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TES Infernal Tutoring #32

Since our last Infernal Tutoring, the Legacy metagame has continued to evolve and adapt to the chaos that Wizards of the Coast created when they decided to print so many Legacy playable cards in such a short amount of time. Alex McKinley recently wrote a wonderful article that goes into more specific details, and I would highly suggest taking a look if you already haven't! As for The EPIC Storm, there have been very few changes to the deck list in the past month. It seems that the majority of players that I talk to are playing 2-3 copies of Mox Opal, and people seem to have mixed opinions on Defense Grid versus Duress. Crash has also made its way in to a few deck lists (which seems like an awesome addition), and Bryant Cook posted an amazing video showcasing the card's raw power! Enough small talk though, let's jump into our three scenarios!

Tim Colletti

Special Guest

Tim Colletti (Tcsironmaiden)

Tim is an up and coming Legacy Storm player from Chicago, Illinois. With only one Top 16 finish at the Moonbase Market 5K, Tim's proudest moments are teaching his son and nephews the game of Magic: The Gathering and playing in Legacy tournaments with them. When Tim is not playing Magic at local tournaments or Magic Online, he is balancing family life, playing in a band, and the everyday grind of the HVAC trade.

Deck List

SITUATION No. 1 - Bomberman

In our first scenario, we are playing against Bomberman! Bomberman is a mono-white combo deck that uses Auriok Salvagers and Lion's Eye Diamond to make infinite mana and then closes out the game with a Walking Ballista kill. Bomberman saw a pretty big resurgence with the printing of Karn, The Great Creator, which gave the deck a huge amount of resiliency. Besides Karn, The Great Creator, the biggest main deck threat for The EPIC Storm is Chalice of the Void. The good news is, Bomberman is very weak to Chalice of the Void on zero, so you will rarely have to play around that. All in all, Bomberman seems to be a pretty even matchup, but can definitely swing in either direction depending on who is on the play.

We are currently in an interesting position having just gone all-in on Empty the Warrens for 12 Goblin Tokens. I usually don't like Empty the Warrens in this matchup, but a dozen Goblin Tokens on turn one is pretty explosive and can usually race Bomberman. Our opponent played out an Auriok Salvagers and a good amount of artifacts. On our turn, we were fortunate enough to draw a Thoughtseize which revealed: Mystic Forge and a Walking Ballista. What would you take here and why?

Situation 1

Special Guest

Tim Colletti

Tim Colletti

I would take Mystic Forge in this spot with Thoughtseize. Depending on their draw my opponents Walking Ballista will be at the minimum a 3/3. I would attack with Goblin Tokens and make the opponent have to draw into their combo naturally while blocking with their Auriok Salvagers and Walking Ballista. Mystic Forge would allow my opponent to see a lot of cards (the majority of them are colorless and/or cost zero mana). They would more than likely find their Lion's Eye Diamond and Walking Ballista.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

Josh Hughes

This is definitely an interesting spot to be in. If we don't take the Walking Ballista, the opponent can Walking Ballista for three, which might be able to give the opponent enough time to stabilize. If we don't take the Mystic Forge, the opponent can potentially draw the majority of their deck and just win on the spot by finding a Lion's Eye Diamond. It is also worth noting that the opponent can choose to spend their copies of Lotus Petal this turn to return the artifact that we force them to discard back to their hand. This play would turn off their Mox Opal, however, which doesn't seem worth it. I ultimately decided to take Walking Ballista and gamble that the opponent would either waste their two copies of Lotus Petal bringing back Walking Ballista or miss on Mystic Forge.


Bryant Cook

Bryant Cook

If we discard Walking Ballista, our opponent will have the ability to play Mystic Force and then play artifacts off of the top of their library. Considering that Bomberman plays quite a few zero converted mana cost artifacts, I'd guess our opponent would see anywhere between 3-7 cards on average. A Lion's Eye Diamond at any point in these looks is a lethal kill for our opponent. They would play Lion's Eye Diamond, activate it, recur it for two mana, and then go infinite. Once infinite, they would bring back the Walking Ballista we discarded and win the game. If we discard Mystic Forge, our opponent can untap and then play a Walking Ballista for three (assuming they don't draw another two mana producing land). When we go to attack, our opponent can then block two Goblin Tokens and shoot at least one Goblin Token down for free (the choice to shoot two more is available). Regardless, they shoot down one or three you'll have lethal damage on the following turn assuming our opponent doesn't draw exactly Lion's Eye Diamond. Now that you know the options, you play to the greater probability of not losing. In my opinion, that line is to discard Mystic Forge to give our opponent less opportunities to find the card that kills us.


AJ Kerrigan

AJ Kerrigan

Walking Ballista for three means we need two turns to kill them, so we are effectively giving them two draw steps to find Karn, The Great Creator or Lion's Eye Diamond. They'd likely kill us somewhere around 25-30 percent of the time. Mystic Forge means they are dead next turn, but they'll potentially get to see a lot of cards to find exactly Lion's Eye Diamond. They probably have roughly 20 free cards, and 25 cards that stop them in their tracks. Because of this, they'll need Lion's Eye Diamond to be ahead of those 25. I ballpark that they kill us roughly 15-20 percent of the time. The issue is that if we take Walking Ballista, they can still just return it to their hand and play it for two if they determine that Walking Ballista is better than Mystic Forge. The only reason to ever take Walking Ballista here is if we think our opponent might make a mistake and decide to cast Mystic Forge next turn, which is valid, but in the dark or against a good player, I would just take Mystic Forge to take the free option away from our opponent.


Anthony Laverde

Anthony LaVerde

This is close, but I think I would take the Mystic Forge. With the amount of mana our opponent has available, they can cast a 3/3 Walking Ballista. This can block one of our Goblin Tokens and then be sacrificed to kill three other Goblin Tokens. Our next attack would put them to three. With the turn working out this way, so we can easily win next turn. Mystic Forge can find a number of things that make us lose the game, whether it's something that can kill our Goblin Tokens like Engineered Explosives for example. Mystic Forge can also just find a combo kill unless they brick and hit two lands or cards that aren't colorless. I think the safer play is giving them one more turn. The biggest risk with taking this line is if they top deck another sol land (Ancient Tomb or City of Traitors) to cast a 4/4 Walking Ballista. Still, Mystic Forge is an engine on its own so I believe this gives our opponent less outs.


Landon Sworts

Landon Sworts

I think I would take Walking Ballista to keep our field of Goblin Tokens intact and try to pressure a victory by attacking aggressively. The opponent has a few different things they can potentially do to stabilize. I’m comfortable with forcing them to stabilize or lose.


Alex Poling

Alex Poling

I would discard Walking Ballista here. It would allow them to get another turn, and I want to make this their last turn. The opponent would have to run pretty hot to win off of just Mystic Forge and one mana. Their deck plays many cards that cost more than one along with lands. Even if they hit mana off the Mystic Forge, there's nothing too useful in their graveyard for the Auriok Salvagers to use. Hopefully, I don't get burned by the top of their library.


Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee

I discard the Mystic Forge. If we choose Walking Ballista, then they will have a minimum of three chances next turn to see a Lion's Eye Diamond which kills us on the spot (draw for turn, top card from Mystic Forge and the next card after exiling with Mystic Forge). If we take Mystic Forge, then they may only get one chance at finding a Lion's Eye Diamond next turn. Now, they will get at least one more chance if they optimally play out a 3/3 Walking Ballista, block two Goblin Tokens and kill one more, but then we have lethal the following turn regardless.


Alex McKinley

Alex McKinley

The opponent has two of the three pieces required to kill outright and are just missing a Lion's Eye Diamond. My goal here is to minimize the amount of looks that the opponent has at finding a Lion's Eye Diamond. Taking Walking Ballista does not actually change the clock. The opponent can play it for two (or three if they choose to sacrifice the copies of Lotus Petal). If it ends up in the graveyard, they could just return it with the activated ability of Auriok Salvagers, and then play it for two. Mystic Forge is an incredible draw engine, however, and probably gives the opponent at least three looks the turn they play it. Additionally, Mystic Forge cannot be returned from the graveyard by Auriok Salvagers so I would take the Mystic Forge.

SITUATION No. 2 - Four-Color ( 4C) Control

Next up, we are playing against 4C Control! 4C Control was rampant prior to Deathrite Shaman being banned. The deck couldn't support the insanely greedy manabase after the banning until the recent printing of Wrenn and Six, which gave the deck the stability it needed. 4C Control can attack from many different angles, so it is a match where you have to be able and willing to change your game plan quickly. Traditionally, our main strategy was to play four Empty the Warrens and grind the opponent out with Goblin Tokens, but with the printing of Plague Engineer, Goblin Tokens are less likely to win the game.

HOW I SIDEBOARDED:

No Changes

After fighting through our opponent's discard spells, countermagic and graveyard hate, we were able to Empty the Warrens for eight Goblin Tokens. Our opponent followed up with a Baleful Strix, which was a huge sigh of relief for us. As we move to our attack phase, how would you attack with your Goblin Tokens?

Situation 2

Special Guest

Tim Colletti

Tim Colletti

I would attack four Goblin Tokens at Jace, the Mind Sculptor and four at my opponent. This takes away my opponents' ability to dig for a Plague Engineer or Toxic Deluge with the zero ability of Jace, the Mind Sculptor; while also putting pressure on their life total. The opponent may choose to trade a Baleful Strix for a Goblin Token, but without a board wipe spell, they will not be able to deal with the Goblin Tokens.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

Josh Hughes

Traditionally, I would always swing at the opponent, but since Plague Engineer is a thing now, I would definitely kill Jace, the Mind Sculptor here to cut down on the number of cards they can draw. This is our best chance of winning, in my opinion, especially with such a small number of Goblin Tokens.


Bryant Cook

Bryant Cook

Our opponent already activated Jace, the Mind Sculptor and didn't find what they needed to win the game (a Plague Engineer). Meaning, it's safe to assume at least their top card of their library is a dead card. If you swing at our opponent, they'll most likely block with Baleful Strix and take seven falling down to seven life. A removal spell in the top three cards off of Jace, the Mind Sculptor would keep them alive for another turn but it's also three looks for an answer to the horde of Goblin Tokens. On the following turn, assuming everything goes well (this may be a bit of a stretch), you can attack for lethal.

Alternatively, you can swing four copies at Jace, the Mind Sculptor and four at our opponent. Let's assume their unknown card isn't an instant speed removal spell in a post-board game (safe assumption, also, if our opponent had a copy of Snapcaster Mage they would've most likely used it in their main phase to flashback Ponder to search for Plague Engineer), our opponent will block with Baleful Strix and then take three damage falling to 11. Now, our opponent will untap with no Jace, the Mind Sculptor and draw a card that is likely a dead draw. We can then draw, attack, and put our opponent to four life. This plan gives our opponent one unknown draw step to find their answer or a card that draws them into a solution before facing down lethal.

Once again, I play to limit my opponents outs from killing me. I would attack Jace, the Mind Sculptor.


AJ Kerrigan

AJ Kerrigan

If we attack them, they have a ton of outs (or even just Jace, the Mind Sculptor's -1) to buy themselves three draw steps. Additionally, they'll have an active Jace, the Mind Sculptor the entire time. If we attack Jace, the Mind Sculptor with five and them with three, we still likely kill them in the same number of turns and then we remove Jace, the Mind Sculptor, which drastically reduces the number of cards they get to see for an out. I would attack Jace, the Mind Sculptor with five (guaranteeing we kill it through Baleful Strix plus a removal spell) and the opponent with three.


Anthony Laverde

Anthony LaVerde

I would send three Goblin Tokens at our opponent and five Goblin Tokens at Jace, the Mind Sculptor. While this slows down our clock, it makes it so our opponent sees considerable less cards, making it more difficult for them to find Plague Engineer or another answer. Additionally, if they do happen to find Plague Engineer, having Jace, the Mind Sculptor taken out would keep us in the game still.


Landon Sworts

Landon Sworts

My gut tells me to swing at our opponent with all of our creatures. The lower their life total, the more vulnerable they will be for Grapeshot if they are able to stabilize from our gang of green men.


Alex Poling

Alex Poling

I would attack all at their life total. This looks like a post-board game, meaning there are probably a few sweeper effects in their deck. That said, I want to close out this game immediately. This puts them dead the next turn, but they will get to Brainstorm off of Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and take their draw step to find an naswer. Every turn I give them could just be another cantrip, planeswalker, or another draw step to find their answer.


Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee

I would send four Goblin Tokens at the opponent and four at Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Even if we go for the fastest clock possible, we need two attacks for lethal (seven and seven damage). Letting Jace, the Mind Sculptor live that long is giving our opponent access to at least four times as many new cards as otherwise. If our opponent does not draw exactly Plague Engineer, we kill in one additional attack with plenty of excess (three, seven, and seven damage) to account for additional blockers or 1-for-1 removal.


Alex McKinley

Alex McKinley

This is another exercise in making sure the opponent sees as few cards as possible. If Jace, the Mind Sculptor gets to Brainstorm next turn, the opponent sees at least four cards before they even have to spend a mana on a cantrip digging for Plague Engineer. It feels weird to give the opponent and extra turn, but it actually lets them see less cards overall. I would attack with four tokens at Jace, the Mind Sculptor and the rest at the opponent. This gives a three turn clock, which gives the opponent three looks (plus whatever cantrips they could have found along the way) instead of the many more looks that Jace, the Mind Sculptor would have provided.

SITUATION No. 3 - Grixis Control

In our final situation, we are facing Grixis Control! Grixis Control is a deck that looks to disrupt its opponent by playing a ton of discard spells and countermagic while closing the game with a Gurmag Angler, Young Pyromancer, or a Planeswalker. There have also been some recent lists that are playing Dreadhorde Arcanist, which can get out of control with cantrips and discard spells if unanswered. While this matchup seems favorable for the most part, there are many scenarios where the opponent will have just the right amount of disruption paired with pressure to win.

Our opponent was able to keep us from doing anything by playing a ton of discard spells. We were eventually able to deploy a small group of Goblin Tokens via Empty the Warrens. That said, our opponent was able to kill all of our tokens and then deploy a Gurmag Angler. We have somehow managed to miraculously not see any copies of Kolaghan's Command yet. After what felt like 100 turns of "draw, go.", we have finally drawn an Infernal Tutor! Assuming that our opponent isn't able to deal one damage to us, we can wait for one more turn before we are dead. What play would you make?

Situation 3

Special Guest

Tim Colletti

Tim Colletti

I like to take risks and if drew into an Infernal Tutor with six life remaining while having enough mana to cast an Ad Nauseam, I would. The odds are in my favor that I can safely cast Ad Nauseam and not die to it. I would only need a little luck and four spells after the Infernal Tutor into Ad Nauseam for lethal storm count as the opponent is at 11 life. I am hoping Ad Nauseam resolves revealing Badlands, Rite of Flame, Lion's Eye Diamond, and Burning Wish.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

Josh Hughes

I think that the only plays that we have this turn are an Ad Nauseam from six with an available land drop or an Echo of Eons with no mana floating. After tanking about it, I decided to Ad Nauseam because we don't have an Empty the Warrens in our deck. While this line has a pretty low chance of success, I think it is probably more likely than trying to Echo of Eons.


Bryant Cook

Bryant Cook

It may seem a little ballsy, but I think I'm going for Ad Nauseam. We have a land drop available and no Empty the Warrens in our deck. That said, we've used 5-of-15 zero mana artifacts. I just think my odds are slightly higher here than when giving our opponent a fresh set of seven cards. I believe at six life we're more likely to draw seven cards or more and not die — The EPIC Storm's average converted mana cost is .75 (this number is all 60 cards) which backs this plan.


AJ Kerrigan

AJ Kerrigan

We just don't really have a meaningful way to kill our opponent here, and we can't make enough Goblin Tokens to do anything. Ad Nauseam is just so unlikely to do anything here. I think our only real option is to Infernal Tutor for Burning Wish, and then Burning Wish for Echo of Eons which we can then use Lion's Eye Diamond to play. I'd rather do that this turn because while I would love an extra draw step, I think it often helps our opponent more than it helps us. We also want to be able to use any fetchlands we find off of Echo of Eons since our constraint will likely be starting mana sources. We don't want to just die to a random Lightning Bolt or Kolaghan's Command that our opponent finds off of their draw seven. Their mana is also most constrained this turn which is worth a small percentage point.


Anthony Laverde

Anthony LaVerde

I'd cut my losses and try to jam Ad Nauseam. This has its risks, but I don't see a better option. We at least have a land drop, and we don't need a lot of storm to have a lethal Tendrils of Agony kill. I see this having a higher probability of winning rather than jamming Echo of Eons, praying you draw into the kill, and your opponent doesn't draw any answers.


Landon Sworts

Landon Sworts

I would probably try to combo with Echo of Eons this turn — Infernal Tutor for Burning Wish, Burning Wish for Echo of Eons. We then sacrifice our Lion's Eye Diamond for three blue mana putting Echo of Eons in our graveyard. Hopefully we draw well and the opponent doesn’t draw more permission than we are capable of handling.


Alex Poling

Alex Poling

I would cross my fingers and Infernal Tutor for Ad Nauseam! I'm not sure what waiting another turn really gets us here. From one life, we can't Ad Nauseam, and there's not much we can draw to build up that much storm. The Empty the Warrens is out of the deck and we have a lot of artifact mana still in the deck. I need to hope to hit them along with a Burning Wish. It's not great odds, but I think it's a lot better than waiting another turn.


Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee

We have two five-mana lines available to us — Ad Nauseam, or Burning Wish for Echo of Eons. Based on the converted mana costs of the cards left in our deck, using the same methodology as The STORM Count from June, we can draw an average of 6.85 cards from this situation. That translates into an above-50 percent chance to draw six cards for five life or less. We can compare this with the opponent's chance of seeing a Force of Will or Force of Negation plus a blue card off an Echo of Eons. It is about 44 percent assuming four Force of Will, one Force of Negation, and 18 other blue cards. This number is an underestimate when you consider that the opponent has Brainstorm mana available. I definitely prefer the odds with the Ad Nauseam line, but it's really close.


Alex McKinley

Alex McKinley

The first thing to note about this situation is that the difference between one and six life is not huge. A common question in situations with The EPIC Storm is the question, "Does it get better for me?" In this case, I believe that waiting a turn does not make things better. The opponent could draw another card to turn on Force of Will or draw a burn spell to end the game on the spot. Given that this is game one, most Grixis Control lists only have access to the four Force of Will for counterspells. They do have mana for Kolaghan's Command, but I believe the best chance for us is to go off this turn with a line for Echo of Eons. Even if it whiffs, there may be the chance to still get that next turn assuming that the opponent did not draw a burn spell in their eight cards. I would cast Infernal Tutor for Burning Wish to get Echo of Eons, then crack Lion's Eye Diamond and hope for the best.

The Legacy meta seems very hostile to Storm, but I have been having lots of success with the deck online. Playing a deck that is consistently able to take action on turn one is amazing, and I am excited to see how the deck continues to evolve with the meta. Until next time, keep Storming on!


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.