This is the second of of three articles in a series where I discuss how to transfer some of your favorite 60 card deck archetypes into Commander. If you're new to Commander, this helps you try out a style of play you're already familiar with. Or if you're a veteran Commander player, you should still find something cool here to try out. A Storm package can fit in almost any deck as a finisher; it's just a matter of how much space you want to devote to the setup and the finishers.
These won't be the typical decks you see for the selected commanders. We're going to mix in elements from the competitive 60-card decks that usually don't make it into Commander to make it more interesting and familiar to the 60-card players.
Starting Deck: Legacy Storm
We start by taking a look at the Legacy Storm archetype, which is about 5% of the Legacy metagame at the time of this writing. That is relatively high since Legacy is a very diverse format. Here is an example of a successful deck of the archetype which we will convert into a Commander deck. Javier Garcia-Junceda piloted it to 4th place in the MagicFest Bologna 2019 Pro Tour Qualifier:
4 Polluted Delta 3 Misty Rainforest 1 Bloodstained Mire 2 Underground Sea 1 Volcanic Island 1 Tropical Island 1 Bayou 1 Island1 Swamp 4 Dark Ritual 4 Cabal Ritual 4 Lotus Petal 4 Lion's Eye Diamond 4 Ponder 4 Brainstorm 4 Preordain 4 Duress 4 Thoughtseize 4 Infernal Tutor 2 Past in Flames 1 Dark Petition 1 Tendrils of Agony 1 Ad Nauseam 3 Abrupt Decay 3 Veil of Summer 1 Xantid Swarm 3 Echoing Truth 2 Flusterstorm 2 Massacre 1 Empty the Warrens
This is primarily a Grixis (blue/black/red) deck that uses fast mana like
Dark Ritual, tutors such as
Infernal Tutor to find combo pieces, and Storm cards like
Tendrils of Agony as finishers.
Choosing a Commander
Now we will go through some commander options to figure out what will lead the final deck in this article. What might be a problem with Storm in commander, but some people would consider an advantage, is that you can play Storm pay-offs in basically any deck. To narrow it down, since we're doing a deck conversion, let's look at Grixis commanders that can use Rituals for fast mana and/or cards in graveyards. The only one that can do both is
Kess, Dissident Mage, so she'll obviously be the commander for our deck today.
Here are some honorable mentions though in case you want a different kind of dedicated Storm deck.
Nekusar, the Mindrazer plays like a Storm deck, casting multiple cards in a turn that lead into other cards (Wheels into Wheels), but doesn't use a traditional Storm pay-off. Instead, he uses primarily enchantments that deal damage to players when they draw or discard, such as his second ability or the recently reprinted
Kykar, Wind's Fury can build up a big Storm count by casting many cantrips in a turn that cost a single Red mana, then probably an
Empty the Warrens or already having an
Aetherflux Reservoir in play to nuke players.
Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain wins with cheap efficient mana rocks, mass bounce spells, and probably
Aetherflux Reservoir or
Walking Ballista as win-cons.
All the cards in the 60-card deck plus sideboard will be able to go in the commander deck, but we'll take out the $200
Lion's Eye Diamond for budget reasons. Though if you have one or the money to get one, you should consider including it because of how powerful it is.
Next, we need to talk about the difference between deterministic and non-deterministic combos. Deterministic combos are guaranteed to win once it starts. You know you're going to have the cards to do it and it's just a matter of playing it out. An example is Persist combo decks where you have all the pieces on board like
Grumgully, the Generous, and
A non-deterministic combo relies on a little bit of calculated luck and
Kykar, Wind's Fury,
Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign, and many Storm decks fall into this category, so we're going to put in a few more enablers to help smooth out the draws for the combo. There are some cards that remove lands from your deck, and since they're usually dead cards in combos, these are great in most non-deterministic combo decks. The best ones are
Trench Gorger, and
Endless Horizons obviously can't go in this deck, but I mention it in case you are building a combo deck with white that could use it.
We also need some cards that specifically play into Kess's strengths, which is utilizing cards in the graveyard. So we want to fill it with good stuff. Wheel effects like
Windfall or cheap efficient looters like
Faithless Looting are good ways to do that. We'll also put in the main Storm strategy, which is Rituals such as
Cabal Ritual, Tutors like
Dark Petition, and, of course, the actual Storm pay-offs. The only major Storm payoff that hasn't been discussed in this article yet is
Laboratory Maniac and the new card
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries. If you can empty your library with things like
Enter the Infinite or
Usually, you want cards from some staple categories such as draw, ramp, and board wipes to help the deck run more smoothly, but this deck's strategy already has draw and ramp built in as part of the combo, so let's focus on the board wipes.
Decree of Pain synergizes pretty well with Kess. Board wipes that avoid killing Kess are good also. Some examples are
Ritual of Soot and
Anger of the Gods.
How We Win
This deck has many ways to win and it can get confusing sometimes. You might also get analysis paralysis while trying to figure out what to tutor for – like it's a puzzle. Generally, you want an enabler and a pay-off. That could be Tutor into Ritual into Ritual from graveyard, into card draw, into
Tendrils of Agony. Maybe it's
Bolas's Citadel, and
Mana Severance to set up a deterministic combo. Or it could be as simple as
Mana Geyser into
Torment of Hailfire, a combo basically all Kess decks have. It might take a lot of practice, but the best way to win is simple to know how to win a lot of the time.
The Final Deck
This is the final deck for Kess Legacy Storm:
1 Torment of Hailfire 1 Mana Geyser 1 Dark Ritual 1 Cabal Ritual 1 Lotus Petal 1 Ponder 1 Mana Severance 1 Ritual of Soot 1 Decree of Pain 1 Brainstorm 1 Frantic Search 1 Faithless Looting 1 Mystical Tutor 1 Narset's Reversal 1 Baral, Chief of Compliance 1 Windfall 1 Sol Ring 1 Fact or Fiction 1 Fellwar Stone 1 Talisman of Dominance 1 Talisman of Creativity 1 Goblin Electromancer 1 Primal Amulet 1 Guttersnipe 1 Nightscape Familiar 1 God-Eternal Kefnet 1 Bolas's Citadel 1 Archaeomancer 1 Dualcaster Mage 1 Vilis, Broker of Blood 1 Chaos Warp 1 Lim-Dul's Vault 1 Demonic Consultation 1 Mystic Confluence 1 Dig Through Time 1 Entomb 1 Forbidden Alchemy 1 Gamble 1 Drawn from Dreams 1 Doomsday 1 Echo of Eons 1 Anger of the Gods 1 Exsanguinate 1 Swiftfoot Boots 1 Sentinel Tower 1 Thousand-Year Storm 1 Jace's Sanctum 1 Preordain 1 Duress 1 Infernal Tutor 1 Past in Flames 1 Dark Petition 1 Tendrils of Agony 1 Aetherflux Reservoir 1 Brain Freeze 1 Mind's Desire 1 Laboratory Maniac 1 Jace, Wielder of Mysteries 1 Ad Nauseam 1 Echoing Truth 1 Enter the Infinite 1 Flusterstorm 1 Massacre 1 Empty the Warrens 1 Kess, Dissident Mage 1 Bojuka Bog 1 Desolate Lighthouse 1 Castle Vantress 1 Castle Locthwain 1 Command Tower 1 Crumbling Necropolis 1 Drowned Catacomb 1 Sulfur Falls 1 Dragonskull Summit 1 Shivan Reef 1 Exotic Orchard 1 Underground River 1 Evolving Wilds 1 Terramorphic Expanse 1 Sunken Hollow 1 Smoldering Marsh 1 Temple of Epiphany 1 Grixis Panorama 1 Fetid Pools 1 Temple of Deceit 1 Graven Cairns 5 Swamp 5 Island 4 Mountain
Lion's Eye Diamond is the best single expensive card you can add to the deck. Another powerful thing to add is
Lake of the Dead and
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth together.
There is also a new combo from Theros: Beyond Death with
Underworld Breach, but it requires more money and some deckbuilding changes. With
Underworld Breach out, keep casting
Mana Geyser or
Lion's Eye Diamond as ramp and a
Wheel of Fortune or
Collective Defiance to fill your graveyard, though
Mana Geyser requires your opponents to have enough lands tapped and
Collective Defiance requires you to have enough cards in hand to replace what you spend on Escaping. With those, you basically can "draw" your entire deck into your graveyard and have almost infinite mana.
Next time in the third and final article, I'll be talking about the second Commander deck I ever made and my favorite Modern Archetype. It's a mono-color deck and probably my strongest deck, though that might be as a result of me testing and tuning it for months.