Alternative Outcomes — Competitive Kambal Taxation
Welcome to the home of Alternative Outcomes, a series of self-expression using the development and brewing of alternative builds, often of popular commanders. The name’s “Dev”, and I will be your guide on these journeys. I have been a proud Magic the Gathering player for over fifteen years and have competitive experience across multiple formats. EDH to me is a brewer's paradise with nigh unlimited possibilities. Alternative Outcomes seeks to use the power of EDHREC to help identify key cards and unique interactions in existing archetypes to bring our alternative brews to life.
Kambal, Consul of Allocation is a recent addition to the Orzhov fold, and one that I feel can shine. Today we will show the competitive world what Kambal is made of and bring fear to hearts of storm decks everywhere. Kambal Taxation is here as the competitive Orzhov stax deck.
Stax deck you say? Yes STAX, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, a stax deck is an effective control archetype popular in EDH, especially among the more powerful metas. Stax decks use taxation and lock effects that are either innately or can become asymmetrical. The goal is to slow your opponents down until you have a death lock on the board and then go in for the kill.
So why Kambal? Well Kambal’s ability locks out one of the primary archetypes played in the competitive EDH world, Storm. Storm is a fast and powerful deck that in EDH often strives to obtain a win through playing numerous permanents and then finishing off their opponents with Tendrils of Agony, or the recent addition of Aetherflux Reservoir.
With a powerful stax option in the command zone, we need to decide what type of stax deck to design. The closest deck to us is probably Alesha, Who Smiles at Death Stax, so we can use that knowledge as our starting point to build the creature base.
Brick by Brick
Using the power of EDHREC, we can create a filter on the available Alesha decks with competitive stax creatures of Aven Mindcensor and Leonin Arbiter. This should help us narrow it down to a selection of lists running more optimized solutions for our powerful palate. With the filter applied, we can hop down to the creature selection and start our “hatebear” selection process.
- Aven Mindcensor - one of the best stax options in the game
- Eidolon of Rhetoric - stop fast decks and storm in their place
- Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite - locks out Edric and swarm
- Leonin Arbiter - decent stax card
- Linvala, Keeper of Silence - Locks out popular lists like Yisan
- Loxodon Gatekeeper - keeps your opponents new permanents locked with stax effects
- Phyrexian Revoker - Locks out popular lists like Yisan
- Recruiter of the Guard - tutors for a variety of our hatebears
- Spirit of the Labyrinth - stops popular effects in Ad Nauseam lists like Brainstorm and Wheel of Fortune
- Thalia, Guardian of Thraben - stops storm and makes doomsday harder to play out
- Thalia, Heretic Cathar - keeps your opponents new permanents locked with stax effects
With the primary chunk of creature base in check, let us see what we can extract from the artifact portion of Alesha.
- Crucible of Worlds - Lets our MLD become one sided
- Cursed Totem - locks out lists like Yisan
- Sphere of Resistance - hurts storm and doomsday
- Static Orb - iconic stax card to slow down and lock out opponents
- Tangle Wire - iconic stax card to slow down and lock out opponents
- Thorn of Amethyst - hurts storm and doomsday
- Trinisphere - makes storm to inefficient
This will provide us with the stax base to add on our next strategy. We are going to pull some ideas from Meren Midrange. Being a midrange list with strong recursion, Meren runs some hate pieces to help carry it to the mid game where like most midrange list lets her combo off. As Meren is a very popular commander we will need to apply a filter to make sure we are seeing the upper tier of what she is capable of. For this, we will apply a filter on one of my favorite cards, Smokestack.
By evaluating Meren, we can see that she uses her access to powerful reanimation spells to permit hate pieces and a finisher combo to function. These are the aspects we will be extracting from her list to help finish of our Kambal brew.
To start, we will extract our what makes her hate pieces and what makes them tick. Smokestack and Contamination are iconic to a strong Meren deck and we can make good use of them by combining our access to Bitterblossom and Sheoldred, Whispering One, who in herself in a stax option.
With this theme in mind, we can extract our finisher of Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Triskelion. By taking this run, it become logical to run a standard reanimation package allowing us to also cheat Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite into play. In addition it also provides some strength against board wipes, of which hatebears based stax lists are often weak against. We also have a strong stax option as our commander, so we are able recur him with a tax later on if need be to stop a storm list that is about to go off.
The remainder of the cards chosen are a mix of standard stax options, removal, tutors, and ramp. With that I give you Kambal Taxation, a competitive stax brew with the potential to give nightmares to any storm player.
Pilot to Co-Pilot
Piloting STAX in the powerful competitive metas of the EDH world is a unique challenge and requires substantial insight into your opponent's options like most control lists do. The early game should focus on slowing our opponents to a crawl and assembling the lock options that provide us the win. If we are unable to obtain a solid lock and you enter the mid to late game, we can look for our combo win finisher of Mike and Trike to end the match in an instant.
I would like to give a special thanks to both Dandelion and JimWolfie over on the PlayEDH discord channel for the fine tuning help they gave to polish off this untested list.
If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, feel free to drop me a message on twitter @beyonddevnull or find me on the PlayEDH discord channel where I am active member.