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The Comboist Manifesto: The Storm Count
By Stephen Bahl
The Comboist Manifesto Volume I, Article 10: The Storm Count

Just to make it clear from the outset, what's going on here is that I'm blatantly ripping off Eric Turgeon's “20-Point Fireball.” I was too lazy to actually write articles on other ideas I came up with, but a list of disjointed comments seemed like it would be really easy. I don't plan on actually making much use of this formula, but I have to try it at least once.

1) I was planning to write a bunch of articles about all of the biggest formats in Magic, and what all my complaints are for each one. I haven't done it yet, and that's not because I'm above whining relentlessly for several pages; it just seemed so tournament-focused for the Casual Players Alliance. That's my biggest qualm with The Comboist Manifesto so far. I want it to be more casual. 20-Point Fireball seemed pretty casual, so appropriating its methods for my own purposes might be a step in the right direction.

2) Open Office and Microsoft Word both do this thing where they see that I used a number, some text, then a line break, so they indent everything for me. Back off, software people. I am perfectly capable of indenting things all by myself. In fact, I can write the whole article by myself. I do not need some robot making my indentation decisions for me. Go make self-driving cars or something.

3) I wrote my first individual card spotlight on Ad Nauseam. I have ideas for others, but almost all of them are enchantments. Specifically, I want to write spotlights for Dream Halls, Squandered Resources, Necropotence, and Survival of the Fittest. Not everything is about enchantments. Then again, I also wrote that Rabid Wombat article in 2012. Maybe there is still hope for me.

4) Actual way to increase the storm count: Tidespout Tyrant. Even with all of the ridiculously powerful creatures that have been printed in recent years, Tidespout Tyrant was still the premier creature for Oath of Druids to dig up in Vintage until Griselbrand showed up. Oops, there I go talking about tournament decks. Anyway, Tidespout Tyrant can pretty easily create spell-playing loops that allow for arbitrarily large storm counts. It does cost eight mana, which you don't care about anyway because you're not going to cast it.

5) Speaking of Tidespout Tyrant in Oath decks, back when Tidespout Tyrant was new and I heard about “Tyrant Oath” decks, I initially wondered why Dragon Tyrant would make a good creature for Oath decks. Then I looked up Tidespout Tyrant and wondered why bouncing opposing permanents would be so amazing as to use Tidespout Tyrant over every other creature. I don't remember precisely how I learned that bouncing your own Moxen for infinite mana and infinite storm count could be useful, but it turns out that it's pretty good. It also turns out that if Yawgmoth's Bargain ever got thrown onto a big, flying creature with lifelink, that would be broken. Oops.

6) I'm still waiting on the rest of the CPA to write their Rabid Wombat articles. When it comes to diseased marsupials, you guys aren't pulling your weight here. Don't be shy.

7) I forgot to announce it earlier, but I've taken over the front page. Maybe no one else has checked in a while, so I'd better point it out. At the end of last year, I had the first two items on the front page (one article in 2013 and one article in 2012), but the rest of the front page contained older articles written by other people—people who aren't me. That's no longer the case. Oh, but it gets better: the inevitable publication of this article will bump all non-Comboist articles off the front page. The revolution has arrived and the proletariat is finally going to do whatever it is that is supposed to happen at that point. Look, I've never actually read Karl Marx, but I want to gloat about this in some witty manner anyway. Put that in your pull quote, Spiderman. I dare you.

8) If I'd been writing the Comboist Manifesto a couple of years ago, I could have made it so much more topical. The sets that were printed when I was too busy with college to pay attention to Magic just seem to be so much more broken than the stuff coming out now. Innistrad was crazy and would have given me a lot more to work with than “I guess I could bestow this guy onto this other guy.” This is just an observation and not really a complaint. I really do like most of the ideas in Theros and I could certainly do without another blue 3/2 flier that only costs one mana.

9) Seriously, Delver of Secrets is such a stupid card. I was going to say that it “...can go jump off a cliff” but if it transforms, it has flying, so that won't work. There are other epithets I could use, but they'd probably get replaced by onomatopoeic farm animal utterances.

10) At this point, if I'm playing Tendrils of Agony, I probably just won. Get it? Because my opponent would lose 20 life and I'd gain 20 life? Anyway...

11) It just occurred to me that I could type out each one of these paragraphs, then go back in and add numbers to them after they're already there, so they don't get indented. Why am I admitting this? Oh, and yes, I realize that there's some way to turn off the automatic indentation, but I'm apparently too lazy to find it. Not too lazy to complain, though! Yeah, that will never happen.

12) Looking at my old articles, a lot of the punctuation marks have been converted into annoying error symbols. It makes me look bad. Yeah, I know, I'll rephrase that: it makes me look even worse than I actually am. Normally, my apostrophes just sit there, quietly doing their job. But now they all look like this: �

13) That's probably for the best anyway, because it gives me an excuse to ignore those articles, which aren't very good. No, really: my Rabid Wombat article is way better than my early stuff. If some of my articles have been corrupted by an invasion of erotemic lozenges, I'd prefer that the affected articles happen to be my worst ones.

14) To be fair, I wrote some of those articles a decade ago. I don't know if I'll look back on this article in ten years and feel disappointed in myself, but I sure hope so. I'm looking forward to the experience already!

15) I was going to title this article with some sort of pun. I wanted to try to come up with a name that was a reference to a Magic card and that would also express the theme of the article, while simultaneously being self-deprecating. So, it would have been something like “Wandering Stream of Semi-consciousness.” Then I realized that not only is there already a Magic card called Stream of Consciousness, but there's even a card that's called Stream of Unconsciousness.

That is not what I had in mind. So I needed a new title. Picture some jerk sitting across from you, rotating a twenty-sided die into a new position to track each new spell played in the turn. Will it matter? Is a spell with storm actually incoming? Probably not, but he's counting spells anyway because he can. That is me. It is me that you have just pictured. I am in your mind now. You're welcome.

16) Actual way to increase the storm count: Composite Golem + Corpse Dance. I've never done this, but I really want to! By itself, the combo doesn't even do anything. You just keep casting Corpse Dance with buyback and sacrificing Composite Golem to pay for the next iteration. Spells with storm would do pretty well in this scenario. Just because I haven't done it doesn't mean you can't. This seems like the sort of combo that casual players would like. Do you like it? I like it. If I were really industrious, I'd build a deck around it, then write an article about my deck. But I have to be honest with you. Well, I don't, but I'll be honest anyway: I am not going to do this. Maybe if I had a a group of friends that would also build silly decks like that, and we could play our silly decks against each other. I chased all of my friends off with my rampant misanthropy, so...

17) Speaking of misanthropy, I hate that humans are basically the best tribe now. No one cared about humans before, and then Wizards of the Coast retconned every creature ever into being a human. Now we even have human insects, as though that makes sense. That's right, Delver of Secrets, don't think I forgot about you. CPA member DarthFerret played a humans deck in one of the CPA tribal games, but that was apparently before people caught on to just how broken humans are. Or maybe that was just DarthFerret's stubborn penchant for using cards like D'Avenant Archer. I'm not even sure what I'd put in a humans tribal deck, because there are just too many broken choices. A Hermit Druid deck would probably work.

18) I sometimes wonder about Block Constructed banned lists. I mean, Zuran Orb is a good card and was banned a lot back in the day, but deckbuilding has changed a lot since 1995. Wouldn't it be safe to unban Zuran Orb now? Then I remember that no one plays Block Constructed anyway. It doesn't really matter if a card is banned in a format that no one plays anyway. I could make up a format right now that's just like regular Magic except that Delver of Secrets is banned. In fact, I just did. And no one cares.

19) There was once a time when I almost played in Block Constructed. All of my friends were doing it, so there was peer pressure. Also, one of my friends was going to build a deck for me, so being lazy wasn't even a way to get out of it. I resisted because I didn't want to get involved in rotating formats, but Block Constructed could be viewed more as a set of several non-rotating formats with very small card pools. I still didn't go for it, and in a way, I still regret not doing it. But it was rather weird for another reason. Block Constructed tournaments are a seasonal sort of thing and I won't pretend to understand the details, but after the season was over and everyone who played Block Constructed was back to playing Standard or whatever, the DCI banned the entire field. Yes, it was that Block Constructed season. I'm prone to exaggerate in many cases in my articles, but I'm not even exaggerating about this. Maybe I should write an article about it.

20) At this point, if I'm playing Grapeshot, it could very likely kill someone. I was playtesting The Epic Storm against Team America and I got Grapeshot with a storm count of 20, following it up with Tendrils of Agony (that's hitting my opponent for a total of 64). Grapeshot is the versatile storm spell that I used to wish Scattershot had been, before Time Spiral came out. Need to get out from under opposing creatures but unable to execute a combo kill this turn? Grapeshot. Want a finisher for a combo deck but think that old card frame is just too passé? Grapeshot. Need to dispose of enemy infantry in 18th century warfare? Grapeshot. The only problem with Grapeshot is that you really need to increase the storm count for it to be good. And that's just what we're doing here.

No. Wrong Grapeshot.

EDIT: I misstated this. What actually happened was that I got the storm count to 18 with ten mana, and I was so excited to have a pure Grapeshot kill that I used the Burning Wish I'd just drawn to get Grapeshot, cast with 19 copies. I still had six mana, so I used the Burning Wish I'd discarded earlier (flashback thanks to Past in Flames) to get Tendrils of Agony, which I then cast with 21 copies. I think that's how it actually happened. I did count up a total of 64 life, but mainly I just liked building up to a lethal Grapeshot.

21) Remember when people used to use Pandemonium and Saproling Burst in the same deck? It was sometimes called “Blackjack” because the combo does 21 damage. I had a friend who used a Replenish deck for a long time, but he never used this combo, relying instead on Opalescence and some weird stuff I can't remember all of (at least some of the time it was Parallax Wave and Parallax Tide). To be fair, I may have refused to trade him my Saproling Bursts, but I forget if that was the deal—it just seems like something I probably would have done. Anyway, the combo was a pretty big deal, but like so many others, faded into distant memory. It's a pity that I never see it anymore. I do, more or less, have the cards for it myself. Hey, on a totally unrelated note, want to play a game of Magic? Hang on, I'm putting this deck together.

22) Apparently, holding the “shift” key while indenting stops Open Office from messing with my indentations. What a strange discovery for me to somehow make just now. It sure would have been useful information 21 spells ago. Yes, spells. What? I can't very well call them “points.” This isn't 20-Point Fireball!

23) Speaking of 20-Point Fireball, I just looked at an old article to make sure that I remembered 20-Point Fireball correctly. One of the points was a joke about a card with XXX as its mana cost.

Just to end this in as tasteless a manner as possible, I will pose the following question: has there ever been a card printed with a casting cost of XXX? When there is, what should it be called and what should the ability be? I propose Bucket O' Porn, an artifact that comes into play with X smut counters on it. You can remove a smut counter to tap a creature and keep that creature tapped as long as Bucket O' Porn is in play. I still need flavor text, though.

Well, eight years later, here we are...

I'd say we could call it “Asstral Cornucopia” but Unhinged probably ruined that one preemptively.

24) Actual way to increase the storm count: Mind's Desire. When I was in high school, a few of the other students built decks with four copies of Mind's Desire. I think it was also used in Standard back then, but I wasn't paying attention. Even after Mind's Desire left Standard, it lived on in Extended until 2009. Mind's Desire is restricted in Vintage, but the difference between one copy and four is everything in this case. That's why I picked up three copies of Mind's Desire even though I already had one. Well, they were also really cheap, but it's the principle of the matter here. Mind's Desire into Mind's Desire is one of the defining plays of Magic, and if you disagree I'll fight you (Spiderman, don't use this as a pull quote). I can't actually use four copies in a deck for any sanctioned format, which is unfortunate, but necessary: Mind's Desire in Legacy alongside Lion's Eye Diamond would probably be too much. Wizards of the Coast should invent some format that allows Mind's Desire as a valid archetype, but that doesn't have quite enough of a card pool for it to completely dominate. I'd play Mind's Desire, of course. But you could play something else if you want to! LOSER!

25) I have a lot of old cards. Dark Ritual was printed as a common in a bunch of old sets. While I don't think I have any copies from Limited or Unlimited editions, I have Dark Rituals from at least ten other sets. And yet the only Dark Rituals I actually use in my decks are Tempest Dark Rituals. I can't really justify this. I do like the flavor text, though. I'm not sure if the guy in the illustration is supposed to be Volrath or what, but I guess since Volrath's a shapeshifter, he can be that guy if he wants to be that guy. Dark Ritual is possibly my favorite card ever, and Volrath is definitely one of my favorite characters in Magic. I knew, since he was a villain, that they'd eventually want to kill him off, but I hated the way they did it—cheated against in a duel by Crovax and Ertai, replaced as a villain by former good guys, then, to add insult to injury, utterly obliterated. Anyway, Tempest Dark Ritual is best Dark Ritual, but I guess if I had Alpha Dark Rituals, I'd use them instead.

26) I just commented on Magic's excuse storyline, and I'm going to try to minimize that in the future. I don't want to trick myself into reading any more of the books, something I used to do for some reason. They were starting to get really bad. I figure they probably bottomed out shortly after the last one I saw, and that they've actually improved somewhat, but I'm not going to actually investigate this right now. I'll just give recent lore the benefit of the doubt and assume that it's adequate. Anyway, Volrath's fate sucked, other than in some Planar Chaos weirdness. But the character that really got an upgrade was Karn. I mean, wow. He was impressive enough when he was just like this:

But then his apotheosis makes him into this:

Maybe Karn is Brady Dommermuth's pet character.

27) I want to make a Commander deck called Helcomb County Municipal Lake Dredge Appraisal. I was originally thinking that it would be pretty heavily Golgari, but I might make it three-color instead. I don't know. I just want to exploit graveyard stuff excessively in a Commander deck. I probably have enough cards to make it work, but it turns out that making Commander decks is hard! As much as I hate building regular decks, Commander decks are so much worse. Playing Commander is fun, but building decks for it is intolerable. That's why I hired Wizards of the Coast to build one for me. They call it Eternal Bargain (which is a misnomer). They even designed a brand new commander for my deck: Oloro, Ageless Ascetic. I still want to make Helcomb County Municipal Lake Dredge Appraisal work, but I'm not going to pursue that right now. If you can devise a decklist for me, then feel free to post it. Use Bazaar of Baghdad. I have a Bazaar of Baghdad and I want to use it. Also use cards with the dredge ability, because that's sort of the point. Now go forth and do my homework for me.

28) I've decided that I will do at least one more Storm Count article, but every item in the next one will be me making fun of Modern, a format in which Golgari Grave-Troll is banned. Now, Golgari Grave-Troll really is a very good card and I plan to include it in Helcomb County Municipal Lake Dredge Approval, but the reason it excels in Eternal formats is that it helps unlock the power of the Ichorid + Bridge from Below engine. Ichorid doesn't even exist in Modern, but just in case it sneaks into the format somehow, the DCI has everyone covered: they've already banned a card that enables it. Way to be proactive about something you already have complete control over anyway, guys.

29) Hey CPA forum regulars, remember the Casual Card Hall of Fame? We used to have a committee-based selection process for what we thought were the best casual cards in each set, but eventually we abandoned it. I think it was always ultimately pretty silly, but it was fun too. In the discussion for Morningtide nominations, there was some argument, mainly between Ransac and Al0ysiusHWWW, over whether Mutavault was a good nomination. I found it somewhat interesting, but the real reason it stuck with me wasn't that I thought Mutavault itself was a good casual card, although I did. What struck me was that the opposition toward it was based on its prevalence in Standard tournaments. The logical extension of this is that tournament players are entitled to tell casual players what does and doesn't count as casual. You might think that your favorite casual card is a good casual card, but if you're unaware of the effect it had in a tournament setting, then someone else who primarily plays Magic with a focus on tournaments gets to inform you that your are mistaken.

On the other hand, in our Casual Card Hall of Shame, two people nominated the Urzatron cycle of lands (Urza's Tower, Urza's Mine, and Urza's Power Plant) because land destruction makes them risky, whereas I expressed surprise that people would think some of the strongest cards in the set were actually the weakest, in a set with Rakalite and Coral Helm. I was baffled.

Fast-forward to last year, and Mutavault was reprinted in Magic 2014. I didn't think anything of it until, while watching a stream of a Magic Online draft, I saw the streamer's opponent use Mutavault in a deck with Advocate of the Beast. The streamer saw his opponent activate Mutavault and said something like, “Well, the counters won't stick though, right?” The game dragged on a bit, and I don't remember who won, but the Mutavault kept on getting bigger thanks to Advocate of the Beast. It was a really cool interaction that I hadn't expected (although I'm sure Wizards of the Coast were well aware of it when they printed Advocate of the Beast), and I thought it really vindicated Mutavault's contention as a fun casual card. Putting changeling onto a man-land leads to cool interactions like that. Mutavault does have a presence in Standard again, but not, I think, an oppressive one. As for the Urzatron, since Cloudpost is banned in Modern, they have an impressive tournament presence in that format (not so much in Legacy due to the ubiquity of Wasteland, but they're still not bad cards). I think the lesson to take away from all this is that I was right in both cases and I'm always right, so there.

30) At this point, if I'm playing Hunting Pack, I get 30 4/4 beast tokens. If I attack you with 30 4/4 beast tokens, you probably lose. I mean, that's like a hundred more damage than your starting life total. It's probably enough. And if I'm playing a seven-mana spell after having played 29 other spells in the same turn, I've got some sort of engine going. You probably let me play Glimpse of Nature or something, and that was a mistake. You shouldn't have let me do it, because it's led to 30 4/4 beast tokens. And yeah, the product of 30 and 4 is 120. That's how much attacking power I have. Some would say it's overkill. Some would contend that 120 is too much power, that I should have tried to kill you with less. To that, I can only respond by quoting the greatest villain in the history of Magic: the Gathering...

“If there is such a thing as too much power, I have not discovered it.”

Oh, and even though I technically won't have explained it, here's the inspiration for my nonexistent Commander deck's name.

Read More Articles by Stephen Bahl!

 - Thursday (June 30, 2016)
 - Thursday (Mar. 3, 2016)
 - Wednesday (Feb. 17, 2016)
 - Thursday (Aug. 6. 2015)
 - Thursday (Feb. 26, 2015)
 - Monday (Feb. 2, 2015)
 - Saturday (Jan. 24, 2015)
 - Monday (Jan. 5, 2015)
 - Friday (Oct. 24, 2014)
 - Thursday (Oct. 9, 2014)

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