God-Pharaoh Stax

I went 9-1 in single queues w this, losing only to an interesting non-Survival, Vengevine deck I'd never seen before that blew me out w Crop Rotation all 3 games.

4 Mishra’s Workshop
4 Ancient Tomb
3 City of Traitors
2 Buried Ruin
4 Wasteland
4 Ghost Quarter
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Strip Mine
1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Sol Ring
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
2 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Thorn of Amethyst
1 Trinisphere
1 Lodestone Golem
2 Null Rod
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Sphere of Resistance
4 Ark of Blight
3 Crucible of Worlds
4 Smokestack
3 God-Pharaoh’s Statue
Side
4 Grafdigger’s Cage
4 Ensnaring Bridge
3 Walking Ballista
2 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
2 Null Rod

This is the most brutal mana denial list I’ve ever run. Borrowing a page from the Prison Dredge concept, eschews moxen, here in favor of City of Traitors and Buried Ruin, which increases long game draw quality w little to no sacrifice in T1 threats.
I originally tried many versions w the new Karn alongside 4xGod-Pharaoh, and found the Statue more castable and game-sealing. I liked having 8 Null Rods, but 2c is still the price I want to pay. Two-sided Rod means no Grim Monolith, which makes Karn 4.0 out of budget. Similarly, Inventor’s Fair would be clearly bad here; wo moxes less likely to trigger life gain, nor get up to 4c-non-shop. And my card choice redundancy+Bazaar makes tutoring less relatively superior. Buried Ruin is similar function for half the cost, and rewards Bazaar milling. Tabernacle is the main anti-creature strategy, adds an Edict to every strip effect, of which I run 13.
Basically can’t lose post-board against anything not running a robust colored mana base, ie Dredge/Ravager/Eldrazi/Voltaic-Karn. Vengevine decks require tighter play since they can actually kill artifacts, but w a permanent-based strategy and no counter magic, is favorable in 3 games. Paradox I just bring in the 2 sb Null Rods, with the heavy anti-combo disruption main inherent to Stax. Its high variance but also overall favorable to win 2 of 3. Oath also high variance, but plays less mana and is more vulnerable to soot since they must win via a specific permanent in play for two consecutive turns.
Xerox decks are the fairest fight. Man those decks can shred you. Which brings us to Ark of Blight. The way to beat Pyromancer decks is to destroy/tax Every. Single. Land. I cut Tangle Wire bc it just doesn’t stop them and I desperately needed more active permanent removal. Tangle Wire is fairly good against the field, but doesn’t help the hardest match up.
First I tried Culling Scales for awhile, on the logic that running moxen-less, it would be one-sided against pertinent fast threats and artifact mana. Scales performed better here than I’d ever seen before, but it is still sloooww. 8 sac effects can rapidly chew up enemy board presence, and its nice to never worry about Mana Crypt long term, but often Scales is uncastable either on the play w Shop in opening hand and no other threats, or drawing it when I have some soft-lock pieces out and enemy is sitting on 3+ lands and they win easily.
Then I tried multiples Spine of Ish Sah, which is a hardlock w Smokestack, but keeping 7+ mana while feeding soot, is about as win more as it gets. Pretty much discarded to Bazaar every time, or way too late even killing their best permanent, or spiking an Island by the time they have 2+ other lands, etc. If they’d pushed it to colorless Desert Twister, and drop the sac recursion, would maybe be playable. So turns out 5c Stone Rain paid in two installments actually fits the strategy. Ark is best against Xerox, where I board out Null Rod, so it ends up as Bazaar fodder not that often. If Xerox resolves Dack un-Revokered, I lose, so best to just make sure they never have 3 mana. Its been awhile now since that mfer stole any of my shit, so I’m getting happy w this list. I might try a 2/2 Ark/Scales split. Maybe Sorcerous Spyglass, on top of Revoker? I'd rather kill mana for good than freeze it, but either way these are the weakest 4 slots in the deck.

last edited by vroman

@vroman said in God-Pharaoh Stax:

God-Pharaoh’s Statue

alt text

If I was able to make SCG Con again this year I'd be running Prison. I think I was the only one to "day two" last year on Smokestacks and I think if the Misstep decks are packing even more do nothing cards like Narset. The Modern Horizons hosers also won't be legal in time.

I think with 8 x non Ark activating lands I think you should be playing Urborg and/or Riftstone portal.

I think I only played 2 Tabernacles last year. Also in matchups where you are boarding out Null Rods your opponent is typically boarding out Skillsteps. You can bring Expedition Map(s) in from your board and it becomes Demonic for Strip / Tabby / Bog.

I love this list.

I completely agree that the way to handle Xerox is to hit their mana hard. Generally I've done that with Expedition Maps for Waste/Strip and Rishadan Ports.

But Ark of Blight is very intriguing. It's one of those cards that I come across when doing a deep dig looking for any new angle in Stax, but I've never mustered the courage to try it out. How has Ark been working for you overall? Do you plan to retain it as a four of? What turn do you generally play it on?

last edited by Zias

@nedleeds Urborg was a good addition, but I've gone in a different direction.

@Zias As for Ark of Blight, I discovered Field of Ruin, which radically evolved my mana denial archetype away from resembling Workshop Stax and has been shockingly successful, 8-1 so far in single queues. This is how you actually kill all their mana, every time.

4 Ancient Tomb
4 Wasteland
4 Ghost Quarter
4 Field of Ruin
4 Dust Bowl
4 Barbarian Ring
2 Mountain
1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mana Crypt
1 Sol Ring
4 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
4 Simian Spirit Guide
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Thorn of Amethyst
2 Pyrostatic Pillar
4 Sphere of Resistance
4 Ratchet Bomb
4 Goblin Cratermaker
4 Boom/Bust
Side
4 Grafdigger's Cage
4 Null Rod
3 Ensnaring Bridge
2 By Force
2 Pyrostatic Pillar

The broken play w Boom is have 1R+Waste/Quarter (or 3R+Field, or 4R+Dust) hold priority, target your land to be sacked, and 2 for 1 their lands. However just 1R mutual Stone Rain is perfectly fine. Dust Bowl and Boom both allow killing of multiple lands/turn which ensures I can overcome enemy Time Walk tempo, has always been an issue for Stax-y decks.
I cut Trisphere+LSG bc rarely castable T1, and U decks pretty much fold to T1 Pillar, while Ancient Tomb/Bazaar decks can play through either.
Another thing I noticed, is this deck has lots of good on-the-draw action, by giving no forewarning their multiple moxen will be Bombed, or letting them expose their T1 fetch for a cantrip instead of building up for bigger spell, or explosive Workhop/Hollow One hand that is immediately solved via Tabernacle.
I cut Bazaar bc pretty much every card in the deck is relevant on board in most situations, and it doesn't build up redundancy in hand like artifact Stax. The only desirable cycle card is Tabernacle, but can feed to Dust.
Also, proud to say there's nothing in here that matters to Dack. Crucible was always a risky play both vs Pyromancer and Metamorph. With 21 cards saying "destroy target land" my draw step is basically as good as a Crucible.
Extremely low-curve, low spell count, resistant to counter-magic. Never have to worry about mana screw. Eight ways to kill Crypt.
Still a challenge but no longer impossible vs Dredge G1, since they aren't ever going to activate Bazaar more than once per copy, and Tabernacle guaranteed eats their team. Then its just a race of my blockers/B-Rings vs how many black creatures they can feed to Ichorid. But in any case, a cake walk post-board.
Possible changes:
I like the idea of Rishadan Port to pre-force their fetches into oncoming Waste-effects. I could see 2/2 Dust/Port, since Dust only comes online midgame. Dust has been great tho turning every extra Tomb/Tabernacle/B-Ring into endless Wastes.
Alternatively could go back to Revoker over Cratermaker and cut some B-Rings for Ports. The deck is slow to get threshold wo Bazaar, so B-Ring hasn't been amazing as uncounterable removal, and the pain is noticeable in games when also dependent on Tomb. If the only urgent red spell is Boom, then could get maybe away w SSG and Field as the primary red sources.
Ratchet Bomb has been excellent G1, but runs afoul of Null Rod in matches where its often needed, particularly being shut off by Karn. Null Rod is absolutely necessary for Karn and Paradox. Ratchet could maybe be Gorilla Shaman, but that makes Misstep actually a defense, since currently I don't really care that much about resolving Sol Ring w such mana density. Shaman adds minor ground game that doesn't have to die every time they play a mox, like Cratermaker. Having extra 4 blockers would probably make Ichorid un-loseable, but that is already a strong matchup. Threatening Pyromancer trade maybe more relevant. I have yet to detonate Ratchet at anything above 0, so the removal utility is not drastically better than Shaman, tho it kills multiples for cheaper, which can be critical. I think it comes down to the final red mana count and how much more Karn grows in the meta.
E-Bridge is a little slower to empty my hand w so many lands and no bazaar, but is still the most cost effective anti-attack-step card in colorless/red. Since the major fast redzone threats these days are Vengevine/Hollow One/Eldrazis only really need to get under 4 cards, which has not been a problem w SSG. I no longer board in Bridge vs Pyromancer, relying on mana denial to prevent token generation, and Tabernacle to finish.

last edited by vroman

@vroman If you are looking for a way to interact with the opponents moxen then I would recommend Meltdown. It is a card I recently found out about, and seems particullarly strong in this kind of build as it does everything you want Ratchet Bomb to do (except blow up tokens) without being affected by Null Rod/Needle type cards. The biggest downsides I can think of is the Sorcery speed and inability to kill tokens. Often you can run it out for X = 0 but if you are afraid of Mental Misstep you can run it out for X = 1 and get the same or better effect. Also, I love the innovation, and the fact that you play a pet card of mine, Barbarian Ring! Keep it up 😋

last edited by Rat3dE
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