The Many Flavors of Galvanic Relay in Post-Ban Pauper


Chatterstorm may be gone from the format, but another storm spell still roams free. It wasn't a big surprise to see how strong Galvanic Relay proved to be. What came as a surprise was how versatile the card turned out to be. A storm spell that doesn't just boost noninteractive combo? How cool is that?

In one of my previous articles, I mentioned that Pauper might be entering a new combo era. Indeed, not long after its publication, Pauper became almost unplayable because of Squirrel Storm, which was an oppressive and unhealthy strategy for the format.

galvanic relay

After Chatterstorm's inevitable ban, Storm lost its main win condition, which was a Squirrel army backed by First Day of Class. However, the entire mana-generating base and most importantly Galvanic Relay still remained in the format. Although we have had storm cards like Weather the Storm or Reaping the Graves in the format for ages, until now we have not had any as interesting and fitting as many strategies as Galvanic Relay.

In this article, I want to look at three different decks that use storm and the titular card. The presence of Galvanic Relay in combo, control or big mana, and midrange rosters shows how versatile and desirable the storm mechanic can be.

Big Mana's House

Generating massive amounts of mana via the Urzatron plus huge card advantage off Galvanic Relay seemed like a natural fit. To tick up the storm count, it is perfect to use cheap cards like Chromatic Star, Chromatic Sphere, Barbed Sextant, and other mana rocks that also draw cards. After completing a set of the three Urza's lands and having the appropriate amount of fixing on the table, we are able to shoot the opponent in one to two turns thanks to Rolling Thunder and Kaervek's Torch.

However, the deck struggles in the early game. Gathering Tron lands and fixing takes some time, and the lack of early defensive cards like Moment's Peace is painful. With a little bit of luck, Rolling Thunder can clear the board and let us live into the late game, where Galvanatron is unmatched. The deck is hard to play, the correct sequencing often not obvious, but winning grants a lot of satisfaction. Let's be honest, who doesn't like casting a fireball for lethal?

Marathon Mana

Another intriguing example is the spiritual successor to Squirrel Storm, but with a big twist. Marauding Blight-Priest basically turns Weather the Storm into a Grapeshot that allows you to finish the game. Unlike the previously discussed Galvanotron, we don't have mana coming from Urza's lands here. Instead, we benefit from depletion lands and acceleration in the form of Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame, and Cabal Ritual. Card advantage is provided by Sign in Blood, Night's Whisper, and of course Galvanic Relay. Multiple Blight-Priests on the battlefield make the combo even easier to set up, because each of them triggers separately for each Weather of the Storm copy.

The deck has a few weak spots, like land destruction or tempo decks that counter key spells and keep up pressure at the same time. Its power level definitely is far from Chatterstorm before the bans, but the gameplay feels similar and will appeal to storm fans from other formats.

Mighty Morphin Midrangers

Green and red strategies aren't usually destined to generate such card advantage. However, almost half of this particular deck are cards that at least replace themselves, like Boarding Party or Sarulf's Packmate. The big mana bursts find themselves replaced by simple ramping from Goblin Anarchomancer and Cleansing Wildfire. (The latter turns into a cantrip Rampant Growth when it targets one of our own indestructibe lands.) They enable us to cast a few spells in one turn, which of course makes Galvanic Relay more powerful. But even without Relay, it's hard for this midrange build to run out of gas. The big bodies of Packmate and Party deal a lot of damage. Even one or two hits from our creatures can be deadly, when supported by Lightning Bolt and Galvanic Blast.

Unfortunately, the current metagame is still adapting and grappling with its strongest deck at the moment—Affinity. Like every Cleansing Wildfire deck, Red-Green Storm is sensitive to artifact removal like Dust to Dust and gets ricochets for Affinity's guilt.

Galvanic Relay may well prove to be one of the format's most important cards in the future. It's worth always keeping it somewhere in the back of your mind when building your decks. Perhaps no one has found the best home for it yet, or it is waiting for some future release to turn the format upside down again.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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SRADracer(23.11.2021 14:42)

I really hope that pauper sees more play. The format feels like legacy, but without all the nonsense of turn 1 chalice/Trinisphere/bloodmoon lock or turn 1 combo.
And it cost almost nothing

PR0boszcz(23.11.2021 15:15)

SRADracer I think it's getting consistently more and more popular! :)