The Storm on the Horizon
This week, we'll be covering a deck that I'm calling Stormwing Tempo. I struggled on how exactly to formulate this deck into an article. It has undergone many changes from it's conception as an Arclight Phoenix deck. The original design thrived on using Rielle, the Everwise as a value engine combined with cards like Cathartic Reunion, Radical Idea and Thrill of Possibility.
This version of the deck was fun. Emphasis on 'fun' because it became more of a puzzle box deck than the actual focus of killing your opponent with multiple Arclight Phoenix in one turn. It felt too much like your run-of-the-mill Izzet spells deck. That wasn't my vision. Below is the final version of the deck.
Where We were Wrong
While I still strongly believe that this card has a space in standard. I don't think it's with this style of deck. It became more about cantrips and value spells and less about actually killing your opponent.
For example, multiple games I would find myself winning the war on "Who drew more cards" but losing in every other aspect. Phoenix is a 3/2 when you get down to it. Stats that don't cut the cake despite having flying and haste attached to it.
It's recursion effect is just that. Recursion.
I found too many games that my 13/3 Rielle was getting chump blocked while my bird was abused for 10 - 20 minutes a game. So unfortunately, this bird was no longer the word. The game marched on and I tabled this pet project of a deck for about a month or two.
Then, like a gleaming Archway of Orazca, our savior flew in on wings of thunder.
That's no Storm Crow....
Stormwing Entity fit into the spells list like Jace at the Izzet Guild book club. Modest, but clearly the best thing to ever happen to it.
Stormwing brings what the Arclight package was lacking. A more reliable 3/3 flyer, immediate value with a scry 2 upon entering the battlefield, and PROWESS.
"But PokePope, what can we do with all this prowess?" I'm glad you asked! We don't have green in our deck, so there's no getting cute with a few copies of Ram Through or Primal Might. We also don't get the protection of Heroic Intervention. So we fall back to do what blue does best. Here's where the game begins.
Protect the Queens.
Let's introduce our lineup first. I decided on an aggressive tempo package of creatures. All of which scale simply from us playing the game. While Stormwing plays nice with spells on my turn, these three take advantage of the spells I'm casting on my opponents turn.
This is probably the best creature in the deck. I say this with gritted teeth because I didn't appreciate this card when it released. Now, here I am writing an article about it. Coming out turn 1 to put the pressure down early, or coming down later as a 5/5 for a little extra mana. The average cost to mutate this salty salamander has been around 2 and a blue mana, but is often seen around the 1 and a blue mana mark. An early tempo play to get in a few chip shots and make an early block, or a mana sink late game if you run into a flood. Extremely resilient to being bounced back to your hand or flickered, as he can simply re-mutate back into a 5/5.
This is where the value overhaul comes in. Every spell in our deck was chosen with the 'Protect the Queen' game plan in mind. So, why not have your cake and eat it too?
Like Pteramander, this comes down early on turn 2 and immediately applies pressure. It scales in power simply by playing the game the way the deck intended. Every spell we cast not only puts a damper on our opponents game plan, but powers up our primary beater.
Be careful though, unlike Terry this card runs on +1/+1 counters acquired over time. It's extremely vulnerable to cards such as Aether Gust in blue or Glass Casket in white.
I'm a green mage at heart. So when I saw this beauty paired with a well timed Maximize Velocity, I knew it was love at first sight.
The list runs exactly one copy of Maximize Velocity. With Jump-start, we can pitch this early if needed and buy it back later. Crackling Drake does bring a well statted */4 backside along with an ETB to draw a card.
However, in a sea of green and blue mana metas, flyers don't often last long. Having to wait a turn to get in after it's hefty mana cost of RRUU, one can only sit and wait as its left to the mercy of your opponents main phase.
Crackling Drake is the end game of the deck, you resolve a drake with 6 or 7 spells in your graveyard and watch as your opponent is forced into top deck removal mode.
"Okay, so we've got these squishy fliers. How do we get them across the finish line?"
I present to you the most disgusting words in magic's history:
First off, we have Lofty Denial. This is the premium counter of the 75 list. It's a Force Spike early game, halting early advances from the GUx decks and giving you time to get ahead of mono green, mono red and white life-gain decks early in the ladder.
Our entire deck is flyers, assuming this is used to protect our flying friends the card does it's own job.
While it can stumble late game without flyers on board for the value +4 tax that it offers. Most games with this deck where you don't have a board state late game are hard to win anyways, with the exception of our Crackling Drake x Maximize Velocity combo.
Mystical Dispute is our catch all for the meta. Filing down the numbers in the 75 list wasn't hard. Its a very easy choice.
Mystical Dispute is our ultimate defense against the Simic, Sultai, and Bant lists running rampant in the top spots for months.
It's going to require a big meta shift to budge these numbers. So for now, it's a solid 4 copies, two in the main deck and two in the sideboard.
This gave us slots for our one copy of Maximized Velocity and one copy of our next card in the main deck.
Lastly, we have Miscast. It's no Spell Pierce, but it get's the job done.
Miscast is our one blue mana counter spell that shows up just enough to catch an opponent off guard.
Never sad to see it in the opening hand, as it combats most of the meta efficiently in the early turns.
Miscast is where we make the most of our mana. Numbers for this are meta dependent. For now we went with one copy and left the heavy lifting to Mystical Dispute and Lofty Denial.
The rest of our main deck is rounded out with a run of Shocks, Fire Prophecy, Frantic Inventory, and Opt.
Fire Prophecy is our premium removal for the list. 3 damage at instant speed that lets us cycle away dead cards for a chance at a fresh draw. Also works well with our four Temple of Epiphany and our four Stormwings. Which let us scry to set up our draws. Frantic Inventory scales in the late game. Every copy lets us draw an additional card. So we make the most out of our mana late game as efficiently as possible without ever changing the curve of the deck.
I hope you all have as much fun playing this as I have. It's been quite some time since I sat down and went against my meta urges and decided to build something original to who I am as a player. Treat her well, and the elemental majesty that is Stormwing Entity will take you the distance.