Can We Add Death’s Shadow to Modern Mardu Pyromancer?

I stumbled onto this deck by accident. A reader messaged me on Facebook and wanted to know my opinion of it. I had taken some time off from focusing on metagame and tournament Magic, and my response was that I didn’t even know what it was!

I decided to do some investigating. If you are super tuned into the Modern metagame, you are no doubt already aware of the deck and what it does. While the deck is a known commodity, it isn’t mainstream.

I played the deck in a few events and I enjoyed it greatly. The deck has a ton of action and cheap interaction. It can be aggressive, but it can also do some good, honest grinding.

Let’s start with the list and then move into specifics.

Mardu Pyromancer

Brian DeMars

Here is a basic composite list that I put together from versions that made Top 8s on MTGO.

The premise of the deck is that you grind hard and win a war of attrition. Between the copious amounts of removal and the hand disruption, the deck is adept at quickly running an opponent out of options and halting their hopes and dreams.

The real key to the deck is Bedlam Reveler:

The best thing the deck does is run the opponent out of cards and options, and then tie it all together with a Reveler to gas back up and quickly finish the game.

Bedlam Reveler is a card that I’ve been aware of but never really played much with. Reveler was a fixture of the U/R Thing in the Ice decks from last year. But I didn’t like the card nearly as much in that style of deck as I like it in Mardu (although Gitaxian Probe would be gas in this deck if it were still legal).

Thoughtseize and Inquisition are so good with a card that incentivizes you to get hellbent as quickly as possible. You are not merely throwing cards away, but trading cards and options with the opponent. It’s genius.

The deck obviously needs a high density of instants and sorceries to fuel out the Reveler. Unsurprisingly, you find the deck’s namesake there to take advantage of a deck full of cheap spells.

“Young Pyromancer, look at my life. I’m a lot like you were…”

Neil Young with the feels… the ability to remove opposing creatures and create a substantial clock is obviously great. Between the Pyromancer tokens, Lingering Souls tokens, and Ancestral Recall Bedlam Reveler, the deck is great against opposing removal decks. It is very hard to get value by killing creatures outside of sweeper effects.

The deck also has a lot of burn:

Let me explain why burn spells are good. You see, it is removal but it can also be directed at an opponent’s life total. Too basic?

Or not basic enough?

I didn’t build the deck but I assume that the Blood Moons are a concession to the fact that a deck like this has a really rough Tron and Scapeshift matchup. I didn’t like Blood Moon very much in these decks unless I was playing against big mana.

Blood Moon in a 3-color deck isn’t exactly free or easy!

I wanted to start with the generic version just to create a baseline. It’s got a pretty nice groove.

You rip the opponent’s hand apart and kill everything that moves, dodge removal with tokens, and come over the top with Bedlam Reveler. Easy-peasy.

My Take on Mardu

Like I said, the aforementioned deck is the most generic version of Mardu Pyromancer I could build based on available data.

I liked the deck a lot but I also felt it had a few inherent weaknesses. It also had a lot of inherent strengths, to be fair.


  • Great against fair decks.
  • Great against creature decks.
  • Insane against Lantern.
  • Great against Blue decks.
  • Medium against combo decks (has discard).
  • Medium Shadow matchup. Feels pretty even. Tokens are good against them.


  • Very poor against big mana (Tron and Titanshift). The clock is not blisteringly fast and you have a lot of dead removal and 1/1 tokens.
  • Poor burn matchup.

Overall, the deck is reasonably positioned. Tron and Scapeshift have been putting up nice finishes lately, but don’t go too chicken little about how the meta is shifting.

Eldrazi Tron is 6% of the winners metagame. Urza Tron is up to 7% and Scapeshift is 4%. In a 15-round tournament you’re only likely to play these bad matchups twice on average.

Every deck has bad matchups in Modern. It comes with the territory and I don’t necessarily think that a deck with a bad Tron matchup is unplayable.

I rebuilt a version of the deck to incorporate Death’s Shadow to try to fix some of those problem matchups. I haven’t gotten to play with the list much yet, but I’ve been pretty happy with the results so far.

Mardu Shadow

Brian DeMars

This deck looks sweet and I love the Molten Rain + Surgical Extraction combo out of the sideboard against the big mana decks. I liked the idea of Blood Moon, but I didn’t like the play of Blood Moon. I found it put a lot of pressure on my own mana.

The card is so backbreaking when backed up with any sort of a clock.

I also felt that Monastery Swiftspear and Young Pyromancer were the least impressive cards in the stock version of Mardu. I replaced them with the uber powerful Death’s Shadow package.

The deck is basically just a grindy “good stuff” deck, which means that there are lots of viable options for customization and modification.

All great spells, but I ran out of room!

There are some other killer sideboard cards that I didn’t have room for as well.

But these are certainly on my radar, depending which way the metagame blows.

The deck has been great for me so far. It is a blast to play. There is so much interaction and grind. It is a real thrill to play. Bedlam Reveler is quickly becoming one of my favorite cards to play with these days.

I Mardu and you can too! Just make sure you have lots of tokens handy…


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