Are the Warrens Empty?

[[Empty the Warrens]] has been a defining card of The EPIC Storm for most of it’s existence. There were points in time where there were up to four copies in the 75. More recently, there is only one copy of [[Empty the Warrens]] in TES and it is used only about five percent of the time as the kill condition.

Changes to Legacy

[[Gitaxian Probe|]]
[[Dreadhorde Arcanist|]]
[[Oko, Thief of Crowns|]]

Over the years, [[Empty the Warrens]] had a primary use in beating non blue decks and [[Delver of Secrets]] decks. Due to the quick speed at which [[Empty the Warrens]] could be deployed for relatively lethal numbers, it could be cast before a [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]] or a [[Chalice of the Void]] could come down. While [[Chalice of the Void]] is still a premier threat in Legacy, Death & Taxes has fallen out of favor as the [[AEther Vial]] deck of choice and [[Deafening Silence]] can make a hand that just casts [[Empty the Warrens]] look embarrassing. With recent printings in Core 2021, Goblins has returned to the forefront of Legacy. With some draws, they can make more goblins than [[Empty the Warrens]] can.

[[Empty the Warrens]] used to be particularly effective against [[Delver of Secrets]] strategies due to it being able to sneak through all of their counter magic. The opponent would often not be able to create enough blockers outside of an unlikely [[Young Pyromancer]]. More recently, [[Dreadhorde Arcanist]] gives Delver players many more cantrips to find their sweeper or it becomes an effective blocker. Combining [[Dreadhorde Arcanist]] and [[Young Pyromancer]] can also race a small to medium-sized [[Empty the Warrens]].

Cards like [[Oko, Thief of Crowns]] and [[Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath]] are life gain effects that often let opponents gain an extra turn or two when facing an [[Empty the Warrens]]. In that turn, opponents get the ability to cantrip towards their sweeper or just get to produce more blockers and gain more life.

Ultimately, in the context of Legacy, the number of matchups where [[Empty the Warrens]] is a prime strategy to be planning for has largely dropped off to none. This has made [[Empty the Warrens]] a much more situational card than it has been.

Changes to the EPIC Storm

[[Cabal Therapy|]]
[[Wishclaw Talisman|]]
[[Veil of Summer|]]

Several years ago, one of the most powerful synergies in Legacy was that of [[Gitaxian Probe]] and [[Cabal Therapy]]. This synergy was adopted by TES and then pushed forward by [[Empty the Warrens]]’ synergy with [[Cabal Therapy]]: ripping opponents’ hands to shreds after resolving [[Empty the Warrens]]. This synergy had the added benefit of being able to remove a sweeper from an opponent’s hand or their ability to find one, thus making the [[Empty the Warrens]] more deterministic.

The shift from [[Infernal Tutor]] to [[Wishclaw Talisman]] is the contributing factor for [[Empty the Warrens]] being cut from the main deck. Giving an opponent easy access to their board wipe is not a winning line when searching for [[Empty the Warrens]] with [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. This relegated [[Empty the Warrens]] to being a strictly sideboard target for [[Burning Wish]]. This means that the odds of being able to think about attempting an [[Empty the Warrens]] are cut in half because half of the tutors in the deck no longer are able to reasonable find the card. In early versions of [[Wishclaw Talisman]] TES, there were up to four copies in the sideboard because it was believed that [[Empty the Warrens]] was still an effective sideboard strategy against Delver decks. As it turns out, cards like [[Carpet of Flowers]] that generate insane amounts of mana are better at beating all of the soft permission. With the addition of [[Tendrils of Agony]] to the main deck, playing out a [[Wishclaw Talisman]] can simply sit as a threat on the table to find a storm spell to win the game.

With the addition of [[Wishclaw Talisman]], along came [[Veil of Summer]] and the removal of the bulk of the discard spells in the deck. Though some number of them have returned to recent deck lists, the dual benefit of removing counter magic and sweepers has been something that many lists have been lacking. This increases the risk of casting [[Empty the Warrens]], and may give it similar odds to casting something like an [[Echo of Eons]] with a mana or two floating. The main difference with [[Echo of Eons]] is it’s possible to win the game on the same turn as you cast it. Even if it misses, it does not mean that the game is instantly over.


While [[Empty the Warrens]] will likely remain a solid sideboard slot for The EPIC Storm for a while, it is important to reevaluate cards that seems like staples in every archetype. The opportunity cost of having a card that only wins five percent of games seems relatively high and is something I plan on tracking further. For this reason, I do not suggest actively cutting the card, but just thinking about what could replace it and if that card could be more useful than [[Empty the Warrens]].