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Against the Odds: Pest Stadium (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 286 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had an all-Strixhaven Against the Odds poll, and in the end, Strixhaven Stadium came out as the clear winner. As such, we're heading to Strixhaven Standard today to see if we can pick up some wins by getting 10 point counters on the mana rock. While Standard doesn't have a ton of tricks to get counters on Strixhaven Stadium without attacking, we do have a couple of tricks to help us get to 10 point counters as quickly as possible. Plus, in some ways, our deck is even more Against the Odds than usual since we're almost playing a Strixhaven block constructed deck in a Standard format controlled by Throne of Eldraine and Ikoria. What are the odds of winning with Strixhaven Stadium in Standard, backed by a pseudo-combo and a bunch of Pests? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Pest Stadium

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The Deck

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I was a bit worried when Strixhaven Stadium won the poll, mostly because there aren't a lot of tricks available for powering up Strixhaven Stadium in Standard. We don't have proliferate or any similar mechanic that can add extra counters to Strixhaven Stadium without attacking. In fact, the only non-combat way I could find to add counters to Strixhaven Stadium in the entire Standard format was Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider, which both doubles up the points counters we can get from tapping Strixhaven Stadium and also the ones we get from combat damage. So, how can we possibly make the mana rock into a win condition in Standard? Thankfully, Strixhaven offers a way...

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While we probably can add a couple of counters to Strixhaven Stadium by tapping it for mana, the easiest and fastest way to get to 10 point counters is to attack our opponent with a bunch of small creatures. If we can hit our opponent with nine creatures in one turn, we should always be able to win the game with Strixhaven Stadium (since we can get at least one counter for free by tapping it). How can we make nine creatures all at once? By sacrificing Daemogoth Titan to Tend the Pests! The main goal is to stick a Strixhaven Stadium, cast a Daemogoth Titan, and then sacrifice it to Tend the Pests to make eleven 1/1 Pests on our opponent's end step, which should allow us to untap, attack with all of our creatures, and win the game with Strixhaven Stadium

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Of course, we also have our best friend Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider to speed up the process. With a Vorinclex on the battlefield, we'll get double the counters on Strixhaven Stadium, which means we only need to hit our opponent with four creatures to win the game. While Vorinclex isn't usually needed if we managed to combo with Tend the Pests and Daemogoth Titan, it is super helpful for our backup plan of making Pest tokens fairly.

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As far as making Pests fairly, we're leaning pretty heavily on Strixhaven's learn / lesson mechanic. We have Eyetwitch and Hunt for Specimens to tutor Pest Summoning and Mascot Exhibition from our sideboard in order to flood the board with small creatures to trigger Strixhaven Stadium, while Sedgemoor Witch takes advantage of the fact that we have a lot of cheap spells in our deck. If it sticks on the battlefield, Sedgemoor Witch can make enough tokens to kill the opponent with Pests all by itself, although it does have the drawback of being small enough to die to Bonecrusher Giant

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We also have a bunch of sacrifice-based card draw to help find our combo pieces and take advantage of our deck's ability to flood the board with creatures. Village Rites lets us sacrifice Eyetwitch to find a lesson from our sideboard or can cash in a Pest token for two cards. Meanwhile, Plumb the Forbidden can draw a ton of cards if we're willing to sacrifice a bunch of Pests, while also comboing with Sedgemoor Witch, which triggers whenever we cast or copy a spell, basically allowing us to sacrifice any Pests we have for free to draw cards since Sedgemoor Witch will replace them with new Pests.

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Last but not least, we have some removal spells to help us stay alive long enough to get 10 point counters on Strixhaven Stadium, which are especially important since our opponent hitting us with creatures doesn't just deal us damage but also removes counters from Strixhaven Stadium, making it even harder for us to reach our goal of winning with the artifact.

The Matchups

The matchups for Pest Stadium are pretty straightforward: we're much better against slower, more controlling decks than we are against aggro decks with many creatures. Against aggro, it becomes really difficult to get 10 counters on Strixhaven Stadium since our opponent likely can hit us with creatures to keep us low on counters. While we can still win with the Daemogoth Titan / Tend the Pests combo, and our Pests gaining us life when they die does help us stay alive for a while, in general, we struggle with decks like Mono-Red, Mono-White, and some Adventures decks. On the other hand, slower decks are really susceptible to the Strixhaven Stadium kill, which, in a weird way, sort of doubles the damage our 1/1s deal since we only need to hit our opponent a total of 10 times (and in reality, a bit less, thanks to the counters we can add to Strixhaven Stadium by tapping it) to win the game. Decks like Sultai Ultimatum don't have many ways of attacking us to remove counters, which makes it fairly easy to pick up a win fairly by making a bunch of Pests or with our 11-Pest combo of Daemogoth Titan and Tend the Pests.

The Odds

All in all, we finished 3-2 with the deck, which is shockingly solid. Perhaps more impressive and surprising is that Strixhaven Stadium actually felt good in some matchups. We played Sultai Ultimatum and beat it twice, almost exclusively thanks to Strixhaven Stadium. In general, our combo of making 11 Pests with Tend the Pests and then winning with Strixhaven Stadium was faster than our opponent's combo of casting Emergent Ultimatum. We even had a game where we beat a resolved Emergent Ultimatum! While Strixhaven Stadium didn't feel great against more aggressive decks, it felt like a legitimately strong card against control and midrange, to the point where maybe it should be considered as a potential sideboard option for go-wide decks to fight grindy decks. Heading into our matches, I was worried that we wouldn't be competitive at all, but heading out of our matches, I think that Strixhaven Stadium might actually be underrated in Standard!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

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Let's play some more Strixhaven for next week's episode, but which card? Help decide by voting here!.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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