Lutri, the Spellchaser
11, Sep, 23

What Is the Storm Scale in MTG?

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Despite the frequent complaints that too much is happening in the world of Magic: the Gathering, MTG players can’t resist the allure of the future. Whether it’s speculation about future sets, villains, or even creature types, there’s always a debate among the community. Helping to guide these debates, for better or worse, is MTG’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater.

Via their Tumblr blog, Blogatog, Mark Rosewater often reveals tantalizing tidbits of information that whip the community into a flurry. While Rosewater’s informative treats cover a broad range of MTG topics, requests for details on mechanics are a common occurrence. Rosewater created the Storm Scale to cater to this demand, which catalogs the likelihood of each mechanic’s return in MTG. 

Recent Revelations

Lurrus of the Dream Den
Lurrus of the Dream Den | Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths

Due to its popularity, the Storm Scale isn’t solely for Blogatog’s Question Marks. Instead, Mark Rosewater often details the current state of the Storm Scale in almost yearly dedicated Making Magic articles. While this yearly trend skipped 2021, Rosewater has brought it back for 2022 to recount the popularity of recent mechanics. Covering the sets between Throne of Eldraine (2019) and Strixhaven: School of Mages (2020), Rosewater revealed some rather surprising details. Notably, Rosewater highlighted that one disastrous mechanic isn’t as unlikely to return as players expected.

Shortly after it launched, the Companion mechanic from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths was criticized as one of the worst in all of MTG. While not as confusing as Banding or dangerous to cards as Stickers, the Companion mechanic was simply too strong. Enforcing a deckbuilding restriction as a downside, the Companion mechanic allowed players to always start the game with their Companion in their opening hand.

This provided an unparalleled level of reliability, which in turn, made games incredibly repetitive. While each Companion utilized a deck-building restriction, these weren’t nearly enough to curb their power. Lutri, the Spellchaser, for instance, was banned in Commander on the day it was released due to the nonexistent deckbuilding restriction. 

It wasn’t just Commander that was quickly plagued by Companions, as almost every format threatened to be overhauled. Subsequently, Wizards of the Coast had to take divisive action rarely seen in MTG. As the mother of all errata, Wizards fundamentally changed the Companion mechanic to nerf its overpowered cards. Through this nerf, Companion cards were no longer accessible at the start of the game. Instead, players had to pay three mana to put their Companion into their hand from outside the game.

Read More: What is Brawl in Magic: The Gathering?

Surprise Standings

Zirda, the Dawnwaker
Zirda, the Dawnwaker | Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths

Despite being one of the most broken MTG mechanics ever printed, in their recent article, Mark Rosewater revealed that Companion isn’t at a ten on the Storm Scale. Instead, miraculously, Companion sits one step lower at a nine. That’s the same ranking as Landwalk, Phyrexian Mana, and the Untap Symbol. Explaining this baffling decision, Rosewater acknowledged that in almost every element, Companion was an awful mechanic. It was unpopular, had a small design space, had problems during development and play design, and seriously affected playability. The only upside of the mechanic was that it had a neutral level of versatility. 

In their article, Rosewater admitted that “I should probably give companion a 10.” Despite noting all of its flaws, Rosewater stated, “It’s a mechanic that I get asked about a lot (I believe the ratings don’t totally reflect the public’s interest).” Subsequently, Rosewater stated that ideally, “if the perfect opportunity arose, we’d at least think about it.” As a result of this optimism, perhaps Companion isn’t as dead as once thought.

Given the immense problems it caused, it’s safe to say that MTG players were somewhat surprised by this decision from Wizards. In an accompanying Reddit post, players such as u/borissnm stated they’re “actually surprised it wasn’t a 10.” Dispute its ranking lower than Storm, u/PulsatingOrb even said that “they should rename the Storm Scale the Companion scale.” Alongside these comments, players such as u/initiatefailure noted some of the mechanic’s significant problems. “The line between unplayable and broken with Companion is just so narrow like it doesn’t feel worth exploring.” 

Read More: 11 Best Planeswalkers In Commander

What Is the Storm Scale in MTG?

Grapeshot
Grapeshot | Modern Masters

According to its creator, Mark Rosewater, the Storm Scale is “a fun way to predict the likelihood of certain mechanics or other features returning to a Premier set.” The list itself was named after the infamous Storm mechanic, which currently sits at a ten on its namesake list. This naming strategy was also used for the Rabiah Scale, which catalogs the likelihood of a plane’s return. As with the Rabiah Scale, it’s important to note that Rosewater isn’t a perfect representation of what’s to come. 

Instead, the Storm Scale is “based on a general sense of the future without actually factoring in what I know about the future.” It’s also important to note that Rosewater may deliberately obscure information about what’s in the works. “If we are about to do something unexpected, I still treat it as unlikely.” For example, Mark Rosewater consistently rated Madness at an eight on the Storm Scale, despite knowing it was due to return in Shadows over Innistrad. 

Interestingly, there are also instances where a mechanic that is high up on the Storm Scale is still relatively popular in a specific format. Take Annihilator, for example. Despite having a Storm Scale rating at level 9, the ability isn’t as poorly received in Commander as you might think. In fact, a relatively new card, Flayer of Loyalties, was recently printed with this ability in Commander Masters. While it’s less likely that this ability will show up again in premier sets, this is a prime example of a mechanic that is high up on the Storm Scale being featured in a different way.

With that explanation out of the way, let’s go over what each level of the Storm Scale means.

  • Level 1: Will definitely see again
  • Level 2: Will definitely see again, but not necessarily right away
  • Level 3: Will most likely do again, probably many times
  • Level 4: Will most likely do again, but they have issues that make them less of a guarantee
  • Level 5: We need to find the right place to bring it back, but I’m optimistic
  • Level 6: We need to find the right place to bring it back, but I’m a little less optimistic
  • Level 7: It’s unlikely to return, but possible if the right environment comes along
  • Level 8: It’s unlikely to return, but possible if the stars align
  • Level 9: I never say never, but this would require a minor miracle
  • Level 10: I never say never, but this would require a major miracle

In their Storm Scale articles, Rosewater explains that five critical criteria determine an MTG mechanic’s ranking. These five criteria are as follows: 

  • Popularity – Did players like this mechanic?
  • Design Space – How many more cards could we design with this mechanic?
  • Versatility – How well does this mechanic mix and match with other mechanics?
  • Development/Play Design – How easy is this mechanic to cost? How easy is it to balance? How easy is it to make this mechanic? 
  • Playability – Did players have problems understanding this mechanic, both in how it worked and how it interacted with other mechanics?

Read More: The Top 10 Most Expensive MTG Cards in Standard

Storm Scale Rankings

Thousand Year Storm
Thousand Year Storm | Double Masters 2022

Now that we know what the Storm Scale actually is in MTG, here’s the long list of where every MTG mechanic sits on the Storm Scale. This list was last updated on the 14th of June 2023! We’ll be coming back every month to make sure everything is up to date!

Also! Before we get into the list properly, it’s worth mentioning that new mechanics can take some time to appear on the Storm Scale. This is the case for Battles, the new card type introduced in March of the Machine. According to Mark Rosewater, Battles are currently considered a deciduous mechanic. This means they could appear in any future MTG set when needed. That being said, however, new Battles won’t arrive for roughly two years

With that brief aside out of the way, let’s get into the Storm Scale. For real this time!

MechanicStorm Scale Ranking
-1/-1 counters7
Absorb8
Adamant7
Adventure3
Affinity3
Affinity for artifacts8
Affinity for basic lands6
Afflict7
Aftermath7
Amass5
Anchor words2
Animating Enchantments7
Annihilator9
Ante10
Arcane9
Artifact creatures1
Artifact lands10
Augment and Host8
Aura swap6
Awaken4
Banding10
Bands with other11
Batching mechanics5
Battalion4
Battle cry4
Bestow7
Blood tokens2
Bloodrush6
Bloodthirst3
Boast6
Bolster5
Bonus Sheets 4
Brick Counters7
Bushido8
Bushido (renamed)[a]4
Buyback8
Cantrips2
Cartouches4
Cartouches and Trials (in combination)8
Cascade7
Champion7
Changeling4
Channel7
Charge counters2
Chroma[b]10
Cipher9
Clash8
Classes4
Cleave7
Clues2
Cohort8
Coin flipping4
Color changer6
Colored artifacts2
Colorless Matters5
Colorless mana as a cost6
Companion9
Conspire8
Constellation5
Contraptions9
Converge6
Convoke4
Cumulative upkeep9
Curses2
Cycling3
DFC Sagas5
Dash3
Daybound and Nightbound6
Daybound and Nightbound (on Innistrad)5
Decayed5
Delirium8
Delve8
Deserts6
Detain3
Devoid5
Devotion4
Devour6
Dice rolling (d20)5
Dice rolling (d6)7
Domain4
Downside mechanics5
Dredge10
Dual Lands with Basic land types3
Dungeons7
Echo8
Embalm (on Amonkhet)5
Embalm (outside of Amonkhet)8
Emerge6
Enchantment artifact (Non-Theros Plane)7
Enchantment artifact (On Theros)3
Energy6
Enrage6
Entwine6
Epic9
Equipment2
Escalate5
Escape6
Eternalize8
Evoke5
Evolve4
Exalted4
Exert5
Exploit6
Explore5
Extort6
Fabricate6
Fading8
Fateful hour8
Fateseal8
Fear[c]10
Ferocious7
Flanking7
Flanking (modified)6
Flashback2
Flip cards9
Flipwalkers5
Flying1
Food2
Forecast8
Foretell4
Formidable9
Fortify8
Frenzy8
Fuse5
Gotcha10
Graft8
Grandeur5
Grind5
Haunt6
Hellbent5
Heroic5
Hexproof2
Hideaway8
Historic6
Horsemanship9
Hybrid mana2
Imprint6
Improvise5
Indestructible1
Infect9
Ingest9
Inspired9
Intimidate[e]10
Investigate[f]2
Keyword counter2
Kicker3
Kinship7
Landfall3
Landhome9
Landwalk9
Learn5
Legendary sorceries or instants8
Lesson5
Level up8
Living weapon7
Locus Land Type8
Madness8
Magecraft5
Manifest6
Manland5
Megamorph9
Meld6
Mentor6
Metalcraft6
Mill1
Miracle8
Modal Double-faced cards (MDFCs)2
Modular8
Modular (renamed)7
Monarch7
Monocolor themes3
Monstrosity4
Morbid5
Morph5
Multikicker5
Mutate (non-Ikoria plane)7
Mutate (on Ikoria)3
Ninjutsu7
Ninjutsu (renamed)6
Nonbasic landwalk9
Outlast7
Overload6
Partner Commanders10
Partner with9
Party8
Persist6
Phase out2
Phasing9
Phyrexian mana9
Planeswalkers with static abilities2
Poison5
Poisonous10
Populate5
Processor (tribal mechanic)9
Proliferate6
Protection from […]2
Provoke9
Prowess2
Prowl6
Punch-out counters3
Punisher effects6
Quests5
Radiance9
Raid3
Rally6
Rampage9
Rampage (fixed)8
Ravenous6
Rebel (tribal mechanic)8
Rebound3
Reconfigure5
Recover7
Regenerate10
Relentless4
Renown4
Replicate5
Retrace7
Revolt6
Rhystic9
Ripple8
Sagas2
Samite Healer prevention effect7
Scavenge4
Scry1
Shadow8
Shield counters5
Shroud9
Skulk7
Slivers10
Slivers (tribal mechanic)3
Snap-on Equipment2
Snow5
Soulbond9
Spell mastery5
Spellshaper (tribal mechanic)8
Spike (tribal mechanic)6
Splice8
Split cards2
Split second8
Squad4
Starting Hand Effects7
Storm10
Strive8
Structures9
Substance10
Sunburst9
Support6
Surge4
Suspend8
Swamps matter4
Sweep8
Threshold8
Totem armor5
Transfigure9
Transform2
Transforming Double-faced cards (TDFCs)2
Transforming Sagas5
Transmute9
Traps6
Treasure2
Trials6
Tribal (type)10
Tribute8
Two-brid mana6
Typecycling8
Undying6
Unearth5
Unleash4
Untap symbol9
Upkeep cost7
Vanilla Creatures2
Vanishing7
Vehicles2
Voting10
Ward1
Wither7
World (supertype)9

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