This is the first TES Mailbox, once or twice a month I’ll be answering questions from the community in the following format. I hope you enjoy.
Do you play TES instead of ANT because you think it is better or because you are more familiar with the deck interactions and playstyle? or maybe a combination of both? I am currently building ANT but to be fair I never gave TES a try. Is there a particular matchup or field where one is clearly more suited than the other?
I don’t like slow storm decks, however, almost a year-and-a-half ago Peter Raab and I had a discussion. TES wasn’t performing at the levels it used to anymore, we recognized that. We accepted the fact that ANT was doing some things better than TES, but there wasn’t any reason we couldn’t do those things too. We cut Silence for more discard, shortly after we cut the five-color lands one-by-one changing them into more fetchlands and dual lands (I even play basics).
Our goal was to remain a storm deck with a fundamental turn of turn two while being consistent like ANT. We’ve achieved a lot of what we were aiming to do, but there’s still work to be done. At this point, the classic TES deck has merged with ANT into a pseudo hybrid. The main differences would be the concentration on Empty the Warrens paired with Cabal Therapy and Ad Nauseam compared to ANT’s Past in Flames and Natural Storm. That said, both decks are capable of doing the other deck’s strength, just not as often. The decks are so similar at this point that sometimes I wonder why there’s such a huge divide between storm pilots.
TES’s strengths would be the consistent ability to win before problematic cards can hit the table such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Counterbalance or Chalice of the Void where ANT’s approach is typically to grind the opponent’s resources and win from there.
Why do you streaming using Cockatrice instead of MODO?
I use Cockatrice because MODO isn’t available for Mac users. I refuse to split my hard drive in half to run parallels. I’ll convert over to MODO when Wizards/Hasbro recognizes 25% of the population and makes their program for multiple platforms.
Do you play the M11/M12 Duress over the Arena League Promo because you can get those in Japanese foil or is it because you like the artwork and the new card design more than the old one?
The theme to my deck is Japanese signed foil in that order, for things that can’t be Japanese (Dual lands) I prefer German. Because of this, I play the versions of cards available to fit the criteria. The art for Duress that I enjoy most is the classic Urza’s Saga, I don’t mind the Elf from M11. I think the Khans of Tarkir/7th Edition versions are both sort of ugly.
I'm playing TES, a pretty standard build – my opponent is on ANT. I win game 1, we sideboard, I replace Empty the Warrens with Thoughtseize and go to the game 2. He knows I play TES/Burning Wish main (he saw it when I was revealing cards from Ad Nauseam). My opening hand for the second game was: Infernal Tutor, Infernal Tutor, Infernal Tutor, Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Gitaxian Probe and Swamp. We are on the play. Would you keep that hand? In the same game. My hand after a mulligan is: Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Tutor, Swamp, Ponder, Thoughtseize. Would you keep that hand? I kept, cast Thoughtseize and saw: Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Tropical Island, Infernal Tutor, Infernal Tutor, Past in Flames and Ponder. What would you take? Or would you rather do something else? I took a Ponder, because the only black source was Lotus Petal and if he used Lotus Petal to produce black mana he must've drawn a red source to cast Past in Flames. Was that incorrect? Also, Ponder could've been cast off of Tropical. Was that good decision and/or reasoning?
I would mulligan the initial seven cards, it’s begging to get destroyed by Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy. Which they have time to set up as this hand doesn’t do anything. That’s a tough six, you really want/need to draw a Volcanic Island or fetchland. But I would probably keep it as a five card hand in a discard filled combo mirror likely isn’t going to get the job done. I would take Ponder as it slows down their clunky hand and doesn’t allow them to fuel their Past in Flames easily. I wouldn’t worry about the Lotus Petal as Ponder likely would’ve fixed their mana.
What are your thoughts on Dark Petition?
It’s a solid sideboard option, I’ve used it a bunch already with Burning Wish to find Ad Nauseam. You can also Burning Wish for Dark Petition into Empty the Warrens for increased storm. The card is better in lists than run Cabal Ritual. I would say that it isn’t a game-changing card but a nice supplemental card in the sideboard.
Do you always play Gitaxian Probe on the first turn, or just when you can combo right after?
I cast Gitaxian Probe at different times a lot, it really depends on the situation. But I do so to dig deeper before a Ponder, it also helps me figure out if I want to keep the Ponder or shuffle based on my opponent’s hand. It can change the way you were going to play your initial seven very easily.
If you have Brainstorm, Ponder, Underground Sea, a fetchland and need some cards to combo, do you play a turn two brainstorm, then fetch and ponder?
I shuffle more than anyone I’ve ever met off of Ponder. It typically has to be pretty good in order for me to keep it, due to this I would Ponder first. I typically Ponder before I Brainstorm in most situations. Then on the second turn I would Brainstorm and fetch. But this also has to do with the fact that I want to try to combo on turn 2 as well, you’re slowing yourself down by waiting.
When you believe you have a grip which you think is a worthwhile spellchain, do you use a forward model or a backwards one to check that the line is sound? In other words, do you start with the 10th spell of tendrils and count the amount of mana required to get there and see if you have enough in your hand/Past in Flames line or count the mana in your hand and go from there?
When I natural storm, it’s typically due to Brainstorm or Ponder finding cards that change my game plan. I was probably going to Ad Nauseam and then found something that just made it easier to naturally kill them. It’s almost always due to cantrips starting the turn or my opponent ramping up my storm from trying to interact.
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