Next weekend, tons of Magic players will flock into San Antonio for the first Team Unified Modern Grand Prix. Groups of 3 players will do their best to come up with the most competitive 3 decks they can, with the catch being that no card can appear in two decks on the same team. If one team member needs to play Temple Garden, that means no Temple Gardens for anyone else, even if they’re only playing one!
The consensus is that Death’s Shadow is the best deck. Even if that’s not where your team is looking to go, there’s a good chance you’re going to want to use some of the powerful cards in that shell, such as Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, Lilianas of all flavors, and Tarmogoyf in one of your decks. I’m going to try to spend the next several articles talking about decks that hopefully won’t have any overlap with those lands or spells.
It’s crazy to think back at how powerful Storm has been throughout Modern’s history. Preordain, Ponder, Rite of Flame, and Seething Song were all legal cards in Modern at one point and have since been banned. Instead, Storm decks rely on creatures.
Goblin Electromancer is a solid 2-drop that turns your ritual effects into true Dark Rituals. Spending 2 mana to get 3 is not a great investment for a card, but turning 1 into 3 is a real bargain. Baral, Chief of Compliance put Storm back on the map, so be prepared for it. Baral is a slightly better blocker and also has an incidental bonus if you happen to counter a spell.
Your only way to do that in game 1 is Remand, but the tempo it gains is already nice. When it becomes a 1-mana tempo play that draws 2 thanks to Baral, it’s a blowout.
The Ritual effects are nothing to write home about, but they’re a necessary evil. Desperate Ritual is strictly better than Pyretic Ritual as splicing actually comes up pretty often and can give you a nice mana boost, but they’re both 2-mana spells that make 3 mana. The creatures make them look good, but chain enough of the together and they’ll get the job done.
Your most busted card in basically all Storm decks is Manamorphose. Turning your red mana into blue is already useful, but a single creature in play means you’re adding a mana and drawing a card with each Manamorphose. It’s not nearly as incredible in versions without Pyromancer Ascension, but it’s still a great card.
In order to win the game, you’re almost always going to need to set up a Past in Flames. This means that graveyard hate is effective against you, although not game-winning. By chaining a few rituals and card draw spells together, Past in Flames will allow you to cast all of these spells again. That should equate to a game win.
To stock your graveyard, Gifts Ungiven has entered the equation. Gifts can find a bunch of Ritual effects and Past in Flames. It isn’t super relevant what they give you in many of these Gifts piles as Past in Flames can simply be cast from your graveyard with flashback and then you’ll still have access to every spell you cast Gifts for, in some cases multiple times over. There’s even Merchant Scrolls to go find Gifts.
Your actual win condition is Grapeshot after building a large Storm count. You can also cast smaller Grapeshots to kill creatures and buy time, or smaller Grapeshots at your opponent before Past in Flames lets you cast it with flashback. When Grapeshot won’t get the job done because you can’t get that much storm or they have too much life, there’s Empty the Warrens as backup.
With a full playset of both Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand to stack your hand and find what you need, Storm is a consistent and powerful deck that is capable of winning on turn 2, but much more realistically wins often on turn 3. This is definitely not a deck to sleep on!