Guest Article by Eric Pallone
I’ll start with a brief intro. I started playing Magic during Revised when I was in middle school at local North Jersey game stores, and friends’ houses after school. I continued playing off and on for most of my teenage and adult life. I’d heard about Old School MTG sometime during 2019 and started buying cards while perusing various Old School websites. Some of you may know me from the Discord and Facebook groups as the guy whose dad does Magic alters. Covid put the kibosh on playing in person, so I entered my first tournament earlier this year when Andy Baquero hosted a Scryings event in New Jersey. After a 4–1 record with a mono blue Power Artifact deck, I officially had the bug. So I got the hall pass from my wife and kids for my first LobsterCon.
I’ve always had an affinity for Prison/Control and planned on running a white Prison deck in the main event. Porting this over to X-point was more difficult now that Land Tax was worth 2 points, so I pivoted back to my first true love — Stasis. I spent the last few months tracking down 3 Tabernacles so I felt like I had all the pieces I needed to deal with a more creature heavy format. My testing consisted of playing solitaire and durdling around with decklists in Microsoft Excel — so the Twiddle/Vault package was a natural fit. I started with Lotus, Sol Ring, Sapphire and Time Walk as potential point candidates. The ideal play is a turn 1 Howling Mine so Sol Ring and Mox Sapphire were good inclusions while Lotus didn’t feel spectacular. So, I dropped the Lotus for another Mox and Mana Drain. But I was still lacking
consistent acceleration so in came the off color Moxen. I finally got some validation from an X point message board with 5 moxen builds (kids, you don’t need validation but sometimes it’s nice). So I dropped the Time Walk, added a third Time Vault and went with 5 Moxen.
Thursday night before the event I realized I only had one Twiddle, so I dug into an already open Collectors Edition set to find a second and hoped someone could hook me up at the venue. The rest of my Thursday night proceeded like a typical “night before something important”. I had some kids songs stuck in my head (“The Boo Boo Song” if you must know) and my head was going a mile a minute. So after rolling around in bed/reading the most boring financial periodicals I could find, I got up, hit the brain food (avocados, almonds, sardines and yogurt) and caught a 7am train up to Boston.
I rolled into the event and right into a 0/* Wall of Humidity (where * is the number of Magic players in attendance). The zany European dealers found me a playable unlimited Twiddle and I uploaded my deck (which I now realize is horribly disheveled compared to other pictures).
X-Point Stasis, by Eric Pallone
4x Howling Mine
4x Black Vise
3x Time Vault
3x Winter Orb
2x Relic Barrier
1x Mox Sapphire
1x Mox Ruby
1x Mox Emerald
1x Mox Jet
1x Mox Pearl
1x Transmute Artifact
1x Copy Artifact
4x Power Sink
2x The Tabernacle at Pendrall Vale
1x Strip Mine
3x Blue Elemental Blast
1x The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
3x Ivory Tower
1x City in a Bottle
1x Mirror Universe
2x Hurkyl’s Recall
Round 1 vs. Xanadude Boston (playing Grixis Troll Disco)
Well, this was quite the start and Xanadude showcases some sick tech in game two. He’s playing Troll Disco with a blue splash for power.
I get rocked by a turn 1 Ritual into a Hippie. He follows it up with a Factory, Jet and another Hippie. I do three damage with a Vise. Then he casts Time Walk and we’re shuffling up for game 2.
I sideboard in some weak Unsummons.
Xanadude starts with some burn and I believe a Troll which he then follows up with more Factories and an Ancestral Recall. Then he showcases his super-secret tech with a Mox Ruby. At this point, I know I’ve seen at least 10 points between the two games. Sure enough, he is accidentally rocking 14 points. Xanadude realizes his mistake and scoops.
But no one comes to LobsterCon to lose on a technicality, so I offer to restart the match once he makes some substitutions. He takes out 4 points, tells DFB he needs to reupload and if it goes to time, offers to scoop. DFB looks at us quizzically but blesses this unholy redo. I generate one unit of good karma to cash in at a later time.
Occasionally, my deck will offer up some blistering starts. I play a turn one Black Vise with Boomerang, Unsummon and Strip Mine for disruption. He doesn’t get to stick anything on the board and quickly drops to 5 life before I play a Stasis and lock the game.
Xanadude starts with a turn 2 Order and turn three Hippie. I have a solid start with Howling Mine, Stasis, Boomerang and draw into Time Vault. But it’s a race and he takes me down to 9 before I stabilize with a Stasis and Time Vault. He has a Disk in play so I can’t let him untap. I have a full grip with Boomerang and backup Stasis with a Power Sink if necessary. At 9, I’m comfortably out of burn range so I’m feeling good that I can put the game away. However, DFB calls time and I can’t kill him in extra turns. Xanadude
makes good on his offer to scoop at the end of turns.
1–0, 2–0 in X point games (0–2 in XIV point games)
Round 2 vs. Peter Magnin (playing Mono Green Beatdown)
Peter is a nice gent on a mono-green stompy deck. This is a bread-and-butter matchup for Tabernacle so I hope they show up and I look forward to sideboarding another in.
Peter starts with turn 1 Scryb Sprites followed up with two additional 1/1s on turn two. He pecks away with his 1/1s and Pendelhaven and takes me down to 7 but I stabilize with the key lock pieces and a Tabernacle to wipe the board. I eventually take it home with two Vises. I also had a boomerang waiting in case of some Berserk shenanigans.
I sideboard in another Tabernacle and two Unsummons for a Power Sink, Copy Artifact and Transmute.
I have a Tabernacle and Winter Orb in my opening hand, so I feel like I’ll have enough breathing room to get past the early game. He plays a turn 1 Scavenger Folk. I run out a Black Vise to bait his Scavenger Folk to make way for my Winter Orb. When my Tabernacle comes down, he uses his Scavenger Folk to blow up the Black Vise and we proceed to stare at each other for a number of turns. I recall him being light on mana this game and a Strip Mine sets him back further. My notes stop with both of us at 17 life
so I think he scoops when I eventually draw a second Vise and have a Stasis out.
2–0, 4–0 in X point games (0–2 in XIV point games)
Round 3 vs. Noah Shanning (playing B/R Troll Disco)
Noah is another nice gent on Troll Disco with Orders and Hippies. I learn later on in the weekend he played the same deck (powerless) in the main event for a nice 5–3 record.
Noah starts with some Order of the Ebon Hand beats and burn. I have an early Howling Mine that lets me keep digging. I drop to 5 before I do some Twiddling/Time Vaulting and set up a lock. Tabernacle gives me some cushion on the creature side and Power Sink gives me hope against burn. I get him down to 15 before drawing another Vise and hitting him for 4, 6 and 6 to steal the game.
This game starts with an Order which I Unsummon to buy some time. We then play a sub-game with his untapped Disk. I need it off the board to start playing artifacts from my hand. I have a Howling Mine in play and he has two Orders. I unsummon one to set him back and immediately regret the decision because my plan is to Twiddle down the disk at the end of his turn to play Stasis. Now if he blows the Disk, it’ll only take down one of his cards vs. two. He blows the disk in response to me Twiddling it and I’m free to drop 2x Vise and get aggro by double boomeranging two lands. The Vises squeeze for 8 damage and he concedes when a Stasis hits the board.
3–0, 6–0 in X point games (0–2 in XIV point games)
Round 4 vs. Pez Unholy (playing The Deck)
Pez is on a beastly X point version of The Deck, running Ancestral and Factories (I believe). He is also splashing red for fireball. The Deck is a tough matchup because Fellwar Stones match up well vs. Winter
Orb and Counterspells are just better than my Power S(t)inks. Howling Mine is just a free Tome for him.
He has a number of Counterspells and eventually three or four Fellwar Stones so it is really hard for me to tap him down with Power Sink and have a blow out turn. Eventually he sticks a Serra Angel and I work to slow it down with a boomerang. He casts a large fireball which I power sink and I get a turn to try and work some magic. Unfortunately, I’m long Winter Orbs and short Stasis’ so I’m doing relatively weak things. I get him down to 11 with two Vises but it’s not enough to beat the Serra clock.
I look at my sideboard again and realize how useless it is. I bring in Blue Elemental Blasts to counter the REBs I assume he is bringing in.
Game 2 is epic. My deck coughs up a great number of Winter Orbs, Stasis’ and Howling Mines but also 3x Blue Elemental Blasts when I don’t see a single REB. We play draw/go for a while and the Howling Mines keep piling up. At one point we’re both drawing four cards a turn. I work my magic with one Stasis and Winter Orb, Boomeranging the Stasis and Relic Barrier’ing my Orb at the end of his turn. This gives me a lot of breathing room. However, I plow through over two thirds of my deck before I see my first Vise. I start chipping away but soon there are 8 cards left in my library. At this point, I Relic Barrier down one Mine and Twiddle another so I’m only drawing two cards a turn. Pez Ancestrals me to speed up his clock. Thankfully I draw into duplicate Vises and give him a few extra turns with Time Vaults to put the game away. I have 3 cards left in my library when Pez takes lethal.
At this point there is some confusion. We shuffle up and draw for game three when Pez checks to see if we are out of time. He asks DFB if we’re doing orb flips and DFB replies “Of course, this is America”. In retrospect, I think DFB means “Yes, when time comes you will do orb flips” but in the moment it is interpreted as “Start flipping now”. We toss back our hands and since I’ve never flipped an Orb, I say to myself, “It’s been a nice run”. But Goonies never say die. The folks next to us and all around are still playing regular ol’ Magic so I ask DFB for clarification. It turns out there are still six minutes to go in the round. At this point Pez is hungry and wants to find food so he concedes and drops. I cash in my good karma unit from round 1 and desideboard for Round 5.
4–0, 8–1 in X point games (0–2 in XIV point games)
Round 5 vs. Paul DeSilva (playing U/W Lion Dib)
Paul is a fellow Sister of the Flame and one of the first Old School writers that I encountered online back in 2019 so it is nice to finally play against him. Unfortunately, these games are a little fuzzy so I won’t do them justice.
Paul has a slow start and only hits me once with a Lions. I play the aggressive version of my deck with an early Vise, bounce and Tabernacle before locking him with a full grip. Vise continually does 3 damage.
Paul has a turn 1 Lions that he effectively rides to victory. I put up some fight but I recall this game being pretty lopsided.
Paul has another reasonable start with an early Lions and he points a Psionic Blast at my head. The board state is cluttered and I have enablers, combo pieces and locks. I stabilize at 9, counter a Disenchant and then start whittling away with Black Vise and Vault/Stasis to give him extra turns. When I stick a second Vise I start Boomeranging lands so he has 8 cards at the beginning of his turn. His life total quickly drops from 13 life to zero.
In these games I drew a good mix of lock pieces and Tabernacles and felt it really showcased the power of the deck vs. creatures.
5–0, 10–2 in X point games (0–2 in XIV point games)
Round 6 vs. Matt Marmorato (playing White Weenie)
This match was very tight and intense. I’m meeting Matt for the first time. He is on a finely tuned white weenie build that maximizes one drops (Savannah Lions, Tundra Wolves and Icatian Javelineers) alongside Crusade. Later on in the weekend Matt explains the template for the build which applies the finely tuned decklist and mana ratios of late 2010s Magic to the Old School shell.
He steamrolls me with turn 1 Lions, turn 2 Order (or White Knight) followed by a Crusade. My life total does something like this: 20 > 18 > 12 > 6 > 0. I put up very little resistance, maybe bouncing a factory along the way. Robert Muldoon had a better chance of surviving during the second half of Jurassic Park.
I side in my third Tabernacle and some Unsummons for Copy Artifact, Transmute and one Winter Orb.
I start with a turn one Black Vise which pecks him down to 15 before he drops under 4 cards. Matt starts with a one powered one-drop followed by Order (or Knight). I get out a relatively early Stasis and Howling Mine which slows the game down considerably but still don’t have a Tabernacle to wipe his board. We play draw go for a few turns, and he takes some additional Black Vise damage. I also play a Time Vault and untap it by giving him an extra turn. This will allow me to rebuild after letting my Stasis die since I don’t have a Boomerang. I make a goof and give him the extra turn that gets him to four untapped mana while my Stasis is out. At this point I’m sweating an Armageddon. He doesn’t have it and I’m able to let the Stasis go, take another turn and play another Stasis along with a second Vise. He
begins to Swords his creatures but he’s locked and we shuffle up for game 3.
Game 3 is a routine trip to Kruger National Park. Matt opens with Factory, Lotus, crack for WWW and three Savannah Lions. I tell myself second place isn’t so bad, but Goonies never say die. I have an early Howling Mine while my life total drops from 20 > 14 > 8. Now I’m Boomeranging to buy time. My final draw before the three Lions (and a fourth!) deal the killing blow is a Stasis. I drop it and ride the Stasis to some semblance of stabilization. During the fog of war, he disenchants my Howling Mine, I take some
extra turns, I lose Stasis and he gets an untap phase (limited to one land because of a Winter Orb). Matt untaps a Plains instead of a Factory. I assume he has a Crusade in hand that he’d like to play if he draws
a land. Without Factory he still has 8 power on the board and swings in for lethal. A timely Unsummon saves my bacon and I go to 2 life. He ended up drawing a land so would have had lethal if he untapped the Factory. Next turn I play another Stasis and eventually two Vises deal 6 a turn.
6–0, 12–3 in X point games (0–2 in XIV point games)
So I end up winning with a little help from karma points, decent piloting, luck and not scooping in the face of certain defeat!
A few observations about the deck:
1. I benefited greatly from opponents not having an established game plan for Stasis (not that anyone should). This, combined with the substantial number of onboard triggers, effects and activations make it difficult for opponents to target the exact right permanent with a Disenchant or Crumble. I also didn’t miss Relic Barriering my Orb when I bounced Stasis which is very important.
2. X point is much more creature friendly, so Tabernacle really shines alongside Winter Orb and Stasis. It gives mono blue a wrath effect which is unique.
3. Xanadude and Noah both had burn but I managed to avoid mono-red which is extremely difficult to beat.
4. I’m generally an early scooper if I think I’m beat, but this deck forces you play everything out. Looking at the games above, the majority of wins came a turn or two before I died while coming back from some wildly losing board states. It’s definitely very rewarding to play and I’d encourage anyone who is also an “early scooper” to try some reps to rebuild the “Goonies
never say die” mentality.
5. Don’t be shy bouncing or Twiddling opponent’s lands or creatures to buy time or refill their hand for Vise. Stasis gives Time Vault multiple ways to untap so Twiddles aren’t just Vault enablers.
6. My sideboard was a clownshow so don’t read much into it. A fourth Tabernacle could be helpful against WW, mono green and other heavy creature decks.
Finally I’d be remiss not to plug my pops’ alters. Check them out at