Initial Impressions of Birgi, God of Storytelling & Modern League with TheEPICStorm.com!

The most recent Banned & Restricted announcement from Wizards of the Coast no doubt will shake-up the Modern format, perhaps providing the most change in quite some time. While we won’t know what effect that announcement will have on the format for several weeks, there is a card from Magic’s newest set, Kaldheim, that really caught my eye with potential to find a home in Storm lists. Enter, Birgi, God of Storytelling / Harnfel, Horn of Bounty!

On Birgi, God of Storytelling – the first part of text is the most important. Birgi generates a red mana for every spell you cast. Spells and mana are the two things Storm needs to combo, so Birgi helps with our game plan there. Not losing mana during steps and phases has some fringe utility against decks that like to play at instant speed. The bottom half is not relevant to us. Finally, the converted-mana cost (CMC) and power/toughness. The CMC being three instead of two (like Baral, Chief of Compliance & Goblin Electromancer) is my main concern with the card as Modern is a fast format, though it does force Fatal Push opponent’s to go through the extra hoop to kill the God. The butt of three, while valuable as a blocker against aggressive decks, I worry doesn’t make up for the CMC. Dying to Lighting Bolt doesn’t help either.

On Harnfel, Horn of Bounty – this is some value! The horn reminds of me of card advantage/selection cards Storm has played in the past such as: Pieces of the Puzzle, Fact or Fiction or even Pyromancer Ascension. The cards that are exiled that don’t get played (note, played, not cast meaning lands can be played off the horn) get exiled for good. Keep that in mind. Five mana is also on the expensive side.

The important thing to remember, however, is that this card fills TWO roles in Storm. It’s both an enables (pseudo-bear) with Birgi and an engine (pseudo-Gifts Ungiven, Past in Flames, etc.) at the same time. My initial impressions without playing a match with the card were that each half was slightly less good than options Storm currently has available, but the fact it’s a bi-modal card makes it potentially playable.

I got to a match or two (see the previous post about coming back from a hiatus from Magic) and then last night, Bryant Cook, Owner of TheEPICStorm.com, asked if I’d join him for a Modern video. For those who don’t know, I serve as the editor of that site. I welcomed the chance to collaborate for some discussion and a league. A link to that video is below.

First off, many thanks to Bryant for having me on. If you liked this video/type of content, PLEASE give a subscribe, give a like and comment! Additionally, feel free to ping on Twitter (@StormModern) with what you liked, didn’t like, etc. as it helps improve content creation.

After playing the matches, I thought I’d give some feedback on my impressions of the card (as we got to see it do some work, especially in game one). Keep in mind, this are VERY EARLY thoughts and should be taken as such.

  1. Harnfel, Horn of Beauty exceeded my expectations. I figured the higher CMC would prove problematic, but there isn’t a ton of harm in casting a ritual to get the horn into play quickly, provided you have a card or two in hand you want to discard and a mana or two to use.
  2. Birgi, God of Storytelling met my expectations. There were times where it shined, especially making one-mana cantrips mana neutral, and times where the CMC hurt. The combination of Birgi with a Baral, Chief of Compliance/Goblin Electromancer is very good, but potentially a win-more scenario. More testing is needed before I have a conclusion on how good Birgi is mid-combo absent other of the others.
  3. As said above, I think the strength is this bi-modal piece of a single card filling both the role of an enabler and a role of an engine. Match one in the video above shows this.
  4. With both sides of this card, I think it strengthens the one-mana cantrips in the deck. With Birgi, those cantrips become mana-neutral, and with the horn, the cantrips allow us to both sift through our deck and regain cards discarded to the horn itself.

What do you think of Birgi, God of Storytelling // Harnfeld, Horn of Beauty so far? I’ll be posting a list I’ll be working on testing on social media, with a potential article here, in the coming days. Always, happy Storming!

Mitch

3 thoughts on “Initial Impressions of Birgi, God of Storytelling & Modern League with TheEPICStorm.com!

  1. Hey Mitch,

    just came from the video of you and Bryant.
    I’m very excited, where Modern will head now after the bannings and with some cool new additions (?).
    Very cool! Thanks for the effort and both your thoughts on the matches and Birgi. It’s always nice to see the lines other Storm players take and the discussions.
    Currently my list is closer to Caleb’s, but i guess, we all have our very own takes on the deck 😉
    At the time of my writing (24th of Feb 2021) the most notable cards in my MD might be 1 Birgi and 1 Valakut Awakening.
    I didn’t play that many matches, but like mostly everyone, i found some pros and some cons while playing Birgi, so i guess, the final verdict will need more time. Additionally i would estimate, that Birgi has metagames, in which she shines even more and some, where she will be an instant cut.
    With that out of the way, i have to say, i very much agree with your findings on the card (or cards? lol), BUT:
    when we think of Modern and 3cmc and dying against all heavily played 1-mana removal, i found her much, much stronger and more viable then anticipated! Especially if we consider this metagame rather full of Lightning Bolt ((U/)R Prowess, Burn, Jund, BR Shadow, BR Mid)!
    The back side ofc is insane and for a lot of decks very hard to remove. I also like that it’s a card type, that’s usually not found in Storm decks, so the opponents have to play even more a guessing game of what they have to sideboard or what hands to keep.
    It was very nice to see you ‘horning’ of in the first match and personally i would also look a tiny bit more on the back side of Birgi (like: 52/48) with the upside of being a bear.

    One thing, you didn’t quite mention in the article, but i feel is very important to point out is this:
    (i know, you’re fully aware, just for completion’s sake)
    with Birgi you need to spend the mana upfront, so there might be times, when you are in a mana tight spot, where a 2-mana bear could lead you out, but Birgi could not.
    E.g. often times we keep the bears in our hand and then want to go:
    3 or 4 lands in play
    tap 2 for bear
    rit, rit, morphose, Gifts (or any other funky variation)

    This happened in your video in the last turn against Doran-Tron:
    you could have gone with bear + MM + draw rit + PiF
    We don’t know what would have happened, but bear could have technically won (probability up for calculation).

    Another thing, you mentioned in your video, is the ‘Gifts for bear line’ which made me already win a game on the spot (going into my turn). In this regard Birgi is somewhat similar to a noxious revival without the ‘card loss’ and with the upside of very much _not_ being a mediocre draw when empty handed.

    Additionally, but that is crystal ball reading, is the possibility of Birgi making red cantrips more potent. (in my list only the Valakut’s Awakening (not a real cantrip, i know)) This may come in handy if WotC decides, it wants to expand on other colors cantrips. Red might be the most likely color for that.

    [Please consider also referring to our deck as UR aggro.dec now 😉 I predict a 4-powered reducer the next time around]

    I could ramble on and on, but for now that’s all.
    Thanks again so much for your effort, all the best going on and good stormin’!
    LynxnyL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey thanks for watching and for your thoughts! Some comments on them below.

      If you can’t tell, I’m very much a person that there isn’t one exact way to build an archetype. I think it’s great to see people having success with different versions.

      I do think it’s very important to note/jot down the times a two-mana bear would win and Birgi does not, just like it’s important to note when the Horn would win a game a traditional bear wouldn’t. As you said, a lot of testing necessary to determine which is better.

      I figured people would understand Birgi by reading the card, but maybe you’re correct I should spell things out! As you probably heard in the video, I do that often, sometimes too much I think. Good to know you found the front have of Birgi better than expected!

      I’ll admit I have not played more than a couple of matches with Valakut Awakening, but I didn’t like it when I did. I’m certainly open to trying it again, but I try to avoid getting “clunked up” with too much CMC. I have been very medium personally on Silundi Vision as well give its cost.

      Look for some YouTube content (a couple times a month) from me as I’m trying to be more active for the best community!

      Mitch

      Like

  2. Yeah, totally agree with everything you said 🙂
    I like Storm very much for being so well defined as a deck but still being fine tuned like every day and people having success with the different versions. Sometimes it feel, like every slot is more or less a flex slot xD I think a lot of it also boils down to personal play style! Some people i know swear on MD PotP and who am i to tell them, they are wrong?
    The best thing would be to test as many iterations as possible, to get a feel for them.

    The Birgi bits where of course no ‘correction’ or ‘jab’ it’s also moreso because i am myself somehwat of a completionist.
    You explaining all the lines and your thoughts is very helpful. I would say, the thing that helped me the most in Magic is watching people play and explain what and why they were doing things.
    Especially if you see a hand and instantly go ‘play that’ and they do something totally different.
    Please keep on doing that.
    Especially when you are streaming/recording. Looking very much forward to it!

    On Valakut/Silundi:
    I try to be muuuuch more patient in my playstyle these days, so these cards come in very handy as being land drops/instant tools/selection. Having said that, i totally see your point.
    But they also might be dropped tomorrow 😉

    On Birgi:
    Played a bit more today, front half made another bear line possible and the back side let me keep my pressure on against BUG control, to brute force to a match win (can’t draw cards, if you have to counter every turn, l o l).
    So liking it even more!

    On PotP/Behold the Multiverse/FoF:
    You might not need the SB slots atm, but i like grinding (and have just 1 Birgi main) and found some success with Behold.
    Most of my opponents made very good FoF piles, so that i had to choose between ‘2 good cards between each pile’ or ‘1 vs 4’.
    BtM helped get me what i want, while also being great foretold (used it against Jund to great effect but also against other decks). Additionally in SB games it’s sometimes dicey to put win conditions in the graveyard.
    Please give it a try and consider it part of the SB folder.

    Best regards!
    LynxnyL

    Liked by 1 person

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