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Legacy Grixis Midrange MTG Deck Guide

A tried-and-true strategy in Magic is building slower, more powerful versions of decks in order to gain advantages in mirror matches. We have seen this happen a few times over the past few months in response to Izzet Delver’s continued success. The trend continues with this version of Grixis played by Nooxtom to a 9th place finish in the Legacy Showcase Challenge this past weekend. While there’s a lot of overlap between this and other Grixis approaches that have been showing up, I really like the way this deck is built and think it’s well set up to take advantage of the top decks in the format.

Let’s take a look at what this deck is trying to do.

 

 

Legacy Grixis Midrange by Nooxtom

 

Header - The Game Plan

This is a modern day approach to a midrange deck with an aggressive slant. The goal is to grind opponents down slowly with removal and two-for-ones and then eventually take over the game with a haymaker in the form of Murktide Regent. While Dragon’s Rage Channeler isn’t an incredible defensive card, it provides you with the aggressive tilt which allows you to pressure opponents early while it helps you dig towards your key cards. Overall, this is a deck built to address a specific metagame and I think it is well-built to do just that.

 

Header - Card Choices

Dragon's Rage ChannelerMurktide Regent

While these are the cards that everyone in the format has come to know and love, this deck is trimming on both of them. DRC is arguably the best one-drop in Legacy but it does have a fairly aggressive textbox which isn’t exactly what this deck wants all of the time. Still, it provides a ton of utility in helping you dig for key cards while applying early pressure to your opponents to keep them off balance. As we’re going to see in this Deck Guide, this deck is full of powerful two-drops. This means that Murktide Regent is quite a bit worse than it is in a deck like Izzet since drawing too many of them is likely to be far too clunky. It’s still the most powerful creature in the format though, so using it as your top end is likely to end the game a decent amount of the time.

Baleful Strix

Baleful Strix is definitely one of the reasons to play black in a deck like this. It puts a wrench in the plans of any deck that’s trying to pressure your life total and it makes it trivially easy to grind down opponents who are relying on attacking with creatures. The cost to including Strix is that it is kind of clunky and doesn’t apply any significant pressure, which is a problem against combo decks. In this metagame though, I think Strix is a really potent card and a smart inclusion as a way to take advantage of Izzet players at the top tables.

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound

Every now and then, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy shows up and puts in some work. It’s a very vulnerable card that doesn’t really add anything to the board but if you can untap with it, it can be a powerhouse. In this deck, flashing back Iteration or Hymn to Tourach will be devastating and even if those cards aren’t showing up, you can get a lot of utility out of it by casting a removal spell or cantripping. Overall, I think it’s a nice inclusion but I wouldn’t consider it a staple of this type of deck or anything. You could argue that something like Snapcaster Mage is better but since this deck wants cheaper, more proactive cards with Iteration, Jace makes a lot of sense. 

Expressive Iteration

This card has rapidly become one of the best, if not the best, Izzet cards of all time. In a deck like this which has a ton of proactive and free cards, there is no better card for the archetype. This card has moved into the stage of “there’s nothing novel to say about it” since it’s so powerful that if you can easily play it in a deck, you should play it and this deck is no exception.

Hymn to Tourach

Hymn to Tourach has picked up some popularity as of late and that’s for good reason. Cards like Spell Pierce have been on a steady decline and Hymn is a great way to sidestep Pyroblast while undoing the card advantage of Expressive Iteration. It isn’t without its flaws, though, since there are a lot of contexts where it’s awkward (i.e. against Uro). Still, it’s a very powerful two-drop that I have found to be fairly effective at the moment and it’s cool to see players building their decks to fully take advantage of it.

PonderBrainstorm

The best cantrip suite in the format needs no introduction, this is at the core of every powerful blue deck in the format.

Mishra's Bauble

Playing four Mishra’s Bauble might look a bit weird in a deck that only has three Dragon’s Rage Channeler (and considering that Jace can’t flash back Baubles for value), this is a good way to begin to undo some of the clunkiness that comes along with playing so many two-drops. While Preordain has some more synergy with Jace, the fact that Bauble is so strong with Expressive Iteration, in addition to pairing well with DRC and being necessary for Unholy Heat, makes it a great inclusion. Without it, this deck might struggle against decks that can play a much leaner, more efficient game.

Force of WillDaze

This is not the best Daze deck out there, since you basically never want to Daze on turn one because you have so many two-drops. However, utilizing a few Dazes to maximize the power of your two-drops is really nice, since that is a crucial turn for you to push your advantage. Force of Will, on the other hand, is a necessity in Legacy right now so I wouldn’t think of cutting a single copy.

Unholy HeatSnuff Out

I love this removal suite. This deck is not that aggressive, so having Heat over something like Lightning Bolt will rarely be a significant downside. Heat kills almost every relevant creature in the format and really goes to show that you don’t really add black to your Izzet deck to improve your removal suite. That said, having a single Snuff Out is great since it takes care of Murktide very cleanly in a way that optimizes mana efficiency which, again, is important with this many two-drops.

The Mana Base

This is a very level zero mana base for a deck like this. I think one of the largest costs of adding black (specifically Hymn to Tourach) is that you can’t afford to play Mystic Sanctuary as an engine. That said, there is a lot of upside to adding the black spells so I do think it’s worth it overall. 

Wasteland

In a deck with heavy mana requirements like this one, playing Wastelands is a bit risky since it doesn’t really cast many spells in the deck. It does add a lot of meaningful disruption against decks where you need to be able to attack their mana base, such as against Depths, so I think it’s a reasonable inclusion, but I wouldn’t fault anyone for wanting to cut them.

 

Header - The Sideboard

Wasteland

There are a lot of decks where Wasteland is pretty devastating, such as against Lands and Depths, so bringing in an extra copy is a good idea.

Counterbalance

This has become a staple of Izzet decks recently and it makes sense since it is excellent in the mirror.

Force of NegationSpell Pierce

Fast combo and Chalice need to be addressed and Force of Negation is perfect at doing just that. Spell Pierce is not quite as effective at doing that but is much more effective against fair decks, while also being a meaningful piece of disruption against combo so I like seeing it here.

Lightning Bolt

For the most part, these are just extra removal spells that really come in handy against decks like Delver and Elves, but there are a lot of different removal options to play here so pick the one that you think is best.

Meltdown

I still think that this is a necessary card for red decks to play since artifacts strategies are very potent, so I wouldn’t cut these for anything right now.

Nihil Spellbomb

While Spellbomb is a much slower graveyard hate spell than Surgical, it’s far better against cards like Uro since it can disrupt that strategy while replacing itself, which is important in a deck like this.

Plague Engineer

I’m shocked not to see more of these, since I think this is the other major reason to play black. Engineer is a devastating card that is always ready to clean up some boards against decks with small creatures.

PyroblastRed Elemental Blast

A necessity in any red deck, Pyroblast is still the best sideboard card around.

 

Header - Tips and Tricks

  • Unlike Snapcaster Mage, Jace allows you to use alternate casting costs to cast cards from the graveyard, which is relevant for Snuff Out and, on rare occasions, for Force of Will if you need to push through a key card.
  • Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy removes cards from the graveyard which can pump your Murktide in a pinch (same goes for Nihil Spellbomb, so keep that in mind).

 

Header - Sideboard Guide

Izzet Delver

Izzet Delver

Out: 4 Force of Will, 2 Daze

In: 2 Pyroblast, 1 Red Elemental Blast, 1 Counterbalance, 2 Lightning Bolt

While Daze can be effective early, it’s not difficult for Izzet decks to blank it as the game goes on. For the most part, you’re just upgrading your disruption in the matchup and as long as you can keep them from pulling way ahead early, you should be able to grind them down in a longer game.

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Four-Color Control

Four-Color Control

Out: 1 Snuff Out, 2 Unholy Heat, 2 Daze, 1 Mishra’s Bauble

In: 2 Pyroblast, 1 Red Elemental Blast, 2 Nihil Spellbomb, 1 Spell Pierce

Unholy Heat is not that bad in the matchup since it can kill Minsc & Boo somewhat cleanly. That said, it’s not the most effective card to have too many of. They can easily keep up with you and grind you down so I think you want to assume an aggressive stance early, which should help your two-for-ones go a bit further since they’ll have to spend some time answering your pressure.

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Mono-Red Stompy

Mono-Red Stompy

Out: 1 Snuff Out, 3 Hymn to Tourach, 1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy

In: 2 Force of Negation, 2 Meltdown, 1 Plague Engineer

Overall, this is not too complicated of a matchup but it can definitely be a scary one. You have to keep them from resolving their first two haymakers, which can be tough, but you have a decent amount of disruptive tools. You could leave in Snuff Out but the fact that it doesn’t stop Magus of the Moon makes me like it a bit less, but it might be better than the second Jace.

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Doomsday

Doomsday

Out: 4 Unholy Heat, 1 Snuff Out, 2 Mishra’s Bauble

In: 2 Pyroblast, 1 Red Elemental Blast, 2 Force of Negation, 1 Spell Pierce, 1 Counterbalance

You have a good mix of pressure and disruption, which is important for keeping up against Doomsday. That said, that deck can always kill you out of nowhere so keep that in mind as you’re playing. It might be worth keeping in some Unholy Heats since Sheoldred has become a sideboard option of theirs, but it does mostly suck in the matchup so I’m not sure how many you want. Lightning Bolt could come in, as well, but I don’t think drawing a single Bolt is that likely to swing the game. Still, it might be better than Mishra’s Bauble so it’s worth considering.

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