I was a little disappointed by the responses to this hand, I had quite a few people say, “snap mulligan.” To me, this hand is anything but as I believe it’s actually very interesting and very close to a keep. With the money on the line, I’d send these seven cards back. That said, if this scenario was in a random league match or local event, I’d be inclined to try it. We’re facing “the mirror” and we know that thew newer lists are a touch slower due to the additional mana on [[Wishclaw Talisman]] (the data shows a smaller turn-one win percentage but a much higher turn-two win percentage with [[Wishclaw Talisman]] variants of The EPIC Storm). This means we’re very likely to see a second turn. If I were to keep this, I would probably put [[Veil of Summer]] or [[Burning Wish]] on the bottom of the library. It honestly doesn’t matter which one with our hand. Technically, [[Burning Wish]] is slightly better if you suspect your opponent isn’t playing a stock list and might have [[Surgical Extraction]].
The faster hands of the newer builds of TES often involve [[Echo of Eons]]. Because of this I would actually play out my [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] on the first turn. This does two things, the first being it allows you have access to a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] if the opponent casts their own copy of [[Echo of Eons]] but it also signals to your opponent that they might be dead on your next turn. This is a good thing in my eyes as it might pressure your opponent into casting their [[Echo of Eons]] to fix your hand. You also know that TES doesn’t play discard spells, meaning that your hand will most likely remain untouched.
Let’s assume that you get a second turn and your opponent doesn’t cast [[Echo of Eons]], which is a reasonable outcome to this game. You have roughly a 35 percent chance to draw a black source — this isn’t the worst. How many five card hands have a 35 percent to turn two your opponent on the play? I don’t have exact numbers, but I’d believe it’s incredibly close.
These things said, in a high-stakes situation I’d want a little more urgency/control over the outcome of the game.
One thing that’ll help you grow was a player is knowing when to take risks. You realize that you can’t beat everything and that you need to select your fights is a small stepping stone to elevating your play. Especially when it comes to tough matchups — Jeskai Breach is a very tough battle. A key to winning the match is deciding what each hand and choose to play around. In this example, we can beat [[Silence]] effects, but not their four copies of [[Force of Will]]. Since Jeskai Breach only plays four free “counterspells” we go back to the days pre-[[Force of Negation]] in terms of the odds of success. We have a 60 percent chance to win. We definitely like those odds.
This hand pretty much plays out itself: [[Scalding Tarn]] to search out [[Badlands]], [[Lotus Petal]], [[Rite of Flame]], [[Dark Ritual]], [[Ad Nauseam]], and pray.
Hand No. 2: (on the draw)
[[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]] [[Tropical Island|]] [[Polluted Delta|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Burning Wish|]]
As I mentioned in Hand No. 1, you need to pick your battles to beat either [[Silence]] or [[Force of Will]]. This hand could certainly beat [[Force of Will]], but there’s a third factor in the equation mdash; speed. Our hand is simply just too slow. Even if we could beat countermagic, by the time we’re ready to “go-off”, our opponent will have drawn into [[Silence]] or [[Orim’s Chant]]. We just can’t afford to lose to 2-of-3 categories that are pivotal in this match-up.
This is almost an ideal hand. You’re able to win on all three axis as long as [[Defense Grid]] resolves. While speed isn’t guaranteed, you are going to end up casting [[Ponder]] on the first turn. [[Badlands]], [[Chrome Mox]] (Imprint: [[Brainstorm]]), [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Mox Opal]], [[Defense Grid]], tap [[Mox Opal]] and cast [[Ponder]]. Hopefully it finds a [[Burning Wish]], [[Wishclaw Talisman]], or the singleton [[Echo of Eons]].
Hand No. 4: (on the draw — Mulliganed Once)
[[Echo of Eons|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Ponder|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Ad Nauseam|]]
While having [[Ad Nauseam]] in my opening hand really makes me want to keep most hands, they need to be able to play the game. Assuming that you put [[Rite of Flame]] on the bottom of your library. Now you should probably cast [[Chrome Mox]] (Imprint: [[Echo of Eons]]) and cast [[Ponder]]. Now let’s analyze this hand. At the bare minimum you need, for [[Dark Ritual]]. Even if you hit that, you’re still short a mana source to even cast [[Ad Nauseam]]. Ideally, you would also be able to cast [[Veil of Summer]] to protect yourself which means finding a mana source. All of this means you’re pretty far away, I’d rather gamble on five better cards.
This scenario is almost the same as Hand No. 1 with the difference being [[Echo of Eons]] versus [[Ad Nauseam]]. I’ve had some people tell me they’re hesitant to cast [[Echo of Eons]] in the matchup because it first needs to resolve and then you need to have your critical spells resolve again. I totally get that, but let’s be honest, when facing a bad matchup you need to get a a little lucky anyway. Part of what makes this hand even better in my opinion is the amount of mana floating after you Flashback [[Echo of Eons]] — is a reasonable way to start a game especially with Storm 6!
This hand isn’t perfect, but you have [[Tormod’s Crypt]] as a stall method to bridge the gap to your second mana source. Notice how I said, “stall method”? People have the wrong idea about graveyard hate versus Jeskai Breach. That deck is so consistent that they will assemble their kill and find an answer to a permanent based issue by turns four to five. While this hand has two copies of [[Tormod’s Crypt]], it isn’t lights out. These Jeskai Breach decks can fight through. What makes the risk worth it here is [[Defense Grid]] and [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] are two highly desirable cards. This hand has the ability to win the speed game, beat [[Silence]] effects, and future copies of [[Force of Will]].
I’m a big believe in keeping hands with potential, this hand has plenty of that.
Hand No. 7: (on the play)
[[Veil of Summer|]] [[Lotus Petal|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Tormod’s Crypt|]] [[Defense Grid|]] [[Mox Opal|]]
This is the first hand we’ve seen without a “pay-off” or “tutor-effect”. It’s okay to keep hands without [[Burning Wish]] or [[Wishclaw Talisman]] or cantrips such as [[Brainstorm]] or [[Ponder]] if the reward is high enough.
In this example, we have a way to slow down the opponent via [[Tormod’s Crypt]] but we also have [[Defense Grid]] which I’ve previously stated is one of the best cards in the matchup. The exclamation on this hand is that you’re able to ensure that [[Defense Grid]] resolves through [[Veil of Summer]] which makes these seven terrific. There is some downside of course. You’re pretty far away from winning the game which means your opponent may have time to build into four mana and a [[Silence]]. Honestly, I would hope that the opponent tries to [[Force of Will]] the [[Defense Grid]] so that they have fewer resources, and we would get to draw a card off of [[Veil of Summer]].
This hand has the same issues as Hand No. 2. I would like to emphasize that it has nothing to do with this hand not containing [[Tormod’s Crypt]]. It’s that this hand is simply too slow. At best, this hand could potentially be a turn-three kill with [[Veil of Summer]] backup, which seems great. But how likely is it that you’re still alive, they have [[Orim’s Chant]], or multiple copies of [[Force of Will]]? This hand is a trap because it looks playable, but is honestly very bad.
This hand looks really appealing due to all of fast mana in it paired with [[Tormod’s Crypt]], but unless your top two cards are [[Defense Grid]] and [[Wishclaw Talisman]], you’re going to be in some trouble. This hand just doesn’t do anything as I’ve mentioned before that [[Tormod’s Crypt]] is a stall tactic. How many turns do you expect it to buy in this scenario? Not enough in my opinion.
I’ll provide my answer in the next article. For now, make sure to post your thoughts!
Bryant Cook has one Grand Prix Top 8 as well as nine Star City Games Top 8s (two wins). You can often find him traveling the northeast in search for the next big event. He has recently top 8'd a number of Legacy events with the Wishclaw Talisman version of The EPIC Storm, with the latest being Leaving a Legacy: Open VI! Bryant is also a host of The Eternal Glory Podcast, as well as a Web Designer, Mets Fan, and general nerd.
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