Today we’re talking about Brainstorm.
...but first I want to talk about what’s shaken out with the card about a week after release. To be honest, I was perfectly ready to write a piece about how Brainstorm can be used as an alternate combo engine for Kano players, as a different reward for pitch stacking and finding lethal off of a card draw combo into a Potion of Luck and Hope Merchant’s Hood finisher that requires quite a lot of planning and forethought - but most importantly, it was immune to Oasis Respite.
But then a discord user by the name of Crispzilla decided to come along, invent an entirely new deck, and turn the entire affair into the brainiest meme to ever grace Flesh and Blood.
So I guess that’s what we're doing now.
Brainstorm is a Wizard majestic recently released in Dynasty. It reads:
Until end of turn, your hero gains “Whenever you draw a card this action phase, deal 1 arcane damage to any target”.
Simple enough: draw cards, deal damage. First impressions about this card were mixed; as a 3-cost instant with no block value, it seemed very challenging to get down on a turn, and even harder to make it damage efficient compared to other plays of the same cost. But bad stats have never stopped Wizard players before, and this time was no different.
Kano has a lot of natural card draw with Tome of Aetherwind and Tome of Fyendal, and it was quickly noted that the damage dealt by Brainstorm can be doubled with a Blazing Aether. After drawing a lot of cards, Potion of Luck and Hope Merchant’s Hood can also multiply your damage, turning every card in hand into a fresh draw and ping of damage. On top of all that, Brainstorm’s effect stacks with itself- and with all the cards being drawn, it’s easy enough to find and play two in the same turn.
This all had the makings of a solid combo deck, with a bit of pitch stacking and a bit of luck - just what Kano likes. But there’s a card draw engine we’ve been ignoring so far.
Cold Hard Cash
I would like introduce the Tycoon of Trashiness, the Dean of Dishonour, the Reject of the Royal Palace: Capitalist Kano.
“O-oooooooooo AAAAE-A-A-I-A-U- JO-oooooooooooo AAE-O-A-A-U-U-A- E-eee-ee-eee AAAAE-A-E-I-E-A- JO-ooo-oo-oo-oo EEEEO-A-AAA-AAAA” – Kano
After his arrogance got him banished from the royal palace, Kano went to the streets to use his wicked smarts and dashing charisma.
When approached for comment, the late Emperor of Volcor said “Good riddance! Maybe it will do the bastard some good.”
It did not.
Kano quickly learned that a fetching smile and a firm handshake and a little bit of capitalism could get him further than those royal pricks ever could. He began buying talismans and amulets from traders returning from Everfest, and cashing them out for mountains of silver. Drunk on money, he climbed the ranks and became Volcor’s most hated and feared merchant.
No man could compete with the sheer magnitude of his brain.
Now you too can experience the wonders of late-stage capitalism with this deck inspired by Antonio Otero – a.k.a Crispzilla. Featuring zero damage outside of Brainstorm, Blazing Aether, and your trusty Talishar, the Lost Prince, this deck is sure to take your opponents by surprise! (Whether that’s a good thing is entirely up to you.)
Set up by sifting through your deck to find your Brainstorms, generate action points by playing your blue items at instant speed, cash them all out for silver, and draw your entire deck with Tome of Aetherwind, Tome of Fyendal, and Cash In, before multiplying your damage with Potion of Luck, Hope Merchant’s Hood, and Blazing Aether for the finish!
First thing you might notice is that there’s only 60 cards and 5 equipment pieces. In all honesty, there’s basically nothing to add in or take out that will make this deck better into specific matchups. Some honorable mentions go to Lesson in Lava, Gaze the Ages, Pry, Potion of Déjà vu, Timesnap Potion, and Crazy Brew if you really feel like it, but at the end of the day this deck will always do what this deck does.
As for the equipment, it really does not matter what we run as long as we have Hope Merchant’s Hood - although the pieces we choose have some importance. This deck plays at action speed far more than it does at instant speed, so Mage Master Boots beat out Storm Striders this once. Robe of Rapture provides a lot of value with the abundance of action points you can generate, Ironrot Gauntlet can block if you desperately need it to without taking a card from hand like Ironhide would, and Talishar is really just Talishar.
(Optimally, you'd run Kraken’s Aethervein, but Kano lost his magic privileges when he got kicked out. Not like it matters, Kano sells everything anyway.)
As aforementioned, there is almost nothing you can do to make this deck play differently into different matchups, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t customizable. There are plenty of optional inclusions, not least among which is Lesson in Lava, to give you a tutor for Tome of Aetherwind or Blazing Aether mid combo, or for Brainstorm itself if your opponent chooses not to block. It can also sneak out a lethal combo if the Brainstorm pop-off doesn’t get all the way there by searching more copies of itself and finishing on a Blazing Aether.
That becomes all the more consistent with Storm Striders. While Mage Master Boots are more usable in this deck, playing cards at instant speed is never something to scoff at. If you ever run out of action points, Storm Striders can squeeze out the last Blazing Aether you need for lethal, or allow you to play a Tome of Aetherwind at instant speed while a Blazing is already on the stack for some extra damage.
If you really want to roleplay the character, after the death of the Emperor at the hands of Arakni, Kano could jump in and buy the crown of the empire to become the true Merchant King of Volcor. Crown of Dominion grants a gold token that can be cashed in for a free draw 2, then the crown can be immediately pawned for cash with the rest of Kano’s equipment. With the Crown, more copies of Knick Knack Bric-a-Brac become very powerful, being able to replace your missing Hope Merchant’s Hood with copies of Potion of Luck on the field.
Technically most any weapon is better than Talishar, the Lost Prince, but I couldn’t resist running it for this deck. Kraken’s Aethervein gets an extra damage in and threatens a draw for Brainstorm, and the chip damage from Waning Moon before your combo should never be underestimated. Crucible of Aetherweave is also a solid pick if Lesson in Lava is in your chosen deck.
Big Brain Basics
Capitalists never miss an opportunity, so go first whenever you get the chance with this deck. You want to see as much of your deck as possible as soon as possible, and the density of items in your deck means you couldn’t block even if you wanted to. Activate your hero ability liberally to get deeper, and get as many of the actually useful items into play as you can: namely, Potion of Luck and Energy Potion. Cards like Knick Knack Bric-a-Brac help. Cash Out is a key card to see this early in the game; it activates Cash In, and each leftover silver can be turned into a ping of damage by pitching a blue to its effect. Chain these together to find your big card draw pieces on your Brainstorm turn!
HOT TIP: Remember the effect of Brainstorm stacks! If you can find a way to drop two of them on the same turn, do it!
When you have your Brainstorm and whatever setup you’ve managed to find by this point, get it ready with a card that can draw 2, throw your life savings into crypto and believe in the heart of the cards. Play out the Brainstorm – remembering to blast Brain Power by NOMA to everybody nearby – break your Mage Master Boots to draw 2 and have an action point left over, and then start throwing out Kano activations and whatever card draw you end up with. Break your Potions of Luck and your Hope Merchant’s Hood when you’ve drawn a hefty hand and hope you draw into your Blazing Aether for the finish.
HOT TIP: You can always play out your Blazing Aether with your action point, then break all your potions and Hope Merchant’s before it has resolved. All the damage from those draws will add towards the Blazing Aether total!
An Ingenious Inventor
“Traditionally, Kano combos have either been about setting up a pitch stack… or arsenaling combo pieces and waiting for the opponent to overextend when you have another piece in your hand. It's possible that Brainstorm can be used in those ways, but I wanted to see if a more OTK version was possible that really leaned into what the card was all about: card draw.”
This deck was developed by Antonio Otero – a.k.a Crispzilla – in an attempt to make a true combo deck. After adding in the obvious Tomes that draw 2, there was very little left in terms of ways to profit cards in hand, except Cash In.
“I started looking at how to generate silver. Cash Out seemed pretty promising to me. I figured I didn’t need a weapon once I started going off and could probably get rid of some of my other equipment as well. The other thing Cash Out lets you destroy is items… That’s when the Everfest potions really started to come together for me as a multi-synergistic piece of the deck. They were blue, so I could pitch them to activate Kano, they had go again, so they’d net me action points, and they were items, so I could get more silver out of my Cash Outs.”
Antonio and his deck have taken the Kano world by (brain)storm. It’s rare that we see this wild of a diversion from normal archetypes, and the new style has been incredibly refreshing. I brought this deck to my Armory, and managed to steal a few wins with it! (All of those were casuals though and I went 0-4 in official rounds.)
I feel like I should mention by now that this deck is Not Competitive.
But Maybe Don't Take The Game So Seriously?
Despite all the meme-ing and silly combos that Brainstorm has made for the Kano playerbase, it is genuinely one of the most interesting cards ever printed for Kano. With some pitch stacking and some adjusted sideboarding, it can quite easily become a replacement OTK engine for control decks. All you need is to bring in 3 Potions of Luck, 2 or 3 Brainstorms, and Hope Merchant’s Hood, then pitch stack your Tomes together so you can play them all at once at instant speed, break the luck pots and Hope Merchant’s, and Storm Striders out your Blazing Aether.
This combo isn’t nearly as susceptible to Oasis Respite as Wildfire combos are, and makes for a really interesting finish to a game of Flesh and Blood.
With this in mind, and maybe with a little bit of nostalgia for my start as a Kano player back in Arcane Rising, I built my first Sun Kiss and Moon Wish deck in years, with the plan of thinning the deck out by drawing with Sun Kiss, all while healing up all the damage you take, until you can pitch stack an OTK with Brainstorm. You can easily just add the Brainstorm engine into a regular Kano deck in place of the go-tall cards like Blessing of Aether or Forked Lightning, but I wanted to take it one step further.
This deck can side into a heal-tank draw machine, or an Aether Wildfire combo deck as the need requires. It isn’t the most optimal deck, but that’s part of the exercise.
Antonio’s Brainstorm list has been a fresh breath of air from the usual play patterns of Flesh and Blood. With how competitively-minded this game always is at every turn, it is genuinely a blessing to be able to build something silly and to have fun. Dynasty has given so much to this game, but the one thing I think it has given the most of is fun. Cards like Brainstorm, like Rok, like Nitro Mechanoid, offer completely new ways of playing the game. So to sign off, remember to not take this very serious game so seriously all the time...
...and to sell your soul to the free market.
Steven Young (@WizardofAlf) has been playing Flesh and Blood from November of 2019, and has been casually growing his collection ever since. He is an avid Wizard main, having played the class since before the release of Crucible of War, and is an advocate for its viability in the Classic Constructed format. He loves picking people's brains for opinions and new ways to think about the game, and is an active community member on both the community Discord and Facebook pages.
Clarification; Brainstorm is not immune to Oasis Respite. A player can select the hero card with Oasis Respite to utilize the prevention effect.
True, not entirely immune, but far more resistant to it than a Wildfire combo would be. Oasis saves at least 20 life against those!
Ack! Such a great article, my only sad is ... I want this deck to be semi-competitve!!! :(
it looks like so much fun, like a lot of the 'STORM' decks I like to play in Magic the Gathering you may only win 50% of the time but you are having so much fun it dosent matter
True, not entirely immune, but far more resistant to it than a Wildfire combo would be. Oasis saves at least 20 life against those!
Browse by tag
Starting Strong with Iyslander: Decklists for Every Budget and Upgrade Paths Between
Since Uprising elevated her status, Iyslander has reshaped the meta around her icy presence. While top tier builds require steep investments, it's entirely feasible to get results from a budget build, and to build up from there. James takes you every step of the way.
The Complete Guide to Wounded Bull Iyslander
In a surprising turn of events, Michael Hamilton rode a Wounded Bull to victory at the US Nationals. Go in depth with the strategy and matchups of this unexpected Iyslander deck.
Iyslander on the Road to Nationals
James Adams sets out on an icy path from the Bleak Expanse to Nationals, seeing strong prospects for the Elemental Wizard.