A 6-mana do-nothing clunky mythic? You have the attention of the Arena Boys. Thousand-Year Storm has been in our pipeline for a long time, and this week we finally got around to combo’ing people out. An actual, factual combo deck in Standard isn’t something we see too often, but this particular monstrosity qualifies on every conceivable metric (including the critical can’t-beat-Ixalan’s-Binding metric).
With more or less every available 1-drop cantrip, some pseudo-rituals, and a smattering of interaction, this deck is all about landing a Thousand-Year Storm, crossing your fingers until you untap, then sending fifty or so Shocks at your opponent’s scone. Here’s the list!
As you might expect, the deck hinges entirely on Thousand-Year Storm. Without it, the deck doesn’t really do anything at all (it can do a maximum of 16 damage with its burn spells). An ideal game goes as follows: use cantrips to sculpt the ideal hand in the early turns, perhaps using Deafening Clarion to clear the board. On turn 4, a Pirate’s Prize or Pirate’s Pillage is the best way to set up a turn-5 Storm, at which point you pray to every pantheon in existence that you survive until your next turn.
Untapping with Thousand-Year Storm should win the game on the spot in most situations. All you need to do then is cast two spells—preferably cantrips—and then a Pirate’s Pillage. This triggers the Storm and creates two copies of Pillage, at which point you’re up on mana and have drawn half your deck.
The critical spell post-Storm is, of course, Pirate’s Pillage. It acts as a “ritual”—a card that generates mana—and it’s more difficult to go off without it. It would still be possible, but relies on having a bunch of cantrips, which isn’t as consistent as a single Pirate’s Pillage drawing you six cards.
There’s no plan B. It’s Thousand-Year Storm or bust. But as the video showed, most non-blue decks don’t have much game against the Storm. A single Clarion against aggressive decks usually buys enough time, and midrange decks don’t always have the speed to contest a turn-6 kill. Anything with counterspells, however, is truly nightmarish. They just need to counter your Storm and you’re left out in the cold.
One very important thing to consider, especially on Arena, is how long this deck takes to combo off. You’ll almost always start roping on the turn you “go off,” so be sure to play quickly in the early turns to bank spare timeouts. At the end of the day, however, this deck has a lot more game against the format as a whole than we anticipated, and it might be worth tuning it further to see if it can actually contest the “real” decks of Standard properly.
Opt, Warlord’s Fury, and Crash Through give the deck both consistency in the early game and a way to get the combo going once a Storm is online. They’re critical inclusions, and it’s not often we get a Standard format that has so many 1-mana cantrips available. Chart a Course offers more early game consistency, as does Tormenting Voice, but there’s an important difference between the two. Post-Storm, Chart a Course doesn’t net you cards, while Tormenting Voice does.
Pirate’s Prize and Pirate’s Pillage are primarily included to generate mana post-Storm, but are also very important in accelerating your Storm out on turn 5. Aside from this, they’re useful turn-4 plays as you continue to sculpt your hand. With so many ways to discard unneeded cards, the list is very consistent indeed.
Shock and Lightning Strike are, believe it or not, principally to interact with opposing creatures. With six total copies, finding one while going off is very easy, so there’s definitely no need to sandbag them. Fire them off early as needed, and use them in conjunction with Deafening Clarion to manage the board and ensure you don’t die early. Deafening Clarion is the very best card for this job—it’s a critical turn-3 play against aggro decks.
We’ve talked about how you shouldn’t change too much post-board with many of the decks we play on Arena Boys, and this is perhaps the best example of a deck that stands to be hugely weakened by over-sideboarding. As a pure combo deck, it is of critical importance that you don’t dilute the game plan of the deck with too many extra reactive cards.
Aggro decks are very straightforward. They either have the pressure they need before turn 5 or 6, or they don’t. As mentioned, Shock, Lightning Strike, and Deafening Clarion are there to ease the pressure on you, and should be joined by Lava Coil and Fiery Cannonade as extra pieces of interaction. Shave the fourth Thousand-Year Storm—you only need one—and the clunky Pirate’s Prize to make room. Remember to aggressively deploy Shock and Lightning Strike against their creatures. You’ll find more copies when you combo off!
Midrange decks don’t tend to apply enough pressure to contest your turn-6 or -7 kill—not once you’ve deployed your interaction, anyway. It’s possible to swap out Shock for countermagic to beat cards like Vivien Reid, and depending on their list, Deafening Clarion is a potential cut for more focused removal like Lava Coil and Justice Strike.
Control decks are nightmarish to play against. Their counterspells are very difficult to fight through in game 1, hence the Spell Pierces and Negate. Obviously, Deafening Clarion is an easy cut, and some number of Shock and Lightning Strike can come out to make room for extra countermagic.
Alternatively, you can abandon the Thousand-Year Storm altogether and instead bring in Niv-Mizzet and Crackling Drake to turn into a weird control deck that seeks to blank their Invoke the Divines and make cards like Thrashing Brontodons look silly. This can be done against both midrange and control decks. If you anticipate combo’ing off to be a near-impossibility, just take another angle and catch them unaware. Niv-Mizzet is pretty sick when they board out all their removal, especially with twelve 1-drop cantrips!
Next week, it’s time for another 6-drop clunky mythic: Muldrotha, the Gravetide makes her Arena Boys debut! I’ll be back with another deck guide once the video drops. See you then!