Switching Green for White in ANT
- Robert Swiecki
Is it possible to cut green for white in ANT? CabalTherapy has got the low down on this heresy here as an long-time ANT player. He discusses the pros, the cons, and why now is such a great time to try and switch.
Storm Splashing White?
The short answer is Teferi, Time Raveler but to really make an argument for transitioning from green to white, you have to look at the full picture. One of the big reasons why this change can't immediately be dismissed is the decline of Counterbalance in the current meta. Most Miracles decks only run two Counterbalances now and without Sensei's Divining Top, the blue enchantment has lost a lot of its luster.
Old Miracles tried to win games against Storm by locking them out of the game with the omnipotent Counterbalance + Top combo, but it currently relies on getting the win by drawing enough cards to stay constantly loaded on reactive spells. Cards like Accumulated Knowledge or Predict help with this, in addition to staples like Brainstorm, Ponder, and Preordain or Portent. Apart from Counterbalance, there are only a few permanents that need to be answered with Abrupt Decay, which is the primary reason why green sees play in storm decks. Other relevant spells are Meddling Mage that can shut down Tendrils of Agony or at least make life difficult when naming Infernal Tutor, Ethersworn Canonist, and Grafdigger's Cage in blue decks that can protect their hate permanents. In addition to Abrupt Decay, Xantid Swarm has been a staple for many years. Its unique effect works wonders against Miracles, Reanimator, and Sneak Show. A popular card to bring in against Canadian as well, the little insect is an easy answer to decks that overload on counterspells. Is it possible to switch to white and cut both Decay and Swarm? Only time will tell for sure but there are strong contenders for the highly coveted slots in the sideboard.
Now, let's talk three-mana Teferi. Evaluated in a vacuum, War of the Spark's new blue-white powerhouse brings extreme value to the game. Its -3 ability could also be a solid sorcery spell but being a planeswalker that actually possesses a +1 ability as well, Teferi is a constant threat or answer respectively. Teferi is able to deal with most problematic permanents and can safely bounce a Griselbrand as well as a Leyline of Sanctity while drawing a card; quite a trade one might say but unfortunately it is not that easy.
Playing Teferi is a significant investment though. It necessitates a significant mana base change and it's simply an expensive(ish) spell that isn't part of the combo. Nonetheless, it has the same CMC as City of Solitude and is an upgrade to this card that saw some play a couple years ago. The sideboard plan is to play Storm control. With three Teferis in the deck, one can't reasonably expect a fast win but rather to grind the way to victory and annoy the opponent as much as possible.
Teferi is great against Reanimator, Miracles, hate bear decks like Death and Taxes, Maverick, Loam, UW Blade, Eldrazi, and others (Legacy has a lot of decks). Of course, many of these decks can simply attack Teferi and that is why he needs some support in form of targeted discard spells that clear the way or removal spells like Fatal Push or Chain of Vapor. It is definitely suboptimal to let Teferi dictate the lines of play and therefore I would not try to protect him too much but rather hope that he sticks long enough to make a difference or follow up with a second one. All in all, we're still playing a Storm combo deck.
The Real Upside
Teferi is just small potatoes though. The real upside to playing white is a card that's been around for a while: Silence. This card has been living under the radar for a while now. Ever since The Epic Storm went from its rainbow manabase with Gemstone Mine and City of Brass to actual duals, there hasn't been enough room for Silence in Storm decks; apart from Doomsday storm, which is another beast. Silence's biggest upside is that it is a reactive spell that can be used defensively as well as on the offense. Keep in mind that Silence can stop other combo decks in response to a business spell or make a deck skip its turn – except for the combat step obviously. In addition, it does not target, which makes it better than Orim's Chant.
Three Silence can really make the difference in many match ups and I value them more highly than Flusterstorm in many situations. Against Delver decks one can silence-walk (meaning the way of timewalking the opponent by playing Silence in the opponent's upkeep) when needed or when suspecting a Hymn to Tourach and try to win counter battles when timed properly. With the upcoming Veil of Summer in M20, Silence gets a strong contender even though both cards are not entirely comparable; both are great against Storm though.
UBrw Storm by Robert Swiecki
|15Lands||8Artifacts||35Instants and Sorceries|
|1Badlands||4Lion's Eye Diamond||4Duress|
|1Bloodstained Mire||4Lotus Petal||1Grim Tutor|
|3Flooded Strand||4Infernal Tutor|
|1Island||2Past in Flames|
|1Tundra||1Tendrils of Agony|
|1Volcanic Island||1Ad Nauseam|
|2Echoing Truth||1Empty the Warrens||1Hurkyl's Recall|
|3Silence||3Teferi, Time Raveler|
Why Not Play All Five?
Domain storm? Five color pile? Is it possible without rainbow lands? Honestly, I doubt it. The mana base gets really awkward because in some match ups post-board one has to start with either Tropical Island or Tundra, which necessitates another land that produces black mana in order to support Abrupt Decay, Teferi, and the combo consistently. There might be difficult situations where Tundra and Swamp are the only lands in play and you want to cantrip during the first turn, potentially exposing the only white land to Wasteland. There might be a world where five color Storm is playable with duals but there are too many downsides to really justify taking the risks with the mana base.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.