I have been keeping my eyes on the results of Modern tournaments, and I am particularly interested in PTQs because they are very cutthroat. I found decklists from a PTQ in Japan last weekend, and I was completely taken aback by the deck that finished in second place: Possibility Storm combo.
The combo here is Possibility Storm followed by Memnite. Possibility Storm will trigger, and will exchange the Memnite for another creature or artifact, which in this deck must be Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Possibility Storm casts the spell, so Emrakul, the Aeons Torn triggers its "take an extra turn after this one" ability, and it attacks to hopefully lock up the game with its annihilator six trigger, if not killing the opponent outright.
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is effectively useless when drawn, and drawing two means the deck can't combo. It can be discarded with Izzet Charm, Desolate Lighthouse, or even by drawing up to eight cards. When discarded it is shuffled back into the deck along with the rest of the graveyard, allowing it to be dug up by Possibility Storm.
Tolaria West can tutor up Memnite, which adds redundancy to the combo, but it doesn't waste slots for useless cards since Tolaria West is a functional land. It can also tutor for utility lands like Desolate Lighthouse or Academy Ruins which acts as a way to Recycle Memnite if it's discarded or milled. After sideboard Tolaria West can even find Pact of Negation to protect the combo.
Possibility Storm also seems interesting by itself as a source of disruption against many decks, though it does introduce a lot of randomness and makes one's own spells difficult to use.Core Competencies
The beauty of this deck is it plays the same strong Izzet core as Modern's premier UR combo deck, Splinter Twin. Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand fix draws and dig for combo pieces, while Remand, Electrolyze, and Cryptic Command provide meaningful interaction and card drawing velocity throughout the game. Lightning Bolt, Modern's quintessential red creature removal spell, is also excellent here. This deck maxes out on Izzet Charm, which pulls a lot of weight here as a piece of versatile interaction that digs deep towards combo pieces.
This deck pushes the disruption package with two copies of Condescend. The card can be clunky, but the digging power of the card is unmatched, something Kumagai recognized and capitalized on. A singleton Repeal is excellent in many situations and yet another piece of interaction paired with source of card drawing velocity.
Gigadrowse is a historic staple for UR combo decks, a card that once won the World Championship in Dragonstorm combo. It's extremely useful for acting as a difficult-to-counter Mana Short against other blue decks, such as Splinter Twin and UWR Control. Gigadrowse is usually all it takes to shut down opposing Counterspell capability and will clear the way for Possibility Storm. Gigadrowse is doubly useful as a psuedo-Fog, as it can tap down opposing attackers to buy a full turn. This is especially useful against aggressive decks like Affinity and Zoo. Similarly, it can be used to tap down opposing lands in their upkeep, preventing them from casting sorcery-speed spells that turn. This is especially useful against powerful sorcery-speed decks like Birthing Pod and RG Tron. Overall, this versatility means Gigadrowse is well-suited as a maindeck card. Gigadrowse pulls a lot of weight and I'm excited to see it being put to such good use.
The real strength of Possibility Storm compared to Splinter Twin combo is it doesn't rely on vulnerable creatures. Rather than having to resolve and protect two permanents, this deck just needs to resolve one, and it doesn't need to protect it, because its work is done before the opponent has a chance to interact. The deck is not more consistent than Splinter Twin because it's less redundant, and has effectively half of each combo piece. On the other hand, this provides room for more interactive spells and card selection, which does come with the advantage of allowing the deck to better fight a fair game.The Videos
I started out by playing one game of solitaire to test out the combo for myself, then hopped into an eight-man queue. Check out that video here:
Possibility Storm vs. Monoblue Tron
After that craziness of a match I was impressed by the deck, so I hopped right back into a queue, which I will now share in its entirety. Enjoy!
Round 1 vs. RUG Twin
Round 2 vs. Death's Shadow / Ad Nauseam Unlife (this deck was VERY cool!)
Round 3 vs. Melira Pod
A great result and a whole lot of fun.
When playing the deck, I noticed a few things. For one, there is the fact that if low on life and the opponent is well enough established, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn may not be enough to win the game by itself, and Possibility Storm makes it difficult to use spells meaningfully, so it's important to go off while it's still relevant. Another thing, it's very important to use mana efficiently, and important to look for any opportunities to safely tap three mana and transmute Tolaria West for Memnite, as it's greatly preferred to cast Memnite immediately upon resolving Possibility Storm. That way the opponent will have no opportunity to stop the combo or develop their own board. Some Sideboard Possibilities-->
Through the Breach
Since the deck already plays Emrakul, the Aeons Torn but can't utilize it in hand, adding some Through the Breach isn't much of a stretch. It might even be feasible to simply sideboard up to the full set of four Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and four Through the Breach as a form of transformational sideboard, probably leaving in both combos in their entirety. This plan is clunky and costs a lot of sideboard space, and doesn't speed up the deck or make it more consistent, though it does give it an additional angle of attack and more ways to exploit an opponent. It's worth exploring but probably just not necessary.
UR decks in Modern sometimes use Blood Moon, combo decks especially. Splinter Twin often plays the card, and it would be no stretch to play the card here. On the other hand, Modern has pretty well adapted to the card and most decks are built with the card in mind. It's pretty strong against Jund and UWR Control, and it does work against Birthing Pod, but even these decks play basics and are trained to play around Blood Moon against UR decks. Functional and worth exploring, but not necessary.
Another idea would be to cut the Possibility Storm aspect in sideboarding and transform into a more functional control deck. This opens up the sideboard to more options like artifacts and creatures. A huge creature like Inferno Titan would be a great option, and potentially Batterskull though it's weaker in this deck without creatures to equip. Sideboarding some Snapcaster Mage would also go a long way in the control transformation. Conclusions
The Possibility Storm deck certainly met and exceeded my expectations, and beyond my own mistakes the deck performed flawlessly throughout the tournament. The deck has a consistent manabase, and in the games I played I always had meaningful interaction in the early turns that bought time for me to assemble the combo. I also had enough card draw and card selection that I was able to consistently assemble my combo. This deck is promising, and with such a strong core it's not a stretch that the deck can be competitive. It's already proven itself on a competitive stage and is poised to be a player in the metagame going forward. Let me know your decklists and experiences relating to Possibility Storm in Modern!