Hello again! I'm back, but this time with something totally different from usual. So far, my articles and videos have been completely based on Standard, but you're in for a treat this time around. My true passion is Legacy (and Limited, but that's a story for another day), and it's the reason I was discovered in the first place.
My deck of choice: The Epic Storm (TES). Liam Kane recently wrote a primer for this deck right on this very website (it can be found right here). I recommend reading it. This is my pet deck, and I've become very good at playing it. Today, I'll focus on cards in New Phyrexia that may or may not impact TES. I have a few in mind that I will discuss in-depth. I'll also touch on a few seemingly weird plays that can make or break a game and have led me to many victories.
Here's my current decklist for reference:
Pretty similar to most TES lists (remember that the sideboard always changes with the expected metagame), with only a few small changes. The first change is the second Ad Nauseam main. This replaces the Empty the Warrens / Ill-Gotten Gains. In this current metagame, I prefer the Empty the Warrens and Ill-Gotten Gains in the sideboard, considering the excess of blue decks and slight prevalence of Engineered Explosives. A lot of Counterbalance decks play Engineered Explosives, so I try to stay away from Empty the Warrens if possible. In my experience, Ad Nauseam is the best thing you can do. You're being risky, but it all comes down to knowing the right time to go for it.
The final change is in the sideboard, with the addition of Dark Confidant. Imagine you're playing against TES. What reason do you have to keep in removal game 2? Maybe you have a few pieces left over just because you didn't have enough cards to side in. Dark Confidant keeps the card advantage going, and turn one Dark Ritual into Duress and Dark Confidant is an awesome play and will usually win the game if they don't have removal. Dark Confidant is a card-advantage machine, especially in a deck with only three cards that cost more than two mana.
Now that we know the decklist, let's move back to New Phyrexia. There has been a lot of talk about cards from New Phyrexia impacting every format. I'd like to discuss a few cards in particular that may or may not affect TES.
The first card is Mental Misstep, and it's been getting a lot of discussion lately. This card will start out in a lot of decks and will end up settling in to a select few. For the first month or so, this card will almost read, “Pay two life: Target opponent loses two life.” This is because so many decks will be playing it that it will often be used to counter itself. Against TES, it will make a small impact. The fact that it's free is annoying, but it's no Force of Will. It's just another target for Duress that will be a small nuisance, but nothing we can't handle. The major decks like Merfolk where this card will settle in already have a lot of free countermagic, and thus I already play differently against such decks to fight spells like Mental Misstep. Overall, Mental Misstep will make an impact but not much of one.
The second card to talk about is Gitaxian Probe. I've overheard conversation about including this card in TES, but I strongly disagree. There are a few problems with this card that force me to leave it out. First of all, I understand that it is a “free” cantrip, but in a deck where Ad Nauseam is a key win condition, paying life isn't very appealing. Additionally, sorcery speed hurts its chances of making it into the deck. I want to pay the blue mana end of turn, even if I lose the storm count. On my turn, I want the mana for things that actually help me do one of two things: win and protect my win. If you ever watch someone play this deck, they'll rarely cast Ponder and Brainstorm the turn they're going off. Lastly, the biggest problem is the fact that it doesn't actually “do anything.” If I see a counterspell in their hand with Gitaxian Probe, I can't get rid of it. My only option from there is to cast Duress, but why didn't I just cast Duress in the first place? If I see nothing, then again, NOTHING happens. At least with Duress, if I see nothing, I can just grab something to reduce pressure on me before my combo. The times where Gitaxian Probe will actually pull its weight are just outnumbered by the times it won't.
Next up in my bag of goodies is Surgical Extraction. I've heard that this card will both do well in and against TES. My response is “No” and “Barely.” It doesn't belong in TES mainly because it's another do-nothing card. The card has to be in their graveyard, so it really doesn't do a whole lot if it's not. Some people might ask the following, “Well what if they have multiple Force of Wills, Dazes, etc. in their hand?” First of all, the mathematical chances of their having two of the same counterspell and you having both Duress and Surgical Extraction are very low. When it comes to fighting TES, how many times have you heard of someone siding in Extirpate against Storm? It happens but very rarely, and it doesn't really help the matchup. Its only majorly good use is to use it on Lion's Eye Diamond in response to Ad Nauseam, but even then, a good player can win through that. Like Gitaxian Probe, it just doesn't have enough good uses to make it worth playing.
Another card I'd like to quickly touch on is Despise. This is plain and simple: It's miles away from what Duress is in the deck. Despise doesn't hit artifacts, instants, or enchantments, which is what Duress is in the deck for. Creatures and planeswalkers rarely matter, with the exception of possibly Faerie Macabre when you go for Ill-Gotten Gains.
Next on my list is Jin-Gitaxis, Core Augur. This is speculated to be the next Reanimator target. Unlike with other Reanimator targets, we have to go off right away, or we lose the next turn. Unless they go off turn one, it shouldn't be too difficult to beat it out, since we consistently go off on turn 3 on average.
Finally, I've saved the worst for last. People keep asking me if I'm going to put Priest of Urabrask into Storm. First of all, Priest of Gix is plain better in TES, and second of all, all it does is increase my storm count. It deals me three damage if revealed off an Ad Nauseam. It just doesn't do enough.
I hope this article helped people looking to make changes to TES with NPH. Now to finish out the article, I'd like to talk about a few interesting plays that may make or break a game.
- Going off turn one – Against both blue and non-blue decks, when you're on the play (non-blue even on the draw), this is pretty much always right. This is because, at most, they only have Force of Will to counter you, and mathematically, it's worth the risk. You may lose some games this way, but you'll most likely come out on top. Against blue decks on the draw, almost never do this. They have access to many more counterspells after one turn. Just Duress first and move on from there. The addition of Mental Misstep might change this, but I doubt it. Hopefully, time will tell whether Mental Misstep really does make a difference.
- Cracking Lion's Eye Diamond in response to Lion's Eye Diamond – Most recently noticed in my StarCityGames.com Edison feature match, I prefer to not crack L.E.D. in response. If you refer back to the decklist, you'll see that I have a lot more non-L.E.D. mana sources than I do Lion's Eye Diamonds and Burning Wishes. Through Ad Nauseam, the ability to mana is a lot easier than hitting an L.E.D. to turn on the Infernal Tutor I might hit. This has worked a lot more often than taking the mana for me, and I almost guarantee that if you try it, you'll realize how much more consistent it is.
That's all for today. I hope you enjoyed it, and let me know in the forums if you disagree with anything I may have said. I hope to see you guys at Grand Prix Providence and the StarCityGames.com Invitational in Indianapolis. I know I will be at both of those, most likely with TES.