This week on Brew Corner I would like to discuss an old idea that has finally become a reality. For anyone who has been following my column, I am a griefer. I play a lot of decks that cause my opponents issues. I already spoke of my love for Pox in this article. Well, Stax is another old favorite of mine.

Stax is a prison style of deck that looks to even the playing field with cards like Chalice of the Void, Trinisphere, Tangle Wire and other high impact cards like Humility to top them off. Using Sol lands (Ancient Tomb) and artifact mana from cards like Mox Diamond and Chrome Mox we are able to power out early prison pieces in order to slow the game down and give us the ability to shift the pace of the game down a few gears until we can land our “bomb” cards  that will eventually help us take over and win a game. Without further ado here is the deck:

WR Stax

Lands (24)
Ancient Tomb
Arid Mesa
Marsh Flats

Spells (36)
Ajani Vengeant
Blood Moon
Chalice of the Void
Chandra, Pyromaster
Chrome Mox
Crucible of Worlds
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Mox Diamond
Outpost Siege
Sideboard (15)
Baneslayer Angel
Blood Moon
Exalted Angel
Leyline of Sanctity
Outpost Siege
Timely Reinforcements

Fast Mana

Ancient Tomb, Mox Diamond and Chrome Mox are here to speed us into an early Chalice of the Void and our high priced lock pieces such as Trinisphere, Blood Moon, Humility and Moat. The Sol lands essentially put us ahead a land drop and Mox Diamond and Chrome Mox can help to protect our mana from Wasteland and fix our mana adding the colors that we need.

Lock Pieces

Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere head up this section as they are the usual suspects. Chalice of the Void being put on 1 shuts down many cards in all the top tier Legacy decks from Delver of Secrets to Lightning Bolt and Deathrite Shaman. Trinisphere making both players pay 3 mana for each spell casts keeps players honest by restricting the amount of spells that they can cast in a turn.

Here we also have Blood Moon which can shut some decks completely out of the game by restricting the mana that players can produce and therefore restricting the spells that they can cast. Humility is there to nerf creature strategies and also buys us even more time as a result. Pairing Humility with Moat will also lock many people out of combat keeping us safe from hoards of creatures. Crucible of Worlds can help to produce a lock alongside Wasteland when deployed under a Trinisphere.

Win Conditions

Here we have Batterskull as a pseudo creature for us to win through combat. Alongside Humility our Germ tends to be the largest creature on the battlefield at a whopping 5/5 with Vigilance and Lifelink. Alongside Batterskull we have a few Planeswalkers in Ajani Vengeant, Chandra, Pyromaster and Elspeth, Knight-Errant.

Elspeth is a staple of White based Stax decks because she can produce tokens, pump a creature and if the need arises her ultimate can protect our lock pieces to prevent our opponents from breaking free from our control. Ajani Vengeant is a newcomer here and his +1 ability can help with keeping an attacker tapped down, a basic land tapped while under a Blood Moon. His -2 ability can give us a win condition and allow us to buy back some life versus aggro decks. His ultimate as a one sided Armageddon is a great way to produce a concession from an opponent if we haven’t won quite yet. Chandra, Pyromaster is not quite an ideal win condition but she does provide much needed card advantage that many Stax decks tend to lack. Paired with Humility and her +1 ability can take out creatures 1 at a time and keep an opponent’s board down helping us lock the game out.

Initial Thoughts

When testing this deck I found it to be capable of many powerful turn one and turn two plays. More often than not I would have access to three mana on turn one and the ability to cast a Chalice at one, Blood Moon, Trinisphere or Crucible of Worlds. The quick follow up potential of a Humility, Planewalkers or even an Outpost Siege to start gaining card advantage seemed the norm.Variance did hit me a bit in a few games when I drew nine lands over eleven turns, drew no lands in seven turns, etc were disheartening at times, though that is the nature of variance that we are all familiar with in Magic: The Gathering.

Changes that I have made since the initial concept of the deck include dropping the 3rd Chrome Mox that was originally in the list. I also increased the fetchland count to ensure we have access to Plains. I had considered running Armageddon, but went with Blood Moon for the lasting effect. As the decks stands I am very happy with list as is and really enjoyed having access to Outpost Siege and Chandra that provides card advantage that Stax is usually lacking.

Match Ups

As with any prison style deck the combo match up is generally very good. Our lock pieces and taxes as well as our mana denial do great things to keep us from losing to a swift win condition such as Tendril of Agony, Release the Ants or a Reanimate on Grislebrand.

Aggro match ups such as tempo Delver strategies can be a problem for traditional Stax variants whereas because of Blood Moon they can be quite favorable for this variant for the fact that a turn 1 moon can just lock a Delver deck out of playing anything other than Lightning Bolt.

Control match ups can be very long and tedious, however I do feel that this WR Stax build can tend to be favored since we do have our own forms of card advantage and our lock pieces get better as the game progresses and we can add additional pieces to the board.

I hope you all enjoyed this lesson in creating misery for your opponents, Happy brewing to each and every one of you. If anyone has an idea for a brew that they would like to see, I will gladly take requests and challenges in the comments. 🙂

Aaron Gazzaniga manages a restaurant and in his off time has been an avid magic player/brewer since 2003. Having begun in Odyssey Standard Block and always favoring control and prison style decks, we come to this moment in time where Aaron finally gets to talk about and share his ideas.

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