Karn Stax at MKM series Paris

As a long time shop player, i knew i would run such a deck at MKM series Paris. For many months Ravager shop has been objectively the best shop deck but i don't like it. Nothing special, it is just that i enjoy different kind of decks ... so when new Karn went out, i knew there was something there. The problem was the very short time before the tournament. I had a look around at what people had found and saw some interesting ideas but was not 100% convinced by them.

Namely, people want to get an early Karn and they use lots of mana artifacts to get those 4 non-shop mana. I agree that a turn 1 Karn is a blast but actually any competitive vintage deck can have broken opening hands so i usually judge decks by cheking how they behave when things are going not so well. So "what happens if i don"t have a Karn in my opening hand ?", or "what happens if my opponent plays an early stony silence/null rod ?". To make it short, is that explosive start worth the price ? MTGO results imply that it could be but i decided i would try another path and see where it leads.

I tried to forget everything i had seen and started from scratch. I checked each decks to find how they can be hated out. For example, Ravager shop has no answer to ensnaring bridge + null rod. I did that for a gauntlet of decks and found a core deck that could adress the expected meta : sphere, null rod, ensnaring bridge, revoker, Witchbane orb. Most cards are quite usual in shop decks but that quite tight package shows that a prison/stax direction is possible.

The plan was clear then : i would play a stax deck that happens to use Karn as a win condition. I don't want to use too many mana artifact so the plan is to play Karn in late game only. Getting the 4 non-shop mana could be a problem and i tried to find a balance there. I liked the inventor's fair that can tutor (for example crucible for recursion) and help with life point. The deck was ready very late so i could only do little testing. I knew the real problem was to play null rod but it was worth a try as it gives an edge in some difficult matchups (ravager shop, elrazi karn, PO). I was not exactly sure about the whole balance of the deck too. There was a trial the day before the main tournament so i decided to use it as a test. If it went really wrong, i could always switch back to a more classic list. However i was quite confident because it ends up not being very different from some lists i had seen in internet (credit to volrathxp for example).

Here is the list i used at the trial :

// 30 Artifact
1 Black Lotus
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring
4 Sphere of Resistance
1 Thorn of Amethyst
1 Trinisphere
3 Ensnaring Bridge
2 Null Rod
2 Crucible of Worlds
4 Tangle Wire
2 Smokestack
1 Mox Opal
1 Mana Vault
1 Mana Crypt

// 9 Creature
1 Lodestone Golem
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Walking Ballista

// 18 Land
4 Ancient Tomb
3 Inventors' Fair
4 Mishra's Workshop
1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Wasteland
1 City of Traitors

// 3 Planeswalker
3 Karn, the Great Creator

SB: 1 Ensnaring Bridge
SB: 4 Grafdigger's Cage
SB: 3 Witchbane Orb
SB: 1 Mycosynth Lattice
SB: 2 Tormod's Crypt
SB: 1 Null Rod
SB: 3 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

After getting some friends and a 5 hour drive, here we are for the trial :

  • Round 1 : win against URW Pyro/mentor (2-0)
    My opponent was playing more counterspells than usual. I had no real trouble winning those games.

  • Round 2 : loss against URW Xerox (0-2)
    The list looked quite standard. I had some trouble with my own null rod in first game. He had a great opening in second game and i could not deal with everything he played. I conceded to a timetwister with Narset on the field but actually i had already lost to Dack a few turns before.

  • Round 3 : win against Jund (2-0)
    A friend of mine so i know his list is budget but really solid actually. He is a great deckbuilder. Unfortunately for him, he had to mull to 4 on first game. Second game was more difficult for me and i went very low. I was really lucky with mana crypt die rolls and i managed to survive long enough to stabilize and finally lock him out of the game.

  • Round 4 : win against enchanteress (2-1)
    A very unexpected matchup ! I lost game one because of stony silence on a mana rock heavy opening hand for me. I quickly won game 2. Game 3 was quite funny : i was quite happy to play Karn, get Lattice and play it when my opponent show me the stony silence he had played some turns ago (i had totally forgot it lost with all those enchantments), he smiled and said 'i guess we are both locked'. Looking at my board i saw my stax and smiled back. A few turns later, he had nothing on board and he conceded ... Note for later : think twice before making hasty plays !

So i was 3-1 and left with one bye for the main event on saturday. Not so bad for a first tournament with that list. I tried to analyze that trial :

  • There was lots of blue decks and they were quite different, obviously people were trying new things. I was the only shop deck and
    some creature decks were there (goblin for example) but no eldrazi.
  • Every one there agreed that because of Karn and Narset (that saw lots of play too), there will be no Paradox deck tomorrow.
  • In each of the four games i sided out 2 null rod and 1 ensnaring bridge and i sided in 3 Tabernacle. Obviously i should consider again my choices there.

Finally, I removed the 2 null rods MD and put 1 expedition map and 1 tabernacle instead. I also switched 1 ensnaring bridge for 1 one more stax (that was very good in each game i played it). Map is great because it can catch utility lands but more important it can catch Tolarian Academy for non-shop mana.

The plan now is : play like a classic stax then use one of the two tutor pack (namely inventor's fair or Karn) to end the game. Before, probability to get either tutor were equal but now because of expedition map inventor's fair is slightly more probable (this is important for choosing what to side in or what to leave in side to be got by Karn). I also changed some cards in sideboard but to be honest i had not enough time to check deeply what was best so i am quite sure it can be still improved.

So the list for the main event was :

// Karn STAX

// 29 Artifact
1 Black Lotus
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring
4 Sphere of Resistance
1 Thorn of Amethyst
1 Trinisphere
2 Ensnaring Bridge
2 Crucible of Worlds
4 Tangle Wire
3 Smokestack
1 Mox Opal
1 Mana Vault
1 Mana Crypt
1 Expedition Map

// 9 Creature
1 Lodestone Golem
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Walking Ballista

// 19 Land
4 Ancient Tomb
3 Inventors' Fair
4 Mishra's Workshop
1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Wasteland
1 City of Traitors
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

// 3 Planeswalker
3 Karn, the Great Creator

SB: 1 Ensnaring Bridge
SB: 4 Grafdigger's Cage
SB: 1 Witchbane Orb
SB: 1 Mycosynth Lattice
SB: 2 Tormod's Crypt
SB: 1 Ratchet Bomb
SB: 1 Sorcerous Spyglass
SB: 1 Duplicant
SB: 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
SB: 2 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

Main event

  • Round 1 : bye

  • Round 2 : loss against URW Xerox (1-2)
    My opponent was the one i met in round 2 the day before. In game 1, my deck worked much better against him and getting a main deck Tabernacle with map was really great. I still lost but it was a very close game. I quickly won game 2. I stupidly lost game 3 by keeping a hand that i should have mull.

  • Round 3 : win against Dredge (2-1)
    Game 1 my hand was slow but with a wasteland, unfortunately he had 2 bazaar and i quickly lost. I have many cards to side out against him and what i can bring in is decent. He had to mull some to get his bazaar but i quickly hated him in both game 2 and 3.

  • Round 4 : win against BUG (2-0)
    I had a strong hand in game 1 and there was not much he could do. Game 2 was longer but Stax + Tabernacle is really strong.

  • Round 5 : Id
    I know my opponent is on Storm. The matchup is for me but if i loose i am not sure to get into top8. I decided to do it safe when he offer to Id.

  • Top8 : win against storm (2-1)
    My opponent from Round 5. Game 1 is long but quite simple : 3 sphere then 10 turns to kill with a revoker ! I had to mull to 5 in game 2 and missplayed by playing chalice at 0 instead of 1. Lesson learnt : my next 3 draws were moxen and crypt ... Basically, i made many mistakes in that game (and my opponent made a big one too) so in the end sounds only fair that he won. I played more conservatively in game 3, locking him and tutoring for a witchbane orb.

  • Top4 : loss to Eldrazi (0-2)
    I knew before we started that it would be really difficult. My opening hand was not good enough (and should have been mull) in game 1 and i lost quite quickly. Game 2 was more balanced but the other Karn (scion of Urza) sealed the deal finally.

A friend of mine (playing survival) lost his Top4 too (to a Xerox deck) so we decided to battle for the honor of the 3rd place. We had played a lot together and the matchup is favorable but i guess he was less tired than me and he quickly won. In the meantime, Eldrazi crushed his opponent and won the tournament.

Top8 was :

  • 1st - Paul Ridoux (Karndrazi)
  • 2nd - Matej Turan (Four-Color Xerox)
  • 3rd - Damien Colomb (Survival Salad)
  • 4th - Laurent Rippert (Karn Stax)
  • 5th - 8th :
    Thomas Ribet (B/R Goblin Squad)
    Cedric Germain (Jeskai Xerox)
    Andreas Allikmets (U/R Agro)
    Niklas Holtmann (Dark Petition Storm)

Conclusions

  • The deck can be improved but it works.
  • Expedition map and Tabernacle main deck were a blast the whole day.
  • At the end of the day, i did not used the Karn + Lattice combo that often, most of the time i could win without Karn and when it hits the field i often used it to kill moxen or to get another utility artifact.
  • The meta is shifting because of those new planeswalkers and people are brewing !

I hope that reading was not boring and i will welcome any question or suggestion.

Edit : more info on Top8

last edited by albarkhane

I'm the Italian that fought to have the TO register us on site, congrats.
Come to Italy at 4Seasons, but more importantly at Nebraska's War!

@log I am happy that you finally could get in. This is the most stupid problem and i am not sure i will want to go to another MKM tournament ... I will try and come to play in Italy if i can. There is also a quite serious rumor about a BOM in Annecy next year in may or so ...

last edited by albarkhane

Depending on where you're based and if you play Legacy too, you should consider 4Seasons tournament instead of MKM. They do 4 events per year, announced well in advance, in the easily reachable and cheap Bologna, usually min 150p for Legacy and they started doing Vintage with 15 proxies getting a really good turnout last time.

last edited by Log
  • 4
    Posts
  • 706
    Views