It’s the Daily, and this week I’m counting down the five most evil, twisted and most of all hated decks in Magic history. The decks that made you seriously consider taking up a (comparatively) less painful hobby, like chewing your own arms off, or caber catching, or maybe polka. Today’s deck is second on the list. The second all-time most vicious deck. I’ll name it in a minute.
Before I do, you need to do one thing for me.
Here’s an asterisk. Stare at it for 15 minutes.
Don’t do anything else, just stare. You can draw some cards, and flick through them, but don’t do anything else.
For 15 minutes. Just sit.
Know what deck I’m talking about yet?
Okay, I get to do something. I’ll write a bit.
You just sit and wait.
Here’s another asterisk. Stare at it for a while.
Are your eye’s watering? Are you just hating this?
Know what deck I’m talking about now?
Okay. I’ll get rid of the asterisk. See — all gone.
You can do stuff again.
Wait — I’ve got another! Just sit and stare some more. Do it!
Welcome to the world of Stasis.
Even the artwork is bad. (okay, maybe more bizarre than bad, but still…)
Stasis decks locked down their opponents. Beatdown decks would get one swing per creature and then the creature stayed tapped. Even Winter Orb let you untap, albeit slowly. Stasis never let you untap.
The first Stasis decks played silliness like Instill Energy on Birds of Paradise to pay the upkeep cost, and killed with Serra Angel. They were good, but kinda cutesy. The Stasis lock was quite powerful, but if you could kill the Birds, it went away. Fragile combos are not invincible. Annoying, in this case, but not that that bad to play against.
Stasis decks got really annoying in the summer of 1996, when “Turbo-Stasis” decks first appeared. These decks used Howling Mines to draw into enough Islands to maintain Stasis, and played Kismet so everything an opponent played came into play tapped. Turbo-Stasis won by decking the opponent, or with a Black Vise. Turbo-Stasis decks were strong, competitive but, most of all, annoying.
Turbo-Stasis decks were Type Two legal in those days. When Ice Age rotated out of Standard, the decks lost Zuran Orb, Force of Will and — due to banning — Ivory Tower. Turbo-Stasis dropped out of Standard, but Stasis became a force once again in Extended with the printing of Urza’s Saga and – especially – Mercadian Masques.
Stasis has a very simple lock. It slows everything to a crawl, but requires the Stasis player to tap another land every turn. If the Stasis player does not pay upkeep and lets Stasis die, the opponent gets the first untap and an unobstructed turn. However, Saga and Masques provided some cards that really helped make mono-Blue Stasis powerful — and gave it a kill besides Howling Mine and decking the opponent.
First, Saga provided Claws of Gix. When the Stasis player found they could not continue to pay upkeep, they could sacrifice Stasis to the Claws during the opponent’s turn, meaning that the Stasis player got the first untap. Since the Stasis player generally had another Stasis in hand, that was often the only untapping happening.
Second, since the mono-Blue Stasis decks did not play Kismet, opponents could, over time, lay lands. They could even attempt to cast spells. The Stasis player had Force of Will, of course, but even worse were the “free” counterspells, like Daze and Thwart. Daze not only countered spells, but it returned a tapped Island to hand, allowing the Stasis player to replay the Island and get another turn’s worth of upkeep. Thwart was even worse — it was a hard counter and provided three turns worth of upkeep. Or, if things were really bad, one of those Islands could be discarded to Foil.
To keep the Stasis player’s hand full, the Stasis player also had Gush — which drew cards and provided extra turns of Stasis upkeep. Gush was a morale-destroying card. When you played against Stasis, you were often waiting, hoping against hope, that the Stasis player would run out of untapped Island and have to let Stasis go. They would have one, lone untapped Island, and then they would Gush at the end of your turn and you would know that they would be keeping Stasis up for another four to six turns, at least.
The other great card that the Stasis decks got was Morphling. If you had Stasis, Morphling and 12 untapped Islands in play, you won. People may not remember that Morphling has the ability “U: Untap Morphling.” Twelve untapped Islands meant that you could pay upkeep on Stasis for six turns and attack for three with Morphling seven times (remember, Morphling starts untapped.) That was generally game.
Stasis put in regular appearances at Extended PTs and PTQs from the time Masques block was legal until Stasis finally rotated out of Extended. It was another reason that people played cheap, instant speed disenchants in all colors, like Emerald Charm, Pyroblast and Erase. It was also the reason an unknown (but large) number of people were heard to mutter “I hate this frickin’ game.”
Stasis was bad, but tune in tomorrow for the all-time most evil deck. Know what it is? Post your guesses in the forums.