The year was 1996. Our classes were winding down, and summer was right around the corner. Having started slinging spells around the beginning of the school year and officially hooked, my friends and I were abuzz with excitement for the upcoming new expansion that we had recently heard about, called Alliances, which was supposed to be like a “sequel” to Ice Age. This was a big deal to us, because this would be the first new expansion* that would come out since we started the game, and the fact that it tied into Ice Age, the big set of the last year that we all learned the game on, made it all the more awesome. This would also mark the time around when we stopped playing weird piles of 70-something cards—just because 60 wasn’t enough to fit all the cool spells we wanted to cast—and started playing something that more closely resembled “real” decks (trust me, we were still quite a ways off). I’m not sure where I saw the combo—maybe it was Inquest or maybe it was in the Duelist—but 12-year-old me was VERY fascinated by how the newly revealed Storm Cauldron interacted with the already potent Stasis-Kismet lock.

I had dabbled with Stasis, before, as I knew Stasis-Kismet was a thing from the few Magic-related magazine that were out there. The problem was that Stasis couldn’t put the game away by itself, and even with Kismet, you never really had a permanent lock; you only had until you either ran out of Islands to tap, with Boomerang sometimes serving as reset button. Storm Cauldron changed all of that, allowing you to pay for your Stasis forever, while also netting an additional mana every turn to help pay for your win-condition when you finally drew it. In my case, I went with a pair of Millstones, sometimes winning games with just a single activation (and A LOT of draw steps). I don’t remember EXACTLY what I played, but it probably looked something like this:

Evil Summer Camp '96

Artifacts (7)
Sol Ring
Storm Cauldron

Enchantments (8)

Spells (45)
Arcane Denial
Force of Will
Power Sink
Swords to Plowshare
Wrath of God
20 Lands (because 20 was the industry standard, back then)

The four Disenchants might look a little weird to people who didn’t play in the mid-late 90s, but back when creatures were bad (or just MORE bad, because I still think they’re bad) and Planewalkers did not exist as card types, Disenchant was often an auto four-of in any deck that played white, because artifacts and enchantments were much more relevant. Anyways, before we get back to 2013, let’s take one more quick trip in the time machine to 1997 and the printing of Visions. Visions gave us Chronatog, a more effecient replacement for Storm Cauldron, as it cost less mana AND it doubled as the kill card, since you deck your opponent by skipping all the rest of your turns. I don’t know if this deck ever actually put up any tournament results, but it was a force in my middle school playgroup!

I’ve heard stories of Stasis periodically rearing it’s ugly head in some fringe Legacy deck, but yet to see it happen since my foray into the format nearly two years ago. You can find some interesting brews that date as far back as 2009 in the forums on MTGS and back to 2009 on The Source. GerryT also shared his take on Stasis a little over a year ago, when he revisited his “bucket list,” though I’m not sure if he ever actually played it in an event, so it probably remains on the list. I don’t think we’ve had a true Stasis enabler, though, until Ral Zarek came along. As Sam Black so aptly put it, “Ral Zarek does everything you could possibly want with a Stasis.” It was not Sam Black whom I took inspiration from when originally building my list, however, but instead, Adam Prosak. The one big takeaway from Black that I incorporated was the use of Daze. For reference, here’s the final version of what I’ve been working with over the last few days (“final” does not mean best, but just the last version I tested with; I’ve done a bit of minor tinkering here and there):

Ral Zarek's Prison

Planeswalkers (6)
Jace, the Mind Sculpor
Ral Zarek

Spells (32)
Back to Basics
Chain of Vapor
Force of Will
Spell Pierce
Spell Snare
Ancestral Vision

Land (22)
10 Island
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Volcanic Island
Sideboard (15)
Back to Basics
Red Elemental Blast
Relic of Progenitus
Vedalken Shackles

How’d We Fare?

Please note that these results should be taken with a grain of salt and are not meant to be scientific. I did tweaking and modifying between rounds, at times. This is merely a test to see if this deck can hold its own in this wildly diverse format!

Versus Grixis Delver (with Young Pyromancer!)

You can watch here!

He rides an early Delver to victory. I get some card advantage by resolving an Ancestral Vision, but he already has too much of a tempo advantage thanks to his land destruction. This game felt almost exactly like I was playing against a RUG Delver deck. Game goes VERY long, but he eventually gets me when I can no longer pay for a stasis and allow his two Insectile Aberrations to untap. This deck looks super fun and I want to play it. I think that now makes at least three decks that I would like to play and would have access to if I go ahead and splurge on Wastelands (on MODO). Ugh.

I should also note that at this point, I am still playing Stifle in the deck. It was one of my earlier cuts, and I’ve been happier without it.

Versus Grixis Delver (Again!)

For whatever reason, the sound worked fine for the first video, then we started getting feedback problems, so this is the last one. Here’s the link.

I blow him out with Fire on his Bob and Lavamancer. Then Jace starts Jacing and he scoops. I kind of misplay Brainstorm a little in game two, but am eventually able to lock things up with Ral and Stasis, after burying my opponent in card advantage. I do somewhat question my opponent’s decision to overextend into the Pyroclasm that he had already seen with Gitaxian Probe.

Versus UWr Miracles

I guess you could say that this was a foe that I had some familiarity with.

I win a pivotal battle early in game one by Dazing the turn two Counterbalance to follow the turn one Top. After that, I drew an obscene amount of cards, Jace started Jacing under the protection of a Stasis, and he scooped. The board looked like this!


I was punished for keeping a one-land hand in game two. Despite having an Ancestral Vision and a Brainstorm, he was able to lock me out with the CounterTop before I found my second land. I scooped to save some time on the clock; my deck can often require a large number of turns to win. In game three, we have a bit of a fight over the Ancestral Vision that I suspended on turn one. He plays Meddling Mage, naming AV, but I have Fire to keep my hopes of drawing a million cards alive. Then he goes for Counterbalance (after another turn one Top) with Force backup, but I have a Force and Red Blast. Now we’re both down to two cards. Except I have a Vision about to come off suspend! Eventually, we reach this board state:




Yes! Jace and Venser playing together! Super Friends! Assemble!!!

Versus Manaless Dredge

Ooops. This was a bad day to forget the graveyard hate. While I now pack a pair of Relics in my board, I had ZERO graveyard hate in this matchup, so it was pretty ugly. I also forgot to let him be on the play in game two, but it probably would not have mattered, because dredge is insane against anyone who has no way to interact with it. Once in awhile, we need a reminder about why it’s important to have a sideboard that can deal with graveyard shenanigans.

Versus ANT (Two Times!)

I ended up playing the same opponent twice in a row. The only thing I really have to say about the second time is that I felt a little badly for the other player for playing me again, because this felt like a terrible matchup for him. I just have so much maindeck free countermagic that it becomes very difficult for him to find an opportunity to go off, even with all of his discard. After board, I just have MORE counters for him.

Versus Shardless BUG

These are the decks you want Back to Basics and/or Blood Moon for. Unfortunately, he had Golgari Charm for my B2B. One thing I’ve noticed in my limited Ral-Stasis vs Shardless BUG experience: ‘goyf gets REALLY big (although I did unlock the achievement of killing one with Fire, early in game one). I was defeated in two straight games in this match. As many pros have recently mentioned, Shardless BUG is a very strong choice, because in a matchup of Planeswalker decks, Shardless BUG is the best Planeswalker deck, because it is the best at pressuring opposing ‘walkers.

Versus Omni-Clash

Drew Levin beat me in two quick games here, in very similar fashion. He was able to assemble Show and Tell into Omniscience on turn three or four in both games. With double counter backup. And a spare mana to pay for Daze! I’m not sure if this is a bad matchup, because I thought I had reasonable chances against (non-Dredge) combo, due to all of my countermagic. Maybe this was a case of running into a skilled pilot, playing the deck he’s been championing for the last few months.

Success! Sort of?

Okay, we didn’t set the world on fire with this deck. We won some, we lost some. The final record was 4-4, but that’s a small sample size against a weird distribution of decks. While I feel like this deck can pull out wins, I still wouldn’t take it to a major tournament, and I don’t think it would help GerryT get Stasis off his bucket list (if he hasn’t, already), but I could take it to a small, local event and feel good about it. I think it’s a few** cards away from being able to contend with decks like Shardless BUG, that seem to have it all. Maybe those cards exist, and I’ve just overlooked them in my first attempt at the archetype. I’ll mess around with this list for a bit, since I’m not testing for any major events.


*I’m not counting Homelands, because it came out close enough to when we started playing, while we were still exploring the readily available Ice Age, 4th Edition, Chronicles, and Fallen Empires. It sort of just blended in with everything else we were trying to absorb. Alliances was the first set to come out after we had a decent idea of what we were doing, and reached the point where we would say, “Okay, we’re ready for something new.”

**Okay, maybe I’m understating things a LITTLE bit. That particular matchup felt like I brought a knife to a gunfight.

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