TES Infernal Tutoring #28

Hello Legacy Storm Players! Since our last Infernal Tutoring, there have been two major Legacy events, GP Niagara Falls, and the Leaving a Legacy Open III. The deck lists for GP Niagara Falls can be found here, but the top 8 consisted of Stoneblade, two copies of Death and Taxes, Grixis Control, Miracles, 4C Punishing Dack, Grixis Delver, and Sneak and Show. The Leaving a Legacy Open III results can be found here, but the top 8 consisted of Sneak and Show, Grixis Pheonix, Lands, two copies of The EPIC Storm, UW Delver, Vial Esperblade, and Red Prison. As you can see, the Legacy meta is very diverse, and the format feels very healthy! While the deck has mostly stayed the same, a lot of the Storm community is giving Cabal Therapy a try over one or two copies of Duress. This synergizes very well with our Empty the Warrens plan, but without Gitaxian Probe to fall back on, there are many times where you can miss with Cabal Therapy, which makes it risky. All in all, The EPIC Storm feels great, so let's jump into out three scenarios!

Special Guest

Daniel D’Amato (@damatoexp):

Daniel D’Amato is an above average MTGO grinder and streamer primarily known for the playing the storm archetype. He has a GP Top 32 as well as multiple Eternal Weekend and Star City Games Classic Top 32s and Top 16s. He currently resides in Richmond, VA and can be found at most GPs and legacy tournaments along the east coast.

You can follow him on Twitch at twitch.tv/damatoexp!

Deck List

SITUATION #1 - Miracles

In our first scenario, we are playing against Miracles! While Miracle's popularity on Magic Online has been on the decline, it is still considered the premier Legacy control deck. In the past, we would try to out-grind Miracles with cards like Past in Flames, but the somewhat recent addition of Accumulated Knowledge, has forced us to shift our game plan slightly. It isn't nearly as feasible to try to play the long game against Miracles, because they will crush us with card advantage. We want to beat Miracles before they can stabilize. Most of my recent wins against Miracles have been on the back of an early game Empty the Warrens, and now that we are playing Cabal Therapy, that plan is slightly better!

HOW I SIDEBOARDED:

-1 Rite of Flame, -1 Chrome Mox
+2 Hope of Ghirapur

We are currently in game two on the draw. The opponent played a Volcanic Island and passed the turn. How would you play out your first turn? In Sideboard matches, how would you prioritize Discard against cards like Hope of Ghirapur?

Special Guest

Daniel D’Amato

Since our opponent opted not to cantrip it leads me to believe that Spell Pierce is the countermagic interaction to expect here. Counterbalance could be the card they are trying to protect but they also could just be attempting to prevent a turn one. I typically like to prioritize Hope of Ghirapur in this situation. If our opponent has the Spell Pierce, we know that it will resolve but there is obviously no guarantee that the Force of Will isn’t in hand. While I do like casting Thoughtseize against miracles turn one to prevent Counterbalance from coming down, I think the chance is worth taking the risk and just playing Hope of Ghirapur and hope for an explosive next turn with a Brainstorm like draw.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

These situations are some of the hardest parts of playing the deck. I usually start by analyzing that I am the most afraid of. On the draw, I would lean towards casting the discard spell because even if Hope of Ghirapur resolves, if the opponent casts Counterbalance, it is bad for us. While on the play, I would most likely play Hope of Ghirapur, knowing that I have a window to cast a discard spell before they have a chance to Counterbalance.


Bryant Cook

Without a white source open, I understand the temptation to cast Hope of Ghirapur here. That said, I think it's correct to cast Thoughtseize. The reason why is that you can force them into casting Brainstorm which is likely to mess with them having the ability to Terminus away your Hope of Ghirapur or you could even discard one of their two copies of Counterbalance which is an even higher upside. I completely get that there's a chance of them having either Spell Pierce or Flusterstorm, but I think I'm fine with that if that's the case.


AJ Kerrigan

In this specific situation, I prefer to play Hope of Ghirapur. Our hand doesn't have a guaranteed win yet, so our discard loses a bit of value, and while taking Counterbalance would be nice, our opponent has Flusterstorm or Brainstorm often enough here that it isn't reliable.


Anthony LaVerde

I would just play Hope of Ghirapur and take the chance that our opponent doesn't play Counterbalance. If you play a discard spell in this spot, it is likely getting responded to with a Brainstorm, Flusterstorm, or Spell Pierce. If your opponent has Brainstorm and Counterbalance, you're getting hit with a turn two Counterbalance no matter what. I also think that trying to run out both discard spells using Lotus Petal will waste too many resources that you will want later on. Also, with our opponent's land being a Volcanic Island, we don't run the risk of our Hope of Ghirapur immediately being hit with a Terminus.


Landon Sworts

The opponent likely has the ability to play around our discard spell, however, I would still suggest pointing Thoughtseize at the opponent. We currently do not have a payoff spell so keeping the opponent in the dark in regards to our access to Hope of Ghirapur will give us a small edge. Play Polluted Delta and sacrifice it fetching Underground Sea as having access to blue mana next turn if we draw Brainstorm will be an asset. Tap Underground Sea for black, place Thoughtseize on the stack targeting our opponent.


Alex Poling

I would lead off with Thoughtseize. I want to be able to protect this Hope of Ghirapur for turn 2 because it is our most important card to allow us to combo off. Casting Thoughtseize this turn also helps to ensure the opponent doesn't play a turn 2 Counterbalance. It's possible the opponent could have a Brainstorm here to protect something, but we can't do anything about that. My plan would be to Thoughtseize here and play Hope of Ghirapur on the second turn. Depending on what's in the opponent's hand I may also use Cabal Therapy next turn.


Daniel Lee

I am still working on improving my game against blue decks and I may be overly paranoid. That said, I am definitely firing off the Thoughtseize off a basic Swamp here. If I can take any relevant countermagic and leave the shields down, then I'm likely going to cast the Hope of Ghirapur off the Lotus Petal and pass the turn. Worst case scenario here is if they have Brainstorm and Daze, which can be accommodated for slightly by leading with the Lotus Petal. We need action before this hand does anything, so I would be looking for ways to slow them down with the Cabal Therapy while we look for an Infernal Tutor or Burning Wish from the top of our deck.

I prioritize Hope of Ghirapur over discard because it is a must-answer card and has the highest ceiling for how many counterspells it blanks. There are also some fringe uses that discard can't do, such as effectively being a Time Walk so we can untap.


Steve Vultaggio

This game two is going to be an uphill battle which I think will rely heavily on our blind draws. Currently, we have all the discard and mana in the world to go off, but what we need to do is topdeck a Ponder/Brainstorm or Burning Wish to get the ball rolling. I went back and forth for a while on whether I wanted to cast Thoughtseize or Hope of Ghirapur first, however, my gut tells me to lead with Thoughtseize. Mainly what I am looking to snag is a Counterbalance or a sorcery speed draw spell. This line could change depending on how the opponent responds to the Thoughtseize, but these are my initial lines of thought. With my next turn, I would be casting the Hope of Giraphur and playing it out with top decks.

SITUATION #2 - B/G Depths

In our second scenario, we are playing against B/G Depths. B/G Depths style decks have become very popular in the current Magic Online Meta because they are fast and disruptive. The deck generally looks to play hand disruption cards like Thoughtseize, Duress, and Hymn to Tourach, while setting up a very fast Dark Depths kill. In this matchup, Goblins are usually not preferred, as Goblins can't interact with a 20/20 flying creature. Past in Flames usually isn't a great strategy because the opponent can Crop Rotation for Bojuka Bog at instant speed. Even if the opponent is tapped out, they have Elvish Spirit Guide, which allows them to catch players off guard with an unexpected Crop Rotation. While this matchup is generally favorable for The EPIC Storm, it can be very challenging to navigate at times, especially when you have a hand that favors a Burning Wish line.

We are currently in game one, and our opponent was able to slow us down by casting Duress and taking our Ad Nauseam. On our opponent's second turn they cast Thoughtseize and we cast Brainstorm in response. How would you resolve this Brainstorm to put yourself in the best situation possible?

Special Guest

Daniel D’Amato

This situation is tough. I typically don’t like to cast Brainstorm into hand disruption spells unless I need to hide something that will allow me to win the following turn. In this case though where we have hit two Burning Wish and a Thoughtseize, I like putting back Thoughtseize followed by Lotus Petal. I like showing the opponent that we currently have no way to cast Burning Wish or Rite of Flame and it may lead them to take a Dark Ritual instead and it is important to protect our only source of red currently. This is still a rough spot to be in though since we will still be locked for our next two draw steps but if they decided to take the Dark Ritual instead of Rite of Flame then we can make ten goblins and hope that it is enough to get the job done.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

I think we have to start by analyzing what our most valuable cards currently are. While it is unfortunate we don't have a land that can produce red mana with our double Burning Wish hand, it makes our Lotus Petal extremely valuable. We also want our opponent to not see both copies of Burning Wish, because that might make them more inclined to take a ritual instead. I ended up putting Lotus Petal on top, and Burning Wish under that. Assuming that our opponent doesn't take Thoughtseize and next turn I can confirm they don't have an Abrupt Decay in hand, I would play out the Lotus Petal.


Bryant Cook

I think I would bank on my opponent not discarding the Lotus Petal, allowing them to make the incorrect choice here will lead to a dramatically increased win-rate. The choice then becomes do I hide Thoughtseize or both copies of Burning Wish? This is a tough decision. If you put back both copies of Burning Wish, I think the Thoughtseize becomes the card they select as it's a unique effect in our hand. If you put Thoughtseize on the bottom with Burning Wish on top, they might have a clue that you're trying to bait them because "Why wouldn't you hide Burning Wish?" Which tips off the Lotus Petal as something crucial. I know these are small edges, but I'd likely put back both copies of Burning Wish, even though having the Thoughtseize after your Empty the Warrens turn would've been really nice.


AJ Kerrigan

It's going to be tough to set up a line that doesn't involve Empty the Warrens here, so we want to Empty the Warrens as soon as possible, and Thoughtseize would be nice to slow them down. We have no guaranteed way to Empty the Warrens next turn since our opponent can cut us off of red mana, but most opponents would not think to take Lotus Petal or Rite of Flame here. For that reason, I like putting back either both Burning Wish or Thoughtseize then Burning Wish. The upside of the former is if they take Thoughtseize, we make 14 Goblins with Dark Petition, and if they take Dark Ritual we just make 10 Goblins. 10 Goblins are enough to beat our opponent making a Marit Lage in two turns. The upside of putting back Burning Wish and Thoughtseize is that some amount of the time they'll take the Burning Wish and we get to more reliably make 14 Goblins. The problem is that 14 Goblins isn't that much better than 10, and both feel bad anyway because our opponent makes Marit Lage next turn a high percentage of the time. Trying to Thoughtseize them off of the combo is also unreliable though because they are so redundant and some of the pieces are lands, so I just like maximizing our ability to make Goblin tokens next turn. One additional upside of putting back Thoughtseize then Burning Wish is that we have extra protection against a second discard spell this turn, as there is a reasonable change they take Burning Wish and Dark Ritual, leaving us still able to combo off. If we put back both Burning Wish, they definitely just take some of our mana and we probably can't win.


Anthony LaVerde

I would first put back Thoughtseize and then put back the Lotus Petal. This lets us protect our only initial red source of mana. Our opponent would likely take either a copy of Dark Ritual or Rite of Flame. If they take Dark Ritual, this lets us make ten goblins on our turn. If they take Rite of Flamewe would have to wait, which is unfortunate but I think the less likely case scenario. Situations like this make the basic Island frustrating sometimes because had we instead of Island had a red dual land, we would be able to resolve this Brainstorm and make goblins on our turn no matter what they take with Thoughtseize. That being said I still think the basic Island is a necessary evil in our deck for the current metagame.


Landon Sworts

I would put back Thoughtseize as we likely will not be needing it, place a Burning Wish on top of our library to draw next turn so we can combo with a copy of Empty the Warrens from the sideboard for a total of 12 Goblins. The opponent will most likely take the Burning Wish that we have left in our hand.


Alex Poling

I would put back Thoughtseize on the bottom and Lotus Petal on top to protect it. This would pretty much lock the opponent into taking a Dark Ritual. This also puts me in a spot where I would want to go for Empty the Warrens next turn. Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame, Lotus Petal, Burning Wish, Empty the Warrens for 10 goblins. If the opponent plays a second land and another discard spell then this line becomes horrible or if they have a quick 20/20, but I don't see a line that beats either of those two so I would aim for 10 goblins next turn. Another option is to just put Thoughtseize and a Burning Wish back and hope the opponent takes the Burning Wish, but I think a competent pilot would sniff that would and take the Lotus Petal leaving us with no red mana.


Daniel Lee

This is a tricky one. Ad Nauseam is gone, so we're likely making Goblins. I feel like the extra Burning Wish is the weakest card here, while Dark Ritual is our strongest (with the caveat that we currently need that Lotus Petal to make red). My thought here is to put Lotus Petal back first, then Thoughtseize on top. They will take either Dark Ritual or Burning Wish. They still have a land drop, so we might not be able to take their Crop Rotation with the Thoughtseize if they play another green source. That's what my goal would be, though, then to make Goblins as soon as I could based on whatever was taken with their Thoughtseize.


Steve Vultaggio

Hindsight is 20/20, although in this instance I think not casting the Brainstorm would have been better as we had a Burning Wish on top. It would have revealed Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, and Brainstorm; with the opponent almost definitely taking the Brainstorm. Unfortunately, this Burning Wish was an unknown variable so we can ignore that scenario. Honestly, I am pretty worried about the opponent taking the Lotus Petal with the Duress. Since this is their second turn, you could bank on them having a slow hand and missing their second land drop. This mindset of the opponent could lead them to grab the Thoughtseize so they can still construct the combo. This means we want to hide Lotus Petal and Dark Ritual (Drawing the Lotus Petal). Next turn we can make go off with our Empty the Warrens and hope to get there.

SITUATION #3 - Jeskai Stoneblade

In our final scenario, we are playing against Jeskai Stoneblade. Stoneblade decks are generally control decks that look to deploy cards like Stoneforge Mystic to fetch Equipment. This strategy is very powerful in a control shell because the opponent can take their time, and control the board before committing to a kill. Creatures like True-Name Nemesis can run over fair decks, especially when equipped with Umezawa's Jitte. This matchup can be very challenging for us, because our Goblin Strategies can often times have trouble against Batterskull. In addition to that, the deck also packs a ton of countermagic, but in game one they can sometimes get stuck with hands that don't interact well with us.

HOW I SIDEBOARDED:

-1 Rite of Flame, -1 Chrome Mox
+2 Hope of Ghirapur

In this scenario, we currently in our main phase on turn four. The opponent cast Surgical Extraction in our upkeep, targeting Thoughtseize. The opponent is now aware of everything in our hand, with the exception of the Volcanic Island that we drew on our turn. On our previous turn, we decided to take the opponent's Batterskull with Thoughtseize, which might have been a misplay. Regardless of that, how would you play out this scenario, to either win or put yourself in a winning situation?

Special Guest

Daniel D’Amato

So, I agree that Vendilion Clique should have been taken with Thoughtseize based off our current situation, but this game isn’t a lost cause. I like leading with Infernal Tutor first revealing Dark Ritual upon resolution. If for some reason they Force of Will it, great, it makes it significantly easier to win the following turn. I would then cast Lotus Petal followed by the first Dark Ritual. Since our opponent knows about the Empty the Warrens and not the Volcanic Island, it is important to tank the land if possible, to see if the opponent makes a mistake on when to cast Vendilion Clique or if not at all. If the first and second Dark Ritual resolve, we obviously are then clear to just play the land and Empty the Warrens followed by Cabal Therapy to get the other cards out of hand. If they decide to cast the Vendilion Clique into our Dark Ritual and bottom the Empty the Warrens, we are still in good shape because there are numerous draws that allows us to be hellbent with Infernal Tutor and just fetch the Empty the Warrens from the bottom. The important thing to take away from this scenario is that leading on Cabal Therapy will cause the Vendilion Clique to be cast and Empty the Warrens to be bottomed.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

I think the temptation in this scenario is to start by casting Cabal Therapy to force our opponent to Vendilion Clique us. The issue with that is, the opponent will most likely take our Dark Ritual which would make it hard for us to do anything this turn unless we got really lucky with the card that we draw. We could play out our Lotus Petal first, so that way we are able to Dark Ritual in response to their Vendilion Clique, and this would most likely force the opponent to take Empty the Warrens. Again, we could draw another mana source from the Vendilion Clique, but we are going all the way in if we do that line. I think I would just cast Infernal Tutor and see what happens if it resolves with no Vendilion Clique I would get another Dark Ritual, if they decide to Vendilion Clique and take Dark Ritual, I would get another Lotus Petal which would help us cast Empty the Warrens on our next turn.


Bryant Cook

I don't think we need to try to win in this spot, I'd be completely fine with just laying our land, casting Infernal Tutor, and passing. If the opponent decides to Vendilion Clique us on our end-step, great! If not, we have redundancy in both mana and "bombs" next turn. I don't think we need to potentially lose the game because we got a little hasty, a Vendilion Clique here taking the right card at an opportune moment could be the difference maker in this game.


AJ Kerrigan

We're deceptively in a bit of a tough spot here. We can't reasonably expect to win this turn, and I really want to Infernal Tutor for another Dark Ritual, so I think we have to force our opponent's hand on this Vendilion Clique so we can start sculpting a game plan. I'd just cast Cabal Therapy, taking Vendilion Clique if it resolves but taking Pyroblast assuming it doesn't. If the opponent takes Empty the Warrens, we are pretty close to setting up a good Infernal Tutor for either the Empty the Warrens or Ad Nauseam depending on the context of the game in a turn or two. If they take Dark Ritual, we have a lot of great draws that help our hand develop for the next turn or so, and since our opponent won't have Pyroblast anymore, Brainstorm and Ponder will also be excellent draws, so a lot of our deck is live.


Anthony LaVerde

I would start by playing the Volcanic Island and casting Lotus Petal with the intent of casting an Empty the Warrens for six goblins. With our opponent knowing our hand, this would likely force them to cast their Vendilion Clique to get rid of our Empty the Warrens, while we are using the least amount of resources possible. If we are able to cast Empty the Warrens, our opponent's hand is mostly blanks and an unknown card, so this can likely get there while leaving us with plenty of good cards in our hand. If they do cast Vendilion Clique to get rid of our Empty the Warrens, then we still have a really good hand while they have nothing.


Landon Sworts

We can start by playing our land for the turn and then point Cabal Therapy at our opponent. It is highly likely that the opponent will respond with Vendilion Clique targeting us to put Dark Ritual on the bottom of our library. That’s fine, after Cabal Therapy resolves and we name Pyroblast we can Infernal Tutor for another copy of Lotus Petal and pass the turn. On our next turn we can Infernal Tutor for a third copy of Lotus Petal, cast all three, and possibly the card we drew for turn followed by Empty the Warrens for 10+ Goblin tokens which should establish a clock that our opponent can not race.


Alex Poling

I would play the Volcanic Island and then cast Infernal Tutor. This scenario has a ton of different "what if" situations on when the opponent would cast a Vendilion Clique and it's hard to try to predict when that would be. If it is in response here I would either grab another Dark Ritual or Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual being my first choice. The opponent is going to be looking for a way to snag the Empty the Warrens from my hand because they're very weak to it right now. My goal would be to set up for the next turn or 2 and try to get hellbent to be able to combo off with either Infernal Tutor for Ad Nauseam or cast Empty the Warrens. I want to try to position myself to beat Vendilion Clique by not giving the opponent an opportunity to take a card mid combo that would stop us.


Daniel Lee

I'm going for it. Play Volcanic Island and Lotus Petal (Storm 2), tap Badlands and Island for Infernal Tutor (Storm 3), search up Dark Ritual. Crack Lotus Petal for B, cast Dark Ritual (Storm 4, BBB in pool). Cast Infernal Tutor (Storm 5, B in pool), get another Dark Ritual. Cast both remaining Dark Rituals (Storm 7, BBBBB in pool). Cast Cabal Therapy at opponent, naming Vendilion Clique (Storm 8, BBBB in pool). Cast Empty the Warrens for 18 Goblins and a Therapy ripe for Flashback. This is more than enough to kill them even through Batterskull.


Steve Vultaggio

The two cards I am most worried about as their “unknown” card are: Flusterstorm or Force of Will. As they know the contents of our hand, I am leaning towards them having a Flusterstorm. I feel that the play here would be to cast our Volcanic Island and then cast one of our copies of Infernal Tutor. If they cast the Vendilion Clique in response, we know they’re either on no counters or a Flusterstorm. I would reveal either the Lotus Petal or if we got lucky another mana producing card. Next turn I would lead with Cabal Therapy naming Flusterstorm, cast my Lotus Petal, and proceed to make the best play (Probably an Empty the Warrens line, but possibly an Ad Nauseam line).

In closing, I would like to give a shout out to Bryant Cook and Anthony Laverde for making the top 8 in the Leaving a Legacy Open III! While there was no Storm in the top 8 of MagicFest Niagara falls, I still want to give a shoutout to our A.N.T brethren Cyrus Corman-Gill and Brandon Osborne for placing in the top 45!

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.