This weekend is probably my favorite one in the MTG calendar year, the Starcitygames.com Invitational weekend. Between a couple of my Invitational Qualifier wins last year and my Baltimore Top 8 2 weeks ago, I am queued for this event. For anyone who does not entirely know what an Invitational is, it is a tournament split into two different formats (this one is Standard and Modern) against the highest caliber of SCG Tour competitors. These split format tournaments are really hard to prepare for because you can’t dedicate the entirety of your time on one certain format or deck. Now let’s get to the meat of the article and see the decklists I will be playing this weekend.

Modern

Grixis Control

Creatures
4 Snapcaster Mage
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
2 Goblin Dark-Dwellers
1 Vendilion Clique

Instants and Sorceries
4 Ancestral Vision
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Terminate
3 Kolaghan’s Command
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Thoughtseize
2 Cryptic Command
2 Spell Snare
1 Slaughter Pact
1 Logic Knot
1 Negate
1 Dreadbore

Lands

4 Polluted Delta
2 Steam Vents
2 Watery Grave
1 Blood Crypt
2 Darkslick Shores
2 Blackcleave Cliffs
2 Creeping Tar Pit
3 Island
1 Swamp
1 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn

Sideboard

2 Molten Rain
1 Keranos, God of Storm
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Countersquall
2 Dispel
1 Izzet Staticaster
1 Damnation
2 Fulminator Mage
3 Leyline of the Void

So I want to talk about the deck choice and some reasons behind why I’m playing some of the cards in the deck that may seem out of place. First off, the biggest reason behind why I chose Grixis Control was simply due to the fact I have played this deck for the last 3 months and know it fairly well, and Modern rewards familiarity with your deck. I personally feel like modern-day Grixis plays similarily to Jund decks down the years in Modern. Grixis is generally pretty even against most of the field and going into a tournament like the Invitational I would like to be 50/50 against the field. This deck is different from the Grixis Delver decks. It wants to play a control game and ride card advantage to victory. Logic Knot and Negate are not common main board cards in Grixis Control decks currently, but they work well with this deck.

Originally, I was playing 2 Mana Leak, but here’s the issue with that: when Mana Leak is in your deck, it is a card that gets outclassed in the late game so you need to see it early which means you need more copies in the deck. Also, since I don’t utilize dredge cards like Tasigur, Golden Fang, Gurmag Angular, or Murderous Cut, I’ll have free range to delve in order to counter a spell. Negate definitely isn’t a regular card to see in the main board either, but has been really good for me in testing. Grixis is known to be able to attack and answer creatures really efficiently. However, what Grixis doesn’t answer well is Planeswalkers, which Negate is a clean answer to. Also, Modern is a spell-dense format, so in every matchup there will be a good target for Negate.

Goblin Dark-Dwellers is everything and more that I would want in this deck. It may not have repeatable card advantage like Tasigur, but it is an immediate threat that gets value without it needing to stay on board for several turns.

The spell base for this deck all revolves around Goblin Dark-Dwellers and so does the sideboard. Playing Stone Rain over Crumble to Dust is a concession to having the powerful 5 drop in the main board. Additionally, because we have a lot of spot removal, Menace is very relevant, and will close out games very quickly.

Ancestral Vision versus Serum Visions will always be a debate when it comes to Grixis in Modern. I am personally not a fan of Serum Visions and would rather draw more cards late game after playing all of my one-for-one spells to refill my hand. Also, because we are playing Goblin Dark-Dwellers, Ancestral Vision gets a lot better. After all, Dark-Dwellers-ing an Ancestral Vision is significantly better than doing the same to a Serum Visions.

Standard

Abzan Control

Creatures
Sylvan Advocate
2 Den Protector
2 Nissa, Vastwood Seer // Nissa, Sage Animist
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow

Planeswalkers
3 Liliana, the Last Hope
3 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
2 Sorin, Grim Nemesis

Enchantments
4 Oath of Nissa
1 Oath of Liliana

Instants and Sorceries
1 Ultimate Price
2 Grasp of Darkness
1 Murder
2 Ruinous Path
1 Anguished Unmaking
3 Languish
1 Descend upon the Sinful

Lands
4 Shambling Vent
2 Hissing Quagmire
1 Forsaken Sanctuary
4 Caves of Koilos
3 Llanowar Wastes
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Forest
3 Swamp
1 Plains

Sideboard
1 Duress
1 Dead Weight
3 Transgress the Mind
1 Grasp of Darkness
2 Gnarlwood Dryad
1 Pick the Brain
1 Infinite Obliteration
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Languish
1 Dark Petition
1 Seasons Past
1 Dragonlord Dromoka

After making top8 at the Starcitygames.com Open in Baltimore with my original Abzan list, found here, I know I am a bit biased to play this deck, but I’m giving in and playing it anyway. The tweaks that I’ve made give me an edge against all these sweet new Pro Tour decks. Descend upon the Sinful, one of the newest editions, gives me a clean answer to Emrakul, the Promised End. The card is very powerful even without Emrakul being present. Being able to wrath a board and leaving a 4/4 angel afterwards is very powerful, especially when there are Planeswalkers left over to protect. In the main deck, I added an extra instant and also 2 more sorceries to enable delirium a bit easier.

The Gnarlwood Dryads are a good one mana blocker that could also be aggressive when needed. Being one mana works really well with Liliana, the Last Hope’s -2 ability. As I talked about in my article last week, found here, I don’t think I will ever be able to leave my house for a Standard tournament without playing some copies of Infinite Obliteration in my black deck. The best part of having the one-of board plan is the effect it has on Dark Petition. Dark Petition gets a lot stronger with the one-ofs because it increases it’s ability to be a toolbox card that can find anything you may want in the deck, as well as being able to cast a lot of the spells you tutor for in the same turn. I feel like this deck is still well-positioned in the format and will lead me to great success again this weekend at the Invitational.

A couple shoutouts are definitely in order this week. A huge shoutout goes out to my A1BN crew for helping me solidify my 75s. Luis Alfonso and Myles Housman were able to convince me of some modern choices I had regarding my board. William Grogan helped me tweak the Standard portion to the point I am very confident in the list. Another shoutout is in order to Robert Healey and his store Gamer’s Vault.

If any of you guys are playing in any events and playing these lists feel free to comment and let me know how you do and what you liked about it. If you’re playing at Somerset come find me, I’ll be wearing a Gamer’s Vault shirt this weekend. We can talk all about various match ups or just hang out.

For a guide on another deck I like a lot in Modern, click here.

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