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Against the Odds: Tergrid, God of Fright (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 275 of Against the Odds. We hard our first Kaldheim Against the Odd poll last week, and in the end, Tergrid, God of Fright sneaked out a tight win over Mystic Reflection. As such, we're heading to our new Standard format today to see if we can win some games by stealing our opponent's permanents by sticking a Tergrid, God of Fright and then forcing our opponent to discard or sacrifice. If you want to classify the deck we're playing today, it would be considered Mardu midrange, but in reality, almost every card in our deck supports our Tergrid plan, either helping ramp into Tergrid and our other payoffs or forcing our opponent to sacrifice and / or discard cards. How good is Tergrid, God of Frights in Standard, where, unlike Commander, there's no Wheel of Fortunes to combo with? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Mardu Tergrid

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The Deck

When Tergrid, God of Fright won the poll, my initial idea was to play it in a mono-black shell since black has most of the discard and sacrifice cards legal in Standard. But as I started to test the deck, I realized something was missing: a way to force our opponent to sacrifice (or discard) a bunch of cards at once. In Commander, Tergrid, God of Fright is extremely scary (as its name suggests it should be) because a single Wheel of Fortune, Pox, or Death Cloud essentially can end the game. While we don't have anything close to Wheel of Fortune, Pox, or Death Cloud in Standard, we do have Mythos of Snapdax, the card in Standard that can force the opponent to sacrifice the most cards at once, which is what pushed the deck toward Mardu and its final design. While we're still heavily black-based, going into white and red offers some interesting options, for both the main deck and sideboard.

The Combo

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Tergrid, God of Fright is pretty simple: if we can force our opponent to discard or sacrifice a permanent card, it ends up on our side of the battlefield rather than in the graveyard. As such, the main goal is to get Tergrid on the battlefield and then play some cards to make our opponent sac or discard, which then should allow us to beat our opponent down with their own cards! The backside of Tergrid, God of FrightTergrid's Lantern—is also relevant because it can make our opponent discard or sacrifice (assuming they can't or won't be willing to lose three life), although we almost always play our first copy of Tergrid as Tergrid, God of Fright since Tergrid's Lantern becomes much more effective once we get Tergrid, God of Fright on the battlefield to punish our opponent for discarding or sacrificing.

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Outside of Tergrid, God of Fright itself, our two most important cards are Mythos of Snapdax and Dream Devourer. Mythos of Snapdax is our best combo piece for Tergrid, God of Fright, forcing our opponent to sacrifice all but one of each non-land permanent type. This means that if our opponent has, for example, a bunch of creatures and we can resolve Mythos of Snapdax with Tergrid on the battlefield, the end result will be that our opponent keeps one creature (likely their worst creature since, if we can cast Mythos of Snapdax for Mardu mana, we get to control what our opponent keeps) while all the rest of their creatures will end up on our battlefield, thanks to Tergrid. 

As for Dream Devourer, its importance to the Tergrid plan is less obvious, so let me explain: by far the biggest drawback of Tergrid, God of Fright is that it costs five mana, meaning that it's usually difficult to play Tergrid and a discard / sacrifice card in the same turn, which, in turn, gives our opponent an entire turn to kill Tergrid (or us) before we get any value. Dream Devourer allows us to foretell Tergrid and then cast it later for just three mana, which opens up some really explosive turns. Let's say we manage to foretell Tergrid, God of Fright and Mythos of Snapdax, for a total of five mana (rather than nine, which the two cards would cost if we cast them naturally). We can cast both in the same turn and get our Tergrid, God of Fright value right away, avoiding sorcery-speed removal and the chance of dying before we can start stealing our opponent's permanents. 

Discard / Sacrifice

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The rest of our deck is full of cards that make our opponent sacrifice or discard things to trigger Tergrid, God of Fright. While we have a bunch of cards that just make our opponent discard and a bunch more that just make our opponent sacrifice permanents, Rankle, Master of Pranks and Doom Foretold deserve special mention because they can do both! Rankle, Master of Pranks is the creature we want on the battlefield the most on the turn when we resolve Tergrid, God of Fright since we can immediately attack and, thanks to Rankle's combat-damage trigger, make each player discard a card and sacrifice a creature, which hopefully results in us having two of our opponent's cards on our side of the battlefield. Meanwhile, Doom Foretold is a combo with Tergrid, God of Fright. If we can keep both on the battlefield, Doom Foretold forces our opponent to sacrifice a permanent on their upkeep, which we steal with Tergrid, God of Fright. Then, on our turn, if we don't have anything worse to sacrifice, we can always sacrifice whatever our opponent gave us during their turn to keep Doom Foretold going. Eventually, once our opponent runs out of things to sacrifice, Doom Foretold also make our opponent discard a card, which we can also steal with Tergrid!

Discard

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We also have a ton of discard cards. Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger and Acquisitions Expert both force our opponent to discard a card when they enter the battlefield. Inscription of Ruin give us a Mind Rot that also can kill a creature, reanimate something like Kroxa or Acquisitions Expert, or, if we happen to get up to seven mana, do all three thanks to kicker. Finally, Pelakka Predation is a bit of free-roll discard since, as an MDFC, we can play it in a land slot.

Sacrifice

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Finally, we also have Soul Shatter as sacrifice-based removal. It's pretty absurd in our deck since it forces our opponent to sacrifice their most expensive creature or planeswalker, which means if we have Tergrid, God of Fright on the battlefield, we should end up with our opponent's best card on our side of the battlefield once Soul Shatter resolves. It's also a pretty solid answer to Goldspan Dragon even without Tergrid, being one of the few cards in Standard that can kill Goldspan Dragon without it producing any Treasure tokens at instant speed.

The Matchups

Matchup-wise, the main thing we're looking to play against is decks built around permanents. If our opponent is mostly on spells (like Izzet Tempo or various control decks), our deck gets a lot worse because our opponent likely won't have good things for us to steal with Tergrid, God of Fright. While having a bunch of discard means we still have a chance in those matchups, both Tergrid and Mythos of Snapdax are pretty lacking against spell decks. On the other hand, creature decks like Mono-Green and various Adventure piles typically have a ton of permanents to steal and can get destroyed by Mythos of Snapdax. Oh yeah, it's also worth mentioning that Sagas sacrifice themselves, so if we can get the timing right, we might be able to steal them naturally with Tergrid, which can be powerful against some Yorion decks that lean on a lot of Sagas for removal.

The Odds

All in all, we finished 3-2 with Mardu Tergrid, with both of our losses coming to Showdown of the Skalds decks. It seems like decks built around Showdown of the Skalds should be good matchups since they tend to have a lot of creatures that we can force our opponent to sacrifice, but the big burst of card advantage from Showdown of the Skalds itself undoes so much of the work we do forcing our opponent to discard and sacrifice. As for Tergrid, God of Fright itself, it was the reason we won most of our games. We managed to pull off the Tergrid / Mythos of Snapdax combo multiple times, and it was always enough to win the game (even if we sometimes only stole two or three things), and even just Tergrid plus something like Rankle, Master of Pranks was enough to close out games against some decks. While Tergrid, God of Fright does die a lot (because opponents know they are likely going to get destroyed if we untap with it), it generally wins us the game if we can keep it on the battlefield for just one or two turns!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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Kaldheim is still fresh, so let's build around another janky Kaldheim card next week. Which one? Help decide by voting here!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. 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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