Shadow is in a kind of unique position among the Ragavan/DRC decks in that I believe it to be the best at taking advantage of Ragavan's mana generation — more than any other archetype, Shadow is a collection of a bunch of good 1-Cost spells. For that reason, it's really indispensable in most lists. I wouldn't even try to play Dress Down Shadow without it, and I would be very skeptical of a Rakdos list without it. Jund lists, built in the style of the old list from before MH2 might work without Ragavan, but have their own question marks. [This is the type of list that can work without Ragavan.](https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/4351176#paper) For all the good that Ragavan does — and it does a lot of good — it isn't really a great enabler for Scourge of the Skyclaves (it is almost always killed on sight, and unlike things like Hexdrinker, it can't grow past things in a board stall). These lists REALLY don't want to be playing more than 16 creatures (Kroxa doesn't count), so you end up having to choose between Ragavan or Scourge. This list obviously sides with Scourge. This list does have a few problems, though — being all in on Goyf/Scourge leaves you massively open to Dress Down, while being all in on Scourge/Shadow leaves you massively open to Solitude. These types of things are the reason that Jund Shadow isn't seeing much play at the moment. If you want to stick to Rakdos, which would theoretically make you less weak to Dress Down, but still as weak to Solitude, [something like this might work](https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/4419262#paper). I want to be clear that this is certainly going to be worse than Grixis Shadow (Expressive Iteration, Drown in the Loch and Dress Down are all really, really good right now), and the ceiling of this deck is a lot lower without Ragavan, but it could work for now. Swiftspear is a good enabler for Scourge, and Scourge/TBR is still going to be insane if you find it fast enough. Reckless Impulse gives this deck a draw engine like it never really had before, taking the pressure off of Lurrus (the biggest problem with all the RB decks is over reliance on Lurrus in grindy games, imo). I think that the future of Shadow, as long as Solitude is played, however, is away from Scourge. I've survived having a Shadow Solitude'd, and played another Shadow later in the game, but having Scourge Solitude'd is a completely different story considering how big he gets and how quickly. Plus, with a lot of the Elementals decks on Omnath, Scourge can randomly be killed by opponent's fetchlands (this was also a problem in the Heliod Company days, which is why Scourge was sided out a lot in the matchup). Scourge also requires that you run some enablers, while other options don't. [For those reasons, I think the future of Straight RB Shadow is probably something more like this.](https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/4444805#paper) This list replaces Scourge with things like Tourach (immune to Solitude) and Kroxa (insane late-game grindy tool). This list is very speculative — I haven't had a chance to properly test it yet — but I do think that getting away from Scourge is for the best for now. The reason I didn't recommend this list is because I honestly don't know if this list will work without Ragavan — I've been sideboarding Tourach in my Grixis list, and you oftentimes need a treasure to cast Tourach with Kicker. If Ragavan is completely off the table for you (ie, you're definitely never going to get it), then I'd probably go with one of the two earlier lists. If you'd like to build something to have now, and then kick the "will I buy Ragavan?" can down the road (ie, you're open to getting it later, when you're sure you like this deck, but definitely don't want to right now), I'd lean towards this list with Tourachs, replacing the Ragavans with some later-game value stuff, maybe like an Unearth, an additional Kroxa, and two flex spots for now. Hope this was of some help to you!


This is more info than most articles had, and this especially helps as I'm a newer player (TBD) so I appreciate the short history!


One card that would be a serious consideration for the scourge BR list is \[\[Flame rift\]\], which enables it pretty well and kinda furthers your gameplan.


[Flame rift](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/e/6/e63ed449-d249-4639-85d2-f8fe75496d5c.jpg?1626100460) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=Flame%20rift) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/mh2/278/flame-rift?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/e63ed449-d249-4639-85d2-f8fe75496d5c?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text) ^^^[[cardname]] ^^^or ^^^[[cardname|SET]] ^^^to ^^^call


One thing that I think you should note is that, when you're making concessions for whatever reason to not play the strongest thing, *don't* try to replace it with the next strongest. If there was a 1/1 Ragavan, or a Ragavan without dash, or a Ragavan that didn't make a treasure, it would be incorrect to replace the real Ragavan with this inferior version. You would never play Negate over Stubborn Denial, so don't do the same with other replacements. One-drops that explicitely give you value, then, are out of question. The trick then is finding a replacement that does something *else* uniquely powerful. I saw Monastary Swiftspear mentioned in the thread and I think that's a great idea. Instead of replacing Ragavan with worse Ragavan, you're trading value for pressure. As long as you're leaning into her strengths and not trying to play Swiftspear as worse Ragavan, you'll do great :)


Ding ding ding! This is exactly it. Nothing is broadly as good, but look instead for cards that can shore up specific matchups and weaknesses


Wow, that is an incredibly powerful response. It also helps I already have 4 swiftys too. This is something I'll remember indefinitely, Thank you.


For sure, glad I could help :D


If you are playing Midrange in Modern, you probably need Monkey. He is just so much better than everything else. I have Ponza (RG midrange deck based around blood moon) and I've been trying to hold off buying it, but I'm actively hurting myself by doing so. You can play other cards, the deck just won't be as good. He is just so powerful in Midrange shells, anything else will be sub-optimal in its place, so it just depends how much playing optimally matters to you.


I am in literally the exact same position lol


Yup sitting on boomer jund without the monke


Just sucks. My deck was 100% optimized pre MH2. Now I need 4x Ragavan 4x Fury 4x Endurance. With Ragavan so prominent in the meta now, I probably need 2 Wrenn and 6, and probably need a couple Force of Vigor. The recent Ponza builds have been running Tarmogoyf also. I got 4x Fury and 2x Endurance already but I'm still looking at 500+ minimum. Just a mega feels bad. I'm closer to selling out than completing the deck now lol


Exact reason I quit modern


Same. Modern = Modern Horizons Block Constructed with sprinkles of FIRE design from the past 2-3 years.


One of my favourite decks was always Zoo. No reason to pilot anything like that in todays meta. Zoo exists, but its irrelevant


Welcome to card games


When I started with modern, some 7-8 yeears ago, there definetly was not as much powercreep in such a short time. That was the reason we started with modern, because the decks you build could be played for a longer period of time


Just the sheer volume of cards added to the play pull over 8 years means that longevity would never be guaranteed for any deck, let alone their power creep design. It’s kind of weird to expect something would hold out that long.


Nobody did. My point was, that decks had a longer lifespan back then and new staples weren´t released in that quantity


Nah. There are plenty of the 4 color piles that play very well without Monkey. Not that these decks are cheaper, but they don't play monkey


I guess if you consider those midrange then yes you are correct. I think it goes back to the overall point where midrange decks win on card quality and those decks are still playing very good cards, usually 4X of most of the evoke elementals for example.


Same and it sucks. Had to buy endurance first though.


Show me your list with the monkey! Most ragavan lists I see is where it’s an after thought of having a good card independent of the normal game plan. I have a decent list relying on elementals and opponents having a greedy mana base to get ahead that works well enough for 3-1’s consistently


I don't have a monkey list because I don't want to buy it. Am the 5-0 and challenge results for ponza run it though so I would recommend looking at those. He's a 4 of in any midrange deck


Honestly no. Ragavan is at the prices it is for a good reason and without it makes a deck soooo much worse. There is not a good replacement for ragavan. I would suggest building a different deck over playing Death shadow without monkey. Spike (the creator of grixis shadow’s current build) has been asked this question so many times and he just tells them that there is no replacement and a different deck should be played.


Well, I'll keep that in mind for sure. Hopefully I can figure something out.


You COULD replace monkey with scourge in a jund shadow shell, but this shell is incredibly weak to solitude. However, some people at my shop play this build occasionally and do fine with it overall. If you’re looking to go grixis you would need the monkey sadly he is just insanely strong


You don’t need him if your looking to play Jund version but he is necessary for the Grixis version


Dang, we'll I'll see if I keep it grixxis or swap to jund


They're wrong, you definitely need Ragavan for Jund. It's the best fixing in the deck and you desperately need the treasures due to your shitty mana thanks to Saga. Also Jund means you need to play 4 Wren & 6 which is even more expensive than Ragavan.


So you def lose some of your early aggression, but you might consider snapcaster mage. You just play a little more controlling.


Well looking at tcg it looks like there are a lot of copies of ragavan for under $70 so if you can shop there you can get a playset for $280. You can even get away with running 3 for a bit. The thing I always want to express to people who want to play the list without ragavan is that ragavan makes almost every single card in death shadow better on top of just being a solid card on its own. A turn 2 iteration for full value can be devastating, consistently casting k-command earlier, escaping kroxa with interaction up several turns earlier, kicking a tourach on 3, even just getting some extra mana to play a threat and hold up interaction is so good for shadow. It also makes picking up lurrus and using lurrus so much faster and easier. Shadow’s strengths is that it’s used to be able to go 1 for 1 really well and then you would get to the point where your 1 drop creature was just bigger than their threats and win. With ragavan instead of going 1 for 1 you can easily get 2/3/4 for 1 and that’s enough to win a lot of games


From less of a tournament standpoint, one understated advantage of the monkey is its psychological effect because its absurd price and power level can really tilt people. From some points of view, playing that “gatekeeper” card can cause an opponent to make mistakes because it’s so frustrating. Currently, I don’t have monkeys for my Grixis build, and I’m looking to get them over time. Even if they’re only a lightning rod to let other threats stay on the board, they’re still worth running, if you can get them. Right now, I’ve filled those 4 spots with 2 Consider and 2 Temur Battle Rage, so I’m leaning more on my other threats, especially Shadow itself. I must emphasize this build is fragile, but you can work with it for a while. And the surprise factor of Temur Battle Rage can be huge. It was won me games because people don’t expect it anymore. Even double strike on a flying DRC can win the game. And if you ever experience the thrill of beating an opponent in a mirror matchup with an “obsolete” battle rage, that feels good by itself. Makes me wonder if it’s worth keeping in there, even after I do get some monkeys.


Jund shadow tried the new shadow (scourge of the skyclaves), and it seems ok. Not good with dress down, obviously


You could play Boros Burn if you liked Legacy mono red. Your cards aren’t as powerful but you get better sideboard cards. I play reanimator it’s super fun, the monkey isn’t nearly as busted in modern as it is in legacy.


I can of course just go for burn, but your statement that the monkey is less busted in modern gives me hope it isn't so crucial.


Yeah, it’s not casting ponder, brainstorm, expressive iteration off the top of their deck all the time. I play Ponza online with monkey sometimes and I cast about every 20th card I flip off their deck, it’s still powerful and requires most decks to have turn one interaction. There is a lot of fun monkeyless modern decks though.


What variant of shadow were you thinking?


Grixxis was definitely what I was aiming for


Are you looking to be competitive and win tournaments with GDS? If not, you can look at legacy GDS lists and work off those


I was only hoping to hold ground and have a good time, not so much focus on winning tournaments.


You could also try magmatic channeler


You might lose some power but you could try something like voidwalker or Tourach as a budget friendly option. I'm not sure Ragavan is a good idea to purchase so I get looking at budget options.


Wow, well you've definitely given some great suggestions! I'll keep this in mind for sure.


Yeah depending on your meta, I would meta game that slot with either of those suggestions above or swiftspear if ragavanless. It’s not end all be without ragavan, especially if your not entering any major gp’s or tournaments ect. Also jund shadow is fun deck to play if you have the cards for that deck.


I have nearly the entire manabase and quite a majority of the spells, otherwise I'd be looking at the jund lists instead. I'll keep the jund lists on the back burner in case grixxis doesn't work.


It’s unfortunately insanely good in Grixis. If it connects you are just so far ahead and it’s really magnified with the efficiency of your spells. Being able to get full value out of expressive iteration on turn 2 is huge


I was running monkey less for a while, if you are on non dress down shadow I was running well with Bomat courier/DRC/Shadow/Scourge. It counted as both artifact and creature for delirium. I found that dress down shadow worked significantly worse without the monkeys, getting a single monkey hit in made your dress down turns a lot stronger by being able to turn 3 kroxa+dress down or endstep dress down with interaction up.


If you don't play monkey, just make sure you have an answer for them


You can definitely run without the monkey. Assuming still a lurrus build I'd run scourge (tbr no dress down) or pre monkey the one drop threats could be: Bomat Courier, monastery swiftspear, soul scar mage. I always liked swifty when I had scourge in the deck


Well, Ive got two of three, and bomat is cheap cheap lol.


Its a very good card but its also just a card. The namesake of the deck is Death’s Shadow, not Ragavan. It can be replaceable.


That's good to know, however is it just a matter of slotting something I have in, or is there a place to see what else can fit in synergisticly?


You could round out kill spells or discard spells or slot in scourge of the skyclaves


Honestly. Unless you want to just run burn again. The format is in such a place right now where every other competitive deck is going to have their own "ragavan". Broken, high priced staple cards that make the deck almost unplayable otherwise. Solitude, ragavan, urza's saga, etc. The point is that if that makes you uncomfortable or iffy from hearing it, new modern isn't for you. It won't get any better any time soon either, with MH3 and LOTR sets on the way, they will more than likely be the final nail in the coffin for any semblance of stability of old modern. Tldr; power creep has turned modern into the expensive rotating modern horizons format. Play burn or honestly just stay in edh, it'll be better for your wallet and enjoyment.


Isnt shadow on darcy instead of monke?


No, both.


Instead of shadow it's basically "pushed 1mv tribal" then.


No? It's still built around shadow lol


Shadow is almost the accident of wanting grixis mana


Not really, the only self damaging cards they play these days is 4 thoughtsieze. Otherwise, it's just good grixis cards with a greedy manabase.


Most lists I've seen still run either dress down or tbr, so there's at least some semblance of build around outside of the manabase.


TBR isn't really played any more, and dress down is just a good card on its own against all the urza's saga constructs running around. I won't deny that it is better with Shadow, but then again, it's only a 2 of. And Dress down is played in 11% of modern decks according to MTG Goldfish, while Death's shadow is only played in 3% of modern decks, so its playable without shadow.


No, it's still shadow


Death's shadow is an incidental threat the deck gets to play because of its greedy manabase, but the deck isn't built around it. There's literally a deck that plays the exact same cards as shadow, swapping the 4 shadows for 4 snapcasters and that's basically the only change. https://www.mtggoldfish.com/archetype/modern-grixis-control#paper


I didn’t want to get the monkey, then I did. It was worth it. I played deaths shadow in modern and legacy too. In legacy you can do dimir shadow. I think that would be a good starting spot for you. You get counterspell and discard plus beaters to win from delver and the shadow. You can decide if you want to do lurrus or no lurrus. The discard and the counter magic help you to learn about the format too. Both together can absolutely murder some people. If I ran lurrus I would find some black cards for creatures. If I didn’t, then murktide regent is clutch.


If your only doing FNM getting 4 monkeys sounds like a giant investment that's probably not worth it. You'll be fine without them. People run alternative cards and builds at FNM all the time.


Burn is relatively cheap especially if you run mono red, even more especially if you have 75% of the deck from the legacy version, and i dont believe it runs the monkey


Is the decklist you’re looking at playing Gurmag Angler? Card is still pretty good. Between Shadow, Dragon’s Rage Channeler and Gurmag that should be enough threats. You lose some cheese potential with T1 monkey on the play some games, but you should still have a strong deck.


You lose lurrus though


In my opinion, I'd rather play fewer total threats than play Gurmag Angler and loose Lurrus. Murktide might be worthwhile in the shell, but I still think Lurrus is better overall right now.


I like the idea of gurmag for sure, I'll add that in the list of potential adds with the other cards mentioned here, thank you!


If you're going that route, [[Murktide Regent]] is probably a much better option than Angler.


[Murktide Regent](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/2/0/20c4aae1-7665-4df7-bd51-a1d95bf8a17d.jpg?1626094651) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=Murktide%20Regent) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/mh2/52/murktide-regent?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/20c4aae1-7665-4df7-bd51-a1d95bf8a17d?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text) ^^^[[cardname]] ^^^or ^^^[[cardname|SET]] ^^^to ^^^call


When i heard about ragavan i dragged my feet until it was about 70. Told myself and friends no way in fuck am i spening 350 on rags to toss in shadow. Ended up trading for 3 and opening one on a yolo mh2 pack purchase (pls dont try this). Its such a good card I feel silly for trying to avoid it. I dont think GDS in particular is viable without monke


Be a real man and play control. No monkeys there. Although [[Solitude]] is like $70 as well lol… To respond to your question; there’s a dress down version of grixis that doesn’t run monkeys. I think you can be fnm competitive with it.


Solitude is $42 right now.


I was looking at the dress down lists I believe, got a link to that one? Also yeah, I'm only taking it to a fnm scene


I saw that you’re mostly looking to hold ground. You can probably play the pre-ragavan version of shadow that uses street wraiths to turbo out quick gurmag anglers and death’s shadows, with stubborn denial as protection. I’d still recommend finding place for dragon’s rage channeller and expressive iteration though.


I played dressdown shadow with 4 swiftys before buying my monkeys. The deck felt good, and the whole "I lost because I don't have the ragavans" happened only once ; when I was under a blood moon and ragavan could have given me blue or black mana. For a while, swiftspear was the best red 1 drop in modern, its still very powerfull. She's a fast clock, and you can have more than 1 on the board too. ​ That being said, monkey enable a whole different gameplan, and I think hes worth it if you plan to play modern for a long time.


You don't need Monkey for Jund Death's Shadow. I use a package of Tarmogoyf, Scourge of the Skyclaves, Death's Shadow and Dragon's Rage Channeler as well as a one of Kroxa in the main and side. Works pretty well. That being said I also run 2 Wrenn and Six which cost about as much as 3 Monkeys. Death's Shadow isn't budget friendly no matter what build you run.


Yes of course you can. I just wouldn't go for Death's Shadow then. There are plenty modern decks that simply do not run ragavan and I would advise you to choose one of those.


i play grixis shadow without ragavans and have two snapcasters and a slightly higher land count (20) instead, haven‘t played in a competitive setting with the deck yet though. it is great fun and also feels really powerful! the deck plays a bit more controlling than with ragavans


Not trying to say it’s cheap or anything but Ragavan is currently $70 on tcg player so its $280 for 4. Are you paying non-US prices cuz $90 a piece is really high?


Yes. There are tons of decks that don't play red so don't play monkey. There are earlier versions of deaths shadow that existed for years before the monkey. They are still modern legal decks. Now if your definition of getting into modern means you need to play the best decks with the most optimal lists, then no, you can't. But that's a silly definition that would gatekeep you out of having fun at fnm with your friends, and who wants that?


4c shadow is still a thing, and some lists don't run ragavan. A close friend plays a version with the domain Kavu, channeler, shadow and goyfs backed up by both discards and counters (drown and denial), with decent success. Also plays seal of removal for spot removal spells (great vs solitude).


You can play without monkeys, I was playing boomer Jund without them until recently. I would suggest that you bite the bullet and get monkeys, though. Ragavan isn't going to get banned anytime soon as the meta feels very balanced and diverse, and the card is exceptionally powerful and can even be game winning if you hit with him one time. The card is worth the investment and if you choose to play without him you will be playing a worse version of the deck.


OK, so I struggled with Ragavans for a few months. I'm gonna give you a really basic piece of advice because it somehow eluded me. You say you're primarily a Commander player. My guess is that you have some older decks that you don't play anymore. At the very least, you have cards from Commander decks that are currently without a deck. Go to your LGS and sell those cards. Most places will offer a store credit bonus. Commander cards are still really jacked up from their pandemic surge. Just bite the bullet and get rid of cards you don't want to get the playset that's gating you out of Modern. If you like midrange, you will get ample use of your Ragavans. My guess is that it will cost you less than you think.


For Shadow? It's possible, but you're *drastically* reducing your deck's power. There's 16 challenge results for Shadow since 01/Oct, and 15 of those include Ragavan. I honestly recommend you look for another deck if you want to play without Ragavan, but if you want to try here's the [Jund Shadow](https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/4368884#paper) list that got Top 32 in a challenge without it.




Would recommend either Monastery Swiftspear or Bomat Courier. Bomat Courier at least somewhat mimics the "card advantage" aspect of Ragavan, so I would recommend that for budget. :) But in reality, Ragavan is an irreplaceable card that cant really be compared to. The monke is soooo tough on the wallet though, I understand seeking a replacement.


Yeah, well at least I have easy access to the replacements.


Definitely 😀 so many decks without the mankey. Just mtgtop8 it, I like looking there for decklists. Sorts them into categories


Maybe a bad take but I've been using Robber of the rich in the monkey slots and it's been very good to me so far. It's not as free as monkey and doesn't generate the same tempo but it's a haste 2/2 red that can generate advantage which is honestly what I need in those slots.


A wise friend told me “the highest impact instance of a card to a decks performance, is the first copy. Each copy after becomes exponentially less impactful, especially for legendaries”. Everyone’s right that the monkey is irreplaceable, but don’t feel like you need a full play set before hitting up FNM. Get one monkey to start and 3 of swift spear or scourge or something, then try to get the second monkey pretty quickly. Then take your time picking up the third. You’ll barely notice the fourth stroll in.


>swift spear That's still a thing lol


Shadow decks are kinda bad right now, every deck with white runs Prismatic ending and Solitude, blue decks run archmage's charm, EE is prevalent in the meta. A subpar deck without its strongest card (Ragavan) is kinda out of the question imo.


I’ve had a good ole time replacing gnarlwood dryad and grim flayer for monke and w6 in Jund saga builds. Have been running hot, taking a 1k and plenty of smaller events with 70%+ win percentage. I’ve also pushed incubation/incongruity and whispers of emrakul into the list to jam delirium early and often. Bottom line, you don’t need monke to win. He does make things easy tho 😂😅


Death and Taxes is good deck to play if you don't want the monkey.