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Author Topic: The Perfect Storm: A Primer  (Read 16879 times)
Negator13
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jaybee216
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« on: June 30, 2005, 02:34:57 pm »

Intro

Hi, I'm Justin Bransfield, a Connecticut T1 player. I have finished highly at the last two Waterbury tournaments with my favorite deck, TPS, and I am intimately familiar with the deck. I am taking the time to write a Primer for anyone considering playing the deck in the future. I have decided to post it here on the Open Forum instead of sending it to SCG or something so that it is readily available to all. I hope you enjoy and learn something from it.

From what I've seen here on TMD and on the SCG message boards, American players really, really don't like TPS. Just about every week there's a thread on either site about how TPS is terrible, or outdated by the latest Meandeck creation, or pushed out by some prison deck, or... you get the idea. It seems to be automatically dismissed as a contender when people are testing their latest decks, and barely gets any consideration for sideboards besides the occasional Arcane Lab or two. In short, the deck gets no respect around here. I'm writing this to convince you that TPS is indeed something to be feared and respected- and hopefully at the end of this, you'll agree.

Where TPS fits in the T1 Metagame

There are three basic archtypes in T1- but they're not aggro, control, and combo like you might think. Instead these three basic molds are defined by the broken acceleration they run on- either Mishra's Workshop, Mana Drain, or Dark Ritual. It just so happens that most Workshop decks are aggro or prison, Mana Drain decks are generally control, and Dark Ritual decks are usually combo. Every "tier 1" Type 1 deck (with the possible exception of Fish, if it can be considered Tier 1 and not just a metagame deck) contains one of those three broken enablers. Here in America, Drain decks are very well represented in New England, and Workshops are everywhere in the midwest and south states. Ritual decks, however, are very scarce here in America... though they run rampant in Europe.

Each of the three main archetypes has its own inherent strengths and weaknesses. Workshop decks are very explosive, with their namesake card enabling very early, pressing threats such as Juggernaut or Smokestack. Drain decks are generally reactive, whose gameplan involves setting up for the first few turns and using Drain to simultaneously stop a threat and accelerate into their own. Ritual decks, normally based around the Storm mechanic, use Dark Ritual to both make mana and up the spell count so they can pump out bombs such as Necropotence or Yawgmoth's Will in order to get up to 10 spells in one turn.

Each of the three decktypes uses its own form of disruption to force through their respective gameplans. Shop decks use things like Chalice of the Void, Sphere of Resistance, and other artifacts that hinder their opponents. Drain decks use their namesake card in conjunction with Force of Will and other countermagic to stop threats. Ritual decks generally use proactive disruption like Duress, and free protection like Force of Will, in order to make sure their key spells resolve.

Interestingly, Shop, Drain, and Ritual decks generally form a sort of Rock-Paper-Scissors relationship. In general, Shop decks beat Ritual decks, which beat Drain decks, which in turn beat Shop decks. Each archtype's weaknesses are compounded by their nemesis's general strategy. For example, Workshop decks rely heavily on expensive artifacts, which make juicy targets for Mana Drain. Further, Ritual decks need to cast many cheap spells to win, which Shop decks make difficult using cards like Chalice and Sphere. Finally, because Drain decks need some time to set up and need specific cards in hand to win, they fall to the speed and disruption of Ritual decks.

As I said before, Drain decks are prevelant in New England, Shop decks are everywhere in the midwest and South states, and Ritual decks are abundant in Europe. Therefore, the Rock-Paper-Scissors trifecta is rarely completed in a specific region's metagame. Because of this characteristic, a smart player can go into one of these areas with the archtype that does well against the most represented decks there, and come out on top. This leads me to my main point: If you play in a Drain-heavy metagame, you should be playing TPS.

The Deck Itself

TPS, or The Perfect Storm, is a Tendrils-based Combo-Control deck that uses Dark Ritual and other acceleration to quickly play one of several game breaking bombs and use it to play 10 spells in one turn, the last of which is, of course, Tendrils of Agony. Unlike some other combo decks, TPS is not a balls-to-the-wall, breakneck pace speed deck. It generally goldfishes on turn 3 to 4, keeping tabs on the opponents strategy long enough to ensure it can go off unhindered at the right time. Generally the deck plays its game in three stages:

1. Setting up
2. Resolving a bomb
3. Playing 10 spells for the win

The deck achieves each of these three goals with different cards. Step 1, "setting up", is done using mana acceleration, card draw, and disruption to create a figurative foundation of stability on which it can safely launch its main game plan. This leads to Step 2, where the deck uses that foundation to successfully cast one of its bombs that allow it to win. Winning is Step 3, when the deck uses the resources gained from that bomb to cast 10 spells and deal 20 damage to the opponent.

If you look at a typical TPS list, you can easily see how each card corresponds to one of those steps. Here is my current list:

3 Island
1 Swamp
4 Underground Sea
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mana Crypt
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mana Vault
1 Sol Ring
1 Darksteel Colossus
1 Ancestral Recall
4 Brainstorm
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Chain of Vapor
1 Time Walk
1 Timetwister
1 Frantic Search
1 Rebuild
1 Tinker
1 Cunning Wish
4 Force of Will
1 Time Spiral
1 Mind's Desire
4 Dark Ritual
1 Vampiric Tutor
4 Duress
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Yawgmoth's Will
1 Necropotence
2 Tendrils of Agony
1 Yawgmoth's Bargain
1 Memory Jar

As you can see, each card lends itself to furthering one of the aforementioned goals. First, there are the mana sources, 14 of which are nonland acceleration. The high amount of accel allows the deck to cast multiple set-up spells in one turn, or cast an expensive bomb. Next, you have fixers and tutors, like Brainstorm, Ancestral Recall, Demonic Tutor, etc. These "set-up" cards are cheap, 1-2 mana spells that optimize your hand in preparation for a win. Then there are the protection cards, namely Duress, Force of Will, Chain of Vapor, and Rebuild. These cards are used to stop the opponent's gameplan in order to give you time to win, and to protect your key spells from being countered or prevented. Then of course are the many bombs, among which are Timetwister, Necropotence, Yawgmoth's Bargain, Mind's Desire, and of course, Yawgmoth's will. The point of these cards is that if you resolve any of them, you win. Successfully casting any of these cards will give you the resources nessecary for you to play the 10 needed spells for a lethal Tendrils. Finally, there are the win conditions. Tendrils of Agony, Darksteel Colossus, and Cunning Wish --> Brain Freeze follow your bomb and put the game away.

You can see that the cards from each category fall into their own slot in the mana curve:

Mana Sources: 0-1 Mana
Optimizers, Fixers, and Protection: 1-3 Mana (0 for FoW)
Bombs: 3-6 Mana

Card Choices

Mana Sources: One of the strengths of TPS is that it can support a very, very stable and resilient mana base. With 4 Basics and 5 Fetchlands, in allied colors, the deck is basically immune to Wasteland and other nonbasic hate. With 10 artifact accelerants and Tolarian Academy, the manabase is also extremely explosive and can produce obscene amounts of mana. Add in the Dark Rituals, and you get a resilient mana base that can quickly accelerate to 6+ mana in the first couple turns.

Optimizers: TPS relies on the staple Brainstorm/Fetch "engine" to smooth over its draws and get rid of deadweight like early Tendrils of Agony or Darksteel Colossus. It uses all three of the Demonic, Mystical, and Vampiric Tutors, allowing it access to any card it needs. Of course, it has Ancestral Recall. Frantic Search is a card that is fairly unique to TPS. While not played in all versions, I personally find it to be amazing. It is not great, but certainly not terrible on its own, just to cycle through a couple cards. However, in conjunction with any of several other cards, it creates amazing synergies. For example:

-Frantic Search with Mana Vault/Sol Ring/Off color Mox: Let's say you have 1 Underground Sea, 2 Island, and a Mana Vault. You have Yawgmoth's Bargain in hand, but only have 1 B mana available. However, you also have Frantic Search. Tap Vault, 2 Islands, and Sea for 3UUB. Use 2U to play Frantic Search, floating 1UB. Untap the three lands, tap them again for a total of 1UUUBB. Play Bargain, win. In this way, Frantic Search allows you to turn colorless mana into precious colored mana.

-Frantic Search with Yawgmoth's Will: Frantic Search allows you to increase both your hand and graveyard for use with Will, then untaps your lands so you can pay for Will.

-Frantic Search with Mind's Desire: If you flip over a Search with Desire, you can play it for free for a gain of 3 mana and 2 cards, usually meaning you win. Frantic Search is also a great card to up your Storm count before Desire.

-Frantic Search with Mystical or Vampiric Tutor: As a free cantrip, FS can let you draw into what you Vamp or Mystical for right now.

-Frantic Search with Darksteel Colossus: This is another shuffle mechanism for Brainstorm, and it gets rid of your worst card.

-Frantic Search with Tolarian Academy: This is the big one. Floating mana off Academy, then untapping it with Frantic Search is gamebreaking.

There are other hidden things about FS, too. For example, against Stax, if your opponent has a Tangle Wire, you can respond to the Wire on your upkeep by floating mana into your draw step. Then in your draw step, play Search, untapping your lands. You can now use those lands to combo out, or cast Rebuild on your opponent's end step.

The final optimizer is Time Walk. This seems to be a somewhat controversial choice, with the main arguement against it being that it "resets your Storm count". That's just not true. Last I checked, playing Time Walk upped your spell count by 1, until you take another turn. No one said you had to take that extra turn right after you play Walk. In the worst case scenario, Time Walk can be a "blank card" where you just pay 1U to get an extra card for your Storm count. However, in all other cases, Time Walk is simply amazing. One of the best turn 1 plays you can make is Land, Mox, Timewalk. This deck needs some time to set up, and Time Walk lets it do that a turn faster. Uncuttable, in my opinion.

Protection: This deck uses the Duress/FoW suite. In my opinion, this is the best disruption setup in T1. Yes, better than Mana Drain. You see, Duress is better at stopping your opponent's best card than Mana Drain is, and Dark Ritual is better at accelerating than Mana Drain is. The only downside is that Duress/Ritual takes 8 card slots, while Mana Drain takes 4. However, in TPS, that is a moot point, because not only is the deck not hurting for room at all it benefits from playing 2 spells to get the same effect as 1- it wins with the Storm mechanic. Anyway, Duress allows you to proactively strip your opponent's best card or counterspell in the early game or while you're comboing out. I regularly tutor for Duress when I have the mana to play it and a bomb I'm holding. It allows you to make sure you can win unhindered. Force of Will is much the same. In TPS, FoW is used more as backup than permission. You use it as a free way to make sure a bomb resolves, and in emergencies you use it to stop your opponent's bomb. The ability to play Force of Will is one of the many advantages TPS has over other combo decks. Finally, you have Rebuild and Chain of Vapor. These serve dual purposes. The first is to answer your opponent's attempts to stop your from comboing out, like a Sphere of Resistance or Meddling Mage. The second is to greatly up your Storm count without having to resolve a Draw-7 or something similar. You can Rebuild, returning 3 Moxen to your hand, and recast them, increasing your spell count by 4 for no mana. You can even produce mana by floating mana off Moxen, Rebuilding, and replaying them. Chain of Vapor can be used in a similar way, where you sacrifice your own lands to bounce additional artifacts, then replay them.

Bombs: There are a couple different types of bombs in TPS. The first type is the Draw 7's- Tinker -->Memory Jar, hardcast Memory Jar, Time Spiral, and Timetwister. These cards allow you to pour whatever resources nessecary into making them resolve, then reward you by completely restocking your resources. With a new grip of 7 cards, and in Time Spiral's case, untapped lands, you can almost always play the nessecary 10 spells to win. The next type are the one sided, broken cards known as Mind's Desire, Necropotence, and Yawgmoth's Bargain. These cards are even better than the Draw 7's, since they benefit you and only you. A Mind's Desire for anything more than 5 is usually a win, fueled by Rebuild, Chain of Vapor, or a Draw 7. Necropotence will generally win the turn after it is cast, and Bargain of course wins almost every game on the spot. The final category of bomb is its own card: Yawgmoth's Will. The most broken card in Magic is of course the most broken card in TPS. You will find yourself winning the majority of your games off the back of this card, and therefore you will base the majority of your gameplan around this card. With Rituals, Lotus, Academy, and multiple Tutors, Yawgmoth's Will is game over every time you cast it.

Win Conditions: Tendrils of Agony is your main route to victory. Some people only run 1, but I run 2 for a few reasons. The first is because I run Memory Jar. If you run only 1 Tendrils, if it's in your hand and you want to pop Jar, it will be stranded in your face down cards and you will not be able to win. The other reason to run 2 is that often you will cast a "Mini-Tendrils" for 10-12 damage and follow it with another Tendrils for the rest of their life total either in the same turn or later in the game. This can be beacuse either you were unable to get the nessecary storm count to win, or you needed to stay alive with the lifegain from Tendrils. Next, I run Darksteel Colossus. I ran him in my sideboard at both Waterburies, but with the rising popularity of Fish I have moved him to the main. It is an advantage to have him MD in many situations. For one, if you cast an early Tinker for DSC and win 2 turns later, your opponent will probably not know what you are playing and will sideboard incorrectly. Two, if both Tendrils are somehow removed or negated (Cranial Extraction, etc) DSC provides and easy way to alternatively win. Finally, sometimes Tinker --> DSC is just easier than Tendrils. Against aggro decks like Fish or FCG, or against prison decks that make it hard to play 10 spells in one turn, a 2U 11 Trampler can end the game simply and efficiently. Finally, I run a Cunning Wish. Cunning Wish can be considered an optimizer, Bomb, Protection, or Win Condition, because it can tutor for card draw, bounce, permission, or Brain Freeze. It is a general purpose failsafe that is never dead.

Playing the Deck

When playing TPS, you have to realize what each card's role is and play it accordingly. What do I mean by that? Well, for one thing, you have decide how many resources you want to "pour into" a specific card. This generally means the amount of one-shot accelerators you are willing to use to pay for a certain card, or the extent to which you are willing to protect it. For example, a card such as Time Spiral, which will completely replenish your resources if you resolve it, is worth play Dark Rituals and protecting with multiple Force of Wills to get it to resolve. A card like Frantic Search, which will only go so far in fixing your resources, is not. Incidentally, this is the reason why I, unlike the general consensus, do not like Gifts Ungiven in TPS. Gifts Ungiven is closer to an "Optimizer" than a Bomb in this deck. However, it lies within the mana range of a bomb. This means you'll probably have to burn a Ritual or Vault activation to play it, and most likely need to protect it with a FoW since by the time you can cast it your opponent will most likely have Drain mana up. If you do resolve it, however, it will only give you 2 cards back. If you spent a Ritual to play it, and a FoW to force it through, you have used four cards to gain two. Since this deck is not built around Gifts Ungiven, that is pretty poor. You should only be burning Rituals and FoWs and Duresses on cards that will fully replenish your resources or flat out win the game- cards like Yawgmoth's Bargain or Timetwister.

Another key thing to remember when piloting TPS is that it, again, is a Combo-Control deck, not a straight combo deck. As such, it usually needs to set up for one or two turns before going all in and attempting to resolve a game winning bomb. It is usually nessecary to build up a firm manabase of 3 or 4 mana and make sure your opponent cannot counter our threat before trying for it. The best play you can generally make turn 1 is to either fix your hand with Brainstorm or take your opponent's key card with Duress. Of course, since TPS is a combo deck, you will sometimes get the nuts and be able to go Ritual-Ritual Bargain or something equally ridiculous, but you should not try to force an early win if you don't need to. Remember: it doesn't matter when you win, as long as you win.

Alllow me to present some notes on a few specific cards and situations.

-If you are playing first against an unknown deck, and want to play something turn 1, lead with a Basic land or Fetch for a basic land. If you don't know if your opponent is packing Wastelands, sacrifice Polluted Delta for Swamp, not Underground Sea if you want to Duress them.

-Keep Fetchlands around instead of wantonly sacrificing them. If you topdeck a Brainstorm or your opponent draws a useless Wasteland, you will thank me.

-Don't waste Duresses. If you know your opponent is playing a permission based deck with a slow clock, save Duress for a turn in which you want to resolve a bomb, instead of burning it turn 1 and giving them the opportunity to topdeck a counterspell.

-As a general rule of thumb, Tinker for DSC in the first 3 turns and go for Memory Jar after that. To elaborate, go for Memory Jar only when you have 3-4 mana on the table so you know you'll be able to make use of those 7 cards.

-Wait a turn before using Memory Jar. Dont pop it the turn you play it, unless you have alot of mana untapped. Also, make sure you pop Jar on your upkeep, so you can draw an 8th card on your draw step and have access to it.

-Tinker for Black Lotus can be an amazing play. I do this all the time when setting up for a Yawg Will.

-Mulligan if you have Tendrils or DSC in your opening hand. These 3 cards are for all intents and purposes, worthless until you are ready to win. Never be afraid to discard or Brainstorm back Tendrils or DSC, because you will have guaranteed access to them when you need them, thanks to Tutors and Yawgmoth's Will.

-Know how much life to pay for Necro or Bargain. As a general rule of thumb, I pay enough life to draw up to 12 cards, then discard 5 to get down to 7. I dont draw all the way down to 1 life with Bargain if I'm tapped out. Play smart.

And the most important rule of all:

NEVER TRY TO COMBO OUT TOO EARLY!!!

The most common error people make when playing TPS is they see a bunch of broken cards and try to win ASAP. That's a horrible mistake. Always, always take the nessecary time to set up. Duress your opponent, lay down enough lands, make sure you have FoW backup, count your resources carefully. People tend to get scared, when playing T1, that if they give their opponent a turn or two that they will get blown out of the water. That, surprisingly, is pretty untrue. Except in combo mirror matches, you are generally not in danger of your opponent surprise-winning if you wait until turn 3 to go off. T1 isn't as explosive and fast as people make it out to be. You do have enough time to set up. If you play smart, you will not fizzle out, barring obscenely terrible draws on your part. As I said, the #1 criticism facing TPS is that its high amount of mana sources and disruption causes it to fizzle out after resolving a bomb. However, if you give yourself enough time to play out enough mana and make sure you can go off unhindered, that will not happen.

Matchups

Before discussing each Matchup, I must present the sideboard.

2 Psychatog
1 Chain of Vapor
2 Hurkyl's Recall
1 Brain Freeze
2 Echoing Truth
1 Rebuild
2 Misdirection
2 Skeletal Scrying
2 Tormod's Crypt

Here's a quick explanation of card choices:

Psychatog: This is used as a "Moat on wheels" against aggro, and as an alternate win condition against extreme hate or permission.

Chain of Vapor, Hurkyl's Recall, Echoing Truth, Rebuild: This configuration, added to the maindeck Chain and Rebuild, allows you to configure your post board protection suite to address your opponent's hate. For example, against Stax you can have 2 Recall 2 Rebuild, and against a deck packing Arcane Laboratory you have access to 2 Chain and 2 Truth.

Skeletal Scrying: Against decks with heavy countermagic, these are subbed in for expensive, symetrical bombs. Instead of casting, say, Time Spiral on your mainphase against a deck with Mana Drains, you can wait until their combat step to cast a Scrying for 5 or 6, which benefits only you and allows you to play around Drain.

Misdirection: This too is boarded in against heavy permission, basically as FoW #5 and 6. You use your FoW's as backup in these matchups to protect a bomb, and MisD does exactly the same thing.

Tormod's Crypt: This is used to make faster combo more manageable, and is sideboarded in against Gifts combo.

Brain Freeze: What turns Cunning Wish into a win condition.

With that out of the way, onto the matchups, by category.

Drain Decks

Since it is a Ritual deck, TPS naturally has an advantage against Drain reliant decks. Against decks playing only FoW and Drain, you will have a very easy time winning. Those playing Duresses or Mana Leaks in addition to the normal 8 are harder, but still favorable. Since these decks usually don't play Wasteland, you can freely play nonbasic lands and aggressively use Duress to neuter their strategy while strengthening your own. Try to play around Mana Drain as best you can, and never play a bomb without Duress/FoW backup unless you know the coast is clear. The first game will always be the easiest against these decks since their normal strategy has nothign to do with stopping you from playing 10 spells in one turn. Post sideboard, they will probably have hate in the form of Arcane Laboratory or Chalice of the Void, but your sideboarding and smart play can easily negate those.

Sideboarding:

Control Slaver

SB OUT: 1 Tinker, 1 Memory Jar, 1 Darksteel Colossus, 1 Time Spiral, 1 Mind's Desire, 1 Rebuild, 1 Cunning Wish

Their Welders make Jar and DSC liabilities. Spiral is too risky to be Drained, Rebuild doesn't bounce Arcane Laboratory, Mind's Desire always gets boarded out with Rebuild, and there's nothing left to Cunning Wish for.

SB IN: 1 Chain of Vapor, 2 Echoing Truth, 2 Misdirection, 2 Skeletal Scrying

 Chains and Truths deal with Arcane Labs and any artifact fat, Misdirections help against permission and Scryings are amazing against control.

Oath

SB OUT: 1 DSC, 1 Time Spiral, 1 Mind's Desire, 1 Rebuild, 1 Cunning Wish, 1 Frantic Search, 1 Necropotence

Spiral is too expensive and symmetrical, DSC is of course bad against Oath of Druids, Rebuild is useless and Desire leaves with it, Cunning Wish has no targets, Frantic Search is the weakest card left in the deck and their quick clock makes Necropotence less valueable.

SB IN: 1 Chain of Vapor, 2 Echoing Truth, 2 Misdirection, 2 Skeletal Scrying

 Chain and Truth bounce labs and Oathed up creatures, MisD and Scrying are good against Drains.

Gifts

SB OUT: 1 Memory Jar, 1 Time Spiral, 1 Cunning Wish, 1 Chain of Vapor, 1 Frantic Search, 1 Necropotence

Spiral gets Drained, Jar helps their Yawg Will strategy, Wish has no targets after boarding, Chain is not needed since Rebuild takes care of their DSC, Frantic Search is weak and Necro is bad against DSC --> Time Walk.

SB IN: 2 Misdirection, 2 Skeletal Scrying, 2 Tormod's Crypt

MisD and Scrying are, again, good against Drain, and Crypt comes in instead of bounce because they can't run Chalice or Lab, while Crypt ruins their whole gameplan.

Sensei, Sensei

SB OUT: 1 Time Spiral, 1 DSC, 1 Cunning Wish, 1 Chain of Vapor

Spiral and DSC are too slow, Wish is also too slow and Chain does little to nothing.

SB IN: 2 Skeletal Scring, 2 Misdirection

Your strategy vs. Sensei is to win ASAP and Scrying and MisD help you to ignore your opponent and do that.

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Workshop Decks

As I said in the introduction, Workshop decks are the natural enemies of Ritual decks. Fortunately, TPS distinguishes itself from other Ritual decks in that it maintains a 50-50 matchup with Stax and Workshop Aggro. The ability to run FoW and bounce allows it to deal with the maindeck hate Stax presents and the quick clock of WS aggro. The deck's stable, basic-heavy mana base also allows it to deal with the Wastelands and Crucibles of both decks. Post board, the deck gains even more tools and gives either Workshop deck a run for its money.

If you have alot of Shops in your area, (and therefore probably not alot of Fish or Drains) I would advise taking the Psychatogs and Misdirections out of the sideboard and running 4 Annuls in their place, which sub in nicely for Duresses. I won't make a sideboard plan for that build, though, because I've never tested that sideboard configuration.

Sideboarding:

Welder/Wire Stax

SB OUT: 1 DSC, 1 Cunning Wish 4 Duress
 
DSC is useless against Welders and Duress is bad against Stax's redundant threats, Wastelands, and Welders. Cunning Wish will have no targets.

SB IN: 1 Chain of Vapor, 2 Echoing Truth, 2 Hurkyl's Recall, 1 Rebuild

After board you have 8, yes, 8 bounce spells. These let you play around Spheres, CoWs, and Chalices of any setting and make it easy to win.

Welderless Stax

SB OUT: 4 Duress, 1 Cunning Wish, 1 Frantic Search

Duress sucks vs. Stax, Wish has no targets, FS is weak against Chains and In The Eye.

SB IN: 1 Chain of Vapor, 2 Echoing Truth, 2 Hurkyl's Recall, 1 Rebuild

Lots of bounce, and Chain and Truth become even more important since they run some nasty enchantments.

Workshop Aggro

SB OUT: 4 Duress, 1 Necropotence, 1 Yawgmoth's Bargain, 1 Cunning Wish, 1 Frantic Search

Duress blows, Necro and Bargain lose effectiveness against Juggernaughts, Wish has no targets, FS is weak.

SB IN: 6 Bounce Spells, 2 Psychatog

The Bounce spells are as good as ever, and Tog lets you block and kill Juggs, with DSC, it becomes an impressive threat.

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Ritual Decks

Here's the deal with TPS. It, like other Ritual decks, has a good matchup against Drain decks. Unlike most Ritual decks, it also does fairly well against Workshops. Unfortunately, in exchange for that, it tends to lose to other, faster combo decks. The good news is that combo is very underrepresented, so TPS's weakness to other combo may well be a moot point in the current metagame.

In a combo on combo matchup, the idea is of course to disrupt the opponent's attempt to combo off, and to combo off yourself as soon as humanly possible. Go balls to the wall. TPS has little to sideboard against other combo, so you'll have to play tight and hope for good draws.

Sideboarding:

TPS Mirror

SB OUT: 1 Chain of Vapor, 1 Rebuild

You can make a case for boarding in MisD, Scrying, or Crypt, but I prefer to leave my deck's strategy completely undiluted so I can win before my opponent.

SB IN: 2 Hurkyl's Recall

These just replace the other, slower bounce spells, so I can get a high storm count ASAP.

Deathlong

SB OUT: 1 Chain of Vapor, 1 Rebuild, 1 Cunning Wish, 1 DSC

Chain and Rebuild come out for Hurkyl's, and Wish and DSC are too slow against Long.

SB IN: 2 Hurkyl's Recall, 2 Tormod's Crypt

Deathlong is a Yawgmoth's Will deck, therefore Crypt helps alot.

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Metagame Decks

These are generally underpowered aggro control decks like Fish and R/G Beatz. They can range from byes, as is the case with R/G Beats, to very hard matchups, like when playing against a UW Null Rod Fish build with Labs, Chants, Mages, Daze, Hatchling, etc.

Since Fish is a very popular deck right now, I will elaborate on how to play the matchup. At first glance, it would seem that the maindeck hate presented by Fish like Chalice of the Void (or Null Rod), Meddling Mage, Daze, FoW, and Rootwater Thief, together with other nasty sideboard problems, would make the Fish matchup a very uphill battle. That's really not true though. The only real permission these decks play is Force of Will. That means you are pretty much free to cast whatever you want without fear, provided you have the mana. Therefore you can generally pretty much goldfish against these decks, usually around turn 3. All you have to do is Force of Will the key threat they play (Usually Meddling Mage or Chalice of the Void) and win. With maindeck DSC, if the game gets past that point and they are able to resolve some problematic permanents, you can just turn you deck's plan into "Tutor for Tinker and play Tinker".

RG beats and other Tier 3 decks aren't really metagame considerations, so I'll only include SB plans vs. Fish.

Sideboarding:

Fish Variants (WTF, UW Null Rod, Gay Red)

SB OUT: 1 Cunning Wish, 1 Rebuild, 1 Mind's Desire, 1 Memory Jar, 1 Frantic Search

Cunning Wish is slow, Rebuild is not needed and Desire will be weak without it, Jar isnt' as good a Tinker target as DSC is, Frantic Search is the weakest card left.

SB IN: 2 Psychatog, 1 Chain of Vapor, 2 Echoing Truth

Tog gives you a huge wall and a pretty good win condition if they have a lot of hate. Chain and Truth bounce Rods, Labs, Mages, Chalices, whatever.

Allow me to talk a little more about the postboard matchup against Fish. Your strategy goes from winning ASAP to pacing yourself and allowing your deck to deal with their hosers systematically until you can win. Psychatog goes a long way toward doing this because he really puts the brakes on their attacks and buys you alot of time. With 4 bounce spells in your deck, you can allow the Fish deck to resolve some hosers (Meddling Mage, Chalice) and build up resources until you're ready to win, at which point you bounce whatever's giving you trouble and go off. If they put up too much of a fight for you to be able to Tendrils them normally, you can go to Plan B and Tinker in a Colossus, or swing and swing with a Tog. Overall, if you know what Fish's key cards are and what your strategy is, you can win quite easily.

Conclusion

TPS is the best of a very underplayed group of decks in T1, the Ritual decks. It is undeservedly unpopular, due to the incorrect play its pilots make and incorrect assumptions people make when analyzing it. The deck has a strong disruption suite, stable manabase, and the ability to win very quickly by playing bomb after bomb.

The list and sideboard strategies are not the only options available to those who wish to play TPS. There is quite a bit of room for tweaking to your own liking. Some of the commonly played options available that I do not include are:

Gifts Ungiven
Future Sight
Library of Alexandria
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Merchant Scroll
Skeletal Scrying (Maindeck)
Recoup
Burning Wish
Wheel of Fortune
Windfall

If you are interested in playing the Perfect Storm, you will need patience and a willingness to learn. The deck is not necessarily difficult to play, but often presents complicated situations that require experience with the deck and a deep understanding of its goals. The best way to succeed with the deck is to practice. Goldfish, test with teammates, and most importantly, take it to tournaments. I have been playing the deck for 7 months now and I am still improving my play with the deck.

In summary, if your metagame has a high number of Drain decks and some Workshop decks, or if you're bored with the deck you're currently playing and want to try something new, I urge you to pick up TPS. You'll be surprised at what it can do, especially with all the criticism towards it by prominent American players.

I hope you enjoyed this primer and learned at least a little from it.

-Justin







« Last Edit: June 30, 2005, 08:33:44 pm by Negator13 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2005, 03:34:10 pm »

Great primer, Justin. You make a compelling case, so I'll try to get some games in with your build to see how I fare.

What are your thoughts on the Dutch builds that run a Red splash for Wheel of Fortune and Burning Wish? I like Recoup as well, but if you're not running Gifts Ungiven it loses a lot of its oomph. Wheel of Fortune and Burning Wish, though, seem like natural additions to the deck, with Wheel giving you another cheap Draw-7, and Burning Wish giving you yet another way of grabbing a Tendrils for the kill...

Luiggi
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2005, 03:50:17 pm »

Just a quick question. I know it is incredibly, incredibly hard to pilot the deck perfectly--only a few people in the world  consitently play the deck perfect, if even that, but about how long would you say it takes to get a good understanding of the deck, a week, a month, 6 months?
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2005, 05:30:38 pm »

A few points:

1) Although your primer is appropriately detailed and extensively argued, there is a glaring hole in your work.  Fish is arguably the most or second most important match to discuss and you have given it barely a paragraph spending much longer on the combo matchups.  Moreover, there are multiple fish variants.  The TPS player must know how to handle each of the Fish variants and the optimal strategy for beating them.  It would be like if I were to write a T2 primer and not talk about Tooth and Nail.

2) I think you are wrong to suggest that people think TPS is bad.  There was a time when I felt that TPS was bad - but that was at various points in time - and before Fish became a huge factor in the metagame.   In the past I have argued that Draw7 or meandeath were the combo decks of choice - and subsequent to that Doomsday (which I think is much better than people give it credit for) - the problem is that those were totally different metagames.

By almost any measure, TPS is the most successful combo deck out there.  It consistently performs in Europe and manages to put a few people into top 8s in the US in the Waterbury.  TPS is viewed as a great deck because  of its mana base, its bombs, and its relative consistency.  I dont think its fair to say that people don't respect TPS - it is the most respected storm combo deck in the format. 

3) The problem with TPS in my view is that storm combo just isn't very good in the format right now.  It isn't becuase Storm isn't insanely powerful or that this deck can't perform very well in the hands of a competent player - it's becuase when you look at the format as it stands: it is basically two decks:  Fish/Workshop Aggro and Combo-Control.  The Fish and Workshop Aggro decks run cards like Chalice and Wastelands and Rod and int he case of Fish: FOW, Meddling Mage, Rootwater Theif, etc.  These decks have managed to find cards which are just amazing at shutting out strong Vintage plays with Chalices and Rods.  These cards practically require that TPS or any combo deck find removal before they can win.  The second type of deck is the Combo-Control deck.  Think Gifts, Oath, Salvagers, Control Slaver, etc.  These decks are often as fast, faster, or slightly slower than TPS.  I have watched Gifts decks race Meandeath - a much faster combo deck than TPS.  When you have that happen, it makes you seriously re-evaluate why you are playing Ritual Combo instead of Mana Drain combo.  If the Mana Drain decks are just about as fast as TPS on average, are more consistent, but less powerful on turn one, then the question arises: why play combo?  The advantage of Combo has always been that you can leverage speed and combos into power that your opponent can't deal with over time.  When the game compresses into a few turns and the control decks are winning that fast, the one turn speed advantage of combo decks doesn't look so appealing. 

I think Combo will continue to be on the wane so long as Control decks are so fast and the mana denail aspects of Vintage are so powerful.  Consider: my experience with Meandeck Tendrils tought me that having a turn one goldfish is not good enough for one reason: your opponent will almost ALWAYS have SOMETHING they can do on turn one.  My Gifts deck has all the accelleration of your deck except for the Rituals and I have Mana Drain instead. 

I'm not saying there aren't reasons to run TPS, there are.  TPS Is fun as hell and it has really broken cards that will win games other decks can't.  But the reasons to run it are less compelling then you seem to admit.  You seem to think that the reason people aren't hot on TPS is because of some other combo deck or a general disrespect.  Not true.  People are down on TPS becuase they are down on combo in general -  and TPS appears to be the lone survivor of the Ritual family. 
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2005, 06:52:15 pm »

Every tendrils beyond the first one is a horribly wasted space, with Colossus in the deck.
You mention that drawing Tendrils or DSC in your opening hand is an auto-mulligan, than why play 3 instead of 2?
I think Mind's Desire is overrated in TPS, at 4UU and sorcery speed a card should at least win you the game, and this card fails at that more often that you would think, with about 40 useless card  in your deck (to flip with Desire).

I personally feel the best TPS is a deck build around Gifts Ungiven, that card is just too good not to play.
You say it gets too little for the tempo/mana put into it. But with the adition of a single card: Recoup, you have another 3/4 card that win you the game if they resolve. Recoup can easily replace the second Tendrils since it can act as one if you need it to.
With rituals in the deck you need hardly any setup to make gifts lethal, you'd be wondered how many games can be won just by gifting for Recoup/Will/Lotus and Ancestral.

Gifts also help you beat Combo-Control, since you have the same engine and Rituals combined with Necro/Bargain/Will should win you more games than resolved Mana Drains will win them games. Personally I have beaten Gifts about 6 times with Gifts TPS and never lost to it. Those numbers are not high enough to claim anything but they should at least show a favourable matchup IMO.

On fish: It's not all that hard to beat, you just need the right answers, but more importantly you need to know how to beat it. Tinker -> Colossus is one road to victory, but it's not always the answer.

If I was a little short on explanation please ask for more,

Koen
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2005, 08:18:59 pm »

Great primer, Justin. You make a compelling case, so I'll try to get some games in with your build to see how I fare.

What are your thoughts on the Dutch builds that run a Red splash for Wheel of Fortune and Burning Wish? I like Recoup as well, but if you're not running Gifts Ungiven it loses a lot of its oomph. Wheel of Fortune and Burning Wish, though, seem like natural additions to the deck, with Wheel giving you another cheap Draw-7, and Burning Wish giving you yet another way of grabbing a Tendrils for the kill...

Luiggi

The "traditional" TPS builds that splash Red are in my opinion inferior because they sacrifice some of the consistency of mana that TPS is known for. Running Volcs means you have to run less basics or fetches, and you risk drawing a red card without Red mana. Wheel and Wish would be amazing if they were blue or black, but alas, they are not.

Quote from: shade88

Just a quick question. I know it is incredibly, incredibly hard to pilot the deck perfectly--only a few people in the world  consitently play the deck perfect, if even that, but about how long would you say it takes to get a good understanding of the deck, a week, a month, 6 months?

You can get a -good- understanding of the deck after a few games or after a few hundred games, depending on your affinity for the deck and combo decks in general. However, like any deck, it takes a long time to "master". I've been playing it for 7 months and I still find things I never saw before.

Quote from:  Smmenen
1) Although your primer is appropriately detailed and extensively argued, there is a glaring hole in your work.  Fish is arguably the most or second most important match to discuss and you have given it barely a paragraph spending much longer on the combo matchups.  Moreover, there are multiple fish variants.  The TPS player must know how to handle each of the Fish variants and the optimal strategy for beating them.  It would be like if I were to write a T2 primer and not talk about Tooth and Nail.

Well, in my experience, Fish has rarely given me problems, (I lost my finals match vs. Zheng's UW Fish due to savage play errors, after beating him in the Swiss) so I may have glazed over the matchup analysis. I see how that is a mistake, I'll edit my original post to include more information on that matchup.

Quote from:  Smmenen
2) I think you are wrong to suggest that people think TPS is bad.  There was a time when I felt that TPS was bad - but that was at various points in time - and before Fish became a huge factor in the metagame.   In the past I have argued that Draw7 or meandeath were the combo decks of choice - and subsequent to that Doomsday (which I think is much better than people give it credit for) - the problem is that those were totally different metagames.

By almost any measure, TPS is the most successful combo deck out there.  It consistently performs in Europe and manages to put a few people into top 8s in the US in the Waterbury.  TPS is viewed as a great deck because  of its mana base, its bombs, and its relative consistency.  I dont think its fair to say that people don't respect TPS - it is the most respected storm combo deck in the format. 

My comments on Americans' opinions were based on the lack of people playing it in the US, and from seeing prominent T1 players on message boards repeatedly expressing their opinions that the deck is terrible. You are right that TPS is really the only played Storm combo deck in the format, therefore my statement extends to mean that Americans must not like Ritual combo at all.

Quote from:  Smmenen
3) The problem with TPS in my view is that storm combo just isn't very good in the format right now.  It isn't becuase Storm isn't insanely powerful or that this deck can't perform very well in the hands of a competent player - it's becuase when you look at the format as it stands: it is basically two decks:  Fish/Workshop Aggro and Combo-Control.  The Fish and Workshop Aggro decks run cards like Chalice and Wastelands and Rod and int he case of Fish: FOW, Meddling Mage, Rootwater Theif, etc.  These decks have managed to find cards which are just amazing at shutting out strong Vintage plays with Chalices and Rods.  These cards practically require that TPS or any combo deck find removal before they can win.  The second type of deck is the Combo-Control deck.  Think Gifts, Oath, Salvagers, Control Slaver, etc.  These decks are often as fast, faster, or slightly slower than TPS.  I have watched Gifts decks race Meandeath - a much faster combo deck than TPS.  When you have that happen, it makes you seriously re-evaluate why you are playing Ritual Combo instead of Mana Drain combo.  If the Mana Drain decks are just about as fast as TPS on average, are more consistent, but less powerful on turn one, then the question arises: why play combo?  The advantage of Combo has always been that you can leverage speed and combos into power that your opponent can't deal with over time.  When the game compresses into a few turns and the control decks are winning that fast, the one turn speed advantage of combo decks doesn't look so appealing. 

You may have missed this in my primer, but it is my opinion that Duress and Dark Ritual are better than Mana Drain. Mana Drain is a great card because it offers acceleration at the same time as disruption. However, when card slots aren't a factor, and I don't consider them to be in TPS, the Disruption and acceleration offered by Duress and Dark Ritual is superior to Mana Drain. Duress can be played immediately instead of making you wait until you get UU up, and it takes their best card instead of the one they decide to play when you get Drain Mana up. It lets you go off knowing you won't be stopped, and it happens to be really good against Drain decks. Dark Ritual accelerates far better than Drain does because it gives colored mana, when you want it, and adds a spell to your Storm Count. I don't play TPS for the sake of playing TPS, I play TPS for the sake of playing Duress and Dark Ritual.

Quote from:  Thug
Every tendrils beyond the first one is a horribly wasted space, with Colossus in the deck.
You mention that drawing Tendrils or DSC in your opening hand is an auto-mulligan, than why play 3 instead of 2?
I think Mind's Desire is overrated in TPS, at 4UU and sorcery speed a card should at least win you the game, and this card fails at that more often that you would think, with about 40 useless card  in your deck (to flip with Desire).

I think playing 2 Tendrils and a DSC is just a necessary evil right now. Having your only Tendrils stuck in your hand when you want to pop Jar sucks, and DSC is too good in a format full of Fish. If Fish declines in popularity, DSC will hop right back into my sideboard.

Quote from:  Thug
I personally feel the best TPS is a deck build around Gifts Ungiven, that card is just too good not to play.
You say it gets too little for the tempo/mana put into it. But with the adition of a single card: Recoup, you have another 3/4 card that win you the game if they resolve. Recoup can easily replace the second Tendrils since it can act as one if you need it to.
With rituals in the deck you need hardly any setup to make gifts lethal, you'd be wondered how many games can be won just by gifting for Recoup/Will/Lotus and Ancestral.

Here is where I think Smmenen's point is more relevant. If you change TPS into a deck based around Gifts (3 Gifts, Recoup, at the expense of Spiral, Jar, Desire, etc) you are really making an inferior version of Gifts.fr. I honestly feel Gifts.fr. does everything Gifts TPS does, better. I don't think that is true for traditional TPS. One of the great things about TPS is that you can just throw resources into a bomb and come out on top- not true for Gifts TPS. You have to carefully ration your mana and cards so that a Gifts will win the game, and even if you do it's usually just barely. The problem isn't just that Gifts TPS is harder to play (and it certainly is, which can matter in a long tournament) but its that unknown factors such as your opponent's disruption or a bad topdeck can make the whole deck crumble around you. I really think Gifts TPS is far too shaky- a strategy based around Gifts and Will lends itself far better to a Drain deck than a Ritual deck.

EDIT at Smmenen: The underlying reason that Ritual is superior to Mana Drain is that is fundamentally better to be proactive and ignore your opponent than it is to be reactive and to rely on them. In order to get the mana to win, Drain decks need to wait for their opponents to cast an unprotected card into a waiting Drain. Ritual decks do not. They just cast a Ritual whenever the hell they feel like going off. That is an incredibly important difference, and why I think TPS is better than Gifts.fr.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2005, 08:37:47 pm by Negator13 » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2005, 08:24:33 pm »

Assuming for the purposes of argument that Ritual is better than Mana Drain, that doesn't answer the point that these decks DO look less compelling when they are but marginally faster than the Drain combo decks.  How you come out on that cost/benefit is up to you - but I'm trying to explain why most people come out on the other side - even if they are wrong (which I'm not saying they are). 
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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2005, 04:47:54 am »

First off, nice primer Justin!!
Since I´m a very passionate TPS player myself, I was very glad to see someone opening a new thread on my favorite deck..., so thank you!

Let me just shortly introduce myself: my name is Christopher Wilhelm and I´m a Vintage player from Germany. I started to play TPS in Dec. 2004 and took the deck to several tournaments since then. Although I´m playing the deck for about seven months now, I definitely wouldn´t call me the perfect TPS player. I still make a few mistakes from time to time. Though, my worst tournament finish was a 5-2.
I think that just shows the incredible consitency and strength of TPS. It´s very forgiving sometimes and can turn the game around with a single topdecked (and of course also resolved) bomb. The deck has treated me so good in this regard and I just love to play it.

In the area where I´m playing ( a town called Iserlohn) there are a lot more TPS-r variants rather than the "traditional" U/B variant.  These support Recoup / Wheel and Burning Wish as red cards and also one Gifts Ungiven to make full use of Recoup.

My own current list looks like this:


Mana::

7 SoLoMoxen
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mana Vault
1 Lotus Petal
4 Dark Ritual

3 Underground Sea
1 Volcanic Island
1 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
2 Swamp
2 Island
1 Tolarian Academy

Protection::

4 Duress
4 Force of Will

Draw / Search:

4 Brainstorm
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Mystical Tutor

Solutions:

1 Burning Wish
1 Cunning Wish
1 Hurkyl´s Recall

Bombs:

1 Yawgmoth´s Will
1 Yawgmoth´s Bargain
1 Necropotence
1 Mind´s Desire
1 Gifts Ungiven
1 Timetwister
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Memory Jar
1 Tinker
1 Time Walk

Win Condition:

1 Darksteel Colossus
1 Tendrils of Agony

Others:

1 Recoup


SB:

1 Tendrils of Agony
1 Brain Freeze
1 Rebuild
1 Hurkyl´s Recall
2 Echoing Truth
1 Pyroclasm
1 Massacre
1 Engineered Plague
1 Claws of Gix
1 Coffin Purge
1 Skeletal Scrying
1 Gifts Ungiven
1 REB
1 BEB


As you can see the deck manages to be three colored without losing its resistant mana base - there are still four basics in the deck. Thus, you´ll still be safe against wastelands most of the time and also have access to a third color (and therefore to more possibilities).

The SB may seem a bit strange at first glance - especially Pyroclasm and Massacre - but those depend a little on our meta, at least the Pyroclasm. Since there are quite a few FCG around, Pyroclasm has proven its stregth in the board.
Same goes for Massacre. I totally love this card; its just so good against U/W Fish and BirdSh*t since you can play it for free and get rid of multiple Meddling Mages for the cost of 1R (Burning Wish).

The red- splash is really worth its slots imo since it:

1.makes "Plan B" (Tinker / Colossus) even better than it already is because of possible Time Walk recursion with Recoup / Burning Wish and

2. offers another strong Draw7 card (Wheel of Fortune)


I hope that gives this thread a few new ideas to discuss.

So far,...

venice

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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2005, 05:29:41 am »

Hi Christopher!

The deck-list you presented is pretty nice and very similar to mine. I'm also a German player from Hamburg and got a lot of success with TPS for years now. I adapted to the UBr-Version long time ago and agree that it is the superior version, especially for Recoup and REB/Pyroblasts.

My current list is just a little different to yours: +1 Badlands (-1 Swamp) +1 City of Brass (-1 Underground Sea), +1 Cunning Wish (-1 Burning Wish) +1Gifts Ungiven (-1 Mind's Desire) +1 Rebuild (-1 Hurkyl).

I think especially the second Gifts is absolutly necessary if you want to use Recoup better. I don't think that your really need Burning Wish just for the option to Time Walk three times, what is more important in the controlish Gifts variants. Mind's Desire can be amazing, but as Koen said isn't very often that game breaking in this deck.

The second Cunning Wish is for my new adaptive sideboard with 1 Pyschatog and 1 Fling. So far it has shown pretty amazing results. It's easy to adapt the deck to a more explosive T1T against decks that pack a lot of hate against the storm mechanism like all the Fish epigones, Staxx, WS Aggro or Chalice Blue. The higher Red producing land count follows these adaptians for flinging savely (You would be amazed, how many times in testing games I wished for Fling already in the first game in response on StP and others on colossus).

I like the way the deck goes now, cause it's pretty flexible and absolutly safe against many forms of hate. Even first turn Jester's Cap, which is played very often in my testing group (Damn Torben Wink ) isn't that threatening anymore as it is against any form of Oath and Gifts. I would count on seeing this little toy popping up everywhere, when people notice how devasting it is against the major Combo-Control and Control-Decks in the moment.

Just my two cents. Congratulation on your great results with TPS in Iserlohn for many times in a row now Christopher.

@Primer: Nice work and perfect description of the TPS as it started to become a really potent deck and still is.

But I think for a perfect primer you need to describe the adaptions of the deck the deck as well:

1. the one Christopher and I were talking about and Koen is playing in an even more Gift-related way
2. the really controlish way many Italians play it without any Draw-7 beside Tinker
3. the other form of adaptive TPS with green and Oath Big Mac presented
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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2005, 05:34:43 am »

Quote
I think playing 2 Tendrils and a DSC is just a necessary evil right now. Having your only Tendrils stuck in your hand when you want to pop Jar sucks, and DSC is too good in a format full of Fish. If Fish declines in popularity, DSC will hop right back into my sideboard.

Just a quick reply on this point (I might have more on other points you made): a 2nd Tendrils isn't needed for that reason. That's why you still have Cunning Wish in your deck. However, sometimes you just can't get up to the full 10, so a smaller tendrils has to suffice. However, I'm not sure it's really needed right now.
I myself would never play TPS as long as I can play Mana Drain combo. I think you are overestimating the strenght of Duress+Ritual vs Mana Drain. CardSlots always matter. The reason to play TPS is Necropotence, and nothing else.
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« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2005, 07:11:05 am »

First off, I enjoyed to read your primer! It was very interesting.

I was justwondering one thing:

Quote
TPS Mirror

SB OUT: 1 Chain of Vapor, 1 Rebuild

You can make a case for boarding in MisD, Scrying, or Crypt, but I prefer to leave my deck's strategy completely undiluted so I can win before my opponent.

SB IN: 2 Hurkyl's Recall

These just replace the other, slower bounce spells, so I can get a high storm count ASAP.

Deathlong

SB OUT: 1 Chain of Vapor, 1 Rebuild, 1 Cunning Wish, 1 DSC

Chain and Rebuild come out for Hurkyl's, and Wish and DSC are too slow against Long.

SB IN: 2 Hurkyl's Recall, 2 Tormod's Crypt

Deathlong is a Yawgmoth's Will deck, therefore Crypt helps alot.

Why not sideboard in Brain Freeze in this two matchups? In response of the tutor for the lethal Tendrils of Agony, I think it is very useful. I did it once in a tournament and it won me the game because my opponent put his lone Tendrils of Agony from his library in his graveyard.
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« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2005, 02:46:55 pm »

Justin, excellent primer.  I've also been playing TPS variants for at least 7 months now.  Having won several local tourneys and placing 19th and in the 20s at the last 2 TMD Opens I have experience with the deck.

I had originally begun typing up a long response that includes a TPS variant deck list. However, I think it makes more sense to instead first pose an argument from my original write-up as a question to Justin and the community.  Based on responses, I will post my original intended TPS variant build with card choice explanations.

As of late, I have been testing a TPS variant (Storm Drain…let’s call it for now) that leverages Rituals and Drains.  It does not use Duress.  It does use Necro, Bargain, MisD, Merchant Scroll, Fact or Fiction and Gifts.  However, the build is not heavily Gifts centric like MD Gifts.

Off topic….Steve’s article was another excellent read that truly highlights the power of a forgotten card in Merchant Scroll.  When I first starting re-using the Scrolls during Storm Drain testing, I would constantly check myself with, “Oh wait, the card goes to my hand, not to the top of my library like a Mirage/Visions tutor!?  Very powerful.

The question I pose is; what is the general feeling towards a Storm (TOA) / Tinker (DSC) based combo deck that uses both Main Drain and Dark Ritual and does not use Duress?
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« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2005, 03:59:25 pm »

Quote
Here is where I think Smmenen's point is more relevant. If you change TPS into a deck based around Gifts (3 Gifts, Recoup, at the expense of Spiral, Jar, Desire, etc) you are really making an inferior version of Gifts.fr. I honestly feel Gifts.fr. does everything Gifts TPS does, better. I don't think that is true for traditional TPS. One of the great things about TPS is that you can just throw resources into a bomb and come out on top- not true for Gifts TPS.

My point is based on the fact that I rather play Gifts TPS than drain Gifts, because I think it's the better deck.
But before comparing it to gift, compare it to traditional TPS first, your trading 5 and 6cc spellss for cheapers one that are at least as powerfull. This speeds up your deck and makes harder to handle for control (you have cheaper, more powerfull spells at instant speed).

Recoup fits better into TPS than it does into any other gifts deck because it serves so many purposes, it flashes back anything from Duress to Demonic to Tendrils, aside from the most used tech of flashing Will back off course

I would almost go as far as saying Jar is horrible in TPS, the deck isn't fast enough for it. It your opponent draws a Counter and a Brainstorm from it he's likely to benefit more than you will. I much rather resolve a Gift than a Jar.

Gifts TPS is much harder to play than normal TPS but this is not a reason not to play it in tournament play, it is a reason to test it more and get known to the different gift setups. There are a lot of setup and most are more powerful than the same setup in a different Gifts deck because you get to squeeze cards like DUress, Ritual and Necro into Gifts instead of cards like MisD/Drain, Thirst/FOF.

Quote
Assuming for the purposes of argument that Ritual is better than Mana Drain, that doesn't answer the point that these decks DO look less compelling when they are but marginally faster than the Drain combo decks.  How you come out on that cost/benefit is up to you - but I'm trying to explain why most people come out on the other side - even if they are wrong (which I'm not saying they are). 

I think the reasons people come out on the other side it because of a lot of other factors, which really have to do very little with the power, capabilities of the decks.

Ritual based is still much faster than drain based no matter how you put it. You simply have more mana acceleration and more cheap bombs. Resolving a Necro on turn 1 doesn't immediatly win the game, but it should count as a win since you will win 95% of the time.

Gotta run now, party coming up

Koen
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« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2005, 02:22:40 pm »

@Phele: I like the idea of having a transformational SB and I´ll definitely give it a shot. The possibility of getting an advantage because of an opponent sideboarding the wrong cards, can actually be very huge (especially if you´ve already won the first game)
The question simply is: does it make the deck better than it would be with just sideboarding more solutions games 2-3 and stick to your initial gameplan? Maybe you can post your current sideboard so that we can discuss it?! I´m really curious to see which slots one has to "sacrifice" to successfully support the "tog-engine"; is it just 1tog+1fling or are there any additional changes?
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« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2005, 03:19:11 am »

@Venice

The sideboard list:

2 Enineeren Plague
1 Skeletal Scrying
1 Coffin Purge
1 Psychatog
1 Fling
1 Rack and Ruin
1 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Gush
1 Brain Freeze
1 Rushing River
1 Hurkyl's Recall
1 Misdirection
1 Fire/Ice, Blue Blast, Lava Dart, Engineered Explosives (I'm not sure on this slot, in the moment its Fire/Ice)

2 Cunning Wish maindeck

So far I really fine with this configuration. The Tog slots don't hinder the usual sideboard strengths of the deck and Mr. Teeth works pretty fine againt WTF and Co., workshop variants and hate packing control.
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« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2005, 12:04:36 pm »

@Phele: Thanks for your quick reply! - I´ll surely be trying your SB plan during this week and see how it works for me. So far, I´m only worried about having access to just one Tendrils ( because Burning Wish would leave the mainboard for Cunning Wish #2, as would Tendrils #2 in the SB for Tog).
Since fast Combo is TPS`worst Match-Up I personally feel that the second Tendrils is desperately needed in these matches (since an early Tendrils will make it much harder for them to win, the more life you have). Also, I sometimes find myself in trouble finding a Tendrils when I go off; Burning Wish saved my a** a lot of times in those cases since it works as Tendrils#2 with additional flexibilty if you need it. Having two Cunning Wishes mainboard means that you will more often be forced to use Brainfreeze as your win condition when you can´t find a Tendrils - which will require a much higher storm count and, even worse, with Oath still being a strong contender in the current metagame, Brain Freeze doesn´t appear to be a very sufficient kill...

Did you have any similar issues with your current SB plan or did you make other experiences? Maybe I´m totally wrong, since all thoughts on the "Tog-Plan" I can give for now are based on theory. But I´ll do some testing to see if there´s anything to it... Wink

What about you, Koen and Justin, which experience did you make with having a transformational SB plan? Did that work for you, too? Would you recommend it? I mean Justin stated his thoughts already in his first post (since his SB also shows 2 Psychatogs) but maybe you could give some more detailed thoughts on that - and what about you, Koen? Did you try anything like that?

I know that there was a list (played by Marco C. Kiewit I think) that featured a SB which included the Oath-Engine with Akroma and SotN. What are your thoughts about that?
Personally, I don´t like this idea as it wether means running orchards main or sacrificing about 10-11 SB slots to succesfullly support the engine. But obviously it worked fine for Marco, since he T8 -ed with it...

Thoughts?

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« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2005, 02:17:10 pm »

The Togs in my sideboard aren't really a transformational strategy, they're really just to buy time against Fish. However against MUC or something with a ton of counters and Chalices, Labs, etc., you can board in Togs along with Scryings and win that way if need be.
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« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2005, 03:42:47 pm »

There's two reasons why I never played an transformational sideboard in TPS:

- Playing with 2 Cunning forces you to devote a lot of sideboard space to instants.
- TPS is one of the most versitile combo-deck and IMO it can be adapted to everything without the need for a transformational sideobard.

Marco has done very well with his transformational TPS though, so it sure is a possibility.
Right now the only for me to run a transformational sideboard would be a lot of fish, but is you see a whole lot of fish you're better of playing a different deck anyway.

Koen
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« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2005, 04:03:52 am »

I'd like to say congratulations with the deck. This is an excellent primer to give new TPS players a look at what the deck is all about.

I've been testing the Psychatogs in the sideboard since you posted the primer. On paper, I think it really is an interesting idea, but after playing a few games with it, I decided I really don't like it. Firstly, it dilutes TPS's gameplan by either cutting out bombs or bounce. Also, fish can pretty much ignore your Tog. Unless they are ignorant, they will definitely not side out their Swords to Plowshares because every Fish deck nees a way to deal with colossus -- so this means that you will have to feed your tog cards while he is (briefly) in play, which makes Yawgmoth's Will potentially worse, and against a compotent fish player, they will either fly over, or simply attack through it.

Due to Fish's small clock, I honestly wouldn't worry about changing your gameplan too much. Make sure you can deal with Meddling Mage, Chalice of the Void, and Arcane Lab -- then the deck has very little problem against fish.

I'm also a little bit confused about how you sideboard against Gifts. Why on earth would you sideboard out Necropotence? Just in case they resolve their entire combo and only have to attack you for 22 as opposed to... 22? I'm not sure I understand your justification. I would think that Necropotence would excel in this match because they tend not to touch your life-total until they are about to win.

Dan

ps... I'll edit in more questions as I think of them until you reply
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« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2005, 02:48:35 pm »

I'm also a little bit confused about how you sideboard against Gifts. Why on earth would you sideboard out Necropotence? Just in case they resolve their entire combo and only have to attack you for 22 as opposed to... 22? I'm not sure I understand your justification. I would think that Necropotence would excel in this match because they tend not to touch your life-total until they are about to win.

I´d totally agree with you on that. During testing against Meandeck-Gifts I realized that I could win most of the games only if I had been able to resolve an early bomb - and Necro is definitely one of these. Once I can resolve an early Necro it will most likely win me the game - Meandeck Gifts is no exception for that. Thus, I can absolutely find no reason why Necro should leave the MB in this match.
Whereas DSC is just horrible to have MB against Gifts. In one of the first games that I played against Gifts, I made the mistake of tinkering for DSC instead of Jar. Since Gifts runs 4 Merchant Scroll, 3 Tutor + Gifts+ Fact+ Brainstorm, they will always find their Echoing Truth or Rebuild and bounce your Colossus back to hand. So unless I can go Tinker+Walk, I´d always go the Jar route.
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« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2005, 10:26:55 pm »

I played TPS at the Beanie Exchange Double Mox tourney on Sunday. I went 5-1 in the swiss, going into the top 8 in first place. Unfortunately, I ultimately lost in a tight 3 games against Iamfishman, playing Sensei with Duress, in the Top 8.

In the Swiss I played against:

3cc (won 2-0)
UR Fish (won 2-0)
Workshop Aggro (won 2-0)
Control Slaver (lost 1-2, due to a terrible play mistake game 2)
UR Fish type thing (won 2-1)

And since I was unfortunately paired down at 4-1, I played against
Workshop Aggro (won 2-1)

I played the list presented in my primer, with these changes:

MD: -1 DSC, +1 Gifts
SB: -2 Tog, -1 Scrying, +1 DSC, +1 FoF, +1 Gifts

I realized I hate DSC maindeck, because 3 win conditions clog your hand alot more often than 2 do. Tinker for Jar will usually suffice game 1.

The SB become somewhat transformational against Mana Drain decks, as I would side out Jar, Spiral, Desire, the 2nd Tendrils,  and Frantic Search, for 1 Gifts, 1 FoF, 1 Scrying, and 2 MisD. This gives me instant speed, one sided card drawing spells, allowing me to play around Drain and avoid refilling my opponents hand. MisD acted as FoWs 5-6.

I am very pleased to say that every single card in my deck was useful over the course of the tournament. In other words, I can confidently point out any card in my maindeck and tell you how it was instrumental in winning at least one of my games. That really is my goal in tweaking TPS, to be completely rid of dead cards.

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« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2005, 10:39:26 pm »

negator
what do you think about running 2 gifts main?  I am running a tps deck (until I get my gifted tps working) that runs red just for recoup and 1 burning wish.  I am running w/o drains of course and its a lot like your list.

I agree with you about DSC.  with this deck there are some expensive casting cards and taking out DSC will help with that.

With my list right now I am running 1 volcanic island instead of a swamp.  I suggest trying it because gifting for recoup, will, lotus, and recall are extremely broken.

Finally do you have anything you want to up date on with your primer?
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« Reply #22 on: July 27, 2005, 02:32:01 am »

negator
what do you think about running 2 gifts main?  I am running a tps deck (until I get my gifted tps working) that runs red just for recoup and 1 burning wish.  I am running w/o drains of course and its a lot like your list.

I agree with you about DSC.  with this deck there are some expensive casting cards and taking out DSC will help with that.

With my list right now I am running 1 volcanic island instead of a swamp.  I suggest trying it because gifting for recoup, will, lotus, and recall are extremely broken.

Finally do you have anything you want to up date on with your primer?

With your list, you wanna go...

tinker Colossus, Time Walk, recoup Time walk, take two turns to attack for 22 right?
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« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2005, 07:14:35 am »

negator
what do you think about running 2 gifts main?  I am running a tps deck (until I get my gifted tps working) that runs red just for recoup and 1 burning wish.  I am running w/o drains of course and its a lot like your list.

I agree with you about DSC.  with this deck there are some expensive casting cards and taking out DSC will help with that.

With my list right now I am running 1 volcanic island instead of a swamp.  I suggest trying it because gifting for recoup, will, lotus, and recall are extremely broken.

Finally do you have anything you want to up date on with your primer?


With your list, you wanna go...

tinker Colossus, Time Walk, recoup Time walk, take two turns to attack for 22 right?

no thats meandeck.  I want to go will, broken , draw 7, tendrils.  or minds desire for a lot and win
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« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2005, 09:33:26 am »

First off, good article and good arguments all over. I have been playing TPS since november 2003 winning my first tournament in a very long time time. So i have been playing it a very long time trying a lot of different ways to play it. I played it with red for the wheel and the burning wish, i played it with white for the seal of cleansing, orims chant and abeyance and my latest version ran green. That brought me to the point of the transformational sideboard.

I am the one that wrote the article about the transformational sideboard and the reason for doing so was the rock paper scissor argument. I know TPS has strengths and weaknesses. I wanted to build one with a transformational sideboard to give my not so favourable matchups a better chance. This off course means your deck will suffer from the changes and it will in no way be as good as a normal TPS or normal (in my case) oath deck. But the surprise and the new strategy work well. (at least for me T8ing 3 times out of 4 attempts) Knowing how and when to sideboard is key with this version though. The only really bad matchup so far for me has turned out oath itself but that is mainly because i keep making bad mistakes against it.

I have to say that every version has worked well for me consistingly getting me high within top 8. Having played it for so long i think i play it fairly well but still make errors all the time, sometimes the deck forgives me, sometimes it does not.

A few comments about what i have read so far.

Never board out the necropotence, not in any match as it is just to good to ignore a turn 1 necro, even against giftsdecks. If they can tinker for DSC and walk that early chances of you winning would be slim anyways, the necro at least gives you the opportunity to get some kind of disruption for yourself.

Fishmatchups somehow never really posed any problems to me. The only way fish can win is be very controlish giving you a reasonable clock to get passed the hate and win anyway. as for fish needing to run 3 STP for a single possible DSC i think is prepostorous as those cards mainly will be dead cards.

Memory jar probably will be the first card eliminated form my list as from the time i got DSC maindeck the only 2 things i tinker for are DSC and lotus. Both i will only do if i think i ahve a chance of winning or just bait a drain or FoW so i can get down another threat. (possibly necro)

I also do play 2 tendrils. With the inclusion of red i could see myself cutting 1 for a burning wish and/or recoup. However i am fine with 2 tendrils, even when the jar would be cut.

With my manabase (only multicoloured lands like gemstone mine and city of brass) i can put in my deck virtually any card that could be beneficial to my deck. So far i have been experimenting with some rather unusual cards that have worked quite well. Regrowth being one of those enabling me to play ancestral 2 times within 2 turns, playing time walk on consequetive turns.

The reason i am less concerned with wastelands is that i think it is only a stalling card. It becomes gamebreaking with crucible but certainly after boarding i have no fear of wastelands anymore. For if they play wasteland it will take them an extra turn to have mana drain online. With 27-29 manasources a land more or less is not that threatening to me. It gives me 1 turn more to draw good cards that enable me to kill them. Some times i only need 1 land to combo out. It is both counterproductive to me as well as them.

In the end, as with most decks, if you do not make to many mistakes this deck will do well. However, it is not enough to know how to play your deck to combo out, you need to know how to play against what deck to be able to win with it constantly. You need to play it differently against every deck. For example: you have 2 lands in hand and a duress and a brainstorm. Do not duress right away, play the land and wait till the end of your opponents turn to brainstorm, or when he wastes your land brainstorm right away, same when he plays a duress. This way you optimise your hand and probably are setting up for a turn 2 threat that could set you up ofr the win. (think of having 2 lands necro and ritual next to the duress after the brainstorm)

Marco
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« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2005, 05:53:50 pm »

good points.  what do you think about dropping wheel for recoup?  it makes gifts way better.
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« Reply #26 on: July 29, 2005, 11:56:00 am »

I have two questions for you Negator13. I would have known what you will do in those kind of situations. Let me explain.

A)

You won the die roll. You start the game with the folowing cards (This game is pre-sideboard, so your opponent doesn't have any idea what you are playing): Time Spiral, Mox Pearl, Frantic Search, Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Underground Sea, Island.

I started like that (I precise I did that in a goldfish game):

1) First of my turn, Island. End of turn of my opponent, Brainstorm -> Duress, Flooded Strand, Dark Ritual. I put Undergound Sea firstly and Flooded Strand secondly on the top of my library.

2) I draw Flooded Strand. What would you do? You opponent still doesn't know what your are playing and lay a Island in his turn. Would you try to sham the Mana Drain or would you play the Duress?

Personnaly, I would choose to sham the Mana Drain, and I would play Brainstorm in the end of turn on my opponent and then use my fetchland to shuffle my library. Do you agree with that?

B)

You won the die roll. You don't know what your opponent is playing. You have two options in your first turn: Brainstorm or Duress. What would you play?

The same situation but you know that you opponent is playing a Control-Combo deck like Gifts or Oath. What would you play firstly? Duress or Brainstorm?
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« Reply #27 on: July 29, 2005, 12:13:20 pm »

A: I would pass the turn doing nothing, like you did. Not because I want to bluff Drain (although that is a bonus) but because I want to save the Duress for when I have enough mana to play and protect Time Spiral.

B: If you have a basic Island or a fetchland, you play it and pass the turn doing nothing, for fear of Wasteland. You can then play Brainstorm at their EOT. If you only have Underground Seas for lands, mise well play one and Duress first turn.
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« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2005, 12:39:19 pm »

Ok thanks.

Quote
If you only have Underground Seas for lands, mise well play one and Duress first turn.

Don't you want to Brainstorm in response of the Wasteland to search some lands?

Edit: What do you think about Tainted Pact if you have some slots in your TPS build? I found it great. Is the remove effet that bad?
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« Reply #29 on: July 29, 2005, 06:48:31 pm »

Well I meant if you had multiple Seas, not just one. Heh, if you only had one, you should probably mulligan. Wink

As for Pact... there are just better cards available. I'd run more Wishes, Gifts, and even Scryings before I ran Pact. It just doesnt do enough.
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