[Archetype] Grixis Control

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A lot of you have heard about the Grixis deck being good, over in the UK it's been something we've tested a lot and found it plays a lot smoother than other control decks since it can be draw-go more effectively and not worry about making it's six drops to win. Stensia Bloodhall and Brimstone Volley do a lot of the legwork in terms of winning the game and things like Geistflame give you extra removal over an UB shell. ANyway, here is the list, I'll update the OP to make it into a proper archetype thread when I have a bit of time.


4 Snapcaster Mage
1 Olivia Voldaren
1 Wurmcoil Engine
(6)
4 Think Twice
4 Forbidden Alchemy
(8)
1 Tribute to Hunger
3 Geistflame
2 Doom Blade
1 Go For The Throat
3 Brimstone Volley
4 Mana Leak
4 Dissapate
(18)
2 Black Sun's Zenith
(2)
2 Stensia Bloodhall
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Darkslick Shores
3 Mountain
5 Island
(26)

SIDEBOARD(15)
2 Spellskite
2 Grim Lavamancer
2 Batterskull/Wumrcoil Engine
1 Tribute to Hunger
1 Olivia Voldaren
1 Brimstone Volley
1 Stensia Bloodhall
1 Negate
2 Shatter
1 Whipflare Trap
1 Geistflame


The basic plan of the deck is draw-go. Using Snapcaster and draw spells to play in your opponent's turn and you often win off of Snapcaster chipping away until you hit a Brimstone Volley, or just end of turn Stensia Bloodhall activation.

The sideboard is obviously in flux as the meta keeps shifting, but you have good tools to beat control: Grim Lavamancer(chips away and can sneak into play easily), Negate(another counterspell is obvious), Brimstone Volley(more win conditions), Stensia Bloodhall(Another win con, like brimstone it doesn't require a tap out). I have played 2 bloodhall in the board fr example in control heavy fields.

Tools for aggro are obvious as well.

We're currently trying to work Grim lavamancer into the MD, cutting 1 BSZ for 1 copy is about where we are since he's realyl good in this deck and can eat up mirran crusaders.

I think it's pretty easy to grasp how the deck works, but you spend the whole game in control, it feels really good. Different members of our UK team have been focusing on certain match ups etc, I've spent a lot of time on the control match ups and the deck had a real hard time losing to decks like UW control and UB control. UR counterburn is pretty simple since geistflame kills their board most of the time and you even have dissapate for their phoenix.

Match up wise, GW tokens is soemthign we are shoring up at the moment, if you expect RDW to be big, you can run the full spellskite count and it stalls very well until you hit wurmcoil.
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There are four Forbidden Alchemy. Right next to the four Think Twice. :/

I'm so glad you made this thread, Cyrus. I look forward to the discussion.

What about this "Whipflare Trap" though?

EDIT: Nevermind, "Whipflare" from New Phyrexia. Gotcha.
Olivia seems a little cute to be honest. Wouldn't we rather just run out a Titan?

Rest looks good. 

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Olivia seems a little cute to be honest. Wouldn't we rather just run out a Titan?

Rest looks good. 

How's the manabase on this? I know Solar Flare is sort of a trainwreck playing 3 colors because of all the land, so is it treating you well?

The 12 black sources from dual land must help a lot, but does it ever become a nuisance?
Olivia seems a little cute to be honest. Wouldn't we rather just run out a Titan?

Rest looks good. 

How's the manabase on this? I know Solar Flare is sort of a trainwreck playing 3 colors because of all the land, so is it treating you well?

The 12 black sources from dual land must help a lot, but does it ever become a nuisance?



Solar flare has enemy colors, this is a allied color trio, so your mana problems are a lot less.

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I think that Esper has the same color orientation as Grixis, right? With Esper you have W/U, U/B and W/B lands and Grixis has U/B, B/R and U/R lands. Grixis is just more of a UB control build with a splash for Olivia Voldaren, Geistflame, Brimstone Volley and Stensia Bloodhall.
The mana fix in allied color trio is better than a wedge. However WUB and UBR are allie trios and not wedges.

To make it more complex than it needs to be if you're heavy blue then your fixes into the other two are weighted. This deck isn't black centric so it's a little trickier than Flare. Flare is blue centric and it gets equal love for white and black.

Anyway, this is off topic. I think there's plenty of tools to fix an allied color trio base. 

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Favorite Quotes

"Against logic there is no armor like ignorance." - Laurence J. Peter 
"It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes

The mana fix in allied color trio is better than a wedge. However WUB and UBR are allie trios and not wedges.

To make it more complex than it needs to be if you're heavy blue then your fixes into the other two are weighted. This deck isn't black centric so it's a little trickier than Flare. Flare is blue centric and it gets equal love for white and black.

Anyway, this is off topic. I think there's plenty of tools to fix an allied color trio base. 

Should you Run Slagstorm to clear tokens and aggro decks and the fun sort of stuff? Tempered Steel crushing ftw :D
You know, you can just click 'Reply' instead of quoting me if your response isn't going to be directed at me or something I said.

I too did consider Slagstorm, but the issue is going to be hitting UU, RR, BB consistently and on time. 

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Favorite Quotes

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"It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes

I'm not sure about your manabase - Drowned Catacomb only has 5 lands to come in untapped with?

@Niche: Olivia is good; comes down with counter mana up, can ping itself at end of turn to get bigger, and pings and steals Titan the turn after, completely shuts down any Inkmoth based strategies, halves the Dungrove's mana sources, and most Aggro decks in the format can't do anything to it once you untap.

It's a bit shakier against RDW, in my experience on the RDW side of the table, but it's still pretty good, especially if you have the mana to ping-to-protect itself.
I've seen some variations of this sort of deck run at a local game store tournament, wound up being the top 2, actually.  Not sure of their exact make ups, the two were a bit different from each other.  They did both run Lavamancer, if I remember correctly.  And I think Delver of Secrets and Consecrated Sphinxes were in the mix as well, though not sure if they were in both.  Neither ran Bloodhall, I believe.

@Niche: Olivia is good; comes down with counter mana up, can ping itself at end of turn to get bigger, and pings and steals Titan the turn after, completely shuts down any Inkmoth based strategies, halves the Dungrove's mana sources, and most Aggro decks in the format can't do anything to it once you untap.



Olivia pings another target creature, so cannot target herself.  You need another target to grow her.

4 Alchemy seems a bit much to me. 8 draw spells makes for a tight fit for the rest of the build. If you took it down to 2 you could add in some things that your deck needs, like those goblins. That way, you actually start off with things that help your game instead of having to waste time crafting your hands vs those aggresive decks.

And Im curious about the metagame across the pond. Im in the US here, and we seem to be awash with agro. I know at the shop I play at pretty much every person is playing a varient of haunted humans, with a smattering of UB control and maybe a solar flare. Is it different on average in the UK? This deck looks really cool, but I dont think it would survive where I play. It just seems a little too fragile.
I feel like I would side in something like skinrender instead of Olivia against RDW.

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@Niche: Olivia is good; comes down with counter mana up, can ping itself at end of turn to get bigger, and pings and steals Titan the turn after, completely shuts down any Inkmoth based strategies, halves the Dungrove's mana sources, and most Aggro decks in the format can't do anything to it once you untap.



Olivia pings another target creature, so cannot target herself.  You need another target to grow her.




Yeah, I realised not long after my post. Annoying, but probably better that way.
So I've been testing this most of today, and I have the following conclusions:

- You have a better matchup with Dungrove/Thrun/Crusader decks but it's still not a good matchup without Day of Judgment.
- You are much worse in the mirror. Three colours means that you mulligan more than UB Control does, and they have the capacity to run Ghost Quarter. Coupled with the fact that Drownyard has half the cost to activate, they are much better at stopping your grind plan than you are stopping theirs.
- You have a much stronger RDW matchup, but a Shrine can still be decisive - having Disperse MD is nice for this.

Olivia: Olivia is a four mana card that dominates a board better than baneslayer ever did. It dodges doomblade as well, and being four mana, you can tap out agaisnt non-white control decks and know they can't do much in their turn to use the opening, since they are trying to resolve big 6 mana threats instead. One of her main reasons for inclusion though, is that she is really strong agaisnt tokens, which is a match up we needed to improve.

Manabase: Unlike other control decks, your curve is much lower, you aren't trying to hit titans etc, you can just keep their board under wraps. Ghost quarter agaisnt this deck should only be used to hit bloodhalls, anything else is generally an error, since you let this deck get even more ahead in terms of mana and that wins matches.


The Mirror: UB control is a pretty easy match up in all our testing. Drownyards give you free spells, and they don't synergize with the rest of their decks win cons, so bloodhall does a similar thign but makes use of pinging away with snapcaster. I quite often find the drownyard deck gives me a win by milling a Brimstone Volley for me to use etc. Their normal win conditions are six mana, which means they basically can't resolve a win condition and have to win through snapcaster/drownyard. Sure if they get double drownyard and you don't have much, you can lose, but it's been really favourable in testing. Now with added Grim Lavamancer, it's gotten even better, since he chips away and is a valid threat that comes down early or easily through a counter-shield. Quite often you can start beatign with a snapcaster, and when they eventually have to kill it, they get hit in the face for five, usually putting them in range of snappy/volley combo. Since adding the lavamancers, it hasn't lost a UB control mirror in my personal testing.

Wolf Run: Because we don't have to tap out ever, it makes the wolf run match up much better, you can keep their board clear and not allow for a titan to hit the board, if they do, you can take out nexus with gesitflames etc. Dungrove elder is basically the only problem card in that match up, which is why you have a sac effect MD, and you can BSZ him away if you need to, but generally, it's better to just counter him, which ius pretty easy to do when you are running draw go and have removal for birds that costs 1 mana.


Handsculpting: This deck is all about crafting the perfect hand. Think twice and forbidden alchemy make a great team, the alchemy lets you find sideboard cards a lot more easily and it makes singletons in your deck much more worthwhile as you can find them. You get to flashback the alchemy a lot, since the deck plays a slower game. Some people in the UK are running 1 blue suns zenith as a 61st card.


The UK metagame: UW blade, Uw aggro, Uw control, GW humans, Gw tokens, LOTS OF WOLF RUN, UB control, and now there's a growing amount of Grixis control. Apparently in Canada, they have been working on a similar grxis list for worlds.
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Been testing with the UK team. My current list;

4 Snapcaster Mage
2 Grim Lavamancer
2 Olivia Voldaren
1 Wurmcoil Engine

4 Mana Leak
3 Dissipate
4 Think Twice
4 Forbidden Alchemy
2 Geistflame
2 Doom Blade
1 Go for the Throat
2 Brimstone Volley
1 Tribute to Hunger
2 Black Sun's Zenith


4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Darkslick Shores
5 Island
3 Mountain
2 Stensia Bloodhall
4 Drowned Catacomb


SB: 2 Negate
SB: 1 Stensia Bloodhall
SB: 1 Wurmcoil Engine
SB: 2 Grim Lavamancer
SB: 4 Spellskite
SB: 2 Flashfreeze
SB: 2 Geistflame
SB: 1 Tribute to Hunger

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What do you do when you opponent drops a nihil spellbomb? The deck seems very weak to graveyard hate.
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What do you do when you opponent drops a nihil spellbomb? The deck seems very weak to graveyard hate.


you play around it, like any hate card.  its not really devastating or anything.

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I dunno, in my experience, it completely changes the game. My hand and what I need to do to win, suddenly becomes very different, and often not as favorable. In a deck with only 3 win cons that do not rely on the graveyard,(Wurmcoil, Olivia, Bloodhall) in a format that can easily answer them( orings, ghost quarter, etc) I've found that situation to be very scary.
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I'm usually happy to see my opponent board in spellbombs, since they don't do that much agaisnt the deck. You get to respond to their activation, so they can sit and wait to crack it whilst you keep getting value by the odd flashback of think twice and alchemy etc. However if they just crack it straight away, you can then jump in a snappy and retrieve something as well. I find against the decks running spellbomb, I can often win via snapcaster beatdown with one volley and a turn or two with bloodhall. If you have four volley post board, you get 20 damage without needing the graveyard. Coupled with bloodhall, snappy, your bigger guys, geistflame can ping as well.
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I'm usually happy to see my opponent board in spellbombs, since they don't do that much agaisnt the deck. You get to respond to their activation, so they can sit and wait to crack it whilst you keep getting value by the odd flashback of think twice and alchemy etc. However if they just crack it straight away, you can then jump in a snappy and retrieve something as well. I find against the decks running spellbomb, I can often win via snapcaster beatdown with one volley and a turn or two with bloodhall. If you have four volley post board, you get 20 damage without needing the graveyard. Coupled with bloodhall, snappy, your bigger guys, geistflame can ping as well.



Most players crack in response to a Snapcaster, or when you tap out at end of turn.

Olivia is my favourite part of this deck, and the biggest incentive to run this colour set, but I have struggled to have her live more than a single turn. Go For The Throat is popular online at the moment, for some reason, so almost every time I cast her, my opponent has it, or Dismember, or even Phantasmal Image.

I've found Volley basically never hits for 5 in the UB Mirror - it's much harder to get when your standard strategy is flash in Snapcaster, block something, Snapcaster dies, flashback Brimstone Volley for 5 to the face. Generally if they're attacking you with something, they have a counter to deal with the Volley, and most of the time the only thing Snap jumps in to block is a Grave Titan, Batterskull, or Wurmcoil. 

Olivia is my favourite part of this deck, and the biggest incentive to run this colour set, but I have struggled to have her live more than a single turn. Go For The Throat is popular online at the moment, for some reason, so almost every time I cast her, my opponent has it, or Dismember, or even Phantasmal Image.



I usually counter anything that tries to kill Olivia. Even if it's for them to untap and play a Titan, I can usually deal with it afterwards.
You can race a Primeval Titan but DBing or GftTing it, and the Inkmoths are nothing when Olivia is on the field.

I almost never play Olivia on T4.
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Olivia is my favourite part of this deck, and the biggest incentive to run this colour set, but I have struggled to have her live more than a single turn. Go For The Throat is popular online at the moment, for some reason, so almost every time I cast her, my opponent has it, or Dismember, or even Phantasmal Image.



I usually counter anything that tries to kill Olivia. Even if it's for them to untap and play a Titan, I can usually deal with it afterwards.
You can race a Primeval Titan but DBing or GftTing it, and the Inkmoths are nothing when Olivia is on the field.

I almost never play Olivia on T4.



Even later game; they have enough mana to counter your counter, or pay for the Leak or just remove it again.

 


You don't flash in snappy to block in the UB match up. You use him to beat down since the board is always empty. If they don't deal with him, you win. If they do, you get to shoot them in the face for five. UB is fine because they give you free spells, which are pretty handy. And Lavamancer is a must kill threat in the control mirror, which means they need to expend resources on him, and he can often deal 10 point of damage on his own post SB.

In terms of tapping out with the deck, why are you doing that? Even at my opponent's end of turn, I often don't tap out because there are things they can do, especially in the control mirror.

And why are you complaining that your 4 mana creature gets killed? It's not always going to survive, but against the decks running GFTT, it's not really a major part of your game plan. However the match ups olivia is for are Wolf run, GW aggro (tokens and men), and some of the UW aggro decks.

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If you guys want to beat or have a better chance at beating Wolf Run and G/W Tokens try Curse of Death's Hold. It instantly kills Inkmoth, birds, and makes their Prime Time's 5/5 so you can dismember it if need be. It should also be pretty self explanatory for the G/W Tokens match up. I think I am going to try this deck out and MB one and SB another. It's just too good of a card.

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If you guys want to beat or have a better chance at beating Wolf Run and G/W Tokens try Curse of Death's Hold. It instantly kills Inkmoth, birds, and makes their Prime Time's 5/5 so you can dismember it if need be. It should also be pretty self explanatory for the G/W Tokens match up. I think I am going to try this deck out and MB one and SB another. It's just too good of a card.



Cuz I'm TOTALLY gonna tap out on T5 versus Wolf Run Ramp. SURE
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New list I'm trying out;
4 Snapcaster Mage
2 Grim Lavamancer
1 Olivia Voldaren
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Grave Titan

4 Mana Leak
4 Dissipate
4 Think Twice
4 Forbidden Alchemy
2 Geistflame
2 Doom Blade
1 Go for the Throat
3 Brimstone Volley
1 Black Sun's Zenith

4 Blackcleave Cliffs
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Darkslick Shores
5 Island
3 Mountain
2 Stensia Bloodhall
4 Drowned Catacomb

SB: 2 Negate
SB: 1 Stensia Bloodhall
SB: 1 Wurmcoil Engine
SB: 1 Grim Lavamancer
SB: 4 Spellskite
SB: 2 Flashfreeze
SB: 2 Geistflame
SB: 1 Tribute to Hunger
SB: 1 Batterskull

I also wanna try a list with Delvers. This list feels so Counterburn-ish.
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i just still have a hard time believing that the burn aspect of this deck is relevant.

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Brimstone Volley and Lavamancer I can totally see.  But I've never really been impressed with Geistflame.
@Burning: I'm finding the same in practice. I really want this deck to be good, for Olivia if nothing else, but the burn never seems to make a difference in almost any matchup. Control is still decided by card advantage and dodging answers, Aggro is still decided by start speeds.

The Burn is creature and planeswalker removal. Volley hits Mirran Crusader and can kill Garruks and elspeths. That is a main reason for it being there. However, much like Ajani Vengeant used to be, it can also contribute to winning you the game with it's to the face aspect. Burn as a win condition is mroe relevant agaisnt control, where EOT face melting is useful and can suddenly shift the clock, making your bloodhall and snappy into a lethal amount of damage. Against non-control decks, you often grind out with snappy and bloodhall, I am probably going to up my MD number of halls. The burn gives you the ability to do things quicker if you need to, but mainly, it's just flexible removal.

Gesitflame is very good at the moment: Stromkirk Noble, Inkmoth Nexus, Birds of Paradise, Reckless Waif, Pinging off tokens in response to equips, avacyn pilgrim, snapcaster mage, whispering specter, plague stinger, finsihing off a garruk when it flips, Grim Lavamancer, Delver, Phantasmal Image, Viridian Emissary, Copper Myr, Mayor of avabruk, Champion of the parish, Accorder Paladin, phantasmal bear, most creatures in heartless summonig decks once it gets out. Basically, geistflame is massively relevant removal at the moment, and can double up later on to hit a 2/2 crusader etc. The thing is, you get to remove somethign small and annoying that you would normally hesistate to use a big kill spell on, but you don't lose value because it sits there in your bin. It's free card advantage because it's massively unlikely to be a dead card, since worst case scenario, it's a shock to the face. Sure not amazing, but most of the time, it's two kill spells, and it helps you keep the board empty to let snappy do a little beating.


Curse of Death's Hold: It's quite expensive to play, and does basicaly the same job as geistflame, but for lots more mana at sorcery speed. You don't need to kill that many little things and you can counter other stuff. Using dismember in a black deck is not great, since you can just run doom blades and GFTT to catch stuff, and by not tapping out on turn five, you can counter their scary plays anyway. We have discussed using it agaisnt the tokens match up, but since the Juza builds are becoming more popular, sweepers are just better, backed up by point removal and counters to lock the game down.
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I was wondering does a 1-of Act of Treason/Traitorous Blood helps against decks with Titans/Sphinx/Wurmcoil?
I was wondering does a 1-of Act of Treason/Traitorous Blood helps against decks with Titans/Sphinx/Wurmcoil?



No, doom blade does.

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Would Sever the Bloodline be worth running vs. Wurmcoil?  There's few things I hate more than my removal dividing a Titan into a pair of Elephants.
I was wondering does a 1-of Act of Treason/Traitorous Blood helps against decks with Titans/Sphinx/Wurmcoil?



No, doom blade does.


Suppose they're dropping a grave titan. Unless you have GftT sided or something.
Then Act of Treason does basically nothing there anyway.
Gesitflame is very good at the moment: Stromkirk Noble, Inkmoth Nexus, Birds of Paradise, Reckless Waif, Pinging off tokens in response to equips, avacyn pilgrim, snapcaster mage, whispering specter, plague stinger, finsihing off a garruk when it flips, Grim Lavamancer, Delver, Phantasmal Image, Viridian Emissary, Copper Myr, Mayor of avabruk, Champion of the parish, Accorder Paladin, phantasmal bear, most creatures in heartless summonig decks once it gets out. Basically, geistflame is massively relevant removal at the moment, and can double up later on to hit a 2/2 crusader etc. The thing is, you get to remove somethign small and annoying that you would normally hesistate to use a big kill spell on, but you don't lose value because it sits there in your bin. It's free card advantage because it's massively unlikely to be a dead card, since worst case scenario, it's a shock to the face. Sure not amazing, but most of the time, it's two kill spells, and it helps you keep the board empty to let snappy do a little beating.



Now, before I say anything further, I figure I should mention I don't currently play Grixis Control.

That being said, in all of my testing(mind you, with RDW) Gut Shot has proven to be just plain better then Geistflame.

I would assume the same would be true here, for similar reasons as to why it is better in RDW. RDW likes Gut Shot because of the essentially "free" casting cost, allowing you to use it as removal without tapping out, leaving your mana open to drop more threats/burn off your opponents creatures to get damage through.

It would seem to me Grixis Control would benefit from this as well, being a draw/go permission style deck. Being able to remove something while still leaving mana open for Leak/Gofer/Volley/Alchemy/etc just seems better to me.

Gut Shot kills all the same stuff Geistflame does, it just does it without making you tap out in the process.

The only thing Geistflame has going for it is the fact it has flashback, which I guess could be more useful in a control style deck like this then it is in a more agro deck like I am used to playing(again RDW). Since the game is likely to go on a bit longer, allowing greater opportunity to actually cast it from your yard, increasing the possibility of getting a 2 for 1 from the card.

Even then though, in all of my testing the flashback on Gesitflame is just lackluster. 4 mana for 1 damage is just terrible, even more so in a deck that wants to avoid tapping out whenever possible.

Yes, it has the potential later on to take out a 2/2 as well, but then the weight it puts on you is even worse, paying 5 to take out a 2/2 in most cases is just a terrible terrible option. Again, even worse when your decks build is specifically focused on not tapping yourself out to make use of a wide range of instants and Snapcaster Mage.

I may be completely wrong here, but it just seems to me that Gut Shot would serve you better in the long run.
"I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night. Although I have taken the form of Gaius Caligula, I am all men as I am no man and therefore I am a God."

Geistflame has flashback, making it a two for one. Yes, one damage isn't that exciting, unless there's a 1 toughness guy on the board, which is what your geistflames are for. Kill and early dork, then, flashback to hit a nexus later on etc.

This deck doen't care about tempo like RDW does. They have a window to win the game, and if they fail, they usually lose. So they need the tempo play of Gut shot more than this deck does. PAying some mana EOT to kill a guy is fine, early on it costs you one mana, which is very little indeed. Later on, it's still fine, because you cast it when you like. The two life aspect of the Gut shot is a problem, since your life is something you want to keep an eye on since you tend to not generate much board position, which is why having the card advantage from gesitflame is good, because it means you don't get wrecked by random small guys that slip through the counterspells.

Snapcaster should never be used to flashback geistflame, so by running guy shot, you just take out card advantage from your deck, which is not preferable at all.


Simply put, Gut Shot is a tempo card. Geistflame is a card advantage control card. This deck is pretty far away from being a tempo deck.
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I wasn't talking about tempo though, what I said has absolutely nothing to do with tempo in fact.

It has to do with keeping mana open for your suite of other instant spells.

Gesitflame may only cost 1, but there are times when that 1 open mana can be the difference between being able to take out your opponents 1/1 AND being able to Mana Leak or Doom Blade the same turn.

Gut Shot also works better as a means of setting up morbid for Brimstone Volley.

Lastly, considering 3 color decks in the format are currently working with a rather shaky mana base, it would seem to me Gut Shot would just be a more reliable option early game, since it doesn't require you to have a red source to cast.

Opponent plays a T1 Stromkirk/Mana dork on the play....better hope you have a mountain or Blackcleave Cliffs in your hand or Geistflame isn't going to do much to slow your opponent down.

I am not saying I am right here, but the flashback on Geistflame isn't nearly as good as people think it is.
"I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night. Although I have taken the form of Gaius Caligula, I am all men as I am no man and therefore I am a God."
I think Geistflame is the better card here. The cost savings early aren't that important, and they're meaningless late.