CabalTherapy's Top Ten Tendrils Tips: 1-5
Viewed by many as the hardest deck in Legacy, ANT is a complex combo deck that is difficult to play and even more demanding to master. However, there are plenty of simple lines of play that can help improving results and one’s overall expertise.
Before diving into the list, I want to state that I believe Storm decks provide a great foundation for discussion, as there are so many reasonable lines of play, considering and outside of your opponent's cards and lines; and believe me, there is almost always at least one way to win the game from any starting hand. Now, I don't want to go into detail on specific game states but rather I want to talk about common situations and general rules.
Without further ado, let us look at my current list for reference and delve into the first half of my top ten Tendrils tips:
ANT by Robert Swiecki as of 04.02.2019
|15Lands||8Artifacts||37Instants and Sorceries|
|1Badlands||4Lion's Eye Diamond||4Duress|
|1Bloodstained Mire||4Lotus Petal||1Grim Tutor|
|1Misty Rainforest||2Past in Flames|
|1Swamp||1Tendrils of Agony|
|2Underground Sea||1Ad Nauseam|
|2Abrupt Decay||1Bayou||2Echoing Truth|
|1Empty the Warrens||1Extirpate||2Flusterstorm|
|1Karakas||2Pernicious Deed||1Tormod's Crypt|
1. Use pen and paper.
So, this very first tip is generally useful, regardless of what you're playing. There are many players who use dice to indicate storm and mana counts. There are a couple of problems with this approach though. First of all, it is difficult or impossible to track figures with dice. They give you a momentary view of the game state, but dice cannot provide players with a full "history." Much like a browser history or a simple chat log, pen and paper show the progression of a turn: Use capital letters for mana (BBB for Dark Ritual for example) and simple dashes for the storm count. By crossing out the mana symbols, you, your opponent, and a judge can reconstruct a turn easier (cross out a BBB when you pay for a Duress). While representing the storm count with dashes does not seem to be a great improvement over a die, it prevents falling into trap number two. Dice can be unintentionally manipulated by knocking them over. It is that easy. One does not want to count the figures once again and lose time and nerves. Further, having dice on display before matches might let opponents put you on Storm and spoil the surprise. And don't forget to use a fresh piece of paper for every round, for reasons eloquently explained by Andreas in his latest article.
2. Make your land drops wisely.
Playing lands properly might be the most underrated technique in Storm. It's too easy to just play lands and cast spells. That's not how it works, especially in Legacy. Lands are not just resources that you slam onto the battlefield during the first main phase. By simply withholding a land drop, one can bait tax counters like Daze or Spell Pierce when playing irrelevant spells and then going off with that fresh Underground Sea that powers a ritual. The other reason to think about playing your lands twice is Wasteland. Play your lands to a tempo advantage against decks with mana denial. It seems obvious to fetch for Island and Swamp first but sometimes it is not the best game plan. While this is quite tricky – in particular against those who play Stifle as well – trading land drops can put the combo player ahead because they act as a little Time Walk. When the opponent attacks your mana base, they cannot cast their relevant spells. That being said, take your time when deciding how and when you want to deploy your lands.
3. Go for it!
Easy as that. Go for it! It's turn one, you look at your starting seven and see a potential turn one win via Ad Nauseam or a Past in Flames but no way to cast a discard spell. What do you do? Most of the time, it's correct to just go for the unprotected kill here. The chances that the opponent has a Force of Will and a blue card are at around 40%. There are two things to keep in mind: There are many match ups that are worse than 60/40 and secondly how does the opening hand fare against the various turn one plays the opponent can perform. Will it win against a Thoughtseize? How does it deal with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben? Therefore, chances to win the game are always better to just play it out and try to win the game. If you know what you are up against, you can of course wait a turn to assemble a deterministic Past in Flames loop. Decks like Burn, Elves, and Death and Taxes do not have a relevant turn one play against ANT; under normal circumstances.
4. Ad Nauseam is a great draw spell.
Some love it, some hate it. Ad Nauseam is a card that can almost literally make you look like the poor soul in its picture. Yet, Ad Nauseam is a greater tool than you might think. The best Ad Nauseam is the end of turn one. Tapping some lands, casting a ritual, refuelling on cards, and starting the own turn with twenty or more cards in hand. Primarily, Ad Nauseam is just a very expensive card drawing spell. If you can win immediately afterwards, that is pretty convenient but if you do not, do not worry because it is really not the task of this card. Additionally, it makes graveyard hate somewhat weaker and does not care about Leovold, Emissary of Trest because it lets you put cards into your hand. Oftentimes it competes with Empty the Warrens for a slot in the main deck and gets sided out against tempo and Burn. Nevertheless, it is a heavily underrated and sometimes also misunderstood tool in ANT nowadays.
5. Analyze your mistakes.
Everyone has to start somewhere and nobody was born a master. Maybe the most important aspect of playing ANT is to analyse mistakes afterwards and talk about possible solutions and improvements with fellow Storm players. A fruitful discussion lets you reflect on your games. Without a constructive follow-up, the learning curve will not be as steep and you will spend more time to get yourself onto the next level. An easy way is to take pictures of certain situations online or offline and discuss them with your friends afterwards. You will see that there is almost always a way to get out of the lock and even though chances might be negligibly small it is extremely helpful to know the potential lines and being able to commit to a certain game plan early on; that is especially true against Chalice of the Void and fast combo decks.
See you next time for the second half of my Tendrils tips.
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