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Fury of the Storm

Fury of the Storm

Storm has had a tumultuous time in Modern over the years. There is no other deck in Magic’s history that has been hit with more bannings and still remained relevant in current tournament play. From Ponder and Preordain, Rite of Flame and Seething Song, to even the most recent banning of Gitaxian Probe, Storm has survived it all and is still a force to be reckoned with. However, despite UR Storm being the de facto build of the deck, I believe there is still room for the archetype to evolve. 

One of the most interesting recent developments in the Storm community is the advent of a Mono-Red Storm in Legacy using Hazoret’s Undying Fury as the core card advantage engine. All you have to do is ramp into Hazoret’s Undying Fury and you get to cast whatever spells you flip off the top for free, thus adding to your storm count and hopefully setting up the kill. These cards include Past in Flames to cast your spells all over again, Reforge the Soul to restock your hand, and even Burning Wish to fetch out either Grapeshot or Empty the Warrens from your sideboard. After witnessing the sheer absurdity of the deck comboing off in person, I made it my mission to get the deck to work in Modern as well.

 

Dating all the way back to 2007, the combination of Grapeshot and Pyromancer’s Swath was a potent deck in Standard and, when the Modern format was created, was even the among the first builds of Storm. With Pyromancer’s Swath in play, all of your burn spells deal an additional two damage, so the goal of the deck is to play both Swath and Grapeshot with a storm count of 6-7 in the same turn for a kill. This is achieved through rituals like Desperate Ritual and Pyretic Ritual to generate mana as well as Lotus Bloom which nets three mana but has to be suspended first. From there you just need to use cantrips to both dig for the combo pieces and to keep your storm count flowing.

When I decided to tackle integrating Hazoret’s Undying Fury into Storm, I knew that Pyromancer’s Swath was going to be integral since you can exile both of the combo pieces and stack the order in which you cast them. This allows you to get your Pyromancer’s Swath out first and then follow it up with any copies of Grapeshot you find. Furthermore, Pyromancer’s Swath stacks, so if you net two copies of Swath each Grapeshot will deal five damage! One other neat trick is that since Hazoret’s Undying Fury allows you to cast a spell without paying its mana cost, you can cast Lotus Bloom for free without having to suspend it. Last time I checked having access to Black Lotus was really good, so the potential of this prospect alone made Lotus Bloom an automatic inclusion.

Another way to generate crazy amounts of storm and mana is Pyromancer Ascension. This card is yet another staple of the Storm decks of yesteryear and with good reason. Whenever you cast a spell with the same name as a card in your graveyard, you put a counter on the Ascension, and if it has two counters on it you get to copy the spell you cast. This means whenever you cast a Desperate Ritual you get six mana, or exiling eight cards to cast with Hazoret’s Undying Fury. Pyromancer Ascension is also fantastic protection against counterspell decks since it forces your opponent to have two counterspells in hand to stop each of your spells. In order to get the ball rolling, I’ve included full sets of Faithless Looting and Cathartic Reunion to stock our graveyard while also digging us into the spells we need to go off. As well, with Pyromancer Ascension online you can next six cards off of Cathartic Reunion while only discarding cards for the original one we cast. I’ve also included a single copy of Past in Flames as a way to reuse all the spells we dump into our graveyard as we combo off just in case we find ourselves a little short on storm or mana. Plus the thought of chaining Hazoret’s Undying Fury into Hazoret’s Undying Fury is just too delicious to pass up.

Finally, the manabase is set up in such a way that it thins lands out of our deck, thus keeping us from drawing too many since we only need two or three lands to operate. This is why we have the full eight fetchlands. We only need Red mana so there’s no need to splash colours with shocklands, and this also helps preserve our life total against more aggressive decks. However, for the more budget-conscious, these slots can easily be filled with more basics. A full set of Simian Spirit Guide is in the deck to make it easier to accelerate into Hazoret’s Undying Fury since even with two Rituals that still only puts us at five mana. This also enables us to combo off as early as the second turn.

The sideboard is designed to tackle some of the more problematic decks in Modern. Blood Moon is a fantastic tool for handling multicolour decks like Abzan and Death’s Shadow, and is even potent against Scapeshift and Tron variants. Due to the number of rituals and Simian Spirit Guides in the deck, it’s possible to jam Blood Moon as early as turn 1, which either locks people out of the game entirely or buys us more than enough time to get our combo online. Dragon’s Claw is a necessary evil against Burn since they largely ignore what we’re doing and just throw damage at our face. Having something like Dragon’s Claw gaining us life for both their Red spells and our own can seriously mitigate the opponent’s game plan long enough to get our own combo rolling.

Pithing Needle is something of a catch-all card against the various activated abilities that can seriously ruin our day. Stopping Liliana of the Veil and Karn Liberated from messing with our hand or Relic of Progenitus from exiling our graveyard goes a long way to actually winning the game, and even the fringe benefits of shutting off Devoted Druid from untapping can help us fare against other unfair combos. Smelt, on the other hand, is perfect for stopping some of the more annoying artifacts out there, such as Master of Etherium and Wurmcoil Engine. As well, because most Eldrazi Tron decks typically put Chalice of the Void on two counters to shut off Storm’s rituals, having a one mana option for destroying artifacts, as opposed to Wear // Tear and Ancient Grudge, makes it possible to actually beat a Chalice.

Sudden Shock is a necessity against Affinity, Counters Company, and Infect as a way of stopping their core creatures without them being able to respond. It’s basically the perfect card to get around pump effects like Vines of Vastwood or for picking off Arcbound Ravagers which would otherwise laugh in the face of a different burn spell. Finally, Empty the Warrens acts as a safety net against decks that board in Leyline of Sanctity. Since Mono-Red doesn’t have anything in the ways of an Anarchy effect in Modern we have to instead make a ton of Goblin tokens to kill our opponent should Leyline rear its head. This is hardly the end of the world since, for the most part, opponents will board out creature removal in this matchup since we have neither Baral, Chief of Compliance or Goblin Electromancer, so we can just swing out until the opponent dies.

Hazoret’s Undying Fury has been a welcome addition to Storm, and I’ve been surprisingly pleased by how the deck functions. The combination of Pyromancer’s Swath and Grapeshot is just as effective now as it was back in 2007, and casting them for free with Hazoret’s Undying Fury has a feeling not unlike casting Mind’s Desire in Commander. I’ve had games where I was flooding out with no cards in hand, ripped Fury off the top and cast it into Manamorphose, Swath, and two Grapeshots and dealt 27 damage in one turn. There have been games where I’ve had Pyromancer Ascension online and cast a copied Fury netting two Swaths and the original getting a Grapeshot for over 30 damage.

While it’s definitely more all-in than its UR counterpart, the sheer explosiveness of Hazoret’s Undying Fury has me feeling very confident playing this deck. Most important of all, outside of Lotus Bloom and the fetchlands, the rest of the deck is dirt cheap to build, which makes this even better for players on a budget. Mono-Red Storm does require a lot of practice, but if you’re willing to put in the effort it is incredibly rewarding to play.