Questionable Deck Primers – Modern Storm

Just what is storm? Storm is a mechanic that started all the way back in Scourge. Back then I didn’t play much, but I always thought the cards with storm were awesome. Tendrils of Agony and Mind’s Desire(currently too powerful for anything other than vintage) were sweet ways to win a game. In today’s Modern format, people are winning with Grapeshot, Empty the Warrens, and for the people that are really deep, like scuba gear deep, Ignite Memories(I had thought about having this for the Tron match-ups but am not that crazy).

I recently went to Richmond, Virginia for the Grand Prix along with several friends. I decided on storm about eight hours before the tournament, mostly because I have experience piloting the deck, but also because Deathrite Shaman was no longer an issue. Deathrite sometimes led to a turn two Liliana of the Veil, followed by turn three Thoughtsieze or Iquisition of Kozilek, which is too much disruption to win through.

This is what I sleeved up:

Sadly, I did not make day two, but if I got a do-over, I would still choose storm, albeit with some slight tweaks. The deck feels very powerful and allows for some really crazy plays, and even winning from an otherwise far gone game.

Breakdown

My changes from the GP list to now are pretty simple: +1 Thought Scour/-1 Pyromancer’s Ascension in the maindeck, and +2 Defense Grid +1 Quicken/-3 Blood Moon.

The Defense Grids make for a less difficult time against UWR control, one of the “difficult” match-ups, and Blood Moon is underwhelming overall, especially in later rounds where smarter opponents will play around the threat of Blood Moon without having seen it. I cut a Pyromancer’s Ascension because there are draws with two Ascensions along with 2 rituals, which doesn’t actually do anything. You still want to draw the enchantment, but not in droves. Thought Scour helps find Ascnesions and also provides velocity when going off.

How to Storm

Storm has largely stayed the same through multiple bannings. You focus on getting a critical mass of spells to cast Grapeshot and kill your opponent, though how you do that changes from game to game.

Storm, in case you weren’t sure, works by combining three different types of cards – rituals, card selection, and finishers, hoping to eventually get a Pyromancer’s Ascension active or cast a huge Past in Flames. Drawing the right mix of the three usually results in quick wins, though you can win games from left field via good topdecks later in the game. The tough part of playing storm, however, is that you often only get a few turns to assemble victory, so evaluating opening hands is paramount to victory.

Mulligans

Deciding whether to keep a hand is pretty simple. The deck has a small amount of lands so one-landers are almost always snap keeps assuming there is a cantrip or two. The only deciding factor besides being able to dig effectively if whether there is an Electromancer or an Ascension. Not having either can be problematic down the road. Most six card hands that have between one and four land must be kept, because mulling to five almost always spells doom, even more so than with other decks because you need a critical mass of spells to win.

Note that the two best cantrips are Thought Scour and Peer Through Depths, the former because putting cards in your graveyard makes getting Ascension online much easier, and Peer Through Depths for similar, but different reasons.

Here are a few sample hands

Hand #1

Shivan Reef
Goblin Electromancer
Past In Flames
Peer Through Depths
Pyromancer’s Ascension
Desperate Ritual
Desperate Ritual

This hand looks questionable, but gives you everything you need to win. You have two shots at roughly 28% to hit a land, but combined with castable cantrips your success rate jumps to two shots at 58%. No one ever said playing storm wasn’t risky.

Hand #2

Thought Scour
Pyretic Ritual
Manamorphose
Sleight of Hand
Grapeshot
Mountain
Steam Vents

This is a snap keep. It does everything you need in game one.

Hand #3

Thought Scour
Peer Through Depths
Pyretic Ritual
Serum Visions
Sleight of Hand
Manamorphose
Shivan Reef

This hand is all air, but it has the ability to find a second land, and also can dig deep for a Past in Flame or Ascension, and so is an easy keep.

Hand #4 (6 card hand)

Scalding Tarn
Pyretic Ritual
Desperate Ritual
Thought Scour
Pyromancer Ascension
Thought Scour

You couldn’t ask for much better on six. Remember, almost any six with 1-4 lands must be kept.

Hand #5 (6 card hand)

Past In Flames
Desperate Ritual
Pyromancer’s Ascension
Island
Manamorphose
Peer Through Depths

This is the kind of stuff you will have to keep. You probably won’t win this game, but this is better than most five card hands.

Sideboarding

Let me just get this out of the way, the 7th Edition foil Vizzerdrix is the deck’s mascot, and it isn’t going anywhere.

Lightning Bolt is needed to buy time against the faster creature decks and to kill Aethersworn Cantonist

Echoing Truth solves every problem permanent, including Leyline of Sanctity or Rule of Law. You’ll have to be able to figure out if someone is bringing either of these cards in or risk losing on the spot.

Empty the Warrens is brought in against most decks, including Zoo, UWR control, Melira and Kikki Pod, UWR and UR twin, and Jund. Why don’t we have it main? Because it’s really bad against decks like Affinity where they fly over it and Burn where they just count to seven to kill you.

Defense Grid ensures you only have to play through a single counterspell.

Quicken used to be just for mirror matches. They go to kill you, you kill them in response, but its actually even better than that. You can play a psuedo draw go with some decks, where you assemble the ability to kill them but need an Electromancer in play to go off. You can play Goblin, pass, and in response to them killing it you can fire off the rituals in your hand followed by casting Quicken then Past in Flames to instantly kill them. Just remember to thank them for the storm count, and the story you can tell later about winning instant speed.

Common Questions

Q: Whats the real reason for the Vizzerdrix?

A: It was a card that I had been trying to get for a long long time because I thought it would be fun to have, and I eventually received it from a friend who is no longer with us so its just a moment.

Q:How good at math do I have to be to play the deck?

A:Not that good. I seem to do fine, and I’m not a genius with numbers.

Q: What do you commonly use to keep track of storm counts and floating mana?

A: I use my note pad to track the storm count. Dice are fine though. For the mana I have Pokemon energy cards which is a nice physical representation of mana that can help new players learn the deck.

Q: I noticed you don’t use Desperate Ravings. Why is that?

A: Peer through Depths is better when the Ascension is active. Ravings is a bad Thoughtflare and Peer is a SUPER Impulse. I also don’t like randomly discarding cards in a deck that is trying to reach a critical mass. It also allows for the random instance where you can splice a Desperate Ritual onto the Peer with an active Ascension for style points.

Well, that’s all I got on this subject. Just remember, this has been James “McQuestion” McCoury with Questionable Deck Primers.