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Brewer's Minute: Jeskai or Grixis?


Hey, everyone. It's time for another Brewer's Minute. Last week, we had Pro Tour Kaladesh, which ended with a control mirror in the finals. As a result, this week I've had a ton of people ask, "I want to play control in Kaladesh Standard, but I don't know if I should play Jeskai or Grixis. Which one is better? What are the differences?" So, for our Brewer's Minute this week, we'll be breaking down the differences between the two big control decks from Pro Tour Kaladesh and try to figure out which one may be better moving forward!

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The Decks

 

Transcript

Last week, we had Pro Tour Kaladesh, which ended with two control decks meeting in the finals. On one side of the table, we had Grixis; across the table, we had Jeskai. And, while in the end it was Grixis Control that ended up winning, both decks performed well at the tournament. Because of this, I had a ton of questions this week from people asking which control deck they should play in Kaladesh Standard, so today for our Brewer's Minute, we are going to talk about the differences between Grixis and Jeskai Control! Of course, both decks are obviously good and performed well at the Pro Tour, so it isn't so much about one deck being good and the other being bad. Instead, we'll be trying to figure out if one of these decks is better in certain situations or in a specific metagame. 

It's also important to realize that both decks are blue and red but splashing a color (either white or black), and while we'll talk a little bit about the different blue and red cards the decks played, most of our focus will be on what splashing black does for a UR Control deck and what splashing white does for a UR Control deck. 

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While both Jeskai and Grixis could play Galvanic Bombardment and Thing in the Ice, only Grixis chose to do so. These cards together show a focus on beating aggressive decks, with Galvanic Bombardment being a one-mana removal spell and Thing in the Ice providing a roadblock against early game creatures that can flip around into a major threat. 

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On the other hand, both decks also have the opportunity to play Torrential Gearhulk, Summary Dismissal. and Glimmer of Genius, but Jeskai was either the only deck to play these cards or at least played many more copies of these cards. Together, these cards suggest a focus on performing well against more controlling and midrange decks. Torrential Gearhulk is a bit slow against aggro but a bomb in slower, grindy matchups. Summary Dismissal gives the deck a way to fight against Eldrazi, and more copies of Glimmer of Genius gives the deck a pathway to out-card advantaging the opponent. 

Of course, it's possible to build a version of Grixis that plays Summary Dismissal or a version of Jeskai that plays Galvanic Bombardment, so these cards are more about choices. So, let's move on to talk about the black cards (that only Grixis can play) and white cards (that only Jeskai can play)!

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Both black and white give their respective decks access to more removal, but for the most part, these cards are comparable. While having a real wrath in Fumigate is helpful, it's also questionable in a vehicle-filled format. Otherwise, each color gives their decks ways of dealing with planeswalkers and gaining incidental life. As a result, I'm willing to call the additional removal a wash. While black has some advantages (better, unconditional, instant-speed removal) and white has some advantages (a true wrath), taken as a whole, the two colors seem about even. So, what sets the colors apart? 

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The biggest reasons to play Grixis are Painful Truths and Transgress the Mind, which help the aggro-focused control deck fight against more controlling builds. While you don't really want to lose three life with Painful Truths too often against a deck like RW Vehicles, a draw three for three is amazing in a control mirror. Meanwhile, Transgress the Mind gives the deck an information advantage by giving a peek at the opponent's hand, while also striping away things like Aetherworks Marvel

Weaver of Lightning, meanwhile, is a card that either deck could play, but it's much better in Grixis, since Jeskai has enchantment-based removal (which doesn't trigger Weaver of Lightning) and also Fumigate (which kills Weaver of Lightning). As such, the extremely powerful sideboard card is much better in the red–blue–black build. 

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As for white, the biggest additions to the main deck of a UR Control deck are Archangel Avacyn and Dovin Baan, which make the Jeskai build even better in slower, controlling (or midrange) matchups. Archangel Avacyn is simply a good card, and while it can be a bit slow against very aggressive decks at five mana, it's still reasonable in these matchups, but it's best against control, where it can be used at instant speed to pressure opponents' planeswalkers and life totals. Meanwhile, Dovin Baan didn't look very good at the Pro Tour, spending most of its camera time being "four mana, draw a card, gain a bit of life, and immediately die to Smuggler's Copter." While it's a solid source of card advantage in control mirrors, I'm not very high on it against a lot of other decks in the format.

On the other hand, perhaps the biggest reason to be Jeskai instead of Grixis comes from the sideboard in Spell Queller, which is extremely well positioned in our current Standard. It's an answer to Aetherworks Marvel that avoids Dispel, it's an evasive threat, and it hits a lot of important cards. While I'm not sure that it's reason enough to play Jeskai over Grixis all by itself, it certainly is a big push in that direction. 

Conclusion

So, what control deck should you pick up for Kaladesh Standard? Right now, I'm leaning towards Grixis because the format still looks fairly aggressive and I think the deck has better tools to fight against aggro decks, while still having a decent shot in control mirrors thanks to discard and Painful Truths. On the other hand, if the format shifts more towards control as a result of Pro Tour Kaladesh, I'll be ready to pick up Jeskai on short notice.

We'll know a lot more after this weekend's Grand Prix Providence. If the format is mostly control, Aetherworks Marvel, and GB Delirium, I'll be on board with Jeskai moving forward; if it's RW Vehicles, various emerge strategies, RB Aggro, and Zombies, I'll probably stick with Grixis. The same thing holds true for your local meta: if it's fast, go Grixis; if it's slow, go Jeskai. And of course, no matter which control deck you pick, plan on putting in the practice to get good at the deck and know the matchups inside and out. It's not as easy as Shota and Carlos made it look in the finals of Pro Tour Kaladesh

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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