Epic Experiment – Siona Stax

(Siona, Captain of the Pyleas| Art by Chris Rallis)

Stax and Attacks

Hello, EDHREC fans! I’m Bernardo Melibeu, and this is Epic Experiment, a series where we throw all common sense aside and experiment with some unusual strategies, changing how we normally build our deck. Is it going to work? Who knows?! We’re making science here. When you’re an Izzet mage, blowing things up is half the fun.

In this article we’ll be talking about a very interesting Selesnya commander, who has the ability to go both wide and tall: Siona, Captain of the Pyleas.

When Siona, Captain of the Pyleas enters the battlefield, look at the top seven cards of your library. You may reveal an Aura card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.

Whenever an Aura you control becomes attached to a creature you control, create a 1/1 white Human Soldier creature token.

Observation 1:

Siona is an amazing card; it does the usual Selesnya token stuff, but with the unique spin of ‘Auras matter’.

Observation 2:

The combination of a decent ETB and a great static ability makes her kit impressive for such a cheap commander.

Observation 3:

Siona’s ability to flood the board with cheap Auras is kind of lackluster at face value. However, there are many ways that we can abuse the extra bodies in green.

Observation 4:

Shielded by Faith is a two-card combo with Siona, which in itself is already impressive, but even more so when you consider that one piece of the combo (Siona) digs for the other.


The Old Formula

Siona is full of powerful synergies. Her kit brings to her EDHREC page a bevy of low-cost Auras, which work great with Enchantress effects. We even get full value from the stricter forms of these abilities, like Kor Spiritdancer.


The Epic Ingredients


When Siona, Captain of the Pyleas was spoiled, I was impressed by her potential to flood the board by using cheap Auras like Flickering Ward, which can be easily built around in GW. The ability to put that many permanents into play goes really well with one of my guilty pleasures cards: Smokestack. Siona’s kit allows her to easily negate the downsides of a Smokestack with two or three counters. World Queller works here, too, which is not as disruptive as Smokestack, but the redundancy is quite nice and can pretty much shut down decks that aren’t dedicated to a theme as strongly as we are.

Siona’s ETB naturally gravitates her towards Wild Growth effects. This means our lands will be a more efficient than the rest of the table, which breaks the symmetry of Winter Orb effects. As you can see, Siona can has all the makings of an interesting Stax commander!

We have quite a diverse hate suite, hitting many of the most common threats; however, this is a section where we should look to adapt to our meta. For example, against artifacts, we have Damping Matrix, Collector Ouphe, Stony Silence, or Aura Shards. Against graveyard decks, there’s Containment Priest, Ground Seal, or Wheel of Sun and Moon. To slow down decks with heavy tutor or card advantage abilities, we can use Alms Collector, Aven Mindcensor, and Smothering Tithe. The possibilities are plentiful, and how deep we go against a particular archetype is metagame-dependent.

Another key factor in this deck is our recurring enchantment suite. These enchantments are a guaranteed way to get consistent ETB triggers, providing us value and card advantage when combined with Enchantress effects. We mostly have two kinds of Auras. First, the ones that come back after going to the graveyard, like Aspect of Mongoose, Brilliant Halo, and Rancor. These are important effects, since we use them as sacrifice fodder, then replay them to get even more tokens. Second, the Auras that we get to bounce back to our hand, like Flickering Ward, Whip Silk, and Conviction. These make grindy games a whole lot easier.

Since we actually need to win, let’s talk about win conditions. The Shielded by Faith combo is a must-include, a cheap two-card combo that we have a shot at digging it with our commander. Sigil of the Empty Throne is exactly the type of grindy permanent-producing win con that we’re looking for. On the other hand, Triumph of the Hordes lacks the permanent threat potential of other win cons, but can eliminate one problematic player much faster, giving us a nice balance of effects for immediate victory or for longer games.


The Mixture


Now let’s get one thing straight about this list and, to some extent, its archetype. Stax is pretty divisive among EDH’s community, with many people having negative feelings about it. As a social format, part of our goal is to adjust our decks according to our meta and games are only fun if everyone is enjoying them. Because of that, it might be better to ask how your playgroup feels about stax before playing it, so you don’t build something that will make people unhappy.

Since our commander can dig pretty deep for Auras, we’re also using Auras as our removal suite. Opting out of instant-speed interaction has the obvious downside of losing the flexibility of acting in response; however, our removal has the knee-capping potential of permanently locking an opponent out of their commander. Kenrith’s Transformation is an efficient removal that also cantrips, for instance, and Darksteel Mutation is a nasty card which can pretty much shut down someone’s commander, since it doesn’t allow the enchanted creature to be destroyed as collateral by board wipes.

Our card draw suite is mainly Enchantress effects, with some focus on those of the Kor Spiritdancer style, since they are cheaper. It’s usually not a good idea to only use these kinds of draw effects, and to diversify the card advantage suite a bit more, but our deck has a tendency of being able to recast the same enchantment multiple times, so I’m happy to lean into these abilities.


Methodology

Our priorities for an opening hand vary based on our opponents because some of our lock pieces are more effective than others. Normally, what we want to see is a form of mana acceleration and some source of disruption. Our commander is great at finding some more action, which can lead into more flexibility for what we keep in our opening hand.

In the early game our priority is to accelerate to either put down a stax piece or to start putting out Soldiers with Siona. A good early game is crucial to keep the rest of the table in check, but we always have to keep in mind that we need to be ahead on board before playing things like Winter Orb.

By the mid game we should start layering down our disruption by playing multiple pieces that lock other players down. This is really crucial if we want to actually stop our opponents instead of just slowly annoying them. Another key aspect that we must not forget is the free damage that we can dish out with our tokens, especially when blocking might mean that we get back one of our Rancor-type of Auras.

In the late game we should have found the combo, or even just ground people out with our tokens. Otherwise our deck will start to be out-scaled pretty quickly. Luckily for us, this is where the more explosive cards like Shielded By Faith or even Triumph of the Hordes come in handy.


Epic Results

Like I said before, there are plenty of ways to lock the game out, and there are many things to take into consideration, such as power level and environment. So if you want to take this deck and adapt it, there’s plenty of opportunity to do so! For instance, one could capitalize on the tokens with effects like Cryptolith Rite and even Glare of Subdual.

That’s it for this Epic Experiment! What do you think about this list? Do you have any questions about the deck? Which cards did you like? Which didn’t you? Was the Epic Experiment a success? Please let me know in the comments below!

Bernardo has been playing(on and off) since portal and somehow manage to survive mirrodin block while being a total casual(beast tribal ftw?). He loves all the shades of blue and being the one saying "nope", while holding a full grip of cards in hand.