[[Dark Ritual|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Ad Nauseam|]] [[Underground Sea|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Tendrils of Agony|]] [[Rite of Flame|]]
What does this hand do well? It dodges Force of Vigor entirely. What it doesn’t do well is beat four to seven “[[Force of Will]] effects”, or does it? By casting [[Ad Nauseam]] on the opponent’s turn, you avoid [[Force of Negation]] all-together. This means you’re back to the old 40 percent to have it game — I’m in. If they do have [[Force of Will]], we can always try to rebuild slowly with [[Burning Wish]] for [[Echo of Eons]].
The biggest thing to know is that in game one, our opponents don’t have meaningful ways to interact with us on the stack. Their entire game plan is to [[Wasteland]] lock us out of the game with [[Life from the Loam]] or a quick [[Thespian’s Stage]] plus [[Dark Depths]] to create a [[Marit Lage Token]]. These things mean that our hand that puts [[Peer into the Abyss]] on the table will go unchecked. Draw away!
I get it, I’m a crazy person. That said, Lands is a very slow deck. You’re going to have at least three draw steps if not more to draw out of this, at some point you will draw a black mana source and get to put [[Ad Nauseam]] on the stack. I don’t expect this to be a popular answer, but I do believe it to be the correct line.
To put some math behind the logic, there are 12 lands that you want to draw (blue sources cast [[Brainstorm]]), and then 11 initial mana sources from artifacts ([[Mox Opal]] would not be active immediately and [[Chrome Mox]] would likely mean casting [[Echo of Eons]] if you’re unwilling to be patient). That puts you at roughly 43 percent every single turn to hit while having a handful of chances on average. This would mean you’re 90 percent to hit on four draw steps and 95% percent if you live to get a fifth.
This hand actually plays very well into how Lands is trying to beat you. You get to play a [[Wishclaw Talisman]], and then they [[Wasteland]] you into the dirt while you’re unable to cast expensive tutors and then dead protection spells. Please make sure to leverage the London Mulligan!
The same idea applies here as in Hand No. 2. I know that it seems wrong, and I get it, but you’re 34 percent to hit every single turn. This puts you at 82 percent on four attempts and 88 percent on five. These are high enough where I’m willing to take the risk on a hit. That said, I do understand wanting to mulligan these hands away. I’m just not interested in cantrip or tutor heavy hands that seem good but don’t align with how the opponent is trying to beat you.
Hand No. 5: (on the play)
[[Brainstorm|]] [[Brainstorm|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Tropical Island|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Dark Ritual|]]
This hand is a T R A P! The real goal if I haven’t driven it hard enough is in game one, do not keep hands that fold to [[Wasteland]]. Not only does this land not tap for combo colors, you’re far away from winning even if they don’t do anything. It’s time for combo players to break this old-mindset of lands and hands with [[Brainstorm]] or other cantrips are immediate keeps.
How our opponent tries to beat us changes a little in post-board games. They adopt [[Sphere of Resistance]], [[Pyroblast]], [[Force of Vigor]], and even in some lists [[Mindbreak Trap]]. How does this hand align against those things? We do have answers to [[Sphere of Resistance]] (as well as the mana to cast them), can completely dodge [[Force of Vigor]] as of right now, don’t have any cantrips, and if we play tight, can ignore [[Mindbreak Trap]]. I am fine with sitting back, answering their things, and attempting to win slowly through their disruption.
While we are on the play and can play our artifacts out before [[Sphere of Resistance]] hits the table, we do just lose to [[Force of Vigor]]. On top of that, the [[Brainstorm]] would need to be very good for us to win this game in the first few turns. This hand looks really playable until you sit there and think about how the average game plays out. If you find a “tutor effect”, you can’t cast it immediately which gives the opponent time for [[Sphere of Resistance]] if they didn’t have the [[Force of Vigor]].
Hand No. 8: (on the draw)
[[Echo of Eons|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Ponder|]]
I want to keep this hand, I just don’t think you’re suppose to. It loses to [[Sphere of Resistance]], [[Pyroblast]], and then [[Mindbreak Trap]] if you play the [[Mox Opal]] if you try to get any extra advantage out of the hand. If you’re looking to keep a hand that only draws seven cards, just take a London Mulligan and have some ability to sculpt a little. The desire to keep would be from wanting to hit a black source to [[Dark Ritual]] into [[Wishclaw Talisman]] before casting the [[Echo of Eons]], but this has it’s own set of problems as well like [[Force of Vigor]]. At that point, your hand loses to any reasonable keep from your opponent.
This is the sort of opening hand I look to keep in almost every post-board game. It can beat three of the four things our opponent is trying to stop us with the exception being [[Force of Vigor]]. I’d look to play [[Wishclaw Talisman]] off of the [[Chrome Mox]] and then play [[Lotus Petal]] to avoid [[Mindbreak Trap]]. If our opponent has [[Sphere of Resistance]], we have the [[Prismatic Ending]] ready. Because of this, I would actively search up [[Scrubland]] on the first turn and accept that [[Brainstorm]] isn’t a card that I’m looking to cast for the most part.
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 v13.2!
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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