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Thread: [Deck] Armageddon Stax

  1. #1
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    [Deck] Armageddon Stax

    Yes, I know, another Stax thread. I have already made several on this site. However, I think the Angel Stax thread just isn't the right place for the discussion of this version of the deck. The decks are quite different.

    Two cards have been printed in the last year that contribute significantly to this deck. The first, from Time Spiral, has a small effect, but it is one that Stax takes great advantage of.



    The functionality here is pretty obvious.

    An even better card was printed only a few months ago in Planar Chaos. I have been testing and rebuilding the deck with it since then and I think it is just the kind of improvement the deck needs:



    This card seems to be designed for this deck. It has a very nice casting cost, is difficult to kill (even with incinerators), and it affects the board immediately. It is really excellent in supporting the Stax strategy.

    This card effectively replaces Wrath of God as the primary mechanism for dealing with creatures. This also conveniently opens up more slots in the deck by allowing the expensive and sometimes vulnerable Angel to be replaced. In turn, this dramatically loosens the mana restrictions of cards in the deck by significantly lowering the curve and never requiring double white mana.

    The obvious card to use in the open space is Armageddon. This card is cheap, powerful, and synergistic with the deck. After modifying the core of the deck and updating the manabase, the deck looks something like this:

    4 Armageddon
    4 Magus of the Tabernacle
    4 Smokestack
    4 Ghostly Prison
    4 Trinisphere
    4 Crucible of Worlds
    4 Chalice of the Void
    4 Engineered Explosives
    4 Mox Diamond
    4 Ancient Tomb
    3 City of Traitors
    3 Crystal Vein
    4 Mishra's Factory
    4 Flagstones of Trokair
    6 Plains

    The way the deck is constructed now allows for way more synergy and consistency than was possible before. The combos that the deck has relied on previously are still present, but are supplemented by as strong and even stronger ones.

    Almost all the cards have strong synergies with each other, but I will list some of the important ones:

    Armageddon + Magus of the Tabernacle
    Armageddon + Ghostly Prison
    Armageddon + Crucible
    Armageddon + Trinisphere
    Smokestack + Crucible
    Smokestack + Trinisphere
    Engineered Explosives + Chalice of the Void
    Flagstones of Troikar + Armageddon
    Mishra's Factory + Crucible

    There are more, and depending on the matchup some weak ones can become very strong.

    The deck has evolved and seen a lot of discussion since 2007. Skeggi helpfully provided a collection of links to specific card discussions that have popped up over that time period. You should check them out if you are interested (especially before bringing the same idea up again!). - Nihil Credo [25-2-2009]

    Quote Originally Posted by Melwis View Post
    Quick question: Isn't Flagstones what makes your Magus survive after you have resolved an Armageddon? Why is everyone "only" running 3?
    (just follow the blue button).

    About PainterStone:
    clicky.

    About Moat:
    clicky. Ofcourse the discussion continues after this post.

    About Peace Keeper:
    Quote Originally Posted by Bane of the Living View Post
    1 Peacekeeper
    (just follow the blue button).

    About Scroll Rack: clicky.

    Short view on Tabernacle land vs. Magus: clicky. Ofcourse the discussion continues after this post.

    About Serum Powder:clicky. Ofcourse the discussion continues after this post.

    About CotV in the sideboard and Winter Orb: clicky.

    About splashes: clicky.

    Posts by Fred Bear are lengthy and insightful: clicky. I've included these because they're kind of the basics of what you must know about Stax. FB shares his all his findings, whether succesful or not, and lays them before you in a clear manner.

    About green splash: clicky. Ofcourse the discussion continues after this post.

    About dropping Smokestack: clicky. Ofcourse the discussion continues after this post.

    General post about stuff: clicky.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bane of the Living View Post
    Concerning Windborn Muse-
    This card has already been brought up several times but the shared opinion is he is too fragile without the CotV@1 to sustain his life. Ghostly Prisons enchantment awesomeness hurt aggro stategies since so few are capable of removing enchantments. Creatures however..

    Concerning Geddon-
    Its simply way better than Catastrophe and Cataclysm is antisynergistic with your decks mission. If you have Ravages of War Id do a 2/2 split to avoid the mage issues.

    Concerning Null Rod-
    I think the fact it messes with your mox, factories, and explosives is good enough reason not to mess with it. There are simply other options that remain one sided. I feel the same about Suppression Field. The card could stunt the opponents development but not quite enough and the longer the games draw out the weaker its effect would get. Paying 2 to fetch a land would be ok. Paying 2 to Vial out a Warcheif is still way too good. IMO Explosives helps fill the Suppression Field role but actually reduces the perms in play and allows you to drop the all mighty CotV@2.

    Concerning Leonin Abunas/Karmic Justice-

    I did try this guy at some point before I decided to foresake the "Cover your Ass" plan. Its simply not worth it to remain reactive. Even Karmic Justice is a card that DOES NOTHING. No really. Cards that only 'turn on' when your opponent does a certain something are usually bad. The only instance I can think to argue that is Standstill because it 'turns on' when the opponent plays any spell, not one that will blow up Crucible.

    In short, being proactive lockdeck > being a reactive control deck.
    Last edited by Nihil Credo; 02-25-2009 at 08:29 AM.

  2. #2

    Re: Armageddon Stax

    If you're dropping all the double white cards out of the deck, splashing becomes more feasible. The first thing that comes to mind is Academy Ruins for a potential Explosives every turn, and defense against artifact destruction. Also the splash obviously makes Explosives better.

    Here's a weird idea. How about Mobilization? It is even better than Crucible at breaking the symmetry of Smokestack. Obviously it has anti-symmetry with Magus, but I'm not sure if that's a reason to not test it, since it's not like this deck lets your opponent keep many blockers on the board.

    The main thing I'm worried about with no Angel is that this deck already had some difficulty winning before the round was over, and now it loses its fastest kill condition.

    Also, I still really hate Crystal Vein.

  3. #3
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    Cait Sith's going to be pissed. He's been working on this deck for a month.
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  4. #4

    Re: Armageddon Stax

    I built this exact deck last week. It's really solid. Didn't think of the Academy Ruins but that seems even better. I'll do some testing. Works well with crucible, they wreck it, you drop ruins and activate then shove them back under wastelock. :)

  5. #5
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    Ive been testing the new list a bit and I like it alot. It does seem to take longer to kill the opponent without Angels but as always concession is our first method of kill.

    Wrath needed to leave the deck some time ago. It was too slow to answer Empty the Warrens and there was always a strain for the double white. Ive done very well with Angel Stax in the past and most of the matches I lost were ones where Wrath sat dead in my hand. Its useless against combo whereas the new list has virtually no dead combo cards. (Ghostly Prison helps against EtW)

    1) What is your current sb? The one posted in the Angel Stax thread was..

    4 Tormods Crypt
    4 Tangle Wire
    4 Defense Grid
    3 Bottled Cloister

    Have you changed it at all? With the lack of angels I've been thinking of replacing Crypt with Jotun Grunt to mirror the functionality but broaded my sb options to add quicker kill methods.

    2) What are your opinions on Seal of Cleansing/Disenchant? Is this role maintained well solely by Engineered Explosives?

    3) How do you feel about running 1 Dual land to fetch with Flagstones. It would obviously be to cast EE for a higher amount. Killing Kataki is important in my meta and the only way to do so is to have a Mox Diamond. Something I dont want to rely on playing against Kataki obviously.
    Now playing real formats.

  6. #6
    That other Stax guy
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    First off thanks for creating a new thread for the more modern version of monowhite Stax. Just yesterday I was going to ask for an updated primer in the old thread but my PC crashed (more like exploded). I had an almost finished piece about my version of the deck that got lost but whatever...
    Anyway my current list looks very similar to yours so I'm looking forward to reading more about your thoughts on the deck.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    Quote Originally Posted by Bane of the Living View Post
    1) What is your current sb? The one posted in the Angel Stax thread was..

    4 Tormods Crypt
    4 Tangle Wire
    4 Defense Grid
    3 Bottled Cloister

    Have you changed it at all? With the lack of angels I've been thinking of replacing Crypt with Jotun Grunt to mirror the functionality but broaded my sb options to add quicker kill methods.

    2) What are your opinions on Seal of Cleansing/Disenchant? Is this role maintained well solely by Engineered Explosives?

    3) How do you feel about running 1 Dual land to fetch with Flagstones. It would obviously be to cast EE for a higher amount. Killing Kataki is important in my meta and the only way to do so is to have a Mox Diamond. Something I dont want to rely on playing against Kataki obviously.
    Great questions. I'd be happy to answer.

    1) The only slot that's definite in the SB is Defense Grid. The other cards I am using based on past experience with this archetype. I like Tangle Wire because it dominates slower decks but it may be unnecessary. I also like Tormod's Crypt because free graveyard removal can be really good, but again it may not be an important asset.

    2) I think Seal of Cleansing is really good, but it does not 2-for-1 and it does not deal with creatures. There is a lot of removal in the deck, but Aggro is the hardest deck to beat and there's no reason to make it harder. I think Seal is a fine addition to the sideboard.

    3) Using a dual land to boost Explosives is fine as long as you aren't worried about Wasteland. With the way the deck is set up now, it is very hard to remove Stax's white source once it is in play. I like having this stability but if this is not a concern, and if cards like Kataki are actually being played, then I think it would be an improvement to have access to another colored source.

  8. #8
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    What about Suppression Field? Doesn't that hose a lot of random stuff? (Like cycling, and basically all permanents with activated abilities)

    Even though I played Angel Stax, my build is very similar to yours except that I have Angels instead of Engineered Explosives. As I play Angel Stax, I found that the only time I was able to put down an Angel is when I have almost a complete lock.

    What about Rishadan Ports instead of Crystal Vein? Does that slow the deck down too much, and count as a "win-more" card?

    Well, in the recent local tournaments I been to, this is my sideboard.

    4x Defense Grids
    4x Suppression Field
    2x Aura of Silence
    3x Sphere of Law
    2x Humility

    Sometimes, it is -2 Humility, -1 Sphere of Law and +3 Bottled Cloisters.

    Defense Grids is a pretty obvious sideboard. I kind of mentioned Suppression Field above.

    What do you guys think about Aura of Silence? It might help versus affinity, enchantress, or just decks that play problematic artifact and enchantments. I know the double White might lead some mana troubles.

    After bringing Angel Stax three times to my local tournment, I find that Sphere of Law is a somewhat "win-more" card since Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere slows Sligh and/or burn decks down.

    I seem to have problems with decks that have land destruction combined with discarding. (Like Deadguy-ale type decks) What kind of sideboard material should I use against those?

  9. #9
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    Bottled Cloister sort of helps against discard.

    I must say, I love how the deck has changed over time. I'm just worried about it's speed. I know it's a lock deck, but it seems like you give combo decks too much time to find an answer to your lock (which is also bad, since you don't have any system for drawing additional cards)
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  10. #10
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    Quote Originally Posted by edgewalker View Post
    Bottled Cloister sort of helps against discard.

    I must say, I love how the deck has changed over time. I'm just worried about it's speed. I know it's a lock deck, but it seems like you give combo decks too much time to find an answer to your lock (which is also bad, since you don't have any system for drawing additional cards)
    I thought that Trinisphere and Chalice of the Void are a natural hosers of Combo Decks? Of course, you would have to mulligan until you have one with a double mana land.

  11. #11

    Re: Armageddon Stax

    4x City of Traitors
    4x Ancient Tomb
    4x Wasteland
    4x Flagstones of Trokair
    8x Plains

    4x Magus of the Tabernacle
    3x Exalted Angel

    4x Ghostly Prison
    4x Smokestack
    4x Crucible
    4x Trinisphere
    4x Chalice of the Void
    4x Mox Diamond
    2x Armageddon
    1x Ravages of War
    2x Powder Keg


    SB
    4x Hanna's Custody/Sacred Ground
    4x Suppression Field
    4x Porphyry Nodes
    1x The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
    2x Powder Keg


    I chose wasteland over factory because I just wanted to really focus on mana-denial. I really don't like crystal vein, never even liked it in R/G stax personally, so with all the white sources, I stuck with exalted angel as my other finisher.

    As far as the sideboard, Red Death and Homebrew tend to slaughter me in testing and in tournament play, so sacred grounds are in for them and for the rather funny mirror match. Noone plays solidarity, if they did I would consider a mix of Hanna's Custody and Rule of Law.

    Suppression Field is great against alot of decks, especially against goblins.

    Nodes is good against goblins on the draw, when I tend to side chalices out. This is an iffy slot, since most other aggro decks would be vulnerable to chalice @ 1, making nodes bad. An iffy call and one that merits more testing.

    Tabernacle: great, but not MD material since it doesn't produce mana. Bring it in against red combo and any aggro.

    Powder Keg: the extra two in the board are really only for EtW.
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  12. #12
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    Quote Originally Posted by ClearSkies View Post
    I seem to have problems with decks that have land destruction combined with discarding. (Like Deadguy-ale type decks) What kind of sideboard material should I use against those?
    I dont remember who I got the idea from perhaps Silverdragon, but Duskrider Peregrine is amazing against black decks. He leaves your hand as early as turn one to be suspended safe from discard and can be protected from Lightning Bolt and StP with Chalice of the Void.

    He can block and kill Hippies all day which is huge. He also works as another win condition post board should you need to add any.

    @sammiel
    Whats with Powder Kegs? Are you hoping to hit things that cost 2+ alot? Ive found the ability to drop EE for one with chalice@1 quite key to matchups where you see turn one Mongoose/Vial ect.
    Now playing real formats.

  13. #13
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    Quote Originally Posted by TheInfamousBearAssassin View Post
    Cait Sith's going to be pissed. He's been working on this deck for a month.
    Meh, his is better. This one isnt quite there yet.
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    I really don't like the e.e.
    You cast them @0 (only empty, too narrow), or @1, must be lucky with mox.
    The deck like this has very hard time vs threshold with tarmagoyf (became a 6/7 so easy).
    You cannot deal with single big creatures.
    Solidarity match up is also hard to my testing, you simply hope to draw 7 cards good vs combo. Crucible, magus, smokestack.. combo doesn't care

  15. #15
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    Quote Originally Posted by slyfer View Post
    I really don't like the e.e.
    You cast them @0 (only empty, too narrow), or @1, must be lucky with mox.
    The deck like this has very hard time vs threshold with tarmagoyf (became a 6/7 so easy).
    You cannot deal with single big creatures.
    Solidarity match up is also hard to my testing, you simply hope to draw 7 cards good vs combo. Crucible, magus, smokestack.. combo doesn't care
    This deck has a better chance against Solidarity than most others you realize. You just need good judgement as far as what hand to keep. The only completely irrelevant card to the matchup is Ghostly Prison. Find the hands that have the CotV and 3sphere or fast mana for very early Geddons and Stacks.

    I havent found it too hard to launch explosives for 2 with both Mox Diamond and a 1 of dual land to fetch off Flagstones. Tarmagoyf is indeed a problem but I find Magus is usually just big enough to hold him off when hes a 5/6. To be a 6/7 your opponent usually needs to play one of four sorceries or get lucky and counter a Ghostly Prison.
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  16. #16
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    I think the board needs a beatstick as a win condition against combo. I say Juggernaut or Angel. I'm definitely sure Juggernauts are better...

    As for a way to answer Goyf, run Morning Tide...
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    Ah, and one thing I hate (often happens in games) is this:
    I lose the dice roll, but my hand is like "tomb , chalice, flagstone, plain, trinisphere, crucible, smokestack", so I have the maximum play of chalice @1 turn 1, ecc...

    But

    Opponent starts with: land mongoose.
    I lay chalice 1. OK.
    He play land tarmagoyf. And it's pretty game over, because I'm under pressure, he keeps the counter only for smokestack
    So the problem is the "misallineament" of chalice due to the fact that I lose the dice roll.

    that's why I like to have a couple of wasteland to just abuse crucible more, and wrath of god, so I can hold on better the creatures together with ghotsly prison.

    thanks for the morningtide tech....can it replace tormod's crypt? hmmm not sure.

  18. #18
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    I believe going all-in with the mana denial/taxing strategy to be too dangerous. With as much randomness as can be faced in Legacy, the risk of just becoming a goldfish in the wrong matchup is far too great. And with the insane amount of free countermagic running around, do you really want to put all your eggs into a Crystal Vein into Crucible play?

    Maindeck Angels equip your deck with a credible creature threat that wins the game on its own; all too often have I won Game 2 by swinging with a hot flying chick on turn 3 (or 2), while my opponent stared helplessy at his Shattering Sprees.

    Most Stax versions IMO focus too much on the opening play. I see lists made almost entirely of 4-ofs; but there are only a few cards that really deserve this status. Separate between the cards that set up your game (Crucible, Trinisphere, Propaganda effects) and the ones that mop up the game (Smokestack, creatures or manlands, Wasteland recursion). The latter you can afford to wait to draw into, and the extra room will get you Angels to win otherwise unwinnable games.

    Lastly, I've found Faith's Fetters to be great tech in the SB, practically a life-gaining Vindicate for the deck. At the very least, you can never have too many ways to shut down Vial.

    Right now, the following list is my favourite deck to play in the format:

    // Lands
    4 [EX] City of Traitors
    3 [4E] Mishra's Factory
    4 [TE] Ancient Tomb
    4 [TSP] Flagstones of Trokair
    8 [UNH] Plains
    2 [TE] Wasteland

    // Creatures
    3 [PLC] Magus of the Tabernacle
    3 [ON] Exalted Angel

    // Spells
    4 [SH] Mox Diamond
    4 [MR] Chalice of the Void
    4 [CHK] Ghostly Prison
    4 [DS] Trinisphere
    4 [FD] Crucible of Worlds
    3 [P3] Ravages of War
    3 [REW] Armageddon
    3 [US] Smokestack

    // Sideboard
    SB: 1 [PLC] Magus of the Tabernacle
    SB: 1 [TE] Wasteland
    SB: 1 [US] Smokestack
    SB: 3 [US] Disenchant
    SB: 4 [9E] Defense Grid
    SB: 2 [LE] Windborn Muse
    SB: 3 [RAV] Faith's Fetters
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  19. #19
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    Re: Armageddon Stax

    Just bragging here, the Duskrider Peregrines were in fact my idea and so far they are the best of all the cards I tested.
    My current list has 3 Powder Kegs main because they are better against an unknown opponent. Imagine this hand: Plains, Mox Diamond, Ancient Tomb, Explosives, 3 irrelevant cards (more lands, Magus, Armageddon or Smokestack). Do you set Explosives at 0, 1 or 2? Do you play them at all? With Keg the only question here would be what to pitch for the Mox.
    It can be relevant to hit Enchantments with Explosives but I don't care about Sacred Ground (especially game 1), should I?
    My conclusion is that Explosives starts of a bit weaker due to the lack of information about your opponent's hand (and maybe deck in general) but gets as good or better than Keg the longer the game goes on.
    Before I leave I have another interesting info for you. Don't board in Tormod's Crypt against Threshold. I tested a lot versus two different Thresholddecks (UGw with Mages and UGw with Counterbalance) and they never helped. Tarmogoyf couldn't care less and 1/1 Mongooses are still permanents that either got stopped by all the other cards in your deck anyway or need 2-3 turns at most to get big again. I had at least 2 games where I played first turn Crypt and my opponent played first turn Pithing Needle on MISHRA'S FACTORY ignoring the Crypt and winning anyway (ok he didn't totally ignore it he just played around it with ease).
    Crypt like Tangle Wire has almost no impact on the current boardstate but at least Tangle Wire temporarely attacks your opponents ressources to help your primary gameplan.
    edit: I played Faith's Fetters for a short period of time too but trading 1-1 with a 4 mana card that can later be Disenchanted and generally doesn't have good synergies with Smokestack wansn't that hot imho.
    Last edited by Silverdragon; 06-14-2007 at 11:53 AM. Reason: didn't want to doublepost
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  20. #20

    Re: Armageddon Stax

    Well, I'll probably earn a reputation as a long-poster after this one, but I'm going to post a lot of my information (as it applys to the comments in this new thread so far) from the last 4 months of testing. I had originally planned to take White Stax to Flash Prix, but then work had different plans for me - so I have tested most of the match-ups in detail with several iterations of builds ranging from Angel-to-Angelless and everything in between.

    As Machinus points out in the original post, this deck relies on amazing synergy of the cards throughout the deck. But don't let anyone tell you differently - Armageddon is easily the strongest card in the deck. The only 2 cards I disagree with in Machinus' build are lands - Mishra's Factory and Crystal Vein. Nothing in the deck is broken enough to require Crystal Vein. Don't get me wrong, you really like the boost of 2-mana lands and you want to play them, but I have found that too often when you need the boost from Vein - you need the land in play more. Mishra's Factory is average-to-below average in the deck on its own. It requires other cards to be anything better - i.e. you need Crucible to be able to recur it and you really won't be attacking with it until you have already locked them out making it win-more in that instance. My biggest question to Machinus is - how does this decklist improve (over recent Angel Stax builds) at least the major matchups (Goblins, Threshold, TES, CRET Belcher, Boros, Landstill) that you might expect to see at a large tournament?

    To Lich's comments:

    Academy Ruins is bad in this deck. It falls into the 'Danger of Cool Things' category in my opinion. You need to run at least 2 to make it better than random plus you need to run a blue land splash so you don't rely on Mox Diamond plus you need to have something to recur (which shouldn't be so hard). It just doesn't fit the deck's strategy or goals. Which artifact is worth 3-mana plus essentially 2 turns to get into play?

    Mobilization is another nice idea that underperforms in practice. Its biggest drawback, though, is that it just doesn't play as nicely with the other cards in the deck. It won't work with Magus out (and Magus is just as strong as Machinus claims, so I would not cut him) and to 'break' the Smokestack symmetry, you need to create two soldiers per turn (WW). If I were to pay and then WW for a card to be effective, there's a different one I would include .

    To Bane's Questions (and Machinus' first set of answers)...

    Specifically which decks are Tangle Wire and Tormod's Crypt good sideboard options against? I always get nervous that I am not testing the proper match-ups when I see suggestions like these, so I am really interested in the answer - not trying to be a smart guy. I have never had consistent success with Tangle Wire and I never know what I would really want to board out for Crypt since in most of the match-ups that I think it would be useful in, I believe there are better choices.

    Specifically which aggro is the hardest to beat and why? I have not found this to be the case at all in my testing (but I am also sure you are facing 'tougher' opponents - no offense to my playtest partners intended). I would not by any means call it easy, but many aggro decks are simply shut down by Ghostly Prison and Magus followed by an Armageddon. It may sound like I am oversimplifying it, but Chalice, Trinisphere, and Smokestack all give them problems too and will usually stall enough for you to draw into a 'closer'.

    As far as the Seal of Cleansing/Disenchant conversation, I have found Seal>Disenchant, but Aura of Silence is easily better than both and I've not had that much difficulty making to to WW for the casting (I had originally started using it for difficult Enchantress matches, but it has many other uses).

    It's my belief that running 1 dual to 'fetch' with Flagstones is going to be far too random to evaluate objectively. You have to rely on destroying Flagstones or drawing a one-of dual to 'consistently' cast EE at 2? It just doesn't add up for me. If you have a specific target in mind, Powder Keg is almost always better, I realize that it will take a little longer (which is why I usually argue against Powder Keg), but it will be much, much more consistent. With that said, there are other options - I have currently been testing Coalition Relic or one of the 2-mana artifacts (which I still don't care for in a deck where casting Chalice @ 2 trumps most of the 2cc spells available to it) to consistently get the second color. This also seems more synergistic with Armageddon, etc.

    Towards Clear Skies comments:

    Against black decks, I have been having more success with Spiritual Focus than Bottled Cloister. I found Cloister to be too slow. It typically hits the board after a Duress and Hymn (or Gerrard's Verdict) and is really slowed down more by a wasted 2-mana land or Sinkhole. If they Duress you and let you keep it, it more often than not signals that they are already holding a Vindicate for it which essentially becomes a 3-mana Mind Twist. Long story short - I don't care for it, but recognize it is an option. With Focus, you will still discard, but then you replace the card and gain life which hurts their already pathetic clock. And let's face it, most of these games are really just a race until you drop a Chalice at 2 which turns off 90% of their deck.

    I think Suppression Field is another discussion that I would like to hear more opinions on. I have noticed it missing from both Machinus' maindeck and sideboard and Field was the card that the Angel Stax thread was initially touted around. Is it really not that good in the current meta? I know it is not very good against most of the top combo decks, but it is situationally very good vs aggro and some aggro-control. Has it fallen out of favor for 'stronger' selections? Or is this really just based on a projected shift in the meta?

    To Edgwalkers comment about Combo :

    What combo, specifically, would you be worried about? I have played a number of games vs CRET Belcher where if they don't win turn 1 or 2, they simply can't win (Trinisphere, Chalice, etc.). The same is true of TES and SI. I still sideboard Rule of Law giving me one more out vs most combo decks. That, of course, is not to minimize your point that you do win slowly, but if my opponent wants to play while locked out, I am fine sac'ing a land to Smokestack, draw searching for Magus, play a land and passing the turn - I have yet for a match to take more than 40 minutes (since I've grown more comfortable with the deck, of course).

    To Sammiel :

    You must have a ton of Goblins in your meta . I quit boarding out my Chalices, though. A Chalice at 2 stops most of their artifact/enchantment destruction - you may still get hit by a random Krosan Grip, but I would rather stop Tin-Street, Disenchant, Tranquil Domain, etc. for just one card (I recongnize, of course, that it may slow but not stop Piledriver and Tinkerer). And I have never wanted a Nodes. I think this is one of the few decks I have played in Legacy where I am happy to see a turn 1 Lackey.

    I never found an instance when I wanted to board in Hanna's Custody when I played them - it's just far too reactive. I feel the same way with Sacred Ground. In my testing the land destruction element of Black decks is much, much, much (I would go on ad infinitum here) less disruptive than their discard, and because of that, I've not found it worthwile to board against and if I did, I would play Karmic Justice over Sacred Ground - it might not get my land back, but it protects everything on my side of the table (not just lands) and hurts them all at once.

    To Slyfer's Comments :

    You articulated a point that I've been thinking for quite a while - This deck does have trouble with single big creatures. Smokestack is slow and to a certain degree Engineered Explosives is too. A good thought experiment to evaluate this is - What do you do if Red Death (on the play) goes Turn 1 Swamp, Dark Ritual, Negator? Without getting bogged down into the specifics of the situation (i.e. don't argue that this happens only X% of the time and can be dismissed as luck), what tools do we really have to combat this? There really are several creatures in the format that 'slowing down' doesn't hurt enough (especially if you are taking land damage - I'm looking at you Ancient Tomb).

    I haven't had much trouble with Threshold (it's 45-55-to-55-45 pre-board depending on draws/players/specific builds) and I actually prefer to see Tarmogoyf to Werebear. Engineered Explosives can be played at 2 as well. The Solidarity match-up (as Bane already said) is pretty good and if you resolve Armageddon, it's usually game over for them.

    To Win Conditions :

    I go back and forth on whether or not the deck really wants/needs another win condition. It would definitely not be Juggernaut in my mind. If I were to play another win condition, I'm thinking it would have to meet several criteria - a) has to be able to block if needed, b) has to have some form of evasion, and/or c) has to have some synergy with the rest of the deck. I tried Epochrasite and it's a neat trick to have a 4/4 keep coming back. Unfortunately, against a lot of decks Chalice at 2 is more powerful, Swords kills the recurrance, or you just wish like hell it was something better. I don't know if there is another win condition that meets all those criteria. I've also thought about Barren Glory as a possible win since it turns a lot of lock pieces into faster wins. I haven't fully tested that route, though.

    About Morningtide :

    Don't. Bane's suggestion of Jotun Grunt is 100% better for 1 reason - it's a permanent. One of the basic principles of a Stax deck is that you play more permanents and lessen the effect of Smokestack (you really can play this without Crucible and still be in ok shape a lot of the time). It's why I say Seal of Cleansing or Aura of Silence is > Disenchant, etc.

    For more discussion :

    What matchups are people having trouble with? (My bane is Landstill)
    Do people have matchup analysis to share? (I have lots if people want to see it)
    What other cards can be tried? (I've tested bunches of ideas and I'm sure I've missed even more)

    Apology :

    Sorry again for the long post. As I've said, I've been testing the deck for over 4 monthes now and have built up a lot of data and opinions about it. If you have specific questions, I will try to answer them.

    Fred Bear...

    To Nihil :

    I'm a little confused, you say that going 'all-in' on mana denial is too dangerous and present a list with 6 Armageddons? I feel the same way about your comment about 4-ofs - how is that different than the list you present? 4-ofs give a deck increased consistency and many-to-most of the cards in this deck fall into that category.

    I agree with Silverdragon's analysis of Faith's Fetters. A 4-mana one-for-one is not very effecient in this deck.
    Last edited by Fred Bear; 06-14-2007 at 12:30 PM. Reason: didn't want to doublepost

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