Grixis Control in Standard for MTG Arena

Jeremy Langevin
March 04, 2020
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Today I'd like to take a look at the deck I've recently been playing a bit on the MTG Arena ladder. It's a bit different, and is still a work in progress, but I've been having a lot of fun, and I hope that if you decide to take this list for a spin you will enjoy it too! So let's look at Grixis Control in Standard. I started off with this list by Yazeed Fredericks:


I'm sure i'm not the only one who is skeptical about picking up a pile of Grixis cards. Historical precedent often states such an archetype is too clunky to be viable in a Standard format. However, with the recent success of Temur Clover, a deck that has main deck ways to deal with Lucky Clover as well as the powerful walkers of the format in Angrath's Rampage and Bedevil seemed incredibly appealing to me. So I figured I'd give it a shot. 

    

Much to my surprise, when I first picked this deck up I went 6-1 on the ladder. That's a small sample size, too small to glean much, but it left me wanting to work on the deck more. Eventually my list started getting closer to this:


  

I keep hearing players talking up the merits of simply adding an extra land to that random deck you found online. So I went up to 3 Temple of Deceit, and in a deck this color-hungry the change did not go unnoticed. I also aired towards Opt over Omen of the Sea because the former is much easier to get into the graveyard, allowing it to be eaten by Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger. Moving to Legion Warboss over Thief of Sanity is a concession to Mystical Dispute being a busted counterspell and a format staple. Warboss is great on turn three against the blue decks who most certainly will be packing 2-4 Disputes. 

Matchups:

UW Control

Against UW it's important to value resolving your card advantage sources, especially game 1. In game 1 you'll be stuck with a lot of mopey creature removal spells, but Angrath's Rampage is still a very strong tool not only against Teferi and Narset, but against Dream Trawler. I find that Kroxa is hugely important against UW. They don't have a good way to deal with the titan, especially since Elspeth Conquers Death can't hit it. Once you can grind them down to just top-decking, your planeswalkers are much more likely to hit the board and stick around. 

  

Post-board I like cutting all the sweepers (Cry of the Carnarium and Ritual of Soot) as well as the anti-aggro removal such as Tyrant's Scorn and Enter the God-Eternals. Mystical Disputes and Negate are no-brainers, and I like bringing in the creatures because UW doesn't have a good reason to keep in sweepers against us. Past that I think a Noxious Grasp could be a consideration, but I'm not certain. The same goes for Pharika's Libation , which can get rid of an opposing Trawler, Pegasus, or ECD but can't deal with planeswalkers like Rampage can. 

Jeskai Fires

  

Our removal lines up a little bit better against this deck, and 3 maindeck Narset, Parter of Veils is quite strong. Again, we don't want the sweepers, but Ashiok, Nightmare Muse is often able to bounce Fires of Invention or a pesky Cavalier into an empty hand thus removing the threat. Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God is a game ender once we've depleted their on-board threats. 

When boarding, I cut all the sweepers for Libations, Disputes and Negate. Remember they have Teferi, Time Raveler, so if you aren't feeling the strength of the Disputes feel free to take them back out for trumps like Liliana. 

Mono Red

    

This matchup isn't as bad as I expected it to be, but our manabase is painful so we need to be careful. This is the matchup where we need our main deck sweepers the most, so dig for them over everything. Enter the God-Eternals is our best card when we have time to land it, especially on a Torbran. Remember to mill yourself, as they might have Ashcloud Phoenix, and it will help us fuel our Kroxa. I don't board very heavily in this matchup, mostly I just cut Nicol Bolas and a Narset or two for our third Enter the God-Eternals, Libations, and Liliana. 

Temur Reclamation

Another race to grind out like against Jeskai. Erebos's Intervention can exile troublesome Uro's, but remember late in the game you also might be able to mess up a combo turn with the lifegain clause (as long as you have a target). Don't tap out on turn 5 for a walker, it's very easy for them to stick a Reclamation and Explosion it on the following turn. This matchup is all about patience. Prioritize keeping a Narset on board and making their hand as awkward as possible. 

This is yet another matchup where Libation shines, and if you suspect your opponent to be boarding out Storm's Wrath it might even be right to bring in your creature package. Mystical Dispute and Negate are other all-stars in this matchup.

Temur Clover

  

The rise of Clover is why I wanted to pick up Grixis. Don't get me wrong, it's tough, but that's how a lot of the wins come for our deck. Bedevil and Angrath's Rampage chew up a Lucky Clover early and often, and you should do so as soon as you can. It's hard for them to deal with a large walker, but keep in mind that Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft can be left up easily, so don't be caught off guard. Even though they have a lot of creatures, I like targeted removal much better than the wrath's in this matchup. That said I'd stick to boarding in just Liliana and the Disputes and not the third ETGE. 

Tips:

-Remember your color requirements; if it doesn't affect your gameplan to do so, prioritize reaching 3 black mana by turn 5 incase of Bolas

-Most of the time you should mill yourself with Enter the God-Eternals because of Kroxa and the potential for opposing Escape threats

-This is a defensive deck, it's not always the best move to jam a Kroxa turn two. Instead, I'll often hold up removal, Opt, or just use the early turns to set up my landbase in a way that minimizes damage to myself

Possible additions:

- Aether Gust is a fantastic color hoser. With the uptick of play Nissa, Who Shakes the World is seeing, I could definitely envision a future where we want to be packing some number of Gusts in the sideboard.

- Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage could be sweet against the control decks with fewer creatures as yet another non-Disputable way to strip their resources. He might even deal a few damage too.

- I've considered replacing Thassa's Intervention with Chemister's Insight, as Insight lets us ditch cards like Cry of the Carnarium and Ritual of Soot in matchups where they are blank, but I haven't made the switch yet. 

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