Back to Countersquall


Beloved Lightning ∙ Bolt Beloved Spreading ∙ Seas Beloved Countersquall
Beloved Blightning ∙ The Ever-Dangerous Malakir Bloodwitch ∙ … and Cruel Ultimatum


So sparked somewhat by the win by Tom Ma (@TomMaMTG on Twitter), but mostly via chats with my boys @amistod and @sloppystack I have decided to come back to the full on hits of this metagame, the guys we call Grixis.

At some point I am going to do a full format evaluation of playable cards by mana cost, but suffice it to say, Grixis is stacked with card quality.


1 mana:
Lightning Bolt

2 mana:
Spreading Seas, Countersquall

3 mana:

4 mana:
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

5 mana:
Malakir Bloodwitch (or Siege-Gang Commander)

7 mana:
Cruel Ultimatum

One mana is actually quite competitive in Standard with Path to Exile, Noble Hierarch, and Birds of Paradise, but I think Lightning Bolt holds its own; certainly a Top 10 card.

At two, though… I think Grixis might be the king of the format with Spreading Seas (best two mana spell) and Countersquall (best Counterspell). Similar to what Tom Ma did, I decided to go for more creatures and play with Gatekeeper of Malakir on two. However rather than playing Siege-Gang Commander, I opted for Malakir Bloodwitch, which is sometimes just game over for decks like U/W Control, White Weenie, and Mythic.

Tom told me via Twitter that he also started on Malakir Bloodwitch, but switched to Siege-Gang Commander because of its increased efficacy against Jund + “just dumb” synergies with Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Cruel Ultimatum.

For reference:

Denver PTQ Winner, by Tom Ma

4 Creeping Tar Pit
4 Crumbling Necropolis
2 Lavaclaw Reaches
3 Drowned Catacomb
3 Dragonskull Summit
3 Scalding Tarn
4 Swamp
2 Island
2 Mountain

4 Sedraxis Specter
3 Gatekeeper of Malakir
3 Siege-Gang Commander

4 Blightning
4 Spreading Seas
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Terminate
4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Cruel Ultimatum
2 Staggershock

1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
2 Consuming Vapors
2 Thought Hemorrhage
3 Countersquall
3 Malakir Bloodwitch
4 Goblin Ruinblaster

Here is YT’s preliminary deck list:

Grixis Hits Version 1.1

4 Gatekeeper of Malakir
2 Malakir Bloodwitch

2 Divination
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 Spreading Seas

4 Blightning
2 Countersquall
4 Cruel Ultimatum
4 Sedraxis Specter
1 Terminate

4 Lightning Bolt

4 Creeping Tar Pit
4 Crumbling Necropolis
1 Dragonskull Summit
2 Drowned Catacomb
4 Island
4 Lavaclaw Reaches
2 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Swamp

2 Duress
2 Malakir Bloodwitch
1 Sorin Markov
4 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Countersquall
3 Terminate

My first version had 4 Countersqualls main, with one Gatekeeper of Malakir and one Terminate switching places with the now 2 + 2 permission package. I lost a Game One to Jund with three Countersqualls in my hand (believe it or not the first Countersquall stopped his third turn Blightning). I lost a super close one after resolving two Cruel Ultimatums. Basically everything had to go wrong for me; he had to hit Bloodbraid Elf on turn four and he had to play Blightning off of it (which cost me two lands that stalled my Cruel Ultimatum for three turns off-curve); after I killed his guys, he had to topdeck Broodmate Dragon. Basically everything had to go wrong for me to lose, but if I had had a 2 + 2 split with one more fast creature removal spell, I would have won fairly easily; unfortunately we didn’t finish the match.

I won I think every other match I played tonight, toggling between the 4 Countersquall and 2 + 2 versions; I think I like this one best, though it is possible that a 3 + 1 version with the Terminate in the main (for Putrid Leech) is the right way to go.

The mana in this deck is not as good as the mana in Grixis Burn. Grixis Burn had the Brian David-Marshall seal of approval for most beautiful mana base… With Worldwake duals we have to change a lot around, including playing many more lands that hit the battlefield tapped. While Gatekeeper of Malakir is quite playable, the mana in this version works very hard, especially when you are trying to hit your BBB on turn three for a Putrid Leech… That is why I think a 3 + 1 Gatekeeper / Terminate split might be the way to go.

Obviously there are no Rise of the Eldrazi spells in this deck yet; who knows if we will even play any?

Some notes from the testing:

Bring creatures in against the U/W or U/r/W Planeswalker decks. I played against Telemin Performance. If I didn’t’ have 6-8 creatures in my deck, I would have been forced to Duress Telemin Performance instead of Jace, the Mind Sculptor. As it was, I just let him play the performance against me, met Bloodwitch with Bloodwitch, and easily burned him out.

Provided there are no huge hiccups in the metagame, I think this sort of a deck might be perfectly positioned to take Nationals Qualifiers. U/W decks — permission poor as they are right now — are basically meat to a Cruel Ultimatum (sorry beloved Raka XXX… it’s true); the choice for me is between this and Vampires (right now, that is)… but thanks to Spreading Seas, I think Grixis has a better match against Jund.

That’s all I got.


PS: I lied. Just want to shout out to Blair Simpson. A month or so ago I was making fun of Blair (@Rakalite on Twitter) because he sideboarded Trace of Abundance in his four-color Bloodbraid Elf deck. I said Trace of Abundance was not strong enough for a sideboard card… and then yesterday I went and did a whole post on how strong I think it is [as a sideboard card, too]; so much to the point that I would consider — perish the thought — of playing Jund myself.

So this is a shout out to @Rakalite 🙂

In my own defense, there was no Raging Ravine to make unbeatable with Trace of Abundance back when Blair made Top 8 of Alabama States.

For Reference:

4 Baneslayer Angel

4 Bloodbraid Elf

4 Borderland Ranger

2 Master of the Wild Hunt

2 Ajani Vengeant

2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

2 Trace of Abundance

4 Blightning

3 Bituminous Blast

3 Maelstrom Pulse

4 Lightning Bolt

2 Path to Exile

4 Jungle Shrine

4 Savage Lands

3 Arid Mesa

2 Marsh Flats

2 Verdant Catacombs

3 Plains

2 Forest

2 Mountain

2 Swamp

3 Jund Charm

2 Trace of Abundance

3 Fleshbag Marauder

2 Thought Hemorrhage

1 Ajani Vengeant

4 Goblin Ruinblaster

facebook comments:


#1 EGalan on 05.06.10 at 4:09 pm

Wouldn’t it be better just to play Sphinx of Lost Truths over Bloodwitch? Then you can drop Divination and replace them with another terminate and countersquall? Just an idea…

#2 rockbard on 05.06.10 at 11:52 pm

Most decks cannot handle Bloodwitch. Mythic, White Weenie, U/W Control fold their hands against it.

#3 MTGBattlefield on 05.07.10 at 2:16 am

Back to Countersquall…

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

#4 Mandos on 05.09.10 at 9:47 pm

I think you we have something nice here!I was thinking as well that cruel is once again the answer to the current meta but could not find/make a nice list…hopefully you will write another article explaining why you picked each card,the way this deck is played (due to all those tapped lands I am confused) and the way you think this particular grixis control will win both U/W, American Planeswalkers and Jund. After examining what is the role of each card we might try for alternatives (if we can find any!).Again grats for the list,it is nice to cast cruel ultimatum again!

#5 Ale on 05.12.10 at 6:08 pm

At the end of the article you say that vampires could be another option? I you had to use it wich woul be de optimal decklist for you? Would it be b/r, u/b o mono black?

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