a powerful turn two play, like Hymn to Tourach.

    3–4 Ponder
    Lets you see up to 4 new cards. It is often better to Ponder than to Brainstorm when you do not have a fetchland. Use it to set up your Delver triggers. Sometimes you will want to use it as a shuffle effect to pair with Brainstorm. Remember to plan your current and next two turns when stacking with Ponder, and consider whether or not your planned plays will require you to shuffle.

    0–2 Preordain
    Lets you see 3 new cards, but gives you the option to skip over one to two bad ones. Leaving both on top can help flip a Delver. You can also use the scry to clear away bad cards from a Brainstorm when you don’t have access to a shuffle effect. Playing a first Preordain over a fourth Ponder is controversial in the sense that it is not clearly correct as Ponder sees more cards and better helps to flip Delver. However, it is also not controversial in the sense that the two blue cantrips are close in power level and there are times when Preordain is better.

    4 Street Wraith
    Doesn’t provide you with card selection, but lets you see one more card for zero mana at instant speed. Provides life loss to fuel your Shadows and a creature in the graveyard to fuel Gurmag Angler, Reanimate, and Liliana, the Last Hope. When on the battlefield, the 3/4 5-cmc body can be hard for many decks to deal with and the Swampwalk is great against Baleful Strix. You can also use the cycle to keep your scry before you have to shuffle. The instant-speed life loss can serve as a pump spell with Death’s Shadow to blow out blockers or counter damage-based removal. You should usually cycle it before casting Thoughtseize to have more information when you select which card to discard. If you need land, cycle it before you fetch. If you don’t, fetch first.

    Discard
    4 Thoughtseize
    Probably the best discard spell and the life loss is an upside in this deck. It helps pick apart combo decks or clunkier decks with high mana curves. Also useful to clear out removal before deploying your threats. Turn one Thoughtseize can save your life against combo or prison decks. It also pairs with Reanimate to grab your opponent’s best creature. The information you gain from Thoughtseize is also extremely valuable as you can plan when to expose your threats, how to play through opposing permission, and how to best spend you Dazes and Force of Wills.

    Permission
    4 Force of Will
    I don’t think this is a necessary evil in this deck. Sure, you need it to not get scummed out by a turn 1 combo deck. But, you also need it to advance your tap out, aggro plan. You can recover the card disadvantage though your sources of virtual card advantage: playing a low land count with cantrips, creatures that outclass most things in combat, and by winning while your opponent still has cards stuck in hand.

    4 Daze
    Another card that lets you pursue an aggro, tap-out approach. Because you put enough pressure on your opponent and play Wastelands, your Daze’s are usually live. Remember, you can also use it—even on your own spells—to pick up and replay a Watery Grave if you need the life loss or if you need an untapped mana-source under Choke or [CARDS]Back to Basics[CARDS].

    0–2 Stubborn Denial
    These round out your countermagic suite. Great as a hard counter to protect your Shadow or Angler from removal or stop expensive planeswalkers and enchantments. As with Daze, the “Force Spike” version is often enough.

    0–2 Spell Pierce
    Very similar to Stubborn Denial. Obviously a bit better without Ferocious and worse with it.

    Removal
    1–2 Fatal Push
    Kills most things you want to kill in Legacy. You need to think about saving fetchlands or Wastelands to turn on revolt. It is nice to have a few removal spells that do not cost life, as you often need to remove a blocker to win when you are at 1 or 2 life.

    0–2 Snuff Out
    Gets the things that Fatal Push and Dismember cannot, for no mana. It is nice to be able to tap out against an Aether Vial on 1 and have this for and end-of-turn Mother of Runes. The “nonblack” clause is a real downside though, as you can’t get Baleful Strix, Death’s Shadow, Gurmag Angler, Street Wraith, or Griselbrand.

    0–2 Dismember
    Provides a flexible source of life loss as you can chose to lose 0, 2, or 4 life that hits Gurmag Angler. You can also use this as an out to Magus of the Moon.

    Lands
    3–4 Watery Grave
    You need enough shocklands to make your Shadows castable. In the blind, you should start out fetching untapped shocks. If you are playing against an opponent that you can expect to chip away at your life total, fetch Underground Seas or tapped Watery Graves first. If the makeup of your hand prices you into losing a lot of life, avoid fetching untapped Watery Graves.

    8–9 Fetchlands for Island or Swamp
    You need fetchlands to make this deck work. They let you shuffle away bad cards from Brainstorm, Ponder, and Delver triggers. They fuel delve for Gurmag Angler. They help you control your life total for Death’s Shadow. You’ll want to diversify the names if you can to play better against Pithing Needle and Sorcerous Spyglass.

    2–4 Wasteland
    Multiple Wastelands can lead to “free wins” by preventing your opponent from casting any meaningful spells. But just keeping your opponent tight on mana makes your Dazes and Stubborn Denials great. Also lets you interact with land-based strategies like Dark Depths.

    0–2 Underground Sea
    You want to be able to get mana sources when you don’t want to lose life. You also want to be able to operate off of a single mana source and cast black cards while keeping Daze up. Play betas.

    0–2 Basic Island or Swamp
    A basic Island or Swamp could replace an Underground Sea or Wasteland to provide protection against Blood Moon effects and allow for some play around Wasteland. This also provides value against Path to Exile and Ghost Quarter.

    IV. Sideboard Card Choices

    Diabolic Edict
    Comes in as additional or improved removal. Provides an answer for otherwise hard-to-kill creatures like True-Name Nemesis, Marit Lage, and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.

    Dread of Night
    Pretty much only for Death and Taxes (and maybe Soldier Stompy). Can be useful against white token machines like Monastery Mentor. Remember, this card is great against Death and Taxes, but not lights out. Typically, they win through this by suiting up a creature that can survive the effect with equipment and outclassing your board. They still have Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile, Council’s Judgment, and Palace Jailer to deal with your threats. In addition, they still get to cast their white creatures as spells, getting the enter the battlefield triggers. They will also have a few ways to remove the enchantment in Council’s Judgment and Leonin Relic Warder.

    Hymn to Tourach
    Great at disrupting spell-based combo decks and dealing with the reactive cards in a control opponent’s hand. Can also lead to “free wins” if you take out your opponents mana sources.

    Liliana, the Last Hope
    An important planeswalker threat with an ultimate that can win the game against control decks that can easily deal with your creatures. Her "Weakness" is great against Baleful Strix and Young Pyromancer or any deck with a lot of X/1s like Elves. You can even -2/-1 your own creatures to lessen the life gain from an opponent’s main phase Swords to Plowshares. Her "Raise Dead" helps prevent you from running out of threats and can clear two bad cards after a Brainstorm or Ponder. If you think your opponent will find an answer for her and there are no X/1s to take out, it is nice to -2 and get value right away rather than racing to the ultimate.

    Surgical Extraction
    Targeted graveyard hate. Zero casting cost is a must against the turn 1 Reanimator decks. Also great against Life from the Loam and Punishing Fire. Can serve to hobble any combo deck when paired with your discard quite, but at its best against graveyard combos.

    Engineered Explosives
    A good answer to Chalice of the Void. Remember, you can play with the casting cost by tapping Wastelands or multiple sources of a single color to get around Chalice effects. Also serves as a sweeper against decks with a high concentration of 1-cmc permanents or tokens. Though clunky, it is one of the few ways in blue and black to deal with artifacts and enchantments.

    Nihil Spellbomb
    A good mass-graveyard-hate spell that replaces itself and leaves your graveyard intact.

    Throne of Geth
    A rather narrow answer to Chalice of the Void, but you can set opposing Chalices to 2 or 3 and try to lock out your opponents spells, including future Chalices. Can also be used to tick up Engineered Explosives or Liliana, the Last Hope.

    Ratchet Bomb
    Another answer to Chalice of the Void and other artifacts and enchantments. More versatile than Throne of Geth and Engineered Explosives because you tick it up to deal with a permanent of any CMC.

    Darkblast
    A good removal spell for X/1s that can help fuel delve and find things to buy back with Reanimate and Liliana, the Last Hope. You can cast it in upkeep then dredge it back to use it twice in the same turn.

    Marsh Casualties
    Takes out True-Name Nemesis and wipes out X/1s in Death and Taxes and Elves. However, double black at sorcery speed may be hard to achieve against Death and Taxes.

    Massacre
    A little more versatile than Dread of Night and free to cast. However, will kill your own Delvers.

    Toxic Deluge
    A much more universal sweeper, but more difficult to cast at 3 cmc. The life loss could lead to dream scenarios of clearing the board to attack for lethal with a huge Shadow.

    Flusterstorm
    Good against blue permission and to stop spell-based combo, but misses key cards like Sneak Attack, Animate Dead, Blood Moon, Ensnaring Bridge, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

    V. Splashes

    Both red and green have been used as effective splashes. However, splashing makes you much more vulnerable to opposing land destruction as you will only have 1 or 2 sources of the splash color and, at times, one or two sources of one of your main colors. Furthermore, you are sometimes forced to use your fetches early to eploy a Shadow, exposing you precious mana sources.

    Red

    The red splash provides reach, better artifact removal, and access to Pyroblast effects. Red also helps a lot against Protection from Black creatures.

    Lightning Bolt
    Provides efficient removal, reach, and helps deal with planeswalkers.

    Abrade
    Provides artifact removal with the flexibility to hit a creature. Great against Death and Taxes and Goblins.

    Pyroblast, Red Elemental Blast
    Great answers to Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Force of Will, and the plethora of blue spells played in Legacy.

    Temur Battle Rage
    Helps push through the last bit of damage against a clogged board. A bit weak as it doesn’t do much with Delver.

    Green

    The green splash provides reach, better non-creature permanent removal, and access to Sylvan Library.

    Abrupt Decay
    Lets you deal with problematic artifacts, enchantments, and planeswalkers. Can take the place of some Fatal Pushes main deck.

    Berserk
    Like Temur Battle Rage, helps push through damage on a clogged board, but can also double as a removal spell on your opponent's’ attackers while helping you plummet your own life total.

    Sylvan Library
    Helps rebuild after a Swords to Plowshares and generally if you have a Death’s Shadow on the board and untap with Sylvan Library you should be in a pretty good place. On the downside, it costs two mana and does nothing until your next draw step.

    Golgari Charm
    A pretty good sweeper and piece of enchantment removal in one. The regeneration clause is also nice to “counter” some removal, including Abrupt Decay.

    VI. References




    LOOM TALL
    Last edited by aedrew; 09-15-2018 at 12:38 AM.

  2. #2

    Re: UB Death's Shadow

    A great pile of knowledge

  3. #3

    Re: UB Death's Shadow

    Great primer !

    Have Mind Bomb have been discussed already ? It seems to me to be fitting the plan : reducing both our and opponent's life total.

    It can be used to discard Angler if we have Reanimate or simply feed the graveyard to help casting Angler.

    It's blue for FOW and a burn spell. I can't imagine an opponent discarding cards to prevent the damage unless they are Reanimator or another graveyard deck. It helps the deck to close the game faster. With Shadow in play, it is 6 damage for one blue mana (3 direct damage and +3/+3 for Shadow).

    I can't see what to cut but Stubborn Denial.

    Turn 1 fetch, shockland, Mind Bomb, 14 life and opponent at 17 life.
    Vs
    Turn 1 fetch, shockland, Stubborn Denial...

    TLDR -2 Stubborn Denial +2 Mind Bomb ?

  4. #4

    Re: UB Death's Shadow

    Awesome primer!

    I don't think Mind Bomb is worth a spot, it's just a little too cute and I'm a big fan of stubborn denials to protect your threats (since you're relatively light on them)

    Has anyone had much success running 1-2 basics to help against things like Back to Basics which was all over at Richmond?

  5. #5

    Re: UB Death's Shadow

    This primer is great. I’ve already linked it into the discord for Legacy Shadow with encouragement that any users who are active there and in The Source should help flesh out discussion and community in this thread.

    With that said I wanted to make sure you/viewers had the Discord channel’s invite — https://discord.gg/3DnegHP

    Thanks again for putting in the legwork on a legit primer, aedrew.

  6. #6

    Re: UB Death's Shadow

    Thanks for the positive comments. I don't get to play as much as I'd like, so its nice to have a chance to think and write about Magic.

    As for Mind Bomb, I guess the dream scenario is finishing off someone at 0 cards behind an Ensnaring Bridge, but it's hard to imagine this is worth a card when your other cards are so good in general. But if you try it, let us know how it goes.

  7. #7
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    Re: UB Death's Shadow

    I was wondering when this deck would get moved to 'established', lol. It's been performing very well, especially considering its relative 'new-ness' to the format.
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  8. #8
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    Re: UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    I was wondering when this deck would get moved to 'established', lol. It's been performing very well, especially considering its relative 'new-ness' to the format.
    Did not take it long to move up the chain once more. You are now the second fastest deck to move into the DTB behind Eldrazi. Congrats.
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  9. #9

    Re: [DTB] UB Death's Shadow

    Here are my answers to two common questions, originally posted on the Legacy Death's Shadow Discord server at https://discord.gg/QtxHEye

    Is it viable to play this deck without any copies of Underground Sea?

    The short answer is yes, but a player must build and play differently to account for the change.

    1. Having 14 sources of blue and black mana are considered optimal to reliably cast a turn 1 spell from either color. If you opt to play Basic Lands rather than a full 14 fetch-lands and dual-lands, you will slightly increase the probability of needing to mulligan.

    2. You will often face situations where you need to fetch without taking a Shock. This is especially true with respect to Daze, as repeatedly playing Grave untapped can be either useful or suicidal. Having a Sea in your library means that all of your fetch-lands can find both colors.

    3. Decks with Basic Lands have a different vulnerability profile to Wasteland. Decks with purely duals cannot easily be taken off a color, but have an chance of being taken off both. Fetching a Basic Land immunizes one color from Wasteland, but increase the vulnerability of the other.

    4. Basic Lands help against a variety of other mana-denial effects. While Blood Moon and Back to Basics are still powerful cards against you, being able to fetch a Basic Land gives to a chance to fight through them.

    5. Having Basic Land grants other incidental perks, such as the ability to ramp from an opposing Path to Exile. Often opponents do not expect Delver decks to have any Basic Land, and this can often provide a small edge which can upset the opponent’s calculations, or add doubt and cause them to make mistakes.

    In conclusion, having Basic Land should not be seen as better than Underground Sea, nor should it be viewed as just an underpowered, budget approach. It is a viable alternative with its own distinct tradeoffs, and players should consider the rest of their deck, their playstyle, and the anticipated field before deciding on which they prefer.

    How many Wasteland should I play?

    As many as your metagame requires.

    Wasteland is not as essential for DDSD as it is for other Delver decks that are highly-dependent on tempo-advantage. DDSD has much more staying power, since its creatures can be substantially bigger. It also has other control options besides mana denial in its strong suite of discard spells and countermagic (notably including Stubborn Denial).

    That said, mana denial is as valid an attack angle for DDSD as it is for any Delver deck, and Wasteland still synergizes quite well with Daze. Tempo-advantage may not be the only choice, but it is still a choice. Leveraging that choice encourages playing 3-4 Wasteland.

    Additionally, Wasteland can answer problematic Lands, which are usually outside the purview of either countermagic or discard. Opposing Rishadan Port, Maze of Ith, Dark Depths, and so on can be quite difficult to fight against, and Wasteland gives a way to deal with those cards which would otherwise be absent. For that reason, having Wasteland is justifiable even if you’re not at all interested in mana-denial.

    In conclusion, you should vary your Wasteland count in relation to the expected field. Fields that are more vulnerable to tempo-based attack or present singularly powerful Lands demand a higher Wasteland count, typically 3-4. Fields that are more resistant to tempo-based strategies and present fewer threatening Lands will require fewer Wasteland.

  10. #10
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    Re: [DTB] UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Darkview View Post
    Here are my answers to two common questions, originally posted on the Legacy Death's Shadow Discord server at https://discord.gg/QtxHEye

    Is it viable to play this deck without any copies of Underground Sea?

    The short answer is yes, but a player must build and play differently to account for the change.

    1. Having 14 sources of blue and black mana are considered optimal to reliably cast a turn 1 spell from either color. If you opt to play Basic Lands rather than a full 14 fetch-lands and dual-lands, you will slightly increase the probability of needing to mulligan.

    2. You will often face situations where you need to fetch without taking a Shock. This is especially true with respect to Daze, as repeatedly playing Grave untapped can be either useful or suicidal. Having a Sea in your library means that all of your fetch-lands can find both colors.

    3. Decks with Basic Lands have a different vulnerability profile to Wasteland. Decks with purely duals cannot easily be taken off a color, but have an chance of being taken off both. Fetching a Basic Land immunizes one color from Wasteland, but increase the vulnerability of the other.

    4. Basic Lands help against a variety of other mana-denial effects. While Blood Moon and Back to Basics are still powerful cards against you, being able to fetch a Basic Land gives to a chance to fight through them.

    5. Having Basic Land grants other incidental perks, such as the ability to ramp from an opposing Path to Exile. Often opponents do not expect Delver decks to have any Basic Land, and this can often provide a small edge which can upset the opponent’s calculations, or add doubt and cause them to make mistakes.

    In conclusion, having Basic Land should not be seen as better than Underground Sea, nor should it be viewed as just an underpowered, budget approach. It is a viable alternative with its own distinct tradeoffs, and players should consider the rest of their deck, their playstyle, and the anticipated field before deciding on which they prefer.

    How many Wasteland should I play?

    As many as your metagame requires.

    Wasteland is not as essential for DDSD as it is for other Delver decks that are highly-dependent on tempo-advantage. DDSD has much more staying power, since its creatures can be substantially bigger. It also has other control options besides mana denial in its strong suite of discard spells and countermagic (notably including Stubborn Denial).

    That said, mana denial is as valid an attack angle for DDSD as it is for any Delver deck, and Wasteland still synergizes quite well with Daze. Tempo-advantage may not be the only choice, but it is still a choice. Leveraging that choice encourages playing 3-4 Wasteland.

    Additionally, Wasteland can answer problematic Lands, which are usually outside the purview of either countermagic or discard. Opposing Rishadan Port, Maze of Ith, Dark Depths, and so on can be quite difficult to fight against, and Wasteland gives a way to deal with those cards which would otherwise be absent. For that reason, having Wasteland is justifiable even if you’re not at all interested in mana-denial.

    In conclusion, you should vary your Wasteland count in relation to the expected field. Fields that are more vulnerable to tempo-based attack or present singularly powerful Lands demand a higher Wasteland count, typically 3-4. Fields that are more resistant to tempo-based strategies and present fewer threatening Lands will require fewer Wasteland.
    I've been running a Grixis variant of Shadow for quite some time now. Color-combinations aside, two cards that I've found to be invaluable in those match-ups against Lands and Miracles out of the sideboard are Tsabo's Web and Winter Orb, respectively. Each extends the game in your favor, and shuts down out of nowhere the ability for these decks to leverage their resources as an advantage. All this in conjunction with Wasteland, as well.
    "He's waited for this night."

  11. #11

    Re: [DTB] UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Keller View Post
    I've been running a Grixis variant of Shadow for quite some time now. Color-combinations aside, two cards that I've found to be invaluable in those match-ups against Lands and Miracles out of the sideboard are Tsabo's Web and Winter Orb, respectively. Each extends the game in your favor, and shuts down out of nowhere the ability for these decks to leverage their resources as an advantage. All this in conjunction with Wasteland, as well.
    I, too, have been pleased with those two cards. I tried Torpor Orb also, but not enough to get a sense if it's as strong as Tsabo's Web. My main interest is in beating DnT without having 3 DoN in my board.

    I play the green splash, largely for Decay and Library, which allows me to immediately draw 2 (amazing what this deck can do after a +2 card advantage boost) and get my DS to a respectable 8/8 after one has been swords'ed. Obviously I'll be trying some number of Assassin's Trophy because if they get a Jace, it's hard to beat. However, I still see value in playing Decay. I'm not sure how my splits will go and all, but I'm sure it will get resolved eventually.

    Thought about trying a Berserk, but as of now I'm trying an Apostle's Blessing, thanks to a suggestion here earlier on this thread.

  12. #12
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    Re: [DTB] UB Death's Shadow

    Apostle's Blessing is also another card I've tested, but honestly, I prefer to give Death's Shadow Shadow Rift. It's blue, it's one mana, it cantrips and it pushes through damage.
    "He's waited for this night."

  13. #13

    Re: [DTB] UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Keller View Post
    Apostle's Blessing is also another card I've tested, but honestly, I prefer to give Death's Shadow Shadow Rift. It's blue, it's one mana, it cantrips and it pushes through damage.
    Yes, but this is Delver, and apostles blessing pulls double-duty; it either protects your threat OR pushes through damage. It's versatile. Play your preference, but this is why I prefer it to Shadow Rift.

  14. #14

    Re: [DTB] UB Death's Shadow

    Great Primer!

    I just bought into this deck and want to try and push the UB version until meta forces otherwise...
    I was looking up some cards with alternate/additional cost and came across a few that might be of interest:

    Contagion seems like a good card to deal with two x/1's and doesn't have the non-black clause.
    Skeletal Scrying can refuel our hands and grows Death Shadows. Would have to balance with Angler..

    Also since we don't run a creature-less source of direct damage i.e bolt, Tyrant's Choice doubles as removal and direct damage.

    I also second the Mind Bomb idea as one worth trying. Does everything you'd want in this deck if you are just playing UB...

    Edit: Strike out Skeletal Scrying, I didn't realize you had to pay mana
    Last edited by streetMage; 09-22-2018 at 12:11 AM.

  15. #15

    Re: [DTB] UB Death's Shadow

    I don't think Contagion is what you want. Thinking about the common situations where there are multiple X/1s:
    • Baleful Strix - Gives an opponent a 3 for 1 or a 4 for 2
    • Young Pyromancer - Gives an opponent a 2 for 1 or better.
    • Monastery Mentor - Gives an opponent a 2 for 1 or better.
    • Elves, Goblins, Death and Taxes - could be okay here, but still at most you get a 2 for 2 versus the blowout potential of other sweepers. Instant speed and free is nice for the surprise factor.

    This also risks being dead when hell-bent.

    I do like Skeletal Scrying against Miracles, serving a role similar to Sylvan Library in black. In this matchup, you will probably have the life, cards in graveyard, and mana to spend.

    The flexibility of Tyrant's Choice isn't bad, but I am not sure what it would replace. I feel like you need instant-speed edict effects for Marit Lage.

  16. #16

    Re: [DTB] UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by aedrew View Post
    I do like Skeletal Scrying against Miracles, serving a role similar to Sylvan Library in black. In this matchup, you will probably have the life, cards in graveyard, and mana to spend.
    Thanks for the feedback. I agree on Skeletal Scrying, I figure if Treasure Cruise was still legal, this deck would run atleast one... this is pretty close; especially when we welcome the lifeloss.. I'm debating on going down a Gurmag Angler for one since they both use the gy.
    Last edited by streetMage; 09-22-2018 at 12:12 AM.

  17. #17

    Re: [DTB] UB Death's Shadow

    If Treasure Cruise were legal there would be better decks to play, just saying.

    Edit: Skeletal Scrying's cost is really high, give it a try if you like, but I play green splash with Library, and it feels miles away better than Scrying looks. 3 Mana for +1 CA is not ideal.

  18. #18

    Re: [DTB] UB Death's Shadow

    Have you read Tyrant's Choice? It will never be removal, because if you want it to be removal the opponent will not want it to be removal and just vote for the non-removal option, which is the default in the case of a tie. The only thing this card does in a 2 player game is 1B your opponent loses 4 life.

    Skeletal Scrying costs way too much mana for what you get out of it, I would rather play like Bob or even Arena than that

    Mind Bomb is also a terrible suggestion, the average case is U: Lava Spike both players, why would you want to play this card

  19. #19

    Re: [DTB] UB Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by kombatkiwi View Post
    Have you read Tyrant's Choice? It will never be removal, because if you want it to be removal the opponent will not want it to be removal and just vote for the non-removal option, which is the default in the case of a tie. The only thing this card does in a 2 player game is 1B your opponent loses 4 life.

    Skeletal Scrying costs way too much mana for what you get out of it, I would rather play like Bob or even Arena than that

    Mind Bomb is also a terrible suggestion, the average case is U: Lava Spike both players, why would you want to play this card
    Mind Bomb is a blue lava spike against your opponent and a blue giant growth for your Death's Shadow all-in-one. I doubt it's good enough, though.

    Your other points are good, but it seems you missed the synergies the deck has with Mind Bomb.

  20. #20

    Re: [DTB] UB Death's Shadow

    the list of the Eternal of Asia, should also be noted. http://www.mtgtop8.com/event?e=19908&d=328759&f=LE

    With the high number of Grixis Control and Miracles, does Bitterblossom not deserve a place on the deck? At where?

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