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Even with a little over half of Ixalan revealed, it's very challenging to build decks for the new format. How many cards not yet revealed will fundamentally shake things up? How many niche role-players are going to fill out mana curves and generally just do what a strategy needs? Besides, the rotation of four sets is far from trivial, and a lot of mental shortcuts, a lot of understandings need to be re-written.
Getting a "feel" for a format is about more than just finding the best build of the best deck and knowing how to sequence your plays, how to sideboard. For me, trying to build a deck around a certain card, a certain combo, a certain color combination, can all lead to curiosities and insights, questions and experiments.
What better place to start than a couple of the best blue cards in the format?
Torrential Gearhulk has long had an A+ rating as a card, though most of the time the card has been legal, it's been an uphill battle. Frequently, Torrential Gearhulk has been the best card in some decks that aren't always the best decks.
The Scarab God is an absolute beast. I think a fair number of people are still sleeping on the card, despite how much success it's enjoyed already. Once the rotation takes effect, I've got a feeling the number of people sleeping on the card is going to decline.
Last weekend, while Matt Severa was busy winning Grand Prix DC with Mardu Vehicles, Robin Dolar took down GP Turin with one of my favorite decks in a minute, his take on U/B Control:
Robin's list is basically what I was aspiring to find after my experiences with Grixis at GP Denver. Once it became clear that The Scarab God was enough better than Goblin Dark-Dwellers, Glorybringer, and Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh, and that The Scarab God and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet were enough to not necessarily need Abrade against God-Pharaoh's Gift, I was interested in moving towards more of a U/B Control list.
Robin's list went a step further, though. Not only did he strike an excellent balance in his permission, with choices like three maindeck Essence Scatters and even splits between Disallow/Supreme Will and The Scarab God/Torrential Gearhulk, he also maindecked Flaying Tendrils, which was just smart. Not only does Flaying Tendrils go a long way against Ramunap Red and Zombies, it also can be used against Scrapheap Scrounger or Gideon tokens. Hell, it can even combine with Grasp of Darkness to take down The Scarab God!
Of course, Grasp of Darkness is rotating out, along with a bunch of miscellaneous cards throughout the list. What might an updated version look like?