Almost There: Grixis Energy

Posted in How to Build on December 1, 2017

By Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

Paulo has been playing Magic since he was eight years old. At fifteen, he ventured outside of Brazil for his first international tournament, and he's been globetrotting as a professional player ever since.

Right now, energy decks are the most popular they've ever been. At the top of the format, we have straight Temur Energy, which is a more aggressive version than the four-color decks that splash for The Scarab God and Vraska, Relic Seeker. Then there's the Pro Tour–winning Sultai deck, which is even more aggressive and tries to snowball cards like Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Longtusk Cub with the help of Winding Constrictor and Blossoming Defense. After that, you can find the different flavors of Electrostatic Pummeler decks—both red-green and blue-green are common, and they can either have a black splash or be straight two-color.

Those decks are all different in how they operate, but they have one thing in common: they all have green in them. Attune with Aether is just too powerful of a card to not play, and Longtusk Cub, Rogue Refiner, and Bristling Hydra all work very well with the energy shell. People disagree on what the right build of energy is, but everyone agrees that green is the base color.

Or, rather, almost everyone agrees. This is Sergio Ferry's Grixis Energy list that took 9th place at Grand Prix Atlanta:

Sergio Ferry's Grixis Energy

Download Arena Decklist

The list is remarkably similar to the one popular streamer Brennan DeCandio has been playing lately, which means they probably originated from the same place, but I don't know whether Sergio's list is based on Brennan's, Brennan's is based on Sergio's, or they were both inspired by one from another source.

This is Brennan's current list:

Brennan DeCandio's Grixis Energy

Download Arena Decklist

Regardless of who came up with the deck, it intrigues me, because it eschews a lot of cards that were originally considered centerpieces of the strategy—Attune with Aether, Rogue Refiner, and Longtusk Cub—and yet it still manages to win, so it must be gaining something in return. What is it?

Eventually, it dawned on me that it wasn't quite right to compare this to the other energy builds—even though it has energy cards, it is not really an energy deck, and does not play like one. It has a lot more interaction than normal energy lists, and is much better equipped to extend the game. As a result, it plays a lot more like a control or blue-black midrange deck, and this is how you should treat it. Don't ask what it loses compared to Temur Energy, but what it gains compared to blue-black midrange decks. And what it gains is the powerful cheap red removal and two cards that can deal with creatures while also advancing your own game plan: Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Glorybringer. Since you're great at using Aether Hub, the tricolor mana base isn't actually an issue. Whirler Virtuoso isn't here as an energy sink, and you aren't trying to win the game with it single-handedly; it's merely a bridge to the late game that happens to be good against Ramunap Red and opposing Thopter tokens.

Because of this, I like Brennan's new list a little bit more—it embraces its role as a more controlling deck, with Torrential Gearhulks, Supreme Wills, and more The Scarab Gods. This makes the plan of "remove everything they play" better, because you're more likely to win the late game you're aiming to reach. The deck has no draw-two spells to reuse via Gearhulk, which is unusual, but its removal suite is very good, and the worst-case scenario is usually casting a Supreme Will for its second mode, which isn't bad at all.

This deck is worse against decks that go over the top of it, such as White-Blue Approach, since it has negligible pressure, but it should be good against most decks that depend on creatures to win. If you're a fan of blue-black decks, you should give this deck a spin. It combines the best of two worlds in a lot of ways. Alternatively, if you want to play energy cards but are tired of the Temur or Sultai playstyles, then this deck could be for you as well. Just make sure you aren't treating it as a color-shifted energy deck, because it's not actually that—it's just a Grixis midrange deck that happens to use energy, and I think that makes it an improvement on what currently exists.

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