This post is going to be a a basic overview of my current ANT list with reasons for the deviations from stock lists followed by some basic tactics for combating common matchups plus baseline sideboard in/out lists
Here in the main deck I am choosing to run with a purely grixis mana base instead of the usual green splash. This is due to wanting a strong resilience to wasteland as well as taxing counters. This is greatly helped by the inclusion of the second basic island. The added resilience also lets us shave a land and run with 14 compared to the usual 15 in many builds. Another deviation from stock builds is the inclusion of a maindeck Empty the Warrens. This is due to the high prevalence of delver and 4C Pile decks that are currently popular in the format. The rest of the main deck is basically set in stone and quite standard.
In the sideboard we do have quite a few differences from the norm though. The axiom used to construct this is that unless something is fundamentally stopping us from combing off I will not board for it. Thus this has lead to a sideboard full of bounce and removal for problem permanents. Here I do not bother with any “haymakers” for matchups as they are too inconsistent and I would rather focus on the core strength of storm which is its completely malleability around its combo. Another thing that is different about my board is the inclusion of chrome mox. These are here to help us sideboard into TES in a sense when we are fighting against speed based matchups. These also have the added bonus of being wasteland/port proof in these taxing matchups while also giving us the ability to easily ad nauseum without caring about the graveyard. I round out the sideboard with a couple discard spells which are there to help round out our ability to fight on the stack.
HATE: counters, discard, surgical
In: 1 Therapy, 1 Thoughtseize
Out: 1 Ad Nauseum, 1 Cabal Ritual
Gameplan: Here in the first game the main goal is to find when our “window is. What I mean by that is that delver will play a tempo game which will have to let some of their shields down at a point, where we will have to be ready to strike. This doesn’t change much post board as they do not have any hate permanents but will have lots of stack based interaction. One important thing to remember is we are the control here and are looking for our window to pivot to the aggro in a sense. Also note since they do have so much stack interaction baiting out counters non critical spells is is key.
HATE: same as grixis but with more discard
IN/OUT: same as grixis delver
Gameplan: This is about the same as against grixis delver but we will have to face a heavier discard package so our hand is not as safe. Also be careful to cast cantrips early if possible as they have Leovold.
HATE: counters, discard, hate bears/enchantments
IN: +2 Fatal Push, +2 Chain of Vapor
OUT: -1 Dark Petition, -2 Preordain, -1 Rain of Filth
Gameplan: In the first game they are quite clunky against us as they are basically a deck with some discard spells and force of will that has a slow clock. Thus we are just trying to make sure the coast is clear while not being under too much early pressure. In postboard games though they will have access to a fair amount of hate permanents as well as some upgraded stack based interaction. Here we just board in some bounce to be able to answer these permanents as they have a hard time being able to control us on the stack as well as putting hate on the board. Note that we keep Ad Nauseum in here as their clock is slow plus our graveyard will be quite unsafe.
SNEAK and SHOW
HATE: counters, leyine of sacntity
IN: +1 Thoughtseize, +1 Cabal Therapy, +2 Chrome Mox, +1 Chain of Vapor
OUT: -1 Dark Petition, -2 Preordain, -1 Island, -1 Rain of Filth
Gameplan: Game 1 is all about either a race or hand destruction. THey are an A+B combo deck so we can also keep in mind that Empty with cabal therapy is an effective way to clock them out. Post board they bring in more counters but also usually leyline of sanctity. This is the main reason I leave empty the warrens in the deck post board as once that is in play we have no reliable way to answer it except race so we can try to force them to have a quick combo/force of will as well. We also board in a couple moxen here as they are super fast and have the ability to ad nauseum due to our life total being pretty safe.
HATE: flusterstorm, graveyard hate
IN: +1 Thoughtseize, +1 Cabal Therapy
OUT: -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Rain of Filth
Gameplan: Here we are almost purely racing while tearing each other’s hands apart. Here the key things to remember are to keep a hand that can either setup a kill right away or heavily disrupt the opponent starting on turn 1. Note that since our interaction is all discard we also have to do a lot of calculating odds of what puts us dead to the fewest top decks. We don’t bring in the moxen here though as we are about the same speed and are facing a lot of discard.
IN: +3 Chrome Mox, +2 Chian of Vapor, +2 Echoing Truth, +1 Tendrils of Agony, +1 Thoughtseize
OUT: -3 Cabal Therapy, -2 Preordain, -1 Rain of Filth, -1 Island, -1 Dark Petiton, -1 Empty the Warrens
Gameplan: Here there isn’t a very good way to fight them as they are fast and consistent enough to present a reanimated creature or destroy our hand on turn 1 most of the time. Thus our plan here is to just board in some bounce to possibly help over the therapy, and pray for a fast draw. Note here we bring in the moxen even though it is a discard based matchup due to them having a huge speed advantage. Also the therapy’s are sided out due to them having too many different reanimation spells to reliably be able to name the critical one on time.
DEATH & TAXES
HATE: Hate bears, graveyard hate
IN: +3 Chrome Mox, +2 Chian of Vapor, +2 Echoing Truth, +2 Fatal Push, +1 Thoughtseize
OUT: -3 Duress, -2 Preordain, -2 Ponder, -1 Rain of Filth, -1 Island, -1 Dark Petition
Gameplan: Here we are in a pure race senario. Game 1 we only have cabal therapy to combat them so we just hope to have a turn 1-3 kill. In postboard games we basically have a critical mass of answers to the first hate bear while also siding in moxen to go faster. By boarding in only spot removal and note board wipes , we do make ourselves weaker to multiple hate pieces on the board at once. Note here that the moxen also work around port/wasteland so can be used to help set up an answer to a hate bear.
HATE: lock piece artifacts, graveyard hate
IN: +3 Chrome Mox, +2 Chian of Vapor, +2 Echoing Truth, +2 Hurkyl’s Recall, +1 Tendrils of Agony
OUT: -3 Cabal Therapy, -2 Preordain, -1 Dark Petition, -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Rain of Filth, -1 Underground Sea, -1 Duress
Gameplan: Here game one is a usually easy race where they have little interaction besides bajuka bog and wasteland. Beware a quick Marit Lage though. In post board games they overload on taxing artifacts so we just get rid of most discard and try to bounce it EOT and then casually go off. Some important notes though are that our bounce can mostly still hit Marit Lage to delay them and also that Empty is quite bad (even in game 1) due to tabernacle
HATE: Eidolon of the Great Revel, Pyrostatic Pillar
IN: +3 Chrome Mox, +2 Chian of Vapor, +2 Echoing Truth, +2 Fatal Push, +1 Tendrils of Agony
OUT: -3 Duress, -2 Preordain, -2 Ponder, -1 Ad Nauseum, -1 Rain of Filth, -1 Island
Gameplan: THis is a Pure race where we really only care about avoiding eidolon/pillar and comboing out. This is very similar to playing against death and taxes but they have no good answers to and have a hard time racing empty the warrens so the card is extremely live and makes up for our not having ad nauseum post board.
HATE: counterspells, surgical extraction, counterbalance, hate bears
IN: +2 Chrome Mox, +2 Chain of Vapor, +1 Wipe Away, +1 Thoughtseize, +1 Cabal Therapy
OUT: -2 Preordain, -1 Dark Petition, -1 Island, -1 Rain of Filth, -2 Ponder
Gameplan: Here in game 1 we are cold to them in the long game just due to so many counters and counterbalance. Here we approach this as we did before top was banned. Kill them early and often if possible. When going longer though it is very important to realize when we need to switch gears and start stockpiling discard for a long fight. Post board I haven’s found a very effective strategy due to not having the grinding station components in the board so instead I am just trying to go underthem while still respecting the small number of hate permanents and counterbalance they have.
HATE: discard, greaveyard hate
IN: +2 Chrome Mox
OUT: -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Preordain
Gameplan: In the first game we are just racing and trying to avoid them casting Natural order or a large GSZ. Postboard though they bring in discard and graveyard hate (sometimes mindbreak trap) so we just focus on speed with the chrome moxen but don’t need anything else. This commonly plays out similar to the mirror except we are fundamentally faster.
HATE: discard, graveyard hate, artifact lock pieces
IN: +2 Chrome Mox, +2 Chain of Vapor, +2 Echoing Truth, +1 Hurkyl’s Recall
OUT: -3 Cabal Therapy, -2 Preordain, -1 Empty the Warrens, -1 Dark Petition
Gameplan: Here we are racing similar to the mirror in game one only we are up against and A+B combo deck. Thus we can approach it similarly to the mirror but our backup plan of Empty plus discard is a bit more effective. Post board though it is quite different as they bring in similar hate to lands but are fast. The bonus for us though is that the bounce we need also stops their combo so we can just bypass the heavy discard game.