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  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    I would not run any of these options. TBR is a unique effect. It is a finisher, adds speed, adds evasion, nullifies things like deathtouch and lifelink. It is you best card in a lot of matchups, and the singular reason you are able to win some games. The deck functions without it, but the meta as it exists now wants this to go under combo and trample over Dredge.

    You should avoid the trap of "what goes in the TBR slot" when changing colors. There is no other card that does the same thing. Fatal Push in the Lightning Bolt slot, Cast Down in the Terminate slot are things that make sense, but these are all good cards. Don't feel that you need to have one of these "finishers", because they just aren't available in UB.

    Play more removal, more discard, more cantrips, or maindeck Liliana (either one) or JVP. Ditch the combo kill, and just make yourself better prepared to play a longer game. It makes the deck as a whole better on the balance. Serum Visions, Collective Brutality, Countersquall, etc, other borderline maindeck cards will generally be more impactful.

    One other point. If skipping red is for budgetary reasons, then I definitely understand, lands are expensive. If budget is not an issue, a third color in Shadow is almost entirely free from a deckbuilding standpoint. You play so many fetchlands, and want lots of shocklands (often more than 4). A stock maindeck only has 2~4 red cards right now, but it is very easy to do this with almost no downside.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    To be clear, I don't think 4 Baubles is wrong and I don't think the blue selection cantrips are sacred cows. Basically all of them have pluses and minuses, the only sacred cows are Wraith and Scour. I definitely get the argument for 4 Baubles, especially if we want speed. It is a great card in this deck.

    Opt: I only like this if the deck is operating a lot at instant speed, which right now it honestly isn't. The more Bolts I play, the more I like it, but I don't think it is good enough.

    Serum Visions: I understand that people value the immediate selection, but I could make a counter argument that Shadow is the best Visions deck in the format specifically because of its play patterns. Other decks have to make sub-optimal plays, or fetch basics pre-emptively to keep the scry. Shadow fetch-shocks all the time regardless. The other big strength is Street Wraith, as you mentioned.

    Sleight of Hand: A big plus I see currently is how it helps us dig specifically for Surgical on turns 1 and 2 againt Pheonix. If we are trying to play long mirrors and duals with GB and control, give me Serum Visions all day. Thats not the meta as it currently exists, though.

    A 17 land deck needs cantrips. From my point of view, there are 14 slots in the deck to fill. 4 Wraith, 4 Scour, 3 Bauble are set (others will argue the 4th Scour is debatable, but I strongly disagree). Any of the above three blue options, as well as the 4th Bauble, an 18th land, and Faithless Looting are all in the running. This deck hates flooding and without Command is even worse when it floods out, so the land is a non starter for me. I wouldn't call any other selection "wrong".
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    I have always been of the opinion that people who play less than 4 Thought Scours are just total psychopaths. Gurmag Angler is the best thing this deck does, and Thought Scour is the best enabler. Playing less than 4 makes no sense to me.

    Bauble is great, but it isn't just strictly better than the blue cantrips. People still really undervalue Snapcaster-cantrip, but Baubles don't let you do this. They also still offer selection when you draw them without fetchlands, and Serum Visions in particular is the best selection cantrip available in the format. Bauble is explosive, but the delay makes it slower and more awkward in the mid to late game.

    Opt and Serum Visions are also just really, really powerful Magic cards. You don't need them to have specific, flashy reasons to "contribute to out strategy". They are part of the reason we can play 17 lands, and the reason that we can play 1- and 2-ofs in the sideboard. They improve our velocity, consistency, and threat density. The Legacy version of this is Ponder and Brainstorm, and while we have to play Street Wraith and Thought Scour for other reasons, the selection cantrips are still integral to the deck's power.

    I honestly don't think you need the 18th land, and would just play a Serum Visions in that spot. It still lets you find your third land drop post-board, but it also lets you ditch lands late game or in Game 1s when you just need gas.

    The bigger cantrip question for me is this: What is up with the people lately playing Sleight of Hand over Serum Visions? It has been in a number of lists lately, and I would love to hear the reasoning form someone who is using it.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    Yea, I think we are very much on the same page. I've spent so long yelling at people about Surgical Extraction and how bad people are at using it, but the format is just ridiculous enough that you could very easily be right.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    The problems are exactly what you would expect: It is a garbage, useless, unplayable card in a ton of matchups.

    I see the upside of the cute interactions, but none of those are worth a card.
    If you just want to pay life, play a Gut Shot or Mutagenic Growth because they actually do something.
    If you want to use it as a discard spell, play another Inquisition or a Rise//Fall or a Collective Brutality.
    If you want to get rid of UW controls Path to Exile, then just Thoughseize them again rather than pulling them out of their deck. Alternatively, Negate, Countersquall, Dispel, Spell Pierce.
    A shuffle for Bauble isn't worth a card.
    Surgical against Tron is useless without Fulminator.
    Probe that doesn't cantrip is awful.

    Note that I am being extra critical because you went out of your way to look at the positive. There is upside, which we cannot and should not ignore, but there is also very serious downside.

    Phoenix is currently maindecking Surgical, but they can honestly use it better than us because it is a free spell. This is in what might otherwise be a Gut Shot slot because they already don't need help against Noble Heirarch, and can use the boost in the mirror. Really, they are just picking the least crappy card that costs 0. Shadow has already cut back a lot on its ability to be a fair midrange deck, losing the 4th SCM, Command, and adding stuff like Faithless Looting. Adding more disadvantage and a purely situational card comes at a huge cost.

    That all being said, I don't think it is a hard no at the moment. A year ago, if someone made this suggestion I would have been much more blunt, and much more confident in saying:
    Absolutely not. You are bad at Magic, you don't understand how Shadow works and what makes it good, you don't understand fundamental principles of deckbuilding and gameplay. You are strictly wrong, and if you put this in your deck you are stupid
    Today, I am not so sure. I am still extremely skeptical, but it depends on your metagame read. If you expect a pretty open Moden field, which in most cases tends to be correct, then leave it in the sideboard. If you legitimately expect 40 percent Phoenix, then sure, its probably right.

    My other observation here is this:
    If maindecking Surgical Extraction is legitimately correct, then the format is broken and something needs to be banned, full stop.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    This depends on a number of things. There is not a single correct answer.

    If they have multiple of one or the other, then use discard to poke a hole in their hand. 3 Karns and 3 mana, or 15 mana and no payoff are equivalent for you. The top of the deck is dangerous, but they aren't currently killing you. Any very late game is bad for you because of both mana advantange and card power. Short of something ridiculous like Surgical on Urza's Tower they are going to murder you if you let the game go too long. Keeping them off balance in either direction is fine as long as you kill them before they get their game online.

    If their threats are all Planeswalkers and you have live Stubborn Denials, then you don't necessarily need to prioritize them.

    How good are their threats? You can beat a Thragtusk. You can sometimes eat one Oblivion Stone.
    You can't beat Ugin and Ulamog.

    You should generally lean towards taking payoff because there are less of them, and their mana sources are more plentiful and the lands are uncounterable, but if you have a fast clock then disrupting their mana.

    Side note, Turn One Stubbon Denial on the play on their Map or on the draw on their Scrying is great. Good rule of thumb is that while hitting them with IoK is fine, never counter eggs and never focus on getting rid of them. Exception here is the last turn of the game.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    Quote from prarini »

    U/W & Jeskai Control
    In: +1 Disdainful Stroke, +1 Stubborn Denial, +1 Spell Snare, +1 Kolaghan's Command, +1 Collective Brutality, +2 Nihil Spellbomb
    Out: -2 Fatal Push, -2 Dismember, -2 Lighting Bolt, -1 Temur Battle Rage

    In: +1 Stubborn Denial, +1 Disdainful Stroke, +1 Abrade, +1 Kolaghan's Command, +2 Ceremonious Rejection
    Out: -2 Fatal Push, -2 Dismember, -2 Lighting Bolt

    In: +1 Stubborn Denial, +1 Fatal Push, +1 Spell Snare, +1 Kolaghan's Command
    Out: -4 Street Wraith

    Phoenix (choose draw)
    In: +1 Anger of the Gods, +2 Nihil Spellbomb, +1 Stubborn Denial
    Out: -2 Street Wraith, -2 Lighting Bolt

    In: +1 Stubborn Denial, +1 Abrade, +1 Anger of the Gods, +1 Kolaghan's Command, +1 Collective Brutality, +1 Spell Snare, +1 Fatal Push, +1 Spellskite
    Out: -4 Street Wraith, -2 Dismember, -2 Thoughtseize

    In: +1 Abrade , +1 Anger of the Gods, +1 Fatal Push, +1 Kolaghan's Command, +1 Collective Brutality , +1 Grim Lavamancer, +2 Ceremonious Rejection, +1 Spellskite, +1 Izzet Staticaster, +1 Spell Snare
    Out: -4 Street Wraith, -3 Stubborn Denial, -3 Gurmag Angler, -1 Thoughtseize

    Hardened Scales
    In: +1 Abrade , +1 Anger of the Gods, +1 Fatal Push, +1 Kolaghan's Command, +1 Collective Brutality , +1 Grim Lavamancer, +2 Ceremonious Rejection, +1 Spellskite, +1 Izzet Staticaster
    Out: -4 Street Wraith, -3 Stubborn Denial, -2 Gurmag Angler, -1 Thoughtseize

    In: +1 Stubborn Denial, +1 Disdainful Stroke, +1 Kolaghan's Command, +1 Collective Brutality, +1 Abrade
    Out: -2 Fatal Push, -2 Lightning Bolt, -1 Dismember

    Mirror (choose draw)

    In: +1 Stubborn Denial, +1 Fatal Push, +1 Kolaghan's Command, 2 Nihil Spellbomb
    Out: -2 Lightning Bolt, -1 Street Wraith, -2 TBR

    In: +1 Abrade, +1 Kolaghan’s Command +1 Collective Brutality +1 Spell Snare +1 Anger of the Gods, +1 Grim Lavamancer, +1 Fatal Push, +1 Izzet Staticaster
    Out: -4 Street Wraith, -3 Stubborn Denial, -1 Gurmag Angler

    In: +1 Abrade, +1 Kolaghan’s Command +1 Collective Brutality, +1 Anger of the Gods, +1 Grim Lavamancer, +1 Fatal Push, +1 Izzet Staticaster
    Out: -4 Street Wraith, -2 Gurmag Angler, -1 Serum Visions

    In: +1 Stubborn Denial, +2 Nihil Spellbomb, +1 Disdainful Stroke
    Out: - 2 Fatal Push, -1 Inquisition of Kozilek, -1 Dismember

    In: +1 Stubborn Denial, +1 Disdainful Stroke, +1 Izzet Staticaster, +1 Spell Snare
    Out: - 2 Fatal Push, -2 Dismember

    I like taking out all of the TBR against most decks with lots of removal. UW, UWR, Jund, Mirror, etc. It is really tough to connect with and you can't afford it getting stuck in your hand.

    I don't think you need to take out all of your Wraith's against Jund, and I also don't think you need to go up to 4 Stubborn Denial. It is fine to have a few for removal and planeswalkers, but these are also terrible topdecks. In game one, some of your best uses for it are actually against t1 discard, and they will often trim some discard post-board. If you need another card to bring in Collective Brutality is also fine, because a split card Duress/kill target Ooze or Bob is adequate if not exciting. The Push/Bolt/Decay-proof Swampwalk beats are also very real.

    On a related note, I am skeptical of the 4th Denial in the mirror, as well. You want some, and a lot of people will bring in a bunch of spells (from my list above the 3 Planeswalkers and 2 Commands are auto-in and all cost 3) so they actually may increase in value post-board, but if you get stuck with a hand of 2 Denials and no creatures and removal you run into trouble.

    Zero removal against UW or UWR is tricky. I like to have at least 1 or 2 ways to kill Collonade in my deck. It shouldn't be your Plan A but it is possible to just get cheesed out by Collonade after paying too much life. Look at their creature options and figure out what they may sideboard. If they rely heavily on Collonade stick with Push, if you run into people with things like Clique, Spell Queller (not common but not unheard of either), Baneslayer/Lyra, or others then adjust accordingly. Also, remember that Bolt kills planeswalkers and so it isn't just an auto-cut either.

    Finally, Collective Brutality is a must-include against Storm.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    Hey kids, have been playing with this rough list lately and it feels good:


    This is the result a particular 3-0 at the shop, which obviously isn't representative, but I have been playing something within a couple cards of this and have been very happy with it.

    This particular event, I played against Phoenix, UWR Control, and UW Control.

    Phoenix is always an interesting dance, but game one I had Pushes for TitI and TBRed to victory, and game two I turn two Surgicaled the birds and he flopped around and died.

    As we all know, UW control of all flavors can be a bad matchup, but my sideboard felt great here. Ditch the TBRs because they are bad against removal, Looting because it is disadvantage, trim some Bolts and Dismembers, and bring a pile of planeswalkers and card advantage. The last few slots can be tricky depending on if they have creatures or planeswalkers where burn and removal are good, and how many Rest in Peace, etc. you expect to see, which can lead to you trim on Delve. Bringing in the extra Stubborn Denial and the Brutalities means you can knock out their early game plan and prevent them from getting unbeatable Jace/Teferi/Cryptic shenanigans started, giving you time to stick and protect a threat.

    I feel pretty confident in a lot of my deck choices. The Tasigur can and probably should be a 4th Angler, but this was me just being a bit lazy because I didn't have a 4th foil Angler. That being said, there are times when you can't delve 6 for the zombie fish but have enough for banana fun time, so don't dismiss Tasigur.

    I think this manabase is perfect. I have never been comfortable playing only one Crypt, and I think it is wrong. It is definitely wrong if you have Anger in the deck, but even without you want 7 fetchables. Field of Ruin, Assassin's Trophy, etc. have only made this more important than it used to be. Especially with Baubles, only 10 fetches is enough.

    I cannot for the life of me figure out why people play less than 4 Thought Scour in this deck. For all the powerful plays the deck can make, turn two Gurmag Angler has always been the best thing the deck does, and I want to maximize this. Playing Bauble and going all the way to playing Faithless Looting in your fair Grixis are testaments to how good this plan is, yet we trim the best enabler to 2 or 3? Going down to 3 Snaps and trimming K Command from the main moderately decrease the utility, but this has always been a Delve enabler first and foremost, and Command and LtLH are still hanging out in the board. If people want to sell me on three Scours I will listen, but it will take a lot to convince me.

    The removal numbers are always a crapshoot. I can make good arguments for the strengths of Push, Bolt, and Dismember. 2 is the ceiling on Dismember, but I can buy anything from 1 to 4 of the other two. Zero of either feels wrong. Terminate underwhelms me at the moment but if mirrors start being more common they start looking good. If it gets to that point, keep Dreadbore or even Liliana's Defeat in mind for the board.

    The cantrip numbers are all over the place, but make sense to me. As I mentioned above, Thought Scour is a 4. I like Baubles, they let us cut a land and help with Angler. Serum Visions is my pick for next best blue option, but when I am playing 4 Bolt versions then Opt isn't out of the question. People consistently underuse and underrate Snapcaster-blue selection cantrip. It is not as sexy as Push or Thoughtseize, but it is a hugely powerful play in midrange/control games. You can't just go all in on Baubles and and Faithless Looting and ignore the fact that Snapcaster Mage is still the most rawly powerful card in the deck. I was initially skeptical of Looting, and in all honesty I long for a return to a metagame when I can cut it and start playing maindeck K Commands again, but that is just not what is going on in the streets right now. I have always wanted a way to ditch extra fetchlands when we start to flood, and it is a nice little bonus when it gets binned by Scour.

    The sideboard feels close to correct, but I could see tinkering a bit. If phoenix stays around in numbers, then bumping up to three Surgicals is probably right. The EE and Anger are borderline, but still powerful and flexible. Surgical is the best answer to Phoenix, and Anger is underwhelming here. Taking 6 damage in the air, then untapping and fetch-shocking double red to cast a 3 mana sorcery against a Bolt deck is a recipe for disaster. If it killed Thing and Drake it could be better. If things like Elves or Company pick back up, it is still one of the best things we can be doing.

    Ceremonious Rejection takes a hit with KCI gone, but it is still the single best sideboard card we have in several matchups. I have played as many as three, but 2 feels fine.

    Collective Brutality is an interesting one right now. I have played exactly two for a very long time. It is obviously the best card against specifically Burn, but the fact that it is an extra Duress for combo and control while being secretly great against CoCo always made made be happy to give if the slots. It is really hard to evaluate where Burn will go from here, and just how good the Light up the Stage/ Skewer the Critics builds end up being. I would not be surprised if this needs to be a 3 if the Lava Spike enthusiasts add to their ranks.

    The Liliana of the Veil could be something else, but people are also sleeping on how rawly powerful the card is. There is tension with Stubborn Denial and Snapcaster which can't be ignored, but Thoughtseize-creature-LotV has won a lot of games of Magic. We will never be a dedicated LotV deck, but in sideboard games we are often a grindy Grixis midrange deck, so we shouldn't underestimate the queen of black midrange. I have seen people play a flip Jace in this spot, and I like it in theory but haven't tried it yet(I have played it in Legacy Infect to good effect, which is a different deck but can utilize it for very similar reasons).

    So, those are my way-longer-than-expected thoughts on the State of the Shadow Union. Would love thoughts, feedback, and tales of other peoples' experiences recently. Stay strong and keep Thoughtseizeing fools.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Modern Humans
    Quote from patbou »
    Mike Sigrist wrote an excellent article about the Pro Tour and his deck of choice : Humans. You can read it here.

    He played 4 Buglers in the main deck, but according to the article, he would reduce that to 2 or 3 in favor for full play set of Image or RefMage. Seems on point with what I've experienced. Humans don't really want to pause mid game to get an extra card, and would rather play the above mentioned cards right away than a Bugler to hopefully play these a turn later. Makes sense to play Bugler #3 in the SB for the grindy matchups (Jeskai, Mardu and Jund), but we don't see these decks a lot recently. Could help also digging out our precious SB cards...

    That was a good read, I liked hearing a lot of the though process behind the choices. There are 50 some cards which are basically non-negotiable, so it is really easy to get tied up in super small details and things that won't make a huge difference, but it is also possible to get some real edges from the sum of these small details.

    Bugler is obviously a good card and a good fit for this deck, and though I think there are metas where you want 4 it will often be a 2 or 3 of. I am fairly confident that going below two is very wrong, but you get into really fuzzy territory for whether 2 or 3 is better. Double Bubler openers without a Vial or Hierarch knock down your speed big time (Realistically, most Bugler hands without Hierarch or Vial are by default pretty slow, just like Recruiter of the Guard in Legacy DnT). Bugler has a respectable body, but it will never be the kind of clock Champion or Mantis Rider can be.

    When it first came out I really wanted to get a feel for it so I jammed 4, using all of the flex slots and shifting a Reflector to the board. Afterwards I switched the 4th Bugler and 4th Reflector, bringing him in from the board for the grind or in spots when I had high-impact sideboard cards.

    One line I really liked was that Bugler isn't what makes Humans great. I gushed for entirely too long about how good this card is a page or so back, and I still stand by every word I said. This will almost never be your best card in any matchup, but it is very powerful and fills in a few very important slots functionally and deckbuilding wise, even if it is only a 2 or 3 of in the 75. That being said, the things that really make this deck great are the high synergy, speed, and impressive mix of aggression and disruption. It is also easily the best Aether Vial deck in the format, and probably the best Noble Hierarch deck in the format, which is impressive because these are two of the more powerful cards in the pool. I think this is also probably the best Horizon Canopy deck EVER. Getting to play 4 of this land is an amazing boon to the deck, and I would be interested to see if anyone can come up with a deck that uses/used it better.

    This definitely seems to be a card where the numbers will fluctuate a lot. If Jund and UWR are all over the place, then I want lots of them. If people are just trying to vomit Vengevines and Hollow Ones onto the table, then he is too slow and you really want those 4 Reflector Mages in the main. My gut for next weekend (Eternal Weekend Yokohama) is to play three main, and am about 50/50 to put the 4th in the board, but its really hard to say confidently what the "right" numbers are.
    Posted in: Aggro & Tempo
  • posted a message on Modern Humans
    Okay, so I want to talk about Militia Bugler.

    I will admit that I was pretty bad about following spoilers and newly released M19 cards. After seeing it pop again I do think I saw it at some point during spoiler time, but I wasn't really paying attention or thinking about Modern at the time. My default view for decent-looking white creatures is for Legacy DnT, and Remorseful Cleric was the bigger news there. I have also just been playing a lot of Legacy after the bans to test out the new environment.

    After checking recent decklist and seeing all of the successful lists playing at least 3 Buglers, it finally clicked that there was a new card that I really need to be paying attention to. And make no mistake about it: this is the most important card printed for this deck since Unclaimed Territory.

    I have played a good amount with Humans, and I have played Legacy Death and Taxes for a long time. I will definitely draw some insights from my DnT experience, which is of course different but has a few important similarities. The really basic, obvious one is that they are both Aether Vial decks, which is of course a huge one. Another similarity that is more subtle is that they are decks with little selection, little card advantage, and a deceptively high number of mana sources. Both decks are at the mercy of their draws, and while drawing 2.5 lands, Vial, and all creatures will run over all sorts of decks, drawing your 5th and 6th land in these decks is problematic. A deck like 19 Mountain mono-red just commits to losing some small number of games to flood, and there isn't much to be done. Decks like Humans and DnT can make some deckbuilding decisions that don't eliminate these problems, but definitely help to mitigate them.

    So let's talk about Horizon Canopy. It is easy to look at this as an on-color, untapped dual land that has some moderate upside. In a lot of decks this is correct, but Horizon Canopy is extremely powerful and it can be easy to not realize it is one of the most important cards in the deck. Counting Hierarchs and Vials, the deck has 27 mana sources. Humans needs Vials and Hierarchs for its explosive starts, but at the end of the day a deck with nothing that costs more than 3 doesn't actually want 27 mana sources. Having a land on turns 1 to 3 that turns into gas on turn 4 or 5 is huge boon for this deck.

    Another point about Canopy is that Aether Vial decks tend to want value out of their lands because they play more mana than they may otherwise want. Merfolk decks like Mutavault because of tribal synergies, but also as a mana sink. Death and Taxes like Port and Wasteland because they contribute to the mana denial plan, but carry out utility when mana isn't needed or while Vial pumps out dudes. Eldrazi and Taxes decks often play Shambling Vent as a solid body but also as a mana sink.

    What does this have to do with Bugler? I am getting there. My point here is that there are distinct weaknesses to having nothing but creatures, Aether Vials, and lands in your deck. Canopy mitigates one, the risk of flooding and very low value of excess lands. Bugler hits two other big ones: card advantage, and selection.

    For card advantage, Humans has a limited amount, but all of it a bit conditional. Kitesail Freebooter is the most obvious and is a clean two-for-one if it survives, but it is vulnerable. It can also whiff and loses value later on. Reflector Mage serves as a body and effectively a removal spell, but doesn't always actually represent an extra card of value. This isn't criticizing the card, it more than earns its spot. It of course incredible tempo, which is often game winning. Also, hitting things like Gurmag Angler is close enough to a removal spell, but in a strict sense it doesn't create card advantage. Meddling Mage is another card that - particularly with info on their hard - often represents card advantage of a kind but is still vulnerable to removal and can still whiff.

    A Militia Bugler that hits the battlefield is always card advantage, and through Vial and Cavern it is even immune to countermagic a good amount of the time. It is in class of value creatures like Baleful Strix, Shardless Agent, Eternal Witness, and others that are mostly guaranteed to have a positive impact. I'm not a math scientist so I don't have percentages, but with 33 hits in the deck it close to guaranteed to draw you a card. The fact that it is pretty likely to draw you a good card is another big plus. This is an effect that this deck simply did not have before, and it makes a difference. There are games against Bloodbraid Elf or Snapcaster Mage or Kolaghan's Command decks when you get two-for-oned once or twice, draw one too many lands, and just die. You have to rely on your deck just feeding you gas, which is bad spot to be in against card advantage or removal heavy decks. I feel strongly that Bugler is a big boon for Humans against fair decks, and will bring matchup that were slightly unfavored back up to 50/50, and push 50/50 matchups into a favorable range. This kind of staying power is what things like Xathrid Necromancer were for, but this has better stats, an easier mana-cost, and is exceptionally maindeckable.

    The fact that this comes with selection is very important, because it is an effect that Humans simply has none of right now. Things like Reflector Mage and Meddling Mage can vary wildly in value based on matchups, and there are times when a topdecked Freebooter does literally nothing but a Lieutenant pushes through lethal. This is a big strength of things like Stoneforge Mystic and Recruiter of the Guard in Legacy DnT, because you can find specific cards in a deck with 11 basic Plains, while that is usually Brainstorm and Ponder's job. Bugler doesn't let you play single bullets or find very specific answers, but it does give you at least some agency over your draw rather than the series of blind draws we generally depend on.

    So what does all this mean? If you look at any of the lists from the last SCG Open, it is pretty clear that about 3.5 copies of this card is now stock in Humans. Restoration Angel, Dark Confidant, Kessig Malcontents, anything else that popped up in your flew slots, these slots should almost certainly be Buglers.

    Some other cards fluctuate in value. I think Reflector Mage, Meddling Mage, Freebooter, and Phantasmal Image are all candidates to go down to 3, though they all remain reasonable 4-ofs. It would seem that the half dozen or so 'flex slots' we have been filling with all kinds of stuff are basically the 4th copies of a few select cards (including Bugler itself), and maybe 1 or 2 final slots.

    Aether Vial gets better. Bugler will be slightly slow and clunky without Vial, which will be the big argument against playing the full four (though I still think 4 is a more than defensible number on raw power). With Vial, you can take more actions per turn even when low on lands, and the draws from Bugler will give you more gas to use your Vials and mana more effectively.

    Noble Heirarch gets better for similar reasons, as you have more uses for extra mana in a turn. Previously if you have 5 or 6 mana and draw a single card, you would never actually use it all, but 5 or 6 mana turns even later in the game will be more common.

    Your 2-of sideboard bullets get better, as you can dig for them and find them more consistently. In my limited time playing with the card, playing a Bugler and finding a Rec Sage or Sin Collector at an opportune time has felt extremely powerful. These sideboard cards are generally high impact and are themselves clean 2-for-1s, so chaining them together is a lot of value.

    Okay this got way longer than I expected, but I wanted to get my thoughts down on paper. I think there are quite a lot of people who just evaluate this at face value, "human, check, good stats, check, good ability, check." This is fine, but if you dig more into the theory side of the deck, like where it gets its power from and some of the weaknesses inherent in creature decks and Aether Vial decks, I really feel that this cards gives it noticeable boosts in certain matchups and represents a unique effect that the deck was lacking previously but is well positioned to make good use of.
    Posted in: Aggro & Tempo
  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    I am fairly certain the correct numbers are either 1-3 or 0-4, Tasigur to Angler. I wouldn't criticize people for playing either.

    I have played Shadow for as long as it's been a deck, and I have seen Tasigur and Angler numbers go through all kinds of changes. In old Grixis Delver, people usually considered Tasigur to be the better card, and only played a singleton Angler because we didn't want to play 3 of the same legend. Looking back this could easily have been very wrong, but it was the conventional wisdom at the time. In Grixis control, Tasigur is pretty clearly the better card because you use the ability often, and he is more of a finisher than a fast clock to jam on turn two.

    Shadow lists often started at 3-1 Tasigur to Angler, but moved pretty quickly to 2-2. The current ratio is probably close to 0.5-3.5, and it would be easy to conclude that Angler's numbers have steadily increasing is just proof that its better. This could be correct but I don't think it is cut and dry. The addition of Street Wraith when moving to Shadow from Delver or control does make a big difference, and is a point in favor of Angler. The more Reality Smasher and Tarmogoyf we see, the better Angler gets.

    As far as ease of casting, I think there is really only a small difference to point of almost being negligible. Relic slows both down but eventually you overcome or force them to crack it, Rest in Peace wrecks both of them hard. If you are running into a lot of these type of card there is some merit to Tasigur, especially on the play, as you can brute force him into play to get under their hate, but in reality they end up playing out similarly. One thing of note is that Tasigur does occasionally come into play on turn two without Thought Scour, while Angler basically requires Thought Scour or a completely freak Street Wraith hand.

    About the activated ability: I know plenty of people think it never comes up, but it really does. If you delve properly (and of course get a little lucky) then it can create advantage that does matter. It will come up infrequently, but in a drag out game against something like Jund even overpaying to buyback an Opt or Thought Scour can give you a little edge. That all being said, does this compensate for having one less power? Probably not, but dismissing it outright is a mistake. It is a legitimate upside of the card.

    Other thoughts:

    Random story from GP Kyoto: I had 3 cards in my yard, one untapped land in play, and my opponent had a tapped Relic with mana to activate. I had Angler in hand, and a Thought Scour that would power him out but also prompt cracking the Relic. I also had an IoK, which will come up later. I play and crack a fetchland, and I was very deliberate about putting it on the yard and on the stack and passing priority. I did this for two reasons. One was because we were technically at Professional REL and I wanted to be clear and precise, but the other is because I wanted my opponent to crack the relic. I of course wanted those cards in my yard, but I needed the Relic out of my hair. I wanted to play Scour and have everything stick, and also wanted full info and more options for the IoK. I will note that if I had Tasigur in my hand, I would have tried to play slightly faster with the fetch to try to get him into play while my opponent waits to stop Angler or snag more value. He cracked, and I played out the next two turns just like I wanted. This is really small and specific, and I was playing against a savvy player on day 2 of a GP, but these little things add up. If my opponent knows for a fact that all GDS lists play 4 Anglers and 0 Tasigur, then he knows the magic number there is 5 instead of 4 and can safely continue to sit on it. Me making my 'I have Tasigur and am really hoping you just pass priority' pouty face made my opponent do exactly what I wanted them to do and made my turn and my following turn play out better.

    I obviously won't say we should play an inferior card just for "keep them on their toes" value, but you can take advantages of little things like this. Other random advantages of mixing up threats: Runed Halo and Maelstrom Pulse. I haven't seen too many Runed Halos lately so it probably isn't too much of an issue, but I have seen plenty of Jund lists with 2 Pulses recently so that is a legitimate point to think about. (Admittedly, Shadows are way more likely to get Pulsed, but its still a real thing).

    That got longer than expected.

    tl:dr - I would say 0.5/3.5 split of Tasigur to Angler is roughly optimal. Either is probably fine, but at the end of the day Angler is the better card, so I could easily see the argument that you should play 4, even without Bauble. So to answer your question of whether we should be "strongly considering" this? Firm yes.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    I would argue that anyone that claims Jund is unwinnable or strongly unfavorable is mistaken. It is not an actively favorable matchup for Grixis like it was before BBE, but from my point of view all that happened is they brought it back up to close to parity.

    Random thoughts on what you wrote:

    General rule is kill Bob on sight. If you let them draw 2 extra cards that can very easily spiral into an insurmountable advantage almost immediately. There is nothing wrong with playing to the out of them dying to it if its your onlyoath to victory, but unanswered Bob rolls midrange mirrors all day.

    I agree that Ooze is fantastic and should be a removal priority, certainly before Goyf unless its a 6/7 and primed to kill you. I have had games where I have a Push and two Snapcasters, push their turn two dude, then they untap and play Ooze with open G and it just completely dominates the game.

    BBE's body is indeed underwhelming, but its strengths are card advantage and haste. This makes it a dangerous threat and as such a prime target for discard (just like they often target our SCMs)

    Nihil Spellbomb is a fine card to bring in. DO NOT bring in Extripate or Surgical against Jund. Their deck is redundant, and doesn't depend on a specific graveyard interaction or a specific card to win. You will spend a card to do absolutely nothing unless you get lucky and snag something from their hand. Removing all their BBEs or Lilianas seems intersting but the card disadvantage will lose you games and its an off-the-charts awful topdeck.

    You don't need cards specifically for Jund, but you do need access to cards that are good against Jund to board in. You need to take out TBR, you can trim or cut Stubborn Denial, and you can trim discard and or Street Wraiths.

    Any planeswalkers you have are slam dunks. Both Lilianas are excellent and you should board in all copies of both. I also have a JTMS in my board, he is also a powerhouse. I have one Engineered Explosives in my board, it kills planeswalkers in a pinch but mostly it represents a clean two for one on a lot of boards because plays sooo many two drops now. I also usually board in Vendilion Clique, it isn't so much a haymaker as just a neat package of evasion, disruption, and flexibility (you can also bottom your own discard spells if the game goes long). Secondary threats like Young Pyromancer are also often good, and Fulminators are good againt Jund too.

    I think something narrow like Double Negative is just too cute. There are plently more rawly powerful and widely usable cards out there that also happen to be good against Jund. I would stick to those.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Death's Shadow Jund
    Quote from Merovek »
    Question - just bought into Geneyquakes list). I know budget discussion is frowned upon, but I'm not currently in the position to get the playset of Verdant Catacombs. Barring not fetching the single forest, do you think replacing those with Polluted Delta for the time being is OK? My meta is not infested with blood moon.

    There is no avoiding the fact that Verdant Catacombs is the best fetchland in the deck, so playing with Deltas will be suboptimal, but the deck will definitely function. More than Blood Moon, one of the things I would be worried about with Delta is that you will be shocking yourself a bit more, which Burn can definitely take advantage of. You will lose some flexibility points but as long as you are good grabbing shocklands then it is a relatively small concern. I would probably find a way to squeeze in an extra Blood Crypt to give your black fetches a bit more flexibility. Another important point is that if you keep a tally of which fetches get which lands and which colors in your mind while sequencing then you can mitigate some of the awkwardness. It is another annoying thing to keep track of but it will make a positive difference. I know that when I was playing this deck I went kind of fast and loose with the fetchland sequencing at times (which is obviously bad but is just reality, and a luxury having so many on-color fetches can give you), but you have to pay much more attention here if you shift a bit off color.

    One thing that I will point out is that the 5-0 list from the most recent MODO batch replaced Wooded Foothills with two Deltas and two Marsh Flats, placing a big priority on black mana. I can't speak to whether his is better than the straight Jund set of 12, but this is a vote of confidence for the idea that a pile of black fetches can be fine, or even preferable.

    In any case, have fun with the deck and let me and everyone else know how it performs, what you like and don't like, etc. I have been playing Grixis lately (was gearing up for a GP and opted to stick with my Snapcasters), but this deck is a blast to play and I think there is a lot of exploration to be done.
    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    Affinity can be a tricky matchup, but I don't mind playing against it. You will sometimes just lose to their nut draws, but that is just something you will have to accept.

    It can be a weird match to play because your role is generally playing Snapcaster control, but you also want to close the game out as soon as possible because of Etched Champion mostly, but also because of Galvanic Blast.

    After side, I bring in extra TBRs, 3 Ceremonious Rejections, Liliana the Last Hope, Abrade, and Engineered Explosives, and Kozilek's Return. I usually end up bringing out Stubborn Denial, but it is actually better post board because of Dispatch, Blood Moon, RiP, etc. This depends on what you think or know is in your opponents board. You can also bring out some number of Thoughtseize and Street Wraith, but I don't like taking out all of them. Discard is also much better on the play than on the draw. I generally leave in both IoK no matter what, as well as 2-3 Thoughtseize on the play and 1-2 on the draw. If you know your opponent has Blood Moon, Rest in Peace, or stuff like Hazoret then discard goes up in value. Hazoret can also be an argument for leaving in Thoughtseize over IoK but Inquisition is generally the better choice here. Draws with too many Wraiths can leave you open to getting burned out or cheesed out by flyers, but getting at least one dude down is important.

    While Ceremonious Rejection is more for Tron, one of the reasons I like it so much is because it is great here too. Plating, Ravager, and Champion can all be very problematic if they every hit the board, so countering them efficiently is very valuable.

    Abrade has impressed me as a versatile sideboard card, it is obviously excellent here.

    Temur Battle Rage is very hard for them to deal with. Watch up out for random Dispatches to blow you out, but just like a lot of go-wide decks a well timed Battle Rage is just your best path to victory.

    Based on this recent list of mine, this is how I would generally board

    GP Kyoto List

    Posted in: Midrange
  • posted a message on Grixis Death's Shadow
    My problem with Damping Sphere is that the second ability hurts us way more than it hurts them. I don't mind tapping out for a high impact hate card on turn two, but with this in play our turn threes get much worse. I would liken it a bit to Grafdiggers Cage: It is quite good in certain matchups, but it hurts us as well so I don't like it in Snapcaster Mage decks as a general rule.

    If Sphere just had the first ability, I think it is worth consideration. This assumes there is quite a bit of Tron in the meta, which I don't find to be the case, but it would be a good option to have against them.

    In general, I would prefer to just be playing Ceremonious Rejection. The fact that these are also slam dunks against Affinity and Lantern is a huge plus, and it already fits into our plan of playing a lot of efficient spells. This is an anti-big mana spell but it doesn't touch Valakut or other lands.

    The biggest issue I have is that our Snapcaster Mages are pretty heavily restricted. Against Tron, I am pretty happy to stop at three or four lands and have Snapcaster-Ceremonious Rejection up to back up a threat. This card either turns this plan off or make it hard to also do something on our turn. Our best turn threes often look something like discard, play Angler, hold up Stubborn Denial. If we play a Sphere on turn two then we cant do this. One of the main strengths of the deck is all the one mana spells, allowing us to take way more game actions in the first few turns than most decks.
    Posted in: Midrange
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