TES Infernal Tutoring #29

Hello Legacy Storm Players! Since our last Infernal Tutoring, Wizards released their latest limited set War of the Sparks. War of the Sparks has already made a huge impact on Legacy by printing some incredibly powerful planeswalkers; Karn, The Great Creator, Ugin, The Ineffable, Narset, Parter of Veils, and Tefari, Time Raveler to name just a few. Bolas's Citadel has birthed a new experimental Storm list, which Michael Cliffy wrote about here. Delver decks got Dreadhorde Arcanist, which offers an insane amount of card advantage if not dealt with. If all of those changes weren't enough, Modern Horizons is just around the corner to hopefully reprint some amazing new cards for Eternal Formats. I think it is safe to say that the Legacy meta is in for a huge shakeup!

For this month's scenarios, I opted to play a Chain of Vapor in the flex spot over the eighth discard spell, which has helped deal with the huge influx of Karn, The Great Creator decks in the last month. Other than that, the other notable change is a Mizzix's Mastery in the Sideboard. Without further ado, let's jump into our three scenarios!

Special Guest

Max Gilmore (@MXGOnline):

The "Max" of www.minmaxblog.com, is a Legacy Jack-of-all-Trades with an affinity for Artifacts. Max is always on the lookout for the next broken thing and works to keep himself at the forefront of Legacy innovation. Whether he's slinging Delver of Secrets, Dark Ritual, or Chalice of the Void, you can be sure that whatever he's playing contains the hottest Legacy technology.

Deck List

SITUATION #1 - B/R Reanimator

In our first scenario, we are playing 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:

-2 Ponder, -1 Empty the Warrens
+1 Chain of Vapor, +2 Echoing Truth

We are currently in game two against B/R Reanimator. On turn one we were able to Thoughtseize our opponent, taking their Entomb. On our opponent’s turn one, they played a Scrubland and passed. We now have the opportunity to Cabal Therapy our opponent. Do you take the opponent’s two copies of Exhume or their two copies of Faithless Looting? Why?

Special Guest

Max Gilmore

Take the two copies of Faithless Looting. BR Reanimator has far more ways to pull cards out of the graveyard than to put them in there. If you take the Exhumes, Faithless Looting functions as both a way to find more of the 12-ish reanimation spells while also putting the creature in the graveyard. With only one Scrubland as available mana, it will be a while until the opponent is able to flashback Faithless Looting. This should hopefully buy you enough time to win.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

This is kind of a weird situation to be in, but it really shows the power of Cabal Therapy. Our opponent has so much redundancy, but we have a chance to disrupt them on one axis. With that being said, either of these options might very well blow up in our face depending on what the opponent draws. I think I would opt to take the two copies of Exhume here. I think that because of our opponent's lack of red mana, it is less relevant. We are also very close to being able to go off, and even if we draw a Burning Wish and make Goblins, we will be able to flash back Cabal Therapy, which should be enough to slow them down for a couple of turns.


Bryant Cook

I think it's crucial to think "how will this game play out?" for both options. If you take Faithless Looting, your opponent needs to draw a way to get a creature in the graveyard and a second mana source. If you take Exhume, all they need to do is draw a red source to fix their hand. Which is more likely? Answer: Drawing a red source. For this reason, you take the Faithless Lootings.


AJ Kerrigan

I would take the two Faithless Lootings. The would have needed to find Entomb plus a land over their two draw steps to fully punish us, and while we aren't exactly ready to go off, we are pretty close, and the Faithless Lootings just give them the most flexibility to put into play game-winning creatures and also find discard to slow us down significantly. They have enough redundancy on reanimation spells that the two Faithless Lootings will almost certainly find them another.


Anthony LaVerde

I think I would take both copies of Exhume here. This line makes it harder for our opponent to get anything going, as they need to draw a red source to cast Faithless Looting. It also makes any discard spells or copies of Entomb that our opponent may draw much worse, which in turn gives us more turns to win, most likely. If we named Faithless Looting, we would open ourselves up to lose to an Entomb, and our opponent would need to find fewer cards to win, or at least put a Grave Titan in play. Not to mention, Faithless Looting has flashback anyways.


Landon Sworts

I would take the opponents Faithless Looting to keep them from getting a creature in their graveyard and to limit their ability to manipulate their deck.


Alex Poling

I would name Exhume. Any discard spell, to hit Grave Titan from their own hand, or an Entomb we can just lose with a second land. Leaving them with just Faithless Looting would require them to need too many cards. It would buy us a lot of time. They would need a red source, a way to get a creature in the graveyard, a reanimate spell, and potentially more lands. That'll take numerous turns to get there.


Daniel Lee

Faithless Looting. They need 3 elements to make their combo work: a creature, a discard engine, and a reanimate spell. Exhume is one of these, which makes it a tempting name with Cabal Therapy. However, Faithless Looting is also one of these components and can help our opponent find what they are missing. If we name Faithless Looting, then we stand a good chance of stranding the Grave Titan in their hand and forcing them into top-deck mode. Plus, they're minimum two turns away from casting Faithless Looting with Flashback.


Steve Vultaggio

I think either option would be a fine choice, however, I would trend towards taking the Faithless Lootings. My reasoning is that it is an all in one enabler if they manage to draw a badlands, as they can both draw a reanimation spell and bin their Grave Titan. Grave Titan isn’t necessarily game ending for us if they do get it on the battlefield, but additional discard and Griselbrand might swing the tides in their favor.

SITUATION #2 - Death & Taxes

In our second scenario, we are playing against Death and Taxes! Death and Taxes has been making a huge comeback on Magic Online ever since the reprinting of Rishadan Port. While Death and Taxes has traditionally been an easy matchup for The EPIC Storm, they have recently added cards like Ancient Tomb and Chalice of the Void, which has made the matchup way more challenging after game one. Against Death and Taxes traditionally, we would just need to win through creature and land-based hate, where now they are attacking us on a whole different axis with artifact hate cards.

HOW I SIDEBOARDED:

-4 Ponder, -2 Duress
+4 Echoing Truth, +1 Chain of Vapor, +1 Cabal Therapy

We are currently in game three against Death and Taxes. Our opponent just tutored Thalia, Guardian of Thraben with Recruiter of the Guard. Since we know that Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is coming down next turn, we need to do something now. How do you either win or put yourself in a winning situation?

Special Guest

Max Gilmore

Against a gummed up Death & Taxes board, only an absurd amount of Goblins would be potentially lethal, so Empty the Warrens for 8 Goblins, flashing back Cabal Therapy to snipe the Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, is not a winning line. We are much better off trying to actually win this turn, and here's how to do it:

Rite of Flame (RRBU, Storm 1), Lion's Eye Diamond x2 (RRBU, Storm 2&3), Infernal Tutor and crack Lion's Eye Diamond for BBBRRR, get Burning Wish (RRRRBBBU, Storm 4), and cast Burning Wish for Mizzix's Mastery (RRRBBB, Storm 5). Mizzix's Mastery targeting Ad Nauseam (RB, Storm 6) Ad Nauseam from 15 with (RB floating, Storm 7).

Ad Nauseam, with 15 life and RB mana already floating, should be almost certainly lethal to your opponent this turn.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

I wanted to use this situation to show the power of Mizzix's Mastery! While an Ad Nauseam line might not be the safest, I think it comes down to if you are more comfortable making twelve Goblins into our opponent's established board, or if you are more comfortable casting Ad Nauseam from 15 life with a land drop and no mana floating. We know that we are safe from Batterskull, as it is in our opponent's graveyard, but the opponent might still be able to stop up with sheer creature mass/other equipment. I think I like my odds of casting an Ad Nauseam from 15 life.


Bryant Cook

I ♥ that you went out of your way to create a scenario for our new best friend — Mizzix's Mastery. Rite of Flame, Lion's Eye Diamond, Lion's Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, and cast Mizzix's Mastery on the discarded Ad Nauseam!


AJ Kerrigan

Given our hand, the combination of Wastelands, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Mother of Runes likely means that winning after this turn will prove to be very difficult. After casting Infernal Tutor, we'll have access to eight mana. We can find Burning Wish, and use Burning Wish for Mizzix's Mastery to cast Ad Nauseam, leaving a black and a red mana floating.


Anthony LaVerde

I had to double check the decklist you played to see if we have Mizzix's Mastery in our sideboard, and thankfully we do! I’d start by casting Rite of Flame, and the pair of Lion's Eye Diamond. Then I’d play Infernal Tutor and hold priority, cracking our copies of Lion's Eye Diamond for three black and three red mana. I’d use our Infernal Tutor to go get Burning Wish, to then get Mizzix's Mastery. Finally, I’d cast Mizzix's Mastery to cast Ad Nauseam from our graveyard, leaving both a red and a black mana floating. This line loses to a Surgical Extraction, but with this board state, we can not win with a small Empty the Warrens.


Landon Sworts

Anytime we have a copy of Mizzix's Mastery in the Sideboard with Infernal Tutor, Lion's Eye Diamond, and Ad Nauseam in hand with access to at least 8 mana we are open for an Ad Nauseam line via Mizzix's Mastery. Cast Rite of Flame, followed by both copies of Lion's Eye Diamond, cast Infernal Tutor retaining priority and sacrificing both Lion's Eye Diamond; one for red and one for black. We retrieve Burning Wish and cast to retrieve Mizzix's Mastery, we cast Mizzix's Mastery targeting our Ad Nauseam which we will exile from our graveyard and create a copy to cast. As long as the opponent doesn’t have a Surgical Extraction in hand to respond to Mizzix's Mastery we should be in the clear to draw a large portion of our deck with two mana still floating in our mana pool subsequently killing the opponent.


Alex Poling

This took me a minute because we are testing a new card! I would begin with Rite of Flame and playing out both copies of Lion's Eye Diamond. Using 1 red and the Swamp I would cast Infernal Tutor sacrificing Lion's Eye Diamond leaving me with 4 red 3 black and an Island untapped. I would search up Burning Wish and then cast it along with Mizzix's Mastery to flashback Ad Nauseam with 1 black and 1 red mana. This will probably be good enough to win here.


Daniel Lee

The line I'm about to take seems pretty safe, since the only thing that really stops it is if the one card in their hand we don't know is exactly Surgical Extraction. Play out both Lion's Eye Diamonds, Rite of Flame, and Infernal Tutor, cracking both Lion's Eye Diamonds for red and black (Storm 4, RRRRRBBB in pool, incidentally discarding Ad Nauseam). Fetch and cast Burning Wish (Storm 5, RRRBBB in pool), getting Mizzix's Mastery. Cast Lion's Eye Diamond targeting Ad Nauseam (Storm 7, RB in pool). Ad Nauseam from 15 life with two mana floating (aiming for a Tendrils of Agony kill) is a pretty solid position to be in against Death & Taxes, so this is my preferred line in this situation.


Steve Vultaggio

I am so excited that we have started playing Mizzix's MasteryPast in Flames in The EPIC Storm. My line would be cast Lion's Eye Diamond, cast Lion's Eye Diamond, cast Rite of Flames off Volcanic Island, cast Infernal Tutor holding priority and double cracking Lion’s Eye Diamond for 3 red and 3 black. With Infernal Tutor I would grab Burning Wish and then I would grab Mizzix's Mastery to cast my newly discarded Ad Nauseam from the bin (hopefully winning with Tendrils of Agony).

SITUATION #3 - Sneak & Show

In our last scenario, we are playing against Sneak and Show. Sneak and Show is a very consistent combo deck that looks to use Show and Tell or Sneak Attack to cheat a Griselbrand or an Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn into play. Sneak and Show plays a ton of cantrips and countermagic, to both assemble and protect their two-card combo. Many of the recent lists will also run some number of Cunning Wish, which can be very powerful against The EPIC Storm, because it unlocks cards like Surgical Extraction, Flusterstorm, and Kozelik's Return in game one. While this matchup can be a challenge at times, we have all of the tools needed to beat it, especially in games two and three.

HOW I SIDEBOARDED:

+3 Hope of Ghirapur
-1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Ponder, -1 Chrome Mox

We are currently in a pretty tight spot in game three! On our previous turn, we took our opponent’s Vendilion Clique with Thoughtseize. The opponent then drew their fourth land and played Sneak Attack. Looking back, we should have definitely taken Sneak Attack, but now we have to adjust. We need to take action this turn, or we are dead. How do you play out this turn to either win or put yourself in a winning situation?

Special Guest

Max Gilmore

I've been wracking my brain to find a winning line...and can't find one. We're one Storm short of a lethal Tendrils of Agony, one mana short of Dark Petition into Ad Nauseam, and Mizzix's Mastery on Infernal Tutor only leaves you with two mana. There's no one card you could Ponder into since even finding a Burning Wish puts you one mana short of then playing Burning Wish into Tendrils of Agony. If there is a line that is poised to actually win the game this turn, I can't find it, which should explain why I prefer to play decks not quite as complicated as TES.

Assuming we can't win, we now have to find the best play. Against an average Sneak & Show player, I would get Tendrils of Agony, cast Tendrils for 14, and bank of them tapping their Ancient Tomb to deal themselves the final two points of damage for no reason. However, Laywer is a good player, so I don't think this would work.

Getting a Chain of Vapor (via Dark Petition) to use on the Sneak Attack only delays the inevitable by a turn since there is no discard spell to pair it with.

If we get Cabal Therapy, our only real choice is to take Griselbrand. Otherwise, Griselbrand can just draw into another Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn. If we take Griselbrand, Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn will put us to 1 life and 0 permanents, leaving the opponent at 16 life with a Pyroclasm in hand. We would have to rebuild from 1 life and 0 cards to deal 16 before the Sneak and Show player finds any creature. That's not happening.

What if we actually go for the non-lethal Tendrils of Agony? We go from 16 life up to 30, and our opponent goes from 16 life down to 2. They will put in both Griselbrand and Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn, and attack for 22, putting us down to 8 life. They will go to 9 from the Lifelink on Griselbrand.

From here, they are faced with a decision. They can stay at 9 life and hope to find another creature naturally, or they can draw 7 cards with Griselbrand, putting them down to 2 life. I believe they are better off drawing 7, since their TES opponent is at 0 cards and 0 permanents.

The way we win this is if those 7 cards (and several after) are blanks. We could draw a land, then draw and resolve a Hope of Ghirapur, and attack for lethal over two turns. We could technically draw some way to make 4 mana, resolve a Burning Wish, and grab a Grapeshot. These scenarios are extremely unlikely to occur, but I think it's our best chance. Besides, this is MTGO, and they could always accidentally click on their Ancient Tomb.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

This is a pretty rough spot for us, but I ultimately decided to play to the only out that I could find, which is grabbing Ponder and praying to hit an Ad Nauseam.


Bryant Cook

Due to our opponent representing a lethal attack on the following turn and having Pyroclasm, Empty the Warrens is out of the question. You don't have enough mana for Dark Petition into Ad Nauseam and Mizzix's Mastery isn't applicable here. I believe you have to grab Ponder and pray to hit your one out Ad Nauseam. I did notice, Past in Flames wouldn't get Ad Nauseam here either, but you could in theory cantrip into a plus two mana card to be able to cast it.


AJ Kerrigan

Empty the Warrens definitely isn't good enough here, and we are one storm short of Tendrils of Agony. We're also one mana short of Dark Petition for Ad Nauseam, and there is nothing worth using Mizzix's Master on. Therefore, I believe our only reasonable option is to get Ponder and attempt to Ponder into exactly Ad Nauseam.


Anthony LaVerde

...It’s really unfortunate that we don’t have Past in Flames here. Well, our only line that gives us any chance to win this game is select Ponder and try to draw into exactly Ad Nauseam. That being said, lines like this are exciting because if you hit Ad Nauseam here, it would surely be something!


Landon Sworts

This is a very tough spot. The opponent will kill us with a double Sneak Attack activation next turn, we will be short on storm count to kill the opponent with Tendrils of Agony and Empty the Warrens will not be good enough either. We do not have enough mana to Dark Petition for Ad Nauseam but we can throw a hail mary with the copy of Ponder in our sideboard. Definitely a wild line in my opinion but if we crack Lotus Petal for blue and cast Ponder we will still have access to five mana which is exactly the casting cost of Ad Nauseam. It’s better to go for it than just concede, grab Ponder and pray.


Alex Poling

I agree I would have taken Sneak Attack here. This put us a pretty bad spot, and I'm not sure how we win this. I can't quite see the graveyard for Mizzix's Mastery, but I don't think we have a win here. We can't Empty the Warrens because of the Pyroclasm, putting them to 2 here doesn't do anything since they can activate Sneak Attack twice next turn. I think we just lose no matter our choice here.


Daniel Lee

Ugh. This is so close to being a kill. We have two spare mana but no extra spell to sneak in before a lethal Storm spell. My vote is to get Tendrils of Agony and cast it, putting our opponent at 2 life and us at 30. Then even Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn and Griselbrand next turn doesn't kill us, and leaves our opponent either with nothing at 9 life, or a full set of cards but 2 life. It's not a perfect situation, but it's the best I can see.


Steve Vultaggio

This is definitely a tight spot and I had to think long and hard about what to do. Pyroclasm (and over 20 damage of haste-y creatures) shuts off any possible line involving Empty the Warrens. Our available mana is 6, which eliminates the possibility of a Dark Petition line involving Tendrils of Agony. I tried to think of some crazy Mizzix’s Mastery line where you would Infernal Tutor for something, and I’m probably missing a line involving Mizzix’s Mastery and Dark Petition, but I don’t think the mana is there; we’re also one shy of overload. If we wanted a Patriot’s Hail Marry type of play, I think casting a Ponder and hoping to find an Ad Nauseam would get us there (cracking the Lotus Petal’s for exact mana).

In closing, I want to encourage Storm pilots to not get frustrated with the current meta. It seems like the meta has shifted towards Narset, Parter of Veils decks vs. Karn, The Great Creator decks. While this can be annoying to be caught in the middle of, things should stabilize again soon. I am crossing my fingers that Storm gets something amazing from Modern Horizon, but we will see what happens! Until next time, keep storming on!


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.