TES Infernal Tutoring # 7

Miracles, Sneak & Show and the like… the meta I used to play in surely has evolved. While Cockatrice initiated me to some of these match-ups, I wasn’t prepared to face friends around a kitchen table with their brand new weapons. Armed with my dusty paper TES deck, with an admittedly outdated sideboard, I struggled to give them any kind of challenge. I also forgot how much it was rewarding to play for improvement instead of winnings. Playing with friends really allowed me to slow the game down, think and theory craft about certain plays occurring live. I missed that so much! I sincerely hope all of those reading, have your own play test group and ask question around the table. If that happens and leaves you with related TES questions, you can always submit a comment below so our own Infernal Tutors can answer them in a future article!

Here are some situations recreated on Cockatrice and that had us arguing for hours in the night.

Stay tuned and enjoy!

For these situations, I used what I had in my deck box at the moment. You’ll notice a good amount of artifact hate, those who read my previous series will understand why. However, it seems the meta shifted a lot, thus this should be reworked soon.


Situation #1 – Miracles

Game 3, on the play, against Miracles. This is one of the hardest decision I’ve had to make yet as a Magic player, despite the match being just for fun.

Sideboarding: -3 Chrome Mox, -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Ponder, +2 Xantid Swarm, +3 Abrupt Decay.

My first hand is Rite of Flame, Polluted Delta, Infernal Tutor, Infernal Tutor, Burning Wish, Abrupt Decay, Cabal TherapyThis seems unkeepable and I shuffle down to six cards: Gitaxian Probe, Bloodstained Mire, Cabal Therapy, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Abrupt Decay, Xantid Swarm. While not optimal, it feels much better, as I can play while searching for business – instead of hoping for a land and more rituals.

I open the game with a Gitaxian Probe, drawing Brainstorm and this is what is revealed:



Electrickery, Counterbalance, Force of Will, Vendilion Clique, Sensei’s Divining Top, Volcanic Island, Flooded Strand.


I start thinking about the possibilities as I lay down my land. If I take Sensei’s Divining Top with Cabal Therapy, Xantid Swarm loses some utility by not having to prevent the top deck draw or will most likely die anyway. If I take the Counterbalance, Abrupt Decay becomes a dead card in my hand, but again I have a Brainstorm. If I take Electrikery, I will most likely lose Xantid Swarm to Force of Will and let my opponent resolves his full combo of Sensei’s Divining Top and Counterbalance. If I take the Force of Will out, I will lose Xantid Swarm to Electrikery before I can use it.

Yet to play anything, we need our only land to sacrifice a color from a card in our hand: either we go without blue, so no Brainstorm, or without green, for no Abrupt Decay and Xantid Swarm. Do you play anything on that turn and if so, what land do you search for?

Everything seem so right and so wrong at the same time… I believe I would try this: search for an Underground Sea, cast Brainstorm to hopefully find a second land – ideally a fetchland or the unique Bayou. Pass the turn, allow the Sensei’s Divining Top, then play Cabal Therapy on my turn, naming Force of Will, then play Xantid Swarm and before my opponent can get priority, sacrifice the Xantid Swarm to Cabal Therapy for Counterbalance. Arguably, it takes the two most dangerous threats and makes Electrickery useless, but the play doesn’t do anything about Sensei’s Divining Top and requires lucky draws on the Brainstorm. I don’t even believe I would play that with a Lotus Petal.


I can’t think of a compelling reason to do anything except Cabal Therapy Vendilion Clique here. While it would be nice to try and resolve a Cabal Therapy and stifle our opponent by taking Sensei’s Divining Top or Counterbalance, we are then left pretty far from comboing off, giving our opponent way too many turns to find additional copies of important cards and leaving us down a Cabal Therapy. When you are playing a game against Miracles that you expect to go long (in essence, most games against Miracles postboard) you are trying to take your time and sculpt the perfect hand and then be able to deal with all of their hate at that point. I like taking Vendilion Clique because it more guarantees we’ll have both necessary pieces to dismantle our opponent later, and also buys us a good amount of time unless they immediately find another creature. All that said, I’m almost convinced that doing nothing is our best option as it makes our mana a bit better, potentially improves our Brainstorm by leaving us with a Fetch if we a draw a Dual Land, and gives us a Cabal Therapy that could be valuable later. It really comes down to how valuable you think the clock that Vendilion Clique represents really is. If we’re playing Cabal Therapy, I like finding Underground Sea. Casting our green spells right away is not of the utmost important.

Search for Bayou to cast Cabal Therapy for Sensei’s Divining Top, so you can cast the Xantid Swarm the next turn and flashback the discard spell. Opting for an Underground Sea and hoping a turn 2 Brainstorm wields you the second land seems a bit loose, because failing to find a land would result in a loss most likely.

I would search for Bayou and then cast Cabal Therapy naming Sensei’s Divining Top. This is going to be a long game where you need to sculpt a hand, you can’t afford to let them pick the best card every turn. On the following turn I would cast Xantid Swarm, this leaves the opponent with two options.

If they take the second option, you already have Abrupt Decay and are back in the game. Games like this are all about navigation and game plans, seeing turns ahead rather than the short-term.

Situation #2: Shardless BUG

The introduction touched the subject of stopping a game state and wonder ”what would happen if…?”. I hope you like to theory craft, because this situation is all about it. Below is the board state:



We have Burning Wish, Infernal Tutor, Lion’s Eye Diamond, a pair of Lotus Petal and a pair of Dark Ritual in hand. There’s also an Underground Sea and a Volcanic Island on the field untapped. Our opponent is at 18 life.

The actual game was rather easy to win with a tutor chain because the Force of Will couldn’t be cast due to a lack of blue cards and I didn’t fear the Deathrite Shaman as it was summoning sicknesss. But what if? 

What would be the best winning sequence to play…

-Against a Force of Will, without a blue card to support it, but with an active Deathrite Shaman and untapped lands?

-Against a Force of Will, with a blue card and with an active Deathrite Shaman with untapped lands?

This is a good example on why you should run discard effects in your sideboard: a simple Burning Wish into discard would make things much easier. In any case, I would start my playing the pairs of Lotus Petal and Dark Ritual from the Underground Sea.

Since I’m not going to Ad Nauseam or use Past in Flames, both hypothetical scenario will end the same way. After the Lotus Petal and Dark Ritual, I would play Burning Wish (using one floating black and Volcanic Island). Storm would be 5, with 4 black mana floating and two Lotus Petal in play. At that point, if at any time the opponent counters anything else than Tendrils of Agony, we would have lethal.

I see it this way: if Burning Wish is countered, there’s still enough mana with Lion’s Eye Diamond to cast Infernal Tutor for Burning Wish, Tendrils of Agony, for 10 Storm. If Burning Wish resolves and then we try an Infernal Tutor that gets countered, we get a free Storm counter. Our Tendrils would hit for 20. However, if Infernal Tutor resolves after the resolved Burning Wish (Storm 6) and we search for Lion’s Eye Diamond, play both (Storm 7 and 8), then Tendrils of Agony at Storm 9, if the opponent counters a copy, they drop at 1 or 2 life, depending on how the Force of Will was paid.

For this reason, I would most likely use Burning Wish to grab Empty the Warrens would it resolve. Then, I would play the Infernal Tutor, Lion’s Eye Diamond for Storm counters and hope my opponent doesn’t find a mass removal: I totally believe I could race the Deathrite Shaman and Shardless Agent. Despite its vulnerability, I believe the Empty the Warrens plan (when going for 18 or 20 goblins) is still better than searching empty handed for anything when our opponent is at 1 or 2 life.

Originally, I would have grabbed Tendrils of Agony with Burning Wish, but I prefer not to rely my my opponent making mistakes. I wish I could see an infallible way have lethal on this turn…

First, let’s sort out the relevant information. After playing all of our non-Tutors, we will have access to 8 mana plus Lion’s Eye Diamond and a storm count of 5. Since we can’t easily win through Force of Will or Deathrite Shaman with Past in Flames, both scenarios are effectively the same. We lead on Infernal Tutor which puts us to 6 mana, storm 6. If it resolves, we find another Burning Wish. If it is countered, we Burning Wish for Tendrils of Agony and kill them. Assuming it resolves and we now have 6 mana, LED, storm 6, and 2 Burning Wish, we start by casting Burning Wish (4 mana, LED, Burning Wish in hand, storm 7). If it is countered, we use the second one to kill them with Tendrils of Agony. If it resolves, we find Empty the Warrens and cast it for 16 goblins, which should have no problem winning the game even if he Force of Wills a copy, because we then still have a Burning Wish in hand with a Lion’s Eye Diamond in play to find Tendrils with a mana source or Grapeshot without.

Both scenarios boil down to “How do I beat FoW without sideboard discard?”, which means you need your opponent to waste his Force of Will on a bait spell or grab a discard spell. Fortunately, it is possible in this case to cast Burning Wish for Dark Petition for Duress to strip the Force of Will and proceed with Infernal Tutor for Empty the Warrens (leaving a countered Dark Petition as a big weakness of that play line). If you cast the two Dark Rituals and drop your artifacts before paying for the Burning Wish, I doubt your opponent will allow you to resolve that in the first place.

I’m not going to provide a long-winded answer on this one. It’s pretty simple, play all of your mana into Burning Wish. If they Force of Will, sweet. If they don’t you can Empty the Warrens or Past in Flames (using Deathrite Shaman shuts off their Force of Will). All of the lines end up with them only being able to interact once.

Situation #3: Sneak & Show

Time is running out! Playing against Sneak & Show, I managed to keep the opponent on their toes, but not for long: they’re only missing a creature to cheat into play via a resolved Sneak Attack and they’re now playing in top deck mode.

After a Gitaxian Probe (draw: Brainstorm), I see Force of Will, Force of Will, Pyroclasm ahead of me. Brainstorm from Underground Sea sculpts the following hand:



Burning Wish, Chrome Mox, Ad Nauseam, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor, Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, with two cards still to put on top.

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Griselbrand are too close, is it possible to win before they comes into play?

I was deceived when I played this hand the first time. Again, with no discard spells in the sideboard, it’s impossible to remove Force of Will before casting Ad Nauseam from hand. I couldn’t manage to save enough mana for two expensive spells in everything I tried. That means we rely on the opponent to counter Infernal Tutor or Burning Wish before. As stated previously, I would rather not play a line that requires my opponent to my a mistake, but as far as I can see in this case it’s that or die next turn.

I would put back Chrome Mox and Infernal Tutor on top, cast both Lotus Petal, both Dark Ritual, Burning Wish and hope it get countered, then Ad Nauseam. If Burning Wish resolves, I would get Past in Flames as a default option; I don’t think it would help at all.

No matter what we do, there will always be a spell that your opponent can counter to make it impossible to win this turn. However, it is pretty easy to bait your opponent into playing incorrectly here. If you put back Infernal Tutor, then Chrome Mox, you can cast all of your mana spells to go up to 7 mana and storm 6. If you cast Burning Wish and it resolves, find Tendrils of Agony, put them to two after they Force of Will a copy, and then leverage Infernal Tutor for Burning Wish for Grapeshot over the next three turns and hope that is good enough. You can even wait on the Infernal Tutor for a bit to ensure you get to keep the Chrome Mox since the Mox makes it easy to still be hellbent in two turns. If Burning Wish is countered, cast Ad Nauseam and with your first two cards being Chrome Mox, Infernal Tutor, and you having yet to make a land drop, I like our chances. In situations like these, with a little bit of acting skills and the average opponent, you can likely get them to Force of Will the Burning Wish. This is all assuming that you are interested in going off this turn, which I don’t blame you. You also have the line of waiting one turn and having a much easier kill lined up since now the extra card and mana opens up a lot more doors even though you lose the two Storm.

I’d put back Chrome Mox and Internal Tutor on top of the library, cast the mana into Burning Wish. Once again, I doubt your opponent can allow you to grab anything with Burning Wish and 5 mana floating. Follow up with Ad Nauseam.

I’m actually a little disappointed in how you tapped your lands here. There was no reason to use Underground Sea.

The best play is to probably put back Infernal Tutor and Chrome Mox. But now you’re forced to use a Lotus Petal to cast Dark Ritual, which makes it a more appealing Force of Will target – buying the opponent more time. If both copies of Dark Ritual resolve, play the pair of Lotus Petal and then follow up with Burning Wish with the last card in your hand being Ad Nauseam. They’ll likely counter the Burning Wish because you don’t have enough mana to do anything statistically other than have the random Ad Nauseam. If Burning Wish resolves, I would grab Past in Flames – but we’re hoping it doesn’t. Then to follow up with Ad Nauseam, it would take some bluffing in person – which is something you really lose out on online.

Thanks again for your viewership!