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The Comboist Manifesto Volume I, Article 23: The Storm Count Part 2, Dredging Up a New Article
By Stephen Bahl
1) I'll have another article up the same week as this one, I think. I was away from home last week too much and couldn't finish my review of M15, so I finished it over the weekend. That's last week's article, which is late. For this week, I'll be out of town most of the time, so I need to come up with something I can write quickly. Well, “The Storm Count” didn't take very long the first time I tried it, so here we are. Also, I cheated and made this explanation my first spell. Consider it something that doesn't cost any mana. Maybe I played an Ornithopter or something.

2) This article is also about Dredge. That's why I put it in the title.

No, not that Dredge! This Dredge...



I might have used that one already at some point. It seems like something that I would do. If so, I apologize. But I don't have time for fact-checking.

3) I mentioned the possiblity of a Dredge-based Commander deck in my first iteration of The Storm Count. Well, that was months ago. I've since built Helcomb County Municipal Lake Dredge Appraisal. My Commander is Karador, Ghost Ghieftain. So far, I really like the deck, but I haven't actually gotten to test it against live opponents yet. I'll just have to play against myself.

4) Actual way to increase the storm count: Seething Song. It turns three mana into five mana, which is really no worse than what a Dark Ritual would do with three mana. All of the mana it generates is red, but red mana can still be used as fuel for more spells and could even be preferable for Empty the Warrens, Grapeshot, Wheel of Fortune, Burning Wish, Rite of Flame, Desperate Ritual, Pyretic Ritual, Past in Flames, and such. Belcher decks aren't particularly popular in Legacy right now, but they're faster than ever, and Seething Song helps with that. I always found the move of mana-boosting spells from black to red to be a bit awkward, and while Seething Song isn't as good as Dark Ritual, it is still definitely a viable choice.

5) Speaking of Seething Song and Rite of Flame, both of them are banned in Modern. No, I'm not going to go through one of these Storm Count articles without bashing Modern. You came to the wrong place for some Modern love. Seething Song and Rite of Flame are good cards, but banning them is wrong. It's like when Dark Ritual was banned in Extended. I probably shouldn't go off on that tangent, though.

6) Actual way to fill up a graveyard: Golgari Grave-Troll. Replace a few draws with dredging up this thing and then make that graveyard start pulling its weight for once instead of just sitting there like it does for most decks. In Vintage, the universal approach is to employ Bazaar of Baghdad both to discard the Troll and to provide draws for dredging it again. In Legacy, there's no Bazaar of Baghdad, but decks have Lion's Eye Diamond, Careful Study, Breakthrough, Faithless Looting, Cephalid Coliseum, and Phantasmagorian, among other things. My Commander deck can discard Golgari-Grave Troll with Fauna Shaman, Survival of the Fittest, Liliana of the Veil, and Bazaar of Baghdad. There are a plethora of options and I really do think that playing this way isn't just for cut-throat tournament decks. Now if only I could convince other people of that...

7) In the first Storm Count article, I made fun of Modern for banning Golgari Grave-Troll. I've never seen a justification for this ban. It was in place at the inception of the format, but Golgari-Grave Troll has only ever been a strong card for competitive tournaments in Ichorid-based decks. Oh, I guess that's technically incorrect: it had a tournament presence in Standard back in 2007. Those decks were cool blue, black, and green engines focusing on using Dredge cards and things like Magus of the Bazaar, Greenseeker, and Llanowar Mentor to fill up graveyards for Dread Return. Cool stuff. But would Golgari-Grave Troll be broken in Modern? Not if you didn't ban everything else that could compete with it!

8) Blue/black/green has historically been a good color combination for combo. But even when we got sets that emphasized color combinations, it wasn't one of them. Combo players could still use cards meant for blue/black, for blue/green, and for black/green together in decks, but that has some inherent limitations, with different Ravnica guilds employing totally different mechanics and all that. So I'm really excited for Khans of Tarkir. But I'm also apprehensive. There's the potential for the blue/black/green clan, Sultai, to introduce some really cool combo stuff into the game. But for all we know, the set could be at a lower power level than Theros and there could be nothing of interest. We'll see.

9) I should probably have mentioned, for those who don't know, that the upcoming expansion, Khans of Tarkir, features five clans. The Azban Houses are white/black/green, the Jeskai Way is white/blue/red, the Mardu Horde is white/black/red, the Sultai Brood is blue/black/green, and the Temur Frontier is blue/red/green. Dragons are apparently involved somehow.

10) At the very least, a set that gives the “wedges” real treatment (the closest we had in the past was Apocalypse) should make Commander players happy. For my Commander deck, if I wanted to go black/white/green (soon to be known as Azban), I had a whopping four choices, and half of those have no synergy whatsoever with my plan to use Dredge cards. Now people who want three color decks in Commander using “wedge” color combinations might actually have some variety in selection.

11) Don't play combo decks with Burning Wish. Those decks will seriously warp your thinking about the game. Most players want their spells to be instant-speed and consider it better for something to be an instant than for it to be a sorcery. But I now think in the opposite way: a sorcery can be fetched with Burning Wish and an instant cannot!

12) Grapeshot is a really good. It's a sorcery. Scattershot is bad. It's an instant. My crazy notions are now validated. Thank you, Burning Wish. Tune in next week, when I'll be using other logical fallacies to show how Lion's Eye Diamond is actually better than Black Lotus, because it gets cards into your graveyard so that you can use them in Dredge decks.

13) I recently saw a mention of how Wizards of the Coast isn't ever going to bring the Storm mechanic back because it's “broken.” Of course, this is nothing new. Mark Rosewater even created the “storm scale” to show how likely or unlikely it is that certain things will return in future sets. Storm rates an “I never say never, but this is pretty close to never.” The majority of players who have some experience with the mechanic tend to say things along the lines that it is the most degenerate mechanic ever, that it is hopelessly broken, and such. Well, I've seen people say it, but the fact is that they are wrong. No, I don't mean that I disagree with them because I like Storm. I mean that they are, objectively, wrong. Data exists here. The facts do not comport with this claim. I'm not even being bold here: it's trivially easy to demonstrate that Storm is not inherently degenerate. There are currently nineteen cards with Storm. Most of them have seen no significant tournament play. Notable exceptions are Mind's Desire, Tendrils of Agony, Empty the Warrens, Grapeshot, Brain Freeze, and Flusterstorm. Wing Shards is a marginal creature-removal spell in some Legacy control decks, Dragonstorm was attempted in gimmicky Standard and Extended decks that weren't very prevalent, and Hunting Pack used to be attempted in Legacy Enchantress decks for a while. Those occurrences are pretty minor. It's primarily been Mind's Desire, Tendrils of Agony, Empty the Warrens, Grapeshot, Brain Freeze, and Flusterstorm. Six out of nineteen cards have had real tournament usage. But Flusterstorm is mainly just used to hose combo decks, so really it's more like five cards. And those five cards have been in good decks, but here's the thing: no storm-based combo deck has ever been at the top of any tournament format, save for in Vintage for a time, and that reign was over a decade ago, resulting in restrictions on Lion's Eye Diamond, Chrome Mox, and Burning Wish. Storm has been in Vintage since the mechanic first entered the game in 2003, has been in Legacy since the format was created in 2004, was available in Extended until format rotations in 2010, and has been part of numerous archetypes. Off the top of my head, we've had Mind's Desire Combo, Kobold Clamp, Draw-7, Burning Tendrils, Death Storm, Pitch Tendrils, Meandeck Tendrils, The Perfect Storm, The Epic Storm, Ad Nauseam Tendrils, Belcher, Spring Tide, Spiral Tide, Solidarity, IGGy Pop, The Spanish Inquisition, Fetchland Tendrils, Tyrant Oath, Griselbrand Oath, Gush Storm, Drain Tendrils, Doomsday, Dream Halls Storm, Remora Storm, Tin Fins, Grim Tendrils, Sunny Side Up, Pyromancer Ascension, and Past in Flames Combo. Lots of different decks, but they haven't dominated formats. Mind's Desire kind of has, hence the bans and restrictions on it, but that's just one card. Legacy is infamous among the unitiated for being the format where Storm decks of some sort can get first-turn kills. While this is technically possible, it's rare. I've been following Legacy since the format's inception, and I cannot remember a single point at which some Storm deck was unequivocally the top deck in the format. Right now, no Storm deck is even first tier in Legacy. The idea that Storm is some sort of uncontrollable monster that warps everything it touches is simply a misconception.

14) Dredge has actually had more tournament success than Storm. Not that I'm jealous or anything. If you hadn't noticed, I'm a fan of Dredge too. Both mechanics allow for decks that operate in very unusual ways, playing by their own rules, different from run-of-the-mill decks, which is part of the appeal for me. But I once saw a DredgeStorm deck. While it was nice to see something so weird, I wasn't really a fan of the concept. I like Storm and I like Dredge, but I wouldn't want to mix them.

15) Here's the hastily-made list of my 15 favorite new cards from M15:

-Nissa, Worldwaker

-Soul of Theros

-Chief Engineer

-Indulgent Tormenter

-Goblin Rabblemaster

-Life's Legacy

-Void Snare

-Soul of New Phyrexia

-Reclamation Sage

-Garruk, Apex Predator

-Chasm Skulker

-Ajani Steadfast

-Soul of Shandalar

-Xathrid Slyblade

-Phytotitan

16) I once got into an argument with someone about Void Snare. The other person thought that Unsummon was a better card because it's an instant and because apparently this person was a scrub.

17) Actually, I'm already using a single Void Snare in the sideboard of one of my Legacy decks. Burning Wish strikes again! I mean, Void Snare really is a better card than Unsummon, and Burning Wish isn't why. Respect the non-creature permanents, kids. They can and will wreck your day.

18) Life from the Loam is amazing. I mean, I've known this for over eight years, but I'm saying it now anyway. It's a cheap sorcery, so it's easy to get back into the graveyard, it allows for recursion of lands all by itself, and dredging it up puts even more lands into the graveyard to be used by it. How did Wizards of the Coast get the notion that a cheap sorcery with built in self recursion, land recursion, and graveyard-filling would be balanced? I don't know what drugs were involved, but I'm thankful for whatever happened.

19) Actual way to increase the storm count: Remand. Yeah, you can counter an opponent's spells, but you can also counter your own spell and then replay it, drawing a card in the process. This seems incredibly silly, but it's actually been successful in Modern. Remand is an uncommon, but it's a $10 card anyway. So apparently, silly as the card seems, it gets the job done.

20) I listed tournament storm decks that I could think of off the top of my head. Let's do the same for Life from the Loam! So there's Aggro Loam, Death Loam, Landstill, 43Land, Dark Depths Combo, Maverick, Lands (that's the actual name people give the deck), Jund Midrange, Pox, Seismic Loam, Control Slaver, Oath, Solar Flare, The Rock, and Gifts Control. That's just the one card, not the entire mechanic.

21) I've made it clear that I think Dredge is pretty great. But not every mechanic gets to be as awesome as Dredge. For Return to Ravnica block, each of the Ravnica guilds got a new mechanic. Golgari got Scavenge to replace Dredge, and the difference is a bit startling.

22) In the grand scheme of mechanics, Scavenge probably isn't even that bad. I was recently reminded that Sweep exists. Anyone remember the Sweep mechanic? Yeah, I hadn't either. Wow, it's bad.

23) I think that in three more articles, I could bump everyone else off of the front page again. Other CPA members put a stop to my domination in the past. They have some time, but will they step to the challenge again? I have no idea.

24) Expansion symbols were a pretty simple and sensible concept back in the 1990's. Oh, this set has a scimitar, the one has an anvil, and so on. Now, there are well over a hundred set symbols, and some of them look like gibberish to me. At some point, this could become a problem. Or perhaps not. I have no idea.

25) Set symbols have gotten pretty abstract, and I'm not even sure when this started, because who even would have cared at first? Wikipedia tries to come up with explanations for all of the set symbols, but some of them are pretty silly. According to Wikipedia, the set symbol for Dark Ascension is the “Innistrad symbol turned inward.” I laughed when I saw that. Come on! It's funny. Also, apparently the Innistrad symbol is supposed to be herons. How have I not heard of this before? Someone at Wizards of the Coast is trolling us all and it's hilarious.

26) So we're all somewhat familiar with the Duel Decks product line, right? Traditionally, these have taken either the form of one faction vs. another or the form of one planeswalker vs. another, with the decks constructed in such a way they are balanced against each other and that the cards in them could be representative of a battle between the two entities involved. You know: Elves vs. Goblins, Jace vs. Chandra, etc. But the new one bucks this trend. It's “Speed vs. Cunning.” That's not two rival factions, it's just two concepts. Speed and cunning cannot fight each other. That makes no sense whatsoever.

27) Now that the floodgates are open, I think a “Storm vs. Dredge” pair of Duel Decks would sell well. Call me, Wizards. We can make this happen.

28) I've never played Magic: Online, but I recently saw that apparently, people who play Manaless Dredge expand the window containing the graveyard to take up most of their view. That makes sense, but I find it funny.

29) I had 30 spells in the first Storm Count article, but this one focused on Dredge a bit, and really, if I've dredged up 29 cards, you'd better come up with an answer quickly, because you're probably about to die. So I'm stopping here.

Read More Articles by Stephen Bahl!

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