Playing stax might not be every cEDH player's cup of tea, but that doesn't mean we can't stop, sit back for a bit, look at our lists, and try to the answer the question "what if I need to stop my opponents before the game ends?" You can't win if you've already lost, after all, so it's only right we check in with our stax friends to ask if we can borrow their cards for a game.
The cards on this list are all, to varying degrees, disruptive pieces meant to slow down the game so that we can leapfrog ahead. We might not have the most mana rocks in play before slamming down, or the most dorks before running out a , but those Crypts and Elves won't mean a thing after we do. It's time to talk about - gasp - stax for anyone and everyone.
Ooh boy, it's the big bad of our list. Since we're starting off with a card which shuts off something as ubiquitous as hate pieces, it's worth opening up a bit of a discussion on opportunity costs.
Each of the cards on this list shuts something off, or at least makes it harder to use; that's what stax pieces do. We aren't playing these simply to create advantage, we are doing it to claw it back from our opponents. The power and potency in these cards lies in their ability for the purported symmetry they come with to be broken. For the greatest degree of exploitation, this symmetry breaking becomes a deckbuilding question, not a gameplay question. When a stax piece likeis played in an otherwise staxless deck, then things get murkier and the gameplay question enters the picture again. Running forces us to ask two questions: how much do I want to rely on this effect (that's the deckbuilding piece), and how am I going to play around it (that's the gameplay piece).
Mana rocks are ubiquitous. Some lists out there will manage to operate without- something which baffles me to this day - but I'd be hard-pressed to find a deck not on . This is where comes into play.
Being able to properly navigate around acan be game-winning; packing it in a green deck full of mana dorks will suddenly put you turns beyond the competition in terms of mana, but that's the just easy route. got you down? . Scared of a potential loop? . ? Chances are your opponent will need a for that, and has got you covered. Now, it'll also be shutting off all of those win lines for you, too, so you'll need to be creative about how and when to play it, but if you summit that hill then chances are more wins will follow.
At first glance,and appear to be mirror images of each other, and in quite a few cases they'll play out just as such. If you're playing a lot of mana rocks and barely any creatures with activated abilities, it can't hurt to thrown in something to shut off opposing mana dorks, right? Level the playing field a bit. We'll you're not wrong, but this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Just asmade us all dig for our s again, so too have Commanders with activated abilities been on quite a tear recently. , , , or even just anything playing - these are all examples of quasi-commander-dependent lists that will bemoan sitting across from a . The only question left for you to ask yourself is "what do I cut for this?"
Also propping upas worthwhile inclusion is its comparably low opportunity cost. Unlike and the aforementioned mana rocks, mana dorks and other creatures with activated abilities aren't nearly as ubiquitous. Sure, cracking a is phenomenal, but the antisynergy created by running alongside it pales in comparison to the potential upside of neutering an opposing commander from the outset of the game. might not hurt every deck, but when it does it sure packs a wallop.
Too many players look atand think that it shuts off reanimator and that's it. Well, while it does do an excellent job at that (something which I think doesn't get as much respect as it deserves, considering the rather disgusting loops you can do with and or even just a classic ), 's real cEDH power lies in the second line of text, "Players can't cast spells from graveyards or libraries." I've mentioned it once before but it bears repeating: .
Being able to stopfor the low cost of one mana alone is enough to make worth considering. Some players compare it to in that, while one mana sounds like a great deal, it is a card that spends most of the game doing nothing. While I'll agree that it does nothing, I'd argue it's much more in the sense of Null Rod's excellent flavour text than it is a too-narrow piece of interaction - its nothingness is exactly why you should run it. , like activated abilities of creatures, is such a make-or-break component of many lists that having it shut off is a serious problem. If you aren't on Breach - and I know plenty players out there aren't - then take a look at .
Alright, we're starting to get to some of the more...arguable pieces.is a card that has long-since fallen by the wayside of widely played stax pieces, and for legitimate reasons. For two mana (a very serious investment of limited resources), you get a card that is going to hurt everyone's ability to play for the rest of the game. It's not a - there is the option to cast multiple spells in a turn - but in a format with the mana requirements of cEDH it can quickly become something quite like it.
The first ability is also a bit tricky to navigate, though not nearly as much as the second., , and - the three most common lands which would tap for multiple mana - are all effectively shut off in 's presence, serving as something akin to a silver bullet against green decks seeking to abuse the high quantity of low mana cost creatures at their disposal, but not a widespread enough shot to be worth an inclusion on its own. Relevant in some cases, sure, but far from necessary.
So, we gone through why you might not want to play, but what about the cases where you should? Well, the answer to this actually lies in the sneaky opportunity created by being almost- .
Plenty of decks in cEDH take their time in the early turns, setting up a spell or two a turn but not exhausting their hands. This midrange suite is exactly whereis worth considering - for the decks that appreciate the flexibility of casting two spells a turn, but are far from storming off until later in the game. is a powerful card, don't get me wrong, but sometimes a tax of one mana is just as bad - for your storm-playing opponent, that is.
Finally, we come to the oddball on our list. Not quite a stax piece, but nonetheless a card worth talking about because it necessitates the wonderful notion that is parity-breaking, but this time, our resource is time, not mana.
Not all decks have quite the flurry of stack interaction the Red and Blue do, so for those Abzan players amongst us its important to create our own moments in time. Windows where each player takes a pause and the answer to the question "whose turn is it anyways" have real repercussions on gameplay. This is wherecomes in to shine.
In most games, you'll be playinglike you would . Cast it as one of your first spells for the turn, then proceed to play shields-up as you assemble the win line. Regardless of the cards in your opponents' hands, comes down and asks that we all take our own turn - if you can get to it, that is.
Passing withis an incredibly dangerous gambit, on the other hand, because once your turn is over then you've effectively spent two mana to put up armour around your opponents' win lines. If made us question gameplay, then is screaming in our face to remember it at every waking moment. There's no greater resource than time, and passing a is tantamount to passing the collective turn to your opponent, not just your own.
These five stax pieces represent the pinnacle of disruptive rocks worth considering in just about any deck; some more seriously than others, and some with far greater opportunity and/or gameplay costs, but each able to slot in regardless of color identity. It may have been a while sinceand its stax company put up a tournament result, but that doesn't mean its smart to forget about the archetype and its cards completely. Who knows, maybe a little stax goes a long way.