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Goldfish Gladiators: Smothering Storm (Standard, Magic Arena)

Welcome to Goldfish Gladiators! A couple of weeks ago, a viewer emailed me a really sweet-looking deck they had been playing in best-of-one on Magic Arena. Normally, when I get a spicy deck, I use it for deck techs. But this time, I fired up Arena and took the deck out for a spin to find that it was so spicy and fun that I decided to just skip over the Instant Deck Tech altogether and play the deck for Goldfish Gladiators. The deck? Smothering Storm!

Smothering Storm basically mashes together two of the sweetest combos in Standard: Thousand-Year Storm with Smothering Tithe and Emergency Powers. The end results are pretty absurd. When the deck goes off, it does some of the craziest things you can imagine in Standard—if it weren't for the clock on Arena keeping us from going too crazy, it would be very possible to end our combo turns with thousands of Treasure tokens and perhaps even thousands of massive attacking tokens to close out the game. Rather than give away any more of the deck's secrets, let's get to the video so you can see how it works; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Goldfish Gladiators: Smothering Storm


  • As far as the record, I played two best-of-one tournaments with Smothering Storm and went 1-3 in the first one, followed by 5-3 in the second, giving us an even 50 / 50 record across both events. 
  • As such, Smothering Storm is probably somewhere in the middle in terms of just how competitive the deck is in Standard.
  • This being said, you don't play Smothering Storm because you're looking to grind to mythic; you play Smothering Storm because it has some of the most absurd, over-the-top combo turns in the Standard format. Not only do the big combo turns sort of break Magic Arena (at one point, it was taking 50 seconds for a single trigger to resolve), but the turns would go even further if not for the Arena clock system, since in theory, we could get to a point where we were making thousands of Treasures (and eventually tokens with Heroic Reinforcements) thanks to Emergency Powers shuffling everything back into our library repeatedly. 
  • The deck is basically a weird take on Jeskai Control. We're basically looking to assemble one of two combos (and eventually two of two combos). Smothering Tithe with Emergency Powers gives us a Time Spiral in Standard, since when we cast Emergency Powers, we get our mana back immediately in the form of Treasure tokens, plus we can put something into play for free as a bonus. After we get our Treasure engine running, the last piece of the puzzle is Thousand-Year Storm. With Thousand-Year Storm added to the mix, we can start copying Emergency Powers to draw hundreds of cards (without milling out, since Emergency Powers keeps shuffling things back into our graveyard). After we've had our fun, we then just cast a copy of Heroic Reinforcements (or, if we're pinched for time, our one Lightning Strike), copy it a ton of times with Thousand-Year Storm, and win the game.
  • One thing that's worth mentioning that didn't come across in the video is that when you start copying Emergency Powers, you can cast instants between copies of Emergency Powers resolving (which is often worth doing, since our hand is getting shuffled back into our library anyway) to up the storm count and get in some Lightning Strike damage. This being said, Arena (at least, for me) got so slow during our huge combo turns that I was mostly just hoping the game wouldn't crash, rather than trying to eke out all of the value possible with Emergency Powers.
  • Otherwise, the deck is pretty simple: the main challenges are trying to stay alive long enough to cast our combo pieces, especially against aggressive decks, and trying to force our combo pieces through counterspells, especially against control and Mono-Blue Tempo.
  • In the end, this leaves us with a deck that is probably middling in terms of how competitive it is (especially in our current meta, with everyone playing Mono-Blue Tempo, which is admittedly one of the hardest matchups for Smothering Storm) but near the very top of the format in how spectacular it is when it combos off.
  • As far as price, the deck isn't cheap, but a huge part of the cost is tied to the number of rare lands in the mana base. All in all, the build we played in the videos required five mythics (which can't be cut since they are Emergency Powers and Thousand-Year Storm—our two main combo pieces) and 27 rares, but 14 of the rares are shock lands and check lands. If you already have the Standard mana base built, then the deck isn't that expensive to throw together.
  • So should you play Smothering Storm? If you're looking to do some crazy things in Standard, the answer is pretty clearly yes. I'm not sure there is a deck in our current Standard format that can produce bigger, more Arena-crashing combo turns than Smothering Storm. You'll probably win some games along the way as well, but the rise of Mono-Blue makes Smothering Storm a somewhat risky choice as a competitive deck in our current format. It does well against aggro and midrange but struggles with decks overflowing with counterspells. Still, if you have the cards you need to throw the deck together, you should probably play at least a few games with the deck—the combo turns are just too spectacular to pass up.


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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