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By: kelvinmai, Kelvin Mai
Jul 26 2013 1:27pm
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Warning: This deck may be a bigger investment because Jace is currently 16 tickets on MTGO and he is a very important part of this deck. But if you're ok with me stretching the budget this one time then I think you'll be ok with me creating a 4 color deck for standard. Without further ado let's look at this concoction of madness.

Why? Kelvin, Why?


Well the deck that I've been playing with most is Grixis control and M14 has definitely brought new life into it. Opportunity is the non-white Sphinx's Revelation, Quicken replaces Think Twice as the cantrip because it's cheaper mana cost and occasionally turning on instant Rakdos's Return. Ratchet Bomb interacts incredibly well with Ral Zarek. And new Chandra is... still terrible. So why don't I work on that deck? Well grixis still suffers from the same weaknesses even with M14 being introduced into the card pool, it lacks a good sweeper and good life gain. People often opt for blue white based control because of the power of Supreme Verdict and Sphinx's Revelation. In my opinion the best sweeper in the format as well as my favorite card from M13 is Mutilate and I won't be able to play it for much longer so I wanted to do something with it. Ok swamps are in. I've already played with Conley Wood's mostly black list and turn 5 Griselbrand is amazing but I wanted to do something new, obviously so in the end creativity trumps familiarity. 

The Recipe


So in this recipe you start with a base of Grixis. All the familiar ingredients are here: Quicken, Divination, Jace, Architect of Thought and Desolate Lighthouse for draw and filtering. Our removal suite still has the usual Dreadbore, Far/Away and Victim of Night that can easily double up with our friend Chandra, the Firebrand. And our cherry on top of the icing is still Rakdos's Return and Nicol Bolas and now with some Aetherling. So we want to include the secret ingredient of Mutilate, how do we make this work? First we'll have to jam as many swamps as possible but unfortunately our colors don't have enough swamps. What do we do? We'll add in Overgrown Tomb to up our swamp count to 12, that's more than half of our lands. Farseek and Prophetic Prism makes sure our mana goes smoothly throughout the baking process and we even have a guest cook Liliana of the Dark Realms to bring in more swamps whenever we run out. And the end result is this delicious deck! Okay enough with the cake metaphor, this deck still looks sweet!

The Sideboard


I didn't really put in a lot of work for the sideboard because I didn't know what to expect. I just brought a similar board that I used for grixis control and it included:
2 Dispel
2 Curse of Death's Hold
2 Pillar of Flame
2 Duress
1 Slaughter Games
2 Pithing Needle
1 Ratchet Bomb
1 Dreadbore
2 Negate

The Play

Prophetic Prism

The early game it plays a lot like Jund and Grixis depending on your hand, which is to be expected because thats basically the two decks we squished together. The Jund hand has Farseek and early on we're trying to fix our mana as well as ramp and have little interaction with our opponent but we'll easily stabilize with a Mutilate. Although I did come across a Burning Earth during testing in a mono red aggro deck, that did not feel good but I'm confident that this card will not be used that much. The Grixis hand has Quicken and Divination where we draw and dig for our answers as well as our lands. Prophetic Prism is the beautiful combination of these two plays cause it fixes our mana as well as draws us a card. But why the prism instead of a better mana rock like Chromatic Lantern? Well the lantern is better for fixing and ramping but there are a lot of Abrupt Decay and Putrefy out in the woods and that will make you feel bad. At least when they kill a prism you still get a card out of it. Earlier I said that grixis lacks good sweepers and life gain, and Mutilate definitely solves the sweeper problem but you'll notice I don't have any life gain cards. This is because we are in a pseudo superfriends deck and the planeswalkers acts as sponges so we usually don't need life gain. So fixing our colors and killing creatures are our priorities, how do we win? I find that usually win with Rakdos's Return surprisingly. Either super charged with Chandra's doubling effect or Liliana's emblem. But of course we have Aetherling and Nicol Bolas if that doesn't work.

The Exclusions

Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts

Why not white? Well if we run white we'll definitely need Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and Terminus. I'm not opposed to running these cards but I wasn't willing to drop money on cards that are so close to rotating out. Sorin is so crucial to 5 color swamps because he is one of the only planeswalkers that pumps out guys, aside from either Garruks in standard of course. And in terms of in terms Terminus, why would we play this when the whole reason we're playing swamps is for Mutilate. Although I was looking into more budget friendly white cards and even considered finishers like Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts. I do have to say though Teysa is a beast because she is a sweeper on a stick that even scares away Aetherling from attacking. Although the problem with her is that for 7 mana she is so fragile, sure she has protection from creatures but she doesn't have protection from spells unfortunately. Now onto the bigger question, we're running so many swamps but where are all the black cards? Well first and foremost it's because we only have 60 card slots and this is just how I wanted to fill them. I'm sure there are ways to fit in cards like Corrupt, Duress, Griselbrand and the like. The biggest black exception is Crypt Ghast he seems to be amazing right? Well this guy, while doing amazing things with your mana, is just so fragile. He dies to every removal out there and has a bullseye on his head for those removals. He's much better when you have other threats to eat up removal like Vampire Nighthawk and Gloom Surgeon but just not in our list.

The Match Reports

So I wrote everything above this prior to taking to an FNM and after coming back from one I have to say I honestly have never done as well as I did that night. I placed 2rd, missing the top by only one match but I am in love with this deck! And of course I'll report what has happened in the event and you can maybe take this as a preview of the new meta as a few new cards were featured in decks that I played against. Also I didn't have a Rise of the Dark Realms at the time so I just used Rise from the Grave instead in the slot.

Match 1: 4 Color Rites

Blood Baron of Vizkopa

4 colors vs 4 colors, him being not-blue and me being not-white. It's more midrange than ramp than the usual Rites list, there isn't any mana dorks or Lingering Souls, only are bombs and filtering. The reanimation targets include but not limited to Griselbrand, Gisela, Blade of Goldnight, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Obzedat, Ghost Council, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, and Aurelia, the Warleader. I think I may have missed some but there are a lot of bombs in this deck, I absolutely love it but it's a bit out of my price range. Anyways onto the match, game one had an explosive fireball! Let's explain, I had both Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker and Liliana of the Dark Realms out so obviously he went after the dragon with his Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Unfortunately that meant I got Lili's emblem and Rakdos's Return for 25 the following turn. But because of so much lifegain he went down to 3 from 28 so I didn't win on the spot, but I did a few turns later when Aetherling came down. Game two was the most intense game there was it came down to me having Nicol Bolas out but I was at 6 and he was at 2 and only 1 card in hand after a Rakdos's Return. And honestly he could have won if he targeted me with that Warleader's Helix in his hand instead of bolas because his top deck was another helix but because he didn't know and aimed for a longer game he wanted to get rid of Bolas. So life totals are now 6 to 6, I played Rise from the Grave to get his Aurelia, the Warleader and attacked for exactly 6. 

Match 2: Esper Control

Nephalia Drownyard

I'll be honest I enjoy playing control but I really hate playing against control, especially with a control deck. The match just goes on for so long. And this one was no different. The early game of each one was very mundane and boring, I'd Farseek and Quicken while he'd Azorius Charm and Think Twice. Jace vs Jace and Supreme Verdict vs Mutilate. The endings of each game was much more intense however. Game one he won by hitting me with Lingering Souls tokens that have been pumped up by a couple Sorin, Lord of Innistrad emblems while I was desperately looking for either Mutilate or Far/Away. After losing I happily sideboarded a lot of cards in, since my deck is more for creature based decks. Pithing Needle and Dispel are both auto includes here. I casted Aetherling, not to act as a win condition but to actually eat up his resources, he'd try to Dissipate but I'd Dispel and he'll then have to Detention Sphere it and once his hand was empty of counter spells I was able to drop a Nicol Bolas, destroying the Detention Sphere and deal lethal the following turn. In this last game I misplayed by tapping my mana wrong and not leaving red up so that I could Quicken into Rakdos's Return right after he cast Sphinx's Revelation, that red was used earlier for a Dreadbore against Sorin. So a full hand and my deck has already been milled of it's Pithing Needle and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker but it was perfectly fine as I won off of Aetherling going in turn after turn as an unblockable 8/1 that I cast as he was struggling for blue mana for Dissipate.

Match 3: Junk Aristocrats

Blood Artist

This is the match I lost and I believe it is basically a coinflip. If any Blood Artist sticks all the removal turns into you slowly killing yourself. I lost game one and three just because of those Blood Artist triggers after I try to control the field with a Mutilate. I won game two though and I find that the card that is needed in this match up just to survive is Curse of Death's Hold to lock them out of the game. My opponent watched as I drew into an Aetherling and activated Kessig Wolf Run to attack for lethal.

Match 4: Dega Lifegain

This was a pretty sweet brew. It was also controlly with cards like Warleader's Helix and Blasphemous Act to blunt an assault and there were great finishers like Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Obzedat, Ghost Council and the new Archangel of Thune. In a deck like this it's not rare for the Blood Baron to be a 10/10 or bigger because of all the burn. Luckily we decided to split so the result of the game didn't matter as much, but we still played for fun. Game one he struggled on landing white, a big part of his deck, and I eventually won his own Obzedat, Ghost Council thanks to Rise from the Grave. Game two however he managed to defeat me with an army of Blood Baron and Archangel that was led by Obzedat, Ghost Council while I was trying to use Jace, Architect of Thought to find answers. And finally in game three Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker came out to play. Unfortunately Nicol Bolas couldn't steal either Blood Baron or Obzedat as I'd like but I managed to double a Rakdos's Return for the win thanks to Chandra, the Firebrand.


Chandra, the Firebrand

I am very much in love with this deck, it's so much fun to play and it wins pretty consistently. The only thing I have to address is that it's pretty weak to hyper aggressive decks like Aristocrats and GR Aggro. Mutilate is a strong play but it is actually very bad against a couple of Blood Artist and the fact that aristocrats have creatures resilient to sweepers like Young Wolf and Voice of Resurgence doesn't help. Aggro on the other hand isn't as bad but they do have the ability to rush down before you can stabilize. And having a removal heavy hand ready for aggro can actually slow the deck down considerably. In terms of cuts, I think Chandra might have to make room for something like Terminus or Cyclonic Rift. I would also change Desolate Lighthouse, it is a nice effect but I never seemed to activate it, I might change it to a Nephalia Drownyard. I recall taking out Chandra for many sideboard options because she just doesn't do enough when she comes in. That is the only main deck changes I'd make. Now the sideboard is all over the place, as I said I didn't put as much work into the sideboard so there is a lot of room for improvement. I felt like Psychic Spiral would be helpful against the mill strategy of Esper Control. And maybe a green removal spell like Putrefy or Abrupt Decay since it would be nice to make use of the green mana we have on something other than Farseek. That is about all I have so far for the sideboard.

That's all I have for this article but be sure to more check out the rest of Brewing on a Budget.

Twitter: @kelvinmai
MTGO: kelvinmai


This is nice. I like the idea by LindsayKelly at Sat, 07/27/2013 - 18:41
LindsayKelly's picture

This is nice. I like the idea on this. Keep up the good work. - Michael Courouleau

This is a nice deck. I hope by bdgp009 at Sun, 07/28/2013 - 21:57
bdgp009's picture

This is a nice deck. I hope you can include the actual budget next time as an added information to those who wants to make the exact build. Again good work and keep it up.