Jacob Brown: Grinding with Grixis

With a new Standard format people are looking at new synergies and archetypes to break the format. But as my Grandma likes to say, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Grixis certainly isn’t broken, so why should I worry about finding a new deck? I took Grixis to an event and, after playing with it, I’m certain the deck is still one of Standard’s top dogs.

This is the list I played:


The changes since the last format were minimal. The Mono-Red matchup has always been good, though with the addition of Goblin Chainwhirler to the deck Whirler VIrtuoso has become unplayable. Champion of Wits is an Andrew Tenjum tech that I tried and have really liked. The ability to smooth out your draws and then be a late game threat is great, as it can be hard to turn the corner when your hand is full of removal spells. I decided to try Cast Down in place of Harnessed Lightning, mostly just to try the new card out. It was excellent. Between Abrade and Vraska’s Contempt legendary creatures like Kari Zev, The Scarab God, and Shalai aren’t too troublesome and the deck gains efficient removal for larger creatures like Wildgrowth Walker. The other change I made was loading up on Abrade in the mainboard. UR Gift has been gaining traction and the matchup can be troublesome if they land a God-Pharoah’s Gift.  Abrade into Scarab God or Torrential Gearhulk is usually too much for that deck to beat and I wanted to guarantee the matchup.

I kept the sideboard relatively the same, as other control decks are usually the closest thing that the deck has to bad matchups. Here’s how I sideboarded during the event:

Mono Red:

Out: 4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, 2 Champion of Wits

In: 3 Gifted Aetherborn, 2 Chandra’s Defeat, 1 Magma Spray

This matchup is pretty good, so I didn’t want to sideboard too much. I sided out the 1 toughness creatures, as they don’t trade well with Fanatical Firebrand or Bomat Courier and a lot of tempo is lost when they can Shock or Abrade my whole turn away in the early game. I sided in Gifted Aetherborn to gain some life and Defeat and Spray as extra removal to get me to the point in the game where The Scarab God and Liliana take over.



Out: 4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner

In: 3 Gifted Aetherborn, 1 Magma Spray

Mardu is like Mono Red as far as sideboarding goes: they have efficient removal and a fast clock. The only difference in sideboarding I made was leaving in Champion of Wits instead of bringing in Chandra’s Defeat, as Mardu doesn’t have as many targets for Defeat and an eternalized Champion of Wits can eat an Unlicensed Disintegration that would otherwise kill a Gearhulk or Scarab God.


UW Control:

Out: 1 Magma Spray, 4 Abrade, 4 Cast Down

In: 2 Gonti, 4 Negate, 2 Arguel’s Blood Fast, 1 Nicol Bolas

This is the matchup that I’m most worried about, but it isn’t that bad. With Approach the matchup can be hard to win, but against the new Teferi-Gearhulk builds Cast Down, Abrade, and Contempt can make it so that they are unable to win the game. Post-board the plan is to board out removal, which is ambitious, but a strategy I have been winning with. Contempt and Essence Scatter are usually enough to keep you ahead, as a threat with Negate backup is usually enough to pull ahead and stay ahead. Azcanta and Blood Fast should be valued above everything else, as they can usually win the matchup by themselves.


Sultai Constrictor:

Out:4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, 3 Champion of Wits

In: 3 Gifted Aetherborn, 2 Gonti, 1 Nicol Bolas, 1 Magma Spray

Any deck that plays Walking Ballista can take out one toughness creatures with ease. A Ballista on two can kill a creature and be a growing threat throughout the game. Taking out the one toughness creatures helps to minimize the damage that Ballista does. Gonti and Aetherborn are good, as they trade with Bristling Hydra. Magma Spray isn’t great, but it can kill Siphoner, Merfolk Branchwalker, or Llanowar Elves. Finally, Bolas is good, as the games usually go long.


BR Aggro:

Out: 4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, 2 Champion of Wits

In: 3 Gifted Aetherborn, 2 Chandra’s Defeat, 1 Magma Spray

This is another matchup where creatures are bad. Much like Mono Red, their creatures are aggressive and their removal is efficient. The best strategy is to board into removal and lifelink creatures and hope to outlast them until your threats take over.


UR Gift:

Out: 4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, 1 Champion of Wits

In: 4 Negate, 1 Magma Spray

This matchup is generally favorable, as the 4 of Abrade hoses Gift. Ballista is in the deck, so Siphoner and a Champion are easy to take out. Negate comes in to counter Gate and Gift, or counterspells that they board in. Magma Spray can keep their creatures in graveyard count low and can stop a Champion of Wits from coming back.


Moving Forward

Grixis has kind of fell off, but I can’t quite tell why. The deck seems well placed in the meta right now, especially when red aggro is still the archetype of choice. The only changes I would make to Grixis is to completely remove the energy package. The deck has been moving away from it, keeping just Siphoner and Aether Hub. Aether Hub can be a liability and the more I play with Siphoner, the more I wish it wasn’t in the deck. It’s a relatively weak threat, is bad in a lot of matchups, and is usually a bad draw in the mid to late game. I think cutting the energy package is what the deck needs to do moving forward. The first cards I put in were two more Magma Spray. Scrapheap Scrounger is annoying and seems to be making a comeback. In addition, Llanowar Elves can be a tempo problem, and Spray lets you kill it. Golden Demise is a card that I want in the board, as the Mono White deck is growing in popularity and History of Benalia can be a problem. For the final two spots in the main I want a proactive card that accumulates card advantage. Karn seems to fit this role perfectly.


If I want to an event tomorrow, this is the 75 I would register:



Standard is great right now, and it will only get better as the metagame evolves. As the format changed last Standard, Grixis was always a cornerstone, and I suspect the same will be true this format. The deck has so much power, versatility, and consistency that however Standard changes, Grixis will be able to keep up.


Jacob Brown‘s Magic accomplishments include coming in second at the 2016 TCGPlayer States, winning a PPTQ, and winning infinite casual drafts. Contact him at nufan7@comcast.net.

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Jacob Brown