Storming Off in Standard
- Jamin Kauf
While everyone else in Standard is busy resolving [Walking Ballista or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, Jamin counts to fifty life instead. This mono blue newcomer has a lot of spice and Jamin explores whether it has what it takes to compete in a stacked Standard format.
The Standard MOCS monthly event on Magic Online was heavily dominated by the already established decks of the format: R/B Vehicles, U/W Control and Green aggressive decks (with and without Snakes) made up a big part of the winner’s metagame.
But between those stock lists, one glimmer of spice shimmered through: daibloXSC piloted a mono blue storm deck to six wins to qualify for the playoffs! I took the list, ran it through multiple Leagues and a PTQ on Magic Online, and am currently playing this version:
Mono Blue Storm
|2Zhalfirin Void||3Aetherflux Reservoir||3Glint-Nest Crane|
|3Mox Amber||2Commit // Memory|
|4Prophetic Prism||3Metallic Rebuke|
|4Renegade Map||4Paradoxical Outcome|
|1Traveler's Amulet||3Baral's Expertise|
|1Baral's Expertise||2Baral, Chief of Compliance||3Karn, Scion of Urza|
|4Negate||2Padeem, Consul of Innovation||1River's Rebuke|
When I first looked at the deck, it looked super clunky. Those doubts quickly faded once I played with the deck, it curved smoothly, mulligans could be overcome and it had actual game against some of the top decks of the format. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s have a look at the card-inclusions:
Renegade Map, Traveller’s Amulet and Prismatic Prism are your early game to set up your card-draw and bounce during later turns.
Inspiring Statuary turns your ‘useless’ artifacts into moxen, helping you cast lots of spells quickly.
Reverse Engineer becomes very powerful once you build your deck around it. Two mana draw three is incredibly efficient and without it, this deck would be far weaker.
Without playing Aetherflux Reservoir you cannot win the game, but the timing can be difficult: if your life total is pressured, it’s often correct to drop it, hoping it sticks. In other games you can wait one more turn to try and protect it with Metallic Rebuke or Commit//Memory.
Talking about Commit // Memory, it’s absolutely amazing with Inspiring Statuary. Costing only a single blue mana makes it easy to improvise, it’s a removal- and counterspell in one and provides you with new cards once you run out of gas!
Paradoxical Outcome is the card draw spell that makes this deck feel very broken sometimes. Improvising it out by tapping three Ornithopters, drawing five cards, replaying said Ornithopters can only be improved by having Aetherflux Reservoir out already.
Glint-Nest Crane looks like an obvious inclusion in this kind of deck, but keep in mind that this deck only plays 23 artifacts, so your favorite bird is going to brick 13% of the time. He still makes the deck because you can use him to chump-block or return him with Paradoxical Outcome.
Baral’s Expertise feels disproportionally powerful in this specific deck. It can either Bounce your opponent’s board of threatening creatures or refill your hand with Prismatic Prisms and the likes to draw more cards and generate storm. All that while letting you deploy a “free” Aetherflux Reservoir from your hand.
A word on the manabase. While it might seem trivial to play lots of colorless lands (the original list ran an Inventor’s Fair alongside four Zhalfirin Voids), they are actually a huge cost. With Inspiring Statuary your problem will often become colored mana. I’m still deciding if I even want the two colorless lands I’m currently playing.
Once you head into game two and three, the real fun begins! Your opponent should take out a lot of their removal, so it’s time for us to play with legendary creatures. As soon as those enter the battlefield, Mox Amber becomes one of the best cards in your deck.
Baral’s Expertise and River’s Rebuke are excellent against any green beatdown strategy as they will buy you a lot of time.
Karn, Scion of Urza is probably the most played card in Standard - for us it’s only a tool against the slowest decks that struggle with pressuring resolved Planeswalkers.
We have the playset Negate in the Sideboard because almost all the cards that opponents will board in are non-creatures. The number I bring in depends on the matchups, against control decks, always sideboard all four.
To round things out we have two Sorcerous Spyglass to help shut down opposing Planeswalkers while also helping with the improvise strategy.
Tips & Tricks
Don’t play your zero mana artifacts too early, instead play them as soon as you need them to improvise something.
Paradoxical Outcome is an instant, enabling you to chump with creatures and then bounce them, saving you damage without throwing away your board.
You can cast cards you just bounced to your hand with Baral’s Expertise for free. The spell resolves in order, giving you the option to redeploy something like a Prismatic Prism.
The Aftermath side of Commit//Memory is affected by Inspiring Statuary, allowing you to pay as little as two blue Mana to cast it.
Karn, Scion of Urza is not an artifact. If you have an Inspiring Statuary out, you can cast the Planeswalker simply by tapping four artifacts.
But How is it in Standard
So let’s ask the tough question: is this deck competitive? With 33% of the decks in Standard playing Abrade and 20% playing Thrashing Brontodon, it seems like this kind of strategy couldn’t work. To my surprise, you can often fight through those cards and recover. It doesn’t matter if your Reservoir gets destroyed as long as your opponent doesn’t pressure you too quickly, giving you time to generate card advantage.
Another common play pattern that has happened to me is hand disruption with no pressure to back it up out of blue-black decks. My opponent played multiple Duresss and Doomfalls, but didn’t pressure me, allowing me to draw one of the many payoff-cards and go off from there.
This deck doesn’t lose to beatdown alone either, as long as you stick an Aetherflux Reservoir you can usually gain enough life for you to survive the onslaught for long enough.
The problem comes from the hiccups. If they go aggressive and you don’t hit four mana to deploy a Reservoir, you’re probably dead. If they curve out and follow it up with a removal for the Reservoir, that’s where the deck struggles.
Also, if this deck ever takes off, it’s fairly easy to tech against, sideboards can just include more artifact interaction to make for a better matchup.
All of these facts combined lead me to believe that this will not be the new deck to beat in Standard which should not stop you from picking it up. Playing it was the most fun I’ve had in a while and I still won more matches than I lost.
That’s it for me this week, what’s your opinion on this Storm deck in Standard? Do you think it has legs? Are there improvements to be made on the list? Let me know in the comments!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.