The 2022 Eternal Weekend events have come and gone, and a lot happening in all three Legacy events. There’s nothing quite like a major event to stir up excitement with players getting to bring their “A” game against other devoted Magic players. With two in-person events (Asia and North America) and an MTGO event (Europe), there was quite a lot happening. The meta shakedowns will be well-covered and over-analyzed in other media, but the quick and dirty take-aways are Initiative did well, UR Delver is still king, people miss good tournament coverage, and there are a lot of players that own stunningly gorgeous decks. You could tell that a lot of effort went into the preparation for these events, from tuning deck lists to perfectly spiking hair.
The EPIC Storm prepared for these events as well. With the influx of a brand-new archetype, we had modified the deck to address the expected metas of Eternal Weekend and beyond. Initiative pushed deckbuilding towards being able to answer cards like [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]], [[Archon of Emeria]], and other hatebears. The previous builds with [[Opposition Agent]] in the sideboard were not up to this specific task — being purpose built to address the gaps in our plan against [[Doomsday]] instead. Given the meta shifts towards these hatebears, changes needed to be made. All of these changes to The EPIC Storm v13.6 occur in the sideboard. During testing, the 60-card maindeck without [[Tendrils of Agony]] performed incredibly well. Being able to lean more heavily on [[Galvanic Relay]] allows for quicker combo turns and an increase in overall resiliency.
The changes to address Initiative include the addition of two copies of [[Slaughter Pact]] and three total copies of [[Thoughtseize]]. The cards that were taken out include two [[Chain of Vapor]] and the two copies of [[Opposition Agent]] (when compared to v13.4 anyway, v13.5 was an experiment with [[Dress Down]] that didn’t take off). There is some unpacking to do with these choices, so let’s start with the inclusion of [[Slaughter Pact]]. Free interaction is very important in The EPIC Storm. [[Pulverize]], for example, allows a combo turn to continue after key artifacts are destroyed. Similarly, the destruction of a creature preventing a win can be followed up with a combo on the same turn (adding to Storm count as well as preventing the opponent from deploying another hate piece). Losing such a generic bounce spell in [[Chain of Vapor]] does mean that we opened ourselves up to alternative hate cards. W deemed it a low enough cost, however. Jow many times have you seen [[Leyline of Sanctity]] recently? [[Leyline of the Void]] is almost a non-issue against The EPIC Storm. Other permanents fall under the umbrella protection of [[Abrupt Decay]] and [[Crash]], or are answered by the second change in the list.
Two copies of [[Thoughtseize]] (in addition to the existing one) were added instead of the copies of [[Opposition Agent]]. Both cards are primarily hedges against matchups we deem “poor”: [[Doomsday]] and Stompy decks (primarily Initiative). Where [[Opposition Agent]] was surgical in its approach, [[Thoughtseize]] has wider applications. It can be brought in against Stompy/Prison decks like Moon Stompy and Initiative, yes. But it also serves us well against other combo decks. [[Doomsday]], Sneak & Show, Reanimator, etc. Discard can be brought in here over underperformers in a given matchup, often [[Veil of Summer]] against non-Blue or [[Galvanic Relay]] against Combo decks (hey, check out the sideboard guide on Patreon for the actual ins and outs!). [[Thoughtseize]] is an anti-Combo and anti-Stompy card, what [[Thoughtseize]] is NOT here for is to be brought in against Control decks. The EPIC Storm already has the tools to beat Control, boarding in [[Thoughtseize]] dilutes that power.
Legacy is shifting and adjusting to the new Initiative deck. Eternal Weekend events have shown the power of these strategies and initial attempts at addressing them. Only time will truly tell how permanent the archetype is and what tools are effective against it. Let’s take a look at how changes made within The EPIC Storm fair against three puzzle situations!
(Twitter: @SamRoseMurphy | Twitch: Samantha_Murphy
Samantha Murphy started playing Legacy at the start of 2020, but has found success with the start of paper events coming back in 2022. She re-worked Tempo Doomsday to a more fair Tempo shell that took her to a top eight finish at the Legacy Pit Open II, as well as played UR Delver to a top four finish at Eternal Weekend NA. She loves any deck with [[Ponder]], [[Brainstorm]], [[Force of Will]] and [[Daze]] in it.
the epic Storm
- 4 [[Brainstorm]]
- 4 [[Veil of Summer]]
- 4 [[Mishra’s Bauble]]
- 4 [[Wishclaw Talisman]]
- 4 [[Burning Wish]]
- 3 [[Galvanic Relay]]
- 1 [[Ad Nauseam]]
- 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
- 4 [[Rite of Flame]]
- 4 [[Dark Ritual]]
- 4 [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]
- 4 [[Lotus Petal]]
- 4 [[Mox Opal]]
- 3 [[Chrome Mox]]
- 4 [[Bloodstained Mire]]
- 1 [[Scalding Tarn]]
- 1 [[Misty Rainforest]]
- 1 [[Verdant Catacombs]]
- 1 [[Underground Sea]]
- 1 [[Volcanic Island]]
- 1 [[Bayou]]
- 1 [[Badlands]]
- 1 [[Taiga]]
- 2 [[Slaughter Pact]]
- 2 [[Abrupt Decay]]
- 2 [[Crash]]
- 1 [[Galvanic Relay]]
- 3 [[Thoughtseize]]
- 1 [[Empty the Warrens]]
- 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
- 1 [[Pulverize]]
- 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
- 1 [[Peer into the Abyss]]
SITUATION No. 1 — Initiative
Like previously mentioned in the article introduction, Initiative is the new kid on the block. A white-based Stompy deck, it seeks to utilize mana acceleration to slam powerful three and four-mana creatures into play in the first two turns. These creatures have the power to gain advantages in multiple ways. [[Archon of Emeria]] can stall out 4-Color Control decks with their dual land mana bases and Storm decks that simply do not function under the [[Rule of Law]]-type effect. [[Chalice of the Void]] continues this trend as a lock-piece that the deck can very easily deploy throughout the game. [[White Plume Adventurer]] and [[Seasoned Dungeoneer]] begin a subgame involving the Initiative mechanic. This mechanic is similar to other Dungeon mechanics, but only enters the [[Undercity]] dungeon. Despite being limited to a single Dungeon, the [[Undercity]] exudes value. Another EDH mechanic used is Legacy is Monarch. With their curve topping out at four mana, [[Palace Jailer]] serves as a way to introduce another subgame into a match. Because these mechanics are transferred through combat damage, the heavy board presence of the Initiative decks can leverage the card advantage against almost every deck in the format. As if all of that was not enough, Initiative is also a [[Stoneforge Mystic]] deck. [[Kaldra Compleat]] can seriously flip an otherwise stalled board on its head. Indestructible destruction will end games just as fast as running through the [[Undercity]] will. This deck has a fast clock, powerful threats that create subgames that they’re designed to win, and strong Combo disruption. Initiative might be the real deal folks.
Playing as The EPIC Storm this kind of strategy is, frankly, quite worrisome. In addition to the maindeck pieces listed above, Initiative hedges against Combo in their sideboards. Copies of [[Mindbreak Trap]], [[Deafening Silence]], and [[Ethersworn Canonist]] can add even more layers of disruption that we need to fight through on our way to victory. The game plan is to be just fast and disruptive enough to find a window to combo. Cards like [[Veil of Summer]] and [[Galvanic Relay]] are very bad here. Our new sideboard is designed with Initiative in mind, so we have a clean plan when moving into post-board games. Even still, we are likely not favored in this matchup and have to make the best of poor situations. More data needs to be collected to see our plans in action, but our current iteration is the best we created for Eternal Weekend.
-4 [[Veil of Summer]], -3 [[Galvanic Relay]], -2 [[Mishra’s Bauble]]; +3 [[Thoughtseize]], +2 [[Slaughter Pact]], +2 [[Crash]], +2 [[Abrupt Decay]]
Our opponent is playing an early build of Initiative that includes [[Urza’s Saga]] — a card that isn’t seen in the most recent builds. At this point, our opponent hasn’t even shown us any particular color their deck is (though we find out later that they are playing Initiative). The pre-board game we need to evaluate starts after untapping into a [[Galvanic Relay]] exile pile of five cards. It is our turn three, and we have yet to play a land drop. Once in a blue moon, [[Chalice of the Void]] doesn’t stop us from casting spells in our hand, and this is one of those times. With mana values of zero and two, we have a few options available to us. We aren’t even facing a lethal board state opposite us. Perhaps there is a way to play a slower game? With the tools available to us, how best can we play out this turn? Should we attempt to win right now or can we afford to play a more methodical game?
SITUATION No. 2 — UR Delver
Back-to-back format defining decks. It is almost as if we want to make sure that discussion happens within The EPIC Storm community to ensure the best deck is presented for every event. UR Delver is, of course, the “boogeyman” of the format. Cheap and efficient threats, powerful disruption, the best old and new cards seen in Magic’s history (that are still legal), and mid- to late-game card advantage? This sounds like a recipe for success. The B-word has been bandied about in regards to some of the key pieces to the Tempo game plan employed by [[Delver of Secrets]] players. Nothing has been done since the banning of [[Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer]]. Perhaps the influx of Initiative is a meta shift that will address this dominance? Or maybe it is a flash in the pan that will die off once UR Delver properly learns to adapt — a skill that the deck is unerringly good at.
On the Combo axis, UR Delver has good tools to interact with Storm strategies. The obvious start is stack interaction. [[Force of Will]], [[Daze]], even cards like [[Pyroblast]] and [[Hydroblast]] have uses here. These are known quantities and why The EPIC Storm is built with [[Veil of Summer]] and [[Galvanic Relay]] as primary protection plans. Continuing along the main axes of play, [[Wasteland]] has applications in disrupting our early mana development if we are forced to expose ourselves to it. Other avenues of interaction include sideboard copies of [[Counterbalance]], [[Null Rod]], and [[Surgical Extraction]]. These cards against The EPIC Storm are known and planned for. What cannot be planned for is how all of that interaction lines up against our draws. [[Galvanic Relay]] provides a powerful plan against single-point interaction but is vulnerable to a classic UR Delver line: the [[Delver of Secrets]], [[Daze]], [[Wasteland]] combo.
Cutting The EPIC Storm out of a longer game is the avenue of success UR Delver players want to develop: whether that is an early [[Dragon’s Rage Channeler]] with Delirium or a windmill slammed [[Murktide Regent]] that puts us on a serious clock. We have to act deliberately to address these lines. Practice makes permanent here. More games against UR Delver will hone the small details that build towards success, but only if the right muscles are flexed. Trying to win too quickly or delay too late will only serve to emphasize the wrong heuristics of an intricate matchup. Hopefully these puzzles will help!
-1 [[Ad Nauseam]], -1 [[Mox Opal]]; +2 [[Abrupt Decay]]
As with many Infernal Tutoring situations, we find ourselves in medias res trying to resolve a [[Brainstorm]]. This is a post-board game that is about to end, one way or another. At nine life, we are facing down a two-turn clock of a [[Dragon’s Rage Channeler]] with Delirium and a flipped [[Delver of Secrets]]. With four cards in hand, our opponent is likely to have at least one piece of interaction and potentially two. The most reasonable choice is to put back two copies of [[Chrome Mox]]. But this is a good place to pause, establish a game plan, and see if that line still makes sense. Should we plan on making a move this turn to take advantage of playing around [[Lightning Bolt]]? Can the extra mana make a difference if we wait one more turn?
SITUATION No. 3 — Mono-B Helm
Veering wildly from top-meta decks and turning directly into the obscure, Mono-Blue Helm is a combo deck with certain disruptive elements inherently being built into the deck’s construction. Focused primarily on assembling the A+B combo of [[Helm of Obedience]] and [[Leyline of the Void]] or [[Dauthi Voidwalker]], the plan is to activate [[Helm of Obedience]] and exile an opponent’s entire library. Because no card ever hits the graveyard, milling continues until the entire library is gone. In Black, players have access to cards like [[Thoughtseize]] and [[Tourach, Dread Cantor]] that serve as disruptive elements while combo pieces also halt any graveyard shenanigans in their tracks. There are many flavors of Mono-B decks, and this is one that leans more heavily into the combo potential offered by [[Dark Ritual]]-based acceleration. Other versions leverage [[Dark Ritual]] to play a more controlling game, rely heavier on discard, play threats like [[Opposition Agent]] and [[Karn, the Great Creator]], or assemble the [[Dark Depths]]/[[Thespian’s Stage]] combo.
Outside of [[Karn, the Great Creator]] shutting down our entire game plan, discard spells are the primary interaction that we need to be concerned about. Paired with sideboard [[Surgical Extraction]], the ability to strip our win away from us by removing [[Burning Wish]] can be a real pain. Careful sequencing is needed when playing against potential copies of [[Surgical Extraction]] to avoid opening yourself up to that possibility. One neat trick available to our opponent involves [[Dauthi Voidwalker]]. With the unique ability to cast an opponent’s spells, if we have to use a copy of [[Veil of Summer]] as protection, they now have their own protection against [[Tendrils of Agony]]. This interaction does not come up often, but is worth noting here in case players encounter it in the wild. Another note, the best card against us, [[Karn, the Great Creator]], is something that we have specifically chosen to ignore in our sideboard plans. [[Chain of Vapor]] no longer being present indicates a certain level of disrespect given to the card. Decks that play [[Karn, the Great Creator]] are not seeing as much success currently, allowing us to devote valuable slots to more pressing matchups. You truly cannot beat everything, and [[Karn, the Great Creator]] is certainly one we’re not likely to beat without major changes in deck design. Let’s stick with what works and not try to over-extend.
-2 [[Galvanic Relay]]; +2 [[Thoughtseize]]
Wow what a difference a turn makes! On the draw, we made an army of [[Goblin Token]]s with the confidence of someone who thought they knew what they were doing. During our opponent’s second turn, they paired a pre-game [[Leyline of the Void]] with a [[Helm of Obedience]], threatening a lethal activation on their next turn ([[Pithing Needle]] named [[Wasteland]] in the dark). As it currently stands, there is little we can do about this threat. Their life total is just barely above what our army of little green men can dish out. But there is one saving grace! At 14 life, our army of 12 [[Goblin Token]]s can prevent any activations of [[Ancient Tomb]]. The only tool we have available is the [[Brainstorm]] in our hand. This scenario is a little different from the normal and the hope is to have readers start to recognize how playing to your outs can only take you so far. You have to know what those outs actually are first. Is the best we can do in this situation attacking with our army and hoping our opponent does not have a pain-free mana source? Or can we hit any combination of spells with the [[Brainstorm]] here that will allow us to win without passing the turn?
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