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TES Infernal Tutoring #33

Welcome back to our 33rd Infernal Tutoring Article! With GP Atlanta behind us, it feels like Legacy has become the "Wild West" format of Magic: The Gathering. With a top eight that consisted of Ad Nauseam Tendrils (ANT), RUG Hexdrinker, Dark Depths, Burn, Miracles, RUG Hexdrinker, Dark Depths, and Hogaak Dredge, it is very apparent that Dark Depths and Wrenn and Six decks are leading the charge as the top decks to beat. In the current meta, it is no surprise to me that Ad Nauseam Tendrils (ANT) performed so well in GP Atlanta. The Past in Flames engine is extremely powerful against the majority of the top decks in the format.

As far as The EPIC Storm (TES) is concerned, there haven't been any huge innovations this month. In my last article I talked about Crash, which continues to impress me everytime I get a chance to play with it. With Wasteland and Stifle ticking upwards, I am also considering moving back towards an Island. Enough small talk though, let's jump into our three scenarios!

Special Guest

Josh Bingaman (beanaman):

Josh is a Legacy veteran, having played all manner of combo decks since starting to play the format in 2008. One of the pioneers of the deck archetype with our favorite SeaLab based naming convention, Josh's Magic accomplishments include making the second day at GP Atlanta 2012 with a home brew (Tin Fins), going 12-3 at GP New Jersey 2014 with Tin Fins with a sideboard Doomsday Fetchland Tendrils transformation, and a top 16 finish with that same deck at SCG St. Louis 2015. More recently he has been developing Bizarro Stormy in addition to playing more traditional Storm variants, and has accomplished his goal of getting the entirety of the Tin Fins, ANT, and TES decks fully signed by their respective artists.

Deck List

SITUATION No. 1 - Bomberman

When most people see the Magic Online username Julian23, they assume that they are about to play against Elves. Unfortunately for us Julian was on 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 TES is Chalice of the Void. The good news isBomberman 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.

HOW I SIDEBOARDED:

-3 Ponder, -1 Defense Grid
+2 Crash, +2 Chain of Vapor

We are in game two on the play. I decided to keep a potentially risky hand. We can either make 10 Goblin Tokens, Brainstorm, or pass the turn. What line would you choose, and why?

Situation 1

Special Guest

Josh Bingaman

Josh Bingaman

Bomberman is primarily a Chalice of the Void deck, and our hand is chock full of one drops. Since they know they are playing versus TES as this is post-board, they are more likely to keep a hand with disruptive elements such as Chalice of the Void. If we end up passing the turn here, we're likely in danger of getting locked out of the game. If we Brainstorm here, we're really looking for two initial mana sources to kill them with Tendrils of Agony, or possibly one land and discard to stop a Chalice of the Void. Both of those are fairly low probability. One important thing to note about Bomberman is that they play Ancient Tomb, which makes our Goblin Tokens lines a little bit better as they end up doing part of the job for us. I think I go for the safer line and make 10 Goblin Tokens here.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

Josh Hughes

My fear in this situation is that 10 Goblin Tokens can easily be answered by Bomberman. While that is by far the safest play, I think I would opt to Brainstorm here because there is a very high likely hood that I can find another mana source and always resort to making 12+ Goblin Tokens. This is one where if I do brick, I wouldn't be too upset.


Bryant Cook

Bryant Cook

Honestly, I don't think either line is wrong. That said, the risk of missing is very real and I don't know if casting Brainstorm for one more Storm is worth losing the game. You could certainly chance it and possibly hit a land plus another Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, or Lion's Eye Diamond and be rewarded. I also think 10 Goblin Tokens likely wins on the play. If it were me, I'd likely Empty the Warrens.


AJ Kerrigan

AJ Kerrigan

This seems like a pretty slam dunk Empty the Warrens for 10 Goblin Tokens. Our opponent would need to have a reasonably above average hand in order to beat that, and Brainstorm just has too many fail cases where we either can't do anything or are just waiting one more turn to do the same thing.


Anthony Laverde

Anthony LaVerde

I would reluctantly make 10 Goblin Tokens here. While Bomberman does play answers to Goblin Token tokens and can tutor for them with Karn, The Great Creator, I think it gives us better odds to win than going with the hail Mary Brainstorm. At best, you draw into a combination of cards that lets you jam Ad Nauseam, but at worst you lose the game on the spot. I think the most likely case is hitting a land and making two extra Goblin Tokens. With that being said, I would jam the 10 Goblin Tokens.


Landon Sworts

Landon Sworts

I would Brainstorm here. It's likely we can still make 10-14 Goblin Tokens by hitting any initial mana source including a land. We could even hit a mana source and another Dark Ritual to take an Ad Nauseam line and win on the spot.


Alex Poling

Alex Poling

I would make 10 Goblin Tokens here. They probably have very few wraths, and I doubt they can kill us on turn two very often. I think the risk of that line is lower than the risk of leading with a Brainstorm.


Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee

I would make Goblin Tokens here. We force the opponent to kill us in two turns or produce a blocker to buy them one additional turn (if they can cast it without using Ancient Tomb). Waiting is too risky as an early Karn, The Great Creator completely blanks our ability to produce mana unless we draw land, and a turn one Chalice of the Void for one would be equally devastating.


Alex McKinley

Alex McKinley

This is close, but I think 10 Goblin Tokens are unlikely to beat a Monastery Mentor coming down on turn one or two for the opponent. Instead, I would cast Brainstorm here and hope to find a black source to make 12-14 Goblin Tokens and have a chance at casting Ad Nauseam. There are about 15 hits in the deck to go off this turn, giving this line a 64 percent chance of finding a black source to cast Empty the Warrens this turn. The odds of being able to Ad Nauseam are much lower, but are still there. There are a couple of other hits that also let this hand do absurd things, such as finding a red source and a Burning Wish to cast Echo of Eons.

SITUATION No. 2 - Infect

In our next scenario, we are playing against Infect. Infect is a creature combo deck that looks to kill its opponent by dealing 10 infect damage. Usually this is very early, and in one fell swoop. If a potentially fast combo kill wasn't bad enough, Infect also packs a decent amount of counter magic to protect their combo as well. This can make the match feel very challenging. While Goblin Tokens can sometimes get there, infect has Inkmoth Nexus, which can fly over your Goblin Tokens, and Blighted Agent, which can't be blocked.

HOW I SIDEBOARDED:

-1 Ponder, -1 Chrome Mox
+2 Hope of Ghirapur

We are currently in game two on the draw. We were hoping to deal combat damage with Hope of Ghirapur and then finish out opponent. Unfortunately for us, our opponent played out an Inkmoth Nexus. Assuming that the opponent will almost certainly block with Inkmoth Nexus, how would you play our your turn to either win, or put yourself in a winning situation? Situation 2

Special Guest

Josh Bingaman

Josh Bingaman

They likely don't have another infect creature as they would have played it to get more early swings which means they likely have either counters and/or pump spells in hand. I think the best line here is during the first main phase cast Burning Wish getting Duress, and then pass the turn while leaving Hope of Ghirapur back to block. The following turn, lead with Duress to hopefully clear the way of counters or Veil of Summer, then cast your rituals, whatever card you drew, and then cast Infernal Tutor into Ad Nauseam. This line is weak to a hand with double counters and I feel like I'm likely missing a better one.

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

Josh Hughes

While the opponent having access to a creature with flying is annoying, I think I would happily force a trade. Even if I can't win this turn, the opponent is trading his infect clock. After combat, I would most likely play Burning Wish for Duress to safely go off next turn.


Bryant Cook

Bryant Cook

This seems relatively straight forward, you attack. If they block, you Burning Wish for Duress and pass. If they don't block, you sacrifice Hope of Ghirapur and Burning Wish for Duress (sadly, Dark Petition for Lion's Eye Diamond leaves us a single mana short). Someone with more guts could cast Ponder looking for exactly a third copy of Dark Ritual or a Lion's Eye Diamond to cast Ad Nauseam this turn.


AJ Kerrigan

AJ Kerrigan

This is an interesting scenario. On the surface, I don't think we're really mad if our opponent blocks. They would need Invigorate to save their -Inkmoth Nexus, and then we'd be much less likely to die on the following turn. Our hand can't do too much except make a bunch of Goblin Token tokens, or Burning Wish for Duress to setup a win next turn. Also, our hand is reasonably good against counterspells anyway because we can Burning Wish for Empty the Warrens. If Burning Wish gets countered, we can Infernal Tutor for Empty the Warrens. The real problem this hand presents is that when they don't block, we can't actually kill them. Hope of Ghirapur's ability would stop them from killing us next turn, but we can't make enough tokens to kill them next turn anyway. If we operate under the question's assumption that they will block, I like attacking. When they block, if they trade that's awesome, and we can go for Goblin Tokens. If they use Invigorate to save the Inkmoth Nexus, I like getting a bit tricky. First, we make all of our mana and then we cast Burning Wish. If they let it resolve, you can throw caution to the wind and get Pulverize to kill Inkmoth Nexus and then Infernal Tutor for Empty the Warrens. It's a fairly aggressive play, but it puts most of the onus on our opponent whereas most of our other lines give them a tons of options and put us in some really difficult spots. This line appears to have the highest upside to me. The problem is if we mix in the probability they don't block, this line looks a lot worse. I instead think I like taking the line of sacrificing Hope of Ghirapur, making all of our mana, using Burning Wish to get Dark Petition, and then using Dark Petition to find Lion's Eye Diamond. Finally, you have just enough mana to Infernal Tutor for Ad Nauseam.


Anthony Laverde

Anthony LaVerde

Our Hope of Ghirapur is not getting better as the game goes on, so I would attack now. If our opponent blocks with Inkmoth Nexus, we can get a trade as long as they don’t save it with a pump spell. The trade of course is ideal, as then you got rid of their threat. Regardless of which of these happen, I would cast Burning Wish on our second main phase to get a Duress.

In a fictional world where our opponent lets Hope of Ghirapur connect, the winning line is to sacrifice it and then cast both copies of Dark Ritual and the Rite of Flame. From there, cast Burning Wish to get Dark Petition, cast the Dark Petition with your remaining five floating mana to get Lion's Eye Diamond, and then with your Spell Mastery mana cast Infernal Tutor. Crack Lion's Eye Diamond for three black mana and get Ad Nauseam


Landon Sworts

Landon Sworts

We still want to attack so the opponent taps out their available mana to activate Inkmoth Nexus. In our secondary main phase, I would cast all of our rituals and then cast Burning Wish. We don't have enough mana to fetch Duress and cast it and still take a line but that's okay. The opponent may still use disruption from their hand at this junction. If Burning Wish resolves, we can grab Empty the Warrens, cast Infernal Tutor for extra Storm and then Cast Empty the Warrens. If the opponent counters Burning Wish, we cast Infernal Tutor for our maindeck copy of Empty the Warrens. If Inkmoth Nexus died in combat, the opponent's clock is slowed, and if the Inkmoth Nexus survived, the opponent would have had to use a pump spell like Invigorate, lowering their resources and slowing down their clock.


Alex Poling

Alex Poling

I would still attack here. If the opponent wants to block, I would be alright with that. Either we trade or they have to use a pump spell, which is one less spell on their kill turn. I think that exchange favors us. Leaving it back to block just seems bad, and if we aren't attacking or blocking then that seems worse. Depending on if they blocked or not would change how I played out the turn. I think more than likely I would Burning Wish for Duress and cast it if they didn't block because I would assume I'm dead next turn. If they do block and trade, I am still casting Burning Wish for Duress, but saving it for the next turn.


Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee

This is tough, but my instinct is to go for Burning Wish into Duress. They have too many cards in their hand for us to combo off blindly. Plus, that information can inform our decision as to whether or not to block the Inkmoth Nexus with our Hope of Ghirapur on their turn. We have a lot of mana, so if we can see that the coast is clear, we will have no issue casting Infernal Tutor into Ad Nauseam next turn.


Alex McKinley

Alex McKinley

This is quite the awkward spot for us. If Hope of Ghirapur attacks and is not blocked, it means that the opponent likely has a hand full of pump spells to make a 10/10 Inkmoth Nexus next turn. This makes the plan of making a lot of Goblin Tokens from Empty the Warrens not very good. If they do block, then Hope of Ghirapur dies, and it means that the opponent likely has a Force of Will or a Force of Negation. This leads me to believe that attacking with Hope of Ghirapur this turn is not a good plan. Instead, I would cast Burning Wish for Duress and pass the turn, intending to go off then. This hand has access to eight mana, which is perfect for Duress into Ad Nauseam. Not attacking with Hope of Ghirapur also incentivizes them to leave Inkmoth Nexus as a blocker next turn, tying up two of their mana. Next turn, assuming the draw step is something that allows us to get hellbent for Infernal Tutor, I would cast Duress to see their hand, move to combat and attack with Hope of Ghirapur. That should hopefully let us cast Ad Nauseam.

SITUATION No. 3 - Soldier Stompy

Our final scenario is against Soldier Stompy! This deck essentially packs every card that Storm doesn't want to see: Chalice of the Void, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Wasteland. This deck can be extremely miserable to play against if you aren't able to go off on turn one. While this deck is pretty rare to play against, you should always assume that there will be at least one player in the room who couldn't decide between Death and Taxes or Red Prison, and they will unfortunately throw this together!

HOW I SIDEBOARDED:

-3 Ponder -1 Defense Grid +2 Crash +2 Chain of Vapor

We are in a very tough spot! Over the course of this game, we were able to go for an Echo of Eons after bouncing our opponent's Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Our hand didn't quite get there from the Echo of Eons, but we were able to force our opponent to discard a Chalice of the Void, and we have an answer for the Thorn of Amethyst in their hand. The opponent drew and played a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, which complicated our plans. We have to take action now, or we will be locked out of the game. How do you win or put yourself in a winning position?

Situation 3

Special Guest

Josh Bingaman

Josh Bingaman

This situation uses Chain of Vapor's alternate mode of acting as a Storm generator and a mana source. We start by casting Chain of Vapor (Storm one) by tapping Underground Sea and Chrome Mox to pay for the "Thalia tax" targeting our own Chrome Mox. We then choose to copy Chain of Vapor by sacrificing the Underground Sea and targeting Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Fetch a Swamp by activating Polluted Delta, cast Dark Ritual (Storm two, BBB Floating), cast Chrome Mox imprinting a Rite of Flame (Storm three, BBB Floating), cast our remaining Rite of Flame (Storm four, BBBRR floating), then cast our remaining card, Ad Nauseam (Storm five) from 16 life, zero mana floating, and effectively no land drops left due to Thalia, Heretic Cathar. One more artifact will enable Mox Opal to be used, however. Overall, seems like a fairly likely spot to win from, just don't forget that our opponent has a Holy Light in hand!

#TEAMTES

Josh Hughes

Josh Hughes

This is a very out of the box scenario because at first glance the situation seems pretty hopeless. If you think through it, you can crack Polluted Delta for a Swamp. You can then tap the Underground Sea and Chrome Mox to Chain of Vapor targeting Chrome Mox. Then opt to sacrifice the tapped Underground Sea to bounce Thalia, Guardian of Thraben! Now you can play out Chrome Mox imprinting Rite of Flame to Ad Nauseam!


Bryant Cook

Bryant Cook

Start by searching for the basic Swamp. Tap Underground Sea and Chrome Mox, cast Chain of Vapor on the Chrome Mox. Sacrifice Underground Sea to copy it and then bounce Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Replay Chrome Mox (Imprint: Rite of Flame), cast Rite of Flame, then Dark Ritual, and finally Ad Nauseam.


AJ Kerrigan

AJ Kerrigan

Use Chrome Mox and Underground Sea to Chain of Vapor targeting Chrome Mox, sacrificing the Underground Sea to bounce Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. We then replay Chrome Mox, imprint Rite of Flame, and use Dark Ritual and Rite of Flame to cast Ad Nauseam. We can even get a little cute and also bounce our Mox Opal before bouncing the Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to generate extra Storm, but this matters so little that you'd be forgiven for not putting in the extra effort to do that.


Anthony Laverde

Anthony LaVerde

This is an easier scenario that highlights some of the usefulness of Chain of Vapor. First you sacrifice your Polluted Delta, then use the Underground Sea and Chrome Mox to cast Chain of Vapor targeting your Chrome Mox. Because you targeted your own permanent with Chain of Vapor, you can sacrifice a land to copy it and choose new targets for the copy. We will sacrifice our Underground Sea to copy Chain of Vapor targeting Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. From here we will cast Chrome Mox and imprint a Rite of Flame, then cast our other copy of Rite of Flame from that Chrome Mox. Lastly, we will cast Dark Ritual from our Swamp and then cast Ad Nauseam at 15 life.


Landon Sworts

Landon Sworts

Chain of Vapor is such a good Magic card. Let's start off by fetching Basic Swamp. Tap Swamp for black, Underground Sea for blue, and Chrome Mox for red. Use the floating blue and Red mana for Chain of Vapor targeting our own Chrome Mox, Sacrifice Swamp to copy Chain of Vapor and target our Mox Opal. Sacrifice Underground Sea to create a Chain of Vapor copy targeting Thalia, Guardian of Thraben removing it from the battlefield. Now we cast our artifacts, imprint one copy of Rite of Flame onto Chrome Mox, tap it for red, use the floating black mana to cast Dark Ritual, then cast Ad Nauseam. From here winning should be easy.


Alex Poling

Alex Poling

This is a very tight spot. We can't cast U, R, and B this turn with only three initial mana sources and two of them have to be used on the first spell. I think my plan would be to bounce the Thalia, Guardian of Thraben on their end step and hope to draw Crash on the following turn to kill the Thorn of Amethyst to combo off.


Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee

First, let's make sure we fetch a basic land with the Polluted Delta so we don't fall victim to the Thalia, Heretic Cathar. Fetch a Swamp. Then use the Chrome Mox and the Underground Sea to cast Chain of Vapor targeting Chrome Mox. Sacrifice the Underground Sea to copy it, bouncing Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Recast Chrome Mox, imprinting Rite of Flame. Use the Swamp and Chrome Mox to cast Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame, Ad Nauseam!


Alex McKinley

Alex McKinley

This is a situation that shows the power of Chain of Vapor. I would start by tapping Underground Sea and Chrome Mox to cast the Chain of Vapor targeting Chrome Mox. Then, I would sacrifice the Underground Sea to copy the Chain of Vapor to bounce Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Then I would fetch basic Swamp, replay the Chrome Mox (imprinting Rite of Flame) and cast Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame then Ad Nauseam.

In closing, I want to give a shout out to Cyrus Corman-Gill for winning Magic Fest Atlanta! Taking down a Magic Fest is a huge deal, and the Storm community is proud! Regardless of whether you play ANT or TES, I think we can all come together and agree that Cyrus deserves some major kudos and that Dark Ritual is one hell of a Magic card!

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.