Mildly modified from my r/spikes post.
I have found that the majority of decks running around right now are playing powerful non-creature spells, some of which can't be countered. There is a real advantage in being able to remove a Thought Erasure from an opposing control deck before they point it at you or catch a critical planeswalker before it comes down.
Even with the main deck power, you will have many situations in which this is dead. It is the card I am thinking of swapping most in the main.
**2 Seach for Azcanta**
I have seen a lot of nay-saying towards this card, but it has brought me back into the grindy games more often than not. It is an unfortunate card to draw against aggro, but if you set it up early it can provide very crucial top card selection and get relegated to the SB for games 2 and 3.
A flipped azcanta means you are drawing two cards each turn rotation with at least one of them being a selection. I will admit that my control list may have more creature spells than others, but the whiffs are few and far enough between.
**4 Thought Erasure**
Not much to explain about this one. Taking a key card from your opponent is great and being able to surveil even if your opponent is hellbent is gravy.
**2 Lava Coil**
The exact numbers for the removal suite feel hard to pin down and I think that is due to the small fluctuations in the meta. Right now I am running coils to deal with the errant phoenix and esper's bellboy, but overall it is an efficient damage amount for the cost.
**4 Dreadhorde Butcher**
I tried a version from a modo 5-0 league done by someone with the username Chepa who played four of these and four thief of sanity and felt real good. Over time I realize the thief was under-performing and decided to cut it, but butcher does wonders.
Against aggro it has been a 2-1 on several occasions and if you are able to get it in ahead of their small creatures, it can become a nice deterrent to attacking. Against control it can absolutely throw them off. Butcher provides real pressure and they can put themselves in a sticky situation by dropping their guard by removing this card. While there is some bounce and exile still running around, the damage from death is quite a nice ribbon and reach. I believe exactly once I was able to attack then kill my own butcher to get lethal on my opponent.
This card can easily be sided out when you are going second or if your sb has too many nice things to bring in, but this card feels very rarely dead.
**2 Tyrant's Scorn**
I really like the utility of this card and there are plenty of threats that this can answer. Against aggro; easy removal, but against the number of ramp decks running around it can really delay their start and won't be a dead card because it can kill a nissa land as well as krasis.
In addition to it's work as a kill spell and a bounce stall, you can bounce your own 4bolas for the save or kill your butcher as a form of reach.
Sb out against control unless you think they are bringing in aggro elements that aren't covered by the rest of the deck's removal.
It doesn't deal with enchantments, but it deals with everything else.... mostly. Destroying artifacts has come in handy here and there, but this is the bread and butter removal being able to deal with creatures and planeswalkers alike.
Since we are playing God Bolas, we don't mind the double black, but I am stretching the mana thin to also have narset.
Denying card dry is pretty helpful in a large number of important matchups in, but it isn't dead since it has that other ability on it (humor). As I said above with azcanta, my build is running quite a few creatures, so she can whiff from time to time. She is always taken out against aggro and she makes the mana harder than kefnet which makes this the second card I am constantly thinking about cutting. She just helps so much against other control decks and especially against the plethora of krasis decks, that I don't think it is the correct move.
Some might say to move her to the side but that doesn't really answer the mana problem which "could" be resolved changing the lands which I will discuss later.
**3 Nicol Bolas, the Ravager**
If this card resolves it is a nice two for one which could get you a lot of value in the late game via flipping it. Obviously this card is a counter and removal lightning rod, but I don't think that "dies to doomblade" is applicable here since we often see negate over essence scatter against us and if it does resolve we hit a discard.
**2 Chemister's Insight**
Helps smooth the mana and allows us to play chicken with the flash decks (as long as tef3ri isn't around) while maintaining mana use. An upside is that we can put it in the yard with azcanta or erasure and still have access to the second half.
**2 God-Eternal Kefnet**
This card has to be countered or discarded to be permanently dealt with. It has a resilient body with the 5 toughness and can accrue loads of value if you get to untap with it..... and tef3ri isn't around.
**3 Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God**
If you can protect this card, you can get a lot of value. Sometimes.... he is just a removal spell and some small lifegain, but that doesn't happen that often against non aggro decks and he is often trimmed for games 2 and 3 in those matches.
Like a flipped azcanta, this card means you are drawing two cards to your opponent's one except here, they are losing a card... most often a land, but still.
**1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General**
I have had her in and out of the deck for a while and I just recently put her back in, so I haven't seen her much. The main reason she has returned this time is to act as a compliment to chandra in order to deal with elementals that chandra wont.
**2 Chandra, Awakened Inferno**
This card looked great when it was spoiled and it has met my expectations. The only reason she is no longer at 3 is because elementals are popular and she can only kill one at a time with her -x. She has been helpful in every match and I keep her in against super aggro and sub out bolas because she is much more helpful..... as long as i live to 6.
I kept flooding. I still do from time to time, but if I were to go back to 26, I'd be inclined to be a 61 card deck like a madman.
My main issue is the dang blue. I am running a basic swamp because the basic island was giving me issues. Initially I had 2 swamps and 1 island, but swapped 1 and 1 for the backwaters which actually haven't been an issue coming in tapped.
This is definitely my weakest area (in general, I consider myself a much better player than deck builder, but mana bases screw me even though I reference the articles we all know about), and where I could use the most tips.
Helpful early removal for the hyper aggro decks, often of the single color variety.
**2 Grafdigger's Cage**
Look, I really hate dreadhorde. This has some splash value in some places if I have extra space for sb cards, but this is almost entirely against dreadhorde since I don't have many counterspells.
I could try other counterspells which I will talk about later, but I will admit I let the tilt get the better of me.
Speaking of, these come in against planeswalker decks and general control decks. If my opponent is on a burn heavy aggro, I'll bring it in there.
I could see an argument for taking this to 3.
**1 The Elderspell**
I'm not going to lie, I don't think this card is very good. It has a nice "combo" with lord bolas, but the fact that it can't hit creatures in a meta where I am seeing decks that run them alongside the walkers is a big "ugh" from me. I only ever bring it in against dreadhorde decks for the few times that I don't just lose of the value alone.
I used to have this at 2, but I am pretty sure its time in my list is coming to a close.
**1 Aether gust**
I tried this card out and I am not sure it is worth it. The fact that the opponent gets to decide where the card goes is pretty not ideal. Yes it does force them to redraw something, but I have found it only fine, not great.
**2 Noxious Grasp**
Like chandra, I knew I was going to like this card. Absolutely fantastic. So many multicolored threats and so many white or green threats that this comes in so easily and is almost never dead. For example, I bring it in against simic/bant flash and the main card that this doesn't deal with is fishboi (cuttthroat) which isn't much of an issue.
This is something I could see myself boosting to 3.
For a while, I forgot about this card. Like grasp, this comes in so often an almost never feels dead. The fact that it doesn't get countered is just soo damn nice. Beware of dive down tho:)
Another in the maybe to 3 camp.
**1 Cry of the Carnarium**
Helpful against the super low to the ground decks, but I have been seeing fewer of those with the high stats of creatures running around.
**2 Ritual of Soot**
The much better board wipe since it can hit krasis, buffed creatures from mono white, and those pesky nissa lands.
Still not awesome... but it's what black has.
**1 Ugin, the Ineffable**
Recent add to the sb that was in the main before m20. I bring it in against control, but as a 1 of I dont see it often.
It helps against enchantments, but I am really not sure if it is worth the slot.
I have played versions with counters previously and they just feel a lot worse right not thanks to flash and tef3ri. I have found it is better to beat them your way than try to play their game.
**Ionize** is an interesting damage tool in conjunction with butcher, but not being able to hit walkers with the damage means the shock is often immaterial.
**Sinister Sabotage** gets you that fantastic surveil, but comes with the terror of the uu, which is already an issue.
**Disdainful Stroke** yeah it hits big things, but similar to elderspell, I find many decks have very threatening low drops in addition to high ones.
**Syncopate** Too situational it seems.
I like where my removal is, but I have toyed with others in the side and main.
**Angrath's Rampage** is nice an helpful at dealing with single walkers but often I find my opponents have options for their creatures at the point in the game in which I can cast this but not targeted removal. The versatility for affected card types doesn't remove the lack of situational versatility.
**Moment of Craving** give you life and can deal with vanguard, but it is hard to justify over the other flexible options and the same is sorta true with **Cast Down**
**Enter the God-Eternals** I like the card, but I am unsure what I would remove for it. I'd likely only want one or two, but I don't feel super stressed for it, only really needing it sometimes against mono white and mono red.
**Vraska's Contempt** has been my go to in the past. I essentially removed this for lava coil, since coil is cheaper. I can see myself going back if I see fewer aggro decks.
**Drawn from Dreams** I really wanted to like this card but it has felt worse than insight. Getting it off kefnet is great, but with only two kefnet, it was hard to justify a four mana sorcery for card selection in this meta even if it is as good as drawn is in a vacuum.
**Opt** is easy to squeeze in here and there but is overall not impactful enough.
**Thief of Sanity** is, as I said above, not performing well for me. On paper it is real great unmolested from control, but it feels that turn 3 is too slow for a threat like this.
**Legion Warboss** is something I see everywhere in grixis sb, but it has never worked for me. I think for me it suffers the same problems as thief and butcher just does a better job for me.
**Ral, Storm Conduit** actually worked really nicely for me before m20, getting me valuable pings and scrys while also being able to double up my removal or discard value. I could see going with a couple of these in a heavier walker version that eschews the heavy creature count.
**Sarkhan the Masterless** is another among a possible walker build. Unlike ral, though, there are decent arguments for playing sarkhan without increasing the walker count. We have a dragon bolas already and sarkhan is often a nice two for one by creating the dragon threat and requiring your opponent to deal with both. That said, still better with more walkers since we are "only" running 9 in the main.
**Ashiok, Dream Render** is another option against dreadhorde. On the plus, it can just get rid of that pesky yard, but the minus is that it is a little easier to remove over the course of the game and more can be added to the yard.
**Saheeli, Sublime Artificer** could provide many blockers with our number of non-creartures (even though we run more creatures than others). She is also easier to cast than narset. The biggest issue is that she is just not as impactful as narset.
Unfortunately, since viewers like variety, all of my matches get muddled in my head, so I can't get a super accurate description of each matchup, only my best recollection.
**Mono Red** is actually not as bad as some have said. I do chock a lot of that up to butcher being a sublime blocker alongside my kefnets and 4bolas blockers. A resolved frenzy is my worst enemy and if I know it is in the deck I do bring in cages if i can find reasonable room.
**Mono White** can be an actual nightmare and I think is the worst of the mono matchups. the sheer speed at which their board can get out of hand is ludacris (ha) and the tribunals can be a real pain in our effort to make blockers. out of the board the rituals help but they do have ways around cry which can make some hands real awkward
**Tempo Blue** is a matchup I hate because of the frustrating play patterns but I actually feel favored especially with the sb.
**Dreadhorde** is a deck you can just lose to a topdeck. I have to answer their cards and apply sufficient pressure for them not to hit me with a dreadhorde outta nowhere. My tilt blinds me for this matchup.
**Simic/Bant Flash** has actually felt quite good since for me it felt like this deck just popped up. I really don't know why I've done okay against them since it feels like I should be unfavored.
**Esper Control** felt like a game of chicken before, but butcher goes far at putting them off their gameplan allowing me to take advantage. Of course my red uncounterable cards are also a plus.
**Esper Hero** is worse for me than control, but I am not sure by how much. Like my butcher, their hero can really throw me off if I don't have removal early enough.
**SimicX Ramp** like flash feels like a cakewalk. errant krasis can warp the game against me, but otherwise a lot of their ramp is mitigated by my removal and I can play around manipulation.
**Temur Elementals** feel essentially the same as simic ramp but better since I just keep killing things. The aggro variants are a complete reversal tho, running me over with their dorks.
**Gruul Dinos** Can decimate me if I have a heavy creature hand, but the amount of removal we run is quite nice. If tyrant resolves, it is a sad sight that we wish we had rampage for.
**Feather** is all about timing, timing, timing. If you run them out of creatures and don't give them targets for their reckless rampage you can win easily. Haste is sometimes a worry.
You might be asking what I am losing to. The deck does lose to what feel like fine matchups most often due to play mistakes on my part and I did say I can't recall perfectly, self-serving bias and all that.
[Recent Bolas games #1](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlKKy77on7E)
[Recent Bolas games #2](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhcHHfuPn7U)
[Lord Bolas's Playlist](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUyEpL8mSxw&list=PLOIrzrubaeP5tSGsq0ljQ2M1Uvx1552OS&index=34) starting at the m20 point.
|Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (17)|
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