Best of Both Worlds: Grixis Chainwhirler
So this week I’m back and I want to be discussing the deck that I genuinely believe is the best deck in the format: Grixis Chainwhirler.
Grixis Chainwhirler started off in my head as a Nicol Bolas, The Ravager deck, but I soon realised that almost all the good midrange creatures are in Red. This lead to the introduction of the triple red casting cost Goblin and thus the deck was born. This Chainwhirler variant runs a high density of removal for the early turns to avoid being just run over by Mono Green and Red based aggro decks before trying to slam a hard to deal with threat in order to win the game.
The only one drop in the deck is Soul-Scar Mage. This little wizard is mainly in here since he's Chainwhirler proof and stops Bomat Courier in its tracks. He also plays well with our high density of removal at two mana, allowing us to get aggressive when we need to. Finally, Soul-Scar Mage allows our damage-based removal to still have an impact against some of the bigger creatures on the format and leaves us not totally dead to a God.
The only Creature at two mana is three copies of Scrapheap Scrounger. Scrapheap has become known for being an absolute pain to answer, giving us added resiliency against Control and other grindy Midrange decks.
Scrapheap is backed up by a full set of Abrade and three copies of Cut // Ribbons. With so many vehicles floating around Abrade has proven itself to be invaluable to this deck, removing a Heart of Kiran or Aethersphere Harvester without so much as a flinch. Cut, on the other hand, is our answer to slightly larger threats, since dealing with an opposing Glorybringer or Steel Leaf Champion will often decide a game. What shouldn’t be forgotten is the second half of Cut // Ribbons, which will often allow us the squeeze out that last few points of damage and is an essential tool.
Three mana is where the deck begins to look more towards threats and less towards removal. Goblin Chainwhirler, our namesake card, resides here after all. Chainwhirler is actually surprisingly skill intensive, but there are a few general rules that you can follow.
First, if it's unlikely you'll get an influential creature to kill in a certain match up, don’t sit around on a Whirler. Just deploy it and start beating face. Second, if on turn three there is the option to kill one creature with the ETB trigger, always take that opportunity. You’ll find that you don't actually gain any more value by waiting it out, as putting our opponent under some sort of pressure is almost always more important.
Backing up the infamous Goblin we have two copies of Pia Nalaar. Pia is a hedge against some of the control decks in the format, deploying two bodies for the price of one. She has seen on and off play in just about every Red deck since vehicles.
Personally, I think she’s great. She improves the control match up and is a mana sink against other midrange decks. She also provides an artifact for our final removal spell: Unlicensed Disintegration. The full play set of these is our answer to anything simply too big for it’s own right. Plus, as the general theme becomes clear, go ahead and guess what the the three damage also allows us to… That's right. Grind out the last few points of damage.
Four and Five Drops
This is where we really just look to play the best threats available in Standard right now. Chandra, Torch of Defiance is a removal spell, card advantage, mana acceleration, and a ticking time bomb all in one. There’s nothing not to love. Rekindling Phoenix is a flyer that demands very specific removal. Nicol Bolas, The Ravager is just card advantage, and sometimes you get a Planeswalker... which is pretty neat.
Glorybringer doesn’t need much of an introduction at this point, and neither does the only Non-Red card in the mainboard. The Scarab God. All of these threats can take down a game on their own. This is partially due to the built-in card advantage that each of them have. They all demand to be answered, but will often cost the opponent more than one card to do so. This is where the deck really pulls together. Our opponent can only answer so many threats of this potency.
And last but certainly not least, the mana base.
Our mana base is sorted by playing not a single land that cannot produce Red mana, with all eight Blue and Black Dual lands allowing us to access our less significant colour. This allows us to always cast Goblin Chainwhirler on curve, smoothing out any creases in our draws. An argument could be made to run a single Island and Swamp to play around Field of Ruin, but I simply didn’t see enough of those in testing to be worried about it.
Sideboarding is a doddle with this deck. Almost all of the Sideboard is tuned to beat control, with all seven Counterspells coming in against Torrential Gearhulk variants. Arguel’s Blood Fast comes in for both control and the mirror match. Sweltering Suns acts as our tool against anything that hopes to go wide and under us. Essence Scatter deals with things we never want to hit the board. Sentinel Totem further secures the Gift match up. But, be careful when you crack totem however to avoid exiling your own Rekindling Phoenix or Scrapheap Scrounger
And there it is, the deck that I believe is the best. I’m so confident in this statement that I have chosen to run it in an upcoming Standard League alongside my Blood Sun’s Zenith Teammates, who are on Goblin Gift and GU Artifacts… the usual jank we come up with.
Talking of leagues, an idea I thought would be fun is the possibility of a multi format league whereby each week, or round is a new format. So week one is... let's say Standard. Then we play Modern, Legacy, Draft, possibly even the likes of Frontier, Pauper, 1v1 EDH, or Penny Dreadful. If anyone has any interest in an idea like this please let me know through either my Facebook or Discord (both of those are linked!)
Anyways, thanks for reading everyone. As usual be sure to pass this article around both on the internet and at your LGS, and I hope to see you guys soon.