Storm's easily one of the most fascinating removal cards ever printed, and it's finally starting to see the play it may deserve.

If you're not familiar, Storm destroys all of your spells and traps, then gives you the option to destroy opposing spells and traps up to the same number. It doesn't count itself in that tally, so you can't just play it as a 1-for-1; you have to destroy something on your side of the field.

Played to pop something like your own Bottomless Trap Hole or Torrential Tribute, Storm would cost you two cards to destroy one. That's not very good. You probably don't need me to tell you that's a bad Spell Speed 1 Mystical Space Typhoon that eats your cards. As a worst case scenario, that sort of move can still win games when you really, really just need to get rid of one card, but those situations tend to be rare.

If you're playing Storm, you're looking to cheat its worse-than-symmetrical exchange to create much better plays.

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In the past, the only deck that used Storm frequently was Qliphorts; you could destroy your own Qliphort Pendulum Spells and Saqlifice to load up and clear your opponent's backrow. From there you'd make a big push off a Pendulum Summon. At a time when Vanity's Emptiness reigned supreme and Qliphorts were the most explosive deck in competition, Storm was relevant, and while it was nowhere near staple status, it wasn't surprising to see it in a Top Cut Qliphort deck. When Qliphorts became a niche strategy and Nekroz made spell and trap removal riskier by way of a low trap count, Storm faded from competition.

But fast forward to today and suddenly Storm's back in vogue. It appeared in three Side Decks from last weekend's slim crop of Regional Top 8 lists, played by Blair Hunter in North Carolina, Fletcher Thomas in Minnesota, and Koty Angeloff in Mississippi. All three duelists ran Performage Pendulum decks, recalling the days of Qliphort dominance and one of the best ways to cheat value out of Storm – destroying your own Pendulum Spells. We'll talk more about that in a moment, but your immediate takeaway should be this: in a format where Pendulums are at their most competitive, Storm has the ability to break your opponent's scales and shatter their backrow, disrupting their aggression and clearing the way for attacks.

We also saw James Jones Main Deck Storm in Yang Zings over in England, teching one copy to go along with six Field Spells and three copies of Terraforming, all of which could have been useless in the wrong situation. Jones played a minimal Pendulum line-up that could feed Storm, but he could also destroy Oracle of Zefra after searching a card, or destroy Chicken Game to keep his opponent from using it after he got a free draw. He could even set unneeded Terraformings or Upstart Goblins for the same effect if he needed to wipe an especially big backrow. Storm's great for leveraging raw card advantage into results.

But the real head-turner, and the reason Storm caught my attention this week in the first place, was its appearance in Anthony Vo's Kozmo deck that topped the Mississippi Regional. Here's what that looked like…

DECKID= 103782As you might have noticed, since this is Kozmos we're talking about; Vo didn't have any Pendulum Spells to take advantage of. But he did have a Vanity's Emptiness and a Skill Drain he might want to destroy at key times to win games, and he played a pair of Fiendish Chain that he could flip to stop an attack or an effect, and then destroy as part of resolving Storm later on. (Since Fiendish Chain's largely disappeared from competitive play at this point, it's a notable choice.) He also ran a number of monster removal cards that he might want to trade in for backrow hate if he was in a position to win by doing so.

And that's all well and good, but those points are minor compared to Vo's two big tricks. The first is Kozmotown. As we discussed earlier this week in the Competitive Corner article on Adan Salas' deck, a Kozmo player can often win the game outright by destroying their own Kozmotown. Doing so triggers its "if…you can" search effect, delivering a Kozmo card from your deck. When you're looking to assemble an OTK, that combo functions as a sort of wild card, getting you whatever Kozmo you need to finish your opponent off. That trick was good enough for Salas to Main Deck one Mystical Space Typhoon and to remark that he might want more copies in future builds.

That move is so much better with Storm, because destroying Kozmotown winds up destroying an opposing card as well. The card economy's better and suddenly Storm's pulling double duty to help you win the game, searching a combo piece and blowing away a card that might stop you from making your OTK in the process.

Moreover, Vo could double down on that play and make even better trades of card economy in ways that could still feed an OTK attempt, by chaining Quick-Plays to his activation of Storm. Vo ran triple Mystical Space Typhoon and triple Emergency Teleport. So if he controlled Kozmotown, he could activate Storm, chain MST from his hand, and wind up destroying three opposing cards – one with Mystical Space Typhoon and then two with Storm – while searching a Kozmo.

Chain Emergency Teleport instead, and you can destroy two backrows, search a Kozmo, and Special Summon another one straight to the field. Since Teleport's resolving in the middle of the chain, your opponent can't respond to the Summon with something like Bottomless Trap Hole or Torrential Tribute, and then they lose all their traps. By chaining 1-for-1 effects to Storm you can turn it into a positive trade of card economy.

Those are big plays that can easily steal games, and your average opponent won't expect to see them when they sit down to play against Kozmos. Vo could outperform his opponent's expectations and shatter big backrows as an even trade or better, threatening a level of simplification and destruction that can catch players unawares in the post-Exciton era. It's a smart twist that gave him a ton of different plays, for relatively little compromise and specialization in his Main Deck. If you're playing Kozmos now then one of your big challenges is finding ways to innovate and set yourself apart from the pack; Storm's one of the best methods we've seen for accomplishing that.

Performage Pendulums And Majespecters
Back in Pendulum territory, two of the biggest decks of the format can make basic use of Storm by destroying their own Pendulum Spells.

Sending your own Majespecters to the Extra Deck sets you up to Special Summon them back when you replace your Pendulum Scale, scoring you a free search with each of your Majespecter monsters. It also lets you recalibrate your Scale, clearing the way for Archfiend Eccentrick when you draw it; that lets you Pendulum Summon Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin. Storm is solid here, though it might not be good enough to warrant play, especially since you tend to like keeping Majespecter Tornado, Majespecter Tempest, and Majesty's Pegasus on the field. It's a tough call.

Over on the Performage Pendulum side of things the card's better off. Destroying your Performage Plushfire with Storm often works out as a superior Wavering Eyes combo, triggering Plushfire's Special Summon ability but giving you more choice in what you destroy – you're not limited to wrecking your opponent's Pendulum Spells, though you'll miss out on Wavering's search.

Perhaps more importantly, Storm doesn't deal damage: that means your opponent can't shut it down by pitching Performage Damage Juggler. Much like it did in Vo's Kozmo deck, Storm can easily become a positive trade of card economy while enabling the combos you rely on to make wins.

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Note that all three of the Performage Pendulum decks we saw siding Storm over the weekend played Brilliant Fusion as well. It's largely run to send Performage Damage Juggler to the graveyard, though the Double Summon effect of Gem-Knight Seraphinite can be useful as well. When Brilliant Fusion resolves and the monster it Summons is eliminated, Brilliant Fusion remains on the field doing nothing; perfect fodder for Storm. And even if you still control Seraphinite, you can always load the graveyard with Damage Juggler, make your extra Normal Summon, and then give up Seraphinite and Brilliant Fusion anyways to clear the way for a win.

Even rogue strategies like Igknights and Deskbots can get in on the action: Storming your Pendulum Spells can trigger the effects of Deskbot 005 and Deskbot 006, reviving and retrieving Deskbots from your graveyard; you set up your OTK while demolishing your opponent's defenses. Deskbots are already topping big tournaments on an occasional basis now that they have a complete Pendulum Scale, and Storm could make the deck even better.

Floodgates remain a big part of competition, and removal cards like Time-Space Trap Hole, Storming Mirror Force, Horn of Heaven, and Grand Horn of Heaven have never been as popular as they are today. Storm's a great fit for two of the biggest decks – Kozmos and Performage Pendulums – and may warrant use in Majespecters as well. You could play it in Tellarknights to take advantage of Fiendish Chain, Call Of The Haunted, and Oasis of Dragon Souls, and it's an obvious fit for rogue Pendulum strategies.

Look at what you're playing, and see if Storm might work for you. It's a hot tech pick in its infancy, and the surprise factor alone may win you matches. I'm really interested to see if it winds up being played more as the winter season continues.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer