Caleb Scherer: Weathering the Storm of Sideboarding Options

In just a few days of the best weekends of the year will be upon us, as Legacy Grand Prix take place in Columbus and Prague.

I will be battling at GP Columbus with my trusty Ad Nauseam Tendrils (aka ANT, aka Storm) deck.Tendrils In general, Storm is considered a complex deck to just pick up on the fly, so for this article I will be covering one of the most difficult parts of piloting Storm: how to sideboard with it.

Over the past 6 months the main deck of my ANT build hasn’t actually changed, but the sideboard has changed drastically. This is the area where the most Storm innovation has occurred, outside of slot-in cards such as Dark Petition.

Instead of going through sideboarding matchup by matchup, I will highlight the cards and what game plans they attack more efficiently or better answer than what the main can deal with. If there’s only one thing you take away from this article, I want it to be that with Storm, it is better to add nothing than to add the wrong thing.

First, a few things to keep in mind.

1. We should always have at least three main win plans in place, with at least one being immune to graveyard hate. These include Past in Flames, Ad Nauseam, Tutor chains, and Empty the Warrens.

2. Don’t go above 8 “answer” spells, such as discard and removal/bounce; the only place this rule can be broken is against Miracles or Eldrazi. Miracles has specific cards that have to come in; Eldrazi is an awful matchup where we just have to YOLO.

3. Remember: It is better to not board at all than to just guess.

Let’s dive in:

1 Empty the WarrensEmpty_the_Warrens

Here we have the only different win condition that the sideboard adds. If your opponent wants to play a fair game, Empty brings the game to them. We’re allowed to kill by attacking, too. Empty combats permission quite well, which is a common sideboard tactic of fair decks against us. Also, if the game is a pure race against permanent-based hate, Empty does wonders as well since many of those decks can’t deal with a bunch of 1/1’s.

1 Cabal Therapy

The seventh discard spell. This is almost always brought in with the Empty the Warrens and is great if you plan to battle on the stack or against hate bears. This usually replaces a Preordain.

2 DisfigureDisfigure

This is the most efficient and versatile removal spell available for dealing with the plethora of hate bears in the format. It doesn’t require a plains on the opponents board, and doesn’t make Ad Nauseam worse. These only come in against hate bears in non blue decks, usually to replace some number of Duress.

2 Chain of Vapor

Chain of Vapor is the catch-all of the the sideboard, but even though this is the most versatile card in the board, it doesn’t need to be brought in against everything. It should only be brought in for non-blue matches where there are permanents that completely prevent us from winning. I do not include Grafdigger’s Cage in this category, as it only stops Past in Flames and doesn’t hinder our development. Chain of Vapor is very strong against Infect, as fast Glistener Elves are how we usually lose to them.

2 Chrome Mox

These are here for any non-blue matchup where we want to just hit the gas as hard as possible. With 6 petal effects, we can now cast Ad Nauseam, floating no mana, with little fear. They usually replace Preordain, as cantrips are too slow when the plan is to do your best Belcher impression.

3 Abrupt Decayabrupt_decay

Although it kills a variety of permanents, Abrupt Decay should only be sided in against blue decks that have permanent hate and no Wastelands or Chalice of the Void decks. The Chain, Disfigure, Therapy package takes care of non-blue hatebear decks quite well while also not opening up our sole green land being destroyed by Wasteland.

1 Tendrils of Agony

The second Tendrils is here only for the purpose of helping us natural Tendrils our miracles opponents. It also gives us the ability to have the old double Tendrils kill, powered by Infernal Tutor, for a much lower Storm count.

2 City of SolitudeCity of Solitude

I know this is probably the strangest card in my board to many, but I have been wanting a replacement for Xantid Swarm. The Cities are here for the Miracles and Show and Tell matchups exclusively. These serve the important function of turning off all of Miracles’ counterspells while being immune to creature removal and shutting off Counter-Top.

1 Tropical Island

Comes in with green cards. Enough said.

Sideboarding with Storm is all about the less is more approach. By using the philosophy I mentioned earlier, you can help prevent overboarding. A good guideline to know if you’re overboarding is if you bring in more than 5-6 cards against anything but Miracles. If you have no idea what to do, it’s probably better to just run back the same 60, as the deck is just inherently powerful.

I hope that by describing the roles of each card in my board, rather than providing a simple in and out list, you have a better platform to build from when learning to sideboard with ANT. I will almost certainly be battling with this board next weekend at GP Columbus. So if you’re there feel free to come by and say hi. Until next time, have fun counting to 10!

Caleb Scherer is a grinder from Missouri, and a lover of cats and peanuts. He primarily plays unfair combo decks when he gets the chance and is known for his expertise with Storm in Legacy. When not traveling for the next open or GP, he spends his time hanging out with his cat, Wilt, or jamming games on MTGO. 


Sharing is caring!



Caleb Scherer