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Hello everyone! I want to talk about what is likely the most contentious card in all of Zendikar Rising, Sea Gate Stormcaller. I’m going to delve into the good, the bad, how best to utilize her, and some sample decklists! Let’s get started.
A 2 mana 2/1 is not generally a constructed playable rate, but her Enter the Battlefield trigger is what we’re looking at mostly. Copying spells is a very powerful effect, especially when it’s stapled onto a cheap body. A 2 mana 2/1 isn’t very impressive, but it can be if you kill multiple creatures or draw multiple cards using it! Furthermore, for 5 more mana, you can kick Sea Gate Stormcaller to copy the spell an additional time! While I think the kicker cost is likely too prohibitive to matter often, having the option can be nice if the game goes really long. At absolute worst, casting this on turn 2 can either apply pressure to planeswalkers or be useful as a roadblock against aggressive strategies.
Surprisingly, something I haven’t seen any buzz about Sea Gate Stormcaller is templated. It copies the next 2 CMC or less spell that you cast that turn! You can play this on your first main phase and get your copied spell during or after combat, making it super flexible and scary for your opponent when it hits the board. Not having to commit immediately to a spell is a surprisingly huge advantage that is somehow being overlooked. Compare that to other cards that copy spells where you need to cast the spell and then attempt to copy it. Your opponent has all the information and can make an educated decision, but Stormcaller robs them of that certainty. Similarly, it’s a more niche situation, but against counterspell decks, playing Sea Gate Stormcaller out can put your opponent into a real bind. Do they let it resolve and allow you to double spell or are they forced to counter it without knowing what you intended to follow it up with?
The very first comparison I heard regarding Sea Gate Stormcaller was Snapcaster Mage. While I think that’s a rather large exaggeration, the family resemblance is there. A 2 mana 2/1 that asks you to play an abundance of cheap spells in your deck does make it similar, but not having Flash and needing to have the spell ready to cast in hand makes all the difference. However, we don’t need a card as powerful as Snapcaster for it to be great in Standard!
At first glance, only being able to only copy instants or sorceries with a CMC 2 or less seems like a huge downside compared to Snapcaster which can get anything back. It is a downside for sure, however, the crux of the spells you’re interested in copying are cheap anyway, making the downside rather minimal. With all this in mind, let’s start looking at the cards that best synergize!
The Synergies with Sea Gate Stormcaller
Sea Gate Stormcaller + Interaction
This one’s a no brainer. Pairing her with red spells like Shock and Scorching Dragonfire, or with black spells like Bloodchief’s Thirst and Heartless Act can provide really swingy turns that can be a nightmare for aggressive decks. Can you imagine curving out 1,2, and 3 then your opponent plays a 2/1 and kills two of your creatures and has a blocker for the last one? Gross.
However, what I’m most excited about is pairing Sea Gate Stormcaller with Discard spells. I don’t know what it is, but casting Thoughtseize effects is just unbelievably satisfying to me, therapeutic even. Against a Control deck, going Sea Gate Stormcaller and Duress is obscene! You can do a very similar line with Agonizing Remorse as well! Thoughtseize can be a bit painful because of the life loss, but it’s a synergy you can main deck and taking your opponent’s two best cards is very strong.
There are niche interactive spells like Dire Tactics and Drown in the Loch as well that could provide nice turns as well. Sea Gate Stormcaller being a human pairs super nicely with Dire Tactics as well, though it does force you to play 3 colors.
Sea Gate Stormcaller + Card Draw
One of the downsides of Sea Gate Stormcaller is drawing her when you have no other cards in hand. The easy fix, however, is to play spells that replace themselves!
Sea Gate Stormcaller and Opt are going to be BFFs for their duration in Standard. It’s not astounding, but netting an additional card off a 2/1 is a build your own Silvergill Adept. With the opportunity cost being so low to play Opt, this is the relative floor with Sea Gate Stormcaller and is a rather reasonable turn 3 play.
However, the powerful interaction that I’m looking towards is Sea Gate Stormcaller and Frantic Inventory. The first copy of Frantic Inventory isn’t very exciting, however, copying an Inventory that already has one, two, or if the stars align, THREE copies in the yard already? I’ll play my 2/1 and cast this two mana spell, I’ll draw 8. Now that would be an insane turn. Unfortunately, the copy of Frantic Inventory resolves first so you don’t get to see the initial copy in the yard, but that’s no big deal in the face of all that value.
Abstract Synergies with Sea Gate Stormcaller
I believe Sea Gate Stormcaller should be pretty much exclusively paired with interaction and card draw, but there are definitely other interesting options that can be explored.
Flicker of Fate with Stormcaller can create interesting turns if you have a few ETB creatures and a few extra spells lying around. Basri’s Solidarity or Phalanx Tactics can make large boards out of nowhere as well. The issue with these cards is that Sea Gate Stormcaller really wants you to play a lot of spells and the aforementioned spells want you to play a lot of creatures, but you never know what could work.
If durdling is more your deal, Sea Gate Stormcaller with Shepherd of the Flock can return multiple copies of Stormcaller or you can use Runaway Together to interact and still have Stormcaller for an additional cast!
If you’re looking to get real saucy, Sea Gate Stormcaller pairs very well with the new best mill card in Standard, Maddening Cacophony, especially if it’s kicked!
Her and Claim the Firstborn can provide extremely explosive turns as well. Just make sure you have some way to sac those creatures afterwards.
The last interesting interaction with her is spells with an additional cost. You need to sacrifice a creature with Village Rites or discard a card to Thrill of Possibility, but you don’t need to do that again with the copy! You could Sea Gate Stormcaller and sacrifice Village Rites for a draw 4, or for an additional mana but only having to discard one card, Thrill of Possibility for a draw 4. While I don’t think this is the best application, there could be something lurking in Standard or something that’s not out yet that can make this interaction way more appealing.
Now that the base of how we should use Sea Gate Stormcaller is established, let’s dive into some sample lists using her!
I feel like this is a very obvious way to build with Sea Gate Stormcaller but it covers the previous principles well. You have your cheap card draw and interaction to pair nicely with Sea Gate Stormcaller, you have your more expensive interactive spells like Murderous Rider and Neutralize, and finally your wincons in Shark Typhoon and Ashiok. I think the look of this list is very clean and being able to interact early and often is a great way to make Control a viable archetype. Furthermore, the mana base is so beautiful, so many colored sources and you only have to play 6 taplands? Sign me up.
The biggest issue I have with this build though, is that it is a tad light on the wincons. We don’t have any chip damage to help out our Sharks, and Ashiok is very powerful but they can’t help us if they get killed quickly. You have a plethora of interaction, but the difficulty to close could be problematic. However, if you need to make an aggro player question their sanity, this is where I’d start.
Now this is a beautiful list of Magic cards. Turbo Xerox players rejoice! Your Queen has arrived! This list doesn’t have as solid of interaction as the previous one, but it has significantly more wincons. Sea Gate Stormcaller likes to help you draw additional cards, Jolrael and Improbable Alliance love to see those additional cards. Lastly you get to play Uro, which is far and away the best card in Standard. This deck realizes the beautiful harmony of most of the spells being cheap so you don’t need many lands to operate but having a lot of lands is beneficial as well. Being an operable deck with any reasonable amount of mana is a powerful tool not many decks can leverage. Additionally, Teferi works extremely well in the deck, filtering out anything you don’t want and drawing you to more gas and Uros! This version can definitely win the game in a reasonable time frame and threats like Uro and Improbable Alliance give you great resiliency against interaction. You can kill your opponent while simultaneously making their removal spells bad!
This deck is probably everything you ever dreamed of and more, but we also have to be unbiased in our approach. The mana for this deck is shaky. You have a lot of cards demanding different color requirements and the new tap lands aren’t the best at handling that. Every Mountain on the battlefield is a land that can’t Escape an Uro. You also HAVE to play more taplands compared to UB which GETS to play taplands. As previously mentioned, the interaction suite isn’t as powerful in this deck as it is in UB. If your opponent keeps slamming must answers that can’t be burned, you could have a tough time.
As a reminder, how these lists are built will vary greatly on how the new metagame shakes out, so if one of these lists doesn’t meet the demands for Standard, perhaps the other one can or an iteration of them can. I think it’s much more important to have an understanding of how best to utilize your cards so when something that has potential doesn’t work out, you can keep tuning the list into something that can work.
I hope you enjoyed my article for today! If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know! See you next time!