Too-Specific Top 10 - Pinger Storm
(Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph | Art by Aaron J Riley)
Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Death Spark is the only burn spell that checks what's above it in the graveyard?)
As long-time readers will know, I've always loved pingers. One of my oldest Commander decks is Samut, Voice of Dissent pingers, my favorite combo is Goblin Sharpshooter and Splinter Twin, and I've been trying to break Seismic Assault and Arc-Slogger since both cards were first printed.
Which is why, as I perused through the Tyranid Warhammer: 40,000 precon, I jumped for joy, just a little bit.
Not one, but two pinger commanders? Both of which don't care if the source is even a creature? Let's go!
Top 10 Mono-Red Ping Effects
I know, I know, what about blue? Well, let's answer that question real quick:
Top 10 Blue Cards That Deal Direct Damage of Any Kind (to someone else)
- Prodigal Sorcerer
- Thornwind Faeries
- Zuran Spellcaster
- Psionic Sliver
- Rootwater Hunter
- Hermetic Study
- Psionic Gift
- Suq'Ata Firewalker
- Pirate Ship
- Psionic Blast
Now, I love Psionic Blast as much as the next person - quite possibly more - but when it's competing for space with Pirate Ship, it's fairly safe to say we're not dealing with the cream of the crop.
Besides, we've opened the door beyond Tims, so why not make some room? Speaking of which, what exactly do we mean by "Ping Effects"?
Criteria: Red cards that directly deal exactly 1 damage. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.
Seems simple enough, let's run the list!
- Impact Tremors
- Goblin Bombardment
- Outpost Siege
- Reckless Fireweaver
- [REDACTED] (On the actual list)
- Glint-Horn Buccaneer
- Electrostatic Field
- Firebrand Archer
Hang on, I'm seeing a bit of a theme here: a ton of triggered abilities that ping for one when something happens, most often when a spell is cast.
Which gets me thinking, how great would it be if we could double up on our The Red Terror and Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph triggers? Get an Electrostatic Field in play, and then cast a spell that deals exactly one damage?
Top 10 Mono-Red Ping
All right, so now we're a spell-slinging burn deck, apparently. What exactly are we filling the chamber with, though?
Criteria: Non-"X" red instants or sorceries that cost three mana or less that either directly deal exactly one damage to one or more players or permanents you don't control, or divides damage among multiple targets. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.
Why the "you don't control" rider? Well, essentially because Rile exists. Let's get to the list!
(2,169 Inclusions, 0% of 781,267 Decks)
What's better than dealing one damage to all of your opponents' creatures? Dealing three damage to all of your opponents' creatures! Electrickery sees some play at higher levels as a means to take out hordes of mana dorks and Hatebears, but overall is just not anything that anyone's been writing home about. Unfortunately, as we'll see further down this list, that's probably not going to change just because Ghyrson was printed.
9. Mana Clash
(2,513 Inclusions, 0% of 781,267 Decks)
Mana Clash, on the other hand, looks like the most fun you could possibly have with Ghyrson. If you're wondering, yes, it does work, with Mana Clash dealing hordes of instances of one damage all at once and getting a trigger from Ghyrson for each of them.
Only, if you read both cards closely, you will notice both that Mana Clash deals damage to you in addition to your opponent, and that Ghyrson deals a guaranteed additional two no matter the target. That's all well and good in a two-person match where you're just going to bring down your and an opponent's life total, but in a four-person pod, you've now lowered you and a single opponent's life total while the other two members of the pod are completely unaffected.
In other words, outside of some heavy Krark's Thumb impact, I wouldn't suggest rolling these particular dice.
8. Blazing Volley
(2,535 Inclusions, 0% of 781,267 Decks)
The root of the Electrickery versus Blazing Volley discussion is a speed versus speed discussion that is not new in Magic. In short, you can play Blazing Volley for a single mana, but you may lose out on opportunities that happen during another player's turn. On the other hand, for an extra mana you can do the same thing with Electrickery at the end of turn, after the table has played down a whole bunch of new creatures.
To me, the wrong card is winning here for the majority of decks. Two mana is still cheap as can be, and the instant speed is more than worth that extra mana.
On the other hand, for a Stormy version of Ghyrson, I do think that Blazing Volley is the better option, as you're going to be more concerned with just getting as many burn spells down as possible.
7. Gut Shot
(2,559 Inclusions, 0% of 781,267 Decks)
Though the choice between one mana and two mana can be difficult, the choice between one and zero is not! Gut Shot has always been the runner-up to Gitaxian Probe, but when it comes to Ghyrson, specifically, it's finally Gut Shot's time to shine! In general, I feel like Lightning Bolt should see more play, but again, the choice between a one-mana Bolt and a zero-mana Bolt? Not a hard one.
6. Impact Resonance
(2,611 Inclusions, 0% of 781,267 Decks)
There are a lot of cards on this list that honestly don't see that much play - and deservedly so - so when I say that I think Impact Resonance is and always has been overplayed, that should more than tell you how much I'm down on this card. A two-mana instant that does nothing on its own and can only target creatures is not a burn spell that should be taking up a much-needed slot. Sure, you can easily imagine a scenario where someone's Gigantosaurus gets involved in combat, and then you wipe half the board. More often, what's going to happen with this stuck in your hand is you're going to tap out because all you see out there is three-power creatures, or you're going to hold mana open for it while your opponents make smart combat decisions and decide not to swing in.
Your plans shouldn't rely on your opponents, which means that unless you're the one with the 10-power creatures all over the place, Impact Resonance should stay solidly in the side of the deckbox.
5. Breath of Darigaaz
(2,866 Inclusions, 0% of 781,267 Decks)
I've personally got huge nostalgia for Breath of Darigaaz. I also think it's a great four-mana Wrath, especially if you have a bunch of cost reductions where you can get it down to a single red pip. The only issue? There's already a red board wipe that usually costs a single red pip, and it deals 13 as opposed to four.
The only real benefit to Breath of Darigaaz, then? It can deal a single damage to act as a Blazing Volley for decks that don't have many or any small creatures, and it deals damage to players in addition to creatures. It's that second part that has me still playing this card despite it not being as good as Blasphemous Act, but there's a problem: Ghyrson's toughness of two, and his lack of a "may" on his ability.
4. End the Festivities
(3,828 Inclusions, 1% of 531,522 Decks)
Innistrad: Crimson Vow brings us the answer to the Blazing Volley versus Electrickery debate: End the Festivities.
I rest my case.
3. Avacyn's Judgment
(5,508 Inclusions, 1% of 781,267 Decks)
In Ghyrson, specifically, Avacyn's Judgment feels a bit underwhelming. In its two-mana form, it costs double what Forked Bolt does for the same effect, and if you do discard it, you can pay three mana to do the same thing at instant speed (provided you can discard at instant speed). That's not bad, flexibility-wise, especially when you also consider that you can go full Fireball on two targets if you've got a ton of mana sitting around, but it's not really worth it when it comes to Ghyrson, in my opinion.
2. Spikefield Hazard
(6,464 Inclusions, 1% of 755,525 Decks)
There are tons of one-mana-for-one-damage burn spells out there, and most of them have upside. What puts Spikefield Hazard above Searing Touch and Spark Jolt is that it's the only one that can also just be a land drop.
With that said, for Ghyrson specifically, Death Spark and Flame Jab might just be even better.
(24,686 Inclusions, 3% of 781,267 Decks)
The grand-daddy of them all remains on top! Grapeshot has long been one of the most lethal Storm spells out there, providing one-sided board wipes and outright taking out players on stacks that just seem to keep going and going. Usually, it's a lot to ask to stack up the Storm count of 120 it takes to take out a whole table with it, but with Ghyrson taking that number down to 40.
Our main list is all well and good, but you're going to be running out of gas a lot. With that in mind, why not take a look at the cards that deal one damage and draw you a card?
Top 10 One Damage Spells That Cantrip
- Slice and Dice
- Shake the Foundations
- Needle Drop
- Winter Sky (Kind of)
- Neonate's Rush
- Solar Blast
And with that, we should have more than enough to get a decklist put together, right?
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
I'm not gonna lie, this deck is an absolute blast. I still want to do another with The Red Terror at the helm, but having a deck essentially made of Lightning Bolts and draw spells is about as cool as it gets.
Nuts and Bolts
There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.
What Do You Think?
If I'm being honest, I more or less chose to do the deck with Ghyrson because I knew there would be a small riot if I didn't, but I honestly think that if I had been thinking more of myself than my readers, I would have gone with The Red Terror. I even found a combo with it and my favorite card, Arcbond (along with Pariah's Shield, just make sure you have the most life at the table)!
My personal biases aside, though...
Finally, what is your favorite spell that pings for one? Are you building either Ghyrson or The Red Terror? Are there other Warhammer 40,000 commanders or cards that you're excited about, even though the world has already moved on to Unfinity and The Brother's War spoilers?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the kids table we propped up with a couple milk crates.