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The Calm Before the Storm!

By Anthony Skinner

16 October 2006

 

 

I have amended my lists to take into account that Reiterate doesnít work with Storm, so you canít use it effectively on the Dragonstorm! Apologies for any confusion caused! Tony

 

The deck I would like to talk about today is the Dragonstorm deck doing the rounds at various internet forums. Now when I first made a little list up and added it to my gauntlet I was thinking that it would be bad! Having loaded it on Workstation and tweaked it I found it to be depressingly consistent! I say depressingly as I remember the season of playing versus endless Tooth and Nail decks and the lottery that created. All things considered, if your opponent does not know about the deck, then you are at a serious advantage.

 

Dragonsong

By Anthony Skinner

Spells

Creatures

Sideboard

4 Dragonstorm

4 Bogarden Hellkite

3 Gigadrowse

2 Grozgroth

2 Hunted Dragon

4 Defence Grid

4 Sleight of Hand

 

4 Giant Solifuge

4 Telling Time

Lands

4 Trickbind

2 Truth or Tale

 

 

4 Rite of Flame

4 Steam Vents

 

4 Lotus Bloom

4 Shivan Reef

 

4 Seething Song

9 Island

 

4 Remand

5 Mountain

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you unfamiliar with the deck, it works by using the first three turns to play Lotus Bloom, Sleight of Hand, Telling Time and Truth or Tale to set up a storm of mana acceleration on the fourth turn. This culminates in a Dragonstorm for 4 or more Dragons, which usually is game over as four Bogarden Hellkites hit the table. In the event you have drawn one of your Hellkites or your opponent is on a higher life total you can also fetch Hunted Dragon to fly in as a hasty 6/6.

 

 

 

 

The sideboard has 8 slots dedicated to defeating your opponentsí countermeasures. The most difficult match is one where your opponent has a lot of countermagic. It can overcome a small amount, such as Mana Leak and Remand with its own Remands, however if your opponent is playing Cancel, Rewind etc it is going to be difficult to combo out. For this reason Gigadrowse and Defence Grid come in. The idea is to cast Gigadrowse to tap them down enough to get Defence Grid through countermagic, once the Gird hits the table it is game over unless they stay alive long enough to reach five mana, the reason being that they will be unable to play any spells in your turn without paying three mana more!

 

 

This is the sideboard which I am currently testing. The Defence Grids and Gigadrowse come in against most decks (see below), the Giant Solifuges give you a plan B against controlling decks and offer a surprise factor in games 2 or 3. Trickbind is for the mirror match! Yes, it does seem what I thought was quite an obscure deck is becoming very popular and trawling various internet sites, Dragonstorm is usually top of the new tech tree on discussion forums. So it is quite possible you will be facing off against a similar deck at least once during the tournament.

 

I have seen many versions of this deck, some play green for Early Harvest and Utopia Sprawl, but I feel drawn to sticking at two colours. If you go with the third you just give yourself another way to lose and as this build is very consistent I see no reason to change things.

 

When designing for Champs it is very difficult as you start with a blank slate, the formats defining decks are usually set by the fastest Beatdown deck and the formats fastest Combo deck. Well, this combo deck clearly sets the clock to 4 turns, which is very fast. For comparison, Tooth and Nail usually clocked in at turn 5 without disruption. This means filling your deck with four and five casting cost spells is a very risky proposition.

 

Beating the Storm

 

Assuming you are not playing Dragonstorm what do you bring in from your sideboard to deal with it? Letís look at the Options

 

We can either try to prevent the combo from going off or we can attempt to survive once the Dragons enter play.

 

White

 

 

Given the Gigadrowse/Defence Grid plan from the Dragonstorm player we probably donít want to be playing any instants, for example Honourable Passage will cost 4W to cast with a Grid in play and will only be any good then if a) You have five mana when they attempt to combo and b) You can deal with the Dragons after they have hit the board.

 

Now Angelís Grace is slightly better, for 3W you donít lose and they canít Remand it either. You will absolutely need Wrath or some Mass destruction the turn after though or you will just lose to combat damage.

 

Worship will work in some situations, if you drop Soltari Priest, Paladin En-Vec or even Order of Stars set to Red. Then the Dragons can not touch you. Eventually you will have enough Pro-Red creatures on the board to just walk on through and win the game. However, this plan will not always be successful with a timely Remand screwing up the maths and going second is more difficult. This option is more likely to be better in combination with other options, for example with Angelís Grace and or/ Circle of Protection Red.

 

The Ivory Mask will stop the Hellkites targeting you, but I would only try this in Control, the reason being that you still have to deal with twenty power of Dragons the turn after! This is very easy to disrupt with a Remand.

 

Finally, this brings me to the Circle, which on its own stands out to me as the best option in White as it prevents the 20 damage to the head AND deals with the Dragons once they are on the board. Again this plan is open to disruption and I imagine Gigadrowse at the end of the turn would be this strategyís undoing.

 

In conclusion, some combination of these options should be able to muster a strong fight against the combo archtype. For example, Pro Red creatures, Worship and Angelís Grace together should stand a strong chance of success. Turn 2 Priest, Turn 4 cast Angelís Grace in response to the combo and Turn 5 drop Worship is good game. A combination of Circle Red and Trickbind (see below) should be enough to save the White/Blue mage.

 

Blue

 

 

Blue has to play a very different game and be mindful of the Defence Grids coming in, Boomerang and Spellsnare are needed to deal with this threat. If you can deal with it then Trickbind takes out the storm and as long as you run Confiscate, or some such creature control, you can deal with the one Dragon which comes down. Voidslime will get the job done, but watch out for Remand! There is not all that much you can do about Gigadrowse at the end of your turn, one answer may be to run Teferi as your win condition and with some timely Trickbinds you can hold them off. If you get to six mana with Teferi on the board and a full grip of counters including Trickbind I donít see anyway you can lose.

 

Combining with the White cards you can use Trickbind, CoP Red and Wrath to hold off the storm. If they Gigadrowse at the end of your turn you can Trickbind it, you should have at least one mana left with which to prevent one of the Dragons attacks. You can then untap and cast Wrath for the win!

 

Red

 

 

This is pretty much the only plans open to you if you are heavily into Red. By using Ancient Grudge on any Lotus Blooms appearing in the upkeep you should be able to keep them off being able to achieve 9 mana. With a package of Cyroclasm and Stone Rain or maybe even Boiling Seas you should be able to restrict their search spells into finding new land rather than the combo pieces. This isnít a groundbreaking strategy as in some cases they can win with the right spells off of only a single land, however, if this is the best you can do it should at least increase your odds of success.

 

Black

 

 

The strongest plan I see in Black is aiming a huge amount of disruption at the Dragonstorm playerís hand and beating them with a combination of Hyppie, Dark Confident and the Rack. Black can also offer a solid beatdown plan as well, so with a disruption sideboard it could be a major force in the new standard.

 

Unfortunately there is no Cranial Extraction type card, Jesterís Cap just isnít fast enough.

 

You could also go with White for Castigate and/or Conjurerís Ban for more disruption as well. Going with White also gives you access to Pro-Red creatures and Worship against burn heavy decks.

 

Green

 

Green on its own has very, very little it can do about this plan. The best being to Naturalise any Lotus Blooms in the upkeep that they are played and put down a quick clock on turns 1-3.

 

Other Strategies

 

The other way to try to survive is to have a life total that is too high to be taken out in one hit. The maximum damage my version can do in a single turn is 32. Storming for six Dragons is exceptionally tricky to do by turn 4 and usually you get four, which will do 20-22 depending on whether you fetch Hellkites or Hunted Dragons. Therefore if you can cast a Loxodon Heirach on Turn 3 and some other life gain you can get out of burn range. However you still need to deal with the Dragons on the next turn!

 

I hope this has helped to give you some idea of what to expect from a Dragonstorm deck and how to beat it. In about two weeks time we should know just how successful it is going to be.

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