I've been playing around with the idea of using plunge into darkness with berserk and deaths shadow. The idea being if you have death's shadow or berserk in your opener and plunge, you can plunge for 17'ish and get the other, then play the shadow and win the next turn. In gold fishing I get mostly turn 2-3 kills.
If you wiff but already have a death's shadow you can get another and just beat down with 2 death's shadows. You also don't need to go all in on the combo.
Against an aggro deck like shops or dredge either. You can take a few hits and play the shadow then berserk for the win when the time is right.

This is very much a glass canon, and I don't have a list I'm comfortable with. I do think this has potential.
I figured I would throw this out for the public since I haven't had any luck.

last edited by John Cox

I like the idea. Similarly though what about just poison? That deck is (was?) a turn 2 combo deck in Pauper. Using things like Invigorate and Mutagenic Growth

Poison wins on a 3 card combo of 1 mana dork, berserk, Invigorate. It's a very low mana combo that is hampered that it needs more than 2 pieces and is affected by summoning sickness. It probably has some legs against some decks that are not prepared to fight over a one drop but also probably just dies to shops which can sphere it, ping it with ballista, or just put random 3 toughness dorks in front of it.

The creature selection in infect is not great either. For 1 drops you have elf and Asp, and the Asp is basically an installment plan 2 mana dork. At 2 mana you get 2 evasive dudes and ichorclaw who becomes much better with trample cards. If you want to try to play rituals or a lot of fast black mana you can also run Phyrexian Crusader which is a 2/2 with a lot of relevant protections (bolt, Swords, Mentor and Pyromancer tokens).

I still have my list together in legacy, I suspect it may be pretty decent in vintage because of the acceleration and fewer pieces of removal around, but I'm not sure it would be substantial enough.

I've been playing Vintage infect to some degree of success. Can never quite T4, but have ended up 5th out of 20-30 players in local tourneys with it. It usually finishes 3-2 or 4-1. Similar strategy, but I just think needing to find Death's Shadow and opening yourself up to death by lightning bolt too fragile.

Berserk is great, and with spells like invigorate in the format, an infect strategy just plays better and more consistent I feel. For reference (not to jack the thread), here's a recent iteration of Vintage infect that tries to leverage Berserk:

last edited by Thewhitedragon69


Death's Shadow has become something of a pet card for me. I've tried a lot of variants, including a focused green/black list revolving around Plunge/Berserk (Which I called BERSERKER! while I was working on it. The caps and exclamation point are important.) Unfortunately, like you I never found a list that felt strong enough to play it any "real" event. I've had more luck with hybrid approaches, where I think Death's Shadow can do a lot of interesting things (though I'm a hybrid deckbuilder at heart). Shadow can do real work in a fishy Grixis Delver shell or a BUG midrange shell. I've personally had the best showing with Death's Shadow BUG Survival/Death Survives.

I didn't learn too much about a focused Berserk list that would be useful, but here are some cards I found interesting. Most of these won't be a surprise for people who followed Death's Shadow decks in Legacy/Modern

There's not much to say about Thoughtseize, Dismember, Snuff Out, Vampiric Tutor/Imperial Seal, but they're already good cards that get better with Death's Shadow. Street Wraith is not a great card, but might be good enough in a Shadow deck. Grim Tutor sounds good for a minute, but I don't think you want 3-drops in the middle of your curve. I suspect Mutagenic Growth and Gut Shot just aren't Vintage quality but I'd kinda love to see them.

Temur Battle Rage is more or less just a 1R Berserk for the deck. I didn't explore cutting the green entirely and playing a B/R Plunge/Rage list, but you totally could. You can't use 2 Rages to kill with a 5/5 the same way you can with two Berserks. You can splash red for redundant Berserk effects, but don't forget that Time Walk also lets a creature deal damage twice.

Speaking of Time Walk, blue is the natural splash for any Vintage deck, but I understand there's a big overlap between people who would like B/G Berserk Shadow and people who don't like running blue out of principle. If you're in that group, I'd still consider running your 1x Gitaxian Probe and 1x Mental Misstep. You don't need to run blue mana and they're both very strong with Shadow. Swords to Plowshares is Death's Shadow public enemy number one, and the restriction of Misstep hurt Shadow lists a lot more than opposing Missteps did.

Even in an all-in list I think you need more threats than just the Shadows. The most Berserkable option is probably Gurmag Angler. If you're doing something more hybrid, Shadows in your list let you drop the mana curve real low, so expensive threats requiring more lands kind of kill the edge that Shadow gave you. I tend toward the really cheap stuff like Deathrite Shaman and Delver of Secrets, (though it would be really hard for me to run a BUG list without two or three Oko, Thief of Crowns.)

Nurturing Peatland and its friends are underrated in general, I think. But a Death's Shadow list is particularly suited. I'd consider running some Waterlogged Groves or Silent Clearings even if you don't splash a colorA play tip that might be obvious but took me a couple matches to figure out: If your hand has both a Canopy Land and a Fetch/Shockland, the Fetch deals 3 damage and the Canopyland deals N damage, where N is how many turns it will be in play. Even though the fetch deals more now, a lot of the times it's better to lead with the Peatland on the first few turns, and don't forget to tap it for damage every turn, whether you have anything to cast or not.

There has to be something really dumb you can do with Lim-Dul's Vault. I haven't tested this myself, but it's very straightforward to get Shadow+Berserk+19 damage to yourself all with one cast of this. For people that aren't ancient enough to remember with Vault was a common vintage card, there's a trick you can do where you use LDV to loop through your deck several times. If your library size isn't a multiple of five, you can stack your piles such that you see different sets of cards together the second time through your deck. This means you can force certain cards together, making little mini-doomsday stacks like "Brainstorm->Shadow->Berserk->Time Walk". It's still random, but it's not as random as it looks.

This is for sure a @Brass-Man pet card, but Hex Parasite is a sexy little robot. I already love a Parasite as a top-secret-weapon for taking down Planeswalkers and Workshop Aggro threats, but in Death's Shadow you can just have it target itself for {P} as many times as you want.

last edited by Brass Man

I used to use the Death's Shadow in a Suicide Black Storm list utilizing Night's Whispers and the plethora of BBB, lose half you life, draw 4 cards that are available. That way if they flustered/MBT my Tendrils, I could drop a Shadow or 2, and win through a swing the next turn. I could totally see adding in a number of Berserks/Veil of Summer to the list, and go big in either direction.

Thanks alot lots of great stuff I had not thought of! Good catch on Hex Parasite!
Thanks, had not thought of using shadow in a storm shell. I have been hoping to go more of a shadow+berserk direction though.

Been wondering about a Jund version with Tarmagoyf.

last edited by John Cox

So, as I noted, the biggest hesitancy for me is running a deck where bolt just kills you in response to winning. That got me thinking - what if you run BGW and 4x phyrexian unlife/4x angel's grace? Both of those cards are naturally amazeballs vs tendrils decks, so you get a nice bonus there. AG is essentially time walk vs all decks since most kill you on their turn and only at sorcery speed. White also lets you run Spirit of the Labyrinth, RiP, Leyline of Sanctity, etc, and is probably the best SB color around. With an unlife or grace, you can plunge for 60 to basically DT and guarantee you get berserk. You could probably even run ad nauseum as a plan B kill instead of other beatsticks. You also get anguished unmaking, which helps your DS plan. Shallow grave becomes a fine choice if you have no other creatures in the deck too.

TLDR; Death's Shadow is basically a suicide mission making him 10/10 in a world with bolts anyway - why not go full suicide and live with 0 life?

last edited by Thewhitedragon69

You could say the same thing about doomsday or maybe even PO.
People have mentioned blue (for force of will) and using Thoughtseize in black. You want to win when its safe and not just throw out your win with no back up.
If your really worried about storm Hope of Ghirapur is a bit better than angel's grace since you can cast it off a ritual.
I think 8-12 protection spells are needed. Blue is nice since you can Plunge for a force if you have a blue card and the combo.

last edited by John Cox

@john-cox Yeah, I'm a big fan of angel's grace. A lot of decks rely on counterspells when they try to go off. If you can just play a 1-mana, split-second "you don't win now" spell, you can straight up steal wins off DD or PO or whatever. At the worst, you time walk vs almost every deck for W.

Plunge is decent, but if you are playing AG or PU, you can run 4x spoils of the vault and just dig your whole library deep and win. You're in black for DS anyway, so you are surely running 8x duress/seize regardless. The PU and AG are just great combo enablers while also solid defense at the same time. If you go with a consultation and 4x Spoils with running AG, You could probably run thassa as an alt-kill yourself (if you get a viable 4-color manabase (and city/confluence/horizon lands seem to be on the "whittle down my life" plan that DS needs anyway).

Hope is okay as a combo enabler, but if I'm not misstaken, you need to attack with it to clear the path (which means you can't ALSO attack with an all-in DS). Hope also doesn't stop losing on your opponent's turn like PU or AG do.

last edited by Thewhitedragon69

@thewhitedragon69 said in Berserk Shadow:

4x phyrexian unlife/4x angel's grace? Both of those cards are naturally amazeballs vs tendrils decks, so you get a nice bonus there.

angel's grace is pretty bad against tendrils- the life loss still happens, they move to cleanup step and you die.

also generally using plunge or spoils of the vault in combination with grace requires that you be digging for the berserk effect, as you're all in on winning that turn and barring haste-giver need to have the shadow already in play.

@blindtherapy Yeah - misread AG. Thought your life couldn't go below 1, not just damage. Unlife still works. I'm actually tinkering with a deck now and it morphed into a Thassa/Doomsday/AG/Unlife/Spoils/Consultation deck. Basically Like a thassa/DD list, but with a lot of paths that don't require DD. It's pretty neat.

I tried to make it a DS/Berserk build, but it's just not good enough no matter what I've tried. It's a fragile two card combo that requires multiple turns and is super easy to stop. When compared to mox, orchard, oath; hermit druid; thassa, consult...it's just not where you want to be.

Death’s Shadow isn’t really an early game combo card. I think if you are trying to play it that way, you are kind of playing it wrong.

It is a valuable mid game 1 drop in a deck with life loss cards. You want to look at the best cards that make you lose life, like Necropotence, Thoughtseize, Bob and Bolas’s Citadel. Dark Times was a deck list back in the day that easily could support these types of cards. Those lists can probably be updated to fit the metagame.

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