[MSE Modern] A Primer for Storm (Post-Epiphany)

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Mon, 2016-01-04 07:53
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WindyDelcarlo's picture

I saw this once on another forums, so I figured "why not?" Seems like a good way to catalog decks.

So What Is Storm?
In case you're unaware, Storm is a spell-based archetype that intends to cast as many spells as possible in one turn. Commonly, this is accomplished by using rituals like Spark of Inferna and Smeltstoker to generate mana and cantrips to dig through your deck, before ending the game with a lethal spell that counts the number of spells cast in a turn like Firerock Aggression. MSE Modern provides access to a few different variations of the Storm archetype. I'll be covering the variation I've come to call Cantrip Storm (Miraculous Epiphany got banned).

Benefits to Storm

  • Storm is very powerful, and maindeck it can be surprising until the turn before you go off.
  • There's never very many dead cards in the maindeck, if any at all.
  • Linear strategy is difficult to interact with in game one.
  • Unimpeded, a storm deck can clock off on turn 4 with enough set up.
  • Mana base and early plays look much like a control deck, possibly causing opponents to play around counterspells.
Downsides to Storm
  • Post-sideboarding, there are two very powerful cards that destroy storm decks, one of which is colorless.
  • Has a difficult time interacting with combo or burn decks that might have a faster clock.
  • Relatively inconsistent
Cantrip Storm
If you watch Modern coverage enough to know what Storm as a deck is, you're already familiar with this type of deck. Cantrip Storm is one that uses cantrips and casts a large amount of spells, before inevitably ending the game with a "storm" spell. Among the three types of storm decks, I believe that Cantrip Storm is likely the second most powerful. It can be very quick and explosive, and it can find itself very capable of gathering card advantage rather quickly. However, it can easily burn out of blue mana for cantrip purposes if it doesn't set up a Predetermined Results, because it lacks a version of Manamorphose due to Symphony of Frost and Flame being banned.

Building Cantrip Storm
Cantrip Storm decks in MSE Modern usually rely less on cantrips themselves, and more on turning their spells INTO cantrips via effects like Predetermined Results. Cantrip Storm decks use a lot of similar effects to turn their hand into an endless array of spells. The cantrip options aren't as varied yet, causing the deck to rely heavily on that back end.
After resolving a million spells and running out of a deck, the most logical option to ending an opponent is with a Firerock Aggression to their face. In a more control-filled environment, where you expect to see countermagic, Crow Storm can also function as a way to end a game without letting a spell get countered, but the blue mana can be problematic. If you have not quite enough cards in your hand, Days of Future Past lets you rebuy anything in your graveyard.

Card Selections
Like with all Magic deckbuilding, there are a lot of choices for building a storm deck. There are a ton of burn spells, cantrips, and rituals that you can use in different combinations.

Card Selections
Cantrips/Cheap Card Draw: (Spells to find other spells.)
- Prophesize: From Xoltan, Prophesize is a copy of a great card called Preordain. It lets you do something very similar to scrying two before drawing a card. At one mana, it's really good as an early turn play to find your way into some action, and the scry while trying to storm off isn't terrible either.
- Delve Secrets: This flashback spell from Temporal Dawn is functionally similar to Sleight of Hand except at instant speed. It's great for setting up because holding open two mana on turn two looks like countermagic, and then casting Delve Secrets continues to hold this guise.
- Accursed Knowledge: Coming from Winds of Change, Accursed Knowledge is great as a draw spell because it can be anywhere between Night's Whisper and Faithless Looting, meaning that you can discard if you have extra lands, but are also able to just take 2 damage. And, it's castable without black mana.
- Peek: A reprint in the MSE Community Core Set, Peek provides the ability to scout the opponent's hand for anything that might interfere with your goal of storming off in their face, be it countermagic or any other kind of interaction. When you're going off, it is also just a way to draw cards for a single mana.
- Stormkeeper's Insight: While it's often going to just be a cantrip, the Deja Vu mechanic from Linela provides this card with bit of unseen power, providing the option to either scry or fateseal. If you're trying to build up a critical mass of spells, you can easily just use it to look at the opponent's top card and make sure it won't interfere.
- Seek Interest: From Temporal Dawn, originally designed to be the format's Gitaxian Probe, Seek Interest quickly got changed. Now, although it's not great for drawing a card before the combo, it functions as powerful card advantage while storming, filling in the role that Accursed Knowledge fulfills.

Larger Draw Effects: (Ways to make sure you don't run out of cards.)
- Predetermined Results: This is a spell from Linela that does exactly as it was intended to do: Allow storm decks to cast spells while not having to worry as much about running out of gas. At two mana, it slots right in just before you start spamming rituals.
- Study the Tradewinds: From Realms of Mashara, Study the Tradewinds performs the same goal as Predetermined Results for an extra mana. However, mana. However, to make up for this, Study the Tradewinds can also be cast as a simple cantrip to keep you finding cards.
- Manifest Thought: Manifest Thought is a very powerful card in the storm decks, pulling duty as both a draw spell and a ritual. If you discard it before going off on a combo, it grants every single spell you cast the ability storm, except slightly better. The first spell to be cast has no copies, the second has 1 copy, and the third has 3 copies.
- Paint the Mind: Pretty much obsoletes Predetermined Results, since it is a mana cheaper for the same effect.

Rituals: (Ways to generate and sustain mana.)
- Lerinan Stormcaster: This is one of the most powerful mana-producers in the storm deck. If it gets landed on turn 2, it is very possible to win on turn 3 with the correct rituals. Turning any two-mana ritual into a replicated Smeltstoker grants 7 mana already, which allows for any third ritual (even a normally mana-neutral one) into Miraculous Epiphany or a massive amount of draw spells.
- Sorcerer's Stone: While not strictly a mana producer, Sorcerer's Stone "generates" a colorless mana whenever you cast a spell by helping to pay for it. This functions similar to Goblin Electromancer in modern Cantrip Storm decks.
- Lerina Charm: A modal ritual that can also function as burn in a tight situation. There's not much else that's special about it, aside from the fact that effects like Sorcerer's Stone don't actually affect it.
- Smeltstoker: While not saying it right on the package, this spell will normally be a net of two mana, 3 if you have a Lerinan Stormcaster, making it very good as a ritual effect. In addition, it can be just a 2-mana ritual for Red mana symbolRed mana symbolRed mana symbol.
- Manaflare Ritual: At 3 mana, Manaflare Ritual tries really hard not to just be Seething Song. When you cast it the first time, it'll be mana-neutral unless you have something making it cheaper, but every time after, Manaflare Ritual actually makes 2 mana.
- Serila the Stormcaster: Serila is a strange form of ritual. While she might not actually generate mana if you cast her the turn you're going for it, Serila is very powerful if you're trying to go off the turn after, not only due to the sheer amount of mana she can produce but also due to the fact that she can generate blue mana, making her perfect for Cantrip storm decks.
- Spark of Inferna: Pyretic Ritual that can turn into Dark Ritual if you control any permanent with a CMC of 3 or more.
- Electroflare: Electroflare is an interesting ritual from Linela that provides 4 mana if you've already cast an instant or sorcery spell.

Finishers: (Ways to end the game.)
- Pyroflare: Pyroflare is a nice finisher because even a failed storm attempt can draw it and end the game. IT works less well if you're using flashback such as from Days of Future Past, since your graveyard won't be there.
- Firerock Aggression: The Grapeshot of the format. Using it requires an exact count of the spells cast during the turn, but it can be cast and flashbacked if enough mana is generated. In addition, Lerinan Stormcaster's activated ability makes this normally a one-shot kill.
- Crow Storm: An anti-counterspell win condition that also does well against an opponent with (for example) hexproof.

Mana Base: (Things to tap for mana.)
- Spires of Tvornica: A typical blue-red fetchable dual.
- Pool of Light: The K15 White/blue mana symbol dual can come in untapped, and it can be fetched for access to white mana, which provides a sideboard tool I've grown quite fond of. In addition, being a plains means it gives Arid Mesa the ability to fetch out untapped blue mana, meaning it might deserve at least one slot in your mana base regardless of sideboarding.
- Scalding Tarn: Being able to fetch for either color of mana is great. Also, Scalding Tarn can grab Pool of Light, which, depending on sideboarding, may or may not be a good thing.
- Arid Mesa: Arid Mesa can fetch out dual lands and provides a bit more thinning for decks like Storm that don't want to draw lands.
- Stormcaller Nexus: Stormcaller's Nexus is a really great card for blue-red decks. Since your plan is to cast your hand anyways, your opponent knowing a few cards from it doesn't change much. On turn one, you can reveal the Prophesize you intend to play and any red card, and then your opponent only knows one of your cards which you'll probably end up casting anyways.
- Lerina Academy: Lerina Academy is a card I often don't use although I feel like you could make an argument for using it. It lets itself come untapped if either you or your opponent has had one enter the battlefield before.

There's not much to be said for sideboarding right now. As the format is currently growing, not a lot of "top-tier" decks have been discovered. So, the only thing to do is build for your deck's weak point. As far as I can tell, the weak point to storm decks are faster storm/burn decks and anti-storm disruption. The reason white is in the sideboard is to provide an answer to Balance of Powers, which a storm deck practically can't beat otherwise.

Sample Decks

Cantrip Storm wrote:
4x Lerinan Stormcaster
4x Spark of Inferna
4x Smeltstoker
4x Manaflare Ritual
4x Paint the Mind
4x Manifest Thought
4x Prophesize
4x Constant Static
4x Firerock Aggression
3x Serila the Stormcaster

4x Scalding Tarn
2x Arid Mesa
4x Spires of Tvornica
2x Pool of Light
4x Stormcaller Nexus
3x Island
2x Mountain

2x Absolute Destruction
1x Conjured Storm Atronoch
4x Instant Dispersion
3x Cleansemage's Charm
3x Pyretic Cyclone
2x Cloak of Shadows

Tue, 2016-02-23 06:48
Administrator - MSE Add-On Award
WindyDelcarlo's picture

Sideboarding Against Storm
With the release of Preasti, there's a few powerful cards being added as sideboard options against a storm deck. So, I've found it necessary to run through something I forgot to do before: What do you do if your opponent is on Storm? Which cards are good against other decks that you're trying to build a sideboard for, and which are the most powerful if you want to guarantee you beat Storm?

Chilling Orb: Chilling Orb is a card that can make life very difficult for a storm deck if their draw consists of multiple of the same spell, or if they're trying to win via a cantrip kill. Against Epiphany Storm, Chilling Orb does its job less well than other options, and it doesn't do well against other decks. However, it's only a single mana and can go into decks where other sideboards aren't an option.

Balance of Powers: In blue-white decks that want to hit 4 mana, Balance of Powers ends the game against Cantrip Storm unless they have enchantment removal, and it makes Epiphany Storm's job extremely difficult by nullifying Miraculous Epiphany itself. It can also lend itself use to Elves and and other deck that wants to cast multiple spells in a turn. It also guarantees that in a control mirror, you will always win the counter-war.

Extinguish Thought: In a black deck, resolving this is where you remove the payoff from their library. Against Cantrip Storm, you can strike down Firerock Aggression or Lerinan Stormcaster, depending on how the deck tries to end the game. Against Epiphany Storm, the answer is obvious: Exile Miraculous Epiphany. Extinguish Thought functions the same way against any combo deck, so having at least one copy in your sideboard should be a consideration. Keep in mind that if your opponent draws two more cards, like off an Accursed Knowledge, it turns into a free spell.

Nature's Rebuke: Another spell from the presently newly-released Preasti, Nature's Rebuke is the best way to make an Epiphany Storm player hate their life. If Nature's Rebuke is put onto the stack on top of a Miraculous Epiphany, it is worse for the Epiphany player than countering it. Aside from getting to draw a card for 1 mana symbolGreen mana symbol, Nature's Rebuke also forces the Epiphany player to exile the top 10 cards of their library. Cards that, unless you're playing with exile shenanigans from Spark of Revolution, that player won't ever get back. Nature's Rebuke is also good for forcing through a threat against control and fogging for a turn against Cantrip Storm and Burn, so it is probably a good idea to have some number in any green sideboard.

Forgotten Court: Yet another Preasti card. Forgotten Court plays the mana denial plan, making everything the storm deck does more expensive. While it's not as powerful as, say, Nature's Rebuke, it can be brought in against a variety of tempo decks or possibly even run in the maindeck to slow them down past turn 3.

Tue, 2016-02-23 07:33
ThisisSakon's picture

We don't have a Rule of Law. Yet...

Tue, 2016-02-23 11:34
Friendly MSE Designer
Guitarweeps's picture

Forgotten Court from Preasti is also a good pre-emptive measure. It costs 3 mana but makes colored spells cost an extra 1 mana symbol which can make storm much harder to pull off.

Check out my updated set hub.

Tue, 2016-02-23 15:08
Administrator - MSE Add-On Award
WindyDelcarlo's picture

... Oh yeah, mana taxation still hurts

Tue, 2016-06-21 22:49
ThisisSakon's picture

I swear to god if you guys keep breaking my 2 mana symbol filter spells I'm going to be forced to stop making them

Mon, 2016-06-27 22:50

Hey everyone! I was playing around with storm and I found a card that might be helpful for getting that all-so-important blue mana: Dream Mox! Just exile an already tapped land, add to the storm count, and tap for blue. The problem is it doesn't replace itself, so it might be a bit awkward, but I think it will work.

Mon, 2016-06-27 23:41
Administrator - MSE Add-On Award
WindyDelcarlo's picture

Ooh, new tech. I completely forgot about rewrite. I've been using Serila to generate my blue (Lerinan Stormcaster helps that a lot too) but Dream Mox might just be straight better

Tue, 2016-06-28 06:54
Administrator - MSE Add-On Award
WindyDelcarlo's picture

... Oh, hey, rewrite requires a color to be shared.

Tue, 2016-06-28 15:55

Completely missed that bit of text. Sorry about that.