Magic Memories: Storm Seeker

Discussion in 'Single Card Strategies' started by Oversoul, Mar 7, 2017.

  1. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Oh yeah, now we're getting obscure. At least Lake of the Dead was kinda-sorta prominent at some point. But Storm Seeker? It's mostly just known for two things:

    1. Being reprinted in Chronicles so everyone had it. And like most other cards in Chronicles, it didn't actually get used in decks.
    2. Being a green direct damage spell powered by opponent's hand size. Pretty weird, right?

    Not a lot of decks have much demand for a four-mana spell that hits an opponent for damage equal to the opponent's hand size. If you do think it would be a nice finishing blow, well, you can use Sudden Impact if you really want to. I did and I did, as it happens. Back when my Burn deck was more like, "All of the best red direct damage spells that I can pool together from my small collection" Sudden Impact didn't seem that bad. I mean, I was using Meteor Shower too. I shudder to think of what my decklists from those days would look like to me if I could see them preserved now. But it was a different way to play the game. So yeah, I used Sudden Impact. But the older, greener version? I didn't see any reason to bother. To me, it was just an obscure Legends card and would have remained so. Like Scalpelexis, credit for my appreciation really goes to my friend Nick (Al0ysiusHWWW). And in this case, the route to the card finding its niche was rather circuitous...

    I was interested in combo decks. I, uh, still am. It comes up from time to time. Anyway, Nick was more into control/prison, but we both experimented with a lot of deck types, drawing inspiration from wherever we could find it. Nick wanted to build combo decks that I didn't already have, and one idea we hit on was to emulate ProsBloom. By this point, you might already see where this is going. Yeah, large scale mana generation + Prosperity + Storm Seeker = 1 dead opponent. But I didn't even think of that. I just wanted us to have another combo deck to toy with.

    I'll divert a bit from Storm Seeker to explain a bit about the background of ProsBloom, although the deck is sufficiently famous that old-timers tend that remember the highlights. Back when Magic was new, the presence of readily available fast mana and card-drawing made combo decks easy to build and extremely powerful. Channel + Fireball and such. In one of Mark Rosewater's anecdotes about the early days when there was no four-card limit, he said that one of the tournaments was won by a deck that was mostly just copies of Black Lotus and Wheel of Fortune (played unsleeved, of course), decking opponents on the first turn every game. But as tournament Magic developed a structure and using such broken cards was no longer legal, combo decks that were successful in tournaments pretty much ceased to exist for a few years. And then trend was broken with the release of Visions and the rise of "Prosperous Bloom" decks. These decks generally did little besides playing lands and hand-sculpting for the first few turns (although they could slow opponents down a bit, mostly with Memory Lapse). Mirage Block offered little to aggro decks looking for extremely fast kills, so taking a bit of time to find the right cards was generally pretty safe. Once they had a bit of mana to play with, they'd use Squandered Resources to get rid of their own lands and make more mana out of them, use the mana to play Natural Balance to get even more lands, fueling Squandered Resources even more, and then use Infernal Contract to draw more cards, including more copies of Natural Balance to make even more mana. With Natural Balance thinning lands out of the deck, cards like Infernal Contract and Impulse could reliably hit upon business spells, ultimately leading to Cadaverous Bloom, exiling the extra cards in hand to fuel Prosperity, then pitching most of the cards drawn by Prosperity for a second Prosperity, and then a third, culminating in the pitching of a giant hand to Cadaverous Bloom for the mana to create a lethal Drain Life. Compared to more modern combo decks, it's a bit awkward, but with the card pool in Standard at the time, it worked. Notably, this deck exploited the way losing the game to having 0 life worked back then. Before the Sixth Edition rules changes, a player only lost the game for having 0 life or less at the end of a phase or turn. So a ProsBloom player at low life could Infernal Contract himself to 0 life, but then recover to a positive life total from a lethal Drain Life on the opponent, winning the game. But we didn't get a ProsBloom deck going until a little after the rules changed.

    When I initially built a ProsBloom deck for Nick, I was a bit constrained, not owning full playsets of some of the key cards. I was trying to copy as closely as possible the successful Standard decklists, although I did substitute a few of the missing cards with cards that weren't in Standard when ProsBloom was played in tournaments. I forget what my list looked like, but I'm almost certain that it was considerably worse than the iconic Standard tournament ProsBloom lists. But when Nick got his hands on the deck, everything changed.

    Nick saw that with access to the larger cardpool of anything in casual Magic we could acquire, there were some much better choices for a ProsBloom list. He kept the core of Squandered Resources, Cadaverous Bloom, Natural Balance, and Prosperity. He even left Infernal Contract in the deck. Other than those cards and maybe Vampiric Tutor, he changed everything else. Meditate was just as good as Infernal Contract for acceleration on the combo turn, so that went in. For additional mana acceleration he used Lotus Petal and Lion's Eye Diamond (a card that was still largely obscure, unrealized potential at the time). While I can't recall every detail, I think he moved City of Solitude to the main deck, because it made going off unimpeded much easier. Some of this was stuff that we'd already talked about, so I didn't find it surprising. Drawing from a bigger card pool for better choices just made sense. But I assumed that the kill card would always be Drain Life. Nick demonstrated that Storm Seeker was much, much better for that purpose.

    Eventually, Nick revisited his deck with Tendrils of Agony as the kill condition, something that was admittedly smoother. But before that, I got some mileage out of the Prosperity + Storm Seeker kill in other high-mana combo engines. The original Cadaverous Bloom version was the longest-lived take on the concept, but I tried it practically everywhere.
  2. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Nick's ProsBloom deck was far and away the most prevalent niche for Storm Seeker that I experienced. My next most vivid recollection of the card was in multiplayer, as part of some Mana Flare deck I used for a time. Again, Prosperity was the card that empowered Storm Seeker. Skyscribing would actually have been perfect for that deck, either instead of or in addition to Prosperity, but this was at least a few years before the release of Dissension. So while I haven't actually seen it in action, I'd imagine that a Skyscribing deck could be fun in multiplayer, and Storm Seeker would be an easy way to one-shot some of the opponents in such a deck. Not the sort of thing that I'd be building these days, but it's an idea. Perhaps later.
  3. Melkor Active Member

    Storm Seeker had a special place in my play group. Worked its way into several random decks, went off for 7 quite a few times. The most notorious utilization was in my friend's early Underworld Dreams deck, which featured Howling Mines and Prosperitys and other draw 7s.
    Oversoul likes this.
  4. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Of course, when it comes to Storm Seeker, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the greatest deck of all time: Rhinoseeker. I mean, it is such an extreme case that it probably shouldn't even be considered seriously given the deck's history, but it's there and it's part of Magic's legacy, for better or worse. Probably no one who remembers Rhinoseeker would actually let you play the deck against them.
  5. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    To steer this away from becoming yet another Rhinoseeker thread, I'll return to the subject of Nick's ProsBloom deck. I remembered two circumstances that I found hilarious, one of them using Storm Seeker and the other one, well, failing to...

    1. We were playing a lot of combo decks. Some of those decks drew lots of cards. Storm Seeker is an instant. This opened up the possibility to disrupt opponents who were attempting to go off, sniping them with Storm Seeker for lethal damage, either tapping four lands or, more likely, by using Squandered Resources. Of course, this wasn't a common occurrence, but it sure was funny.

    2. Storm Seeker was no Tendrils of Agony. Stopping it was possible. While an opponent who was capable of disrupting the ProsBloom deck would ordinarily do so much earlier on in the process, there were times when the deck could get to the point of successfully casting Prosperity, but couldn't use Storm Seeker to kill the opponent. I remember it happening when Nick played it against me a couple of times, and I saw it happen against someone else as well, but I forget the circumstances. Opponent gained infinite life? Opponent had countermagic but didn't bother to use it until Storm Seeker was cast? Opponent managed to strip Storm Seeker from the deck before the combo turn (such as with Lobotomy)? Opponent used Ivory Mask? I really can't remember. But the backup plan was to just pitch cards to Cadaverous Bloom for a gigantic Prosperity and deck everyone at the table at the same time. "I can't kill you? Oh well, I guess we all lose." I'm sure it was quite rare, but that sort of thing is memorable. For some perverse reason, I love combo decks that, if they are thwarted at winning, force a draw instead.

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