Standard Grixis Epiphany Deck Guide: The Best Evolution of Turns

Lier, Disciple of the Drowned Art by Ekaterina Burmak
Lier, Disciple of the Drowned Art by Ekaterina Burmak

Hello everyone! As many of you know, the Worlds deck lists were accidentally released Tuesday morning, a full 3 days before they were supposed to. Despite this mishap, the competitors and Wizards have taken it in stride, just accepting that a mistake occurred. Many players were hoping that Worlds could help introduce some fresh takes on a meta that already seemed solved, and unfortunately it doesn’t really seem to be the case. However, 4 of the competitors brought a super sweet take on Izzet Turns, adding Black.

grixis turns
49.2% global win rate
0.10% metagame share
Powered by
best against
vs orzhov midrange
87.5% win rate
8 tracked matches
vs dimir rogues
85.7% win rate
7 tracked matches
vs sultai midrange
71.4% win rate
7 tracked matches
worst against
vs azorius control
36.4% win rate
22 tracked matches
vs gruul werewolves
33.3% win rate
6 tracked matches
vs simic aggro
20.0% win rate
5 tracked matches
Grixis Epiphany by Gabriel Nassif – Magic World Championship
by Terence
Standard
Control
best of 3
7 mythic
31 rare
16 uncommon
6 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (4)
1
Smoldering Egg
$3.49
Instants (18)
4
Fading Hope
$1.00
1
Cinderclasm
$0.29
1
Power Word Kill
$0.35
1
Cathartic Pyre
$0.25
1
Demon Bolt
$0.25
1
Prismari Command
$13.99
3
Memory Deluge
$20.97
Sorceries (12)
2
Duress
$0.50
Artifacts (3)
3
The Celestus
$10.47
Lands (23)
1
Island
$0.25
2
Mountain
$0.98
3
Shipwreck Marsh
$25.47
4
Haunted Ridge
$33.96
60 Cards
$354.8
Sideboard
2
Mind Flayer
$1.58
1
Power Word Kill
$0.35
1
Soul Shatter
$3.99
1
Duress
$0.25
2
Go Blank
$0.50
15 Cards
$27.85

Considering the deck was so new, it’s no surprise that there was room to innovate with it, but it was hard to tell how to do so. The deck’s game plan was already so straight forward in control the board until you can combo off that there’s only so much wiggle room the deck had, at least in just Izzet. To that end, the World Championship lists for Izzet are all functionally stock, give or take a few cards of their choosing, but nothing out of the ordinary. Grixis though looks to more aggressively solve the fundamental problems the deck has: there needs to be a version stronger in the mirror and the aggro matchup needs to be improved.

First and foremost, it’s clear to see that this list was made for the mirror in mind. The Grixis team identified that the mirror was the most important matchup and built with that in mind with a large amount of the card choices. The first card that comes to mind that falls into this category is Lier, Disciple of the Drowned. The main way to interact with the Turns deck is counterspells, however, most turns list didn’t play hard counters but Divide by Zero which circumvents the uncounterable clause on spells. So why include it? Well another function of the Izzet Epiphany decks is that they don’t play a lot of removal for larger creatures.

Furthermore, since the metagame is going to be more insular, the other Epiphany lists were presumably going to go a bit lighter on interaction as well anticipating the mirror to be the most important matchup. With both of those factors in mind, what Lier accomplishes is getting double value out of all their spells, without a large worry of it getting killed in a good value exchange. Those are just all the reasons it’s good in the mirror too! Against Blue decks that are looking to solely interact with counterspells, Lier puts the onus on the opponent to have a means to interact with Lier really quickly or just have no means to stop Epiphany. Lastly, against the creature strategies, doubling up on spells and having a 3/4 body is very relevant.

The next really interesting piece of tech is The Celestus. This was a head scratcher for me when I first saw it, but after thinking it over, it’s rather genius. One of the issues Epiphany had is that it needs an excess of mana to do it’s thing. Whether you’re trying to turbo out the combo, play something relevant while holding up interaction, or just playing the long game, mana was of the upmost importance. Just on the surface, The Celestus is just a solid mana rock which helps accrue more mana per game and also color fixes, however, they wouldn’t play Manalith if that was an option. They could’ve opted to play Strixhaven Stadium as well to have an alternate win con if they can’t get a surplus of birds, is that color fixing that important? Partly yes, but it has less to do with the color fixing and more to do with it’s triggered ability. Epiphany is a Control deck and they anticipated a lot of other Epiphany decks.

On top of that, the deck has a lot of cheap spells so double spelling is pretty easy most turns. So with The Celestus out, it’s very easy to constantly shift between day and night, which lets you accrue life and filter through your deck! No matter the matchup, the ability for a free life and a free loot is not to be understated, especially when it’s attached to a mana rock. On that note, considering this deck has a greater ability to churn through it’s cards, it has more freedom to play a slew of one ofs that they have a much higher chance of finding than a normal list. Considering they play 8 1 ofs, it seems they are very confident in the deck’s ability to find what it needs.

Beyond those two genius pieces of tech, there are more choice cards that are less exciting, but still great. For the mirrors, main deck Duress is a welcome sight to interact on the cheap and Go Blank in the sideboard is really brutal on a deck that values resources above all else (plus the graveyard exile is very relevant).

All that said, these were the considerations made to beat the mirror, but what about the creature decks that are going to fill out the rest of the metagame? For the main deck, they didn’t do anything supremely special. They have the classic 4 Fading Hope as a means to stall, and then they play a slew of different removal spells to help in different situations, further supported by the deck’s ability to filter quickly. Most of the removal is small creature interaction, but there are removal spells that can kill larger threats like Demon Bolt, Power Word Kill, Bloodchief’s Thirst (although this is better against small creatures) and Burn Down the House. Again, nothing particularly special about the main deck in this sense, but it’s the sideboard where things get really interesting.

Mind Flayer is an excellent addition to the sideboard as neither Monogreen or Monowhite are presumably going to keep in tools to kill this as it’s only a 2 of. They both have ways whether it’s Fateful Absence out of Monowhite or Blizzard Brawl out of Monogreen, but keeping it in for a 2 of just feels awful which makes playing exactly 2 copies so genius. They could’ve also gone down to 1 and had a similar effect, but they must have figured that 3+ would force players to keep in interaction lessening the chance that it gets to stick.

Secondly, the 3 Cyclone Summoner was a huge surprise to me. The only time I saw this in Constructed was 2022 Simic Ramp, so going up to 3 copies means they are a big fan of what this brings to the table (or what it takes off of the table!) I wouldn’t have expected it, but it is quite good against Monogreen as they have a lot of tokens and functionally no way to outscale a 7/7 and this is still solid against Monowhite as well. What this tells me is that they may be looking for a somewhat transformational plan against creature decks in the post board games where they board out some or all Epiphany and bring in Summoners to help combat the creature decks. I’m surprised that they just didn’t opt for more Burn Down the House personally, so it’ll be super interesting to see how it plays out this weekend.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Galvanic Iteration Art by Johann Boldin
Galvanic Iteration Art by Johann Boldin

GRIXIS EPIPHANY

INOUT
+4 Malevolent Hermit-4 Fading Hope
+1 Duress-1 Cathartic Pyre
+2 Go Blank-1 Cinderclasm
+1 Soul Shatter-1 Bloodchief’s Thirst
-1 Burn Down the House

Grixis has really clean boarding of taking out most of their removal spells in favor of interaction like Malevolent Hermit and hand disruption in the pure mirror. You don’t want to take out all the creature removal as Lier on the opposite side can mess you up really badly if unchecked.

This mirror is going to be less like traditional control mirrors where it’s mostly land drops and posturing as jamming is going to be punished significantly less often and holding can be problematic against cards like Duress and Go Blank.

IZZET EPIPHANY / IZZET DRAGONS

INOUT
+4 Malevolent Hermit-4 Fading Hope
+1 Duress-1 Cathartic Pyre
+2 Go Blank-1 Cinderclasm
+1 Soul Shatter-1 Power Word Kill
-1 Burn Down the House

This matchup is interesting as despite boarding nearly identical to the mirror, the matchup plays out pretty differently. First off, Izzet plays much more like a typically Control deck so land drops and posturing is way more important considering they have the counterspells to back up their open mana.

Furthermore, they have a small creature package in the sidebaord they’re likely to bring in against Grixis which forces you to keep in some amount of removal to respect. Nothing is more embarrassing than an opponent playing Smoldering Egg on turn 2 after you took out all of your interaction!

MONO GREEN AGGRO / GRUUL AGGRO

INOUT
+2 Mind Flayer-2 Galvanic Iteration
+3 Cyclone Summoner-1 Cinderclasm
+1 Power Word Kill-2 Duress
+1 Soul Shatter-3 Alrund’s Epiphany
+1 Unexpected Windfall

Taking out the namesake card is always going to feel weird, but I believe this is how you should board in this matchup. The plan of getting to 8-9 mana and comboing off with Alrund’s Epiphany when Monogreen is pressuring you like crazy just doesn’t seem tenable to me. However, getting to 7 mana and playing a 7/7 that bounces their entire board seems much more reasonable.

Monogreen really doesn’t have much in terms of interaction so it’s mostly just protecting yourself as best as you can while they try to pummel you. Most lists play 3-4 Snakeskin Veil so don’t get too cute with timing your interaction as a timely Veil can mean life or death. Do everything in your power to stay alive as you do have inevitability in this matchup.

MONO WHITE AGGRO

INOUT
+2 Mind Flayer-2 Galvanic Iteration
+3 Cyclone Summoner-2 Duress
+1 Power Word Kill-4 Alrund’s Epiphany
+1 Soul Shatter
+1 Unexpected Windfall

If you thought comboing against Monogreen was going to be difficult, then doing it against Monowhite is going to be twice as difficult. They’re faster and have more interaction for the combo, so I believe eschewing it altogether is the play. Its awkward since Epiphany is really good if you manage to cast it as the bird tokens matter a lot, but if you manage to get to that point and aren’t dead, you’re likely winning anyway.

Like Monogreen, do all you can to preserve your life total as you have the inevitability. Lier is great against Monogreen, but it’s significantly better here where your small interaction is going to be higher impact. It is awkward against Sungold Sentinel, but you have so many spells they can’t realistically exile them all.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Duress Art by Paul Scott Canavan
Duress Art by Paul Scott Canavan
  • Remember for Lier, Disciple of the Drowned that ALL spells can’t be countered, not just yours. With that in mind, if you have a Malevolent Hermit and are planning to play Lier soon, it’s likely in your best interest to use it on something your normally wouldn’t just to not lose value.
  • Don’t be afraid to use Fading Hope aggressively to help scry into action, but saving it for a token or a 3 drop is obviously the best use for it.
  • This deck lives and dies by it’s land drops, so although it can be tempting to hold on to MDFCs, just playing them out will generally be a better line unless you’re flooding or can get a lot of use out of them near immediately.
  • Many players hold their Galvanic Iteration just for Alrund’s Epiphany, but doing it on cheaper spells like Expressive Iteration or even Fading Hope can be an excellent play depending on the circumstances.
  • Try to hold Duress for the turn before the opponent can play the card you’re looking to hit or the turn that you’re looking to cast a large spell (turn before can be fine here as well). Duress isn’t amazing since it takes a card from their hand, but because it gives you information as well. Don’t waste that information.
  • I aggressively foretell Alrund’s Epiphany as it’s the best way to dodge hand disruption from other decks. You can even consider doing this even if you have other plays, but that will mostly be for the mirror rather than creature matchups.
  • Although it may be tempting, don’t put too much stock in changing Day/Night with The Celestus out. It’s more of a bonus than something you’re actively working for, but if it’s only a little bit more effort to make it work, you may as well.

Thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.

8 Responses

  1. pharmakos says:

    I know we can click the link for the lists, but would be nice to see a list on this page for quick reference while using the sideboard guide.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      For clarification, do you mean a link for sample opposing lists? Like you can see a sample Monogreen deck in the sideboard section, or like a table of contents at the top that you click the link and it takes you to that section?

      • pharmakos says:

        I just went to view the article from my browser proper, instead of from my Google news feed, and voila — the list is there at the top. The script must not have liked the other view. My bad!

  2. damianvc31 says:

    Sorry but this deck makes no sense, as shown in the first day of the Worlds.
    Strasky’s deck (which is most likely closer to the ideal list of the Turns archetype) had a very bad draw and still easily beated Matt Sperling’s Grixis good draw, simply because the later had no way to stop the combo. Seriously, how can you play this mirrors without Test of Talents, or any sort of countermagic at all (except the easily played around Jwari Disruption)?
    Duress doesn’t work very well against Foretell. Lier gives a target to removal and even stops your Hermits out of the sideboard as it happened in G3 of that match.
    The list is fun to play and might be good against creature decks by virtue of addding black removal, but it’s definitely useless in the Epiphany mirrors which are the matches you have to be prepared to win.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      I think those are reasonable points but speculating that a matchup is bad from a single match seems rushed. Even if that’s true, I think Grixis is substantially better against aggro decks which can make it the better call over all. Nevertheless, will be curious how it pans out as well as how the scgtour results work out.

      • damianvc31 says:

        Well, I’m not basing it on the single result but on the fact that even when things went well for the Grixis deck and bad for the Izzet decks, eventually the 100% reactive game plan from the Grixis deck ended up giving the Izzet player the time to find the combo and then there’s just no disruption even when Grixis has the entire deck at their disposal. So from there it can only go worse and not better.
        The only interesting thing that Grixis does against Izzet is duplicating Go Blank out of the sideboard to empty hand and graveyard, but doesn’t seem like enough to give it any sort of edge in the matchup.

        We’ll have to see what happens in the top4 since JMM secured a place there (but not by winning against Izzet) but I don’t think he has a chance against Strasky.

        Definitely doesn’t seem like a deck tailored for the mirror but to be better against aggro while still being able to combo off multiple turns.