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Thread: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

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    [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    I'm attempting to put together a modern deck to have ready if I somehow, miraculously, get a chance to play magic in person some time this year. I have a homebrewed Zoo deck, which is solidly tier 3 or lower, but I want at least a tier 1-1.5 deck ready to go. It seems that most versions of Shadow are going the 2-color route with BR, but I think the historically Grixis version adds a lot of tools, not the least of which his Snapcaster Mage. Because I have Snaps, I would really like to somehow work in a full set of Lightning Bolt, even though it really isn't 'standard' to do so. I have a starting list from September of last year to go by, which I will use as a template to get started. Without knowing the current metagame of Modern (do people still play modern?) this is just a rough draft for now.

    List from 9/19/2020:

    https://www.mtgtop8.com/event?e=27600&d=419288&f=MO

    Current list 2/15/2021:


    4x Death’s Shadow
    4x Street Wraith
    2x Snapcaster Mage
    2x Brazen Borrower
    3x Gurmag Angler

    4x Thought Scour
    2x Opt
    4x Mishra’s Bauble
    4x Thoughtseize
    1x Temur Battle Rage
    2x Stubborn Denial
    3x Remand
    3x Lightning Bolt
    2x Fatal Push
    2x Dismember
    1x Unearth

    4x Polluted Delta
    3x Scalding Tarn
    3x Misty Rainforest
    3x Watery Grave
    1x Steam Vents
    1x Blood Crypt
    1x Island
    1x Swamp

    Sideboard
    1x The Royal Scions
    2x Force of Negation
    2x Nihil Spellbomb
    2x Surgical Extraction
    1x Liliana, the Last Hope
    2x Collective Brutality
    1x Abrade
    2x Plague Engineer
    2x Ceremonious Rejection
    Last edited by Mr. Safety; 02-16-2021 at 08:29 AM.
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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    I'm not sure how Lurrus fits into the equation. I would have to cut the Street Wraiths and Gurmag Anglers to make it my companion, and those are pretty important cards to the Grixis approach with Thought Scour/Snapcaster Mage. Alternatively I don't have to declare Lurrus as a companion and just use him as a high-value sideboard card. I could also sideboard out the 2+ permanents (which would be at least 7, 4x SW + 3x Gurmag) and then declare Lurrus my companion in games 2-3. I'm not sure it's worth it, but I'm also not sure it's worth trying a Shadow deck *without* the value of Lurrus. It might be correct to just re-tool the deck to take maximum advantage of the companion rule.

    I don't like the 6 mana investment on Lurrus, but it could be pretty good if games go long. I don't know which matchups that would do that, but I'm sure those will become known as I dig back into the metagame.
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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    I'm not sure how Lurrus fits into the equation. ...
    Lurrus has been widely adopted for Shadow builds, though not universally. It seems they're mostly a Rakdos deck now, though I've seen Mardu, Grixis, and Jund builds as well. I guess it really depends on the style you want. Grixis is definitely more of the tempo/control version. Rakdos is basically a burn deck. Mardu has additional disruption and Jund was a bit of toolbox deck with Traverse the Ulvenwald, but the printing of Scourge of the Skyclaves made Tarmogoyf less of a draw, so I see less Jund these days.

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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    Cool, thanks for the feedback! I think I'm dedicated to Grixis, if for Snap + Bolt alone. I think for now Lurrus will be just a high value card in the sideboard, something I sideboard in on occasion. If that isn't worth the slot I'll probably drop it. I want Gurmags/Street Wraiths, maybe even maindeck Brazen Borrowers x1-2. I also nabbed a copy of The Royal Scions, which seems like an all-star against grindier decks.

    I have a substantial list of pet cards I want to try in this deck, main and sideboard: Search for Azcanta, Bitterblossom, Rancor, Abrupt Decay, Tribal Flames, Tidehollow Sculler, Gut Shot...I want Modern to be a place I can brew, lol. I realize that isn't really the case, but I love trying.
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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    I agree that Lurrus is better in the BR builds that use Scourge of the Skyclaves.

    I get Lightning Bolt as a pet card, but Dismember is usually a pretty important removal card in Shadow.

    The Royal Scions is a good sideboard card. Could probably swap out Lurrus for it!

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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    I'll swap the Lurrus for Royal Scions, good idea. Dismember maindeck or sideboard? I'm also not sold on a full set of Serum Visions, I think 2-3 is fine. That might be the place to squeeze in the Dismember. I also want Remand in there, in some number (probably 2 copies.) I feel like many games of Shadow are decided by going hard into a fast aggro plan. Turning Anglers and Shadows sideways with Remand backup, which could feed you bolts, seems like a sound strategy.

    I've been watching some YouTube videos of recent Grixis Shadow leagues and Snapcaster Mage seems lackluster without something to always flash back, like Lightning Bolt. Battle Rage is risky if there isn't a Stub to protect it, but Bolt to the face will always be a pretty solid finisher. Bolt - Snap - Bolt is still one of the best feelings in Modern, in my opinion.
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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    So Serum Visions vs Opt for additional cantrips: is Opt just better because it's an instant I can hold up t1? There are so many cards that are incredible if left open t1 (Bolt, Push, Scour, Stub) that having yet another option to get full value out of t1 mana seems pretty good. I love Serum Visions as a card, but I hate that it's a sorcery.
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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    I'll swap the Lurrus for Royal Scions, good idea. Dismember maindeck or sideboard? I'm also not sold on a full set of Serum Visions, I think 2-3 is fine. That might be the place to squeeze in the Dismember. I also want Remand in there, in some number (probably 2 copies.) I feel like many games of Shadow are decided by going hard into a fast aggro plan. Turning Anglers and Shadows sideways with Remand backup, which could feed you bolts, seems like a sound strategy.

    I've been watching some YouTube videos of recent Grixis Shadow leagues and Snapcaster Mage seems lackluster without something to always flash back, like Lightning Bolt. Battle Rage is risky if there isn't a Stub to protect it, but Bolt to the face will always be a pretty solid finisher. Bolt - Snap - Bolt is still one of the best feelings in Modern, in my opinion.
    It's been a while since I played Grixis Shadow, and I'm guessing the Modern section got wiped out (except the Enduring Ideal threat??) because I remember starting threads for both Eight Rack and Grixis Shadow. *

    But Dismember helps with the fast aggro plan.

    Turn 1 => Fetch, Shock, Thoughseize (15 life)
    Turn 2 => Fetch, Shock, Dismember, Shadow (8 life with a 5/5)

    I agree with your thoughts on Opt > Visions.

    * Found the setting limiting the threads I see to the most recent year. Also the Eight Rack thread where I mention switching to Shadow. Guess I never got around to posting a thread!
    Last edited by Ace/Homebrew; 02-12-2021 at 08:22 PM.

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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    Cool, thanks for the response. I'll re-tool the deck to make sure I have Dismember maindeck in some number, probably 2 copies, and replace the SV's with Opts.

    Is Unearth a potential card? Or Claim // Fame? They seem to fit into the flex spots that TBR usually fills, but I could see cutting a Bolt to squeeze one in, too.
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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    Cool, thanks for the response. I'll re-tool the deck to make sure I have Dismember maindeck in some number, probably 2 copies, and replace the SV's with Opts.

    Is Unearth a potential card? Or Claim // Fame? They seem to fit into the flex spots that TBR usually fills, but I could see cutting a Bolt to squeeze one in, too.
    I've seen both used! But never consistently for the time I've followed the deck on TCDecks. They are worth experimenting with.

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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    Is Grim Lavamancer a potential card for this deck? There is already a strong pull on the graveyard (Snapcaster, Gurmag) so it may be terrible, but I've always liked Grim Lavamancer as a way to keep small dudes in check (like from Humans, Elves, Infect, etc.)
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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    Is Grim Lavamancer a potential card for this deck? There is already a strong pull on the graveyard (Snapcaster, Gurmag) so it may be terrible, but I've always liked Grim Lavamancer as a way to keep small dudes in check (like from Humans, Elves, Infect, etc.)
    There is, except it's a UBr deck. So you might have to decide between playing a red spell or activating Lavamancer. Izzet Staticaster is a good sideboard option too.

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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Ace/Homebrew View Post
    There is, except it's a UBr deck. So you might have to decide between playing a red spell or activating Lavamancer. Izzet Staticaster is a good sideboard option too.
    I think Plague Engineer is a much better card than Staticaster overall, but the instant-speed answer is appealing. I was looking for a creature that provided reach outside of combat because of Shadow's lack of trample. Maybe playing Bolts is enough, alongside Snapcaster. I'm just trying to get something together for the semi-near future for modern events, and with the format shaken up so much I want to analyze all options.
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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Safety View Post
    I think Plague Engineer is a much better card than Staticaster overall, but the instant-speed answer is appealing. I was looking for a creature that provided reach outside of combat because of Shadow's lack of trample. Maybe playing Bolts is enough, alongside Snapcaster. I'm just trying to get something together for the semi-near future for modern events, and with the format shaken up so much I want to analyze all options.
    Between TBR and main deck removal/permission, and the Kenrith twins out of the board, you're probably fine. But GL and IS are likely interchangeable.

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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    Good points about trample providing reach. I'll just stick to Plague Engineer out of the sideboard with maindeck Bolts.
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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    I'm looking at trying to put together an aggressive Esper Shadow build, now that we have access to Counterspell. The tier 1 decks are very aggressive with threats that can easily get outside of Lightning Bolt range (Shadow, Tarmogoyf, big Swiftspear, Primeval Titan, Heliod, Eldrazi dudes, Wurmcoil, Gurmag Angler.) The clean answer to all of those creatures is Path to Exile, which pushes me to consider a different 3rd color than red. The basic idea is to take a hard removal route with Path/Push so there won't ever be a blocker to get in the way of Shadow/Angler. It might even open up a slot or 2 to something like Geist of Saint Traft, which rewards a spot removal-heavy deck. I think a nice piece of tech is also Tidehollow Sculler, which is proactive and tempo-positive, a good ingredient for Shadow decks (and proven tech.) I want to round the deck out with Unearths, some number of Counterspell, Apostle's Blessing, and possibly Ranger-Captain of Eos. White also adds some pretty incredible sideboard choices with Stony Silence, etc.

    Rough list:

    Creatures - 14
    4x Death's Shadow
    4x Tidehollow Sculler
    2x Snapcaster Mage
    2x Gurmag Angler
    2x Geist of Saint Traft

    Dig - 12
    4x Street Wraith
    4x Mishra's Bauble
    4x Thought Scour

    Permission - 8
    4x Thoughtseize
    2x Stubborn Denial
    2x Counterspell

    Removal - 6
    3x Path to Exile
    3x Fatal Push

    Support Spells - 2
    2x Unearth

    18 Lands

    4x Polluted Delta
    4x Flooded Strand
    1x Marsh Flats
    2x Watery Grave
    2x Hallowed Fountain
    1x Godless Shrine
    1x Island
    1x Swamp
    1x Plains
    1x OPEN (Ghost Quarter, Field of Ruin, Castle Locthwain, Creeping Tar Pit, Mutavault)

    Sideboard options:
    Lurrus of the Dream-Den
    Force of Negation
    Faith's Shield
    Plague Engineer
    Fracture
    Stony Silence
    Rest in Peace
    Surgical Extraction
    Nihil Spellbomb
    Brazen Borrower
    Disenchant
    Kaya's Guile
    Search for Azcanta
    Liliana, The Last Hope
    Narset, Parter of Veils
    Teferi, Time Raveler
    Collective Brutality
    Sanctum Prelate
    Drown in the Loch
    Meddling Mage


    EDIT: Forgot Street Wraith, DOH! Fixed. Depending on whether Geist makes the cut, Mutagenic Growth is another option over Apostles Blessing.
    Last edited by Mr. Safety; 05-11-2021 at 09:07 AM.
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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    Not sure if this idea is good enough for death shadow now. In the past the reason to play Esper DS was Ranger-Captain of Eos and Orzhov Charm to have an unending stream of deaths shadows.

    They seem better than tide hollow and Geist imo.

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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    I think overall Unearth fits the deck better than Orzhov Charm, simply due to a cheaper casting cost. Unearth gives value to Snapcaster as well, especially given that the deck has dropped Serum Visions almost entirely for Thought Scour. I understand the hesitancy on Geist, it hasn't been a player in modern outside of UWx control deck sideboards for a long time. Maybe that's where it still belongs here. I just think that Unearth adds a lot of grind power to this particular version.

    Tidehollow Sculler is older technology when Mardu was the preferred setup for DS. Currently the Jund version is the one that has been putting up big results. However, I think the point still stands that as far as removal goes Path to Exile is much better than Lightning Bolt and Snapcaster Mage gives seemingly endless removal with Esper colors, which means DS/Gurmag/Geist make for quick work to end games. Unearth again makes Sculler pretty good, essentially giving me another 2 copies of Thoughtseize if I Thought Scour a Sculler into the graveyard and have Unearth available.

    I'm not sure what Counterspell will do for the deck, either. It could be completely wrong to play a 2-mana interaction spell in this deck given most matchups. Ranger-Captain is definitely a serious contender for the deck as well, possibly the correct substitute for Geist. Orzhov Charm isn't good enough, not by a long shot, given other clearly better options (Unearth is more mana efficient, Fracture hits Planeswalkers.)
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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    Unearth is definitely more efficient if you are using it just for getting creatures back. But dismember is commonly played in deaths shadow, and the modality is much better than trying to cycle into something relevant. The first mode also protects against exile or gy hate effects which unearth doesn’t do. And finally you want a critical mass of instants if you want CS to be good.

    Orzhov charm is not a good card in any deck, but if a charm has 3 useful modes it can be playable even if each mode is below rate (Archmage s charm for example)

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    Re: [DECK] Grixis Death's Shadow

    Those are fair points, thanks. I think the apples to apples comparison for Dismember is Path to Exile though, not Unearth. Unearth would only ever be a value card provide inevitability. It returns everything save Gurmag Angler, at a cheaper rate than most of their mana costs, and in the late game is bonkers with Snapcaster Mage. Unearth > Snapcaster > Push/Path > swing big seems very good to me. Unearth's cycling function might as well be flavor text unless its literally the last option for me to not-lose.

    I would argue that the 3 modes on Fracture are much better than Orzhov Charm, and that Fracture out of the sideboard provides a ton of flexibility. It's a disenchant along with PW hate all in one card.

    What do you mean by having a critical amount of instants to make Counterspell good? Do you just mean we need to have the option to leave mana open consistently? If so, then I tend to agree. I think the natural place to cut would be Sculler, and I'm not sure a full set of Sculler is good anyways. Additional copies of Gurmag are probably better, along with a few more instants (as you say.) Opt, Dismember, additional Stub, additional CS, Brazen Borrower, and Force of Negation are all options.

    I'm kind of curious what the rest of MH2 brings us as well...ideally I think a decent 1 mana cantrip would be best for decks like this, maybe a slightly more powerful Opt.
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