M:tG – Storm Decks

Recently I discovered a half-opened booster Display of the New Phyrexia expansion somewhere among my (admittedly pretty unorganized) Magic stuff. Ravenously I opened the untouched booster packs and one lowly common I found among the cards reminded me of one of a particular deck which I had built for fun back in the Onslaught block. Yeah, it’s been a while. Anyways this is the New Phyrexia card which made me think immediately of that old deck of mine:

Now this, I thought, would be awesome in my old budget “Storm” Deck! If you are not familiar with Storm Decks, which have been played in more expensive versions competitively in older formats such as Legacy and Vintage. Heck, mabye they are still common in those formats but alas, I am not up-to-date when it comes to modern Legacy/Vintage decks-to-beat.  Anyways here is how the Storm Ability and Storm Decks work in general:

Storm just means you can cast copies of a Spell with Storm for free for every Spell played before it in the turn the Storm Spell is cast. Now Storm Decks usually played lots of cheap cards and all had ways to play a ton of Spells, many of which let you draw cards so that you do not run out of cards while setting up a huge Storm count, killing the opponent in one turn with the finisher cards of choice – either Tendrils of Agony or Brain Freeze. Both have Storm while the former makes your opponent lose 2 life and you gain 2 life and the latter makes the opponent put three cards from their deck to their graveyard. I guess it is really a matter of taste which one you use to win, Tendrils being a bit more straightforward causing death due to loss of life and Brain Freeze “decking” your opponent. Personally, I always prefered Tendrils of Agony, which would result in the (fatal) loss of 20 life if you managed to play 9 spells before it in one massively combolicious turn.

Well I never played a serious Storm Deck like the ones I mentioned that were played competitively in the Legacy or Vintage formats, but rather a very cheap, fun Storm Deck, which, inspired by discovering Gitaxian Probe I showed you above, I want to revive and share with you now. The Deck is really as budget as it gets, only running 4 rares, which can be safely called “crap rares” and go for less than a dollar nowadays, four copies of Mind’s Desire, with probably the most expensive card being Tendrils of Agony, which costs a bit more than one dollar at the moment. Besides Mind’s Desire, the only rare, and Tendrils of Agony, the only uncommon, which I both happen to have in my possession, the deck consists compeltely of common cards. While it is far from being competitive, the following budget Storm Deck is fun to play and while the combo won’t go off in every single game, when you manage to pull it off it is really something quite rewarding. For a deck which probably costs less than 15 bucks to assemble from scratch, it works pretty well and you probably won’t get a combo deck which kills in one turn (if everything goes as planned) any cheaper than this.

Ok enough talk, let me share the deck list for my budget storm deck with you (Please keep in mind that this is a fun deck which is not designed with any particular tournament format in mind!):

Cheapo-Storm:

Creatures…4

4 x Cloud of Faeries

Instants…12

4 x Dream’s Grip

4 x Snap

4 x Tidal Bore

Sorceries…16

4 x Gitaxian Probe

4 x Ponder

3 x Ideas Unbound

3 x Mind’s Desire

2 x Tendrils of Agony

Enchantments…8

4 x Utopia Sprawl

4 x Fertile Ground

Lands…20

12 x Island

8 x Forest

Some thoughts on strategy:

So the goal of the Deck is to pull off one massive turn playing tons of cheap or even free Spells (like Gitaxian Probe which you can cast by merely paying 2 life or Tidal Bore which has an alternative casting cost of returning one of your Islands to your hand) and then topping it off with the sadly very expenisve (in regards of casting cost at least) Mind’s Desire, your key Spell in this deck.

With Mind’s Desire, you do not have to have cast 9 other Spells before playing your “killer Spell”, Tendrils of Agony. Mind’s Desire lets you play the top X cards from your deck for free, whereby X is 1 + the Storm count, so the number of Spells you managed to play in the turn you cast Mind’s Desire. Hopefully, a copy of Tendrils of Agony is among those cards.

There are a ton of card interactions in this particular deck which allow you to pull off a deadly Mind’s Desire / Tendrils of Agony. In general though, with the exception of Mind’s Desire and Tendrils of Agony, this deck features basically three types of cards to facilitate a deadly storm count:

  • Cards that let you draw you additional cards and allow you to cycle through your deck so that you do not run out of cards while trying to reach a fatal Storm count. Examples are Gitaxian Probe, Ponder and Ideas Unbound.
  • Cards that increase the amount of mana a land produces. These are Utopia Sprawl and Fertile Ground in this deck.
  • Cards that let you untap lands, preferably lands enchanted with Utopia Sprawl and/or Fertile Ground which produce more than one mana when tapped for mana.

All these cards cost anything between 0 and 2 mana to cast, which is very important as you are going to have to play a ton of cards to set up a deadly Storm count for Mind’s Desire / Tendrils of Agony.

What I really love about this deck are the many great interactions between the various cards. Cloud of Faeries and Snap are really, really great in this build as they are basically free Spells AND let you untap lands when you summon/cast them. Combined with your mana-generating land enchantments, Faeries and Snap let you generate the mana you will be needing to pull off a fatal Storm. On top of that, you can play the Faeries, untapping two lands, preferably enchanted with Utopia Sprawl and/or Fertile Ground, then use Snap to return your own Faeries to your hand, which will let you untap two of your lands yet again, then play Faeries one more time again allowing you to untap two lands one more time. With just 1 copy of Cloud of Faeries and one copy of Snap you will have increased your Storm count by 3, still have untapped lands to use on playing more cards and will have generated some extra mana you can use to play even more cards to up the Storm count for Mind’s Desire.

Gitaxian Probe, the card that made me dig up that old cheapo Storm deck of mine, is really great for upping the Storm count as well as you can cast it for zero mana just by paying 2 life – you won’t be missing it if you are going to win in one turn anyways. Tidal Bore is very useful as it can untap one of your enchanted lands to generate more mana and can be cast for free as well, just by returning one of your islands to your hand. Ideas Unbound is perfect for this deck as well in my opinion. It draws you 3 card for just 2 mana, ensuring you don’t run out of Spells to play, while its drawback of having to discard 3 cards at end of turn does not really matter as the game should be over before the end of the turn if you play it right (and got Fortuna on your side!).

Well this is my “Cheapo Storm” deck for you. I think you aren’t going to get a one-turn-kill combo deck like this any cheaper and as I said above, while it won’t work out in every game, pulling of a massive turn playing a ton of Spells to kill you opponent with one deadly Tendrils of Agony can indeed be very rewarding! A word of caution: Don’t try to pull off the combo too early. Let some turns pass before you attempt to do the Storm thing as you may run out of mana and cards if you try to do it on your first few turns.

Now I want to present to you a totally different approach to a Storm Deck, which is a variation on a deck I have come up with some while ago using the mana producing abilities of Elves combined with the Creature-untapping capabilities of Intruder Alarm…

…to draw out your whole deck thanks to Skullclamp and generate a ton of mana which you would invest in a deadly Fireball or another Spell which lets you deal X damage for X mana. This rather old deck idea of mine is, as far as I know, more or less original. At least I haven’t copied it from anywhere but you can never know with players in the millions maybe thinking about decks and combos all the time. Anyways when I was pondering different ways to set up a deadly Storm count, that Elf-Combo deck of mine came to mind, as it is quite capable of playing a huge number of Spells in just one turn. This is why I thought I could scrap the deadly Fireball etc as the win condition and instead modify the deck in a way so that you would be able to kill with a fatal Storm count for Mind’s Desire / Tendrils of Agony.

So, before I elaborate on the strategy of the deck, which does not really qualify as  a buget deck this time around, first the card list for you (again, please keep in mind that this is a fun deck and neither aiming to be competitive nor intended for any official format – hence 4 copies of Skullclamp):

Elvenstorm:

Creatures…20

4 x Llanowar Elves

4 x Arbor Elf

4 x Birds of Paradise

4 x Elvish Visionary

4 x Titania’s Priest

Sorceries…9

4 x Glimpse of Nature

3 x Mind’s Desire

2 x Tendrils of Agony / Brain Freeze

Enchantments…7

4 x Utopia Sprawl

3 x Intruder Alarm

Artifacts…7

4 x Skullclamp

3 x Lightning Grieves

Lands…17

12 x Forest

5 x Island

How to play this deck:

In theory, this deck has a pretty efficinet engine which will let you draw a good part of your deck and play a ton of (Creature) Spells in just one turn, while generating a ton of mana to pull of a massive Mind’s Desire eventually. Let me tell you about the individual “gears” which make this engine work:

Glimpse of Nature and Skullclamp: These two cards make up the deck’s draw engine. Glimpse of Nature costs just one green mana and lets you draw 1 card for each Creature you play until end of turn, while Skullclamp kills your many 1 Toughness Creatures when you attach it to them and then lets you draw 2 cards.

Intruder Alarm untaps all Creatures when you summon one Creature, allowing you to unap your mana-generating Elves (and Birds!) to tap them again for more mana each time you summon a new Creature.

Lightning Grieves gives Haste (and Shroud) to the Creature it equips. In this deck, you use Lightning Grieves, which has an equip cost of 0 to be able to tap your mana generating Creatures for mana the very turn they come into play.

Ok these are the main pieces of the deck’s engine.  Now here is how they (are supposed to) work together:

Try to get some mana-generating Creatures into play first, which should not be a problem as you got 16 of them and all cost 1 green mana with the exception of Titania’s Priest. She costs 1G but is very much worth her price as she will generate 1 green mana for ever Elf in play!

Then play either Skullclamp or Glimpse of Nature – if you manage to play both, even better – and Lightning Grieves. Having Intruder Alarm in play is not required but helps you to generate insane amounts of mana. Now here is what you do:

Play one of your cheap mana-makers, draw a new card if you played Glimpse of Nature, then attach Lightning Grieve so you can tap your Creature for mana right away, then  attach Skullclamp to kill your Creature to draw 2 new cards. Play another mana Creature, draw 1 from Glimpse, attach Greaves, tap for mana, attach Skullclamp killing the new Creature to draw 2 cards again – rinse and repeat ad nauseam! 😀

Now imagine the same scenario with Intruder Alarm in play. Each time you play a new Creature, you got to untap all your Creatures in play. As almost all of them can be tapped for mana, each time you play a new Creature your mana-makers will untap so they can be tapped for mana again and again. Skullclamp and Glimpse of Nature ensure that you keep drawing more Creatures to play immediatley. This way you will be able to draw a huge part of your deck and play tons of Creature Spells in one turn, which will allow you to pull off a massive Mind’s Desire / Tendrils of Agony for the kill!

One little combo or synergy I want to mentio before closing this article: Arbor Elf can be tapped to untap a forest. Conveniently enchant a Forest with one or more Utopia Sprawl so it will produce additional mana to max out Arbor Elf’s ability. This can be a great mana generating engine especially when combined with Intruder Alarm. As Intruder Alarm, and I discussed it before, untaps all Creatures when a Creature comes into play, you will be able to untap Arbor Elf repeatedly in one turn which in turn will allow you to untap the enchanted Forest mutliple times in a row which will generate quite some mana!

Well, this all sounds pretty good in theory – if the deck is any good in practice has to be seen. I am really quite fond of the engine as described above and at least to my knowledge, the approach this particular deck features is somewhat original – a quality I value highly in any deck (I do realize that I am not the first and only person who has been thinking about a deck on the lines of the above…).  Sadly, I do not have the money to buy the 4 copies of Glimpse of Nature at the moment because they are ridiculously expensive as I had to realize, so testing “Elvenstorm” will have to wait for a bit and I will have to go with “Cheapo Storm” for the time being… Well I could always print out some Glimpse of Nature proxies! 🙂

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s