A card-for-card breakdown, organized into categories based on roles, and an explanation why each card belongs in The EPIC Storm and alternative viable options as well.
A card-for-card breakdown, organized into categories based on roles, and an explanation why each card belongs in The EPIC Storm and alternative viable options as well.
[[Burning Wish]] — One of the defining features of The EPIC Storm (TES). An incredibly powerful and resourceful element that is quite diverse in what it can do. Burning Wish allows TES to not play answers for problematic cards by either providing a solution or an alternative route to victory. One of the greatest things Burning Wish does for this deck is it allows us to not have to play Tendrils of Agony in our main deck as it tends to be a dead card in most games. This can be said for a couple of the cards in our sideboard, that’s the true beauty of Burning Wish — its whatever we need it to be. Our “wish board” is comprised of Storm engines, win conditions, protection, and a few solution-based cards. We try not to play an entire sideboard full of Burning Wish targets as it doesn’t create the greatest value out of our available slots. Generally, I try to have no more than 6-7 Burning Wish targets. Lastly, having included Burning Wish into our deck, our threat density is very high in comparison to other Storm decks meaning that we spend less time finding our threats with cantrips which leads to a faster kill.
[[Wishclaw Talisman]] — A recent addition to The EPIC Storm over Infernal Tutor. This change was one of the bigger innovations to the deck in the last few years, primarily because it raised the artifact count high enough to finally support Mox Opal! A common play pattern with this list is to actually cast Wishclaw Talisman on turn one using Mox Opal or Chrome Mox, this allows a six mana line on the second turn instead of needing seven mana into your copy of Ad Nauseam. Unlike Infernal Tutor, the search on Wishclaw Talisman isn’t tied to a stipulation. This means you’re able to search for anything, such as a sided in copy of Chain of Vapor. Because of this, you’re incentivized to run powerful singleton copies of cards to search for like Abrupt Decay to answer a Counterbalance for example.
[[Brainstorm]] — An incredibly tough-to-play spell that can make or break a game all on its own. Brainstorm can often fix hands needing two specific types of cards and finding them both at once or simply putting a few situational cards back. An important feature of this card is that in matchups with discard, it is very relevant to preserve these and use them to protect the best cards in your hand. When playing TES, sequencing your cantrips is extremely important, but there are also games where you’re one card off from winning on turn one. I’m all about the first turn of the game casting Brainstorm in the main phase. I’ve received scoffs from some players, but it’s perfectly acceptable in my eyes. The situation needs to call for it, however. I wouldn’t just snap off a Brainstorm for the sake of it. I tend to Ponder before I Brainstorm a majority of the time. Collaborating with a shuffle effect is generally the way to go with Brainstorm so that you’re not drawing dead spells or lands. There are times when sitting on Brainstorm for multiple turns while you continue to draw spells just to put back worse ones is the correct thing to do.
[[Ponder]] — Our cantrip with the best odds of finding the card(s) we’re looking for! Ponder digs the deepest out of the cards we opt to play, unlike Brainstorm or Preordain – Ponder can see up to four unique cards. Because of this, in hands where we have both Brainstorm, Ponder, and Preordain — it’s usually best to cast Ponder first. Like Brainstorm, the best utilization of Ponder is often with a Polluted Delta or another fetchland. Ponder, like a fetchland, can be used as a shuffle effect for Brainstorm as well, it’s just not as ideal. I’d like to note that I’m very aggressive with my shuffling off of Ponder. Players often think that I must’ve been looking at bad cards often because my decision doesn’t take too long. But if those cards aren’t what the hand needs, why contemplate?
[[Veil of Summer]] — Veil of Summer’s inclusion into The EPIC Storm is for many reasons. The first is its ability to act as a pseudo Silence effect against blue decks, unlike Silence, it’s very effective against targeted discard which was always a weakness of the white instant. In a pinch, Veil of Summer can usually cycle to draw a card against most decks in the Legacy Format. On top of what I’ve already mentioned, it can protect your copies of Hope of Ghirapur or Wishclaw Talisman against Abrupt Decay or even Oko, Theif of Crowns. Veil of Summer can even be a complete blow-out against certain match-ups such as Ad Nauseam Tendrils since they will be forced to pass the turn since Tendrils of Agony is unable to target us. As for synergies within The EPIC Storm, Veil of Summer’s most desirable trait is how it interacts with Echo of Eons. Thoughtseize has the issue of not protecting you from countermagic drawn after Echo of Eons resolves, which means we could be giving our opponents new countermagic to stop us. Not with Veil of Summer, we’re able to ignore countermagic for an entire turn. I would like to mention, Veil of Summer says, “Spells you control can’t be countered this turn.” This means Counterbalance, Chalice of the Void, Chancellor of the Annex, and other effects. This clause is not relegated to colors blue or black.
[[Defense Grid]] — A protection spell that has recently replaced Thoughtseize with the added benefit of supporting Mox Opal. Like Veil of Summer, Defense Grid does not care about opposing copies of Veil of Summer which is a huge reason to choose to play the two mana artifact in the current metagame. Defense Grid’s primary function is to prohibit opponents from casting multiple cards in the same turn such as Stifle, Flusterstorm, Force of Will, and Force of Negation. Keep in mind, our opponents can still cast spells with a Defense Grid in play, but it typically taxes our opponents enough where we can plow through the first counterspell and eventually kill the opponent. One of my personal favorite things about the card is its ability to shut off the symmetry of Echo of Eons against blue decks when Echo of Eons is refilling the opponent’s hand.
[[Chain of Vapor]] — One of the best bounce spells ever printed, efficiently answering cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Gaddock Teeg, Sphere of Resistance and Leyline of Sanctity. The only downside of this card is that Chalice of the Void on one is very popular, causing this otherwise perfect bounce spell to be not great at times. A “cool trick” you can do with Chain of Vapor is to use it to generate mana and storm — a pseudo “storm engine” so to speak. When you have a bunch of artifact mana (Chrome Mox, Lotus Petal, and Lion’s Eye Diamond), you can target your own artifact, sacrifice a land, and then copy it. When you have enough lands and artifacts, it can be the cause of your opponent’s demise. I find myself doing this post-Ad Nauseam in scenarios where I’m low on resources. Maybe you needed to cast a few cantrips or protection spells, after that, you can bounce all of your copies of Chrome Mox and replay them and imprint with the extra cards from Ad Nauseam — you’ve created mana with a bounce spell! The reason we’ve included a copy of Chain of Vapor to the main deck is that we can search for it with Wishclaw Talisman, which makes it more reliable than in the past. The built-in “Storm engine” aspect doesn’t hurt either.
[[Ad Nauseam]] — The EPIC Storm is the best Ad Nauseam deck in Legacy. Between Chrome Mox to act as additional copies of Lotus Petal as well as a lower average converted mana cost, Ad Nauseam has an increased power level here. Our primary Storm engine and game plan, we’ve catered our deck to maximize its potential. Something to keep in mind that Ad Nauseam is an instant, you can cast the spell in response to a Brainstorm or on an end step. There’s also the “Chrome Mox trick” – which is to cast Chrome Mox, in response cast Ad Nauseam, and in response to Ad Nauseam activate Lion’s Eye Diamond! You do this in order to be able to imprint after Ad Nauseam has resolved and is only viable if you didn’t have a card you could imprint prior to casting Ad Nauseam.
[[Echo of Eons]] — Previously Echo of Eons was only a Burning Wish target. That changed when The EPIC Storm added Wishclaw Talisman to the deck, there’s more reason than ever to play two copies in your seventy-five. The difference-maker was Wishclaw Talisman’s ability to consistently find Lion’s Eye Diamond to pair with the copy of Echo of Eons (either naturally drawn or retrieved by Burning Wish). Echo of Eons works very well with Lion’s Eye Diamond, which is why Wishclaw Talisman’s ability to find it is so important. First you play Burning Wish to retrieve Echo of Eons, then play your Lion’s Eye Diamond (this plays around artifact disruption), discard your hand and add three blue to flashback your pseudo Timetwister. Another way of getting Echo of Eons into your graveyard is to Thoughtseize yourself, while not ideal, it is a “build your own Diminishing Returns!” Something to keep in mind is that Echo of Eons is symmetrical, which means your opponent will also draw a fresh seven-card hand off of Echo of Eons. This is an issue against blue decks. To offset this, cards such as Veil of Summer, Defense Grid, and even sideboard options such as Hope of Ghirapur or Xantid Swarm I would recommend over discard spells opening up another engine versus counterspell archetypes. One of my favorite things about it is that it’s the first three mana storm engine that’s been legal in Legacy that’s playable, this helps quite a bit against Prison strategies or decks trying to lock you out of the game like Maverick or Death & Taxes.
[[Rite of Flame]] — A defining characteristic of The EPIC Storm, this card is one of the reasons this deck is blazing fast. The fact that it costs one mana is important for two reasons – the first being that it’s easier to cast in comparison to other “Ritual” effects available that cost two and the second reason would be its converted mana cost’s impact on Ad Nauseam. Something that is often overlooked when viewing Rite of Flame and is the ability to make two red mana which is important because it generates just enough to meet the red mana requirement for both Burning Wish and Empty the Warrens in a single turn. Two Rite of Flame is also the perfect amount of mana to cast Empty the Warrens! Things become a little more interesting when you have more than two Rite of Flames (see below).
Mana Generated by Rite of Flame
Cast off a single red mana source, in one turn.
[[Dark Ritual]] — One of the most powerful cards in this deck and Legacy as a whole. If I have multiple “Ritual” effects in my hand, including a Rite of Flame, I will cast Dark Ritual second as it is an instant. This is incredibly helpful when it comes to playing around Daze, Spell Pierce and sometimes Flusterstorm.
Mana Generated by Dark Ritual
Cast off a single black mana source, in one turn.
[[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] — The card is responsible for most turn one wins and is a total game changer. When using Lion’s Eye Diamond it’s crucial to know that you must maintain priority and activate it in response to your other spell before passing priority/checking to see if there are any responses. When using Lion’s Eye Diamond paired with Infernal Tutor, it’s important to note that you can cast Infernal Tutor with card in hand and then use Lion’s Eye Diamond to become hellbent by activating the artifact.
Try to cast Lion’s Eye Diamond at opportune times, I play this card very differently depending on the matchup. Sometimes I let it sit on the table and threaten the opponent while in other situations I hide it in my hand or on top of my deck. I typically play it right before my Infernal Tutor or Burning Wish, to maintain priority, this way it cannot be destroyed by effects like Abrupt Decay or Kolaghan’s Command.
[[Lotus Petal]] — Initial mana sources with no drawback that are almost always a pleasure to see — especially off of Ad Nauseam. They, like Chrome Mox, enable speedy early turn combos and generate storm for free. Something to keep in mind that Lotus Petal can also fix our mana, especially in more recent lists playing four colors for Veil of Summer and Abrupt Decay!
[[Chrome Mox]] — A card that divides TES from ANT. Chrome Mox provides additional early mana to allow for Ad Nauseam or Empty the Warrens. A huge part of why we have such an incredibly high success rate post-Ad Nauseam is that Chrome Mox acts as an initial mana source to continue “combo-ing” out for the turn. One of the better uses of Chrome Mox in my opinion is to allow a first turn Wishlcaw Talisman meaning that your second turn combo-ing often only needs six mana. There’s also the fact that Chrome Mox helps enable Mox Opal very early. Lists have recently bounced back and forth on the number of Chrome Mox in the main deck. At the moment, I prefer three copies as drawing multiples can often hurt and Mox Opal’s function is very similar while not creating card disadvantage.
[[Mox Opal]] — The EPIC Storm finally has enough artifacts to support Mox Opal! This change happened when we realized we were able to swap Infernal Tutor for Wishclaw Talisman, with this swap it brought our total number of artifacts up to 18-21 artifacts (this number fluctuates on if you’re running main deck Defense Grid). With over a third of The EPIC Storm being artifacts, you’re more likely than ever to have Mox Opal be active on the first turn. This helps significantly when trying to cast a first turn Wishclaw Talisman and then passing the turn. One of my favorite things about Mox Opal is to cast Brainstorm or Ponder AND THEN shuffle your deck with Bloodstained Mire or Polluted Delta on turn one, this allows you to then cast another spell such as an additional cantrip or a business spell. A cool trick you can do with Mox Opal and Chrome Mox is to play Mox Opal first, cast your Chrome Mox, with the imprint ability on the stack cast Brainstorm (or even Ad Nauseam!) and then imprint onto Chrome Mox after gaining new information/cards. While on the topic of Chrome Mox, even playing it for no-imprint cost now adds extra value with Mox Opal, which is something that should be mentioned for newer Storm pilots.
[[Polluted Delta]] — The best “fetchland” in our primarily blue and black Storm deck. The reason it’s the best is that it gets either of our two basic lands which is something the other fetchlands cannot do. Polluted Delta is also the only fetchland in the deck that can get every land. There’s more to Polluted Delta and the other fetchlands as well as they provide shuffle effects for cards like Brainstorm or Ponder which help with the quality of our draws. Fetchlands protect our mana from effects like Wasteland or Rishadan Port, which is key considering TES is a deck with fewer lands than its other storm counterpart.
[[Bloodstained Mire]] — You’ll notice there’s four copies of Bloodstained Mire and zero copies of Scalding Tarn as the deck’s secondary “fetchlands.” This is because the reliance on black mana is more important than blue, but also because when we added Bayou you don’t want a “fetchland” in your deck that doesn’t find two of your lands. While this split may seem strange, other land configurations create tensions with the deck. There’s more to Bloodstained Mire and the other fetchlands as well, they provide shuffle effects for cards like Brainstorm or Ponder which help with the quality of our draws. Fetchlands protect our mana from effects like Wasteland or Rishadan Port, which is key considering TES is a deck with fewer lands than its other Storm counterpart.
[[Underground Sea]] — A searchable land that provides two of the deck’s primary colors without any drawbacks. In these lists, I wouldn’t consider Underground Sea to be my primary fetchland target anymore. Due to the four-color nature of the deck, I’ve found myself more often searching up Volcanic Island more frequently.
[[Volcanic Island]] — A searchable land that provides two of the deck’s primary colors without any drawbacks. Volcanic Island is more desirable now more than ever as it pairs extremely well with Bayou to deliver all four of our colors or even the basic Swamp for additional stability. A trick for playing with your red “dual lands” is to sit back on your “fetchlands” and make sure they don’t get hit by Wasteland if you’re in position where you need to cast Crash or Pulverize.
[[Badlands]] — A searchable land that provides two of the deck’s primary colors without any drawbacks. Originally, Badlands was added to the deck over a second copy of Volcanic Island, and I have to say there’s no looking back. A trick for playing with your red “dual lands” is to sit back on your “fetchlands” and make sure they don’t get hit by Wasteland if you’re in position where you need to cast Crash or Pulverize.
[[Bayou]] — The preferred “dual land” for the green splash for Veil of Summer. This is because it’s the only land that provides green while being searched for by all of our fetchlands, we’ve tried lists with either Taiga (provides a third Mountain for Crash and Pulverize as well) or Tropical Island (additional blue source, pairs well with Underground Sea to cast Abrupt Decay). With the aforementioned “dual lands”, in order to support them you cannot run Bloodstained Mire. Now you’re priced into using Scalding Tarn or Misty Rainforest which don’t search for all of the lands in the deck, including the basic Swamp which creates quite a few questionable situations.
[[Swamp]] — Essentially an indestructible mana source that is searchable in the face of Wasteland. With the rise in Ghost Quarter in the last few years, it’s difficult to justify not having a basic land or two. The real value in basic Swamp is being able to cast Wishclaw Talisman off of a basic Swamp and a Chrome Mox or Mox Opal in the face of Wasteland. There are additional gains to be had in lists playing discard spells such as Thoughtseize or Duress on turn one to be able to once again, ignore Wasteland. For those of you that enjoy Massacre, Swamp guarantees your ability to cast it for free.
[[Island]] — Essentially an indestructible mana source that is searchable in the face of Wasteland. With the rise in Ghost Quarter in the last few years, it’s difficult to justify not having a basic land or two. The real valuable in basic Island is being able to cast one of your cantrips turn one while not having to worry about your land being destroyed. In post-board games the value of basic Island goes way up as it helps you cast Echoing Truth and Chain of Vapor against hate pieces, while these decks often try to mess with your mana.
[[Scalding Tarn]] — Diversity can be a real thing, I’ve had a few occasions where Scalding Tarn not being Polluted Delta or Bloodstained Mire has mattered when it came down to a timely Surgical Extraction or Pithing Needle. That said, it’s main function is to find basic Island, with eight one mana cantrips I felt like the deck needed an extra search effect for the basic. There’s more to Scalding Tarn and the other fetchlands as well, they provide shuffle effects for cards like Brainstorm or Ponder which help with the quality of our draws. Fetchlands protect our mana from effects like Wasteland or Rishadan Port, which is key considering TES is a deck with fewer lands than its other storm counterpart.
[[Misty Rainforest]] — This fetchland just isn’t viable when running a basic Swamp and Badlands. In order to play Misty Rainforest, the deck would need to return to the days when all of the searchable lands were dual lands and Islands.
[[Gemstone Mine]] — Gemstone Mine was formerly crucial in four color builds before we were able to consistently enable Mox Opal. This was because it was more important that it didn’t deal damage in comparison to City of Brass or Mana Confluence. Every point of life matters in a deck that’s primary storm engine is Ad Nauseam.
[[City of Brass]], [[Mana Confluence]] — These cards are typically in older builds with cards such as Silence. Right now, the metagame isn’t full of Stifles or Spell Snares meaning that Silence might be waiting quite a while to be playable again. It’s possible to play these five color lands in the current lists, but I believe that they would be worse than other options like Mox Opal.
[[Cabal Ritual]] — A card from early lists that occasionally its way back in the deck. The reasons being that the additional mana it provides generates enough mana to easily Burning Wish for either Infernal Tor or Dark Petition to search for Ad Nauseam. Players often refer to it as additional copies of Lion’s Eye Diamond as it generates three mana. I try to not look at it that way as it takes careful planning with this deck to reach Threshold. Keep in mind that Lion’s Eye Diamond and Cabal Ritual have great synergy. If you have the mana readily available, cast your Burning Wish or Infernal Tutor, in response cast Cabal Ritual as it too is an instant, and then hold priority and break Lion’s Eye Diamond to generate the Threshold required for Cabal Ritual.
I think my favorite thing about Cabal Ritual is it improves the quality of Past in Flames as a tertiary Storm engine. What you can do is Burning Wish for Past in Flames, and then on the next turn use Infernal Tutor paired with Lion’s Eye Diamond to find the Cabal Ritual. Cast Cabal Ritual and then flashback Past in Flames into an easy win.
[[Rain of Filth]] — A one-time ritual effect that is good anytime after turn one. After the first turn, it’s at worst a Rite of Flame and potentially a fifth Dark Ritual. The downside in Rain of Filth is that we’re not planning for turn three, TES wants to combo off on the second turn. One of the benefits of this deck is its ability to win blazing fast. I don’t want a card that doesn’t help in match-ups where the game is decided on the second turn.
[[Preordain]] — A potential additional cantrip. My issue with running more than 12 cantrips is that you will find yourself continually drawing into more of them. Not to mention that Preordain is worse in comparison to Ponder or Brainstorm at digging for cards that we’re looking for.
[[Duress]] — With Veil of Summer being a major player in the current metagame its very tough to justify discard spells. Especially when our own deck is better without them, by this I mean the anti-synergy with effects like Echo of Eons. Right now its likely better to run longer-lasting effects like Veil of Summer, Hope of Ghirapur, or Defense Grid.
[[Cabal Therapy]] — Without additional free information of the opponent’s hand, the guessing game of, “Which free counterspell does my opponent have?” died with the printing of Force of Negation. It’s simply too difficult to justify playing this card in the modern world.
[[Inquisition of Kozilek]] — An additional option for a discard spell in the main deck, Inquisition of Kozilek has the issue of not being able to discard Force of Will or else it would be playable.
[[Silence]], [[Orim’s Chant]] — Cards that were shelved for their ineffectively at answering problematic cards in the current metagame and not being proactive. Playing cards that don’t interact with the opponent often leads to things like Hymn to Tourach, Show and Tell, Chalice of the Void, or Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. I believe the time for these cards has come and gone. It’s difficult to try to convince yourself that these cards are better than Veil of Summer.
[[Infernal Tutor]] — With the emphasis on Mox Opal, Infernal Tutor has taken a back seat to Wishclaw Talisman. While Infernal Tutor is a terrific card, The EPIC Storm is focusing more on synergies at the moment which outweighs the one mana less for Ad Nauseam in a single turn.
[[Lim-Dul’s Vault]] — This card has several things wrong with it in my eyes. The first being that it doesn’t put any cards to your hand, it uses life as a resource which is a problem with Ad Nauseam being our primary storm engine. The last thing being this card is very mana intensive for a Vampiric Tutor effect.
[[Death Wish]], [[Grim Tutor]] — Both of these cards have the same problem in my eyes, they’re costly tutor effects that are dreadful to see pre or even post Ad Nauseam. They both have the upside of being able to find any silver bullet from our sideboard, but I don’t believe that the life loss or mana are worthwhile. This is even more true in a world that contains Wishclaw Talisman.
[[Empty the Warrens]] — I’ve already said so much about this card, but let’s reiterate. TES opts to play Empty the Warrens over Tendrils of Agony because Empty the Warrens is rarely a dead draw. The issue with Tendrils is it does absolutely nothing until it’s lethal. Meanwhile, casting Empty the Warrens with 6-7 storm will easily win a game. Having a win condition in the deck that needs less storm and costs less than five (Ad Nauseam) dramatically increases the speed of TES often giving it games where we appear belcher-esque.
[[Tendrils of Agony]] — One of the worst possible cards you can draw in your opening hand. Pair this with the fact that most of the time when you could cast Tendrils of Agony for a lethal amount, you could pay an additional two mana has caused Tendrils of Agony to live in the sideboard.
[[Carpet of Flowers]] — The Delver of Secrets decks are one of the few decks that are a bad match-up while being a significant portion of the metagame. Carpet of Flowers helps solve this, the first thing is does is it allows you to cast spells effectively through Spell Pierce or Daze but it also completely changes the dynamic of the game. Opponents will often not cast their two mana threats in fear of not wanting to sacrifice their fetchlands to give you mana, which in return, gives you time to establish yourself. Carpet of Flowers also can allow you to beat a Null Rod or Collector Ouphe that has resolved by providing enough mana to cast Empty the Warrens or simply the right colors to cast Abrupt Decay. Something important to note is that just because your opponent has some Islands in their deck doesn’t mean you should always side in Carpet of Flowers, we do not recommend bring it in against decks such as Show and Tell for example. Use your noggin!
[[Abrupt Decay]] — With the nature of Wishclaw Talisman being able to search for anything, it incentivizes you to play higher impact cards. Abrupt Decay has always been a desired effect, being able to successfully answer Counterbalance, Chalice of the Void on two, or even a Deafening Silence being protected by countermagic. The issue has traditionally been that green is a tough color to splash here in The EPIC Storm, that all changed with a full play-set of Mox Opal. Now the access to green mana is much more reliable and we can consistently deal with hate permanents out of blue decks. I would like to point out that Abrupt Decay does care about opposing copies of Veil of Summer.
[[Chain of Vapor]] — One of the best bounce spells ever printed, efficiently answering cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Gaddock Teeg, Sphere of Resistance and Leyline of Sanctity. The only downside of this card is that Chalice of the Void on one is very popular, causing this otherwise perfect bounce spell to be not great at times. A “cool trick” you can do with Chain of Vapor is to use it to generate mana and storm — a pseudo “storm engine” so to speak. When you have a bunch of artifact mana (Chrome Mox, Lotus Petal, and Lion’s Eye Diamond), you can target your own artifact, sacrifice a land, and then copy it. When you have enough lands and artifacts, it can be the cause of your opponent’s demise. I find myself doing this post-Ad Nauseam in scenarios where I’m low on resources. Maybe you needed to cast a few cantrips or discard spells, after that, you can bounce all of your copies of Chrome Mox and replay them and imprint with the extra cards from Ad Nauseam — you’ve created mana with a bounce spell!
[[Thoughtseize]] — A Burning Wish target that helps against fair blue decks as well as combo matchups. While a three mana discard spell doesn’t seem incredibly desirable, it does come up! If you happen to check out the sideboard guide, you’ll notice the sideboard Thoughtseize is actually sided in quite a bit as well. A piece of advice I can give is to try not to telegraph over multiple turns that you’re going to cast Thoughtseize, don’t allow your opponent to hold open Veil of Summer in-case they have a copy. I try to pick my spots carefully for when to cast Thoughtseize in a Veil of Summer world.
[[Infernal Tutor]] — With Wishclaw Talisman taking over Infernal Tutor’s position in the main deck, Infernal Tutor has found a home in the sideboard over Dark Petition. In comparison to the five mana sorcery, Infernal Tutor is not weakened by graveyard hate which is important when you consider other potential sideboard engines. Infernal Tutor’s lower mana cost comes up for a few reasons as well, the first being that it helps to play around “Soft” countermagic as well as being able to be sideboarded in for matchups where Veil of Summer or Defense Grid lack some luster.
[[Grapeshot]] — In a world defined by Veil of Summer, Grapeshot is being used more than ever. Being able to kill the opponent on the same turn unlike Empty the Warrens is a huge boon compared to making Goblin Tokens. There are secondary reasons to run Grapeshot as well, such as finishing off your opponent after Goblin Tokens fall short or your opponent went too low on life with Griselbrand. There’s also the added bonus of being uncounterable against blue decks while killing an Ethersworn Canonist.
[[Empty the Warrens]] — By playing a copy of Empty the Warrens in our sideboard, we effectively play four copies in our 75 — it’s best to play the most copies we can while not decreasing our Ad Nauseam percentages. Empty the Warrens is also the deck’s fastest combo option (as it requires the least amount of mana) against decks trying to lock you out of the game, which matters more than you think. Depending on the metagame, you’ll notice the numbers of Empty the Warrens fluctuate. In metagames with lots of Delver of Secrets, TES plays more copies (generally the full set) of Empty the Warrens as it’s an easier card to cast when your opponent is trying to attack your resources. Casting Empty the Warrens from your hand is a lot less resource intensive as you’ll only need four mana, and playing a full-complement of Empty the Warrens allows for drawing them to be much easier. Meanwhile in these match-ups, Ad Nauseam at its absolute cheapest is a seven mana line that loses to Daze, Spell Pierce, and even itself. What I mean by this is Delver decks pressure your life-total very quickly, and Empty the Warrens is a great way to turn the tide. That said, there are metagames where I think one main deck and one sideboard are correct.
[[Tendrils of Agony]] — In lists without Rite of Flame, it’s common to play a copy of Tendrils of Agony in the main deck. Have you ever naturally drawn Tendrils of Agony in your opening hand? It’s essentially a mulligan. For this reason, I prefer to keep mine in the sideboard. Part of this rationale is that Tendrils of Agony has never been more of a liability to cast than right now due to Veil of Summer and I would prefer for it to not affect my Ad Nauseam reveals if I am in a position where I may need to cast Grapeshot. Instead, I opt to play a list that i slightly more linear, but more efficient at achieving its goals.
[[Echo of Eons]] — For an more in depth look at my initial impressions of this card, check out this article. Let’s start with the basics, Echo of Eons works very well with Lion’s Eye Diamond. First you play Burning Wish to retrieve Echo of Eons, then play your Lion’s Eye Diamond (this plays around artifact disruption), discard your hand and add three blue to flashback your pseudo Timetwister. Another way of getting Echo of Eons into your graveyard is to Thoughtseize yourself, while not ideal, it is a “build your own Diminishing Returns!” Something to keep in mind is that Echo of Eons is symmetrical, which means your opponent will also draw a fresh seven card hand off of Echo of Eons. This is an issue against blue decks. To offset this, cards such as Hope of Ghirapur, Defense Grid, and Veil of Summer I would recommend over discard spells opening up another engine versus counterspell archetypes. One of my favorite things about it is that it’s the first three mana storm engine that’s been legal in Legacy that’s playable, this helps quite a bit against Prison strategies or decks trying to lock you out of the game like Maverick or Death & Taxes.
[[Pulverize]] — One of my favorite answers to cards like Chalice of the Void, Sphere of Resistance, and Thorn of Amethyst that can be retrieved by Burning Wish. The real struggle with this card is finding space for another Mountain effect in the main deck as it currently doesn’t play enough. In lists with 14 lands, it’s much easier to support Pulverize off of the back of a second copy of Badlands over a second Underground Sea. Currently, we’re very fortunate that the metagame’s artifact prison decks are also all Blood Moon decks. This means that they provide us with the necessary tools in order to cast our spells!
[[Tropical Island]], [[Taiga]] — Alternative options for the green splash over Bayou. Each with downsides that I believe to be bad enough where I would rather not run them. Tropical Island doesn’t tap for a combo colored mana on turn two and can often be awkward on your mana for the remainder of the game. I would rather run Taiga than Tropical Island, that said, I think Taiga has its own downsides. The first is pretty major, it cannot be found with Polluted Delta, which means restructuring your manabase to support a sideboard land. You can run a different split of fetchlands to support Taiga but ultimately ends up costing you games in the long run. The second reason I’m not a fan of Taiga is that outside of casting Xantid Swarm or Abrupt Decay, it doesn’t actually help cast anything until the combo turn itself as red mana is rarely used up until that point.
[[Xantid Swarm]] — I can’t stress this enough, do not side in Xantid Swarm against blue-based decks with damage based removal — it’s acceptable if their removal package is Swords to Plowshares or Terminus based as they’ll likely be sided out. Xantid Swarm’s intended purpose is for traditional control decks (Miracles and Stonelade), Show and Tell variants, Reanimator, High Tide, and Merfolk.
One huge benefit of Xantid Swarm is that it effectively negates Leovold, Emissary of Trest’s ability during the combo turn, which is actually very good for the storm deck. The downside is that Xantid Swarm is traditionally not the best against blue and black strategies as they pair their countermagic with discard.
[[Reverent Silence]] — Reverent Silence is a Burning Wish target that can act like as a free answer to Leyline of Sanctity or Counterbalance (even if it’s not very popular).
[[Hope of Ghirapur]] — Xantid Swarm’s little brother so to speak. While it may not be so obvious at an initial glance, I believe Hope of Ghirapur is better in The EPIC Storm than its green counterpart (even in lists playing green for Veil of Summer). The primary reason is that we need to keep our artifact count high for Mox Opal, this is crucial and should not be overlooked. The secondary reason is ease of casting, not being forced to search up Bayou has a real benefit to Hope of Ghirapur. Something that should not be overlooked is that Hope of Ghirapur actually does damage, I know this may seem silly, but I can’t tell you how many times my metal insect has killed a Narset, Parter of Veils. While the effects between Hope of Ghirapur and Xantid Swarm may seem the same they’re not, with the artifact creature, the effect lasts until your next turn. This means when paired with Empty the Warrens our opponents will not be able to cast Engineered Explosives, Terminus, Toxic Deluge, and so many other cards that could potentially ruin your day. This often comes up in the Storm mirror, where sometimes I’ll side it in just to be a pseudo “Time Walk” for a single colorless mana. While Hope of Ghirapur is terrific, there are downsides. It has to deal damage to the opponent unlike Xantid Swarm in order to be effective, it can be bounced by Karakas, and can be shut off by Null Rod. Let’s be honest, if Null Rod is in play, we aren’t winning anyway and Karakas is such a corner case. I’d take the pros of Hope of Ghirapur over the cons any day of the week.
[[Duress]] — Disruption that can be fetched by Burning Wish. Formerly, this would’ve been Cabal Therapy since Cabal Therapy can be sided in against Midrange decks to discard creature such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben — which is something Duress is unable to do. That said, the main purpose of this slot is to discard countermagic. With the release of Modern Horizons and the printing of Force of Negation, storm pilots would now have to “pick their poison” on which free counterspell to lose to, it’s not a position I’d like to put myself in.
[[Swan Song]], [[Flusterstorm]] — These cards are often looked at to answer the combo mirror as well as control match-ups. My primary issues with counterspells in Lion’s Eye Diamond based combo is that they don’t do a good job of protecting your Tutor during the combo turn since you will need to become hellbent. They also don’t play well with Lion’s Eye Diamond itself as the opponent can wait for you to crack your artifact before responding. There’s also the issue of counterspells becoming stuck in your hand preventing Hellbent.
[[Pyroblast]] — Added during times when the number of Meddling Mage rises from blue decks. The beauty of Pyroblast over other permanent based answers is that in these match-ups is that if they don’t draw hate creatures/permanents worth killing you’re not stuck with dead cards in your hand. Pyroblast can then be used as protection to stop their permission spells. You can also target a land to get it out of your hand for Hellbent!
[[Surgical Extraction]] — A great card in metagames with lots of Reanimator, being a free instant speed card in these match-ups is invaluable. It also has an interesting function when your sideboard contains Telemin Performance, bringing in Surgical Extraction against opponents so you can look at their library to see if they have any creatures in the Storm and Lands matches. It has some extra utility against decks like Show and Tell to remove one of their combo pieces from the game, or even to check their hand if there’s a Leyline of Sanctity in play. I also sided it in against slower control decks, hitting all of their Force of Wills or something similar is nice, but I think it has some other upsides. Being able to mess with their Brainstorms if they’ve responded to a discard spell, removing the target to their Snapcaster Mage (a card we don’t interact with that well), removing their Terminus from the game so that small Empty the Warrens can do the job, or simply just a free “Force of Will” check.
[[Tormod’s Crypt]] — Graveyard hate that turns on Mox Opal, which is the primary reason to play it. The secondary reason would be that it sits in play without being discarded before graveyard decks put their valuable cards in their graveyard. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s casting cost aligns well with Ad Nauseam.
[[Crash]] — A lot of people probably didn’t even know this card existed before looking at a TES deck list. It’s been in the back of my head for years, I’ve complained in the past that it’s the card I’d like printed most but at Sorcery speed. Where we’re at in the metagame, I think we can live with it over additional bounce spells (which are traditionally instants). The thought behind playing cards like Crash and Chain of Vapor is that Legacy has become much faster and even more punishing in the last year and taking a turn off to cast cards such as Echoing Truth can be the difference maker in a match. These permanent based answers allow you to break serve and get ahead in these match-ups while being very mana efficient. What I’ve found to be the most common scenario is your opponent will play a permanent hate spell, you have to spend a full-turn cycle for Echoing Truth and before you can bounce the permanent on their end-step, the opponent casts another. These answers (Crash and Chain of Vapor) get ahead of that. This is why we play more copies of Crash than other permanent based answers.
[[Echoing Truth]] — Echoing Truth like Abrupt Decay has found its way back into our hearts and the sideboard due to Wishclaw Talisman’s ability to search for anything. Being able to bounce multiple copies of a permanent (usually a pair of Chalice of the Void or a horde of either Goblin or Zombie Tokens) is extremely desirable. Last year, Echoing Truth fell out of favor due to the rise of The EPIC Storm beginning to play Crash. This was because taking a turn off to cast your answer spell to the opponent’s hate piece often allowed them enough time to cast a secondary disruptive permanent and before you knew it, the snowball effect had occurred. That said, I do strongly recommend a single copy of Echoing Truth for those sticky situations.
[[Void Snare]], [[Consign / Oblivion]] — Bounce effects that can be found by Burning Wish. The real upside to these cards is that they provide an answer to Leyline of Sanctity without the need to sideboard cards in. There’s also the added benefit of being an answer a variety of anti-storm permanents.
[[Perilous Voyage]] — “Why do you play Echoing Truth over Perilous Voyage” comes up a lot. The reason we play these cards is to deal with problematic permanents, the secondary effects are bonuses. I would much rather play Perilous Voyage over something like Hurkyl’s Recall due to flexibility of use in a sideboard that is constrained on spaces due to Burning Wish. When it comes down to it, would you rather have a card that answers multiple cards or something that provides slight card quality? Typically sideboards are constructed to have either Chain of Vapor and/or Abrupt Decay as they fill a different purpose (either dealing with Chalice of the Void, Counterbalance or just being good against “sphere” effects). Now, you can have something that answers two issues or a card that can also only answer one. I don’t think Perilous Voyage is bad by any means, but I don’t want to have to find two answer spells if my opponent starts the game off with, “Chalice of the Void on zero and Chalice of the Void on one.”
[[Hurkyl’s Recall]] — A good answer to a variety of permanent based artifact disruption such as Chalice of the Void, Sphere of Resistance and Thorn of Amethyst. My personal issue with this card is that I don’t think it does enough, it’s very similar to Echoing Truth but doesn’t answer Marit Lage or Chancellor of the Annex. I would only plan to use this during spikes of Ancient Tomb based strategies.
[[Wipe Away]] — In Grixis lists of The EPIC Storm Wipe Away provides an answer to a problematic card in Counterbalance due to it’s Split Second ability. This means the opponent doesn’t have an opportunity to change the top card of their deck before the Counterbalance reveal, if Counterbalance reveals a converted mana cost of three naturally, Wipe Away will be countered. The same could be said in a weird world where Chalice of the Void is on three as well. These things said, a three is incredibly unlikely and the Split Second of Wipe Away means Flusterstorm or Force of Will won’t be stopping Counterbalance from leaving the battlefield. Wipe Away is essentially a mono-blue Abrupt Decay, which is why we’re playing it. The green splash is difficult on the mana-base and Wipe Away provides a solid answer. Typically when casting Abrupt Decay you often have three mana available regardless, so it’s not much of a difference. A huge benefit to Wipe Away is being able to sit on your two basic lands and then on the end step, search up another blue source before casting your Wipe Away. I’ve also had a few interesting scenarios where Wipe Away was the perfect card for the situation, such as a Chalice of the Void on two stopping both Burning Wish AND Echoing Truth. Another situation was I knew my opponent had a Flusterstorm in hand, but tapped down to one mana on their turn, so on their end step I bounced their land untapped and won!
[[Krosan Grip]] — Additional answers to Counterbalance against Miracles, the problem is that they’re so costly they’re unreliable against almost any other deck.
[[Meltdown]] — A great answer to Chalice of the Void. I often hear, “This should be By Force.” – No, it shouldn’t. The most common piece of artifact disruption in the format is Chalice of the Void, which is often dropped for zero and one against TES. If a Chalice of the Void is in play for zero, Meltdown is cheaper than By Force. If Chalice of the Void is on one, they’re even. Now take into consideration that Meltdown can destroy multiple copies of Chalice of the Void for less mana. Against Sphere of Resistance effects, Meltdown is more expensive than By Force by a single mana. But I would rather personally be prepared for the most popular version of a hate piece in the format than the second. Sphere of Resistance effects are also likely coming out of the sideboard, where Echoing Truth can be brought in to combat them.
Lastly, I’ve heard people say that By Force is better versus Phyrexian Revoker or Ethersworn Cannonist. Sure, but why aren’t you getting Massacre or Grapeshot in that situation? My advice – play Meltdown.
[[By Force]] — A fine artifact removal spell, the second best one for answering Sphere of Resistance and Thorn of Amethyst after Pulverize. I prioritize being able to answer Chalice of the Void over these effects, which is why I prefer Meltdown.
[[Shattering Spree]] — The most cost efficient sorcery speed answer to all permanent based artifacts, the only real downside is that we just don’t play enough red lands. We haven’t played enough since the days of “gold” lands.
[[Hull Breach]], [[Revoke Existence]] — Answers to Leyline of Sanctity that can be retrieved using Burning Wish while being flexible enough to hit cards like Chalice of the Void. I generally prefer a more flexible card in this slot like Chain of Vapor or Echoing Truth. These cards are likely permanently on our bench with the printing of Void Snare.
[[Rending Volley]] — A card that’s more versatile than one may think. It’s primary function is to kill Ethersworn Cannonist out of blue-based decks as resolving something like Massacre or Pyroclasm can be difficult. However, it doubles as a cheap removal spell to kill Thalia, Guardian of Thraben against Death and Taxes. I’ve even brought it in as an answer to Leovold, Emissary of Trest against decks that have lots of answers to Defense Grid.
[[Fatal Push]] — A cheap and easy way to answer Thalia, Guardian of Thraben that can be cast off of the deck’s basic Swamp. There is everything to love about this card with very little draw back, the only concern is finding sideboard space.
[[Massacre]] — Our best option against Death & Taxes! Its searchable with Burning Wish and free to cast! Recently, it’s been added back to the sideboard due to the loss of Gitaxian Probe. With Massacre in the sideboard you’re able to keep less explosive hands and not be locked out of the game on the second turn. With a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in play it may most a little more, but it does kill Thalia even with a Mother of Runes in play. Additionally, you can also cast this card occasionally against Elves or Goblins as they’ve been known to splash a Savannah or Plateau respectively. Lastly, Massacre does have a real casting costs for dire need – don’t forget it!
[[Pyroclasm]] — A solid card that can answer Gaddock Teeg, Young Pyromancer, Delver of Secrets, Meddling Mage, Elves and a variety of other creatures. The difficult thing with Pyroclasm is that it just doesn’t do enough, it’s slightly worse than Grapeshot and isn’t as efficient as Massacre. The only time I find myself wanting Massacre is generally agains the Grixis Delver variants.
[[Dread of Night]] — This card is terrific at killing creatures such as Mother of Runes, Aven Mindcensor and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. The problem with it is that it would take multiples to kill Ethersworn Canonist, Sanctum Prelate, Gaddock Teeg or Meddling Mage. It just doesn’t do enough in my eyes.
[[Karakas]] — A card we attempted to play during Maverick’s reign of terror in Legacy with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Gaddock Teeg everywhere. It also has functionalities against larger Legendary creatures from Reanimator and Sneak Show variants. I see it as a liability nowadays as Griselbrand is often put into play, the opponent will draw a handful of cards leaving you in an awful position before the creature is returned to its owner’s hand.
[[Reanimate]] — One of our worst match-ups is Reanimator, these cards were an attempt at solving that issue. I think it’s less effective than just playing Surgical Extraction.
[[Dark Confidant]] — Good in long and grindy match-ups, the downside is that it’s very slow which isn’t something TES is designed to do. There’s also the downside that it uses life total as a resource, which isn’t desirable with Ad Nauseam being the primary storm engine.
[[Doomsday]] — I’ve tried to get this card to work, I really have. But one of the biggest issues with it is that it forces you to play suboptimal cards such as Ideas Unbound. Even then, its mana intensive and uses life as a resource. Our additional storm engines ideally wouldn’t rely on the same resource as our main game plan.
[[Ill-Gotten Gains]] — In an age with Surgical Extraction and an increased amount of instants or responses from almost every deck, this card is almost unplayable unless its an already favored match-up. A real relic of the past.
[[Past in Flames]] — Our tertiary option in The EPIC Storm, while powerful – our deck doesn’t utilize it as well as ANT does. However, we do have the tools for it to be effective if we build towards it. Often the card requires some foresight if you plan to use it. The reason it really sees play in the sideboard is how effective it is against blue-based decks. Past in Flames is often a “counter me twice or lose” which opens up the door for other spells to resolve. I will say that Past in Flames has become weaker with the loss of Gitaxian Probe, the days of having non-deterministic kills with zero mana floating are gone.
[[Diminishing Returns]], [[Reforge the Soul]], [[Time Spiral]] — This slot was cut when Dark Petition was printed. I could see myself possibly going back to it at some point, the problem is these cards aren’t very consistent. Each card has benefits over the other, but I prefer Diminishing Returns over the other two.
[[Bribery]] — More attempts to answer Reanimator and Sneak Show, too narrow for my taste and somewhat ineffective. I would rather play Telemin Performance.
[[Telemin Performance]] — The first thing to know about Telemin Performance is that it’s really only good against other unfair decks (Storm, Sneak & Show, Lands, and Reanimator variants). When you look at how the sideboard for this deck is constructed, we lack a powerful silver-bullet type effect for these match-ups. Empty the Warrens and Past in Flames can likely take too long to kill or to set up. Both Dark Petition and Past in Flames are weak to graveyard hate. All three of these choices are weak against Crop Rotation as they can put Bojuka Bog or the Tabernacle of Pendrell Vale into play. This leaves us with Telemin Performance to either mill our opponent to death or put a huge creature into play! This makes Telemin Performance great in some match-ups where the other options are pretty bad.
I’ve found the most effective usage of Telemin Performance to be when paired with Surgical Extraction, the knowledge you gain from knowing the opponent’s deck and how they sideboarded is fantastic.
It’s worth noting that I wouldn’t use Telemin Performance post-sideboard against decks like Storm or Lands as they commonly sideboard into creatures to counter Telemin Performance – often limiting its effectiveness.
[[Dark Petition]] — Essentially an Infernal Tutor in the sideboard that is there to be able to find the Ad Nauseam in the main deck. This is a nine-mana line that comes up more often than people notice, but it’s important to remember the Spell Mastery on this. I also commonly use Dark Petition to get the main deck copy of Empty the Warrens for an additional storm copy. When watching other storm pilots play, I’ve noticed they feel the need to cast Burning Wish and Dark Petition all in one turn. While it may be correct sometimes, there’s no harm or shame in casting Burning Wish on turn and then Dark Petition on the third turn.
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