Navigating Energy Winter

Energy isn’t dead–it just changed clothes! Grixis Energy is the real deal, and Owen Turtenwald is teaching his loyal fans to go way over the top of Standard! Think you’ve seen the best of this archetype? Think again!

#SCGDFW March 10-11!

Last week,
I wrote about Grixis Energy, and the level of support and positivity from
the community has been amazing. Mere hours after my article went live, I
was playing in a competitive Magic Online league against the exact list
from my article! It seems I have more influence over the Standard metagame
than I previously believed.

Note to self: Use powers for good, not evil.

I can’t remember the last time I was this motivated to play Magic, and even
after I submitted my article last week, I was still playing games and
tuning my deck for the Magic Online Championship Series Monthly. With
pajamas in tow, here’s what I played over the weekend:

The first change I made was moving from two copies of Magma Spray and one
copy of Abrade main deck and one copy of Magma Spray and one copy of Abrade
in the sideboard to three copies of Magma Spray main deck and two copies of
Abrade sideboard. The reason I made this change was due to the total lack
of Mardu Vehicles in the Magic Online metagame. In my past 50 (!) matches,
I may have played against Mardu Vehicles once. Additionally, it’s rather
unclear to me which card is actually better against aggressive white decks
in Standard right now.

Heart of Kirin is a huge problem card and I’ve tried to address that in
older lists by including Fatal Push and Release the Gremlins, but many of
my opponents on Magic Online don’t even play Heart of Kiran in their
aggressive white decks anymore. All they care about is Legion’s Landing or
Toolcraft Exemplar into Servo Exhibition. Given the trend of me seeing
Toolcraft Exemplar in non-vehicle decks and Scrapheap Scrounger generally
just being everywhere, I wanted the extra Magma Spray in my maindeck.
Sometimes I even play matchups where, game one, my opponent has Resilient
Khenra and Earthshaker Khenra; two cards where I want as many Magma Sprays
as I can get my hands on.

The logic used here is the same logic I used to include Dual Shot in my
sideboard – a spicy little piece of tech I found in Matt Severa’s decklist
from a recent Grand Prix. Almost everyone I play who has Toolcraft Exemplar
in their deck also has Bomat Courier in their deck, and they’re playing a
very dangerous game in the early turns when I have access to Dual Shot.
With my entire deck being one-for-one removal, it’s an understatement to
say I was afraid of token strategies going in. So much so, in fact, that I
actually played a league with Shake the Foundations

I had myself convinced that in the mirror that if I had Glint-Sleeve
Siphoner, my opponent would either kill it immediately or lose. On the flip
side, if they had Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and I didn’t, I could use Shake the
Foundations to simulate the effect of an Electrolyze while also getting
sick value against any of the token decks out there. Not only did Shake the
Foundations fail to impress as a card at face value for Constructed, but it
also doesn’t even work against Legion’s Landing if you’re on the draw since
Servo Exhibition can still transform it before you can cast Shake. I also
had big dreams of passing on turn 3 with all my mana available, my poor sap
of an opponent taps three mana to cast Jadelight Ranger, and with the
explore triggers on the stack, I kill it and draw a card with Shake the

That’s as amazing as I think it is, right?!

Last week, I advocated for Essence Scatter, Supreme Will, and Revolutionary
Rebuff in Grixis Energy, but for the MOCS, I decided to go with four copies
of Censor instead. I’ve been getting teased a fair bit for not being able
to know how to read by including Revolutionary Rebuff in my maindeck, but
I’ll explain. First off, I’d just like to say I’ve played all of these
cards at professional level play. I played Essence Scatter in my main deck
at the World Championship, I played Supreme Will in my sideboard at Pro
Tour Ixalan, and I played Revolutionary Rebuff in my main deck at
Grand Prix Santa Clara, so I’m not just homebrewing random decks to meet
deadlines for writing. I’m out there putting up my own hard earned dollars
to prove this is the mix of cards I think will give me the best chance to

Essence Scatter is the most powerful of the bunch and that’s because it can
“kill” stuff like Jadelight Ranger and Rekindling Phoenix without the
opponent producing any value like they normally would when you kill those
creatures. Essence Scatter is massive against anyone with Torrential
Gearhulk. You might remember William Jensen solving Standard by using
Essence Scatter to counter Rogue Refiner in Temur Energy mirrors, and it
turns out that if a card is so good you have to ban it, then it’s probably
smart to play four yourself and come prepared for others who play it. Can
you imagine an entire tournament where your Rogue Refiners always resolve
in the Temur Energy mirror and their Rogue Refiners only sometimes resolve?
Countering Rogue Refiner was extra devastating when they needed that energy
to fuel Aether Hub or they wanted the cantrip to find a land. Just
yesterday, I used an Essence Scatter on Merfolk Branchwalker, my opponent
missed their land drop, and I had to go take a shower because I felt pretty

I’ve always been fond of Supreme Will because it doesn’t discriminate
between creature/non-creature and it’s already fairly relaxed on my mana. I
like the idea of playing Disallow, but if you can’t cast it and your
opponent resolves a Hazoret the Fervent or The Scarab God, you’re going to
want to throw up. Since Supreme Will is easier to cast, it’s also
conditional, but with multiple modes the conditional downside is greatly
mitigated. One thing that’s happened to me a lot in the past year is I play
against a control deck, load up on Negates, and my opponent just taps out
for The Scarab God on turn 5. It’s very hard for me to know which decks
will have The Scarab God, let alone how many they could be playing, so I
couldn’t reasonably leave in Confiscation Coup against what would normally
be a creature-light strategy. Cards like Supreme Will are a reasonable
compromise since it can still counter problematic non-creature cards like
Fumigate, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, and Hour of Promise while also giving
you some insurance against Torrential Gearhulk and The Scarab God.

Revolutionary Rebuff has just been too disappointing for me that I don’t
think I’ll include it in my main deck anymore. It disguises itself as Mana
Leak to me, and I felt I needed ways to handle decks without creatures
because there are huge portions of the format dedicated to completely
creatureless decks, so I can’t always just play Essence Scatter. As an
example, I play against U/W Approach and various decks based around Hour of
Promise all the time and they have literally zero creatures. When I play 2
Essence Scatter, 0 Rebuff, 4 Harnessed Lightning, 3 Magma Spray, and 4
Vraska’s Contempt, that’s thirteen cards I need to remove from my main deck
if I play against a player who uses a strategy that doesn’t involve
creatures! It’s obvious that too high of a percentage of my deck is
dedicated to anti-creature cards for the current metagame.

My solution was to cut my counterspells and almost at random cut a fourth
card to make room for four copies of Censor. I’ve been having issues with
colored mana and just consistency issues with total number of lands so I
felt like the cycling would help me quite a bit there. I’ve also run into
this issue where I want cards in my deck that either cost one or two mana
and answer Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, but I don’t want to have too many
anti-creature cards and be ill-equipped for the late game when the only
things that matter are card advantage and haymakers. I’m opposed to
solutions to Glint-Sleeve Siphoner that cost three mana because I can’t
cast it on the draw before my opponent is able to draw an extra card. I’m
fully aware I can’t Censor a Siphoner when I’m on the draw, but I can cycle
it to find removal, and I can get really schwifty in sideboarding when I’m
on the play by trimming a ton of my anti-creature cards and leaving myself
with just four Censor and four Harnessed Lightning. This way, I should
never have Magma Spray as a dead card and still have adequate answers to
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner.

During my preparation for the MOCS, I decided it was time for no more half
measures and I sleeved up Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. And guess what. It was
amazing! I’m shocked nobody had it at Grand Prix Memphis since it feels
almost gift wrapped for Grixis Energy. Grixis Energy is a deck with a high
land count, wants a trump card for the mirror, and deals incidental damage
with cheap menace creatures alongside Glorybringer and Chandra. Against
something like Abzan Tokens, for example, it’s not that hard to get them to
seven life and just sit around doing nothing all day waiting to draw Nicol
Bolas which you know won’t be countered and will likely be game-ending. A
deck like Abzan Tokens has such a slow clock that I’ve found this to be a
rather effective strategy.

I’ve also found that matchups with Profane Procession and Ixalan’s Binding
start as unfavorable, but the scales tip quickly with the more sauce that I
add to my deck. Each time I add an additional copy of Commit, Field of
Ruin, Nicol Bolas, or Gonti, Lord of Luxury to my deck, my chances of
winning keep going up. When they Profane Procession all my creatures and it
transforms into Tomb of the Dusk Rose, I can just kill the land and accept
that my opponent killed three of my creatures with one card, which is
ultimately not that different than if they cast a sweeper like Fumigate.
Players rely heavily on enchantments because they’re aware of the fact that
Grixis colors are notoriously weak against them, but between Gonti and
Nicol Bolas, I have the ability to cast Ixalan’s Binding and Cast Out from
their deck and get additional answers. I’ve never activated Profane
Procession off Aether Hub, but I hope to one day.

Search for Azcanta has been a huge problem card for me in my testing. I had
one Field of Ruin and a sideboard Blood Sun to try to deal with it, but
it’s still an issue. I wouldn’t mind the idea of playing with it myself,
but the matchup where you would want it the most, U/B Control, has four
Field of Ruin main deck; it’s not even that impressive of an option. I’ve
also found it to be dreadfully slow against any aggressive deck or the
mirror. I don’t think it’s a particularly attractive option, but it happens
to be well-positioned against Grixis Energy so it’s something you should
keep an eye out for. I recommend trying to clean up the manabase and
getting lucky with Spell Pierce or Duress.

Sweltering Suns was added to help improve my matchup against tokens decks.
I looked at options like Shake the Foundations, Fiery Cannonade, Yaheeni’s
Expertise, and Golden Demise, but I told myself from the start that I was
going to push the limits of science as to what manabases can do in Standard
and always go with the highest upside option. Also, I expected more people
to be playing with Winding Constrictor, and Sweltering Suns is the best of
the sweepers against that particular card.

Vizier of Many Faces was my last addition to the sideboard. I wasn’t really
playing this for any specific deck or archetype, but more as a high power
reactive card to Carnage Tyrant which seemed to be getting more popular.
You also get max value against Jadelight Ranger if you can copy that and
trade, getting to explore twice and end up with an embalm clone in your

My record in the MOCS was 2-3 drop, but I played some amazing games and the
level of competition was super high. All five of my opponents were energy
decks with Aether Hub and Harnessed Lightning, so Energy Winter continues.
I just got out-midranged in most of my games, which is surprising since I
went with three copies of Whirler Virtuoso and cut a lot of my
anti-creature cards for more haymakers. Apparently I didn’t go far enough.

It feels good to see so many people happy with the deck and to see that my
changes were positive for the metagame. For now, I’m putting Standard on
the back burner and turning my attention to Modern. I’ve already played
almost a hundred matches and the only question left for me is if I should
play with Bloodbraid Elf or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. People keep telling me
Bloodbraid Elf is better, but I feel like Jace has been on the right side
of history.

I don’t see very many copies of Bloodbraid Elf in Legacy… #TeamJace

#SCGDFW March 10-11!