The purpose of this section is to answer frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Storm that I’ve encountered personally or watching streams over the past several months. These questions are mainly focused towards card choices in current Gifts Storm lists with some sideboarding thoughts as well.

*Disclaimer – I don’t claim to be the best player or end-all, be-all when it comes to Modern Storm. Much of this information has been taken from other people better at Magic than me. Some content, however, is my own thoughts and opinions that people can certainly disagree with.

Fetch Lands or Fetchless Manabase?

  • Fetch Lands – Fetch lands allow you to search up shock lands and basic lands and are a staple of nearly every Modern deck that uses colors to cast spells as well as thin the deck of excess lands you don’t want to draw later in the game. Fetch lands allow Storm to get nearly any land it needs at anytime, which has a number of benefits including getting basic lands in the face of Blood Moon or cards like Fulminator Mage. Though very rare, Noxious Revival combos with fetch lands should you need to ensure a land drop for a given turn. Fetch lands also allow you to play sideboard cards like Blood Moon and Grim Lavamancer.
  • Fetchless Manabase – Storm aficionado Caleb Scherer began playing a version of Storm with no fetch lands in 2017. The rationale for not playing fetches is you save damage in the long run from not fetching as well as preserving library order from Scrying and other cards that put cards on the bottom of your deck.
  • My Opinion – I played fetch lands for a while (as everyone did) and have also played the fetchless manabase. I think strong arguments can be made for both styles and whatever you feel is important. Do you want to preserve library order or be able to play around cards like Blood Moon and have a more flexible sideboard (playing Blood Moon yourself and/or Grim Lavamancer as examples)? I don’t think either approach is incorrect.

What is/are the Snow-Covered Island(s) for?

This is a quick and easy answer. Snow-Covered Island and Island are technically different card names, which means that can both be chosen on a single Gifts Ungiven. This is a free inclusion that people should take advantage of because there simply isn’t a reason not to. In hundreds of matches of Gifts Storm, I can count on one hand the amount of times this has actually come up. In those games, however, I won because I had access to Gifts for essentially two Islands at once.

Should you play Blood Moon?

Other than the fetch land vs. fetchless manabase question, I’ve heard or seen this asked so much in the last couple of months.

  • To Play Blood Moon – Blood Moon is one of the most powerful cards available in the Modern format. It’s able to render entire strategies useless by turning all non-basic lands into mountains. Additionally, Storm can play the card as quickly as turn two.
  • To Not Play Blood Moon – Blood Moon doesn’t really coincide with Storm’s game plan very well. Albeit a powerful card, Blood Moon needs to come down early to have the effect Storm needs it to. Additionally, Storm doesn’t play much removal outside of Grapeshot and a couple of Lightning Bolts in postboard games. If the opponent is able to stick a couple of threats before Blood Moon comes down, it could be too late. Blood Moon also costs sideboard slots.
  • My Opinion – Similar to fetch lands, I used to play Blood Moon. Killing Jund/Jeskai opponents on turn two felt great. As I got more matches in, however, I realized that you need to find Blood Moon early in the game (which likely means playing three in the sideboard) in order for it to be effective, and that’s if the opponent isn’t expecting it. I lost too many games to Jund resolving a Tarmogoyf before Blood Moon came down, as an example. Caleb Scherer has often called Blood Moon a “giant Remand” effect, and that’s pretty accurate in my experience. If the opponent is expecting Blood Moon, it often just gives us a couple more turns at sometimes the expense of two cards (if Ritualed out). Finally, Modern is currently so fast that I don’t think Storm has the time to play Blood Moon. Against Humans, as an example, Blood Moon really only gives us a win if we have it on turn two, the opponent was one the draw or didn’t have Kitesail Freebooter or Thalia, Guardian or Thraben and the opponent did not cast a turn one Aether Vial or Noble Hierarch. I know this is just one example, but too many things have to go right for Blood Moon to be good.

What is Noxious Revival actually doing?

I discovered Noxious Revival before most people began playing it. I was playing FNM and lost a match to Affinity because I couldn’t find a mana bear, and ever since then, I’ve played a Noxious Revival in my Gifts Storm deck.

The main purpose of Noxious Revival is it decreases the opponent’s options when picking piles with Gifts Ungiven. Having access to Noxious Revival ensures us getting a card we want if there’s only two options in the deck to get (e.g. Baral, Chief of Compliance/Goblin Electromancer or Pyretic Ritual/Desperate Ritual). The card also allows Storm decks insurance against Surgical Extraction and can help us play around graveyard hate such as Scavenging Ooze and Relic of Progenitus (click HERE for an example of this).

In conclusion, Noxious Revival gives Gifts Storm a ton of flexibility and is worth playing as a one-of in my opinion.

Baral, Chief of Compliance and Goblin Elecromancer Numbers

Gifts Storm began playing the full play-set of both Baral, Chief of Compliance and Goblin Electromancer. The majority of decklists I see now playing six “mana bears” though some, Andrew Shrout as a prime example, elect to play the full eight copies to make the deck faster. I don’t think either of these is inherently incorrect, but I am on six mana bears currently.

The most common question I get or have heard is why Storm plays four Baral, Chief of Compliance and not four Goblin Electromancer because Baral is legendary. While this makes sense, here are four main reasons why I believe not playing the full set of Baral is incorrect.

  • Three Toughness – Baral’s three toughness is significantly better in Modern than Goblin Electromancer’s two. Though Storm doesn’t block often, Baral gives the deck a profitable blocking option against aggressive strategies. Baral can block Goblin Guide, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Dark Confidant, etc.
  • Mana Cost – Baral’s mana cost of 1U (“U” is used for blue when referring to the color pie as “B” is for black) is much easier on Storm’s manabase than the UR cost of Goblin Electromancer. If we play a mana bear on turn three, Baral requires just a single red source to begin casting Rituals while Goblin Electromancer requires URR from our mana on that turn. This may seems like a small difference, but in a format as aggressive as Modern, the difference between having to pay two life for a shock land and not can win us games.
  • Mana Cost – Baral’s mana cost of 1U (“U” is used for blue when referring to the color pie as “B” is for black) is much easier on Storm’s manabase than the UR cost of Goblin Electromancer. If we play a mana bear on turn three, Baral requires just a single red source to begin casting Rituals while Goblin Electromancer requires URR from our mana on that turn. This may seems like a small difference, but in a format as aggressive as Modern, the difference between having to pay two life for a shock land and not can win us games.
  • Needs for Comboing Off – In the vast majority of cases, Storm only needs one mana bear in play to execute its combo. Thus, the legendary clause of Baral doesn’t come up. Storm simply plays a Baral and begins to cast Rituals. If the opponent kills our Baral, we can simply play another and keep going. In my experience, the only time the Baral legendary clause has come back to hurt me is against Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. In that scenario, however, Baral profitably blocks Thalia, while Goblin Electromancer would not.

The only reason I would play a 3/3 split would be in a meta that is HEAVILY infested with Reflector Mage. Four pros players – Jon Finkel, William “Huey” Jensen, Martin Muller and Seth Manfield – piloted a Storm list with three Baral, Chief of Compliance and three Goblin Electromancer at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary in August of 2018.

How many Grapeshot should you play main deck?

This is one of the most common questions people ask about Storm. Most people will play two or three copies of the win condition. Depending on the meta, I shift between these two numbers but prefer to play three copies in an unknown meta.

People that advocate for only two Grapeshot, from what I’ve heard and read, say the card comes up too often and you don’t need it to combo off. While this is true with the tradition kill of getting Pyretic Ritual, Desperate Ritual, Manamorphose and Past in Flames off a Gifts Ungiven with a mana bear in play, there are plenty of scenarios where drawing Grapeshot is very beneficial, even in multiples.

  • Removing an Early Creature – There are plenty of creatures – Noble Hierarch, Dark Confidant, Scavenging Ooze, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Eidolon of Great Revel, etc. that can cause Storm problems if left unchecked. Having access to three Grapeshot means drawing it in a higher percentage of games, allowing the deck to buy itself time in game ones.
  • Mowing the Lawn – Drawing Grapeshot more often allows Storm to use some of its resources to slow aggressive draws from the opponent down. As an example, casting a ritual, Manamorphose and cantrip followed by a Grapeshot against Affinity can wipe their board completely. Yes, this takes resources from Storm, but it buys enough time to get to six mana for a Past in Flames kill.
  • Double Grapeshot Kill – This is the biggest reason why I advocate for three Grapeshot in most builds of Storm. Casting several spells, getting a spell countered, a mana bear being hit by a removal spell, etc. can add enough Storm count to cast multiple Grapeshot in one turn and kill the opponent. In my experience, this happens most often in long, draw-out games against control decks, but I’ve killed people this way in a variety of matchups as well. Having only two Grapeshot in your deck several hampers the deck’s ability to kill this way.

If you prefer to play Pyromancer Ascension main deck, I can get behind playing just two Grapeshot. Pyromancer Ascension changes the way Storm functions to an extend as it relies on cantrips to turn on Ascension and win that way. You also don’t want to draw too many action cards (Pyromancer Ascension, mana bear, Gifts Ungiven, Past in Flames, Grapeshot) at one, so trimming a Grapeshot for an Ascension helps avoid this problem.