Last updated on October 18, 2021

Alrund's Epiphany - Illustration by Kieran Yanner

Alrund’s Epiphany | Illustration by Kieran Yanner

On Tuesday, October 5, the World  Championship decklists were leaked three days earlier than planned. This caused a stir on Magic Twitter and a flurry of discussion, complaining, and the usual Twitter discourse.

Reviewing the different World Cup lists gave players the impression that they should be playing full aggro decks like mono green or mono white. There were also some other extreme decks like Alrund’s Epiphany that were built to go over the top of any midrange strategy.

Today I’m going to analyze the Grixis Epiphany list that world-class players like Gabriel Nassif and Jan Merkel (who placed in the top 4 in the Worlds) submitted. This deck has some very juicy cards like Lier, Disciple of the Drowned and The Celestus.

Let’s just dive right in!

The Deck

Duress - Illustration by Paul Scott Canavan

Duress | Illustration by Paul Scott Canavan

Decklist

The Strategy

This deck’s plan is relatively simple on paper: survive long enough (at least eight turns) to start re-casting spells with Lier, Disciple of the Drowned. Then you stabilize the battlefield and chain extra turns with Alrund’s Epiphany and the invaluable help of Midnight Hunt‘s new toy, Galvanic Iteration.

Although partly revolutionary, this deck is still just an evolution of the Izzet Turns list that already saw play in the meta. Black’s inclusion for some responses and disruption seems to be one of this deck’s big advantages.

But that’s enough about that. Time to take a look at the cards in more detail!

The Answers

Utilizing only one copy of very similar cards is very clever given the nature of the Worlds tournament. Why do this? So that your opponent always has to play around several spells, causing them to make mistakes more often.

Spikefield Hazard is a versatile card that’s often played as a land on the first turn, but it can serve as removal for annoying creatures like Lotus Cobra or Elite Spellbinder. It can even finish your opponent off when they’re down to their last few bits of life since it can go straight to their face. The range of possibilities these modal double-faced cards have opened up is tremendous.

Fading Hope is seeing more and more play thanks to the tempo it generates. Imagine not having a counterspell or clean response to Wrenn and Seven. This card is capable of “killing” the powerful planeswalker’s tokens and you can easily finish it off later. While your opponent uses five mana and their entire turn, you only use one and you can multi-spell along the way.

Prismari Command is another card that shines because of its tremendous versatility. It can almost single-handedly deal with Esika’s Chariot since you’d only leave a 2/2 token standing. It can also ramp you a bit to play powerful spells like Burn Down the House and Lier, Disciple of the Drowned a turn sooner. The Faithless Looting effect is also interesting since feeding Lier means it won’t be a waste of cards.

Demon Bolt is another single-copy include. Being able to deal with opposing Goldspan Dragons is sweet. It’s also another card with foretell which can trick your opponent into think you’re prepping to drop an Epiphany.

Another instant-speed response, Cathartic Pyre, is needed to deal with mono green and mono white’s more aggressive creatures. You can also finish Wrenn off after Fading Hope-ing the token, or to “cycle” your extra lands and draw fresh cards from your library in the matchups where the damage mode is useless.

Power Word Kill is an answer that deals with most creatures in the format for only . Not killing Goldspan is an issue but it works flawlessly for everything else.

Bloodchief’s Thirst is a very efficient removal as a piece of interaction that allows you to cast multiple spells in a single turn. Being able to kill a planeswalker is also a big plus.

The Sweepers

You can increase or trim how many sweepers you include depending on the expected meta in your tournament or the Arena ladder. Be open to modifying the numbers according to what you’re going up against.

Cinderclasm is a mini-sweeper that won’t usually deal with all your opponent’s creatures, but the ability to cast it at instant speed is very important. It could even leave Esika’s Chariot in a bad place by removing your opponent’s creatures to prevent them from crewing. It can also be used to kill the bird army in an Izzet Turns matchup.

Burn Down the House keeps the most aggressive decks in check. This’ll be your key card in a lot of matchups. It also has the versatility of being able to give you three devil tokens in a hurry and can greatly speed your ability to close the game if you combine that with the ability to take extra turns.

The Disruption

Duress

Duress is one of the big reasons to splash the third color; black is mainly here to disrupt your opponent’s hand. This has historically been a mirror-breaker against control decks if you expect a lot of blue builds.

Best of all, Duress has plenty of good targets in this meta, even against aggressive green decks. Cards like Ranger Class, Esika’s Chariot, and Wrenn and Seven mean it’ll (almost) never be a dead card.

The Card Advantage

Card advantage is a key factor just like in any control deck. This is especially true if you take into account that even the most aggressive decks can play threats that simultaneously function as card advantage.

Memory Deluge has been compared to the iconic Fact or Fiction and Dig Through Time. I don’t know if it reaches quite the same power level but it’s definitely a very interesting card. Not only does it provide card advantage, it also offers card selection. It’ll be very difficult to lose the game if you survive and then cast it for its flashback cost.

Expressive Iteration is not only being played in Modern but also making the leap to Legacy. A perfect turn 3 (or later) play that finds your land drop and gives you another card? Sign me up!

The Technology

The Celestus

The Celestus was probably the biggest surprise when the Worlds decks were leaked. It does a lot of little things, and it does them very well.

On the one hand, Celestus ramps and fixes your mana. This is important because dropping Lier, Disciple of the Drowned or Burn Down the House one turn ahead of schedule can be game changing.

On the other hand, it dominates the night and the day, providing two very positive mini effects. The incidental lifegain is very welcome and loot is wonderful, especially considering that Lier lets you play your discarded cards later.

The Finishers

This deck tries to survive the first few turns, exhausting your opponent’s resources and stabilizing the game. The most common way to end the game is to take a few extra turns and attack with what you have available.

Lier, Disciple of the Drowned is another great addition and gives the deck some extra dimension. Being able to reuse your graveyard is a source of immense card advantage and Lier will win games that are already stabilized. The clause that spells can’t be countered is key in mirror and control matchups.

Smoldering Egg blocks well at the beginning of the game and can turn around to transform into the feared Ashmouth Dragon. Ashmouth is capable of putting a very fast clock on your opponent or killing their creatures as you play spells.

Alrund’s Epiphany is the most powerful card in the current Standard. Many players are crying out for its ban, but it’s still alive for now. The appearance of Galvanic Iteration means that you can take two extra turns for , generating four bird tokens along the way that will do eight damage in the next two turns all on their own. You’re threatening lethal if you also have a manland that can attack. Either way you have two additional turns to stabilize the game or find more Epiphanies to chain more turns.

Galvanic Iteration is the lynchpin for all the Izzet-based decks that look to chain a lot of extra turns. What makes Iteration good is its very comfortable flashback cost of . You can always copy a – or mana value removal spell if it’s in your hand early — or discard it with The Celestus since it can be recast later if Lier hits the battlefield.

Tips and Tricks

Lier, Disciple of the Drowned | Illustration by Ekaterina Burmak

  • This is a deck that needs to get to the late game (8+ mana), so prioritize the safest plays that lose you the least amount of life in the early turns.
  • Don’t keep hands that don’t have early interaction. Assume that your opponent is going to be playing an aggressive deck since this will be true on most occasions and they’ll put you on the ropes if you don’t have removal.
  • Don’t forget that you can manipulate the day/night cycle if you have The Celestus in play and you have no better moves. Looting and gaining life may seem trivial but it helps you search for key cards, fuels the graveyard for Lier, Disciple of the Drowned, and basically just keeps you alive.
  • Play Lier, Disciple of the Drowned on turn 6 and leave open with a Fading Hope in the graveyard if possible so you can save your creature. Sometimes it’ll be impossible to play this safely, but it’s still smart to keep it in mind.
  • Galvanic Iteration doesn’t have to copy Alrund’s Epiphany exclusively. If you’re in trouble on turn 4 or 5 and have removal, don’t hesitate to copy it to follow my first tip.
  • Save your Alrund’s Epiphanys against black players post-sideboard and foretell them as soon as possible to avoid being discarded.
  • Copying Go Blank with Galvanic Iteration will destroy your opponent’s hand in mirror and control matchups. If you have the opportunity, go for it!

Sideboard Guide

Mono Green Aggro Matchups

You’re looking to lower the mana curve and have more removal and early interaction in this matchup. The Upheaval giants that win you the game shine brilliantly here.

In

Out

Izzet Dragons Matchups

This is a duel between tempo and pseudo-control where Grixis improves after sideboarding since Izzet Dragons usually pulls ahead in game 1. Your The Celestus copies are cut since they die relatively easily to Prismari Command. Mind Flayer can buy some tempo by stealing Goldspan Dragon but this matchup isn’t very good for Grixis. Your deck works better against the more aggressive decks.

In

Out

Mono White Aggro Matchups

Similar to mono green matchups, you want to lower your mana curve and “the combo” of taking extra turns also needs to be sided out to make room for earlier interaction cards. Especially interesting are the Flayers with their “mind control” effect, as well as the Hermits that hopefully trade with two of your opponent’s creatures.

In

Out

Izzet Turns Matchups

Game 1 will usually go to Izzet since Grixis’ main deck is mostly prepared to beat aggressive decks. You only have two Duress’ to crumble your rival’s plans. Things get better for you post-sideboard given that Go Blank can be devastating when copied with Galvanic Iteration.

In

Out

Wrap Up

Ashmouth Dragon - Illustration by Simon Dominic

Ashmouth Dragon | Illustration by Simon Dominic

As I already mentioned, many players are already calling for an Alrund’s Epiphany ban. It does seem like there was a decent variety of decks in the Worlds; seven different archetypes were present. We should give this Standard format a bit more time before considering any ban in my opinion. We’ll see if the next few weeks are still dominated by Izzet or if the most aggressive decks take the lead in the meta once again.

I hope you enjoyed today’s deck guide. Feel free to leave a comment down below if you have any questions or requests for future deck guides, and make sure to grab Arena Tutor for free if you’re looking to try out this list on the MTGA ladder.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll see you next time!

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