Brewed Up: Lotus Storm

Storm has a long and storied history in Modern and has forced multiple bans. Now with the printing of Lotus Field it has a new lease on life. Today’s brew was not made by the Good Grief team. This one comes from Nathan Wells who took it to a 12-3 finish at Grand Prix Minneapolis. With a Turn 3 win and a $200 price tag, this might just be the best budget deck in the Modern format.

Decklist
Lands (20)
10x Island
2x Lonely Sandbar
4x Lotus Field
4x Tolaria West
Spells (40)
4x Dream’s Grip
1x Echoing Truth
2x Grapeshot
4x Ideas Unbound
1x Merchant Scroll
3x Past in Flames
4x Peer Through Depths
4x Psychic Puppetry
4x Reach Through Mists
4x Serum Visions
2x Shimmer of Possibility
4x Sleight of Hand
3x Twiddle
Sideboard (15)
2x Defense Grid
1x Empty the Warrens
2x Force of Negation
3x Precognition Field
1x Rebuild
3x Spell Pierce
3x Tormod’s Crypt
75 Cards Total

The Build
The manabase of this deck revolves around one key card, Lotus Field. The rest of the lands only produce blue mana. I honestly never thought I’d see the day where Lonely Sandbar was seeing play in Modern, but here we are. It makes sense in this deck over copies eleven and twelve of Island. When you are going off it is great to be able to cycle them instead of having a useless Island in hand. Also, coming into play tapped isn’t a huge deal as this deck is okay with not doing very much before turn three; this helps Tolaria West along as well. However, Tolaria West often will not enter the battlefield at all as transmute is regularly used to find Lotus Field. However, when you are going off and have abundant mana but we cards, transmuting for a Sandbar is not out of the question. As we touched on earlier, Lotus Field is the key to the deck. You will float two mana before playing it out on Turn 3. You will then use your floating mana to Twiddle effect it so that you can generate three mana. You then proceed to cantrip and Twiddle the Field many times before hitting the opponent with a lethal Grapeshot.

This deck has eleven cards that can untap Lotus Field for value and if the combo fizzles you can use them to tap down the opponent’s lands at their upkeep to buy yourself a turn. Twiddle is the weakest but we need it. It untaps Lotus Field for the low cost of one mana. Dream’s Grip is a fairly similar card to Twiddle but it has the upside of entwine, though it does not come up often. Psychic Puppetry is two mana on the surface, but it is almost always spliced into other arcanes. Splice in this deck is absolutely busted. The card is just revealed and it stays in hand so Psychic Puppetry’s effect can be used multiple times without it being put into the graveyard. We are playing twelve other arcanes so it is very likely that there will be one in hand for Puppetry to splice into. Ideas Unbound is one of the best arcanes in the deck when you are going off. Since you plan on winning before the game before your end step, the discard three cards portion is basically irrelevant. For just UUU, it is untap Lotus Field and draw three cards when Psychic Puppetry is spliced into it. Lotus Field can produce UUU, so you basically cast a free spell to draw three cards.

Reach Through Mists serves a similar purpose. It is mostly here because it is an arcane, but this deck wants to be loaded up on as many cheap spells as possible. Peer Through Depths is our last arcane. It allows us to dig deep in our deck to find missing pieces. Two-thirds of our deck is made up of instants and sorceries so the card almost never whiffs. Shimmer of Possibility is another card that allows us to dig deep into the deck. Seeing four cards allows us to find key pieces. One upside of this card is that it can find anything which means it can be used to find a Lotus Field or Tolaria West. There is also one copy of Merchant Scroll. This card allows us to find any of our thirty-five blue spells which is a really nice effect to have access to. The deck does have a good bit of redundancy though, so a true tutor is not an effect we need that many copies of.

Traditional Storm players should be very familiar with the rest of these pieces. Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand are the two best one mana cantrips in Modern. In general, Serum Visions should be cast early as it sets up the rest of your draws. Sleight of Hand becomes more valuable when you are digging for one specific piece. This means that Sleight of Hand is very good while the deck is going off. Past in Flames is another Storm staple. Once Past in Flames is cast, it is significantly harder to fizzle and there should be no concern about storm count. Of course the red mana is coming from Lotus Field. Rounding out Nathan’s main deck is a singleton copy of Echoing Truth. Echoing Truth is just a clean answer to any problem permanent you may encounter, such as Leyline of Sanctity. It is fairly little cost to have such a good answer in the main deck as this list has lots of ways to dig up specific spells.

When talking about sideboards in current Modern, we need to start with graveyard hate. Nathan’s list runs three copies of Tormod’s Crypt. Most decks probably couldn’t get away with such a small amount of graveyard hate with Hogaak looming, but Lotus Storm storm can. The deck attacks on a weird angle and really just needs a speed bump to give it time to set up. Lotus Storm doesn’t care about board presence so being behind on board isn’t a big deal. It is only really concerned about actually dying. Spell Pierce is a solid counterspell that gives this deck ways to interact with other spell based strategies. Force of Negation is incredibly easy to cast in this deck. We have tons of blue spells to pitch to the card and hard casting it is not out of the question. With that said, Force of Negation is by no means necessary. It makes up almost a third of the cost and you can get by with other options.

Defense Grid stops opposing counterspells and helps to protect the deck while going off. Control decks generally have a harder time dealing with non-creature permanents than spells, so getting it onto the battlefield early can swing games. Precognition Field is another card for grindy matchups. It is also a non-creature permanent, but this one gives the deck some extra card advantage when it needs it. Empty the Warrens is an alternate win condition that is really good when you will not be able to get your storm count to 18+. Casting Empty with a storm count of three puts eight power across eight bodies onto the battlefield. This is very hard for most decks without sweepers to deal with. Finally, we have rebuild. Rebuild is a slightly more expensive Hurkyl’s Recall but it has the added advantage of cycling. The extra flexibility gives it the nod as this deck is not light on mana. Overall, Nathan’s 75 seems incredibly well thought out. It is no surprise he got 36 points at a GP with it.

The Verdict
Nathan Wells proved that this deck has a lot of legs with his GP finish. With that said, I think he had a lot of things going for him. The first is that many players did not know this deck existed at all. Yes, there have been Twiddle Storm decks in the past, but not anything nearly as powerful as the Lotus Field version. Being a rogue deck makes it more likely for opponents to misplay against you. Secondly, Modern is in a weird state where people are incredibly focused on beating Hogaak and Phoenix which comprise a huge percentage of the meta. Being a rogue deck in such a convergent meta makes it more likely for people to skimp on the hate pieces that are good against you.

On the other hand, Chalice of the Void is quite popular with Eldrazi Tron and the deck cannot win through it. It is currently more prominent than it has been in a long time and Nathan managed to get through that field so I wouldn’t be too worried about Chalice. Overall, I think the deck is certainly viable. Outside of Lotus Field the deck is extremely redundant so targeted discard and counterspells are surprisingly ineffective. Proactive disruption like Blood Moon and Chalice are much more effective. Regardless, the deck is certainly powerful and something to keep an eye on.

Wrap-Up
It is a powerful combo deck and you can put it together for $150-200; it really doesn’t get better than that in Modern. If a month ago you would told me that Storm could get better and cheaper I would not have believe you. What is your take on it though? Is this Modern’s next great combo deck or just another flash in the pan? Please share your thoughts with us in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back on Monday with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.

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