Through the Looking Glass: Black Saga Storm with Michael Reed

Michael Reed

Special Guest

Michael Reed

(Twitter: Eureka22422 | Spotify: Legacy Small Talk | MTGO: Eureka22422)

I’m Michael Reed from Saint Louis. I almost exclusively play Legacy, which I started playing around 2010. Originally picking up Merfolk as a budget-friendly deck, I have mostly played [[Dark Ritual]] combo decks since picking up ANT a few years into my Magic career. I have been playing Doomsday recently, but for the last few months, I shifted back to my favorite archetype: Storm!

Black Saga Storm by Michael Reed

Main Deck

  • 4 [[Dark Ritual]]
  • 4 [[Entomb]]
  • 4 [[Thoughtseize]]
  • 4 [[Orcish Bowmasters]]
  • 4 [[Agadeem’s Awakening]]
  • 4 [[Beseech the Mirror]]
  • 4 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • 4 [[Chrome Mox]]
  • 4 [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]
  • 4 [[Lotus Petal]]
  • 4 [[Mox Opal]]
  • 2 [[Cabal Therapy]]
  • 1 [[Gaea’s Will]]
  • 1 [[Duress]]
  • 1 [[Lavaspur Boots]]
  • 1 [[Opposition Agent]]
  • 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
  • 4 [[Urza’s Saga]]
  • 4 [[Vault of Whispers]]
  • 1 [[Swamp]]


  • 4 [[Leyline of the Void]]
  • 3 [[Feed the Swarm]]
  • 2 [[Dismember]]
  • 1 [[Haywire Mite]]
  • 1 [[Surge Node]]
  • 1 [[Empty the Warrens]]
  • 1 [[Helm of Obedience]]
  • 1 [[Sheoldred, the Apocalypse]]
  • 1 [[The One Ring]]
We’re not so different, you and I. We both play [[Gaea’s Will]], [[Beseech the Mirror]], and [[Echo of Eons]]. What do you view as the primary differences between our gameplans?

In my opinion, the biggest differences are the cantrips in The EPIC Storm (TES) that allow for wider variety of keepable hands. Black Saga Storm (BSS) mulligans more aggressively to hands with all the required pieces. BSS can more consistently cast a turn-one [[Echo of Eons]] to help undo mulligans. BSS also has a strong backup plan in [[Urza’s Saga]] and [[Orcish Bowmasters]] as a key hate piece against fair blue matchups (vs. TES’s [[Galvanic Relay]]).

One last call out: When casting [[Echo of Eons]], BSS is more likely to find a win on lower resources. TES can better protect its post-Echo plays with [[Veil of Summer]].

An obvious strength of BSS is ability to pivot. What’s plan “A” against TES? Do you win as fast as possible, or would try to disrupt?

If you tap out of green mana (e.g., to cast a turn one [[Ponder]]), I’m always jamming a win if I can. Otherwise, my plan is to disrupt as much as possible with discard and win through a line that isn’t susceptible to [[Veil of Summer]], like a big [[Orcish Bowmasters]] army token.

Who typically has better inevitability in this matchup? Should TES try to go under or sculpt to play a longer game?

BSS’s backup plan beats TES’s backup plan, but [[Veil of Summer]] buys time. Try to go under BSS. Besides [[Orcish Bowmasters]] punishing [[Echo of Eons]], BSS doesn’t interact with TES’s combo game one.

How do you identify that an opponent playing combo? What key indicators tip off TES game one? Once identified, how does BSS’s strategy change?

This has become more difficult with the inclusion of the Surveil lands because so many decks have adopted them. It’s tougher to know what someone is on from a single Surveil land. [[Commercial District]] is generally a giveaway for TES, as are mana rocks like [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Mox Opal]], and [[Lotus Petal]] for some kind of Storm strategy. Otherwise, I’d typically find out from a turn-one discard spell.

Once identified as TES, BSS’s role in the matchup involves determining how the given hand beats [[Veil of Summer]]. Sometimes, I can pressure [[Veil of Summer]] with discard spells, hoping TES doesn’t untap and win the game. Other times, BSS must jam and hope the TES player doesn’t have it.

Game one, what kind of hands does BSS keep in the dark? What specific cards are you looking for?

Typically, I look for interaction, such as a discard spell, and either; a strong [[Urza’s Saga]] hand with lots of permanent mana and maybe an [[Echo of Eons]], a path to win with [[Beseech the Mirror]] within the first few turns, or a hand that can [[Echo of Eons]] with resources left over. Obviously, I would prefer insulation against discard, but that’s a luxury.

What card out of TES are you most afraid of? Why?

If you haven’t already guessed, it’s [[Veil of Summer]]. Not only does it stop [[Tendrils of Agony]], but if I [[Echo of Eons]] the TES player into it, it can counter [[Orcish Bowmasters]] triggers. Postboard, I bring in the [[Leyline of the Void]] and [[Helm of Obedience]] combo, as well as [[Sheoldred, the Apocalypse]] as win conditions that don’t fold to [[Veil of Summer]].


Generally speaking, how well does BSS mulligan? Do you mull five (or lower) often?

BSS mulligans extremely well. I regularly mull to five, sometimes less. [[Echo of Eons]] and [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] rewards mulliganing, especially with four [[Entomb]]. With eight discard spells, it’s not too much to ask of a five-card hand to cast a discard spell and then re-draw a new hand.

How do you sideboard against TES? Does this change on the play/draw?

No changes on the play or draw. However, I’m re-evaluating, as I always regret boarding out [[Lavaspur Boots]].


  • -2 [[Entomb]]
  • -2 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • -2 [[Cabal Therapy]]
  • -1 [[Lavaspur Boots]]


  • +4 [[Leyline of the Void]]
  • +1 [[Helm of Obedience]]
  • +1 [[Sheoldred, the Apocalypse]]
  • +1 [[The One Ring]]
Postboard, BSS has access to a decent amount of disruption TES cares about: [[Leyline of the Void]], [[The One Ring]], and [[Opposition Agent]], etc. Will BSS keep hands that index heavily on disruption postboard, or is a fast kill still prioritized?

As an aside, [[Opposition Agent]] isn’t a fixture in BSS, but rather an option currently being tested. If I have Opposition Agent, it’s certainly coming (or staying) in versus TES.

On the draw, I prioritize [[Leyline of the Void]]. It’s the only turn zero interaction that slows TES down aside from hands that take advantage of [[Song of Creation]]. With [[Leyline of the Void]] in play, I can typically find a way to kill with [[Helm of Obedience]] before TES finds a way to remove my hate piece.

On the play, TES historically has no turn zero interaction, but this has recently changed with the adoption [[Force of Will]] out of the board. In general, I want a fast hand that beats [[Veil of Summer]] — a turn-one before TES has green mana up, or resolving [[Echo of Eons]] with mana floating. I will mulligan hands that don’t do anything on turn one to find more action or a [[Leyline of the Void]].


How dos BSS’s matchup against TES compare to other combo decks (e.g., Sneak and Show, Doomsday, Painter, Oops, etc.)?

TES is among the most difficult combo matchups for BSS. [[Veil of Summer]] really complicates game one. The only combo deck I fear more is Cephalid Breakfast — a two-card combo deck with countermagic, [[Orim’s Chant]], and a permanent in [[Teferi, Time Raveler]] that stops [[Beseech the Mirror]] is brutal.

Who do you think is favored overall: TES or BSS?

If the TES pilot understands the matchup, they’re slightly favored due to how lopsided [[Veil of Summer]] makes game one. Postboard, I feel favored, but overall, I feel slightly behind.

Any final thoughts or comments, plugs or shoutouts?

Examining a matchup from both sides like this is really cool! Understanding your role in a matchup helps learn how to play better. I’d love to shout out my podcast with Romario and Jared, Legacy Small Talk. We chat about Legacy and life, two things that have more in common most might expect. Lastly, shout out to this primer I helped author on BSS. Check it out if you want more information on the deck.


Big shout out to Michael Reed for joining us Through the Looking Glass. Remember, if you lose the die roll, you’re probably bad at Magic.

Bang bang, Tendrils gang. See you next month.