50 Shades of Griselbrand

I mean three…

After spending two full weeks of testing Grishoalbrand, I’ve had some successful and unsuccessful experiences: the unsuccessful ones were mostly my fault for not having enough practice, but as you could see in my videos, I was on a constant learning curve throughout.

The three cards above are the innovations I brought to the archetype. Time of Need came from Ben Friedman and the blue package came out of a discussion I had with Jake Mondello and Bob Huang.

As much as I thought Time of Need was a good idea, I liked the blue cards better.

Before going further, I’m going to show you the list I played to a 8-1 finish Day 1, followed by a disappointing 3-3 on Day 2 at GP Pittsburgh last weekend:


My losses were to Affinity, Infect, Jund, and Jund.

Card Choices

The deck came together when I decided Night’s Whisper was kind of underwhelming—so were Tormenting Voice and more than 1 Manamorphose. By cutting those, I now had 8 slots. I liked Temple of Malice but didn’t mind shaving them to add a 3rd color, especially if it gave me a great turn-1 play: Serum Visions, basically the best Modern-legal card.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy seemed bad at first glance. I figured it would always die since it’s technically your only creature. Then I realized that not only does Goryo’s Vengeance bring it back and you can flip it to prevent the end-of-turn trigger, but it’s also insane with Griselbrand since you can reanimate Jace, activate it, discard Griselbrand, flash back Goryo’s Vengeance on Griselbrand, and then go off.

After testing it out I was sold on Serum Visions, making more hands keepable and of course finding Griselbrand more reliablely. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy had some awesome showings, yet, I mostly liked it since nobody expected it. Many games I went turn 1 Serum Visions, turn 2 Jace and they would instantly put me on Grixis Control, tap out turn 3 for an irrelevant card and then I would kill them on my turn. Twin in that same situation would just end-of-turn Deceiver Exarch and I’d kill them in response.

Once I cut Night’s Whisper, my BGx matchups became worse. The matchup plays out in a fashion where you usually end-of-turn Through the Breach Griselbrand or Worldspine Wurm since they have Scavenging Ooze and potentially Grafdigger’s Cage after sideboard to deal with Goryo’s Vengeance. Faithless Looting is also the worst card against them since you don’t want card disadvantage against a disruptive deck and Goryo’s Vengeance usually relies on it to combo in the early game. You also run the risk of discarding your Griselbrand thinking you’ll bring it back, only to have your reanimator spell Thoughtseized away.

Sideboard Selections

Painful Truths, Murderous Cut

I was going to play Night’s Whisper in the sideboard for those decks, since card advantage and making lands drops is your priority, until a friend suggested Painful Truths.

It’s exactly what you want, though the 3 life can be a serious issue. I wanted a removal spell that could deal with Scavenging Ooze if needed and Tarmogoyf so I can play a longer game. I originally had Darkblast and Sudden Shock as removal spells for the Infect matchup—it made sense to me to have slightly worse removal in Murderous Cut that I can also bring in for the BGx decks.

Inquisition of Kozilek

I would want 4 Pact of Negations rather than these since they are great against blue decks, yet, I wanted early interaction to beat the other nonsense fast decks such as Infect, Burn, Amulet, and the mirror. This let me shave a few Jaces, which are too slow on the draw.

Echoing Truth

It was originally Hurkyl’s Recall/Shatterstorm, but I liked my chances against Affinity even without it. Instead I was looking for a catchall answer against wacky decks where I have to board out Lightning Axe. Bogles with Leyline of Sanctity, Suppression Field, and Rest in Peace comes to mind.

Anger of the Gods

I’m still unsure if those should just be Radiant Flames—my reasoning is that you might want to Desperate Ritual into Anger and Radiant Flames wouldn’t work out that way.

Torpor Orb

I’m a huge fan of having 1 Torpor Orb against Twin and in various decks that usually don’t bring in Ancient Grudge, it just shuts off so many things.

Blood Moon

I was convinced it was awesome to have the 4 Blood Moon plan in the regular BR version of Grishoalbrand, but the more I played the more I started to dislike them. Eventually I only wanted them against UWx Control decks and Amulet. I often board them in against other matchups, strictly when on the play though: BGx, 3-Color Burn and Grixis Control comes to mind.

I liked my experience with the deck, it is incredibly powerful and slightly faster than all the other combo decks. It’s great against blue too, though you are certainly worse against black disruptive decks.

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