Roughly two years ago, Wizards gave us, what is considered by many, our most powerful exclusive preview card on ManaDeprived.com ever in Rakshasa Deathdealer. The Cat Demon saw a significant amount of play in the Standard Abzan Aggro deck fighting alongside Fleecemane Lion while also being a powerhouse in Limited. It joined Putrid Leech as one of the most memorable 2/2s in the history of the game that cost exactly BG.
Wow! Grim Flayer is packed with abilities and they all have synergy with each other. Trample allows the second ability of card selection/self-milling to occur more often which in turn increases the odds of hitting delirium.
With 2/2s always being playable in recent Limited formats, it is no secret that this is going to be an excellent card in that environment. It doesn’t have the late-game power a Deathdealer has but it is more punishing to the opponent should they stumble on playing a creature early to block it.
When we are looking at Grim Flayer for Standard, the first obstacle that comes to mind is the 2/3 body of a Sylvan Advocate which is a creature that is understandably seeing a massive amount of play. The main issue is that we currently don’t have that many great removal spells in the format to pair Grim Flayer with. Do we dip into Abzan so that we can live the dream to play Flayer and Dromoka’s Command? Eldritch Moon hasn’t been fully spoiled yet so perhaps there will be more tools. Liliana definitely seems like she has abilities that work well with the Flayer.
Moving onto Modern. Now, while it might be a bit ambitious to play a “do-nothing Grizzly Bear” in Modern, this card does have some unique characteristics that might mean it has a spot somewhere. With access to fetchlands, you are just more likely to hit Delirium early in Eternal formats.
So the ideal scenario for this card likely looks something like this:
Turn 1: Thoughtseize Turn 2: Grim Flayer
Turn 3: Remove anything they might have played, and attack, setting up your draw for the next turn, and hopefully grow the Flayer to a 4/4
A two mana 4/4 trample for BG makes Putrid Leech jealous, and might even get a snide eye from Tarmogoyf that early in the game. Jund type decks in Modern are fairly used to getting a bunch of different card types into the graveyard, and if you think you can hit Delirium early and often, this cards seems positively great in that archetype.
Another deck that might be interested in Grim Flayer is the theoretical Eldritch Evolution deck. What that deck might eventually look like will probably be pretty far from what I’ll suggest here, but here’s something to start with:
Grim Flayer here fills the yard for Tasigur. We have also setup the deck to provide many ways on turn three to remove a blocker so that it can start growing and setting up draws. It also conveniently sacrifices to get a Siege Rhino with Eldritch Evolution, and as we all know: more Siege Rhinos is always better!
We believe this is going to be an extremely exciting card to experiment with once Eldritch Moon comes out on July 22nd!