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Thread: Angel Stax 3.0

  1. #1

    Angel Stax 3.0

    Hello Sourcers, the name's Steveman, first time poster, long time reader

    For the past 3 years, I have been testing Stax on MWS (mostly on Magic-League.com, I am a former judge). I have had great success with the deck, winning numerous "mini" tournaments, winning a 54 man tournament single elimination tournament and recently Top 8ing in a 70 (give or take) man tournament that consisted 7 rounds of swiss (http://magic-league.com/deck/49642/l...l%20Stax50747). I am currently ranked 6th in Eternal on Magic-League.

    Here is the list I am currently playing

    Land (26)
    4 Ancient Tomb
    4 Wasteland
    3 City of Traitors
    3 Mishra's Factory
    2 Flagstones of Trokair
    2 Horizon Canopy
    8 Plains

    Creatures (4)
    4 Exalted Angel

    Spells (30)
    4 Crucible of Worlds
    4 Mox Diamond
    4 Trinisphere
    4 Chalice of the Void
    4 Wrath of God
    4 Oblivion Ring
    3 Smokestack
    3 Moat

    Sideboard (15)
    4 Swords to Plowshares
    4 Engineered Explosives
    3 Humility
    2 Armageddon
    2 Ravages of War




    Explanation of card choices


    Ancient Tomb

    - A staple for any deck requiring stompy / prison type deck running Chalices and Trinispheres, you always want to see one in your opening hand because having 3 mana on turn 2 is very crucial.


    Wasteland

    - Near uncounterable mana denial / mana source. Some Armageddon builds don't run Wasteland, but seeing how I don't run them maindeck (explanation later), I settle for the awesomeness that is Wasteland. The format is full of non-basic lands and fragile mana bases. Wasteland punishes those decks and has amazing synergy with Crucible of Worlds.


    City of Traitors

    - Same as Ancient Tomb except that you usually do not want to see more than 1 due to its drawback. If you play this turn 1, make sure you get at least 4 mana out of it (like playing Chalice turn 1 then playing Trinisphere turn 2).


    Mishra's Factory

    - Uncounterable, recurable win condition / blocker that also taps for mana. Some builds don't run the Factory, but I find them necessary as a secondary win conditions.


    Flagstones of Trokair

    - Goes well with Smokestack and Armageddon. There are many heated debates on what the "right" number of Flagstones is. For my build, I find 2 is fine because I don't run the Armageddons maindeck, I don't like having 2 in my opening hand, and getting WW is crucial against decks that run Bloodmoon. The only matchup where having more Flagstones matters is against other Stax decks, which this deck has a very good matchup against (I have never lost a Stax "mirror").


    Horizon Canopy

    - These are a recent addition. One of Stax's greatest weaknesses is its lack of a draw engine. The longer a game is drawn out, the worst it becomes for Stax. Crucible combined with Horizon Canopy in the long run helps a lot in those "draw go" situations. Also, it cycles when you don't need it and it taps for Green when you need to ramp up your Engineered Explosives. My testing so far has shown that its strengths outweigh its drawbacks (pain / being non-basic).


    Mox Diamond

    - Another fast mana source that taps for any color of mana. Great for those fast Chalices, Trinisphere, Angels. Also helps you getting the right amount of Sunburst you need for an Engineered Explosives. I find 4 a must for any Stax because fast colored mana is essential and its drawback is negated by Crucible of Worlds.




    Plains

    - Basic lands are tech. I like having a high number of basics to avoid hate such as Wasteland / Back to Basics / Bloodmoon. The deck is mana intensive (every white card maindeck requires WW), so I'm playing as many basic lands as I can, which so happens to be 8 (the deck plays 30 mana sources, 16 of which can tap for white).


    Exalted Angel

    - The main kill condition. I'm going to make a very bold statement here: Exalted Angel (in my opinion) is the best win condition for Stax. She's cheap, big, has evasion, and effects the board immediately. She stabilizes your life total and wins games very fast (especially combined with Chalice for 1). She acts as a lock piece by holding your opponent's creatures from attacking and outraces them due to flying and lifelink.


    The Magus vs Angel debate will be covered in another section

    Crucible of Worlds

    - This is the glue that holds the deck together and stops it from falling over itself. It has synergies with Wasteland, Smokestack, Flagstones, Horizon Canopy, Mishra's Factory, Mox Diamond, and Armageddon. It solidifies your mana base by protecting you from Wastelands, allows you to re-use City of Traitors, and abuses the Legendary Rule with Flagstones. Some people like to run 3 (which is fine in my opinion), but my personal preference is to have 4 due to the amount of synergy it has with a lot of cards in the deck.

    Trinisphere

    - Trinisphere is a house, it's a giant one-sided roadblock that slows virtually every deck in the format besides opposing Ancient Tomb run decks (everything in the maindeck but Mox Diamond costs at least 3 mana so it doesn't affect you at all). Trinisphere's role is to slow your opponent down and making sure your other cards resolve. Trinisphere is best turn 1 because 1.) if it resolves, it's almost always GG and 2.) any deck running Force of Will MUST counter it, so it makes great Force bait so you can resolve your other bombs without difficulty. Because you want to drop Trinisphere ASAP, running 4 is a must.


    Chalice of the Void
    - Chalice is another card that is completely one-sided lock piece and can randomly win games if you play Chalice for 1 turn 1 on the play. Chalice creates virtual card advantage, taking out their Swords, Brainstorms, Moxes, Thoughtseizes, Lightning Bolts, Tarmogoyfs, Counterbalances... The list goes on. It is dead in some matchups, but most of the time it is very useful. Again, 4 is a must because the earlier you play them, the more effective they will be. Can also potentially stop Progenitus if you can lay down Chalice for 4 and / or 10.


    Wrath of God

    - Creatures is your number one threat and nothing gets rid of creatures better than Wrath of God. This list only plays 4 creatures, so most of the time, you'll net some card advantage when casting this. Playing Wrath of God is also very sexy when you cast it right after you drop a Smokestack. Wrath of God also stops Progenitus. Armageddon vs Wrath debate will be covered in another section.


    Oblivion Ring

    - Oblivion Ring is a Swiss-army knife which helps you deal with the randomness that is Legacy. It is an extremely versatile card and is never useless (except an army of Nimble Mongeese and Crystaline Sliver). Deals with any problematic cards from Jitte to Tombstalker.


    Smokestack

    - The hardlock of the deck, slowly but surely it will win (or lose) you the game. With Crucible, Smokestack is inevitably gg as long as they don't kill you before you stack them out of the game. However, lately I have been questioning the correct number to play. I have been playing 4 for a long time and now testing out 3 because Smokestack does not affect the board immediately and is risky without a Crucible when you're falling behind in permanent count. My opinion is that is Smokestack is the final nail in the coffin to turn any soft lock into a hardlock. Playing an early Smokestack is risky (but sometimes the right play) without following it up with anything and playing Smokestack too late makes it ineffective, so I feel that 3 may be the right number. If I were to replace it with any card, it would probably be Engineered Explosives.


    Moat
    - Stops every creature that isn’t named Tombstalker, Trygon Predator, Serra Avenger, or Winged Sliver. Moat is a great card that can buy you all the time you need to set up a hard lock and sometimes it’s just GG the second it resolves. Also stops Progenitus, who so happens to be afraid of water and is too large to fit on the draw bridge.


    Sideboard Choices

    Swords to Plowshares
    - Sided in against Stompy decks and Goblins (there’s a lot of those in my metagame). Whenever I side in Swords, I always side out Chalice of the Void because I don’t want Chalice to get in the way of Swords and Chalice is near useless against Stompy and I would rather have Swords than Chalice vs Goblins due to the versatility Swords has in that matchup. Stops Progenitus only if combo’d with Humilty. Speaking of which…

    Humility
    - Sided in against creature heavy decks such as Goblins, Merfolk, and Survival (which is a very ugly matchup). Humility + Moat is a hard lock if they don’t pack any Enchantment removal. Also makes Progenitus very small but doesn’t necessarily stop him.

    Engineered Explosives
    - Usually sided in against decks that play problematic cards such as Exploration, Mana Bond, AEther Vial, and Jitte, this has proved to be an amazing sideboard card and is very flexible with Mox Diamonds and Horizon Canopies. Can stop Progenitus once Wizards decides to add Pink, Purple, Yellow, Orange, and Grey into the color pie.

    Armageddon / Ravages of War (Can just be Armageddon)
    - Sided in against heavy control / prison decks / combo decks that aren’t Dredge / Belcher. Usually trades places with Wrath of God.


    Cards I’ve Tested and Don’t Play In Either Maindeck or Sideboard

    Crystal Vein

    - I tested Crystal Vein and found it to be jank. First of all, Ancient Tomb / City of Traitors/ Mox Diamond are much better than Crystal Vein, and second of all, the deck would much rather have more White sources than having more fast colorless mana.

    Tangle Wire
    - I always found Tangle Wire to be subpar. It’s a great card that bought you a few turns because it was usually a one-sided effect because you are able to tap your Tangle Wire / Chalices / Smokestacks / Crucibles so your mana wouldn’t be affected at all. The more I played Tangle Wire, the more I didn’t like it (unless combined with Smokestack, which is amazing). When Lorwyn came out, I tested Oblivion Ring in Tangle Wire’s slot and never looked back.


    Sphere of Resistance
    - Sphere of Resistance is a great card, but unlike Trinisphere, the 2sphere is completely symmetrical, meaning it can randomly screw you over too. The deck only has room for one sphere, and Trinisphere vastly outperforms Sphere of Resistance.


    Defense Grid
    - Defense Grid is decent, but redundant. People like to throw it in against any deck that runs Force of Will, but its usefulness is narrow: stop Force of Will / Daze shenanigans. Last I checked, Trinisphere does everything Defense Grid does and then some (except Trinisphere doesn’t stack with other Trinispheres). I’d much rather play Sphere of Resistance over Defense Grid because 2sphere stops much more than just decks playing FoW / Daze.


    Rule of Law
    - The only reason I do not play this is because I tend to not see any combo in my metagame. When it comes to locking down combo decks, it is best to have a combination of Artifacts and Enchantments so Hurkyl’s Recall doesn’t ruin your day. If combo becomes more present in my metagame, then I will probably replace Swords or Humility with Rule of Law


    Null Rod
    - Is extremely useful against Affinity / Lion’s Eye Diamond fueled decks but also hurts your own Mox Diamonds. Is a useful card, but generally doesn’t cover any glaring weaknesses, which is what a sideboard card should do.


    Tormod’s Crypt / Relic of Progenitus / Leyline of the Void
    - Graveyard based strategies such as Dredge, Bomberman, Loam, and Reanimator are also greatly affected by Moat / Humility / Chalice of the Void, so I find graveyard hate unnecessary.


    Powder Keg
    - The only reason that Powder Keg shines over Engineered Explosives is because you can play Powder Keg after Gaddock Teeg hits the board. That and once you have Powder Keg in play for 10+ turns, you can “kill” Progenitus.


    Pros and Cons of Stax
    + Is full of bombastic cards that can randomly win games on its own

    + Is very explosive without investing all your cards into your opening play like Dragon Stompy

    + Easily gets around CounterTop strategies

    + Has positive matchups against top tier decks

    + Pretty resilient to hate (this may or may not be a lie)

    + Has multiple answers to Progenitus in both maindeck and sideboard


    - More dependent on opening draw than most decks

    - Is somewhat challenging to pilot due because playing the deck correctly means you have to know the rules and card interactions very well (especially with Humility), the deck is VERY unforgiving to play mistakes / missed triggered abilities and often results in a game losses.

    - Does not have a consistent draw or tutor engine

    - Does not play Progenitus

    FAQ

    Why Angel Stax over Armageddon Stax? This is the most important question regarding Angel Stax. In the legacy community, Armageddon Stax has been the favored build. Why? It’s because of the deck’s namesake card: Armageddon. Armageddon has great synergy with Crucible of Worlds, Mox Diamond, and Flagstones of Trokair. Armageddon + Ghostly Prison = your opponent can’t attack for a while. Armageddon + Magus of the Tabernacle = your opponent loses all their lands and creatures. Also, Armageddon Stax’s white spells only require one W in their casting costs while Angel and Dutch Stax signature cards all require WW.

    Angel Stax does not feature the insane synergy that Armageddon Stax has. So why play Angel Stax or Armageddon Stax? Here’s the answer: Armageddon Stax relies too much on Armageddon. Many times, Armageddon Stax will have the Ghostly Prison or Magus, but it can’t draw or resolve the Armageddon before their opponents overcome the soft lock. This is where my philosophy of card synergy vs card independence comes in. While Armageddon Stax has greater synergy with its cards, Angel Stax’s cards are more independent.

    The best comparison of card synergy vs card independence (in my opinion) would be Armageddon vs Wrath of God. Armageddon MUST be set-up with Magus or Ghostly Prison if your opponent has any creatures in play. Otherwise, Armageddon is pretty useless. Wrath of God requires no set-up, it just requires your opponent to have creatures in play. Wrath of God is also never a drawback for you because the deck only plays 4 creatures. The same principal applies to Exalted Angel vs Magus of the Tabernacle, Ghostly Prison vs Oblivion Ring , and Ghostly Prison vs Moat. Angel Stax’s greatest strength is the fact that it is loaded with bombs. Chalice / Trinisphere / Smokestack are the universal Stax bombs. Angel? Bomb. Moat? Bomb. Wrath of God? Bomb. Armageddon? Sure, if I have the right set up than it’s the biggest bomb of all. Ghostly Prison? Well, if the opponent is playing Goblins, then sure…

    For now I’m going to post this without match up analysis, I just want to get this out to legacy community for now and hear your opinions, the match up analysis will come, I promise.

  2. #2
    Metal Pirate

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    Re: Angel Stax 3.0

    I know you have a lot of time, when playing Staxx, but winning with that deck under Humility (which you have in the Sideboard) would be *mew*.

    I would at least add ~3 Elspeth, Knight Errant.
    She synergizes with Smokestack, Humility and Wrath of God.

    Also, why no Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale? I know it is only half as powerful, as it is when combined with the Magus, but it is powerful enough alone.

    I would rather swap Moat with Ghostly Prison, it may not be a hardlock, but you do not send your own Factories into retirement.

    Also I think that Wrath of God is overrated. You say that there are many Goblin-decks at your place, so it would probably trade for more than 2-1 as mostly it does here.
    Prison+Humility is as effective as Wrath of God against them, especially when combined with 'Nacle.

    I know I built a whole different deck just now, but I really saw too many cards in your list, that interacted with others badly.

  3. #3

    Re: Angel Stax 3.0

    To Steveman:

    I test played your angel stax deck a few times on MWS. It does have a lot of strengths, but it can be darn inconsistent. if you don't draw a Crucible of the Worlds, you are basically stuck. Or, if you don't draw an Exalted Angel, you have almost no way to actually kill your opponent (except for Mishra's factories, which are really slow), making the game really drag out.

    I would recommend some alternate way to damage your opponent, or a few weenie creatures to fill the gap (possibly w phasing to avoid the WoGs?). You might also consider some kind of artifact/library searching to improve consistency.

    Another idea just off the top of my head: since you are using Horizon canopy, you could exploit the green mana by using Tarmgoyfs (yeah, I know you are probably sick of them), Regrowth, or even spells like Mulch or Summer Bloom. Just a thought.

  4. #4

    Re: Angel Stax 3.0

    First of all, welcome to the source Steveman, fellow ML'er I salute you for posting your build, as I finally can see just what your decklist is instead of just losing to it with Armageddon Stax.

    As your build has proven itself against other decks in many online, tournaments, the the question is not whether or not the build is in good shape, or whether it works (it obviously does), but rather how does it deal with the format at the moment, and whether your Angel Stax list is better than the Armageddon Stax list in that respect. As I haven't tested your list, just seen the results, I can't comment on that aspect yet, however I hope that this opens up discussion somewhat.

  5. #5

    Re: Angel Stax 3.0

    I just made the mistake of boarding out smokestacks for humility and couldnt win, but i guess thats a rookie mistake.

    And the game before that i actually oblivion ringed my own moat to kill with factories. Funny that that was the right thing to do at the time.

    I'd had apprehension about playing wrath of god in the main deck. My first stax build was geddon stax wtih magus and all that. As i picked up the cards and could drop proxy slots i started proxying ravages of war. I was up to 6 copies of armageddon main because often i would say that "i wish this card was an armageddon" That deck went through armageddons like my drunk uncle goes through Jaegar Bombs on new years.

    This deck is not reliant on armageddon, and instead relies on a diverse set of lock pieces, but can still pull it in when it is the right play to make without relying on a 1-2 other cards to be good.

    Also sower of temptation are vicious on us. I guess thats why we have STP in the board? Wasnt sure about that either until i played several matches... being able to bring in 1CC removal against other "stompy" variants is awesome because you'll often see them board out their own chalices.

    anyway i have been impressed with this deck thus far and those are just a few of my observations i've had with it!

  6. #6
    snooPING AS usual, I see.
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    Re: Angel Stax 3.0

    The only big difference between this deck and Dutch are angels and quite frankly: with how inconsistent the deck can be, Elspeth is a better standalone card. The format is rife with removal and Elspeth dodges most of that. She is also an awesome lock piece when a crucible has been deeded or exploded and you need to pick up the lock speed. On top of all of that, Elspeth allows you to run humility main instead of wrath. Wrath is good against strategies that aim to get multiple creatures out for the win, but in actual developed 1.5 metas are generally quite different than what you find on magic-league. You will see some extremely antiquated decks on m-l win pull off wins. I tend to see more aggro/control strategies floating around in tangible card tournies that will ride a single creature or two to victory. In such cases a wrath is often an over-costed diabolic edict or topple.

    Humility is often just as good as wrath with an Elspeth and/or factory on the table too in many matches.

    When I smell merfolk and elves, I run wraths in the sideboard and at that point Dutch stax becomes almost identical to your build up there except Elspeths are the kill piece. A fast Elspeth is also absolutely awesome to land in a control match when they have used their permission on your chalices, 3spheres and crucibles.

    I have actually considered running angels in my sideboard for combo matches and then decided they were not worth the slots in the long run because combo just wins sometimes anyway. If they aren't playing a one-sided game of storming by turn three because you have the correct disruption on the table, then an angel and Elspeth are almost identical. Attempting to actually race a competent(note competent because they are few and far between in the average 1.5 tourney on m-l) combo player and you will lose every time.

    I'm sure that you have shitloads of hours of play and testing behind that build up there and that it is a good fit for an m-l trial or masters, but in those tournies you tend to see guys playing antiquated pet decks, janky homebrews because they assume since they are good at making decks in 1.x or standard, then 1.5 will be easy, a small handful of people with legitimately good up to date 1.5 decks and finally: you will see plenty of complete scrubs that are relying on the autopilot mode that AdN decks manage to deliver so frequently.

    I base the last type of player on the fact that I see no one with Doomsday/FL Tendrils in the lists and that is pretty much a surefire winning deck if a good player wants to exploit the m-l meta.

    So yes, your build seems good, but it targets the m-l meta. If I was going to bring a stax variant to an actual event that I expected a relatively up to date and diverse meta at (read:Grand Prix), I would opt for Dutch without giving it a second thought. In all honesty, you could have easily slipped that list into the Dutch stax thread and redceived similar or more feedback about regarding it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nihil Credo View Post
    With Crucible, you have a deck full of high-quality cocaine powder ready to be snorted from 20-year-old Kylie Minogue's ass. Play fucking four.
    -It could be about four of anything and I would agree.

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