To start with, a little update on You Choose The Brew. Bomberman and Control-Slaver are your champions and advance to the next round. Expect the testing to commence come next week! Today, however, isn’t about possible future decks, it’s about awesome tournament games from a week ago.
Last weekend, five members of our Berlin Legacy crew made the road trip to Prague for the Prague Eternal Weekend and many exciting games ensued. Mateo, Daniel, Kai, Robert, and I had all decided it was time to take some prizes back home to Berlin with us, starting with Friday’s Trial event, then the Saturday Legacy event and–for me at least–Sunday’s Vintage event. (Yay! Finally a Vintage tournament again!)
The trip was great fun, but I’m not a great road trip storyteller, so I’ll focus on the Magic side of things. Be warned that there is a lot to tell, and the Legacy part is already over 6000 words, so I’ll have to delay my Vintage impressions for another week. Given that size, let’s get started, shall we?
Disclaimer: I’m reconstructing these with the help of my life total pads. Some games might not be 100% accurate.
We arrived early in the afternoon to participate in the Friday trial event scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Of course, it started with the customary one hour delay for all non-SCG Open MTG tournaments. It was going to be eight rounds of Swiss. Operating on roughly three hours of sleep (don’t ask) and a little buzzed from being unable to resist a nice refreshing cider on a very hot day, I was a little worried as to how well I’d manage to run this beast:
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Tendrils of Agony
- 4 Brainstorm
- 4 Cabal Ritual
- 3 Duress
- 4 Dark Ritual
- 1 Grim Tutor
- 3 Cabal Therapy
- 4 Lotus Petal
- 4 Lion's Eye Diamond
- 4 Infernal Tutor
- 4 Ponder
- 1 Ad Nauseam
- 2 Preordain
- 4 Gitaxian Probe
- 1 Past in Flames
The Young Pyromancers are some tech out of the Berlin labs that Kai had already carried to a solid BoM performance to try and fight Miracles by providing a totally different angle, and I wanted to try out Massacre once again because the Pyromancers ate up too much room for a playset of Dread of Night. Other than that, the list should look pretty standard to those of you that remember my older articles (Flusterstorm are excellent in combo-mirrors and against Stifle-toting Tempo decks).
The pairings were up and off we went. Sort of.
As I pile-shuffled my deck, I realized there were only 59 cards. Panicked, I started leafing through the deck, and I finally figured out my fourth Cabal Ritual was missing. I couldn’t find it in my extra card deck box, and the traders at the venue didn’t have any either. Luckily, a good samaritan in the form of Julian Knab found a replacement for me (thank you very much once again!). As it turned out, re-sleeving directly before the event was at fault as I found the Cabal Ritual in the evening sitting comfortably among the old ones. Having expertly tipped off my opponent as to exactly what I was playing, Round 1 began.
Round 1: BUG Delver
Game 1: I Probe him early and see what I consider a not-great-but-keepable hand for the matchup of Abrupt Decay, Tombstalker, Ponder, Brainstorm, Misty Rainforest, Polluted Delta. My draw, however, also hasn’t panned out at all – I didn’t help matters by playing a Lion’s Eye Diamond into his Abrupt Decay when his mana would otherwise have gone to waste – and his two-drops take me out easily while he’s sitting behind Force of Will and Delver of Secrets.
I sideboard in the Young Pyromancers to provide some discard resilience, taking out the Preordains and a Lotus Petal.
Game 2: I Probe early once again and he has a good hand this time: 2 Ponder, Deathrite Shaman, Force of Will, Delver of Secrets, Misty Rainforest and Wasteland. However, his turn 1 Deathrite Shaman is no match for my discard spell into Ad Nauseam, which I have to stop at 5 life. Past in Flames takes it down next turn in spite of his Deathrite Shaman taking me down to 3.
Game 3: I land an early Young Pyromancer to his Delver of Secrets, which I protect from his Golgari Charm with Duress, also seeing a Brainstorm, a Delver, and a Daze. While cute, Pyromancer turns out to be irrelevant as I can set up a straight Past in Flames win after Delver flips and hits me down to 15.
This matchup is so much nicer when they don’t draw Hymn to Tourach…
Round 2: Manaless Dredge
My opponent wins the die-roll but actually loses it as he has to put me on the play. I tell him I’m only 95% sure that I know what he’s playing as the French choose to draw with Omni-Tell too, and he might have cribbed their tech.
Game 1: An early Gitaxian Probe (while paying for Chancellor of the Annex) confirms he’s on Manaless Dredge while my hand awkwardly enough has doubles of both Infernal Tutor and Cabal Ritual as well as lands. He discards on his turn and I am forced into using Infernal to get yet another Cabal Ritual to set up the turn 3 kill, but his endstep (Street Wraith) and draw step (Dredges) hit the Cabal Therapy and Nether Shadow he needs to strip my Rituals. When another Therapy hits my Infernals the turn after, I’m down 0 – 1.
Game 2: He has the Chanellor once again, but I have a solid hand and run a cantrip into the Chancellor trigger to be rid of it, and Past in Flames him out a turn later.
Game 3: He has the Chancellor yet again, but it isn’t good enough to stop turn 2 Grim Tutor into Ad Nauseam. He cycles a Street Wraith in response, but doesn’t hit the Mindbreak Trap. I hit the win at 6 life.
Manaless Dredge is a great matchup as they’re usually quite a bit slower than you are and don’t have many tools to interact, especially since your discard spells can often work as Time Walks by keeping them from discarding.
Round 3: 4-color Loam
Game 1: I have the turn 1 Gitaxian Probe again and see Scrubland, Qasali Pridemage, Taiga, Abrupt Decay, Bayou, Punishing Fire, and Wasteland. I put him on some Punishing Maverick variant. Sadly, I’ve kept a hand with only Underground Sea for mana and can’t find a land to replace it once it gets Wastelanded, leaving me to die to Pridemage beats while he Green Sun Zeniths out a Gaddock Teeg.
This is where I realize I really don’t like the Massacres, as I still only really want to board one while assuming I’m facing a Thalia deck. I end up bringing in the 2 Chain of Vapor and a Massacre for the 3 Duress.
Game 2: I never see his hand as I cast Grim Tutor into Ad Nauseam on turn 2, flipping Past in Flames and Massacre as my first two cards. Luckily enough, my remaining 9 life are good enough to hit the win after going to 3 anyway.
Game 3: This is where I get punished for misidentifying what he’s actually playing, as a totally unexpected Chalice of the Void for one slows me down long enough for him to get Gaddock Teeg into play once again, leaving me with no outs whatsoever as all my Decays are still in the sideboard.
Round 4: Elves
Game 1: I’m rather happy when my opponent opens on Bayou, Llanowar Elves. Elves is one of my better matchups. True to form, I just kill him on turn 2 with Ad Nauseam from 18.
Game 2: My turn to be dead on turn 3 on the draw. You can’t have the turn 2 kill every time, sadly.
Game 3: A Gitaxian Probe shows me that he has a Swan Song in handm and that buys him enough time to Natural Order into Ruric Thar on turn 3. My only answer is to Grim Tutor for Chain of Vapor, which leaves me at 3 life and unable to win on the spot. His Deathrite Shaman and random Elf take me down.
At this point, I’m quite dispirited after just having lost to two excellent matchups. Given my sleep-deprived condition, I toy with the idea of dropping, especially as the event is likely to finish at something like 2 a.m. I keep playing as I wouldn’t have a ride back to the hostel anyway.
Game 1: I Probe a hand of Force of Will, Snapcaster Mage, Karakas, Swamp, Flooded Strand, and Lingering Souls, which is soon rendered unknown again due to Brainstorm. While I grind up resources and my opponent Thoughtseizes me twice – stupid Tiago – his Lingering Souls tokens start the beatdown. When I’m down to 7, I Duress seeing two Force of Wills, a Snapcaster Mage, and a Karakas. Another Duress and a Past in Flames loop end the game in my favor.
I board in a Chain of Vapor in place of a Lotus Petal in case he has Meddling Mage or Leyline of Sanctity.
Game 2: My opponent has to mulligan to five to find a playable hand, remarking he has one card that might save him this game – and drops turn 1 Leyline of Sanctity. I decide he probably doesn’t have the full nuts of also having Force of Will and go for Ad Nauseam from 15 on turn 3 – he doesn’t have it – hit my Chain of Vapor and Tendrils him out.
Deathblade is probably your best matchup among blue decks, as they simply don’t have much of a clock to back up their disruption.
I still play with the idea of dropping, and therefore, consider conceding anyway. I decide to give it another round as there still is no ride home available.
Round 6: Burn
I somehow don’t have my life pad for this round, but luckily, it’s reasonably easy to remember.
Game 1: He wins the roll and opens on Goblin Guide. I fire back with Cabal Therapy for Eidolon of the Great Revel. I hit one and can then easily Past in Flames him out.
I bring in 2 Chain of Vapor in place of Duress.
Game 2: I see double Eidolon with my turn 1 Gitaxian Probe and sadly don’t have the nut hand. As I’ve drawn both Past in Flames and Tendrils of Agony, there’s a chance that I could actually win through a single Eidolon on turn 3. He has two and it proves too much to overcome.
Game 3: I Ponder on 1 and win on 2. Nothing he can do as the Eidolon in his hand is too slow to matter. He’s somewhat unhappy to have run into ANT for the third time on the day – all of which were played by our Berlin crew. By the end of the day, he actually ended up playing four out of five of us, including the three ANT players.
At 4-2 I finally lay thoughts of dropping to rest. Just two more wins and I should be in the prizes, after all.
Round 7: Miracles
Game 1: I play a land and Ponder while my opponent opens on fetchland, Sensei’s Divining Top. Okay, tough matchup. In game 1, your best shot at beating Miracles is to blitz them down before they can assemble Counterbalance. Turns out he doesn’t have the Force of Will and turn 2 Ad Nauseam from 15 life down to 8 into Grim Tutor gets there.
I bring in the massive sideboard package of 3 Young Pyromancer, 3 Abrupt Decay, 3 Xantid Swarm for a Duress, a Cabal Therapy, 3 Lotus Petals, a Cabal Ritual, 2 Preordains, and the Swamp.
Game 2: He has turn 2 Ethersworn Canonist and a Swords to Plowshares for my Young Pyromancer. He assembles Counterbalance plus Sensei’s Divining Top shortly thereafter. When I’m at 14, Canonist is joined by a Sulfur Elemental to hasten the beats. I never find an Abrupt Decay to even try to break out.
Game 3: I Duress on turn 1 and see Island, Scalding Tarn, double Counterbalance, Flusterstorm, Brainstorm, and Force of Will. Nice. Hand. I take the first Counterbalance and Abrupt Decay the second once he plays it. I cast a couple of cantrips on my turn, followed by him Brainstorming and fetching. I Duress his Force of Will to resolve Xantid Swarm seeing Plains, Sulfur Elemental, two Snapcaster Mages, and a Counterbalance left in hand (my memory is a little murky here, I don’t exactly remember what happened to his Flusterstorm). I pass back and he deploys his Counterbalance. I untap and pass with mana up. Sulfur Elemental comes down during my end step and hits me before I use my second Decay for his third Counterbalance. On my turn, Xantid Swarm attacks, and I can straight up tutor chain him out. Now that was a nice match.
One more to go until I can prove to myself that dropping would have been the dumbest thing ever.
Round 8: RUG Delver
Game 1: I Probe on turn 1 seeing Stifle, Force of Will, Tropical Island, double Lightning Bolt, Nimble Mongoose, and Spell Pierce. RUG Delver without a Delver. Good. I fetch a basic Island and start cantripping while he passes with mana up for Stifle or Pierce. I cantrip some more, he deploys his Mongoose, which I conveniently ignore. I make yet another land drop while he attacks for one and passes back. Cabal Therapy eats his Force of Will and a Past in Flames loop with two mana up at all times allows me to Therapy his Stifle from the graveyard before finding my Tendrils of Agony.
I bring in the Flusterstorms for Preordains to win the early fight over mana by countering his Stifles.
Game 2: He starts with land-go, and I have the turn 1 Gitaxian Probe again; I see Daze, Force of Will, double-Stifle, Tarmogoyf, Nimble Mongoose, and Ponder. I continue the game by playing lands while he keeps missing his land drops. He finally caves in and Ponders to hopefully find his second land. I Flusterstorm it as I’m quite happy knowing exactly what his hand is. Duress takes his Force of Will and he scoops once the Past in Flames shenanigans are on the horizon.
While game 2 was a little unlucky for my opponent–he should also have Pondered earlier, I think–I really don’t understand why people think RUG Delver is a bad matchup for Storm. As long as they don’t have the turn 1 or 2 Delver, you easily have the time to grind them out with land drops (to play around soft counters). Even if they have the Delver, you can usually power through their disruption just in time to finish them off with Past in Flames.
I end up in the top 8 – yay, Swiss plus one – and earn a Savannah for my troubles. I’m sure happy I didn’t drop!
Saturday’s Main Event
After some more sleep and with a better sideboard, we return for Saturday’s Legacy action. Here’s the updated list:
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Tendrils of Agony
- 4 Brainstorm
- 4 Cabal Ritual
- 3 Duress
- 4 Dark Ritual
- 1 Grim Tutor
- 3 Cabal Therapy
- 4 Lotus Petal
- 4 Lion's Eye Diamond
- 4 Infernal Tutor
- 4 Ponder
- 1 Ad Nauseam
- 2 Preordain
- 4 Gitaxian Probe
- 1 Past in Flames
There was exactly one Death and Taxes at the Friday trial so having actual hate for it felt like overkill given that you can regularly just blitz them down between Chain of Vapor – of which I wanted a third multiple times on Friday, most especially against Elves – and them not playing blue cards. I also wanted my Empty the Warrens back as I just love that card against Delver decks.
Round 1: Storm Mirror
He opens on Underground Sea into Ponder, and I’m unsure if I’m playing against Reanimator, BUG Delver, or the mirror. I mirror his turn 1 play and pass back allowing him to blind-Therapy my Lion’s Eye Diamond. Well, at least I know we’re playing the mirror now. Fetchland into Brainstorm delivers the nuts, and I can Grim Tutor into Past in Flames him in spite of his hit.
I sideboard out the Sensei’s Divining Top (too slow) and the Swamp for my two Flusterstorms.
Game 2: I keep a risky hand with two Lion’s Eye Diamonds, Cabal Therapy and the Past in Flames already but only a Gitaxian Probe for actual digging power. He has the Therapy for Lion’s Eye Diamond again, and it’s suddenly a lot less good. I Probe plus Therapy him back seeing Infernal Tutor, Burning Wish, Island, and Dark Ritual, which I take. We enter the grind-phase of the game with both of us ripping each other’s hand apart, including a discarded Ad Nauseam on my side. Burning Wish for another Therapy and an Empty the Warrens for six tokens into Flashbacks on his Therapies leaves me short on mana to Flashback Past in Flames until I’m down to 9 life. Past in Flames into tons of Rituals into Ad Nauseam from the yard doesn’t get there.
Game 3: My opening hand has Infernal Tutor, Lotus Petal, a land, and two LEDs yet again. Well, I doubt he has Force of Will or Mindbreak Trap in his Storm deck so I go for the turn 1 Ad Nauseam with a black floating. I flip down to 6, but can’t find a Tutor for the life of me. However, I have multiple Rituals, cantrips, and discard spells, as well as Gitaxian Probe, so I decide to stop there and try again next turn. I Probe him seeing 2 Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Ad Nauseam, Brainstorm, and Ponder. I’m so happy to have been on the play! Dark Ritual with the floating mana, Cabal Therapy for Dark Ritual, and double Duress for Petal and Brainstorm leave him doing nothing but draw-go for the two additional turns I need to finally finish him off from there.
Round 2: Death and Taxes
Game 1: My opponent starts of on Plains-go, and my turn 1 Gitaxian Probe confirms my assumption that he’s on Death and Taxes: Flagstones of Trokair, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Swords to Plowshares, Mirran Crusader, Batterskull, and Karakas are what he has left. I frown as I have neither the Infernal Tutor in hand nor a Cabal Therapy to deal with Thalia. I do have lands, a Lotus Petal, Cabal Rituals, a Lion’s Eye Diamond, a Preordain, and a Sensei’s Divining Top. I drop the artifact mana into play, and cast the Top on turn 2 after he has deployed his Thalia. He then plays a Mirran Crusader and passes back. I find another Lion’s Eye Diamond by topping on upkeep, cast that, and play a fetchland. He plays Rishadan Port, Flickerwisps it, and passes back. I crack my fetchland during his end step and activate the Top, and Infernal Tutor smiles back at me. He Ports me on upkeep, but a fourth land followed by a Dark Ritual, then two Cabal Rituals with Threshold. Infernal Tutor for Past in Flames allows me to simply win through the annoying Guardian of Thraben. Who needs anti-hate?
I board in 3 Chain of Vapor for 3 Duress.
Game 2: This was less eventful as he once again starts off with Plains-go, while I have the natural turn 1 Past in Flames kill (Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Past in Flames, Infernal Tutor, land).
If you’ve seen Storm play against blue decks a lot, it’s easy to underestimate how fast the deck actually is if you’re just trying to goldfish, as good Storm players will usually intentionally slow the game down against decks with countermagic instead of just trying to go all-in. All of that goes out of the window if your opponent decides to show up without Force of Will in their deck.
Round 3: Junk Loam
Game 1: My opponent starts on turn 1 Verdant Catacombs-go. I have the utter nut hand: land, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Cabal Therapy, double Lion’s Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor. You definitely risk the Daze/Spell Pierce here. Land, Dark Ritual, Cabal Therapy naming Force of Will (seeing two Abrupt Decay, Knight of the Reliquary, and three more lands including a Barren Moor to tell me what he’s playing), Cabal Ritual, play both Lion’s Eye Diamonds, Tutor for Past in Flames, and cast it. He scoops.
As I’m aware that my opponent is on Loam this time, I bring in the Chain of Vapors and 2 Abrupt Decays for 3 Duress, a Therapy, and a Preordain. I don’t bring in the Empty the Warrens as he probably has The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale in his deck.
Game 2: My opponent once again opens on Verdant Catacombs, this time accompanied by Chalice of the Void on zero. I have a hand with Underground Sea, Badlands, two Gitaxian Probes, Ponder, Lion’s Eye Diamond, and Infernal Tutor. I draw Tendrils of Agony for my turn and Probe him, drawing a Dark Ritual and seeing Scavenging Ooze, Knight of the Reliquary, Dark Confidant, Gaddok Teeg and Wasteland. Well, let’s hope he doesn’t draw a colored mana source! I decide to Ponder instead of cycling the second Probe because this sure looks like a natural Tendrils kill might happen. I see Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, and another Gitaxian Probe on top. Perfect. I pass the turn back, he draws and thinks for a bit before deploying the Wasteland and casting Dark Confidant. Strike. I draw and Probe him again only to see he has drawn the most ironic card possible: a Mox Diamond that is shut off by his own Chalice of the Void. I cast my artifact mana into the Chalice and use the Probes as well as Infernal Tutor doubling up Dark Ritual just for the Storm count to Tendrils for 20.
It really is nice if the nuts and non-blue opponents line up like this.
Round 4: Miracles
Game 1: My opponent starts with Island, Sensei’s Divining Top. At least I have Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy (taking Counterbalance from a hand of Plains, Tundra, Snapcaster Mage, Counterbalance, and Swords to Plowshares). Unfortunately, my hand is too slow to win before turn 3 now. Sadly, his Top delivers another Counterbalance just in time, and when I decide to try to go for it anyway with Cabal Ritual into double Lion’s Eye Diamond into Grim Tutor he also has the Force of Will floating on top. Can’t complain, it isn’t like I haven’t had a couple of sick draws already today. I scoop them up.
I bring in the anti-Miracles package.
Game 2: I cantrip on my turn while my opponent plays a fetchland and passes. My hand has Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, another land, and Ad Nauseam in it so I play the Petal and the land just in case hate is coming down on his turn. Instead he decides to crack his fetch during my end step removing the threat of Spell Pierce and Flusterstorm. I cast Dark Ritual and move in on end step Ad Nauseam and it resolves. I end up at 7 life with a hand of double Duress, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor, Abrupt Decay, and a couple of other Rituals. I easily win on my next turn after seeing a really weak hand of Scalding Tarn, Flooded Strand, Ponder, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Mystic Gate, and Snapcaster Mage. Ad Nauseam being an instant is nice.
Game 3: My opponent has turn 3 Counterbalance. I have the Abrupt Decay end of turn, untap into Gitaxian Probe seeing Vendilion Clique (uncastable), Spell Pierce (irrelevant as I have mana to spare), Jace the Mind Sculptor, and Plains. I move straight into the Past in Flames kill.
Miracles is a tough matchup for Storm, no question.
Round 5: BUG Delver
Game 1: He has a double Delver draw, but he is light on disruption as a result. A Duress takes his Hymn leaving him with Daze, Abrupt Decay, and Underground Sea. Past in Flames finishes things a turn later.
I wasn’t too happy with Young Pyromancer in this matchup last time. I instead simply turn one of my Preordains into a Flusterstorm to help fight discard.
Game 2: This was a long and grindy game so I don’t remember the details all that well. I see a hand that has Hymn to Tourach, Force of Will, and Delver early on. He doesn’t hit a second colored source, and I Therapy him a turn later naming Hymn to Tourach (I wasn’t close to winning and Hymn is actually a much scarier card in that case) and hit two. I also can’t find business for the life of me, however. His Delver then flips off of Brainstorm a turn later. Brainstorm finds his third Hymn to Tourach which hits the Infernal Tutor that would have won me the game had I gotten to untap. Surgical takes the rest of my Tutors out of my deck, and while my life total dwindles, my hand becomes Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Past in Flames, and Duress. I only have three lands, however, so I’d need to go all-in on a single cantrip. I give it another turn as I still have 11 life to play with. He rips the fourth Hymn and hits exactly my Rituals. I draw land and another Ritual to actually give it a go at 5 life, but the Gitaxian Probe and cantrip I cast from the graveyard don’t hit the Tendrils.
Game 3: He has Deathrite and Delver as well as a Hymn early, but that also means he’s low on cards in hand – a Surgical Extraction and an unknown card. I have two irrelevant cards in hand when I topdeck a Brainstorm. I calculate and realize I’ll need at least another land to be able to go off, so I simply pass the turn to play around discard as much as possible. I’m hoping to maybe use his Surgical to get a shuffle for my Brainstorm. He has Vendilion Clique end of turn. I Brainstorm in response and hit the perfect three in Infernal Tutor, Lion’s Eye Diamond, and Dark Ritual but botch things quite badly. I put back both the Tutor and the LED ignoring the Surgical Extraction my opponent has in hand. Good player that he is, he Extracts something from my graveyard in response to his Clique trigger and I end up with a hand of garbage. What I should have done is to keep the three good cards, hoping he would make the correct play and Surgical anyway, giving me the highest chance to topdeck out of the situation.
Hymn to Tourach really is a pain. It’s so much better than Thoughtseize against Storm, it isn’t even funny.
Round 6: UR Delver-Still
My opponent was on a pretty sweet-looking UR list with Delvers, Grim Lavamancers, Standstill, Mishra’s Factories, and all the tempo-disruption cards.
Game 1: He mulls to six and has turn 1 Delver of Secrets. I Probe him and see Brainstorm, Delver of Secrets, Lightning Bolt, and Polluted Delta. I can win next turn by playing a fetchland into Cabal Ritual, so I use my Cabal Therapy right now to get rid of his Brainstorm so he can’t actually find disruption. His Delver flips off Stifle. Obviously. He plays the second Delver and passes, while I play my fetchland, ready to play another next turn and win anyway. The second Delver flips off Force of Will, and I die in short order.
I sideboard my Flusterstorms for the Preordains to fight over Stifles.
Game 2: I Probe on turn 1 and see two Grim Lavamancer, a Daze, a Standstill, a Brainstorm, and two Mishra’s Factory. He (correctly) deploys the Grim Lavamancer on turn 1, but Past in Flames never gives him another turn.
Game 3: This is the round that frustrates me the most as I manage to throw away the game with perfect information when I could have won. He once again has the early Delver and puts a Standstill on top of it on turn 4 when I’m already down to 14, tapping down to two Volcanic Islands – one of the tapped lands is a Mishra’s Factory.
On my turn my hand is:
Brainstorm, Grim Tutor, Gitaxian Probe, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Polluted Delta, and Flusterstorm with three lands including a fetchland in play and just a single card in my graveyard.
I can’t really wait as him untapping and me taking damage won’t make my situation any better, so I break the Standstill with a Gitaxian Probe and see:
Now, that’s a lot of disruption to get through! I draw a Swamp off my Probe and realize that I should be able to win here somehow. It all starts with getting my opponent to spend mana on interacting with something I don’t need so I can actually fight using Flusterstorm. So I start by Brainstorming. It resolves and I draw a Scalding Tarn, a Lotus Petal, and a second Flusterstorm.
This is where it gets tricky as there simply are too many possible reactions from my opponent to calculate everything out. I’ll have to play it by ear – and miss a terribly important detail. I put back the two fetchlands to save damage. I cast the Dark Ritual. It resolves. My fetchland does too, as well as the Lotus Petal.
And that’s where I realize my blunder. Because I kept the Swamp over another fetchland, I don’t have the ability to put seven cards into my graveyard so I can’t Threshold my Cabal Ritual. So the Cabal Ritual resolves too, and even though I can now Grim Tutor with double counter backup, I can’t actually keep two blue open and cast the Tendrils or Past in Flames without cracking the Lion’s Eye Diamond. I try for it anyway, but I have no reasonable line of play to get through all three pieces of disruption and die.
The best way to beat Storm: get the pilot’s brain to melt. It worked, darn it.
Round 7: Burn
I’m dejected with having just played myself out of top 8 in spite of having perfect information. I pray for a nice and easy matchup.
Game 1: The magic-gods hear me as I win the roll, cantrip, and my opponent opens on turn 1 suspend Rift Bolt. Rift Bolt is no match for turn 2 Dark Ritual and count to ten.
I board in Chain of Vapors for 2 Duress and the Sensei’s Divining Top.
Game 2: I keep a no-lander that can turn 1 Ad Nauseam. My opponent casts turn 1 Goblin Guide, hands me an Island so I can actually cast the Brainstorm in my hand, and I win with Past in Flames instead after seeing Eidolon of the Great Revel in his hand thanks to Gitaxian Probe.
Let’s just say my opponent understandably wasn’t too happy with the quality of my draws. I can only agree and tell him that that’s part of the reason I play Storm.
Round 8: Miracles
Well, one last round to maybe top 16 and at least get some prices.
Game 1: My opponent has the same Star Wars sleeves as my Miracles opponent from the day before so I assume he’s playing the same deck. I’m right as he Brainstorms in response to my turn 1 Cabal Therapy (naming Counterbalance now) to reveal a hand of Terminus, two Plains, two Jace the Mind Sculptor, and a Counterspell. I assume he has hidden Force of Will on top. He untaps, plays his Plains and passes. I cantrip into another discard spell and win on turn 3 after Duressing the expected Force of Will. He curses his Plains, rightly so.
I board the Miracles-package again.
Game 2: He has turn 2 Ethersworn Canonist, which I match with a Young Pyromancer. He untaps into Counterbalance and passes, while I jam another Pyromancer. Counterbalance blind flips a Terminus, and I roll my eyes internally. Then my opponent fetches it away anyway to protect his Canonist. I start making two tokens a turn, but then I misplay massively by attacking with the Pyromancers themselves, one of which then trades for a flashed in Vendilion Clique. A third Pyromancer is countered, and the single one I have left plus the one token I get every turn aren’t good enough to actually beat his Jace.
Game 3: He has the turn 2 Canonist again as well as Counterbalance and Sensei’s Divining Top. I take too long to find an Abrupt Decay as once I’m finally rid of Counterbalance to start cantripping, three angels miraculously appear during my end step when I’m at a convenient 12 life.
I really can’t get used to playing with creatures.
Taking a Break
Two weeks ago, I heard our esteemed editor call Storm “bad” now on the coverage. I don’t have the slightest idea how Cedric has gotten that idea. Between Kai, Robert, and me, we put two players into the top 8 on both Friday and Saturday. Kai (who ate Delver decks all day) took the whole thing down on Saturday. As to my own performance, at least two of my three losses on Saturday were entirely avoidable. Yes, Storm forces you to play perfectly, and if you don’t, you often lose. That’s a totally reasonable argument for not wanting to play the deck.
At the same time, though, the power level you get to play with if you don’t make mistakes is ridiculous, and it’s higher than just about anything else the format has to offer. Calling this deck bad means you haven’t seen anybody who really knows what he’s doing play it for any length of time. There’s a reason our local metagame is something like at least 25% Storm and 25% Miracles now that I’ve lured others to the archetype by playing it for a while. There are very few bad matchups; those that are bad are all actually still close, and your good matchups are usually very good.
Editor’s Note: The reason I’m not terribly fond of Storm right now is because it seems like the American metagame has no interest in losing to the deck. Miracles is on the rise, BUG Delver is the most popular Delver deck here (though not the best performing one – I believe that honor goes to UWR Delver), and Delver matchups seem to be difficult in general (though I do agree that it is imperative that Delver decks actually begin the game with Delver against Storm). Add in a very high skill cap (you simply are not allowed to make a mistake with the deck because it is so unforgiving), and I’m just not a huge fan. The power level of the deck is through the roof, but it seems like a tough time to be playing the deck. That being said, I still love you Carsten!
Alright, we’re at over 6000 words now so as much as I’d love to talk about the Vintage event, that’ll have to wait another week. As my notes are a lot worse – I wasn’t playing with Gitaxian Probe in the most broken of formats, sadly – I’ll hopefully manage to include it as bonus content after next week’s exploration of Control Slaver and Bomberman. I can already tell you playing with power again is sweet, though!