Phyrexia: All Will Be One is the latest Standard set release to try to affect the distant shores of our beloved Legacy format. With a metagame that feels nearly solved — UR Delver and Dungeon Stompy variants (with the occasional Painter deck) compete for the top meta positions in competitive events — the format exists with a few disparate ideas for those attacking the meta:
If you exist as a current strategy in Legacy, aggressive changes need to be considered so that you can compete in the hyper-efficient world of the Initiative and [[Delver of Secrets]]. For example, The EPIC Storm has gone through a drastic change to cut Green for White in the deck. Valuing cards like [[Slaughter Pact]] more highly than the previously used [[Abrupt Decay]] while also fitting a playset of [[Prismatic Ending]] is indicative of the changes required of decks to adapt.
Underused strategies can experience a renaissance of sorts if they are particularly well-suited to attacking along an axis that is not being targeted heavily. If sideboard slots are being used to bolster plans against the top two or three decks, they could be skimping on hate for the unexpected. Cephalid Breakfast exists in this space (and even Reanimator to some extent with the printing of [[Atraxa, Grand Unifier]]). If grand slam graveyard hate is being discarded from sideboards, decks that can either ignore the combat step (as in Cephalid Breakfast) or dominate it (like Reanimator) can be revived as strategies that specifically target the current meta.
Brewers can rejoice to some extent with a “solved” meta that we are experiencing at the moment. Instead of needing to address a wide-open format, a brew can be built with the narrow decks at the top in mind. From there, innovation can abound within that protective shell. Without having to worry about pairing into random decks that are uniquely poised to combat the brew, success can be had targeting the decks that are likely to be faced.
As an established archetype, The EPIC Storm has needed to undergo adaptation. Previous Infernal Tutoring articles and many YouTube videos have explained the changes that have brought us to our current state. One more major change has occurred to bring us to a decklist that we are most comfortable with at the moment. A revival of our favorite sticky ooze might be exactly the tool needed to combat fair Blue decks.
[[Aeve, Progenitor Ooze]] has been tested in The EPIC Storm previously, seeing success against UR Delver and various Blue Control builds. The green ooze has been a powerful threat against those decks, but was found to be lacking in the matchups when we started cutting [[Carpet of Flowers]]. What we really needed to do in order to see its potential was shift how we play a combo turn with [[Aeve, Progenitor Ooze]] in our deck. [[Galvanic Relay]] has consistently been a pivot point to build significant changes and it has also allowed us time to relearn how powerful [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] is in our deck. With the ability to function as a [[Black Lotus]] when we need to cast cards from exile piles, it was not that much of a stretch to remember the power to produce for the restrictive casting cost of the ooze.
Rebell is an ex-modern lover that jumped into the commander band wagon before realizing she likes other formats and is now equally terrible at all of them.
Wow, talk about a deck that hasn’t been seeing much play lately! Burn is a classic budget Legacy deck that often stayed competitive due to the aggressive nature of its strategy. It was able to punish slower and more methodical decks like Control with a rush of spells and creatures. More modern printings like [[Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath]] have reduced the viability of the deck centered around casting [[Lightning Bolt]] seven times to win. The allure of Burn has always been the disparity between its cost to build and how effective it is as a deck. As the years have gone by, Burn’s effectiveness has decreased and the price has actually increased as certain key cards have seen price bumps with the introduction of Pioneer, as is the case with [[Eidolon of the Great Revel]]. These all contribute to the surprise of pairing into the deck on MTGO or at your local FNM — unless your local scene has a Burn player that has a completely misprint 75 that is simply beautiful to look at.
Burn has routinely suffered against Combo decks of various flavors throughout the years. The EPIC Storm is certainly one of those decks. Like [[Doomsday]], our main engine is utilizing our life total as a resource. It can become very perilous to resolve [[Ad Nauseam]] in the face of untapped Red mana. Even a tapped out Burn pilot could be holding a [[Fireblast]] that needs to be considered when chipping away at your most precious resource. Burn also has the aforementioned [[Eidolon of the Great Revel]] and the more recent printing of [[Roiling Vortex]] as very powerful attacks against Storm strategies specifically. Out of their sideboard, cards like [[Mindbreak Trap]] are the most prevalent hate that needs to be planned for.
Despite introducing our opponent as a Burn player, we are actually operating moderately blind. A search for our opponent’s MTGO username tipped us off to their preferred deck, but we still cannot be 100 percent sure they are playing Burn. Our opening hand was decent regardless of the matchup, but is it particularly good against Burn? The primary goal of this situation is to develop good opening turn sequences. We are in our second turn and have just drawn a [[Rite of Flame]] for our turn. How can we best capitalize on our seven cards to limit our Burn opponent’s ability to interact meaningfully?
We currently have seven mana available. My plan pre-[[Brainstorm]] is to set up a big [[Galvanic Relay]] to win the game next turn. The thing I’m thinking most about is the [[Silence]], because it could potentially save us life by denying a creature from them. With just [[Mountain]] and pass, however, I’m accounting for 10 damage at worst from them with double [[Lightning Bolt]] and a [[Fireblast]] at instant speed. Which makes the [[Silence]] kind of useless.
Regardless what’s happening I’m cracking the [[Marsh Flats]] for an [[Underground Sea]], and [[Brainstorm]] first to see if we could get a [[Dark Ritual]]. If we can, then we can use our [[Wishclaw Talisman]] for [[Ad Nauseam]]. If not, then I put the [[Silence]] away and then play all my artifacts and [[Bloodstained Mire]]. Then tap [[Mox Opal]] for [[Rite of Flame]], crack our fetch for a [[Badlands]], tap it for black and cast [[Wishclaw Talisman]] leaving one mana open to activate [[Wishclaw Talisman]], hold priority and crack [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] for . Find [[Galvanic Relay]] and cast it with Storm five, and see what happens.
We love a good [[Time Walk]] in Legacy, don’t we? [[Silence]] here is going to allow us an opportunity to cast our version of the Power Nine spell. Against Burn, we have several concerns when they get to two mana — [[Eidolon of the Great Revel]] has already been mentioned as one of Burn’s best cards against us. Deploying our hand before that hits the battlefield is something I am interested in. Because of the texture of our hand, we can do so while also casting [[Silence]].
Playing the [[Bloodstained Mire]], we can use both fetchlands to find our favorite pair of dual lands: [[Underground Sea]] and [[Plateau]] ([[Taiga]]? Never heard of them]]. A [[Wishclaw Talisman]] can then be cast, followed swiftly by [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and [[Mox Opal]]. With Metalcraft achieved, we can pass into our opponent’s Upkeep and cast [[Silence]]. They will be forced to interact here if they want to cast spells. On our following turn we can [[Brainstorm]] for additional protection or mana while still having [[Ad Nauseam]] available. Our life is a resource in short supply (especially with [[Fireblast]] hanging around if our opponent made their second land drop). It may be good enough to attempt if our [[Brainstorm]] was not successful enough.
I would just pass the turn and then cast [[Silence]] in their upkeep to buy a draw step as well as an extra look on the [[Brainstorm]].
Given that this hand only has seven mana, I would cast the [[Brainstorm]]. If that [[Brainstorm]] turns up enough mana to win the game cleanly this turn, I would do that. Otherwise, [[Silence]]-walking the opponent seems fine here. The only concern at that point is the incredible amount of burn spells that they can use to kill us at instant speed becomes a concern. That possibly turns off [[Ad Nauseam]], but there should be enough resources to win the game next turn regardless.
My goal would be to win on my following turn. There’s no real pressure to do this turn. I would play out my second land, [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Mox Opal]], and then using the two lands to play [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. I would then pass the turn from here and use the [[Mox Opal]] to cast [[Silence]] on their upkeep. This prevents them from casting [[Eidolon of the Great Revel]] or [[Roiling Vortex]]. On my next turn, I would lead with a [[Brainstorm]] and try and combo from that point with as much mana as possible, probably through [[Echo of Eons]].
With the opponent on a mulligan to six and us being on our second turn, I would choose to take a more conservative line for setting up here. I would first play out the [[Bloodstained Mire]] then activate both it and [[Marsh Flats]] to grab [[Underground Sea]] and [[Badlands]]. I would then cast the [[Wishclaw Talisman]] followed by the [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] then lastly the [[Mox Opal]]. The main plan is to then set up to be able to cast [[Silence]] on our opponent’s turn to stop any possible issues our opponent may cast in the form of [[Eidolon of the Great Revel]] or [[Roiling Vortex]]. On our next turn, we will be able to cast [[Rite of Flame]] and [[Brainstorm]] while also still having the ability to [[Wishclaw Talisman]] for an [[Echo of Eons]] if we do not find anything more. This does not play around [[Mindbreak Trap]] though, and the call I am making on what to choose to play around since they have more copies of [[Eidolon of the Great Revel]] and [[Roiling Vortex]] on average.
By itself, this hand is a mana short of casting [[Ad Nauseam]], something I’m typically hesitant to try to do after my burn opponent has hit their second turn. The cards that I’m most worried about out of burn are their two-mana tax pieces – [[Eidolon of the Great Revel]], [[Roiling Vortex]], and [[Pyrostatic Pillar]].
Thankfully, these are all sorcery speed spells. An upkeep [[Silence]] is thus a very powerful tool to keep my opponent from locking me out.
Game one, I’m inclined to crack both fetches to play out the [[Wishclaw Talisman]], drop the [[Mox Opal]] and [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to give myself Metalcraft, then cast [[Silence]] on my opponent’s turn-two upkeep. Barring anything particularly spicy from our opponent, this will make it impossible for them to kill us (One [[Lightning Bolt]] effect on our turn two end step plus two [[Lightning Bolt]] effects and a [[Fireblast]] in response to our [[Silence]] + two fetches should leave us at five life). This will leave us with a [[Wishclaw Talisman]], a cantrip, a ritual, and a fresh draw. From there, I’d probably cantrip to fish for additional mana / payoffs, then go for an [[Echo of Eons]] off the [[Wishclaw Talisman]].
Post-board, the only additional card I’d be thinking about is [[Smash to Smithereens]] on our turn-three upkeep. If they target the [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] on our upkeep (in my opinion the correct target and timing if they have it) this means we’ve got at least 11 life to play with (if we were bolted at the end of our turn two and our opponent has [[Fireblast]] up), perhaps as high as 14 if we didn’t get hit with [[Lightning Bolt]] on that end step. In this position, particularly if I’m a game up at 14, I may just tap the [[Mox Opal]] and activate the [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] in response to get and cast [[Ad Nauseam]] with the [[Wishclaw Talisman]].
As an alternate post-board plan to protect our [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] for the wheel, I might just fetch and [[Brainstorm]] to sculpt, fetch again to clear unwanted cards, then [[Silence]] on opponent’s upkeep – this should still allow me to wheel on turn three no matter what.
SITUATION No. 2 — UB Reanimator
This month’s situations really are pulling from the ghosts of Legacy past, aren’t they? UB Reanimator was once a preeminent Combo deck in Legacy. A strategy that pairs [[Force of Will]] with a [[Griselbrand]]-shaped finish is reminiscent of similarly powerful decks like [[Doomsday]] and Cephalid Breakfast. These decks often sacrifice velocity for higher amounts of interaction. Currently, UB Reanimator is the brainchild of MTGO grinder Stryfo (known for a deck called “Stryfo Pile” in the [[Oko, Thief of Crowns]] metagame) and other powerful Legacy players. [[Hapless Researcher]] and [[Ledger Shredder]] function as replacements for [[Faithless Looting]] as discard enablers as well as built-in protection against sacrifice effects. [[Archon of Cruelty]] is the primary focus for this more controlling build of the deck. Clearing the board and getting advantages over time can be preferable to the explosive card draw ability on [[Griselbrand]], especially if a deck is built with that in mind.
Against The EPIC Storm, pairing discard and countermagic is a sure way to send Storm running for the hills. Our protection spells being [[Orim’s Chant]] and [[Silence]] instead of [[Veil of Summer]] can still put in work, but the raw power of [[Veil of Summer]] is missed against the Blue and Black deck. One other notable difference between the turbo combo of RB Reanimator and the interactive UB Reanimator is the lack of non-Black creatures like [[Chancellor of the Annex]] and [[Serra’s Emissary]]. Our [[Slaughter Pact]] tech that is typically brought in does not function as well here.
+3 [[Thoughtseize]]; -3 [[Galvanic Relay]]
Starting this situation, we have just drawn a [[Lotus Petal]] for our second turn in a post-board game. On the draw, our opponent played an [[Underground Sea]] and cast a [[Ponder]] — no shuffle. We used our [[Mishra’s Bauble]] alongside a [[Bloodstained Mire]] to “Scry” and shuffled away another [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. How should we play out the upcoming turn?
Our hand has seven mana and frustratingly can’t cast a fast [[Ad Nauseam]]. They do have seven cards in hand, so I’m banking on them at least having a [[Force of Will]] or something anyways.
I actually don’t know what the play is here! We could [[Galvanic Relay]] here again playing casting our rocks and rituals and cracking [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] for it. It might be good because it plays around countermagic well, but I don’t know if giving Reanimator a [[Wishclaw Talisman]] is a good idea.
I’m looking at the sideboard and thinking I want to reduce their life total with [[Tendrils of Agony]] so they can’t activate [[Griselbrand]], but I currently don’t have the mana to do [[Wishclaw Talisman]] plus [[Burning Wish]] plus [[Tendrils of Agony]].
Against an opponent with such an interactive deck, I am somewhat surprised to not have been discarded on their turn one. This indicates a couple things to me. They either have a very quick combo lined up ([[Entomb]] plus [[Reanimate]]) and I am likely not coming back from a resolved [[Griselbrand]] that draws into multiple points of interaction or they have interaction in hand for me already. Either way, my goal is to find protection and an efficient combo. [[Brainstorm]] is exactly the card we need right now. Before putting it on the stack, I want to play around [[Daze]] as much as possible, so casting this [[Lotus Petal]] can insulate against that particular interaction.
With this [[Brainstorm]], I am looking to put back [[Ad Nauseam]], find protection in [[Orim’s Chant]]/[[Silence]], and find more mana if I can. If our plans haven’t changed too much, I like the idea of casting [[Wishclaw Talisman]] and passing the turn. Constant reevaluation is needed when new information is taken in. This [[Brainstorm]] can change our plans drastically. But for now, I am not seeing lines to a protected victory. Once we find one, we can lean into it and crush!
Play [[Lotus Petal]], cast [[Brainstorm]], and reevaluate.
I would start with the [[Brainstorm]], looking to try to win this turn. One of the cards I am likely to put back is the [[Ad Nauseam]] to be able to tutor for it and then use the [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to help cast it. Another card I am looking for is [[Silence]]. Regardless, I would try to get the [[Wishclaw Talisman]] into play to guarantee the [[Ad Nauseam]] on the next turn.
I would play out the [[Lotus Petal]] and the [[Chrome Mox]], imprinting [[Rite of Flame]], and then play the [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. This allows me to avoid any discard and still be in an alright position if they have any counterspells. My plan would then be to start my next turn with the [[Brainstorm]] and try to look for a [[Silence]] or have multiple ways to combo in order to beat a counterspell.
I am more scared of the opponent having countermagic or also a quick [[Entomb]] plus [[Reanimate]] next turn. My reason is they did not cast a discard effect on turn one and they are also on the draw this game. I do not think we have the ability to really deal with a quick combo from the opponent, so I will try to play around discard spells on later turns and [[Daze]] if possible. We also only have the ability to make four mana here without [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] via our [[Chrome Mox]] and [[Rite of Flame]], so just jamming our [[Ad Nauseam]] here is not an option. My play then would be to first cast [[Brainstorm]] where my goal is to find another land and be able to put back the [[Ad Nauseam]] into our deck. Additionally, this lets up the ability to play out our [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and also [[Chrome Mox]] potentially to then cast our [[Wishclaw Talisman]] to set up a potential win on our next turn .
Current builds of UB Reanimator run as many as four [[Daze]] at the cost of velocity ([[Dark Ritual]] often doesn’t make the cut). So it’s not a card I’m desperate enough to play into without a payoff already in their yard.
I’d play out the [[Chrome Mox]] and imprint [[Rite of Flame]], play the [[Lotus Petal]], then play the [[Wishclaw Talisman]] with the [[Lotus Petal]] still up to pay for a [[Daze]] if we have to. Assuming everything resolves, this gives us plenty of optionality for next turn — we can tuck the [[Ad Nauseam]] with [[Brainstorm]] to let us get it with the [[Wishclaw Talisman]] (and pay with mana from the [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]). If we hit something like, say, an [[Echo of Eons]], we can use the [[Wishclaw Talisman]] to grab [[Silence]] to check if the coast is clear before we go off.
Even if we get hit with a [[Thoughtseize]] or [[Grief]] next turn, we’ll still have plenty of options (and if that’s what’s happening. It’s almost certain our opponent won’t also have enough mana to bin and reanimate a [[Griselbrand]] that turn cycle too).
If we do end up eating a [[Force of Will]] on the Talisman, we’re far from dead with our [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] sitting on the table — [[Brainstorm]] can dig us into additional payoffs, mana, or protection.
SITUATION No. 3 — UR Delver
Despite our foray into the fringe of Legacy, we are back to our regularly scheduled programming for our third scenario. UR Delver is at the top of the current metagame and it is not going anywhere fast. With new Phyrexia: All Will Be One printings of [[Minor Misstep]] and [[Mercurial Spelldancer]], builds are testing out new tools. [[Delver of Secrets]] is actually being removed from the deck to make room for larger threats. This shift is reminiscent of the [[Dreadhorde Arcanist]] era where UR Delver got bigger and slower. Maybe this is an indication of where the meta is heading now?
Our shift to [[Aeve, Progenitor Ooze]] is specifically for the UR Delver matchup (and other fair Blue decks). With a lack of sweepers that can deal with an army of oozes, this tool is ready-made to aid our matchup. This idea is well-paired with [[Galvanic Relay]] to overcome point interaction like [[Force of Will]] as well as [[Surgical Extraction]]. As the Legacy meta evolves, we will need to see how well [[Aeve, Progenitor Ooze]] pairs against the best deck in the format.
+1 [[Aeve, Progenitor Ooze]]; -1 [[Ad Nauseam]]
This is certainly a unique situation we find ourselves in! Usually for Infernal Tutoring, the combo turn needs to be set up. This time, we have already done all of the spell slinging we could. A unique learning opportunity has presented itself. Clearly after a nice Storm turn, the original copy of [[Tendrils of Agony]] is still on the stack with a [[Daze]] countering it and a [[Dragon’s Rage Channeler]] trigger on top. How can we secure this win using what we know about how to pay for spells with [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]?
I don’t see the trick here! There’s one copy of [[Tendrils of Agony]] on the stack and we have a land and [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] with no cards in hand. I don’t see why we wouldn’t pay for this [[Daze]].
This looks pretty simple on the surface. Tap the [[Badlands]] and pay for [[Daze]] right? It might be just that simple and we don’t have to worry about a thing! If we assume our opponent isn’t just showing us interaction they could have used, they might be trying to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat. Paying for one copy of [[Daze]] is trivial like we just discussed. The tricky part comes as a logical conclusion of our opponent being a reasonable person that plays to their outs. If they have a second [[Daze]] in their hand, we now need to talk about the timing restrictions and mana abilities on [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]. [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] has some interesting properties as a card. The card’s official rules text says:
Gatherer Note: The ability is a mana ability, so it is activated and resolves as a mana ability, but it can only be activated at times when you can cast an instant. Yes, this is a bit weird.
The official rules are telling us this is a bit weird? I think we should pay attention to them and dig into why. Because I can only activate the ability as an instant, I cannot use it to pay for cards in my hand — this makes sense, they don’t want us to have a [[Black Lotus]] now do they? It also means that if a spell or ability requires us to pay mana. I cannot use [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] as that payment once the spell is resolving. Instead, what I have to do is crack the [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] once priority is passed to me. Then the spell can resolve and I can use the mana to pay for whatever is required of me.
Typically, this would never come up in paper play. Verbally acknowledging the use of [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] is enough to satisfy most players and judges. On the MTGO client, no such courtesy is extended. If another [[Daze]] is in our opponent’s hand and they cast it targeting the final [[Tendrils of Agony]], we need to remember exactly when to crack [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] so that we don’t lose out on the opportunity of victory.
I may just be missing something here, but I’m not sure what exactly the point of this is. You can sacrifice [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to pay for [[Daze]]? Or just tap your open land?
Let everything resolve and then tap my [[Badlands]] to pay for [[Daze]]. If they have a second one, I would let the [[Dragon’s Rage Channeler]] trigger resolve, then crack [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and pay for the second [[Daze]].
In response to the [[Dragon’s Rage Channeler]], I would sacrifice the [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] for three mana, in case they have a second [[Daze]] and then float the mana from the land. Once the trigger resolves, I can then pay for [[Daze]] with the mana floating.
This is a very sweet interaction and something to definitely be careful about the timing restrictions on some of our mana sources. The important thing to remember is that unlike all other mana abilities in our deck, [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] can only be activated when you can cast an instant and not able to be used to pay for spells or effects during their resolution. Thus, the best way to play this is to respond to our opponent’s [[Dragon’s Rage Channeler]] trigger by sacrificing our [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to have all the mana we need to pay for [[Daze]].
Remember that the wording of [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] prevents it from being activated as part of the payment of costs — if you want to use it to pay for the [[Daze]] or other future soft permission, you’ll need to crack it before the spell resolves.
With no cards in hand and a land open, I see no reason not to just use the untapped [[Badlands]] to pay for this copy of [[Daze]]. If my opponent is sitting on a second [[Daze]], however, I’ll be sure to crack the [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] before I let the spell resolve.
Want to see your play?
We’re now allowing for fan-based submissions for “Infernal Tutoring!” In order to submit, scroll down to the footer to the contact form. Attach your screenshot, describe the situation in detail, and press submit!
Disclaimer: Regarding the details of the scenarios, we do not want what the outcome of the situation is. For example, if the question is, “Do I go for it here?” do not tell the team if your opponent had [[Force of Will]] or not. This information honestly doesn’t matter for our purposes and it doesn’t change the answer if it’s correct or not to cast the business spell. Thank you for your understanding.
Use the subject line of “Infernal Tutoring”
Write what list you are playing and if there’s anything special about your list compared to the current stock version. Scenarios that contain the current list are more likely to be selected.
If possible, please resize your images to be no larger than 1400px wide and preferably under 125kb. This will make our job easier, if you’re unfamiliar how to do this that’s okay too. Still message us with your scenarios!
Jordan Karim is a biochemistry lab manager that enjoys solving questions about the microscopic as well as about Legacy combo turns. In his free time Jordan can be found playing Magic with friends, watching movies/TV, or searching for the next tasty new restaurant.
His favorite Magic card is Dark Ritual and his favorite deck is God-Pharaoh’s Gift from Hour of Devastation standard.
If you enjoyed this article, consider joining The EPIC Storm Patreon! Our staff creates terrific combo content out of their love for Storm and the game. We compensate them for all of the quality content they produce through our Patreon.
We're asking for your help to keep creating these articles.
Support your favorite TES Site writer, like Jordan Karim, today!
This awesome mini token set is printed on actual playing cards! A superior smooth 330gsm quality card-stock with a high-quality finish!
These tokens are literally half the size actual cards (44.45 × 63.5mm) and will not fit in standard size sleeves! But you wouldn’t want them to any way — they’re double-sided and have creature tokens on the backs!