Sideboarding Guide

A guide for sideboarding against each Legacy archetype – explaining what to take out and bring in against those decks. Keep in mind that this is a rough tutorial and sometimes straying from these instructions is correct. Situations, game states and the opponent often call for a different plan of attack.

Force Of Will
Flusterstorm
Counterbalance

 

There's really two philosophies when approaching these matchups, it comes down to if they have lock pieces or not (along with what game it is). In game one against Miracles, they have tons of cards in their deck that interact poorly with you (Swords to Plowshares, Terminus, Jace, the Mind Sculptor), because of this and Counterbalance it's best to kill them as quickly as possible - while playing around Force of Will.

If you're able to keep Counterbalance off-line or in a control matchup without it, you're able to grind them down with Past in Flames. There's access to a main deck copy and then the sideboard copy can be retrieved with Burning Wish. The goal is to get the opponent to spend resources while you 2-for-1 them, when they have some dead draws in their deck. What I don't recommend is going for Empty the Warrens against Miracles, mainly due to Terminus. That said, Engineered Explosives has become popular due to Chalice of the Void - which provides another answer for Goblin tokens.

It's important to keep in mind, how the opponent is trying to combat you. Sensei's Divining Top is often going to keep a Force of Will or Counterspell on top of their deck, this way discard spells can't stop their plans.

In post-board games, it's better to slow the game down as that is what the opponent is trying to do as well. It's best to side out copies of Chrome Mox as it's inherently a faster card since its card disadvantage at the cost of the mana it provides – meaning over a longer game that its less valuable. It also doesn't help with the game plan of using Past in Flames as a means of card advantage. It's important to keep in mind that these decks are likely siding in Flusterstorm, which can be problematic, especially if you're going for the natural storm kill with Tendrils of Agony in hand. That said, if they don't have Flusterstorm, you've likely won the game.

For more information on how to beat Miracles, please read AJ Kerrigan's article linked below.

Non-miracles control decks – I suggest siding out Empty the Warrens as most decks have answers in Golgari Charm, Toxic Deluge, Batterskull, Engineered Explosives and plenty of other cards. The Tendrils of Agony from the sideboard will get you a lot farther against these decks as you likely have enough time to build into a high storm-count.

For matchups with Meddling Mage I bring in Abrupt Decay, Grapeshot or Tendrils of Agony. These help off set the effectiveness of Meddling Mage forcing us into awkward situations where we're forced into casting Empty the Warrens.

Copies of Ponder are usually sided out against Miracles as a way to find room, TES doesn't have a lot of "flex spots" and Miracles is known to bring in up to three copies of Pyroblast. This limits their effectiveness against TES. Sideboarding for this matchup can be difficult as there are so many cards we would like to bring in, but the entire deck feels useful in some way.

Surgical Extraction can be used in a number of ways: the most obvious is in response to Snapcaster Mage targeting something useful, there's also removing all the copies of Counterbalance, Force of Will or Flusterstorm from the game. I think the best use is as a shuffle effect in response to your opponent drawing a card with Sensei's Divining Top in an attempt to counter a key spell on the stack.

Sideboarding

Resource Links

03-18-2017 Bryant Cook vs. Joe Stempo with bUrg Midrange at Eternal Extravaganza VI: Washington, DC

08-04-2016 Fighting the Miracles Menace by AJ Kerrigan on theepicstorm.com

04-22-2016 Steven Fierro vs. Fred Chen with Deathblade at Fire & Dice in Woodland Hills, CA

09-04-2015 Xantid Swarm Vs. The Metagame by Bryant Cook on theepicstorm.com

08-22-2015 Joey Valente vs. Corey Armstrong with Shardless BUG at Fire & Dice in Woodland Hills, CA

08-11-2015 Jordon Robbins vs. Jon Ha with Miracles at Ready to Play Trading Cards in Columbia, SC

01-10-2015 Bryant Cook vs. Zane Knapp with Esper Deathblade at StarCityGames: Philadelphia, PA

08-10-2014 Bryant Cook vs. Lloyd Kurth with Shardless BUG at StarCityGames: Syracuse, NY

06-13-2014 Bryant Cook vs. Reid Duke with Miracles at StarCityGames Invitational: Columbus, OH

08-27-2013 Bryant Cook vs. Harry Corvece with Shardless BUG at StarCityGames: Baltimore, MD

06-23-2013 Matthew Bevenour vs. Brad Nelson with Esper Deathblade at StarCityGames: Philadelphia, PA

03-17-2013 Bryant Cook vs. JD Nir with Esper Stoneblade at StarCityGames: Washington, DC

05-12-2012 Bryant Cook vs. Sam Roukas with BUG Control at Jupiter Games in Binghamton, NY

02-11-2012 Bryant Cook vs. Tariq White with Stoneblade at Jupiter Games in Binghamton, NY

Stifle
Wasteland
Delver Of Secrets

 

In a lot of ways the Tempo matchups are the exact opposite from the control matchups. We absolutely want to keep a few Chrome Mox because they’re focused on mana denial with a quick clock which means a lower life total for Ad Nauseam. Revealing a Chrome Mox off of Ad Nauseam is practically one of the best things you can do in those situations. It's important no note that Chrome Mox acts as a basic land in these matchups, it can't destroyed by Wasteland. Having the basic Swamp or a Chrome Mox in your initial hand can be very useful here as they'll be solid sources of mana through-out the game.

Players don't tend to Stifle Chrome Mox's imprint trigger, even though it is actually a key card here. Stifle is a card that a storm pilot should definitely be cautious of from these style of decks, on your Polluted Deltas, Bloodstained Mires or even on Empty the Warrens and Tendrils of Agony.

Due to Stifle and Wasteland, I try to search up Underground Sea as my first fetchland target as there are multiples in the deck. This way, if a longer game procedes and multiple Wasteland occur – you won't be shut off of red mana.

Empty the Warrens is also an all-star in these matchups as most of these decks can’t deal with it at all. Remember to play around Stifle in game one and then Flusterstorm in post-board games. Against Tempo decks with black, Golgari Charm is common and something to consider (Usually only 1-2 copies). Against red based Tempo decks Young Pyromancer can be a problem if the storm player doesn't initially create enough Goblins. Any number over ten is likely to be safe.

For more information on how to beat Grixis Delver, please read Alex Poling's TES Matchup Battles article linked below.

Lastly, Merfolk is an exception to the rule for tempo decks. Abrupt Decay is brought in to fight off Merfolk playing Chalice of the Void. I take out a few copies of Ponder to help negate the effectiveness of Chalice of the Void. Empty the Warrens isn't recommended as Merfolk can kill you through it due to Islandwalk – Merfolk is great at putting tons of blockers into play. Some lists even play Echoing Truth as an answer to the Goblin tokens.

Sideboarding

Grixis Delver:

-1 Past in Flames
+1 Bayou

Sultai Delver:

-1 Past in Flames
+1 Bayou

Temur Delver:

-1 Ad Nauseam
+1 Bayou

Resource Links

01-17-2017 TES Matchup Battles: Grixis Delver by Alex Poling on theepicstorm.com

08-08-2015 Bryant Cook vs. Jonathon Morawski with Grixis Delver at StarCityGames: Washington, DC

08-08-2015 Bryant Cook vs. Dylan Donegan with Grixis Delver at StarCityGames: Washington, DC

06-26-2015 Nicklas Lallo vs. Hannes Eriksson with Jeskai Delver at Scandinavian Open #5

05-23-2015 Bryant Cook vs. Andrew Boswell with RUG Delver at StarCityGames: Worcester, MA

08-10-2014 Bryant Cook vs. Dan Jordan with Jeskai Delver at StarCityGames: Syracuse, NY

07-20-2014 Bryant Cook vs. Dylan Donegan with RUG Delver at StarCityGames: Baltimore, MD

04-28-2014 AJ Kerrigan vs. Eric Rill with RUG Delver at StarCityGames: Somerset, NJ

09-08-2013 Bryant Cook vs. Ben Friedman with Jeskai Delver at StarCityGames: Philadelphia, PA

07-07-2013 Bryant Cook vs. Jacob Wilson with RUG Delver at StarCityGames: Worcester, MA

03-17-2013 Bryant Cook vs. Ben Green with Jeskai Delver at StarCityGames: Washington, DC

03-17-2013 David Fleischmann Rose vs. Ben Green with Jeskai Delver at StarCityGames: Washington, DC

Goblin Guide
Eidolon Of The Great Revel
Lightning Bolt

 

Unlike the first two archetypes listed, Duress isn't very great in these matchups. While there are targets for the card, the threats we're actually concerned with a permanents - usually in the form of creatures. Burn has Eidolon of the Great Revel, Zoo & Goblins both play some number of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben.

That said, Duress carries more weight against Burn than Gitaxian Probe. Helping another deck achieve their goal of killing you quickly with spells isn't ideal. You might be thinking, "Doesn't siding out Gitaxian Probe effect Cabal Therapy?" Not really. The reason being is that you simply name Eidolon of the Great Revel and if they don't have it, fantastic! There are occasionally other permanent based hate – sometimes even some outlandish ones like Pyrostatic Pillar.

Against all these styles of decks, Chain of Vapor, Abrupt Decay and Grapeshot carry a decent amount of weight and siding in any number of them to deal with hate bears is acceptable. These answers aren't as crucial as they are against midrange creature decks like Maverick or Death & Taxes, but they are useful to deal with the few permanent hate pieces that could arrive. I prefer all four copies of Abrupt Decay against Burn to ensure that we remove Eidolon of the Great Revel, that said, if you would like to keep all three Duress over three copies of Abrupt Decay - that's okay too.

Empty the Warrens is fine against all three of these decks if it comes down on turn one for over ten Goblins. This means that you will avoid both Eidolon of the Great Revel and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, but also, these decks won't likely kill you until turn four.

Grapeshot is kept in the sideboard as a Burning Wish target to remove Eidolon of the Great Revel but likely won't be needed, against the other two decks, they typically have a Plains for Massacre.

Sideboarding

Resource Links

07-07-2013 Bryant Cook vs. Jon Ashworth with Goblins at StarCityGames: Worcester, MA

03-03-2012 Bryant Cook vs. Nick Patnode with Goblins at Jupiter Games in Binghamton, NY

03-30-2011 Liam Kane vs. Patrick Sullivan with Burn at StarCityGames: Los Angeles, CA

Thalia Guardian Of Thraben
Gaddock Teeg
Ethersworn Canonist

 

Midrange creature decks try to combat us using permanent based disruption (aside from Jund), these cards are typically Chalice of the Void, Gaddock Teeg and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben.

Our goal in game one is to combo off as quickly as possible, this often means Empty the Warrens. This is because going for Goblin tokens is the deck's cheapest and most efficient way to combo out, only needing four mana post-tutor effect is very crucial in these sorts of matches. But be cautious of Stoneforge Mystic into Batterskull, it can often stablize them at a very low life total. It's important to remember the synergy between Cabal Therapy and Empty the Warrens here, sacrificing a Goblin token to discard Batterskull is well worth it.

For more information on how many Goblins you need to defeat Stoneforge Mystic into Batterskull, click here.

Against the Thalia, Guardian of Thraben decks you want to sideboard based on if you're on the play or on the draw. Ponder is terrific on the play as it helps with consistency and setting up for a second turn kill. While on the draw, since it doesn't interact with the opponent puts storm in a tough spot. If you're not killing them or forcing the opponent to discard a hate creature, you're facing a dangerous threat on turn two. These threats are often: Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Gaddock Teeg, Ethersworn Canonist, Phyrexian Revoker and even Sanctum Prelate. Because of this Ponder is one of the first cards to be sided out on the draw.

The EPIC Storm brings in a variety of permanent based hate to get you out of sticky situations – Abrupt Decay, Chain of Vapor and even Grapeshot are there to bail you out. There's even Burning Wish for Massacre if you're overwhelmed or there's a Mother of Runes protecting their creatures.

For more information on how to beat Death & Taxes, please read Alex Poling's TES Matchup Battles article linked below.

For the Chalice of the Void matchups, I don't recommend doing the play and/or draw tactic. Just bring in the Abrupt Decay and hope you have it in hand when they play the artifact.

The other way to sideboard is more for the Jund, you should sideboard out Empty the Warrens, these decks tend to pack Maelstrom Pulse, Toxic Deluge and Golgari Charm. If you do bring in Tendrils of Agony.

Sideboarding

Death & Taxes:

On the Play:
-3 Duress
-1 Past in Flames
+2 Chain of Vapor
+1 Grapeshot
+1 Bayou
On the Draw:
-4 Ponder
-3 Duress
-1 Past in Flames
+4 Abrupt Decay
+2 Chain of Vapor
+1 Grapeshot
+1 Bayou

Maverick:

On the Play:
-3 Duress
-1 Past in Flames
+2 Chain of Vapor
+1 Grapeshot
+1 Bayou
On the Draw:
-4 Ponder
-3 Duress
-1 Past in Flames
+4 Abrupt Decay
+2 Chain of Vapor
+1 Grapeshot
+1 Bayou

Abzan/Junk:

On the Play:
-3 Duress
-1 Past in Flames
+2 Chain of Vapor
+1 Grapeshot
+1 Bayou
On the Draw:
-4 Ponder
-3 Duress
-1 Past in Flames
+4 Abrupt Decay
+2 Chain of Vapor
+1 Grapeshot
+1 Bayou

Resource Links

12-19-2016 TES Matchup Battles: Death & Taxes by Alex Poling on theepicstorm.com

08-29-2016 TES vs. Sanctum Prelate by Bryant Cook on theepicstorm.com

05-25-2016 The Current State: Massacre by Bryant Cook on theepicstorm.com

05-22-2016 Jesse Onland vs. Steven Liao with 4c Loam at Face to Face Games in Toronto, CA

04-30-2016 Jordon Robbins vs. Dane Davidson with Maverick at Ready to Play Trading Cards in Columbia, SC

04-22-2016 Steven Fierro vs. Cory Haukka with Death & Taxes at Fire & Dice in Woodland Hills, CA

01-08-2016 The Current State: Chain of Vapor by Bryant Cook on theepicstorm.com

09-22-2014 Spencer Miller vs. Greg Pino with Bant Maverick at WUBRG.xyz

12-15-2012 Bryant Cook vs. Eli Kassis with Junk at Jupiter Games in Binghamton, NY

06-17-2012 Ari Lax vs. Devin Badaczeski with Death & Taxes at StarCityGames: Detroit, MI

06-30-2011 AJ Kerrigan vs. James Rynkiewicz with NO-Bant at StarCityGames: Edison, NJ

Ruric Thar The Unbowed
Thorn Of Amethyst
Painters Servant

 

Unlike any of the arch-types listed prior to this one, this category is very unique and doesn’t really follow any rules.

Against Elves, it's easy to understand why Empty the Warrens isn't very good (and it has nothing to do with lore). They can create a bunch of blockers while being able to kill as quickly as the second turn, more likely on turn three. Due to sideboarding out Empty the Warrens, it's a good idea to sideboard in Grapeshot - the reason is two fold. It acts as a win condition in case Burning Wish is hit by Surgical Extraction, but it's also a Pyroclasm in this matchup (if you naturally draw it)!

Chain of Vapor is good against Elves, because they have cards like Green Sun's Zenith, Natural Order and Null Rod. The first two are deceiving, because they often search up Gaddock Teeg or Ruric Thar, The Unbowed. If you're worried about this, you can keep in the sided out discard spells and instead take Cabal Ritual and Past in Flames out of the main deck. (There's also the added bonus of zero cards in the deck at this point with a mana cost of four.)

For Painter’s Servant combo I recommend one of two options, the first is to not sideboard. Use Duress and Cabal Therapy to slow down their combo while stopping them from playing their hate spells in Trinisphere and Blood Moon. The other option would be to side in Abrupt Decay and Chain of Vapor over Ponder. Either option is fine, it really depends on the individual deck list. Empty the Warrens is really risky in this match-up because they can win right after you cast it if you don’t have a Cabal Therapy, but its also super important to attempt to win before Trinisphere or Blood Moon hit the table. Blue cards are often a liability due to the high amount of Pyroblast effects.

Lastly, I would treat Infect as a traditional combo deck. Bring in Bayou over Empty the Warrens, as it's a liability. Infect can kill you through a Goblin blocker due to either Flying or Trample, I recommend against Goblin tokens in this matchup.

Sideboarding

Resource Links

11-28-2015 AJ Kerrigan vs. Tom Ross with Infect at StarCityGames: Somerset, NJ

10-13-2015 Jordon Robbins vs. George Boone with Infect at Ready to Play Trading Cards in Columbia, SC

08-09-2015 Bryant Cook vs. Zach Koch with Infect at StarCityGames: Washington, DC

01-10-2015 Bryant Cook vs. Rich Meyst with Elves at StarCityGames: Philadelphia, PA

10-02-2011 Jason Golembiewski vs. Chris Anderson with Elves at StarCityGames: Indianapolis, IN

07-24-2011 Liam Kane vs. Joe Lossett with Elves at StarCityGames: Seattle, WA

Griselbrand
Show And Tell
Leyline Of Sanctity

 

To storm decks, the four of these decks are really two. Reanimate decks and Show and Tell decks, that said, the way we approach the matches are very similar. In game one, we just want to kill them as quickly as possible while not running into a Force of Will. I advise keeping hands with discard spells and using them before your cantrips. These are not decks I would create Goblins against, they can put Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite into play or even just kill you instead of answering them.

In post-board games against the Reanimator decks we use Surgical Extraction primarily to remove big creatures from the game in response to a "Reanimate effect". This will likely set them back a few turns. The other way to use Surgical Extraction is to see if the coast is clear against the decks playing blue, target a card in their graveyard and then combo-off. A way to make Griselbrand less effective against you is to exile all copies of Force of Will from the game, they'll still have access to Flusterstorm and discard spells – but at the cost of mana.

Against BR Reanimator, I like to bring in the pair of Chain of Vapor as you can cast in on their second main phase to return Sire of Insanity to it's owner's hand or even stop Iona, Shield of Emeria from locking down the game.

The weakness of these types of decks is their hands often are clunky with uncastable combo pieces, it's best to expose that by taking away their relevant spells with discard spells or Surgical Extraction.

The Show and Tell decks will sometimes sideboard into Leyline of Sanctity, this affects our game plan in one of two ways. We either have to Empty the Warrens (through Burning Wish) or sideboard in copies of Chain of Vapor.

Sideboarding

Resource Links

06-26-2015 Nicklas Lallo vs. Mikael Johansson with Omnitell at Scandinavian Open #5

05-23-2015 Bryant Cook vs. Max Brown with Omnitell at StarCityGames: Worcester, MA

07-20-2014 Bryant Cook vs. Todd Anderson with Sneak & Show at StarCityGames: Baltimore, MD

11-13-2013 Ari Lax vs. Allen Pennington with Tin-Fins at Grand Prix: Washington, DC

02-10-2013 Si Ning Li vs. Joshua Ravitz with Sneak & Show at StarCityGames: Edison, NJ

12-09-2012 Jacob Kory vs. Richard Centanni with Sneak & Show at StarCityGames: Las Vegas, NV

05-12-2012 Bryant Cook vs. Eli Kassis with Sneak & Show at Jupiter Games in Binghamton, NY

Cabal Therapy
Surgical Extraction
Flusterstorm

 

Game ones for all of these matches is to kill as quickly as you can, I don't recommend trying to use Empty the Warrens when your opponents are trying to kill as fast as possible as well.

Sideboarding for these match-ups is pretty easy, Empty the Warrens is taken out in favor of Surgical Extraction. That said, in the Storm mirror, Surgical Extraction is very popular - without a main deck win condition, if your Burning Wish gets extracted you will lose the game. Because of this, we also bring in Tendrils of Agony along with our own copies of Surgical Extraction. If your opponent is on Ad Nauseam Tendrils, be on the lookout for Flusterstorm in post-board games. Not all lists play it, but a majority of the European lists do.

The way the Storm mirrors play out is that one person either kills very quickly or the games become a slug fest, either way, they're a lot of fun. I advise playing out all of your artifact mana early so that it cannot be hit by discard spells. In games where there's been a lot of discard played, Past in Flames becomes the main objective. It's very easy to win in these situations and The EPIC Storm has access to two copies (Main deck and Burning Wish). With this being the goal, you can easily understand why Surgical Extraction is desired in this matchup. Other ways of using it are to remove all copies of Infernal Tutor from the game, making it quite difficult for the opponent to find Tendrils of Agony or Past in Flames. A more high risk/high reward play if you can pull it off, is against Ad Nauseam Tendrils is to remove their Tendrils of Agony from the game. This will lead to them conceding the game in most instances, the alternative is that they have Empty the Warrens as an option to kill you (which is more difficult to pull off).

Surgical Extraction against Dredge is to hit anything you can to slow them down, sometimes it's the initial Dredge creature (be wary of Street Wraith) or Narcomoeba and sometimes it's just to make sure they can't disrupt you with Cabal Therapy. Some players like to go after Dread Return, I feel like this is risky because of Prized Amalgam, Ichorid and hand-disruption with Cabal Therapy.

Against High Tide decks, Surgical Extraction has less value, but can act as an additional Discard spell in many ways. You can use it on a card in their graveyard to see if the coast is clear to combo, or you can try to remove High Tide from the game to really cripple them. (Note: Some lists with Cunning Wish may play a High Tide in the sideboard.)

Sideboarding

Resource Links

10-16-2013 Jeremy Stowe vs. Andrew Dziedz with Dredge at StarCityGames: Milwaukee, MN

07-07-2013 Bryant Cook vs. Royce Walter with TES at StarCityGames: Worcester, MA

11-05-2011 Liam Kane vs. Caleb Neufeld with Dredge at StarCityGames: Las Vegas, NV

Wasteland
ChaliceoftheVoid
Trinisphere

 

Sideboarding for the Chalice of the Void matchups isn't easy. We want to take out all copies of Ponder – I know this sounds ridiculous. Ponder is a "set up" card in a match where we need to be fast as possible. In these types of matchups, I would rather be threat dense and mulligan slightly more often than spend time looking for specific cards. Ponder also has the issue of being one mana. Chalice of the Void is typically set at one against us. Take these out for Abrupt Decay and Chain of Vapor.

The reason we don’t sideboard out Empty the Warrens is that we need to be able to combo out as quickly as possible. We can become locked out of the game before we know it, dropping Goblins on the table is the cheapest way we can combo out. There’s also the fact that these Trinisphere decks don’t have answers to Empty the Warrens.

Keep in mind that Chain of Vapor is important since it can hit Lodestone Golem where Abrupt Decay does not.

For the decks with The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, sideboard out Empty the Warrens. It's too risky of a plan to actually pull off without them finding an answer. Similarly, Lands decks often play a main deck Bojuka Bog that can be tutored for with Crop Rotation. This makes Past in Flames a huge liability, by siding out both four casting cost cards your Ad Nauseam is going to be incredible.

Ponder is a fine card against Lands since they're slower than the other decks of these styles, providing time to look for Abrupt Decay and/or Chain of Vapor or even set up a turn two kill. Because of this, it's easier to stay consistent and look for our permanent hate answers than trying to discard Chalice of the Void or Sphere of Resistance.

Sideboarding

Resource Links

04-30-2016 Jordon Robbins vs. Eric Yu with Lands at Ready to Play Trading Cards in Columbia, SC

03-07-2016 Storming Through the Rise of the Eldrazi by AJ Kerrigan on theepicstorm.com

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