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Arena Budget Build Series - Esper Stax

Arena Standard Standard 
By: MTG_Joe - 19 Oct 2019
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Back with another Arena Budget Build Series for Throne of Eldraine standard. For those who have not come across this before, what I set out to accomplish is a three-part build series across various budgets for a particular deck or theme.

The first version of the deck is a budget version, looking to minimize the number of Rare and Mythic wildcards to as few as possible, often settling around 10 or so. Part of the constraint here is in 2 color decks, the dual lands typically account for 4-8 Rares, hence the reason we target around 10 Wildcards.

From there, I build out a mid-budget version using around 20-25 Rare/Mythic wildcards, followed by a non-budget optimized version. The intent of these guides is to provide a progression guide for you to work towards, building stronger decks as you amass more cards. For each of the decks, I play a few matches with each, explaining lines of play and rationale for side-boarding.

This article’s focus is looking to build towards Esper Stax. Now "Stax" is an archetype named after the card Smokestackimage, but often refers to a prison like strategy where you deny players resources. The way you win through this is breaking parity, punishing your opponent while you pull ahead.

So, what does this mean for Standard? The deck is built around the enchantment Doom Foretoldimage, which makes each player sacrifice a non-token, non-land card each upkeep. If your opponent cannot sacrifice, there are a whole bunch of benefits to us. The way we "break parity" here is by using a bunch of cheap cycling artifacts in Guild Globeimage and Golden Eggimage, which replace themselves and can be used as sac fodder. Finally, the way the deck ultimately wins in the min and non-budget version is by bringing back all the sacrificed artifacts and enchantments with Dance of the Manseimage, preferably where x=6+ to turn them into 4/4 creatures.

imageimage

[ELD] BW Budget Doom Foretold

Main 60 cards (19 distinct)
Creature (11)
$0.35€0.270.01
$0.25€0.130.01
$0.25€0.120.01
$2.30€2.470.19
Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (24)
$0.31€0.170.01
$1.03€1.340.15
$0.30€0.190.01
$0.16€0.100.01
$0.17€0.290.01
$0.24€0.100.04
$0.15€0.070.04
$0.49€0.330.03
$0.18€0.090.01
Planeswalker (1)
$0.25€0.080.01
Land (24)
$7.53€7.751.70
$0.16€0.100.04
$1.24€1.260.28
$0.35€0.090.01
$0.20€0.070.01
Side 15 cards (7 distinct)
$0.31€0.170.01
$0.16€0.070.01
$0.47€0.250.01
$0.35€0.190.04
$0.78€0.860.04
$0.25€0.100.01
$0.35€0.180.01

Simulating MTG Arena Best of 1 starting hand
(Simplified, true algorithm in MTGA not revealed by Wizards yet)
Show owned cards

Compare deck to your MTGA collection

Our MTGA Assistant extension enables you to compare any deck on the site with your collection by opening it from within the extension. Use the search engine or browse with the built in Deck Hub link. Use in the primary browser window, the Collection compare does not work in new tabs opened in the Overwolf browser.

- ENTER THE BATTLEFIELD PREPARED -

With the MTGA Assistant extension you can compare this decklist to your collection and easily see if you are missing any cards. Browsing any AetherHub deck from within the extension will enable this tab to show you summary like below. More information can be found at mtgaassistant.net.

Learn more

Example of summary:

Missing Maindeck
1 3
2 3
2 4
1 3
Missing Sideboard
2 3
Missing Rare cards:8

Gameplay for Budget BW Doom Foretold

First up is the budget version of the deck, clocking in at only 11 Rares & 1 Mythic; however, 2 R & 1 M are free with the new player decks. This version of the deck is strictly Black and White in order to save on rare cards needed for the mana base. This variant of the deck is built more midrange focused as opposed to control as we lack some of the powerful control effects. In addition to the Guild Globeimage and Golden Eggimage mentioned above, we are also playing a handful of creatures with the afterlife ability. These creatures can be sacrificed to Doom Foretold while leaving behind a 1/1 spirit that doesn't get impacted. This let's us continue the lock on our opponent while having a token that can attack in.

The rest of the deck contains a smattering of various removal options along with a discard package of Basilica Bell-Hauntimage and Duressimage.

Unlike the upgraded versions below which leverage Dance of the Manseimage to close out the game, this variant is more grindy, using various creatures to get in chip damage.

[ELD] Mid-Budget Esper Doom/Dance

Main 60 cards (20 distinct)
Creature (11)
$0.25€0.130.01
$0.25€0.120.01
$2.30€2.470.19
$4.503.21
Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (25)
$1.03€1.340.15
$0.30€0.190.01
$0.90€0.490.32
$0.17€0.290.01
$0.15€0.070.04
$0.63€0.370.06
$0.49€0.330.03
$0.18€0.090.01
Land (24)
$8.91€9.351.65
$7.53€7.751.70
$8.08€7.702.35
$0.19€0.070.04
$1.24€1.260.28
$0.16€0.080.04
$0.35€0.090.01
$0.20€0.070.01
Side 15 cards (7 distinct)
$0.31€0.170.01
$0.47€0.250.01
$1.43€0.620.01
$0.35€0.190.04
$1.48€1.262.98
$0.78€0.860.04
$0.25€0.100.01

Simulating MTG Arena Best of 1 starting hand
(Simplified, true algorithm in MTGA not revealed by Wizards yet)
Show owned cards

Compare deck to your MTGA collection

Our MTGA Assistant extension enables you to compare any deck on the site with your collection by opening it from within the extension. Use the search engine or browse with the built in Deck Hub link. Use in the primary browser window, the Collection compare does not work in new tabs opened in the Overwolf browser.

- ENTER THE BATTLEFIELD PREPARED -

With the MTGA Assistant extension you can compare this decklist to your collection and easily see if you are missing any cards. Browsing any AetherHub deck from within the extension will enable this tab to show you summary like below. More information can be found at mtgaassistant.net.

Learn more

Example of summary:

Missing Maindeck
1 3
2 3
2 4
1 3
Missing Sideboard
2 3
Missing Rare cards:8

Gameplay for Mid-Budget Esper Stax

The mid-budget version looks to upgrade our removal package along with adding a light splash of blue for Dance of the Manseimage. The shocklands in Watery Graveimage and Hallowed Fountainimage should both be provided as a free copy from the new player decks. We also leverage off some come into play tapped life gain lands.

Murderous Rider

image

Premium removal at instant speed that can target both creatures and Planeswalkers. We can use the creature half to beat down and gain life, or to sacrifice to Doom Foretold, and get shuffled back into our library.

Dance of the Manse

image

Dance serves both as an early game recursion spell that can bring back some of our lock pieces, while also being a late game closer by making 4/4s. By bringing back our cheap artifacts, we can also draw additional cards deeper into the deck, again breaking parity with the tax that doom foretold puts on both players.

Oath of Kaya

image

Oath is a flexible card for this deck as it can serve as early removal with added upside of life gain. Once doom foretold is out, it is another permanent which can be sacrificed. Late game, we can recur multiple copies with dance and potentially go on the aggressive, stacking the damage to the opponent's face.

Kaya's Wrath & Temple of Silence

imageimage

Adding in a few more of each onto the budget version. Kaya's wrath is an unconditional board wipe where Temple helps fix our mana and manage our draws through scrying.

Legion's End - SB

image

Adding in a copy of Legion's end to the sideboard to help deal with Field decks, but also another useful tool against low to the ground, aggressive decks or Nissa's animated lands.

[ELD] Esper Stax

Main 60 cards (20 distinct)
Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (27)
$1.38€0.750.01
$1.03€1.340.15
$0.90€0.490.32
$0.17€0.290.01
$0.63€0.370.06
$0.49€0.330.03
$0.18€0.090.01
$0.69€0.490.18
Planeswalker (5)
$15.86€13.492.24
$17.99€20.0957.29
Creature (3)
$4.503.21
Land (25)
$0.15€0.050.03
$0.15€0.050.03
$0.15€0.020.03
$8.91€9.351.65
$7.53€7.751.70
$8.08€7.702.35
$1.24€1.260.28
$16.07€12.8013.31
$2.20€2.100.59
Side 15 cards (8 distinct)
$1.110.10
$1.25€0.830.37
$1.43€0.620.01
$0.35€0.190.04
$0.16€0.060.04
$0.15€0.070.04
$1.48€1.262.98
$0.78€0.860.04

Simulating MTG Arena Best of 1 starting hand
(Simplified, true algorithm in MTGA not revealed by Wizards yet)
Show owned cards

Compare deck to your MTGA collection

Our MTGA Assistant extension enables you to compare any deck on the site with your collection by opening it from within the extension. Use the search engine or browse with the built in Deck Hub link. Use in the primary browser window, the Collection compare does not work in new tabs opened in the Overwolf browser.

- ENTER THE BATTLEFIELD PREPARED -

With the MTGA Assistant extension you can compare this decklist to your collection and easily see if you are missing any cards. Browsing any AetherHub deck from within the extension will enable this tab to show you summary like below. More information can be found at mtgaassistant.net.

Learn more

Example of summary:

Missing Maindeck
1 3
2 3
2 4
1 3
Missing Sideboard
2 3
Missing Rare cards:8

Gameplay for Esper Stax

For the non-budget version, I looked towards the recent 5-0 placing MTGO decks to see what the optimized configuration to the deck was. This deck mainly looks to optimize the mana base and improve some card quality in the main and side board (highlighted below).

Wishclaw Talisman

image

Wishclaw can be used to tutor for a key piece of removal or combo piece, depending on what stage of the game it is. We can force the opponent to sacrifice it to doom foretold, or if we have Teferi out, we can bounce the talisman back to our hand after getting the tutor.

Overall, I found it a bit too cute, and most games never really took advantage of the tutoring. I would probably prefer to either have a second Liliana, or a copy of Ugin, the Ineffableimage in its place. If we continue to see a lot more aggressive decks, kaya, the usurper could also find a slot into the deck.

Teferi, Time Raveler

image

One of the most annoying spells in standard, Teferi, can disrupt your opponent in multiple ways; whether through his passive ability of forcing your opponent to play at sorcery speed, or bouncing opponent's creatures/artifacts/enchantments. In this deck, Teferi can also bounce our artifact to recast them for multiple draws, or recast an Oath of Kayaimage should we need another removal spell/life gain.

Liliana, Dreadhorde General

image

Liliana is a powerful spell that can close the game out quickly if allowed to go unchecked for a couple turns. Her tokens can draw us cards, while if we are able to get the ultimate off, we can force them to sacrifice most of their board.

Most of the time in Esper Control style decks, I prefer a proactive planeswalker threat that can close the game out quickly once we stabilize the game. Ugin, the Ineffableimage can be used as well in place of Liliana should you have one of those instead.

Various Rare Lands to Improve Manabase

imageimage

Adding in a utility land in Castle Vantress that can smooth out our draws if we start to flood through scrying. Also improving our decks mana consistency with Fabled Passageimage and finishing up the playsets of shock lands.

Realm-Cloaked Giant - SB

image

This card serves as both an additional board wipe for creature matchups with the upside of being a big beater post board when the opponent is likely to side out creature removal.

The Elderspell - SB

image

Sideboard option for heavy planeswalker decks like Jeskai/Grixis fires or Temur Oko. Bonus points if you have a Liliana out and can up her loyalty enough to ultimate the same turn.

Overall the deck is a fun deck to play, especially if you enjoy control or prison strategies. The Golos/Field matchup is rough, but may resolve itself with the upcoming ban announcement. This deck really preys on midrange lists that are only playing 1 spell per turn. Esper colors also lets you tailor removal to destroy any type of permanent.

That wraps up Esper Stax. Up next is Rakdos Sacrifice/Artisocrats. As always, let me know what you think, and if you have any recommendations.

About MTG_Joe:

MTG_Joe

I am a part time content creator on YouTube playing everything from budget brews to Tier 1 lists. I enjoy focusing on build guides and explaining strategy through my videos to help our newer and returning players. I am also very engaged in the Arena Subreddit community, also happy to chat MTG.

Youtube & Twitch: MTG_Joe

Twitter & Instagram: MTG_Joe2

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