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Primers

Archetype

Name: Gifts Storm
Tier: Tier 1

Contributing Authors: Rob San Juan, Jason Schousboe

Gifts Storm

Introduction

Gifts Storm is one of the premier combo decks in Modern, built around its namesake mechanic from Onslaught block. The core strategy is to generate tons of mana with a pile of ritual effects, flashback Past in Flames to keep going, and finally cast one or more Grapeshots for lethal damage. Gifts Ungiven sets up Past in Flames while building the storm count, while the “mana bears” Goblin Electromancer and Baral, Chief of Compliance act as stand-ins for multiple rituals each. While at first glance the task of reaching 20 storm with this deck may seem challenging, in reality a mana bear plus a resolved Gifts usually makes it academic. It’s not uncommon to see turn-three kills, and turn four sans disruption is extremely likely on most draws.

The storm mechanic itself has a long and sordid history, leading to a variety of bannings across many formats. It has also earned the dubious honor of forming the inspiration for the “Storm Scale,” Wizards’s internal document that tracks which mechanics are eligible for reprint. In Modern, the line of blue-red storm decks goes all the way back to the very first Modern Pro Tour in Philadelphia 2011. That event saw both Max Sjöblom and Andrejs Prost top-eight with a Pyromancer Ascension build fueled by Preordain and Ponder, contributing to the subsequent decision to ban both cantrips as well as Rite of Flame. Later, the deck was subject to yet another nerf when Seething Song got hit by the banhammer in 2013.

Since that time, Pyromancer Ascension has been the consensus build of Modern Storm until the printing of Baral in Aether Revolt. During this time it has risen and fallen in popularity, and even in its powered-down versions has been no stranger to prominent finishes like Chris Fennel’s Top 8 at PT Born of the Gods.

Coming into the end of 2016 Storm was languishing in Tier 3, and many believed the banning of Gitaxian Probe would be its death knell. Instead, the arrival of Baral allowed the archetype to shift in a new direction. Now with a possible 8 mana-reduction effects, the deck adopted Gifts Ungiven as its core engine piece. This new Ascension-less build rapidly became the standard as it shot up the metagame charts in 2017. Today Gifts Storm occupies a solid place near the top of Tier 1.

Sample Decklist

Gifts Storm, by Paul Muller (1st, SCG Charlotte Open)

Creatures (6)
Baral, Chief of Compliance
Goblin Electromancer

Instants (19)
Desperate Ritual
Gifts Ungiven
Grapeshot
Noxious Revival
Pyretic Ritual
Remand

Sorceries (18)
Manamorphose
Opt
Past in Flames
Serum Visions
Sleight of Hand

Lands (17)
Island
Mountain
Shivan Reef
Snow-Covered Island
Spirebluff Canal
Steam Vents
Sideboard (15)
Dismember
Dispel
Empty the Warrens
Lightning Bolt
Pieces of the Puzzle
Shattering Spree
Wipe Away
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