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A New Breed


Claim // Fame
Awhile back I wrote about the power of Claim // Fame. In that article I said Claim // Fame would make a huge impact on Modern and affect the format in huge ways. I also believed it to be the card that could lead to Death's Shadow getting nerfed. While I was wrong about the card, I still think there’s some potential for it. Death's Shadow is the easiest card to pair with it, but I’ve been going about this all wrong. Instead I’d like to revisit a card that was overlooked for quite some time before it made its mark in Modern and I think it might be time for a return.

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy used to be the focus of Grixis decks in the past. Helping mount an advantage for the Grixis decks to tear through creature decks with extra removal and helping beat combo decks by sifting through your draws to make sure you found the hate needed there. Recently the format felt too hateful toward the kind of slow strategy but I think we are nearing a point where ‘Jund’ can be good again. And while normal Jund is great, I can’t imagine not making use out of the Blue variant. While Grixis colors have dominated with a Death's Shadow flavoring, as discussed last week, it comes at a cost in deck-building. If we don’t play Shadow then the opportunities open up.

Since our threats have to cost one or two for Claim // Fame, that minimizes our options. Since Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is where I want to be that limits the kind of cards we can play. Back at SCG Syracuse I was forced to play Delver of Secrets. This limited the way I had to build my deck and led to some awkward games. Instead, I’d like to open things up and play something closer to a control deck. We won't be full on control, but we’ll have some control elements. In terms of threats, we certainly have a small but powerful base to work with. Besides Jace we also have Snapcaster Mage as another powerful tool. We have a couple of other great options, but I think the only one that sticks out to me is Young Pyromancer.

Once we know we’re shifting more toward a control deck, I know counterspells like Mana Leak and Spell Snare seem attractive. However, discard is also a formidable choice in the meta. Playing Claim // Fame in this list also means our discard isn’t playing a ‘Protect the Queen’ game all the time. Instead of being forced to take removal for our creatures we can instead lean toward using our discard to nab the best card in that situation.

Dark Confidant
There are some drawbacks to playing this style of deck. You are playing at a slower clip than a Shadow deck which means some games might be harder to close out. There’s also no ‘combo’ around Temur Battle Rage and large creature to end games on the spot. It will be that much more important to not leave yourself open to what your opponent might present. However, it does mean there is less air and less dead cards. Not being priced into playing Street Wraith means there’re less times when it’s going to come at a huge cost to cycle. It also a benefit to our mana base. The Fast Lands are a boon and being unable to play them is a shame. We also get to play a lot of basics and you can never go wrong being able to fetch basics to beat Blood Moon or not having to deal yourself a ton of damage against the aggressive decks are always going to be fantastic.

One of the other decks I expect to pick up in play is good old Jund. It has all the tools it needs to beat the best decks in the format and all backed up by the fantastic card advantage engine in Dark Confidant. I wonder with the selection of two cost creatures in Jund if Claim could make an impact there as well. There’s not a single creature you’d hate to revive and all are heavy hitters that suffer from the same fatal flaw of being weak to targeted spot removal.

What about Dark Confidant in Grixis?

What if we went more in on Claim?

We would want our entire creature base to support the card. In that case, we can look to Jund for an answer in Dark Confidant. Using Dark Confidant in this shell provides a ton of card advantage and Claim // Fame lets us get re-buys on the potent threat. We’ve all been on that side of the game where an unchecked Dark Confidant allows you to run away with the game. Being able to eat a removal spell and buy back the Confidant should be even more powerful in the long run. I’ve included Opt over Thought Scour in this build as it isn’t needed to fuel delve at all. While Thought Scour can flip a Jace faster, it’s more important we find all the tools we need for any given situation. You’ll fill up your graveyard playing Magic as it is, so there’s no real need to expedite when there’s no delve threats.

While Path to Exile is certainly a fantastic reason to make Claim // Fame look like a poor choice, but the beauty about these kind of decks is Claim // Fame isn’t the focus. It’s just another means to an end. The card is easy to side out in matchups where it’s unneeded and is always a fine trim post board. If the opponent looks ready for the strategy, then it’s important to be able to fix things post board.

With the absence of Dredge in the format, I feel a slow grindy deck is primed for return to make its mark in the format. Claim // Fame is a powerful card in its own right and I think it’s just waiting for the right home. As I wrote about last week, Shadow isn’t the only way to build your Grixis deck and it’s time to start exploring new avenues. Dylan Donegan showed us that the deck can be adapted and is able to make an impact. He was rewarded with a well deserved win at the Team Open in Baltimore. Modern is a wide open format and it’s time to start reaching to new heights with the card pool.

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