We are back with this month’s Infernal Tutoring article! With this month’s version of the decklist, Massacre has been removed in favor of a second Empty the Warrens in the sideboard. As the year draws to a close, the meta continues to evolve and churn. There seems to have been an influx of new players on MTGO, with the crash of card prices. This could be why I saw a lot more off meta decks while playing this month. Let’s take a look at some of these less seen decks!
A few words on Wilson Hunter (Patrunkenphat7):
Wilson Hunter is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of CardBoard Live. Father of two humans and one dog. He is an Atlanta Braves fan, pinball wizard, and aquarium enthusiast. Magically, Wilson has 2 GP top 8s, 3 GP top 16s, SCG Invitational top 4 (with ANT), and a Pro Tour top 25. He started playing Magic in 2002, but started playing competitively in 2011. He is a huge fan of Cube and Magic podcasting.
Welcome to game one. The opponent has two Delver of Secrets ready to begin attacking our life total, which is a problem given the Ad Nauseam in our hand. Fortunately, Ponder turned up a couple of Chrome Mox to make another red source to get to five mana. The problem is the opponent revealed a Stifle to their Delver of Secrets on the previous turn, as this can counter the imprint trigger.
We are under the gun with two Delvers in play and are fortunate to be facing Stifle as the lone interaction piece in the opponent’s hand. This is a clear “jam with confidence” scenario. Put the Rite of Flame on the bottom of the Ponder stack and do not shuffle. Immediately play the drawn Chrome Mox hoping they don’t Stifle, and try again next turn if they pull the trigger.
The issue is that if they Stifle the Chrome Mox trigger, then the Delver of Secrets that the opponent controls may attack for four or six damage, depending on if the Delver flips. I don’t think I would shuffle this Ponder, looking for a non fetch land or another Dark Ritual. I think it’s more likely to win the game by hoping they either do not Stifle the Chrome Mox or by the Ad Nauseam succeeding from a lower life total. Thus, I would stack the Ponder: Chrome Mox, Chrome Mox, Rite of Flame and try to go off this turn.
I would resolve the Ponder with Rite of Flame on the bottom, and the copies of Chrome Mox on top. I would definitely jam Chrome Mox, and if they do use the Stifle, I would try again next turn! If they draw another disruption card, we will know about it because of the second Delver of Secrets flipping. The longer we wait, the worst it gets for us!
There’s no way our opponent is going to Stifle the Chrome Mox. Put Rite of Flame on the bottom, play a Chrome Mox and then dunk on them. Even if they are a savant, you can try again the following turn with the Chrome Mox on top of the library.
The problem with shuffling is that there aren’t a ton of cards in the deck that let us combo around Stifle. What I like about keeping this Ponder is that it’s pretty great if our opponent doesn’t Stifle Chrome Mox, and even if they do we can still Ad Nauseam next turn. Ad Nauseam from 13 or 11 are both fine, especially given that we’ll be able to do it with an Island untapped and a land drop to be made, plus a guaranteed Rite of Flame.
I think we want to jam. That being said, I’d put Rite of Flame on the bottom, then draw a Chrome Mox. I’d lead off with Chrome Mox, if the trigger gets countered by Stifle, we can attempt a combo next turn, if it doesn’t get countered, I would imprint a Dark Ritual and try to jam Ad Nauseam. Given the information we have and the clock our opponent has, we can’t afford waiting.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the opponent let the Imprint trigger from Chrome Mox resolve. If the Imprint trigger doesn’t resolve we can try again the following turn with an Ad Nauseam from 11 life if the opponents second Delver of Secrets transforms. Stack the Ponder as such: Rite of Flame, Chrome Mox, Chrome Mox. Keep, draw.
I think our best odds of winning this game involve comboing on this turn. If we wait our Ad Nauseam gets significantly worse because we will be taking another 4-6 damage. By providing them with more turns they also get more looks at counterspells. Because my goal would be to combo off this turn I would stack one copy of Chrome Mox on the top to draw it, and then cast it to imprint a Rite of Flame. This would allow me to cast the other Rite of Flame and the Dark Ritual into Ad Nauseam. I just don’t think shuffling or waiting increase our chances of winning the game.
Starting the holiday season tutoring right off with a Ponder puzzle! I would be surprised if the Stifle is used on a Mox with 2 lands in play already and feel quite comfortable stacking Chrome Mox, Chrome Mox, and Rite of Flame from top to bottom regardless.
SITUATION #2 – B/R Reanimator
B/R Reanimator is one of the worst matchups for The EPIC Storm. They have a faster combo and tons of discard to prevent us from going off. Often the key to the matchup is more of going off before they can rather than preventing a reanimation with our discard.
In this situation, the opponent is ready to reanimate a Griselbrand on their next turn, likely spelling doom for us. Fortunately, multiple copies of Brainstorm might either let us go off this turn or survive their onslaught of discard. There a couple of things to consider here:What do you put back from this Brainstorm? Do we play any other spells this turn?
While it feels bad to pass the turn in the face of an impending Griseldaddy, we are actually in solid shape here. Put a Rite of Flame and then Infernal Tutor on top of the deck, and play out all mana rocks imprinting the second Infernal Tutor on the Chrome Mox and leaving only a Brainstorm in hand. Unless the opponent is able to Reanimate a Chancellor, we should be able to win the game next turn with either Ad Nauseam or natural Tutor for Tendrils if our opponent pays 14 life off Griselbrand.
In this situation, I’m hoping to make the hand as discard proof as possible so we have the chance to go off next turn. I would put back the two infernal tutors and then play out the artifacts with Chrome Mox pitching Brainstorm. This gives seven mana on the next turn to Infernal Tutor for Ad Nauseam no matter what discard spells the opponent has.
To resolve the Brainstorm I would put back both copies of Infernal Tutor to protect myself from the almost guaranteed discard spell. From there I would play out my Chrome Mox imprinting Brainstorm, Lotus Petal, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. This should leave me with a pretty clean Ad Nauseam next turn!
Put Rite of Flame on the bottom with Infernal Tutor on top of the Library. From there, play out all three artifacts and now you can beat anything that is put into play that isn’t a Chancellor of the Annex.
We can’t reliably combo off this turn, so I like putting back Rite of Flame then Infernal Tutor, and then playing out our entire hand, imprinting Infernal Tutor on Chrome Mox. This line is obviously bad if our opponent is able to get Iona, Shield of Emeria into play after Griselbrand, but that actually isn’t super likely. Next turn we will Ad Nauseam, and I put back Rite of Flame rather than Infernal Tutor because I wanted more rituals and a marginally lower average converted mana cost for Ad Nauseam.
This seems clear to me. I would put back Rite of Flame and Brainstorm with the Brainstorm. After this I would play Chrome Mox imprinting an Infernal Tutor, then Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, and finally Infernal Tutor. With my copies of Lion’s Eye Diamond I would crack them for 3R and 3B, and find Ad Nauseam with the Infernal Tutor. I would leave a red mana floating instead of black, as we have all four copies of Burning Wish in our deck and only two copies of Infernal Tutor. Unless something goes wrong with Ad Nauseam, we win this game.
To resolve this Brainstorm I would put back both copies of Infernal Tutor to protect them from the opponents discard as I plan to pass the turn. Likewise I want to protect as much mana as possible from discard for the following turn so I would cast Lotus Petal, cast Chrome Mox (Imprint: Brainstorm), cast Lion’s Eye Diamond, leaving just Rite of Flame in hand and pass the turn. Next turn we will draw our Infernal Tutor and have access to 7-8 mana for an Ad Nauseam line.
I would put the Rite of Flame on the bottom with an Infernal Tutor on top. I would play out all of my artifacts imprinting the second copy of Infernal Tutor, leaving me with just Brainstorm in hand. This would allow me to beat any discard spell by having 7 mana and the Infernal Tutor on top of my deck to go for Ad Nauseam. My worst fear with this line would be him reanimating the Griselbrand and then drawing enough cards to put a second creature, like an Iona, Shield of Emeria or Chancellor of the Annex to prevent me from going off.
Comboing this turn is quite out of reach for us, so I would return the Rite of Flame and Infernal Tutor on top of your library to imprint the second Infernal Tutor into the Chrome Mox. Drop the other 2 mana artifacts and set up Ad Nauseam for the next turn while leaving your combo immune to discard.
SITUATION #3 – Painter
Painter is a combo prison deck based around the interaction of Painter’s Servant and Grindstone.
I began calculating the chance the opponent draws a land in two draw steps using a hypergeometric calculator, but then I realized that I would have to consider the possibility of three potential Enlightened Tutors on the first draw step that could fetch a potential Great Furnace. Since my compensation package for theepicstorm.com punditry does not cover advanced statistics calculation, let’s estimate the probability of drawing at least one land in two draw steps is approximately 63%. Not great odds for us, but our alternatives do not seem better…
…And interestingly, the actual probability does very little to solve this problem. It’s apparent that if we pass the turn we are still hoping our opponent does not draw a land, and if they don’t, we are looking for a very small number of outs in our deck (4 Infernal Tutor or whatever cheap artifact destruction we sideboarded in). Brainstorm does not help because of the red blasts. If we do not hit one of these outs we are left hoping for another land miss on the draw step to get another look at a low probability out at which point we would have won the game if we had simply…
Made 14 Goblins and prayed.
There are a couple of factors going into my decision here. The ability to cantrip is severely limited by the double Pyroblast in the opponent’s hand. Dark Petition is turned off because of the Tormod’s Crypt. The opponent drawing a second mana source is likely the end of the game for us anyway, due to having double Ethersworn Canonist. I do not think waiting to draw an Infernal Tutor wins the game, so I would cast Empty the Warrens by casting: Duress, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish (hold priority, crack both Lion’s Eye Diamonds for red and then getting Empty the Warrens), Empty the Warrens for 14 goblins and a two turn clock.
This is a pretty bleak situation! The opponent had multiple angles of hating us out! Our Cantrips are shut down because the opponent has Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast in hand. Our Dark Petition line and a Past In Flames lines are shut down because of the Tormod’s Crypt. Our Goblin Army will be destroyed if the opponent draws a second land because of the Engineered Explosives. The chances of our opponent drawing a second land are pretty high, especially considering that they most likely have artifact lands that they can Enlighten Tutor for.
I think regardless of the low odds of winning, I would go for fourteen goblins here, as the opponent drawing a second land probably means game over for us anyway because of the copies of Ethersworn Canonist.
You certainly aren’t going to win by sitting on your hands. When in doubt, peanut butter and jam.
We don’t really have any great choices as far as waiting goes, because we are two Mountains away from even being able to set up a nice Pulverize line. We just have too many draws that do nothing and our opponent will only get further ahead. I think our best choice is to play Duress, then Lotus Petal into Rite of Flame, play both Lion’s Eye Diamonds, and then Burning Wish for Empty the Warrens making 14 tokens. We give our opponent two turns to find a land, and as long as they don’t find it next turn, we can get them to five which is still not easy to beat, but opens the possibility of a Pulverize into a Tendrils of Agony or Grapeshot in five or six turns. Normally, I would say that we should not cast Duress, make only 12 tokens, and leave ourselves with one Lion’s Eye Diamond, but that Lion’s Eye Diamond will be swept up by Engineered Explosives, so it doesn’t do much here.
If our opponent gets to two mana and plays and Ethersworn Canonist before we combo, we likely lose anyways as we are very far away from casting Pulverize, or a bounce spell off of a land. I would cross our fingers and go for an Empty the Warrens kill.
I’d start this by leading off with Duress, then playing Lotus Petal, cracking it for red mana, then casting Rite of Flame, then both copies of our Lion’s Eye Diamond, with Burning Wish I would grab Empty the Warrens and make fourteen goblins, and pray they don’t draw a second mana source.
We kind of have our back against the wall here. Tormod’s Crypt kills any hope we have of running a Dark Petition line into Ad Nauseam, if we wait around to make a play the opponent could possibly play an Ethersworn Cannonist but they need to first draw a land. That same land drop is what holding the opponent back from activating their Engineered Explosives to destroy our potential goblin tokens if we decided to take a line with Empty the Warrens. I think we have to force the opponent to draw their out: Duress (Storm 1) take whatever, Lotus Petal (Storm 2), sacrifice Lotus Petal (1R) to cast Rite of Flame (Storm 3, 2R) Cast both copies of Lion’s Eye Diamond (Storm 5), Burning Wish (Storm 6) retain priority and sacrifice both Lion’s Eye Diamond (3R, 3B), retrieve and cast Empty the Warrens from the sideboard (Storm 7). Hopefully the opponent is unable to assemble a second mana source and our 14 Goblins are able lead us to victory, if not I think it’s important to shrug off a loss and not allow ourselves to get upset. The opponent presented a considerable amount of hate on multiple axis and we took the window of attack that was open to us.
This is rough because it looks like if the opponent hits a second mana source we are going to be very unlikely to win in either case with this Engineered Explosives or the double Ethersworn Canonist. With that being said, I would go for Empty the Warrens here. I don’t see a path to win through double Ethersworn Canonist, so I’d hope to fade his second land. If I plan to fade his land drop then I may as well go for Empty the Warrens and put them on a two turn clock. I’d start off with a Duress, Lotus Petal, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Rite of Flame, Burning Wish sacrificing both copies of Lion’s Eye Diamond to cast Empty the Warrens for 14 goblins.
I have a very bad feeling here going for a conservative play-line as we have only 1 land and a Canonist might locking us out if we wait. With us being able to ramp up to 9 mana, wishing for Dark Petition into Ad Nauseam is the only option.
After playing without Massacre for a month, I really want it back. I ran into Death & Taxes or other Thalia, Guardian of Thraben decks often enough that I believe it’s useful and a nice safety net to have. The other thing I learned this month was figuring out how to have a more balanced play-style of being aggressive and cautious enough to win. Learning how to read an opponent, to see what they might consider to be more of a threat than it is is an important part of playing the EPIC Storm.
Until next time, keep storming on!
Alex McKinley is a Software Engineer for Intel. He has two Showcase Qualifier appearances with one top eight and is the Eternal Weekend 2021: Mox Emerald champion. He also enjoys Modern (Hammertime), Pauper (Cycle Storm), cEDH (Tymna Kraum Turbo Breach), and Vintage (Grixis Tinker Breach).
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