Despite the recent appearance of Gruul Storm in Modern, it has been a couple years since Izzet [[Gifts Ungiven]]-based Storm has had much in the way of results. One part of this is the lack of new cards from the past few years of sets. For instance, the most significant new addition to the deck has been the printing of [[Consider]] which just upgraded our copies of [[Opt]] or [[Wish]] that gives us a bit more versatility. Neither of these gave any new significant ways to play or more power to the deck.
Another problem has been the speed of the deck which in the past was plenty fast compared to the rest of the decks in the format, but is currently a bit slow for a combo deck. While we can still win a lot with a cost reducer in [[Baral, Chief of Compliance]] or [[Goblin Electromancer]] in play on turn three, this is not something we can hope for reliably. In the past, due to many new one mana and even free creature removal spells printed in the past few years, so we are now a bit slower of a deck than even before.
The last main reason is the poor alignment of our interaction to buy time in relation to the format. Unfortunately, the best counterspell for us to run, [[Remand]], no longer works against much of the format favorably. It forces us to hold up the mana to cast it awkwardly as is the case against the Cascade decks, or just unfavorably interacts against [[Murktide Regent]] decks or [[Colossus Hammer]] decks.
Luckily, there are some printings from Modern Horizons 2 that give a bit of new life to the deck in [[Fire // Ice]] and [[Strike It Rich]] to somewhat help address the deck’s problems. I will cover both below, but first, here is my current decklist.
- 4 [[Baral, Chief of Compliance]]
- 2 [[Goblin Electromancer]]
- 4 [[Serum Visions]]
- 4 [[Consider]]
- 4 [[Fire // Ice]]
- 2 [[Remand]]
- 2 [[Grapeshot]]
- 4 [[Desperate Ritual]]
- 4 [[Pyretic Ritual]]
- 4 [[Manamorphose]]
- 2 [[Strike It Rich]]
- 4 [[Gifts Ungiven]]
- 2 [[Past in Flames]]
- 3 [[Misty Rainforest]]
- 4 [[Scalding Tarn]]
- 4 [[Spirebluff Canal]]
- 4 [[Steam Vents]]
- 2 [[Island]]
- 1 [[Mountain]]
- 3 [[Pieces of the Puzzle]]
- 3 [[Flusterstorm]]
- 2 [[Lightning Bolt]]
- 3 [[Empty the Warrens]]
- 1 [[Abrade]]
- 1 [[Echoing Truth]]
- 1 [[Shattering Spree]]
- 1 [[Jegantha, the Wellspring]]
The main combo core of the deck is still the same as it has been for years with [[Desperate Ritual]], [[Pyretic Ritual]] and [[Manamorphose]]. Additionally, the current set of creatures is the same as it has been in [[Baral, Chief of Compliance]] and [[Goblin Electromancer]]. I am only running six of these due to the amount of efficient removal in the format. By not having these extra copies in the deck, I have space for the two copies of [[Strike It Rich]]. While there are many three mana options for reducers that have been printed, I still only want to run the two mana options as the format is just too fast, and all of these options are still vulnerable to the same removal
While not game breaking, [[Strike It Rich]] does do a lot of work speeding up our deck and reducing our reliance on needing our creatures to survive. In matchups where we still want to play an early creature to combo as fast as possible, such as against [[Colossus Hammer]] decks, [[Strike It Rich]] helps enable turn-two wins by giving us three mana that turn. When we can not rely on a creature, it functions as a great way to get ahead on mana in play or enable a classic turn-three play of [[Gifts Ungiven]]. Another big boost is its flashback as well which lets us get even further ahead when not under pressure. One last thing to remember when comboing off, they are are great filters of mana since in many non deterministic scenarios blue mana availability is usually a choke point.
[[Serum Visions]] is still the best one mana card draw for the deck as it digs the deepest. [[Consider]] is a somewhat new addition, replacing [[Opt]], as it has more graveyard synergy with surveil. Other than that, it functions just the same.
I just have the traditional standard package of a full playset of [[Gifts Ungiven]] and two [[Past in Flames]]. I do not currently play any copies of [[Wish]]. While it does give some flexibility and freedom from the graveyard, it unfortunately does not free us well from needing our creatures which are already a big weak point for us. I also currently do not run any main deck copies of [[Empty the Warrens]] either as many decks currently have good maindeck tools to fight it in [[Fury]] or being too fast.
While not the best in the format anymore, I am still running two [[Remand]] as we want to have a counterspell for many matchups. Additionally, casting it on our own [[Grapeshot]] to win comes up frequently. There are also, two copies of [[Grapeshot]] since we can easily use a drawn copy to clean up a board or as pointed removal. The biggest update to the deck though is the addition of [[Fire // Ice]]. It is so effective, I am currently playing a full playset. It shores up a lot of areas where [[Remand]] has left holes in our strategy.
First off, it acts well as a [[Time Walk]] like effect against many decks, especially Cascade decks, by tapping them out of a critical mana on their upkeep to stop an important spell they may have been setting up for that turn. With the continued rise of [[Spell Pierce]], [[Fire // Ice]] has the ability to tap mana when our opponent leaves one land untapped.
Next, being able to remove creatures early is huge for us. We have traditionally been very weak to early aggression which has led us to struggle against things like [[Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer]] and [[Colossus Hammer]]-based decks. It even helps against the small creature enabled combo decks like [[Indomitable Creativity]] as well in this way by keeping their creature tokens off the battlefield. Also, another thing that comes up a lot with [[Fire // Ice]] is the ability to help pick off planeswalkers such as a [[Teferi, Time Raveler]] to help keep our ability to cast [[Gifts Ungiven]] or interaction on their turn which is quite important in those matchups. Finally, the last great part of [[Fire // Ice]] is it’s completely dead with our combo when going off as we can always cast it to draw a card or help out our Storm count.
These reasons show just how versatile both sides of [[Fire // Ice]] is in our deck is why I am firmly on a full playset of them. It fits a lot of the roles of [[Remand]] when we need to buy time as well as [[Lightning Bolt]] when needing removal which makes it somewhat universally great in matchups we need interaction..
First of all, while [[Jegantha, the Wellspring]] does not really synergize much with our deck, a free companion is too good to pass up running in the format.
The current chosen transitional plan is [[Pieces of the Puzzle]] as currently there is still a fair amount of graveyard hate in the format, especially after sideboarding. The biggest problem on this front for us is [[Endurance]] as we do not have any good interaction to easily stop it and being able to come down an earlier turn than when we are going off. [[Pieces of the Puzzle]] addresses these pretty well by letting us sidestep the graveyard a bit more when we can, but still being able to fill it up on a moment’s notice. Another thing is the current rise in [[Veil of Summer]] which is another thing [[Pieces of the Puzzle]] dodges nicely as well.
Next, I have three copies of [[Empty the Warrens]]. This is our best alternative win condition post board, but it is not nearly as widely applicable as it has been in the past mainly due to [[Fury]]. They are mainly here against the [[Murktide Regent]] and [[Grief]] based deck matchups. Even when not at its best, [[Empty the Warrens]] still synergizes well with the [[Pieces of the Puzzle]] grind plan as well as with [[Fire // Ice]].
The stack-based interaction here is just [[Flusterstorm]]. While there has been a big rise in the presence of permission in the format as well as [[Teferi, Time Raveler]] seeing a fair amount of play, being good defensively is still something we need in many of the current big decks such as Cascade and [[Indomitable Creativity]] decks. Another option that [[Flusterstorm]] has been chosen over is [[Silence]]. While it requires a bit more to set up, [[Silence]] does do a decent job of of both offense and defense in many of the same matchups as [[Flusterstorm]], but the requirement to add another color is a bit higher of a price to pay than just taking the slightly lower power level, on-color option. Even though we have more ways now to splash another color with [[Strike It Rich]], we are commonly needing more red sources a bit more often so getting a non-red land with either [[Misty Rainforest]] or [[Scalding Tarn]] can be a real cost. Finally ,a big thing about [[Flusterstorm]] to never forget is that we can make use of it when comboing off with a [[Baral, Chief of Compliance]] in play by targeting our copies at each other to trigger his loot ability many times.
Lastly, we have the removal suite of the sideboard. This is pretty standard in that we first have a couple copies of [[Lightning Bolt]]. I’ve trimmed down a copy due to already having six interacton spells to deal with onboard creatures in the maindeck in [[Fire // Ice]] and [[Grapeshot]]. We still have the ability to board up to 10 of these interactive spells which has been a good amount for most plans in these matchups. The last three singletons are there to give us a compact package to interact with problem artifacts that may pop up, and still can work well with making [[Gifts Ungiven]] piles.
One final note to leave with is when sideboarding, the number of cards that fill a certain role should be about the same number or a couple more than as beforehand. An example would be taking out some [[Gifts Ungiven]] and [[Past in Flames]] when bringing in [[Pieces of the Puzzle]] or taking out our copies of [[Remand]] to bring in [[Lightning Bolt]]. This is extra important for us as we are an engine combo deck, so still being a well-oiled machine to churn through itself is important.