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By: jay85, Jay Nelson
Jul 16 2015 12:00pm
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 I was lucky enough to participate in the Modern Festival Finals, but my luck ran out soon after. Let's just say I didn't do so hot. A ton of good decks and a ton of good players will do that to a person. Regardless, it was a fun filled Sunday and I'm just glad I was fortunate enough to play against such stiff competition. It really puts things in perspective. There's still stuff for me to learn in order to become a better planeswalker.

 I played Tarmo Twin (click here for a more in depth look at the deck), and leading up to the Finals I tested a lot. I knew going into the tournament that Grixis decks were going to be a bear. Very grindy games that pretty much came down to who could stick a threat first. Then during the Finals I told a friend just that and he recommended adding one or two Thrun, the Last Troll to my sideboard. Of course it was too late for me to do that, and then a day later I checked out the results and I was ecstatic to see a Tarmo Twin deck in the top 8. Guess what I saw in the sideboard? Yep, a copy of Thrun, the Last Troll.

 So being the spike that I am, I stole Teh_Godfather's decklist, changing it ever so slightly just out of personal preference. For instance, his list ran two Thragtusk in the side and I chose to just add one, keeping the second Huntmaster of the Fells in. I also didn't feel comfortable running Dismember so I stuck with keeping the two Roast in the main board. I did, however, take one Dispel out of the main for a Spell Snare which I think was smart on his part. So with all that said, this is the new and improved Tarmo Twin deck that I am now playing.


 I'm now using utility lands (Desolate Lighthouse and Tectonic Edge) for a way to dig for the combo and to interact with an opponent's lands since Blood Moon is no longer in the sideboard. Also adding Spell Snare means I can still counter Terminate and Mana leak, but now I can also counter a Tarmogoyf, Snapcaster Mage, and Young Pyromancer.

 But I feel the biggest improvement is in the sideboard. I now have access to a lot more threats than I did previously, which I believe is key to beating a Grixis deck.

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 Back in the day, when American Control was popular, one of the biggest hosers you could play against it was Thrun, the Last Troll. The control player had to have Wrath of God in order to not lose. This lonely Troll is so good against control I'm slapping myself for not thinking about including him. I'm also slapping my friend Jimi for not telling me to include him sooner, like before the Finals.

 The beauty of Thrun, the Last Troll is that Grixis decks need to have Damnation. They need to have it and it needs to resolve. If they don't then once you cast Thrun he's there to stay. He blocks Tasigur, the Golden Fang forever. He blocks Gurmag Angler forever. They can't counter him. They can't Terminate him. Really, the only thing they can do is tap him down for a turn with Cryptic Command.

 I wouldn't blame you for running two copies of Thrun, either. Against Grixis, the second one you draw isn't really even a dead draw. That second Thrun just makes it easier for when you have to decide what to discard when they cast Kolaghan's Command.

 This is the type of deck we are trying to beat.


 This particular list had an impressive 8-2 record and I can clearly see why. Grixis is loaded with removal and counters and the threats are huge. It is a highly interactive deck and whenever I play against it they always seem to have an answer for what I'm trying to do.

 Grixis Delver and Grixis Twin are pretty much the same, give or take a few cards, and they all revolve around the same game plan. Draw-go until they have plenty of lands, then cast Gurmag Angler or Tasigur, the Golden Fang for one mana, allowing them to keep lands untapped for counter spells and removal.


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 I don't believe sideboard guides are written in stone, but they are a good resource and will help you get a better understanding of what you should be doing. Sometimes you will want to only trim down on Splinter Twin and other times it might seem necessary to take them all out.

 Against Grixis Twin you'll obviously want to bring in Rending Volley, replacing something like a Lightning Bolt for it. You'll also want to leave in Pestermite against Grixis Delver because it can block a flipped Delver of Secrets, but against Grixis Control he's not important enough to keep in. 

 Sideboarding correctly takes a ton of practice and I'm still learning how to sideboard properly against certain decks. Below are the cards I'm most likely taking out and bringing in against a Grixis deck, no matter what kind of Grixis deck it actually is.

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 photo Huntmaster of the Fells_zps68hyxbdn.png photo Huntmaster of the Fells_zps68hyxbdn.png Thrun, the Last Troll Thragtusk Keranos, God of Storms Counterflux Dispel  photo Negate_zpsmkiglmgi.png


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Splinter Twin Splinter Twin Splinter Twin Splinter Twin Pestermite Pestermite Remand Remand


 I truly believe the best way for us to win here is to take out the combo, or at least most of it, and fight as a fair deck. You will not be able to combo them out. It's too hard in game one and it will be even more difficult games two and three. I leave in the Deceiver Exarch because he still proves useful in blocking Snapcaster Mage, can tap down Gurmag Angler, Tasigur, the Golden Fang, or a land. Pestermite may be a clock but it dies too easily to Lightning Bolt. I can understand why some would want to keep it in. I think it comes down to more a personal call than anything else. 

 I like to keep in Electrolyze. Destroying two Snapcasters or an Insectile Aberration is great, not to mention it also draws us a card.

 Trimming down on Remand is correct, replacing some for hard counters like Dispel, Negate, and Counterflux. Grixis has a lot of mana and their spells are pretty cheap, meaning they can just recast whatever it is we countered. Remand basically becomes a bad cantrip. We can do better. Also, like I already said, against Twin you'll want to bring in the Rending Volley.

 The threats we are adding into the main are great against a deck like Grixis. Keranos, God of Storms is darn near impossible for them to deal with if we can resolve it. Huntmaster of the Fells and Thragtusk give us plenty of value; even if they Terminate them we still gained life and got a token out of the deal (not to mention Thragtusk can kill Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Gurmag Angler).

 But the best card here is definitely Thrun, the Last Troll. He may not be able to kill the big bad delve creatures by himself, but he will stop them dead in their tracks.

 The only problem with these creatures is they all have a high cmc. There won't be very many opportunities to resolve Huntmaster on turn four or Keranos on turn five. We'll have to first make sure we have enough mana to not only cast one of our threats but also fight a counter war if need be. What's awesome about Thrun, the Last Troll, however, is turn four we can just windmill slam that guy and not even worry about a counter spell. It's a nice feeling knowing our opponent probably wasted his turn just to hold up counter magic, too!

 Alright, enough talk. It's Thunderdome time! The match up I was hoping to dodge during the Finals, but unfortunately was not able to. Let's see if this new game plan works, or at the very least gives us a better chance against Grixis. It's time to... 

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 I felt a lot better going up against a Grixis deck after including Thrun, the Last Troll into my sideboard. I wouldn't say this is the worst match up for us, but it's not great, either. The games are a grind and I still believe the best way to fight them is by outclassing their threats. Tasigur, the Golden Fang can give them some value once they start activating him but Huntmaster of the Fells and Thragtusk give us value as soon as they enter the battlefield.

 Whenever I used to see a Watery Grave turn one I was dreading the long game of attrition I was in for, but now with this improved sideboard I feel much more comfortable heading into the match up.

 If you're not playing Tarmo Twin then I think some good choices to beat Grixis are the decks that don't care how much removal they're packing or how big their threats are. Decks like Ad Nauseam, Storm, Dredgevine, Living End are all good options. I think Tron decks are fine, as well. Just be ready because Grixis Control has 3-4 Fulminator Mages they can bring in against you, but Wurmcoil Engine is hard for them to deal with since they aren't running spells like Path to Exile.

 I hope you enjoyed this break down on how to beat Grixis decks. What's your game plan against Grixis? I would love to hear it in the comments!