Greetings, readers! This week continues on with my Top Soldiers Of article series, a series which highlights my picks for the top legends and non-legends in different color combinations. I write this series in the hopes that it inspires the deckbuilding process for you, the readers, and helps influence you to take a look at some interesting card choices.
This week highlights a rather unloved color combination, in my opinion; perhaps it’s the generals, but recently, some new contenders have breathed new life into a color combination oddly fit for death, blending death and destruction with the elements of control. The combination I’m referring to, of course, is that of blue with black and red that forms Grixis.
Grixis is an oft-passed up color combination, as most of the two-color combinations enjoy the company of other colors rather than each other; Dimir is best with white, and Rakdos and Izzet are best with green. That being said, Grixis has some interesting control elements that, when built properly, can do some interesting things, and its generals approach interesting angles in the deckbuilding process.
The color combination has a few interesting power players, though, and has some niche utility spells that do a lot of work. Without further ado, let’s jump right into the list:
#5 – Grixis Charm
What I always tell people is that the more a spell has the potential to do, the more powerful it becomes. Grixis Charm is a great anti-combo piece, getting around the bubble of indestructibility so often provided by Darksteel Plate or Avacyn, Angel of Hope these days, and killing or disrupting key combos such as Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Deadeye Navigator. It also happens to kill multiple generals, which makes the spell have great multi-purpose usefulness. The +2/+0 to your board is not terribly useful, but in the rare instance you’re having trouble pushing general damage through, this is a huge help.
#4 – Crosis’s Charm
While Grixis Charm has flexibility on offense and can wither down indestructible creatures, for the sake of raw power, the original Crosis’s Charm has Grixis Charm beat on every front. Simply being Terror, Shatter and Boomerang on one card is unreal levels of flexibility, and while the nonblack creature clause definitely hurts, one can’t deny that Crosis’s Charm can situationally be a superior option to Putrefy, and that’s saying something.
#3 – Phyrexian Tryanny
Phyrexian Tyranny, arguably, is only really useful in one style of deck, making it somewhat narrow in function, but one can’t deny that in that deck, this card is insanely powerful. Being two Underworld Dreams for the price of one is pretty absurd, and since loss of life is harder to prevent than damage, it makes the counterplay options to Phyrexian Tyranny few and far between. Combining this with Windfall and Teferi’s Puzzle Box just seems disgusting.
#2 – Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
Obviously, the mack daddy himself was bound to end up on this list somewhere. He’s absurdly powerful, threatening to engulf a single opponent’s board state if left alone for even a moment, but despite his legendary run over the multiverse, Nicol Bolas is not without weaknesses.
For one, the obvious, he costs 8 mana, which is a hefty sum. Sometimes, you’ll effectively pay 8 mana for a Bramblecrush, which is really unfortunate, but that’s the innate weakness of Planeswalkers, especially those of Nicol Bolas’ caliber; they tend to draw attention from everyone.
On the plus side, his Mind Control effect is independent of you controlling him, meaning it’s Homeward Path or bust. He’s also one of Grixis’ few answers to enchantments, a large detriment to the color combination’s power overall, so most decks that can run him do, but at the same time, he’s still a difficult card to get more than one activation out of.
#1 – Cruel Ultimatum
There are a lot of reasons why Cruel Ultimatum is number 1 on this list. For one, it’s an unreal tempo swing in any matchup aside from tokens, letting you recur your greatest threat and swing card advantage and life totals in your favor. Second, it’s a sorcery in the colors of Charmbreaker Devils and Archaeomancer.
What makes the card really great, though, is how much it synergizes with other spells in the color combination. Blood Artist, Grave Betrayal and Sangromancer love it when your opponents’ creatures die. Megrim and Liliana’s Caress love it when your opponents discard cards. Exquisite Blood loves it when your opponents lose life. There are too many creatures to count that can on their own threaten to engulf tables. (Sheoldred, Whispering One is probably prime among them.) Psychosis Crawler loves it when you draw cards, and Sanguine Bond loves it when you gain life. Overall, there are a number of synergies with this card, due to the vast number of things it actually does, so not only are you getting insane value on the surface, but the potential to get secondary value through other spells you’ve cast is boundless, making Cruel Ultimatum an easy pick for #1.
Now that we’ve discussed the non-legends of Grixis, let’s move on to the legendary creatures. We begin with:
#5 – Crosis, the Purger
Crosis has recently fallen out of favor in discard-oriented strategies featuring cards such as Megrim, Liliana’s Caress and Bloodchief Ascension, but he’s still a 6/6 flier for 6 with an absurd ability to discard all relevant cards an opponent is holding, making it equal parts relevant and terrifying. That being said, in the advent of recent printings, Crosis has unfortunately become shafted in favor of a better option that we’ll get to later, but if you want to focus on discard spells such as Myojin of Night’s Reach and Cabal Conditioning, Crosis is a great way to make sure your opponents will be depleted of resources in short order.
#4 – Sedris, the Traitor King
Sedris is a rather unique reanimator general, as the creatures you revive tend to only be around for a single turn. That being said, in recent years, Sedris has been given the blessings of Rauru and been handed the sacred Sundial of the Infinite, allowing his army to reign terror on the battlefield ever longer.
Looter effects and fatties are Sedris’ game, getting things like Tidespout Tyrant, Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur and Sheoldred, Whispering One out of the graveyard to decimate the board, and he’s one of the game’s flagship reanimator generals. That being said, he’s still got to contend with his own 99, being inferior to Animate Dead, Necromancy and most recently, Rise of the Dark Realms. He’s strong, mind you, but is not without his shortcomings.
#3 – Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge
Jeleva is as powerful as she is reputable. I’ve written an article showing a rather unique approach to her strategy, but optimally, she functions best with big, dumb spells like Rise of the Dark Realms, Cabal Conditioning and Time Stretch. Just, if you ever want to survive playing Jeleva, do yourself a favor and stray away from Enter the Infinite. Please. I know I just put a bunch of disgusting ideas in your head, but for the sake of all things sacred, don’t do it. It’s uninventive, and moreover boring; you’ll burn yourself out of the concept quite quickly.
To be honest, there isn’t much to say about Jeleva that I haven’t already said; her stats in combat are rather poor, but her effect is well worth suiciding her into something for, and she gets good returns on dying. She can also screw combo hilariously if you hit a piece with her effect, making her an interesting anti-combo choice.
#2 – Thraximundar
Thraximundar is an excellent choice for either general damage or control, as he’s a fantastic finisher, threatening to eat an opponent’s general over and over, dissuading them from casting it. He’s a great follow-up to a Wrath effect as well, which makes him go hand-in-hand with many spells the color combination should already be running in the first place.
Admittedly, however, he has a bit of trouble getting going if your plan revolves around him, and in control, drawing more Wraths while you have him devouring the board already can prove quite tedious. Ramp is a little scarce in Grixis colors outside of mana rocks, and some draws can be somewhat awkward, but that doesn’t detract from how terrifying a presence Thrax has on a board state. Being able to swallow a player whole if they don’t have the presence to muster a counterattack is the sign of a well-designed card ripe for the format, and Thrax delivers on that front.
#1 – Nekusar, the Mindrazer
There can really be no other. Nekusar is an effect players have been begging for for years, especially in this color combination, and there are a multitude of strategies that capitalize on what Nekusar does; between Windfall, Wheel of Fortune, Underworld Dreams, Teferi’s Puzzle Box, Memory Jar and many more, it’s easy to untap with Nekusar and then proceed to do upwards of 50 damage between your opponents, making Nekusar a truly terrifying and rapidly reputable monster of the format.
I’ll go out on a limb and say that Nekusar is one of the better generals they’ve printed for the format in the last few years, equatable to Kaalia of the Vast or The Mimeoplasm before him. The effect is so beloved to players who have utilized the punisher strategy, and Wizards really knocked it out of the ball park with Nekusar, in my opinion.
Well, there you have it, my picks for the top Grixis cards in EDH. Next week will likely be my Let’s Build article for this week. (Sigh, I wish they’d just get to spoiler season already, for Journey Into Nyx or especially Conspiracy. Best believe when the latter’s spoiler season starts, I will be on top of it.)
Until next week!
Check out my previous articles here:
Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454
Building on a Budget:
Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
Innistrad - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2586
M14 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295
Theros - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2508
Born of the Gods - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2800
Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336
Part 9 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341
Part 10 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2525
Part 11 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2617
Part 12 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2691
Part 13 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2822
Part 14 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2933
Let’s Talk M14:
Painting a Target:
Planeswalking and You:
Stacking Up Commander 2013:
The Slippery Slope:
The Top Soldiers Of:
Azorius - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2640
Bant - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2907
Boros – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2854
Dimir - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2653
Esper - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2957
Golgari - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2760
Gruul - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2669
Orzhov - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2681
Rakdos - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2663
Selesnya - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2677
Simic - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2900
Trial & Error: