How To Beat: Greasefang

The many flavors of Greasefang are some of the newest archetypes in Pioneer. Sprouting up not long after Greasefang, Okiba Boss was released – these decks are the most efficient reanimator-style decks in the format and can claim wins early and out of nowhere. Here's how to beat it.

Greasefang

The many flavors of Greasefang are some of the newest archetypes in Pioneer. Sprouting up not long after Greasefang, Okiba Boss was released – these decks are the most efficient reanimator-style decks in the format and can claim wins early and out of nowhere.

How the Deck Works

The main job of these decks is to get Parhelion II into the graveyard as early as possible in order to be able to utilize Greasefang on turn three for an attack.

The ideal play pattern is to open on turn one with Stitcher Supplier to mill any of your vehicles (ideally Parhelion II). Then disrupt your opponent with some removal or hand destruction on turn two. Turn three, play Greasefang and reanimate Parhelion II to crew it with Greasefang for an attack. Whenever you swing with Parhelion II it creates two 4/4 angels that are also attacking. That is thirteen damage on turn three, and eight of it sticks around! At the end of the turn, the vehicle will return to your hand and all you need to do is find a way to get it back into the graveyard to do it all over again.

The Flavors of Greasefang

Greasefang decks come in three varieties, though one is more common than the other two.

Mardu

Using red, the Mardu variant utilizes Blood tokens created by Voldaren Epicure and Bloodtithe Harvester to help you churn through your deck faster and get the most use out of Greasefang himself. With red, you also get access to Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, a powerful saga that allows you to copy a creature you control at instant speed. Fable allows you to create a token as either a blocker {when you need it in a pinch), or as a way to activate ETB (enter the battlefield) or “dies” triggers.

Abzan

Abzan gives you access to green and arguably the best vehicle ever printed, Esika’s Chariot. Chariot creates even more tokens for you to flood the board with on top of the Angel tokens created by Parhelion II. With green, you also gain access to further mill cards in the way of Satyr Wayfinder and Grisly Salvage. These two cards help fill your graveyard while also allowing you to gain a land, or creature (when using Salvage). Finally, green gives you access to Eldritch Evolution, which is a good way for you to turn any of your one or two drops into a Greasefang if you have not yet drawn one.

Esper

Esper was the first, and now most common, color combination version of Greasefang. In the Esper builds of this deck, you get access to the blue cantrip spells Consider and Opt to allow you to either scry or surveil and draw a card. Then, the deck also gains access to both Chart a Course and Tainted Indulgence, which are both effective card draws and discard outlets to get their Parhelions into the graveyard. Another card blue gives Esper is Dig Through Time. DTT is a banned card in Modern but still legal in Pioneer, and in this deck it just makes sense.

You also gain access to Faithful Mending, a reimagining of Faithless Looting from years of old but in Azorious colors..

Finally, and most recently, the newest edition to the Esper version of this deck is the multi-format all-star Ledger Shredder. This little bird gets bigger and bigger whenever someone casts two spells in a single turn. That can be any player. Ledger Shredder pushes the Esper builds to the best version of these lists.

How to identify a Greasefang deck

Greasefang decks rely heavily on either milling or discarding cards to the graveyard. Their turn one play will often be a Stitcher Supplier to mill themselves or a Thoughtseize to see what you are playing. While Thoughtseize does not give much away, the Stitcher Supplier is a dead give away that the opponent is playing a deck that relies on their graveyard, and in the current meta, if they care about their graveyard – they are likely a Greasefang deck.

Another dead giveaway is, if you see a Parhelion II hit the graveyard, your opponent is definitely playing Greasefang.

How to stop Greasefang

Greasefang is a bit of a troublemaker in game one of a match. You will likely not be running graveyard hate in your main deck, as it will probably come in during game two as normal.

What can you do in game one to disrupt Greasefang? Exiling the Greasefang before combat is the most efficient way to deal with it. In most colors, exile effects are hard to find.

If you are running white, March of Otherworldly Light is your best friend.

With blue, your best option is to bounce the Greasefang to their hand or counter it outright.

There are a number of black kill spells to pick from, take your pick!

In red, your best bet is to just try and get it to the graveyard and while trying to outpace your opponent. There are some exile effects in red, but they are often too expensive for turn three or they do not deal enough damage. Scorching Dragonfire is certainly an option, but it has fallen out of favor most recently. An alternate option for red is artifact destruction. If you destroy the Parhelion as the opponent tries to crew it, it will slow them down by a turn. This is only a delay tactic however unless you can deal with the Greasefang during your turn.

Green has it the worst off with instant speed removal for a situation like this. Most green creature removal involves you having a stronger creature than the opponent, a la fight spells. You are best off dealing with the Parhelion directly with artifact destruction or graveyard hate.

Post sideboard you gain access to graveyard hate, like Weather Runestone, Unlicensed Hearse, Leyline of the Void, etc. Graveyard hate is the most effective way to deal with Greasefang outside of killing it as soon as it hits the field. If you are in black, you also gain access to the extraction effects to eliminate any and all copies of a card from a player’s hand, deck, and graveyard in one fell swoop.

Final Thoughts

If you are not adequately prepared for Greasefang in game one, you will likely lose. That is not to say the match is over, but you have an uphill battle in front of you from then on. I hope this helps you in your next match against Greasefang… in any of its flavors! 

  • Author

    Michael "Pioneer Brewer" Schwander Playing jank decks since 1999. From the first pack of Prophecy he opened from a Wizard Magazine, he has been digging into off-the-wall strategies some would call "cute" - that is, until those people get hit with 20 damage on turn two from an Ornitopter equipped two Colossus Hammers.

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