The idea for this article came from a discussion in the comments of our last Pack 1 Pick 1. The comments were concerned with the amount of people choosing Brainstorm as their first pick of the draft. While I do like Brainstorm, and think it can be a very powerful effect, I tend to stay away from taking it so highly or so early.
Its a staple in eternal formats, t digs, it protects you from hand disruption, and it’s stapled to the best planeswalker ever.
Why not snatch up an early brainstorm?
Reasons Not to Take Brainstorm Early
1. Brainstorm Does Not Stand on its Own
Brainstorm is a support card. It is what you can put in your deck to “get there.” Has anyone ever Brainstormed for the win? Please, share your story in the comments if you have one.
Now, I am not saying that your first pick cannot be a support card – lands are support cards and I would gladly first pick a nice dual land, fetch land, or utility land. The reason I don’t mind taking lands first is that some lands are top tier support cards on their own.
In cube, Brainstorm can be a strong support card or it can be underwhelming, which brings me to the next issue I have with taking it first:
2. Highly Variable Effect
Brainstorm is a card that has a high amount of variability – meaning the card can be good in the right deck or completely lack-luster in the wrong one. Brainstorm needs other cards in the list that can make it more profitable than it is on its own. If I am just casting Brainstorm to draw 3 and put 2 on top, with no way of escaping my next 2 draws, I’m not feeling too good about my deck.
Moving Brainstorm Up a Tier
Brainstorm really only gets good when used in conjunction with other cards to upgrade its effect. The most notable effects that upgrade your Brainstorms are the shuffle effects; these are your fetch lands, tutors, etc…
Another effect that can boost your brainstorm is Scry. Like the shuffle effects, scry allows you to turn brainstorm into a hand optimizing ace. For scryers, Preordain, Magma Jet, and Crystal Ball all do a good job getting rid of the cards that you put back after Brainstorming.
What’s your favorite planet? Mine’s the Sun.
Cards that some may forget about are the Zeniths. While some of the Zenith’s probably do not see play in your cube, Red Sun’s Zenith and Green Sun’s Zenith should be in just about all cubes. And, as you know, they shuffle back in.
With all these shuffle effects in cube you would think it would be easy to tip the scales and make brainstorm an auto include in any blue list, but in my experience, I usually only end up drafting brainstorm into the decks that are already primed and ready for it. While, yeah, you could go into a draft slamming a first pick brainstorm – with the plan to take all the shuffle effects you can get your hands on – but where would that get you? Is that how winning decks are built? Nah
While brainstorm can be dirty-good in the right list, its not always necessary for winning. It’s stuck in a place where it is not a build around (since it does not really win the game) and it is not that powerful without support. Because of this, Brainstorm usually ends up being a support card for decks that, incidentally, already support it.
If you’re picking a Brainstorm in cube, it is good practice to make sure that you have the shuffle effects first. Otherwise , you may find yourself building around brainstorm.