Hello Legacy Storm Players! Since our last Infernal Tutoring, Wizards released their latest limited set War of the Sparks. War of the Sparks has already made a huge impact on Legacy by printing some incredibly powerful planeswalkers; Karn, The Great Creator, Ugin, The Ineffable, Narset, Parter of Veils, and Tefari, Time Raveler to name just a few. Bolas’s Citadel has birthed a new experimental Storm list, which Michael Cliffy wrote about here. Delver decks got Dreadhorde Arcanist, which offers an insane amount of card advantage if not dealt with. If all of those changes weren’t enough, Modern Horizons is just around the corner to hopefully reprint some amazing new cards for Eternal Formats. I think it is safe to say that the Legacy meta is in for a huge shakeup!
For this month’s scenarios, I opted to play a Chain of Vapor in the flex spot over the eighth discard spell, which has helped deal with the huge influx of Karn, The Great Creator decks in the last month. Other than that, the other notable change is a Mizzix’s Mastery in the Sideboard. Without further ado, let’s jump into our three scenarios!
Max Gilmore (@MXGOnline):
The “Max” of www.minmaxblog.com, is a Legacy Jack-of-all-Trades with an affinity for Artifacts. Max is always on the lookout for the next broken thing and works to keep himself at the forefront of Legacy innovation. Whether he’s slinging Delver of Secrets, Dark Ritual, or Chalice of the Void, you can be sure that whatever he’s playing contains the hottest Legacy technology.
In our first scenario, we are playing against B/R Reanimator! Reanimator looks to put a big creature like Griselbrand in the graveyard using either Faithless Looting, Entomb or Unmask, and then attempts to cheat the big creature into play using Reanimate, Exhume or Animate Dead. With cards like Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, and Dark Ritual, they are often able to put a creature into play on turn one easily. B/R Reanimator also has turn zero hate with Chancellor of the Annex, and a full suite of discard spells to slow us down. The fact that the deck is so explosive and also disruptive makes it one of our toughest match-ups.
We are currently in game two against B/R Reanimator. On turn one we were able to Thoughtseize our opponent, taking their Entomb. On our opponent’s turn one, they played a Scrubland and passed. We now have the opportunity to Cabal Therapy our opponent. Do you take the opponent’s two copies of Exhume or their two copies of Faithless Looting? Why?
Take the two copies of Faithless Looting. BR Reanimator has far more ways to pull cards out of the graveyard than to put them in there. If you take the Exhumes, Faithless Looting functions as both a way to find more of the 12-ish reanimation spells while also putting the creature in the graveyard. With only one Scrubland as available mana, it will be a while until the opponent is able to flashback Faithless Looting. This should hopefully buy you enough time to win.
This is kind of a weird situation to be in, but it really shows the power of Cabal Therapy. Our opponent has so much redundancy, but we have a chance to disrupt them on one axis. With that being said, either of these options might very well blow up in our face depending on what the opponent draws. I think I would opt to take the two copies of Exhume here. I think that because of our opponent’s lack of red mana, it is less relevant. We are also very close to being able to go off, and even if we draw a Burning Wish and make Goblins, we will be able to flash back Cabal Therapy, which should be enough to slow them down for a couple of turns.
I think it’s crucial to think “how will this game play out?” for both options. If you take Faithless Looting, your opponent needs to draw a way to get a creature in the graveyard and a second mana source. If you take Exhume, all they need to do is draw a red source to fix their hand. Which is more likely? Answer: Drawing a red source. For this reason, you take the Faithless Lootings.
I would take the two Faithless Lootings. The would have needed to find Entomb plus a land over their two draw steps to fully punish us, and while we aren’t exactly ready to go off, we are pretty close, and the Faithless Lootings just give them the most flexibility to put into play game-winning creatures and also find discard to slow us down significantly. They have enough redundancy on reanimation spells that the two Faithless Lootings will almost certainly find them another.
I think I would take both copies of Exhume here. This line makes it harder for our opponent to get anything going, as they need to draw a red source to cast Faithless Looting. It also makes any discard spells or copies of Entomb that our opponent may draw much worse, which in turn gives us more turns to win, most likely. If we named Faithless Looting, we would open ourselves up to lose to an Entomb, and our opponent would need to find fewer cards to win, or at least put a Grave Titan in play. Not to mention, Faithless Looting has flashback anyways.
I would take the opponents Faithless Looting to keep them from getting a creature in their graveyard and to limit their ability to manipulate their deck.
I would name Exhume. Any discard spell, to hit Grave Titan from their own hand, or an Entomb we can just lose with a second land. Leaving them with just Faithless Looting would require them to need too many cards. It would buy us a lot of time. They would need a red source, a way to get a creature in the graveyard, a reanimate spell, and potentially more lands. That’ll take numerous turns to get there.
Faithless Looting. They need 3 elements to make their combo work: a creature, a discard engine, and a reanimate spell. Exhume is one of these, which makes it a tempting name with Cabal Therapy. However, Faithless Looting is also one of these components and can help our opponent find what they are missing. If we name Faithless Looting, then we stand a good chance of stranding the Grave Titan in their hand and forcing them into top-deck mode. Plus, they’re minimum two turns away from casting Faithless Looting with Flashback.
I think either option would be a fine choice, however, I would trend towards taking the Faithless Lootings. My reasoning is that it is an all in one enabler if they manage to draw a badlands, as they can both draw a reanimation spell and bin their Grave Titan. Grave Titan isn’t necessarily game ending for us if they do get it on the battlefield, but additional discard and Griselbrand might swing the tides in their favor.
SITUATION #2 – Death & Taxes
In our second scenario, we are playing against Death & Taxes! Death & Taxes has been making a huge comeback on Magic Online ever since the reprinting of Rishadan Port. While Death & Taxes has traditionally been an easy matchup for The EPIC Storm, they have recently added cards like Ancient Tomb and Chalice of the Void, which has made the matchup way more challenging after game one. Against Death & Taxes traditionally, we would just need to win through creature and land-based hate, where now they are attacking us on a whole different axis with artifact hate cards.
Against a gummed up Death & Taxes board, only an absurd amount of Goblins would be potentially lethal, so Empty the Warrens for 8 Goblins, flashing back Cabal Therapy to snipe the Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, is not a winning line. We are much better off trying to actually win this turn, and here’s how to do it:
Ad Nauseam, with 15 life and RB mana already floating, should be almost certainly lethal to your opponent this turn.
I wanted to use this situation to show the power of Mizzix’s Mastery! While an Ad Nauseam line might not be the safest, I think it comes down to if you are more comfortable making twelve Goblins into our opponent’s established board, or if you are more comfortable casting Ad Nauseam from 15 life with a land drop and no mana floating. We know that we are safe from Batterskull, as it is in our opponent’s graveyard, but the opponent might still be able to stop up with sheer creature mass/other equipment. I think I like my odds of casting an Ad Nauseam from 15 life.
In our last scenario, we are playing against Sneak & Show. Sneak & Show is a very consistent combo deck that looks to use Show and Tell or Sneak Attack to cheat a Griselbrand or an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play. Sneak & Show plays a ton of cantrips and countermagic, to both assemble and protect their two-card combo. Many of the recent lists will also run some number of Cunning Wish, which can be very powerful against The EPIC Storm, because it unlocks cards like Surgical Extraction, Flusterstorm, and Kozelik’s Return in game one. While this matchup can be a challenge at times, we have all of the tools needed to beat it, especially in games two and three.
We are currently in a pretty tight spot in game three! On our previous turn, we took our opponent’s Vendilion Clique with Thoughtseize. The opponent then drew their fourth land and played Sneak Attack. Looking back, we should have definitely taken Sneak Attack, but now we have to adjust. We need to take action this turn, or we are dead. How do you play out this turn to either win or put yourself in a winning situation?
Assuming we can’t win, we now have to find the best play. Against an average Sneak & Show player, I would get Tendrils of Agony, cast Tendrils for 14, and bank of them tapping their Ancient Tomb to deal themselves the final two points of damage for no reason. However, Laywer is a good player, so I don’t think this would work.
From here, they are faced with a decision. They can stay at 9 life and hope to find another creature naturally, or they can draw 7 cards with Griselbrand, putting them down to 2 life. I believe they are better off drawing 7, since their TES opponent is at 0 cards and 0 permanents.
The way we win this is if those 7 cards (and several after) are blanks. We could draw a land, then draw and resolve a Hope of Ghirapur, and attack for lethal over two turns. We could technically draw some way to make 4 mana, resolve a Burning Wish, and grab a Grapeshot. These scenarios are extremely unlikely to occur, but I think it’s our best chance. Besides, this is MTGO, and they could always accidentally click on their Ancient Tomb.
This is a pretty rough spot for us, but I ultimately decided to play to the only out that I could find, which is grabbing Ponder and praying to hit an Ad Nauseam.
Due to our opponent representing a lethal attack on the following turn and having Pyroclasm, Empty the Warrens is out of the question. You don’t have enough mana for Dark Petition into Ad Nauseam and Mizzix’s Mastery isn’t applicable here. I believe you have to grab Ponder and pray to hit your one out Ad Nauseam. I did notice, Past in Flames wouldn’t get Ad Nauseam here either, but you could in theory cantrip into a plus two mana card to be able to cast it.
…It’s really unfortunate that we don’t have Past in Flames here. Well, our only line that gives us any chance to win this game is select Ponder and try to draw into exactly Ad Nauseam. That being said, lines like this are exciting because if you hit Ad Nauseam here, it would surely be something!
This is a very tough spot. The opponent will kill us with a double Sneak Attack activation next turn, we will be short on storm count to kill the opponent with Tendrils of Agony and Empty the Warrens will not be good enough either. We do not have enough mana to Dark Petition for Ad Nauseam but we can throw a hail mary with the copy of Ponder in our sideboard. Definitely a wild line in my opinion but if we crack Lotus Petal for blue and cast Ponder we will still have access to five mana which is exactly the casting cost of Ad Nauseam. It’s better to go for it than just concede, grab Ponder and pray.
I agree I would have taken Sneak Attack here. This put us a pretty bad spot, and I’m not sure how we win this. I can’t quite see the graveyard for Mizzix’s Mastery, but I don’t think we have a win here. We can’t Empty the Warrens because of the Pyroclasm, putting them to 2 here doesn’t do anything since they can activate Sneak Attack twice next turn. I think we just lose no matter our choice here.
Ugh. This is so close to being a kill. We have two spare mana but no extra spell to sneak in before a lethal Storm spell. My vote is to get Tendrils of Agony and cast it, putting our opponent at 2 life and us at 30. Then even Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Griselbrand next turn doesn’t kill us, and leaves our opponent either with nothing at 9 life, or a full set of cards but 2 life. It’s not a perfect situation, but it’s the best I can see.
This is definitely a tight spot and I had to think long and hard about what to do. Pyroclasm(and over 20 damage of haste-y creatures) shuts off any possible line involving Empty the Warrens. Our available mana is 6, which eliminates the possibility of a Dark Petition line involving Tendrils of Agony. I tried to think of some crazy Mizzix’s Mastery line where you would Infernal Tutor for something, and I’m probably missing a line involving Mizzix’s Mastery and Dark Petition, but I don’t think the mana is there; we’re also one shy of overload. If we wanted a Patriot’s Hail Marry type of play, I think casting a Ponder and hoping to find an Ad Nauseam would get us there (cracking the Lotus Petal’s for exact mana).
In closing, I want to encourage Storm pilots to not get frustrated with the current meta. It seems like the meta has shifted towards Narset, Parter of Veils decks vs. Karn, The Great Creator decks. While this can be annoying to be caught in the middle of, things should stabilize again soon. I am crossing my fingers that Storm gets something amazing from Modern Horizon, but we will see what happens! Until next time, keep storming on!
Like many others, Josh started playing Magic: The Gathering in middle school, where he learned to base his self-worth on how many dragons he owned. These dragons ended up coming in handy 15 years later when he got back into Magic and started playing EDH. After playing it for about six months, Josh heard rumors about a format with decks that could win on turn one. Since then, Josh has focused completely on Legacy.
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