The ABC’s of TES: Interaction

Combo decks in Legacy often get called non-interactive. With Storm, this could not be further from the truth. Usually, between four and eight slots are devoted to interacting in some way with the opponent. The EPIC Storm has played a variety of interaction pieces over the years and understanding how they work against multiple types of opponents is important to understanding all of one’s options.

Veil of Summer

[[Force of Will|]]
[[Veil of Summer|]]

[[Veil of Summer]] is perhaps the best interaction spell printed for The EPIC Storm of all time (despite being one of the best cards at stopping a [[Tendrils of Agony]])! Against most blue decks, the obvious interaction is to stop their counterspells from working. Looking a little deeper, [[Veil of Summer]] is a two- for-one in these matchups. By waiting out the opponent in some theoretical infinite endgame, they can only have three free counterspells to the four copies of [[Veil of Summer]], allowing one to force through a win on card economics. Most games do not end up going to that end game, but the principle still stands. A [[Veil of Summer]] beats two [[Force of Will]] effects and a blue card better than almost anything else in the current format. Using [[Veil of Summer]] as a cantrip in those matchups also comes up, though less often.

[[Veil of Summer]] has applications against many black combo decks as well. Blocking discard spells such as [[Thoughtseize]], [[Unmask]], and [[Grief]] is part of the reason why Rakdos Reanimator has become a more even matchup, despite being one of the worst matchups for Storm historically. Further, [[Veil of Summer]] does not specify that the “uncounterability” clause is just restricted to blue and black effects. It will prevent any effect from countering a spell. This is a distinction that comes up with [[Chancellor of the Annex]], where one can resolve a [[Veil of Summer]] at the beginning of a combo turn and effectively ignore the [[Chancellor of the Annex]] for the rest of the turn.

The “uncounterability” clause carries into prison matchups as well! A [[Veil of Summer]] can answer a [[Chalice of the Void]] on any number except for one. This is why some number of [[Veil of Summer]] are left in the deck post board against prison with some sideboards. The card is not entirely blank. [[Chalice of the Void]] on zero is also one of the best numbers to [[Chalice of the Void]] for against current iterations of TES. Having [[Veil of Summer]] as a main deck answer to that is one of the reasons the card helps in almost every matchup.

Despite being one of the most powerful pieces of interaction, [[Veil of Summer]] does have flaws. Unless the opponent is also trying to win with [[Tendrils of Agony]], [[Veil of Summer]] is mediocre at stopping the opponent from winning the game. This is a flaw in some combo match ups such as [[Doomsday]] and Oops! All Spells. The other major flaw is that [[Veil of Summer]] does not beat [[Mindbreak Trap]]. [[Mindbreak Trap]] exiles all of the spells it targets rather than countering them, rendering [[Veil of Summer]]’s protection non-existant.


[[Force of Negation|]]

[[Thoughtseize]] is one of the most generic interaction pieces that Storm has access to. It the ultimate one for one and there is a lot of skill in picking apart an opponent’s hand for the exact right piece. Being only a one for one is the main reason why this card has fallen out of favor. Blue decks have been allowed to have cards that generate card advantage such as [[Expressive Iteration]] and [[Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath]], which makes fighting on a one for one axis a losing battle. The other major factor is [[Force of Negation]]: blue players have more access to more relevant cards which means the Storm player needs to draw an equal or greater number of discard spells to beat a given number of [[Force of Will]] effects. Because blue matchups are the most common match ups in Legacy, [[Thoughtseize]] has been relegated to mostly being a sideboard card for The EPIC Storm.

Non-blue and combo matchups are the best place for [[Thoughtseize]]. With much more compressed turn counts and fewer cards that matter, a well-timed [[Thoughtseize]] can blow a game wide open. Prison players will often mulligan low to an early lock piece and discarding that lock piece is often game winning. Not having to pay the extra mana for a removal spell for the lock piece is a massive mana advantage that [[Thoughtseize]] can give a player. Against other combo decks, [[Thoughtseize]] can take either their interaction for one’s combo or take away the opponent’s ability to win. When there are fewer cards that matter, [[Thoughtseize]] gets better.

[[Thoughtseize]] also has the upside of being a Sorcery. Including a single copy in the sideboard to find with [[Burning Wish]] has been a common strategy to help have extra interaction in many matchups. In particular, it is an outlet to beat a [[Mindbreak Trap]] after resolving an engine at a low Storm count.

[[Echo of Eons]] becoming an emphasis of The EPIC Storm is also one of the reasons that [[Thoughtseize]] has dropped in value. Taking away the opponent’s interaction and then refilling all of their cards with more potential interaction is not a play pattern that TES is interested in. [[Veil of Summer]] being a pseudo [[Silence]] effect plays much better with [[Echo of Eons]].

Duress and Cabal Therapy

[[Empty the Warrens|]]
[[Cabal Therapy|]]

Duress has many of the strengths of [[Thoughtseize]], but not being able to take creatures such as [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]] is a major weakness. Despite not causing loss of life in an [[Ad Nauseam]] deck, there is not enough time in current Legacy to have misses like that. The other major factor that leaves [[Duress]] in the binder is [[Veil of Summer]] tends to beat non-creature spells much better on average.

[[Cabal Therapy]] used to be the best piece of interaction that The EPIC Storm had. Being a discard spell that could beat two copies of [[Force of Will]] and a blue card was important. With [[Force of Negation]] in the format, however, this has become unreliable. In general, as more cards get added, guessing exactly what the opponent has without the help of [[Gitaxian Probe]] becomes increasingly hard. The EPIC Storm has also shifted away from being an [[Empty the Warrens]] deck. This makes the Flashback ability of [[Cabal Therapy]] much less useful. In the [[Gitaxian Probe]] Era, the ability to take an opponent’s counterspell and then take their sweeper once making [[Goblin Token]]s was a powerful option. With how things have changed, it is unlikely that [[Cabal Therapy]] comes back, but understanding its synergy with [[Empty the Warrens]] is the key to figuring out when it will come back.

Silence and Orim’s Chant

[[Orim’s Chant|]]

Like [[Veil of Summer]], these white cards are best against blue decks. They trade two for one against [[Force of Will]] effects, but instead of being able to be used reactively, they must be used only proactively. This guarantees that the mana spent on the protection spell is used and there is no card to be drawn to attempt to recoup that mana. Costing white mana also stretches the manabase more than is reasonable most of the time.

In some combo matchups, a well timed [[Silence]] can interrupt a combo turn. Unfortunately, against Rakdos Reanimator and [[Doomsday]], this is not always enough. If they just cast a reanimation spell, it might win the game and there is not a reasonable window to [[Silence]] in response. Instead, using it as a [[Time Walk]] is more required to get those extra draw steps to win the game.

[[Silence]] works as a [[Time Walk]] against prison matchups too! It can prevent a lock piece from coming down for a turn to increase the window to kill the opponent before getting locked out of the game. Silence is also great to stop the prison players from casting [[Mindbreak Trap]]!

Defense Grid

[[Prismatic Ending|]]
[[Defense Grid|]]
[[Mindbreak Trap|]]

[[Defense Grid]] works against blue decks much the same way that [[Silence]] does. It trades two for one with their [[Force of Will]] and must be cause proactively. The main difference is that one can split up the cost of comboing and protecting the combo across multiple turns. This mana advantage can actually be used to go off faster despite costing overall more mana. In current Legacy, casting a [[Defense Grid]] and passing the turn is risky due to the printing of cards like [[Prismatic Ending]] and formerly [[Oko, Thief of Crowns]].

The greatest weakness to [[Defense Grid]] is that it has some of the least text against unfair decks and non-blue decks. The only reason to keep [[Defense Grid]] in the deck against those decks is to protect against a [[Mindbreak Trap]]. If the combo player has counter magic, then [[Defense Grid]] has text, but no more so than in normal matchups and the time to play [[Defense Grid]], pass the turn, and untap becomes much harder to have when racing another combo deck.

Galvanic Relay

[[Force of Will|]]
[[Galvanic Relay|]]
[[Deafening Silence|]]

One might not think of [[Galvanic Relay]] as traditional stack based interaction, but it fulfils the role of “answering” an opponent’s interaction by simply being hard to interact with. It goes around their countermagic instead of through it. On following turns, it draws cards that allow one to actually win through the countermagic by finding multiple copies of [[Veil of Summer]] or multiple tutors to present multiple threats. The problem with this approach against unfair blue decks is that one often does not get the time to take a few turns to overwhelm the opponent or it is just impossible to generate the Storm count to draw enough cards. As a more specific example, against Moon Stompy and Rakdos Reanimator, [[Galvanic Relay]] is boarded out. Against 8-Cast, however, it is left in the deck. Despite 8-Cast having eight [[Force of Will]] effects and [[Chalice of the Void]], drawing enough cards with [[Galvanic Relay]] can still win the game because neither one’s ability to generate Storm nor one’s ability to take multiple turns is inhibited.

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