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Nicol Bolas' Master Plan

Standard* Control U/B/R (Grixis)



Nicol Bolas, master of Black, Blue, and Red magic and most powerful Elder Dragon in existence may be gone from standard, but his arm is ever reaching.

Nicol Bolas' Master Plan

"There is no greater folly than standing against me."

Taking control of matters from afar, Bolas still seeks to control the Multiverse, whether the battleground be Alara, Ravnica or Theros. Grixis Control brings the wrath of Bolas down upon the opponent's head, embodied in low mana deadly counter spells and removal. Control the board as Nicol Bolas controls the Multiverse and make sure nothing stands in your way.

This deck is built in preparation for the loss of Innistrad in Standard and the arrival of Theros. While it's possible to make this deck a lot better with Innistrad-M13 cards, I preferred to challenge myself and see if an all Ravnica and M14 (for the moment) deck could challenge the likes of Jund and Aristocrats. Although Bolas operates alone, feedback would be much appreciated.

The Finishers

"After years of world-bending machinations, Bolas's triumph is at hand."

Master of Cruelties - The finisher for this deck, Master of Cruelties doesn't care if the opponent does 19 points of damage to you before he swings, once he does they can go straight from twenty to one and you can finish them off with a Magma Jet or Lightning Strike. Deadly and efficient in both offense and defense, he is an amazing card.

Aetherling - Quite possibly the best finisher in the Standard format at this time, solid in both offensive and defensive capabilites, Aetherling is here to seal the deal in the end stages of the game. While seven mana might be high by some standards, once you force the game to reach Aetherling, little can stop him from finishing the game in as little as three turns. However, he is not vital in the early stages of the game and cannot be played, so you do not want to have him clogging your hand. I run one so that I can find him but will (hopefully) not draw him too early.

Rakdos's Return - Gets damage in AND disrupts your opponent's hand forcing them into topdeck mode, when the mana is piling up on your side this can wipe their hand and put the timer on their game.


"There is always a greater power."

The Izzet 'walker

Ral Zarek

A Lightning Bolt on legs, Ral Zarek can provide deadly removal if need be, but he also shines with his first, +1 ability. The versatility it offers is exception, including early turn Opportunities, meaning that your hand is full earlier in the game, allowing for complete control. If you get lucky enough, his final ability in itself can be another card draw engine, allowing you to flood your field with mana and re-fill your hand with extra turns.

The Mill Master

Jace, Memory Adept

The control finisher since Innistrad standard and before, Jace can easily mill the opponent out if left unchecked and can be used to close the game in place of Master of Cruelties devastating swings and Aetherling's full on offensive if need be.

Instants & Sorceries


"Where will you run when I punish you with the very ground you flee on?"

Anger of the Gods - The red sweeper that makes Grixis possible in this meta, Anger of the Gods not only destroys but exiles all creatures with X/3 or less. While our own finishers dodge the deadly fire, many of the opponent's creatures will be destroyed, leaving the field wide open for Master of Cruelties or Aetherling to close the game.

Far // Away - Great multi purpose card which answers multiple creatures. An easy way to deal with hexproof, this card is your early game Cyclonic Rift and a slightly more expensive Devour Flesh with no downside.

Hero's Downfall - An absolute house of a card, taking down both creatures with no draw back and planeswalkers like Domri and Xenagos, as well as Jace and Ral in control match ups, Hero's Downfall at instant is amazing, with the one downside being the double black cost.

Dreadbore - Kill a creature, no questions asked, and can also kill planeswalkers. The only downside to this is that it is a sorcery. To be honest, this is half the reason that I started playing Grixis Control, the lovely art and finality of it's removal.

Cyclonic Rift - An early game Disperse, a lategame boardwipe, which can be deadly when followed by a Rakdos's Return. Good against decks running Detention Spheres.

Magma Jet - A Shock that for one extra mana allows you to scry into your deck and sort your next card, this card could be one of the great burn spells coming out of Theros. For now, it will sit in the mainboard at 2 in the mainboard, but this depends on the amount of X/2 creatures that dominate the meta.

Counterspells // Discard

"Your pathetic ideas lie in shambles, Planeswalker. Where is your arrogant pride now?"

Izzet Charm - Does all the things we need it to, all three modes are all-stars in this deck.

Negate - With the heavy removal that this deck runs, Negate is here to mop up the dregs of non-creature spells that get through, allowing for total board control.

Draw Engines

"No fact escapes me. Why do you think you can?"

Opportunity - The closest thing to Sphinx's Revelation for us, a mana heavy spell that fills the hand again.

Read the Bones - One of the first new cards to be spoiled out of Theros and one that immediately caught my eye, the draw power and deep scry (love scry coming back!) means that this could be a versatile back-up for Opportunity. It's also more easily splashed then Sign in Blood from M13.

Quicken - A great card for letting us play Rakdos's Return or Dreadbore at the end of their turn or in their combat step, but it's also a cantrip that allows us to dig deeper into our deck to look for answers and finishers.


"You will fully understand fear when you discover it is the final thing you put your faith in."

Slaughter Games - Excellent sideboard card. A Surgical Extraction that can't be countered and doesn't have to target a card in the graveyard. Great against control where you can exile their very few win conditions, also helps us get rid of troublesome cards such as Detention Sphere.

Rakdos Charm - Sideboard card thats artifact removal, graveyard hate and great against token swarms.

Doom Blade - Efficient removal against non-black decks.

Ratchet Bomb - Red/Black's response to tokens and enchantments, a danger coming into Theros, the enchantment themed block.

Mizzium Mortars - Early game removal and late game sweeper, the high damage to both single creatures and their whole board side can wipe the slate clean in both early game and late game.

Thoughtseize - The modern staple gifted to us by the Gods in Theros, Thoughtseize is having its time to shine once more in standard. Early game discard to nab those dangerous Smiters and oppositional cards, as well as wreak havoc on combo strategies, Thoughtseize has proved its worth time and time again in Modern, so now we shall see what it can offer Standard.


So after following the comments on the deck, I've come to the conclusion that Negate would be better if it were simply just Dissolve, considering that's such a hard counter and for only one U more it can counter anything I need it to as well as Scry 1, which comes in handy. This was suggested to me by strateupjee.

The second change is one less Mutavault and added in a Rogue's Passage. As well as give me an extra colourless mana if that need should arise, Rogue's Passage allows Master of Cruelties and AEtherling the chance to swing in unopposed and seal the game. This was suggested by [[Itzmogz] and bagthesnoot

Hopefully that helps the deck a little, and now I'm very excited to start acquiring the final pieces, the new Theros cards!

TL:DR: -1 Mutavault, -2 Negate, -1 Hero's Downfall, +1 Rogue's Passage, +3 Dissolve


strateupjee says... #1

Might I ask why no Quicken ? You have so many sorceries that being able to cast them at instant speed AND draw a card, for 1 blue, where do you lose? haha

September 3, 2013 9:54 p.m.

Zaccyjaccy says... #2

Thanks for the suggestions strateupjee! I've taken it to heart and when I played Quicken it certainly made it's mark, so it's going straight into the deck.

September 4, 2013 12:29 a.m.

strateupjee says... #3

I feel it can really shine here, it was obviously made for control decks, but maybe Grixis in particular with your Dreadbore, Read the Bones, Mizzium Mortars, etc. that all benefit from it, other decks only have like Supreme Verdict to use it on

September 4, 2013 9:14 a.m.

Divio says... #4

Grixis control always appealed to me. It has all my favorite colors. Problem was it was an expensive deck. With this though... its actually quite affordable.

I'm definitely gonna build this sucker come Theros. +1

September 12, 2013 1:35 a.m.

strateupjee says... #5

So I see you seem I have dropped quicken to add more sorceries? XD

September 12, 2013 8:45 a.m.

Zaccyjaccy says... #6

The Quicken s that I added in didn't seem to help that much with getting sorceries out in their turn, but more as a cycling card. However, I've got 2 back in there now for more testing. I just found that Opportunity was better for drawing and that Quicken would often just be used to pass it off for another card. What are your thoughts on that?

September 12, 2013 8:57 p.m.

mpeach1 says... #7

Personally, Quicken seems to work really well for my grixis deck. It pairs perfectly with Dreadbore

September 12, 2013 9:05 p.m.

Dorotheus says... #8

Tetsuo is cooler.

September 12, 2013 9:17 p.m.

strateupjee says... #9

I feel in a control deck, especially in one a heavy on sorceries as yours (and Grixis in general), it is almost a must have, everyone else playing control is playing a "land for turn, pass" kind of strategy and you need to be able to match that to be viable, and quicken makes that possible, also, and I don't know how it has done for you, but I would definitely drop Young Pyro, now I don't know if you have a special attachment to it or of you just see it as a good ass card (which it is) but I would personally drop them for 1-2 more Quicken, 2 Aetherling, and if not 2 Quicken add 1 more copy of a powerful kill spell or Mutavault just because you are playing Anger of the Gods now, why have a card in that will die along with all it's tokens to a card you run as a 3 of main board? Both Master and Ling survive WotG as well as fit your late game strategy

September 12, 2013 10:11 p.m.

Ryuga says... #10

I play my own Grixis Control deck and feel that with such a heavy Sorcery base your deck will be extremely slow. Quicken only allows for the very NEXT sorecery to be cast as though it had flash and while, yes, it does let you draw a card, it forces you to do some major thinking about what sorcery to cast. What if your opponent knows your playing Quicken in you're deck and they're just baiting it out or they don't know and just have a bigger card to come. If you play the wrong sorcery at the wrong time your left out in the open. The problem with giving sorcery cards flash is that, for every time you can do so, there's a better instant card that you could be casting instead, like Counterflux . If your looking for good skimming/drawing, try 3x Uncovered Clues instead of Opportunity . It gives you instants/sorceries and 2 of them to boot, FOR HALF THE COST, WHAT? Lol. Sure the remaining cards go to the bottom of your library but that doesn't matter because they're still there. Also, I feel you may be neglecting the full potential of Jace, Memory Adept . Sure the mill is good against control decks but his +1 can be used entirely to your advantage. I often used the full effect on myself to hasten the skimming and rarely did I regret it. Far / Away is only a solution to Hexproof if you manage to force them to discard it as it targets cards, but I agree that Cyclonic Rift can feel a bit lacking at times. I would suggest side-boarding it in favor of Voyage's End when Theros hits or Disperse as the previous has Scrying and both let you save your own creatures (i.e Young Pyromancer ). Also, try using a few Guttersnipe . They're practically staples in instant/sorcery based decks like this and they work very well with YP as they hit the opponent immediately while YP builds up an army to assault them. While Lightning Strike IS one more damage, I feel that Magma Jet is a more cost efficient card as it gives that oh so lovely, and recurring point, Scry. Anger of the Gods does seem like fun but unfortunately it's going to kill all of your creatures save for Master of Cruelties so that should go if your truely considering YP. Obviously Dreadbore is wonderful, i've had MANY laughs with this card, but it's going to be outclassed by Hero's Downfall as it's an instant version for the cost of Murder so i'd consider swapping the 2 ASAP. Furthermore, try mainboarding 2x Rakdos's Return . You already know it's a wonderful card so why not make room for it? When I first built my Grixis Control deck it looked a lot like yours, a wide variety of fun and interesting instants/sorceries. Only problem is hitting the ones you need at the right moment; therefore,my last tip is to lessen the variety and up the true star cards in this deck, i.e. Young Pyromancer , Read the Bones , Thoughtseize , and Magma Jet . Sorry for all the raving and if it seems like i'm just ranting like a Mad Prophet and trying to trash your deck. I'm honestly trying to help and hopefully I can as this is my favorite theme. Good luck. +1

September 13, 2013 1:29 p.m.

Coucho_Marx says... #11

I love Grixis with a passion (and this deck is a fine example of it), but I'm very wary of making a three-colour deck now that Burning Earth will be in the sideboard of every deck that can play it. Makes me a little sad, really :(

September 15, 2013 9:35 p.m.

strateupjee says... #12

Will you be running Dissolve ? Cuz if you were only going to run a single counter spell mainboard, I would run it over Negate due to its indiscriminate nature. I would -1 Heroe's Downfall and -2 Negate for +3 Dissolve and you will be golden, also I would try to it in 1 more Aetherling if you can due to it being an almost undeniable win-con once it is resolved

September 15, 2013 10:20 p.m.

Askani28 says... #13

Perfect Bolas deck! Love your deck's description :) +1

September 16, 2013 6:48 a.m.

Itzmogz says... #14

I feel like there should be at least a 1 of Rogue's Passage in here to help get Master of Cruelties through if there is a clogged board state.

September 16, 2013 9:13 a.m.

EthanTheBrave says... #15

+1 For the cool theme and description, for the sheer work you did making this deck on here.

Looks really cool, and I've been really excited about a lot of the grixis decks I've been seeing.

September 16, 2013 11:20 a.m.

scopesightzx says... #16

Love the deck and it's flavor, but you do know that making them discard a Loxodon Smiter with Thoughtseize just puts it on the battlefield, right? If you have a way to kill it, that's fine, but if you don't, that could be very problematic early on.

September 16, 2013 11:20 a.m.

bagthesnoot says... #17

Turn and Burn? Something to consider. Also, I'd remove the Mutavault for Rogue's Passage and bring it up to 25 lands as well. Or maybe have one of each. But definitely up the land count; that's important for control. +1

September 16, 2013 3:56 p.m.

bagthesnoot says... #18

Sorry, i mean Turn

September 16, 2013 3:57 p.m.

FarazR2 says... #19

I've been unimpressed by Rift unless I'm playing an entirely tokens deck. Generally the threats you're worried about are cheap for what they do, and can be replayed easily. Requires a 2-for-1 to bounce/counter it.

Why no Architect of Thought? He can hold off red-based aggro, and can get advantage otherwise. Black is the only creature color you have to worry about because they can hero's downfall if you +1 Jace, resulting in no value.

Opportunity + Aetherling + memory Adept + Rakdos's return is a thing that can easily clog your hand as well. Maybe drop an Opportunity for another Read the Bones? They dig equally as deep, but Read is cheaper.

September 19, 2013 1:38 p.m.

RodgerSWallis says... #20

A deck revolving around grixis, has Nicol Bolas on the title, entire description full of quotes from him, but no Bolas </3

I still love the deck! +1 from me

September 19, 2013 10:23 p.m.

Smaug1007 says... #21

Mindbreak Trap.

September 20, 2013 1:41 p.m.

DannyG says... #22

Have you thought of putting Underworld Cerberus if you have Crypt Incursion ?

November 2, 2013 6:24 p.m.

Grixis776 says... #23


August 20, 2017 6:12 p.m.

Grixis776 says... #24


August 20, 2017 6:17 p.m.

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Compare to inventory
Date added 4 years
Last updated 2 years

This deck is not Standard legal.

Highlight illegal cards
Illegal cards Blood Crypt , Dreadbore , Far / Away , Frostburn Weird , Hypersonic Dragon , Izzet Guildgate , Jace, Architect of Thought , Rakdos Guildgate , Rakdos's Return , Steam Vents , Syncopate , Turn / Burn , Underworld Connections , Watery Grave , Counterflux , Duress , Lifebane Zombie , Slaughter Games
Cards 60
Avg. CMC 3.00
Folders 3.2 - Standard (RTR-M14-THS), possable decks, Reference, Decks I Approve of, Possible decks I can make
Top rank #23 on 2013-09-17
Views 4761

Revision 14 See all

3 years ago)

+4 Omenspeaker main
-2 Izzet Charm main
-1 Hypersonic Dragon main
+3 Underworld Connections main
-3 Read the Bones main
-2 Far / Away main
+2 Devour Flesh main
-1 Mountain main
-2 Izzet Guildgate main
+3 Rakdos Guildgate main
-1 Rakdos's Return main
+3 Far / Away main
-3 Devour Flesh main
-2 Anger of the Gods main
-2 Syncopate main
+2 Dissolve main
+1 Island main
-1 Mountain main
+1 Rakdos's Return main
-4 Omenspeaker main
and 33 other change(s)