We've had quite a few playable combo decks over the last few Standard formats. While some have been more playable than others (think Aetherflux Reservoir), combo players have had some potential for fun times. The deck I'm going to focus on today is likely less playable than Aetherflux Reservoir was (in its current iteration) but is certainly not as unplayable as the Teshar deck was.
When I first saw Thousand-Year Storm, I immediately dismissed it as a completely Commander oriented card. However, after reading it again and really thinking about it I discovered that there's actually a lot of room to make use of it in Standard. I brought up the idea to my car-mates on the way to SCG Baltimore last week; and, after coming up with a base and doing some testing, I'm ready to share this creation. One thing we can gather from the cards and mana is that the format will slow down just a bit. That means there will be more room to play set up for a potentially bonkers turn.
When looking at ways to build the deck I looked for the best way to power Thousand-Year Storm. A an expensive enchantment, we have two choices; either last until turn six or power out the enchantment as fast as possible. Discussing the pros and cons with my car-mates led me to believe that trying to play a version that lasted until you could cast the enchantment would lead to games where you'd have no spells to follow up with. Counterspells don't pair well with Thousand-Year Storm, so instead I leaned toward playing Green. Having access to Green gives us the ability to play Grow from the Ashes and Circuitous Route. Last season we saw Turbo Fog make use of Gift of Paradise as a way to both stabilize and make absurd use of Teferi's ability to untap lands. The format looks to have plenty of answers to enchantments in Conclave Tribunal, Assassin's Trophy, and Knight of Autumn so that makes me even less keen to rely on Gift of Paradise. Since we are sans Teferi in this build, having actual lands and being able to thin the deck and increase the spell count seems like a better ramping option. With Thousand-Year Storm in play, even a turn using a ramp spell can allow us to combo off even easier especially with Grow from the Ashes.
Since we're a combo deck, we'll want some amount of card draw. While there isn't anything incredibly ideal here, like a Ponder-esque effect, we do have some reasonable options. Chart a Course slides nicely in as a way to fill the yard for Search for Azcanta or ensure a reasonable amount of spells. While Opt kind of looks out of place in this deck, it is a needed inclusion. It helps us find our combo pieces early and, when Thousand-Year Storm is in play, it's a cheap spell which lets us combo off easier on the important turns. Cycling means it can start a chain that can help win the game. While I originally had Chemister's Insight in the deck, Collins Mullens pointed out that Pirate's Pillage fills a similar role while providing Treasures that can be used to give mana to keep the combo going. Putting in ways to actually kill our opponent brings us to Shock, Lightning Strike, and Fight with Fire.
One of the back door wins to this deck is using Search for Azcanta and Nexus of Fate to chain together enough turns to set up the combo then kill your opponent. If you play a cheap spell into a Nexus with a Thousand-Year Storm in play it becomes a Time Stretch. Continually taking extra turns will let us progress to a board state with a Thousand-Year Storm that will be difficult to fizzle from. While the Fog decks of old needed something to do with their extra turn; this deck doesn't mind just having the Explore. Tons of mana is needed for Thousand-Year Storm to work, so sometimes just taking the extra turn to set up is more than good enough.
Keeping this in mind, let's take a look at the deck list in its current incarnation.
Thousand-Year Storm | Guilds Standard | Rudy Briksza
- Sorceries (15)
- 1 Fight with Fire
- 2 Pirate's Pillage
- 4 Chart a Course
- 4 Circuitous Route
- 4 Grow from the Ashes
- Lands (24)
- 2 Mountain
- 3 Island
- 4 Forest
- 1 Izzet Guildgate
- 3 Rootbound Crag
- 3 Sulfur Falls
- 4 Hinterland Harbor
- 4 Steam Vents
The one card that has to stand out here in the main deck is Firemind's Research. This enchantment plays a minor role in letting you save up the counters to draw and save your spells or, if you're comboing off with Nexus, letting you dome your opponent for five. With the sheer amount of ramp in the deck you'll probably be spending a lot of time shuffling and tearing through your deck.
Some notes for the deck: while you ARE a combo deck it's important to not blow through too much of your resources so when you put the namesake enchantment into play you aren't completely burnt out and unable to win the game. Setting up for a sweet turn with Thousand-Year Storm then only being able to Lightning Strike the opponent two times is weak. Hopefully the draw spells can help set things up but it's important to remember with cards like Knight of Autumn and Conclave Tribunal in the format, passing with a Thousand-Year Storm in play seems dangerous. While there are decks that you'll get away with it, there are some you'll have to worry about. Grow from the Ashes gets lands into play untapped so you'll be able to use that mana to either protect yourself with a cheap removal spell or be able to follow up with a Chart a Course or a Search for Azcanta. Don't be afraid to use Nexus of Fate as a very expensive Explore.
My major concern with the deck is it is unreasonably slow and durdles a massive amount. Without any way to really clean up a board it's pretty easy to fall behind and die. I want to visit a four color version of this deck splashing White for some wraths and possibly Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. I'm not as keen on doing that without Hallowed Fountain or Farseek, but it's likely it could just be a strict upgrade for the deck. It is difficult to put in a lot of cards that don't pair well with your enchantment, but maybe it is needed in order to survive. Once you start comboing off as a Nexus deck, any win condition will do; but, Thousand-Year Storm is the coolest one to me. It also has the potential to win on its own uncontested. Since it can't be attacked, you get free reign as long as you don't die.
There might be a Storm on the horizon, one that's been brewing for a Thousand Years.