A card for card breakdown, organized into categories based on roles, explaining why each card belongs in The EPIC Storm and alternative viable options as well.
A card for card breakdown, organized into categories based on roles, explaining why each card belongs in The EPIC Storm and alternative viable options as well.
Burning Wish – As mentioned previously, one of the defining features of The EPIC Storm. An incredibly powerful and resourceful element that is quite diverse in what it can do. Burning Wish allows TES to not play answers for problematic cards by either providing a solution or an alternative route to victory. One of the greatest things Burning Wish does for this deck is it allows us to not have to play Tendrils of Agony in our main deck as it tends to be a dead card in most games. This can be said for a couple of the cards in our sideboard, that’s the true beauty of Burning Wish – its whatever we need it to be. Our wish board is comprised of storm engines, win conditions, protection and a few solution based cards. We try not to play an entire sideboard full of Burning Wish targets as doesn’t create the greatest value out of our available slots. Generally, I try to have no more than six or seven Burning Wish targets. Lastly, having included Burning Wish into our deck, our threat density is very high in comparison to other storm decks meaning that we spend less time finding our threats with cantrips which leads to a faster kill.
Infernal Tutor – We’ve talked about how its important to hold priority when casting this card and using Lion’s Eye Diamond in response, but I can’t stress it enough! its also crucial to remember that you can cast it for a secondary copy of something in your hand. I’ve watched other storm pilots completely blank on this in the middle of a game with tunnel vision. When I’m revealing a card to Infernal Tutor it's usually some sort of mana or protection spells. Sometimes, it's just to shuffle my deck after a Brainstorm or a Ponder.
Brainstorm – An incredibly tough to play spell that can make or break a game all on its own. Brainstorm can often fix hands needing two specific types of cards and finding them at once or simply putting a few situationally bad cards back. An important feature of this card is that in match-ups with discard is very relevant to preserve these and use them to protect the best cards in your hand. When playing TES sequencing your cantrips is extremely important, but there are also games where you’re one card off from winning on turn one. I’m all about the first turn of the game main phase Brainstorm – I’ve received scoffs from some players but it's perfectly acceptable in my eyes. The situation needs to call for it, I wouldn’t just snap off a Brainstorm for the sake of it. I tend to Ponder before I Brainstorm a majority of the time. Collaborating with a shuffle effect is generally the way to go with Brainstorm so that you’re not drawing dead spells. There are times when sitting on Brainstorm for multiple turns while you continue to draw spells just to put back worse ones is the correct thing to do.
Gitaxian Probe – In my opinion one of the most underrated cards in Legacy and one of the best. This card is simply incredible! Its free, increases speed, adds consistency and raises the storm count all while providing information. This card helps take away what I call the “scare game” with Force of Will, before Gitaxian Probe a lot of hands went off without knowing if the opponent had enough to stop us. While that still happens from time to time, it's significantly less than it has been in the past. One of the best things about Gitaxian Probe is its usefulness with Lion’s Eye Diamond, while this may sound wrong – it's not. In hands without the ability to cast a “Tutor effect” that can cast a Brainstorm or Ponder, it's possible to play out a pair of Lion’s Eye Diamond, cast Gitaxian Probe for free (hold priority and break the Lion’s Eye Diamonds) and then cast the “Tutor effect”. Empty the Warrens or Ad Nauseam also work in these situations. The last thing is also the most obvious thing about Gitaxian Probe, it has incredible synergy with Cabal Therapy.
Ponder – Our cantrip with the best odds of finding the card(s) we’re looking for! Ponder digs the deepest out of the cards we opt to play, unlike Brainstorm or Gitaxian Probe – Ponder can see up to four unique cards. Because of this, in hands where we have both Brainstorm and Ponder it's usually best to cast Ponder first as mentioned above. Like Brainstorm, the best utilization of Ponder is often with a Polluted Delta or another fetchland. Ponder like a fetchland can be used as a shuffle effect for Brainstorm as well, it's just not as ideal. I’d like to note that I’m very aggressive with my shuffling off of ponder, players often think that I must’ve been looking at bad cards often because my decision doesn’t take too long. But if those cards aren’t what the hand needs, why contemplate?
Cabal Therapy – A Cinderella story in The EPIC Storm, originally added as a few copies to the sideboard because of its ability to discard both Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Force of Will. The card now finds itself as a full compliment and the main protection spell in the main deck. Between the ability to discard all types of cards and its synergies with Gitaxian Probe along with Empty the Warrens to effectively “Mind Twist” the opponent – it has found itself a home. With the shifting metagame attacking storm on two different axes both permanent based hate as well as spell based permission, Cabal Therapy is the absolutely the best viable option as it avoids life loss and is capable of discarding both of the attacking strategies.
Duress – I go back and forth on this slot depending on the metagame. If Death and Taxes or Maverick type decks are fashionable, the fourth copy of Cabal Therapy tends to be the better, maybe even a few copies of Thoughtseize. Duress is better if blue-based decks without too many disruption creatures are in favor. These slots are the deck's flex spots for disruption, in the past it has been for Silence in builds that have more colors.
Empty the Warrens – I’ve already said so much about this card, but let’s reiterate. TES opts to play Empty the Warrens over Tendrils of Agony because Empty the Warrens is rarely a dead draw – the issue with Tendrils is it does absolutely nothing until it's lethal. Meanwhile casting Empty the Warrens with six or seven storm will easily win a game. Having a win condition in the deck that needs less storm and costs less than five (Ad Nauseam) dramatically increases the speed of TES often giving it games where we appear belcher-esque. Empty the Warrens also has great synergy as mentioned with Cabal Therapy – tearing apart the opponent's hand while simultaneously protecting our goblins.
Ad Nauseam – The EPIC Storm is the best Ad Nauseam deck in legacy. Between Chrome Mox to act as additional copies of Lotus Petal as well as a lower average converted mana cost, Ad Nauseam has an increased power level here. Our primary storm engine and game plan, we’ve catered our deck to maximize its potential.
Keep in mind that Ad Nauseam is an instant, you can cast the spell in response to a Brainstorm or on an end step. There’s also the “Chrome Mox trick” which is to play Chrome Mox, in response cast Ad Nauseam, in response to that activate Lion’s Eye Diamond. You do this in order to be able to imprint after Ad Nauseam has resolved and is only viable if you didn’t have a card you could imprint prior to casting Ad Nauseam.
Rite of Flame – A defining feature of The EPIC Storm, this card is one of the reasons this deck is blazing fast. The fact that it costs one mana is important for two reasons – the first being that it's easier to cast in comparison to other “Ritual” effects available that cost two and the second reason would be its converted mana costs’ impact on Ad Nauseam. Something that is often overlooked when viewing Rite of Flame and that’s the ability to make two red mana, which is important because it generates just enough to meet the red mana requirement for both Burning Wish and Empty the Warrens in a single turn. Two Rite of Flame is also the perfect amount of mana to cast our primary win condition – Empty the Warrens! Things become a little more interesting when you have more than two Rite of Flames. Revealing Rite of Flame off of Infernal Tutor is one of my favorite things to do, especially with a line to cast Past in Flames. Often times Rite of Flame acts as a Dark Ritual and in special occasions is even better!
Mana Generated by Rite of Flame
Cast off a single red mana source, in one turn.
Dark Ritual – One of the most powerful cards in this deck and Legacy as a whole. If I have multiple “Ritual” effects in my hand, including a Rite of Flame, I will cast Dark Ritual second as it is an instant. This is incredibly helpful when it comes to playing around Daze, Spell Pierce and sometimes Flusterstorm.
Mana Generated by Dark Ritual
Cast off a single black mana source, in one turn.
Lion's Eye Diamond – The card is responsible for most turn one wins and is a total game changer. When using Lion’s Eye Diamond it's crucial to know that you must maintain priority and activate it in response to your other spell before passing priority/checking to see if there are any responses. When using Lion’s Eye Diamond paired with Infernal Tutor, it's important to note that you can cast Infernal Tutor with card in hand and then use Lion’s Eye Diamond to become hellbent by activating the artifact.
It’s important to play LED at opportune times, I play this card very differently depending on the match-up. Sometimes I let it sit on the table and threaten the opponent – while in other situations I hide it in my hand or on top of my deck. I typically play it right before my Infernal Tutor or Burning Wish, to maintain priority, this way it cannot be destroyed by effects like Abrupt Decay.
Lotus Petal – Initial mana sources with no drawback that are almost always a pleasure to see – especially off of Ad Nauseam. They, like Chrome Mox, enable speedy early turn combos and generate storm for free. It’s important to keep in mind that they also fix our mana, especially in post-board games where we’ve sided in Abrupt Decay!
Chrome Mox – A card that divides TES from ANT. We opt to take the faster route as a trade off to a late game consistency. Chrome Mox provides additional early mana to create fast Empty the Warrens or Ad Nauseams. Chrome Mox is a huge part of why we have such an incredibly high success rate after Ad Nauseam as it creates initial mana sources post-Ad Nauseam to continue comboing out for the turn. Lists recently have bounced back and forth on the number of Chrome Mox in the main deck.
Polluted Delta , Bloodstained Mire, Scalding Tarn – There’s so much to be said about fetchlands (Polluted Delta, Scalding Tarn and Bloodstained Mire) in TES, their primary function is to provide the proper color of mana required to win the game. However, they’re so much more than that – fetchlands are shuffle effects for cards like Brainstorm or Ponder which help with the quality of our draws. They also protect our mana from effects like Wasteland or Rishadan Port, which is key considering TES is a deck with fewer lands than it’s other storm counterpart.
There's been some discussion on the split between Scalding Tarn and Bloodstained Mire, I believe two and two is correct. That said, some people prefer three Bloodstained Mire.
Underground Sea, Volcanic Island, Badlands – Searchable lands that provide the colors the deck needs without any drawbacks (unlike the five-color lands of the past). The numbers on these have changed over the years, initially none were in the deck, then two, then three for a long time and recently up to four or five. The numbers on each dual land are something of a controversial thing, I used to prefer an even two and two split on Volcanic Island and Underground Sea. Currently, I’m splitting my red sources between Volcanic Island and Badlands.
Swamp, Island – Essentially indestructible mana sources than we can search for in the face of Wasteland that provide the mana needed to cast set up spells or hand disruption. Against white decks, having an unkillable Swamp for lists with Massacre is a huge benefit.
Gemstone Mine – Crucial for remaining more than four colors, its more important that it doesn’t deal damage in comparison to City of Brass or Mana Confluence. Every point of life matters in a deck that’s primary storm engine is Ad Nauseam.
City of Brass, Mana Confluence – These cards are typically in older builds with Silence, right now the metagame isn’t full of Stifles or Spell Snares. Meaning that Silence might be waiting quite a while to be playable again. It's possible to play these five color lands in the current lists, but I believe that they would be worse than other options.
Misty Rainforest - This fetchland just isn't viable when running a basic Swamp and Badlands. In order to play Misty Rainforest, the deck would need to return to the days when all of the searchable lands were dual lands and Islands.
City of Traitors, Crystal Vein – These lands are typically in builds that replace Chrome Mox with additional lands. The thought process is that these “Sol Lands” will help play around cards like Daze or Spell Pierce. I don’t prefer this as an option, the reason being is that TES is a four color deck that aims to win as fast as possible. Chrome Mox helps provide needed colors where these lands do not. Chrome Mox also improves the speed of the deck where additional land drops do not and can also stop hellbent for Infernal Tutor.
Cabal Ritual – A card from early lists that occasionally its way back in, the reasons being that the additional mana it provides generates enough mana to easily Burning Wish for Dark Petition to search for Ad Nauseam. The second reason would be that it turns Past in Flames from a decent tertiary option to a very powerful option in a single card. Players often refer to it as additional copies of Lion’s Eye Diamond as it generates three mana, I try to not look at it that way as it takes careful planning with this deck to reach Threshold. Keep in mind that Lion’s Eye Diamond and Cabal Ritual have great synergy, if you have the mana readily available, cast your Burning Wish or Infernal Tutor, in response cast Cabal Ritual as it too is an instant and then hold priority and break Lion’s Eye Diamond to generate the Threshold required for Cabal Ritual.
Rain of Filth – A one-time ritual effect that is good anytime after turn one. After the first turn, it’s at worst a Rite of Flame and potentially a fifth Dark Ritual. The downside in Rain of Filth is that we’re not planning for turn three, TES wants to combo off on the second turn. One of the benefits of this deck is it’s ability to win blazing fast, I don’t want a card that doesn’t help in match-ups where the game is decided on the second turn.
Preordain – A potential additional cantrip, my issue with running more than twelve cantrips is that you will find yourself continually drawing into more of them. Not to mention that Preordain is worse in comparison to Ponder or Brainstorm at digging for cards that we’re looking for.
Silence, Orim's Chant – Cards that were shelved for their ineffectively at answering problematic cards in the current metagame and not being proactive. Playing cards that don't interact with the opponent often leads to things like Hymn to Tourach, Show and Tell, Chalice of the Void or Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. I believe the time for these cards has come and gone, these cards were incredibly effective when all of the Delver of Secrets decks played four Stifle and four Spell Snare.
Inquisition of Kozilek, Thoughtseize – Additional options for discard spells in the main deck, each with their own flaw. The lifeloss from Thoughtseize is a real issue when Ad Nauseam is the deck's primary storm engine, otherwise it would be the best discard spell as it hits both Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Force of Will. Which brings us to Inquisition of Kozilek, if it hit Force of Will it would be very playable. As it stands, both of these cards are just slightly not good enough, but very close to being playable.
Lim-Dul’s Vault – This card has several things wrong with it in my eyes. The first being that it doesn’t put any cards to your hand, it uses life as a resource which is a problem with Ad Nauseam being our primary storm engine. The last thing being this card is very mana intensive for a Vampiric Tutor effect.
Death Wish, Grim Tutor – Both of these cards have the same problem in my eyes, they’re costly tutor effects that are dreadful to see pre or even post Ad Nauseam. They both have the upside of being able to find any silver bullet from our sideboard, but I don’t believe that the life loss or mana are worthwhile.
Tendrils of Agony – One of the worst possible cards you can draw in your opening hand. Pair this with the fact that most of the time when you could cast Tendrils of Agony for a lethal amount you could pay an additional two mana has caused Tendrils of Agony to live in the sideboard. It's sided in occasionally when Empty the Warrens isn't good in a specific match-up.
Bayou – The best land for the green splash, this is because when paired with Volcanic Island it provides all four of the colors the EPIC Storm requires. Bayou also provides a green mana on the first turn to cast Xantid Swarm (in post-board games), it then provides a combo color mana on turn two. If unable to combo, providing black mana allows you to be able to disrupt the opponent's game plan with hand disruption. These reasons are why Bayou is selected over Tropical Island or Taiga.
Abrupt Decay – The best card for answering Chalice of the Void and Counterbalance. Abrupt Decay is also brought in sometimes for hate creatures. Even more so in lists that don’t play bounce spells or removal such as Echoing Truth or Fatal Push.
Xantid Swarm – I can’t stress this enough, do not side in Xantid Swarm against blue-based decks with damage based removal - it’s acceptable if their removal package is Swords to Plowshares or Terminus based as they’ll likely be sided out. Xantid Swarm’s intended purpose is for traditional control decks (Miracles and Stonelade), Show and Tell variants, Reanimator, High Tide, and Merfolk.
One huge benefit of Xantid Swarm is that it effectively negates Leovold, Emissary of Trest's ability during the combo turn, which is actually very good for the storm deck. The downside is that Xantid Swarm is traditionally not the best against blue and black strategies as they pair their countermagic with discard.
Chain of Vapor – One of the best bounce spells ever printed, efficiently answering cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Gaddock Teeg, Sphere of Resistance and Leyline of Sanctity. The only downside of this card is that Chalice of the Void on one is very popular, causing this otherwise perfect bounce spell to be not great at times.
Echoing Truth – Echoing Truth has found it's way back into the sideboards and our hearts as the card to answer things like multiple Chalice of the Void, Chancellor of the Annex, Leyline of Sanctity, or even Marit Lage. It's versatility is why it's seeing play over a card like Hurkyl's Recall, being able to come in for a variety of different match-ups is highly desirable when playing a silver-bullet "wish board".
Grapeshot – A highly versatile card, while people think it's a joke - Grapeshot is the real deal. From clearing blockers for Empty the Warrens tokens, an easy kill after a few Griselbrand activations, clearing hate creatures from the battlefield, requiring red mana post-Past in Flames and a non-creature based win condition that isn't Tendrils of Agony. Grapeshot has it's uses and isn't a joke. Perhaps it's most desirable trait is being able to kill Ethersworn Cannonist through countermagic.
Empty the Warrens – By playing a copy of Empty the Warrens in our sideboard we effectively play five copies in our seventy-five – it's best to play the most copies we can while not decreasing our Ad Nauseam percentages. Empty the Warrens is also the decks fastest combo option (as it requires the least amount of mana) that just happens to have built in synergy with Cabal Therapy.
Past in Flames – Our tertiary option in The EPIC Storm, while powerful - our deck doesn’t utilize it as well as ANT does. However, we do have the tools for it to be effective if we build towards it. Often the card requires some foresight if you plan to use it. Part of the beauty of past in Flames is being able to flash back multiple Gitaxian Probes in the same turn, dramatically increasing storm while rebuilding our hand. Another amazing thing about this card is that it also has flashback making it extremely effective against blue-based decks.
Tendrils of Agony – Moved to the sideboard as its usefulness in the main deck was decreasing. I found that most of the time that I was using Tendrils of Agony, that I had more than enough available mana to Burning Wish before casting it. There are times when sideboarding into a copy of Tendrils of Agony is best, usually these are match-ups with an overload of mass removal for our goblin tokens.
Dark Petition – Essentially a sideboard Infernal Tutor to be able to find the main deck Ad Nauseam. This is a nine mana line that comes up more often than people notice, but it’s important to remember the spell mastery on this. I also commonly use Dark Petition to get the main deck copy of Empty the Warrens for an additional storm copy.
Tropical Island, Taiga - Alternative options for the green splash over Bayou. Each with downsides that I believe to be bad enough where I would rather not run them. Tropical Island doesn't tap for a combo colored mana on turn two and can often be awkward on your mana for the remainder of the game. It's worth noting that against decks like Miracles, Ponder is often sided out anyway – reducing the blue count in your deck. I would rather run Taiga than Tropical Island, that said, I think Taiga has it's own downsides. The first is pretty major, it cannot be found with Polluted Delta, which means restructuring your manabase to support a sideboard land. You can run a different split of fetchlands to support Taiga but ultimately ends up costing you games in the long run. The second reason I'm not a fan of Taiga is that outside of casting Xantid Swarm or Abrupt Decay, it doesn't actually help cast anything until the combo turn itself as red mana is rarely used up until that point.
Carpet of Flowers – With blue decks more popular than ever, it’s not shocking to find this card in our sideboard options. Its great against all of the blue tempo decks and even against Miracles! In slower blue-based matches it’s fine to swap these with the main deck Chrome Mox to give us better late game power.
Reverent Silence – Reverent Silence is a Burning Wish target that can act like as a free answer to Leyline of Sanctity or Counterbalance (even if it's not very popular).
Defense Grid - A pseudo replacement for Xantid Swarm now that The EPIC Storm in lists without green, it's main function is to prohibit cards like Stifle, Flusterstorm, Pyroblast and Invasive Surgery that are coming out of our opponent's sideboards. Keep in mind, our opponents can still cast spells with a Defense Grid in play, but it typically taxes our opponents enough where we can plow through the first counterspell and eventually kill the opponent. One of my personal favorite things about the card is it's ability to shut down Leovold, Emissary of Trest from ruining your day. While your opponent can draw ten to fifteen cards off of your Tendrils of Agony targeting them, this will most likely stop them from casting Mind Break Trap or Flusterstorm.
Thoughtseize – Disruption that can be fetched by Burning Wish. Sometimes it will replace Duress in the main deck in post-board games in match-ups with more creatures. Its inclusion over Duress and/or Inquisition of Kozilek is based on its ability to hit Force of Will and hate creatures. The life loss is an issue dependent on the speed of the metagame. It’s often sided in over Empty the Warrens in combo match-ups.
Surgical Extraction - A great card in metagames with lots of Reanimator, being a free instant speed card in these match-ups is invaluable. It also has an interesting function when your sideboard contains Telemin Performance, bringing in Surgical Extraction against opponents so you can look at their library to see if they have any creatures in the Storm and Lands matches. I'm a big fan of this card.
Swan Song, Flusterstorm – These cards are often looked at to answer the combo mirror as well as control match-ups. My primary issues with counterspells in Lion's Eye Diamond based combo is that they don't do a good job of protecting your Tutor during the combo turn since you will need to become hellbent. They also don't play well with Lion's Eye Diamond itself as the opponent can wait for you to crack your artifact before responding. There's also the issue of counterspells becoming stuck in your hand preventing Hellbent.
Pyroblast – Added during times when the number of Meddling Mage rises from blue decks. The beauty of Pyroblast over other permanent based answers is that in these match-ups is that if they don’t draw hate creatures/permanents worth killing you’re not stuck with dead cards in your hand. Pyroblast can then be used as protection to stop their permission spells. You can also target a land to get it out of your hand for Hellbent!
Pithing Needle – A card that’s gained recognition for its inherent synergies with cards in our main deck such as Gitaxian Probe, Duress and Cabal Therapy. Mainly added for the Delver of Secrets decks and Griselbrand match-ups, although, it has applications in other places as well. Pithing Needle naming Wasteland, Deathrite Shaman, Rishadan Port or Aether Vial are all out you in a favorable position. An interesting play with Pithing Needle is to cast Gitaxian Probe, see that they kept a one-land fetchland hand and then name that land.
Void Snare, Consign / Oblivion – Bounce effects that can be found by Burning Wish. The real upside to these cards is that they provide an answer to Leyline of Sanctity without the need to sideboard cards in. There’s also the added benefit of being an answer a variety of anti-storm permanents.
Hurkyl’s Recall – A good answer to a variety of permanent based artifact disruption such as Chalice of the Void, Sphere of Resistance and Thorn of Amethyst. My personal issue with this card is that I don't think it does enough, it's very similar to Echoing Truth but doesn't answer Marit Lage or Chancellor of the Annex. I would only plan to use this during spikes of Ancient Tomb based strategies.
Pulverize - One of my favorite answers to cards like Chalice of the Void, Sphere of Resistance and Thorn of Amethyst that can be retrieved by Burning Wish. The real struggle with this card is finding space for another Mountain effect in the main deck as it currently doesn't play enough. This card is very good.
Meltdown - A great answer to Chalice of the Void. I often hear, "This should be By Force." - No, it shouldn't. The most common piece of artifact disruption in the format is Chalice of the Void, which is often dropped for zero and one against TES. If a Chalice of the Void is in play for zero, Meltdown is cheaper than By Force. If Chalice of the Void is on one, they're even. Now take into consideration that Meltdown can destroy multiple copies of Chalice of the Void for less mana. Against Sphere of Resistance effects, Meltdown is more expensive than By Force by a single mana. But I would rather personally be prepared for the most popular version of a hate piece in the format than the second. Sphere of Resistance effects are also likely coming out of the sideboard, where Echoing Truth can be brought in to combat them.
Lastly, I've heard people say that By Force is better versus Phyrexian Revoker or Ethersworn Cannonist. Sure, but why aren't you getting Massacre or Grapeshot in that situation? My advice – play Meltdown.
By Force - A fine artifact removal spell, the second best one for answering Sphere of Resistance and Thorn of Amethyst after Pulverize. I prioritize being able to answer Chalice of the Void over these effects, which is why I prefer Meltdown.
Shattering Spree – The most cost efficient sorcery speed answer to all permanent based artifacts, the only real downside is that we just don't play enough red lands. We haven't played enough since the days of "gold" lands.
Hull Breach, Revoke Existence – Answers to Leyline of Sanctity that can be retrieved using Burning Wish while being flexible enough to hit cards like Chalice of the Void. I generally prefer a more flexible card in this slot like Chain of Vapor or Echoing Truth. These cards are likely permanently on our bench with the printing of Void Snare.
Rending Volley - A card that's more versatile than one may think. It's primary function is to kill Ethersworn Cannonist out of blue-based decks as resolving something like Massacre or Pyroclasm can be difficult. However, it doubles as a cheap removal spell to kill Thalia, Guardian of Thraben against Death and Taxes. I've even brought it in as an answer to Leovold, Emissary of Trest against decks that have lots of answers to Defense Grid.
Fatal Push - A cheap and easy way to answer Thalia, Guardian of Thraben that can be cast off of the deck's basic Swamp. There is everything to love about this card with very little draw back, the only concern is finding sideboard space.
Pyroclasm – A solid card that can answer Deathrite Shaman, Young Pyromancer, Delver of Secrets, Meddling Mage, Elves and a variety of other creatures. The difficult thing with Pyroclasm is that it just doesn't do enough, it's slightly worse than Grapeshot and isn't as efficient as Massacre. The only time I find myself wanting Massacre is generally agains the Grixis Delver variants.
Dread of Night – This card is terrific at killing creatures such as Mother of Runes, Aven Mindcensor and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. The problem with it is that it would take multiples to kill Ethersworn Canonist, Sanctum Prelate, Gaddock Teeg or Meddling Mage. It just doesn’t do enough in my eyes.
Massacre – Our best option against Death & Taxes! Its searchable with Burning Wish and free to cast! With a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in play it may most a little more, but it does kill Thalia even with a Mother of Runes in play. Additionally, you can also cast this card occasionally against Elves or Goblins as they’ve been known to splash a Savannah or Plateau respectively. Lastly, Massacre does have a real casting costs for dire need – don’t forget it!
Karakas – A card we attempted to play during Maverick’s reign of terror in Legacy with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Gaddock Teeg everywhere. It also has functionalities against larger Legendary creatures from Reanimator and Sneak Show variants. I see it as a liability nowadays as Griselbrand is often put into play, the opponent will draw a handful of cards leaving you in an awful position before the creature is returned to its owner’s hand.
Reanimate – One of our worst match-ups is Reanimator, these cards were an attempt at solving that issue. I think it's less effective than just playing Surgical Extraction.
Dark Confidant – Good in long and grindy match-ups, the downside is that it's very slow which isn't something TES is designed to do. There's also the downside that it uses life total as a resource, which isn't desirable with Ad Nauseam being the primary storm engine.
Doomsday – I’ve tried to get this card to work, I really have. But one of the biggest issues with it is that it forces you to play suboptimal cards such as Ideas Unbound. Even then, its mana intensive and uses life as a resource. Our additional storm engines ideally wouldn’t rely on the same resource as our main game plan.
Ill-Gotten Gains – In an age with Deathrite Shaman and an increased amount of instants or responses from almost every deck, this card is almost unplayable unless its an already favored match-up. A real relic of the past.
Diminishing Returns, Reforge the Soul, Time Spiral – This slot was cut when Dark Petition was printed. I could see myself possibly going back to it at some point, the problem is these cards aren’t very consistent. Each card has benefits over the other, but I prefer Diminishing Returns over the other two.
Bribery – More attempts to answer Reanimator and Sneak Show, too narrow for my taste and somewhat ineffective. I would rather play Telemin Performance.
Telemin Performance - The first thing to know about Telemin Performance is that it's really only good against other unfair decks (Storm, Sneak & Show, Lands, and Reanimator variants). When you look at how the sideboard for this deck is constructed, we lack a powerful silver-bullet type effect for these match-ups. Empty the Warrens and Past in Flames can likely take too long to kill or to set up. Both Dark Petition and Past in Flames are weak to graveyard hate. All three of these choices are weak against Crop Rotation as they can put Bojuka Bog or the Tabernacle of Pendrell Vale into play. This leaves us with Telemin Performance to either mill our opponent to death or put a huge creature into play! This makes Telemin Performance great in some match-ups where the other options are pretty bad.
I've found the most effective usage of Telemin Performance to be when paired with Surgical Extraction, the knowledge you gain from knowing the opponent's deck and how they sideboarded is fantastic.
It's worth noting that I wouldn't use Telemin Performance post-sideboard against decks like Storm or Lands as they commonly sideboard into creatures to counter Telemin Performance – often limiting it's effectiveness.