TES Infernal Tutoring #16

Starting with Grand Prix Seattle, we decided to cut green again and go back to a Grixis build, this gave us v4.2. I am a big fan of this decklist, the addition of the fourth Chrome Mox in the sideboard has been amazing every time I brought it in for the decks we want it against, such as Grixis Delver, or any prison deck variant. We also have another new tool to help deal with the prison decks, Pulverize. This card is specifically great against decks like Dragon Stompy that use Blood Moon, as it makes Pulverize much easier to cast. The additional copies of Echoing Truth also help very much in the prison matchups, as Echoing Truth is much easier to cast than Abrupt Decay. With these types of decks growing in popularity, this decklist is very well positioned.

For this week, the latest version of The EPIC Storm (TES) was used from the website.

Deck List

 

SITUATION #1 - ANT

With the recent changes to our decklist, our Storm matchup changes just a tiny bit. We no longer run Telemin Performance in the board for a game one "silver bullet" win, but we do gain value with the copy of Cabal Therapy in our sideboard. I've already covered the basics of the matchup in Infernal Tutoring #14, but let's recap. The games in this matchup usually either end very quickly, as in one person wins immediately, or you tear apart each other's hands with Duress and Cabal Therapy until it becomes a topdeck war. A good rule of thumb is to lay out your copies of Lotus Petal and Lion's Eye Diamond to avoid having them discarded. Against specifically ANT, you also have to keep in mind that they usually bring in one to two copies of Flusterstorm from the sideboard.

Website Recommendation for Sideboarding:

-1 Empty the Warrens
+1 Cabal Therapy

We are in game one, currently, we are in the middle of resolving a Duress targeting our opponent. They responded to our Duress by cracking their Lotus Petal to play a Brainstorm. We have information from a Gitaxian Probe that we cast earlier in the turn that our opponent's hand before the Brainstorm was Infernal Tutor, Ponder, Lion's Eye Diamond, Past in Flames, and Cabal Ritual. Knowing this, we know that our opponent drew a Cabal Ritual and a Lotus Petal with the Brainstorm, and put back a Ponder and a mystery card. The way our hand is currently set up, we can go through an Ad Nauseam line on our next turn even if our opponent has a Duress, we just have to carefully choose a card to discard with this Duress that prevents us from dying on our opponent's next turn.

Which card would you choose to discard with the Duress, and why?

I chose to take their Lotus Petal. My thought process was to take their only initial source of black mana from their hand to prevent them from going off, in hindsight I think it might have also been correct to take Lion's Eye Diamond given the fact that our opponent would have to use both of their initial mana sources to cast a Cabal Ritual, denying them the red mana they need to cast Past in Flames to continue going off. If our opponent hid a land, Lotus Petal, or Lion's Eye Diamond on the top of their deck, I think we are dead no matter what, however, I believe taking the Lotus Petal edges out taking Lion's Eye Diamond only slightly, if we take Lion's Eye Diamond and they have a Dark Ritual on the top of their deck, we still lose.


I would take the Lion's Eye Diamond. This prevents them from getting enough mana for either Past in Flames or the Infernal Tutor route, as it stands. I think it's very reasonable that the opponent could have kept another Lion's Eye Diamond or dark ritual or something mana producing on top of their deck, because it would leave his hand fairly resilient to our discard spells. I'm not really sure why the opponent hid a Ponder unless he put it second from the top and planned on going off next turn, which is why I am more inclined to believe the top card of his deck is mana instead of discard. I think no matter what we take we lose to multiple mana being his next draw step.

In a hand as action-packed as our opponent's, I struggle to think they are trying to hide the Ponder from Duress, and instead put it two cards lower so that they could kill us next turn without Ponder in the way. I also seriously doubt they would put back a land or a 2nd Infernal Tutor. With that in mind, I think I like taking Lotus Petal, as it has the least number of redundant cards that still kill us because they would need exactly a Lion's Eye Diamond or a Lotus Petal to kill us, whereas taking Lion's Eye Diamond leaves us dead to the same cards plus also Dark Ritual. I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what they might have put back on top given the context of their hand, which might change the correct choice if you can derive that information, but it could also be something like two Ponders, in which case Lotus Petal is a better choice as well.

Your opponent opted to present you a hand with a lot of bait, hoping that you pick any redundant piece. As a storm player in that situation, I would only show you the Lion's Eye Diamond, if I have another one or a Dark Ritual on top of my library, as discarding the LED would not affect me much. As I don't see a reason why they should hide an initial mana source instead of any of the +3 accelerators, I suspect the mystery card won't help him/her, if you discard the Lotus Petal and cut them off black mana AND the 2nd mana required to cast Cabal Ritual at the same point. I'd take the Lotus Petal and likely gain 2 extra turns in the process.

I think the Lion's Eye Diamond is likely bait, which is something I can appreciate. You're actually dead to another Dark Ritual or Lion's Eye Diamond off the top of their deck. I would opt to take the Lotus Petal as it's an innocuous card in their hand that is secretly detrimental to them winning.

SITUATION #2 - Dragon Stompy

With the addition of Pulverize and the fourth copy of Chrome Mox, our matchup against Dragon Stompy variants has improved. Pulverize gives us a "free" game one answer to Chalice of the Void, with the upside of synergizing with Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon. We bring the fourth Chrome Mox in after game one, which in my opinion is very important in this matchup as we need to go off as fast as possible.

Website Recommendation for Sideboarding:

-4 Ponder, -2 Cabal Therapy
+3 Echoing Truth, +2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Chrome Mox

We are in game three on the draw, our opponent led off with a Chalice of the Void on one. On our turn one, I play a Chrome Mox (Imprinting Rite of Flame), and a Polluted Delta and passed, the turn. This was a misplay, I should have played Burning Wish that turn for Pulverize which is what I planned on doing, but for some reason passed the turn instead. On our opponent's turn two, they floated two mana with their City of Traitors, played a Mountain and a Chrome Mox, and then played a Scab-Clan Berserker, then attacked with it to make it renowned. This is problematic, on our next turn I cast Burning Wish to get Pulverize and passed the turn. Our opponent attacks us for three, and simply passes the turn back. We are at eleven life, and have to sequence this carefully to destroy his Chalice of the Void, and make goblins afterward. Our draw for the turn was Burning Wish, which also made me consider if a line involving Grapeshot is viable here.

How would you play out this turn?

I took the clearest line available, I floated two red and one black mana with my lands and Chrome Mox, cast Pulverize sacrificing Badlands and Volcanic Island, cast Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Burning Wish, grabbing Tendrils of Agony (The card choice didn't matter, it was only for storm count.), and Empty the Warrens, making ten goblin tokens. This put as at one life, and left our opponent with a single Mountain when they already missed a land drop. If taking a Grapeshot line wasn't at the cost of sacrificing both of our lands, I think that option would have more merit to it.


I would float BR from both the lands and then cast Pulverize. Gitaxian Probe, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Empty the Warrens for 10 goblins and putting me at 1 life. I don't think my line would change much based on what I drew off Gitaxian Probe, but I think 10 goblins should be good enough here. This leaves me with a Burning Wish, but won't matter since we are at 1 life with a Scab-Clan Berserker in play.

Float one black and two red with all of our mana sources, and then cast Pulverize. Play both Dark Rituals, Burning Wish for anything as it doesn't matter, but presumably either Empty the Warrens, Tendrils of Agony, or Grapeshot, and then cast Empty the Warrens, which gives us ten Goblins and leaves us at one life. It might not be good enough depending on their hand, but it's the best we can do. Alternatively, instead of the Burning Wish you could float a blue off of Volcanic Island and cast Gitaxian Probe after Pulverize to see if the coast looks good for Goblins, but even if it's not, we don't really have any choices anyway, and I also doubt that their three card hand with only a Mountain as their mana sources will be so explicitly bad for Goblins anyway.

This hand is already committed on the Pulverize + Empty the Warrens and the Berserker not leaving you many alternatives. You can only slam your Pulverize and spells to ramp up Empty the Warrens and pray that your opponent can't put up more pressure.

This is an interesting situation! I like it. That said, you really only have one line. It's to cast Pulverize (floating BR), Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Burning Wish, and Empty the Warrens. Sadly, we're a bit too choked up on mana to Grapeshot.

SITUATION #3 - Tin Fins Depths

Tin Fins Depths has been picking up popularity since Grand Prix Seattle where the deck boasted an impressive twelfth place finish! As far as I know, this build of Tin Fins was pioneered by a Magic Online user named clone103. After playing this matchup with clone103 many times, I believe it plays out very similarly to our BR Reanimator matchup with a couple differences. The first and biggest one being, they don't use Chancellor of the Annex, which is definitely a plus for our side, on the other hand, if they get a Griselbrand into play we are almost guaranteed to lose, whereas against BR Reanimator we can sometimes still win if they get too greedy with Griselbrand activations. This is due to how easily Tin Fins Depths can access either it's three copies of Children of Korlis in the main deck, or it's sideboard copy with Living Wish. It is very easy for this deck to essentially draw their entire library with this combo compared to more traditional builds of Tin Fins. The way they usually win against us is by eventually using Living Wish to grab a copy of Laboratory Maniac and draw the remainder of their library with Griselbrand. The Dark Depths portion of the deck doesn't come up against us very often, as they are trying to win fast.

How I Sideboarded:

-3 Ponder, -1 Empty the Warrens
+2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Cabal Therapy, +1 Chrome Mox

Even though the Dark Depths combo doesn't come up very often against us in this matchup, I still feel that it is necessary to bring in the copies of Chain of Vapor just in case. Anyways, we are in game three on the draw. We opened up a hand of seven that consists of Gitaxian Probe, Gitaxian Probe, Burning Wish, Burning Wish, Lotus Petal, Lion's Eye Diamond, and Rite of Flame. Our opponent mulliganed to six, we are left with the option of keeping this hand or shipping it. On one hand, this hand has potential to be explosive, on the other hand, if our opponent has a discard spell turn one and they use it on either our Lotus Petal or Lion's Eye Diamond, then we are in rough shape.

Would you keep this hand?

I decided to keep this hand, the only other thing we have to worry about other than a discard spell is losing on turn one, which can happen no matter what hand we keep. This hand has potential to be very explosive on turn one with a lot of different possible lines that could come up depending on the three cards we will draw with our draw step and our two copies of Gitaxian Probe. I think a high-risk, high-reward hand like this is better than most average hands on six. While we take the risk of eating shit to a discard spell, sometimes that's just the line you have to take when playing a deck like TES.


I would keep this hand and cross my fingers. I have to admit I do not know the contents of their deck fully. I understand the concepts but would not know the number of discard spells that could be expected from their deck, but traditionally combo decks like this and other variants run somewhere between 6-8. I would take those odds, and even if they have a discard spell I think we can still win. They would be down to 4 cards with their land + discard spell and we get access to a draw step and a couple redraws. I would keep.

This is definitely a really close hand, but I think I would mulligan. This hand is a bit far from being able to Burning Wish for Dark Petition, and Empty the Warrens won't cut it against the opponent. Combine that with the fact that our hand is susceptible to a discard spell, and I don't think that you have a winning hand. If this hand had a second Lion's Eye Diamond instead of a Burning Wish, I'd keep very easily as we are very close to Ad Nauseam. I'd also be more willing to keep if the Lotus Petal was a land, as we can more effectively use any Ponders or Brainstorms we find.

Being on the draw and having 2 copies of Gitaxian Probe means that you see 3 fresh cards while only needing one more mana source to combo off. As any mulligan doesn't remove the danger of getting wrecked by T1 discard, it's no factor to consider for me. This is a keep.

This is a "no-doubter" for me. Keep. Your opponent started down a card, you have three looks and can possibly "Natural Storm" kill them on turn one. What's not to like?

The EPIC Storm is at a spot right now where there is room for a lot of experimentation. I'm excited to see what the future holds for our beloved storm deck. That being said, if you are planning to play in a tournament in the near future, v4.2 is an excellent choice to bring to the table.

Keep storming on, and ALWAYS win with Grapeshot if your storm count is high enough, just to flex on 'em.


Anthony LaVerde

Anthony LaVerde has had numerous Top 8 finishes of competitive Legacy events over the past four years, most recently being a 3rd/4th place finish at the Leaving a Legacy 5k. When he is not playing at paper events, you can find him grinding on Magic Online under the username "Aigis". Other than being a pilot of The EPIC Storm, Anthony is also a Smash Bros player, punk music aficionado, and a sales consultant.