Death’s Shadow is a UB deck that is centered around playing cards that cause you to lose life in order to play an early and big [[Death’s Shadow]]. There isn’t much of a comprimise in the rest of the deck since most of the Legacy staples already do damage to yourself or have an exact replacement for cards that lose life. Death’s Shadow being a UB deck utilized both counterspells and discard spells, so playing [[Thoughtseize]] and [[Force of Will]] serve as being disruptive Legacy staples and causing loss of life in order to accelerate playing a [[Death’s Shadow]]. These cards also don’t compromise the strength of the deck if you don’t draw a [[Death’s Shadow]] because they are Legacy staples as standalone cards. The recent printings of [[Orcish Bowmaster]] and [[Troll of Khazad-dum]] have found their way into [[Death’s Shadow]]. [[Orcish Bowmaster]] makes obvious sense in Legacy as removal and good against decks that play cantrips. [[Troll of Khazad-dum]] seems less obvious as being a Legacy card, but it works in harmony with putting a creature in the graveyard in order to cast [[Reanimate]]. It will give you a land, make you lose lots of life, and give you an aggressive creature. Death’s Shadow decks have seen plenty of play in Legacy, but will these two make it become a staple deck of the format? That’s yet to be determined, but it’s being played enough that we want to have a game plan against it.

How does Death’s Shadow matchup against TES?

[[Death’s Shadow|]]
[[Force of Will|]]

[[Death’s Shadow]], [[Troll of Khazad-dum]], [[Murktide Regent]] – Death’s Shadow plays several large creatures that can do a lot of damage very quickly. [[Troll of Khazad-dum]] may not seem like a fast threat because it costs six mana, but it will be put into the graveyard from Swampcycling and Death’s Shadow plays four copies of [[Reanimate]] to put it into play on turn two. This sequence also makes them lose six life to enable an early [[Death’s Shadow]] or to Delve away [[Troll of Khazad-dum]] to cast [[Murktide Regent]].

[[Grief]], [[Thoughtseize]] – Another reason Death’s Shadow plays [[Reanimate]] is for [[Grief]]. This combination is extremely powerful against a combo deck. To spend your first turn casting [[Grief]] and then put into back into play with [[Reanimate]] to take another card and have a three-power creature will set back any combo player several turns. [[Thoughtseize]] also has synergy along with being a great discard spell it enables casting [[Death’s Shadow]].

[[Force of Will]], [[Daze]] – It wouldn’t be a fair blue deck without [[Force of Will]] and since the deck contains a very low mana curve it gets to play [[Daze]]. [[Daze]] also has synergy of being able to return a [[Watery Grave]] to hand to replay it and lose two more life to grow a [[Death’s Shadow]].

[[Wasteland]] – Like most Legacy tempo decks they play [[Wasteland]]. This isn’t that effective against TES because of all of the artifact mana as initial mana sources, but [[Wasteland]] in combination with all of their other disruption can be quite good since we have no basic lands.

Deck List

the epic Storm

Main Deck
  • 4 [[Burning Wish]]
  • 4 [[Wishclaw Talisman]]
  • 4 [[Brainstorm]]
  • 3 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 3 [[Mind’s Desire]]
  • 3 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • 4 [[Veil of Summer]]
  • 4 [[Rite of Flame]]
  • 4 [[Dark Ritual]]
  • 4 [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]
  • 4 [[Lotus Petal]]
  • 4 [[Mox Opal]]
  • 4 [[Chrome Mox]]
  • 4 [[Bloodstained Mire]]
  • 1 [[Scalding Tarn]]
  • 1 [[Verdant Catacombs]]
  • 1 [[Badlands]]
  • 1 [[Volcanic Island]]
  • 1 [[Taiga]]
  • 1 [[Underground Sea]]
  • 1 [[Bayou]]
  • 3 [[Thoughtseize]]
  • 2 [[Abrupt Decay]]
  • 1 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 1 [[Empty the Warrens]]
  • 2 [[Chain of Vapor]]
  • 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
  • 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • 1 [[Peer into the Abyss]]
  • 1 [[Mind’s Desire]]
  • 1 [[Grapeshot]]
  • 1 [[Meltdown]]

Ways to Win This Matchup

[[Rite of Flame|]]
[[Mind’s Desire|]]
[[Wishclaw Talisman|]]
Our Game Plan

This matchup can have some one of our slower games that we play. Death’s Shadow plays 12 free disruptive cards in [[Daze]], [[Grief]], and [[Force of Will]]. These in combination with all of their other disruptive elements and it becomes clear why comboing early usually doesn’t happen. We can see that in our sideboarding plan as well. We don’t need as much of our faster mana and bring in [[Abrupt Decay]] to be more interactive. We need to lean into this and try to out card advantage our opponent and try to win over multiple turns with a [[Galvanic Relay]] or a [[Mind’s Desire]]. It is difficult for [[Death’s Shadow]] to win against this many free spells because they don’t have much card advantage and in fact have the opposite. They have [[Grief]] and [[Force of Will]] that is card disadvantage, and we can recover from them pretty easily by taking our time and trying to gain this advantage over them. A new element to this matchup and Legacy in general is [[Orcish Bowmasters]]. Now usually this won’t prevent us from comboing, but it can. If we are at a low enough life total and we go for an [[Echo of Eons]] or a [[Brainstorm]] then it could be lethal. Even if it doesn’t kill us immediately it could grow the token and do enough damage for the opponent to win on their next turn. This is a new angle we have to consider in this matchup and be cautious about. There’s not much we can do about it game one, but we just have to consider the possibilities of them flashing [[Orcish Bowmasters]] in if they have two mana up. This is another reason for bringing in [[Abrupt Decay]].




-1 [[Chrome Mox]], -1 [[Mox Opal]], -1 [[Echo of Eons]], +2 [[Abrupt Decay]], +1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]

We trim on [[Chrome Mox]] and [[Mox Opal]] because the opponent plays lots of discard spells. We really don’t want to be exiling cards from our hand against discard decks and [[Mox Opal]] requiring two other artifacts can be a major downside for the same reason in that they could discard our other artifacts to never enable [[Mox Opal]]. [[Echo of Eons]] is trimmed down for a few reasons. The first is the numerous counterspells. It’s not a great to reload the opponent with counterspells. Another reason is the addition of [[Orcish Bowmaster]]. Against an aggressive clock [[Orcish Bowmasters]] could prevent us from casting [[Echo of Eons]] or force us to win on that turn because we could lose to passing the turn back after growing the token and taking seven damage. [[Abrupt Decay]] is good in this matchup against the [[Death’s Shadow]], [[Orcish Bowmasters]]. and potential [[Null Rod]]. There are enough good targets to make it worth it. We bring in [[Tendrils of Agony]] for a few reasons. The first is against potential [[Surgical Extraction]] on [[Burning Wish]] as we don’t want to be cold to that. Another reason is Death’s Shadow gets to a very low life total on their own, so it usually doesn’t require much of a combo in order to get enough storm to win the game. It’s much easier to win with [[Tendrils of Agony]] in the deck.


Game Play

I started the first game being on the play and keeping a solid hand of three pieces of artifact mana and a [[Galvanic Relay]]. I exiled a [[Burning Wish]], [[Echo of Eons]], [[Galvanic Relay]], and a [[Mind’s Desire]]. That wasn’t great at all. My opponent spent their first turn just using a [[Wasteland]].

Matchup Battles Death's Shadow - Image 2

During my next turn, I decided I wanted to use the [[Galvanic Relay]] from exile. I couldn’t get much Storm, but I did draw a [[Chrome Mox]]. I didn’t have anything in my hand to exile, so I cast the [[Burning Wish]]. I already had access to a green source from the other [[Chrome Mox]], so I wanted to grab a red card that I wouldn’t need to [[Burning Wish]] for later. I chose [[Pulverize]] and then exiled it to the [[Chrome Mox]] to [[Galvanic Relay]] for three. It exiled [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Echo of Eons]], and [[Brainstorm]].

Matchup Battles Death's Shadow - Image 3

On my next turn, I cast the [[Brainstorm]] and drew a [[Rite of Flame]] and another [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]. I put the [[Mind’s Desire]] back that I drew for my turn. I cast the [[Rite of Flame]] and sacrificed both copies of [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to cast the [[Echo of Eons]] from exile. It was met with [[Daze]], and I paid the extra mana.

Matchup Battles Death's Shadow - Image 4

The new seven cards had two copies of [[Rite of Flame]] and a [[Wishclaw Talisman]] with [[Veil of Summer]] protection. It wasn’t good enough in order to [[Tendrils of Agony]] for a win here, but I could continue chaining with another [[Galvanic Relay]] with an almost guaranteed win on the following turn.

Matchup Battles Death's Shadow - Image 5

My opponent saw the writing on the wall with a [[Galvanic Relay]] for 11 Storm and conceded the game.

Matchup Battles Death's Shadow - Image 6

We head into the second game, and I sideboarded like I recommended. I was on the draw and my opponent spent their first turn with a [[Grief]] to take my [[Mind’s Desire]] and cycling a [[Troll of Khazad-dum]]. I used my first turn to play a [[Badlands]] and my artifacts. On turn two, my opponent used a [[Wasteland]] on my [[Badlands]]. This left us both with very few resources and not much to do.

Matchup Battles Death's Shadow - Image 7

A few turns go by of us both just drawing cards and passing the turn before we draw and play some lands. On my end step, my opponent cast an [[Orcish Bowmaster]] and untapped and cast [[Thoughtseize]]. I had the [[Veil of Summer]] for protection, but I would take a damage and grow the token because of [[Orcish Bowmaster]]. I decided that was still worth it and cast the [[Veil of Summer]]. After my opponent attacked, they ended their turn.

Matchup Battles Death's Shadow - Image 8

I drew a [[Brainstorm]]. It’s not the best in the face of an [[Orcish Bowmasters]]. I decided to cast it anyway because I have nothing else going on and facing a clock already. I needed to try and go for it this turn or setup for next turn. I drew two rituals and a [[Burning Wish]], which certainly helped.

Matchup Battles Death's Shadow - Image 9

I led off with the [[Dark Ritual]] and it was met with [[Daze]]. I paid with the [[Lotus Petal]], and we were off the races! The [[Daze]] actually helped in getting the exact Storm count to [[Tendrils of Agony]] here, so I continued by casting both copies of [[Rite of Flame]] and then using the [[Wishclaw Talisman]] for [[Tendrils of Agony]] with eight Storm.

Matchup Battles Death's Shadow - Image 10

Matchup Battles Death's Shadow - Image 11

Death’s Shadow is probably one of my other favorite decks to play in Legacy and Modern. I love the concept of playing along the tight rope of how low you can make your life total without dying. The addition of [[Orcish Bowmaster and Troll of Khazad-dum]] is an interesting addition to the deck, and we shall see if it keeps Death’s Shadow as a top-tier deck in Legacy for a while, or if it’s just people experimenting. Either way, I am glad to see Death’s Shadow picking up in popularity. The deck creates interesting games, and it doesn’t feel oppressive or unfun to play against. As you can see from this example match and lots of other games, I feel the matchup is slightly favorable for TES. The unbanning of [[Mind’s Desire]] pushes us as a favorite. [[Orcish Bowmaster]] and [[Troll of Khazad-dum]] don’t really help [[Death’s Shadow]] in this matchup as much as [[Mind’s Desire]] helps us. I hope you enjoyed this article, can take some of the lessons learned, and apply them to your own playtesting.