TES Infernal Tutoring #27

Hello Legacy Storm Players! We are back with another Infernal Tutoring! Over the last month, not a lot has changed with the deck. The Legacy meta has mostly stayed the same, with an exception of a slight increase of Red Prison decks, this is most likely due to the great results that Storm has been putting up over the last few months. For now, let’s jump into our three scenarios!

Special Guest

A few words on Caleb Durward (@calebdmtg):

Caleb Durward is an ex-professional grinder turned full-time streamer. He has three GP top eights to his name (one Limited, two Legacy), a slew of SCG open top eights, and several SCG Invitational and TCGChampionship top eights. Recently, he won the first MTG Twitch Rivals. He'll be representing team Tempo Storm at the Mythic Invitational at the end of this month. As a player, he does a fair bit of brewing and tuning, but he has some finishes with meta decks as well.

Caleb lives in Madison, WI where he rarely leaves his apartment. You can find him at twitch.tv/calebdmtg or @calebdmtg.

Deck List

SITUATION #1 - B/R Reanimator

In our first scenario, we are in game three against B/R Reanimator! Reanimator looks to put a big creature like Griselbrand in the graveyard using either Faithless Looting, Entomb or Unmask, and then attempts to cheat the big creature into play using Reanimate, Exhume or Animate Dead. With cards like Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, and Dark Ritual, they are often able to put a creature into play on turn one easily. B/R Reanimator also has turn zero hate with Chancellor of the Annex, and a full suite of discard spells to slow us down. The fact that the deck is so explosive and also disruptive makes it one of our toughest match-ups.

HOW I SIDEBOARDED:

-4 Ponder
+3 Echoing Truth, +1 Chain of Vapor

We are currently in game three on the play! We open up with a very interesting hand consisting of Badlands, two copies of Chrome Mox, two copies of Rite of Flame, Brainstorm, and Empty the Warrens. While Goblins is usually bad against a deck that can cheat a 7/7 life link creature into play, this hand definitely has some advantages because it can play around Chancellor of the Annex. Would you keep or mulligan this hand? Why?

Special Guest

Caleb Durward

If they Reanimate a Griselbrand by turn two, this hand is going to lose. On the other hand, we do get to dodge all of the disruption that the Reanimator deck plays (some 8+ discard spells on top of Chancellor of the Annex), and mulliganing will only make us worse against discard. If you keep this hand, you're making a calculated risk in a tricky matchup. If you mulligan, you're looking for a little bit of disruption (one of our own discard spells) to keep the opponent from popping off too early. Personally, I keep it—there's no way I'd register this deck just to talk myself out of making a pile of Goblins on turn one.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

I feel like this is a great example of a "trap" hand. I think that while sometimes this hand will get there, especially if the opponent can't Reanimate Griselbrand, more times than not, you will lose keeping this. I would try to find a better six. I have found that if I am going to attempt to make Goblins against Reanimator, ten is too low for my comfort level.


Bryant Cook

Well, I think we should start by shaming you for keeping in Empty the Warrens against a deck with a 7/7 lifelink creature in it. It's just not good in the match-up. Now when we look at our hand and we've been given the opportunity for ten Goblins through a Chancellor of the Annex. If you're leaving in Empty the Warrens, you're probably looking for a hand that looks like this? No? Our seven cards will beat a first turn Chancellor of the Annex but not a Griselbrand, I think it's a risk we have to take based on our sideboarding decisions. If you mulligan this hand, I think it's a concession that the Empty the Warrens shouldn't be in your deck.


AJ Kerrigan

I'd keep this hand, but I'm not excited about it and in general, think leaving in Empty the Warrens against Reanimator is a bad idea. Regardless, we beat any non-Griselbrand creature, so they need to have Griselbrand or Entomb, and if they can't play it on turn one, then we shut off Reanimate so it needs to be one of the other reanimation spells. If they boarded in Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite then their range of things that beat us gets wider, but in my experience, they usually aren't bringing that card in.


Landon Sworts

Keep. Goblins are risky but this hand is capable of playing around the tax effect from Chancellor of the Annex and since we are on the play I say we force the opponent to have an answer for our ten 1/1’s.


Alex Poling

I would keep this hand. If we aren't keeping this hand and going for it here then Empty the Warrens probably shouldn't be in the deck. This puts the opponent on a two-turn clock and plays around both discard spells and Chancellor of the Annex. It's not the perfect hand, but it's not bad. I would rather have this hand than a random six. I'm keeping and crossing my fingers for no Griselbrand or Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite.

SITUATION #2 - Grixis Delver

In our second scenario, we are playing against Grixis Delver! Grixis Delver is a tempo deck that looks to put pressure on the opponent by playing an early game creature threat that can be protected with Daze or Force of Will. Grixis Delver also looks to disrupt their opponent by attacking their mana base with Wasteland, and in some builds, they look to rip apart their opponent's hand with Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek. With all of those disruptive elements combined with a fast clock, this matchup can definitely be troublesome for The EPIC Storm.

We are currently in game one, on turn one. Our opponent cast Thoughtseize, taking our Dark Ritual. We retaliated by casting a Thoughtseize of our own. The opponent revealed True-Name Nemesis, Daze, Ponder, Brainstorm, and Wasteland. What would you take and why?

Special Guest

Caleb Durward

Wow, those mismatched Brainstorms though.

The True-Name Nemesis (TNN) is not really for this matchup, it's a slow threat which will probably be made even slower by them using Wasteland. The Daze is trapped, it's a card we now know about and can play around, and it's also not applying pressure in and of itself. We have a Duress for a later turn if it really matters too. I like taking either the Ponder (leaving them without a good turn two play) or the Brainstorm (possibly making our Duress better and trapping the TNN in hand). Overall, I like taking the Brainstorm best, but it's close.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

The opponent has two cantrips, one of the weaker counterspells, and a threat that can come down on turn three if our opponent doesn't Wasteland us. Since our opponent made us discard our Dark Ritual, we need to find a lot of cards to actually win, so this is most likely going to be a long game. Since we have a Duress in our hand to combat countermagic, taking the Daze doesn’t seem like a great option in my opinion. The Brainstorm is really powerful, but they could definitely brick. To me, this is between the Ponder because of the ability to shuffle, or the True-Name Nemesis to slow down our opponent. I think I would opt to take Ponder here. This makes it tougher for the opponent to Wasteland us, if they ever want to play True-Name Nemesis.


Bryant Cook

Brainstorm. You could take Ponder, hope they're forced to shuffle, and eventually Brainstorm lock themselves but this is wishful thinking. My concern here is that you're very far away from winning. I think Brainstorm is the better choice as during longer games it becomes more powerful as time goes by. With a slower hand, you can afford to play around Daze and True-Name Nemesis is a very slow clock.


AJ Kerrigan

It might change my decision marginally if I knew what card they didn't know about, but in general, I'm buckling in for a slightly longer game. Not using Daze on the Wasteland might be an admission by them of the same thing. They just want to get a threat into play as soon as possible to close the window for our hand to improve, and using Daze on this Thoughtseize doesn't help that. For that reason, I'd take Brainstorm or Ponder, most likely Brainstorm. While Ponder sees more cards, it can often force them into more awkward spots where they can't keep counterspells because they don't have a good threat as well. True-Name Nemesis might be enough for them, but I'd rather give them the ability to shuffle if the three cards suck then allowing them to more cleanly sculpt their hand. Its really close though, because most of the situations where the Brainstorm is good means that Ponder would also be good, so maybe that free optionality in the situations where there isn't a fetchland in the top three is bad for us.


Landon Sworts

I would take Brainstorm to keep the opponent from being able to fix their hand in the coming turns. Leaving True-Name Nemesis in the opponent's hand is fine because if they choose to use Daze or Wasteland on us they will be postponing their ability to establish a clock. The more time we have to shape our game plan the easier it will be to play around our opponent's mana denial. For what it’s worth I would probably plan on saving our remaining Duress for our combo turn or perhaps the turn prior to picking off whatever additional disruption our opponent is able to add to their hand.


Alex Poling

I would take Ponder. I think the opponent's hand is fairly weak and doesn't line up well against our hand. Wasteland and Daze aren't that great when we have three lands and two cantrips. True-Name Nemesis is very slow and they aren't even close to casting it. So... for me, it's between Brainstorm and Ponder. I would take the Ponder because their hand isn't so bad that they need to cast it immediately and they don't have a fetch land. They probably won't cast Brainstorm for a turn or two. If you let them keep Ponder they will 100% cast it next turn to filter, and I think that is their most powerful card at setting up future draw steps.

SITUATION #3 - Red Prison

Our third and final scenario is against Red Prison! Red Prison was a deck that rose to be one of the top tier decks right before the banning of Deathrite Shaman. After the banning, the deck almost disappeared and Eldrazi became the most popular Legacy prison deck. As the Legacy meta finally stabilized, Red Prison has made a sizable comeback to prey on Combo and Delver decks alike. On the surface, any deck that plays Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere seems like an insanely bad matchup for The EPIC Storm. Fortunately for us, we have a lot of game against Red Prison. Thanks to cards like Burning Wish, we can grab Sideboard cards like Pulverize in game one. This makes Blood Moon much worse against us, as sometimes turning one of our lands into a Mountain is exactly what we need to deal with our opponent's artifact hate.

In this scenario, we are in a very rough spot. The opponent had everything, and we were stuck behind a turn one Chalice of the Void and a turn two Trinisphere. After multiple turns of passing and discarding cards to hand size, we were able to get a third land and Burning Wish for a Pulverize. Things were starting to look up for us, and then our opponent played a Fiery Confluence, putting us to one life. How would you play out this turn to either win or put yourself in a winning position?

Special Guest

Caleb Durward

The Trinisphere forces us to tap all of our lands for the Pulverize. At this point, we can't just make a pile of Empty the Warrens tokens or we'll die to the Chandra, Torch of Defiance. We need to Tendrils of Agony them. The Brainstorm is a little awkward here because it can't imprint for the black or red mana we need for Rite of Flame or Dark Ritual, meaning Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, Dark Ritual, and Lion's Eye Diamond only leaves us with seven mana and we need eight to Infernal Tutor for Burning Wish for Tendrils of Agony. We could imprint Infernal Tutor and cast Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond, and Brainstorm holding priority and crack Lion's Eye Diamond in response to look at three cards with six mana floating (winning if we hit specifically Burning Wish). Since we've "Burned a Wish" already that'd give us some 20% to hit (still better than 0!). Another (way better) line is to just crack Lotus Petal for blue and Brainstorm. We have a land drop available for the turn (any fetch or dual will be a Mountain thanks to Magus of the Moon), or any additional red card would give us access to Rite of Flame, so hitting Burning Wish is almost certain to win anyway. Meanwhile, this also opens up hitting a two-card combination of Lion's Eye Diamond and Dark Ritual or a black card, Mox Opal, Lotus Petal, or even basic Swamp.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

Unfortunately, we are in a pretty bad situation that we are in! All of the lines that I came up with were all just barely not enough to win. There is one line that I found, that gives you a shot at winning depending on how lucky you get. I did the following: cast Pulverize tapping all three of our lands, Chrome Mox (imprinting Infernal Tutor), cast Dark Ritual, cast Lotus Petal, cast Lion's Eye Diamond, cast Brainstorm, cracking Lion's Eye Diamond for Red Mana in response. If we find a Burning Wish, that should be enough for us to win the game.


Bryant Cook

Float three mana, cast Pulverize (paying for Trinisphere). You could Empty the Warrens and kill our opponent in two swings, but the Chandra, Torch of Defiance will kill you on their turn so this line is dead. Which ultimately leaves you with casting Lotus Petal into Brainstorm and praying to hit. You're really looking for another red card/Lotus Petal and a Burning Wish or Lotus Petal and either Lion's Eye Diamond/Dark Ritual.


AJ Kerrigan

If we start from the premise that we obviously have to cast Pulverize first, using all of the mana from our lands, then we can proceed from there. I don't see any real way to get to Tendrils of Agony as all of the lines that I see are one mana short, so it looks like we'll be relying on Brainstorm. There are some wierd lines where we use Dark Ritual and Infernal Tutor for Brainstorm to put under Chrome Mox, but those all leave us really short on mana. We have two options. We can just Brainstorm first using Lotus Petal, and if we find any combination of cards that lets us get to five mana with a black floating, we can win the game. Alternatively, we can imprint Infernal Tutor on Chrome Mox, cast Dark Ritual, and then cast Brainstorm and crack Lion's Eye Diamond for three red. If we find a Burning Wish off the Brainstorm, we win the game. We're around 20% to find a three-of off of a Brainstorm, but the math on the mana sources is a bit harder because so many combinations of mana sources work, but so many don't. Any black card plus Dark Ritual or Lion's Eye Diamond works. Burning Wish plus any other red card works, which means we are sharing some of the scenarios that made the Brainstorm with Lion's Eye Diamond play good. We don't have that many other red cards though, so it's a small overlap. My rough estimation says that both plans have to be pretty close to the same odds to win. If we were at two life, I think it's pretty obvious to Brainstorm first because fetchlands also count as mana sources and we'd have so many more combinations. As is, I still think I'd Brainstorm first, and maybe run the numbers later out of curiosity.


Landon Sworts

It would be nice if we had drawn another mana source here instead of Brainstorm. If that were the cast we could Pulverize and then chain our spells into the sideboard Tendrils of Agony for a total of eleven mana. No matter, we just have to Brainstorm into Lion's Eye Diamond, Dark Ritual, or Rite of Flame with fast mana or black/red card for Chrome Mox. I’m not certain on the math but the percentage of us be successful isn’t low and we will die if we pass the turn so I say we go for it. Tap all three of our lands to pay for the static effect of Trinisphere and sacrifice Volcanic Island and Badlands to cast Pulverize for its alternative casting cost, play out our Lotus Petal to Brainstorm, put back the two cards that are the least helpful and then proceed to sequence our way to our sideboard copy of Tendrils of Agony and point all copies at the opponent.


Alex Poling

This is a great scenario! I think we have to start with the Pulverize to do anything here. I would tap all three lands and cast it to destroy all the opponent's artifacts. Empty the Warrens and Ad Nauseam are dead here because we are at 1 life and can't pass the turn, because of Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Unfortunately, with Lotus Petal and Chrome Mox we can't get access to both black and red mana without imprinting the Infernal Tutor, so the line of Infernal Tutor for Burning Wish for Tendrils of Agony is off the table. I need a way to get to Tendrils of Agony, and that's through a Burning Wish. In order to do that I'm going to have to use this Brainstorm. That's where I start by casting it off of the Lotus Petal. I would hope to either find land, Rite of Flame, or Lotus Petal plus a Burning Wish. This would allow me to put back the third card drawn off of Brainstorm plus the Infernal Tutor. Leaving me with Dark Ritual, Chrome Mox, Rite of Flame, any of the mana producers drawn, Lion's Eye Diamond and a Burning Wish. This would come out to exactly 6 mana to Burning Wish for Tendrils of Agony. Another hope would be to draw a Lion's Eye Diamond or any of the mana I mentioned previously, Lotus Petal, land, or Rite of Flame off of the Brainstorm. If I drew that I could put back Chrome Mox and the third card off of Brainstorm, and have Dark Ritual, another mana producer, Rite of Flame, 2 copies of Lion's Eye Diamond and an Infernal Tutor. This would give me more than 8 mana to be able to Infernal Tutor (with hellbent) for Burning Wish for Tendrils of Agony.

I want to take a moment to encourage the community to not be afraid of experimenting with the deck! The deck feels like it is so close to being fully optimal. With the help of the community, we can find the best list, whether that means trying Cabal Therapy, changing the amount of Mox Opal we are playing, adding or removing lands, adding Preordain, or trying something completely new!

Until next time, keep Storming!


Joshua Hughes

Like many others, I started playing Magic in middle school, where I learned to base my whole self worth on how many Dragons I owned. Spoiler alert, I owned a lot of dragons. These Dragons actually ended up coming in handy fifteen years later when I got back into Magic and started playing EDH. I played EDH for about 6 months, but after hearing rumors at the casual tables about a format with decks that could win on turn one, I started focusing completely on Legacy.