The Stack in Action
the past few weeks, we've gone over a lot about the
stack. We've also covered priority quite a bit. And I
must that I was happy with the response that I got from
the combat step review article last week. It lets me
know that I got an article out there to the public that
was useful. I like writing for fun. And of course I
enjoy fun and interesting articles. Everyone once in a
while though, it's nice to know that something I've
written is useful.
But, with all that knowledge, where does that leave us?
Well, you can go any direction you want with it. After
all, knowledge is power. And over the past few weeks,
you've hopefully become a very powerful person. Don't
go getting power hungry yet though. Are you sure that
you can apply all of these newly acquired skills in the
You know as well as I do that your answer isn't
relevant. It was obviously a hypothetical question.
Besides, I couldn't just trust your answer. I have to
test you. Yeah, I said the four letter word that a lot
of you hate. Good news is that it's a short test.
Unfortunately, it's all essay questions. Anyway, let's
This situation actually occurred at a recent Friday
Night Magic event. It was a matchup of Tooth and Nail
against Krark-Clan Ironworks Combo.
Your opponent has 10 lands in play. All of them are
untapped. He has on the table two Oblivion Stones and
one Darksteel Colossus. One of the Oblivion Stones has
a fate counter on it. You are also aware that he has a
Naturalize in hand due to earlier game situations.
You have six artifact lands in play, one Krark-Clan
Ironworks, and a Sensei's Divining Top. You have
already looked at your top three cards, and you have
ordered them as Myr Incubator, Blasting Station, and
Sensei's Diving Top. In hand, you already have one
Sensei's Divining Top. For issues of the Ironworks, be
aware that you have about 36 artifacts left in the deck.
The cards involved:
It's your turn. Your opponent is at 11. You are at
eight. You need to find a way to win or set up a win
next turn. Additional Knowledge that has been gained
here is that your opponent only has two Oblivion Stones.
What is the best possible play?
Well, that depends. Start by making the safe play. Use
the Sensei's Diving Top to get the extra card off of
your deck. This way if you use a Myr Incubator, you
will still have all the relevant cards that you need in
Then, there are two different ways that this can play
out. Go ahead and cast Myr Incubator. If your opponent
uses one of his Oblivion Stones, you then just sacrifice
a bunch of lands to the Ironworks. That will generate
all the mana you need to play your Blasting Station and
play and activate a Myr Incubator. So, your stack could
potentially look like:
Lands Sacrificing to Ironworks (seven separate
Oblivion Stone Activation
Then you can play a Blasting Station. If your opponent
decides to blow up the second Oblivion Stone before the
Blasting Station resolves, you will then have enough
mana to play the second Incubator and then get enough
creatures to block all the damage from the Darksteel
Colossus and be able to attack in return for the win the
Now, in a different scenario, you can play a Myr
Incubator and your opponent may not activate an Oblivion
Stone yet. You then cast Blasting Station. If you cast
the Blasting Station, your opponent can activate his
Oblivion Stone without the fate counter. Then you would
be forced to sacrifice your lands to the Krark-Clan
Ironworks, because it would be going away. You can then
activate a Myr Incubator. Then your opponent may choose
to activate the second Oblivion Stone. So, your stack
at one point would look like:
Oblivion Stone activation #2
Myr Incubator activation
Oblivion Stone Activation #1
In this scenario, the Oblivion Stone #2 would resolve.
This would destroy all permanents on the board. At
this point, with both Oblivion Stones blown up, you can
safely retrieve as many creatures as you like and be
able to win from there just like in scenario one.
Now, the secret is that there really is no correct
answer here. It's more about just being aware of the
stack and what you are capable of. Ultimately, what
should happen is that you should have enough creatures
to block the Darksteel Colossus and then attack for the
win. Nothing should be left on the table after the
Oblivion Stones explode but the Colossus, lands, and the
There are two interesting fun facts though. If you are
playing the Ironworks deck, you need to be careful in
the above scenarios to keep yourself from getting
wrapped up in using the Blasting Station to win, because
you won't even need it to win. But also, the best play
the Tooth and Nail player could make in hindsight would
be to activate an Oblivion Stone during the Ironworks
player's upkeep. This takes away a lot of the Ironworks
This is just one of the many ways that you can utilize
the stack in a real life situation. Combo decks really
need to be aware of the stack and how it works. When
they have a lot of activated effects or instant speed
spells, they can get out of a lot of tight spots.
Obviously there are a lot of simpler situations. Most
of the time, the stack comes into play during combat
situations. I would recommend that you slow down and
look at all the potential options the next time you look
at playing an instant speed spell or ability. If you
are getting close to the end of the game and you have a
choice of things to do, take a long look at the board.
Think about what your opponent can do. Then fill the
stack to your benefit and go for it.
Until next time,
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com