Living End, Amulet, Ad Nauseam, Bogles, and Lantern have been covered. Today I will talk about one of the fastest decks, if not the fastest deck in Modern, Grishoalbrand.
The name, as you might’ve guessed, is a combination of these two cards, which depicts the number one plan of the deck. While it uses some clever ways to finish you off, this is essentially a mix between two known strategies, Reanimator and Sneak and Show.
Finalnub, 5-0 in a Competitive Modern League
Bob Huang was a big influence on the deck, and wrote quite a lot about it here, here, and here on ChannelFireball.com.
I played the deck quite a bit when Amulet Bloom was at its peak because Modern was very, very fast for a couple of months. Decks were killing quickly and Grishoalbrand was the quickest. It has inconsistencies and falters against disruption, but if your opponent doesn’t interact with you, they’ll die before doing anything.
Land, Faithless Looting, Land, Goryo’s Vengeance, and that’s it.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you see things, it doesn’t see a lot of play these days, and I’m guessing that’s because the format has fewer combo decks and more interaction. It is still a deck to be aware of, though, as it still gets results here and there.
Temple of Malice is a good place to start—there’s no other deck that plays it. If they don’t start with Temple, it can be tricky to suss out, as it’s a deck that naturally sets up its hand. They will wait to have enough mana or draw the right cards without playing much beforehand. For that reason, it might be easy to think they are playing Rat Moon, a black-red midrange deck that has been popping up recently.
Once Faithless Looting, Cathartic Reunion, and Night’s Whispers come down though, the cat will be out of the bag.
Primarily, they want to get Griselbrand in play with either Goryo’s Vengeance or Through the Breach, draw a few cards, then cast Nourishing Shoal, exiling Worldspine Wurm to draw even more, attack you, draw more, and then eventually find enough Simian Spirit Guides and Desperate Rituals to Through the Breach a Borborygmos Enraged and kill you with all the lands they have in hand.
If they can’t find Griselbrand, Through the Breaching a Worldspine Wurm is the alternate plan.
- Because of how Through the Breach is worded, it allows them to cast it at the end of your turn and then keep the creature until their next end step. That is sometimes relevant when they’re facing counterspells as it forces you to counter now and then they can do it again on their turn.
- The rest of the weird interactions are all arcane related. Specifically, Nourishing Shoal lets them splice onto arcane a Through the Breach and essentially make it cost 1 less. Almost every other time they use Splice onto Arcane will be to play around counterspells or cards like Meddling Mage and Nevermore.
- They can cast Griselbrand! It’s not impossible with a few rituals, Simian Spirit Guide, and Manamorphose to actually pay 8 mana for it.
- They all have Blood Moon in their sideboard. Be aware of that, especially since they can cast it very quickly.
What to Do
Discard spells are at an all time high here, especially if they don’t have Goryo’s Vengeance and they need to assemble 5 mana, Through the Breach, and a creature. When they do have Goryo’s Vengeance, that’s when you also want graveyard hate.
Dispel is really good. It’s the best counterspell you can have against them. Pithing Needle naming Griselbrand is solid.
Path to Exile isn’t great but you still want to keep some. It will make sure that they can’t kill you with Worldspine Wurm and essentially prevent them from drawing an extra 7 cards with Griselbrand as they won’t be able to attack.
Because their deck needs so many pieces, they can’t afford to have many or even sometimes any anti-hate cards. For that reason, you should absolutely keep every hand that has a bit of disruption.