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Against the Odds: Grixis Gods (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode ninety-nine of Against the Odds. I was away on vacation last week, which means we didn't have an Against the Odds poll (don't worry, it returns today at the end up the article). As such, we get back on track this week with a special episode featuring one of the most hyped creature types from Hour of Devastation: Gods! So far, the trinity of The Scarab God, The Scorpion God, and The Locust God hasn't seen too much play in Standard, but instead of the Gods being bad, maybe the problem is that people aren't playing enough Gods. Our mission this week is to figure out what happens if we play all of the Hour of Devastation Gods together, with Kefnet the Mindful and Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh as backup deities. Can we assemble the God-Tron and ride the holy threats to victory? Let's get to the videos and see, and then we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Grixis Gods (Deck Tech)

Against the Odds: Grixis Gods (Games)

The Deck

Before building the deck, my idea was to play as many Gods as possible, but after throwing the cards together, it was obvious that some of the Gods really don't work well together (for example, Hazoret the Fervent wanting very few cards in hand and Kefnet the Mindful wanting a ton of cards in hand, or Bontu the Glorified requiring us to sacrifice our indestructible creatures to become a real creature). As such, I eventually narrowed it down to Grixis, with a focus on the Hour of Devastation Gods along with Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. The end result is a sort of Grixis midrange deck that's looking to survive long enough to start casting Gods every turn and then hopes that the Gods are good enough to close out the game.

Gods

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The good news about the Gods is that they are all quite powerful, and in specific situations and board states, any of the Gods can be good enough to close out the game on their own. The Locust God is the most fragile but also the best and keeping us alive against a board full of creatures, since it can make a ton of chump blockers. We have a decent amount of card draw in the deck, so it isn't that hard to make a board full of Insects and plague our opponent out of the game. The Scorpion God is the biggest of the bunch, and in some matchups, it ends up being a really slow Plague Wind that just shoots down everything our opponent draws in the late game with 1/1 counters. It also makes a sweet combo with The Locust God, since we can draw a card to make a 1/1 Insect and pay three mana to put a counter on the Insect and kill it, which draws us another card and makes us another Insect, with the end result being that we can pay three mana to draw a card whenever we want. 

The Scarab God is likely the most powerful of the Gods as a standalone card, but it doesn't really do anything exciting with our other Gods. This being said, it is nice to be able to discard a copy of The Locust God or The Scorpion God to a card like Champion of Wits in the early game and then reanimate it with The Scarab God later. Together, The Scarab God, The Scorpion God, and The Locust God form a trinity that I like to call God-Tron, and it should be pretty hard to lose if we can get all three of our Gods onto the battlefield at once.

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Kefnet the Mindful is our backup God and far less powerful than the Hour of Devastation Gods because it isn't always a creature. However, it does work well with our Gods, being a good reanimation target for The Scarab God and drawing cards to trigger The Locust God. Plus, when it's randomly a 5/5 indestructible flier on Turn 4, Kefnet the Mindful is a big threat that closes out the game quickly with its righteous powers. 

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Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh is our final God and offers a way of closing out the game when we don't happen to have our other Gods on the battlefield. While it's really expensive, if we live long enough to get a Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh onto the battlefield, it's usually pretty hard to lose, since we start stealing things from our opponent's deck for free or emptying our opponent's hand. The minus ability gives us a good way of dealing with planewalkers, which can be annoying, and the ultimate should just end the game on the spot, since it clears the way for all of our other Gods to attack. 

Other Stuff

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Champion of Wits is a key piece to our deck, since it works well with our Gods and also comes down early and chump blocks while we wait to start slamming God after God starting on Turn 5. For The Locust God, Champion of Wits draws us some cards to make more hasty Insects; with The Scarab God, it offers a way to stock our graveyard with Gods to reanimate; and we can even kill it (and eventually eternalize it) with The Scorpion God to draw a card. 

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Glimmer of Genius and Pull from Tomorrow give us some more card draw to make Insects with The Locust God, while also just helping us cycle through our deck to find our Gods. One of the challenges of building around Gods is that they are all Legendary, which means playing too many of any individual God is risky. Even with all of our Gods being two-ofs, we still occasionally end up with both copies, so having the option of discarding the extra one to Champion of Wits or Pull from Tomorrow is pretty helpful. Meanwhile, Chandra, Torch of Defiance does it all, generating card advantage, killing a creature to help us live until we start casting Gods, or even ramping us into The Locust God and Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh with the extra mana her +1 can make. 

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The rest of the deck is full of removal for the early game. The other challenge of playing a deck built around Gods is that they are all pretty expensive, which means it's possible we die against somewhat aggressive decks before we even start casting our powerful deities. To help solve this problem, we have a bunch of early-game removal like Fatal Push, Magma Spray, and Harnessed Lightning to help us stay alive; a handful of sweepers in Radiant Flames and a single Hour of Devastation to clear the board; and a small number of multi-purpose counters like Censor (which can cycle to make an Insect with The Locust God) and Supreme Will (which can help us dig for a God when we don't need to counter anything). 

The Matchups

While Grixis Gods might look like a control deck, we don't really have many counters, so we actually play more like a removal-heavy midrange deck. As such, probably the hardest matchup for our deck is true control. While our Gods are amazing if we can get them on the battlefield, since they keeping coming back even if our opponent kills them (essentially turning all of our opponent's non-exile removal into Unsummons), if our opponent can just counter our Gods on the stack, they go away forever. While it's possible to win these matchups if we get lucky and stick a God, control is our worst matchup before sideboarding, when we can take out a bunch of dead removal for more counters and discard. The other potential problem is just getting run over by decks like Ramunap Red. While we have a lot of removal to deal with creatures in the early game, it's still very possible to die before we ever play a God if we draw a clunky hand.

On the other hand, our Gods are incredibly resilient, and each one is powerful enough to take over the game on its own. Maybe the best example of this was The Scorpion God against Zombies, where we essentially locked out opponent out of the game, since we'd just kill whatever creature they drew with 1/1 counters. As such, the Gods are extremely powerful against various creature aggro and midrange decks and tend to take over the game quickly. 

It's also worth noting that Grixis Gods is almost a post-rotation deck, which means it will likely be even better in a month. While we'll have to rework the lands a little bit and replace Grasp of Darkness, pretty much everything else survives rotation. It wouldn't be at all surprising to see the Gods emerge as legitimate Standard staples once the format shrinks and some annoying threats like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Thought-Knot Seer leave the format. If there's one thing I learned this week, it's that the Gods are super powerful and probably underrated in Standard at the moment.

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches and won three, good for a 60% match win percentage, along with playing 13 games and winning seven, giving us a 54% game win percentage. It's also worth noting that we played against almost all tier one decks in Standard, including UW Approach, Mardu Vehicles, and Temur Energy (along with Mono-White Horses), making the winning record for the Gods even more impressive. As for the Gods themselves, they were very good on their own and insane when we finally managed to assemble God-Tron. I'm excited to play more of them, especially after rotation, because every one felt strong and even game winning in the right situation.

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Every week, we play a Budget Magic deck focused on making Magic as cheap as possible, but what happens if we take this cost-reduction plan literally? That's what we'll figure out next week. Which of these "make it cheaper" cards should we build around in Modern for next week's deck? Let us know by voting below!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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