Wow. The applause and flak I got from posting the Grixis T4 Kill deck was amazing! A lot of people all over Facebook and WordPress shared valuable feedback so allow me to summarize them below.
- There are too many moving parts.
- The combo pieces are easy to disrupt.
- You need to draw them early and have them survive.
- Each of the combo pieces do nothing on its own.
- It’s difficult to stay alive with a very aggressive meta.
- Why not drop red and just go pure Dimir.
- Very few draw/cantrip spells.
- Having a mix of aggro and control answers in the mainboard dilutes your match-up against either archetype.
- This combo already exists even without RNA and has no results to show.
- This idea is by far your most brilliant deck ideas. (at least one positive feedback!)
If you look at the comments all of them are true. To some extent, I purposely neglected these elements when I brewed the deck because I really wanted my idea, in its purest form, go out to you unfiltered. I know no one wants to enlist a deck and go 0-X so let’s streamline and put some Spike into this Johnny list. Here are the concessions I took into consideration.
Drop Red and go straight Dimir.
I must say, a combo deck must be streamlined in order go off as early as possible. Fixing your mana or taking unnecessary damage can spell defeat if the opponent gets an extra turn to find the counter spell to stall us or we take incidental damage which allows the opponent to win quicker. The more turns you durdle, the lower your chances to get the combo going.
The meta today is 30% control, 70% aggro. To name the top 10 decks, the 3 control decks are Jeskai, Dimir and Grixis. The 7 other aggro decks are Mono Red, Mono Blue, Boros, White Weenie, Izzet Drakes, BG Midrange, and Selesnya Tokens. Because we spend most of our turns digging through the deck, we need to incorporate as much life gain into the cards we use. Moment of Craving is the premier removal we want to draw early against low to the ground aggro decks. Golden Demise (later to be replaced by Cry of the Carnarium), Ritual of Soot and Cast Down help us buy time to assemble our combo.
Streamlining the Mainboard.
Initially the list had 4 copies of Thought Erasure in the main. It is a very strong and relevant card against any deck in general but if you’re not playing against control, I would prefer drawing Discovery or Cast Down instead. I decided to shift all my anti-control elements to the sideboard and improve my match-ups against aggro because it takes up a larger pie in the meta. If I’m up against control, it’s also easier to swap out all the creature hate for hand disruption and counter magic. It’s always wise to go 90% favorable against the more dominant archetype rather than 50/50 against all especially in a defined meta like this. If you expect a control heavy meta, swap the stats accordingly.
We need more Digging.
Going back to the topic of streamlining, doing nothing on turn 1 as a combo player feels very bad. I spoke with prominent combo players I know both local and abroad shared the same feedback: You must work towards executing the combo each turn or risk falling behind. Turn 1 Opt is a great opener to make sure you hit your land drops or help dig one card deeper for your missing pieces. Mission Briefing is also a great sifter card as it helps dig for lands or cantrips and bins the cards that should be there anyway. Surveiling a Diligent Excavator or a Chamber Sentry is fine if you already have a Liliana on hand, then target Discovery with Mission Briefing to draw into your Arcane Adaptation. Out of the 4 combo pieces (Excavator, Adaptation, Chamber, Liliana), the cards that you need to keep are Liliana and Arcane. The two creatures can go in the graveyard and the combo would still work by going ultimate with Liliana and play both zombified Diligent Excavator and Chamber Sentry from the yard. Chart a Course does the same thing, allowing us to dig deep and throw away the cards we don’t need or those that need to be in the graveyard. I borrowed this tech from Arclight decks.
Remember when I said that 2 of the 4 cards can be in the bin as long as you keep the other half of the equation in hand. Final Parting does the exact thing by getting you 2 of the combo pieces and put them are the right places. It gets you Liliana or Arcane Adaptation and bins Chamber Sentry and Diligent Excavator. I really love the card’s synergy to our plan.
So here’s the more streamlined version of the deck.
As you can see, we now have a better breakdown of cards:
- 15 ways to find our combo pieces (17 if you count Mission Briefing’s target)
- 8 removal (10 if you count Mission Briefing’s target)
- Reduced Chamber Sentry and Diligent Excavator from 4 to 3 copies because we can bin them and still get the combo to work
As for the sideboard, we now have 6 discard spells against control players and 4 cheap counter magic.
They take the place of our 8 removals depending on what kind of disruption or counter magic you need.
Against Planeswalker heavy decks, we will use Vraska’s Contempt and Eldest Reborn. The Eldest Reborn can sometimes help us get a dead Liliana from the yard and then go off the turn she’s ‘reborn’ if we got the pieces in the yard and on the battlefield.
I am sure there are still adjustments that can be made on the numbers and I’ll leave those to the Frank Karsten and brilliant Mathematicians of the Multiverse (I’m really, really bad with math) but I think we’re headed towards the right direction. What’s great is we don’t need RNA cards to build the deck. Hopefully they print a good tutor like card and make our life easier!
Talk to you soon and may you top deck lethal (in this case the opponent shouldn’t be able to top deck anything) in all your games during RNA Prerelease!