Positive EV – Grixis Discovery

The StarCityGames.com Open Series returns to Atlanta!
Thursday, April 29th – This weekend sees the StarCityGames.com Open series hit Atlanta, and Manuel Bucher has a fun rogue option for Standard! His pre-Rise version of Grixis Discovery is serving him very well on MTGO… Today, he takes us through the matchups with the deck, and updates the build in two distinct directions.

As promised, today I will write about the Grixis deck I’ve been playing on Magic Online, with a decent amount of success. Let’s get to the decklist first… While I know it’s not Rise legal, it will serve you well on MTGO, and I’ve updated things with the new cards later in the article for those who’d like to run it at the StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Atlanta this weekend.

Grim Discovery is really good for fighting Jund pre-board (mostly against Blightning), and gets really, really good post-board since they usually board in Goblin Ruinblaster. Against any Aggro deck, Gatekeeper of Malakir usually dies early, and Grim Discovery gives you some extra card advantage there. To keep the Grim Discovery engine going, Architects of Will is in the brew, which is the major win condition of the deck. A lot of games end with you just drawing a ton of cards and shutting down all of your opponent’s threads, so a Hill Giant can easily get there with the support of a Planeswalker.

The singleton Fleshbag Marauder is not very good, but it’s necessary to have the Discovery engine working. The Siege-Gang Commander is likely the weakest card in the deck, but it can win some games on its own. And I like the card.

Treasure Hunt, Spreading Seas, and Architects of Will make sure you will always get a Fetchland to in order to use Grim Discovery to return two cards. They make sure you get your land drops to cast Cruel Ultimatum on turn 7, and they really smooth out your draws a lot without hurting your tempo too much. And as usual, Treasure Hunt combos really well with Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Lightning Bolt and Smother are the cheap removal spells of choice, since both Gatekeeper and Fleshbag Marauder are fairly expensive and not as reliable. Lightning Bolt obviously gives you some extra equity against Planeswalkers.

Sorin Markov is really, really good, and it fits the deck perfectly. Since your major removal spells are Edict effects, you have to deal with all the small guys like Noble Hierarch and Stoneforge Mystic. Sorin Markov does this perfectly, and it gives you some much-needed life back, since you are spending a lot of your time cycling. It’s also a win condition by itself.

Cruel Ultimatum is the standard “I win,” card and your opponents won’t recover from the card very often. You can usually cast it on turn 7 since you are cycling a lot, and the mana requirements are easily reachable, especially thanks to Grim Discovery.

Nicol Bolas might be a “win more” card, but you usually win every single game you cast it. Cards like Behemoth Sledge or Elspeth can give you a lot of trouble, and this is an easy solution (albeit expensive) for anything you could face.

The Sideboard

Sphinx of Lost Truths comes in for almost every single matchup. Jund has a lot of trouble fighting the Sphinx, while you want to search for Cruel Ultimatum against any creature-based deck. Against Control, it comes in because it is better than most of your cards. It is a bit weak main deck, but it’s a fair tool for post-board games.

The extra Discovery is mainly to fight Jund, but it’s also decent against any slower deck, since Discovering up Architects of Will and casting them is usually good in those matchups.

Duress is the main tool against Control. Since you tap out a lot, it is better than Negate, and it’s a good pre-emptive solution to Mind Spring and Martial Coup. It also makes sure that you can force trough a turn 4 Jace.

Haunting Echoes gives you some equity against Open the Vaults, while being really good against UW Tap-Out, especially combined with Duress.

Deathmark is a card I want to have in every Black sideboard, the full four copies. It is the best card ever against any White or Green based beatdown deck.

Fleshbag Marauder is in the sideboard for the beatdown decks too. Since you usually can’t afford to sideboard out all the Discoveries, and since returning Architects of Will is not the best thing ever against those decks, you want some other good targets for the Discovery.

Doom Blade is another extra early removal spell to ensure that Cruel Ultimatum is not too slow.

Scepter of Fugue is the spicy card against Control, and it can easily win games at any stage. There are no more copies in the sideboard since Duress is plain better, and the first Haunting Echoes usually wins more games. As you never want to draw two Echoes, a Scepter fits in perfectly.

Versus Jund

Everybody is asking how I am fighting Sprouting Thrinax — but since that is the biggest problem for the deck, I guess that this is a good sign for the deck in the matchup. Sprouting Thrinax is indeed a problematic card, but Gatekeepr of Malakir is really good fighting it (aside from Spreading Seas) — thanks to Grim Discovery. This makes the biggest threat Broodmate Dragon, for which your major answers are Jace and Cruel Ultimatum. The ton of card advantage and the cheap spot removal make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed by Jund’s tempo and card advantage. Obviously, Jund is still Jund, and you can lose every single match.

+1 Grim Discovery
+2 Sphinx of Lost Truth
-3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Jace usually just dies to any of the Jund cards (Blightning, Bloodbraid Elf, Putrid Leech, or even Raging Ravine). Sphinx makes sure that you are able to fetch Cruel Ultimatum, and the extra Discovery makes up for the card advantage you are losing with cutting the Jace. Jund’s major sideboard cards are Goblin Ruinblasters. Since you have 4 Grim Discoveries, they won’t screw you as often as another control deck, but they are obviously still annoying.

Versus Mono Red

I’ve not been able to win a game yet, and I think it is just not worth playing the games. In the rounds I’ve played, I ended up conceding the match as soon as I figured out my opponent was running the deck.

Versus Steppe Lynx Aggro

This includes mainly Boros and Mono White. Game 1 can be very tough if you don’t draw Lightning Bolt or Smother. There is not a lot to say about the matchup, since you all you do is try to kill all their guys and cast a Cruel Ultimatum or Sorin Markov before you die.

+4 Deathmark
+1 Doom Blade
+1 Fleshbag Marauder
+1 Sphinx of Lost Truths
-4 Architects of Will
-2 Grim Discovery
-1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

Postboard it gets a lot easier, since you have so much more cheap removal and fewer cards you are losing tempo with just to get some extra cards. Nicol Bolas is mostly a blank, and is an easy cut.

Versus Naya

Noble Hierarch, Stoneforge Mystic, and Birds of Paradise are very annoying for the Edict effects, but other than Behemoth Sledge they also don’t have a lot of threats. The matchup is very similar to Steppe Lynx Aggro, but you usually have a bit more time since their threats are more expensive.

+4 Deathmark
+1 Doom Blade
+2 Sphinx of Lost Truths
-4 Architects of Will
-3 Grim Discovery

Nicol Bolas is better in this matchup, since it can deal with Behemoth Sledge and some random Planeswalkers. You also have more time against Naya.

Versus non-Naya Knight of the Reliquary

This is the easiest of all creature matchups, since they usually rely on expensive threats like Baneslayer Angel. You shouldn’t have any problems resolving any of your game-winning spells before dying.

+4 Deathmark
+1 Doom Blade
+1 Fleshbag Marauder
-1 Siege-Gang Commander
-2 Sorin Markov
-1 Grim Discovery
-2 Architects of Will

Siege-Gang Commander and Sorin Markov just don’t kill a lot of their guys, and the turn you have Sorin Markov, Lotus Cobra is just not that impressive anymore and you should be casting a game-winning spell soon.

Versus UW(x) Control

Martial Coup is the biggest threat, but somehow I was usually able to fight it. Sorin Markov, Gatekeeper of Malakir, and Architects of Will are usually good enough to fight it. If they are running more counterspells, it gets tougher pre-board, but Duress and the Scepter usually makes the difference post-board.

+4 Duress
+1 Haunting Echoes
+1 Scepter of Fugue
+2 Sphinx of Lost Truths
+1 Grim Discovery
-3 Gatekeeper of Malakir
-1 Smother
-1 Fleshbag Marauder
-4 Lightning Bolt

Versus Howling Mine

Very similar to Mono-Red Aggro, there is just no way you win game 1. You can win game 2 and 3 if you get lucky with Duress and they don’t have a second Howling Mine effect.

+4 Duress
+1 Haunting Echoes
+1 Scepter of Fugue
-1 Smother
-1 Fleshbag Marauder
-4 Spreading Seas

The main function of Gatekeeper of Malakir is as a Grizzly Bear, and the function of Architects of Will is Hill Giant. Grim Discovery can be decent against Archive Trap.

Rise of the Eldrazi

Since the new set is out, I am pretty sure you now want to be running the deck with an Esper base… but as yet I’ve not managed to play any games. This is what I have in mind.

Wall of Omens and Consuming Vapors seem to be made for the deck. Sphinx of the Steel Wind is the new win condition, and is replacing both Cruel Ultimatum and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker. Wall of Omens adds even more cycling effects to the deck, and should be very helpful fighting Sprouting Thrinax. Baneslayer Angel is just too good not to play, but since you want to be able to support triple Black and double Blue as well, I don’t think it is a four-of. It might be possible that the deck just needs Cruel Ultimatum, so this would be my updated Grixis List.

Enjoy the deck before everybody gets to know how to play against it, and like Allies or Naya before it, it becomes mediocre. Not that I would like to see this happen, but it is sadly very likely.

Good luck at this weekend’s StarCityGames.com Open Weekend in Atlanta, and thanks for reading.

Manu B