Speed isn’t everything! Players focus too much on this. The hand we’re presented with is resistant to a discard spell and can fight through their 7-to-8 [[Force of Will]]/[[Force of Negation]] effects. What we’re asking of this hand is what the deck has access to the most of — Mana! With [[Thoughtseize]] and [[Orim’s Chant,]] we can also look to disrupt the opponent to buy time if need be.
I would use [[Bloodstained Mire]] to search out [[Underground Sea]], play out [[Lotus Petal]] to avoid [[Daze]], and then play the [[Thoughtseize]]. It’s difficult to predict the rest of the game based on lack of context of the opponent’s hand or draws, but I would definitely keep this opening seven.
Play to the speed of the matchup! The EPIC Storm is a deck that is capable of being fast or ‘grindy’ depending on what the opponent is playing as we can leverage this ability by using the London Mulligan to our advantage. In the mirror-match, we’re looking to be fast on the play and disruptive on the draw — this hand does neither. When you examine the hand and map out the turns, we’re likely looking at a turn three [[Ad Nauseam]]. Do you believe that’s acceptable? I do not.
A stated in Hand No. 1, we’re looking to be fast on the play as there is no way for the opponent to interact for zero mana ([[Force of Will]]). What’s faster than a first turn win on the play? That makes this hand an obvious keep. That said, what’s the play?
Most people would often default to playing the pair of [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Mox Opal]], [[Dark Ritual]], [[Wishclaw Talisman]], and [[Ad Nauseam]] while saving their land drop for a land that doesn’t require life-loss. This isn’t actually the best play, but it’s close! I would instead use the [[Bloodstained Mire]] to search for [[Volcanic Island]] which casts the [[Burning Wish]] into [[Peer into the Abyss]].
This matchup can often be defined by a battle between [[Silence]] effects, one of the easiest ways to win this war is with [[Echo of Eons]]. With this hand, we can play [[Mishra’s Bauble]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Mox Opal]], [[Scalding Tarn]], and then discard our hand to [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to make and Flashback [[Echo of Eons]]. By making this play, even if the opponent has an [[Orim’s Chant]] we’re not getting blown out of the water. By choosing [[Scalding Tarn]] as our land, we’re leaving open the possibility of a [[Brainstorm]] + fetch situation as well as a white source off of [[Plateau]] in case we’re forced to pass the turn.
I said it above! [[Silence]] is the name of the game. Here we have the disruption effect, the mana to cast it, as well as the potential to sculpt our hand with [[Brainstorm]]. While speed is crucial on the play, if your hand allows for it, you can play a slower game — don’t force yourself down any one path. Keeping your options open is always a good thing and that’s exactly what these seven cards do. There is a little bit of tension between the artifacts, [[Brainstorm]], amd [[Marsh Flats]]. Ideally, we could [[Brainstorm]] away the [[Chrome Mox]], but here we need to play it for Metalcraft to enable [[Mox Opal]]. A trick you can do is to cast [[Brainstorm]] with the Imprint trigger on the stack, this way, you can tuck a card underneath the artifact after our spell has resolved. I’d likely look to get rid of this [[Scrubland]] while searching for an action spell.
NOPE! This hand likely fooled some of you, but this hand actually fails two major tests. The first is that speed is the name of the game. We have a hand that can’t interact on the first turn while going all-in on a pass the turn situation. This allows for our opponent to have an easy win on their second turn which is highly plausible. The second major flaw here is that [[Galvanic Relay]] is just terrible against [[Silence]] or [[Orim’s Chant]] — you can’t cast any of the spells! This leaves you high and dry. I understand how difficult it can be to send opening hands such as this one back, but its also just the correct decision.
We have [[Thoughtseize]] to discard the opponent’s white instant spells, while having our own [[Silence]] to disrupt them. On top of that, there’s action in [[Burning Wish]]. In the Final Doomsday Hand Answer above, I mentioned how our deck is full of mana — that remains true. We have the resources we need to win, we need to accept that average draws will carry us to victory. The point of this hand is to emphasize how [[Thoughtseize]] is the real mirror-breaker as it discards or forces the opponents hand to cast a potential [[Orim’s Chant]]. I’m not sure what we’re grabbing with this [[Burning Wish]]. We’re sort of far away from [[Peer into the Abyss]] while [[Echo of Eons]] plays around a [[Thoughtseize]] discarding our action. I’d likely let whatever mana that we draw decide the path.
While [[Thoughtseize]] is very good in the mirror, it’s not THAT good. On the play, if we’re passing the turn it’s ideal to put a [[Wishclaw Talisman]] onto the battlefield — the same could be said for artifact mana such as [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]. [[Thoughtseize]] doesn’t interact at all, it’s high risk for a mid-reward. Meanwhile, we have a very short window to draw a payoff. The idea of 34 perfect to hit an action spell every draw step lowers when we side out [[Galvanic Relay]] and have fewer opportunities to do so.
SPIN THAT WHEEL! [[Chrome Mox]] (Imprint: [[Burning Wish]]), cast [[Rite of Flame]], [[Burning Wish]] for [[Echo of Eons]], play [Lion’s Eye Diamond]], and then sacrifice it to make . Now, we’ll Flashback [[Echo of Eons]]! Even if we don’t win the game this turn, we’ve given our opponent what we call a “forced mulligan” where they have an initial seven card hand that they can’t control if they are to keep it or not. Meanwhile, we had the opportunity to start the game with five Storm and an additional mana source in play.
Hand No. 9: (on the draw)
[[Chrome Mox|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Scrubland|]] [[Scalding Tarn|]]
This hand is similar to Hand No. 1, except it’s a turn faster — a turn two [[Ad Nauseam]]. The major difference is that it’s significantly weaker to the sideboard copies of [[Thoughtseize]] on top of the original [[Orim’s Chant]]/[[Silence]]. Playing lots of Storm combo will tell you that hands such as this one are easy keeps, but the mirror-match requires you to break common play patterns to re-evaluate what’s actually important.
I’ll provide my answer in the next article. For now, make sure to leave a comment with 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.
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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