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Oct 30 2012 12:11pm
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 Article Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. What is Rainbow Stairwell?

III. Meat & Potatoes: 5 Rainbow Stairwell Builds; budget-friendly and combo-filled.

  • 1. Flicker
  • 2. Pingin' Fun
  • 3. Graveyard Recursion
  • 4. Fun with Life Totals
  • 5. Counters!

IV. Prismatic Singleton Rainbow Stairwell? + bonus PSRS deck.

  • 7. Tribal Humans - PSRS; 300 cards of Human justice.

V. Conclusion

Howdy Planeswalkers and Planeswalkettes! Thanks for reading another edition of Boosh's Budget Builds! Today's article is all about a nonsanctioned, somewhat player-supported, awesome-as-Hell's Caretaker alternative Magic the Gathering format known as Rainbow Stairwell!

Rainbow Stairwell? Sounds like a Kirby level! Am I right?

What is Rainbow Stairwell? More on that below.

Playing around with the original structured form(s) of Magic is another way people have expressed their inner Johnnies. Stepping outside the confines of the 60-card deck, or changing and adding restrictions to deck building in order to turn magic into something new-- a new format-- is something that has, more or less, been ongoing since the creation of Magic in general. Sometimes Wizards officially recognizes these new formats, and puts support for them in Magic Online. It took a bit of time for Wizards to not only recognize but support Elder Dragon Highlander, now known through the MTG community as Commander. Standard Pauper was a format that took the Pauper and Standard formats and combined them. There has been a mass (comparatively speaking to other formats) outcry from the community to have Wizards officially recognize it as an official format, and (if I am not mistaken) they have had some success (in the very least, they got WOTC's attention). Conversely, Kaleidoscope is a recognized format on MTGO and the WOTC website, yet has no tournaments or sanctioned support. Quite honestly I can't remember the last time I even saw a Kaleidoscope "table" up in the Just For Fun room.

So Rainbow Stairwell, as detailed, spoken about, cherished, and promoted in this article is not a sanctioned/official format as such. Does that mean it's terrible? Heavens-to-Betsy no. Does that mean you'll never encounter players who want to join a RS game? Of course not. In fact you'll find a lot more instances of "Rainbow Stairwell" listed in the game description of classic games more often than you'd expect. It's not as frequent as I'd like, but it certainly doesn't know format-oblivion like Kaleidoscope does. Your best bet is to read and digest this article, make a RS deck, and post a classic game with "Rainbow Stairwell" in the game description. Be prepared for some questions. Point them to this article if it helps. The bottom line is that eventually someone will make a deck after learning about RS and play you, or someone already familiar and in love with RS will challenge you. Sometimes it takes a long time for a fish to bite the worm, so don't let it discourage you. You can always add me as a buddy and request a game with me. Once you find other players who are like-minded and enjoy Rainbow Stairwell, buddy them. Having like-minded MTGO players as online buddies is always a positive. Hopefully you'll find the small faction of MTGO players who not only play RS, but love to play it.

Now then..... 

What is Rainbow Stairwell?

Rainbow Stairwell is a format of Magic; it's unofficial, unsanctioned and remarkably fun. It has a strict set of guidelines for deck construction, which seem daunting upon first glance however RS decks are actually quite easy to understand and build. I'd say it's no harder than building a Commander, Tribal, or Modern deck. There are restrictions to work around but ultimately it winds up evening up the playing field.

Deck Construction: Each deck is 60 cards, 36 nonland cards and 24 land cards. The 36 nonland card inclusions breakdown as follows: 6 White, 6 Blue, 6 Black, 6 Red, 6 Green, 6 Artifacts. 6 x 6 = 36. Each category of colors (+ artifacts) further breaks down so that each has a Converted Mana Cost (CMC) range of 1 through 6. Thus, in the 6 green cards in the deck, there is one with CMC1, one with CMC2, one with CMC3, one with CMC4, one with CMC5 and one with CMC6. This follows suit for all the colors and artifacts. Following this pattern, Rainbow Stairwell is automatically a singleton format. (Note: A singleton format is a format where, besides basic lands, there can be only one copy of any card in the deck).

Now onto lands. This is where it gets slightly murky. Searching for Rainbow Stairwell rules on google yields varying results. There's even a wikipedia entry about it on the Magic Formats page, yet a lot of people actually have no idea it exists. There are some variations on land structures depending upon what you read or who you ask. Some write (and these folks are clearly not budget-minded) that you need one of each dual land, and then 3 of each basic land yielding you 25 total land, and making your deck 61 cards. A similar structure to this I read about around 8th edition, which reprinted the Invasion enters-the-battlefield-tapped ally-color-aligned uncommon "duals" (Urborg Volcano, Coastal Tower, Elfhame Palace, Salt Marsh, Shivan Oasis), that you take 2 of each of those, then 3 of each basic land, again netting you 25 land and a 61 card deck. Neither of these were the way I was taught to handle my Rainbow Stairwell deck's land structure, but they are out there on the internet so I thought I'd mention them as possibilities.

Here's how I was taught to add lands to your RS deck: 4 of each basic land, which gives you 20 lands, and then 4 nonbasic lands of your choice, singleton, so long as each land taps for a mana (So no Island of Wak-wak, no Terramorphic Expanse, no Oasis, no Maze of Ith, etc). This gives you 24 lands, and paired with 36 cards, gives you a nicely even 60 card deck build. For the purposes of this article, I will be using this land formula. Ultimately, if you disagree with the way I handle lands in Rainbow Stairwell, the structure of the nonland card inclusions always remains the same, and thus you can just focus on those, and add lands however you see fit.

When you are building your RS decks, an invaluable resource is WOTC's own Gatherer. You can use Gatherer to sort by color, excluding the colors you didn't choose, and by Converted Mana Cost. In other words you can search for green excluding all other colors/gold cards, and CMC6. Then when the 160+ results pop up you can literally scroll through and narrow down green's CMC6 card choice.  

OK, now you are intrigued, and want to make a RS deck. Start out by making a Timmy-style deck. Make a deck with your favorite cards, just to try out the format. No reason to introduce your inner Johnnies or Spikes to the concept yet. Do you like the Titans, and own one of each? BAM! There are your 5 colored CMC6 inclusions. Staff of Nin, Duplicant, Wurmcoil Engine, Planar Portal; are these some of your favorite artifacts? Pick one. That's your artifact CMC6 pick. I'm sure it's easy for you to go from there; Lightning Bolt, Howling Mine, Kodama's Reach, Kor Cartographer, Sengir Vampire... etc, just pick your faves, load up the deck, and start a game. After you're done, you can release your inner spike or johnny and start crafting decks with synergy that follow the guidelines of RS deck construction.

Which brings us to the meat and potatoes portion of the article. 


So now that we have a handle on what RS is, and maybe even played a game or two, let's let Johnny have his say.

Our first deck is based off of a concept that is very, very, very near and dear to my heart. Flickering. What is flickering? See my old article here for some insight, but it's basically summed up on Momentary Blink, CloudshiftFlicker to name a few (which are cards that exile a creature or permanent temporarily but return them to the board instantly) and on Turn to Mist, Liberate, Flickerwisp, Galepowder Mage, Glimmerpoint Stag to name a few more (which are cards that exile a creature/permanent and return them to the battlefield at the beginning of the next end step). You use flickering to exploit creatures/permanents that have enters-the-battlefield triggered abilities, to be able to get multiple usages out of them. It's absolutely one of my favorite johnnycombo deck builds. I jumped at the chance to make it work within the confines of a Rainbow Stairwell deck.

 Rainbow Stairwell - Flicker
1  Cloudshift Nephalia Smuggler  Undying Evil  Lightning Bolt  Essence Warden  Voyager Staff 
2 Momentary Blink Augury Owl  Animate Dead  Sparkmage Apprentice  Sylvan Ranger  Ichor Wellspring 
Flickerwisp  Ghostly Flicker  Bone Shredder  Heat Shimmer  Farhaven Elf  Tawnos's Coffin 
4  Glimmerpoint Stag  Clone  Entomber Exarch  Flametongue Kavu  Llanowar Empath  Solemn Simulacrum 
Cloudgoat Ranger  Mulldrifter  Puppeteer Clique  Siege-Gang Commander  Acidic Slime  Minion Reflector 
Captain of the Watch  Deadeye Navigator  Skeletal Vampire  Inferno Titan  Brutalizer Exarch  Duplicant 
LANDS: 4 Plains, 4 Island, 4 Swamp, 4 Mountain, 4 Forest; 1 Grand Coliseum, 1 Rupture Spire, 1 Crumbling Necropolis, 1 Seaside Citadel 

Flickering effects:

Cloudshift, Momentary Blink (Which can be flashbacked), Flickerwisp, Glimmerpoint Stag, Nephalia Smuggler, Ghostly Flicker, Deadeye Navigator, Voyager Staff, Tawnos's Coffin.

Flickeresque effects: These cards do something very similar to flickering, but aren't directly flicker:

Heat Shimmer, Minion Reflector: Putting in temporary copies of creatures with enters-the-battlefield (e-t-b for abbreviation purposes) triggers that flitter away into the aethers of nothingness is quite comparable to flickering a creature out and back in to get a repeat of their e-t-b trigger.

Undying Evil, Animate Dead, Puppeteer Clique: Graveyard recursion is a tried and true way of getting multiple instances of e-t-b triggers off of creatures, akin to flickering. Thre's no difference in the grand scheme of your combos between casting Cloudshift on your Farhaven Elf or casting Undying Evil on your Farhaven Elf after it blocks and dies. Either way, you are netting a second land-grab.

Enters-the-battlefield permanents/creatures:

Creature Token Makers: Siege-Gang Commander, Cloudgoat Ranger, Captain of the Watch, Skeletal Vampire- overwhelm your opponents with tokens by using your flicker cards to produce a lot of tokens by repeating their e-t-b triggers.

Scrying: Llanowar Empath + Augury Owl - sift through your deck to find the cards you need by repeating their triggers with flicker.

Card Draw: Mulldrifter, Ichor Wellspring (which can only be flickered by Flickerwisp, Glimmerpoint Stag + Ghostly Flicker).

Damage / Hate: Bone Shredder + Duplicant = creature hate; Flametongue Kavu = creature damage/hate; Brutalizer Exarch + Acidic Slime + Entomber Exarch (because of the noncreature discard) = noncreature permanent hate; Inferno TitanSparkmage Apprentice = damage/hate to opponent's Dome or to creatures; Siege-Gang Commander's ability to sac' goblins = damage/hate.

Land Grab: Sylvan Ranger, Solemn Simulacrum, Farhaven Elf.

Graveyard Recursion: Entomber Exarch + Puppeteer Clique

The Rest:

Essence Warden = life gain. Lots o' creatures coming in and out of play; some of which drop tokens.

Brutalizer Exarch's 1st choice = creature search. 

Clone = copying an awesome creature, maybe multiple different creatures when combining it with flicker. Maybe you'll clone a legend and hose it. Maybe you'll clone one of your own nifty e-t-b creatures for more tokens or creature search or land grab or what-have-you.

And, Finally..... Lightning Bolt. Point of Order: if I find myself in a situation where I can't find an adequate card for the deck theme at hand, in Rainbow Stairwell decks, then my automatic go-to for red's CMC1 is Lightning Bolt. Lightning Bolt is always useful. So, not on theme, but useful.

Under $7!

My final tally on this deck (bear in mind prices fluctuate and it takes several days to finish an article, though I try to keep from adding final tallies until close to article completion) was $6.38. Solemn Simulacrum has dropped in price drastically since it rotated out, and at last check, was only 64 cents. You can snag an Animate Dead for 50 cents if you get a Graveborn version, and then you even get a foil! Inferno Titan came in at slightly over a buck; Duplicant was a buck; Grand Coliseum = 29 cents; Puppeteer Clique is 84 cents. Everything else is more than manageable.

This next deck build has a few different things going on, but ultimately the central theme comes down to: Damage. This isn't a strict Burn deck, nor is it a strict Pestilence/Pyroclasm/Inferno deck. It's a johnnycombo deck that uses damage producing cards for various effects. It borrows heavily from the decks I've created and played based around Stuffy Doll, but since ol' Stuffy (original Time Spiral artwork, Thank You, I don't care for this M13 artwork nonsense) can only be slapped into this deck once, we can't solely rely on it's awesomeness. Since RS is singleton, and Spitemare and Swans of Bryn Argoll, two of Stuffy's besties, are hybrid (& thus verboten), my usual Stuffy deck card inclusions forced me to take a different route. Part burn-deck, part Stuffy Doll deck, other combos/considerations & my Johnny mindset made this conglomeration:

Rainbow Stairwell - Pingin' Fun
1  Wall of Hope  Psychic Purge  Fatal Blow  Flame Slash  Giant Growth  Sensei's Divining Top 
2 Shaman en-Kor Telling Time  Night's Whisper  Mogg Maniac  Broodhatch Nantuko  Armillary Sphere 
Pariah  Fabricate  Plague Spitter Fire Ants  Rite of Passage  Darksteel Plate 
4  Wall of Reverence  Wonder  Pestilence  Pyrohemia  Saber Ants Power Matrix 
Cathars' Crusade  Jace's Ingenuity  Nested Ghoul  Shivan Meteor Arashi, the Sky Asunder  Stuffy Doll 
Glarecaster  Sphinx of Magosi  Vein Drinker  Into the Maw of Hell  Vigor  Staff of Nin
LANDS: 4 Plains, 4 Island, 4 Swamp, 4 Mountain, 4 Forest; 1 Grand Coliseum, 1 Rupture Spire, 1 Crumbling Necropolis, 1 Savage Lands

So this deck is all about various forms of damage, and playing around with that damage.

Jace's Ingenuity + Telling Time + Staff of NinSensei's Divining Top + Night's Whisper + Sphinx of Magosi = Card draw / deck sifting to find your combo pieces. Sphinx of Magosi also pumps itself with counters, enabling it to survive on the battlefield long after Pestilence has destroyed a lot of other creatures. Use Armillary Sphere to snag some lands which also helps sift your deck. Use Fabricate to locate that artifact, probably Stuffy Doll, that you are missing for you combos.

Staff of Nin: ping/poke is the second ability of this awesome card draw artifact.

Psychic Purge: Damage dealing in blue is few and far in between. Our only blue damage inclusion is the CMC1; Purge is like a melding of Hornet Sting and Guerrilla Tactics.

Shivan Meteor + Into the Maw of Hell: 13 damage to a creature for 5 or 6 mana is a great thing. I don't care for Maw's land destruction bonus but sometimes a Shivan Gorge or Oran-Rief, the Vastwood can be a pain in the neck, and hosing it might not be such a bad thing. At least this deck isn't loaded with Sinkhole and other horrid spells.
These are included to target your Stuffy Doll, Mogg Maniac, or Glarecaster (after using it to point the 13 at your opponent's dome), or to target your Broodhatch Nantuko or Saber Ants to net you 13 tokens. Total bonus if the Saber Ants has an equipped Darksteel Plate; or if you drop the 13 damage on any creature you control, say your Sphinx of Magosi and also have out Vigor

Pyrohemia, Pestilence, Fire Ants, Plague Spitter: Repeated Pinging, the crux of most of the damage-ping combo fun.
Vigor & these pingers will start making your other creatures huge with +1/+1 Counters. Rite of Passage and these pingers also help make your creatures huge. Rite of Passage + Saber Ants + Pyrohemia + Cathars' Crusade = tons of ever growing insect tokens.
Saber Ants/Broodhatch Nantuko/Nested Ghoul are token producers thanks to pinging.

Cathars' Crusade pumps your creatures to survive all the damage flying around.

Shaman en-Kor redirects damage to your Stuffy or Saber Ants or Wall of Hope.

Pariah! Put it on your Stuffy Doll, your Darksteel Plate equipped Nested Ghoul, your already gigantic Sphinx, or perhaps even just your Fire Ants if Vigor is out.

Gain life by pinging your Wall of Hope. Gain more life by having a huge Vigor'ed Shaman en-Kor and then using its huge power to gain life through Wall of Reverence. Supplement your life total to not kill yourself with Pestilence and Pyrohemia.

Plague Spitter does a point of damage to all other creatures during your upkeep. If it happens to ping your opponent's Baneslayer Angel or Frost Titan or some other massive threat, use your Fatal Blow to finish it off.

Here's some combo fun!: Arashi, the Sky Asunder damages flying creatures. Use Power Matrix to make Stuffy Doll have flying, then use Arashi on your Stuffy. Use Arashi on your Wonder, give all your creatures flying, and then you can use Arashi the enxt turn on any of them. A flying Broodhatch Nantuko or Nested Ghoul or Wall of Hope could be exploited using Arashi.
You could also have a massively pumped Stuffy Doll thanks to Rite of Passage + Stuffy's own damage-itself ability, and then just Power Matrix it and swoop in for the kill via attacking. Death by an attacking flying trample hugely pumped Stuffy? Hilarious.

Use Power Matrix or Giant Growth to pump a creature of yours that is either about to die due to your damage-dealing shenanigans.

Darksteel Plate is another amazing way to prevent your own creature's death as well.

Vein Drinker: Again use its damage dealing ability to pump things if Vigor or Rite of Passage is out; have it target Stuffy Doll or Mogg Maniac ... You should be pretty well versed in the ways these cards interact by now.

Flame Slash: 4 damage to Broodhatch Nantuko for 1 mana could mean 4 Insects on turn 3. 4 damage to Stuffy Doll for 1 mana is a pretty sweet thing as well.

And, obviously, all of these cards are pretty darned useful in their respective own rights. Flame Slash your opponent's Birds of Paradise; Use Stuffy Doll with no combo pieces and just whittle away your opponent's life and block his/her creatures. Giant Growth an unblocked Insect token. You get the gist. The various possibilities for synergy and combos run rampant in this deck, yet the deck does not solely rely upon them.

Under $7!

My final tally on this deck (bear in mind prices fluctuate and it takes several days to finish an article, though I try to keep from adding final tallies until close to article completion) was $6.92. The cheapest version of Pariah is 58 cents and Wall of Reverence is 37 cents. Night's Whisper is 45 cents and the overall deck price could be lowered if you substituted in Sign in Blood instead but I like the easier mana cost of Night's Whisper hence its inclusion. Your only slight red expense is Mogg Maniac @ 31 cents. Green has Rite of Passage @ 21 cents, Arashi, the Sky Asunder @ 37 cents and the Vigor which is 74 cents. Our biggest pocket-book-breaker is the artifact section of this deck: Power Matrix, one of my favorite artifacts, is around 77 cents now, higher than previous articles I've written. Sensei's Divining Top (an artifact that can make games infuriating slower while at the same time remaining one of the most useful library-sifting cards), is at cheapest 1.50 if you snag a From the Vault  version. Luckily, Blue has little to no expense at all in this deck.

I've spoken about how common a deck archetype Graveyard Recursion is, so why not squeeze it into the confines of Rainbow Stairwell?

Graveyard Recursion (usually) requires three things: I. Creatures who have enters-the-battlefield (e-t-b) triggers (Cathedral Sanctifier) or have triggers that go off when they die or leave play (Yosei, the Morning Star)-- that can be abused numerous times by sacrificing or destroying these creatures and then recurring them from the graveyard through various means. II. ways to sacrifice/destroy your own creatures usually through spells that benefit you via their sacrifice (Feed the Pack) and/or creatures that have built in sacrifice abilities-- in other words creatures that self-sacrifice for an effect or evoke (Cursecatcher, Mulldrifter). III. The aforementioned means in which to recur/return creatures from your graveyard to your hand or the battlefield (Reanimate, False Demise, etc). We are lucky in that these three main components of the deck can be easily fond scattered throughout all the colors.

Rainbow Stairwell - Graveyard Recursion 
1  Cathedral Sanctifier  Cursecatcher  Reanimate  Reckless Abandon  Reclaim  Skullclamp 
2 Angelic Renewal  Stitcher's Apprentice  Nezumi Graverobber  Mogg War Marshal Sakura-Tribe Elder  Altar of Dementia 
Remember the Fallen  False Demise  Stronghold Assassin  Thunder-Thrash Elder Fecundity  Sylvok Replica 
4  Proper Burial  Thalakos Deceiver  Vigor Mortis  Hound of Griselbrand  Lumberknot  Solemn Simulacrum 
Miraculous Recovery  Mulldrifter  Phyrexian Plaguelord  Siege-Gang Commander  Perilous Forays  Cauldron of Souls 
Yosei, the Morning star  Frost Titan  Betrayal of Flesh  Goblin Marshal  Feed the Pack  Duplicant 
LANDS: 4 Plains, 4 Island, 4 Swamp, 4 Mountain, 4 Forest; 1 Grand Coliseum, 1 Rupture Spire, 1 Haunted Fengraf, 1 Savage Lands

Creatures with Enters-the-Battlefield triggers: Cathedral Sanctifier, Mulldrifter, Frost Titan, Mogg war Marshal, Goblin Marshal, Siege-Gang Commander, Solemn Simulacrum, Duplicant

Creatures with triggers via death or leaving play: Yosei, the Morning Star, Mogg War Marshal, Goblin Marshal, Solemn Simulacrum

Creatures who self-sacrifice: Cursecatcher, Sylvok Replica, Sakura-Tribe ElderPhyrexian Plaguelord, Stronghold Assassin (can sacrifice itself to destroy a nonblack creature) Siege-Gang Commander (can sacrifice itself to do 2 damage), Mulldrifter (with Evoke), Mogg War Marshal, Goblin Marshal (thanks to Echo, which you don't have to pay), Thalakos Deceiver sac's itself after shadow-combat-damage to steal a creature.

Creatures who return from the graveyard of their own accord: Hound of Griselbrand. Undying recurs your creature(s) once organically and then you can always recur them again through your graveyard shenanigans. I personally love Hound of Griselbrand. I think it is an underrated card. I love Double strike, and love that the hound begins at 2/2 double strike, dies, and then becomes 3/3 Double strike.

Ways to sacrifice creatures: Siege-Gang Commander can sacrifice your various goblins, including itself, to do 2 damage at a clip. Phyrexian Plaguelord, Stronghold Assassin: Sac your creatures to get rid of your opponent's creatures; Feed the Pack, Stitcher's Apprentice: Sac your creatures for token creatures; Perilous Forays: Sac for land; Use Thunder-Thrash Elder's Devour to sac creatures for a huge Elder; Reckless Abandon: Sac a creature for four damage to something. Altar of Dementia: the most expensive card (fiscally speaking) in the whole deck, but such an awesome inclusion; I generally dislike milling folks but the combo potential this artifact brings to the table overrides my disdain. You can sac your creatures at instant speed to mill your opponent, and then use things like Nezumi Graverobber (before it flips: to exile threats from their graveyard / after it flips: to snag creatures from their graveyard for your army) & Reanimate to play around with the stuff you just made them mill into their graveyard. You can also mill yourself by activating the Altar, sac'ing a creature like Frost Titan, putting six card in your own graveyard and then using Miraculous Recovery or Vigor Mortis or what have you to then recur either your dead Titan or potentially some other awesome or useful creature you just milled into your own graveyard, like a Duplicant or something. 

Graveyard recursion tactics: Angelic Renewal, Remember the Fallen, Miraculous Recovery, False Demise, Reanimate, Nezumi Graverobber - Flipped, Vigor Mortis, Betrayal of Flesh, Cauldron of Souls, Haunted Fengraf, Reclaim. 11 recursion cards allow for a 1 in 6 chance of you drawing some way of getting creatures back from your graveyard/manipulating creature death. Add in the various ways to draw cards and snag mana out of your deck (thus lowering your deck count and chances of drawing a land) and you chances further improve. 

Mini Goblin Theme!: Mogg War Marshal, Goblin Marshal, Siege-Gang Commander. Goblins Wheeeeee!

The Rest:

Proper Burial: A great life-gain addition since your creatures will be hitting the graveyard repeatedly and coming back through your shenanigans only to be thrown in the graveyard again.

Fecundity + Skullclamp: Card-draw that relies entirely on your stuff hitting the graveyard. Here's a lil' Boosh tidbit to put in your bonnet: Fecundity is in my top ten favorite Magic cards of all time.

Lumberknot: Grows and grows as your creatures keep dying and being returned only to be killed off again.

Just over $10

My final tally on this deck (bear in mind prices fluctuate and it takes several days to finish an article, though I try to keep from adding final tallies until close to article completion) was $10.39; You know I try to budget my decks at ten buckos or under, but I painstaking created, recreated, edited, recreated, edited.. you get the gist-- this particular deck until everything works harmonious. I think thirty nine cents over budget is not too shabby to have a deck that works very well in synergy, fits the RS constrictions, and is very fun and fluid to play with. It has a lot of nifty cards for future deckbuilds as well. Let's break down the price check. Yosei, the Morning Star is 65 cents; Frost Titan is the second most expensive card coming in at $1.71; A foil Graveborn Reanimate is the cheapest version @ 75 cents; Goblin Marshal's price point is 34 cents; Foil From the Vault is the cheapest version of Skullclamp @ 50 cents; Altar of Dementia is your hugest piggy-bank-breaker: $2.38; Solemn Simulacrum = 56 cents; Cauldron of Souls = 64 cents; and our third most expensive card, Duplicant, a Magic staple, is a buck.

Deck numero quatro is mostly about life gaining, but it throws in some neat tricks to mess up your opponent's life total. It also has Phyrexian Processor for good measure to use some of that excess life you gained to your advantage. I started thinking about the Pingin' Fun deck, and its polar opposite, gaining life sprang to mind. I feel like, personally, I haven't made a life-gain themed deck in a long time. In the early days of Magic, paper not online, there would always be someone who loaded up a deck with life-gain cards and just sat back defensively gaining life until you got so infuriated you just conceded. I didn't particularly want this deck to play out that way; So I loaded it with creatures that have lifelink & creatures that grow when you gain life & the processor... to make it so this deck is more aggressive in attacking and less defensively running the game out. It's always great to have a win condition-- in this case plain ol' attacking creatures (for the most part), instead of just riding out the game with a high life total hoping your cards win out over your opponent's. Of course, you could always just Beacon of Immortality when you have Sanguine Bond out......

So for life gain, as the breakdown below will, um, ermmm... break down, I focused on intermingling spells/abilities that increase your life in addition to a lot of creatures that have lifelink. I thought it would be both ironic and deliciously evil to include some spells/abilities that actually prevented life-gain for your opponent. Let's have a look at a Rainbow Stairwell Deck I like to call.....

Rainbow Stairwell - Fun with Life Totals
1  Ghost-lit Redeemer  Ponder  Vampiric Link  Lightning Bolt  Essence Warden  Basilisk Collar 
2 Ajani's Pridemate  Sejiri Merfolk  Child of Night  Stigma Lasher  Nourish  Sun Droplet 
Planeswalker's Mirth  Arctic Aven  Vampire Nighthawk  Flames of the Blood Hand  Spike Feeder  Chalice of Life 
4  Rhox Faithmender  Stormscape Master  Consuming Vapors  Thunderscape Master  Cliffrunner Behemoth  Phyrexian Processor 
Boon Reflection  Mulldrifter  Sanguine Bond  Beacon of Destruction  Ageless Entity  Venser's Journal 
Beacon of Immortality  Recurring Insight  Blood Tribute  Coalhauler Swine  Sylvan Bounty  Wurmcoil Engine 
LANDS: 4 Plains, 4 Island, 4 Swamp, 4 Mountain, 4 Forest; 1 Grand Coliseum, 1 Rupture Spire, 1 Arcane Sanctum, 1 Jungle Shrine

Creatures with Lifelink: Rhox Faithmender, Sejiri Merfolk, Arctic Aven, Child of Night, Vampire Nighthawk, Cliffrunner Behemoth, Wurmcoil Engine. Basilisk Collar also makes whatever creature it's equipped to, say an Ageless Entity, lifelink-enabled.

Creatures Affected by Life-gain: Ageless Entity, Ajani's Pridemate

Life-gain Spells/Creatures (disregarding lifelink): Ghost-lit Redeemer, Beacon of Immortality, Planeswalker's Mirth, Essence Warden, Sylvan Bounty, Nourish, Spike Feeder, Sun Droplet, Consuming VaporsVampiric Link, Chalice of Life, Venser's Journal, a kicked Blood Tribute, & Stormscape Master's + Thunderscape Master's BlackBlack ability.

Doublemint Twins: Boon Reflection + Rhox Faithmender.

Messin' with your Opponents' Life Totals:

Damage/Life Loss: Lightning Bolt, Beacon of Destruction, Flames of the Blood Hand, Coalhauler Swine, Sanguine Bond, Blood Tribute, Chalice of Life's Chalice of Death, Stormscape Master's + Thunderscape Master's BlackBlack ability.

Life-gaining Prevention: Flames of the Blood Hand & Stigma Lasher

Gain life so your Opponent Loses Life: Sanguine Bond

Uses for your High Life Total: Phyrexian Processor & Coalhauler Swine

The Rest:

Recurring Insight, Ponder, Mulldrifter = Card Draw. Much akin to my CMC1 go-to for red being Lightning Bolt (as once again evidenced in this deck build), My go-to for CMC5 for blue is, 90% of the time, Mulldrifter.

Sylvan Bounty = Land Grab.


Use Recurring Insight to make your hand huge and then gain more life with Venser's Journal.

Child of Night & Vampire Nighthawk are vampires and thus can be used to kick Blood Tribute. If you have out the Sanguine Bond it's potentially a fatal combo for your opponent. Beacon of Immortality + Sanguine Bond is also a potential opponent fatality combo.


My final tally on this deck (bear in mind prices fluctuate and it takes several days to finish an article, though I try to keep from adding final tallies until close to article completion) was exactly $9.00. Beacon of Immortality is just over a buck; Sanguine Bond is 36 cents; Premium Decks' version of Flames of the Blood Hand is not only foil but also the cheapest version landing at a quarter; Stigma Lasher is $1.14; Ageless Entity rolls in at 24 cents; Basilisk Collar is 85 cents; Phyrexian Processor comes in at a 64 cents price-point; finally: our most expensive card, Wurmcoil Engine is just under two bucks @ $1.92 for the promo version. Everything else is more than manageable, budget-wise.

Our last 60-card normal-style Rainbow Stairwell deck is all about +1/+1 counters, not Counterspell counters. While trying to come up with affordable, johnny style, and just downright fun RS decks, I tried to find deck themes that could encompass all of the colors while still staying on theme. I think for the most part I nailed that goal by finding archetypes that do traverse all the colors; our last big 300 card PSRS deck hits the all-colors-on-par-with-theme and so does this deck. +1/+1 counters, thanks to MTG's growth over the years, is now easily found within all the colors of magic. 

How did I go about constructing a +1/+1 counter themed deck? Simply by finding cards that exploit counters, creatures that produce or e-t-b with counters, cards that give out more counters, Undying + Persist + Devour + Proliferate + Graft! One way to exploit the interactions of counters is to use stuff like Cauldron of Souls and Carnifex Demon while putting +1/+1 counters on your stuff to erase the -1/-1 counters. Let's look at the deck!

Rainbow Stairwell - Counters!
1  Daily Regimen  Faerie Squadron  Undying Evil  Bloodhall Ooze  Predatory Hunger  Chronomaton 
2 Shinewend  Thrummingbird  Butcher Ghoul  Ashling the Pilgrim  Elven Rite  Contagion Clasp 
Apex Hawks  Sage of Fables  Dark Impostor  Ion Storm  Fertilid  Evolution Vat 
4  Ajani Goldmane  Cytoplast Manipulator  Consumptive Goo  Fallen Ferromancer  Cytoplast Root-Kin  Arcbound Reclaimer 
Cathars' Crusade  Inexorable Tide  Spread the Sickness  Menacing Ogre  Blessings of Nature  Cauldron of Souls 
Twilight Shepherd  Novijen Sages  Carnifex Demon  Preyseizer Dragon  Shape of the Wiitigo  Contagion Engine 
LANDS: 4 Plains, 4 Island, 4 Swamp, 4 Mountain, 4 Forest; 1 Grand Coliseum, 1 Rupture Spire, 1 Arcane Sanctum, 1 Savage Lands

Daily Regimen: Add counters to whichever creature you want, hopefully one that can exploit the extra counters:
Undying Evil: Give something Undying temporarily while at the same time adding a counter to it to potentially exploit.
Faerie Squadron: Kick it to have it enter with some counters.
Bloodhall Ooze: will grow in counters thanks to the presence of green and black permanents.
Predatory Hunger:  A nice effective/cheap way to grow counters on  a creature.
Chronomaton: a self-growing counter creature.
Shinewend: flying, remove a counter to disenchant an enchantment; maybe put Daily Regimen on it to have a disenchant machine.
Thrummingbird: proliferate
Butcher Ghoul: undying
Ashling the Pilgrim: self-growing counter creature that can provide a big boom.
Elven Rite: add some counters to creatures
Contagion Clasp: proliferate.
Apex Hawks: multikicker for a lot of counters on it
Sage of Fables: adds counters to any wizards in your deck, but allows you to remove counters from any counter-laden creature to draw cards.
Dark Impostor: Exile creatures, give itself counters + activated abilities.
Ion Storm: Remove counters from your various creatures to hurl some damage.
Fertilid: Remove counters for land-grab; Slap Daily Regimen or Shape of the Wiitigo on it to really grab some land.
Evolution Vat: Adding counters and doubling counters = awesome.
Ajani Goldmane: Gives out a +1/+1 to each of your creatures plus has other awesome abilities.
Cytoplast Manipulator: Graft. +1/+1 counter shenanigans to steal creatures.
Consumptive Goo: Weaken or kill your opponent's creatures while pumping the Goo with counters at the same time.
Fallen Ferromancer: Its Infect is like Wither; you can use its damage dealing ability to weaken/kill opposing creatures; you can even Infect your opponent to death if no other win condition arises-- either by poke-ping death, or by pumping it with counters and swooping in for the Infected kill.
Cytoplast Root-Kin: Pops counters on creatures with counters! Graft! Move all of it's counters onto other creatures, cast Undying Evil in response to the last triggered graft & it pops back into play to pop more counters on creatures.
Arcbound Reclaimer: Use its counters to reclaim your artifacts that have been hosed; all your artifacts are useful in this deck. 
Cathars' Crusade: A supremely awesome way to keep racking up counters on all your creatures.
Inexorable Tide: proliferate awesomeness.
Spread the Sickness: proliferate + creature hosing in one fell swoop.
Menacing Ogre: This creature is such an oddball, but enters with counters if its weirdness works out right. A fun card in my most humble opinion.
Blessings of Nature: Add counters! Miracle!
Cauldron of Souls: Persist! EXPLOIT this card! persist your creatures, then put +1/+1 counters on them to persist them again!
Twilight Shepherd: Persisty + graveyard recursion + exploiting +1/+1 counters = rinse, repeat.
Novijen Sages: Card-draw through counters.
Carnifex Demon: Mess up everything! Slap -1/-1 counters on all the other creatures, but hopefully your creatures outlive your opponents thanks to your own +1/+1 counter chicanery. Also, hopefully, you can remove the counters it comes into play with and then when it finally dies use Cauldron of Souls to persist it back into play, then you can remove that counter to put another -1/-1 on everything-- it could be a persist-doom-combo-of-doom.
Preyseizer Dragon: Awesome card, Devour if you can; even if you can't Devour, add counters to it through spells in order to use its ability that fires when it hits an opponent.
Shape of the Wiitigo: Underrated Johnny exploitable card. Slap it on Novijen Sages to draw a bunch or Shinewend to hose enchantments a bunch more, or etc./so forth.
Contagion Engine: Double proliferate!

You should be able to get a sense of how all of these can interact together to completely exploit counters while still firmly fitting into the Rainbow Stairwell niche.

Just over $5

My final tally on this deck (bear in mind prices fluctuate and it takes several days to finish an article, though I try to keep from adding final tallies until close to article completion) was $5.04. This is the cheapest RS deck this article has to offer, yet it is still an effective and fun way to play RS. Our main piggy bank breakers are: Ajani Goldmane @ 1.28; Twilight Shepherd at 21 cents; Preyseizer Dragon is our most expensive card cost landing at 1.34; and Cauldron of Souls comes in @ 64 cents. Cathars' Crusade is 15 cents + Arcbound Reclaimer is 17 cents -- hardly expensive at all -- and everything else is 7 cents or under!

Prismatic Singleton Rainbow Stairwell.

I have to give props in this section of the article to man who not only introduced me to Rainbow Stairwell s a format, but took RS and shoved it nicely into Prismatic. His (MTGO) name is Aspiring Magician, and he is a great magic player, a great conversationalist, a pleasant opponent, and someone who is Johnny-minded. He explained PSRS to me, and I will now share with all of you, dear readers.

PSRS follows Prismatic rules. It uses Prismatic's banned/restricted list and because of the structure of deck building, easily meets the 20 cards per color requirement. In order to fit RS into Prismatic, we increase each CMC card quantity from 1 to 5. Thus, you have 5 artifacts that have a CMC1. You have 5 Green cards with CMC1, etc... you have 5 Blue cards with CMC6, 5 Blue with CMC5.. This adds up to 180 cards which leaves 120 cards for land, totaling a 300 card deck. Prismatic has to be at least 250 cards, but can be higher. The land works out like so: 20 of each basic land (subtotaling 100 lands for basics) & then 20 nonbasic lands of your choice, so long as they tap for mana. We then pigeonhole this whole Prismatic/RS amalgamation into a singleton format, since original RS is a singleton format. You may really love Basilisk Collar, but we don't want 3 of your 5 Artifact CMC1 choices to be collars. We want 5 different distinct separate CMC1 choices for artifacts and the colors. There are still no hybrid or gold cards allowed.

This can be a fun and challenging way to create a deck. You literally have 200 individual card choices to make. It can be a lengthy process, but is ultimately very rewarding when you play a PSRS game with a like-minded player. Aspiring Magician and I recommend you make it a 40-life/10-card game and up the time counter up to 90 min, for maximum fun.

Just because your deck is 300 cards doesn't mean it can't have a central theme. You could easily take any of the decks listed above and put in more recursion or flicker or what-have-you and make a PSRS theme deck, but I wanted to start from scratch, as I am apt to do, and make an entirely new deck. What archetype haven't I exploited that my previous articles clearly indicate I love? Tribal. What tribe is showcased today boys and gals? Humans (please tell me you read that as a Ferengi or with a Ferengi inflection... HUUU-MAAN)

Prismatic Singleton Rainbow Stairwell - Tribal Humans 
1  Champion of the Parish  Coordinated Barrage  Empty-Shrine Kannushi  Honorable Scout  Devoted Caretaker 
2 Gather the Townsfolk Bonds of Faith  Shared Triumph  Spare from Evil  Grand Abolisher 
Thraben Doomsayer  Harsh Mercy  Devout Chaplain  Elder Cathar  Glorious Anthem 
4  Thraben Sentry Daru Stinger  Riders of Gavony  Droning Bureaucrats  Sunscape Master 
Increasing Devotion   Commander's Authority  Herald of War  Geist-Honored Monk  Steam Catapult 
Dearly Departed  Voice of the Provinces  Champion Lancer  True Conviction  Goldnight Redeemer 
1  Flying Men  Grixis Illusionist  Nephalia Smuggler  Stormscape Apprentice  Ceta Disciple 
2 Azure Mage  Shapesharer  Alchemist's Apprentice  Dreamscape Artist  Jushi Apprentice 
Mass Appeal  Faces of the Past  Captain of the Mists  Barrin, Master Wizard  Fatespinner 
4  Call to the Kindred  Distant Melody  Peer Pressure  Archivist  Hisoka, Minamo Sensei 
Lu Meng, Wu General  Riptide Chronologist  Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir  Pirate Ship  Talas Researcher 
Novijen Sages  Sun Quan, Lord of Wu  Recurring Insight  Opportunity  Aerial Caravan 
1  Blood Celebrant  Cabal Trainee  Deathgreeter  Rag Dealer  Thoughtpicker Witch 
2 Skirsdag Flayer  Cover of Darkness  Pack's Disdain  Golgari Thug  Kiku, Night's Flower 
Village Cannibals  Falkenrath Torturer  Bog Witch  Doomed Necromancer  Garza's Assassin 
4  Aphetto Dredging  Abyssal Hunter  Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed  Nekrataal  Wei Night Raiders 
Ravenous Demon  Cairn Wanderer  Patriarch's Bidding  Fiend of the Shadows  Increasing Ambition 
Dakmor Lancer  Cabal Patriarch  Hex  Commander Greven il-Vec  Magus of the Mirror 
1  Norin the Wary  Godo's Irregulars  Grim Lavamancer  Magus of the Scroll  Stonewright 
2 Mob Justice  Crimson Mage  Firebrand Ranger  Hammer Mage  Keeper of the Flame
Kessig Malcontents  Shared Animosity  Taurean Mauler  Riot Ringleader  Thatcher Revolt 
4  Vigilante Justice  Mana Echoes  Roar of the Crowd  Aladdin  Corrupt Eunuchs 
Vulshok Battlemaster  Dong Zhou, the Tyrant  Burn at the Stake  Curse of Bloodletting  In the Web of War 
Homura, Human Ascendant  Godo, Bandit Warlord  Kamahl, Pit Fighter  Magus of the Arena  Rage Reflection 
1  Veteran Explorer  Ana Disciple  Avacyn's Pilgrim  Diregraf Escort  Stampede Driver 
2 Hamlet Captain  Deranged Outcast  Budoka Gardener  Citanul Druid  Time of Need 
Caller of the Hunt  Alpha Status  Descendants' Path  Yavimaya Elder  Somberwald Sage 
4  Explosive Vegetation  Chameleon Colossus  Reins of the Vinesteed  Citanul Hierophants  Triumph of the Hordes 
Geist Trappers  Overrun  Okina Nightwatch  Overwhelming Stampede  Hibernation's End 
Kamahl, Fist of Krosa  Desert Twister  Tromp the Domains  Wild Pair  Lurking Predators 
1  Silver-Inlaid Dagger  Avacyn's Collar  Bladed Bracers  Basilisk Collar  Skullclamp 
2 Sharpened Pitchfork  Credit Voucher  Armillary Sphere  Lightning Greaves  Fellwar Stone 
Adaptive Automaton  Butcher's Cleaver  Gallows at Willow Hill  Darksteel Plate  Urza's Incubator 
4  Muse Vessel  Soul Foundry  Manaforce Mace  Quicksilver Amulet  Power Armor 
Coat of Arms  Belbe's Portal  Cryptic Gateway  Volrath's Laboratory  Gilded Lotus 
Brass Herald  Doom Cannon  Staff of Nin  Duplicant  Argentum Armor 

LANDS: 20 Plains, 20 Island, 20 Swamp, 20 Mountain, 20 Forest; 1Savage Lands, 1 Arcane Sanctum, 1 Jungle Shrine, 1 Crumbling Necropolis, 1 Seaside Citadel, 1 Rupture Spire, 1 Grand Coliseum, 1 Slayers' Stronghold, 1 Shimmering Grotto, 1 Gemstone Caverns, 1 Akoum Refuge, 1 (Greypelt Refuge), 1 Jwar Isle Refuge, 1 Kazandu Refuge, 1 Sejiri Refuge, 1 Haunted Fengraf, 1 Buried Ruin, 1 Reliquary Tower, 1 Academy Ruins, 1 Emeria, the Sky Ruin


Citanul Druid Muse Vessel Hisoka, Minamo Sensei Droning Bureaucrats

So let's be honest with each other, dear readers: I am not about to breakdown 180 card choices + 20 nonbasic land choices individually. There's too much ground to cover, and this article is already fairly lengthy. To quote Inigo Montoya: "Let me explain... No, there is too much... Let me sum up."

I took the tribe: humans, and made a 300 card PSRS deck based off that simple theme. I did an advanced search on gatherer for creature type - human as well as cards with "human" in their card text, and ran with it. I made sure to include all sorts of cards that directly affected humans or played off of humans, or created more humans (Fiend of the Shadows, Dearly Departed, Champion of the Parish, Thraben Doomsayer, Increasing Devotion, Spare from Evil). Then I included cards that were human and just happened to be awesome (Homura, Human Ascendant, Wei Night Raiders). For example if I was making a beast deck, I'd put in Krosan Warchief because it lowers all beast costs and it can regenerate any beast, but I'd also put in Rhox because it's just an awesome beast. After playing around with what humans/human-affecting-cards to include, I then took a look for cards that allowed you to choose a creature type (so I could choose Human,) which helped out/affected your human cards in positive ways (Coat of ArmsFaces of the Past, Brass Herald, Doom Cannon, Distant Melody). After those card choices, I sought out Changelings, since they count as humans, and some of the Changelings are pretty nifty and can fill holes in CMC choices. After all that was said and done, I went to town on filling gaps with your standard tech: land-grab (Explosive Vegetation), card-draw (Recurring Insight), tutoring (Increasing Ambition), pumping your creatures (Glorious Anthem, True Conviction), extra mana capabilities Gilded Lotus, opposing creature murderdeathkill (Duplicant) .... you get the idea. 

A lot of the aforementioned standard tech you find in decks, land-grab, etc, is actually found on humans. The standard tech filler took a backseat to making sure I could pop in things like Veteran Explorer (land-grab); Garza's Assassin (creature-kill); Adaptive Automaton (pumping); Azure Mage (card-draw); Somberwald SageCitanul Hierophants (extra mana); Dong Zhou, the Tyrant, Corrupt Eunuchs (damage); & so on.

For further elaboration on the deck building, here's some other tidbits, in no particular order of importance:

  1. I included all of the equipment I could find that gave an additional pump/aspect if it equipped a human-- as demonstrated on Silver-Inlaid Dagger.
  2. For the CMC=1 choices, yeah I could have chocked this deck full of standard fair like Ponder, Brainstorm, Lightning Bolt... but I found it more of a challenge to fill the gaps with humans. The Guildmages from Mirage, the Disciples from Apocalypse, & the Apprentices from Invasion were helpful in adding CMC=1 choices that were human and had activated abilities that could be useful. Obviously not all of them work well in decks but they helped.
  3. The various Magi (plural of Magus) that were released during the Time Spiral block (IE: Magus of the Mirror, Magus of the Scroll) are also humans while at the same time providing fun tricks to play around with. Similarly, a lot of the Spellshapers in Magic are also humans, so they could be included if need be. I also enjoy the fact that the Mages from M2012 and the Keepers from Exodus are also humans with fun abilities. 
  4. I love double strike and giving it to all my creatures. Rage Reflection + True Conviction are thusly included in the deck.
  5. Speaking of spellshapers, a highly underrated blue common, Dreamscape Artist happens to be one of my favorite big-deck/Prismatic/PSRS card inclusions. Every time I get him out my opponent is amazed at how many lands I can snag from my deck with a blue common they probably never paid any mind to. With a 300 card deck, it's easy to find a card worth discarding to allow a spellshaper's ability to fire. Since artifacts are pretty prevalent in a PSRS deck, Hammer Mage also seemed like a logical choice.
  6. Peer Pressure: A lot of creatures in the game of Magic have the type human, or human in addition to other types. Tons of them. Your deck is ALL humans. I am positive if you are playing PSRS that within your opponent's deck there is at least a couple humans. Unless the very unlikely happenstance of playing against another PSRS human themed deck occurs, you are always going to have more humans than your opponent, and this card might net you some extra creatures for a measly 4 mana, and at worst is a lousy draw in a deck of 300.   
  7. Fiend of the Shadows is awesome in this deck. Not only does it play off of humans (sac' one to regenerate it) but if it does hit your opponent.. it has this nifty card text that goes off; "Whenever Fiend of the Shadows deals combat damage to a player, that player exiles a card from his or her hand. You may play that card for as long as it remains exiled." The beauty of this is that you & your opponent are playing PSRS, so any card in their hand could be cast by you. Similarly, Muse Vessel works about the same way, and is included in our PSRS deck because you should be able to cast anything you snag with it.
  8. Hibernation's End is really awesome in this deck. You'll have a much better usage from this card in PSRS. Since our cards go from CMC1 to CMC6, you could easily use this card to tutor up 6 creatures out of your deck. I love this card, but often find it cut from decks because I don't have enough creatures in my deck to justify using it, since there's only so much I could snag with it; in this deck-- that's not the case.
  9. Hisoka, Minamo Sensei's card text reads: "2 ManaBlue Mana, Discard a card: Counter target spell if it has the same converted mana cost as the discarded card." Since RS and PSRS rely so heavily on controlled CMC inclusions in your deck, this five cent rare (which sees minimal play) actually becomes pretty dang useful. Since this is a huge deck and there are various ways to load your hand with cards, there's a fairly good chance that when your opponent casts Consuming Vapors you'll have a CMC4 in your hand and can counter it.
  10. Droning Bureaucrats, like Hisoka, relies on CMC in its ability. It becomes that much more useful in a PSRS or RS deck. Yeah you may want to lock down that horrible Frost Titan your opponent is rocking from attacking, but as a bonus you'll lock down his Wurmcoil Engine, Steel Hellkite, (Laquata's Champion), Ancient Silverback & whatever else he has out that's CMC6. 
  11. Homura, Human Ascendant is one of my favorite cards. Definitely in my top 20. He also happens to be a human (yay) & is CMC6, and thus fits nicely in the deck. It's pretty easy to get him in the graveyard in this deck as well, in order to get him back into play as his flipped enchantment awesomeness. Sacrifice him to Doom Cannon/Deranged Outcast/Barrin, Master Wizard/etc, or use Nekrataal on him or something.
  12. Elder Cathar really loves being sacrificed to Deranged Outcast because it nets you 4 +1/+1 counters. 
  13. Godo, Bandit Warlord is awesome because he will tutor up one of your many equipments... but as an added bonus is, if he attacks, all the changelings you rounded out your deck with that are in play will untap with him to attack again.
  14. Caller of the Hunt is a human, and you can call human, so no matter what else happens, she'll be 1/1.
  15. Norin the Wary pairs superduper well with Champion of the Parish, Captain of the Mists & Vigilante Justice.
  16. In Prismatic, Rainbow Stairwell, & especially PSRS all 5 basic lands are represented and thus Domain becomes a more powerful card ability to utilize. Manaforce MaceTromp the Domains & Power Armor are included in the deck for this reason.
  17. Urza's Incubator is over 3 bucks and as such is not budget friendly. It is another one of my favorite cards and in a tribal deck, it's worth the $$ cost.
  18. Daru Stinger: If you click the link to Daru Stinger, even still lists him as only a soldier. However, if you look him up in gatherer, it clearly shows him as a Human Soldier. That means he can utilize his Amplify ability with all the other humans in your hand, and is the only human with Amplify. "Amplify 1 (As this creature enters the battlefield, put a +1/+1 counter on it for each Human and/or Soldier card you reveal in your hand.)"  
  19. Citanul Druid is usually kind of a lame card, but he's a human and your opponent has 30 artifacts in their deck, so you are gonna be able to stack a few +1/+1 counters on this 2 cent card.
  20. Overwhelming Stampede, Overrun, Tromp the Domains, Kamahl, Fist of Krosa & Triumph of the Hordes are all included because your deck is chock full of humans and good old fashioned creature-stomp could be your ticket to winning.
  21. Darksteel Plate is always an awesome inclusion in your deck, as I have discussed in previous articles. It is specifically in here on the off chance you get to pop it on Hamlet Captain or Riot Ringleader.
  22. Time of Need: there are a few pretty kick-butt legends up in this huge deck. 
  23. Being able to put Aladdin in this deck, since he's a human and your opponent has 30 artifacts potentially up for stealing, makes me smile.
  24. It would be really amazing if you could have out both Kessig Malcontents & Barrin, Master Wizard (with ample permanents to sac-- possibly some temporary human tokens from Thatcher Revolt); or the Malcontents and your Sunscape Master so you could completely abuse the Malcontents' damage-dealing. 
  25. Honorable Scout + Empty-Shrine Kannushi both play off of the fact that PSRS decks use all five colors. the Scout will net you some life from your opponent's black and red creatures and the Kannushi is a 1/1 protection all colors for CMC1.
  26. In a deck with 30 artifacts, Academy Ruins just seems incredibly logical to include as one of your 20 nonbasic land choices.

There are obviously more card interactions, inclusions and synergies that could be discussed, but I'll let you figure them out on your own.

Estimated: About $20

Ok, so much like the breakdown, I can't really individually price every card. I will say this: I specifically tried very hard to make sure I didn't overload this deck with high priced cards. This is a budget series of articles. I tried particularly hard to keep all rares within the 5 cent to 20 cent range. There are some notable exceptions, though you may find more (this price check isn't exact science for this big deck). Champion of the Parish, DuplicantBasilisk Collar, Patriarch's Bidding, Chameleon Colossus are all either slightly above or slightly below a buck each. Let's call that 6 bucks. Urza's Incubator is $3.50. That's 9.50. Taurean MaulerSoul Foundry, and Caller of the Hunt are a little over 50 cents each, Belbe's Portal is 77 cents; Coat of Arms is 40 cents: let's call that another 3 bucks.  Subtotal $12.50. The rest of the cards vary from 2 cents to 20 cents, abouts. Many of them can be purchased on the Pennybot. I doubt HIGHLY the rest of the cards, especially with MTGOTrader's paypal discount, will be over 7 to 8 bucks. I am quite certain this whole 300 card deck could be around a 20 dollar price point (minus the 100 basic lands-- you can get basics for free through various Free bots in the Classifieds section of MTGO). Twenty bucks for such a huge deck is not too shabby at all!! (Especially since I give 60-card decks a $10.00 budget )

Final Musings:

  • I recommend you buy a City of Brass for all your RS and PSRS needs. It was never included in any deck builds, but if you purchase just one you can not only throw it into all your RS and PRS decks, but also your Commander decks and Classic decks. Consider it.
  • I also recommend, even though I already lauded it a bit in the PSRS deck build breakdown, a cheap 5 cent Muse Vessel. In PSRS and RS, it's very useful, and can be a fun card to play around with.
  • I always recommend you spend some time in MTGOTrader's Pennybot. You can find a lot of great stuff in there, and netting 100 cards for a buck is an outstanding way to stay within a dedicated budget.
  • Cheap ways to land fix RS and especially PSRS are to get 1 of each Refuge from Zendikar, and 1 of each Tricolor-tap lands from Shards of Alara. They are cheap and effective.
  • I started this article before Return to Ravnica came out. RtR has a lot of gold/hybrid stuff anyway, but no RtR cards at all are in any of the decks above.
  • This article sort of got out of control in length, Much Respect for those of you who read the whole thing. I'll scale back next time. This is why it took me over a month to complete a new article. I'm a new dad, work lots of overtime, and have two jobs, so I rock out these articles whenever I have a smidgeon of free time and am not using said free time to actually play MTGO (or hang out with my wife).

This is for you, loyal readers.


I hope you enjoyed my article on Rainbow Stairwell and Prismatic Singleton Rainbow Stairwell. I am always up for a game, friendly chat, or deck-building/Johnny tips. Hope to see many more game descriptions with Rainbow Stairwell as the text. Happy virtual card flipping.

Thanks for reading!

(AtomicBoosh on MTGO)


fyi everyone the top graphic by Adam_the_Mentat at Tue, 10/30/2012 - 21:16
Adam_the_Mentat's picture

fyi everyone the top graphic isn't wrong, it may look like rainbowstarwell, but it's stairwell... the i in bewteen the a and r is there, just white and looks like a space.. missed coloring due to exhaustion

Yeah I see it but I think its by Paul Leicht at Tue, 10/30/2012 - 21:18
Paul Leicht's picture

Yeah I see it but I think its better as Starwell :D

Great Article. In depth, made by Cownose at Wed, 10/31/2012 - 10:56
Cownose's picture

Great Article. In depth, made the format seem fun AND was really informative, exactly what these articles should be, bravo sir!

This format used to be fairly heavily played back in the v2.5 days, but I never see anyone playing it much anymore. Would love to find more games.

I will say though, I think the version of the format that uses 10x Duals plus 3x of each basic land is much more fun, because the duals greatly reduce the risk of color screw (which is really common in this format otherwise) which makes games a lot less random than with only basics--and to me, games are a lot more fun when both decks get to run their gameplans rather than one deck randomly getting screwed through no fault of its own. I know that not everyone can afford 10 dual lands (thats like $250 nowadays), but the invasion taplands are dirt cheap, and the Guildgates can easily be used in their place, and using CIP tapped lands vs. "real" duals is no as muh of a setback as you might think due to the even distribution of casting costs in the decks.

mana bases by Adam_the_Mentat at Sat, 11/03/2012 - 12:29
Adam_the_Mentat's picture

I feel like even if we both had ten duals each, there's a chance I'll have Scrubland, Swamp, tundra and lightning bolt, cultivate, and forgotten ancient.. still being manascrewed. If both our manabases are the same basically, then we have an equal chance of being screwed or not screwed. Sure duals probbly fix our mana base slightly better thanjust basics, but if you have 20 basics you can utilize sakura-tribe elder, armillay sphere, landcycling to mana fix. it's all perspective. CIPT lands are all well and good, but I feel like I'd rather mana fix through spells than haemore than half my lands start tapped. just my opinions! Like I said however you wanna make your landbase go for it! just try the format! :)

What about coloured by JMason at Wed, 10/31/2012 - 15:24
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What about coloured artifacts? I think you've avoided them in your decks, but what about e.g. court homunculus... can it be your 1cc artifact, or does it have to be your 1cc white spell, or do the coloured spells have to not be artifacts?

colored artifacts by Adam_the_Mentat at Wed, 10/31/2012 - 16:10
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usually avoided by those who I regularly play with, too many questions about where they'd fall. These rules are not set in stone by any means but are how I learned to play. I will say all artifact choices in the category artifact should be colorless

I see tables for odd formats by RexDart at Wed, 10/31/2012 - 16:34
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I see tables for odd formats like this pop up on MTGO occasionally, always interesting to see some explanations of them, though the last thing I need is to get involved with yet another fringe format that I can never find matches for.

WotC's choice of formats to recognize does seem odd sometimes. It appears to be a product of push from community in some cases, but often they're just taking a shot on something that trends in recent sets have pushed. IIRC, tribal wars' first official recognition in any capacity started out around Lorwyn time, and K-Scope was in the midst of a run of popular multicolor blocks. FWIW, I put K-Scope tables up occasionally in JFF and almost never get any takers. I was able to join one recently against a WotC spellslinger, (beat him with my mostly-Shards K-Scope-slash-human-tribal deck.) I was hoping K-Scope would get a resurgence with RTR, but not so far.

Standard Pauper seems to be a rather bland entry driven mostly by people with extreme budget limitations, as the format has such a limited card pool -- it's like playing the constructed version of a cool draft deck you had, but without any of the cards that made it, you know, actually memorable and fun to play. You could build anything you want for $1, but why would you want to? I know it has it's champions, but it just seems too shallow a pool to be more than something you might screw around with for an hour every few months. But OTOH because it's so easy to build and simple to comprehend, it makes more sense for WotC to recognize it than something more complicated RS or Prismatic. But I think Std Pauper missed the point of alternative formats. The alternative formats cater largely to Johnny mentalities, so they should at least have enough complexity to allow Johnny type players to sit and brew decks all hours of the day.