1996 was a pretty good year for Magic: The Gathering. The game itself was beginning to come together and some of it’s foundation on how it was produced by Wizards as well as played by it’s playerbase. The tournament scene also gained respect as Tom Chanpheng won the first ever World Championship title playing a White Weenie deck. Not only that, the Pogs craze was dead. (Google it. Then again…don’t.)
For those of you that don’t know or weren’t playing Magic at this time, 1996 was also had a time period called “The Black Summer”. Virtually all decks involved the card Necropotence which dominated the tournament scene. Other decks, like Turbo Stasis played the metagame and were specifically designed to combat the Necropotence decks. I played a Necropotence deck during this time. No other deck could compare in power level.
The “Black Summer” came and went and more sets ushered in some change in the Magic metagame. Necropotence decks were still being played but players were learning new ways to challenge the dominant nemesis.
Living in New York during the winter of 1997 was brutal. At the time it was one of the coldest winters I had experienced. I had just graduated from high school and didn’t have a job at the time so finances were low. One day, I decided to take what money I had at the time and buy a pack of Visions. Opening it would reveal a card which will stay near and dear to me for years, Chronatog.
As you all know by now, I’m a sucker for goofy looking cards with very odd abilities and Chronatog is no exception. I looked at the freshly opened card and it seemed to grin back at me in a mischievous way as if to say “Let’s make opponents mad together! It’ll be fun!” At the time there wasn’t a whole lot of internet coverage of Magic related subjects so players depended on publications like Inquest and The Duelist to get their deck building tips. Inside one of the newest Inquest was the combo I needed to listen to my new Chronatog overlord, the spell Stasis. The race was on to trade a portion of my collection for the newest tyrant deck of the winter of ’97 casual tables.
Chronatog Stasis is played much like a Turbo Stasis deck with one exception. With Turbo Stasis your opponent and yourself are both riding in a card drawing vehicle. This vehicle starts off slowly at first but begins to pick up speed. Once terminal velocity is achieved you bail out, your opponent going a cliff and decking themselves. Chronatog Stasis is different because instead of leaping from the card drawing vehicle, you put on the only available seat belt, crash head on into a brick wall and your opponent goes through the windshield. All with that goofy Chronatog grin. The results can be very very messy and ruin friendships.
Here are the deck’s card choices.
Countespell has always been the king of countermagic. For just two available islands you can slam the door on virtually any spell in the game. Early in the game, you will have plenty of lands open and ready to fire Counterspell off although I save this spell to shut down the most important cards to the opponent’s deck.
This complicated card is tricky counter to cast but when it hits it sucks up the potentially available mana opponent’s have to cast spells with for that turn. Most of the time this countermagic will be the second to last spell cast before you drop your final combo piece, Chornatog.
Chronatog Stasis does not care what it’s opponent’s life total is to win the game. You won’t be planning on damaging your opponent. Swords to Plowshares was the king of white removal long before Path to Exile although either spell could be used.
This is the gas pedal of the card drawing vehicle. Both you and your opponent will be drawing additional cards for each copy of Howling Mine in play. This speeds up how quickly you can get your combo cast as well as fueling life gain with…
This card has the ability to negate damage you take from turn to turn and multiple copies in play can add to your overall net total. Your hand will usually always be full so why not take advantage of it?
This annoying enchantment taxes attacking players and ensures they stay mostly tapped out from turn to turn. A real hard working enchantment in this deck. This wasn’t in the original deck, but has found a home since it’s printing in Tempest.
This spell could easily be a two of but my version hosts three copies. If you are blitzed early, dropping this bomb resets the board and allows you to catch back up. Overeager opponents that overextend their hands against what looks like a weakened opponent will loose most if not all of their creatures to this spell.
This dual land could be any variation you find as long as it comes into play untapped. Anything worse won’t work.
Vital blue mana to fuel Stasis’s upkeep payment.
Just enough white mana to drop the often ignored Kismet.
Kismet is step one of the combo. You will play this first. While it is in play, it appears to be nothing but a minor annoyance as creatures, artifacts and lands come into play tapped. Opponents will usually ignore this spell in favor of destroying Propaganda and Ivory Tower. This card is the spring on a very dangerous trap.
Stasis is part two of the combo and can even possibly end games without Chronatog. When played, players skip their untap steps. This paralyzes opponents since Kismet is tapping anything opponents put into play. The additional card draw from Howling Mines fuels the upkeep since drawing into sources of blue mana isn’t that hard in this deck. This combo can stay in play for a while without much pain to you but be careful, bail out on it if you are too low on lands to cast the final peice of the puzzle.
This goofy Atog, grinning ear to ear is the game ender. Once played, then activated at the end of your opponent’s turn, you skip your turn as well as upkeep step, which in turn skips your having to pay to keep Stasis on the board, which in turn skips your draw step, which then forces your opponent to draw multiple cards next turn with Howling Mine. By doing this repeatedly, your victim draws all the cards in their deck, killing them. Do not play Chronatog unless all of the opponent’s lands are tapped or you are sure that he won’t be countered or die from removal spells or effects. This is not a creature you will be playing early and attacking or blocking with.
You can usually tell how intelligent your opponent is by catching how quickly they realize they have been snagged.
Turn 1 after the combo is dropped: Opponent usually seems confused by Chronatog’s activation at the end of their turn.
Turn 2: Opponent is again confused by Chronatog’s activation but this time seemingly slightly annoyed by it.
Turn 3+: Opponent now realizes that they are still drawing cards while you aren’t. usually angry that the egg is on their face, they concede. *insert random reaction to losing to this deck including anger, eye rolls, cursing, insults, claims of cheating and other forms of nerd rage*
My girlfriend and playtest partner adamantly refuses to play against this deck ever again. My friends have heard of this deck but have only played against it once or never, based on how well I value their friendship. This deck is a legend many older players have heard of but never seen or played against. Younger players will run headlong into a wall, oblivious of why drawing four cards a turn is too much of a good thing.
This deck currently runs around $100, well worth the price tag for players that enjoy ticking people off.
Here is a comprehensive decklist. Chronatog Stasis
Swing last…er…draw last.
Got a deck that makes you grin ear to ear? Let’s hear about it! You can contact Aiokii in the comments below, Twitter or Facebook. Aiokii can also be found on MTGO, hit him up for a game sometime. Also, take the time to check out Reddit Budgetdecks for cheap discussion and deck ideas.