Feature Article – The Aussie Storm Primer

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Aussie Storm was piloted to a 5-1 in the Australian Nationals Standard portion. I lucked my way into the Top 8 of UK Nationals with it, with 4 wins, 2 losses and a draw, and Stephen Neal piloted it to a 5-2 score in the Standard portion of U.S. Nationals. It also won an 80-man GPT for Krakov the day before UK Nationals, in the hands of Ben Allen… and no one is talking about it.

No one has really talked about Aussie-Storm in the current Standard environment. It’s like the drunken girl that embarrassed herself at a party, but now everyone’s forgotten and she’s back to being part of the scenery.

Aussie Storm was piloted to a 5-1 in the Australian Nationals Standard portion. I lucked my way into the Top 8 of UK Nationals with it, with 4 wins, 2 losses and a draw, and Stephen Neal piloted it to a 5-2 score in the Standard portion of U.S. Nationals. It also won an 80-man GPT for Krakov the day before UK Nationals, in the hands of Ben Allen.

And no one is talking about it.

See? Drunk girl analogy not so far-fetched now, is it?

There is a whole host of reasons to play Aussie Storm in the current Standard format. Here are a few of them:

Aussie Storm will help you get girls. (“How big did your say your storm count was…?)

No one expects to lose to a deck that plays so many junk rares.
The face of an opponent that’s just been beaten with junk rares is priceless (actually, it’s worth about three points… but they’re a satisfying three points)
You can further aggravate opponents by keeping one-land hands and winning, or (and I must apologise to Chris Paschali for doing this at M-Fest), mulliganing to five and then hitting for 60+ on turn 4 with no land in play.

There is actually a logical translation to the above. First, very few people expect to play against this deck. If you read the articles that have gone up on this site, and the discussion in the forums for various archetypes, very few people take account of this deck when choosing what deck to pilot. Absolutely no one plays Trickbind (except my testing group), and there’s little else that actually hurts the deck. And because no one is expecting a lot of it, the amount of people who will actually know how to play against it well will be pretty low.

Then there’s the psychology of it. If you’re playing against someone who doesn’t already know the deck and sees it as a random assortment of bargain-basement rares, then beating them game 1 will really shake them. The same is true if you win really quickly after mulliganing low, because they start to think “I can’t beat this deck,” and so there’s more chance they’ll keep risky hands or make loose plays.

And the girls? Well, you get crowds around you if people still haven’t caught onto the deck. And suddenly you’re “that guy,” and the girls shall flow.

The proper reason to run the deck though is that there aren’t any horrendous matchups. Not one. There are match-ups where you’re not the favorite, but these aren’t bad by any means. I don’t feel like there’s any matchup where I’m up against more than 60-40.

First, the maindeck: For anyone that doesn’t know the interactions already, the important ones to note are:

Claws of Gix/Perilous Research + Hatching Plans
Pyromancer’s Swath + Grapeshot.

The first draws you lots of cards, the second does lots of damage. It’s really that simple. There are other weird interactions that add storm counts, but the above is basically the engine-room of the deck.

When we were adapting the decklist from Australian Nationals (hence, Aussie Storm), I didn’t really want so many of the zero-casting-cost cards in, and felt Baubles and the Ornithopter only really make your deck slightly more explosive. The guy I was playing this with (Ben Allen) played Rift Bolts in the three open slots and I went for the more Dragonstorm-esque Telling Time. The reason I didn’t play Rift Bolts is that whilst they’re good in an aggro-field, I first thought most of the top players would be playing control decks to beat the popular aggro decks, and second, Rift Bolt just makes your good hands better, and your bad hands worse. Telling Time does the opposite, and I think overall I wanted the consistency to win matches where I don’t hit a good draw.


Martyr of Ashes covers aggro decks and doubles against Dredge
Trickbind is tech for the mirror
Wheel of fate is insanely good against Rack
Ignite switches with Empty the Warrens against Wrath decks
Storm Entity is Extirpate insurance.

The sideboard was trying to cover the weak points of the deck. We weren’t gearing it to the environment because we figured our main deck was good enough against most of the decks post-sideboard to beat, so we wanted to fill holes. Discard can be pretty bad, the mirror can be pretty random, and Dredge is ridiculously hard. So we covered our bases, but I think you can safely take Trickbind out at the moment, because no one runs this deck.

I’d probably play Pongify over Trickbind because Pongify gives you another out to turn 3-4 Grand Arbiter.

There are versions that play Storm Entity in the main and play Baubles to make them more explosive, but I think for me those decks are easier to beat because they play by the rules: they give removal a target.

Rakdos/Satanic Sligh
The Rakdos decks deserve a separate mention before the straight Gruul decks, because often these decks are harder to beat. If they open on Mogg Fanatic and then Dark Confidant, you’re losing that game unless you go off on turn 4 on the draw or turn 5 on the play.

Pre-board, beating this deck will often come down to making a load of Goblin Tokens and having Claws of Gix to keep at a comfortable life total. Sometimes you just win with the Swath + Grapeshot combo, and very few of their hands can beat this. When making mulliganing decisions, you really want to have Empty, Gix, Lotus Bloom or Rite of Flame in your opening hand. The Blue draw spells are at the worst here, especially if you’re on the draw and Remand is only really useful if you’re going first or if it hits a Solifuge.

Out – 3 Telling Time, 1 Remand
In – 4 Martyr of Ashes

In the list I played at Nats, I’d take out 2 Remand for 2 Storm Entity on the draw, because most of the time Remand isn’t good against burn decks. They bring in Cryoclasm, or Rise/Fall if they have that. Cryoclasm isn’t particularly bad, especially with an active Gix or Perilous Research in hand. It’s a myth that attacking the manabase is the way to fight the deck. Sometimes it’ll hurt, but most of the time you’ll have the land in hand to just replace it and at worst, trading three damage for turn 3-4 is pretty good. They can also bring in Martyr of Ashes to deal with Empty the Warrens, which can be problematic, but again, isn’t that bad. Martyr is swapped out for Mogg Fanatic (I’d probably take out Seal instead) and, aside from being one damage slower (and matches will often come down to being close enough for that to matter), Martyr answers Warrens better if it doesn’t come down turn 1. If I go all in and cast Empty and the Rakdos player has slow-played Martyr, then I need to spend a few turns re-building… but playing this way means you haven’t played a Martyr turn 1 and have thus lost about 3-6 points of damage (two if they open up on Rift Bolt or Seal, five if there’s no turn 1 play). Playing Martyr on turn 1 just means I don’t commit so much if I do have Empty, probably just enough to set up a wall.

Angelfire/Solar Flare
I’ve grouped these decks because it’s very hard to lose to either. About the only disruption Flare will offer is Castigate and Angel of Despair, whilst the only way Angelfire can really beat you is if you go off with Swath and don’t take a possible Helix into account. Aside from that, both decks do very little to disrupt you, and they don’t apply any early pressure. The problem these decks have is that their threats require that they tap out during their mid-late game… and that’s exactly the point where tapping out against the Storm deck will lose you the game. Remand is huge here, and Empty pretty bad.

Out – 3 Empty the Warrens
In – 3 Ignite Memories

Post-board, the Warrens come out to make their Wraths dead… but you can always switch them around if you suspect your opponent is boarding out the Wraths. If your opponent knows you’re bringing Ignite in, they may even take out their more expensive cards, so try to be dynamic in how you sideboard in this match. It’s mostly irrelevant though, barring any awesome sideboard tech… because you’re that far ahead of them in the main-deck and most of their sideboard won’t be cards that can swing the matchup.

This matchup is slightly harder and pretty interactive. If they have turn 3 Arbiter, you need to have Remand or you lose. The problem is that the way to combat an active Arbiter is to have the storage lands going every turn… but a single land destruction spell or Riftwing Cloudskate just ruins that plan.

In this matchup it’s important to keep a hand where you can go off relatively quickly, or one where you can stall for a turn or two with Remands. Having said that, try not to Remand unimportant spells like Compulsive Research or Court Hussar, and Repeal Signets at end of turn if possible. This matchup is pretty close, but it is favorable.

Out – 3 Telling Time
In – 3 Martyr of Ashes

My sideboarding for this matchup is pretty bad, and there are times where I don’t even sideboard. If you’re running a sideboard with Pongify, then you bring in those for Telling Time instead, as Pongify is specifically there to answer an early Arbiter.

Gruul/Aggro-Loam/Anything with Goyf
These matches I’d put at pretty favorable, but they’re very build-dependant. A Gruul deck that plays predominantly two-mana or less creatures (‘Goyf, Keldon Marauders, War-Marshall, Rusalka, Mogg Fanatic) is a lot harder to beat than a deck that plays the additional Trolls, Gargadon, Solifuges, or Call of the Herd. Aggro-Loam isn’t even remotely close because they’re too slow.

Luckily, the versions that are better against us pre-sideboard are worse post-sideboard because of the little Martyr.

Out – 4 Remand
In – 4 Martyr of Ashes

Again, sideboarding is build-dependant. If you think your Remands will hit high-costing cards then take out Telling Time instead… but if you think you’re going to struggle to hit more than a two-mana card with Remand, then bring them out. Martyr is really good against Gruul, and I try to wait until I have the mana to play and activate in the same turn if possible. The useful thing about this is that it allows you to set up more Red cards in hand to possibly deal with ‘Goyf, which is the hardest card to kill with a Martyr.

The Rack
Rack-based discard decks are pretty weird. Most of the decks I’ve played against online have been straight Mono-Black discard, which is pretty easy to beat if you ever draw Hatching Plans and a sacrifice outlet. But a harder matchup seems to be a similar deck to what Marco Orsini Jones ran to third place at UK Nationals, which combines Tarmogoyf and Call of the Herd with discard. Eduardo was talking to me about how much I wanted to avoid that matchup because it was terrible for me. In theory, this sounds worse than it actually is, and the same applies to most discard decks – it’s really difficult to lose to discard if you draw five cards from two spells at any point between turns 3 and 5. Tarmogoyfs are managed with Repeal and Remand, and mostly the matchup is about what you draw off Hatching Plans once you’ve gone down to one or two cards. Normally, you just win straight away if you make eight or more goblins during the course of the match, at which point you only really lose to the Rack itself.

Out – 3 Telling Time, 1 Pyromancer’s Swath
In – 4 Wheel of Fate

I know this becoming a recurring theme, but the Telling Times are my floating slots in the deck. They were the last addition I made, and I’m still not sure they belong, but they’ve been fine for me so far. Swath goes out because you don’t really need to draw it in multiples, and this game will go long, so you don’t need to have it in your opening hand. Same game-plan applies. The early game is about managing their Tarmogoyf and Call, whilst setting up a way to get card advantage, either through Hatching Plans or Wheel of Fate. What should happen is that they use all of their discard to remove your hand, and then you re-stock. If it’s off Wheel of Fate then you normally play out all the non-land cards and go off, and if it’s Hatching Plans then you’re still in a very good position to take the match. Marco has Extirpate, which can be a problem. If I was fearing Extirpate I’d bring in the Storm Entities too.

Dredge is actually a lot closer than I thought. Again, in theory Dredge is an impossibly hard matchup. Their combo is about 1-2 turns quicker and far more consistent. This is where allocating the matchup role is important, because you’re no longer the combo deck… you’re the control deck.

First, it’s nearly always correct to burn Magus of the Bazaar on sight. You’ll know if there’s an exception because it’ll often be a case of “do I burn or do I win in one or two turns?’ In this case, it then becomes close… but mostly, you end up burning the Magus. Winning the matchup pre-board requires you get into a position where you can cast Empty the Warrens with either an active Claws of Gix or two mana open to Perilous Research a token in response to a lethal Dread Return. If you haven’t lost the matchup by about turn 5, it’s probably because you’ve got a few Goblins in play and a way to remove Bridges… so the Dredge deck now changes its plan to recur Grave Tolls and attack into your tokens. This will buy you a few turns to find enough cards to go off.

Out – 3 Telling Time, 1 Remand
In – 4 Martyr of Ashes

Martyr helps the matchup considerably. They will normally bring in Pithing Needle for Martyr, and possibly Darkblast, which stops you from letting the Martyr hang out on the board waiting for the perfect time. Darkblast is largely irrelevant though. Pithing Needle is easily dealt with for a turn by Repeal, so mostly you’re favorite after sideboarding, though you can still draw a lot of cards that don’t interact and lose because of that.

Mono-Green Aggro
This is about the only deck I really hate to play against, because if they play Scryb Ranger and a Cloak on it then it’s difficult to win without a combo turn 4 or 5. Even without a Cloak, pump spells on Ranger is just really hard to beat.

Out – 4 Remand
In – 4 Martyr of Ashes

I haven’t played against this deck enough to know what they sideboard in. I’m not sure how popular it is in real life, but it’s a pretty big deck online. Martyr is a catch-all that kills their ground guys, but that’s pretty much it.

Against Dralnu-style control decks, you really want to hit a storage land early to start ramping. You want to draw enough cards early to allow you to keep pumping land. What I’ve found is that sometimes, you can reach such a critical mass of mana where Swath becomes irrelevant, and if you’ve been stockpiling cards then you can set up high-storm count Grapeshots to the head.

Teferi can be a problem for Lotus, but it should only really matter if you don’t have Remand already. You don’t necessarily need to go off on the turn Lotus comes into play, as the mana-advantage it provides later will help you to fight through counterspells. Most of the time, their countering of cards will actually give you a lethal storm count, so it’s just very important to have enough mana to be able to play multiple Swaths into counterspells and Grapeshots.

Empty the Warrens is almost always a bad plan. You can maybe play a Claws and then a Warrens early to force a Damnation or maybe get some damage in, but they’re not going to win you games.

Out – 3 Empty the Warrens
In – 3 Ignite Memories

For sideboard, I’ve looked at the U/B deck from U.S. Nats Top 8. Pact almost certainly comes in, as does another copy of Haunting Hymn… but whether or not Damnation stays in the maindeck depends slightly on how you’ve killed them/been killed in game 1. If you stormed Empty the Warrens then they’re probably bringing in Damnation. If you they already had it in the main-deck, then you probably lost with the Empty Plan. I think generally, players will keep Damnation in or board it in and so bringing in Ignite is helpful. The only play I’d be worried about with this deck is Haunting Hymn with Pact of Negation. Morphs are fine, as they bounce for U with Repeal.

Matchup Breakdown

As I said, there isn’t one matchup that you can’t win or are the heavy underdog.

Insanely good, “Please don’t hurt me, I have a small albino child that needs to be fed” matchups are: Solar Flare, Angel Fire, Aggro Loam

Match-ups I’d be happy to play against, but not on a school night: Rakdos, Dralnu, Mono-Black Rack, Gruul, Angel-Touch,

Matchups I’d like to avoid if possible, but if we play then you’re going down, foo’(I’ll slip you a twenty if you play dead): G/B Rack, Mono Green, Dredge

Common Plays

Repeal on Claws of Gix — This should be pretty obvious, but one of the best ways to create a lethal storm count is to play Claws, Repeal Claws, replay Claws. Most of the time Claws stays in your hand until you go off, so you normally get a storm count of three off one Blue mana.

Remand and Grapeshot — A good thing to keep in mind is that you need nine mana to play Swath, Grapeshot, Remand the original Grapeshot, and then Grapeshot again. That sequence does 15 damage. Add in a newly made Lotus Bloom or a Claws of Gix, and that’s 21 damage. You mostly do this in long-ish games where you can’t win very quickly and need to use up cards to stay alive.

Lotus Bloom — Again, this should be obvious but it’s not always correct to suspend a Lotus Bloom on the first turn, even if it’s in your opening hand. It’s pretty dependent on what else you have there, and if you think you need more than two turns to draw into cards then suspend it on turn 2. Generally the critical turn of the deck is around turn 5. Having said that, always suspend it on turn 1 against decks with a fast clock.

Repeal — Don’t fall in love with Repealing Claws. The card is there because it also bounces opponent’s stuff and gives you extra time. Don’t feel like you have to hold on to them to combo off.

Remand — It’s almost always incorrect to Remand Compulsive Research, a Signet, Court Hussar, or Careful Consideration.

Mulliganing — Sometimes it’s correct to keep one-land hands. I know that goes against a lot of what you’ve learned with non-combo decks, but there are hands here that can win pretty early if you happen to draw a land in 3-4 draws, so depending on the matchup (say you’re racing against no disruption), it can be correct to risk it and win if you draw a land in the first three or four draws.


I wanted to write a few game walkthroughs but I only managed one that I recorded earlier. For some reason, Magic Online won’t save my games after I disconnect, and due to the increased traffic because of the release events I get disconnected quite a lot. Anyway, here’s one. If anyone wants another, more representative walkthrough in the forums, I’ll probably update with another one. So far I’m about 14-4 in queues with this deck. The decks I’ve lost to were a Mono-Green deck, a Gruul deck, a Selesnya Aggro deck (Mono-Green with Watchwolves and Hierarchs), and Peebles-Mundy playing his Dredge deck with Stalking Vengeance and Husk. Playing against that deck is even harder than normal Dredge, because of the various ways it has of attacking.

Match 1 — StealthColossus

Game 1 – On the draw.

Opening Hand – Repeal, Pyromancer’s Swath, Remand, Lotus Bloom, Grapeshot, Island, Mountain.

This is a pretty good against for game 1 when you don’t know what your opponent is playing. It’s an incredibly good hand on the play, but could be slightly tricky against an aggro deck on the draw, where Remand isn’t particularly good. Still, there’s no question about ever mulliganing this hand.

Opp turn 1- Treetop Village, go.
My turn 1- Draw Lotus Bloom, play Island, suspend Bloom, suspend Bloom, go.

Opp turn 2- Island, Tarmogoyf, go.
My turn 2- Draw Island, play Mountain, go.

At this point, you have a good idea of what deck the opponent has: an aggro-control deck. It’s a bit unfortunate because a quick clock plus disruption is really hard for the deck to beat.

Opp turn 3- Play Forest, Call of the Herd, Attack with Goyf for 1, go (I Repeal the token at end of turn, drawing Island)
My turn 3 – Draw Perilous Research, play Island, go.

Life totals at 20-19

Opp Turn 4- Play Terramorphic Expanse, break the Expanse for Island, activate Treetop Village, in with Goyf and Village for 6.

My hand is – Swath, Remand, Grapeshot, Island, Perilous Research. Two Blooms come in on my turn.

Life totals 20-13.

My turn 4- Both Blooms unsuspend (Storm 2), draw Mountain, play Mountain. With nine mana available, play Swath (Storm 3), play Grapeshot (storm 4), Remand the original copy (Storm 5), resolve the three storm triggers to put opponent at 11. Two mana left in pool to Grapeshot, with 5 storm copies, putting the opponent at -7

That match was pretty textbook. About the only potential to misplay would have been to use the Remand on the Call of the Herd, or if the opponent had played something out instead of swinging with the Village. Remand is quite a hard card to play in this particular deck because its role changes significantly. Against decks packing counterspells, Remand will function as a way of protecting your critical turn or allow you to go off sooner than waiting around to draw normal spells to up the storm count. That’s why aggro-control is a hard matchup, because the role that some cards play shifts constantly throughout the match.

Out – 3 Telling Time, 1 Perilous Research
In – 4 Martyr of Ashes

Remand needs to stay in to fight through counterspells even if they’re pretty weak on the draw. It’s really tempting to cut a Swath, but Research is just too slow on the draw to be a four-of and you still have seven ways to sacrifice a Plans in the main-deck. You really can’t cut Red cards when you bring in Martyr, especially against Tarmogoyf.

Game 2 – On the draw.

My hand – Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Swath, Island, Gix, Hatching Plans, Grapeshot

Yes, it’s a one-land hand. Yes, it’s very risky, but on the plus side, you only need to hit one land to be able to win this game. If that land were a Steam Vents, I’d probably even keep this hand on the play. I’m happy to risk it anyway.

Opp turn 1- Island, go
My Turn 1- Draw Hatching Plans, Island, go

Opp turn 2- Island, Counterbalance, go
My turn 2- Draw Swath, go, discard Plans

Counterbalance is a beating against this deck by the way, but it does require a lot of luck on the other side of the table.

Opp Turn 3- Forest, go
My turn 3- Draw Remand, go, discard Swath

Opp turn 4- Play Forest, play Yavimaya Dryad
My turn 4- Draw Mountain, play Plans (revealing Forest to Counterbalance), go

This is unfortunate as it means that I now have to risk Claws of Gix the following turn. On average, that hand will hit a land in the first three draws, it’s just unfortunate that it took until the fourth to come. Still, we’re not in too bad a shape at the moment because the Dryad isn’t too fast a clock, but that Counterbalance is worrying, and if I suspected a Counterbalance in any sideboard then I’d never keep a one-land hand.

Opp turn 5- Play Island, in with Dryad, go
My turn 5- Draw Island, play Gix, hit a Terramorphic Expanse, go

Looking back, this was a mis-play. I mean.. .it’s good if there’s a Troll on top because it then means I’ve snuck the Gix in and I’m in a good position to race five points per-turn. But I just lose if there’s a land on top, and even with the opponent at six lands in play and at least two in hand, it’s still a mistake. The correct play is to just pass the turn and wait for a spell to Remand in order to test the top of the deck. Anyway:

Opp turn 6- Play Expanse, sack Expanse for Island, Dryad drops me to 16, go
My turn 6- Draw Lotus Bloom, suspend, go

Opp turn 7- Dryad drops me to 14, make Call of the Herd, Flashback Call of the Herd (I Remand, counterbalance hits with Remand)
My turn 7- Draw Steam Vents, play Steam Vents tapped, go

The reason to Remand at that point is to test the top of the deck, remove the call and if it’s a land or a 4, potentially win the next turn as my opponent has 1 untapped land.

Opp turn 8- Play Forest, in with two Elephants and a Dryad knocking me to 8, go
My turn 8- Draw Remand.

Now I’m facing down 8 points of power. My opponent has 1 Remand in hand and my Bloom has one counter left. I still have Plans in play with four lands. My hand is two Rite, 1 Grapeshot, 1 Swath, Remand. I need to get very lucky. Play Rite of Flame, revealing Troll. That means there’s now no very little chance of winning this turn, even if he Remands his Troll off the top.

Play another Rite of Flame(Storm 2, four Red in pool, 3 land untapped)
Grapeshot (storm 3, 2 red in pool, 3 land untapped ) and Elephant for 3.
Predictably he Remands (storm 4) one of the storm triggers.

I Remand the original (storm 5, 1 Red in pool, Island and Steam Vents untapped ), leaving 1 damage on Elephant. It resolves, and I draw Perilous Research.

Now I decide to go all in. Troll is still on top of his library as all of the above is in stack order, so his Remand still hasn’t resolved. If I cast Perilous Research, I need to hit a land from five cards, to be able to Grapeshot to remove his board, and I can’t be sure that the card below Troll isn’t a two-mana card. That seems reasonable, so I go for it.

Cast Perilous Research(storm 6), into Hatching Plans (Storm 6, Steam Vents untapped, Swath in Hand)

I draw: Island, Bloom(got the land, bloom is a dead draw), draw Grapeshot, Research, Vents.

Resolve the stack, Ascetic is off the top of the library, and an Elephant has one damage on it.

Play Island, Grapeshot with 6 storm copies, reveal Mystic Snake (and that’s all she wrote). Kill all his guys and hit him for 1.This is also a mis-play, the Dryad should live and I should hit him to 18, because it makes killing with Storm easier by 1 storm trigger if Swath is in play/.

Opp turn 9- Make Troll, go
My Turn 9- Bloom resolves reveals Yavimaya Dryad, Draw Steam Vents, make Vents tapped, pass the turn.

Opp turn 10- Research in upkeep to bait the Snake, get hit to 3.
My turn 10- Draw Repeal, Repeal Counterbalance, but that gets hit with a revealed Compulsive Research, and that’s game over.

For most of that game I was up against the ropes. A land earlier makes the matchup far closer, but there was also a few ridiculously lucky draws I could get from Researches that would take the win at a few points in the game. Miser’s Counterbalance is pretty annoying though.

Game 3- Opening hand: Island, Island, Mountain, Gix, Swath, Rite of Flame, Remand.

This is a pretty average hand and relies a lot on getting decent draws to make it worth it. Still, it’s better than an unknown six-card hand.

My opponent mulligans to four, so you’d think it’d be a walk-over game.

My turn 1- Island, go
Opp Turn 1- Island, go

My turn 2 – Draw Remand, Mountain, go
Opp turn 2- Island, Counterbalance into Remand (Draw Plans)

My turn 3- Draw Empty the Warrens. At this point you have many options. Play Island, and then you have three plays:

Play 1- Claws of Gix, Rite of Flame, Empty the Warrens for 6.
Play 2- Hatching plans, Gix, draw 3 in opponents turn
Play 3- Do nothing.

First off, play 2 is easily the worst of the three. You can draw a load of cards, but you can still get screwed over by a few lucky Counterbalance Triggers.

Play 1 is good if you suspect the opponent is land-screwed or has few creatures. He still has four cards in hand, and playing two Islands only really means he wanted to make an early Counterbalance. If the opponent has two creatures and a Forest then it’s really hard to win this match, because they game will stall and Counterbalance will hit the table.

Play 3 means that you’re going to spend the next turn Remanding Counterbalance. The reason to make this play is to attempt to draw something off either Remand or the draw step that will allow an extra storm trigger. The difference between 6 goblins and 8 is actually really big, and setting up for a big turn is generally better than trying to win quickly against no pressure. At worst, if I don’t draw anything then I can still make the same 6 Goblins, and he’s just gained 1 extra land.

So I go with play 3.

Opp Turn 3- Play Forest, walk Counterbalance into Remand (I draw a Plans)

My turn 4- Draw Slagheap. Play Rite, play Gix, play Empty.

Again, it’s hard to know how right this was because I now know what happened, but I think this is questionable. I didn’t draw anything to make more Goblins, and I think it’s now time to start a clock. At this point, having drawn nothing relevant, making 6 goblins the turn before is the correct play, but if you draw a Rite or another Gix or Repeal off one of the draws then it would have been the wrong play, and you would have risked the match. Waiting gives you the opportunity of taking the match at the risk of the extra turn. This time, the risk didn’t pay off… but other times it will.

Opp turn 4- Play Forest, Counterbalance, Riftsweeper (uh-oh).

My turn 5- Draw Mountain, play Plans, reveal Expanse. Sacrifice plans to Gix, draw 3 land. Play out another Plans. Swing to 15. (I have Swath in hand and reducing the needed Storm count is pretty big if I only lose 1 goblin).
Opp turn 5- Forest, Riftsweeper, Riftsweeper, go. (No cards in hand)

My turn 6- Draw Mountain, sacrifice Plans, Draw Bloom, Perilous Research and land. Make Plans (reveal Treetop Village).

Pass the turn.

Opp turn 6- Make Village, go

My turn 7- Draw land, sacrifice Plans. Draw 1 Research and 2 land. I’m running 18, by the way.

Pass the turn.

Opp turn 7- Draw, swing with 2 Riftswepers. Double block 1 and go down to 19, go (end of turn, I cast Research, Counterbalance says Island, and I draw Martyr of Ashes and another Swath.)

My turn 8- Draw land, make Martyr, go.
Opp turn 8- Attack with 2 Riftsweeper. Double block with goblins, go down to 17. There’s no reason to blow up Martyr yet, especially due to Treetop.

My turn 9- Bloom unsuspends, and Counterbalance says Call of the Herd. I draw Grapeshot to go with my 4 land in hand and 2 Swath. I can’t play Swath yet because of the Call, so I can’t really win at the moment, but I’m looking good.

Opp turn 9- Riftsweeper drops me to 15, then Call of the Herd plus Flashback.

My turn 10- I draw Perilous Research, which is finally a good draw. So far, 3 land in hand, 9 in play, 31 cards left in my library. Cast Research. If Counterbalance says anything that isn’t 3, then I just win now. Counterbalance says “Forest” and that’s game. (Research, Swath, Swath, Grapeshot for 20?)

This doesn’t always happen, by the way.

Hopefully that will gives you a vague idea of what the deck does, how it plays, and maybe even how to play against it. Thanks for reading.

Daniel Godfrey.