Yesterday, I talked a bit in depth regarding my Grixis Death’s Shadow build.
Today, I’m going to talk more about sideboarding and some additional tips.
Out: 2 Gurmag Angler, 4 Street Wraith, 3 Stubborn Denial, 1 Thoughtseize
In: 2 Engineered Explosives, 2 Kolaghan’s Command, 2 Grim Lavamancer, 2 Abrade, 2 Liliana, the Last Hope
Out: 2 Snapcaster Mages, 2 Fatal Push, 2 Street Wraith
In: 2 Kolaghan’s Command, 2 Nihil Spellbomb, 2 Abrade
Out: 2 Snapcaster Mages, 2 Stubborn Denial, 2 Street Wraith
In: 2 Kolaghan’s command, 2 Nihil Spellbomb, 2 Abrade
I think that Snapcaster is often to slow in this matchup. The best card to Snap back is Dismember, which is often scary against the hasty Bloodghast and Flamewake Phoenix deck. I like more ways to counter Burning Inquiry on the play, and more ways to remove Flameblade Adept on the draw.
Out: 2 Lightning Bolt, 2 Fatal Push, 1 Stubborn Denial, 3 Street Wraith
In: 2 Liliana the Last Hope, 2 Kolaghan’s commands, 2 Nihil Spellbombs, 2 Engineered Explosives
I always thought Lavamancer was good, but it often ended up being pretty poor. It played into the Bolts they left in and the K-commands that were still in the deck. The way that I sideboard is pretty removal light so it’s important to prioritize Young Pyromancer in the earlier game with discard spells.
Out: 2 Lightning Bolt, 2 Dismember, 2 Fatal Push, 1 Snapcaster Mage
In: 2 Ceremonious Rejection, 1 Stubborn Denial, 2 Abrade, 2 Kolaghan’s Command
One could argue that the Snapcaster is better than the second Kolaghan’s Command, but I wanted to have as many outs to an on board Oblivion Stone. This lets my discard harass my opponents ability to assemble Tron and my counter spells to protect my threats or fend off their huge bombs once they’ve assembled Tron.
Out: 3 Anglers, 4 Street Wraith, 3 Stubborn Denials, 2 Faithless Looting
In: 2 Abrade, 2 Grim Lavamancer, 2 Kolaghan’s Command, 2 Liliana, the Last Hope, 2 engineered Explosives, 2 Ceremonious Rejection.
My sideboard has so much incidental hate in it for this matchup. My strategy is to keep my graveyard as stocked as possible and be conservative with my Rejections and Explosives to avoid randomly losing to a top decked Etched Champion. I didn’t feel that I needed Gurmag Angler since all I need to win was a single Death’s Shadow or a Liliana, the Last Hope.
Out: 2 Lightning Bolts, 1 Stubborn Denial, 1 Street Wraith, 2 Temur Battle Rage
In: 2 Nihil Spellbomb, 2 Liliana, the Last Hope, 2 Kolaghan’s Commands
Out: 2 Lightning Bolts, 3 Stubborn Denial, 1 Street Wratih, 2 Temur Battle Rage
In: 2 Nihil Spellbomb, 2 Liliana, the Last Hope, 2 Kolaghan’s Commands, 2 Engineered Explosives
Out: 2 Temur Battle Rage, 2 Dismember, 2 Lightning Bolt, 2 Street Wraith
In: 2 Nihil Spellbomb, 2 Liliana, the Last Hope, 2 Kolaghan’s command, 2 Engineered Explosives
Explosives is good not great in these matchups, most of the time they have Detention Sphere, or Runed Halo which are good hits, but in a pinch you can clean up a Search for Azcanta, or Gideon of the Trials.
Out: 2 Temur Battle Rage, 2 Faithless Looting, 2 Gurmag Angler, 3 Street Wraith, 1 Stubborn Denial
In: 2 Abrade, 2 Grim Lavamancer, 2 Engineered Explosives, 2 Kolaghan’s Command, 2 Liliana, the Last Hope
I like to side out Faithless Looting because the cost of going down a card after sideboard is substantial when the opposing deck is this focused. Snapcaster Mage and Grim Lavamancer are so powerful that I want to keep my graveyard stocked, so Gurmag Angler goes out with the Faithless Looting. Against GB Infect, I leave in my Anglers and cut more Stubborn Denials.
Out: 4 Street Wraith, 1 Dismember
In: 2 Abrade, 2 Kolaghan’s command, 1 Engineered Explosives
Out: 1 Street Wraith, 2 Temur Battle Rage, 3 Stubborn Denials
In: 2 Liliana, the Last Hope, 2 Kolaghan’s Command, 2 Engineered Explosives
Out: 2 Fatal Push, 1 Inquisition of Kozilek
In: 1 Stubborn Denial, 2 Nihil Spellbomb
Out: 2 Fatal Push, 2 Dismember, 2 Lightning Bolt
In: 1 Stubborn Denial, 2 Nihil Spellbomb, 2 Ceremonious Rejection, 1 Kolaghan’s Command
Shatter effects aren’t great against KCI once they have Trawler and/or Myr Retriever are in play, I like all of my other cards enough where I can’t find a cut for the second K-command.
Out: 2 Lightning Bolt, 1 Fatal Push
In: 2 Engineered Explosives, 1 Stubborn Denial
Tips and Tricks:
- Don’t be afraid to cut Faithless Looting after sideboard. I only do it from time to time but it’s all about play style. If you hate going down cards then cut it against fair decks.
- Mulligan aggressively as the power level on this deck is so high that often times, simply keeping lands and spells is sub par, especially when you know the match up. If I’m going to keep a seven without a threat it has to have a lot of interaction or enough dig to find a threat and deploy it early.
- You can grind with other fair decks. Don’t be afraid to settle in; most of the time your opponents will have better late game spells, but you’re average draw step is higher due to the low land count.
- Always fire your Baubles off. Everyone knows about the Street Wraith plus Bauble combo, but if you can’t manipulate the top of your deck than get information from your opponent. It will help make a better Thoughtseize decision and enable your scrys. It’s also card disadvantage on cast so you want to recuperate that quickly.
- Gurmag Angler is the best threat against fair decks as it’s more resilient to both removal and discard.
After finishing this project, the best advice I have to fair players is stop playing other Thoughtseize decks or other “grindy” decks as Grixis Shadow is still the best Midrange deck in the format. It can shred your opponents hands, play a creature removal game, interact on the stack, all while being to turn the corner on a dime. My sample size is small, but a a 67% win rate shows there’s power. This deck is powerful and is slightly favored against most of the format, with only a few really poor match ups. You have to put in the time, though, to see the results. Death’s Shadow provides a lot of free wins against combo decks but you’ll work elsewhere. Things get tough when you have to sequencing unique cantrips, juggling your life total, against other fair decks, or decks that try and get under you. It takes a lot of repetition and a keen ability to assess risk. These aspects are part of the reason why Grixis Shadow sees less play then it used too, but if you can get a handle on these aspects than you have a midrange deck that can play all styles, and avoid the matchup lottery of modern? What are you waiting for?