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DUEL - Happy 10th Birthday Baleful Strix!

Updated: Jun 3

A Celebration, Damnation, History and Primer On this day ten years ago, Wizards released a janky little pre-con all about sneaking through attackers, and making value out of bouncing and re-casting your own creatures. It was a Ninjas deck, but with it they created an unassuming little bird of ill-omen, Baleful Strix. Well, players quickly found a better use for it, and Strix made its mark on many formats, none more so than our own Pauper Duel Commander! For many of us, it’s been the poster child of the format, and a force to be reckoned with ever since. Four Years Ago Strix is omnipresent, everyone in Duel either plays it or fears it, and it’s even made a few waves in multiplayer. But 2018 was a big year, massive, in it we gained: Satyr Enchanter, Crackling Drake, Azra Oddsmaker, Plaguecrafter, Tatyova, Benthic Druid, Loyal Apprentice, and a Slippery Bogle upshift (for those of us who weren’t using commons). Two years later we got the uncommon Partners, and the hits keep on coming. All this to say, every single archetype has had an upgrade, and for the first time in PDC history, Strix players had some serious competition from every angle. Some could argue then, Strix isn’t king of the hill anymore. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing... Let’s Be Honest, Wizards Made a Mistake! I love Strix, but some have argued it should have never been an uncommon. It was a pre-con exclusive, where rarity was based purely on the number of them printed in the deck, not the power of the card! Wizards “corrected” this in Eternal Masters, but have gone back and forth ever since. Personally, I think it was simply ahead of its time. Before 2018 it was unchallenged, too powerful, too easy to build, and off-putting to newer players. But by today’s meta, Strix has some serious competition! So What Does The Future Look Like? Let’s be clear, Strix isn’t going anywhere. It still offers more card advantage, more immediately and for less mana than any other commander. It’s in great colours, and synergises with tonnes of effects like bounce, flicker, Monarchy (Initiative), and “creatures with flying” cards. But the March 2022 announcement on life totals made a dent, and the meta is now evolving. Voltron is down but not out, burn decks are rampant, and players are more aware of Strix than ever. Perhaps it’s time for Strix to evolve as well. Happy Birthday Baleful Strix! What do you think? Hit us up with those comments or take it over to the Discord :) Wait, You Wanted A Primer? Okay fine, below is my Baleful Strix list. Take a good look, it’s a little different to the usual net-decks.

Counterspell (12) 1x Condescend 1x Counterspell 1x Daze 1x Exclude 1x Lofty Denial 1x Logic Knot 1x Lose Focus 1x Mana Leak 1x Negate 1x Psychic Strike 1x Soul Manipulation 1x Spell Pierce Bounce (5) 1x Blink of an Eye 1x Curfew 1x Echoing Truth 1x Into the Roil 1x Withdraw Sweeper (3) 1x Crypt Rats 1x Pestilence 1x Suffocating Fumes Spot-Removal (7) 1x Agony Warp 1x Cast Down 1x Disfigure 1x Last Gasp 1x Oubliette 1x Tragic Fall 1x Victim of Night Edict (7) 1x Chainer's Edict 1x Debt to the Kami 1x Devour Flesh 1x Diabolic Edict 1x Fleshbag Marauder 1x Geth's Verdict 1x Innocent Blood Wincon (4) 1x Benthic Giant 1x Cold-Water Snapper 1x Striped Riverwinder 1x Twisted Abomination Miscellaneous (1) 1x Cavern Harpy Digging (7) 1x Augur of Bolas 1x Forbidden Alchemy 1x Mystical Teachings 1x Opt 1x Ponder 1x Preordain 1x Sea Gate Oracle 1x Serum Visions HandHate (5) 1x Duress 1x Gitaxian Probe 1x Hymn to Tourach 1x Peek 1x Wrench Mind CardAdvantage (10) 1x Azure Fleet Admiral 1x Behold the Multiverse 1x Compulsive Research 1x Moon-Circuit Hacker 1x Rain of Revelation 1x Read the Bones 1x Sign in Blood 1x Treasure Cruise 1x Winged Words Land (38) 1x Ash Barrens 1x Command Tower 1x Desert 1x Dimir Aqueduct 1x Dismal Backwater 1x Evolving Wilds 1x Haunted Fengraf 1x Ice Tunnel 1x Maestros Theater 1x Mystic Sanctuary 1x Obscura Storefront 1x Opal Palace 1x Path of Ancestry 12x Snow-Covered Island 11x Snow-Covered Swamp 1x Terramorphic Expanse 1x Waterfront District

What does the deck do?

(Experienced players, feel free to scroll past this bit.)

This is a “hard-control” deck. Your aim is to destroy, counter, or otherwise prevent everything your opponent is trying to do. You should be trying to draw more cards than them, while collecting information about their hand and strategy. Once they’ve run out of ammo, play one of your wincons and put them out of their misery.

I won’t teach you how to play control here, but my best advice: pick your battles. You don’t actually need to kill and counter everything, just identify the things that can really hurt you, or make value for your opponent. A good understanding of their strategy will help you, so familiarise yourself with the meta (Check out this Tier List for a rough idea).

Who will like this deck?

Anyone who enjoys a long game with lots of interaction, someone who wants to play the player, as well as just the cards. Probably not suited for someone who gets salty easily, it can be disheartening to play a 50-minute game only to die to a top-deck lightning bolt. If this is you play something else, perhaps Yu-Gi-Oh! :’D

Gameplay and Tough Matchups

To tap out is to show weakness! Your opponent will expect you to kill or counter everything they do, so let them believe it (even when you can’t). You can expect them to try and play around your answers; don’t be baited into removing something you don’t need to, they are hoping to clear the way for something scarier.

VS. Burn (not necessarily the same as aggro) – Mulligan aggressively to some low-cost interaction, then you should be able to quash their early offensive. You can easily get on top in terms of card advantage. But don’t get too comfortable, they have more burn than you have counterspells; if you take too long they will top-deck enough to finish you. (Think about this when you cast Ponder, or cycle a Striped Riverwinder!). If your meta is heavy on burn decks, try some of the killspells that gain life. Crypt Incursion can be massive (but terrible in a Mirror Match).

VS. Control (Mirror Match) – Information is power, but don’t get trigger happy. A turn one Gitaxian Probe is great, but you can fully expect the game to go long, so think about holding it until you’re ready to attempt something scary. Your early game should be focused on trying to attain card advantage over your opponent (Look for the Monarchy or ways to bounce Strix for a re-cast). Your win-cons will evade most removal, but beware of counterspells and edicts. Strix and the other utility creatures are great fodder for the latter, and will make the opponent use their removal for little value.

Why are(n’t) you playing this card?

There are a few cards that people question from time to time: the big creature wincons, Flicker Combo, Viridian Longbow, and the powerful (but painful) killspells like Snuff Out, vendetta, and Ashes to Ashes. I won’t go into each one of them, but if you’re interested in my reasonings drop a comment below. I’m happy to break it down, so you can decide whether it’s worth the include or not.

And that’s it. So if you’re still reading then my job as the control player is done! I hope you enjoyed the journey, thanks for reading, good luck and have fun!

Your Duel RC Member,


P.S Still plenty of room for players in the PDC League :)


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