Several members of our CK community traveled to Las Vegas earlier this month for one of Magic’s biggest events of the year. While there were plenty of panels to attend, friends to meet, and Beta draft qualifiers firing off, thousands of players chose to compete in one of two main events and put their spell-slinging skills to the test. Seattle local Campbell Glass entered the Modern main event on Friday, and her stellar performance with Storm earned her an 80th place finish, the Play it Forward prize for the event, and two Pro Points to add to her resume.
Krark-Clan Ironworks may be the new Boogeyman in Modern, but there’s still plenty of room for other combo decks in the metagame. Storm’s goal is to chain together several spells in one turn before casting a game-ending Grapeshot, and assembling the pieces in the right order takes practice. Campbell relishes the challenge and loves the learning opportunity that Storm provides: “I probably have around 200 games in with the deck, and I’m still running into interesting interactions or ways to play around [unexpected] cards,” she says.
Speaking of learning opportunities, talking to Campbell about Storm provided a great level-up moment for aspiring deck-builders. When we reached out to her for a decklist to include in this article, she shared a thorough breakdown of cards based on their function in the deck. “Lately, I’ve been trying to conceptually group decklists that I play,” she said, “with the idea being that thinking about individual cards as members of sets of cards…makes it easier for me to think about what the deck is doing as a whole.”
With that in mind, let’s walk through all the essential ingredients of a Storm deck.
In the delicious stew that is a Storm deck, our onions, carrots, and celery are Grapeshot, Gifts Ungiven, and Past in Flames. These cards are indispensable, as they are essential to the deck’s game plan. Gifts allows us to tutor for the right pieces, Past in Flames helps us cast more spells each turn, and a lethal Grapeshot is lights out.
According to Campbell, Gifts was responsible for some of her most important learning moments at GP Vegas. Modern is full of graveyard hate – Snapcaster Mages, Tarmogoyfs, and Dredge decks abound – so you’ll want to be strategic about which spells you put in your graveyard. Bin any of these essential engine pieces and you could make yourself vulnerable to a Surgical Extraction.
If we want to “go off” with Storm, we’ll need to cast plenty of spells in one turn. To that end, every Storm deck runs twelve “Rituals” – spells that generate more mana than they cost. You’ll often see Storm players keeping close track of their mana pools as they cast these spells in succession.
Want to get even more out of your rituals? These “enabler bears” help you conserve mana by reducing the costs of non-creature spells. While Goblin Electromancer has been a Storm mainstay since Return to Ravnica, the addition of Baral with Aether Revolt gave Storm the extra push it needed to return to prominence.
Okay, we have all the pieces of a successful Storm deck. Now how do we put them together? Our eleven “cantrips” (cards that draw other cards) help us filter through the top of our libraries to set up the perfect turn. The Storm community believes in playing at least ten of these cards, occasionally swapping a third Opt for a more interactive spell.
The last couple non-land cards in Storm are intended to answer opponents’ threats – or even their own answers, in the case of Noxious Revival. While Storm’s answers are relatively soft, they’re effective at buying you the turn or two you need to close out the game. These are the most flexible slots in the deck, so – to return to that stew metaphor – feel free to season to taste.
Most of Campbell’s sideboard consists of more interaction and answer pieces, tailored to the expected metagame:
Additionally, there are three cards that deserve a spotlight.
Campbell categorizes Pieces of the Puzzle as a “graveyard hate resiliency” card, as they provide enough card advantage to help the Storm deck slog through answers. She also likes them against Control: “They can be brought in on top of…Gifts Ungiven to give your opponent more spells that they feel they need to counter, which helps you resolve more of the things you really care about,” she said.
For more redundancy, she turns to Empty the Warrens to provide additional Storm support. Empty the Warrens is a great back-up if you find yourself in the Grapeshot/Surgical Extraction situation mentioned earlier, and sometimes creating 10 Goblin tokens is enough to win the game.
Campbell’s also trying out Search for Azcanta in a spot that many players reserve for Pyromancer Ascension or Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Storm can flip Search faster than most other decks in Modern, so you can power through your deck looking for combo pieces.
While Krark-Clan Ironworks and Tron topped the GP Vegas standings, Modern remains a rich and diverse format. A Storm player may face everything from Jund to Affinity to Humans to Bogles in a single day of competition, but the deck’s lean game plan and redundancy make it a match for anything the format can throw at it. If you choose to sleeve it up during the upcoming Modern PPTQ season, Campbell advocates getting reps against as wide a field as possible; while each match-up will present challenges, you’re bound to learn about new interactions at every turn.
Looking for more Modern action? Tune in to coverage of our local Modern 1K tomorrow, June 30th, at noon on twitch.tv/cardkingdom!