Being Aggressive With Grixis Spells: Is It Possible?

Commander Deck Help forum

Posted on Oct. 28, 2018, 3:33 a.m. by Strike_Rouge

Deck in question here.

First and foremost: I enjoy playing more aggressive and fast-paced decks. As I established in the above deck description, that deck is an overhaul from a previous attempt to go heavy aggro that turned more into cookie-cutter Kess control teetering on an identity crisis. In theory (or if you will, solo playtesting) I've patched the speed issue for the most part, but despite that, I still feel like an element is missing. I have the creatures, and the spells, yet I can feel my inner spellcaster at heart beckoning for more.

How do I play more spells in cEDH and still stay aggressive on both the spell and creature front? In either iteration of my Grixis deck I thought I had it down before realizing I made an error (or feeling like I may have).

Side note: would Jodah, Archmage Eternal be a better Commander, with Kess in the main? I'd gain access to White and Green, two colors that pair well with Red offensively, and then use Black and Blue as a sort of "glue" to help things run.

enpc says... #2

So a few things:

  1. Alesha, Who Smiles at Death is not legal in a Kess deck. White colour identity and all. Same thing goes for Immortal Servitude.

  2. Assuming you're building for a cEDH environment, there will be a very large budget dispartiy between where your deck is sitting and where the bounds of cEDH lie. To make aggro work, you will need access to the best tempo cards you can. This includes cards like Mana Crypt, Mox Diamond, Wheel of Fortune, etc. as well as ABUR lands and fetches. Ravnica bounce lands are the opposite of fast.

  3. If you want to play aggro, you need to drop the cute interactions that don't really do anything (for example trying to put a removal spell on Isochron Scepter). It slows you down and wastes card slots from your strategy.

If you want to play aggro, your best bet is to play some sort of stax. It wont be as fast, but allows you to actually beat down on an opponent without just folding to combo.

That or Edric, Spymaster of Trest as your commander are the two ways to go. Edric is one of the few actual beatdown commanders who works due to the insane ammount of tempo he generates.

October 28, 2018 7:49 p.m.

Strike_Rouge says... #3

1.) I've been told by a few players that if a card/effect has a split mana cost, it was playable so long as you stayed to paying the mana costs you actually can pay. Now having looked it up (never bothered because I trusted the word of those players who've been at it a while), I can see that some of these indeed don't work. Oops.

2.) Are there any alternatives to those in the slightest? I'm familiar with those cards, and the prices they run at, and I can hardly fathom buying any of them to be honest. I want a good deck, but... I'm not sure if I want to go that far, you know?

3.) The example you provided - Isochron Scepter - is actually part of a win-con. I rather like having infinite mana with Paradox Engine and either Dark Ritual or Cabal Ritual. Getting this off with Guttersnipe on the field secures the game. I don't frequent anything else with Scepter (albeit removal + Scepter being infinite with an Engine and Sol Ring). What other things would you classify as cute distractions from the main goal?

I suppose I could try Stax. I'm looking into how those decks function, and so far, I'm hesitant and unsure, but open.

I do see what you mean with that guy; attack a lot, draw a lot, repeat. Bonus points for having a CMC below four or five. One thing that comes to mind, though: giving opponents some form of card advantage. Edric feels something of a double-edged sword; a sword that, perhaps with a few tricks and knowledge, would risk harming the user less - like a real blade - but a double-edged sword nonetheless.

October 28, 2018 9:23 p.m.

enpc says... #4

The amount of card advantage that Edric generates for you is worth the downside of giving your opponents cards every now and then. Your deck is built around maximising CA by running a swarm of unblockable creatures. Your opponents might turn sideways wit ha dork every now and then but cannot keep up. Combine this with a bunch of extra turn spells and you just snowball into chaining take extra turn spells.

If you want to make Isochron Scepter do work, you're best pairing it with Dramatic Reversal, as well as running Paradox Engine. The least number of combo pieces you have to assemble, the better. The benefit of that one is that you take advantage of your rocks/dorks (if you're running green) that you would already be playing. And this way, the combo only costs 4 mana to play and start, rather than 9 mana.

When it comes to mana base, you can sink a lot of money into it to make it good. As a general rule for building your mana base, you want to avoid lands that enter tapped. Your primary function for lands is to provide fast fixing. So cards like Command Tower, City of Brass, Mana Confluence, pain lands like Shivan Reef, shocks like Steam Vents, etc. are all good.

October 29, 2018 2:16 a.m.

Strike_Rouge says... #5

I suppose if I play him with Aggro-Control ('cause of that U/G pairing, if I made him the Commander), that would put a serious dampener on my opponents' effective card advantage, too. Thanks.

I keep forgetting Dramatic Reversal exists, and I seriously don't know why (even when it's in many Kess decks). To be perfectly honest, trying to build up to just Isochron Scepter, Paradox Engine and a ramp Instant feels like I may as well be playing an Exodia deck at times; add Guttersnipe to the mix (although it really ought to be out already, barring removal) and I practically am playing Exodia. Not sure how long it would've been before I remembered Reversal if you hadn'tmentioned it, so again, thank you. (Super unrelated note: how the heck is Reversal not a Rare or Mythic with an effect like that?)

A couple weeks ago I built a physical version of the first Kess deck that's cheaper and used tapped lands. All I can say in terms of speed after a few games is "Ew." I've been getting the same feeling with bounce lands more and more; I left them in because I thought, "Hey, they provide two mana per tap. They aren't that bad, right? Just tap land to play stuff and then bounce the tapped land to hand. :D " ... Or I could simply play a tap-for-one dual land with fewer speed drawbacks first thing. With regards to price: how long do people often spend time-wise building decks? If I spent a longer period of time, perhaps I can see myself pulling off the more expensive stuff you mentioned earlier. How risky is building over time? I know as certain cards age - like Wheel of Fortune - the price goes up because somebody won't reprint it and others.

October 29, 2018 4:31 p.m.

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