Every spoiler season, storm players from far and wide rush to talk about all the new cards that they think will take storm to the next level. The Epic Storm is no stranger to this, and thanks to Burning Wish, people often love to pick out every single corner case scenario they can think of that might make any sorcery that costs four or more into a game winning card. Unfortunately, very few of these new cards ever actually pan out into something meaningful, and with Wizards of the Coast’s pronounced hate for anything related to the storm mechanic, I expect that it will be awhile before we see any real role players.
All that said, being dismissive is never a useful quality, and even for cards that I don’t think have any shot, it can be worth discussing exactly why they don’t do what people think they do. At the very least, it is a chance for some people to learn a few things about the deck, and it can often help us avoid overlooking things that might deserve a chance. Below are the three cards that I have seen thrown around in a few of the storm groups that I think fall just short, but are worth highlighting nonetheless.
On the surface, this card reads very similarly to Pyromancer Ascension in a lot of ways. The biggest thing holding this card back though is the fact that you still have to pay the costs for the spell you are casting from the graveyard. It’s an enchantment, so it isn’t really something that we can include in a toolbox, and for a steep three mana, it doesn’t exactly speed the deck up at all. When neither of those conditions are met, we have to ask ourselves whether or not we think the card could substantially improve the engine that we already have.
What cards does Harness the Storm actually work with in a meaningful way in the deck? Well, you can do some cute things with discard spells against an opponent with a ton of counter spells, but you could also just cast Defense Grid and get a similar effect for two mana. Additionally, with only four Cabal Therapy and 1-3 Duress, you will rarely have the opportunity to begin with. A similar rule applies for the draw spells. Additionally, after casting a three mana enchantment, how much slower are we willing to be just to get an extra Brainstorm or Ponder out of the deal, especially one for which we still have to pay the mana.
That leaves us, for all relevant purposes, with just tutor effects and mana producing effects. It will rarely work with Burning Wish to begin with, on account of Burning Wish exiling itself. Casting two Infernal Tutors can go one of two ways. You can get an instant with the first one, cast it with the second one still on the stack, and then get what you actually wanted. The only good instant to get in that situation would be Dark Ritual though, at which point you just broke even on mana, and lost three casting Harness the Storm in the first place. Theoretically, if you also had another Dark Ritual in the graveyard, then you could gain two additional mana, but for this chain to happen you would’ve needed six mana to start, four of which needed to be black. And even after that, you still haven’t gotten your mana back for the Harness the Storm.
That leaves us with just mana effects then, but seeing as we only play 4 Rite of Flame and 4 Dark Ritual, and occasionally 2 Cabal Ritual, it really just does not appear to be enough of a payoff to make it worth spending three mana on an enchantment. There might be a deck out there somewhere that utilizes this and Pyromancer Ascension to cool effect, but The Epic Storm is not it.
An interesting Burning Wish choice. The discussions around this card bring back a lot of memories from when Diabolic Revelation was spoiled. The only times this card ever has upside over Diabolic Revelation is when you have exactly seven or eight mana floating. Diabolic Revelation was never playable. However, we can be a little bit more specific about that. Let’s try to look at what lines this card provides.
We know that, to start, we will need nine mana. Two for Burning Wish and seven for Behold the Beyond. There is no three card combination that allows us go off from zero mana, so then let’s assume we need a tenth mana. With one mana floating after resolving Behold the Beyond, we can get Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, and Infernal Tutor to allow us to get Empty the Warrens. I guess this could be a useful line if we really need more Goblin tokens, but we could have done all that with the Dark Petition we already have in the sideboard and a lot less starting mana. With an eleventh mana floating, we could get Burning Wish, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond to go find Tendrils of Agony, in case we needed the extra storm after the first Burning Wish which is admittedly likely. Though that is much less likely if we had enough spells to make eleven mana. Again, we could have also just gotten Dark Petition and done mostly the same thing for all intents and purposes with even less initial mana.
Any line that involves using this to get Burning Wish to subsequently get Past in Flames also runs into a lot of the same issues. Anything this card can do, we can do with something we already have and a much more realistic amount of mana. There are occasionally times where this might allow us to do something through a Rest in Peace that wasn’t previously available to us, but the very few situations in which this card does anything are also incredibly corner case and honestly, I’d be surprised if in the five years I’ve been playing The Epic Storm, I ever encountered one of those situations. It is possible there is something I’m missing with this card, but I just don’t see any real use.
This is a cute toolbox option that I saw thrown around in some Ad Nauseam Tendrils discussions, but I figured it was worth saying something here real quick. It reminds me a lot of a one-sided Ill-Gotten Gains and one of the biggest reasons we cut Ill-Gotten Gains was because we cut Silence, and we didn’t want to let our opponent get back their counter spells that we took with Cabal Therapy.
The biggest prohibitive factor for this card is the mana cost. Not only does it cost six, but the two green mana can only reasonably be expected to be produced when we have a Lion’s Eye Diamond. With just five mana, a Burning Wish, and a Lion’s Eye Diamond, we can get and cast this spell, but without Cabal Ritual in the deck it doesn’t really do anything with no mana floating anyway. If we have an additional mana, we can get back Lion’s Eye Diamond, Dark Ritual, and an Infernal Tutor and then go get Empty the Warrens, but the only time that would really be worth it is if we really needed the eight extra Goblins and also had an Infernal Tutor in our graveyard already. With an extra mana floating, it opens up some interesting lines with getting back Burning Wish, but most of those lines already exist with Past in Flames, and don’t require us to always have a Lion’s Eye Diamond.
Ultimately, if sideboards could be sixty cards instead of fifteen, this might have a place somewhere, but like Behold the Beyond, it is just worse at doing a lot of things that we can already do, and is only really better in some very specific corner case situations.
It is unfortunate that we have another set with no meaningful additions for Storm, but I hope that this article taught you something about how to evaluate new cards when they are released, or at least gave you an idea of where Shadows over Innistrad sits with respect to The Epic Storm. While it can be tempting to try to find a place for exciting new cards, trying to force something that doesn’t belong will usually just lead to wasted slots that are otherwise fairly valuable in the deck, especially in the sideboard. I’ll leave you with these closing words:
No, Crush of Tentacles is still not good and never will be. Stop trying to make crush happen.