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By: NVOtosReborn, John Mayer
Apr 16 2015 12:00pm
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Hello again!

Today I'm going to be talking about the twin deck that I took to a second place finish at TCG Player's States tournament in Portsmouth, Virginia.

If you've read any of my modern articles, you'll know that I love playing many different variations of the deck, but today will be devoted to the Grixis build.

When Fate Reforged was spoiled, I was immediately hooked on Tasigur, the Golden Fang. The card rivaled Tarmogoyf in raw power, and was able to generate card advantage that could give you plenty of useful spells while replacing itself in response to removal. Adding black to the deck would also give us access to cards like Thoughtseize, which would help us function primarily as a combo deck.

Let's just say that didn't pan out so well. While discard effects are great and all, they're really horrid topdecks and just aren't very good against certain decks. I got to talking with some adept twin players in the Virginia area - namely Mitchell Forst and Eddie Davenport - about the new variations of Grixis twin. We spent the good portion of a month figuring out card selections and such until we settled on something like the following list, with our own personal variations and added spice.



My sideboard was originally going to eschew Jace, Keranos, and Batterskull for 3 Fulminator Mage, but I wasn't able to find any to borrow before the tournament. It ended up working out just fine either way. I showed up on site and talked with Eddie for a bit before it was time to battle.

Round 1 vs UG Infect

I knew he was on infect from the player meeting. I asked him if he knew how to count to 10, to which he replied with a strong "Yes". I lost the roll and kept a moderately interactive hand. His first play was an Ichorclaw Myr, and I simply passed, letting him attack me if necessary, leaving mana up. On his next combat, I let his Myr attack me again, having drawn a Terminate should he need to interact. He didn't play a land before combat, so I just took another two points from his Pendelhaven. He played an untapped Breeding Pool after combat and passed. I flashed in a Deceiver Exarch, untapped, played my 4th land, and cast Splinter Twin.

"Vines?" I asked him. He didn't have it.

In:

DispelIzzet StaticasterTerminateEngineered ExplosivesEngineered ExplosivesSpellskite

Out:

Spell SnareSpell SnarePeekRemandRemandRemand

For game two, I kept Mountain, Bolt, Bolt, Exarch, Twin, Spellskite, Visions on the draw. I didn't draw a second land.

In game three, I kept 3 lands, Spellskite, Exarch, Twin, Terminate on the play. My Spellskite took a Twisted Image to the face, and I could only Terminate one guy. I drew some more removal, but he had Spell Pierce and Wild Defiance. I never drew land #4, having multiple windows to combo him after exhausting his interaction.

0-1

I never like to start off a tournament with a loss, but nothing you can really do aside from bounce back and string together some wins.

Round 2 vs UR Storm

I also knew what he was on, since Eddie beat him in round 1.

I lost the die roll.

You know what, I'm just gonna go ahead and say right now that I'm never on the play this entire tournament. I lost every dice roll, and I even lost Rock, Paper, Scissors with the Unhinged cards in round 3. I was also the 7th seed in the top 8, so off of my opponents clearly chose to play first. I guess I just have the worst luck with dice or something.

He was stuck on 1 land for a couple turns, despite casting 5 cantrips. This allowed me to easily set up a combo kill.

In:

NegateNegateDispelEngineered ExplosivesEngineered Explosives

Out:

SpellskitePeekTerminateTerminateElectrolyze

The second game was a little more back and forth, but I just had the correct countermagic to hit his enablers. I let him resolve a Pyromancer Ascension on the turn I was going to cast an Exarch on his end step.

1-1

Round 3 vs Gifts

This matchup is usually a nightmare for me. I knew what he was on thanks to scouting in between rounds.

In the first game, my hand was attacked a bit with two discard spells. He had no respect whatsoever for the Kolaghan's Command in my hand. When he cast a Liliana of the Veil on turn 3, I responded by flashing in a Snapcaster Mage. He used the edict effect, and I slammed my Command to kill his Liliana and recur my Snapcaster. I allowed him to resolve a Gifts Ungiven for Iona and Unburial Rites, but used a Remand to shut that plan down. Little gains like these ended up winning me the game by picking at his life total for a few turns, and I eventually cast a Tasigur that he had no answers to.

In:

DispelNegateNegateOlivia VoldarenJace, Architect of ThoughtKeranos, God of StormsTasigur, the Golden FangTasigur, the Golden FangBatterskull

Out:

PeekSpell SnareSpell SnareSpellskitePestermitePestermiteDeceiver ExarchSplinter TwinSplinter Twin

I left in Terminate because I saw Iona, Shield of Emeria in game 1, as well as Thragtusk. I made a slight error leaving in both, since I have multiple ways to counter that interaction to begin with, and I also neglected to bring in the Izzet Staticaster. I didn't see Lingering Souls in the first game, but I should have easily assumed as such, and the card isn't half bad against Liliana and Snapcaster Mage.

For the second game, my lands were attacked by Ghost Quarter and Life From the Loam, making me short on black sources. I used Electrolyze and Snapcaster Mage to establish parity against Lingering Souls, but he had more copies coming. Thankfully, I found a Jace, Architect of Thought and used the first ability to stem the bleeding. I eventually found an Olivia Voldaren, but he had a Maelstrom Pulse to deal with it. Kolaghan's Command to the rescue. My opponent had to chump block with Celestial Colonnade to survive long enough to see his next draw step, but the vampire reigned supreme.

2-1

Round 4 vs Marius Cholewa playing Infect

I've known Marius for a while, and despite being afraid of the matchup, he seemed a lot more scared than me. I guess Terminate is pretty sweet. Nonetheless, he is a great player, so I was excited to battle.

I made a blunder in the first game by opting to not blow up his Ichorclaw Myr with my Kolaghan's Command. I knew his hand was a Wild Defiance, but I gave him the opportunity to draw a Vines of Vastwood which forced me to block with my Deceiver Exarch. I didn't have the combo anyways, but still. I naturally drew a Splinter Twin in my draw step, but I mainphased removal on his only creature, and taking over the game when he was empty handed was quite easy from there.

Sideboarding same as round 1.

In game two, he looked a little dissatisfied with his opening hand, but kept anyways. I handled a pair of Glistener Elf with Engineered Explosives and other removal, and he drew something like 11 lands. Sucks to win that way, but it happens I guess.

3-1

The tournament was rather small, so I drew into the top 8.

3-1-1 (7th seed)

Quarterfinals vs Naya Burn

I say Naya burn because he was playing Atarka's Command.

In game 1, he counted to 20. I had a bizarre choice in the final turn of the game that wouldn't have paid off in any way, but it was a very specific interaction that may have gone overlooked. I had a full grip and he was empty. I was at 2 life, so anything killed me. He had a Stomping Ground, 2 Mountains and a Sacred Foundry. I had a Steam Vents, 2 Islands and a Swamp. I opted to cast Deceiver Exarch at the end of his turn, to which a Boros Charm came at my face. I was originally planning to tap his Foundry on his upkeep to try and shut off a handful of his potential draws, but I wanted to threaten countermagic as well if he had drawn something like a Lava Spike, and I could easily tap down any haste creatures or simply block with Exarch. Not too sure what the best course of action was there, but I would have needed to draw both Splinter Twin AND a second red source to win that game while he drew either bricks or blockable creatures.

In:

DispelNegateNegateTasigur, the Golden FangTasigur, the Golden FangBatterskullSpellskite

Out:

ElectrolyzePeekPestermiteRemandRemandRemandRemand

I really dislike Remand against this deck, especially on the draw. It can be decent sometimes, but eh..

Spellskite is usually not very good, since most of their spells can't be redirected and they have Destructive Revelry to really punish you, but it does a good enough job of blocking and potentially shutting down some spells. Batterskull is usually too slow, but sometimes the games go long, especially if they board in Rending Volley and other interaction spells. If you hit with it once, they're usually dead. Lastly, Tasigur is just for early pressure. If they can only deal 2-4 damage to you a turn, you can deal 4 right back, and he blocks really well in a pinch. I also like Terminate cause Eidolon and Swiftspear are major pains.

I don't really remember game 2 aside from me winning.

For game 3, he kept a 1 land hand with 2 Monastery Swiftspear and a Lava Spike with some other stuff. I took some early damage, but he never drew another land, and I was able to remove his offense and assemble a win. He revealed a hand full of R/W cards after the match. Womp womp.

Semifinals vs RWg Burn

I was really hoping to play against the twin mirror, but they were on the other side of the bracket. Blah.
I really dislike playing against burn decks, but it is what it is.

I actually took the first game with a combo kill, so I was feeling pretty good.

Same sideboarding as last round.

In game 2, I went for a combo kill on turn 4 but he had a Rending Volley to stop me, and enough burn to sling at me to finish me off in quick fashion.

In game 3, we were very back and forth. I used a Kolaghan's Command to kill his Swiftspear and Raise Dead my Spellskite that had taken a Revelry to the dome. It sat there for the rest of the game, generating advantage. He suspended two Rift Bolts and passed. I didn't have a whole lot going on, so I shipped back to him, at a somewhat heathy 11 life.

"Rift Bolt you."
"8."
"Rift Bolt you."
"6."

He draws a card, plays a Swiftspear, attacks. I block with Spellskite.

"Lightning Bolt you."
".... 3."
He tapped out to cast a second Lightning Bolt. I only had a Steam Vents untapped, so I had the option of redirecting it, or casting a Dispel. He had one card in his hand, so I opted to use my Dispel. The creatures bounced off of each other, and he passed back to me.


Okay, so.  Both of us can do math apparently. I went from 8 to 6 off that second Rift Bolt. The spectators of the match started fussing around, and the head judge basically told them to pipe down. In the end, it clearly didn't matter, since I was dead to anything either way, but if there was any misconceptions that I was trying to use Spellskite, there's no reason for me to "gain 1 life" off that Rift Bolt and open myself up to a myriad of other problems. Being at 5 life versus being at 6 life against burn really doesn't matter at all, so just want to clear that up for anyone who was there that might be reading this. If I intended to re-direct, I'd have pointed at my Spellskite and said "redirect" or something, not just voice a different life total. That's stupid. Tasigur continued to rumble into the red zone, and he ended up drawing something that DID matter, a Destructive Revelry for my Spellskite. The life totals had been adjusted before he drew it for his next turn, so it was still lethal. Regardless, I had 5 mana and a Snapcaster Mage with a stocked graveyard of counters, so I countered it and attacked him on my turn. He was holding a card all game, I assumed it was a land, and it was. With him at 6, facing down 6 open mana, an active Spellskite, and 6 power of creatures, he drew his card, and extended the hand. I showed him the Cryptic Command in my hand and that was that.

He was the only one to decline a prize split, so everyone teased him after the match.

Finals vs Michael Baller playing Jund

I knew this would probably be an uphill battle, but I really liked how our deck was able to transform into a control deck after sideboarding. Game 1 would be even harder with him on the play, but I just needed to focus.

His turn 1 consisted of a discard spell taking my Remand, and his second was a Dark Confidant. On his attack, I flashed in a Snapcaster Mage to block his Bob, and he played a post-combat Liliana of the Veil. I answered that with a pair of Lightning Bolts, but he had a Tarmogoyf that I just couldn't draw an answer for as he continued to strip my hand away with other discard spells.

In:

NegateJace, Architect of ThoughtKeranos, God of StormsTasigur, the Golden FangTasigur, the Golden FangOlivia VoldarenTerminateEngineered ExplosivesEngineered ExplosivesBatterskull

Out:

DispelPeekRemandPestermitePestermiteElectrolyzeSpellskiteSplinter TwinSplinter TwinSplinter Twin

I like Exarch over Pestermite because it survives Bolt and can block smaller Goyfs. I don't fault you if you like the flying damage though, it's very close. I like to leave in 1 copy of Twin to keep them honest, the games usually turn into a massive grindfest and having a random "I win" card is pretty good.

For game 2, the typical discard spell came at me on his first turn, followed by subsequent Fulminator Mages. I was able to recover and cast a Tasigur and a Jace, using the minus ability to scoop up two extra lands over a Remand. Tasigur sat back on defense while he had a 4/5 Tarmogoyf, while I rode Jace's advantage for a while until he ate a Lightning Bolt. This made his Goyf large enough to attack, but he neglected to do so, as I had him down to a low life total. I used a Bolt in conjunction with Snapcaster to bring him down to a dangerous life total, and used an Exarch to tap his Goyf and swing through for lethal.

In game 3, he had the good old discard, Goyf, Liliana draw on the play, and it was really tough for me to get back from there. I had to use multiple resources to kill off his Liliana, and I started taking 6 point hits from his Tarmogoyf. On one of his turns, he cast Slaughter Games naming Tasigur. Unfortunately for me, the top two cards of my deck were Terminate and a copy of Tasigur. He was empty handed when I used a Cryptic Command at the end of his turn to bounce his Goyf and draw a card, but I was at 2 life and didn't have many cards in hand either. I drew another land, but my draw step yielded an Engineered Explosives, which was a fine answer to the Goyf. My hand was Sulfur Falls, Scalding Tarn, and the Explosives, and he had a Tarmogoyf in his hand and nothing else. I could either wait to cast Explosives until after he played his Goyf, and possibly cast it for 3 if he topdecked a Liliana or something else, hoping to draw into another removal spell for his giant dork, but I was scared of discard, so I played it for 2 and passed. He drew his own copy of Olivia Voldaren, I knocked the top of my deck, and peeled back a Spell Snare. Extending the hand in defeat sucks, especially when you're so close to victory, but I played well and second place is not bad whatsoever, especially given the level of players in the room. It may have been a small tournament, but the skill level was very high.

I'll get it next time.

I wouldn't make any changes from the deck aside from cutting the Combust from the sideboard for a copy of Dreadbore. I drew 0 copies of Terminate against Jund, which is a very powerful card, but I also like that it can kill Liliana in a pinch. Combust isn't even that good, considering people board out most of the combo in twin mirrors, and we have plenty of interaction without it. It was also good against Siege Rhino and Celestial Colonnade, but Terminate is good enough while being much more versatile.

I'm not sure about the Fulminator Mages, I never got the chance to test with them, but Danny Jessup did well at the recent SCG Premier IQ with a near-exact copy of our 75. He ran another land over the Vendilion Clique in the maindeck, and a few changes in the board, but it was essentially the same. I guess he got the list from a friend of Mitchell's.

I think this deck is sweet. It's very difficult to play correctly, so don't get discouraged if you're unable to pick it up on the fly. The list could use some adjustments, and I'm hoping to make some play videos online.

If you have questions, concerns, etc, leave a comment or hit me up on MTGO @  _eNVious_

You heard it here first..

(card=Kolagan's Command)

..is the truth.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

PS - I scored a bunch of product, does anyone want me to write some Pack 1 Pick 1 articles for Dragons drafting?