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Budget Magic: $104 (44 tix) Twiddle Storm (Modern, Magic Online)

Wĩmwega, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Core Set 2020 has had a surprisingly big impact on the Modern format. For the last few weeks, we've been playing sweet Modern decks featuring new Core Set 2020 cards. Today, we are continuing the trend with one of the sweetest decks yet: Twiddle Storm! The idea of Twiddle Storm (using cards like Twiddle to repeatedly untap a land to generate mana) has been around for a while. The main goal is to get a land that taps for three mana and then turn cards like Twiddle and Dream's Grip into Dark Rituals by untapping that land over and over again. The problem in the past was that the deck needed to get Overgrowth or a couple of Fertile Grounds on a land to make the plan work. Thanks to Core Set 2020 and the printing of Lotus Field, we can drop all of the janky enchantments and simply untap Lotus Field over and over again to make extra mana, draw through our entire deck, and eventually pick up a Storm-style kill with something like Grapeshot or Empty the Warrens.  Does Lotus Field mean its finally time to Twiddle off in Modern on a budget? Let's find out! Then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Twiddle Storm

The Deck

Twiddle Storm is a Storm-style combo deck looking to cast enough spells in one turn to win the game with something like Grapeshot (or, from the sideboard, cards like Empty the Warrens or Past in Flames). However, the way it supports the storm kill is very unique. Rather than playing a bunch of rituals, its goal is to turn cards like Twiddle and Dream's Grip into rituals by untapping Lotus Field over and over again. Probably the easiest way to break down the deck is to simply walk our way through the combo, starting with the land that makes it all possible...

Lotus Field

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Lotus Field is the single most important card in our deck, to the point where we can't really win the game without a copy on the battlefield. As such, we often mulligan in search of a copy, although we don't have to mulligan super aggressively since we do have a bunch of cantrips and card draw to dig through our deck in search of a Lotus Field. That said, our best opening hands involve a copy of Lotus Field—if we can play the land on Turn 3 (since we do need two non-Lotus Field lands to sacrifice to keep Lotus Field on the battlefield), there's a pretty good chance that we'll be able to win the game immediately!

Dark Rituals

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Dark Ritual is an extremely powerful Magic card—so powerful that Wizards would never allow it in Modern (in fact, rituals less powerful than Dark Ritual are banned in the format). The trick of Twiddle Storm is that with the help of Lotus Field, janky one-mana "untap a permanent" cards like Twiddle and Dream's Grip essentially turn into copies of Dark Ritual (or in reality, even better Dark Rituals since they can add any color of mana). Since we can tap Lotus Field for three mana, when we untap it with Twiddle or Lotus Field, we are essentially generating two extra mana (we spend one mana to get three, exactly the same as Dark Ritual). When we do this over and over again in the same turn, the end result is we generate enough mana that we can play through our entire deck by casting a bunch of weird card-draw spells and eventually kill our opponent with a storm card. Part of the reason why Twiddle and Dream's Grip are so powerful in Twiddle Storm is that they only cost one mana, which means that on Turn 3, we can float mana from the two lands we have on the battlefield, play a Lotus Field (sacrificing our other two lands), and immediately untap Lotus Field, giving us enough mana to proceed to combo off immediately.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Vizier of Tumbling Sands gives us a backup, slightly more expensive Twiddle with the upside of drawing us a card, thanks to cycling. While it only generates one mana (making it more of a Pyretic Ritual than a Dark Ritual when it untaps Lotus Field), a Pyretic Ritual that also draw a card is an absurdly powerful card in a storm deck. The other upside of Vizier of Tumbling Sands is that its untap ability triggers when we cycle it, making it uncounterable. So if we are worried about Spell Pierce or Mana Leak, we can often use Vizier of Tumbling Sands first to generate enough extra mana that we can pay for whatever soft counterspell our opponent might have.

The Engine

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

While Twiddle and Dream's Grip are the most explosive rituals in our deck, Psychic Puppetry is the most important, thanks to the splice-onto-arcane mechanic. In general, we don't want to cast Psychic Puppetry normally from our hand; instead, we're looking to continually add it onto various card-drawing arcane spells for just a single mana. If you're not familiar with the splice-onto-arcane mechanic, the idea is that whenever you cast an arcane spell, you can pay the splice cost and add the effect of the spliced card onto the arcane spell as it resolves. For example...

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

If we have a Reach Through Mists in our hand, we can pay one mana for Reach through Mists and another mana to splice Psychic Puppetry onto Reach Through Mists. When Reach through Mists resolves, we get to not only draw a card but also untap a permanent (i.e., Lotus Field). In the case of Reach through Mists specifically, when we splice Psychic Puppetry, the end result is a Pyretic Ritual (we spend two mana but make three by untapping Lotus Field) that also draws us a card.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Our other primary arcane spells are Peer Through Depths and Ideas Unbound. With the help of Psychic Puppetry, these cards essentially become free once we have a Lotus Field on the battlefield (we pay two mana for Peer Through Depths or Ideas Unbound and another one to splice Psychic Puppetry but end up getting back three mana by untapping Lotus Field). Together, these cards keep us churning through our deck to find more Twiddles and more card draw, while upping our storm count, and eventually find a Grapeshot or Past in Flames to close out the game. While Peer through Depths is fairly safe to fire off at any time, because Ideas Unbound forces us to discard three cards at the end of our turn, we generally want to save it in hand until the turn we are planning to win the game. If we can kill our opponent before our next end step, we can completely avoid the drawback of Ideas Unbound, making it a straightforward draw-three for two, which is an extremely strong card.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Our last arcane spell is just a one-of: Eye of Nowhere. Being able to return any permanent to hand (while also splicing Psychic Puppetry) is a nice safety valve in case we run into something like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Chalice of the Void (both of which are really good at shutting down our combo) in our opponent's main deck. While we have more bounce and ways to protect our combo in the sideboard, having access to one bounce spell in our main deck is a nice hedge against random cards that could completely ruin our plan.

Winning the Game

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When it comes time to actually kill our opponent, we only have one finisher in our main deck: Grapeshot. After we Twiddle a bunch and draw through our entire deck with our arcane spells, we'll eventually have a storm count of more than 20, cast a Grapeshot targeting our opponent, and kill them with a bunch of one-damage Grapeshot pings. If we're having trouble getting our storm count high enough to kill our opponent, we can use Past in Flames to recast all of our Twiddles and card-draw spells from our graveyard (or Grapeshot itself, for even more damage) to up our storm count even higher.

Other Stuff

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Otherwise, we have Sleight of Hand and Serum Visions as cheap cantrips. In the early game, these cards allow us to dig for our Lotus Field, and then after we have our combo assembled, they keep us drawing through our deck, find our Twiddles, and up our storm count for the eventual Grapeshot kill.

The Sideboard

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Most of our sideboard is pretty self-explanatory. Cards like Damping Sphere, Rule of Law, and Chalice of the Void are really good at locking down our combo, so we have a bunch of ways to get them off of the battlefield for one turn (like Echoing Truth, Wipe Away, and Rebuild) to buy us a window to combo off. Flame Slash and Fry answer planeswalkers (like Narset, Parter of Veils, who can lock down our combo by keeping us from drawing extra cards) and creatures like Eidolon of the Great Revel, Kambal, Consul of Allocation, and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. However, I did want to take a minute to talk about our sideboard finishers.

Our main-deck win condition is Grapeshot, but to get a storm count of 20, we often need Past in Flames to recast our graveyard. Since Hogaak is so dominant in our current Modern meta, almost all decks have something like Leyline of the Void to lock down graveyards after sideboarding, which can make the Grapeshot kill difficult. Toss in cards like Surgical Extraction (which, with just Grapeshot to win the game, can theoretically leave us without any win conditions), and having a backup plan to win the game post-board is important. Here, we have Empty the Warrens and Aria of Flame, both of which work with our storm plan (Empty the Warrens by making a ton of Goblins and Aria of Flame as a weird sort of Grapeshot that sits on the battlefield) but don't need access to the graveyard to be effective. As such, we pretty much have to bring in some number of extra finishers every single match—relying just on Grapeshot after sideboarding is just too risky. If you're expecting cards like Leyline of the Void and Rest in Peace, it might even be correct to cut some copies of Past in Flames and trust that Aria of Flame and Empty the Warrens will seal the deal. Basically, if you decide to pick up the deck, make sure to think about what answers your opponent might bring in (for a good example of not doing this, see our match against BW Tokens, where I didn't bring in Rebuild and we lost to double Damping Sphere with a bounce spell in hand) and sideboard accordingly.


All in all, Twiddle Storm felt very solid. Technically, we finished with a 3-2 record, but if you look at how our matches played out, the deck was likely even better than the record suggests. One loss was to Infect, where our opponent simply killed us on Turn 2 on the play (while we had a Turn 3 win in hand) and on Turn 3 through a bounce spell, and the other came to BW Tokens, where I pretty much punted the match. (Casting Past in Flames for no value just to trigger Aria of Flame isn't the most intuitive line, but if I had seen it, we would have won rather than ending up one mana short of comboing thanks to double Damping Sphere.)

As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, I'd run it back exactly as is. While there are a handful of potential non-budget upgrades, as far as the budget build is concerned, the build we played in the video felt very strong.

Heading into our matches, one of my big questions about Twiddle Storm was why should we play it over more traditional Storm, and I think the answer here is resilience. Against Mardu Pyromancer, our opponent cast six discard spells (two Inquisition of Kozilek, two Thoughtseize, and two Collective Brutality) to start the game, and we were still easily able to combo off and win (Lotus Field dodging discard is really helpful). A traditional Storm deck is almost never going to beat a six-discard-spell draw from the opponent. Meanwhile, against Titan Shift, we mulliganed to five each game and still were easily able to race our opponent's Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle kill, while traditional Storm needs a critical mass of cards in hand to execute its combo. This isn't to say that Twiddle Storm is better than traditional Storm—at this point, I'm really not sure what's better—but there are some benefits to playing Twiddle Storm in the current meta.

In  the end, Twiddle Storm was great. If you're looking to storm off in Modern on a budget, this is the build I'd recommend. Its Turn 3 win is fast enough to keep up with the best, fastest decks in the format, and it was incredibly resilient to the hate that the fair decks bring to the table. Most importantly, twiddling off is super fun and unique! If you're looking for something different and cheap for Modern, Twiddle Storm seems like a really solid option!

In theory, it's possible to get Twiddle Storm down near the $50 price range, although I probably wouldn't want to play this build since it requires cutting both Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand and replacing them with Opt and Peek, which represent meaningful downgrades, mostly by making it harder to find Lotus Field. Otherwise, we cut Aria of Flame from the sideboard for more copies of Empty the Warrens and drop Shivan Reef from the mana base for more Islands. While the main deck can function without red mana, since we really only need it after we have our combo set up (for Past in Flames and Grapeshot, and by the time we combo, we will have Lotus Field to make red mana), losing Shivan Reef does make it harder to use Flame Slash and Fry effectively from the sideboard. If you're looking for the cheapest possible build of Twiddle Storm, this is a good starting point, but I expect you'll find that the combo is a lot less consistent than it was with the budget build we played on video.

For our non-budget build this week, we have a version of Twiddle Storm that recently 5-0'ed a league on Magic Online in the hands of eXavie. The main deck is very similar to ours, with the main exception being the mana base, which adds Tolaria West (as a way to find Lotus Field), Spirebluff Canal, Fiery Islet, and Steam Vents. While having more red mana is fine, I'm honestly not sure how much it matters—we never really had issues getting color-screwed with our budget mana. The other big additions come in the sideboard, where Thing in the Ice works as another backup finisher and also a way to slow down creature decks by bouncing the board, and Lightning Bolt replaces Flame Slash as a removal spell that can hit planeswalkers or go to the face in a pinch. The good news is that even with these upgrades, the non-budget build is still only $243, and that's mostly from a handful of lands that aren't really all that necessary. If you're looking for a starting point for your upgrades, I'd begin with Tolaria West, since finding Lotus Field is so important, and the sideboard copies of Thing in the Ice.


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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