Storm, storm, storm. I’m legally obligated to say it three times, because that’s pretty much the whole idea of the deck, isn’t it? You take your spell, you cast, cast, cast, you draw, draw, draw, and if your opponent doesn’t have an answer, you win in one move. It’s unfair, it’s often non-interactive, and it is horrifically annoying to anyone who isn’t the person who just won with it.
And by “anyone,” let’s be clear: I’m including Wizards of the Coast. Every round of bannings seems to contain at least one effort to kill storm once and for all, and the damn thing just keeps going, rebelling against its own creator like some deranged experiment in a fifties B-movie. WotC keeps bringing down the whack-a-mole hammer, and storm keeps popping up and blowing raspberries back at the DCI.
The added appeal of storm is that, ideally, the deck should be relatively inexpensive. And while certainly, it’s possible to build a budget storm deck, circumstances have conspired to make the deck price itself in such a way that all the pieces cost more than a little, so together they add up to a lot. When Ponder and Preordain were banned, Serum Visions became the only one-mana, three-card dig in town. Fast forward a few years, and it costs almost seven bucks a pop. Pyromancer Ascension was pretty cheap, until storm did well at Pro Tour Valencia. Now they’re eight dollars apiece. Past in Flames, not so bad at five dollars each… I mean, you need a few of them, and this is starting to add up, isn’t it. And if you really want to play like the pros—no idea why you’re here if you do, but okay—you’ll need precise mana to pull the combo off. Which means, say it with me… fetchlands! And even if you don’t go that route, red-blue double lands are the most expensive of any in the format. Over seven bucks for a Sulfur Falls. Shivan Reef was ten until M15 eased the price back a little bit.
So there’s no one stand-out expensive card for us to replace, just lots of midrange cards adding up to an expensive deck. So are we going to have to replace the entire deck? Is that even something we can do?
With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to a combo I came across online recently:
If you get where I’m going with this, you’re either already laughing, or already rolling your eyes and moving on to the site’s EDH columns. Because storm, while not always interactive, does require a great deal of in-depth decision-making. It requires attention, insight, and thought. This deck requires nothing of the kind.
Here’s the thing: if you can get these two cards on the battlefield, you don’t need Serum Visions. You don’t need rituals, you don’t need Pyromancer Ascension, you don’t need Past in Flames… you don’t need anything but one-mana cantrips. Which one-mana cantrips? Any one-mana cantrips. Any at all. Take your pick, they all work. How do they work? Easy-peasy: you equip the Paradise Mantle on the Blistercoil Weird. You tap it for a mana. You cast a spell that costs one mana and draws a card. You untap Blistercoil Weird. You repeat until you feel like stopping, which will likely be when you draw into your storm spell. And since any one-mana cantrip can work, we can bring the total cost of this deck in for less than the cost of a playset of Pyromancer Ascensions.
Mind you, that’s not to say we’re just going to throw a bunch of random spells in a deckbox and call it a day. All cantrips are equal in this deck, but some are more equal than others, if you get my meaning.
These are pretty much your go-to cantrip spells. You draw a card, you check out your opponent’s plans. A Probe can even be done for free, and bank an extra mana in your pool for later. Not much to say about these… they’re the basic workman blue draw spells we all take for granted. They do good work; give ’em a pat on the back now and then.
This is going to be one of very few holdovers from a normal storm deck. Another spell that just does a solid job wherever it goes; you draw a card and it’s functionally free to cast, which means another mana in the bank for later.
Now we’re going to get a little less obvious.
I’ve said before that there are no bad cards, only combos that haven’t happened yet. And you know, life is funny for a card like Cerulean Wisps… you spend most of your days chugging along at the back of a box in somebody’s basement, wondering how the last couple seasons of Lost turned out, because the last time you saw the light of day was sometime in 2008. Then all of a sudden, bam! A deck where you work.
Cerulean Wisps, like every card in this deck, pays for itself with a one-mana draw. But it also provides an untap trigger. Which means you can tap the Weird, cast the spell, untap the Weird, tap him again with the Wisps still on the stack, and untap him again when it resolves, netting you an extra mana.
Faithless Looting/Visions of Beyond
Lands happen. We’re going to use as few as humanly possible in this deck, because once we start rolling, the last thing in the world we want is a land getting in the way. But they happen, and there’s no real way around it. Which means we’re going to want some spells that don’t just draw one card, they draw multiple cards. Something needs to get us past that hump when a land throws itself in the path of our combo. These two particular spells even work pretty well together; Faithless Looting tosses those extra lands in your graveyard, which gets your graveyard to twenty that much sooner.
Finally, we’re going to need some win conditions.
By the time we’re done casting all these spells, we’re going to have a very large, very angry Blistercoil Weird. Give it fear! Have some fun. Take a swing at your opponent, and win the old-fashioned way.
Hopefully this one will be pretty self-explanatory. You’ve cast many spells. Time to cash in. This is the main reason we’ve been banking that extra mana with some of our spells above. It’s not the only two-mana spell in the deck, but it’s far and away the most important. Cast. Win.
How do we play this deck? Mulligan for your combo pieces. If you don’t get them both, dig frantically with your cantrip spells. Go off or die.
The upside to this deck is that it can easily go off on turn two. The downside is the “or die,” which can happen quite easily as well. Counterspells? Removal? Nothing you can do except go, “ha ha, well, okay then.” Mind you, there are ways around it… I’ve seen versions of this deck that use Spell Pierce, others that use Inquisition of Kozilek. Although using either would take a restructuring of the deck to accommodate the possibility of hitting a non-draw card mid-combo, with greater emphasis on drawing multiple cards at once. If you want to go the safer, traditional, “at least some disruption for christ’s sake” route, a card I haven’t seen that’s worth considering is Pact of Negation. Yes, it’ll kill you at the start of your next upkeep. But you’re comboing off; you might win this turn or you might lose, but either way, your next upkeep is never going to happen.