PO Storm Tuning?



  • Hi all, decided I'd delurk to solicit some community advice! First a short digressive background bit.

    I'm returning to the format after several years away and have found things much changed, like Rip van Winkel waking up to find his dear old friends long departed (alas Bob, we hardly knew ye, and Trygon Predator, flap on little buddy). One of the things I love about playing vintage is helping other players see how much fun a big broken format can be. We don't have a ton of vintage where I am and getting friends and fellow players into it is critical to keeping the format healthy. Several years back I really enjoyed Steel City Vault as a real showcase of vintage ridiculousness. As such, while SCV seems to be highly limiting in the current format, PO Storm does Many of the same things with equal amounts of flourish.

    I really enjoy the deck because of multiple paths to victory (tendrils, tinker bot and potentially key/vault) and the fact that it bucks the aggro heavy trend you see now with MUD and Eldrazi. I know it sounds lame but somehow spell heavy combo just feels more "magic-y."

    However.

    1. Like SCV and other storm decks it is ludicrously weak to null rod and things like turn 1 thorn. How are people effectively answering this? Is it still, in the haunting words of Brian DeMars, "hurkyls and a prayer"? Or are there lists out there siding in things fragmentize? Is there a transformative SB plan that hopes to win game one with shock and awe and then flip a la dredge? Maybe to something more solidly controlling. I love to see Mana Drain in a list now and then.

    2. Am I the only person playing this list who doesnt love Chrome Mox (sometimes x2) and LED?? I absolutely understand why they appear in the deck, especially via good old belcher style lists but from a play perspective they just leave a distinctly marginal taste in my mouth. Which leads me to...

    3. With defense grid to disrupt misstep, it seems like PO could be a great place to slip in some top deck tutors. Does subbing out LED and or Chrome for a Vamp or Mystical (seal feels very slow indeed), make sense to anyone else? I have been fiddling with it a little bit and it feels pretty great to set up a jar or wheel. With probe they feel a lot like demonic tutor while building even higher storm count. Just curious to know how others feel about this. Sheer foolishness?

    4. Is storm Actually viable or are all sane blue people just playing boring old Mentor?

    Thanks in advance for thoughts and feedback!



  • My side board plan is 4 serum powder and a blightsteel. The goal being to powder into tinker. Chrome mox and LED are some of the weaker cards in the deck, but IMO they make the cut.


  • Administrators

    I'm not the most experience PO Storm player on the site, but here's my take:

    1. It is pretty weak to Null Rod. There are definitely lists that run fragmentize side, and multiple Hurkyl's main. I think in the current climate it makes total sense to run even more answers to the card in the maindeck. I haven't seen anyone attempt a real "play around it" strategy, unless you count Mentor/Outcome hybrid lists.

    2. I think it's pretty accepted that Chrome Mox is one of the weaker cards in the deck. Personally I'm not a big fan of LED either. They help you go all-in, but I'm not convinced they're worth it, yet.

    3. Defense Grid definitely makes Vamp/Mystical better. I've seen Outcome decks vary a bit in the kind of disruption/protection they run, so I don't think it's fair to say they're should-includes or anything.

    4. Different people mean different things by the word "viable", so the question is impossible to answer. I'm going to make a controversial statement that I'm not sure Outcome is a better combo deck than Ritual storm, despite being obviously more popular. While I think it's easier to play and runs more basics - which are good things - it's a lot weaker to null rod, and I'm not convinced it's faster, more resilient, or more consistent. I attribute its popularity right now to intangibles. Ignoring that, Mentor decks are objectively winning more, but combo is putting up strong enough results to justify running it if it suits your playskill better. It could also make sense as a foil to a Dredge-heavy, or shop-hate focused metagame.



  • @Brass-Man I agree with your 4th point entirely. I have been rolled by DP storm at least a couple of times lately because it is much easier for them to play around Stony Silence and Pyroblasts are largely useless against them. DP storm is well positioned (at least on MODO) at the moment with blue decks trying to over prepare for the PO matchup.



  • Ive been running a SCV PO deck with 4 chain of vapor, 4 FOW, and 2 echoing truth to fight null rod and stony silence.
    nothing says storm is the only shell for PO. If you like steel city vault, run it.



  • @Brass-Man Thanks for the thoughtful reply! I guess my issue is where to cut to run the disruption that protects against Null Rod and Stony Silence. Would THAT perhaps be the opportunity to cut an LED / Chrome Mox in favor of Fragmentize or another Chain of Vapor? I kind of feel the same way about Grim Monolith in this list honestly. I feel like Surely there are things you'd rather be doing, you know?

    Similarly Defense Grid also feels a little marginal but it seems like the kind of decks that are running Null Rod are also running a good bit of the disruption that you'd like to shut down with Grid (with the exception of decks like Shops, where you are basically doomed if you can't fight through the first taxing effect). So where do you tune to keep up protection against null rod, while also leaving sideboard room for things like Cage and other hate for Oath/Dredge?

    So, could you for instance, pull out some of the mana acceleration in favor of maybe another basic or two and tune in some hate to fight rod? Curious to know what others think.

    Here is a common list you see on MTGO for PO (Just posting here for the sake of discussion, I'm sure most readers are pretty familiar with it):

    9 LANDS
    1 Island
    1 Misty Rainforest
    2 Polluted Delta
    1 Scalding Tarn
    1 Tolarian Academy
    2 Underground Sea
    1 Volcanic Island
    1 CREATURES
    1 Inkwell Leviathan
    27 INSTANTS and SORC.
    1 Ancestral Recall
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Chain of Vapor
    1 Demonic Tutor
    4 Force of Will
    4 Gitaxian Probe

    1 Merchant Scroll
    1 Mind's Desire
    4 Paradoxical Outcome
    1 Ponder
    1 Preordain
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    1 Time Walk
    1 Timetwister
    1 Tinker
    1 Wheel of Fortune
    1 Windfall
    1 Yawgmoth's Will
    24 OTHER SPELLS
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Chrome Mox
    1 Defense Grid
    2 Grim Monolith
    1 Lion's Eye Diamond
    1 Lotus Petal
    1 Mana Crypt
    1 Mana Vault
    1 Memory Jar
    1 Mox Emerald
    1 Mox Jet
    4 Mox Opal
    1 Mox Pearl
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Sensei's Divining Top
    1 Sol Ring
    1 Tezzeret the Seeker
    1 Time Vault
    1 Voltaic Key

    That list has a lot of the SCV components, notably the Draw 7's that really give this deck a lot of gas. Also, I am a huge fan of Top where possible and enjoy its versatility but it might be another that gets cut for hate.

    Anyway, I am intrigued that you say it is intangibles that drive the PO Storm trend, would be interested to know what you mean. The biggest intangible I can say that makes the deck work for someone like me, is the sheer combustibility of the deck that actually just frequently outrun dredge!


  • Administrators

    I've played the deck enough to get a feel for it, but honestly not enough to feel comfortable suggesting big changes. I'm also curious about a list that cuts accelerants and the Tezzeret package for consistency-driving cards like Preordian, and a totally different list that runs even more Tezzeret and Monolith for increased redundancy ... but I haven't played any of these variants, they're just things I'm curious about. I wouldn't feel comfortable saying they're the right choice moving forward.

    When I mentioned intangibles, I meant things other than match-win % that might convince someone to play a deck. Outcome is a lot newer than Ritual-based strategies, which makes it sexier and "less boring" for some players. It's relatively straightforward to play which might make it look/feel stronger than a tricky deck depending on the pilot you're watching. It also makes very big plays. When it wins, it's not uncommon for a player to draw their entire deck, Mind's Desire for 20+ cards, or Tendrils for triple digits. Overkills with Paradoxical Outcome are more common than with other decks, which is impressive. Even if the deck had less total wins, the wins it has FEEL big, they stand out in your memory more than a strained 9-storm-tendrils - which means unless you're taking good notes, it's easy for your memory of playtesting/tournament results bias in favor of the deck.

    I'd love to hear a counter-opinion from someone who has played the deck more than I have



  • Been messing around with PO lately, pretty fun deck if a bit (like Brass Man said) simple. Made a few alterations to it from the obvious posted sorta standard list. Main changes were adding in the two lesser tutors (Mystical, Vampiric) since it felt like a lot of the time I was looking for one specific spell in the deck to go-off and adding redundant copies of those spells via cheap turn 1 tutors has felt really nice. Moved Tezzeret over to the sideboard since 3UU has felt really constricting to cast a lot of the time, while you tend to have access to nigh infinite amounts of colorless mana - you do get pinched on relevant colored a lot of the time, and I'd rather use the UU for two other 'business' spells or Mind's Desire than a Tezzeret.

    The other change was swapping Inkwell to a Torrential Gearhulk. So, I liked how Inkwell played out a lot of the time; getting sorta free wins off of Turn 1 Tinker is nice, and being able to Pitch the huge stupid thing to Force was also great; however, I decided to try out Gearhulk instead since it looks like a pretty powerful card in a deck whose best spell is an Instant, and it has really impressed. Being able to run essentially 4 copies of Paradoxical Outcome is great. While Jar is oftentimes better, if you know that the coast is clear to do broken things, I'm always hesitant to allow my opponent access to a fresh 7 without Defense Grid out. In those cases, Tinker becomes another potential way of continuing to generate Storm+Mana+Cards.

    Gearhulk is also kind of just easier to cast than the massive Inkwell, and you know; sometimes a 5/6 that draws you some cards is enough to win the game.
    List below:
    -Lands-
    1 Island
    1 Misty
    2 Polluted Delta
    1 Scalding Tarn
    2 Underground Sea
    1 Volcanic Island
    1 Tolarian Academy

    -Accelerants-
    4 Mox Opal
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Emerald
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Mox Jet
    1 Mox Pearl
    1 Mana Crypt
    2 Grim Monolith
    1 Sol Ring
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Mana Vault

    -Consistency-
    1 Vampiric Tutor
    1 Mystical Tutor
    1 Demonic Tutor
    1 Ponder
    1 Preordain
    4 Gitaxian Probe
    1 Brainstorm
    1 Merchant Scroll
    1 Sensei's Divining Top

    -Disruption-
    1 Defense Grid
    4 Force of Will
    1 Chain of Vapor

    -Business-
    1 Ancestral Recall
    1 Time Walk
    4 Paradoxical Outcome
    1 Yawgmoth's Will
    1 Windfall
    1 Timetwister
    1 Wheel of Fortune
    1 Tendrils of Agony
    1 Time Vault
    1 Voltaic Key
    1 Memory Jar
    1 Mind's Desire
    1 Torrential Gearhulk

    -Sideboard-
    1 Empty the Warrens
    2 Echoing Truth
    1 Blightsteel Colossus
    2 Flusterstorm
    1 Defense Grid
    1 Island
    1 Tezzeret the Seeker
    1 Toxic Deluge
    1 Chain of Vapor
    4 Hurkyl's Recall



  • @VSarius I'm glad to see others also warming to the idea of top deck tutors as viable again. While storm is a "simple" strategy, it is still depressing on the odd occasion when you PO for four or five and somehow manage not to get the gas you need (or another PO) to win. Nothing is more disheartening than starting to go off and just whiffing! Vamp and Mystical seem to really get you there, especially with probe.

    Two things I notice, you have two Grim Monolith but cut chrome and LED, do you find yourself missing the mana fixing? I have been toying with adding one more basic Island OR even a tundra to get off a fragmentize. I Have actually (only once or twice) enjoyed LED before jar or after yawgmoths will. But it is rare, and most times I end up glaring at chrome Mox and LED if I happen to top deck them.

    How are you handling Null Rod and spheres game one? Or does 4x Force do the job with the one chain?

    I guess what brassman alluded to above is tweaking this list to be a Tiny bit less splashy and a Tiny bit more techy to make turn one thorn less of a death sentence.

    Ultimately I like this deck, like I said, as sort of a great "ad" for vintage because it goes off crazy bananas and is very fun to play for someone like me. Also if you hand it to a friend to try out, they can figure it out quickly and get into the vintage spirit and start brainstorming their own lists. There is a lot of synergy, couple of ways to win and the path to getting there feels varied game to game.



  • @BandsWithOthers I've always been a sucker for tutors ever since the olden days of Burning Wish-based combo decks; the flexibility that they offer is something I honestly really appreciate. Yes, that's actually one of the things I noticed - your first PO really requires you to find either more mana+Draw7 or another PO, with Mystical+Vamp adding redundancy you end up with higher odds of hitting one of those spells that assist you with continuing to go off, and as you said; with Probe they become essentially 1-mana Demonic Tutors for the purposes of the deck.

    The downside is of course, that they open you up to Mental Misstep which a low-tutor variant of PO is far more resilient against. On the other hand, it does mean that in g2/g3 if they have not seen your tutors yet, they are less likely to have the Missteps; if they have - perhaps they have boarded in less more disruptive and disastrous hate.

    I definitely have not missed LED or Chrome Mox. Chrome Mox was probably close to 80% of the time just an Ornithopter that can't chump block, while LED as you said - was useful for mana in a very rare situation. Primarily either with a hold-priority Draw7 or YawgWill. Missing them hasn't really made me feel like I have less colored mana in a noticeable way. Mox Opal really puts in overtime on that regard and the hands where you don't have it feel quite a bit worse.

    The reason I like the 2x Monoliths is along with Mana Vault, they give you something to do with Key outside of the Infinite Turns combo. Being able to use Key to generate those excess levels of colorless or filtering the colorless from monolith/vault/crypt into colored with Moxen has been quite often a crucial interaction.

    I could definitely see running a 10th land. Tundra for Fragmentize is interesting. I do think that a second answer to turn 1 Sphere/Stony Silence/Thorn is a way that the deck could be tuned a bit to be able to actually win games on the Draw. Though, I've found that quite a bit vs. Shops the tutors are off finding me Chain of Vapors - which helps a bit in regards to dealing with a quick hatepiece, it's usually too slow vs. a Shops deck that is on the Play as they can follow up the first piece with either another tax effect or a Wasteland (or both), then you are guaranteed to lose.

    So yeah, game 1 it's generally tutor for Chain unless I have the Force for it. Of course, the best is simply being on the Play and turn 1'ing the opponent, which the deck definitely is likelier to do than any other Storm iteration I have played in the past.

    One of the cards that I'm most skeptical on keeping in the deck is actually Desire. I like the package that you get with Tinker, especially vs. Shops where you can bring in a Blightsteel Colossus for the quick win even thru a tax effect - but Desire has usually just been a very win-more card. It's a bit too hard to cast as your opening spell, while if it's chained into from multiple POs; you were very likely to get there with any Business spell.

    It definitely is like you said, a poster-boy for what people THINK of Vintage when they don't play it a lot. An almost Highlander pile of busted restricted cards that Tendrils you for 50 copies.



  • Not the Storm version, but the thought occurred to me that Mind Twist could be great in a PO shell. So I put three copies in and jumped in a queue. I played turn 1 Underground Sea, two Mox, Mana Crypt, Mind Twist for 4, and next turn Mind Twist for the remaining three cards with a 2nd Twist. Worth further testing!



  • @Brass-Man I haven't made this statement you just did for fear of it being too controversial, but I'm glad that I'm not the only one that feels this way. I have most certainly played RItual-based storm a lot more than PO Storm, but I do remain unconvinced that it's actually better. It feels flashier, certainly. It is also weak to different things, such as Null Rod instead of things like Misstep.

    I've personally won more with Ritual Storm than PO Storm in the recent past. Is this because of the way the metagame is moving? Is it because I'm more comfortable with Ritual Storm? Is it because I've faced more null rods than normal? Obviously this is just my personal experience which might not necessarily match up to others, but I definitely agree that Ritual-based Storm is highly under the radar because a lot of people remain convinced that PO is just better. I don't think it is.



  • @BazaarOfBaghdad Interesting. Are there any other shells playing Mind Twist in vintage these days? Long type decks relied a lot more on hand disruption, but I'm not sure if thought seize/canal therapy isnt just better as cheaper plays against specific targets but other, wiser players may weigh in with more wisdom.

    I could imagine mindtwist being satisfying against Workshop and similarly less recursive decks. It would be an absolute death knell on the play vs dredge though ;)



  • @Hrishi Does moving to ritual lose ground against Gush in the current meta? Or is it just six of one half a dozen of the other misstep vs null rod?

    I think also there's a sense with PO that you could also be setting up key Vault or tinkering out a robot or something as opposed to just building respectable storm count for an expedient win. It adds to the feel that PO is giving you more gas.

    Playing Against PO storm it has a uniquely demoralizing effect as you're getting wheeled/twitstered to smithereens while your opponent lands bomb after bomb. Perhaps there's at least some marginal psychological advantage against less prepared opponents?



  • @BandsWithOthers Well, it's possible that it's more demoralising for sure! The overkill that PO storm sometimes delivers up is pretty damn satisfying. But personally I guess I've never seen somebody's face get so instantly demoralised compared to when you cast that initial Dark Ritual on your winning turn and they have this horrible realisation that they're going to lose right there.

    Personally, I didn't feel I lost ground versus Gush, it just felt that I cared about Misstep rather than Null Rod. So it felt like my priorities shifted. I do feel like if you want to beat Gush with Ritual Storm, you can. You simply lose ground versus Thorn decks, so it's a delicate balance. Since you mentioned Tinker -> Robot, I should mention that I have been playing Ritual-based Storm with a maindeck Tinker and Robot as well. It's sometimes your best course of action versus Thorn-based decks.

    Apologies for derailing the thread a bit. :)



  • @VSarius I've been waiting to reply a couple of days to see if more sage voices than mine could weigh in! I tend to wonder if people just have a bit of distaste for this particular build of storm because of its simpler lines of play?

    I could definitely see losing Desire. But as I just posted in reply to another comment, in tandem with BrassMan's "PO Storm feels better but probably isn't" thought, seeing desire go off in the middle of a PO chain is a dismal, demoralizing thing. That said, if you cut chrome mox, led and desire, you could shoehorn in a tundra, a fragmentize and either that second monolith or even maybe a control piece?

    I have been toying around with pulling in a flusterstorm or mindbreak trap to protect a turn going off without Defense Grid, or in the mirror?

    Part of my original hope in posting was finding out if there was a strong side board plan that better combats null rod and taxing effects without defanging the deck considerably, or even transforming to something more controlling. Thoughts there?



  • @BandsWithOthers If you can't beat Stony Silence, I wouldn't play this deck. The best course I've found is Defense Grid plus answer: Fragmentize if splashing white, Nature's Claim if green, Wear/Tear if rainbow lands, Chain of Vapor if you want to narrow your window but stay in blue (not recommended).. These all come in to help Hurkyl's Recall in the Shops matchup. The other option, and can be played alongside the removal spells is to play Mentor and just try to use their presence to pump him up enough. I tend to like the resiliency over the explosiveness and overload on bombs until one hits.



  • Re:Ritual vs. PO
    It's a complicated question and one that becomes more muddled as you add cards like the 1cmc tutors and 1cmc anti-hate to PO; since it opens you up to Mental Misstep a lot more, and as such nullifies one of the more strategic advantage of the deck. However, it's worth pointing out that Ritual-based Storm is significantly more hampered by Graveyard hate (specifically Tormod's or Leyline, though I suppose RiP also falls into this category) than PO. It relies on YawgWill and Dark Petition w/ Spell Mastery quite a bit. Given that graveyard hate will always be a thing in Vintage, and in rather large numbers - I don't feel that Ritual Storm actually manages to sneak in under the blanket of hate that PO faces.

    Now, what are the advantages of it? Well no one is running maindeck Tormod's Crypt or Leyline. On the other hand, you also aren't as likely to just win the die roll and kill your opponent right then and there. In terms of the raw power, PO blows it out of the water.

    @BandsWithOthers
    I've been toying around with a few things. Mindbreaks in the side, Mindbreaks in the main. I quite like the Mindbreaks in general. Especially in the mirror where a single Force on the Draw is often just not enough to save you from the opponent doing silly degenerate things. I have yet to really settle on a sideboard configuration that I like, but I do enjoy how much room you actually have with this deck. Outside of the obligatory 4x Hurkyl's, 1x Blightsteel, and 2x Flusterstorm, the rest really feels quite transient. I think you likely want a total of 3-4 ways of removing troublesome hatepieces between the main and side as well. Currently I'm trying out Disenchants to bypass that prior mentioned Mental Misstep issue.

    The one thing I am definitely sold on is the Torrential Gearhulk though. Card has been absolutely amazing. Between ease of hard-casting, pitching to Force, being able to get value even vs. Swords to Plowshares, and turning Tinker into a PO (after the first has been cast) - while actually being a pretty respectable body against the crap that White Eldrazi/Shops populate the board with, it has just been fantastic.


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