Let's talk Storm. I played the deck at the Pro Tour, and have been very impressed with it. Let me say I was not a Storm player until very recently, so don't be afraid to pick up and try a strategy like this even if you are unfamiliar with the deck! The trickiest card in the deck is Gifts Ungiven. Oftentimes you simply want to find a Past in Flames alongside your Rituals and Manamorphose, though other times – especially post-board – you want silver bullets to answer annoying threats the opponent might have.

There are a couple innovations from the typical Storm lists you may be used to. The first is main deck Pyromancer's Ascension. This is a really important one. There are a variety of Modern decks that have a lot of spot removal spells and in those matchups Pyromancer's Ascension becomes your best card. Without a Pyromancer's Ascension or a creature on the battlefield it is very difficult to go off.

The other major changes come when looking at the sideboard. We completely cut Pieces of the Puzzle, a card Storm decks had pretty much universally been playing. While the card can be good against some of your grindier matchups, we ultimately deemed it to be unnecessary. With the addition of four Opt and 12 total cantrips it is pretty easy to go through your deck and find specific cards. By cutting Pieces of the Puzzle we were able to dedicate more of our sideboard to fight Humans, one of the tougher game one matchups.

This choice ended up paying off as Humans was the most popular deck, and our version actually has a decent matchup against that deck because of the changes we made. Grim Lavamancer might be the single best card in the format to fight Humans, as it is very difficult to answer and deals with almost all the creatures the Humans player has. It is especially strong when paired with other spot removal spells to deal with the three-toughness creatures. The plan after sideboard is not to combo off quickly, but to actually grind our Humans opponents out.

The single most important sideboard card though hasn't changed and isn't for the Humans matchup. I am referring to Empty the Warrens. It allows you to largely ignore opposing hate cards and fight on a different axis. There are a surprising amount of decks that are left unprepared to deal with a host of Goblins after sideboard.

The matches played here are a small sample size, and we faced some decks I wouldn't expect to play against in a typical Modern tournament. That's Modern though, there really are a ton of different strategies in the format. We ended up losing to Naya Zoo and the White-Black Rally deck, and I don't feel confident in how I was initially approaching those matchups. That is the advantage of playing decks like that – there is a big element of surprise. Stain the Mind is a card I wasn't even thinking about but won the game for our opponent.

Moving forward I expect to see much more of Storm. Initially when Damping Sphere was printed many players dropped Storm because of how clearly problematic that particular card is. Now that we have actually tested Storm against decks with Damping Sphere, it is actually very beatable. Abrade is one of the best answers in the Storm deck, and many of the Damping Sphere decks happen to be good matchups in game one.

Thanks for reading,

Seth Manfield