Ever since Preordain was unbanned in the Modern format, some new ideas have been coming and going as a result of it. Izzet Murktide is clawing its way back into the metagame after Pro Tour Lord of the Rings highlighted its decline in popularity. While this is definitely the biggest development Preordain’s unbanning has brought to the Modern metagame, there are some other… more niche archetypes that are showing up at the edges of visibility.
If glass cannon combo decks that end the game on turns 3-4 rather consistently are your style, and you don’t want to play Amulet Titan for whatever reason, you may want to consider Twiddlestorm. It’s not the best deck in Modern, far from it, but you get to draw your entire deck on turn three, or play 20 power on turn two. What’s not to love?
Twiddlestorm has been around as an idea in the Modern format for a long time. Create a source of mana that taps for more than one mana, and use effects like Twiddle and Dream’s Grip to untap it and generate even more mana. Since the printing of Lotus Field, that has become the de-facto way for this deck to function.
Lotus Field, in exchange for tapping for three mana, forces you to sacrifice two lands. Any Pioneer players are likely rather familiar with the land since it’s part of two different decks that are near the center of the metagame. One is similar to Twiddlestorm, utilizing effects to untap Lotus Field and cast a game-ending spell. The other also wants to untap Lotus Field, but plays a much more controlling game.
The similarity between both of those Pioneer decks is that you typically need two Lotus Fields in play to function at full force. This is accomplished by using Thespian’s Stage or untap dorks like Voyaging Satyr to give cards like Hidden Strings and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria two three-mana generating targets to untap. If you’ve played Modern, you know that this is too slow.
As a result, this particular iteration of Twiddlestorm aims to consistently offer kill opportunities on turns 3-4. Like many other decks in the format, Twiddlestorm also has access to The One Ring as a backup plan, which can both draw your entire deck and stall for time.
The iteration of Twiddlestorm we’ll be looking at has four main untap cards that can be used to generate mana alongside Lotus Field. Twiddle and Dream’s Grip essentially function the exact same, untapping your Lotus Field at instant speed for one mana. Since Lotus Field taps for three mana, these cards are essentially generating you two mana.
Twiddle and Dream’s Grip can also be used to tap your opponent’s permanents in a pinch, which makes this deck a bit more difficult to pilot than it appears. Should you keep your Twiddle to help win on your turn? Should you tap an opponent’s land to stop a big three mana play like Living End or make it more difficult for them to counter your spells? Deciding when to tap creatures in comparison is a lot more trivial.
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Your untap effects can also be used to untap The One Ring and draw more cards. Its not uncommon for this to chain into more untap effects, allowing you to draw your deck. Hidden Strings is best used once you have both Lotus Field and The One Ring in play, untapping both permanents to both generate mana and draw more cards. Since The One Ring only damages you on your upkeep, you don’t really need to worry about the Burden Counters damaging you unless you mess up.
The downside of Hidden Strings is twofold: it’s not an instant, so you can’t tap opponent’s permanents on their turn, and the card is a lot more ineffective if you’re trying to win on turn three without The One Ring. Hidden Strings will only generate one mana in these instances, which can still help, but may not be enough.
The last untapper effect you have access to is Vizier of Tumbling Sands. This creature is rarely played as one in this particular deck. You instead want to Cycle this card to untap one of your permanents and cantrip, finding more gas to end the game.
The deck is otherwise filled with lands, ways to find your Lotus Field like Sylvan Scrying, win conditions which consist of The One Ring, Wish and Underworld Breach, a few targeted hate cards like Veil of Summer and a bunch of cantrips that help find all the pieces you need. Here, we come full-circle from our introduction since Preordain makes this deck much more consistent than it was previously.
The most common iteration of Twiddlestorm at the moment is based off of Bullwinkle6705‘s list that finished 17th in a Modern challenge a few weeks back. This is an all-in glass-cannon version of the deck that either wants to resolve a Wish with six mana available and seven (but ideally eight or more) cards in grave, or resolve The One Ring with a Lotus Field in play and win the game. This will generally happen on turn 3 or 4.
Because there are a few different built-in combos, Twiddlestorm can play around various types of hate, but that hate still restricts the number of live draws the deck has to win. The most common combo that the deck will be using is the Wish one. Wish has a massive role in the deck, so we’ll need to dive deeper into this card.
How to Wish
Wish contains a fairly simple effect: allowing you to play a card directly from your sideboard. This is the primary reason why you don’t need a win condition in your mainboard; you can win the game by Wishing for a Thassa’s Oracle a majority of the time. You also have access to Storm win conditions depending on your build, and can side these in if you’re worried about cards like Extirpate.
That said, with a bit of setup, Wish can also function as a direct win condition. The setup is a bit confusing at first, but its not too difficult to make this work. Here is a step-by-step guide to how the combo works.
Requirements: Lotus Field in play, access to a card that generates two mana (if this is Twiddle or Dream’s Grip, you should be able to win on turn 3. If it’s Hidden Strings, you may need to wait until you have two targets to do this safely, but you can try since you’ll mill more cards). The number of mana you need to generate varies on the number of cards you have in your graveyard. If you have seven-eight cards available, you need to have eight mana available since you’ll only be able to Escape an untap spell once before you Wish a second time. This, of course, changes if you have a second Wish in hand. If you have enough cards in your graveyard to Escape three spells with Underworld Breach, then you only need six mana pre-Wish to make this work.
- Generate your six+ mana with various untap effects, creating at least two red mana. Wish while leaving one red mana and some number of blue mana left over.
- Cast Underworld Breach from your sideboard. Have at least one blue mana left over after this resolves. In the case that you are using Hidden Strings to do this, you’ll need two mana left over.
- Recast your untapper spell with Underworld Breach to untap Lotus Field. You want to generate five-six mana depending on your untapper.
- Wish again, leaving 2-3 blue mana in your pool depending on your untapper spell. Use Wish to cast Tome Scour targeting yourself and milling five cards.
- Use your leftover mana to Escape your untapper spell and generate mana.
- Escape Tome Scour twice, milling yourself for ten. Repeat this and the step above until your library is empty.
- Generate enough mana to Wish and cast Thassa’s Oracle from the Wish. This needs at least five mana, but you can generate more if you want to play around something like Subtlety.
The One Ring
When trying to win with The One Ring, things are a lot more straightforward. You simply tap your Ring to draw cards and use your untap effects to untap The One Ring. Tap it again to draw more cards, and use more untap effects to untap either Lotus Field or The One Ring to draw cards and generate mana. Do remember to keep a tab on your library, as its not hard to deck out by accident. Otherwise, you can Underworld Breach at some point to make your decision-making rather trivial.
One small interaction to watch out for is that you cannot Tome Scour yourself on the turn The One Ring is giving you protection. This is a common mistake to make, so do remember that you won’t always be able to pivot between combos.
Rare Turn Two Lines
One very niche line that occurs once in a blue moon involves Wish, one land and a bunch of Twiddle effects in your opening hand. As long as you can generate eight mana on turn two, you can play your Lotus Field and Twiddle a bunch in response to your Lotus Field trigger. You need to do it in response since, once the trigger resolves, you will lose all your lands.
Once you have your eight mana, at least one of it needs to be red and three green. You can then Wish to cast an Aeve, Progenitor Ooze. With four Twiddle effects, this will create 20 power on turn two.
Playing Around Hate
Hate is the biggest reason why, even though this deck at peak performance is quite powerful, Twiddlestorm is not a popular deck in Modern. Blood Moon, Damping Sphere, Relic of Progenitus, Leyline of the Void, and a Ragavan backed with a slew of counterspells can all prove problematic to your gameplan. The deck does come equipped with ways to battle through everything like Veil of Summer and Boseiju, Who Endures, but the metagame is incredibly hostile, making this deck require a knowledgeable pilot to play around a multitude of problematic cards.
Rakdos Scam is a nightmare. It is widely acknowledged as the best deck in the Modern format, meaning that its quite popular at the moment. They also have multiple threats that dismantle your gameplan.
Scamming Grief in the early game can pick apart your hand and make it dysfunctional. Your best gameplan here it to go first and hope you have Veil of Summer to dodge the scam. Otherwise, having Lotus Field as a land is a huge help as you will definitely lose any tutors if your opponent understands what you’re up to.
Dauthi Voidwalker turns off your Underworld Breach win condition. Since cards that hit your graveyard get exiled, you won’t be able to Escape anything. Fortunately, you can still use The One Ring to win the game through this card, but there’s another nuisance that can change your gameplan for that approach too.
Do remember that you can Wish for cards like Void Snare to bounce the Voidwalker and win the game. Treat this scenario similarly to other graveyard hate pieces. Just win with The One Ring instead – or carefully claw your way back with cards like Boseiju, Who Endures and set up a Breach win.
Orcish Bowmasters can limit the amount of cards you can draw with The One Ring, killing you before you empty your library. The best ways to get around this is either to cast The One Ring and go for the win in the same turn since Orcish Bowmasters will be unable to target you, or resolve a Veil of Summer to give you Hexproof from the Bowmasters’ effect.
Blood Moon is a blessing and a curse at the same time. The card will shut down your Lotus Field, turning it into a Mountain, so your untap effects will not generate mana. On the other hand, your Lotus Field is a Mountain, meaning that you do not have to sacrifice lands when it enters play. You can use this to get Lotus Field on the ground and find an answer with Wish or Channel lands. Try not to tap the Lotus Field when answering Blood Moon since it can turn back on and win the game that turn.
If you’re expecting to play against Blood Moon, you really need to go out of your way to Fetch your Basic Island and Forest. Getting Blood Mooned with no basics in play generally means you can scoop it up.
Damping Sphere is the worst card to play against for this deck. There’s no real way to play around it, and it makes removing it via Wish lines very difficult since it will tax consecutive plays. The good news is that this card is not popular in Modern, but does occasionally show up as a way to hose Tron players. You can still use Boseiju to get out of this just like in Pioneer.
Why Play Twiddlestorm?
Besides the deck having a terrible Rakdos Scam matchup, all your other matchups are rather favorable. Amulet Titan is almost a bye since you’re able to combo at competitive speeds with them, have a decent amount of interaction to deal with Amulet of Vigor and can Twiddle their Primeval Titan to prevent it from attacking you. They also have absolutely no way to deal with The One Ring’s protection, so using that as a delay tactic is very powerful. This also shuts down Endurance, which is one of the only things they have that interacts with you effectively.
Burn is also a very good matchup. Ironically, the deck is too slow to keep up with a majority of your hands and cannot interact with you effectively. Eidolon of the Great Revel is the best card this archetype has against you, and most Burn players aren’t running it right now because its not great in the Modern meta.
Hammertime feels favored. They can sometimes just kill you before you kill them, but they have rather limited interaction, and you can Twiddle their Hammered creatures.
Cascade decks like Living End and Temur Rhinos are also decent matchups. They do have interaction in the form of cards like Force of Negation, but you use Twiddle to delay their Cascade spells or Wish for a Chalice of the Void to turn off their win conditions.
Tron has some problematic interaction pieces, but you combo way too fast for them to keep up with your in most situations. Karn, the Great Creator plus a graveyard hate piece can be rather problematic though.
On that note, I’ve tinkered with the deck a tad bit and arrived at a few changes, like adding some more variance in the sideboard with cards like Engineered Explosives, Chalice of the Void, Aeve and Echoing Truths, as well as trying out Consider over Sleight of Hand. Sleight of Hand is better than Consider in some instances, but worse in others. Sleight of Hand dodges Orcish Bowmasters, which is insanely important, but Consider can fill your graveyard and make turn three Wish combos more accessible.
At the end of the day, I had fun tapping The One Ring eight or more times in one turn to draw my entire deck. I wouldn’t recommend this deck to players trying to win as much as possible, but if you’re impossibly stubborn like me and only play combos like this, get your fill in – just in case The One Ring does get banned in October.