In the last month or so, I took a hard look at data from my spreadsheet and came to the conclusion that the reason I wasn’t spiking any events is that I needed to be better than 50% against Grixis Delver. When talking to AJ Kerrigan, he had a lot of success when returning to the full suite of Empty the Warrens. When testing it myself, I’ve seen an increase from 50% to 70%.

For the first time in awhile, I felt pretty confident entering an event.

Deck Lists

What changed?

Star City Games: Worcester Legacy Main Event

Round One – Nick Allain with Death’s Shadow

Deathrite Shaman
Empty The Warrens
Game One:

I lose the die roll and Nick begins the event with a pair of mulligans. After this, he scrys to the top and casts a Gitaxian Probe followed by a Ponder. I too have a Gitaxian Probe in hand and fire it off, which reveals: Brainstorm, Ponder, Dismember, and Death’s Shadow. I follow it up with a Cabal Therapy to discard Nick’s Brainstorm. On Nick’s second turn he plays a land and then uses another Ponder.

I actually don’t have a second land drop, so I cast Brainstorm looking for one, which is promptly met with a Daze. Ouch.

On Nick’s turn, he replays Watery Grave which deals himself enough damage to cast Death’s Shadow.

I draw and it’s Dark Ritual, which provides me enough mana to cast the Ad Nauseam in my hand.

Sideboarding: -1 Infernal Tutor, -1 Burning Wish, +2 Empty the Warrens

Game Two:

Nick comes out of the gate this game with a pair of Gitaxian Probe, a Polluted Delta into an untapped Watery Grave. I draw and cast a cantrip, before passing back. Nick on his second turn plays a Ponder, another untapped Watery Grave and follows it up with a Thoughtseize. On my turn, I draw, lay and land and ship the turn back to Nick.

Nick draws and then quickly casts Leovold, Emissary of Trest out of his hand, knowing that I didn’t play Gitaxian Probe on my previous turn. This catches me off guard.

I think about how I can win this and it’s with Empty the Warrens, he’s already dealt himself a large amount of damage. I cast Burning Wish with the hopes to retrieve a copy of Empty the Warrens, but am met with a Force of Will. This leaves Nick with one card in hand.

Nick plays a Wasteland on his turn and attempts to cut me off of red mana.

I move in for the kill. Chrome Mox (imprint: Gitaxian Probe), Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Infernal Tutor? Flusterstorm.

Game Three:

My opening hand is: Bloodstained Mire, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Gitaxian Probe, Burning Wish, and Empty the Warrens. I hesitantly keep. While it has potential, it could just as easily lose the game. But it was a risk I knew I had to take. I begin the third game of the day by casting a copy of Gitaxian Probe without laying a land first. Nick reveals: Daze, Flusterstorm, Wasteland, Scalding Tarn, Deathrite Shaman, Brainstorm, and his own copy of Gitaxian Probe. I draw… a second copy of Burning Wish.

On Nick’s turn he fires off his copy of the free blue sorcery, followed up by Scalding Tarn into Deathrite Shaman. On my turn, I draw Polluted Delta and lay it on the table, I still can’t win through Daze so I am forced to pass the turn back. On Nick’s turn, he casts Ponder, Brainstorm and then a second Deathrite Shaman. This seemed very dangerous to me, I couldn’t tell if Nick was a bold man or if he had drawn a copy of Force of Will.

A few turns pass, I’ve drawn Lotus Petal and Rite of Flame at this point. While Nick has been draining me with his pair of Deathrite Shamans. Now at 13 life, I decide I need to make a move. I break the two of the three fetchlands in play, dropping my life total to 11.

Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame? “resolves”.

Dark Ritual? “resolves”. Dark Ritual? “resolves”. Dark Ritual? “resolves”.

Empty the Warrens? Flusterstorm. Empty the Warrens? “F#$K”.

Force of Will one, Force another, Daze, and Daze.”

I have to break my Polluted Delta in order to pay for a copy of Empty the Warrens, because I can’t race the Deathrite Shamans if I don’t. In Nick’s focus, he forgot to float a black off of one of the copies of Daze. Which seemed huge to me.

At the end of the turn, I have 10 Goblins, Nick is at 14 life with only two lands in hand with no lands in play.

He draws, lays Underground Sea and passes.

I draw and it’s Lion’s Eye Diamond! I was honestly just hoping for a land, Rite of Flame, or Dark Ritual so that I could Burning Wish into Grapeshot. But this’ll do!

I swing out, dropping Nick to 6 life after he blocks. Cast the Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, and then Tendrils of Agony to finish him off!

2-1 | 1-0

What a way to start the event!

Round Two – Zachary Schnapp with Elves

Dryad Arbor
Ad Nauseam
Surgical Extraction
Game One:

Zach starts off by shuffling down to five cards and leads off with Dryad Arbor. I have an interesting decision, my hand is: Lotus Petal, Brainstorm, Ponder, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor, Burning Wish, Underground Sea, and Polluted Delta after my draw step. I can play Lotus Petal into Ponder or Brainstorm hoping to hit at least Lion’s Eye Diamond to allow me to drop Goblins on the table or I can simply just play Underground Sea into Ponder.

My concern is what is Zach playing? Is it Elves or 4c Loam? If it’s Elves I don’t want to play Empty the Warrens and if it’s Loam, I might need to before I’m locked out of the game by a second turn Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Gaddock Teeg.

I ultimately decide on Underground Sea into Ponder. Which happens to find Lion’s Eye Diamond as well as two lands, now do I go for it? I thought about this for a moment and decided that with the lands, I could afford to wait as I have Grapeshot in my back pocket via Burning Wish.

Zach draws, attacks with Dryad Arbor and passes without doing anything else.

I Ad Nauseam. Afterwards, I Gitaxian Probe for information and Zach decides to not concede but instead reveals a Ruric Thar, The Unbowed.

(In hindsight, I think it was likely correct to make Goblins here as Elves in that position likely couldn’t race 12 Goblins. The only way this bites us is if he’s actually on a weird list of 4c Loam with main deck The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale.)

Sideboarding: -3 Cabal Therapy, -1 Empty the Warrens, +2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Echoing Truth, +1 Tendrils of Agony

Game Two:

Zach mulligans and then searches up a Bayou and casts Deathrite Shaman. My turn one is a Duress, which reveals: Green Sun’s Zenith, Surgical Extraction, Glimpse of Nature and Windswept Heath. After seeing the Ruric Thar, The Unbowed in the first game, I know he’s not on a Julian Knab based list. I don’t want to risk Gaddock Teeg entering play so I discard Green Sun’s Zenith.

Zach draws, plays Windswept Heath and passes back.

I draw, lay Polluted Delta and cast Brainstorm. I go to fetch and Zach couldn’t wait to get that Surgical Extraction out of his hand (targeting my Brainstorm). Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor (revealing: Dark Ritual), Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame, Burning Wish and Empty the Warrens. Normally I would grab Tendrils of Agony here, but it was sided in to avoid Surgical Extraction.

It ends up not mattering.

4-1 | 2-0

Round Three – Shane Flanigan with Mono-Red Storm

Lotus Petal

I’ve known Shane since the days before Legacy, when the format was called “1.5”. I had a gut feeling that Shane would be playing mono-red Sneak Attack, I have no rationale for why, but that’s what I put him on. Afterwards, I tell this to Shane, he responds with, “Yeah, I brought that deck with me too.”

Game One:

Shane wins the die roll and goes, “Mountain, go!” with a quick motion. I thought, “I knew it! I’m glad I have this Duress.” Shane’s hand was: Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Manamorphose, Manamorphose, and Manamorphose. Well, this is awkward. Shane draws and it’s City of Traitors, he decides then to cast both copies of Manamorphose and then break all three Lotus Petal for Hazoret’s Undying Fury. Fortunately for me, it reveals three Mountains and a Rite of Flame.

On my turn I cast: Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, and Ad Nauseam.

Sideboarding: -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Swamp, +1 Xantid Swarm, +1 Bayou

Game Two:

Shane starts off the second game with City of Traitors into Ruby Medallion. This isn’t good. I search up Underground Sea and cast Duress. Shane’s hand is: Mountain, Gitaxian Probe, Burning Wish, Pyretic Ritual, and Desperate Ritual. I choose to discard Burning Wish.

Shane draws, casts Gitaxian Probe, lays a Mountain (sacrificing the City of Traitors), and then passes the turn.

In my main phase, I cast Brainstorm which allows me to become naturally hellbent by putting back an extra land while finding me a second Rite of Flame. I lay Polluted Delta, search up Badlands and start the fun.

Chrome Mox (Imprint: Burning Wish), Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor, and Ad Nauseam.

6-1 | 3-0

Round Four – Zachary Bashaw with Sneak & Show

Force Of Will
Show And Tell
Game One:

Zach wins the die roll and starts off with Volcanic Island and Ponder (shuffles). I start the match off with a Gitaxian Probe, which reveals: Force of Will, Omniscience, Show and Tell, Griselbrand, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and Lotus Petal. I’m forced to pass the turn back and hope he doesn’t have a land on top. This is not the case.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder, -1 Island, -1 Empty the Warrens, +2 Xantid Swarm, +1 Echoing Truth, +1 Bayou

Game Two:

The same exact game occurs game two except for the fact that Zach was able to hold open Flusterstorm on turn 1 while also having Force of Will. I lose on the second turn.

6-3 | 3-1

Round Five – Chris Allan with Infect

Glistener Elf
Xantid Swarm
Empty The Warrens
Game One:

Once again my opponent mulligans to five in the first game, at this point I wonder if people try too hard to aggressively mulligan against me. I win the roll and start the match off with a simple, “Bloodstained Mire, go.” Chris plays a Tropical Island into Noble Hierarch. I draw Duress for turn, lay another land and then cast Rite of Flame. After it resolves, I cast Dark Ritual, then finally the Duress. When Chris reveals his hand there isn’t much there, this allows me to play the rest of my hand into an Empty the Warrens for 14 Goblins.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder, -1 Scalding Tarn, +2 Xantid Swarm, +1 Bayou

Game Two:

Chris once again leads off with a Noble Hierarch. I search up the basic Swamp and cast Duress, which reveals: Force of Will, Flusterstorm, Hydroblast, Beserk, and Blighted Agent. Because of the fact my hand contains Xantid Swarm I definitely wanted to deny him the ability to counter it, which meant taking Force of Will. On Chris’s next turn he plays an Inkmoth Nexus followed by Blighted Agent.

On my turn I play Cabal Therapy on Beserk and then cast Xantid Swarm. My hand at this point is a Lion’s Eye Diamond, Ad Nauseam, and lands. I’m really hoping to draw a Dark Ritual.

We spend the next few turns attacking each other, while I play lands. Unfortunately I never drew a piece of acceleration. The turn before my fifth land drop, Chris draws Invigorate to end the game.

Game Three:

Underground Sea, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Chris interrupts me with a Surgical Extraction on my Rite of Flame. Chrome Mox (Imprinting: Burning Wish) and Empty the Warrens. Chris tanks for awhile until I ask him to make a decision, he then plays Windswept Heath into Tropical Island and Glistener Elf. I draw Xantid Swarm for turn, I think for a moment and decide to attack with seven Goblins, leaving five back (I’m still unsure if this is right or wrong). Without playing a second land, Chris attacks. I block with all five and he casts Invigorate. Post-combat he lays an Inkmoth Nexus.

I draw a Lotus Petal, then attack for seven. Lotus Petal and cast Xantid Swarm. The look on Chris’s face isn’t one that’s happy.

He draws, then reveals his hand of three more copies of Invigorate as well as Flusterstorm. We got there!

8-4 | 4-1

Round Six – Matthew Malenczak with Elves

Craterhoof Behemoth
Natural Order
Game One:

I lose the die roll and Matt starts off with basic Forest into Green Sun’s Zenith for Dryad Arbor. On my turn I cast Ponder, which sets up for a second turn Duress into a third turn Ad Nauseam. Normally this is enough to beat Elves, but not this game. On Matt’s second turn he drops four more Elves into play. My Duress hits a Natural Order leaving Matt with just a copy of Gaea’s Cradle in hand. Matt draws… It’s Craterhoof Behemoth.

Sideboarding: -1 Empty the Warrens, +1 Tendrils of Agony

Game Two:

I lead off with Polluted Delta and pass. Matt’s first turn is a Heritage Druid. I draw and then cast Brainstorm, I have the option of going all in on Ad Nauseam without Duress or Duress and Empty the Warrens. Due to how popular Mindbreak Trap has become in Elves, I decide to go for the Goblin plan. Bloodstained Mire, Badlands and Duress: Deathrite Shaman, Quirion Ranger, Forest, and Verdant Catacombs. Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, and Empty the Warrens.

After the game Matt makes a quip about how fun storm is to play against, I bite my tongue.

Game Three:

Matt does the normal Elves things the first two turns, without any hand disruption, which makes me believe that he has Mindbreak Trap or Surgical Extraction in hand. On my second turn, I cast Brainstorm. In order to win, I have to put back my third land as well as either Duress or Burning Wish. If I keep Burning Wish, I have a guaranteed Past in Flames kill assuming that Matt doesn’t have Surgical Extraction in hand. If I keep Duress, I’m a single mana short of chaining spells into Tendrils of Agony. Which means Ad Nauseam.

Ultimately, I decide to take the Duress line. Matt had Surgical Extraction in hand, but no Mindbreak Trap. I cast a pair of Lotus Petal, two Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor and Ad Nauseam.

As we de-sideboard, Matt continues to talk about the joys of playing against Storm. I smile, shake his hand, and wish him good luck the rest of the way.

10-5 | 5-1

Round Seven – Luke D’Imperio with Grixis Delver

Deathrite Shaman
Izzet Staticaster
Rite Of Flame

Luke is probably the nicest opponent I had throughout the event, he talked about how he was excited for his first feature match (off camera) and that he’s never day 2’d an event. He even mentioned how his girlfriend made plans for the next day because he typically doesn’t do well.

Game One:

I win the die roll and Luke sends his hand back for a fresh six. On the first turn, I begin the match with a Polluted Delta, Underground Sea, and Ponder. Luke plays Underground Sea into Delver of Secrets.

I play Bloodstained Mire and then cast Cabal Therapy naming Force of Will, I hit! The rest of Luke’s hand consists of: Scalding Tarn, Volcanic Island, Polluted Delta, and Cabal Therapy. Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish and Empty the Warrens.

Sideboarding: -1 Infernal Tutor, -1 Burning Wish, +2 Empty the Warrens

Game Two:

Luke starts the game with a pair of Gitaxian Probe, Scalding Tarn, Underground Sea, and Delver of Secrets. In Luke’s nervousness, when he goes to look for Delver of Secrets he accidentally reveals that the top card was Izzet Staticaster. Crap. Luke plays Deathrite Shaman and passes the turn without playing a land. My hand only does one thing, and it’s Empty the Warrens. I feel obligated to try, I end up making 8 Goblins.

Luke flips Delver of Secrets revealing Lightning Bolt. He exiles one of two lands in a graveyard and casts Young Pyromancer. I attack, he blocks and takes seven damage.

Luke casts Brainstorm, generates an Elemental, misses his land drop and passes.

I attack, he blocks, and uses Lightning Bolt.

On my next turn, I swing out, play Lotus Petal and cast Burning Wish. I actually played around Daze, but not two. I could’ve played out my Chrome Mox and Imprinted Ponder, but if I do and it’s countered there’s no coming back. Because I didn’t play out the Chrome Mox, Burning Wish is countered by the second Daze and I can’t retrieve Grapeshot. My own play mistake costs me the game.

Game Three:

My opening hand is: Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Empty the Warrens, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Badlands, Polluted Delta, and Bloodstained Mire. Badlands, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame? It’s met with a Force of Will. On Luke’s turn, he plays Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy and takes my Lion’s Eye Diamond. Not playing it might’ve been a misplay, I considered it, but when I only have Empty the Warrens as business – it’s questionable. I draw and it’s Gitaxian Probe. Play Polluted Delta and Gitaxian Probe, I draw Ponder, but have to shuffle and draw Chrome Mox.

Luke plays the two known copies of Delver of Secrets in his hand and thinks for a moment before flashing back a Cabal Therapy on Empty the Warrens. I draw Burning Wish, lay a land and get Past in Flames.

Luke transforms Delver of Secrets by revealing Cabal Therapy and discards my Past in Flames. At this point I’m thinking, Dark Ritual wont due, but Lion’s Eye Diamond would”.

I wasn’t even considering Rite of Flame, until I realized that I had just won the game. Rite of Flame, Past in Flames, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Gitaxian Probe, Chrome Mox, and Empty the Warrens.

12-6 | 6-1

Round Eight – Benjamin Nikolich with Grixis Delver

Game One:

Polluted Delta, search up Underground Sea and cast Brainstorm. All I was trying to accomplish was putting Empty the Warrens on top. But in the process, I picked up a Duress as well as the mana to cast it. Lotus Petal and Duress, Ben reveals his hand of: Force of Will, Gitaxian Probe, Young Pyromancer, and lands. Force of Will down. Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Ponder (adding RRRBBB to my mana pool), and cast Empty the Warrens. Ben concedes.

Sideboarding: -1 Infernal Tutor, -1 Burning Wish, +2 Empty the Warrens

Game Two:

My opening hand is: Ponder, Brainstorm, Gitaxian Probe, Burning Wish, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, and Underground Sea. Ben leads off with Underground Sea into Deathrite Shaman. I draw and it’s Dark Ritual, a good pick-up. I then cast Gitaxian Probe, which reveals: Flooded Strand, Flooded Strand, Brainstorm, Brainstorm, and Delver of Secrets. I DRAW Ad Nauseam!

Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, and Ad Nauseam.

14-6 | 7-1

Round Nine – Bob Huang with Grixis Delver

Ad Nauseam
Force Of Will

I apologize in advance, I didn’t take very good notes on this round.

Game One:

Bob sees my hand with a Gitaxian Probe and then follows it up with a Deathrite Shaman. My hand is mostly Lion’s Eye Diamonds, Lands, Empty the Warrens and Ad Nauseam. I manage to make eight Goblins and then follow it up with Ad Nauseam, but Bob knowing my hand doesn’t fall for the trap of countering any Goblins and waits for the Ad Nauseam. I lose.

Sideboarding: -1 Infernal Tutor, -1 Burning Wish, +2 Empty the Warrens

Game Two:

There’s a crucial turn in the game, where post-Brainstorm (I put back Rite of Flame and Lion’s Eye Diamond, but I accidently put them back in the wrong order) I cast Dark Ritual while representing Empty the Warrens. I do this intentionally, this way if Bob has a Force of Will, he’s obligated to use it. If he doesn’t, I can cast Ad Nauseam.

Bob has a Force of Will, next turn I can cast another Dark Ritual and Ad Nauseam. Bob’s Delver transforms off of a Daze, I think to myself, “That’s okay, I have Lion’s Eye Diamond on top.”

I draw Rite of Flame for turn… I have to ship the turn back. My life total goes from 15 to 12 and Bob plays a Deathrite Shaman.

I go all in with Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, and Ad Nauseam. Bob has another copy of Force of Will.

I ask him out of curiosity if he had it the turn earlier, his answer was, “Yes.”

14-8 | 7-2

Round Ten – Jim Davis with Miracles

Game One:

I win the die roll, Jim shuffles down to five cards. I keep kind of a clunky hand with some lands, Cabal Therapy, Burning Wish, Infernal Tutor, and Ad Nauseam. I play a land and pass, Jim plays a Ponder on his first turn. I untap, lay another Bloodstained Mire, search up two black sources and cast Infernal Tutor (revealing Cabal Therapy). Jim untaps and casts Brainstorm, missing his second land drop.

On my turn, I miss my land drop and play the pair of Cabal Therapy. Leaving Jim with: Back to Basics, Predict, Snapcaster Mage, and Portent. Jim casts Portent and passes back.

I fortunately draw Brainstorm and cast it, it finds Duress, Dark Ritual, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. I cast Duress snagging the hidden Force of Will from Jim’s Brainstorm.

Jim plays a Misty Rainforest and passes. At this point, grinding Jim to death with Past in Flames is out of the question due to the Back to Basics. I’m all in on Ad Nauseam with Lion’s Eye Diamond.

Jim casts a pair of Brainstorms and finds his third copy of Force of Will.

Sideboarding: -4 Ponder, -1 Burning Wish, -1 Empty the Warrens, +2 Abrupt Decay, +2 Xantid Swarm, +1 Tendrils of Agony, +1 Bayou

Game Two:

My opening hand for game two consists of: Bayou, Bloodstained Mire, Bloodstained Mire, Lotus Petal, Xantid Swarm, Xantid Swarm, and Rite of Flame. I start the second game with Bayou into Xantid Swarm, which is countered by a Force of Will.

On Jim’s turn he casts a Ponder. I untap, draw, and cast Duress. Jim reveals: Monastery Mentor, Vendilion Clique, Flooded Strand, Flooded Strand, and a Plains. I follow up with my second copy of Xantid Swarm.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any business spells in my hand. My thought process is if I draw a “tutor effect”, I’d rather have my mana rocks on the battlefield to provide less opportunity for Vendilion Clique to mess up my game plan.

I draw Burning Wish a turn too late as Jim now has three mana. I decide to not attack with Xantid Swarm because if I do, Jim will flash in Vendilion Clique, take my Burning Wish and then kill my insect. This way, he would’ve had to have found another Counterspell. Unfortunately for me, he did.

I have plenty of time to rebuild, but draw a lot of mana with no business spell.

14-10 | 7-3

Round Eleven – Justin Wheeler with Burn

Past In Flames
Empty The Warrens
Game One:

I win the die roll and quickly drop a dozen Goblins on the table by playing Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Burning Wish and Empty the Warrens. Justin shuffles his hand into his library for game two.

Sideboarding: -4 Ponder, -1 Duress, -1 Cabal Therapy, +2 Abrupt Decay, +2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Echoing Truth, +1 Bayou

When looking at Justin, he gave me the impression of someone who played Chalice of the Void. Pairing this with how quickly he said my first few spells resolved, I had a gut feeling he wasn’t on a blue deck. I pegged him for Moon Stompy.

Game Two:

Mountain Chain Lightning… I wasn’t far off. I draw Gitaxian Probe for turn and cast it hesitantly, I’m glad I did! Because it revealed: Pyrostatic Pillar, Pyrostatic Pillar, Fireblast, Price of Progress and a Mountain. I can’t win the game and am pretty far off, so I decide to use Lotus Petal to cast Brainstorm. Have I mentioned how lucky I am yet? After drawing one of two Cabal Therapy left in the deck, I felt like I was getting away with something. I search up the basic Swamp with Polluted Delta and cast Cabal Therapy.

Justin draws, plays the Mountain and passes. I play the basic Island from my hand and Ponder into Duress, Justin allows me to discard his Fireblast. His draw for turn was another Mountain.

On my next turn, I jam Ad Nauseam from 14 life and decide to stop at eight life. This will allow a clear Past in Flames kill on my following turn. I just need to hope that Justin’s draw steps aren’t back-to-back perfects.

They weren’t. I cast a lot of spells from my graveyard into a Tendrils of Agony.

16-10 | 8-3

Round Twelve – Shawn Massak with Soldier Stompy

Empty The Warrens
Thalia Guardian Of Thraben
Game One:

I lose the die roll, then mulligan. Shawn has a first turn Karakas, for a split second, I think, “Yes!” because I have a turn one Empty the Warrens for 14 Goblins. He quickly breaks the illusion with a Chrome Mox and Suppression field which shuts off my only land. I draw hoping for another mana source I could use but miss, so I play my Bloodstained Mire. Shawn draws and passes. I draw and miss again. Shawn draws and plays Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, I concede.

Sideboarding: -4 Ponder, -3 Duress, +2 Abrupt Decay, +2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Echoing Truth, +1 Empty the Warrens, +1 Bayou

Game Two:

I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure if this hand is a keep. But I kept it and it worked. Swamp, Bloodstained Mire, Polluted Delta, Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, and Empty the Warrens. I play all four spells and generate 8 Goblins. Shawn stares at his hand for a moment and says, “Game three.” I couldn’t believe it.

Sideboarding: -1 Empty the Warrens, +1 Duress

As we go into game three, Shawn quickly reaches for two cards in his sideboard. Making me believe he didn’t sideboard in Holy Light initially. Because of this, it makes me want to sideboard down on Empty the Warrens.

Game Three:

My opening hand consists of: Underground Sea, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, Chain of Vapor, and Chrome Mox. I’m crossing my fingers that Shawn has a slow start. He’s staring at his hand and shaking his head a little bit, I can’t tell if it’s a bait or not. He ultimately decides to keep it and quickly says, “Plains, go.”

I lay Underground Sea, Chrome Mox (imprinting: Burning Wish – to avoid Surgical Extraction), Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor and Ad Nauseam! As I reveal cards, I reveal the singleton Duress that I sided back in over a copy of Empty the Warrens. I also reveal the Empty the Warrens, I’m forced to keep revealing at four life until I hit a second initial mana source to close out the game.

18-11 | 9-3

Round Thirteen – Kamil Lupicki with Grixis Delver

Surgical Extraction
Game One:

I begin this match with everyone’s favorite play of Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy off of basic Swamp, forcing Kamil to discard his Force of Will. This leaves him with: Daze, Delver of Secrets, Wasteland, Gitaxian Probe, Underground Sea, and Lightning Bolt. on Kamil’s turn he plays Gitaxian Probe and Delver of Secrets. On my turn, I search up the basic Island and cast Ponder.

On Kamil’s turn, Delver of Secrets transforms revealing Spell Pierce. Lays Misty Rainforest, attacks (15 life) and passes back.

I draw, lay Bloodstained Mire and pass. Kamil lays a Volcanic Island, attacks and passes.

Like the other turns, Kamil attacks (12 life) and passes, this time without playing the Wasteland I still knew about. On his end step, I cast Brainstorm. He thinks for a while and decides to Spell Pierce it. The idea is too keep me from finding something that is plus two mana to play around Daze.

Unfortunately for him, the draw for my turn is Lion’s Eye Diamond. I have to decide if Ad Nauseam from 8 life (with one mana available post-Daze and a land drop) is better than the odds of Kamil having drawn a second Lightning Bolt or possibly drawing a second Lightning Bolt in two turns to race Empty the Warrens. Not only that, but he would also have a one turn window to draw either Deathrite Shaman or a Delver of Secrets (it would have to flip).

I’ll admit, I took awhile on this decision and ultimately decided that I thought Goblins were the safer bet. I made 14 Goblins. The plan worked.

Sideboarding: -1 Infernal Tutor, -1 Burning Wish, +2 Empty the Warrens

Game Two:

This is a weird game, Kamil actually kept a very creature heavy hand with three copies of Delver of Secrets, Deathrite Shaman, Gitaxian Probe, and lands. Which is great match for my hand, it races my potential Empty the Warrens on turn three. I take an alternative route of playing Dark Ritual, two copies of Lion’s Eye Diamond, and then Ponder (adding RRRBBBUUU to my mana pool). I don’t find a business spell.

Game Three:

I use Polluted Delta to search up Underground Sea and cast Cabal Therapy naming Force of Will, Kamil reveals his hand of: Flusterstorm, Daze, Pyroblast, Surgical Extraction, Delver of Secrets, Scalding Tarn and Cabal Therapy.


Kamil untaps and usees Surgical Extraction to removal all of my copies of Cabal Therapy before casting his own on my Ad Nauseam. My hand is now: Bloodstained Mire, Brainstorm, Dark Ritual, and Lion’s Eye Diamond.

I untap and draw a second copy of Lion’s Eye Diamond. Lay Bloodstained Mire and cast Brainstorm into Lotus Petal, Burning Wish, and something I can’t remember (not relevant) putting back the blank and Dark Ritual.

Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond? “Resolves”. I realize that I’ve won. Burning Wish! Soon 12 Goblins are on the table.

20-12 | 10-3

Round Fourteen – Jake Farrar with Tezzerator

Force Of Will
Dark Petition
Game One:

Jake wins the die roll and begins with City of Traitors, Dimir Signet, Mox Diamond, and Walking Ballista. I draw and cast Duress, which reveals Force of Will and Dack Faden. Force of Will down. Jake untaps and immediately casts Dack Faden, uses it’s ability, attacks and passes. I draw Cabal Therapy and cast Burning Wish for Dark Petition, with the Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond and a third land in hand it guarantees an Ad Nauseam on the following turn.

Jake draws, activates his Dack Faden, and quickly casts Transmute Artifact for a Chalice of the Void on zero. Now, I had considered Chalice of the Void on my previous turn but not Transmute Artifact. This leaves me in an uneasy position.

I draw and it’s Rite of Flame! This allows me to cast everything into Empty the Warrens for 10 Goblins.

To my dismay, Jake untaps and casts Thopter Foundry before activating Dack Faden and already has Sword of the Meek in his graveyard. The game goes on a handful more turns before I lose to a horde of Thopter tokens.

Sideboarding: -4 Ponder, -1 Burning Wish, -1 Island, +2 Abrupt Decay, +2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Echoing Truth, +1 Bayou

Game Two:

I keep a hand with Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy, which leaves Jake with: Island, Underground Sea, Underground Sea, City of Traitors, and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas after I discard his Chalice of the Void. Jake plays an Underground Sea and passes, on my turn I play Brainstorm and a fetchland. Jake draws, plays City of Traitors, Mox Diamond, and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. He activates his Planeswalker and picks up a Dimir Signet. I draw and make myself hellbent for Infernal Tutor with Chrome Mox, Lotus Petal, and casting a Rite of Flame before searching up Ad Nauseam. My game plan here is to hopefully draw a mana source on my next turn and cast Ad Nauseam.

Jake uses his Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas to turn Mox Diamond into a 5/5 and crashes in, dropping me to 12 life. I draw and… it’s Lion’s Eye Diamond. Not being able to cast Ad Nauseam, I lose the game.

20-14 | 10-4

Round Fifteen – Phil Blechman with Esper Mentor

Monastery Mentor
Zealous Persecution
Echoing Truth

This is tough, Phil and I have been good friends since 2011. We’re even staying in the same hotel room, we were all pulling for Phil to top 8 the event after his strong start. Now we’re here.

Game One:

I win the die roll and start with the classic Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy line (off of a Bloodstained Mire into Underground Sea), my decision is tough as this is Phil’s hand: Island, Swords to Plowshares, Force of Will, Brainstorm, Deathrite Shaman, Cabal Therapy, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I ultimately decide on Brainstorm as I think I can eventually win through the Force of Will. Phil laughs as he draws his card for turn and slams Brainstorm on the table, he then laughs some more and says, “You’ve got this one.”

I cast my own Brainstorm (which finds a second copy of Burning Wish), lay a Polluted Delta and pass the turn back. My hand at this point is two pairs of Burning Wish, a land, and a whole lot of fast mana.

Phil draws and passes back without a land drop.

I play my last land and cast Burning Wish, which resolves. I grab a copy of Empty the Warrens and pass back. Phil does the same thing as he did on his previous turn.

I quickly untap and move in for the kill – Rite of Flame? Force of Will. Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Chrome Mox, and Empty the Warrens. Phil concedes.

Sideboarding: -1 Chrome Mox, +1 Echoing Truth

I initially side in the green card suite and even Tendrils of Agony, knowing Phil could have hatebears and I knew for a fact that he had two copies of Zealous Persecution. Then, it dawned on me, that it didn’t matter – we’re dead. That and Xantid Swarm is very bad against Zealous Persecution. Then I thought, “Well, if I’m not bringing in Xantid Swarm, I’m not going to bother with Abrupt Decay.” Shortly after we arrived at the above configuration.

Game Two:

I send my initial hand back for six. Game two is a bit of a long one, Phil opens this time with Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy. There’s a Surgical Extraction at one point on my Brainstorms. Around this point in the game Phil plays a Deathrite Shaman, on my turn I draw Ponder and cast it into Gitaxian Probe and a pair of Cabal Therapy. I decide to hold off for a turn on playing the drawn cards because my hand is all mana with no business. Phil untaps and casts Monastery Mentor before passing back to me.

Without thinking, I jam the Gitaxian Probe without considering if I should pay life or mana, which was very relevant. I look at a hand of: Force of Will, Ponder, and Zealous Persecution. Within a few moments, both of the blue cards are in his graveyard from my two copies of Cabal Therapy.

Phil drains me with Deathrite Shaman, untaps and swings in with Monastery Mentor without enlarging it with prowess.

I draw and it’s Ad Nauseam! I go all in and cast it. Phil drains me with Deathrite Shaman for it resolves (I’m now at 14 life). I start to get very nervous as I’m revealing cards, there’s no initial mana sources and I’m at seven life with no mana floating. This is my punishment for siding out a Chrome Mox.

I look at what I’ve revealed to Ad Nauseam and I would need some insane luck to win if I keep going, so I stop. Which is a mistake, I forgot about the Cabal Therapy in Phil’s graveyard. All Phil has to do is cast Zealous Persecution, then sacrifice his new creature to the Cabal Therapy before attacking.

Phil’s draw step is a cantrip, which makes this irrelevant, but I should’ve played better. I look at the top seven to eight cards in my deck, the two copies of Chrome Mox were there as well as a Lotus Petal. If I had played correctly, we would’ve gotten there.

Sideboarding: -1 Echoing Truth, +1 Chrome Mox

Not again. My Ad Nauseam will not fail me! I didn’t see any hate creatures from Phil and decide, “If he has one, he’s got it.”

Game Three:

I keep an opening hand of: Ponder, Ponder, Island, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, and Infernal Tutor. I lay my Island and cast Ponder into three different fetchlands, I consider keeping for a moment before deciding that this doesn’t advance my game-plan at all, I shuffle and draw Cabal Therapy. It’s a start! Phil draws and plays Deathrite Shaman off of an Underground Sea.

I draw for turn and it’s a second copy of Infernal Tutor… great. Cast Ponder, which looks at: Burning Wish, Infernal Tutor, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. This is an all-in play, if you keep this for the Lion’s Eye Diamond, you lose to Force of Will on Dark Ritual. I look into Phil’s blue eyes, I can see it in his soul, he doesn’t have it or maybe I’m just a gambling man. Either way, I cast Lotus Petal and Dark Ritual, my heart starts pounding faster and faster. “Resolves” are the words that come out of his mouth, I breathe a sigh of relief.

Cabal Therapy? “Resolves”. I name Force of Will, to which there are none.

Dark Ritual again, Infernal Tutor (revealing: Lion’s Eye Diamond), Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, and Infernal Tutor again (adding RRRBBB to my mana pool).

Burning Wish and Tendrils of Agony.

22-15 | 11-4

That’s it. The event was over, Phil slides my foil Flooded Strand back to me that he had borrowed. It always sucks to face a good friend, but that’s the game sometimes.

Totals & Stats

  • Games & Record: 22-15 | 11-4
  • The Die Roll: 8-7
  • Mulligans: 5
  • Turn One Combos: 6
  • Ad Nauseam Wins: 7
  • Past in Flames Wins: 3
  • Empty the Warrens Wins: 11
  • Natural Tendrils of Agony Wins: 1


Closing & General Thoughts

I had high hopes for a top 8 finish after chaining some wins together day two, but ultimately fell short and landed in 16th place — a respectable finish (but not great). Even after finishing the last round in a win, I found myself in the same place as Phil, wondering where I fell short on the day. Considering what I could’ve done better.

I loved the deck list and could easily see myself running it in my next large event. Not once did I miss Telemin Performance, meanwhile, the extra Empty the Warrens was super helpful. AJ Kerrigan cut Grapeshot and Past in Flames from his sideboard, he says he didn’t miss them at all. I personally needed Past in Flames twice and would’ve used Grapeshot to win if my Burning Wish wasn’t countered. Something to keep in mind is that, this is only one event from a data perspective and a larger sample size could provide more insight.

I do think it’s reasonable to test lists with no Past in Flames or Grapeshot, but they would have to be cut for high-impact cards.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to update parts of the website with new content based on the most recent list. Stay tuned!

Until next time, keep storming!