TES Mailbox #8

Hi everyone!

We’re back with the mailbox, here are some more Q&A’s:


What storm variant is currently better positioned during the Eldrazi menace, ANT or TES? I’m an ANT player who is currently trying TES.

This could be a whole article in itself, but I’ll keep it brief. The differences between the two storm decks is their combo turn, ANT’s is often turn three which allows for several hate pieces to hit the board to then be backed up by Warping Wail to ensure a victory. Meanwhile, the EPIC Storm aims to combo on turns one to two which often means before things like Chalice of the Void can even be cast. I would say that this is the main difference between the two decks in this match-up.

Recently, I’ve moved the number of Abrupt Decay up to four to help this match-up (and Miracles) along with playing Hurkyl’s Recall. There’s a number of ANT players making the switch recently, even some that I know of that aren’t big fans of TES, I believe that this speaks in huge volumes towards TES’s ability over ANT to beat the Eldrazi decks.


I was wondering how often you find yourself sideboarding something in/out depending on your game situation (on the draw / 0-1 etc.). I heard it’s fairly typical to not side in 4 Abrupt Decay being on the play vs. Death & Taxes. What are the main factors that affect these kind of ‘tricks’?

I wouldn’t side in Abrupt Decay on the play against Death & Taxes as you’re aiming to win on turn two before their hate can hit the table, otherwise, you’re simply back-peddling. Cards like Ponder are better on the play for this reason, but worse on the draw. Ponder doesn’t help you combo on turn one (before their fundamental turn two) so it’s better to increase your odds of answering their permanent based hate cards. For what it’s worth, this is about the only match-up that I change my sideboarding for based on being on the play or draw.


What do you think of Cabal Ritual/Gemstone Mine mana base in the current meta game?

I don’t think the metagame has any influence on the playability of these cards. Cabal Ritual just isn’t as effective in a deck that aims to combo on turns 1-2, that also has Chrome Mox as a disadvantage. As for Gemstone Mine, it’s acceptable in lists that are more colors – I just don’t know why anyone would do that at the moment.


I am finishing up TES and was wondering what cards have you used or considered for your sideboard. I like to have all the cards possible for a sideboard because my local shops don’t have much of a stock so for any event I would need to order them online which takes time which sometimes a person doesn’t have. 

On the homepage of the website there’s a section titled “alternative sideboard card options” under Card Choices. There’s also a similar section for the main deck, I recommend looking at both of these.


How do you feel about Telemin Performance as a sideboard option in the current legacy metagame and just as a card in general?

I know that it’s one of AJ Kerrigan’s pet cards, but I don’t think it’s worthwhile. It’s fantastic in the Lands match-up, which is already overwhelmingly positive. In the storm mirror, I’d rather have the extra discard spell in Thoughtseize (I’ve had storm opponents side in Xantid Swarm when I was playing Telemin Perfomance). Which ends up being useful in more matches than Telemin Performance. It goes back to what I was talking about last month’s article on How to Build a Sideboard, versatility is king in my opinion. Other than that it has playability against Reanimator and Sneak & Show, neither of which is very popular at the moment.


The past couple times I’ve played storm I’ve had this issue where I get too in my own head about thinking about the combo turn. It’s caused me games ranging from missing lines, making incorrect decisions that I couldn’t see right away, to just talking myself out of actually going for it that turn. Have you ever experienced this? Any advice on pushing through it once my thoughts feel too cluttered? It’s a non-issue at the start of a tournament and usually sets in mid-tournament or later.

I personally don’t experience this. But it seems like an anxiety issue, I think the advice I have in the last TES Mailbox could really help you. Just breathe and take each round, game and turn one at a time. Don’t try to force your combo turn, it’s going to be based on whatever the game state is paired with your hand. Obviously if your hand isn’t capable of winning in the second turn, wait until it’s ready to storm-off.

As far as seeing lines-of-play, lots of experience helps me with this. TES has plenty of lines, it’s important to consider all of your options before making an important decision. After all, you won’t be going to time in the round. I see most of them quickly from years of repeating these processes, you will too eventually. Something I do in-game to help me is based on my opponents actions look at my hand, figure out what I need to kill them and my possible draw steps that could lead to their death. I think a lot on my opponents’ turns, this way when it comes to my turn I have everything ready to go.

I don’t know who it was, but someone wrote an article a few years ago that they really only make 4 decisions per tournament. Everything else is a reflex or muscle memory, because by the time that they needed to make big decisions their brain was still fresh and not exhausted from deciding too long on the little things. Take this with a grain of salt, I think the main message here is experience will help you with small things making your brain get less bogged down on the things that do matter.

I guess my main recommendation is to get more play time with the deck. Paired with slowing down, breathing and analyzing your options before making a critical decision.


Do you ever find yourself second guessing storm count or mana?

I think this is a really easy issue to fix. Use mana and storm counters, I personally use the ones by RK Post, but you can make them yourself as well.


In between rounds I tend to walk around and watch other matches still going. Would I benefit from going outside the venue or walking away from the tables at least and just taking a breather?

I honestly don’t play Magic in between rounds, I typically scout other decks in my bracket, but I don’t get invested in games. I find that I want the mental break from the game, so I can go into the next round slightly more refreshed.


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