Sunday, 23 September 2012
I have always had an unhealthy love of Sunscape Familiar and as a result have tended to exclusively do UGw storm decks with a smattering of mono blue ones. Now I have a new creature to share the love in Goblin Electromancer which gives red enough stuff to become an interesting option for the deck. Green has great ramp, regrowth effects and Heartbeat of Spring which is all very juicy for the storm decks and make them very consistent. By adding green to the mix however you need to make the mana base appropriate for your green ramp and will not have a high enough island count to play High Tide. The mono blue versions were to suitably house High Tide and be able to have that sort of deck. Typically the mono blue would win far more consistently when they went off but managed to get to that stage far less often than the UG versions. Red has not got any ramp or much in the way of exciting regrowth effects but it has some decent disruption, extra kill conditions (in Grapshot and Empty the Warrens) and the original Mana Flare. Where green is employed very much as a equal colour and requires significant land allocation the red is much more of a dash and so can be included as a splash leaving you with a great island count for High Tide. Having both the Mana Flare and the High Tide option to go off with as well as having Brain Freeze with Grapeshot makes the need of recursion significantly lower. Snapcaster Mage also helps in this regard but then it tends to improve most things. In addition to lower dependency on regrowth effects the redundancy in your combo parts just makes the deck more consistent and resilient.
Cloud of Faeries
Fire / Ice
Fact or Fiction
I was concerned about not having a high enough land count in play to go off in good time and so I played a high count of Time Walk effects. It may seem poor to play a 5 mana spell as a Rampant Growth but when you have other ways to boost mana, reduce spell costs and refill your hand Time Walking is the best way in those colours to be putting more than your normal allocation of land drops down.
The deck is very light on disruption with only Snap, Fire / Ice and Izzet Charm and ideally Snap is being used to ramp storm and mana not keep yourself alive. Charm was pretty decent being able to dig and add storm when not needed for disruption. In storm decks you are not really trying to disrupt your opponent but you need some disruption to stop their disruption! Generally this means you can get away with softer effects like Force Spike over Counterspell. With Izzet Charm you get a sufficient level of counter magic and creature kill for what the deck needs with the added bonus of not being dead in a goldfish game. Most of the creatures you want to kill are things like Thalia and Ethersworn Canonist for which a shock is ideal. I considered Force of Will but have found in the past it can be too onerous a cost to pitch cast it and merely prolongs your death rather than providing a win window. Cryptic Command was another consideration for the hard counter and freely targettable bounce but I was wary of its cost and thought Izzet Charm fitted the bill better.
Fire / Ice is probably the most cuttable card in the deck, the cantrip aspect of it as disruption is nice but it is quite an aimless spell in the deck. Putting it under a Chrome Mox for fixing was the marginal reason it got the slot over Remand, Negate or Boomerang. The Goblin Electromacer was good but not stupidly good, overall I prefer the Sunscape Familiar for that kind of effect although I now think this UR version of storm in cube is the more powerful. Electromancer doesn't reduce all your spells, can be awkward to cast and is quite easy to kill. This last part however can be a mixed blessing as he does rather bait removal which means they are spending mana that is not directly getting you closer to death. He is frightening to see and so does his job in tempo terms just as often by getting killed than he does by reducing spell costs. As is so often the case one of his biggest strengths is that he offers decent redundancy with other useful cards, in this case Sapphire Medallion. It is because I had both Electromancer and Medallion that I was so light on one drops as they would get no reduction benefit. Electromancer is well worth playing and is a boost for the deck but is by no means essential.
This deck seems like the best place for Gitaxian Probe which I was really happy to include. It is a completely painless way to assess if you are safe to go off and adds to your storm when you do. I was phaffing around with Ponder and Preordain trying to get the bottom end of the curve looking right, found this and windmill slammed this down. The Probe is a very cool card and sees a lot of play for being so innocuous but has never really impressed or seemed like it was anything more than filler until this deck where it offered a lot of value. Probe has been teetering on the cut list for a long time and has escaped on good design and wide playability alone with no testimony for performance to back the position up until now which pleases me no end.
Having both Grapeshot and Brain Freeze was also much better than expected. Your finishers are bad cards to have in your opening hand and so playing two I was a bit concerned (hence cards like See Beyond and Brainstorm). It turned out not to be a problem in the early game with the UR version having a lower curve than the UG versions and in the late game or more accurately when trying to go off they worked well in tandem along with Mind's Desire. Often you can go off a bit but not generate enough storm to win the game or make a useful Desire happen however by doubling your storm by blowing one of your kill conditions before casting Desire or a Time Spiral then you almost always have enough storm to finish the job.
The deck plays much like any other storm deck, and for that matter most of the Palinchron infinite turns and mana combo decks. While very similar to the afore mentioned decks it did have a much more streamlined feel to it and lost none of the power I was expecting it to without the green or artifact ramp it is accustomed to. Snapcaster has significantly reinforced the archetype and made blue a more independent colour which explains much of way the deck still functioned without green. The core of the deck tends to remain unchanged with lots of card draw, reshuffle and untap land effects on the go. A fun deck to play and the best kind of deck to goldfish if you just need to magic but have no one else to hand.