I’m sick of my EDH deck (mono-green, with Yeva, Nature’s Herald as my commander). My Red–Green Aggro Standard deck has been, basically, figured out by all opponents. I want to wait until rotation. I can’t settle on a new commander. I need something new to while away the dog-hot days of summer in New York. While putzing around on the ‘net, searching for “alternate MTG formats,” I stumbled upon the idea of The Stack, and I was immediately intrigued.

In his semi-expansive article on the subject, Adam Styborski describes The Stack as “a casual duel and multiplayer format where anywhere from a hundred or so cards up through a few thousand are individually selected (i.e. Singleton or “Highlander” restriction of one copy of any card) by the Stack owner, randomized, and played as a shared library and graveyard a chunk at a time.” A ton of cards? All smashed together in a casual format? I’m in. I set to work immediately pulling playable cards from my (tiny) collection and began going shopping.

I’ve talked to a lot of people about The Stack and everyone has played it a different way. Some called it Fat Stack, and they drew from a land pile and a spell pile. Others called it Type Four (or, I’ve heard, Type Fun), where players could flip any card over to play it face-down as a land. And then there’s the similar Danger Room, where a player selects a bunch of guild gates to serve as their mana base. In most of these variations the core idea is the same: Two to four players all draw from one Stack (i.e., library) and share one graveyard. The variations start coming into play with mana and opening hands.

After much deliberation I’ve decided, when I finish the “first draft” of my stack, that we will handle opening hands and drawing mana as such: An opening hand of seven cards, each player draws either three or four cards from the stack and then draws either four or three cards from a land station (set aside). Each turn, a player can draw from the top of the stack or draw a land.

I have a thought process behind this! I don’t want mana problems to be an overarching issue. I think you should only get mana-screwed if you mana-screw yourself. If you’re going hard into blue, drawing lots of Islands from the land deck, and then you draw some sick double-black-costed card off the top of the stack, that’s OK. You’ve done that to yourself. But I want the mana to feel somewhat malleable but not as free-wheeling as in Type Four.

So as I build The Stack I’m keeping the following guidelines in mind:

Each player starts at 40 life
Each player starts with seven cards
Each player draws three from the stack/four basic lands, or vice versa
Each player shares one library
Each player shares one graveyard
Each player draws for their turn from the stack or draws any one basic land

So what types of cards are going into The Stack? All types! I’m looking at this like a messy Cube. There are some powerful cards, and there are some real stinkers. Finding the balance between the two will be interesting, but right now I’ve got cards in there as diverse as Leonin Shikari, Thundermaw Hellkite, Student of Warfare, Pardic Miner, Merfolk Looter, Bountiful Harvest, Rakdos, Lord of Riots, and Priest of Titania!

And that’s just eight of the 400 or so cards I’ve pulled together right now. As the weeks of summer go on, I’ll keep everyone updated on the progress of The Stack. I’m trying to get some archetypes going including graveyard play, soldiers, black/white clerics, life gain, and other types of mini-archetypes. I know it’s supposed to be crazy and random, but if you draw a Sigil of the Empty Throne it would be so sweet to later pull a Fountain Watch, right? One can’t play in a vacuum of chaos (that’s what Mini-Masters is for)!

So stay tuned, as my girlfriend and I are spending the week in the mountains with my family and I’m bringing the first draft of The Stack for us to playtest. I’ll report back with my progress (and I’ll accept all your old, weird cards as donation, thankyouverymuch).

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