Stalactite Stalker
6, Jan, 24

Underrated Ixalan Goblin Emerges as Multi-Format All-Star!

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Article at a Glance

Every now and again, a handful of cards fly under the radar during spoiler season. While some cards that end up breaking through to become multi-format Constructed staples receive plenty of hype, others take some time to emerge within the competitive scene. Take a look at some of the all-stars from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, for instance. While Amalia Benavides Aguirre saw a ton of hype early on thanks to the quick recognition of its synergy with Wildgrowth Walker, cards like Inti, Seneschal of the Sun took some time to earn the respect it deserved.

One card in particular that is extremely underrated is none other than Stalactite Stalker. While it may look like just an ordinary one-drop at first glance, the card is seeing plenty of Constructed play from Standard down to Legacy. Its ability to grow over the course of the game makes it quite strong, especially alongside Menace making it difficult to block profitably. You can even utilize it as a removal spell if necessary. The key is being able to maximize these abilities which, as we will see, is easier to accomplish than you might expect.

Stalactite Stalker in Standard

Stalactite Stalker

Perhaps the most difficult format to abuse Stalactite Stalker in is Standard. With a smaller card pool, there aren’t exactly plentiful ways to reliably trigger Descend every turn. This can make it a bit tough to keep Stalactite Stalker’s power and toughness climbing over time. Fortunately, one deck in particular makes excellent use of the powerful one-drop: Rakdos midrange.

Currently, there are a few different Rakdos variants in Standard. Obviously, Rakdos ramp and Rakdos Reanimator decks that utilize board wipes like Burn Down the House won’t be interested in this type of card. However, Stalactite Stalker slots perfectly into the more aggressively slanted builds, like the one shown above. In this style of deck, Stalactite Stalker synergizes with a number of two and three-mana Creatures in the deck.

First, Bloodtithe Harvester is great at growing Stalactite Stalker. Clearly, you can sacrifice Harvester to kill opposing small Creatures, which will help buff your Stalactite Stalker at the beginning of your end step. However, Descend doesn’t care how permanent cards entered your graveyard in the first place, meaning they don’t have to come from the battlefield. This means that later in the game, you can discard a permanent to your Blood token to keep the Stalker’s power and toughness climbing.

As a threat that is tough to block, Stalactite Stalker is incredible with Inti as well. Inti can put additional counters on Stalactite Stalker when you attack with it, and if you discard a permanent card to Inti’s ability, Stalactite Stalker will grow even further. Things can get really out of hand once Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor is added into the mix. Getting to curve turn one Stalactite Stalker into turn two Deep-Cavern Bat and turn three Gix can put your opponent in a world of hurt and keep the card advantage flowing.

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Stalactite Stalker in Pioneer

Smugglers Copter

Moving from Standard to Pioneer, growing Stalactite Stalker becomes a bit easier thanks to some helpful synergies with some elite powerhouses in the format. In a similar Rakdos shell, two key discard outlets become available to help trigger Descend: Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Smuggler’s Copter.

Copter provides an easy way to get permanents into your graveyard every time you attack with it. Stalactite Stalker acts as an efficient way to Crew Copter in the early game while quickly growing into a major threat in the mid to late game. What’s nice about having access to Copter, Fable, and Inti in the same deck, too, is that you can discard excess copies of Stalker later as the game progresses.

Part of the weakness of Stalker is that, in order to maximize it, it needs to stay in play for a few turns to start accruing +1/+1 counters. From there, the card is much more threatening, both as an attacker and as a removal spell where necessary. This makes it an excellent turn one play, but not a great top-deck later on. With tons of ways to loot away these poor top-decks, though, this is much less of a concern.

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Goblin and Rogue Synergies

Oona's Blackguard

As you can see, Stalactite Stalker is a solid card when given the requisite support around it. There are plenty of other shells, though, that the card fits nicely into. In Pioneer and Modern, while the deck isn’t necessarily top-tier, Goblins is a perfectly viable deck, and Stalactite Stalker is a nice upgrade. In both formats, Stalactite Stalker works well with Goblin lords like Rundvelt Hordemaster as well as sacrifice outlets like Skirk Prospector that can help raise its stats.

The fact that Stalactite Stalker is a Rogue, however, opens the door for even more shenanigans. In Legacy as well Modern, Stalactite Stalker is popping up alongside Oona’s Blackguard, which together pack an excellent one-two punch. First things first, Oona’s Blackguard allows your copies of Stalactite Stalker to enter with +1/+1 counters right away. Then, when they connect in combat, the opponent is forced to discard cards.

This alone is solid, but because Stalactite Stalker can naturally get counters on itself, if you can trigger Descend turn one, you can play Oona’s Blackguard on turn two, attack with Stalactite Stalker, and immediately force the opponent to discard a card. Triggering Descend on turn one may sound a bit tricky, but in Modern and Legacy, this could not be further from the truth.

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Adding Fetchlands to the Mix

Polluted Delta

The reality is, as good as Stalactite Stalker is in Standard and Pioneer, the presence of Fetchlands like Polluted Delta in Modern and Legacy that naturally go to the graveyard make it trivial to grow Stalactite Stalker into a massive threat. Even without adding cool synergies like Oona’s Blackguard, Stalactite Stalker is still great as an efficient, semi-evasive threat that can close the door quickly.

Excess copies can always be pitched to Grief in Modern or shuffled away with Brainstorm in Legacy, but the upside of having a copy turn one is huge. In Legacy, we all know how strong a turn one Delver of Secrets backed up by Wasteland and Daze can be, and Stalactite Stalker fills a similar role.

The difference is that Stalactite Stalker can grow larger and larger as the game goes on. It’s even immune to Snuff Out, which is a neat little bonus. Stalactite Stalker is simply a great card on rate, much stronger than a lot of players realized during spoiler season (me included). It just goes to show that even some unassuming cards can end up having their time in the spotlight.

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