Let's Talk About Stax (Maybe)



  • So, I imagine like many blue players, this week's announcement has got me eyeballing my Workshops. Just as a change of pace. And since people have been talking about which more marginal strategies could be on the rise, I thought I'd bring up Stax.

    With potentially fewer tokens and potentially more PO shenanigans on the horizon, I'm curious to hear opinions from the sages here on whether or not Smokestack / Crucible / Null Rod might have just gotten a little bit better?

    Part of this for me is "teh feelz."

    I really enjoy prison shops, as a player. Smokestack is my pet card the way that Mana Drain is for some blue players. Just as I tend to think that combo is the best calling card for vintage to interest new players (restricted list, giant kills, infinite turns, what's not to love?), Stax is one of those decks that just makes people rage quite. Aggro MUD / Eldrazi Thorn kills you pretty quick, but Stax is a painful grind to a messy end. In other words, Shops pilots are all essentially griefer sadists...I keed... :D

    Stax has appeared in a handful of top 8's in the last year, poking out noticeably here and there. Is it just that it has been too slow for mentor, and maybe for the aggro mirror? I am just wondering about opinions based on the current metagame, if there would be a smokestack build that could hold its ground consistently.

    Looking at Andreas Andersson's list from the Swedish champs results as a jumping off point:

    21 LANDS
    4 Ancient Tomb
    1 Inventors' Fair
    4 Mishra's Factory
    4 Mishra's Workshop
    1 Mutavault
    1 Strip Mine
    1 Tolarian Academy
    1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    4 Wasteland

    8 CREATURES
    1 Karn, Silver Golem
    1 Lodestone Golem
    1 Phyrexian Metamorph
    4 Phyrexian Revoker
    1 Walking Ballista
    31 OTHER SPELLS
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Chalice of the Void
    2 Crucible of Worlds
    1 Mox Emerald
    1 Mox Jet
    1 Mox Pearl
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Sapphire
    4 Null Rod
    4 Smokestack
    1 Sol Ring
    4 Sphere of Resistance
    4 Tangle Wire
    4 Thorn of Amethyst
    1 Trinisphere

    SIDEBOARD
    1 Crucible of Worlds
    1 Dismember
    1 Ghost Quarter
    3 Grafdigger's Cage
    1 Jester's Cap
    2 Ratchet Bomb
    2 Razormane Masticore
    1 Relic of Progenitus
    1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
    2 Wurmcoil Engine

    There are a couple of neat things I enjoy about this deck and several questions for the minds that know better:

    • One is Karn. I just love some Karn. Why don't we see more Karn? In this list it looks like it might even be part of an aggro tactic and not just anti-mox? Make your smokestacks alive and kill kill kill? This deck doesn't look like it puts out a ton of damage in game one and just hopes to poke you to death with Revoker.

    • Second, I like Tabernacle in the board, though I wonder if it would be better to run in the main instead of Mutavault? For my feelings on Tabernacle see above thoughts regarding Karn.

    • Urborg: Not sure about this tech. Maybe I'm missing something. Give you something to do with workshop to pay activation costs? Ancient Tomb that doesn't damage you? This seems a little silly, but maybe it is secretly brilliant. Isn't vintage great???

    • This deck runs a LOT of null rod. I kind of love this. BUT. Is this overkill?

    • Enjoy your ONE Ballista. I get that Null Rod shuts this off and that you don't want a bunch of dead weight in your hand, but is one enough?

    • It seems like there might not be enough Dredge hate in his board as Dredge ended up winning the tournament...Maybe -1 Ghost Quarter +1 Cage? Sideboard plan seems to be tuned to go aggro in the mirror and punish mentor, but it still looks vulnerable. Maybe less Wurmcoil and More Ballista? Is there a Better transformational SB plan here or is it better to go all in hate tech?

    • Metamorph feels a little antique here, but I'm assuming it's to copy golem and your bomby critters in game two?

    Anyhoo. Would love to hear what folks think, especially if some of the more seasoned (as I am barely marinated) workshop pilots could chime in!



  • All time great thread title. I like big thread titles. I cannot lie.

    How does having 4 Null rods interact with this deck? Can it really beat the decks that just want to play Null Rod themselves... Like JacoDrazi or something of that sort?

    I feel like the card I would want against this deck would be Null Rod so it's odd to see it as a 4-of, am I missing something?



  • I run uba stax. Allows me to play Null Rod without being affected as much. My main matchup issue was tokens, but the new meta should favor stax. My list:

    Deck: Vintage Welder Shops.dec

    Counts : 60 main / 15 sideboard

    Creatures:10
    4 Goblin Welder
    2 Phyrexian Revoker
    1 Lodestone Golem
    3 Sundering Titan

    Spells:28
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Chalice of the Void
    1 Mana Crypt
    1 Mox Emerald
    1 Mox Jet
    1 Mox Pearl
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Sol Ring
    3 Null Rod
    4 Sphere of Resistance
    4 Crucible of Worlds
    1 Trinisphere
    3 Smokestack
    4 Uba Mask

    Lands:22
    4 Barbarian Ring
    4 Bazaar of Baghdad
    1 Mishra's Factory
    4 Mishra's Workshop
    3 Mountain
    1 Strip Mine
    1 Tolarian Academy
    4 Wasteland

    Sideboard:15
    3 Tormod's Crypt
    4 Grafdigger's Cage
    2 Shattering Spree
    1 Null Rod
    3 Ensnaring Bridge
    2 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

    Current list. Opinions?



  • @Topical_Island My understanding is that Null Rod here shuts off Ravager and similar MUD antics in addition to mana rocks, plus its usual job of shutting of key/vault etc. Stax runs static abilities that don't get hit by Rod but it also shuts off your Ballista. Jaco isn't running Sphere/Thorn and so its resistance to taxing effects might be undermined when coupled with Smokestack could be the lynchpin? This leads me to...

    @Naixin How is your Eldrazi match up? What do you do against other null rod decks? I guess in this case you just hope to run out null rod against combo to keep them from stomping all over you? Uba Stax also has the midgame Bazaar interactions, which requires more careful piloting, but at least provides a draw engine. Also, I'm sure there's an Uba Stax primer out there that I could look up to reveal exactly this, but why this build over Mono Brown Stax in the current meta?



  • @BandsWithOthers

    1. Welder is one of my favorite cards
    2. I think it has the edge in the brown mirror. Also with the advent of more lands, sundering titan is devastating
    3. I think uba mask is really good against all the blue decks that want to draw cards, especially now that they have mana to pay for thorn taxes. Mask is great against the EOT TFKs.

    But mostly because I like welder.


  • TMD Supporter

    @Naixin said in Let's Talk About Stax (Maybe):

    1. Welder is one of my favorite cards
    2. I think it has the edge in the brown mirror. Also with the advent of more lands, sundering titan is devastating
    3. I think uba mask is really good against all the blue decks that want to draw cards, especially now that they have mana to pay for thorn taxes. Mask is great against the EOT TFKs.

    But mostly because I like welder.

    I don't really want to rain on your parade, but all of my experience has left me feeling the exact opposite. Welder has a hard time surviving to do anything useful against a deck maindecking 4xBallista and 4xRevoker (and probably more removal in the sideboard); in return, it only makes your own manabase more fragile. Perhaps I have gotten lucky in my limited exposure, but I can't remember a time in the last ten years where I've been less afraid of Goblin Welder.



  • As long as Mentor is a legal four-of in the environment, every potential Smokestack deck must start with three Tabernacles in the main. Mentor, and Pyromancer before it, made Smokestack significantly worse. In order for Smokestack to be worthwhile, it needs to be hitting opposing lands, which means that you need to do all you can to complement what Smokestack does. Tabernacle clears away creatures, potentially leaving their opposing mana bases exposed.

    But the uptick in tempo strategies, beginning with the Delver/Pyromancer lists, culminating in Mentor, and its response, the various Ravager Shop decks, means that you have to accomplish a borderline impossible feat; gain control of the game quickly enough with your four mana Smokestack (which will take 2-3 turns to start doing real damage) before your opponent is able to hit you for a crippling, potentially lethal, amount of damage.

    It pushes you to want to run cards like Tabernacle, Smokestack and Ensnaring Bridge together, which leads you to running a bad control deck that can't tutor for the pieces that it needs. Null Rod also belongs in that list, which is unfortunate, because Null Rod and Smokestack are not friends. You don't want your opponent sacrificing Moxen that have been turned off; you want that Null Rod to be doing something else that otherwise impacts the game. Also, that Null Rod doesn't stack well (that you never want to see multiples), all while you're forced to run 3-4 in order to, hopefully, see one, puts you in a position where a deck that can rarely afford bad topdecks has guaranteed some number more bad topdecks than it would like.

    Singletons in Shop decks that don't have Kuldotha Forgemaster feel random. You're not guaranteed to hit them, which means that you want to take a step back and consider what they generally do (i.e., Walking Ballista as a threat, Karn, Silver Golem as a threat, etc.) in lieu of looking at what specific effect they bring to the table (i.e. Karn, Silver Golem as Mox control, Walking Ballista as creature control, etc.).

    To address the larger points:

    A lot of things pushed the Shop decks to where they're at right now. The token generator strategy was a stake through the heart of Smokestack builds because a quick Pyromancer/Mentor meant that an opponent wasn't sacrificing mana (either Moxen or lands), but was instead sacrificing tokens generated from their instants and sorceries. Smokestack, one of Shop's few true card-advantage engines, was suddenly potentially a card-loss engine.

    The rise of Swords to Plowshares, from a sideboard option that usually only saw two or so copies being played, to a maindeck four-of, punished Shop decks for investing mana in expensive threats. A six mana Wurmcoil Engine could be flicked away with a one mana instant. This pushed Shop decks to run cheaper, more efficient threats. The restriction of Chalice of the Void further pushed this home; Shop decks that wanted to try to run cards like Kuldotha Forgemaster weren't able to protect their threats, which meant that even if they were ready to try and establish threats on the board to end the game, the opponent could easily collapse their strategy.

    Dack Fayden is silently responsible for much of what we see today with Shop decks. A Shop deck must be able to answer a resolved Dack Fayden, which changes how Shop decks are built. Phyrexian Revoker is a necessity in all modern Shop decks. The restriction of Lodestone Golem, which, when paired with cards like Chalice of the Void set to zero, helped ensure that an early Dack wouldn't happen, further powered up Dack. Cards like Smokestack and Crucible of Worlds become far worse, as your opponent can easily steal them, and negate any advantage that you had hoped to gain from them. Cards like Arcbound Ravager become more powerful because of their ability to negate Dack's theft ability.

    Decks with fully developed fast mana bases, and a healthy dose of basic lands, were being run over by Gush decks. Gush decks weakness to Sphere effects, especially multiple Sphere effects, demanded that Shop decks max out on Sphere effects.

    Suddenly, you were looking at the cards that you needed to run, with your rough mana base, your fast mana, the full resistor package, and the creatures needed to combat Dack Fayden, and you didn't really have many open slots. Consider this:

    1 Black Lotus
    1 Chalice of the Void
    1 Mana Crypt
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Mox Jet
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Emerald
    1 Sol Ring
    4 Arcbound Ravager
    4 Phyrexian Revoker
    4 Sphere of Resistance
    4 Thorn of Amethyst
    4 Tangle Wire
    1 Trinisphere
    1 Lodestone Golem

    1 Strip Mine
    1 Tolarian Academy
    4 Ancient Tomb
    4 Mishra's Factory (Or Eldrazi Temple, or Cavern, or whatever, but four more lands)
    4 Mishra's Workshop
    4 Wasteland

    That's 48 cards before we decide what we want to be. I also don't think an argument can be made for running anything less than four Walking Ballista right now, unless you want to try and be some kind of Null Rod hard control deck (which I think is terrible). Add those in and we're at 52 cards.

    This sucks.

    There is little room for innovation because there's so much pressure to answer the problems at hand. Speaking as a Shop pilot who has had Crucible, and Smokestack, stolen by Dack Fayden, it's a miserable world.

    There was a real point in time back in early 2012 where you could run Espresso Stax (Smokestacks), Martello Shops (effectively Tinker), MUD Marinara (Welders) and be justified in deciding to run any of those decks. The token generators killed Espresso. The last time I ran the list to a successful finish, I had to switch out Karns for Steel Hellkites in order to try and make up the slack from Pyromancer/Mentor. The restrictions to Chalice of the Void and Lodestone Golem killed Martello Shops. The modern demands on a Shop deck's mana base (maxing out on Ancient Tombs) and the printing of Walking Ballista, I believe, finally ends the notion that a successful Shop/Welder deck can be constructed again.

    All the aforementioned strategies are outdated. We had a point where the various parts of 5C Stax had been taken apart and reassembled into their own full decks:

    Espresso Stax - Smokestack deck
    Martello Shops - Tinker deck
    Terra Nova - Sphere deck
    MUD Marinara - Welder deck

    Those decks are all in the past.

    The future of Workshop decks came when Javier David took the first of his 'Mudhoney' Ravager decks to play in the LCV in Spain. Several Americans played with iterations of his build, First they (/we) played with a Ravager/Lodestone deck (Rich Shay at Champs, Brian Schlossberg/Will Dayton at local events, me in the VSL play-in that I participated in). Then the restriction of Lodestone Golem saw the build get adjusted again, this time swapping in Eldrazi Temples for Mishra's Factories, so that the deck could run Thought-Knot Seers.

    Everyone is always hunting for their edge. I decided that I wasn't willing to quit playing Vintage over the restrictions to Chalice of the Void and Lodestone Golem back in September of 2016, which led me to see what I could do to attack the metagame from a different angle. I put together what I believe to be an advancement to the second round of Ravager decks (both the Thought-Knot Seer builds and their cousin, the Fleetwheel Cruiser builds), running a lower curve with Steel Overseers.

    Even if you believe that Steel Overseer isn't the best route for Shop decks, currently there are really only three variants that make sense (if your goal is to play competitive Vintage, and not just have a good time (which is fine; knowing what we want out of the things we do with our time is critical, and having fun is a good thing)); Car Shops, Ravager TKS and Blitzkrieg Shops (Overseer Ravager).

    I've droned on long enough.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.



  • @cutlex that's a fair assessment. However i play barbarian ring as a way to deal with revoker and depending on the meta, can play ingot chewer or shattering spree.

    I don't disagree that mono brown may be more fluid, but I think red shops is very underrated.

    At the end of the day, I still like welder, and being tier 2ish with welder is more fun than tier 1 without, especially if the potential drop in power isn't as high. For example, against blue decks, I feel like sundering titan is such a house.



  • ... let's talk about you and me ... (sorry)



  • @Prospero Thanks for the exhaustive and level headed view of the Shops meta!

    I guess one of the things that we are all waiting to see is whether or not Gush and Probe will adequately squash token strategies and require slower action (excluding combo, which gets rapidly drowned by Shops).

    I feel about Smokestack the way that @Naixin feels about Welder. But I think it is pretty fair to say that you are having to "Taxwalk" yourself to turn three before you get any traction. I DO like the idea of running three or four Tabernacle main.

    So going from your list:

    1 Black Lotus
    1 Chalice of the Void
    1 Mana Crypt
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Mox Jet
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Emerald
    1 Sol Ring
    4 Arcbound Ravager
    4 Phyrexian Revoker
    4 Sphere of Resistance
    4 Thorn of Amethyst
    4 Tangle Wire
    3 Smokestack
    1 Trinisphere
    1 Lodestone Golem
    4 Walking Ballista
    2 Crucible of Worlds

    1 Strip Mine
    1 Tolarian Academy
    4 Ancient Tomb
    4 Mishra's Factory
    4 Mishra's Workshop
    3 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
    4 Wasteland

    Then a sideboard plan that turns either toward null rod and other hate / or toward a harder core aggro? And pray no dredge? Not sure if it's workable! Under what circumstance would you look to see prison shops re-emerge in the near future? Or will we have to reach post-apocalyptic mentor levels first?



  • @Naixin I have a long history of innovating and playing Bazaar Shops in Vintage and had a good run with it through 2009. I love red shops more than probably anyone who still posts on this site, but Red Shops has not bee n a winning strategy in a very long time. Playing it has been difficult at best because it takes too much time for the synergies to come together, and more pieces of efficient Shops hate has been printed since '09.

    Shops is essentially a hate deck. If is a deck that hates on the conditions of the format imposed by cards like Moxes, hyper efficient spells, broken non-basic lands, and the mana efficiency the aforementioned classes of cards bring to set the pace of the format. Shops has the ability to consistently jump the curve with artifacts to "pre-empt" these strategies at the expense of never being able to consistently play the other 7/8ths of the card types in the game. When win conditions were tall and compact, and the format won with major "bombs" and individual plays that created huge card advantage and tempo plays, UBA Shops was able to capitalize on that format. Pitching an Uba Mask and welding it in in response to an end of turn Brainstorm time walked the opponent for multiple turns as it was a -5 cards worth of advantage (and the tempo those cards would have generated) stolen by tapping 2 permanents. Bazaar is not a card drawing engine, it is a card filtering engine, and so the 3 cards you pitched were not as damning if the tempo generated by digging pulled you further ahead.

    Blue decks have become so efficient that you fall behind every turn that you are not impacting the board, but Shops required its pilots to play 3x-4x copies of cards you need to see because of the lack of a draw engine. This means that even if you have a bazaar, you are churning through a lot of dead cards to find the ones you need, often at the expense of a land drop or a permanents to add to the board. Prospero is 100% correct in that there is too many pressures Shops needs to address to play cards that are not at least 90% amazing in 90% of your match-ups: the space doesn't exist. Barbarian Ring is a great answer to revoker, but does nothing against mentor, Leovold, TKS, Smasher, Ravager, double factory, fleetwheel and loses a huge percent of its utility vs Thalia 2.0, Ballista, Hangarback, Deathrite Shaman, Outcome, Pyromancer, and many, many more cards. You don't have cards to waste when playing any and all of these: they need to be contained and/ or dealt with as soon as possible. And with Mentor forcing people to have immediate answers or die, Welder is a huge underdog right now: Even if you went as far as Caver to resolve one through 4x misstep, it will often just get plowed before you untap for a random Containment Priest will make your Sundering Titan vanish in response to the Welder tap. I played the deck to a single top 8 two years ago at a LGS and my disgust at the hoops and impossible plays I needed to make to get there made me put it down for DPS until I found a better Shops deck to play. If you're finding that Uba is really good, you may need to expand you bigger playgroups to see what I've experienced for the last 2+ years.

    @BandsWithOthers I feel that there is a possibility for Smokestack to come back into vintage now, but honestly, it would be an extremely marginal part of the metagame at best. Players like Rich Shay and Keith Grim have had success with the list, as have I, but such a Shop list requires a very different mindset to play that previous versions of Stax and would require the meta to settle before being able to flesh out the main 60 cards. The reason the deck was able to compete isn't because the deck is amazing, but because there was soooooo much Ravager Shops and Mentor on the radar for blue decks that the extra slots they'd use for creatures removal wound up being dead when facing Stax. At the time players were on 4x misstep, 2x pyro, 1-2 Mindbreak/ fluster and 4x swords with Path to Exile/ Supreme Verdict 1-2 in the board. Players were also playing 2x-3x dack faden as well, and so limiting targets players wanted to steal with dack was part of the gameplan too...

    With that many dead cards and exercising responsible deck construction (playing Tabernacles / Bridges main for tokens/ ravager/eldrazi) you could tip the scales just enough for Smokestacks to start becoming Strip Mines 3-4 turns later. Inventor's Fair was good because you had less than 4 slots to play very swingy 1-ofs that you did not want to see until you sculpted the game to a state where they would be back breaking, and so the tutor targets were limited to those that could close out the game once you've established control. Crucible was one of those cards, and I only played a pair

    You only really have flex slots when playing the deck, so it needs to count.



  • I have far less experience with such deck than Prospero or Jostin but i have been playing red shop for many years and testing about any possible incarnation of it. I just love welder but i can only agree with their analysis.
    The last success i had with it was in 2014 when "legacy-like" decks started to rise, and it was only because i made good metagame choices then (bridge, ratched bomb, and a land toolbox with expedition map to catch strip, maze, tabernacle or bazar).
    Since then, i knew i could not play often enough to be at competitive level so i kept such a deck for the fun of it and my experience is exactly what Jostin said. Red stax is strong and you will never be in the lowest tables with it but you won't be in the highiest neither because it is not strong enough any more.
    Now on the bright side, the new restrictions will bring some changes in the metagame and i do hope it will put less pressure on shop decks building. I agree that Car Shops, Ravager TKS and Blitzkrieg Shops are the best shop decks now but i would really enjoy a more control deck to be possible.
    I am not sure it will be possible until some more time and my feeling is that one should start from scratch and try to forget all the old receipes. Some new card may give an interesting new edge, who knows ....



  • I'm with @albarkhane I just prefer prison shops to aggro shops. I understand how in the current meta favors hyper aggressive MUD, but it would be nice to see the more methodical control decks able to emerge.

    While I imagine most Blue pilots roll their eyes and mutter when shops players can have more flexible strategies (when your strategy is Break the Game, every taxing deck looks much the same...), without probe and gush to fuel out turn one mentor into time walk into death, perhaps blue will have to look toward strategies that Smokestack and its suite of prison buddies could be beneficial to fight?

    @Jostin123 I posted the list above, curious about whether it is just too clunky for words or if it could be a successful prison deck with the right sideboard. Someone on the Mentor thread mentioned Rich Shay running a Stax list in a post restriction event...Anyone got that list or a similar Stax built for the current meta? I would like to see what the shops pilot could do to pull together an effectively punishing prison strategy to take advantage of uncertainty in the meta...unless the best thing to do is still just play as much ravager as possible and hope you don't run into NullRod / Stony Silence as people brush the dust off their landstill decks?



  • I was thinking recently about Blue-STAX with As Foretold, so far from a pure theoretical perspective.

    The combination feels rather slow, but taking into account wires and smokestack effects, perhaps we can utilize "cast for free" ability pretty well. All we need is some time and STAX usually is in no rush to move fast.

    Perhaps, some experienced practitioners can opine.



  • @Chronatog Would a blue based Stax be able to field enough permanents, quickly enough to make Stax effective and expeditious?



  • If you haven't looked at my terrible and stupid Nancy Reagan deck, you should look at what an idiot I was while considering a test of Restore Balance in any Stax deck looking to run As Foretold. White/Blue Stax?



  • @Prospero Thank for putting into succinct words the shape of the Workshop pillar.

    What I think a lot of people who deride the pillar and dislike its playstyle don't realize is that with the Chalice and Lodestone restrictions as well as other metagame forces is that the pillar went from multiple decks with various strengths and weaknesses to being whittled down to there only really being a most optimal flavor.

    Martello and Terra Nova and Espresso and Marinara all played along different axis. And then in a relatively short amount of time that diversity was eroded.

    I'm not going to say those restrictions were or were not warranted. I'm saying that the year-and-a-half shift from three or four decks down to one archetype was startling.

    Great post.



  • @BandsWithOthers The last Stax list I ran was back in November, where there was a good amount ogf Gush Mentor in the room. The list was posted in the official tournament results section - it was the November 2016 Comic Book Depot tournament. Here is the list I ran:

    Jostin Rodriguez – Santa’s Toy Factory
    4 Sphere of Resistance
    4 Thorn of Amethyst
    4 Tangle Wire
    4 Ensnaring Bridge
    3 Crucible of Worlds
    3 Smokestack
    1 Trinisphere
    1 Chalice of the Void
    2 Null Rod
    1 Lodestone Golem
    4 Phyrexian Revoker
    1 Karn, Silver Golem
    1 Bottled Cloister
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Mox Jet
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Emerald
    1 Mox Pearl
    4 Mishra’s Workshop
    4 Ancient Tomb
    4 Wasteland
    4 Mishra’s Factory
    1 Tolarian Academy
    1 Strip Mine
    2 Inventor’s Fair
    1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

    Sideeboard –
    4 Leyline of the Void
    4 Grafdigger’s Cage
    3 Dismember
    1 Phyrexian Metamorph
    1 Null Rod
    1 Ghost Quarter
    1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

    As you can see, the deck is colorless, and relies mostly on solid openers and can't draw many explosive hands. I could not make any mistakes with the deck to have come in second in the swiss standings (we split the top 8 to go home early as it was a Sunday tournament and the top 8 would be untimed rounds.

    With the ravager list above, I do not agree with the decision to run Ravager, a card that eats permanents with Smokestack, a card that requires permanents to feed to it to be effective. The reason the above deck list worked for be is because this deck invalidated many of your opponent's cards.

    • There are very few targets a control player genuinely wants to Dack from you.
    • There are very few targets for STP
    • Stony Silence does nothing to this deck, as you can run this effect yourself

    However, the pieces that blow the game wide open (that matter) which they do want to remove or steal (Crucible & Smokestack) absolutely must resolve and so you need to lock them out to guarantee they be as effective as you need them to be to win. Where as in previous prison builds I was able to stabilize at 12-10 life, the prevalence of Cruise, Dig and hyper efficient hate makes it that you sometimes stabilize at 5 or less life, which is scary. There was one game where I took 22 damage from Ancient Tomb before I turned the corner... literally meaning that Inventor's fair was the only reason I was able to close out that game. It's a lot of work to win this way, when you could just end the game with Fleetwheel Cruiser or Steel Overseer on turn 4/5.

    Dack Fayden has warped the way Shop archetype's needs to address blue and deck construction technology has been pushed to the fringes. Before the Chalice restriction, I could make the argument that playing Revoker was a luxury. Now it is a competitive necessity.

    As far as shops prison is concerned, Smokestack it at it's best when it functions as a strip mine. I think with the reduction of free spells, the archetype can make a comeback, but I do not see it every being played in the numbers it once was. I don't think the reduction in free spells helps the archetype, as the new restriction only hit the worst cards for them in the prison matchup. Shops are primarily hate decks, so as long as decks playing any version of islands make up more than 50% of the meta (which is essentially always and forever), blue decks will always be gunning to get the edge on their peers and shops will have some space in the meta. If Null Rod becomes popular, you may want to take a version of this deck for a spin.

    Finally, I give all credit for my derivation of this list to Rich Shay and Keith Seals. They layed down the groundwork for reviving this archetype, and it took about 2 events to get used to how the tempo and funcamental turn changed compared to older prison decks. After I got a decent number of reps in, I customized it to my playstyle and needs, hence me cutting Bazaar, modifying the null rod count, and chosing the sb i chose. If I were to play this deck again in the new meta, changes would have to be made.



  • @Jostin123 thanks for the excellent and compelling discussion of your deck! Ultimately it just seems that, as you mention, ravager and car shops are simply a more efficient way to win in a field full of freebies and mentor.

    I guess I generally gravitate toward control archetypes and enjoy the hard lock provided by Smokestack, slow as molasses, but brutal.

    What changes would you make offhand to Stax in a Gush and Probe free meta? Or would you just change it into aggro shops of some flavor? Heh.

    Also curious when lists like this one run a Bottled Cloister, how frequently do you see it get played?



  • @BandsWithOthers I am not sure this can compete in a meta where blue decks are running on average an extra 2 lands. However, it if could, I would probably up the number of null rods in the main to 3 while finding space for buried ruin and possibly a defense grid. With the increase in lands, Tangle wire is needed to help resolve threats through spheres now more than ever, at a time when the card is weaker than ever. This is where I would begin. Just remember, there is barely any space for any of these things to begin with...

    As for Bottled Cloister, you never want to draw it: you have it as a tutor target to get once you've established control of the game. Running inventor's fair allows you to run it as a 1 of. Same with Karn. It is much better if you never see either and instead get it when you are ready to play it, than for it to sit in your hand while you wish it were a thorn or sphere.


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