The best Gifts I got this year didn’t come under the tree:
I think my search for the perfect Modern deck has finally reached a conclusion. Storm is great. The end.
Every Modern player needs that go-to deck. The format is big and interesting enough that dialed-in players are going to want to experiment and branch out, but it’s money to have a comfortable deck for when a big event rolls around.
I’ve had a number of “go-to” Modern decks over the years, but it’s been a while since I’ve had one that I felt strongly about. For example, I didn’t even know what deck I was going to play at the last RPTQ three days before the event. Such a thing would never have happened in the heyday of being in love with a deck!
That U/R Storm though…
After playing the deck for a couple of weeks, I feel comfortable saying that I believe Storm is the best deck in Modern. I don’t have quantifiable evidence to support that claim, but based on playing with and against the deck, I believe it.
For starters, it’s been a long time since I’ve played a Modern deck that feels so advantaged against the field.
The deck strikes that rare balance of blisteringly fast yet calm and steady. It can go all in or grind an opponent out. The deck is linear, but shockingly hard to hate out.
It’s a good blue deck in Modern. No, scratch that—it’s a great blue deck in Modern. “Blue,” of course, being code for “broken.”
The structure of the deck is very simple.
Sculpt a hand that Jace himself would be proud of.
Generate a ton of mana.
Cast a Gifts Ungiven.
Do it all again.
Win and end the game.
It’s pretty simple. The deck is extremely redundant. Obviously, the opponent will try to interact with you at every turn and make things as difficult as possible, but if they can’t or don’t, the game ends.
Storm isn’t a new deck. In fact, it’s one of the oldest decks in the format! That being said, I’m not going to go too deep into how to play strategy and will instead focus on the build itself.
Two important notes about the main deck are the inclusion of:
For the purpose of zapping:
I would have stormed off it wasn’t for those Meddling Mages…
The rise of the Human deck that includes Meddling Mages and Freebooters backed up by a clock was a difficult matchup for Storm. Primarily because Mage was an “auto-win” against builds that were all-in on Grapeshot.
But if the deck has a way to kill the Mage, such as a Bolt, the game 1 percentage goes from terrible to evenly matched. The hivemind consensus is that Humans crushes Storm, but if the Storm deck has main-deck outs to Mage, the matchup is very close.
Bolt is great in the deck. The most challenging matchups are other fast decks like Devoted Druid Combo, Infect, Affinity and Burn—all of which are disrupted by a Bolt.
Also, it is worth noting that when you are trying to go off quickly without a ton of mana, Lightning Bolt is essentially R, storm 4 (since it deals 3 to the face), which has been surprisingly relevant in several close games.
The sideboard looks like a trainwreck, but it’s more straightforward than it appears.
Mainly, it looks confusing because it has a bunch of 1-ofs. In most decks this would be suspect, but it makes sense to have a lot of cards with different names in a deck packing 4 copies of Gifts Ungiven.
These are the only “2-ofs” in my board. They are grindy cards and not typically tutor targets. Empty the Warrens is nice to bring in as a way to dodge certain hard-to-beat sideboard cards such as Leyline of the Void or Leyline of Sanctity.
The singletons fall into a couple of camps:
Cards that are so Busted in Matchups that Drawing One Wins the Game
There are a lot of decks that just cannot beat these cards.
For combating other combo decks or countering opposing counters.
For picking off pesky creatures.
For getting rid of hard-to-beat enchantments such as Leylines, Rule of Law, etc.
And of course, Noxious Revival!
Revival is great in a Gifts pile since it becomes an additional copy of a card the opponent “just cannot give you.”
Some people maindeck it, but I don’t think it makes much sense because there are no bullets in the main other than Past in Flames (which has flashback).
The deck is already very fast, and after sideboard I want to slow down a little bit and be good at not allowing my opponent to lock me out of the game with hate, which is the primary way most people will try to beat you.
The deck is flexible and nimble. I enjoy the way that it has a lot of intrinsic counter strategies available to the ways most opponents will try to attack it after sideboard. I knew the deck was good, but I was surprised at how resilient it was once I actually started playing sideboard games.
It didn’t feel like a glass cannon at all… it hit from all kinds of angles like Grapeshot. I guess you could say I was “blown away” by the storm.