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Much Abrew: Storm Herald Surprise (Modern)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, we're heading to Modern to play a really cute version of Storm Herald: Storm Herald Surprise. The idea of the deck is that in game one, we are all-in on self-milling auras like Eldrazi Conscription, Prodigious Growth, and Battle Mastery to reanimate with Storm Herald, hopefully winning by Turn 3 with one big annihilating attack. The problem with this plan is that we literally can't beat graveyard hate, which our opponents will assuredly bring in for game two. This is where our "surprise" comes in. For game two, we sideboard out Storm Herald and all of our auras, bring in mill cards like Archive Trap and Ruin Crab, and try to claw our way to victory by milling out our opponent, making their graveyard hate useless! How many games can we win by beating down with Hedron Crab? Can our transformational sideboard surprise work? Let's get to the video and find out!

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Much Abrew: Storm Herald Surprise

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  • Storm Herald Surprise worked way better than I expected! We ended up going 4-1, with our one loss coming to Tron (although we later got revenge when we played against Tron a second time). 
  • The Storm Herald reanimation plan was shockingly effective in game one. In theory, we can kill on Turn 2 with a bit of luck (by milling Storm Herald and some auras with Hedron Crab and then using Unearth to get back Storm Herald for just one mana), although Turn 3 kills are much more common in practice, which is still more than fast enough in most matchups.
  • If you look at our main deck, it's a true combo deck. Every single card is an aura to reanimate with Storm Herald, a way to get Storm Herald and auras into our graveyard, or a way to reanimate Storm Herald
  • Jace, Vryn's Prodigy might be the weirdest-looking card in the deck, but it's actually super important. Part of the power of Storm Herald Surprise is that we can mill Storm Herald itself and then use Unearth to get it back. Along with allowing us to loot and fill our graveyard, once we flip Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, it lets us flashback Unearth to reanimate Storm Herald, to reanimate our big auras and win the game. 
  • By far the biggest challenge of playing the deck is sideboarding. For some matchups, it's pretty easy. If our opponent is likely to have a lot of graveyard hate, we take out all 10 of our auras, all four Storm Heralds, and one random card (which one depends on the matchup) and bring in four Archive Trap, four Ruin Crab, three Crypt Incursion, and four Jace's Phantasm, which basically turns our deck into a weird take on mill. Once the game starts, we target our opponent will all of our mill cards, making their graveyard hate useless and theoretically letting us pick up the mill win while our opponent has a hand full of Leyline of the Void, Tormod's Crypt, and friends. 
  • On the other hand, in some matchups, it's not clear if fully transforming is correct. A big example of this was against Tron, where being a bad-ish mill deck likely isn't enough (although it probably would be if we had Surgical Extraction in our sideboard, which seems like it would be a good addition). We ended up trying a strange and possibly incorrect plan where we brought in our mill cards but not Jace's Phantasm and Crypt Incursion and took out Collective Brutality and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy rather than combo pieces. The idea was that we could decide whether we'd mill ourselves or our opponent based on our hand and what our opponent plays over the first couple of turns of the game. I'm still not sure this is a good plan, but we did beat Tron the second time by sideboarding this way.
  • Finally, against some decks, we basically just run back our main deck. For example, when we played against 8 Whack, it seemed unlikely that our opponent had much graveyard hate based on their colors and archetype, so we didn't sideboard at all and stuck with the Storm Herald plan, which ended up working out in game two as well as it did in game one.
  • Oh yeah, as an added bonus, we sometimes get to win by making the biggest Hedron Crab in history, which has to be one of the funniest ways to win a game of Modern...
  • In general, I really liked Storm Herald surprise. The deck is unique, funny, fun, and surprisingly competitive. The only thing I'd change is adding Surgical Extraction to the sideboard as part of our transformational sideboard plan. Jace's Phantasm wasn't especially impressive in our matches, which might make it the sideboard card to cut, although we also might not have played the matchups where Jace's Phantasm is good (which is mostly against decks where having a 5/5 blocker is relevant). The other reason I didn't really like Jace's Phantasm is that everyone seemed to leave in their targeted removal after sideboarding, and some opponents even brought in more targeted removal to try to fizzle the Storm Herald reanimation plan (even though this doesn't always work because Storm Herald can reanimate auras onto any of our creatures, so killing Storm Herald doesn't really do much of anything if we have a Crab or two around). 
  • So, should you play Storm Herald Surprise? I think the answer is clearly yes! As I mentioned before, Storm Herald Surprise had the rare combination of being unique, fun, funny, and competitive. Plus, who doesn't love winning by beating down with a Hedron Crab?


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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