This article was originally written for the "Type Fun" blog operated by CPA members Oversoul and Al0ysiusHWWW. All such articles archived here were written by one or both of those individuals.
Bringing down such a powerful, seasoned deck as Stax to casual play is... mean in a lot of regards. It's a variable toolbox of broken cards, usually bound together with one of the most broken creatures in the game.
The biggest issue I'll take against a staple card in casual Stax is Mishra's Workshop. It's viable in a casual play environment, but it's extremely expensive, and very unfair. To say the least, it's a luxury in this format. I can run 4 of each applicable mox, and 4 Black Lotus, but that isn't what makes the deck work. Cutting Workshop not only helps out a budget, but makes things a little more fair.
In the same regard, Tolarian Academy is up for some debate. Academy is broken, end of story. While it might seem hypocritical to add it and not Workshop, not only is it not as expensive but I'd argue it's not as broken. Producing a limited amount of colored mana, it only really shows itself late game, while Workshop brings out the artifacts this deck craves as early as possible. It's also a legendary land. I'd rate it high on the "WTF were they thinking" scale, but not as high as Workshop can be.
Now that all that is out of the way, let's get down to business. In my opinion, Stax runs as a toolbox of soft and hard locks. I've seen builds that include no Tinkers or Welders that are still viable, but the specific build I'm going for today includes both. That being said, they are part of the central core to this deck.
These three cards define the deck like no other. Without them, you'll have a problem dealing with drawbacks, keeping locks, or going for the kill. While the deck can function without them, these cards tie it together to run efficiently.
Tinker is a problem solver, or more accurately, a problem creator. The easiest purpose it serves is a highly efficient tutor. Not only can it grab the specific artifact card you need, not only can it throw it into play, but it can bypass casting cost. It can be essential to a fast kill, or save the day with a last minute lock component. But other than that, it's not an essential card. You're not going to absolutely need a Tinker in your hand to win. It does make winning a hell of a lot easier though, so it is essential to this deck.
Welder, on the other hand, is essential to a large series of locks. It can bring artifacts back over and over again, potentially extending their use indefinitely. It can negate the effects of artifacts that cripple your opponent before they can cripple you. It can save you from yourself at the last minute. On top of all that, Welder has huge disruption capability. There is nothing like bumping someone's Juggernaut for something useless.
Key not only saves you from mana burn from the masses of artifact mana producers, it also helps with a few locks, or a surprise blocker. While not essential to Welder, or Tinker, I'm never really worried about speed when I can get a key in my hand. Even if I have to hard cast everything (which this deck can do), a Key makes everything bountiful, even beyond what this deck demands.
If you want to slow your opponent to a crawl, throw one of these down ASAP. It's not going to completely stop anyone, but it's definitely going to make countering or comboing off a lot harder while you can more than work around these cards.
Trinisphere is a big slow down to those impossibly fast decks. Sligh, and for the most part, a ton of combo decks, really struggle coming up with the one or two extra mana to get rolling, even to the point of making some cards dead cards in their hands (haha, dark ritual). The majority of what you're hardcasting does also cost less than three mana, but your cards are permanents, and generally mana-generating. The biggest thing it does is stop counter spells and other major forms of disruption. Force of Will becomes a lot less threatening, when it's no longer free.
Sphere of Resistance has been brought back a few times in decks similar to Stax. It has some late game potential: if you just can't quite lock them out of everything, sphere makes it too costly, or impossible. It also combats counter spells or other crippling disruption, and therefore is great early game disruption as well. The drawback is well within the deck's ability to manage. It might be a little redundant to play with Trinisphere, but with the right plays, it's much more flexible.
The utility in this deck serves to feed a large engine. Welder cannot work without artifacts in the graveyard and artifacts in play. Tinker can help in a big way, but there need to be ways to cycle through your library while still making everything you draw viable.
Wheel of Fortune is an obvious choice. It's only one red mana, dumps your entire hand (which can dump all your unplayable combo pieces), and lets you draw 7 more cards. It does give your opponent a fresh hand too, but this is actually a blessing in disguise. Wheel of Fortune, combined with other draw cards in this deck can be an alternate win condition. Mostly though, Wheel will dump whatever you can't use yet, and help look for those precious Welders or Tinkers faster than Ancestral Recall, or a tutor could.
Memory Jar is a great choice for an early Tinker. Sure, if you're in trouble or can get the kill ASAP, go for something else, but nothing works better with a ready Welder than a Jar. Jar multiple times in the same turn, and end your turn with a huge dream hand. Again, combined with Wheels, this card can easily make decking your opponent an option.
Crucible is a combo component at best. It helps recover things from tinker, and for welder, but it doesn't necessarily compliment both easily. It does compliment a lot of the locks easily though, and can turn a no-colored-mana problem after a Wheel or Jar into no problem at all. This card is a must.
As I've tried to emphasize before, Stax, in my opinion, is all about the locks. Not only can they stall until you get your kill condition out, but if you plan things right, in a tight spot, they're kill conditions unto themselves.
Tangle Wire is unbeatable with Welder. It's a soft lock, but it really can cripple an opponent if dropped early enough. Sacrificing it at the end of the opponent's turn to bring it back during yours means that you'll easily get around its function. Your opponent will be scrambing to get anything out before he or she has more than 5 lands, and by then it's too late anyway. What's more, you're dropping enough permanents in this deck that taking a hit from Tangle Wire to keep Welder untapped is more than an option.
Smokestack is tricky. It takes awhile to clean up a late game mess, but there are very few cards that can do it as effectively. Combine it with Crucible for another soft lock, or Welder it when it becomes too dangerous. An early Smokestack does wonders against all kinds of decks. Just make sure to keep your Welders, since they'll catch you up faster than anything the opponent will have short of Yawgmoth's Will.
I like Mindslaver. I like it a lot. This is definitely a hard lock card with a Crucible and a Welder, but can pound out soft locks for a long time with just Welder. Dump opponents' hands, tap their lands, try and fizzle their spells, or just in general make things difficult for them. One turn is enough to make them sweat, but bring it back over and over again, and you'll see people scoop by the third time.
I already know what you're going to say. TIME VAULT? THIS IS A CASUAL DECK! And before a month ago, I would have agreed with you. There is a pretty strong indication that they'll be fixing the erratum on Time Vault soon, and this makes Voltaic Key and Time Vault an instant win. Regardless, for being a staple in any any vintage deck, it's not that expensive, and it has actual practicality in this deck, which no other cards can duplicate. Which is why I don't consider including it and not Workshop a contradiction (Workshop can be replaced with mana-producing artifacts, but there are no turn-producing artifacts that can function like Vault).
The kills in this deck are also toolbox-style. You need to cover a lot of bases, for lots of kinds of opponents. Playing casual means building decks that are prepared for anything. You might need a straight attacker one game, or several another game. You might need to do direct damage, or deck your opponent. You might need to drop heavy damage ASAP, before they get some kind of protective lock. Regardless, this deck can run single copies of cards and have them still be viable, so there is no reason not to run several kill condition cards.
Ravager is an instant pick to me. Sacrifice tons of artifacts for his main ability and his modular makes any other creature on the board just as dangerous as him, and he doesn't have to swing all at once with the tons of locks to get the kill. And at two mana, he's super easy to drop no matter what. And while he doesn't have haste, with Welder, he might as well. Drop a ravager and attack with anything else, then watch them realize in horror that they should have blocked, while you sacrifice a pumped ravager to Welder, and his modular takes over.
Triskelion is a utility kill. Partnered with Arcbound Ravager, his ping ability can sidestep a lot of problems. He also can deal with pesky creatures that might pop up here and there. He's not a bad blocker by any means, and I'm happy to be swinging with a 4/4 that can drop 3 damage alone at any time. And he can answer up to a */7 if need be.
Sundering Titan is my pick for earliest Tinker kill. He's beefy, but it'd still take to at least turn 4 for the kill with him. Thankfully, I'm multitasking him for his disruption ability with Tinker or Welder. He's an awesome blocker. And even if I need to get rid of him, he can hurt the opponent's mana again or you can just constantly Welder him in and out to suck up basic lands.
Platinum Angel is my alternate win condition. I wont lose from decking myself if I wheel too much or Time Vault into an infinite turn. He's a flying blocker and beefy enough to stand up to a lot. Flying also let's him swing pretty easily. Not to mention there is a huge amount of comfort in the idea that I can't lose with him out.
While moxen are in most vintage decks, Stax uses them highly efficiently. Zero casting cost drops are vital to a deck like this, not to mention colored mana sources. It will let you drop a Tinker for the win out of the blue (Haha), or finally get your Welder you've needed so bad out after Wheeling. But while I do not think the specific colored moxen and black lotus are fair in casual play, Chrome Mox and Mox Diamond are affordable and easily replace those voids the power nine leave.
Mox Diamond is great for Wheeling into a land heavy draw after you've already dropped a land that turn. It's important not to run too many, as they can be dead cards and are not even viable fodder for Ravager or Welder, but they definitely make turn one Welder work. It doesn't require colored spells to work with, which is good since there are so few in this deck. It's a delicate balance of necessity and speed.
Chrome Mox is delicate as well, since you might need that Tinker, Wheel, or Welder you're about to toss for a Tinker, Wheel, or Welder. Unlike Mox Diamond though, it'll never be useless. Even as fodder for Ravager or Welder, you can play it without the imprint just to get another artifact into play.
All of these cards have the greater purpose of dumping as many artifacts in your hand into play. This is what makes hardcasting viable. These cards make no or one land draws into winning hands. These cards move this deck. And while some only serve one purpose, it is absolutely necessary that purpose is served.
Grim Monolith, Sol Ring, and Mana Vault are cheap replenishable mana. All are prime candidates for Tinker or Stack. Or in other words, all are expendable. While they wont help you play your Welder, all make a ton of fodder for it or for your Ravager (directly or indirectly). Most importantly, they help you get around the Trinisphere or Sphere of resistance you just dropped.
Metalworker stands out pretty heavily from the other the three. It has the highest casting cost. It's a creature, so it's an easier target, affected by summoning sickness, and might be forced to attack or block. But it has uses as a mild combo component. A ready Worker after a Jar or Wheel can empty your hand. It also is a prime candidate for Ravager to modular to.
I'm running all nonbasic lands in this deck, despite only using two colors because of the artifact lands and the way this deck doesn't actually rely on lands. The lands in this deck definitely make it go, but it can function without them. That's why in my opinion it's better to just let it ride nonbasic, rather than dropping Islands or Mountains and worrying about getting exactly what I need.
The artifact lands Seat of the Synod and Great Furnace move this deck. Weldering second turn is more than an option if you used a furnace to play him. Need that Trinisphere next turn? Tinker your Seat.
Tolarian Academy is a duh. It's for those times you really need to Tinker for... well anything. Need cards? Tinker for a Memory Jar. The remainder of the mana can be used to play whatever you're dropping. Just wheeled without a Metalworker? Academy has got you covered. It might be overkill at times, but nothing says trouble like an academy in an artifact-heavy deck.
Volcanic Island is a must. Flexible enough for either color with absolutely no drawbacks. It helps avoid adding extra basic lands to a deck that is already constantly mana flooded late game.
All that aside, here is my version of Welder Tinker Stax, or WTS.
4x Goblin Welder
4x Voltaic Key
1x Sphere of Resistance
1x Crucible of Worlds
4x Wheel of Fortune
1x Memory Jar
1x Time Vault
1x Arcbound Ravager
1x Sundering Titan
1x Platinum Angel
3x Chrome Mox
3x Mox Diamond
3x Sol Ring
3x Grim Monolith
3x Mana Vault
4x Seat of the Synod
4x Great Furnace
2x Tolarian Academy
4x Volcanic Island