Welcome back to this week’s installment of The Rapport! As most of you are aware, the Mythic Championship in London next weekend is going to be a much different tournament than maybe we’ve ever seen before. The format is War of the Spark booster draft, and Modern without War of the Spark. The kicker is, not only will the first paper drafts for anyone happen at the event, but the set will only be available online for just a couple days beforehand.

But let’s talk about Modern. The other notable change is the testing of the London Mulligan rule, and we will also have public decklists after the first round of Constructed. What does this mean for Grixis Death’s Shadow?

London Mulligan Rule

Changing how mulligans work in a manner this drastic could have profound impact on Modern. It definitely has directly affected the decks that I have tested for the event. Spending a lot of time playing various inconsistent decks to see if anything breaks under the new mulligan rule has been an interesting experience. Mulling down to four cards frequently with decks like Cheerios, Tron, Dredge, Infect, and Narset combo trying to find the nut draw has only made me value consistency more.

The obvious first step is to look for a deck that is busted when you can abuse mulligans, but what a lot of people don’t give credit to is how much better the Thoughtseize decks become when opponents have this mindset. People are shipping their close hands now more than ever. In a vacuum the average hand quality increases, but those hands are often a house of cards once an early discard spell gets involved. It will be interesting to see if I or anyone else finds a way to truly break the rule, but as of right now I have my eyes set on disrupting people just as much as I ever have.

Public Decklists

Wizards of the Coast recently announced that after the round five (the first round of Modern), players will have one minute to review each other’s decklist at the beginning of all constructed matches. The decklist will contain all names and quantities of cards in the main deck, and just names of all cards in the sideboards.

This does a couple of things. First, it helps fight scouting by the larger teams who have an inherent advantage in that portion of the tournament. Second, this lets you know what your opponent is playing before you make your mulligan decision. Having access to that information benefits everyone; but linear decks will likely improve with the baseline, while interactive decks get more of a bonus as they know which situational cards they can safely mulligan away.

Grixis Death’s Shadow in London

In my testing so far a few things have remained true:

  • Grixis Death’s Shadow was in a good place in the format before the rule changes.
  • The format as a whole has not shifted much under the London Mulligan rule.
  • Dredge is slightly less popular, while Amulet and Tron are slightly more popular.
  • I have noticed significantly less Phoenix online, with a slight downtick in BG Midrange and UW Control.
  • There does seem to be a rise in some of the various linear decks in the format.
  • Disruption backed by a clock is more important now than it has been in some time.

What do all of these things mean specifically for Death’s Shadow? Well, I believe the deck was in a good place to start and the two rule changes that have occurred only help the deck even more. That sounds like a good place to be.

Against opponents who will mulligan more frequently, Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek gain a lot of value. They were already part of your core early turns, so that is a good sign. If people are incentivized to play more linear or combo decks, Stubborn Denial’s stock rises as well.

The best way to punish someone that is on low resources is to provide a clock and threaten to end the game before they can draw out of it; Death’s Shadow and Gurmag Angler put the pressure on with the best of them. Speaking of which, if players want to register decks that get into the red zone quickly to take advantage of the new rule, cards like Fatal Push and Lightning Bolt at the prefect answers.

Deck lists being available before the match has a lot of value of people playing decks like Grixis Death’s Shadow. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve looked at an opening hand with something like: Scalding Tarn, Polluted Delta, Fatal Push, Fatal Push, Dismember, Gurmag Angler, Mishra’s Bauble, and said to myself, “well I really hope my opponent is playing a creature deck.” With this change you know whether that hand is a slam dunk if you’re playing against Humans, or an easy mulligan if you’re playing against UW Control.

When combining the mulligan rule with the deck list rule Grixis Death’s Shadow really gets to take full advantage of what was traditionally one of its weaker points: situational cards in your game one opening hand. Too many times under the Vancouver mulligan would you go to six or even five cards and have to keep a hand with spells to cast and hope that was good enough. Now with the two new rules the interactive decks really get to sculpt a game plan in their hand by ensuring they start with few or even no dead cards. This virtual increase in consistency aids Death’s Shadow in one of its weaker areas: finding a threat. In so many situations you would be forced into keeping a hand with three lands, a couple cantrips and a removal spell and hope to find a threat before your opponent could capitalize on your wheel spinning.

I am excited to continue testing for MC London, and even more excited at the possibility that I may get to play my favorite deck at the tournament!  Make sure to catch The Rapport again next week when I cover more about modern and MC London!

Michael Rapp is a Boston-area grinder who started playing competitively in 2014. Loves Modern but plays everything. His favorite card is Thoughtseize has a soft spot for Tarmogoyf. GP Toronto 2019 Champion. Always happy to answer questions or just chat on Twitter or Facebook.

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