This list was brought to you by Land Say Go community brewer Andrew John Kapawan.
It is honestly safe to say that once we saw the spoilers of #MTGWAR, we all could guess that Grixis control would be one of the decks to beat. The problem is, finding the right combination of cards to really make that happen. Well, with today's community submission, I think we are pretty close, and at the very least this version can be used as a starting shell to further narrow down into the final list.
Andrew opted to lean fairly heavily on instants and sorceries to control the board, of which I think is a great idea. We got some really potent pieces and interesting mechanics that we can now incorporate within our lists. What's really interesting about this list is the style of control we are implementing. We are much more of a reactive control deck, dealing with already resolved threats vs. more of a proactive counter spell style of deck.
The Removal Package.
For our removal, we start out with a full play set of Angrath's Rampage. This card, on paper, look really quite amazing. In practice (after playing 5 matches with it), is a bit of a mix. We have match ups that this card absolutely dominates, knocking out our opponent's best threats if they are playing a midrange deck on curve, whether it be a planeswalker or a slow accumulation of creatures. I had quite a few times in my games where I was wishing this was a Cast Down or Bedevil. In fact, Bedevil may just be the better card here. For 1 more mana, we get an instant speed targeted answer for the same nonland permanents. I do like that Angrath's Rampage is a great answer to something like Carnage Tyrant, but the downside of it being sorcery speed and on top of that allows our opponent's to choose what they get rid of hurts. I'd personally go with a 2/2 split.
Amassing an Army is one of the new tools that Grixis has going for it at the moment. And for a couple of our removal spells, we do just that. This list runs 2 Widespread Brutality, a, forgive the pun, brutal board wipe that leaves behind a new 2/2 Army or a bolstered Army token able to swing in freely. When playing against certain match ups I found myself praying for this card, and when you top deck it, it is all the more glorious. This card may seem unassuming, but don't let it, it is a very good card.
In addition to Brutality, we are also running Enter the God-Eternals. This card was insane in testing. 4 damage to creature, gain 4 life, mill 4 cards, get a 4/4. Yikes! I think the way this deck is built, almost every use of this card will mill our opponent vs. milling us. We just aren't really set up to abuse the self-mill ability. However, that mill 4 on our opponents is not insignificant. It is a great way for us to 1) gather more information about what our opponent's are trying to do, and 2) provide some fun disruption for our opponents. This card is insanely powerful, and is a great way for us to create larger Army tokens in order to sweep the board with Widespread Brutality.
We are also running a few oldies but goodies. A couple Vraska's Contempt and a couple Cry of the Carnarium has made it into the list too. Vraska's Contempt is still that great answer for planeswalkers and troublesome creatures, while also providing us with a little bit of life gain to remain relevant in the game. Rekindling Phoenix is the most difficult card for this deck to play against, at least in my limited testing. And Vraska's Contempt is really the only direct way to be rid of the card for good in the list. Cry of the Carnarium on the other hand is a great sweeping answer to fast aggro lists. Early metagames are built around aggro, so running 2 of these in the main board I think is really smart. Not to mention, the fact that the creatures get exiled means that all of the death triggers don't happen. Goodbye Liliana's draw triggers. Fair well, Judith's ping ability. It is a great answer for this deck.
The card advantage package is looking fairly standard with one notable deviation from last season. Let's start off with the oldies. We are running 4 Thought Erasure, a play set of Chemister's Insight, and 2 Search for Azcanta. Thought Erasure is a wonderful turn 2 play to take our opponent off their on curve game plan while also gaining some valuable information on their deck. Not to mention, the Surveil trigger is a great way for us to look at the top of our library and help fix our draws. Chemister's Insight is just a great card, 4 mana draw 2, and then 4 mana and discard a card to draw an addition 2. A wonderful addition to the list. Lastly, the Search for Azcanta is a great early play for us, allowing us to basically get a Surveil trigger on every up keep. Then, when we've filled our library with 7 cards, we can then flip Search into a land that allows us to impulse us more noncreature action spells.
The only real deviation in the list are the 2 Commence the Endgame. Being the namesake card of the deck, it was a real shame that I wasn't ever able to cast it. This is also one of those glass canon style of cards that could be incredibly powerful or just a 6 mana draw 2. This card kind of feels like a trap to me, in all honesty. Sure it is instant speed and cannot be countered, but in order to really make it worth while, you need to already be winning the game. Typically, win-more cards aren't very good. That said, there is some versatility in the card that I can admit. Being able to get an uncounterable, instant speed blocker that draws you 2 cards can be pretty great. I'm just more so on the fence with this one.
We have a very small creature package for this list. A full play set of Augur of Bolas and a single copy of God-Eternal Kefnet. I'm a bit on the fence with Augur of Bolas. Sure, it can be an okay blocker in the early game, but with its enter the battlefield ability only being able to hit instants or sorceries, we may be on the cusp of having too many other nonland permanents. Instead, we should maybe consider running something like Anticipate. It still digs us three deep, is instant speed, and we can grab anything we want vs. a very narrow selection of card types.
Kefnet, on the other hand. Woah man, is this card good; it honestly feels like a shame we are only running a single copy. Getting double value off of our instants and sorceries is incredibly powerful and being able to copy revealed instants and sorceries from the top of our library with a cost reduction tacked on is ludicrous. The only thing with Kefnet, we don't have a lot of ways to cast instant speed card draw cheaply. Kefnet's ability triggers on all player's turns, so having to first cast a 4 or 6 mana instant speed draw spell to take advantage of that feels kind of bad. If we wanted to lean more on Kefnet in future versions of the deck, we'd want to run more cards like Opt or Chart a Course.
Our main win condition, besides beating face with a swole Army token, is to kill our opponent with the new Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God. This deck runs a full play set of him. And depending on the match up, the Dragon-God can just wreck havoc on the board. His static ability alone is like nothing we've ever seen on any other planeswalker. The closest we've seen to this ability was Urza, Academy Headmaster in Unstable. The dude basically gets every activated planeswalker ability, so long as the walker is on the battlefield. So, you can build around him in a superfriends list, or just take advantage of the format in knowing that most decks will run some sort of a planeswalker. His plus 1 is great at destroying hands or removing permanents from the board, while also drawing us cards. You can can also use his -3 to kill a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria or any of the potentially troublesome creatures that are out there in order to protect himself. His ultimate, while it will take a few turns to get to will immediately win us the game if we can keep our opponent's board in check. Bolas is a threat to reckon with for sure.
As for our sideboard, we see some additional removal: 2 Cast Down, an additional Cry of the Carnarium, and a single The Eldest Reborn. All of these are great options, all though I would posit that we should consider Tyrants Scorn over the Cast Down. Both have their ups and downs, but Tyrants Scorn, theoretically, can hit everything. It just may not be able to kill everything. I had plenty of match ups where the additional Cry was immediately boarded in, and The Eldest Reborn is still one of the most powerful cards in standard, so no qualms there. I'm a little surprised we don't see any of The Elderspell in the sideboard (perhaps the list was submitted before it was spoiled?) But, with the potential with a ton of walkers on the battlefield, we may want to consider running 2 or so. While it is a bit of a non-bo with Bolas, as it technically removes his abilities, it can be a way for us to power into his win all in the same turn that we cast him. I think it is something we should consider.
We do see some control hate in the sideboard here with 1 Disdainful Stroke (which can also just be good to bring in against midrange decks as well), 2 Negate and 3 Duress. All of these are great answers to control, but I do think we should at least consider Narset's Reversal. Narset's Reversal is the latest iteration of a Remand style of card, allowing us to return our opponent's (or our) instant or sorcery spell to their hand in order to copy their spell for ourselves. This can become added card draw, additional counter spells, or maybe needed removal. It doesn't hit everything, so it may or may not be good right now, but we should still heavily consider it, as the effect is pretty amazing.
Lastly, we see a few creatures in the sideboard. Thief of Sanity has become quite the staple in UBx decks and in this deck it can also be a good win condition. I am a little concerned with it though, as since our opponents likely won't board out a lot of their creature removal in order to deal with our steady stream of 2/2-4/4+ Army tokens. Instead, perhaps we should consider something like Unmoored Ego in order to turn off our opponent's best cards against us. We also have 1 Legion Warboss, which for all intents and and purposes is a pretty hilarious card to bring in against control. However, with the addition of Dreadhorde Invasion, I think we should be considering one or 2 of those for our sideboard in order to get it down earlier against Control, and to provide a consistent threat that they would have to deal with. In addition, a lot of our cards have Amass tacked on, so getting to the life gain clause would actually be fairly simple. I definitely think it is a strong card to consider.
Well, that's the list and my suggestions of how to tweak it. I got to say, this deck was a lot of fun to play. There are some really interesting interactions with it that I think just spells F-U-N. Out of the 5 matches I played, I went 4-1. The deck was pretty consistent, but I do think there is still a little bit more that we can tighten down. The list as-is seems like a very good start, and I definitely recommend trying it out in your own meta.