Hey everyone so this post will be an introductory guide to an updated version of the Modern Storm deck that I piloted to a top 8 finish at the Syracuse SCG open last weekend. So first things first here is the decklist:
This is the part of the list that stands out the most. Unlike pretty much every modern storm list before it this one maxes out on the best untapped UR dual lands available while including no fetchlands. The major reasoning for this is that on average we will be taking the same about of damage from our lands but without shuffling we also get to maintain complete information from what is put to the bottom with our cantrips. Another free upside to this is also we will be insulated from fetchland hate, such as Leonin Arbiter. There are some downsides to this base though. One being that now we are weaker to Blood Moon and Fulminator Mage, as well as losing the slight gains from the deck thinning fetchlands provide. This lack of thinning with the increased cantrips (which I mention below) lead me to also shave the 18th land. One last thing is that there is a Snow-Covered Island over a normal one for Gifts Ungiven.
Here we have the usual sets of Sleight of Hand and Serum Visions but in addition we have 3 Peek and 3 Peer Through Depths. This gives us many more than what is normal but with 14 in the deck now we have increased the velocity of the deck while also removing some more situational cards such as remand. Thus we can sculpt our hand much more readily than normal. In Syracuse I had 3 Thought Scour in my list instead of peek but the mill 2 text on it had been irrelevant for me there and in testing, so I wanted a 1 mana blue draw a card spell with more upside. This lead to the testing of Quicken and Peek. While Quicken does have some sweet blowout potential that average information gained from a Peek can be transferred over into how we play and sequence. It turns out that bad Gitaxtian Probe is still good. The 3 Peer Through Depths also give us a lot of digging power when looking for sideboard cards against hate and when going off in a non deterministic way. This also takes a fair amount of pressure off our Gifts Ungiven from needing to do anything other than set us up to immediately storm off.
Here we only have 7 Baral + Electromancer due to not being all in on speed while also being more cantrip heavy enables us to find one a bit easier and mitigate the probablity of our hand being clogged with too many.
Here is our bread and butter so we run the full 12.
We run the standard 4 Gifts Ungiven as the card creates so many deterministic turn 3 and 4 kills with Baral or Electromancer. The 3 Grapeshot are our only interaction and can be used quite liberally to destroy opposing boardstates when trying to buy time before going off. The Noxious Revival is also a change from my Syracuse list. It has replaced the 18th land and serves as a huge benefit to gifts piles, especially when we already have one of the “gifts pieces” aready as well as providing ways to kill without a medallion bear in play.
My sideboard was designed to be as streamlined as possible, instead of the many similar 1 ofs that many have for gifts. This was since I wanted to rely on Peer to grab these and Gifts to be used more for assembling the actual kill. The only change from my Syracuse list is the inclusion of an Echoing Truth over the 3rd Lightning bolt so we can have more outs than just Empty the Warrens against enchantments such as Leyline of Sanctity.
So in general for the board: Song usually fights opposing counters or faster spell combo, Echo fights enchantments, Dismember fights Ooze + Eidolon + Delve creatures + Shadow, Bolt fights smaller creatures and Grixis Shadow, Pieces fights Thoughtseize based decks, Empty is for grindy matchups and as a 1 of when we fear Leyline, Spree is there for all the artifacts as a 2 of when we expect about 4 pieces of hate and all 3 if more.
Here we are am underdog game 1 as they have a decent clock, lots of discard, and counters. The main game plan here is try to figure out what axis the Shadow player has the most tools to attack us on. Thus we should always try to see how much we can glean from what they choose with their discard. Also here peek does a lot of heavy lifting, as it gives us all that information. Grixis Shadow doesn’t have any way to cycle away cards and wants to take away all the cards their removal and counters cant handle with discard. Thus making that awkward for them with the info we have is of the upmost importance. In game 1 Past in flames is huge as well since they dont have any maindeck graveyard hate. If they play out early small Death Shadows feel free to shoot them down with Grapeshot as we can rely on Past in Flames to pick up the slack late game.
-4 Baral, -3 Electromancer, -1 Past in Flames, -4 Gifts.
+3 Empty, +2 Dismember, +2 Swan Song, +2 Bolt, +2 Pieces of the Puzzle, +1 Echoing Truth
In post board games we are trying to blank as many cards in their deck as possible by boarding out the medallion bears, which almost never survive anyway. We are trying to grind them out by being able to Empty for 6-8 easily multiple times or assemble a few spells with a couple Grapeshots or Grapeshot + Bolt. We also board out all the gifts as they dont give us many kill set ups in addition to being very weak vs Stubborn Denial. We board out the 2nd Past in Flames here over the Revival due to them bringing in a fair amount of graveyard hate while Revival gives us resilience to discard, Snapcaster, surgical, and providing useful storm for an empty. A good way to view the Post board games is we are a super cantrip heavy midrange deck with a bunch of mini “storm offs” that are meant to create subgames for the opponent to deal with using specific cards they will need to dig for while we set up another subgame. One final note is to be sure to keep them off having a big creature in play whenever possible as they are the aggro here.
Here game one will either seem super easy or unwinnable. They have cards we are stone cold to such as Chalice and sometimes Relic. They have few ways to interact early with a medallion bear so here we just want to view this matchup as a race where storming off as early as possible is key. Just also be conscious of Warping wail too.
-1 Past in Flames, -3 Peek, -1 Grapeshot, -1 Gifts, -1 Baral
+3 Empty, +3 Spree, +1 Echo
Post board we have to now deal with more Relics, surgical, Cage, and in the case of empty Walking Ballista + Ratchet Bomb. The main ways we win boarded games is either setting up a huge Shattering Spree turns before going off with the graveyard or casting Empty multiple times as they usually can answer the first one before they die but not the 2nd. An important thing to remember is that whenever they have mana up shattering spree must be replicated to double up on their artifacts (mana permitting) due to warping wail. Also remember replicate copies are not countered by Chalice.
Here we are a large favorite due to being faster and can usually go for a standard kill. First they on average have 6 ways to deal with our medallion bears early in Bolt and Anger, so if it we only have one waiting to play it is usually a good idea. Second is that they can some times run maindeck chalice and/or relics so don’t feel completely safe. Also remember that being at 18 or below is very different than 19 or 20 due to Valakut math from 7 lands with scapeshift. Thus we can sometimes eek out an extra turn by letting a Steam Vents enter tapped even though we could have some use for the mana.
-1 Peer, -1 Grapeshot, -1 Peek
Postboard we assume they will have Relic and Chalice so we bring in the Sprees for those but otherwise continue as we played in game 1. One nice thing is a very hate draw form them does slow them down a lot most of the time so us having to find an answer or take a turn off casting a replicated Spree isn’t as much of a cost.
This matchup is a pure race game one where they only have Galvanic Blast to interact. We treat this the same as game 1 against titan shift on they are about as fast as us but we can grapeshot their board to by time if need be,
-3 Peek, -1 Noxious, -1 Gifts
+3 Spree, +2 Bolt
For games 2 and 3 we now have a couple options for our role. We can either try to race as they will typically only have 2-3 pieces of graveyard interaction or we can save up to use Spree as a defacto Shatterstorm. One important thing to remember here is that the creature lands dodge basically everything we have and are the main ways to outrace us or insulate vs Spree.
Here we have basically no way to beat Eidolon so we have to concede those games but otherwise this is the same as Affinity only here they also have many more ways to kill our medallion bears. Our only real shot is to just hope one sticks or we have an awesome turn 3-4 kill dropping the bear on the same turn.
-2 Peer, -1 Noxious, -2 Peek
+2 Bolt, +1 Echo, +2 song
Here postboard they usually only have at most a couple graveyard hate spells so we just ignore boarding for them since they are so favored in this matchup. It is still a race but we board up to 8 ways to kill and Eidolon and hope for the best. One thing to be aware of is that they also board in Kor Firewaker to make our lives more difficult when going off.
Preboard we are favored due to being a faster combo deck in the case of counters company or due to lack of interaction in the case of GW value town. Aginast both it is best to usually slam a bear on turn 2 then try and combo on 3 or dig to use a Grapeshot to mow down their board. In particular against counters company we should always kill devoted druid on site if possible. One thing to be very aware of is that they both have Ooze in the main so our graveyards are not safe for the long game in general. Again in particular remember that counters company can also chord for it so killing a bunch of mana and small creatures preemptively is very important.
-1 Past in Flames, -2 Peek, -1 Peer,
+2 Dismember, +2 Bolt
Afterboard they will have some additional Ooze as well as an Eidolon. In the case of counters company there may also be a Sin Collector and Tidehollow Sculler so our hand is not completely safe. These games play out similar as to before but now with Eidolon in particular they have a weapon that can invalidate our deck. One important thing to remember is that a Company or Chord for Eidolon can shut us off mid combo.
Here we are not favored due to the lack of remands but we are a more consistent engine. The most important thing to remember is we are the aggresor so we should make them have it more often than not with respect to the counterspells. Also kill and medallion bear on sight with Grapeshot if possible.
-1 Grapeshot, -1 Peer, -1 Peek, -1 Gifts, -1 Electromancer
+2 Song, +2 Dismember, +1 Bolt
After boarding the games slow down a bit due to the increased countermagic and removal. Here we favor dismember over bolt due to being able to break serve or just plain cast for free with a medallion bear out. Since we have fewer counters still we must be very conservative with them and only try to use on big spells if possible. Also remember that remand is the most likely counter they have so we can insulate on go off turns by trying to sculpt a very high mana producing hand.
These of course dont constitute they entirety of decks you’ll face in modern but they all attack on different angles. The bonus of knowing these though is that we truly only care about a small subset of cards in each deck that interact with us so then we can then extrapolate knowledge from these matchups to others we face based on those cards and whether or not we are racing.
Also these are concise descriptions of how the matchups play with our role. Thus if you are just picking up the deck they will probably be inadequate for being totally up to speed for a premier event right away. Storm is a very hard deck to play well and if you are just picking it up before reading this I cannot recommend goldfish it enough. In doing so you will be able to achieve lots of memorized routing for the storming off parts.
The following are common deterministic kills assuming the opponent is F6’d and we have a medallion bear in play. The sequencing of the kills are left as exercises for the reader.
Mana we can make: 6 Cards in Hand: Gifts
Mana we can make: 5 Cards in Hand: Gifts, Manamorphose
Mana we can make: 5 Cards in Hand: Gifts, Past in Flames
I hope that this crash course in fetchless gifts storm helps and of course as always feedback on this is welcome. Good luck storming it up!