Another Hit Featuring Sorin Markov


Sorin Markov Iona, Shield of Emeria (kind of) Solar Flare
[terrible] Sphinx of Jwar Isle Awesome Sauce … and Sorin Markov

I know that some of these newly beloved decks are going to be outmoded fairly quickly due to the impending appearance of new cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but I kind of wanted to flesh the site out a little bit; what with all the little fake posts since Worldwake preview season started.

I still really like the Grixis Burn deck, but Standard has become kind of monotonous; what, with winning nonstop with the aforementioned Grixis Burn deck 🙂

I don’t often read random Magic forums, but today’s post actually involves multiple [different] such trips. I was reading one where about 4-5 pages of an otherwise 40-page Grixis [Control] thread was de-railed to chat about my own Grixis Burn. I must say…

People are terrible.

When the main criticism of a deck is that it doesn’t have enough Sphinx of Jwar Isle… I don’t even know what to say. And that is saying something considering I have no qualms about voicing my own damn opinion about any damn subject any damn time of the… Hot damn!

This is a completely gratuitous image of Damnation.
Much like the entirety of Figure of Destiny, it has nothing to do with the rest of this post.

Yesterday I heard about a Solar Flare colors deck and decided to make my own. [Like I said a minute ago,] I looked over some Magic forums and decided that as cool as a cheatyface Iona, Shield of Emeria might be, I would just rather play awesome cards with multiple different colors to be able to deal with Iona (presuming that she hit the battlefield at all) [if it came to that]. The first time I hit the pseudo-mirror, my opponent had to pick up Iona due to an Into the Roil (Iona on White), which I followed up with Malakir Bloodwitch and Sorin Markov; I finished her off with Path to Exile (the second incarnation was, understandably, set to Black).

So my Solar Flare colors deck is very much influenced by Grixis Burn. Of course there is almost no burn element whatsoever (and also no Grixis) but many awesome cards are available, such as namesake Sorin Markov, a re-buy of Spreading Seas, and a dabbling of Countersqualls (you know, the ones I said I would go one-and-one with, possibly, against the somewhat clunky copies of Into the Roil).

Here it comes! I am calling this the version 1.0 despite making minor mana tweaks. I think BDM (aka @Top8Games would approve of the mana… It is similarly, if not identically, sick relative to the Grixis Burn mana base.

Sorin Markov Flare version 1.0Sorin Markov

3 Sorin Markov

2 Divination
2 Into the Roil
2 Jace Beleren
4 Sphinx of Lost Truths
4 Spreading Seas

2 Countersquall
4 Esper Charm

4 Baneslayer Angel
3 Day of Judgment
4 Path to Exile

4 Arcane Sanctum
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Glacial Fortress
2 Island
2 Kabira Crossroads
4 Marsh Flats
2 Plains
4 Swamp

4 Duress
2 Malakir Bloodwitch
4 Vampire Nighthawk
2 Into the Roil
2 Countersquall
1 Day of Judgment

The main advantage to this deck over Grixis Burn is the availability of Esper Charm. Esper Charm is not quite as powerful as Cruel Ultimatum, but it is about a million manas faster; I typically use it to destroy the opponent’s hand alongside Duress a la Black Baneslayer to prevent the opponent from getting to Cruel Ultimatum mana [+ Cruel Ultimatum], though it makes for a fine Divination. I have even used Esper Charm to destroy Pyromancer’s Ascension with the second counter on the stack. Basically, that card is awesome and it is relatively shocking that not a soul has been playing it for months: Esper Charm in and of itself is basically reason enough to at least experiment with Dromar colors.

Card Breakdown:

3 Sorin Markov
Basically what we run in Grixis Burn. Esper Colors / Sorin Markov Flare doesn’t have the access capability for a Cruel Ultimatum, so you need some kind of flashy finisher to make it worth playing a non-straight burn / non-Bloodbraid Elf deck. Sorin seems good enough, and has performed superbly thus far.

2 Divination / 2 Into the Roil (+2) / 2 Jace Beleren
Basically these cards are all sharing the one-and-a-half slots left over in a 26-land deck. One possibility was to just play with 4 Divination (as in Grixis Burn) but in the absence of Cruel Ultimatum I felt I needed a persistent threat for other control decks; Planeswalker + Planeswalker is a potentially good front line; remember as well that unlike a Grixis-colors control deck, I can’t Lightning Bolt my way out of an opposing Jace Beleren, so just playing my own is a potential disincentive.

4 Sphinx of Lost Truths
Just piling on the big cards to make up for the lack of a Cruel Ultimatum here. Between this and Sorin, the deck has a fair amount of big mana force… The typical winner for this deck, more often than even beloved Baneslayer Angel.

4 Spreading Seas
I actually find this to be one of my favorite cards in Standard. Sometimes it outright Mind Twists the opponent when you are on the play and they are planning to lean on a Savage Lands; other times it just lets you keep a two-land hand, and then you cantrip into a Jace Beleren or Divination, and it’s like you never had any problems to begin with.

2 Countersquall (+2)
Just an awesome card.

Although probably, unlike Grixis Burn, this deck could afford to just run Negate. Shhhhh… don’t tell anyone.

4 Baneslayer Angel
You know how I feel about her!

Today I was validated (as usual)… Protracted attrition fight against a five-color Blue deck. He is also packing Sphinx of Lost Truths and I make the first move by pointing Path to Exile at his Rhox War Monk (setting up for Divination turn three, and I don’t want to discard). Anyway, I have more card drawing but it takes me forever to find Day of Judgment; when I do, it is a blowout trading my Baneslayer Angel for his multiple Sphinxes, Bloodbraid Elf, some other five power guy… Basically a bunch of gas.

He untaps and slaps down his last card — Sphinx of Jwar Isle.

Same fight as it ever was!

I have about six cards in hand and answer with Baneslayer Angel with Countersquall back up.

Same fight as it ever was!

3 Day of Judgment (+1) / 4 Path to Exile
I probably need the fourth Day of Judgment.

Becker, undoubtedly, would find a way. (hint hint)

Of the sideboard cards, Duress is the most amazing. How have I not played this longtime favorite card in a tournament in more than three years? It’s great against Cruel Ultimatum in particular. Credit to Osyp Lebedowicz for this one, though he suggested it for Grixis Burn (kind of like how I made Giant Solifuge in the Red Deck but it ended up in the URzaTron sideboard).

Anyway, that’s the new deck.

I just made it last night, but for what it’s worth, I haven’t lost a match yet (about 7-0 to 8-0 range). Most of my opponents were Double Negative-style Grixis decks. The closest match was when I went ultimate with Sorin Markov versus a Sphinx of Jwar Isle and my opponent was gripping Courier’s Capsule + Negate. It was particularly embarassing as I had three Countersqualls in hand.

I played his Courier’s Capsule but forgot to hold down ctrl


The plan was to counter with his own Negate, but instead I lost to the Vampire Nighthawk that he drew off the Capsule the next turn!

Have fun.


P.S. If your opponents at FNM or whatever are Grixis Control, play this deck. If there is one thing I know, it is that you have basically no possible chance of losing to a deck with Double Negative in it. Although I’ve tried! For instance, right before posting this I successfully Countersqualled a Sphinx of Lost Truths into play with Arcane Sanctum in play, and hit F4… With Duress in hand and my opponent with only one card.

… It was Cruel Ultimatum.

I eventually came back from nil, behind his Sphinx of Jwar Isle, to win via a trio of Sorins, with a Countersquall doing the last two points of damage (though to be fair it was protecting a Sphinx and a Baneslayer Angel).

But come on… Was I really going to lose to Sphinx of Jwar Isle?

facebook comments:


#1 ALaflamme on 01.26.10 at 8:43 pm

Mr. Flores, are you open to receiving deck ideas form non-pros? if so, how would one submit said ideas?

#2 admin on 01.26.10 at 8:46 pm

You are welcome to post decks in the comments here (and I read all the comments) but I don’t in general have time to review every deck that people send me, unfortunately.

#3 BrendanJourney on 01.26.10 at 9:09 pm

If people start playing your Grixis list at my local FNM, I’ll definitely switch to this list. As it is, I’m the only one playing the Grixis list so far and I love it. I don’t forsee anyone switching to it, though I haven’t lost a match in 3(?) weeks with it. And I’ve only lost 2 games in that time period. These last few decks you’ve created have been superb Mike. The U/W Baneslayer list, then Grixis, now this. Good stuff. I’ll be honest, I basically play your lists exclusively, sometimes a Conley Woods list, and on occasion a homebrew. When I need something to play though, I come to your site.

#4 BrendanJourney on 01.26.10 at 9:14 pm

Oh and as far as Sphinx of Jwar Isle is concerned, I’d rather be casting Baneslayers, Lost Truths, Sorins, Cruels and things like that than some card that just lets me look at the top of my deck. I’ll gladly race your Sphinx with my Baneslayers or Cruels all day.

#5 von_sparron on 01.27.10 at 9:52 am

Hey Mike. Long time listener, first time caller. Deck seems solid, conveniently dodges all those sill Flashfreezes. Esper Charm is one of the best non-played cards in standard right now (along with tidehollow Sculler). Coupla questions:
1 – Going back in time a few posts, have you tried bloodchief ascencion in your grixis burn deck? It’s probably bad, but it’s probably fun!
2 – I know how much you hate Sphinx of Jwar isle but it does play kinda nice with Treasure Hunt… Would you play it in U/x control (where x isn’t = W)?

#6 angry_sheep on 01.27.10 at 12:08 pm

off topic…

i’ve been playing the grixis list; it’s awesome. one question though, how do you handle jund post board. turn 1 duress, turn 2 leech, turn 4 ruinblaster have been wrecking me. it’s best deck without baneslayer though.

#7 angry_sheep on 01.27.10 at 12:08 pm

ps sphinx of jwar isle sucks

#8 admin on 01.27.10 at 12:20 pm

1. I haven’t tried that yet. My design on this one was based on burn and velocity so I don’t know if it would fit my selection theme.
2. I mean Treasure Hunt is going to be great no matter what, right? I don’t know about investing 6 mana to get an incremental 1 land. What do you think about that reasoning?

1. Cross my fingers and manascrew them with Spreading Seas! (no… really)
2. Same 🙂

#9 von_sparron on 01.27.10 at 3:18 pm

Treasure hunt is AWESOME. That is a scientific fact. I wouldn’t play the Sphinx just for the inteaction with THunt but it might come up. I guess if you have 6 mana and a treausre hunt and you aren’t already dead you are probably winning anyway.

#10 MTGBattlefield on 01.28.10 at 1:30 am

Another Hit Featuring Sorin Markov…

Your story has been summoned to the battlefield – Trackback from MTGBattlefield…

#11 Five With Flores » On Grixis, and Applying Grand Unified Theory by Thomas Dodd on 01.28.10 at 7:36 pm

[…] I would like to give you thoughts on updating the deck, but I think the Esper build Mike posted [here] really covers the same points that I would make. In the weeks after Worldwake, you will definitely […]

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