SCG Daily – Brass Man Examines Stax

Andy “Brass Man” Probasco rounds out his excellent series of daily articles with a look at his SCG Power 9 Charlotte Top 8 deck. It worked for him… could it work for you?

I know everybody says it, but “wow, I can’t believe it’s Friday already.” Of course, when I’m saying this, it’s not actually Friday, but Thursday afternoon with a deadline bearing down on me, but I hardly see how that’s relevant. I was actually pretty sure that I wasn’t going to finish any of these, as I’m notorious for that sort of thing, but here we are. To finish up, I’m going to talk about the deck I played on Day 2 of StarCityGames Power Nine: Charlotte.

I’m known the most for playing with Mana Drains, but I do like to try just about anything else out in testing. After a very long drive and poor performance on Day 1 (with a deck you may hear about later), I was feeling pretty down and out. I was almost leaning towards not playing at all, because I knew if I picked up Gifts again, I was going to play on tilt, and in that case I’d be better off saving my entry fee for a real dinner. No, I wanted to play something fun, something maybe a little out there, but I didn’t bring many of my cards with me. While I’m thinking this, I suddenly realize that I’m sitting right next to Travis LePlante. As most people who play Vintage know, Travis is a nuts player from New England who is famous for doing very well with off-the-wall Workshop decks. What most people don’t know is that they’re a lot better than they look. Travis tests a lot, and often when his lists run cards that most people find out of place, they actually fill a gap in a matchup that many people might not even realize exists. As Travis is as known for playing Shops as I am for Drains, and we were both a little disappointed with our performances the day before. We both thought it would be funny to switch decks right before the event. I feel bad that I made Top 8 and Travis didn’t make the cutoff, but he’s happy to have his deck do so well.

On the actual deck, the first thing anyone asks when they see it is “How do you stop the Confidants from killing you?” Yes, the list runs some expensive cards, but it also runs Chalice of the Void and more mana sources than any other deck out there. Stax runs Sundering Titan and Smokestack, but those cards cost less than their Darksteel Colossus and Force of Will counterparts. In fact, the last Confidant Control list to perform at a major event had an average casting cost of around 1.6, whereas BobStax weighs in at 1.35. The damage does come up, especially with City of Brass in this build, but you can always sack Bob to a Smokestack once your total gets precarious, and the advantage is well worth it. Confidant fills a few needs in Stax, which wants threats and a draw engine, but doesn’t want to give up permanents. Bob can also act as a mini-Crucible when you have a Smokestack in play, helping you to not miss land drops. One thing I noticed quickly playing with the deck is that Bob gives you more information, which is always good. Just like your other lock pieces, you can chose when to stack Confidant draws on your upkeep. That means you get to see if you’re drawing a Crucible before you sack that Mox to Smokestack, or you get to see whether that on-color land is coming your way, so you know how to tap to Tangle Wire. I’ve never liked Juggernaut myself, but Dark Confidant is obviously even better in a build that goes aggro. All of that, and Confidant still does its best trick, which is turning tempo advantage like Wasteland and Tangle Wire into cards. I honestly believe that Bob is the future of the archetype.

On the other iffy cards in the deck, Yawgmoth’s Will did not impress me, but I’m still sold on Time Walk (especially with the Dark Confidants I’m so fond of). The one-ofs like Choke and Jester’s Cap I could take or leave – they were certainly strong, but not necessarily game-unhinging. I would have liked more Wastelands, but I understand why Travis took the route he did. The biggest problem with this – or any Stax deck, really – is the manabase. If that could be figured out, I think you’d have a monster, but for the time being there’s too many cards I’d really want to run to drop colors.

So that wraps it up for my Dailies, but I hope I write again sooner than I did last time. Vintage definitely needs more writers, and I’m happy to step up, but I’d love to see other people writing more, too. What I need to know from everyone out there is what you want to hear about. Primers and decklists can only go so far; I need to know what you like reading. If you’re not a Vintage player, I want to know what keeps you interested enough to read an article. Shoot me an email, give me a PM, or just shout out on the boards. I hope to see you again soon.

Andy “The Brass Man” Probasco
aprobasco at gmail dot com