Through the Looking Glass: Death’s Shadow with Parker Southwick

Special Guest

A few words on Parker Southwick:

(Twitter: @mr_usea | MTGO: iKhada)

Parker Southwick (known online as iKhada) started playing Magic in 2018, right after the release of Dominaria. After starting out with a few less competitive Modern decks, he eventually found (and fell in love with) the Grixis [[Death’s Shadow]] archetype during the time of [[Temur Battle Rage]]. He began exploring Legacy UB [[Death’s Shadow]] later that year, and while he’s spent time playing a wide variety of decks in the format, he has always found himself coming back to [[Death’s Shadow]]. This year, he’s racked up two Showcase Challenge T8s (and a 9th place on breakers), all on Legacy [[Death’s Shadow]]. Outside of Magic, Parker spends his free time reading, writing poetry, cooking, and being social. His ultimate goal is to live on a piece of property in a communal living space, with his closest friends and dozens of beehives.

How does the [[Death’s Shadow]] pilot approach facing The EPIC Storm game 1? How do you interact with this strategy, and how do you eventually close out the game?

In general, there are a couple of essential heuristics that [[Death’s Shadow]] pilots should absolutely know and stick to when playing any matchup in G1, particularly in the blind:

  • Keep as many seven-card hands as possible and hope that the interaction in your opener lines up against your opponent.
  • Identify what your threat is in that hand, and fetch accordingly. This means that if you’re on a [[Murktide Regent]] / [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]] / [[Orcish Bowmasters]] hand, you should NOT be aggressively attacking your own life total (with matchup dependent exceptions – this is simply a heuristic, after all).

In the context of TES, it’s a real bummer seeing removal spells like [[Snuff Out]], [[Dismember]], or [[Fatal Push]], and the pilot should look to immediately [[Brainstorm]] those away and dig for cards like [[Daze]], [[Force of Will]], and [[Thoughtseize]] – [[Thoughtseize]] being the strongest card here, particularly on turn 1-2. This is a no brainer.

The important thing though is to realize though that realistically, [[Death’s Shadow]] only needs one gargantuan threat to close a game. The pilot can pair a gargantuan threat with an [[Orcish Bowmasters]], but in general, it’s regularly overkill to deploy multiple threats and is actively detrimental to do so due to not stocking up on interaction for the TES player. I think people get carried away with the idea of easily putting 15+ power into play, without realizing that it doesn’t matter in the vast majority of [[Death’s Shadow]]’s matchups vs. TES, since you’re then missing the interactive cards that allow you to have more combat steps and keeps the TES opponent on the backfoot.

Some [[Death’s Shadow]] players like playing with 1-2 copies of [[Grief]], which generally helps the matchup. [[Grief]] is also a fine card to dig for, particularly when paired with the 3-4 copies of [[Reanimate]] currently found in the deck.

[[Wasteland]] is fine if the [[Death’s Shadow]] pilot is sensing the TES player is choked on 2-drops or colored pips. The best [[Wasteland]] tends to be the one that hits [[Bayou]].

What are the primary differences between [[Death’s Shadow]] and a deck like Grixis Delver? In particular, do you feel that [[Death’s Shadow]] is better equipped to “be the beatdown” in more matchups, or is it trying to play a longer game? Is one archetype better equipped to defeat The EPIC Storm?

Generally speaking, [[Death’s Shadow]] is a synergy deck. The premier gargantuan threats, [[Murktide Regent]] and [[Death’s Shadow]], require build around and proper setup to deploy in a timely, safe manner. These threats regularly come down by turn three, which is a little slow for a [[Daze]] deck. Thankfully, cards like [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]] and [[Orcish Bowmasters]] have helped bridge that gap and allow [[Death’s Shadow]] to deploy threats as early as turn two, with a follow up game ender. [[Death’s Shadow]], in general, is more on the control side of tempo relative to Delver and is able to force low resource board states much more effectively.

Grixis Delver, on the other hand, will almost always be able to deploy their threat by turn one and “flip” it by turn two. This, of course, has some variance associated with it and not getting their threat “flipped” by turn three typically means a loss for them in many matchups.

I think the two dominating benefits of this strategy over [[Death’s Shadow]] are its ability to cast [[Lightning Bolt]], and its premier threat does not require tanking its own life total (which I have to imagine [[Tendrils of Agony]] enjoyers are typically thrilled about).

Between the two decks, [[Death’s Shadow]] has the better tools to deal with TES. This starts with [[Death’s Shadow]]’s comfort card: [[Thoughtseize]]. A [[Death’s Shadow]] deck is not a [[Death’s Shadow]] deck without a set of [[Thoughtseize]] somewhere in the 75 / 95. Additionally, [[Death’s Shadow]] decks can meta-tune and play [[Grief]]. Even evoking [[Grief]] without [[Reanimate]] on a critical turn can buy enough tempo or information, without committing mana, to make the best play possible that turn or to inform a follow up cantrip or future life loss calculations. In general, [[Death’s Shadow]]’s ability to force low resource board states generally favors it if it’s able to deploy a timely threat without sacrificing too much of its life total relative to the amount of deck access (via [[Wishclaw Talisman]] / [[Infernal Tutor]]) and cards in hand of the TES player.

What has [[Orcish Bowmasters]] done for the archetype? Is it a card you value highly against The EPIC Storm?

One thing that has been a regular thorn in [[Death’s Shadow]] side since its previous time in the spotlight, circa 2019, is: “How do you make turn two less awkward?”. Originally, this was answered by “I hope I have accelerated starts with [[Street Wraith]]”, or “This is a setup and disruption turn to pave the way for a turn three threat.” When I started working heavily on the deck again in early 2022, I tried to work with [[Ledger Shredder]] as a way to fill that gap. As it turns out, that card isn’t great in a shell without two-mana card advantage spells like [[Expressive Iteration]] or [[Predict]].

In mid-2022, it occurred to me in conversation in the [[Death’s Shadow]] Discord that [[Baleful Strix]] was a nice two-drop to play to help curb that turn two awkwardness. One of Marco Montani’s 4Seasons finishes showed that you have main-deck options in both [[Baleful Strix]] and [[Hymn to Tourach]] in the main deck. The main issue with these cards, however, are they are not really tempo positive. They’re great at setting up [[Death’s Shadow]] and [[Murktide Regent]], and at giving you the tools you need to be ahead in a low resource game, but they don’t really end the game by themselves and can feel pretty bad in a wide variety of matchups.

This is where [[Orcish Bowmasters]] comes in. Holy smokes, is this card the absolute cheese. The cherry on top of a delicious milkshake from In N’ Out. The butter on my morning toast. When I saw this spoiled on May 30th, one day after my birthday, I tweeted out: “WotC heard it was my birthday yesterday and gifted me with this.” This card is the best thing that has happened for the archetype since the printing of [[Dress Down]] – and that card is also nuts in this shell. [[Orcish Bowmasters]] not only solved the issue of doing something impactful on turn two, but it also solved open deckbuilding questions. “Should we run [[Reanimate]]?” With [[Orcish Bowmasters]] around, you bet! “How did I miss the last point or two of damage in this game?” With [[Orcish Bowmasters]], you didn’t!

It’s regularly the case that a [[Death’s Shadow]] pilot is one or two points short of lethal, and they’re wracking their brain trying to figure out where they could have safely lost that extra point of life or cast that additional instant or sorcery to juice the Murktide Regent. [[Raise the Alarm]] plus a ping may not look like much, but this card single-handedly lets the deck skip an entire combat step – regularly. It’s a proactive punisher source that doesn’t require synergy to set up, and does a great [[Delver of Secrets]] impression if it gets only one additional trigger – assuming [[Delver of Secrets]] also [[Shock]]ed your opponent on ETB.

I value this card as a nice bridge for turn-two against Storm – particularly if my opponent is on a cantrip or bauble-heavy hand. I think [[Orcish Bowmasters]] gets enough value as a threat even if it only pings one additional time – anything more is just gravy. If I were to see two of these in a game, I’d look to cantrip away any other threat I may come across, or save the [[Murktide Regent]]s as fodder for [[Force of Will]]. These are typically enough to close a game against TES.

What types of discard-based disruption does the [[Death’s Shadow]] archetype typically utilize? How important are cards like [[Thoughtseize]] and [[Grief]] against The EPIC Storm – against a known TES opponent, will you keep hands that lean heavily into a reanimated [[Grief]] that lack countermagic?

Post-LOTR, [[Death’s Shadow]] players are regularly playing [[Thoughtseize]] as their only source of hand disruption. Some builds are playing two copies of [[Grief]], while others are playing up to the full playset (a move I personally really dislike, but that’s beside the point). Hand disruption is critical against Storm – it’s the absolute best form of interaction on the first two turns of the game. Sure, [[Force of Will]] is unequivocally better when you’re on the draw against a fast combo deck. However, the act of gaining information on your opponent’s hand and discarding the most dangerous card against yours, often [[Veil of Summer]], is big money.

If I’m on the play, I will snap-keep a seven-card hand with heavy discard elements. On the draw, it depends. In general, mulliganing to [[Force of Will]] / [[Force of Negation]] against highly interactive combo decks (Reanimator, TES, ANT, etc.) is regularly a losing line – but it’s sometimes a necessary evil to find a piece of turn zero interaction. If my TES opponent is keeping seven on the play and I’m staring at a grip of hand disruption, I’m likely to keep too and pray that I get to snag something good. If this hand has a [[Brainstorm]] in it, it’s much more reasonable to keep. If my TES opponent mulligans, and my interaction is discard based while I’m on the draw, I’m then also likely to mulligan as [[Force of Will]] / [[Force of Negation]] become better with each mulligan from my TES opponent in this scenario.

Another recent addition to the deck that has made waves is [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]], often replacing [[Grief]] in the deck’s [[Reanimate]] package. While great for mana consistency, has this change been a net negative for the [[Death’s Shadow]] pilot against fast combo decks like TES?

No, and in fact I’d argue that [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]] are a net-positive for the overall of Shadow. Since the banning of [[White Plume Adventurer]], I think the [[Grief]] + [[Reanimate]] “scam” has been incredibly mopey in Death’s Shadow and is overhyped. I originally popularized the scam list as a response to the Initiative meta, where you were required to play decks that could compete on turn one, and the “scam” package in Shadow facilitated this. We are no longer in that meta.

I think people are high on the “scam” package because it’s a pretty cool interaction. I think we can both agree on it being fun to screw your opponent out of a game of Magic and to get fast wins (makes me think about those 10-minute rounds at a GP when you’re six rounds deep into the tournament). Objectively, the “scam” is best against decks such as Reanimator, Initiative and Sneak and Show because you get to have the insane follow up of “[[Reanimate]] your game-ending threat”. The “scam” against TES is kind of medium. I’m not able to [[Reanimate]] your [[Ad Nauseam]] or your [[Tendrils of Agony]]. Taking your two best cards in hand, while I’m now at three cards in hand with a 3/2 menace is just so… medium. I’m a [[Force of Will]] / [[Brainstorm]] deck with three cards in hand at the end of turn one, and it regularly feels terrible to be in that spot as a deck that tends to want a lot of options. I do not think that a 3/2 menace will go the distance while I barely have cards to work with. I do think, however, that if you’re using [[Grief]] as a 1-2 of in the deck as your flex slot (and not going too deep on the “scam” package), it’s defensible.

Conversely, [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]] fixes two major issues that I had with Death’s Shadow: Mulligan variance due to lack of colored mana, and the aforementioned awkward turn two. Picture this: Keeping a hand with two copies of [[Force of Will]], two blue cards, [[Reanimate]], [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]], and [[Wasteland]] against TES. You have a guaranteed thick turn-two threat, and three forms of interaction – which is a fantastic place to be! Without a source of colored mana, however, this is an auto-mulligan if you don’t have [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]] in hand, and have [[Grief]] or [[Street Wraith]] instead. Imagine the other two cards in your hand are [[Ponder]] and [[Daze]], and your draw step is some random blue card or [[Thoughtseize]]. You’re just hard chilling that game. Threat + options is exactly where you want to be, and [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]] enables that really nicely.

Recently, some [[Death’s Shadow]] pilots (yourself included!) have been trying out 80-card builds of the deck with [[Yorion, Sky Nomad]] as a companion. Why? As a rule, which version of the deck would you rather be sitting across the table from The EPIC Storm with?

It started as a meme from CoolestRaven. In the Shadow Discord, we were all trying to answer “How do we fit all of these good cards in our deck?”, and Raven just jammed 20 extra good ones in a [[Yorion, Sky Nomad]] shell and went to town with three trophies. By the third one, I was like “FINE, I will play one league with this because clearly there’s something here” – and it was cracked. I decided to jam it in the July 2nd Showcase and went undefeated in the Swiss with it, 9-0, and earned my 2nd Showcase Qualifier invite for that season. I was fully expecting to go 2-3 drop, but the deck consistently delivered.

I attribute the success of the [[Yorion, Sky Nomad]] build to its crisp mana relative to the 60-card build, where (before [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]]) there was a massive cost to playing the basic [[Island]] (basic [[Swamp]] was, and still is, a crime in the deck. Please don’t play basic [[Swamp]] without at least three copies of [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]]). The 80-card build is an extension of the midrange path that [[Death’s Shadow]] had been following for a long time and pushing that theory further and closer to control territory. The [[Yorion, Sky Nomad]] build is fantastic at punishing people trying to play draw / go with against us (typically a fine strategy to beat the deck) and chewing through Delver. If Red Stompy becomes a highly played deck, I think the 80-card version of Shadow gains a ton of points. The main reason to play the Yorion build, and this is the one I give the most: the vibes are immaculate.

Against The EPIC Storm, I absolutely want the 60 card build – there is no contest. I want more consistent access to [[Thoughtseize]], [[Daze]], [[Force of Will]], etc. against TES. I want to find my [[Null Rod]]s post-board in my opening hand more frequently. The [[Yorion, Sky Nomad]] build will more regularly clump its lands, as is the nature of adding the additional 20 cards, and regularly has a weaker early game. This is absolutely not a winning strategy against TES. The 60-card build is teched rather aggressively at the moment, which is a much more winning strategy if you’re expecting a field of fast combo like TES.

Do you avoid intentionally lowering your own life against a deck like The EPIC Storm? Does lowering our potential Storm count for a kill matter less than getting your [[Death’s Shadow]]s online as quickly as possible?

I’m glad this question was asked, as it pertains to one of the two heuristics that good [[Death’s Shadow]] pilots should be acutely aware of: “Identify what your threat is in that hand, and fetch accordingly.” I often see pilots nuking their life total while staring at an opener with [[Murktide Regent]] and no copies of [[Death’s Shadow]].

If you’re on a [[Death’s Shadow]]-centric hand, then there is a delicate balance to your life total. Generally speaking, the magic life total for the [[Death’s Shadow]] player is nine. A 4/4 Death’s Shadow will regularly cross the finish line, especially if it’s paired with a [[Dress Down]], while asking your opponent for a Storm count of five is normally just enough to ask for a little extra – assuming that a bunch of resources have been traded back and forth. I will regularly calculate how to deploy a [[Death’s Shadow]] at 11-12 life, and then work from there depending on if I see a [[Dress Down]] in hand or not. The difference between a Storm count of four and five is large, and I do not recommend intentionally going lower than nine unless you’re going for the kill or you’re putting them on “one turn to figure it out” while you have ample interaction.

What is [[Death’s Shadow]]’s sideboard plan for The EPIC Storm? What kinds of cards does the deck typically have access to out of the board? Which cards are typically boarded out?

My current sideboard plan for The EPIC Storm is:

  • OUT: -2 [[Dismember]], -2 [[Fatal Push]], -2 [[Reanimate]], -1 [[Brazen Borrower]], -1 [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]]
  • IN: +2 [[Null Rod]], +2 [[Hydroblast]], +2 [[Dress Down]], +1 [[Powder Keg]], +1 [[Force of Negation]]

The removal spells are doing next to nothing here. I like shaving [[Reanimate]]s here – TES typically isn’t interacting with my creatures, nor do they have any [[Reanimate]] targets. By itself, [[Reanimate]] is abysmal in this matchup without a setup card. I think it’s fine to hedge with one on the premise of “Maybe I cycle a [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]] this game, or maybe I’ll buy back my threat they discarded.”

[[Null Rod]], [[Dress Down]] and [[Force of Negation]] are the auto-includes. [[Dress Down]] may be unintuitive, but doing a decent impression of [[Temur Battle Rage]] (while cycling!) at 11 or 12 life is a pretty good place to be. It regularly means we need one fewer combat step to kill, and it means we can stay at a higher life total (and make you need more Storm for your own kill). [[Powder Keg]] checks all of the mana rocks that you might run out to dodge discard, and also deals with [[Goblin Token]]s off of [[Empty the Warrens]]. I also love that [[Hydroblast]] 1-for-1 answers a [[Rite of Flame]], or cleanly dispatches a [[Burning Wish]] without loss of cards.

In the past, when TES was on maindeck [[Echo of Eons]], I’d bring in [[Dauthi Voidwalker]]. Like everything out of MH2, [[Dauthi Voidwalker]] is just a solid card in general – keeping [[Rite of Flame]] more manageable and shutting off [[Echo of Eons]] was big money. The card also answers the awkward second turn issue we discussed previously. I think in some worlds, it’s probably fine to shave [[Murktide Regent]]s for [[Dauthi Voidwalker]], since [[Dauthi Voidwalker]] don’t need any special setup.

Post-board against a known TES opponent, what does an ideal [[Death’s Shadow]] hand look like? How does this differ on the play vs. on the draw, if at all?

If I got to tutor my library for the nuttiest [[Death’s Shadow]] hand I could possibly conjure, on the play it’d probably be something like: [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]], [[Reanimate]], [[Underground Sea]], [[Thoughtseize]], [[Null Rod]], [[Ponder]], and [[Force of Will]].

This hand checks the boxes all by itself without considering the draw step: on the play hand disruption with guaranteed mana, mana rocks do not get to play the game and protection for the [[Null Rod]]. If I don’t need to [[Force of Will]], I get to use the [[Ponder]] to dig for more action. I also have a fast clock whenever I want it.

On the draw, the hand would look a little more like: two [[Force of Will]], [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]], [[Brainstorm]], [[Null Rod]], [[Orcish Bowmasters]], and a fetch land.

The fetch is important here. Fetches are the best way to set up threats in [[Death’s Shadow]] as they give you cards to delve away for [[Murktide Regent]], and allow you to exercise greater control over your life total. A lot can happen on turn one, and how you navigate this hand is entirely dependent on what your opponent does and what you see on your draw step. There are a ton of ways to play this. If my TES opponent has a simple setup turn or land pass, then I’d feel mostly comfortable with playing fetch pass and see how they set up their turn two. I like the [[Troll of Khazad-dûm]] in this hand as it means that my [[Brainstorm]] does not have to put in a ton of work digging for lands, when instead I can simply keep interaction. Barring anything too wild, I’m going to deploy the [[Null Rod]] the moment I have priority on my turn two main phase one 95 percent of the time.

In general, I highly value [[Null Rod]]. Turning off [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] is huge money, while also hitting the [[Mox Opal]]s, Bauble re-draws, etc. Sure, it doesn’t hit the rituals. But turning off 20-plus cards from your opponent’s deck, four of which are the big money cards, is a good place to be.

How well does [[Death’s Shadow]] tend to mulligan? Post-board, will you hard mulligan for a certain type of hand ([[Force of Will]] + [[Null Rod]], multiple lock pieces, etc.)? Against TES, will you ever keep seven on the draw without [[Force of Will]] or [[Force of Negation]]?

I absolutely hate mulliganing with [[Death’s Shadow]]. Like Delver, it’s a deck that’s designed to keep as many seven-card hands as possible. Cantrips that dig for whatever you need – 0-1 mana interaction galore. Additionally, it’s a deck chock-full of 1-for-1 interaction. The more sevens it keeps, the better this interaction is. As I mentioned earlier, [[Death’s Shadow]] is a bit of a synergy deck, and synergy decks tend to need their cardboard to pull off their synergies effectively.

The mulligan decisions I make are heavily dependent on my opponent. If I’m on the draw, I’m of the opinion that if your fast combo opponent keeps seven, like Reanimator and TES, they’re very likely to have an average seven. If my seven is average with a single copy of [[Force of Will]] on the draw with some blue cards, then untap with a cantrip, that’s a keep. If they have a nut seven, you’re going to need a nut seven to beat it. Both of these things happening are very low odds. If TES keeps seven and my opening hand is pretty decent at doing something if I get to untap, then I’ll most likely keep it. If TES mulls to six, and my hand does not have [[Force of Will]], something reasonable to do on turn one or a lock piece, it’s probably a mulligan. The more hands that fast combo sees, the more likely they’re going to do some nasty thing to you on turn one. I pay very close attention to my opponent’s mulligan as that heavily dictates whether I’m mulliganing or not.

On the play the cards I like seeing are vastly different. [[Thoughtseize]] on the play is a significantly more valuable card than [[Thoughtseize]] on the draw, particularly against a [[Galvanic Relay]] deck. When I see a hand with [[Thoughtseize]], [[Daze]], [[Death’s Shadow]], a fetchland, and three other cards, I am incredibly happy to keep that. The dream, of course, is to have a second land and a [[Null Rod]] in that hand too.

How well can [[Death’s Shadow]] typically deal with a board of 8-14 [[Goblin Token]]s via [[Empty the Warrens]] – if presented on turn 1-2, will this typically be lethal? How does this change post-board, if at all?

Before [[Orcish Bowmasters]], if the TES pilot was able to cast [[Empty the Warrens]] turn one, game one, I’m dead 99 percent of the time. Eight [[Goblin Token]]s would generally be enough, but depending on the Shadow player’s hand there’s still a chance that that loses – something like a double [[Death’s Shadow]] opener. Post-board, [[Powder Keg]] was my only out to an [[Empty the Warrens]] line, and if I didn’t have it, I was probably dead. All this said, Empty the Warrens lines tended to only feel game-ending on turn one – I typically had the relevant interaction to stop the line on turn two or later.

[[Orcish Bowmasters]] has made [[Empty the Warrens]] significantly worse unless it’s at a very high Storm count. If my TES opponent casts [[Empty the Warrens]] for 8-10 [[Goblin Token]]s, that’s now much more beatable with [[Orcish Bowmasters]]. 12 can vary depending on the texture of the game; 14-plus tends to be unbeatable without [[Powder Keg]].

How do you think [[Death’s Shadow]]’s The EPIC Storm matchup compares to other combo decks such as [[Doomsday]], Oops! All Spells, and Reanimator?

Generally speaking, [[Death’s Shadow]] tends to have a pretty good matchup against most combo decks – cards like [[Force of Will]] and [[Thoughtseize]] can broadly disrupt A-plus-B combo, while cards like [[Dress Down]] can play a big role against decks like [[Doomsday]].

The presence of [[Veil of Summer]] in The EPIC Storm makes the matchup trickier. Whenever I [[Thoughtseize]] a TES player and I see a [[Veil of Summer]] in hand, I tend to take that over their other cards. In some ways, [[Veil of Summer]] feels synonymous with [[Defense Grid]] – “if this resolves, I’m probably going to die”. Stopping that in its tracks and figuring out your other interaction later is typically a fine thing to do.

A big question that is regularly hard to answer is “which ritual or piece of mana am I supposed to interact with?”, and it tends to be the case that seasoned Storm players that are playing against [[Death’s Shadow]] will know how to make this question difficult. Relative to the other decks you mentioned, it tends to be rather difficult to answer what you’re supposed to interact with against TES and it takes some thought and calculation about when you’re supposed to deploy [[Force of Will]] or [[Daze]]. Overall, the matchup is very dependent on pilot skill. Assuming players of equal strength, I’d say it’s favorable for the Shadow pilot, but less favorable than the decks you listed above.

What is the biggest mistake you see The EPIC Storm / fast combo players make against [[Death’s Shadow]]? What is the biggest mistake you see [[Death’s Shadow]] pilots make against TES?

Fast combo players will sometimes keep mopey sevens that are below average where an average six would be better. Stop giving me free breathing room if you’re not able to do meaningful things by turn two. Depending on the fast combo, this of course changes depending on if they’re on the play or the draw – as mulliganing against a deck with heavy interaction tends to be pretty poor.

TES players, stop cracking your baubles on your turn against a [[Thoughtseize]] deck! Additionally, exposing [[Ad Nauseam]] to [[Daze]] has regularly been the end of a lot of Storm players I’ve played against. Not being a Storm player myself, I have difficulty quantifying what I see the better Storm players do compared to the worse ones – other than just having a feeling that the difference in quality is large. I think if I were to pin it, the better Storm players have just enough interaction for me while the newer players either dig for too much or none at all. I also get a feeling for when the sequencing is off.

Death’s Shadow players: Stop instinctively fetching and shocking when you’re on a non-[[Death’s Shadow]] threat hand. If you’re on a [[Death’s Shadow]] hand, carefully evaluate how you can safely set up and deploy without hosing yourself. This will almost certainly involve needing [[Thoughtseize]]. Additionally, stop over-deploying threats. You don’t need an 8/8 [[Murktide Regent]] and three 9/9 [[Death’s Shadow]]s to win. Your interaction backed up with a 3/3 or a 4/4 will win you the game. It’s about moderation, and putting your dream fantasy of putting someone to -30 life from one combat step to rest.

The biggest mistake that [[Death’s Shadow]] pilots make overall are taking out the wrong cards in sideboarding. They tend to bring in defensible / good cards, but the cuts are regularly very incorrect.

Any final thoughts or comments? Any plugs or shoutouts?

Some spare thoughts for people learning [[Death’s Shadow]]:

  • Don’t get discouraged if you hit a string of losses or start out losing a lot. It’s a deck that requires the 500 hours of gameplay to feel confident in. Take your time, and enjoy the process. It’ll pay dividends.
  • [[Underground Sea]], [[Watery Grave]] and basic [[Island]] are three incredibly different lands. They are not the same and are the biggest contributors to wins and losses. Choose your fetches, [[Daze]]s and land play wisely.
  • Playing [[Death’s Shadow]] perfectly in most matchups is next to impossible – be gentle on yourself if you make mistakes. Mistakes are normal, even if they cost you more games relative to other decks.
  • PLEASE stop F6ing on MTGO. I see y’all F6 with six cards in hand against my friends playing Turbo Wheels or Reanimator.
  • Don’t make me tap the sign.

I’d like to shout out to the community that surrounds me. I am incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by highly supportive people who cheer me on – during the highs and the lows. I’d like to shout out to my local community here in Portland – they have given me a great sense of community that I like to participate in, and that I feel welcome in. I’d like to shout out The Eternal Kitchen, which I’m a part of, as being my primary supportive backbone. I’d like to shout out the Death’s Shadow Discord for the community space they have given me, and their overwhelming support.

I’d like to thank the folks in the online Legacy community for their support, encouragement and further helping me with improving my mindset when it comes to competitive Legacy. I’d like to shout out Testacular as my testing partner in crime, the guy who I get to interface with regularly, who just gets it. He’s my favorite green mage, and one of my role models. I’d also like to shout out my original [[Death’s Shadow]] mentor, who remembers the days of me trying to jam [[Gifted Aetherborn]] and [[Phyrexian Obliterator]] in 2018 Modern, who taught me most of what I know about [[Death’s Shadow]] theory and gameplay. I am so fortunate to still have him in my life , along with our friends Ian, Will and Nic. I’d like to shout out Gate (@mindbreaktrap on Twitter) for being a consistent sanity check – it has been an absolute pleasure growing with you as a player over the past year. I’d like to shout out to my dear friend Madi, who’s undying support and care has been critical to my recent successes. There are a lot of other people in my life who I don’t explicitly mention here, but they’re just as important.

Finally, I’d like to shout out my late best friend – DaveyO. He taught me 90 percent of what I know about [[Thoughtseize]]. We spent many hours together playing and discussing Magic. He spent countless hours building my cube with me – far too many 2am messages about random garbage that can be summed up to “but how CAN we make infect work in cube!?” (spoiler alert: it doesn’t work pre-2022/2023). He was there during my initial successes, seeing me grow from being that scrub bringing [[Phyrexian Obliterator]] to a world of Modern KCI and [[Ad Nauseam]], to winning smaller competitive events, to top 8ing a challenge. Our trips to Mt. Hood. Our weekend morning walks together. Grabbing coffee at a local shop and working on our Vintage Cube. Sharing the same frustrations and love for the world around us. He was there as my true Magic Mentor, but more importantly, as my friend. A very dear friend, at that. If he were here today, he’d be laughing at the absurdity of Orcs and Trolls dominating the Legacy landscape – just as he was laughing about [[Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes]] when I last saw him. We’d be making our obnoxious Warcraft 2 Peon noises, Zug-Zugging our friends Ian and Sascha into insanity during this time.

I like to think that he’s now in a place with so much sky.

I’d also like to take a moment and say to anyone reading this that you’re never alone. There are people who love you, dearly. There are people who want the best for you. There are people who would grieve if you were gone. Please, reach out.

Lastly, I’d like to plug The Trevor Project as a resource for all of my fellow LGBTQIA+ friends and family.

My Twitter

My Twitch – I stream from 7PM-11PM PST every Tuesday, exclusively Legacy [[Death’s Shadow]] content.

I want to give a big shout out to Parker Southwick for joining us here at Through the Looking Glass. It’s been a pleasure hitting you in leagues, and you’re a pillar of the community.

Bang bang Tendrils gang.