Bitter Ordeal | Illustration by Daarken
Future Sight was a super interesting set. The weird and chaotic lore of the set essentially allowed the game’s designers to come up with tons of weird and original mechanics, making it a sort of testing ground for ideas that might've already existed but hadn’t found a home in any previous sets.
This storm of ideas and designs led to some weird and original mechanics. Cards like Steamflogger Boss introduced new mechanics and creature types which ended up getting used later, in this case in an Un-set. But Future Sight also led to the creation of tons of mechanics that were promptly abandoned. Mechanics that were deemed way too powerful, unfun, broken, or simply too similar to already existing ones.
Future Sight is a set that has one of my favorite frustrating occurrences in Magic: mechanics that only show up in one card and are never seen again. This set has more than a handful of those. What I like even more is still seeing some of those cards show up in EDH decks and prove just why they were so promptly abandoned.
One such case is the gravestorm mechanic. I have one friend who consistently plays either Golgari or Sultai decks and always plays the one card that features this mechanic because it’s just absurdly good.
So let’s go ahead and take a look at gravestorm, a very clearly broken graveyard mechanic.
Chill of the Grave | Illustration by Olivier Bernard
Gravestorm works just like storm, allowing you to copy the spell that has the ability, except in this case it copies itself based on how many permanents were put into graveyards this turn. For example, if you sacrificed something like three permanents, and then cast a spell with gravestorm, you’d copy that spell three times.
Gravestorm first (and last) appeared in 2007’s Future Sight. It showed up on a single futureshifted card from this set: Bitter Ordeal. It hasn’t been seen on any other card since.
The mechanic was very quickly deemed just as broken as storm, which should be indication enough of why it hasn’t shown up since.
There’s only a single gravestorm card because it’s too broken. Mark Rosewater himself has said that it’s highly unlikely that the mechanic will be used again because it has the same issues as regular storm, making it nearly impossible to balance well.
Gravestorm is a triggered ability that triggers when you cast it. It checks for permanents that have gone to the graveyard this turn, and it creates a copy of the cast spell for each of those permanents.
Discard doesn’t work with gravestorm because for a card or token to be considered a permanent, it needs to have been on the battlefield first. Anything you discard can only be considered a card but not a permanent.
There’s exactly one card with gravestorm, so it’s easy to say which is the best gravestorm card: Bitter Ordeal. It’s still worth mentioning that this is a pretty great card nonetheless. It allows you to essentially take most of your opponent’s key cards away from their library.
Fatal Push | Illustration by Eric Deschamps
Heads up: I don’t play Modern. This is gonna be more of a kitchen-table Modern deck than a true competitive one. So keep that in mind: this is more of a brainstorm of what I’d build for a deck that uses gravestorm, not a truly competitive deck.
The idea is to build a deck that can have Bitter Ordeal as a way to push your own chances of winning while taking away your opponent’s wincons.
Keep in mind that Bitter Ordeal itself won’t be enough to take out an opponent, so you’ll do that through sheer damage with Psychogenic Probe, Fiery Inscription, and Guttersnipe. Each of these makes each copy of Bitter Ordeal into a source of damage.
Psychogenic Probe | Illustration by Jeremy Jarvis
That’s all for the gravestorm mechanic. I personally really understand why MaRo and co. decided it won’t be coming back anytime soon. Bitter Ordeal is a good card but not too gamebreaking, but it’s easy to imagine a situation in which this ability quickly gets out of hand. There’s a reason why the Storm Scale is called that, and this is just storm with a different flavor.
But enough about what I think. What’s your opinion on gravestorm? Have you built a deck around it? Do you want to see more of it? What’s your favorite mechanic that’s only shown up in a single card? Leave a comment letting us know! And while you’re here, don’t forget to check out our Discord server! There you’ll find an amazing community full of other MTG fans.
That’s all from me for now. Have a good one and I’ll see you next time!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: