Modern UR Gifts Storm Primer

14 May 2018, Monday

Hello everyone! I am Justin Schabel, a normal human that has an unhealthy affinity for Storm. I have been playing UR Gifts Storm in Modern for almost a year now and feel like I have gained a firm grasp of the archetype.

For those who do not know, Storm is a mechanic designed around casting lots of spells. Cards that have Storm make copies of themselves based on the amount of spells that have been cast in a single turn. Now, this may seem innocuous, but it can easily been broken. Using cards that replace themselves and cards that generate mana, it gains the ability to cast upwards of 20 cards in a turn.

UR Gifts Storm is a take on the storm archetype in modern that takes full advantages of the cards Goblin Electromancer, and Baral, Chief of Compliance to really go crazy with your cards that net mana and draw cards. It utilizes Gifts Ungiven as well to tutor up missing pieces or just answers, and wins by finally casting a Grapeshot to deal lethal damage to the opponent. Now for the actual includes in the deck.


We can’t get all of our mana from rituals. We need lands before we can cast anything else, as does any deck in Modern. As a result of all of our cantrips and our relatively low curve and cost reducers, we can play fewer lands than many other decks do. Most lists run about 17 lands.

Mountain – Run one of these. While it is the worst land in the deck and it creates unkeepable one landers with multiple cantrips, it is a necessary evil. There are just too many Field of Ruin, Ghost Quarter, and Path to Exile in the meta right now to not include this.

Island – Run two. Second worst land in the deck but it is still a fine card. Not much to be described, taps for the best color of mana in Magic.

Snow-Covered Island – Run two. While it does not come up often, it can be real nice to have two different names for Gifts Ungiven Piles. Other than that, it fills the same role as island.

Spirebluff Canal – Run four. Most of the time this is just a Volcanic Island. Taps for the colors the deck requires to function, nothing more.

Scalding Tarn – The fetch version has fallen out of favor as of recently. The main reason to go for fetches in your mana base is to run Blood Moon in the sideboard. It has fallen out of favor mainly because of the fact it messes up the scries off your cantrips. However, feel free to run this if you value blood moon over some small percentage points.

Polluted Delta, Misty Rainforest, Flooded Strand – Extra blue fetches, see above for reasons.

Steam Vents – Run two to four depending on what build you are on. With fetches, I prefer using two but if you really want you could go up to three. Fetchless needs four. It’s a shockland, taps for your colors, nothing super special.

Shivan Reef – Run four or none depending on your build. These are ran in build without fetches. Just acts as another dual, taps for your colors, nothing amazing.

As I said before, there are two different builds for manabases. Fetches and fetchless. The only real reason for fetches is to run Blood Moon. I personally do not like fetches as Moon either acts as a win more against decks like Tron, or a card that gets countered or discarded against decks like Jeskai and Jund. Instead of Moon, we can run much more impactful sideboard cards to help these matchups. However, if you feel Blood Moon will win more games than not, feel free to go with fetches in your mana base.


We run fewer creatures than most decks do, but they are possibly the most important cards in the deck. A Baral, Chief of Compliance can turn a Pyretic Ritual into a Dark Ritual. A Manamorphose will create mana alone and a remand often becomes a 1 mana Time Walk that cantrips.

Baral, Chief of Compliance – Run four. Best dork in the deck. Can be cast with only island and  allows for the deck to go off. Being a 1/3 allows it to survive shocks and block a lot of creatures in this format, which is also nice. While combos can still be executed without a reducer, they take a bit more effort.

Goblin Electromancer – Run two or three. Another reducer but can be a bit awkward at times where you are choked on red mana. Still a fine card in the deck and often works well.

Now running more copies of a legendary in a deck than a non-legendary may seem counterintuitive, however Baral really shines in this deck. For one, having 3 toughness is really relevant in the current meta. This allows it to act as a brick wall for your opponent’s attacking force, but it is still vulnerable to lightning bolt. The two toughness of Goblin Electromancer is surprisingly relevant, as well as costing both blue and red. With Baral costing only blue and generic, the life we save from shivan reefs in matchups like burn is rather relevant. Finally, Baral has a second clause that allows you to loot whenever you successfully counter a spell. This is really nice when digging for your final pieces, allowing you to go another card deeper with remand. Because of the reasons listed above, Baral is just better than Goblin Electromancer in this deck, even though they may seem around the same power level.


Run a non-zero amount of all of these cards in your list. The exact numbers are decided by you, and your list can be tweaked to fit your meta. Also feel free to cut some number of core cards for flex slots that are really good in your meta.

Serum Visions – Best cantrip in the deck; digs three cards deep; helps us set up. Automatic four of.

Sleight of Hand – Not a Serum Visions but still does a fine job of digging. Also run four of these.

Opt – Run zero to three. The amount depends on your creature slots. I’m not a huge fan of Opt as it only digs two cards down at best and one of those is often unknown.

Repeal – Run one. No ifs, ands, or buts. This has won me tons of games that I have no deal winning. An amazing card and I would never leave home without one.

Remand – Run two to three. Allows for some great interactions I will go over later and replaces itself. Stick to two if you play Unsubstantiate, but I think it’s reasonable to go to three in a meta full of control and midrange.

Gifts Ungiven – Namesake card of the deck. Allows you to have access to most cards in your deck at instant speed. Allows you to win with 3 mana + reducer (assuming your opponent has no interaction. Run four.

Noxious Revival – Great card, allows for tons of weird and wacky Gifts piles at the low cost of two life. Can have cool interactions with Manamorphose and your cantrips. Stick to one.

Pyretic Ritual – Helps us win by generating mana. Never go without four.

Desperate Ritual – Same thing as Pyretic Ritual but has the ability to splice to generate even more mana. Never go without four.

Manamorphose – Lets us filter our red mana into blue mana and draws us a card. Never go without four.

Grapeshot – Our win condition in the main deck. Can act as a Wrath of God, Lightning Bolt, or, most often, a lethal Banefire. Has really neat synergy with our Remands and Unsubstantiates and is just an all around good card. Run three or two depending on whether you run Empty the Warrens main.

Past in Flames – best card in the deck. Without Past in Flames, Storm would not really be a deck. This card allows us to utilize our previous rituals and cantrips to really build up storm count and eventually cast that lethal Grapeshot. Run two.

Popular Flex Slots

The left over slots tend to be filled by some number of these cards. These are normally included based on personal preference and what you want to be doing with your list.

Peer Through Depths – Run zero to two. I like running these over Opt when you go to three Electromancers. The card is insane with a reducer and can really help you find Gifts when you need it. However, it cannot hit creatures or lands which can be annoying when you are constricted on either.

Merchant’s Scroll – Run zero to one. This can act as an extra copy of every blue instant in the deck. While the versatility is nice, I have not really liked its mana intensitivity. It is also very slow which is painful in aggro matchups. Making room for this is often a pain and removes some flex slots that I love having.

Unsubstantiate – Run zero to one. Acts as a slightly worse Remand and a slightly worse Repeal. I would run this in a meta with a good amount Humans, Death and Taxes, creature toolbox decks, and Burn to have another answer to their problematic creatures, but it is not that good elsewhere.

Lightning Bolt – Run zero to two. Really nice in creature heavy metas, similar to Unsubstantiate. The key difference, however, is that this gets rid of the creature permanently, and it won’t just be recast. I’ve personally been liking one of these since it hates out creatures, and at worst just acts as a lava spike that adds to storm.

Empty the Warrens – Another way to achieve free wins. While it has fallen out of favor as of recent with the addition of Repeal and Unsubstantiate, it is still an alright inclusion. However, I have been preferring the third Grapeshot as of late. Good fallback plan if you know your meta has lots of Leylines of Sanctities or main deck graveyard hate. Run zero or one.

Search for Azcanta – I’ve seen these in main decks from time to time. They are really good if you are in a really control/midrange heavy meta, but I would heavily refrain from running these if your meta is very open or has lots of aggro/combo.


Like most sideboards, ours is used to help us fight our unfavorable matchups. However, we also have to hedge possible hate that decks bring in against us, as we are reliant on our graveyard for a quick and easy kill. These two factors require us to run some really unique cards in our sideboard that seem underwhelming at first glance but are really all stars.

Pieces of the Puzzle – Great card. Almost always hits two instants or sorceries as well as putting more in your graveyard. These normally come in versus decks that interact with your Gifts, such as control or decks that make you discard it. I honestly would never leave home without four.

Lightning Bolt – Everyone knows what Lightning Bolt does. Comes in to kill pesky creatures that everyone hates. Board these in when playing against decks that are creature heavy or decks that lower their life quickly. Examples include Company, Shadow, Hollow One, Humans, and Hatebears. Normally you pack three of these into your board.

Wipe Away – Don’t like something? Bounce it! Valakut player cast a lethal Scapeshift? Bounce their land! I have slowly fallen in love with wipe away. The ability to bounce something at instant speed combined with its pseudo uncounterable ability make this a great card. Bring this in versus decks you know pack hate such as Rest in Peace, Leyline of Sanctity, or Rule of Law. I would always bring one of these.

Shattering Spree – Chalice of the Void? Bye! Affinity player? Bye! This is amazing hate but is pretty narrow. It destroys artifacts, so bring this in against decks that pack hateful artifacts, or a lot of artifacts. I would pack one of these, but feel free to run more if your meta is all artifact decks.

Empty the Warrens – Comes in against decks that pack grave hate or decks where we need extra time to set up a perfect hand. Bring this in against grindy matchups, Shadow, or Control. Two empty sideboard is stock.

Pyromancer Ascension – Tech that has come back into favor. An active ascension allows us to go insane, often times drawing our entire deck. However, turning it on could take a little bit of time which is why we reserve bringing it in for matchups where we plan on grinding. Run zero to two

Search for Azcanta – New tech that helps us grind. I’ve been loving this card. Really helps us bury control and midrange decks in card advantage, and provides a threat they need to use an answer on. Run zero to two.

Gigadrowse – Our super secret tech versus decks that won’t stop interacting. End of their turn tap all of their lands, untap and kill them! Stick to running one of these, as you only need to cast one to get the win (normally).

Dismember – When Lightning Bolt just is not enough. Kills things like Eidolon of Rhetoric for good. Normally comes in versus decks with massive creatures you want to get rid of. Also has the benefit of being free with a reducer in play! Run one to zero.

Engineered Explosives – Does the same job as Dismember but can do it better. Normally this hits multiple permanents which can be better versus Jund and Shadow. We can cast this for up to 5 with Manamorphose if needed. I would stick to one or zero in your sideboard.

Sample List

Gifts Storm by Justin Schabel

Creatures (6)
Goblin Electromancer
Baral, Chief of Compliance

Spells (37)
Serum Visions
Sleight of Hand
Lightning Bolt
Noxious Revival
Desperate Ritual
Pyretic Ritual
Gifts Ungiven
Past in Flames
Lands (17)
Snow-Covered Island
Shivan Reef
Steam Vents
Spirebluff Canal

Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Lightning Bolt
Shattering Spree
Search for Azcanta
Pyromancer Ascension
Wipe Away
Pieces of the Puzzle
Empty the Warrens

Gifts Piles

Gifts Ungiven is an interesting card. For 3 generic and 1 blue mana, you search your deck for 4 cards with different names at instant speed. Your opponent chooses two and they go into your graveyard. The rest go into your hand. Now this may seem like a losing game as your opponent gets to choose what you get and what you don’t. However, you can manipulate your piles to get what you want in your hand, and what you want in your graveyard.

The Winning Pile – When going off with gifts on a combo turn, you can win with 3 mana floating post gifts and a creature in play. Simply search up Past in Flames, Pyretic Ritual, Desperate Ritual, and Manamorphose. No matter what your opponent gives you, you will have enough mana to cast past in flames with one red floating to start recasting rituals. Simply recast your rituals and gifts, searching for a pile including past in flames and grapeshot, then kill your opponent.

Another Winning Pile – You can also win a game with two mana floating post gifts, a creature, and past in flames in hand. Simply search up Manamorphose, Noxious Revival, Pyretic Ritual, and Desperate Ritual. No matter what your opponent gives you, you can cast past in flames and your rituals and win.

Creature Pile – Need a creature to go off and have a gifts? No problem! Simply get Baral, Electromancer, Noxious Revival, and a Past in Flames. This pile will guarantee you a creature, and can help you go off.

Anti-Creature Pile – Eidolon of Rhetoric or Eidolon of the Great Revel stopping you from winning? Simply Gifts for lightning bolt, repeal, unsubstantiate, and noxious revival! This gives you two answers and will allow you to win.

These are just some piles that you get often, however you get a ton of different piles depending on the boardstate.

Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t be afraid to aggressively cast a Gifts at the end of your opponent’s turn with a Ritual!
  • Noxious Revival can be combined with a draw effect to get the card you want immediately. For example, Noxious Revival your ritual, cast a Manamorphose, then draw and cast that ritual and go off!
  • You can Noxious Revival your opponents target with Snapcaster Mage or other graveyard effects to fizzle the ability and go off unimpeded. However, be wary of instant speed draw effects like Opt and Street Wraith that gives your opponent that card.
  • Don’t be afraid to wait against a deck that has no clock on you, you will be able to sculpt a perfect hand and kill them eventually! However, do not do this if you know your opponent will be able to kill you out of nowhere.

Game Plans and Sideboard Guide

Affinity – This matchup is a race, though we are normally favored since we can win t3 more consistently than they can. Don’t be afraid to play a creature on two, since their only removal is usually in the form of galvanic blast, which is only a four-of. Make sure to try and combo as fast as possible, and don’t be afraid to use grapeshot with a small storm count to wipe their board and buy you more time. In postboard games, assume the control route, but feel free to go for the kill if you have it. Bolt, Explosives, and Shattering Spree help us remove their pesky threats and buy us time to sculpt a winning hand. 60/40

In: +2 Bolt, +1 Shattering Spree, +1 Engineered Explosives

Out: -2 Opt, -2 Remand

Humans – This matchup is pretty rough. Their disruption in addition to a quick clock really puts us under the gun. In game one, you really need to get a bit lucky and hope for no Kitesail Freebooter, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, or Meddling mage, as those all really put a toll on us. Don’t be afraid to run out your creatures on turn two, as their only way of disrupting them is with reflector mage. Game two and three, use your removal to try and slow down their clock, while also sculpting the right hand to win. Engineered Explosives for two can really shut their deck down, as it hits their main hate pieces, but don’t rely on that to win you the game. 30/70

In: +2 Bolt, +1 Engineered Explosives

Out: -1 Opt, -2 Remand

Hollow One – As with all matchups Hollow One has, this depends on how lucky they are with their discard. Multiple Hollow Ones on turn 1 can really be a beating, but our discards really matter. Their only removal is 4 copies of Bolt, so running a creature out on turn two is a pretty safe line. Try to stall a little bit with your bounce effects, but you really just want to go as fast as you can. Postboard, we get access to more creature removal and Empty the Warrens to try and close the game out a bit quicker. The matchup is about the same as postboard, but be wary of any fatal pushes or leyline of the voids they could have. Overall, this matchup is a bit of a toss up, but I feel we are usually favored. 60/40

In: +4 Pieces of the Puzzle, +2 Lightning Bolt, +2 Empty the Warrens

Out: -2 Remand, -1 Opt, -2 Gifts Ungiven, -1 Noxious Revival, -1 Past in Flames, -1 Grapeshot

Tron – This matchup is really easy with a quick hand. Their minimal amount of disruption plus their do-nothing aspect on the first few turns really allows us to get ahead quick. Don’t be afraid to go for it, as most lists run minimal removal in the first few games. When on the draw, try to leave up a Remand or Unsubstantiate for their t3 play, assuming they have Tron. This should allow you to untap and kill them. Slow hands will be punished in the matchup, so try to go as quick as you can. Postboard we get to slow them down a little, but nothing changes drastically. They have a bit more removal so be a bit cautious, but still feel free to go. 70/30

In: +1 Shattering Spree, +1 Engineered Explosives, +1 Wipe Away

Out: -1 Lightning Bolt, -1 Noxious Revival, -1 Past in Flames

Burn – This matchup is really draw dependant. Eidolon is a real pain for us to deal with, as it basically kills us when we try to go off, so make sure to kill it on sight. Don’t be afraid to use a spell + Grapeshot to get rid of it, as it will cause us lots of damage in the long run if it survives. Most players will keep passing, holding up removal for our guys and point it at our face end of turn, which is painful. This makes game one painful, though game two and three get a bit better. Postboard we get more removal which allows us to keep their threats out of the way, though the matchup is still pretty bad. We also have access to empty, and Burn can normally not beat an Empty for about 8 Goblins. Rely on this on postboard games, but if you have the standard kill, go for it. 30/70

In: +2 Lightning Bolt, +1 Engineered Explosives, +2 Empty the Warrens

Out: -2 Opt, -2 Remand, -1 Noxious Revival

Jund – This matchup is really draw dependant. We can really capitalize when opponent doesn’t have turn one discard, though game one is normally pretty rough. Their combination of stripping our hand, killing our guys, and having a quick clock really makes us vulnerable. Use Bolt aggressively on scavenging ooze as it can provide a constant pain with multiple activations. Postboard gets a lot better for us, as we gain the ability to grind with them. Flipped Search for Azcanta is game-winning, as the incremental card advantage we gain from the land is insane. Empty the Warrens can provide a nice sub-game that provides a must-answer threat and buys us more time to set up our win. 50-50

In: +1 Engineered Explosives, +2 Lightning Bolt, +4 Pieces of the Puzzle, +2 Empty the Warrens, +2 Search for Azcanta, +1 Pyromancer Ascension

Out: -1 Grapeshot, -2 Gifts Ungiven, -1 Noxious Revival, -1 Past in Flames, -2 Opt, -2 Goblin Electromancer, -1 Unsubstantiate, -1 Baral, Chief of Compliance, 1 Pyretic Ritual.

Grixis Death’s Shadow – This is another matchup that can get pretty rough. The combination of a quick clock, a one mana Negate in Stubborn Denial, plus discard can really dismantle our gameplan. Your best bet is to become a mediocre burn deck with Grapeshots and Lightning Bolt, and hope that gets you across the line. It doesn’t sound great, and it really isn’t. If your opponent knows what you are up to, it gets pretty hard to win. However, things look up after we sideboard. We get access to more resilience as well as Empty the Warrens as a tool that can one-shot our opponent. Rely on burning and Empty in this matchup, as those are your main hopes. 40/60

In: Everything but Wipe Away and Shattering Spree

Out: -4 Baral, Chief of Compliance, -2 Goblin Electromancer, -4 Gifts Ungiven, -2 Opt, -1 Past in Flames

UW Control – This matchup is really easy. Since they have no clock on us, we have time to set up the perfect hand with a few Remands backup. Make sure to wait until they start constraining themselves on mana by attacking with Celestial Colonnade or planeswalkers, but don’t be afraid to go for it early if they tap low since most of their interaction is expensive. Postboard we get things to hedge against control, and just let us out-value them. Empty is nice at creating a sub-game that buys us time and forces them to answer, though don’t rely solely on it as they have many wraths. 70/30

In: +4 Pieces of the Puzzle, +1 Gigadrowse, +2 Search for Azcanta, +1 Pyromancer Ascension

Out: -1 Lightning Bolt, -2 Gifts Ungiven, -1 Past in Flames, -1 Noxious Revival, -1 Grapeshot, -1 Opt, -1 Unsubstantiate

Mardu Pyromancer – I don’t have much experience with this matchup, though it feels bad in the games I’ve played. Their pile of interactive spells combined with a rather quick clock through Bedlam Reveler and Young Pyromancer put us under a lot of pressure. Postboard, however, it gets better. With access to Empty the Warrens and Pieces of the Puzzle, we get a lot more strength. As they don’t normally run wraths, we can just go wide and jam in for lethal. Our grindy enchantments are also nice because they bury our opponent in card advantage and allow us to go crazy. 40/60

In: +2 Lightning Bolt, +4 Pieces of the Puzzle, +2 Empty the Warrens, +2 Search for Azcanta, +1 Pyromancer Ascension

Out: -4 Gifts Ungiven, -1 Past in Flames, -1 Noxious Revival, -2 Goblin Electromancer, -1 Repeal, -2 Baral

Bogles – This matchup is interesting. A turn 0 Leyline can be a bit of a problem for us, though it isn’t impossible to beat since we have Repeal. Leyline makes it so we can’t target our opponent, so remember that you cannot cast Gifts Ungiven. If they load up on a Kor Spiritdancer, we can Unsubstantiate it and give us a lot of time, though the matchup feels bad if they have Leyline + a huge Bogle. Still, the matchup is winnable and since Bogles decks have been cutting on interaction in the main deck, feel free to jam your creatures on turn two. Postboard they get Gaddock Teeg and some other tools, so make sure to keep some answers. We get access to Engineered Explosives and Wipe Away to get rid of the threats that are really putting a toll on us. Same plan as the preboard games, and try to kill them as fast as possible. 60/40

In: +1 Wipe Away, +1 Engineered Explosives, +4 Pieces of the puzzle

Out: -1 Lightning Bolt, -1 Grapeshot, -4 Gifts Ungiven

Ponza – This matchup is really play/draw dependant. If they get a good start and start blowing up your lands, it can be a real pain. Likewise, if we can jam a creature before they start destroying our lands, we are insanely ahead. Make sure to hold your islands in this matchup in the early turns to give yourself some insurance against Blood Moon. A creature on turn two is insanely hard for them to get rid of, so don’t be scared running one out there. They run little interaction, so if you are able to kill, go for it. Postboard they get access to Trinisphere, an annoying card. We cannot win through this, as our Rituals become neutral on mana and Manamorphose makes us down a mana. Still just try to go fast and kill them before they have time to set up. 50/50

In: +1 Wipe Away, +1 Engineered Explosives, +2 Lightning Bolt

Out: -1 Grapshot, -1 Past in Flames, -2 Opt

…And that’s it! I hope this read was worth your while and you try out the deck sometime! I would highly recommend storm if you like winning early, playing mind games with your opponent, complex gifts piles, and just casting lots of spells. Hope to see you on Storm!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *