I am very fortunate in my current position.
Before moving to Tampa I lived in a small town in Florida called Fort Myers where the Magic scene is stagnant at best. From what I understand a few stores are looking to turn things around, and I sincerely hope they're successful because there are a good number of loyal players there.
That being said, Tampa has a bustling tournament scene. There are multiple good stores to play at but most importantly if you go to Armada games you will find an event running six days a week! Furthermore the events vary in format, everything from a basic draft to legacy.
The great variation in format isn't just restricted to the common formats. There have been peasant events, pack wars night, and of course EDH league. Rainbow Stairwell is also a format that's being played at the store, though not quite as heavily. Sheldon brought the format to the owner's attention and Aaron and Michael (Fortino, the store owners) were immediately onboard.
I hope to showcase Aaron's deck next week, but in the meantime I'll just have to make one of my own! One of the biggest issues in rainbow stairwell can be mana consistency. Unless you want to dedicate your entire green suite to mana fixing you're probably going to have some issues. Even with the ability to run 2 duals (10 original and 10 Ravnica) you still need to draw the right colors. Since fetch lands have an activated ability that's not a mana ability they're out as well.
One way around that is to build a mono-colored deck! I've had the idea for a mono-black rainbow stairwell list for a while now. Remember that with hybrid mana cards can count as either color. If we use hybrid cards for each color then we can 'count" them as being of the other color but still cast them however we would like. It's an interesting way to skirt the mana inconsistencies that usually occur.
There are a few situations here where the card is in a particular spot because it was the only option, though I honestly don't think that's happened to the detriment of any particular mana slot. One noticeable omission is Demigod of Revenge in favor of Kulrath Knight. The reason is that aside from someone countering Demigod at the wrong time odds are pretty good he won't be coming back from his triggered ability. Kulrath Knight just ends up being better in that slot.
Most of the other choices are fairly self explanatory, but I think it is worth detailing the choices I made for black itself and perhaps the artifact slots. Black is a fairly deep color and I will allow that some of the decisions I made might seem odd at first.
Dark Ritual just seems particularly powerful when it excels every card in the deck so it gets the nod (if one were to put Vampiric Tutor there I certainly couldn't fault you)! Taking some of the persist creatures into account it wouldn't be out of the question to run innocent blood, or another type of card to answer protection from black creatures.
The two drop is usually the realm of Demonic Tutor but I went a little off the wall for Oversold Cemetary. This deck is rife with enters the battlefield abilities and creatures with persist. Forcing your opponent into a two-for-one situation several times only to have them recur again is just such card advantage that it can often take the game home.
Along that same vein the three drop could easily go to Yawgmoth's Will but I like Recurring Nightmare instead. Recurring Nightmare plus Murderous Redcap or Grief Tyrant could easily wipe your opponent's board and if you're sacrificing the redcap then you're not down any board position! The nightmare's good enough to get banned in EDH which means it should probably hit play here.
Nekrataal sits in our four drop because it kills nearly half of every deck you're going to sit down and play against all the while providing card advantage. Furthermore it has more interaction with your black two and three drops!
Shriekmaw helped dominate standard in mannequin style decks and it falls under the same heading as Nekrataal most of the time. Shriekmaw also provides a little late game evasion and in a pinch can even cheat the mana curve by being evoked! If you don't feel Shriekmaw is for you by all means try something different (perhaps Liliana Vess).
Last but not least we have our six drop and probably my most controversial choice. In my experience the majority of the games I've played ended up being drawn out creature battles. The ability to cast a one sided wrath for just your opponent seemed unfair at best and that's why I went with Hex. Never be afraid to kill one of your creatures in order to kill five of theirs, especially if you're killing an evoke creature! There are certainly other avenues for card advantage and Sorin Markov also tested well, though he is considerably less powerful in this format than in EDH.
Having detailed the black slots let's take a look at the artifacts! I lead things off with Expedition Map instead of Sol Ring or Sensei's Divining Top and there are a few reasons why. Sol Ring is great but a good portion of the creatures in this deck are heavy into black mana and Sol Ring might not always accel the way we want it to. Top can help smooth clunky draws but Expedition Map can find Cabal Coffers or Urborg, giving us a Sol Ring on steroids!
The two drop artifact is Umezawa's Jitte, a choice which really shouldn't surprise anyone! If you played during Kamigawa block it was really hard to lose a draft where you opened a Jitte as long as you could find creatures to charge into battle with it. Jitte + creature was often considered the best two card combo in magic that year. Jitte can be a little pricey but with the announcement that it will be the GP card next year hopefully the prices will go down enough to make them worth running.
The three drop is Grafted Wargear for a few reasons. The first reason is because it makes your creatures a very aggressive early threat. The second reason is because you usually don't care if your creatures die. The third reason is because it seemed to fit the overall theme of the deck. The last reason is because it gives you a sac outlet if you really want one! There are probably other cards that could go in this slot and I wouldn't be opposed to suggestions.
The four drop is a card that makes perfect sense to me, Nightmare Lash. The Lash is pretty self explanatory I think, every creature is a threat that needs to be dealt with or it could quickly become lethal.
The last two slots are up for some debate. I opted for Gauntlet of Power and Mindslaver though there are a couple of other fitting choices. Gauntlet of Power ramps us up but that might not really be necessary. The definite upside is that it pumps the team (almost) which is a very solid upside. If you feel like card drawing is needed you could also go with Mind's Eye, I just decided to keep the pedal to the metal so to speak. As for the six drop if, protection from black creatures start to be a problem then you might want to add a tutor package and include Duplicant. Duplicant combined with Recurring Nightmare can really be headaches on opponents, especially if they had hoped for some sort of recursion.
Without any further delay, let's take a look at the list I've prepared!
There's one card that sticks out like a sore thumb, Deadwood Treefolk! There is no black/green hybrid that sits at the six mana slot. I chose the Treefolk because he's easy to splash and has worthwhile enters and leaves the battlefield abilities. Like all the other cards he plays very well with our overall theme!
If you want a fun Rainbow Stairwell deck without all the mana inconsistencies then you've come to the right place! For next week I'm going to showcase a combo deck I've been working on that's also a Rainbow Stairwell concoction. Sheldon challenged me to try and come up with something combo for the format and I think I've done it. Until then give this deck a shot and let me know what you think.
Tune in next week for another Stairwell deck and a good description of possibly my favorite format, pack wars (with a fun variation I play with the other judges!)
Until next time this is Benjamin McDole giving you (slightly less) than a hundred reasons to play magic!