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By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Jan 02 2023 11:36am
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Grixis is a control archetype that everyone loves but doesn’t play often. I would say that is mostly due to it being far to slow and the red cards not worth splashing. Especially when you consider what the other Dimir Control decks look like and how turbo fast they can be. However, today I want to talk about an interesting list. Will it change my mind on Grixis?

The list we will be looking at today was part of the 5-0 dump from 12/14/2022 and was piloted by the player alicodendrochi. Alright, let’s check this list out and see if it is time for Grixis to shine. Let’s rock!


Gurmag Angler and Tolarian Terror – Should be no surprise to see these as the win conditions of the deck. If you are a control deck playing Dimir, you should most likely be playing these creatures somewhere in your 75.

Fallaji Archaeologist – This is a version of Augur of Bolas I can get behind. Both of your creatures need a good amount of cards in the graveyard to come down early and not only does Fallaji help with that by milling 3 cards, but it also gets you an instant or sorcery card as well which gives you a good amount of card selection. At worst, if you don’t mill a card you can get back, it comes into play with 4 toughness, making it quite amazing for defense. This card has been seeing a decent amount of play and I expect it to see more in the future.

Counterspell – You are a control deck that can support UU on turn 2 fairly easily. It is no surprise to see this here.

Dispel – The good old silver bullet every blue deck loves to have.

Soul Manipulation – You don’t see this one often these days. I still think that cards like Exclude are not great in today’s meta because they are a little too slow, but that is just my opinion and cards like Exclude still see play so take what I say with a grain of salt. Soul Manipulation is quite interesting as not only is it a Remove Soul, but it can also bring one of your creatures back from the grave to your hand. The best part is you can do both and against midrange decks or in general as a late game spell, this can end up giving you a huge swing in your favor.

Ponder and Preordain – You don’t have many ways to manipulate your library and you mostly want cards going to your graveyard. Ponder has a few combos with other spells in this deck that we will talk about in a bit. Preordain is the best cantrip for control decks in my opinion as it helps you push bad cards away.

Thought Scour – A good combo with Ponder and helps fill the graveyard for your win condition creatures.

Deep Analysis – A great way to keep the gas flowing in a deck like this as it has Flashback. Just be careful as casting it from the graveyard costs 3 life and that is a lot in this format.

Fire/Ice – An old favorite of mine. Against certain decks that can be a powerhouse with the Fire side. The Ice side is always relevant because it draws a card and can sort of “Time Walk” your opponent. Fire/Ice isn’t amazing against everything, but it does its job well.

Crawl in the Cellar – This one is interesting. It is a better Raise Dead as it has Flashback and can make your Angler a tiny bit bigger.

Cast Down – This is probably the best removal spell in the format. Always a good thing to play if you are playing black in your deck.

Unexpected Fangs – Against some archetypes like Burn, using this on a Terror or Angler can just about end the game right then and there.

Faithless Looting – This is a fantastic card to play in a deck like this. It draws 2 cards for 1 mana, has Flashback, puts cards in the graveyard to feed your creatures and combos a little with Ponder. Since it is looting and not pure card draw, I like having only 3 copies, but since it has Flashback, it is almost like having 6 copies.

A card I would almost like to see as a one of in this deck is Think Twice as I think it has good synergy with this archetype, but I am unsure what I could to add it.

The Manabase

Sea Gate and Thriving Isle – Here are your dual lands for the deck. Since this is a 3 color deck, we need these in order to play our spells which unfortunately does not leave much room for things like Dismal Backwater.

Cliffgate – You have a lot of red spells in your sideboard, but more importantly, if you look at the deck as a whole, you need more access to red than you need access to black by a tiny bit. Another reason to have this is by making this a Rakdos dual when it enters the battlefield, you can have access to both your secondary colors as well which makes it slightly better than having the 4th copy of Sea Gate. It might not sound like much, but whatever makes it easier for you to cast your spells helps a lot.

Dimir Aqueduct – A one of bounce land never hurt anybody. I like having this here because you can cast a Ponder or a Preordain and still cast an Angler in the same turn.

The rest of the Manabase contains 9 Island for a total of 18 lands. While it might not seem like much, remember that you have a ton of card draw and your spells are quite cheap to cast.

The Sideboard

Blue Elemental Blast and Red Elemental Blast – For all your anti red and blue needs.

Cleansing Wildfire – I know everyone loves to tell Tron no.

Dispel – Another copy to help fight against other blue decks or burn. Could this be another blast? Yes it could, but it is always a good idea to have a flexible card that is good against multiple things.

Fiery Cannonade – Everyone could benefit from a board wipe.

Gorilla Shaman – When you see Affinity, do your best to tell them not today!

Nihil Spellbomb – I like this one quite a bit. It can draw you a card and is good fodder for Gurmag Angler. A good alternative would be Faerie Macabre if you expect more graveyard based decks and feel like you don’t need the card draw but will be tapping out a lot.

Unexpected Fangs – As I said, against certain matchups this can just straight up win the game.

Verdict and Conclusion

I know there are Grixis loyalists throughout magic and for good reason. In all honesty, Grixis is quite the fun color combination as it does a lot of fun stuff. However, my issue with Grixis in Pauper is always figuring out if the red is unnecessary or does it help more than just being 2 colors. I personally think the red is not a great idea in the long run.

The Advantage to playing only 2 colors (the straight Dimir version) for me personally is less mana problems. I Also think the red cards you get, such as Faithless Looting and Red Elemental Blast have been proven to be replaceable as Dimir Terror Control has proven to be one of the best decks in the format. I personally do not think the red cards add all that much, if any at all advantage over playing 2 colors. I also like having access to Snuff Out in the Dimir version. Being able to tap out and still use a removal spell can go a long way in winning the game quickly.

In this list you are also cutting cards like Spell Pierce and Snuff Out for Faithless Looting and Fire/Ice. Spell Pierce and Snuff Out make it easier for you to play like a Legacy Delver deck in the sense that you can be so low to the ground and play the tempo game easily. With this red cards sure, you can turbo out your creatures but you might have a slightly difficult time protecting them or getting them through.

As for this list, I like it a lot. The only card in the main deck I am on the fence about is Fire/Ice. While it is definitely one of my favorite cards and I perfectly understand the merit of being able to get a 2 for 1 or against something like Tron you can maybe buy a turn by tapping one of their pieces. However, I think it would be better served as maybe adding Cannonade to the main deck or maybe you can find room for a copy of Cannonade and a Chainer’s Edict. This is just personal preference. For the sideboard it comes down to meta choices.

I would like to say that it isn’t the manabase is too slow. For the Dimir version you play 8 come into play tapped lands in this list you are playing 10, it isn’t that big a difference. However, you are trying to play 3 colors which yes, is quite easy to balance with this manabase, but you can call the color red on your dual and be stuck with all black cards in your hand or vice versa. It just annoys me losing games like that.

Do I think you should play this deck? I think for leagues this deck is fine as it definitely does powerful things and its very core is still a Terror Control deck. For challenges however, I will say I think this deck can do well, but in the long run I think the manabase will lose you some games and maybe even some matches. This type of deck could easily get to the top 8 or maybe even win a challenge, but the question is can it do it consistently? I would personally stick with Dimir but that is just my opinion.

However, with all this being said, as always, do remember my words are not gospel. I will always encourage you to try a deck that I bring you despite my personal feelings. Remember that results will vary and always remember to practice!

Would you like to compete in a free Pauper tournament with some great prizes? Head on over to Gatherling.com on Tuesday nights at 8pm EDT and play in our weekly Pauper Classic Tuesday's event! Join the chat #PCT to chat with us and feel free to find most of the competitors on Discord!

Thank you so much for reading. Best of luck to you in your next tournament and I’ll catch you all next time!