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Thread: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

  1. #401

    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    It's important to realize that when a deck is just 1-card combos
    I have to stop you there because this idea has no clear definition. I assume you mean just like, good cards?

    that there's nothing going on in the background that guarantees continued relevance. When playing a deck like that and power creep happens, the deck ends up falling into irrelevance [tier 3].
    Ok but there's nothing to stop powercreep also affecting "non-1-card combo" decks like SNT or ANT either so this assertion seems meaningless

    To regain relevance [tier 2], the answer will never be doing the underpowered thing harder/more consistently. This is best exemplified by decks like Mentor and Blade, who keep doing this consistency stuff but never fixed the part where they're they're consistently underpowered [tier 2.5].
    "If X deck is not good anymore then it needs to change somehow if it wants to be good again" Sure, isn't this blatantly obvious

    Now Shadow has things going on in the background which it can fall back on [the life loss engine]
    What does "the life loss engine" even mean. The only card that rewards you for losing life is Shadow itself and it doesn't do anything except be an efficient threat

    but everything on top of that is a field of 1-card combos which are all being power creep'd out. The solution isn't doing the thing harder, you have underpower problems.
    Sure, this is why I am experimenting with greater numbers of midrange/value/control cards like Hymn/Strix rather than just being Grixis Delver sans red

    Ponder and Street Wraith are not adding power, and to address a power problem you will need these slots. Otherwise you're going to be waiting a long time for strictly better 1-card combo threats [creatures or undercosted PW] to get printed.
    Absolutely not true that these are the slots (ponder/wraith) that are the most inherently 'swappable'

    The worst thing you could do with Shadow right now is to add even more consistency slots [Baubles] while you have an underpowered problem, which also happens to be running directly into Prismatic Ending and aggressive Bolt-using decks. Consistency is meaningless if the payoff is underpowered, and poorly positioned.
    Bauble is not very good as a 'consistency' card because it just replaces itself with no selection and a 1 turn delay. It's only good if e.g.
    a) you care about artifact in the graveyard (e.g. Delirium)
    b) you care about knowing the top card of your library (e.g. Predict / CB)
    c) You care about casting a ton of cheap spells (Mentor or something)
    d) Auriok Salvagers or Mox Opal or whatever other synergy
    The only suggestion of bauble was specifically as a DRC enabler, not because the deck vaguely needs more cantrips or something
    "Cut this spell and add a cantrip" isn't necessarily good or bad advice, it depends on the context

    Shadow needs to change, or it's only good matchups will be vs combo.
    Ok, I dont think anybody really disagrees

    You know the wincon is picking fights over the mana since Bant midrange is tinkering with dangerously low land counts and the Delver-types also have suspect mana. These are your dominant problems [Ending and Bolt], and whatever is happening with the Saga matchup is also going to be about mana. Green plays nicer with heavy UB openers as it comes online later with cards like Trophy [the mana attack]
    Using trophy as manadenial simply does not work against decks with basics and this includes both Delver (UR being the most popular variant) and Bant

    and Library
    Library is a good card but infernal contract also usually does the job in matchups where you want this effect without adding the extra colour

    and Berserk [remember it kills Ragavan]
    Berserk is exactly the kind of effect that "does the thing" (combat step) with more dedication, I thought this was exactly the kind of effect you were trying to avoid? Using it as removal for Ragavan is also pretty awful

    you also have an option to absorb a non-Pyroblast'able PW in Grist (which is better positioned than Last Hope)
    They do different roles in different matchups.
    The huge problem with Grist in this deck is anytime you cast it there's 0 chance you have any creature you're happy to sac.
    You either sac one of your good creatures to kill something and hope they don't have a follow up to kill Grist or you just cast it and plus to make 1 insect and again hope there's no strong follow up, neither of these are very appealing. (Of course if you are way behind on the board against big creatures then Last Hope is also not great but at least Liliana is very good at being a kind of Night of Souls Betrayal

    and it's a pretty good time for Deed's asymmetrical attack vs Urza's Saga
    This is kind of interesting actually but maybe in a different deck

    You know what needs to happen - you need those slots Wraith is stealing...because you need power, before consistency.
    By this logic every blue deck should just cut its cantrips for "powerful" cards. ("I can't decide whether to play Endurance or Icefang. I guess I just cut my cantrips and play both"). This is just lazy/wrong deckbuilding.
    Wraith almost certainly shouldn't be cut because it's too powerful of a Shadow enabler. The question is which "powerful" cards to play in the remaining slots

  2. #402

    Ragavan for delver

    Hey, I'm a long-time shadow player in modern, recently started playing the deck in legacy. After reading through pieces of this thread several members have suggested a red splash, which has been (correct me if I'm wrong) dismissed as putting too much strain on a fragile mana base. However, I still feel that a splash in either red or green would be beneficial towards improving the midrange and control matchups, or bringing shadow away from "worse delver".


    Red obviously gives you pyroblast right off the bat, which is just a great card. Your probably going to be playing bolt as well, but it's worth noting that it's a lot worse if your not playing delver style cards, so I don't think it's an auto-include. Abrade is also a great card and could help with the new kaldra complete hatebears lists running round. But what I feel is to be most gained from splashing red is Ragavan. Obviously the card is nuts. What confuses me is why people have not(at least not to my knowledge) discussed playing it in shadow. Perhaps the answer is obvious but it's certainly eluded me. The card is comparable to drs in that it actually facilitates the splash into another colour by producing treasure tokens. KombatKiwi stated earlier that they felt it would be beneficial to shadow for a card to be printed that was both powerful as a turn one play and as a topdeck, which ragavan obviously is. I will come back to that point later, when I discuss the idea of splashing green. Another point is that an experienced tundra player is going to be hesitant to stp your delver when they think it is preventing you from playing shadow, but might think very differently about that when it's a monkey on the other side of the table, thus clearing the way for the chunky boi. Ok, so Ragavan is a very powerful turn one play that is insane when combined with daze. It also mitigates the drawbacks of playing three colours. What you obviously don't want to be doing is playing a Ragavan deck that's just worse than the standstill variants, but I don't think that would be the case, I genuinely believe the card could be great in shadow. What do you guys think? Another point is drc is imo just better than delver, and I definitely think it would be worth experimenting with, possibly in conjunction with mishra's bauble, although I have played the card without it and it is interesting to note that delirium is still very easy to enable. (also could the cards milled by drc possibly facilitate some synergy between it and reanimate?) (also also would it then be worth playing unholy heat then or is fatal push just better?) Anyway, those were my immediate thoughts on a red splash. Moving on to green....


    Imo back when oko was a vibe green was a good thing to do in ds. Now tho.... idk. Lets take a look. Green gives you some really spicy stuff. Lets start with the obvious. Beserk- inconsistent, but looks so tantalizingly good... I have not got enough experience playing the card to say if the card is actually shit. Sylvan library-insane. One of the best reasons to be playing G. Good card is a good card, enough said. Abrupt decay and assassin's trophy- Abrupt decay is just plain good. Worth playing around 2 split between the maindeck and sideboard. Assassin's trophy is very interesting atm. On one hand it can be just worse ad. On the other hand occasionally it is going to be a sinkhole, it is great against crop rotation decks, and most intriguingly it kills murktide regent, which is a real problem for deaths shadow. Right now our only real way to deal with it is bounce with borrower. Sure snuff out does the job but it really hurts when your opponent is playing an aggressive deck with lightning bolt. Otherwise your hope is to never let the card resolve, but your opponent will probably be saving everything to try and force the regent through. So assassin's trophy seems very appealing, blowing up everything from t3feri, chalice, blood moon and the regent. Overall a promising choice. Veil of summer is just amazing. Uro is an idea but I object on a moral basis and also it really doesn't synergise with anything we are doing, we won't have lands to play most of the time, we don't want to gain life and we want to have a graveyard for angler. Still.... Idk. It wouldn't surprise me if the card worked there because it is just ridiculous. But we won't go there.

    crop rotation- the land toolbox-can be a sweet sideboard option where you play bog, karaka's ect and two crop rotations, also tutors for wasteland at instant speed which is very relevant in some situations, especially relevant now that urza's saga is a thing. (also can be tricky by sacing a land in response to opponents wasteland which can save you from some very sticky situations). I have played a sideboard like this and it is really effective.

    Green sun's zenith- Best green card ever printed? either way it is interesting as a threat, grabbing shadows, and as a tool to snare silver bullets. Can be good to grab sylvan safekeeper vs control for example. This brings up the idea of grist the hungertide, but the card has it's problems, which have already been pointed out. Also four mana is a LOT in a death shadow deck. But maybe? Could be an interesting tool in grindy games. Probably worse than either lii unless your playing zenith but idk. Either way Green sun's zenith could be good, but I have not seen a successful list playing it.

    Ok- I said I'd touch on this- Hexdrinker. KombatKiwi said shadow needed a card resembling a "black hexdrinker". Why not just play the green one? I'll leave this one with you guys but it seems... promising? especially in a green sun's zenith style list... I think one of the biggest downfalls of the card is that it is vulnerable to prismatic ending which is everywhere atm. It is really going to hurt after spending four mana on this over two or three turns only to have it traded for one. Lets here some opinions.

    Ok so that's me just with some ideas. I hope this contributes to the discussion, and would love to hear some opinions. Again, I am not a seasoned legacy player, but I think I have a decent general knowledge of the format and a good understanding of shadow.

  3. #403

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    May 2015



    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    It is important to have a clear idea of what your first two colors are. Daze and all mana-fixing [cantrips] dictate blue is a primary color, as is black which has all the high-quality wincons. Splitting color identity into green as well doesn't work before roughly turn 3. As far as Library goes, Prismatic Ending puts a significant damper on this tactic. To ensure value you would need to be on the play, cast Library on 2, and have a Daze for x=1 Ending. Daze fails to protect Library from Ending on the draw. When you examine the poor positioning of Library in legacy right now, it should be noted that if your value is already dead on arrival, you may as well stay on color with Confidant. Library used to be reliable, it isn't now.

  4. #404

    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    I agree that library is not as redundant as it once was due to the prevalence of everyone's new favourite removal spell. However, I feel that you are overstating this pretty dramatically. Prismatic ending is going to be trading with library for equal mana, on their turn. That's pretty ok for a shadow player, since they have to tap out and they now have their shields down. Besides the fact that not everyone is playing ending and the people who are won't be playing four copies. The card is most comparable to abrupt decay. People compare it to stp, but I feel this is similar to comparing decay to push. The cards are very different, people are playing them for different reasons. Plow is still going to be the white creature killing spell of choice. Ending is going to be played as a catch all answer in smaller numbers to deal with the multitude of noncreature threats in legacy. Imagine this situation- your playing against some bgx midrange variant. They play decay, ending you name it. But library is still probably the card I want to draw most in that mu. Besides this, library is far from the only card that green gives you, so even if it is lower impact than in previous years there are other draws to a green splash (no I am not saying that going g is in any way better than staying ub but I am saying that library being easier to kill is not a good enough reason to dismiss said splash). Finally, comparing library to bob is imo unrealistic. Bob is so far below library in terms of a card advantage engine. He also doesn't allow you to choose how much life you lose. And, compared to library he is incredibly fragile. Card dies to lava dart. I would not recommend playing bob in legacy shadow, ub or otherwise. Maybe you have had great results with him, in which case I would love to hear about it and where you played him.

  5. #405

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    May 2015



    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    In legacy we have a much narrower, and more interactive metagame than modern. We have 4 decks: Fetchland/usually with cantrips, Loam/Mox, Cavern/Vial, and Sol land/Chalice. In that list, Fetchlands/cantrips shape legacy, while the other 3 are anti-Fetchland/cantrips. There are mash-ups, for example SnT with Fetchland/cantrips + Sol lands, but if a deck lacks these things altogether, it isn't going to win.

    The reason I bring this up is draw this strong connection between the Fetchland cartel and what legacy really is. If Fetchland cartel is unhealthy, the whole format is unhealthy. WotC has failed to address the rotten core of legacy: Tarmogoyf [which is now called Murktide], Counterbalance [sidelined by Uro], Hymn [sidelined by Uro], Echo, and Uro. Uro here is more of a proxy for FIRE cards that are anti-Goyf, rather than just one card. Ragavan is a card which lives under the umbrella term "Uro" as did Wrenn, Lurrus, DHA, Oko.

    Let's simplify further: legacy is Goyf gamers vs anti-Goyf gamers. Remember Murktide = Goyf. This is the format you are trying to play Shadow in...Ragavan is still legal. Around 33% [let's estimate] of Goyf gamers are playing Ragavan + Ending, and it shouldn't surprise us that free monkey Petals are used this way. On the anti-Goyf side, they have to kill they're playing Ending too.

    This is an exceptionally bad time to try and exploit Library. Until Ragavan is banned, the moment you see non-DnT white mana that deck has 4x Plow and 3x Ending until proven otherwise. This tactic is all over tier 1, 1.5, and 2.

    The cards do not exist which give Shadow an internal source of format relevance. That is to say, the legacy format does not have to react to Shadow b/c it already randomly craps all over its wincon. This is where modern-style deck construction gets in trouble. The answer in this situation is *never* to build like modern and do your thing harder.

    Understand what the legacy format is and build backwards. It's not about doing your thing, it's about threading a needle through known effects. Right now there is a brick wall in legacy which Library doesn't get around. If you don't believe me, look at Uro piles before and after Prismatic Ending - where did the Libraries go? More importantly why did they go? All roads lead to Ending, and that road is paved by Ragavan.

  6. #406

    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Ok. I feel like you've kinda just ignored what I have said, since you haven't really addressed any of my arguments. You've basically said the same thing twice, with a lecture on "what legacy really is" thrown in, and a rant about how ragavan needs to be banned. Your point that no-one plays sylvan library confused me too. To the best of my knowledge uro pile/control lists never played it at any point. And basically every deck that plays green other than bant control is running one or more copies, from lands to maverick to rug delver. I feel that your saying if a deck has an answer to your card then it is unplayable. Ragavan is terrible, everyone is playing one mana removal. Unplayable card. Death shadow? Dies to fatal push, unplayable. Sylvan library? dies to abrupt decay AND PRISMATIC ENDING????? Clearly not worth a slot. I am seriously confused what you are suggesting by "you can't keep doing the same thing harder". If by this you mean strategies that are falling behind with power creep need to be upgraded, I thought that was the entire point of this forum, in which case you are stating the very obvious. That is why I was suggesting a splash into red or green, because I thought that those colours could add power to the ub shell that was perhaps slightly lacking. If instead you mean something else I would love a clarification....

  7. #407

    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    On another note here is a list I have been tentatively testing which has a heavy red splash, what do you guys think?

    cantrips and enablers

    4x street wraith
    3x mishra's bauble (powers out anglers earlier, turns on delirium, reason I am playing lower land count too)
    4x ponder
    4x brainstorm

    countermagic and other interaction

    4x fow
    4x daze
    1x stubborn denial (playing 2 copies of angler and 4 shadows so should be turned on relatively reliably)
    4x thoughtseize
    1x bolt (really want to play more of these but slots are tight and it is outclassed by other removal, can be good to throw at faces occasionally tho)
    2x unholy heat (better than fatal push if you can turn on delirium, hits regent like 70 percent of the time)
    1x snuff out (so efficient, hits regent)


    4x shadow
    4x drc
    2x angler (playing 4x bauble and drc so should be powered out fairly consistently)
    1x reanimate (good with drc and we are playing 4x street wraith so 1 feels pretty good)


    4x wasteland
    8x fetch
    1x watery grave
    1x steam vent
    1x blood crypt
    1x underground sea land count is so low because I am playing so many cantrips- may go up to 18 anyway
    1x volcanic island wanted to play 9 fetches for angler but also wanted to be able to hard cast wraith.

    sideboard- not yet happy but eh

    1x abrade
    2x plague engineer
    1x darkblast (fuck ragavan, fuck urza's saga tokens and retrofitter foundry, elves and thalia)
    3x red blasts
    2x brazen borrower (I feel like I need more in the lands mu)
    1x lili last hope (grind engine, kills alot of relevant stuff)
    2x surgical extraction
    1x grafdiggers cage
    1x soul guide lantern
    1x force of negation- more against red prison, good against loam, yet another card vs combo)

    played some games, crushed omnitell, bw vial, smokestacks, rug devler and ragstill. Lost 2-0 to red prison and 2-1 to dredge, considering adding a copy of temur battlerage to the sideboard. After 7 games definitely feeling the strain on the manabase, particularly when you get hands with thoughtseize, channeler and cantrip, with one fetch land. I think it is reasonable to keep those hands but you end up being unable to cast one of your onedrops on turn two. On the other hand the deck felt powerful, I'm not completely sold on chaneler but the anglers it turns on have been great. Now I am going to work on a list that runs ragavan.
    Last edited by mausoleum secrets ds; 08-17-2021 at 12:24 AM.

  8. #408

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    May 2015



    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Okay, so you've said something important: you don't realize that Sylvan Library was spammed at around 2-3x copies in all Uro Piles, and was central to getting ahead with Uro and staying ahead before MH2. Something happened, and Library use started crashing (because it wasn't winning like it used to). These are trends you need to pay attention to - it is a very bad time to compromise your mana for the false promise of CA from Library. There is an arms race going on in legacy of Ragavan vs Ending, and the end result is more Endings on either side of that war.

    Shadow cannot change that this cycle is happening to its detriment. Shadow has no inherent ability to throw its weight around in legacy and make other decks drop everything and ask themselves "what can I do to improve my Shadow matchup." The only way forward for Shadow is to accurately assess the relevant forces in legacy and dance around them. Adding a card like Library at this time runs into a brick wall you should already know about. For the record I am a huge proponent of UBg Shadow, but trading away that mana security no longer has a trustworthy payoff. Adding variance to a tier 2 deck is only acceptable insofar as power [in this case CA] rises in exchange.

    You're talking about adding a third color while forces you can't control dictate you should be running towards basic Island and Swamp. This isn't about Library dying to removal, it's about the double-whammy. It's not just that the Library isn't going to work, but you'd be making your mana the easiest target for opponents at the same time. Add green and you go from losing on one front, to losing on two fronts.

  9. #409
    Bald. Bearded. Moderator.
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    Nov 2010

    Hell in a Nutshell


    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    I am looking to put this deck together again, probably Grixis for DRC and some number of Expressive Iteration. Unholy Heat and Pyroblast are also cards that reward a red splash. My question is this: is Murktide Regent a necessity? I was planning on 4x each of Delver/DRC/Shadow, probably dropping Street Wraiths and the typical 1-2 Reanimate for the Iterations. I have found a few Grixis lists but they don't seem optimal to me. Here is my starting list:

    4x Delver
    4x Dragon's Rage Channeler
    4x Death's Shadow
    4x Brainstorm
    4x Ponder
    4x Daze
    4x Force of Will
    4x Thoughtseize
    3x Snuff Out
    3x Lightning Bolt
    4x Expressive Iteration
    4x Polluted Delta
    3x Scalding Tarn
    1x Marsh Flats
    3x Watery Grave
    1x Steam Vents
    1x Blood Crypt
    1x Island
    4x Wasteland

    Sideboard stuff:
    Brazen borrower
    Surgical extraction
    Nihil spellbomb
    Unholy Heat
    Stubborn Denial
    Liliana the Last Hope
    Sudden Edict
    Hymn to tourach

    Is this even worth doing without Murktide? My hesitancy comes from a potential Murktide ban. I am also wondering if I need some number of Bauble/Street Wraith to feed delirium. Not sure where to trim for that stuff, probably shave down to 3-of on some cards like Thoughtseize and Iteration.
    Brainstorm Realist

    I close my eyes and sink within myself, relive the gift of precious memories, in need of a fix called innocence. - Chuck Shuldiner

  10. #410

    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    TS is not a great card right now and Shadow isn't a big get if you're losing Murktide (both cards fill a similar role), so once you commit to playing the same package of 8 one-drops you're basically playing UR delver with a worse manabase and slightly worse spell quality just to enable Snuff Out. Doesn't seem worth it to me. If you still want to play a list like that for budget reasons or scared-of-bans reasons I would probably do along the lines of what you said (trim thoughtseize for wraith/bauble)

  11. #411
    Bald. Bearded. Moderator.
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    Hell in a Nutshell


    Re: [Primer] UB Death's Shadow

    Good points. The biggest reason for red is Pyroblast in the board and finding a way to squeeze in Iteration, however I think Mystical dispute does a passable Pyroblast effect, Bitterblossom
    and Narset can provide grindy advantage, and Brazen borrower can fill the role of artifact 'removal' to compensate for not having Abrade. I think I'll keep it UB and just bite the bullet for Murktides. If it gets banned I can just play borrower main or go back to Angler/Reanimate for threats.

    If Thoughtseize isn't great I could see cutting to 2-3 copies, which opens up space for Stubborn Denial or Fatal Push. I can't really see Drown in the Loch at 2 mana being correct, but maybe its good enough? Darkblast seems decent as well, especially with Murktide as Dredge feeds it.
    Brainstorm Realist

    I close my eyes and sink within myself, relive the gift of precious memories, in need of a fix called innocence. - Chuck Shuldiner

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