Grapeshot
16, Mar, 24

Forgotten MTG Storm Combo Deck Receives Massive Karlov Manor Upgrade!

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Article at a Glance

Just recently, Violent Outburst was given the axe in Modern. Some players have been quick to look for replacements within Cascade shells, turning to Ardent Plea or even Bloodbraid Marauder. Meanwhile, other players have turned towards strategies like Golgari Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo that, while already strong, had weak matchups against Cascade decks.

Even though the banning of Violent Outburst isn’t the end all be all for Crashing Footfalls and Living End decks in Modern, perhaps these archetypes won’t be quite as dominant as they have been. This could theoretically open the door for a handful of decks that were completely held down by these Cascade variants.

One strategy that fits this mold that has been almost nonexistent over the past couple years is Gifts Ungiven Storm. Gifts Ungiven Storm decks used to be extremely popular years ago but have since fallen out of favor. However, the printing of a powerful Karlov Manor Enchantment alongside the recent ban announcement may have presented the perfect opportunity for its resurrection. Just this week, the deck went undefeated in a Magic Online Modern League. At minimum, this signals its rising potential in the format.

Gifts Ungiven Core

The main goal with Gifts Ungiven Storm is to cast the namesake card while you have a way to reduce the cost of your Instants and Sorceries in play. Historically, these cards have been Baral, Chief of Compliance and Goblin Electromancer. In the current Storm list shown above, Goblin Electromancer is eschewed for Case of the Ransacked Lab. As we will get to later, this is a huge change in this deck’s favor that gives it a better shot at winning in attrition-based matchups.

In either instance, winning the game becomes trivial when you add Gifts Ungiven into the mix. With three mana available after resolving Gifts Ungiven, you can typically win the game that turn. To help make sure you have extra mana reliably, this deck makes use of Desperate Ritual, Pyretic Ritual, and Manamorphose. With Baral or Case in play, each Ritual nets you two mana and Manamorphose nets you one mana (which notably can be blue).

As such, a common play pattern is to play Baral on turn two. If you get to untap with it, you can cast either two Rituals or a Ritual and Manamorphose, and follow up with Gifts Ungiven. Assuming you hit your Land drop, you will have at least three mana floating when you cast Gifts Ungiven. Now, simply search for one of each Ritual, Manamorphose, and Past in Flames. Whether your opponent gives you Rituals or Past in Flames and Manamorphose, because Past in Flames has Flashback, you will get to cast Past in Flames either way.

From there, you get to recast all of your Rituals, use Manamorphose to filter into blue mana, and cast Gifts Ungiven once again. With a big enough Storm count, this time, you can find Grapeshot and dome your opponent for a ton of damage. For more information on combo lines and alternate avenues to victory in previous iterations of Gifts Ungiven Storm, take a look at the extensive guide here.

Read More: Bizarre Infinite Combo takes Over MTG Format

New Additions

Case of the Ransacked Lab

Where things get interesting is with the inclusion of Case of the Ransacked Lab. Case acts as a combo piece just like Baral does, maximizing your Rituals and making it easier to win via Gifts Ungiven. While it costs one more mana than Goblin Electromancer, it is much more effective in a wide variety of matchups.

First and foremost, Case doesn’t die to Creature removal, something old Storm lists were surprisingly a bit vulnerable too. Considering that removal has gotten significantly more efficient in recent years (think Solitude for example), holding up Remand or Flusterstorm isn’t always a reliable way to protect your cost reducers.

Additionally, in spots where getting to a full Grapeshot kill is tough, such as against a bevy of discard spells from the opponent, it’s not unreasonable to Solve the Case and turn all of your future Rituals into cantrips. Imagine casting a couple Rituals, a cantrip, and Empty the Warrens. Now, not only does your opponent have to contend with your big board of tokens, but they also risk falling behind on the card advantage front.

Speaking of cantrips, being able to add Preordain recently to go alongside Serum Visions and Consider is a big deal. Preordain is very strong and helps make finding Case or Gifts Ungiven much easier.

Read More: MTG Designer Discusses Potentially Returning Blocks Feature

Strengths and Weaknesses

Grief

In general, Gifts Ungiven Storm still has its bevy of tough matchups to watch out for. Cascade decks are far from dead, and they are capable of presenting a quick clock backed up by Force of Negation. The presence of Grief in decks like Esper Goryo’s Vengeance combo and Rakdos Scam can be a bit problematic. Izzet Murktide seems like the nightmare matchup, presenting a great mix of efficient threats and plenty of counter magic to make it nearly impossible for you to find your footing.

This doesn’t even take into account graveyard interaction and other forms of hate that have historically been effective against Storm shells. Still, this isn’t to say there aren’t some things going for the Storm deck. Other combo decks like Golgari Yawgmoth, Thran Physician combo and Amulet Titan don’t play the widest range of disruption for the matchup, and you can often combo kill them before they can do the same to you. Slower strategies like Tron that need a bit of set up time can really struggle, too.

This deck attacks from a rather unique angle, so if you’re not prepared for it in some capacity, you may have a hard time. Additionally, this archetype is a rather budget-friendly option compared to the rest of the decks in the Modern format. Even with the pricy manabase and playset of Flusterstorm in the sideboard, you can purchase the entire deck for under $400.

This is a solid deal in an expensive format like Modern. With this in mind, whether you’re a Storm aficionado looking to dust off the cobwebs on your beloved Modern deck or you’re simply looking for something intriguing to play in this stale metagame, definitely give this deck a shot.

Read More: Top Five Most Broken MTG Modern Decks of All Time

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