Game Mode: Single Stack

Whoops! Wrong single stack

To my disappointment, this is probably the most popular way to play Type 4, which has led to a lot of people simply referring to the format itself as “Stack”, “the Stack” and so on. I don’t like to open an article by shitting on something, but it’s hard for me to hide my disappointment at how favoured this style of play is in Type 4 when so much enjoyment is lost by not drafting it. Regardless, as a member of Academy faculty I feel obliged to divulge the rules to play Type 4’s most popular game mode.

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Review: Denizen of the Deep

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Resident monster. The Denizen is perfectly at home in the Stack. Please find one for your own. It’s a big, splashy idiot that is fun to play.

First, I think it’s important to draw attention to the clutch use of a ‘scale boat’ on this art. Anson Maddocks (on point as always) draws a big sea monster that turns out to actually be kind of adorable and thinks “aaah shit I need to make it look big. Scale boat.”

Scale boats: Making scale birds look like assholes since Dandan.

Art aside this is a deceptively powerful card. 11/11 stats are straight Tyrannosaurus Flex material, regardless of era. But in the modern Enters The Battlefield: The Game era of nWo design, the Denizen gives you a chance to relive the glorious twelve minutes ago of when you got those enters the battlefield abilities from your Brutalizer Exarch and Tyrant of Discord. It’s not a flawless plan by any means, but it’s a plan, and that’s better and I usually can provide.

Overall: 4 plush eldritch horrors out of five

Review: Kodama of the North Tree

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 2
Second-stringer. Kodama is a good beater, but little else. There’s no traits that make it special in Type 4. If you just want more whoopass, he’s a good choice.

So this is some kind of super-jacked guy with fans for hands in a bath or something. Anyway, he pops up and whoops ass but doesn’t do much else. I take him out of nostalgia purposes early but honestly, 6/4 isn’t particularly stacked stats-wise and he’ll die in lots of red zone encounters because of his stubborn unwillingness to accept your help with equipment and auras. Keep a path clear and he’ll fan-hand some senseless nerd into the ground.

I guess we can all learn a thing or two from this guy. Work out, hit the showers, do your own thing and die in fights… you know what? Nevermind.

Overall: Two and a half bizarre bath house sex scenes out of five

Review: Nullstone Gargoyle

Draft Priority: 5

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 3
An oddity. I love it, but some groups will find the Gargoyle isn’t much fun and might even ruin games. Test run it and see how people respond, and if they don’t like it, make Mental Note of the fact that they’re weak-willed scrubs.


1) Look carefully at the art on this card.

2) Play Nullstone Gargoyle.

3) Hold the card up, so it is next to a player at your table in your field of vision.

4) Compare expressions.

This card has the potential to cause frustration seizures in Type 4 players and is a surefire way to trigger an avalanche of haters if your opponents are caught unprepared. Dropped late, the Gargoyle can put the game into a stranglehold as opponents scramble to kill it, or kill you.

Playing the Gargoyle requires careful planning both during deck construction and play. It’s perfect if you’re in a near ‘mono-dudes’ strategy. If you just slam it onto the table, you’ll be doing the Gargoyle expression in no time.

Also, the reason I ranked it ‘A’ in draft priority is to ensure somebody responsible gets it instead of the giggling invalid who things doing anything ‘for the lulz’ is a worthwhile investment of anybody’s time.

Overall: Three and a half tears of frustration out of five

T&T: The Low-Value Spell

A format associated with the routine casting of six-plus mana spells warps your perception of value. Because of this, you’ll occasionally be drafting and come across a spell like Enervate and think “that’s stupid and useless and I hate you Andy.” Even something as good as Malestrom Pulse can start to look slightly stinky when you can cast a good ol’ Akroma’s Vengeance or something similar. So why should you even consider casting something like Riftmarked Knight (my boy!) or Fulgent Distraction during a game? What’s the use in these seemingly low-value filler spells?

Q: What do all these spells have in common?
A: Newbs always ask why I don’t cut them

The answer is a combination of a few things, some in-game and some out-of-game. Since this is Tips & Tactics, we’ll stick to the in-game factors that make the low-value spell desirable.

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Review: Grasp of Darkness

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 2
Roleplayer. It’s removal that helps deal with indestructible and regenerating badasses, but the effect isn’t huge. Still, worth including.


I really like the –X/-X style of removal. It’s diverse, it layers well with combat interaction, and it makes creatures feel ‘deader’ to me. Sure that last one is nonsense, but this whole game is playing cardboard and pretending to be Wizards, so deal.

Despite looking like a low-impact, limited-environment removal of cornercase use, I have to say this card springs up all the time killing Brion Stoutarms, Seedborn Muses, or finishing off third-party creatures from a combat you were previously uninvolved it. It’s just not flashy.

Be sure to put in Sudden Spoiling first.

Overall: Two and a half nonsensical perceptions of death out of five

Review: Mulldrifter

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 2
It turns out good Magic cards are good in games of Magic. While the Evoke is kind of uniquely useful in Type 4, this is such a generic effect it’s hard to find it especially appealing.


Everybody loves Mulldrifter. It seems like to be accepted as a Magic “guru”, at some point you have to kiss the Mulldrifter’s ring publicly, extolling it’s virtues as a great design. This is a good card, but it’s good in such obvious and utilitarian ways that it’s almost unappealing for Type 4. Remember, Type 4 is EDH if EDH was like people describe EDH to new players. Crazy cards used in no other formats, low barrier to entry, mana thrown around recklessly, and plays that make Ross Perot ramblings look sane.

Mulldrifter is the antithesis of this. It’s like your 5/10 spouse who reliably pays half the rent and enjoys getting smashed missionary (well, not really smashed) twice a week. It’s a card you can come home to but isn’t necessarily the most exciting thing on the planet.

So, put it in your stack, sure. It draws cards, and Evoke creatures are always nice. But don’t put it in before Aeon Chronicler or Bringer of the Black Dawn. Let the guy who has a .550 record at FNM first-pick it like a ‘pro’. This is Type 4, not some boring real format.

Overall: Two and a half bowls of food paste stuff from The Matrix out of five

Review: Voltaic Construct


Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 1

Stack Status: 1
Cut. It’s not very good, until it’s too good.

I kind of feel bad for cutting Voltaic Construct. He’s not getting any love elsewhere and I bet he’s really trying to improve his physique with his new air-punching workout. I respect a guy who’s just doing him and holding it down for the squad. When one of his artifact homeboys gets in deep you know he’s rolling up and taking him off the job.

Unfortunately, Voltaic Construct’s regimen of shadowboxing is pretty unimpressive to outside onlookers like myself and other players at the table… until he enables an infinite combo with the Clockwork creatures or some other gibberish. These don’t happen often, but they’re the only time Voltaic Construct does something other than offer up Vigilance for artifact creatures.

It just sucks having to draft him, unless you know playing him will instantly win the game.

Overall: One Liquid Sword out of five

Review: Repay in Kind

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 3


“If I’m going down, I’m taking you with me.”

Everyone knows some nerd who utters this in a particularly bitter moment during a game. Maybe you’re that bitter nerd (we all have been at some point, if we’re being honest). Embodying that sentiment with a card, Repay in Kind lets you flip game states around from “I’m in trouble” to “y’all in trouble”. In this context, it’s one of the most interesting cards in Type 4.

When you have a Replay in Kind, the way you block, attack, and counter completely changes. Everything becomes a game of chicken and positioning that your opponents don’t know they’re playing (unless they’re really attentive during the draft). In a way, it’s awesome because it lets you bluff terrible judgment to set up a masterstroke where you kill everyone at the table.

Of course, it also gets countered a lot. It doesn’t improve your own life total. It can also lead to somebody else saying “peep game Resounding Thunder after Repay resolves ur dead”.

Regardless, it’s always exciting, so put it in your stack. It will often wheel because people don’t necessarily understand the card and it’s possibilities. Let it ride and try to take it on the second pass, and if somebody takes it early, keep an eye on that icehead. He probably knows what he’s doing.

Overall: Three and a half dogs with shifty eyes out of five

Review: Redirect

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Staple fo sho.


One of the least-restrictive redirection spells, Redirect doesn’t require a lot of explanation. It will save you, it will save your creatures, it will anger your opponents. Draft it early and often.

Overall: Four Flagbearers out of five.