What is The EPIC Gamble?
The EPIC Gamble is primarily a red Ruby Storm deck that can support a splash color of one’s preference with relative ease. The play patterns are considerably different from previous iterations of Ruby Storm. No other Storm deck is designed to cast [[Echo of Eons]] multiple times in virtually every game. Thanks to many new printings, Ruby Storm deck theory has been moving rather quickly, so it seems appropriate to discuss its evolution. I owe a lot of credit to the Storm community, particularly those in the Ruby Storm and TES discord, as they have been an invaluable tool in molding theory and expediting fine-tuning.
Traditional or older Ruby Storm theory utilizes [[Bonus Round]] and is more stack-based, often without [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and often adding blue for cantrips. After months of trying to optimize this style of deck, I deviated from traditional Ruby Storm theory and created a variant I call The EPIC Ruby Storm (TERS) This new Ruby Storm composition emphasizes the use of permanents, removes [[Bonus Round]], and takes several pages out of The EPIC Storm’s book. After significant testing and communicating with the Ruby Storm community, I deviated even further and created The EPIC Gamble (TEG). I believe it is the most competitive version of the Archetype. It has increased its speed and consistency by creating more redundancy, lowering its average converted mana cost significantly, adding main deck [[Galvanic Relay]], and removing some of the more clunky spells that rely upon [[Ruby Medallion]]. As players become more familiar with the deck and name (TEG), I think it makes sense to call it TEG Ruby Storm so that it is found through google searches, etc.
I stumbled upon TEG Ruby Storm thanks to [[Diamond Lion]], believe it or not. I thought the idea of playing eight “diamonds” sounded hilarious and fun. I replaced [[Ruby Medallion]] with [[Diamond Lion]], removed some of the clunky cards that required [[Ruby Medallion]], and leaned in harder on the [[Echo of Eons]] plan. The results were a bit surprising as it was performing better than my most recent list was. I took out the [[Diamond Lion]] and left the new shell intact. I did not, however, bring [[Ruby Medallion]] back into the deck.
- 4 [[Birgi, God of Storytelling]]
- 4 [[Burning Wish]]
- 4 [[Reckless Impulse]]
- 3 [[Gamble]]
- 3 [[Echo of Eons]]
- 3 [[Galvanic Relay]]
- 2 [[Jeska’s Will]]
- 2 [[Manamorphose]]
- 1 [[Wish]]
- 4 [[Defense Grid]]
- 4 [[Rite of Flame]]
- 4 [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]
- 4 [[Lotus Petal]]
- 4 [[Chrome Mox]]
- 3 [[Mox Opal]]
- 4 [[Shatterskull Smashing]]
- 3 [[Ancient Tomb]]
- 2 [[City of Traitors]]
- 1 [[Fiery Islet]]
- 1 [[Volcanic Island]]
- 3 [[Empty the Warrens]]
- 2 [[Echoing Truth]]
- 2 [[Shattering Spree]]
- 1 [[Void Snare]]
- 1 [[Gamble]]
- 1 [[Grapeshot]]
- 1 [[Galvanic Relay]]
- 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
- 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
- 1 [[Peer into the Abyss]]
- 1 [[Urza’s Saga]]
Why Play The EPIC Gamble?
For a very long period, Ad Nauseam Tendrils and The EPIC Storm were the only two competitive Storm combo decks in Legacy. ANT aged poorly and had left TES as the most competitive Storm deck. I believe it is only a matter of time before more Storm players start picking up TEG Ruby Storm alongside TES as the other competitive Storm deck. When creating a deck it is important to ask ourselves why we are playing it and whether or not it is just a worse version of an already existing deck. In this case, we have to ask ourselves why we would play a different Storm deck other than TES. We are faster and have a comparable power level, but TES has the deterministic nature of [[Ad Nauseam]] and gets some additional consistency out of [[Ponder]] and [[Brainstorm]]. There are certainly more differences to highlight than that, but my point is I don’t think one is better than the other. There are pros and cons to each. I do love The EPIC Storm myself, but it is nice to have competitive options in an archetype (Storm).
TEG Ruby Storm is new, underplayed, and underestimated. I won a Sunday Challenge on 1/16/2022 made the top 8 of the Leaving a Legacy Open 3.5k, top 32 at the Legacy Pit 20k, and have consistently performed well on MTGO. We still get a fair amount of advantage from opponents assuming they are safe on turn one. We goldfish between 25-30 percent turn one and around the same for turn two. That means we have a lethal presentation available to us on turn one or two more than half the time. That makes us the second fastest competitive deck in the format next to Oops all Spells. You can think of the deck as Belcher except with protection and more staying power. With four [[Defense Grid]], four [[Reckless Impulse]], and three [[Galvanic Relay]] in the main deck. We are still very good against blue decks, unlike traditional ‘[[Force of Will]] check’ decks. We keep throwing punches and then remain lethal off the top since we are designed to go Hellbent anyways. Our [[Gamble]] can be a red [[Timetwister]] that costs one additional red thanks to its synergy with [[Echo of Eons]] and being Hellbent. TEG Ruby Storm is also quite affordable aside from [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and two [[City of Traitors]]. If you like drawing seven cards, put your [[Griselbrand]] down and come play The EPIC Gamble.
How Does it Work?
The EPIC Gamble consists of the same types of cards that all Storm decks do. I like to break them up into two categories: primary and secondary. Our primary cards consist of mana and action while our secondary cards consist of removal and protection. Our primary engines are [[Echo of Eons]] and [[Galvanic Relay]].
[[Gamble]] is a one-mana tutor that not only gets [[Echo of Eons]] for us, but is also capable of putting it in the zone that it most often prefers to be in (the graveyard). When we have [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] in play, it rarely matters what [[Gamble]] hits because we are most often selecting [[Echo of Eons]] and discarding our hand to [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]. If we have [[Echo of Eons]] in hand but no [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Gamble]] can find [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] at a risk. This risk often turns pilots off to [[Gamble]], but we take calculated risks all the time in Storm whether we play [[Gamble]] or not. Unless we have one of the more complex and rare lines that require multiple cards going untouched by [[Gamble]]’s discarding effect, our worst odds are 50/50. We put a [[Gamble]] in our sideboard so that [[Burning Wish]] can get [[Gamble]] which can, in turn, get [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] or [[Echo of Eons]]. [[Birgi, God of Storytelling]] makes these more convoluted and expensive lines affordable and, if we are Hellbent, makes [[Burning Wish]] a red [[Timetwister]] that requires four mana upfront and one blue by revealing and casting [[Gamble]] and selecting [[Echo of Eons]].
With practice and mastery, we can present a varied arsenal that will keep our opponents guessing where and how to exhaust their disruption. Ideally, we want to get a [[Defense Grid]] into play first and then start chaining [[Echo of Eons]] into either a lethal line or a gigantic [[Galvanic Relay]]. Even if we run out of gas and wind up Hellbent; [[Gamble]], [[Echo of Eons]] and [[Burning Wish]] can turn into seven fresh cards. It is important to always be aware of the best line available, so I came up with a heuristic that I like to call…
The Hierarchy of Lines
- Lethal (It seems obvious but it is really easy to forget to check for lethal).
- [[Peer into the Abyss]].
- [[Harnfel, Horn of Bounty]] + [[Echo of Eons]].
- [[Birgi, God of Storytelling]] + [[Echo of Eons]].
- [[Echo of Eons]] + sliding scale of power level based on the quantity of mana floating.
- Depending on the context of the game state, [[Galvanic Relay]] or even [[Empty the Warrens]] has the power to break this hierarchy and may be preferable to some or all of the above.
Cuts / Trims
- [[Ruby Medallion]] (Cut) — It may seem crazy to cut [[Ruby Medallion]], especially if you are familiar with traditional Ruby Storm play patterns. It was almost always a card we wanted to see, particularly in our openers. Ruby Storm had difficulties executing a lot of its plans without [[Ruby Medallion]] in play. Many of our cards are bad without [[Ruby Medallion]] in play. [[Seething Song]], [[Ignite the Future]], and [[Reforge the Soul]] are all examples of cards that, on their own, aren’t quite on par with the power level we see in Legacy. This problem is certainly exacerbated by an abundance of [[Prismatic Ending]] in the format. The play pattern of [[Ruby Medallion]] pass has not aged well, which brings us to another problem that [[Ruby Medallion]] creates: turn one impotence. The only way we can reasonably assert ourselves as an option alongside TES is if we can offer a considerable upgrade in speed. [[Ruby Medallion]] was holding us back from that potential. Our openers often made us choose between playing a [[Ruby Medallion]] or [[Defense Grid]] on turn one, and if we chose wrong, we could lose because of it. If we spend two turns setting up, we fall behind in the face of [[Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer]] and [[Prismatic Ending]] and leave ourselves dead to opposing combo decks or sometimes a single [[Wasteland]] or [[Daze]].
- [[Seething Song]] (Cut) — An easy [[Force of Will]] target, non-modal, converted mana cost three, plus-two ritual. Capable of producing an impressive amount of red mana with [[Ruby Medallion]] in play but cannot be justified with [[Birgi, God of Storytelling]] as the only cost reducer. [[Birgi, God of Storytelling]] is such a powerful mana engine, [[Seething Song]] becomes gratuitous. The more often we cast spells, [[Birgi, God of Storytelling]] triggers and converted mana cost three spells are not an efficient way to utilize that effect. The most important mana concept for TEG Ruby Storm is its takeoff. Once we get off the ground, we hardly have issues converting. We need our rituals to get us to three mana instead of costing three.
- [[Ignite the Future]] (Cut) — A fine engine, but the more we lean into the [[Echo of Eons]] plan, the further away we lean away from [[Ignite the Future]]. [[Galvanic Relay]] is a smoother engine that requires a lower converted mana cost to operate and gives blue decks a lot more trouble. I love the card and think its power level is reasonable, I just prefer to be as deliberate and consistent as possible with deck theory and other cards have proven to be more effective at executing a better plan.
- [[Faithless Looting]] (Cut) — Although only just recently cut, [[Faithless Looting]] was the best option we had before they printed [[Reckless Impulse]]. The ceiling for this card was digging for action when we cast [[Echo of Eons]] with plenty of mana. It helped prevent us from fizzling. It isn’t the greatest in openers and becomes even worse post-board. Ultimately, [[Faithless Looting]] was too often either putting us down a card, inviting graveyard interaction, or being a really bad top deck when Hellbent.
- [[Reforge the Soul]] (Cut) — Another fine engine and another power level reduction with the absence of [[Ruby Medallion]]. One of the things I didn’t like about this card was the tension with [[Harnfel, Horn of Bounty]]. [[Reforge the Soul]] incentivizes us to play out our permanents while [[Harnfel, Horn of Bounty]] and [[Galvanic Relay]] want us to hold cards in our hand. I could tolerate this tension when [[Ruby Medallion]] was in the deck but now that it isn’t and [[Galvanic Relay]] is, and with the printing of [[Prismatic Ending]], we are holding cards in our hand more than ever.
- [[Jeska’s Will]] (Trimmed 2/4) — Capable of making massive amounts of mana or exiling three cards, [[Jeska’s Will]] and its modality is an important component of the deck. It does however still suffer from one of the same problems as [[Seething Song]]: it is a lightning rod for [[Force of Will]]. I found myself trimming this card so often against blue decks (especially vs tempo) that I finally decided to trim some from our main deck. I kept looking at my decklist and wanting to have less converted mana cost three spells. We do, however, want to have a reasonable chance to find it when we are wheeling, especially with a [[Defense Grid]] in play to ensure seven mana.
- [[Manamorphose]] (Returns!) — [[Manamorphose]] had been cut alongside [[Ruby Medallion]]. I had been testing a black/red version of TEG Ruby Storm that was even lower to the ground and which contained [[Manamorphose]]. I realized that I had not tested [[Manamorphose]] since the printing of [[Galvanic Relay]] and became impressed with the synergy that it has on both the front and backside of [[Galvanic Relay]]. It’s a nice card to hit off of a red exile effect when we have a [[Harnfel, Horn of Bounty]] in play. Filtering our Sol lands can enable lines that would otherwise not exist. We can achieve double blue for [[Echo of Eons]], or double red for [[Shatterskull Smashing]].
- Land Count (Reduced) — We have gone down from 13 to 11 lands. Since our objective is to cast [[Echo of Eons]] multiple times every game, it makes sense to want to limit the number of lands we draw in those hands. The combination of running fewer lands and playing four [[Shatterskull Smashing]] helps mitigate the possibility of fizzling and improves [[Chrome Mox]] efficacy. TEG Ruby Storm has a considerably lower converted mana cost than previous iterations and often needs or even prefers 0-1 lands.
- [[Mountain]] (Cut) — We used to play six [[Mountain]], but TEG Ruby Storm doesn’t play any basics now. Our mana base demands three very important things from us: plus-two mana (Sol lands), multi-color fixing, or [[Chrome Mox]] efficacy. If a land in our deck does not serve one of those purposes, it is probably not worth playing. [[Assassin’s Trophy]] and [[Ghost Quarter]] are rare enough cards that I don’t think it would be worth running even a single [[Mountain]] at this point.
- [[Past in Flames]] (Cut) — Previous iterations had a lot more goodies in the graveyard for this powerhouse, but TEG Ruby Storm plays a lot of permanents and frequently shuffles its graveyard into its library and as a result, we seldom have the opportunity to enact the often deterministic lines that [[Past in Flames]] allows for.
- [[Galvanic Relay]] — This is the most revolutionary card to hit Storm since [[Echo of Eons]] and has improved our ability to grind out blue decks. At first glance, it may seem slow, but since we are essentially a belcher deck, we often threaten a large turn one [[Galvanic Relay]] for a lethal turn two, which is still very fast. It plays very well with [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] by effectively turning it into [[Black Lotus]], and is often all we need from an [[Echo of Eons]] to win the game.
- [[Reckless Impulse]] — A direct and much-needed replacement for [[Faithless Looting]]. Instead of going down a card, we get to go up a card now. I didn’t expect to want this card at first until I began to realize how important it is to have cards in exile. For example, if we have two mana and two [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Reckless Impulse]] gives another opportunity to turn [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] into [[Black Lotus]]. If they printed a [[Reckless Impulse]] that simply drew two cards, I’d still prefer the current version.
- [[Wish]] — Although I [[Wish]] this card had the same effect as [[Burning Wish]], it is quite effective in fixing a few of the issues we had. It doesn’t take much for us to run low on or out of [[Burning Wish]]. We may have to imprint one under [[Chrome Mox]], use another to get removal, another to [[Echo of Eons]], and all of a sudden, we only have one left that must be reserved for killing our opponent. Trust me when I say five is a lot more than four. It’s important to note that [[Wish]] does not exile itself like [[Burning Wish]] does. This can be important since we often shuffle our graveyard back into our deck. [[Wish]] prevents us from having to bring a win condition into the main deck post-board in fear of getting our [[Burning Wish]] targeted by [[Surgical Extraction]], named by [[Meddling Mage]], named two by [[Sanctum Prelate]], or by a [[Chalice of the Void]]. Lastly, [[Wish]] is usually worse than [[Burning Wish]] since it costs more and can’t put [[Echo of Eons]] into our hand, but there are corner case scenarios that enable it to be preferable to [[Burning Wish]]: we don’t have to go all-in and sacrifice our [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] before [[Wish]] resolves. We don’t even have to choose what we are casting from it until we cast a card. If nothing else, just having a higher density of win conditions is important when we are wheeling and looking for a kill.
- [[Chrome Mox]] (Added fourth) — Since cutting out bigger spells, leaning harder on [[Galvanic Relay]], and adding a full set of [[Shatterskull Smashing]], we are best suited just playing the full set. The spell lands are well designed to help openers with [[Chrome Mox]] in them, and since all we do is look at several openers every game, it’s important to be able to convert our lands into mana even after our land drop so that we aren’t forced into imprinting more important cards. It also exiles them out of our deck for subsequent [[Echo of Eons]].
- [[Mox Opal]] — I had been trying to make this card work through several iterations prior because I knew it was the future of the deck, and Storm for that matter, but I couldn’t quite make it work. With the printing of [[Galvanic Relay]] and the addition of the fourth [[Chrome Mox]], it is finally time for [[Mox Opal]] to shine. Even just having a higher density of zero-cost artifacts can be helpful for [[Birgi, God of Storytelling]] triggers whether we have Metalcraft or not. A lot of the time, we don’t get an immediate gain but cycle it to [[Galvanic Relay]] only to gain metal craft on the next turn.
- [[Gamble]] — I have tested a lot of [[Gamble]] over the past year and a half and never quite had the results I had hoped for until I stumbled upon the TEG Ruby Storm shell, thanks to [[Diamond Lion]]. When we are Hellbent or have a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] in play, it is almost literally a one mana tutor. Besides its primary purpose of creating redundancy for [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and [[Echo of Eons]], it can find us [[Burning Wish]] for lethal, but can also find our removal for hate pieces.
- [[Echo of Eons]] — Since our game plan has shifted to casting [[Echo of Eons]] multiple times in almost every single game, we have now maxed out on it with three in our main deck and the one in the sideboard.
Heuristics and Pointers
Please check out the Heuristics and Pointers section towards the end of my last article here first since most of it still holds for this iteration of Ruby Storm. [[Prismatic Ending]] is played more than both discard spells and [[Chalice of the Void]] put together, so it is preferable to hold our zero cost spells in the blind, rather than playing them out. It would be acceptable to play one and hold one if we are trying to hedge our bets, but I generally prefer to go all-in on the higher upside.
Goldfish, Goldfish, Goldfish! Since much of our brain activity for our games is spent on sequencing openers over and over, often with the safety of a [[Defense Grid]], it is extremely helpful to goldfish as much as possible. The more we can resolve through muscle memory, the more space we can reserve in our heads for more complicated lines. The most mana efficient way to sequence a turn starts with the most efficient way to resolve [[Birgi, God of Storytelling]] first. A common sequence I start with off of a [[Galvanic Relay]] or some [[Harnfel, Horn of Bounty]] activations is [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] into [[Birgi, God of Storytelling]]. If the mana isn’t already available, find the most efficient way to make three mana with the fewest cards possible. This line certainly changes depending on context. It can be advisable to play an additional [[Lotus Petal]] before resolving [[Birgi, God of Storytelling]] if we wish to play around [[Daze]], but we do give up a [[Birgi, God of Storytelling]] red mana by doing so.
We mulligan no red source hands unless we are already on five cards. There are some obvious exceptions including [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and [[Echo of Eons]] hands, especially when they contain a [[Defense Grid]] and a sol land.
Thanks to the London Mulligan, we can mulligan very aggressively — especially against non-blue decks. We don’t have to keep a medium five-card hand since we have three more opportunities to find [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and [[Echo of Eons]]. This is one of the most important skills of piloting TEG Ruby Storm. For example, if you don’t have the stomach to mulligan to three in a high stakes game on the draw vs. Reanimator even though you know the odds of winning without two [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and an [[Echo of Eons]] are close to zero, it’s time to read this heuristic again. Didn’t hit it on three? Now we mulligan to two for [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and [[Echo of Eons]]. Didn’t hit on two? Mulligan to one to hit either [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] OR [[Echo of Eons]]. At this point [[Echo of Eons]] is preferable if you have both in your hand. I have won a couple of games vs Reanimator taking a mulligan to one, keeping [[Echo of Eons]], getting hit by discard, and ripping [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] off the top.
Refer to non-[[Birgi, God of Storytelling]] mana first when possible. We prefer to accumulate mana produced by [[Birgi, God of Storytelling]] because we often go to our second main phase after casting [[Echo of Eons]] to empty our opponents floating mana from their ‘float mana and [[Daze]]’ play or from a [[Simian Spirit Guide]] or [[Elvish Spirit Guide]], etc.
When we have virtually infinite mana and we are drawing seven, try to play out cards like [[Defense Grid]] from hand so that they don’t get shuffled back in and drawn. We don’t use every [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] if we wouldn’t want to draw it off of [[Echo of Eons]]. The same goes for [[Lotus Petal]] or even casting [[Mox Opal]] from exile only to have to sacrifice the one on board and potentially shuffle it in. [[Chrome Mox]] is also a great way to erase undesirable cards before a [[Timetwister]].
We are most often able to play around graveyard interaction on the stack by never giving priority before casting [[Echo of Eons]]. There are too many scenarios that this is relevant to be able to speak specifically, but if we find ourselves losing to [[Surgical Extraction]] or [[Endurance]] frequently, we may want to put our sequencing under a microscope and figure out how we could have prevented giving our opponent priority with an active graveyard.
We should never have a large quantity of both [[Defense Grid]] and removal when sideboarding. We may sometimes leave 1-2 [[Defense Grid]] or 1-2 ‘just in case’ removal spells, but generally speaking, our deck needs a certain density of primary cards to function as intended. Choose whether protection or removal is most important as your secondary quantity and lean into your choice. Remember, our choices are all ultimately based on percentages. If we figure a certain sideboard theory to be any amount higher chance to win than an alternative, we still run the risk of losing because of it. Try not to get hooked on results-oriented thinking. Even if we lose specifically as a result of a single sideboarding choice, it does not mean that choice was wrong.
The EPIC Ending
When I wrote the last article for the previous iteration of this deck, I was still testing far too many things to write up a sideboard guide. We have settled on a stock list at this point with only a couple of flex slots being tested and as a result, I have put a lot of time into a Sideboard Guide that is very close to finished and should be published shortly after this.
As many of you know, I have been working diligently on this deck for about a year now. I have put in the time to grind leagues, stream, edit for YouTube, discuss in discord, test new ideas, and write articles because this deck has become a passion of mine and I genuinely love doing it. I am only one person, however. I am always looking to discuss deck theory, card choices, play decisions, etc. in a constantly maturing effort to optimize the deck and my skill with it. TEG Ruby Storm would not be where it is today without the efforts of other Ruby Storm players, particularly those who are active in the Legacy Storm Discord, and of course the staff of The EPIC Storm. Thanks to other content creators, I was able to consume Storm content for a long time leading up to and before even playing Storm. It brings me joy to provide that which was so freely given to me. Come watch me play the deck on my stream or come find me on discord and say hi! Could I have made a better play on a YouTube video? Tell me about it in the comments! I always love hearing from people who bought into the deck or started jamming it on Magic the Gathering Online. This is the beginning of a new Storm, don’t you want to be a part of it?