This entry is part 10 of 13 in the series (Vexing) Devil's Advocate

378127_10150441621792624_1477312954_n“Why can’t you just kill me quickly?” John asked grumpily, staring down the table at his opponent’s Grand Arbiter deck.

“Because I enjoy the game. The longer it goes on, the more I enjoy it,” Sherlock responded simply.

“But I am not particularly enjoying being strung along. It’s sadistic,” John responded, grinding his teeth.

“Really?” Sherlock asked. “I thought it was kinder. It gives you more time to come up with a way to beat me.”

“And how would you suggest I pull that off?” John growled back.

“Come on now,” Sherlock smirked. “If I do everything for you, what’s the point of having an opponent?”

This is the face of douchery.

This is the face of douchery.

Ahhh, finally. We’re finally at a week without any of my silly narratives or stories, just good ol’ fashioned (Vexing) Devil’s Advocate.

And what a subject to come back on. I am smashing together two hated decks (stacks and lockout) and defending them as a special two-for-one Commandercast special. Though these decks are very differently built, they both create similiar experiences for the people playing against them: total resource denial accompanied by a slow death by inches.

To many players, this is the worst EDH experience you can have. It makes you feel powerless and incapable, the exact opposite thing you want in a power-fantasy game where you play as wizards who jump between worlds. But are you actually as powerless against these scary decks as you feel?

… Nope. Not even a little bit.

In My Client’s Defence…

Brace yourself folks, here is why I don’t think these decks are the worst thing since Hitler’s sperm: They aren’t that strong.

Basically, these decks win a long game through incremental advantage. In order to build this advantage, they need to combine certain key cards. For example, Smokestack and Bloodghast or Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Thorn of Amethyst.

Or this b!^&# and quite a few of her friends.

Or this b!^&# and quite a few of her friends.

These combinations gain a tempo advantage or card advantage by taxing your opponent’s resources beyond their ability to keep up. They do this by exploiting the interactions of specific cards, like the peanut butter and chocolate of jerk decks. In this way they are very similar to combo decks, except that they don’t win immediately.

That’s actually why people hate them so much. With a combo deck the win is immediate, allowing everyone to quickly bounce back and shuffle up. But against a denial type deck, you have to hang in there because you just might top deck the one card in your deck that can save you. But here’s the thing, folks: you can top deck a card that totally saves you.

All you have to do is believe in the heart of the cards.

All you have to do is believe in the heart of the cards.

The thing is, these decks take all of the weaknesses of your average combo deck but without their all-in winning strength. If you take away a key card from these decks or deny them a certain ability, they will fall apart. And they give you way more time to do it than any combo player ever will.

It’s easy to remember the gruelling losses to these decks and forget the easy wins. But with the overpowered generals for these strategies banned (Braids, Cabal Minion and Erayo, Soratami Ascendant), it’s pretty easy to wipe these decks off the map with the right kind of answers.

Oh, crap! That was my cue! Sorry, I’m getting used to this writing format again. Yes, cards that work against these decks. That means the next segment is…

Kryptonite Rings and Silver Bullets

There are a couple ways to counter these decks, but which tactic you should take depends on which of the two you are going up against.

Against lockout or pillow fort style decks, you want to use sweepers. Specifically, sweepers that hit multiple kinds of permanents (Austere Command, All is Dust, Oblivion Stone, Planar Cleansing, etc.). You want these cards to hit everything because these decks tend to rely on enchantments as much as creatures, and the value you get out of a good wrath effect tends to counter any that your opponent has accumulated. Really, just hit everything. Nuke it from orbit, just to be safe.

Wise words from a wise woman

Wise words from a wise woman

However, a stacks style deck is resistant to these kinds of sweepers. They tend to recur creatures (Reassembling Skeleton, Nether Traitor) in order to generate advantage from Smokestack-effects. As such, they tend to bounce right back from a wrath. However, a good piece of graveyard hate will effectively neuter any stacks deck, then place its manly bits into the nearest fire. Man, if only I had written an article talking about combo decks where I discuss the best pieces of graveyard hate (hint, go here:

If that’s too long, I’ll skip to the best bits. You want to run either Scrabbling Claws and Relic of Progenitus, or maybe both. You can never have too much graveyard hate, especially the kind that goes into any deck and lets you draw cards. It’s like bacon, delicious with everything.

We, the Jury, Find the Defendant…

Stacks decks are really annoying to lose to, but they are pretty easy to beat on any given day. It gets even easier once you get past their nasty reputation and hit them where it hurts.

And if you ever want to feel better about these aggravating buggers, try to keep track of your win percentage against them. I guarantee you that it’s better than you think.

Always remember these words, my friends.

Always remember these words, my friends.

Well, that was nice. A little briefer than usual (my life is stupid hectic right now), but it was still comforting to return to normal form. And no narrative to worry about at all! Wait… Oh no… Don’t ruin this!

Ahh, balls…

My head was resting on my folded arms, and I was trying to catch some shut eye at my office desk when I heard the door open. I didn’t have to look up to know who it was. Only one person had the balls to walk into my office without knocking.

“Look, boss, I’ve been worked to the bone between these cases and my stand up comedy. Can’t I take a nap before my next job?” I sighed without lifting my heads from my arms.

“You can do whatever you like, as long as you continue to acknowledge me as your superior,” I heard a haughty voice say from my doorway.

I jumped to my feet so fast that my desk moved a few inches forward and my chair flew a few feet back, bouncing noisily off of the back wall of my office.

I ignored it, instead quickly gathering red mana from the familiar stone and brick that our office was built from. I knew that I may need to speak the Word of Seizing at a moments notice.

Before me stood an apparition of a humanoid, wreathed in blue light and shadow. Its eyes glowed out at me, staring with a combination of loathing and arrogant superiority. 

It was an avatar, a representation of a larger enchantment. A sentience given form to act on behalf of a larger magical energy, one that I had gone entirely out of my way to insult at every chance I could grab.

Omniscience,” I growled with as much venom as I could muster.

“Hello, Eric. I think it’s time we had a talk,” the avatar snarled back at me.

Why!? Why would someone think this was a good idea!?

It’s about frigging time.

You can reach Eric in the comments below or through his email at And you can also follow his inane thoughts on twitter @ThatBonvieGuy. 

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