With Nexus of Fate gone, it is only a matter of time before some of the other combo decks in Pioneer start to see more play. I have been playing a ton with Lotus Storm, and am loving it. The deck was hurt a bit when Once Upon a Time was banned, but now I have it on my short list of top decks in Pioneer. Once Upon a Time really wasn't an essential part of the deck. This is the version I have been playing, and while there are a couple potential changes you can make, let's use this list for now:
The Storm part of the name of the deck is a bit misleading; please don't think of this like a traditional Storm deck.
Your goal is to set up a turn where you use Lotus Field and uptap effects like Vizier of Tumbling Sands, Pore Over the Pages and Hidden Strings to generate a ton of mana while digging through your deck. Then you cast Omniscience and use the Granted half of Fae of Wishes to play Enter the Infinite and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries from your sideboard to win the game.
Before you get to make any of the awesome plays the deck is capable of, you need to develop your mana properly. As you might expect, first and foremost you need access to a copy of Lotus Field. The reason the deck plays four copies of Sylvan Scrying is you have additional ways to get your Lotus Fields. Games where you never get a Lotus Field in play are unwinnable for the most part.
Even so, I don't think you should automatically mulligan a hand without one of these two cards. For instance, you can keep a hand with two copies of Shimmer of Possibility, which will hopefully find what you're looking for.
The other land Sylvan Scrying wants to find is Thespian's Stage. Once getting the Lotus Field in play you really want to be able to find a way to make a copy of it with Sylvan Scrying. Before starting a big turn, take the time to make the copy of Lotus Field. Having two lands that produce three mana each is what gives you the opportunity to go off.
Besides getting Lotus Field in play and copying it, you do also want to ramp by traditional means. Arboreal Grazer is a card many of us have a love-hate relationship with, since it is in many ways underpowered, but it does give you a blocker and allows for an extra land to be played for the turn. Growth Spiral is usually an upgrade to Arboreal Grazer, but is more or less doing the same thing. If you've played Standard the last few months you should be very familiar with these cards. Notably, both Arboreal Grazer and Growth Spiral are going to be much more effective in hands with lots of lands in them.
For Lotus Storm, the middle portion of the game often doesn't last very long. Sometimes it's only one turn when you have developed your mana, but don't have a way to actually win the game yet. Some of these turns involve casting Granted, and looking to find a way to stabilize the board. Having access to seven mana means you can Granted to get Anger of the Gods from the sideboard and cast it, which comes up quite often. Ten mana means Hour of Revelation, and twelve mana Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. It is always important to think about your Granted options. If possible, you want to be able to cast the card you Granted for the same turn you get it from the sideboard.
Fae of Wishes is primarily in the deck for Granted, but don't be afraid to simply cast it as a blocker in a pinch.
The other part of the midgame plan is card selection. Shimmer of Possibility, Dig Through Time, Pore Over the Pages, and to a lesser extent Vizier of Tumbling Sands and Finale of Revelation all allow you to set your hand up. This might be the deck that can best utilize Dig Through Time right now, as you fill up the graveyard quite easily once the deck gets going.
You always want to know how much mana your untap land effects generate. Once you have two Lotus Fields in play, here is how much mana your untap effects generate:
Pore Over the Pages: +1 mana
Cycling Vizier of Tumbling Sands : +1 mana
Hidden Strings: +4 mana
Finale of Revelation for 10: usually enough mana to win the game
Note that Vizier of Tumbling Sands and Pore Over the Pages actually draw you cards while generating mana, but it isn't as much mana as compared to Hidden Strings. Hidden Strings is the card you want to hold off on casting for as long as possible. The four copies in the deck are all very valuable, and if used too early, you will often find yourself without enough mana to win the game.
This is where the "storm" part of the deck happens. In order to win the game you will need to be able to generate a lot of mana, which usually means casting Hidden Strings, or multiple Hidden Strings. These turns often start with cycling Vizier of Tumbling Sands and casting Pore Over the Pages. You want to reach a point where you can see how much total mana you have access to, and this informs your decisions about whether it is possible to win that turn. Sometimes these turns involve casting Dig Through Time, which means you lose two mana to Dig Through Time (delve 6), but oftentimes it ends up netting mana if you find untap effects from the Dig.
The simplest way to win is to start by getting Omniscience into play. Some lists, like this one, play a copy of Omniscience maindeck that can be naturally drawn, but you always want a copy in the sideboard to find with Granted. With Omniscience in play, you cast another Granted to get Enter the Infinite from the sideboard. You'll draw another Fae of Wishes, which can find Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. Then you just need to uptick the planeswalker one time for the win. If the opponent happens to have a way to remove Jace from play in response to the uptick, simply cast a couple Growth Spiral in response. Remember, at this point you will have drawn your entire deck.
This may seem complicated, but once you actually do it becomes fairly straightforward. The other card that usually leads to a win by itself is casting Finale of Revelation for 10 or more. Being able to untap your lands and shuffle potential Hidden Strings that have already been cast back into your deck is important along with the ten cards being drawn. It would be extremely rare that this wouldn't find enough resources to then get Omniscience and win.
There are some corner case scenarios where the Omniscience win won't work because of what the opponent is doing. Cards like Unmoored Ego or Lost Legacy on your Fae of Wishes is something you definitely need to worry about. These situations will almost always occur post sideboard though, and I will talk about some options you have. In the mirror however, you can actually Lost Legacy in game one with a Granted, and taking Fae of Wishes out of the opponent's deck in that situation is game over.
There are so many decks in Pioneer, the most beneficial way to do this is to talk about what is going to happen in most sideboard games.
First of all, you never are going to be sideboarding in very many cards. This is still a toolbox deck with Fae of Wishes in it, which means you need to keep some good tutor targets in the sideboard. The other important thing to note is that it's okay to bring in off-color cards, as you can cast these with Lotus Field.
Unravel the Aether and Mystical Dispute: These are the easiest cards to sideboard in. Bring them in against artifact/enchantment hate and blue-based control decks respectively.
Anger of the Gods: Against creature decks I like bringing in one copy and still leaving one to tutor for in the sideboard.
Fog, Enter the Infinite, Omniscience, Sanguine Sacrament and Lost Legacy: These cards almost always stay in the sideboard.
Hour of Revelation and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon: These can come in versus midrange decks with lots of disruptive elements and planeswalkers. If your opponent has lots of interaction for your combo and games are more likely to go long, this is where to go.
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries : I like to board Jace in against decks that could have an Unmoored Ego effect. That way, if the opponent does take away your Fae of Wishes, you can still naturally win with Jace. When going on this plan, also bring in Finale of Revelation. If this plan becomes well known and players start naming Jace with their Unmoored Ego effects we might need a second Jace in the sideboard.
Finale of Revelation: This is a card I really like in general in the deck, so it is probably the card I bring in the most often. The flexibility it provides is huge. Sometimes you can get ahead by drawing three or four cards, but it also serves as essentially a win condition. It comes in against decks with discard or countermagic.
What cards do you take out? The card I sideboard out most often is Arboreal Grazer. This is a card that gets worse after sideboard, especially against decks without small creatures, where it doesn't block well. Against decks that do have small creatures you really don't sideboard in very much, so I will normally just cut a Shimmer of Possibility for an Anger of the Gods. Basically, I'm okay with cutting up to four copies of Arboreal Grazer, but once again you normally don't sideboard that heavily with the deck.
I am very happy with the deck for the most part, so any change I would make would be relatively minor. For example, I'm considering cutting an Arboreal Grazer for another land. Arboreal Grazer is the weakest card in the deck, and hands without enough lands are pretty frustrating, even with the four Sylvan Scrying. Another change would be playing one of each basic rather than two Forest. Again, a relatively minor change, but important for Field of Ruin protection.
The last change I want to mention would be moving the maindeck Omniscience to the sideboard in exchange for another Finale of Revelation. Normally Finale for 10 is going to be enough to win, and from there you can still tutor the Omniscience from the sideboard. Finale oftentimes is going to be a more versatile draw since you can cast it earlier in the game too. As far as tutor targets, I could see there being a little bit of play to the sideboard, though at this moment I haven't found better tutor options than what we currently are playing.
I want to reiterate that these changes are minor and I'm not confident are 100% correct. If you want to try them though, this is the next list I will be testing next:
Seth Manfield is a professional Magic player and member of both the Magic Hall of Fame and the 2019 Magic Pro League.
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