Welcome back to the Infernal Tutoring series!
Hey Stormtroopers, I’m back with another episode of Infernal Tutoring. I have been getting tons of practice with the deck since the last installment and feel like I am fast improving with the deck.
However, The EPIC Storm still proves to be the hardest deck I have ever played in Magic: The Gathering. The increased threat density of both Burning Wish and Infernal Tutor can be hard to juggle and often times I am finding myself unsure on when to use excess tutors for utility or hold on to them until the combo turn.
This month’s situations will be screenshots from Magic the Gathering Online in which I was put in a difficult scenario with many decision trees. Part of becoming good at playing Storm is figuring out how to operate on limited resources with limited time and many options, and these situations all highlight that.
For this week, the latest version of The EPIC Storm (TES) was used from the website.
- 4 Burning Wish
- 4 Infernal Tutor
- 4 Brainstorm
- 4 Ponder
- 4 Gitaxian Probe
- 3 Cabal Therapy
- 3 Duress
- 1 Empty the Warrens
- 1 Ad Nauseam
SITUATION #1 – Grixis Delver
The meta is starting to settle after the April banning of Sensei’s Divining Top and the Grixis colored (or Grixis with a splash) decks of the format have clearly emerged as top dogs. With Grixis Delver taking up nearly 20% of the meta, 4c Control another 12% and Storm as almost 7%.
Grixis Delver can be a very good matchup for The EPIC Storm. However, they do have all the tools to beat us. Like all Delver decks they combine a fast clock with mana denial and counter magic but where the matchup is really won or lost a lot of the times is through Cabal Therapy and Young Pyromancer. If they are able to get this engine online they can quickly mind twist us and we may never be able to rebuild the critical mass necessary to go off. Because of this it is important to go off before they can assemble this engine.
Empty the Warrens is amazing against Grixis Delver, and The EPIC Storm utilizes that card probably better than any deck in the format. However, sometimes Empty the Warrens can get tricky against them because of their ability to create a massive amount of tokens with Young Pyromancer and stabilize at a low life total.
In this situation, we are playing Game Three vs Grixis Delver and have side boarded according to the website’s recommendations.
Website recommendation for side boarding:
-1 Ponder, -1 Burning Wish
+2 Defense Grid
We have had to fight our way through a fair bit of disruption this game including a Force of Will, a Daze and a Null Rod that we discarded all while having our life total clocked by a Delver of Secrets. On their turn, our opponent tapped out for a Young Pyromancer and we know their hand is Snapcaster Mage, Wasteland and 1 blank. Odds are that the game does not get better for us if we wait, as any Cabal Therapy off the top will likely end the game, and we will be going down to at least 5 life.
We have a Badlands, an Island and a Swamp out. Our hand is: Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond and Burning Wish. We are at 10 life while our opponent is at 18.
We are able to make 9 mana this turn and are facing down a flipped Delver of Secrets and a Young Pyromancer. I see it as us having three options. Option #1 is that we can cast the Rite of Flame or Lotus Petal and then the Burning Wish and Grapeshot our opponent’s board, buying us at least a few more turns although the Snapcaster Mage will be beating us down soon. Option #2 is to Burning Wish for another Burning Wish or Dark Petition and then grab Empty the Warrens and make 12 Goblin tokens However, our opponent already has a permanent blocker and a Young Pyromancer to make more tokens, as well as a Snapcaster Mage that will also remove one goblin so this may be risky. Option #3 is that we try and resolve Ad Nauseam with 0 mana floating from 10 life. Relevant information regarding the Ad Nauseam is that there are 3 Lotus Petals, 3 Chrome Mox and 1 land drop left to make this turn.
Which option do you take?
SITUATION #2 – Miracles
The New Miracles deck has proven to be an incredibly interesting matchup. We don’t have the incredibly versatile (and clunky) Abrupt Decays to combat the hate they bring in any more. And because they are no longer playing Sensei’s Divining Top or Counterbalance, they have upped the number of counterspells they are playing, forcing us to win through an insane amount of hate.
Although permanent based pieces of hate such as Leyline of Sanctity and Meddling Mage are also popular, Ethersworn Canonist has proven to be the standard piece of hate that you can expect.
To combat Ethersworn Canonist and the multitude of counterspells that Miracles plays I sideboarded according to the website and we are in Game Three.
Website recommendation for sideboarding:
-2 Chrome Mox, -2 Ponder,-1 Empty the Warrens
+2 Defense Grid, +2 Rending Volley, +1 Tendrils of Agony
In this situation, we are facing down two Ethersworn Canonists and our opponent likely has multiple pieces of countermagic up. We are currently on a 3 turn clock with Badlands, Island ,and Defense Grid on our side of the field. Our opponent has 4 lands, and so can cast either Flusterstorm or Force of Will, and even Counterspell if they hit another land drop.
Our hand is: Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor, Infernal Tutor, Rite of Flame, Duress and Rending Volley.
We are being locked down under the Ethersworn Canonists and our Defense Grids are not allowing us to cast the Rending Volley on our opponents turn.
How can we sequence our next few turns to give us the best chance of winning this game?
SITUATION #3 – Miracles
In this match, we are playing Game 1 vs. the Miracles list that recently took down MKM Prague. This version is a little more streamlined than some of the other Miracles lists and plays 4 main deck Monastery Mentor and 3 Dazes so they have a much faster clock and some additional free disruption.
Our opponent just played a Monastery Mentor on their turn 4 and has left up a Tundra and we know that their hand has Ponder, Daze, Portent, Snapcaster Mage and 2 unknowns.
The Monastery Mentor is going to quickly threaten our life total and turn off our Ad Nauseam.
It is our turn 5 and we have a Volcanic Island, an Underground Sea, and a Badlands out. Our hand is Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Ad Nauseam, Infernal Tutor, Cabal Therapy, Brainstorm and Lotus Petal.
The obvious line is to cast our Lotus Petal, our Dark Ritual and our Ad Nauseam with protection from Daze. We don’t have a land drop left to make this turn but we do have plenty of life to work with.
However, we probably don’t want to risk cracking our Lion’s Eye Diamond in case our opponent has drawn Force of Will or Spell Pierce.
I decide that my chances of hitting a mana source off my Brainstorm are good enough to risk it and if I find a Gitaxian Probe or another Dark Ritual, I will feel a little more comfortable with Ad Nauseam.
However our Brainstorm was a brick and has left us with the same options but less mana to work with, a Brainstorm, a Ponder, and a Scalding Tarn.
How would you resolve this Brainstorm, and then proceed with the rest of the turn?
I think the mistake I made here is that I cast Brainstorm instead of Ad Nauseam. As I mentioned in the first situation, you need to put yourself into a winning position while playing Storm. If you play Storm scared and try to play around everything all the time you will lose to yourself more than you lose to your opponent. It does suck to lose to Force of Will when we have a Cabal Therapy in hand but I like our odds better here than allowing our opponent to untap with a handful of cantrips, an active Monastery Mentor, and a Snapcaster Mage in hand. Play the Dark Ritual, the Lotus Petal, and then the Ad Nauseam, if they Daze you pay for it and if they Force of Will you are rebuilding with 3 lands, a Lion’s Eye Diamond, and an Infernal Tutor which is not the worst place to be.
In terms of salvaging the mistake of casting the Brainstorm I think that we should put back the Scalding Tarn and the Brainstorm and then Ponder, hoping to find another Ritual or just shuffling those cards away if need be and then go for the Ad Nauseam line next turn with slightly less life to work with.
Before having cast the Brainstorm: I really like using our Ad Nauseam here and knowing that we often won’t be going for the win this turn, but instead get to draw a ton of cards and sculpt a badass hand to wreck with next turn. There’s even a reasonable argument for casting Ad Nauseam on our opponent’s upkeep so that they are more mana constrained if we want to go for it next turn (I think the fact that they have Snap Caster Mage into Brainstorm tilts it in favor of going for it on our turn).
As played I think I would put back the Brainstorm and probably the Ponder; play the Lotus Petal and Infernal Tutor for a second Cabal Therapy. A good rule of thumb with storm is to play in such a way that you cut yourself off from as few lines as possible. This line admittedly violates that rule and is very aggressive. But I think we have an excellent chance of winning with Ad Nauseam next turn if we are able to assemble enough disruption.
Writing last month’s Infernal Tutoring and seeing what the great Storm players that write for this site had to say really opened my eyes up to some things. On several of the situations they saw lines that I had not even considered, but more than anything I realized that almost all of them played with much less fear than I did.
Not playing scared is my take away from this month’s installation as well. Storm is a deck more than any other where you need formulate a game plan and constantly be progressing towards a winning situation. Not every line is going to be perfect, and you will not always have perfect info and sometimes you will have the Force of Will or Flusterstorm and you will lose. But that is part of playing the deck and part of Magic. Making the highest percentage play is incredibly important, and getting distracted by other factors will only take away from yourself.
The EPIC Storm is an incredibly complex and powerful deck. We are casting so many spells and operating under the thinnest of margins all while trying to win in the first few turns of the game. By playing with confidence and playing to win, we put ourselves in the best position to do so.
Until next time, keep storming on!