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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Apr 09 2015 12:00pm
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http://magic.wizards.com/sites/mtg/files/images/wallpaper/TasigurtheGoldenFang_FRF_2560x1600_Wallpaper.jpg

Hello!

Welcome to another Becoming A Modern Man!  In this article I continue looking at Tasigur's impact on Modern with a look at a Grixis Twin deck.  Todd Anderson and his team played a Grixis Twin list at Pro Tour Fate Reforged with Todd going 7-3 in the Swiss with his list below:

Fitting Tasigur into the Splinter Twin shell was an idea that intrigued me so I thought I would give this deck a try.  Todd's deck eschews the hand disruption available in Black, which is often a direction that Grixis Twin decks go, in favour of a more aggressive midrange strategy.

DECK TECH
I've covered a few different takes on Splinter Twin in my time writing Becoming A Modern Man.  I have covered traditional UR Twin, Jeskai Twin and even RW Twin.  As such I don't intend to cover the basics and instead will try and focus on the cards that make this deck unusual and exciting.

The Combo

PestermiteDeceiver ExarchSplinter Twin
Pestermite/Deceiver Exarch/Splinter Twin
These are your standard Splinter Twin combo pieces.  The deck is quite interesting in that it actually doesn't rely on the Splinter Twin combo that much - with only 7 slots in the deck actually devoted to it.  As such the deck is more of a Midrange Grixis deck with the Splinter Twin combo shoehorned in.
The choice of Pestermite over Deceiver Exarch is very deliberate in this sense, as the 2/1 flyer is much better at pressuring an opponent's life total.

The Other Creatures

Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
The main man.  Tasigur is a very powerful creature that can be played incredibly cheaply.  It also has an ability that allows you to build an advantage over a long game, which this deck is not shy about playing.  Tasigur provides a lot of the brute force behind this deck's strategy - with an early Tasigur being a great way to pressure your opponent.  Being able to run alternative must answer threats alongside the Twin combo is a very solid strategy that forces your opponent to have multiple answers or be threatened with death.

Vendilion Clique
Vendilion Clique
Continuing the theme of potentially aggressive and evasive creatures, Vendilion Clique is an aggressive 3/1 flyer with a very powerful ability.  Seeing your opponent's hand and potentially trading their most powerful card or combo piece out of it is a great effect or you can even use the ability on yourself to pitch a card that you don't want out of your hand.

Grim Lavamancer
Grim Lavamancer
Main deck Grim Lavamancer isn't something I've seen in many Twin decks for some time.  I'm not entirely sure how I feel about Lavamancer.  He is very powerful and useful but I'm not sure if he's powerful enough against the most popular decks in the format to make him worthwhile.  There is also the issue that throwing cards out of your graveyard does not combine well with Tasigur.
That said there are a lot of low toughness guys in Modern that Grim Lavamancer can pick off - and he is able to shrink a Tarmogoyf by taking cards out of your graveyard.  A good and cheap utility creature but I'm just not sure I'm entirely sold on him belonging in the main deck.

Spells
The spell collection is very standard and also very similar to the Grixis Delver deck I covered in my last article so I shall not dwell too much on these but let's quickly go through the cards.

Cryptic Command
Cryptic Command
Cryptic Command is an extremely versatile and powerful card and very popular in Splinter Twin decks that tend to have the time and mana to use it.  Any combination of Cryptic's modes can and probably will be used at some point.  Cryptic gives you a lot of options and can give an answer to a problem permanent, such as a Spellskite, by bouncing to give you the time to combo or whatever you want to do.

RemandSpell Snare
Remand/Spell Snare
Remand and Spell Snare fill out the rest of the counterspell slots in the deck.  Remand is preferred over Mana Leak in Twin decks generally as the draw can dig you that bit deeper into your deck and towards your combo.  Twin also does a good job tempoing opponents, tapping down their lands or creatures and taking little edges that win games.  Spell Snare is very cheap and effective counterspell that almost always has something to target, from Snapcaster Mage to Tarmogoyf to Sylvan Scrying.

Lightning BoltTerminate
Lightning Bolt/Terminate
Bolt and Terminate provide the deck with its removal.  Though Bolt is actually just as likely to go to the face in this deck, particularly with our full complement of Snapcaster Mages which make going to the dome a very viable win condition.  I really appreciate absolute removal spells in a world filled with big Tarmogoyfs, Siege Rhinos and Taisgurs - which makes Terminate really valuable.

Serum VisionsThought Scour
Serum Visions/Thought Scour
These are our one mana draw spells.  Serum Visions is probably the most powerful draw spell, given that it lets us set up our future draws and dig for combo pieces.  Thought Scour doesn't give us that selection, and is probably worse than Sleight of Hand in that regard, however it has great synergy with Tasigur which is what makes it the preference.

Lands
There is nothing really unusual going on in the manabase.  It is your usual combination of fetchlands and Ravnica duals for the most part.

SIDEBOARD
I am afraid I didn't get a chance to run Todd's full sideboard as I still don't own some of the cards, such as Batterskull and Sower of Temptation, but let's discuss the choices anyway.

Ancient GrudgeBatterskullKeranos, God of StormsCounterfluxDispelNegateEngineered ExplosivesSower of TemptationVandalblastVendilion Clique

  • Ancient Grudge is a powerful anti-artifact spell and the sole reason for a Breeding Pool in the main deck's manabase.  Ancient Grudge is very good against Affinity, Tron and really any matchup where you are expecting problematic artifacts.
  • Batterskull and Keranos, God of Storms fill similar roles as a big top end for your deck if needed.  I haven't had a chance to play with either but I understand they are pretty good against Abzan.  At five mana both are outside Inquisition of Kozilek and Abrupt Decay range and provide a huge advantage if you can get them to stick.
  • Counterflux, Dispel and Negate add to our counterspell suite.  All are great against combo decks where you simply must counter their important spells.
  • Engineered Explosives is a powerful mass removal spell.  It's useful against opposing Splinter Twin decks when set at 3 mana, Infect/Bogles at 1 mana and Tokens at 0.
  • Sower of Temptation is a really interesting inclusion and one I would like to try if it weren't so expensive at the moment.  Sower again is targeted primarily at the Abzan decks I believe.  At four mana it cannot be killed with an Abrupt Decay, making if more difficult for them to deal with, and it can steal a Tarmogoyf or a Siege Rhino and start the beats.
  • Vandalblast is more artifact hate for when three Ancient Grudges isn't enough.  Seems a little excessive to me but I suppose it is less reliant on green mana.
  • Vendilion Clique does the same thing it does in the main deck.  It's good against combo deck and maintains the principal of pressuring your opponent as a 3/1 flyer.

GAMEPLAY
So lets take this deck for a spin shall we:


Our first matchup is against Abzan, which is one of the most decks in the format right now.  These matches were really close and I feel like we stood toe-to-toe with Abzan pretty well all told.  Abzan isn't generally meant to be Twin's best matchup, particularly post-board when the hate cards come out but I felt very competitive throughout.  Choke from the board in Game 2 though was pretty crippling and I feel like our deck could have used more answers to that type of card.


Our second matchup is against Mono-Blue TronRemand is very strong in this matchup as is our tempo game in general.  Mono-Blue Tron is capable of very powerful things but it can struggle against tempo strategies like ours.  Also, we have access to Ancient Grudge post-board which further helps to cement our advantage.


Our third matchup is against Scapeshift.  Twin has historically had a pretty good matchup against Scapeshift as the Twin combo is that much speedier than Scapeshift and generally has better access to countermagic and disruption.  The same rules apply here in my opinion - we are able to apply pressure while playing the tempo game and holding counters for the critical Scapeshift.  Tasigur really shines here, putting the opponent on a short clock and allowing us to gain an incremental advantage through its ability.

ALTERNATIVE TAKES
Todd Anderson's Grixis Twin deck goes for a midrange aggression rather than capitalising on the hand disruption capabilities of Black.  Another interesting list that came out of the Pro Tour is Jeremy Payen's 6-4 Grixis Twin list below:

Payen's deck takes greater advantage of the hand disruption power of Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek.  Another interesting inclusion is Rise/Fall in the main deck, which can be used as additional discard or as a way to protect an Exarch or reuse a Snapcaster Mage amongst varying applications.  The sideboard also offers some interesting ideas, including a rather unusual Gifts Ungiven package.

CONCLUSIONS

I really enjoyed playing Grixis Twin.  I feel like Todd Anderson's take on the deck has a lot of mileage and is very well tuned to be a cross between midrange and combo.  Tasigur certainly adds a lot of power to the deck and provides a very dangerous threat to pressure your opponent with.  Using Pestermites as aggressive creatures rather than simply as combo pieces is also a nice approach.  It is true that the tempo game can also be played by pure UR Twin decks but there is certainly something to be said for adding Tasigur into the mix.

I had hoped to get this article out last week but there have been quite a few things stopping me.  Firstly was getting a new job which means I will be moving city and moving in with my girlfriend which is going to be a big change in my life. Secondly, was Wrestlemania, which I quite enjoyed, I write a wrestling review blog which I updated fairly casually if anyone cares to check it out.  I'm excited to try out some of the Dragons of Tarkir cards I discussed in my recent article, so hopefully that will be what I will be able to get to next.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)

2 Comments

I think that this deck has by NVOtosReborn at Thu, 04/09/2015 - 14:20
NVOtosReborn's picture

I think that this deck has since been abandoned by Todd, there's better ways to build it in my opinion. couple friends of mine got together and we built a much different version, and I ended up taking second at states with it, will probably write an article about it this week.

Thanks for the by olaw at Thu, 04/09/2015 - 15:41
olaw's picture

Thanks for the comment.

Sounds interesting. I look forward to your article.