Let's talk about counting to ten. It's among the first things you learn as a tiny barely-sentient proto-person. But did you know that it can also help you crush people's dreams, leaving them a withered husk of shattered hopes? All because of a little thing called "storm", and playing Magic the way Richard Garfield intended: with a big pile of broken nonsense.
Alright, that deck has some ambitious choices. Let's break it down, because I didn't pick any of those cards on a whim. Some of the edges are very small, but many small edges lead to large ones (as long as you don't obliterate those small edges by playing like an idiot the way I frequently do).
But then, I might be wrong.
Why I might be wrong: I would be shocked if we don't see an uptick in
In fact, I was That Guy just a few weeks ago with my Mentor list and thought I was about to cruise to an easy win with the game one Mindbreak Trap. Alas, the treacherous villain has a second Tendrils. It's not a totally unreasonable choice, and it opens up more options for a mini-Tendrils to either pad the clock or draw more cards off Necro/Bargain.
This is a typical configuration. Probe is an awkward card in a lot of ways; the 2 life can be a significant cost if it hurts your ability to Necro. It also makes mulligan choices more opaque and if it's your only chance to draw business, all you can do is knock the top of the deck and see what falls off. It can scope out the opposition but rarely actually helps fight them (note the lack of
But besides cycling for velocity, to draw Vampiric/Seal targets, and to pad your storm count, it also feeds Spell Mastery, making it easier to turn Dark Petition on. Now, it's trivially easy for this deck to hit Spell Mastery naturally. But post-board, you'll occasionally need to rebuild your yard quickly after dealing with something like a
Why I might be wrong:
The bare minimum I think I can get away with. Duress over
Rebuild maindeck over
Oh, Xantid Swarm.
I'm just gonna drop this here and move on.
Another minor note: if, for example, an opponent has a
Why I might be wrong: To quote Jerry Maguire: "We live in a four Mental Misstep world." Now, at present I'm comfortable with that, because even getting one Misstep out of their hand with a Swarm can be a window through which I can throw the entire rest of the deck. The other big flaw of Xantid Swarm is turning on their main-deck creature removal, which would otherwise be comfortably dead game one. This is awkward and does not feel good, and unlike Defense Grid, Swarm doesn't really protect itself at all. I've also had it lead to awkward places with Vampiric Tutor, where I didn't have a way to draw the target immediately in my second main phase (under Swarm protection) but couldn't risk casting it on their endstep or my upkeep (because they probably have a hand full of countermagic Swarm is keeping them from using) and couldn't main-phase and pass the turn for fear of
A lot of people with a lot of Vintage experience and much sturdier records than mine are, and continue to be, on Defense Grid. On the other hand, as long as that's true, the bees are an unexpected next-level play. This is the dance of the metagame, akin to the music of the spheres.
I still think
Demonic, Vampiric, and Tinker are all pretty consensus picks. Some people like having the Blightsteel Colossus in the maindeck. I prefer it in the side, especially with the number of
Why I might be wrong: The controversial picks here are the Dark Petition count and Imperial Seal vs.
The problem, and the reason I keep coming back to Seal, is mana. I haven't kept a record, but if I had to guess what my top three targets are with Seal, I'd say Black Lotus, Tolarian Academy, and Dark/Cabal Ritual (depending on Threshold). Seal is a terrible first tutor but a very solid second one with the flexibility to get engines like Necro or protection like Xantid Swarm, all things Mystical struggles with. The "Mystical for Demonic for X" chain can set up some amazing Will turns but when you're in a hurry or pinched on mana, it's often too clunky.
Many of them are also things Dark Petition does badly, especially in post-sideboard games, which is one of the reasons I haven't stuck with the 4th copy. A hand of Dark Petition + Seal can find a Chain of Vapor, bounce their Leyline/RIP, then needs only one more spell to upgrade Petition and get the party rolling. A hand of double Dark Petition… well, look, there's a reason we don't play Diabolic Tutor in this deck, and even if you have Spell Mastery, DP is only Demonic Tutor if the card you're finding is black. Moving to the Rebuild also makes Seal ~1.6% better than it used to be. Small edges, people, small edges.
So that's Imperial Seal: It's probably the worst card in the deck, but something has to be. (PS: If
Oh, look, a bunch of restricted cards. Not a lot of room to argue on these, and there's not really anything else you'd want to add.
Why I might be wrong: The two cards you'll often see people cut are Mind's Desire and Windfall. Desire is very blue-mana intensive for a deck full of black rituals and Windfall is easily the worst draw-7 except for the 2% of games where you get to bounce someone's entire board and Windfall for like fourteen cards.
I sideboard both out pretty frequently, and I can't blame anyone for wanting to cut them even if Mind's Desire is among the sweetest cards in the format. #thedangerofcoolthings
Again, pretty stock. The most flexible slots are the 2nd Cabal Ritual and the Spirit Guide. I'm playing both to increase my explosiveness, but a deck that wanted to pump the brakes just a little in favor of more resilience could swap them for either cantrips or protection pretty easily. You would, however, lose the chance to Tendrils for 18 then win the game with Monkey Beats, and that is an experience worth having at least once.
Artifacts: SoLoMoxen, Crypt, Vault
Broken artifact mana. Vault is a simple decision: if you're playing Mind's Desire and Memory Jar, you definitely want Vault; if you're playing only one, you probably want it; if you're playing neither, cut it.
Fuck fetchlands and fuck basics.
Welp, we're done here!
Oh, you probably want me to defend that manabase, as though it were not a self-evident work of mad genius delivered to us in a time capsule from the mysterious world of 1998. OK, let's talk lands.
Disclaimer: if Brainstorm gets unrestricted (I cannot imagine this ever happening), this land base becomes trivially incorrect and we all need to get back on the bus to Fetchlandtown. That's not even in dispute.
The problems with the fetch/dual/(1-2)basic manabase are these:
- You will draw basic
Swampwith a hand full of blue cards.
- You will draw basic
Islandwith a hand full of black cards.
- They always have the
- I'll unpack that last one a little. In Legacy, fetching a basic makes you safe forever except against the handful of
Ghost Quarter-wielding vigilantes. In Vintage, you're never safe. Fetching a basic represents intentionally crippling yourself for the rest of the game and does not even guarantee you get to keep it. That sucks. That sucks bad.
- When I'm getting
Wastelanded, I want more lands in my deck, not fewer. Have you been Wasted off every source of black mana in your deck? Or been slowrolling a fetchland to get that last one exactly when you need it and whoops, there it was in your draw step? Or just been on zero lands tapping the top of your deck every turn for a mana source to appear there? That whole "deck thinning" argument cuts both ways.
- Worse sideboard options. Black is good against their hand but not the top of their deck, and can remove creatures but nothing else. All blue's removal is either countermagic or strictly temporary, and the desperation Hurkyl's against robots attacking for lethal only to watch them replay all their lock pieces in the second main is a gruesome way to go. You often end up in three, even four colors anyway, and that leads us to:
- Screwing yourself on turn two. We've all been there: you fetch up the Badlands to play
Ingot Chewerand cast Dark Rituals later, but draw blank, blank, Hurkyl's while they rebuild their board. You fetch Underground Sea to play cantrips and rituals but can't find a red source for Chewer before you die to 5/3s and 2/1s. And on, and on, and on. 5c lands also play better with Moxen; Island + Sapphire = no rituals. City + Sapphire = All the rituals.
- The Vancouver Mulligan. If I mull to 6 on the play, I want that scry. I don't want to keep a Necro on top or bottom a blank just to shuffle my deck immediately, and I also don't want to pass turn one without doing anything if I have plays to make. Every time I mulligan with this deck, I want every edge I can get to pull back to parity.
- Every fetchland is one fewer card off Necro.
And I'd like to emphasize: this is not just about the upsides of 5c lands, which I think anyone who's played Magic for any length of time can tell you have a lot of upsides if you're willing to pay the costs. It's also about the hidden or even merely understated downsides of fetchlands. Maybe you want to play them anyway. Hell, if you cut all the way down to two colors, you can build a rock-solid, Wasteland-resistant manabase. What I'm done registering is "X interchangeable fetchlands, Y black duals, 1 Swamp, Mountain in the sideboard" plan. It has shat the bed too many times.
And you know what? Yeah, I've lost games with this deck, because I'm an idiot. And some of them were because I was choked on mana in the absolute sense (and at one of those was probably because I went for Mind's Desire because #dangerofcoolthings instead of a safer play). But none of them have been because I had the wrong colors. And I get to play any sideboard cards I want.
Why I might be wrong: I really don't think I am. Of the many dubious choices in this deck, the mana is the one I have the most confidence in, and part of that is just down to speed. A slower list might want to set up a board where they keep multiple fetchlands in play then fetch with all of them in one turn and dodge Wasteland, but this list is happy to go land, play some nonsense, get Wastelanded, play the next land and play more nonsense. Especially since there are more lands left in the deck and most of them make all the colors I care about.
The one flex slot is the third Underground Sea. I've experimented with this one a lot. The three cards I've tested in that spot are the main-deck Library (which I don't like), the 4th City of Brass (iffy) and
City of Brass vs.
I change my 15 almost day to day as I think, discuss, see other match results, rediscover old cards, decide to try some cute new tech, see some cute new tech I need to make sure I beat, etc. So I'm not going to offer a full-throated defense of this particular incarnation, but I'll walk through my inspiration.
Rule #1: Never, ever cut the Echoing Truth.
Rule #2: See Rule #1.
Library and Time Walk: I am really iffy on Time Walk in Storm. In isolation it's a disgustingly powerful card. In practice, it's often an
Abeyance: I played a 1/1 split of Silence/Orim's Chant at my last event, and they were only "fine". I'd considered Abeyance but decided the one extra mana was a prohibitive cost for a card I have to cast exactly the turn I'm going off. But on reflection, I want to give it a trial and see how things go. The cantrip isn't nothing either.
Toxic Deluge: Maybe this should be
Doomsday: I just do not know what to do with this slot, so I'm throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. The intention is to have access to a tutor/storm engine I can board in that isn't dependent on the graveyard (no