TES Matchup Battles: Death’s Shadow II

Death’s Shadow plays similar to a [[Delver of Secrets]] style deck, but with [[Death’s Shadow]] in that role. It is a blue-black deck that plays creature removal, discard spells, counterspells, and creatures,such as [[Death’s Shadow]], that can win the game quickly. In order to play [[Death’s Shadow]], the deck relies on [[Watery Grave]] instead of just [[Underground Sea]] for the mana base. It’s a deck that is quite popular and having a lot of success right now, so it’s important we know the matchup.

How does Death’s Shadow matchup against TES?

[[Death’s Shadow|]]
[[Force of Will|]]
[[Hymn to Tourach|]]

[[Death’s Shadow]], [[Murktide Regent]] – The creature suite packs a punch and can end the game quickly. A large enough [[Death’s Shadow]] or [[Murktide Regent]] can win the game in only a few attacks. This puts pressure on combo decks, that a typical control deck can’t do, to try and combo off quickly.

[[Force of Will]], [[Stubborn Denial]], [[Daze]] – Like most blue decks in Legacy, [[Force of Will]] is a staple, along with [[Daze]] in tempo style decks. Death’s Shadow plays cheap spells and only needs a few lands in play to cast all of their spells, so returning a land to hand from [[Daze]] is not a problem. The most unique counterspell they play is [[Stubborn Denial]]. [[Death’s Shadow]] and [[Murktide Regent]] can easily have over four power, and that makes [[Stubborn Denial]] a great counterspell that Storm decks have to worry about. [[Stubborn Denial]] being another hard counterspell, compared to [[Spell Pierce]], means just having excess mana won’t play around it.

[[Thoughtseize]], [[Hymn to Tourach]] – Along with counterspells, Death’s Shadow plays several discard spells. [[Hymn to Tourach]] and [[Thoughtseize]] are effective at disrupting the opponent and clearing the way for resolving a threat. Discard spells are effective against TES because [[Defense Grid]] isn’t effective and can be cast before a [[Veil of Summer]] is available.

[[Wasteland]] – [[Wasteland]] is hit or miss against TES because we do play a basic [[Swamp]] and have so much artifact mana. We also play fetch lands that we don’t have to sacrifice until the turn we need to, so there are many games where [[Wasteland]] is not that effective. [[Wasteland]] is good when we have to get a dual land and don’t have other initial mana sources. [[Wasteland]] also strengthens [[Daze]] and the discard spells by delaying our combo turn.

Deck List

the epic Storm

Main Deck

  • 4 [[Burning Wish]]
  • 4 [[Wishclaw Talisman]]
  • 4 [[Brainstorm]]
  • 4 [[Ponder]]
  • 1 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
  • 1 [[Ad Nauseam]]
  • 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • 4 [[Veil of Summer]]
  • 1 [[Defense Grid]]
  • 4 [[Rite of Flame]]
  • 4 [[Dark Ritual]]
  • 4 [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]
  • 4 [[Lotus Petal]]
  • 3 [[Chrome Mox]]
  • 3 [[Mox Opal]]
  • 3 [[Verdant Catacombs]]
  • 2 [[Bloodstained Mire]]
  • 2 [[Polluted Delta]]
  • 1 [[Tropical Island]]
  • 1 [[Badlands]]
  • 1 [[Underground Sea]]
  • 1 [[Volcanic Island]]
  • 1 [[Taiga]]
  • 1 [[Swamp]]


  • 4 [[Carpet of Flowers]]
  • 3 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 2 [[Abrupt Decay]]
  • 2 [[Chain of Vapor]]
  • 1 [[Empty the Warrens]]
  • 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
  • 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • 1 [[Peer into the Abyss]]

Ways to Win This Matchup

[[Mox Opal|]]
[[Burning Wish|]]
[[Dark Ritual|]]

Our Game Plan

Against most blue control decks, [[Galvanic Relay]] is going to be our best card. With four copies of [[Burning Wish]], one [[Galvanic Relay]] in the maindeck, and bringing in two more copies in during post-board games, there is a good chance we will have access to it. This matchup plays slower and can take several more turns than our average match. We don’t want to play too aggressively into the many free counterspells the opponent has, and they don’t put on much of a clock, so there is no reason to hurry. Most of the opponent’s counters are card disadvantage, so having a card like [[Galvanic Relay]] Our best chance of winning is to try and combo slower with [[Galvanic Relay]] or assembling [[Defense Grid]] or [[Veil of Summer]] for protection. [[Defense Grid]] is the least reliable because of [[Teferi, Time Raveler]] being able to return it to our hand and [[Prismatic Ending]] to destroy it.




-4 [[Ponder]], -1 [[Ad Nauseam]], -1 [[Chrome Mox]], -1 [[Mox Opal]] +3 [[Carpet of Flowers]], +2 [[Galvanic Relay]], +2 [[Abrupt Decay]]

The key cards in our sideboard are [[Carpet of Flowers]] and [[Galvanic Relay]]. [[Carpet of Flowers]] helps us play through [[Daze]] and [[Wasteland]] and gives us plenty of mana we need throughout the game. [[Galvanic Relay]] helps us fight through the counterspells and get back card advantage against the discard spells. It’s the best card in the matchup. These two cards fill the [[Ponder]] role of trying to find what we are missing and ultimately do it better. We don’t need both effects, so [[Ponder]] is an easy cut. [[Chrome Mox]] and [[Mox Opal]] are cuts because we are bringing in the [[Carpet of Flowers]] which again can play a similar role.


Game Play

I began the first game on the play and kept my opening seven-card hand. My hand contained a land, two cantrips, [[Dark Ritual]], [[Lotus Petal]], [[Burning Wish]], and [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. It was a slower hand, but it had the resources to fight through disruption and assemble a combo. I used my first turn to cast a [[Ponder]] to look for a land, but I did not find one and I had to shuffle my deck. My opponent spent their first turn doing the same thing by casting a [[Ponder]]. On my second turn, I cast a [[Brainstorm]] looking for a second land, and I did not find one, so I had to use a [[Lotus Petal]] to cast another [[Ponder]] to shuffle, and didn’t find a land again. I played out the second [[Lotus Petal]] to keep up [[Veil of Summer]] and ended my turn. The opponent used their second turn to play a [[Wasteland]] and then a [[Thoughtseize]]. I didn’t want to use my [[Lotus Petal]], but knowing I was going to lose my land, I decided to sacrifice my [[Lotus Petal]] for [[Veil of Summer]]. I didn’t draw a land.

Matchup Battles Deaths Shadow 2 - Image 1

A couple of turns passed without either of us drawing lands. My opponent drew their second land first and played a [[Murktide Regent]]. I finally drew another land, but I wasn’t able to combo off yet, so I just had to pass the turn.

Matchup Battles Deaths Shadow 2 - Image 2

My opponent then played another [[Wasteland]] and a [[Death’s Shadow]]. I drew a [[Wishclaw Talisman]] for my turn and that was the game.

Matchup Battles Deaths Shadow 2 - Image 3


I sideboarded like I recommended, and we were onto the second game. I was on the play, and my opening seven-card hand had a turn one [[Echo of Eons]], but without any protection. I could play my land and then cast [[Chrome Mox]], [[Dark Ritual]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]. Using the three black mana, I could cast and activate [[Wishclaw Talisman]] to get [[Echo of Eons]]. Then, I could sacrifice the [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to put [[Echo of Eons]] in the graveyard and cast it. I think you either have to take this line or mulligan because without any blue mana and a [[Brainstorm]], this hand doesn’t do much else.

Matchup Battles Deaths Shadow 2 - Image 5

I decided to keep the opening hand and go for the [[Echo of Eons]] line. It resolved, and I had plenty of mana, [[Brainstorm]], and a [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. There’s a high chance my opponent had a counterspell now, so I played out my artifacts and led with the [[Brainstorm]].

Matchup Battles Deaths Shadow 2 - Image 6

One of the cards I drew was a [[Veil of Summer]]. This gave me the confidence to cast [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. It was immediately targeted by a [[Force of Will]]. I responded with the [[Veil of Summer]]. It resolved, and I drew [[Chrome Mox]] and immediately played it.

Matchup Battles Deaths Shadow 2 - Image 7

From there, I was able to use [[Wishclaw Talisman]] to search for and cast [[Galvanic Relay]] with 16 Storm. I was able to easily win on my following turn.

Matchup Battles Deaths Shadow 2 - Image 8


For the third game, I had a slower hand, but I had the necessary resources to win after a few turns, and I had protection. I had a [[Veil of Summer]], but no green mana yet and I was hit by a turn two [[Hymn to Tourach]]. I kept drawing more copies of [[Veil of Summer]]. The opponent then played a [[Death’s Shadow]]. I finally drew a green source and decided instead of leaving it up to cast a [[Veil of Summer]] I went ahead and used it now along with the [[Rite of Flame]] to [[Galvanic Relay]] for three. I exiled three mana sources. My opponent spent their next turn casting [[Thoughtseize]] to take my [[Burning Wish]].

Matchup Battles Deaths Shadow 2 - Image 9

At this point, I didn’t have anything to cast with the mana from exiled spells. A few turns went by of me just drawing mana and eventually a [[Death’s Shadow]] and [[Brazen Borrower]] were enough to win the game.

Matchup Battles Deaths Shadow 2 - Image 10


In my experience this matchup is harder than a typical [[Delver of Secrets]] deck because of the discard spells. The combination of discard, counterspells, a fast clock, and [[Wasteland]] is tough for any combo deck to beat. We do have some powerful cards for the matchup, but sometimes it’s just not good enough. I hope you enjoyed this article, can take some of the lessons learned, and apply them to your own playtesting.