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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Jul 16 2012 5:58am
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Hello!

For the second article in the Becoming A Modern Man series we are looking at UR Storm.  The Storm mechanic allows you to copy a spell once for each other spell played that turn.  The mechanic was first introduced in Scourge, the last set in Onslaught Block, which was actually back when I was still playing paper magic.  The mechanic made a return, along with a whole host of others, in Time Spiral Block and it is actually the cards from that set are generally more prominent in Modern Storm decks, probably because Mind's Desire and Tendrils of Agony turned out to be too good.

Here an example of a recent successful Storm list:
 

UR Storm
3-1 Modern Daily Event 07/01/2012 by felske
Creatures
0 cards

Other Spells
4 Desperate Ritual
4 Faithless Looting
4 Gitaxian Probe
2 Grapeshot
4 Manamorphose
4 Past in Flames
4 Pyretic Ritual
4 Pyromancer Ascension
4 Seething Song
4 Serum Visions
4 Thought Scour
42 cards
 
Lands
3 Island
3 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Shivan Reef
3 Steam Vents
18 cards

Grapeshot


Now, here's the list that I'm currently running.  It's slightly budgeted in the manabase from the tournament winning versions I've seen but I haven't really had any problems with this list.  Also, the more pricey manabase is something you can build towards if you really enjoy the deck.

 

DECK TECH
Modern Storm decks usually run some number of either Pyromancer Ascension, Past in Flames or both. Personally I like playing both of these cards as they work pretty well together and give you more options for victory.

Grapeshot
Grapeshot
Grapeshot is the lone Storm card in the deck and the kill spell.  It may seem strange to call a deck Storm when only one card uses the mechanic but the whole deck is based around getting the kill with Grapeshot.  Grapeshot only does 1 damage for each iteration but in this deck getting to a Storm count of 20 is extremely viable.  Also, as you will be drawing a good deal of your deck it's quite probable that you'll find a second Grapeshot if the first one wasn't quite enough.

Pyromancer Ascension
Pyromancer Ascension
Pyromancer Ascension's effect is super powerful and even more so in this deck.  Doubling up on your Rituals and drawing twice as many cards from your cantrips is just awesome.  As soon as Ascension gets on line your opponent is probably going to be dead shortly afterwards.

Past in Flames
Past in Flames
This is the latest string to Storm's bow, having only been released in Innistrad. Past in Flames is very powerful in this deck allowing you to flashback your rituals and cantrips out of the graveyard.  Also, being able to flashback your Past in Flames after having dug a little deeper into your deck allows you to double up on almost all your spells for the purpose of your Storm count.  The fact you can play your Grapeshot and then play it with flashback to double up on damage is also very relevant in some games. 

Rituals

Seething Song
Seething Song
Seething Song is a good ritual card but it becomes even better when you copy it with your Pyromancer Ascension and make 10 mana for 3.  The mana generated from playing, copying or flashing back Seething Song and the other rituals is how the engine off which the deck combos.  

Desperate Ritual
Desperate Ritual
Simple and functional.  Most of the time this will just do the same job as Pyretic Ritual but sometimes you can splice Desperate Ritual onto another Desperate Ritual which allows you to generate more mana.  Not always relevant but it can be.

Pyretic Ritual
Pyretic Ritual
The least interesting ritual in the deck but it gets the job done.  Not a whole lot to say for this one.

Manamorphose
Manamorphose
This card is a lot more important in this deck that it may initially seem. The fact that Manamorphose can turn the red mana you get from your various rituals into blue mana is actually very important.

Cantrips

Gitaxian Probe
Gitaxian Probe
Getting information about the cards in your opponent's hand is always useful.  However, Probe is largely in this deck because of its ability to draw you a card for no mana rather than its ability to give you information.  Probe digs you deeper into your deck and you can play multiple in a turn without sacrificing any mana to do so.  This makes it a great card for turning on your Pyromancer Ascension and an excellent card for digging deeper into your deck after a Past in Flames.

Sleight of Hand
Sleight of Hand
Sleight of Hand is arguably the best one-mana draw spell available in Modern.  Sleight of Hand helps you find the combo pieces you are looking for and is very useful in the early game.

Thought Scour
Thought Scour
This card is awesome in this deck.  Filling up your graveyard is useful in this deck as it helps you to activate your Pyromancer Ascension and it makes your Past in Flames better.  As in most decks where Thought Scour is used it functionally draws you more cards than the initial one it gives you back.

Faithless Looting
Faithless Looting
Faithless Looting has a similar sort of utility as Thought Scour.  Throwing duplicate cards from your hand into the graveyard allows you to set up your Pyromancer Ascension.  Sometimes it's a little difficult to know which cards you should be discarding but it's one of those things that comes with experience I think.  Looting digs you a whole lot deeper into your deck and helps set up your combo.  A perfect fit for this deck. 

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
The singleton Lightning Bolt isn't really necessary main deck but it has some uses.  It can be useful if you come up against any hate bears such as Ethersworn Canonist and its ilk.  It's also pretty useful if you are going for the kill with Past in Flames as it helps knock them down to a level where your Storm count doesn't need to be so large.

Sideboard
There a lot of different options for sideboard cards in Storm but here are the ones I went with.

Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Handy removal spell and can help lower the necessary storm count.

Shattering Spree
Shattering Spree
A lot of the anti-Storm cards are artifacts, such as Ethersworn Canonist, Thorn of Amethyst and Grafdigger's Cage.  This card is also useful for fending off opposing Affinity decks and blowing up Birthing Pods can also be relevant.

Repeal
Repeal

General utility card.  Can get rid of irritating permanents for the turn you go off and replaces itself.

Telemin Performance
Telemin Performance
This card is quite fun.  It's pretty much an instant win against any deck that doesn't run creatures, such as Storm.  It's also great against decks that just run massive creatures such as Tron or Reanimator.

Spell Pierce
Spell Pierce
Spell Pierce is here largely to deal with other combo decks.  It can help give you enough time to set up your combo.

Gigadrowse
Gigadrowse
Gigadrowse is another powerful card out of sideboard.  It can buy you time by tapping down your opponent's lands or creatures or help protect you from counterspells.

Since building my list I've realised my deck is dead to Leyline of Sanctity so it might be a good idea to have some number of Empty the Warrens in sideboard to prevent auto-losing to that card.  However, I don't know that Leyline is very prevalent in sideboards at the moment.

COST
UR Storm is another relatively cheap deck in the format.  A lot of the cards are cantrips and rituals which are generally printed at common.  The popularity of Storm as a deck in formats such as Pauper does mean that some of these cards are a little more expensive, however, there are still generally reasonably costed.  The most expensive cards in the deck, outside the manabase, are Past in Flames and Pyromancer Ascension.

Main Deck
4 x Scalding Tarn= 21.40
1 x Steam Vents= 13.57
3 x Past in Flames= 11.34
2 x Misty Rainforest= 9.08
4 x Pyromancer Ascension= 3.72
4 x Manamorphose= 2.92
2 x Shivan Reef= 2.60
4 x Gitaxian Probe= 0.60
4 x Desperate Ritual= 0.60
4 x Thought Scour= 0.52
4 x Faithless Looting= 0.48
4 x Seething Song= 0.32
4 x Grapeshot= 0.32
4 x Sleight of Hand= 0.32
4 x Pyretic Ritual= 0.16
1 x Lightning Bolt= 0.06
Total: 68.01 tixs

Sideboard
3 x Lightning Bolt= 0.18
2 x Shattering Spree= 0.58
3 x Repeal= 0.24
1 x Telemin Performance= 0.24
3 x Spell Pierce= 0.24
3 x Gigadrowse= 0.24
Total: 1.72 tix

Grand Total: 69.73 tix

GAMEPLAY
Despite being a popular deck across a number of formats I had yet to play a Storm deck prior to building this deck.  What I found out was that it's not nearly as easy as it looks.  It's not always easy to tell when you can and cannot go off and equally it's not always easy to know which spells to play when.  Bringing you gameplay videos also proved difficult due to the fact that people don't like playing against Storm.  There's a reason it featured in ChannelFireball's recent Top 8 Most Miserable Decks to Play Against.  The combo isn't very interactive but you still have to jump through a whole lot of hoops to kill your opponent.

 
This game was against an Esper Delver list.  Opening hands with Pyromancer Ascension are my favourite with the deck as unanswered it will win you the game in very short order.  Here you can see I managed to win on Turn 4 but it's also not unrealistic to pull off a Turn 3 win either.  The deck is very explosive and can also cope with disruption quite well.

 
Here is a sideboard game against RDW.  Our opponent helped us quite a bit by playing Reforge the Soul but I think we had this match regardless.  This matchup is a bit of a race but one that you have a pretty decent chance of winning.  Storm can win fairly consistently on Turn 4 which is usually a step faster than RDW.  Also, sideboard cards such as Gigadrowse can help slow your opponent sufficiently to allow you to go off.


This game was against a Griselbrand Reanimator deck.  It was supposed to be a match but my opponent conceded the match after the first game, which happens kind of a lot with Storm.  Here we had a much slower hand, although the fact that I wasn't under much pressure from my opponent meant that I wasn't really forced to look for a quicker win.  Also, a Turn 6 win is hardly something worth complaining about.  After drawing deeper into our deck we soon found all the tools we needed to win and had more than enough cards to win without even using our Past in Flames out of the graveyard.

If you want to see some videos of a pro playing the deck, I found an article by Adam Yurchick (granted it's a little dated) of him playing the deck through a Modern Daily which might help you learn to play the deck.

CONCLUSION
UR Storm is a really fun deck to play with as you make 50+ mana, play 20+ spells and then hit a massive Storm worth of Grapeshots.  Sadly, it's not so fun for your opponent and don't be surprised if you get quick concessions in any casual games.  I think the power level of Storm is above that of Hive Mind, which I looked at last time, as the deck is more consistent and versatile.  Sadly what comes with that additional versatility is added complexity.  Storm decks are rather difficult to master and I think a lot of practice is advisable before you run into any serious events with this deck.

I think Storm is probably the most consistently fast deck in the format and if you draw well your opponent will have a tough time beating you.  However, despite the speed of your win in terms of turns you might need to be aware of the clock.  Storm can win pretty early on but you have to go through a lot of triggers etc. to get the win.  In a tight game you'll have to keep an eye on the clock to make sure you don't end up losing to time.

Ultimately, Storm is one of the premier combo decks in the format and arguably the best one.  Personally, I think I need to develop more confidence with the deck as it is rather complex, however, once you've got it I think you have a very good chance of taking down any Modern event.