Why do people think Griselbrand is good?

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Posted on Nov. 7, 2018, 4:30 a.m. by vasarto77

How is it even remotely possible that Cards like Griselbrand is a "win" condition? He isn't even anything I would consider a good creature and it boggles my mind why you would waste a perfectly good Goryo's Vengeance on him.

So, first off his power and toughness are substandard for any modern day magic deck. Almost anything deck is going to match his deck, and the number of spells that can easily dispatch of him are numerous enough to where any deck of any color has an answer for him.

Then, there is his draw seven cards ability which cannot possibly be a win condition for any deck I have seen him in since you are paying MORE than a third of your life to draw seven cards. That would make griselbrand a "utility" card, not a win condition like I keep seeing people claiming he is. To make things more confusing for me about this trash card, no deck I have seen works off of using his ability to draw cards in any way. Nothing about when you lose life your opponent loses the same amount of life cards. Nothing with dealing damage to your opponent when you draw a card. It's, reanimate the guy and you win?...somehow? Despite the fact that he is not indestructible or hexproof or the decks he is in uses anything that can protect him.

Oh, and he doesn't have haste, so when you do Use the GV on him, you don't even get to attack with him. So what's the deal about this what "should" only be a 1.00 rare that I am missing that makes people think he is so great?

TypicalTimmy says... #2

Two words: Card Advantage.

You pay 7 life and he gets you that 7 life right back when he swings. You can draw 14 cards in a single turn, outside of other times like your Draw Step.

He's also a hulking 7/7 Flyer, which is completely respectable.

The way the deck works with Goryo's Vengeance is like this:

  • Step 1.) Dump Griselbrand into your graveyard. You can do this by going 2nd and playing nothing, forcing you to discard. You can also do this by playing something cheap, such as a T1 Faithless Looting.

  • Step 2.) With Griselbrand in your graveyard, you cast Goryo's Vengeance targeting him. You now have a T2 7/7 with Haste. Keep in mind you should probably still be at 20 life.

  • Step 3.) You are going to pay 14 life and draw 14 cards. You are at 6 life left. Swing with Griselbrand and recover 7 of your life. What you are drawing for is Fury of the Horde. This spell allows you to discard two red cards rather than pay it's mana cost. With an opening hand of 7 cards where you play a land (6 cards) and cast a Faithless Looting (-1 FL, +2 draw, -2 discard = 5) you should have 5 cards in hand your 1st turn with Griselbrand in your graveyard. You'll draw for your Draw Step on your 2nd turn (6 cards), play a land (5 cards), cast Goryo's Vengeance (4 cards) bring back Griselbrand and draw 14 cards (18 cards). With 18 cards in hand, you should statistically have gotten at least 1x Fury of the Horde with two red spells you can discard for it.

  • Step 4.) After your 1st Combat Step on your 2nd turn of the game, you will have spent 14 life, going down to 6 in total. Then gained 7 life from Griselbrand's Lifelink, putting you back up to 13. You'll have 18 cards in hand. You discard two red cards and cast Fury of the Horde. you get a 2nd Combat Step, in which you swing for another 7 damage and gain another 7 life, putting you at 20 life again. From here, you pay an additional 14 life to draw an additional 14 cards. Your hand should now be (18 - Fury - 2x red = 15) + 14 draw = 29 cards. You now have 1/2 of your library in your hand.

  • Step 5.) With 29 cards in hand, you discard two more red cards to pay for a 2nd Fury of the Horde, giving you a THIRD combat phase, where you swing for ANOTHER 7 damage. Your opponent has now taken 21 damage on your 2nd turn.

Turn 2 Win

And it's 100% possible to get a T1 win if you run Simian Spirit Guide. You can discard him for to cast your Faithless Looting, play a Swamp and go directly into a Goryo's Vengeance if you can manage to discard a 2nd Simian Spirit Guide.

So an opening hand to get a T1 win would look like this:

November 7, 2018 5:49 a.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #3

Sorry, you don't discard red cards to pay Fury of the Horde, you exile them.

Too tired to edit and correct all the mistakes I made on that one. I've been up nearly 20 hours. :/

November 7, 2018 5:52 a.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #4

I'd also like to point out that drawing 7 cards with him in a mill deck where you run things such as Sphinx's Tutelage is absolutely devastating.

Most Modern decks run 2 - 3 colors. Rare exceptions are things such as Elves and Burn which are mono-colors and 5C Humans. There are nearly no 4C Modern decks because the balancing is not worth the deck potential, though they can be made with enough effort. The real problem here isn't that 4C isn't powerful, it's that the manafixing is absurd. 5C Humans, I've seen go for literally $1,300 - well out of the budget for I'd say 90% of MTG players. My most expensive Modern deck is $340 and I bought damaged cards and foreign cards to help reduce the cost - and that thing took me two weeks of overtime to save up for with enough cushion set aside to ensure bills can still be paid on time.

As a quick example, I'm going to grab a Modern deck I have and do a casual playthrough on what would happen with just a Sphinx's Tutelage and Griselbrand.

Alright, let's give you the benefit of the doubt and say I am running my Rakdos Minotaur deck. This thing packs a serious punch and is all about dropping Instant-speed kill spells while building up a Minotaur Tribal wall of death before I swing in for 160+ damage with just 4 - 5 creatures.

I'm going to draw my hand, and skip on over to T4. This gives you time to get a Sphinx's Tutelage out without ramp, somehow have landed Griselbrand in your graveyard, and cast yourself a Goryo's Vengeance to bring him out on your 4th turn.

So I draw 7 cards, I'll go first, and draw three more as my turns come and go. This leaves 50 cards left in my library.

Let's see what happens when you draw 7 with Sphinx's Tutelage on the field.

Okay, so that wasn't so bad on my end. So suppose you pay 7 more life, draw 7 more cards, and put me through this 7 more times.

So you milled me for a total of 32 cards. You would have paid 14 life, but remember you could swing for 7 damage since he has Haste via Goryo's Vengeance and pay it AGAIN, so let's make me go through this one last time and see where I'm left off at. Remember, I had 10 cards accounted for between my opening hand and my three draw steps. So I only have 18 cards left in my library. So you pay 7 more life and we go through this whole sha-bang one more time.

You pass the turn and I lose.

T4 Mill. Set up right, you can do it T3.

November 7, 2018 6:17 a.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #5

And yes I know my lands suck :) This is my more casual styled deck. I have my fetch / shock lands in something else right now ;)

Anyway, hope I helped clear some things up! I absolutely love Modern Jank where you pull off odd combos or use cards in ways they aren't really being used in. That's why I'm TypicalTimmy. I don't play competitively, I play for the entertainment value with a splash of shock and awe! :D

November 7, 2018 6:24 a.m.

enpc says... #6

Griselbrand is insanely good. In modern, the idea behind griselcannongriselcannon decks is that yes, while they are a glass cannon build, they are stupid fast.

The ability to pay life to draw cards is super good - especially when the deck is built around cards like Chancellor of the Tangle and Nourishing Shoal to gain back chunks of life. From there, you can use him in conjunction with his life gain) to chain together extra combat phases.

I think this is something that quite a few players forget, there is no different between winning on two life as there is on twenty life. And often being able to trade life for resources will end up giving you the upper hand. Griselbrand embodies this. Risk/reward profiles and all that.

November 7, 2018 7:43 a.m.

shadow63 says... #7

I smell a troll here

November 7, 2018 11:45 a.m.

cdkime says... #8

I second TypicalTimmy's first post. I think it pretty much had it covered.

Just to add some additional thoughts:

Magic is all about resource management. Your life total, your hand, and your cards in other zones are all resources to be exploited for victory.

Life is, in and of itself, not a valuable resource--it prevents you from losing, but it does not further your chance to win. Cards, on the other hand, do further your ability to win, by giving you access to the answer or threat necessary at that given moment.

That is why Griselbrand is good--it turns a relatively worthless resource into an incredibly valuable one. It's a Necropotence--a card that's Banned in Legacy and Restricted in Vintage--that gives you the cards right away and has a built-in ability to restore the health you pay.


I do think TypicalTimmy's mill proposal has some significant issues--Mill is already a deck that can win on turn 3 or 4, even without perfect draws or comboing cards together. This proposal has a few too many moving parts to be consistently competitive. That said, it does look like it might be fun to play in a casual setting.

November 7, 2018 12:24 p.m.

Eledain says... #9

Go to channelfireball.com and watch a stream of the BR Reanimator Deck in Legacy and you'll see why Griselbrand is a hell of a card. :-)

November 7, 2018 2:23 p.m.

Azdranax says... #10

Don’t forget tin fins reanimator with Children of Korlis as well. My all time favorite legacy deck. T1 draw your deck and win.

November 7, 2018 2:33 p.m.

Dredge4life says... #11

10/10 good troll post. Would read again.

November 7, 2018 3:15 p.m.

vasarto77 says... #12

@dredge4life. I am not trolling. I for the life of me cannot see a single redeeming quality to paying a third of your life for drawing some cards. But, now that some people have explained it to me well enough I understand.

November 7, 2018 4:58 p.m.

Play a game where you only draw every other turn but your opponent gets an additional card each draw step and see how that works out for you. Having no cards in hand means your opponent has free reign to do as they please without trying to factor in your hand, while every card they have could be the answer they need or a combo piece to win. One of the strongest aspects about control decks is having cheap cantrips which keep their hand full and allow them to find whatever they need at a given moment. It's not chance that they always seem to have a Counterspell or Path to Exile when they need them, it's card advantage. Griselbrand gives this not only alongside a powerful, evasive body with an ability that essentially nullifies the cost of drawing but ALSO is in black rather than blue. As mentioned above, keeping decks in as few colours as possible makes them both more reliable and cheaper to build; so not having to splash blue for draw in a B/R deck lets you circumvent the assumed limitations of the colour pie.

November 11, 2018 11:58 a.m.

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