B&R Update - 07/02/2018 - Deathrite Shaman & Gitaxian Probe

B&R Announcement

Deathrite Shaman
Gitaxian Probe

Announcement Date: July 2, 2018
Legacy: Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe are banned
Effective Date: July 6, 2018
Magic Online Effective Date: July 5, 2018
The list of all banned and restricted cards, by format, is here.


WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!

While the bane of the Legacy format (Deathrite Shaman), has been removed, we lost a dear friend. #RIPgitaxianprobe But life must go on! The change is a break even in my eyes for storm combo. The removal of Deathrite Shaman is huge for the archetype while losing Gitaxian Probe hurts. I've been preparing for this day for the last three-to-four months by slowly buying a set of Japanese foil Lorwyn Thoughtseize – it doesn't hurt you to be prepared! But I'm jumping ahead of myself before we talk about possible replacements, let's look at the impact that losing Gitaxian Probe has.

The Losers

Cabal Therapy
Empty The Warrens
Past In Flames
Cabal Ritual

Cabal Therapy - Even with Gitaxian Probe people thought they were better with Cabal Therapy than they actually were, there's a reason you saw very few lists with four copies of Cabal Therapy and only two copies of Duress. When you miss, it can often cause you to lose the game. We're about to head into a new unknown format, where things are likely to change. I see RUG Delver becoming very good, good luck guessing between Stifle, Spell Pierce, Force of Will, Spell Snare, and Flusterstorm. Seriously. Now take a step back and think about how you just lost four free "Peek" effects at your opponent's hand, Cabal Therapy is going to be very bad. That said, I could see keeping one to two for the synergies with Empty the Warrens, but even that I'm not convinced about. I think it's hard to justify keeping a card for its secondary purpose when it's primary focus is suffering.

Empty the Warrens - Well, with Cabal Therapy suffering, what does this mean for our good friend? It's not good. Stormtroopers around the world lovingly call Empty the Warrens + Cabal Therapy + Gitaxian Probe the "Triforce" and now it's dead. Without Gitaxian Probe for free storm, Cabal Therapy to shred the opponent's hand, I'm not sure how good Empty the Warrens will be going forward. That said, I have a lot more faith in playing it than I do Cabal Therapy on its own. I think something to consider is without Deathrite Shaman, the amount of good one mana blocking creatures just went way down. While Empty the Warrens is a "Loser" from the bannings, I expect it to be good on its own.

If you look at the deck lists below, you'll see that there's still the full play set of Empty the Warrens in each list. This is because I expect RUG Delver to rise to power, a deck that is trying to deny your resources and keep you off being able to cast your spells. Similarly to Grixis Delver and even 4c Pile, when a deck is trying to keep you off of resources, it's much easier to cast Empty the Warrens from your hand for four mana rather than Ad Nauseam for seven and then needing more resources in order to win.

Past in Flames - The loss of Gitaxian Probe hurts here quite a bit, casting Past in Flames without a deterministic line and hoping to cantrip into the way just became much harder. The appeal of casting Past in Flames for value has almost vanished. While still very powerful, it's going to be noticeable. What makes it a "Loser" is the amount of dedicated graveyard hate we're about to see pop-up in the form of Rest in Peace, Grafdigger's Cage, Nihil Spellbomb, Surgical Extraction, and many more. I wouldn't put much stock into this card post-board.

Cabal Ritual - A free card that just went to the graveyard just disappeared, slowing Cabal Ritual down quite a bit. The one bright side is that the most popular card for removing cards in a graveyard just left the format, so maybe this is a wash?

The Winners

Thoughtseize
Surgical Extraction
Preordain
Silence

Thoughtseize - "Isn't the two life a big deal?" is the most common thing I've heard in the last twenty-four hours. If Gitaxian Probe's life-loss wasn't an issue for seven years, why would Thoughtseize's? Thoughtseize possibly just became the best discard spell in the deck, the ability to guarantee a hit on disruption pieces such as Ethersworn Canonist or Force of Will is incredibly valuable. It's tough to describe, but those of you who have played Storm and have cast a blind Cabal Therapy naming Thalia, Guardian of Thraben only to see Ethersworn Canonist know the importance of this change. While Thoughtseize can't two-for-one, it will average out in the long-run for how many times you'll miss and lose with Cabal Therapy. I'm very high on this card right now, the biggest winner from Storm's perspective.

Surgical Extraction - Well, I know some of us were running Surgical Extraction in The EPIC Storm (v4.5) and these changes have solidified the slot. I know it doesn't show in the deck lists below, but I'm strongly considering a third copy moving forward. I think we're initially going to see a lot of people trying to abuse the graveyard in many forms, might as well be prepared.

Preordain - Not sure if this will end up seeing play in The EPIC Storm, but I would be shocked if it wasn't played in Ad Nauseam Tendrils. That said, I could see both decks needing the extra smoothing of draws with the loss of Gitaxian Probe, I think this is the clear third best cantrip in the format.

Silence - Calm down. This is likely a pipe dream, but if RUG Delver with Stifle and Spell Snare comes back, I could see a few copies of Silence being a reasonable choice. The idea is that you want to Ad Nauseam into them and then either Lotus Petal or Scrubland in order to get your white mana source. After this, you can shut down those cards before you cast your Tendrils of Agony. The downside would be finding a white source in your already three color deck against RUG Delver. I'm not sold on this plan, but it's here for those of you with big hearts.

Deck Lists

The Differences & Thought Process

Deck List (1)

This list is pretty much the most obvious, swap out Gitaxian Probe for a 14th land, two discard spells, and then one flex spot. Here the flex spot is the 4th copy of Chrome Mox (which is what I prefer), it could also be a Preordain, Cabal Therapy, or something more spicy.

Deck List (2)

This list is a much more conservative approach. Two cantrips and two discard spells. I think it might suffer from not having a 14th land, but it's here because I'm not sure if you need it. The secondary change is splitting the discard spells, which gives some power back to Empty the Warrens.

Deck List (3)

This list is fairly rough. In general, I think we're past the days of Silence, but it's cool to think about it from time-to-time.

Deck List (4)

A true hybrid list, something very similar to what I was testing around the time of Grand Prix: Louisville. Swapping the main deck Empty the Warrens for a Past in Flames (you still have Burning Wish for win-conditions) and then adding in a pair of Cabal Rituals to support this change. This gives the deck a very fast approach with Ad Nauseam, while offering a slower more robust win with Past in Flames. It's worth noting that there's a second Badlands for the additional support of Past in Flames, but it also makes Pulverize more reliable.

Moving Forward

There's a lot to test, especially with StarCityGames: Worcester and Grand Prix: Richmond on the horizon. I'm interested to see where things land, but these are the starting points for now! The sideboards are all just the sideboards from The EPIC Storm (v4.5) and could likely change.

Until next time, keep storming!


Bryant Cook

Bryant Cook has 1 Grand Prix Top 8 as well as 9 Star City Games Top 8s (2 wins). You can often find him traveling the northeast in search for the next big event, he recently won the first Leaving A Legacy 5K. Outside of M:TG he's an avid New York Mets fan, graphic designer, pop-punk enthusiast, and doggo aficionado. Bryant Cook is the owner and president of The EPIC Storm.