This hand isn’t perfect, but we do have [[Abrupt Decay]] to slow the game down. I would lead the game on the pair of [[Bloodstained Mire]] before exposing our [[Volcanic Island]] to the risk of [[Wasteland]]. Ideally, we would draw some acceleration or even additional lands over the first few turns to play into [[Galvanic Relay]] or [[Aeve, Progenitor Ooze]]. The main message here is it’s okay to keep slower hands with powerful spells if [[Abrupt Decay]] can buy you a few turns.
Hand No. 1: (on the play)
[[Rite of Flame|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Tendrils of Agony|]]
In another era of Magic: the Gathering, I would’ve snap-kept this hand. Imagine a life without [[Force of Negation]]. In fact, I lived it for 29 wonderful years. Sadly, our opponents have access to 6-7 of these [[Force of Will]] style effects not counting Modern Horizon 2’s [[Endurance]] (it’s rarely effective against us). The decision behind this is just math, our opponent is about 55 percent to have one of these free counterspells with six copies, and almost 60 percent with seven. This is assuming they aren’t going to use the London Mulligan to increase their chance of finding a copy of these effects.
We used to be able to talk about a 60 percent chance of success when taking this gamble, but now the odds have turned against us. At a casino, you wouldn’t play this game — don’t do it here either.
In so many of these “Matchup Mulligan” articles, I talk about speed. This is a matchup where that is not necessary. In fact, this is a situation where we should be grinding our Control opponents to a pulp using our brand new toy from Modern Horizons 2 — [[Galvanic Relay]]. The dynamic of [[Burning Wish]] in the matchup has changed whether the Control player has realized it or not. If they don’t counterspell [[Burning Wish]], we’re getting [[Galvanic Relay]] to repeatedly wear their resources down. In a deck with 6-7 of these “Force effects” ([[Force of Will]] & [[Force of Negation]]), they do come with a cost of being card disadvantage. [[Galvanic Relay]] creates card advantage for us while making our opponents burn their cards. Previously, we would’ve had to get something like [[Empty the Warrens]] against the deck with a few copies of [[Terminus]] floating around in there — but not anymore!
The only real downside to this hand is that we don’t have a lot of fuel for [[Galvanic Relay]] yet. This is where [[Ponder]] and [[Brainstorm]] come in. By the time we’re ready to cast [[Galvanic Relay]], we’ll have seen plenty of cards to help create our Storm count.
Pre-Modern Horizons 2, I probably would’ve kept this. We’re roughly 34 percent every turn to draw an action spell, right? Well… [[Prismatic Ending]] happened. Control decks now have at least five answers between [[Prismatic Ending]] and [[Teferi, Time Raveler]] (to buy time) against our permanent. We need time to draw into our action. During this time, our opponents will have found the answer leaving us in a sticky situation. Don’t keep sketchy hands out of fear is one of the best pieces of advice I can give you in this matchup, leverage the London Mulligan for increased stability NOT speed.
Hand No. 4: (on the draw)
[[Chrome Mox|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Ponder|]] [[Brainstorm|]]
I believe most people would keep this hand, and rightfully so. The issue is, however, the hand actually fairly risky. We can use the Imprint trick with [[Chrome Mox]] and [[Mox Opal]] by casting [[Chrome Mox]] as the last artifact, then with the trigger on the stack, cast our [[Brainstorm]]. This gives us the most information possible on what we should Imprint or if we even Imprint at all. We could brick on the [[Brainstorm]], if we do, there’s a copy of [[Ponder]] for the following turn. This would be an uncomfortable situation.
Where it gets worse is if our opponent decides to interact with us. They could use a “Force effect” albeit unlikely, but where my actual concern lies is in [[Prismatic Ending]] on [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], this would topple all of our plans. White now has a one mana [[Abrupt Decay]] against us, do not forget this. This isn’t even accounting for the versions of the deck that run a pair of [[Engineered Explosives]] which would be even worse.
Hand No. 5: (on the play)
[[Tendrils of Agony|]] [[Ponder|]] [[Ponder|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Dark Ritual|]]
A lot of people have this thought or perception that opening a copy of [[Tendrils of Agony]] in your initial seven cards is a good thing from the “Miracles era” of Legacy where they would use a few fetchlands and then die in a longer game. This is so far from the truth as opening [[Tendrils of Agony]] is actively awful since it requires the opponent to not do anything meaningful for the most of the game in a post-FIRE world. [[Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath]] changed this all on it’s own. Not only is it a win-condition that draws cards, but it also gains life. Because we don’t play creature spells, our opponents will often have useless copies of [[Swords to Plowshares]] hanging out. [[Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath]] is a VERY good target for those when we do manage to put a [[Tendrils of Agony]] on the stack, assuming that we even get there with this hand.
[[Ponder|]] [[Ponder|]] [[Ponder|]] [[Ponder|]] [[Tendrils of Agony|]] [[Ad Nauseam|]]
One of the best things we can do in this matchup is to abuse [[Galvanic Relay]]. In Hand No. 2, we discussed how good it is to get off of [[Burning Wish]]. Well, it’s even better in our opening hand because it converts permanent-based mana acceleration into card advantage and spell-based acceleration becomes a, “rummage”. This is effective because so many lists don’t play meaningful ways of interacting with [[Galvanic Relay]]. Instead, they’ll often need to go after the mana with their counterspells or [[Force of Vigor]]. That’s right, these decks have a high enough green count to support another“Force effect”. The good news is with a hand like this, [[Force of Vigor]] will only increase our Storm count. We’ll definitely take a minimum of a one-sided draw six on the first turn against the Control deck.
Hands like this seem like no-brainers until you break them down. While you do have the answer to [[Null Rod]], [[Ethersworn Canonist]], or [[Deafening Silence]], it doesn’t actually do that much while being extremely weak to [[Prismatic Ending]] and [[Force of Vigor]]. Realistically, for this hand to win the game quickly with [[Aeve, Progenitor Ooze]], we’re going to need to cast [[Brainstorm]] into another copy of [[Brainstorm]] (we sided out [[Ponder]]) and then a [[Veil of Summer]]. This is sort of a tall ask, what makes it keepable to me is that we can aim to play a longer game and just make our land drops until the Storm trigger becomes more relevant. My focus with this hand is drawing into more mana with [[Brainstorm]] than anything else.
Take that initial SNAP KEEP and break down every once in awhile. Sometimes those hands require a different game plan than you had in mind.
I’m really trying to drive home the point in Hand No. 2, you don’t need to be fast. Hands like this that will overload the opponent will do just fine. Often our opponents will mulligan to a “Force effect”, and then we just play a slower more-stable game to combat that. This hand does something we haven’t gone over yet, which is chaining [[Galvanic Relay]] turn over turn — this is one of the easiest ways to win the matchup. I would look at [[Veil of Summer]] as a way to drawn out a counterspell for Storm count than actual protection with the way this hand is currently constructed.
I’ll provide my answer in the next article. For now, make sure to post your thoughts!
Bryant Cook has one Grand Prix Top 8 as well as nine Star City Games Top 8s (two wins). You can find Bryant's daily sweet Storm videos for every format on our YouTube Channel, including some recent videos featuring The EPIC Storm v12.4!
Bryant is also a host of The Eternal Glory Podcast, as well as a Web Designer, New York Mets fan, and all-around nerd.
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