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TES Infernal Tutoring #30

Hello Legacy Storm Players! We are back with our 30th Infernal Tutoring article! Since our last article, there have been some serious changes in the Legacy Meta. In my last article, I went over some of the impacts that War of the Spark had on Legacy, and it looks like Modern Horizons has had a very similar effect. RUG Delver has been revitalized with the printing of Wrenn and Six, but it doesn't just stop there. Control and Prison players have also started to build around Wrenn and Six. Control players for the consistency that Wrenn and Six brings with never missing land drops, while also being able to ping pesky creatures. Prison players also benefit from leveraging Wrenn and Six to return Wasteland from the graveyard to their hand to lock players out of the game. In the world of Storm, a new hybrid storm deck has been putting up great results. This list leverages Monastery Mentor, Echo of Eons, and Narset, Parter of Veils. The EPIC Storm has also started to play a single copy of Echo of Eons in our sideboard because it gives us a wonderful line with Burning Wish and Lion's Eye Diamond. If all of that wasn't enough, there is also the impending London Mulligan rule that goes into effect when the 2020 Core Set is released, which could completely change how people brew and build decks!

In addition to adding a copy of Echo of Eons into our sideboard, The EPIC Storm team has also been testing some pretty radical builds, leveraging two copies of Defense Grid, and three copies of Mox Opal in the main deck, cutting the copies of Duress, the flex spot, and the basic Island. This makes our deck very explosive, and Defense Grid is amazing at not only slowing down our control opponents but also making Mox Opal live more consistently. To summarize it all, things are changing very fast in Legacy, which is leading to some very exciting possibilities for everyone, regardless of your preferred deck choice or archetype! Enough small talk though, let's jump into our three scenarios!

Special Guest

Brian Gallagher (Chhaam):

Brian is a Legacy specialist with lots of experience with fair midrange decks as well as a few years of experience with TES. His favorite win-condition is Telemin Performance and is mostly known locally for his affinity for signed cards and always having time for food between rounds.

Deck List

SITUATION #1 - Nic Fit

While there are hundreds of different Nic Fit builds, the main thing that they all have in common is the synergy between Cabal Therapy, Veteran Explorer, and a bunch of Basic Lands. This version of Nic Fit was using Arena Rector or Academy Rector to cheat a Planeswalker or an Enchantment into play. This can be pretty brutal for The EPIC Storm because if we make Goblins, they can grab Ugin, The Spirit Dragon. They can also get a card like Dovescape, which can completely shut us down. While this matchup is generally very favored for us, there are many times where you will be on the wrong side of a Cabal Therapy, which will give our opponent the time that they need to stabilize.

We are currently in game one on the draw, with a pretty solid hand. On turn one, I decided to just play out a Scalding Tarn and pass. In retrospect, I should have played out a Lion's Eye Diamond, but I have been punished against Nic Fit for doing that because they have Abrupt Decay and Assassin's Trophy. Naturally, our opponent had Cabal Therapy, so I decided to Brainstorm in response. How would you resolve this Brainstorm? Assuming that our opponent will flashback the Cabal Therapy, would you grab two basics, or choose to not shuffle?

Special Guest

Brian Gallagher

I personally would have waited to Brainstorm until after the first Cabal Therapy had resolved, as Scalding Tarn does not reveal much information about my deck. I could get my two lands and then hide cards with Brainstorm. In this situation, I would leave Infernal Tutor and a Lion's Eye Diamond on top of my deck (stacking the Lion's Eye Diamond on top of my library), and choose not to shuffle. This sets me up for a turn 3 kill (or if my opponent is crazy and discards my Empty the Warrens for some reason), a turn 2 kill! Depending on what my opponent takes, I'll go off with Rite of Flame and Lion's Eye Diamond or both Lion's Eye Diamonds.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

The good news is that we are in game one and the opponent doesn't know what deck we are on. I think it is safe to assume that the first Cabal Therapy will probably miss. With that being said, it is still a rough spot. I think I would ultimately put back a Lion's Eye Diamond and an Empty the Warrens. I would then get two basics from the Cabal Therapy flashback. I would assume that they would take Lion's Eye Diamond here, but there is a good chance that they take Infernal Tutor. There is some consideration for not putting back Empty the Warrens, but Goblins isn't great against a Pernicious Deed deck.


Bryant Cook

With the most likely name here being Brainstorm off of the Cabal Therapy, I agree with casting it here. What I would do is put Infernal Tutor on top of my library with Lion's Eye Diamond on top of it, with no plans to shuffle off of the Veteran Explorer. This allows for an easy turn three kill. What I think should be said is that I wouldn't play the Lion's Eye Diamond on the second turn as I think it's very likely that they have Abrupt Decay, Assassin's Trophy, or even Pernicious Deed.


AJ Kerrigan

We can’t really win without Lion's Eye Diamond or Infernal Tutor, so I'd put those back. Worst case we lose the other Lion's Eye Diamond and Ponder/Rite of Flame, and we won’t be able to search with Veteran Explorer, but we’re still in reasonable shape to cast Ad Nauseam on turn three.


Anthony LaVerde

I would put back Badlands first and then Lion's Eye Diamond, both are about to be shuffled away anyways when our opponent flashes back Cabal Therapy, so I'd rather them choose between Infernal Tutor and Lion's Eye Diamond rather than just snap name Lion's Eye Diamond and take 2 copies. I think this puts us in the best position to draw what we need to win the game. I would also advise against making Goblins next turn, usually Nic Fit can beat them pretty easily with Pernicious Deed, and sometimes even just their creatures.


Landon Sworts

I would put back Infernal Tutor and then Lion's Eye Diamond with the plans to not shuffle. On the following turn, I would play out Lion's Eye Diamond and attempt to assemble an Ad Nauseam line at our earliest opportunity.


Alex Poling

I would put back a copy of Lion's Eye Diamond and a Polluted Delta. My plan here would be to let the opponent take 1-2 cards and then search up my two basics. Hopefully using the Ponder and extra mana would let me combo off within a turn or 2. There's also a good chance the opponent doesn't name Lion's Eye Diamond post Brainstorm and if that happens then I really like my chances of winning.


Daniel Lee

I've actually tested this matchup A LOT so there are two important points to remember: their clock isn't very fast, and they can eat Goblins alive. Based on that, we want to maximize our chances of getting to a Tendrils of Agony kill. Here, that means tucking the Badlands under a Lion's Eye Diamond, and not searching from the Veteran Explorer's trigger. Our opponent will expect us to tuck Lion's Eye Diamonds and may not name them initially. They will likely name either Burning Wish or Infernal Tutor, so we have a 50/50 chance of keeping either both Lion's Eye Diamonds or one of them plus an Infernal Tutor. Even if they hit Infernal Tutor then Lion's Eye Diamond, we still get to draw Lion's Eye Diamond, shuffle with Polluted Delta, then Ponder for 3 fresh cards next turn. They're fairly likely to just drop a Pernicious Deed with the two lands they get from the Veteran Explorer trigger, so Goblins just aren't an option for us. Trying to tuck both the Infernal Tutor and a Lion's Eye Diamond means they will definitely hit the other Lion's Eye Diamond and could do even more damage with discard in the extra turn we are giving them.


Steve Vultaggio

I think there are a few combinations of cards you could back on top. What I would do is put Lion's Eye Diamond followed by Infernal Tutor on top. I don’t expect them to name anything relevant with the first casting of Cabal Therapy, however, with the second they could either go for Ponder, Rite of Flames, or the other Lion's Eye Diamond left in hand. I don’t think I would search for my two basics off of the Veteran Explorer activation, and depending on what they took I would set up a future Infernal Tutor and Lion's Eye Diamond line.

SITUATION #2 - Ad Nauseam Tendrils

Despite the name, Ad Nauseam Tendrils (ANT) is a Past in Flames deck at heart. ANT looks to either set up a deterministic Past in Flames kill or a Natural Storm kill. With cards like Past in Flames, Cabal Ritual, Tendrils of Agony, and Dark Petition in the main deck, casting Ad Nauseam is often seen as a liability. I would attribute about 50% of my wins against ANT to failed Ad Nauseam flips from my opponent. In this matchup, we need to keep an extremely fast or an extremely disruptive hand. Typically ANT packs about 7-8 discard spells, so it is also wise to play out your Lion's Eye Diamonds before they get discarded!

HOW I SIDEBOARDED:

-1 Empty the Warrens, +1 Tendrils of Agony

In this scenario, we are in game three on the play. We were able to take our opponent's Infernal Tutor on turn one with our Thoughtseize. Our opponent played their Preordain and put both cards on top. On turn two, we cast Ponder, shuffled and drew Infernal Tutor. We then cast our second Thoughtseize. What would you take here?

Special Guest

Brian Gallagher

I see only one choice for Thoughtseize — I have to take Dark Ritual. This requires my opponent to draw exactly another Dark Ritual to do anything but Thoughtseize me on their turn. If I discard their Thoughtseize, my opponent can draw Lion's Eye Diamond or Lotus Petal for lethal, or any red land to leave me at 2 life with them at 32. Discarding Tendrils of Agony just delays the inevitable here and allows my opponent to cast Thoughtseize discarding my Infernal Tutor. Discarding Cabal Ritual is just less effective than taking Dark Ritual. Past in Flames would be my second choice as it forces my opponent to draw a red source and another mana producing spell. My main concern here is that any mana producing spell can be lethal, while also leaving me scrambling to find another “tutor effect.”

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

To me, this is a scenario where you need to figure out what is more important to you. If you take the Dark Ritual, the opponent more than likely can't go off for another turn or two. You will more than likely get hit by Thoughtseize though, which hurts your chance of winning next turn. We know the opponent intentionally put the top card of their library there, so if it is a land or a mana source, we are dead. If it is a cantrip, we are more than likely okay. I think it is correct to take Dark Ritual, but I would take the Thoughtseize because it fits my degenerate play-style of high-risk/high-reward magic.


Bryant Cook

When you simplify Magic: the Gathering down, you get two basic philosophies: Playing to win and playing to not lose. I believe that by taking Dark Ritual here, you are playing to not lose to exactly Lion's Eye Diamond on top of the opponent's library as not a single other card in their deck wins them the game. Due to Cabal Ritual not having Threshold our opponent can't do much even if they draw a red land or a Lotus Petal (they're able to Tendrils of Agony for not lethal). Because of this, I think it's best to play to win the game on the following turn by taking their Thoughtseize and accepting a loss if they have a Lion's Eye Diamond on top of their library.


AJ Kerrigan

If our opponent has Lion's Eye Diamond on top, we’re dead unless we take the Dark Ritual, but if we take Thoughtseize, we can win next turn. That said, taking Dark Ritual slows their hand down significantly, and we still have Ponder to recover from Thoughtseize, so just take Dark Ritual and make sure that you are careful not to expose anything too important with your Ponder next turn in case the other top card is a Thoughtseize.


Anthony LaVerde

I would take their Thoughtseize. This means that they would either have to kill us their next turn or if they left a discard spell on top they could stop us that way. We could take Dark Ritual, but I don't think we're winning the game if we're going to play a longer game vs the hand that they have. I believe they would need exactly Lion's Eye Diamond to kill us this next turn, or a Brainstorm with some combination of draws that kills us. That being said I believe our odds are pretty okay if we take the Thoughtseize and plan to win the next turn.


Landon Sworts

I would take the opponents copy of Thoughtseize to protect our Infernal Tutor and pass the turn praying to see our turn 3 in which our opponent will meet their demise.


Alex Poling

I'm guessing the opponent's top card is probably a land for a red source, maybe even Lotus Petal, but that's what they need to be able to combo. If that's the case then I would take the Thoughtseize. I think you have to take some risks here in order to win and I don't want us to keep using discard spells against each other and drawing the game out. That usually favors the player with a Past in Flames. I would gamble here and hope the opponent can't win next turn and didn't keep a discard spell on the top of their deck. If they didn't then I can win on my next turn.


Daniel Lee

I would take Cabal Ritual. It's one of the most powerful cards in the deck, but ANT really wants to resolve one before their Past in Flames. Past in Flames is a very mana-hungry spell and means ANT doesn't have many lines that start with less than three mana. Cabal Ritual is one of the easiest ways around that, and that's why we should take it. Taking the Dark Ritual is tempting, but that just helps ANT get closer to turning on their more powerful Cabal Ritual.


Steve Vultaggio

This scenario in my mind is somewhat of a gamble, and you can take two approaches. The first would be to hope that your opponent doesn’t have a relevant card that they topped with Preordain, and so you can go after their Thoughtseize to protect a potential Ad Nauseam from yourself the next turn. The other approach would be to choke them off of mana, the card I would target would be Dark Ritual, as it is the easiest to cast off of their current board state. Since they topped both cards with Preordain, I would assume they have something good to work with, and thus I would go after Dark Ritual. This would let them Thoughtseize my Infernal Tutor on the following turn, so I would be banking heavily on the Ponder to hit something again.

SITUATION #3 - 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, in a rough spot. We were working on setting up a turn where we would destroy the opponent's board with Grapeshot and then Empty the Warrens to finish our opponent off. Our opponent played a True-Name Nemesis, which ruined that plan. We need to take action because we are dead next turn. How would you play out this turn to either win or put yourself in a winning situation?

Special Guest

Brian Gallagher

I would go all in on Mizzix's Mastery! After casting Infernal Tutor for the last copy of Rite of Flame, I can Overload Mizzix's Mastery with 0 mana floating (leaving Empty the Warrens and Grapeshot in hand). After Mizzix's Mastery resolves, I would start off by casting Ponder (looking for any 0 mana artifact, Burning Wish, or Land), shuffle if I don’t find one, and cast Brainstorm. If I find any of these, I win the game by casting all copies of Rite of Flame and Infernal Tutor. This would leave me at Storm 14 and five red mana floating. Depending on what I draw, I can either play a land and cast Empty the Warrens for Storm 15 and Grapeshot for lethal or simply cast an artifact or Burning Wish as my 15th spell instead.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

At first, this scenario was heartbreaking. We set ourselves up to do something cool, and our opponent made us readjust our plan. After examining the situation and counting things out, I arrived at a pretty awesome line! Tap our Swamp and Island for Infernal Tutor, revealing Rite of Flame. Play your three copies of Rite of Flame for 10 mana. You get the ten mana because there was one Rite of Flame in our graveyard already. Play Burning Wish and then cast Mizzix's Mastery with Overload! I would stack Mizzix's Mastery with Infernal Tutor, Infernal Tutor, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Ponder, and Brainstorm, so that way Brainstorm will resolve first. Our goal would be to find some decent spells with our cantrips to reveal when our copies of Infernal Tutor resolve. Then ultimately we will have enough red mana to Empty the Warrens and Grapeshot for the kill!


Bryant Cook

I would start off by tapping both Island and Swamp for Infernal Tutor (Storm 1) revealing Rite of Flame and then cast all three copies of Rite of Flame (Storm 4 - RRRRRRRRRR) off of Volcanic Island. From here, cast Burning Wish (Storm 5 - RRRRRRRR) for Mizzix's Mastery and then Overload Mizzix's Mastery (Storm 6)! Put four copies of Rite of Flame on the stack (Storm 10), both Infernal Tutors (Storm 12), Ponder (Storm 13), and Brainstorm (Storm 14). No matter what you draw off of the cantrips, you'll have enough mana to cast Empty the Warrens (Storm 15) into Grapeshot (Storm 16).


AJ Kerrigan

Hard to parse this situation on my phone. I count us as 1 Storm or 1 mana short of various Mizzix's Mastery kills. I think we just need to use Rite of Flames to make 6R, then use Burning Wish + Mizzix's Mastery to Brainstorm and hope that we have a super lucky Brainstorm that lets us get somewhere with Infernal Tutor; probably has to be a few Dark Rituals and Lion's Eye Diamonds in order to Infernal Tutor for Burning Wish for Tendrils of Agony. Possible I missed something though. Guess we’ll find out!


Anthony LaVerde

We need to Overload Mizzix's Mastery! I'd play Infernal Tutor to grab a third copy of Rite of Flame, then cast all three copies we now have in hand. This leaves us with ten red mana floating. I would they cast Burning Wish to get Mizzix's Mastery and cast it for its Overload cost, letting us cast anything we want in our graveyard for free. With casting our Rite of Flames and cantrips in our graveyard again, this puts us in a position where we can Grapeshot our opponent for lethal as long as we find something we can cast off of one of the cantrips, as that would put us at enough storm for lethal. This line loses to Daze or Force of Will, but it's not like we have other options at this point.


Landon Sworts

Wow. What a cool line! Let’s start off with Infernal Tutor by tapping Island and Swamp, reveal and retrieve Rite of Flame. Tap Volcanic Island for red and cast all three copies of Rite of Flame cast Burning Wish to retrieve Mizzix's Mastery and cast it for its Overload cost! Now, all we have to do is sequence the cards exiled with Mizzix's Mastery in the correct order to culminate in enough floating mana and Storm for a lethal Grapeshot with all copies targeted at our opponent!


Alex Poling

I would start off by using the Infernal Tutor, tapping the Swamp and Island, for the third copy of Rite of Flame. I would cast all 3 copies of Rite of Flame off the Volcanic Island. This would leave me with 10 red and 4 storm. With the Burning Wish I would grab Mizzix's Mastery. I want to flashback the Brainstorm from my graveyard. It's a long shot, but if I draw into Lion's Eye Diamond and Burning Wish then that would be for lethal Tendrils of Agony.


Daniel Lee

We have a kill this turn, but it loses to Force of Will, Force of Negation, or Daze. Infernal Tutor for Rite of Flame, cast all three Rite of Flames in hand (Storm 4, 10 red in pool). Cast Burning Wish for Mizzix's Mastery and cast it via Overload (Storm 6, empty pool). Cast all four Rite of Flames for free (Storm 10, 8 red in pool). Cast Brainstorm, Ponder, and both Infernal Tutors for free. Empty the Warrens for 15, then Grapeshot for lethal!


Steve Vultaggio

This is a really cool scenario. I was trying at first to think of a possible line where you Infernal Tutor’d for Rite of Flame, cast three copies of Rite of Flame, cast Burning Wish for Mizzix's Mastery, the double cast Grapeshot. Unfortunately, my math has this adding up to 14 damage. So, since we have to win this turn, I think a great line would be to cast Infernal Tutor for Rite of Flame, go through the process I stated above, however, instead of casting Grapeshot, you Overload Mizzix's Mastery with the eight floating red mana. This allows you to cast Ponder, followed by Brainstorm, then all copies of Rite of Flame and Infernal Tutor. This is a very risky line, but you lose if you don’t go all out and hope for the best.

Since Legacy is in such a turbulent state, Burning Wish is continuing to shine because you can get so much game one value from being able to answer random hate cards. While none of my scenarios reflect it, Echo of Eons has been amazing! While it has backfired on a few occasions, the amount of times it has bailed me out of unwinnable situations is second to none. If you haven't picked up your copy, I would highly recommend giving it a try.

Until next time, keep storming!


Joshua Hughes

Like many others, Josh started playing Magic: The Gathering in middle school, where he learned to base his self-worth on how many dragons he owned. These dragons ended up coming in handy 15 years later when he got back into Magic and started playing EDH. After playing it for about six months, Josh heard rumors about a format with decks that could win on turn one. Since then, Josh has focused completely on Legacy.