Hello everyone! I was informed that Standard may not just be Omnath decks and refused to believe at first. However, I took a look at the list, and just had to give it a try.
As I will each time I’m sent a list, I’ll always play the deck as is with zero changes for a minimum of 3 matches. The worst thing a player can do in my opinion is take a deck, make a bunch of changes before trying it, then they don’t like it. It could be irrespective of the changes, but it happens more often than you’d think that they accidentally made the deck worse and then think it’s just bad (not saying any names though, Chris).
My first impression of this deck was that it looked underpowered. I figured that being restricted by Lurrus would be a large detriment and the power level of the individual cards in the deck was rather low. However, when I tried the deck out, I was pleasantly surprised. Unlike a typical Control deck, this version had significantly more proactive elements which I’m always a big fan of. Furthermore, with Uro being banned, his little brother Kroxa has effectively been unbanned, and he’s felt very strong so far. In my three prerequisite matches I was able to go 3-0 beating Mono Green Aggro, Rakdos Midrange, and Rogues. I didn’t find this terribly surprising as creature matchups should have a pretty rough time with the game plan of all interaction and a Kroxa. Now that the 3 prerequisite games were up, it was time to make changes and the first place I wanted to go was to make this straight Rakdos.
I felt that the base of the Grixis list was solid, but lacking in a few elements. The largest issue I had with the deck was the manabase, bar none. Having to play lands that only tap for blue in your Kroxa deck is a bit sad, but also 2 Crawling Barrens? I love that card, but boy did it hurt me significantly more than it helped. Secondly, the blue spells in the deck felt relatively underpowered overall. Sea Gate Stormcaller was definitely solid in spots, but it was an awkward top deck. Furthermore, I believed that having access to Mystical Dispute, the one Opt, and the one Negate paled in comparison to having a crisp manabase. Here’s what I came up with.
Rakdos Lurrus Control by Robert Lee – October 2020 Season
Since I liked the base, I kept the game plan intact. Magmatic Channeler, Mire Triton, and Mazemind Tomb overperformed for me so I wanted to go up on them. Furthermore, I felt Grixis played too many lands and not enough Modal Dual-Faced Cards (MDFCs). Flooding was a real issue, so I went down to 20 lands and up to 8 MDFCs. My reasoning is that past land 4, each land drop quickly gets way worse so I wanted to limit that as much as possible. Since I still had some slots left in my deck, I opted for Robber of the Rich and Stonecoil Serpent as my threats of choice. Robber of the Rich can keep the gas coming when you’re running low on resources and Stonecoil Serpent is a scaling spell that you can recur with Lurrus. I felt rather confident in my build and started trying it out, but before I knew it, disaster struck.
Why does this card have so many words on it? I faced an Omnath deck that mercilessly destroyed me. Although the power level of the deck was higher than I gave it credit for, it was nowhere near the power levels of the individual cards in Omnath. Despite that, I actually came super close to winning the match, just a timely Genesis Ultimatum on an empty board into somehow casting another one the same turn to seal my fate. I was pretty surprised how close I was to winning considering my opponent drew very well and played just as reasonably. I knew I had to make this Lurrus Control deck work, so we doubled back to Grixis and shaped it up. Here’s what I ended up on.
Grixis Lurrus Control by Robert Lee – October 2020 Season
As you can see, it’s not that far from the original version. In this Omnath infested world, the blue felt very necessary as a timely Mystical Dispute can be the difference between winning and losing. Maybe when (not if) Omnath gets banned we can pivot back to the Rakdos version, but this is where I would take the deck right now. Let’s get down to the card choices.
Before we dive into the deck specifically, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Why Lurrus over traditional Rakdos?
The short answer is, I’m not positive which version is better. I think that will largely depend on how the meta pans out and if Standard receives any more bans before the next set drops. The saddest losses from playing Lurrus to me is Bonecrusher Giant and Ox of Agonas. However, the rest of the expensive cards haven’t impressed me. Rankle is fine but hasn’t felt that good recently considering how much removal there is in Standard and beyond Zombie tokens, you don’t have many creatures you actively want to sacrifice. Tymaret Calls the Dead is a fine card but nothing to write home about. Lastly, Terror of the Peaks doesn’t make much sense to me in this strategy, despite it being a strong card.
Lurrus, although clunky, is an insanely powerful card that can accrue a lot of value over the course of the game. It is relatively fragile, but even getting one card back from it can be nice. Furthermore, Lurrus demands an answer immediately or you’ll start running away with the game. The last point is that I believe you need to be Grixis to have a shot against Omnath realistically. I don’t think Rakdos has the tools it needs to beat Omnath consistently, but when justice strikes Omnath, that can change.
3 Bloodchief’s Thirst: One of the most versatile removal spells available to us right now. This efficient card lets you interact early, scales well into the late game, and synergizes with Sea Gate Stormcaller as well! You want to maximize the amount of cheap spells you play for Magmatic Channeler, Sea Gate Stormcaller, and Kroxa.
3 Spikefield Hazard: Worse than Bloodchief’s Thirst but has the versatility of being a land, everything that I stated above more or less applies here as well.
2 Sea Gate Stormcaller: Although Kushiro claimed that this was the best card in the deck, I’d have to disagree with my experience. The card is certainly powerful, but it’s an awkward top deck when you run out of spells and sometimes hard to make useful early in the game. When you get to copy a good spell with it, it feels great, but that’s not always the easiest. I still think it deserves some slots, but I don’t think it’s important enough to be a 4 of.
4 Agonizing Remorse: One of the bread and butter cards in Standard. 2 mana Thoughtseizes traditionally haven’t done well, but exiling and the flexibility of hitting a card in the graveyard in a pinch is very nice. Like most of our spells, this with Stormcaller is also super nice.
4 Heartless Act: The original list runs two but this may be the best Doom Blade variant that’s graced Standard in a long time. In the first 3 matches with the deck, I felt like I was always hoping to draw into a Heartless Act considering how many strong creatures see play right now, so I may as well maximize those odds.
4 Mire Triton: After playing the deck, I’m very surprised Kushiro only wanted 2 copies of this card. With self mill being relevant, small life gain, and a great blocker, I was always happy to draw multiple copies of this card, unlike Sea Gate Stormcaller.
4 Magmatic Channeler: This is the card I was by far the most surprised about. I really wasn’t expecting much but Channeler really overperformed with trading bad cards in hand for 2 fresh looks and a really strong body in the late game. There is anti-synergy with this and Kroxa but you don’t need Channeler to be a 4/4 for it to be impactful.
4 Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger: An absolutely amazing card that’s the reason this strategy is even playable. It’s disruption and a wincon wrapped into one card, what more do you want? To gain 3 life, draw a card, and let you play an additional land? Well that would be pushed! Thank god a card like that was never printed!
3 Mazemind Tome: The other secret MVP of the deck. I was relatively low on Mazemind Tome for awhile but it really pulled its weight. It’s unfortunate that it exiles itself so you can’t recur it with Lurrus, but a 2 mana card that can allow you to draw up to 4 cards and gain 4 life is rather powerful, even if it needs incremental mana installments to get it’s full effect.
2 Shatterskull Smashing: A land or an overcosted removal spell, hard to go wrong there.
3 Mystical Dispute: The real reason you’re playing Blue at all. Dispute is excellent at disrupting Omnath and important for countering the one card midrange strategies can never beat, Genesis Ultimatum. Considering how popular Rogues is as well, this is a good time to be playing Dispute (as if there have been bad times to play it).
2 Hagra Mauling: A land or an overcosted removal spell, hard to go wrong there. Why does that sound so familiar?
22 Lands/ 7 MDFCs: To support the blue, you need a few more lands than you did in the Rakdos version. However, you still want to avoid flooding as best as you can.
2 Soul-Guide Lantern: Narrow but extremely powerful in the mirror. Plus, it’s a really nice card to recur with Lurrus if you need something to get back with him.
2 Negate: Although there aren’t many decks Negate is great against, it’s ability to stop any spell from Clover for 2 mana is a nice inclusion.
2 Blacklance Paragon: Kushiro must be a smart player and reads my articles to know this tech. You can bring this in against any aggressive matchup for a Swift Response that also gains 3. Although it’s not as exciting, recurring it with Lurrus can be nice as well.
3 Embereth Shieldbreaker: Clover’s OP, you need answers to it. Normally you’d play Shredded Sails but the body matters with Lurrus and its a mana cheaper. If you wanted a split of Shieldbreaker and Shredded Sails, I wouldn’t blame you as Sails is also nice against Rogues.
1 Mystical Dispute: Get bent, blue players.
4 Extinction Event: For when you want to make your aggro opponents regret ever queuing up on ladder. Great against every creature deck and since every creature except Lurrus is even, sometimes you can get a Plague Wind off of it.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARD GUIDE
Here we go again. I’m not the biggest fan of definitive sideboard guides as they can placate your ability for on the fly decision making, but knowing how I approach each matchup is obviously extremely helpful. There you go. Now onto the matchups.
|+2 Negate||-3 Spikefield Hazard|
|+1 Mystical Dispute|
I like relatively light boarding in this matchup. Although Hazard kills Lotus Cobra, it’s pretty embarrassing otherwise. You may want Extinction Event in this matchup as well, but most of their creatures are even as are yours so it’s pretty awkward. If it was Damnation, we’d definitely want them all but because they exile all your stuff most of the time as well, I think you probably want to avoid it.
|+2 Negate||-4 Mire Triton|
|+3 Embereth Shieldbreaker||-3 Mystical Dispute|
|+4 Extinction Event||-1 Hagra Mauling|
|-1 Magmatic Channeler|
Cut the bad interaction and put in the good ones. Mire Triton is very bad against Bonecrusher Giant and Lovestruck Beast so that’s an easy cut. Mauling is also very clunky and killing one creature isn’t particularly effective against them overall. Magmatic Channeler gets shaved mostly because we don’t really need multiple copies.
|+1 Mystical Dispute||-1 Hagra Mauling|
|+4 Extinction Event||-4 Magmatic Channeler|
Relatively light boarding here as well. Magmatic Channeler can’t block any of their threats well so it gets the boot. Hagra Mauling is very clunky against Rogues which has a plethora of 2 mana counterspells so shaving one is nice. Extinction Event is the same mana cost but way more back breaking if allowed to resolve. A nice interaction in this matchup is most of their threats are odd spells which lines up perfectly for Event.
|+2 Soul-Guide Lantern||-3 Spikefield Hazard|
|+4 Extinction Event||-3 Mystical Dispute|
Although Spikefield Hazard isn’t bad in the matchup, but it’s rather unimpressive. Its easy to see why Dispute comes out as well. Soul Guide Lantern is the absolute MVP in the matchup as well, and Extinction Event is also very nice as it exiles some of their recurrable threats.
|+2 Blacklance Paragon||-3 Agonizing Remorse|
|+4 Extinction Event||-3 Mystical Dispute|
Cut the bad cards, add cards that are good against aggro. Easy enough.
|+2 Negate||-3 Heartless Act|
|+1 Mystical Dispute|
Obviously this depends heavily on what exact deck you’re facing, but you generally want to cut removal and add counterspells.
I was very surprised by the power level of the deck and can see this being a major player moving forward. The Omnath decks can definitely be challenging to beat, but find me a deck that doesn’t struggle against them. With how popular aggressive strategies are and how well this deck performs against them, I recommend this deck rather highly.
That’s all I have for today! If you want to watch me test these decks live, come check me out at Twitch! Have a great day!