Let me start off by saying that this is not a control deck. It's midrange. It beats the opponent senseless while they are caught in a stranglehold from our disruption.
Grixis Machine Head is a modern take on an archtype that was let drop after Invasion rotated out of standard; it was a highly disruptive deck that is aggressively curved so that the opponent is forced to focus his/her efforts solely on defence until it is overwhelmed. With the release of Shards of Alara and Conflux, this archtype is now able to come back -- this time with a blue splash -- to rule the metagame again.
Because it is extremely fun, effective, yet addictively difficult to master; and it utilizes a strategy that has been around only briefly in the form of TarmoRack since it left the teir 1 stranglehold over the invasion-standard meta. As such, in the current meta, it will be extremely unexpected, and is versatile enough to have good match-ups against a vast array of decktypes and strategies.
"How do I play Grixis Machine Head?" you must be wondering...Show
In addition to wrecking the opponent's hand and board position, this new incarnation of Machine Head focuses on a relentless assault that just doesn't let up. This is brought to life by the new Unearth mechanic, which is perfectly at home in it's own shard: Grixis.
Know your match ups, and know your game plan. There are two ways to go about winning built into this deck, and it depends on the weakness(es) of the deck you're playing against and knowing how to exploit them. You have to know what you're up against as early on as possible so that your gameplan plays out the best it can, otherwise you'll end up trying to keep up if you started off wrong. Your Sideboard should be tooled around improving these aspects in either given scenario.
Demigod of Revenge - A massive, difficult-to-answer beast that is widely recognized as a wrecking machine. His abilities are all extremely relevant to the deck.
Nyxathid - Your spell-base will have to cater more towards keeping him big and hard to kill. That means Sedraxis, Thoughtseize, and Blightnings are must-haves.
Sedraxis Specter - Perfect for the objective of this deck. It just wrecks control and is certainly helpful at drawing out removal, even though the opponent knows it has unearth. This card gets it's point across, dead or alive. On top of that, it's synergy with Prowler allows it to be a devastating, sneaky attacker.
Viscera Dragger - Cycling improves consistency. Tacked on to a beater that comes back is great. Having the option to hard-cast and beat/chump with it makes it just so useful - it's never a dead card. With Loxodon Warhammer, it just gets better.
Shambling Remains - Highly efficient beater that is above the curve, power-wise. And on top of all that, he has unearth, which is fantastic in this deck's attritive nature.
Oona's Prowler - An early, very aggressive and evasive beater. In addition to all that, it's also in flavor to the deck's concept, and synergizes well with Demigod, Sygg, and Unearth alike. All that the cost of 2 mana.
Sygg, River Cutthroat - Very good as an early blocker and great for overwhelming CA, assuming he stays alive; yet if he draws out removal, that's always helpful, too. The synergy with most of the cards in this deck, dealing damage in 3's, causes it to be a powerful inclusion.
Rotting Rats - The hand disruption is good when it doesn't actualy disrupt you, and his 1/1 chumpiness always helps. Unearthing him is a good way to pump your Nyxie. He's not a priority, but definately adds good support to the deck.
Blightning - Burns face, eats cards, and therefore applies pressure. Putting a stranglehold on the opponent is a main aspect of this deck, and this card does it very, very well.
Thoughtseize - It picks apart hands - those pesky cards that will wreck/stop you. It's a vital organ to this deck.
Profane Command - The utility here is amazing, and is entirely relevant to this deck; kill? good. burn? reach = good. reanimation? good. fear? good. A must-have.
Mind Shatter - The most devastating discard spell in standard right now; this card wrecks anything that is as slow or slower than Elf decks, which basically only leaves out Red and WW/Kith. MD or SB, but it is amazing with Nyxathid.
~ ~ ~ Instants ~ ~ ~
Nameless Inversion - Early on removal will be a necessity, as their hand wont be emptied right off the bat; this allows you to kill what they manage to drop early on. If you run Secluded Glen , this could prove to be worthwhile. It can pump those big threats in a pinch, too.
Agony Warp - This is a good answer to aggro as it kills one critter and prevents damage from another early on, and because we almost never have chump blockers, use this aggressively to get 2-for-1s when your opponent blocks. Works like a charm.
Terror - Still the best black removal because of its cost. The deck is so tight that it's hard to even find removal slots, but if you can get a few, run these first.
Grixis Charm - Same goes here. This kills annoying creatures, bounces annoying permanents (or CiPT lands for extra tempo ), and can help finish the game if Bitterblossom (if you run it) managed to produce a sufficient number of tokens to finish the game with a bit of mass pump. But in general, it goes in as removal. Run it if your 3-slot isn't already clogged.
Puncture Blast - As removal that is still competitive as 3cc 3 damage burn, it's Wither ability is where it really shines. In addition to preventing regeneration in most cases, it also prevents persist and deals with Shield of the Oversoul, which is are extremely annoying hurdles to have to jump at times. Additionally, it can hit big beaters with a lasting effect so it deals less damage and sticks so that you can finish it off later.
Magma Spray - 1cc can fill out the curve very well, and it's RFG aspect can help immensely against persist and Lark.
Flame Javelin - If you feel your mana base can handle this, it provides great removal and awesome reach. One problem we have is 4+ toughness critters.
Incinerate - Best burn spell in standard. It's solid, early burn that hits dome late-game/against control.
Lash Out - In a weenie-ridden meta where costs are low, chances are high that you'll win a clash, but generally, Incinerate is better.
~ ~ ~ Artifacts ~ ~ ~
Loxodon Warhammer - Rediculous with Unearth. Just rediculous. Turn 5 12 life swing, and trample? Those specters love their trample... It's stronger against Red and Tokens, and sometimes Kithkin. If you don't MD 2-3, sideboard them.
~The Mana Curve~ 1cc - 4-8 - Curve filler is always good, but in general, any threats are too underpowering for this build, and aren't recommended. So this slot is better suited to spells. 2cc - 10-14 - Some efficient beaters may be usable at this slot, but in general, removal and disruption fit here better. 3cc - 12-16 - A lot of powerful creatures and spells fit here. It's important not to clog this slot, but more important to make sure that you utilze it. 4cc - 0-6 - Not a lot of playable cards fit in this slot. If there were, this number would differ, probably, but for the most part, we're more interested in playing multiple spells in a turn anyways, and so the 4-slot gets pushed aside. 5cc - 4-6 - Similar deal as the 4cc slot, except that our main finisher sits his big butt here. 6cc - 0-2 - There isn't much I can think of that really fits here, or anything higher that are still quick enough for midrange. Xcc - 0-4 - The cards that fit here are very devastating, but you always want to limit X-cost spells.
~Building the Mana Base~ It's a good idea to utilize CiPT lands to help the curve out a bit. If you would have a land untapped due to what you play, play a CiPT land instead, because in general, their effects are better, obviously. The most important thing to this deck is always having the colors it needs. In all likelyhood, you will need black mana turn 1, or for your 1-drops, so it's best to use lands that can singularily add . And due to this, the black filters are generally better.
Secluded Glen , Auntie's Hovel - Definately run these if you find your mana base if you have at least 10, even 8 of either given creature type. Pretty much the only reason Nameless Inversion sees play here.
Vivid Creek , Vivid Crag , Vivid Marsh - CiPT can be well used to fill out the mana curve decently, and make the mana base more reliable. But always start with the Necropolis.
Faerie Conclave , Ghitu Encampment - Probably not necessary as they are almost certainly too vulnerable. The red one is more viable because of first strike, which is good with the hammer.
Fulminator Mage - Kills control. Limiting their plays by tempo advantages means more stuff that they don't want to discard, but will have to. Rain of Tears - Secondary to Fulminator mage, if necessary. It's not a creature, so it can't chump, and it can't be reanimated.
Stillmoon Cavalier - Devastates such a vast quantity of the meta that it nearly warrents maindeck mention. Swings a hammer hard.
Goblin Outlander - Since the deck is black-heavy, Stillmoon and its utility just way out-rules this guy. And even still, this guy is pretty good.
Sower of Temptation - Good against midrange, and decent against aggro. Unanswered, this can swing a game.
Banefire - In general, Profane is more relevant to the deck, so it gets the nod to MD, but SBing 3-4 of these will always be a good move for Fae, 5CC, and Bant decks.
Infest - You will need a board sweeper in your sideboard. Which one you'll be using is a meta call. This one aviods those pesky forge-tenders.
Volcanic Fallout - Hate Fae yet? Well, uncounterable, instant sweepers are always welcome.
Deathmark - Very high on the consideration list, as its range of targets is vast, to be sure. Sorcery speed is only relevant against RDW and Fae, but you wont likely use this there anyways.
Pithing Needle - Shuts down so many things - Fulminator, Archmage, Manlands, Planeswalkers, Story Circle, equipment. It's crazy good.
I recommend that you read this if you are new to the thread and don't want to read loads of posts to figure out what has and hasn't been discussed.
In this section, I will summarize how the archtype-to-be has progressed in this thread. Points will be made in the following categories:
Under discussion [indent]Deck Stregnths Deck Weaknesses; Sideboard options to answer them Strategies/Synergies Individual Cards[/indent]
Determined Under Concensus (and not to be rediscussed unless new issues cause it to arise) [indent]This will be in point form, and will contain things like cards that don't go in the deck that are often brought up.[/indent]
The OP is undergoing an overhaul. There will now be midrange and aggro variants included, and there will be a well-organized system to help build the different preferences, and there will be match-up info for EACH build, to give you an idea of why you'd build one or another beyond preference. Different builds work better in different metas.
This will always be updated and reposted on my first post of each page. Look here if you've missed out on the thread. If anyone ever thinks something needs to be addressed in here, don't be afraid to tell me.
To clarify, I will always post a new one at the beginning of the last page. In addition, this one here will always be up to date with the one on the last page.
I'm interested in knowing how people are finding sedraxis specter in this deck. My thoughts on him are undecided as of yet. One part of me says "AWESOME", and the other part says, "harder to cast hippie".
I'm not sure how I like Broken Ambitions in this deck. This build seems like it has a very proactive disruption style, and ambitions forces you to be too reactive.
I haven't been able to test hippie yet, but Sedraxis specter has worked out surprisingly well. The fact that he has three power really does matter. Additionally, is infest really necessary? I can't think of anything it does that pyroclasm doesn't, and clasm is both cheaper and easier on the manabase.
I think this will be my deck of choice for standard.
I'm playing the original decklist with Bitterblossom in the place of Cashseize, Hippies in the place of Sedraxis Specter , and I'm still thinking of a replacement for Mind Shatter/Loxodon Warhammer. Would that work or does it just detract too much from the deck overall.