10 Extended Decks in 10 Days – Pattern Rector in Extended

What would you put in the ultimate anti-metagame deck? Akroma and Worship against RDW, plus Cabal Therapy, Duress and Cranial Extraction against combo and Scepter-Chant, a fast Planar Void against Reanimator, and Pernicious Deed against weenie and Affinity. Infinite Eternal Witness recursion would be nice, and a turn 3 kill would round it out. So, is there such a deck? Yes, actually, there is.

What would you put in the ultimate anti-metagame deck? Akroma and Worship against RDW, plus Cabal Therapy, Duress and Cranial Extraction against combo and Scepter-Chant, a fast Planar Void against Reanimator, and Pernicious Deed against weenie and Affinity. Infinite Eternal Witness recursion would be nice, and a turn 3 kill would round it out. So, is there such a deck? Yes, actually, there is.

I’m talking about Pattern Rector decks. The deck archetype is very versatile and has a long history. It can be configured to be extremely focused, at the expense of having enough silver bullets to cover the entire metagame, or broad enough to handle everything, at the expense of enough consistency to beat the really good draws of all the other decks. I’ll go through the history of the deck, the combos and options (there are a lot of them), then give you my current PTQ build, which is tweaked to do well against the metagame – and I have some stats on that. More importantly, I’ll tell you what elements are critical in each matchup.

History first.

The first high-profile appearance of a Pattern Rector deck was at the 2000 Masters event. The Your Move Games folks played a version that combined two combo kills. First, it had the classic Enduring Renewal/Goblin Bombardment/Shield Sphere combo. Academy Rector could fetch several parts to this combo. It also had the Phyrexian Ghoul / Pattern of Rebirth / Birds of Paradise / Saproling Burst combo. Here’s the decklist, then I’ll explain that combo.

Special K

Team YMG, 2000 Masters

4 Survival of the Fittest

4 Duress

3 Goblin Bombardment

1 Pattern of Rebirth

2 Saproling Burst

1 Shield Sphere

1 Enduring Renewal

4 Academy Rector

4 Phyrexian Ghoul

2 Krovikan Horror

4 Birds of Paradise

2 Fyndhorn Elves

3 Wall of Roots

2 Llanowar Elves

1 Quirion Ranger

4 Bayou

4 City of Brass

4 Forest

1 Swamp

3 Taiga

2 Gemstone Mine

4 Savannah

Okay, the combo plays out like this:

Turn 1: Forest, Birds

Turn 2: land, Phyrexian Ghoul

Turn 3: land, Academy Rector, attack with Phyrexian Ghoul.

If unblocked, sacrifice the Rector to Ghoul to get Pattern of Rebirth on Birds

Sacrifice Birds to Ghoul, get another Rector.

Sacrifice Rector #2 to Ghoul to get Saproling Burst

Sacrifice the Saproling tokens to the Ghoul – Ghoul is now a 20/20. GG.

Sure, the combo works, and works fairly often. However, the power of the deck was that the combo pieces worked just fine without the whole combo. Academy Rector could get other enchantments, like Survival of the Fittest or Renewal. This version, however, was pretty tightly focused on the kill combo. It also predated another card that made sacrificing Academy Rector more fun: Cabal Therapy.

About this time, David Zadok Stroud wrote about a deck he called Carpe Nocturn, a G/B/W deck based around Academy Rector and Pattern of Rebirth. Since Survival was now banned, he included more utility creatures and enchantments in the mix, and used Pattern of Rebirth and Academy Rector as means of finding silver bullets, as well as powering the kill combo. He also introduced the concept of using lands as implements of sacrifice (although High Market is not the best option.) I liked his deck, but thought it had some problems. First of all, it seemed too dependent on the combo kill. He also missed some useful creatures and combos.

Here’s the decklist I played at a couple extended tourneys. I also wrote about it here.

4 Bayou

4 Savannah

4 Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author]

1 Tropical Island

3 Gemstone Mine

2 Undiscovered Paradise

2 Phyrexian Tower

2 Grassland

4 Birds of Paradise

4 Wall of Roots

4 Academy Rector

4 Phyrexian Ghoul

1 Quirion Elf

1 Masticore

1 Verdant Force

1 Spiritmonger

1 Peacekeeper

1 Phyrexian Plaguelord

4 Duress

4 Pattern of Rebirth

2 Pernicious Deed

1 Confiscate

1 Saproling Burst

1 Aura of Silence

1 Worship

1 Oath of Ghouls

1 Vampiric Tutor


1 Ivory Mask

1 Confiscate

1 Sacred Ground

1 Circle of Protection: Red

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Necra Sanctuary

1 Recurring Nightmare

1 Aura of Silence

1 Seal of Cleansing

2 City of Solitude

2 Tranquil Grove

1 Armadillo Cloak

1 Oath of Ghouls

The combo kill was still there, and still caught people by surprise, but the utility elements were more important. Worship and an unkillable creature (or Verdant Force) was very strong against Red decks. Oath of Ghouls was really powerful against the control decks of the era – the era before Upheaval and Psychatog, that is. Peacekeeper shut down speed beat decks, like Stompy. Confiscate could steal Morphlings (because Rector puts it into play, so Confiscate does not target. I also Confiscated Pernicious Deeds, on occasion.

Pattern Rector decks have been played off and on ever since. As I mentioned before, Cabal Therapy was a really boon to the archetype, giving you powerful discard coupled with another way of sacrificing the Rector. Type One decks have been built around that combination, and Extended decks as well. The most recent appearance of a Pattern Rector deck was on day two of Pro Tour: Columbus. Here’s the list from the Sideboard coverage:

Claudo Salemi –

Pattern Burst

1 Phyrexian Tower

4 Llanowar Wastes

4 Forest

3 Swamp

4 Windswept Heath

1 Mountain

2 Plains

1 Brushland

2 City of Brass

4 Academy Rector

3 Yavimaya Elder

4 Birds of Paradise

3 Llanowar Elves

3 Wall of Blossoms

1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath

2 Nantuko Husk

2 Phyrexian Ghoul

1 Symbiotic Wurm

1 Worship

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Future Sight

2 Pernicious Deed

1 Recurring Nightmare

4 Cabal Therapy

1 Pandemonium

3 Pattern of Rebirth

1 Saproling Burst (I think this is the missing 60th card.)


1 Energy Flux

1 Pernicious Deed

1 Diabolic Edict

1 Rule of Law

2 Engineered Plague

2 Cranial Extraction

2 Naturalize

3 Duress

2 Coffin Purge

In some respects, this decklist is more of a Rock variant than a true Pattern/ Rector combo deck. The combo kill is still there, but it is clearly not the only kill mechanism, or even the focus of the deck. Claudio also has the Pandemonium / Saproling Burst combo kill, and other options like Symbiotic Wurm / Recurring Nightmare. The deck can also get an Akroma into play quickly – and Akroma is a perfectly fine win condition.

I playtested this decklist a lot, and I have some problems with it. Some of these cards are fine, but some are more questionable. Even the lands raise questions – why Mountain over Island? The Mountain lets you hardcast Pandemonium without a Birds, but if an opponent is killing your Birds, you almost certainly don’t want to be casting Pandemonium. (I have, on rare occasions, had two Rectors in play and drew a Husk. That let me sacrifice both, put Pandemonium and Burst into play and kill the opponent instantly, but that is very rare.) An Island would let you have a much better chance of actually casting Future Sight, which you never want to draw but draw anyway, but Future Sight has almost never been fast enough to matter. And so forth.

I have modified the decklist. Now I wasn’t qualified for the Pro Tour and I didn’t make Day 2, but I do have a greater knowledge of metagame evolution since the PT, and I am building for the GPT and PTQ metagame, which is different, so bear with me.

I started working on this deck last year, and am writing this mid-January. I am using a gauntlet based on several early tournaments: the Japanese “Finals,” the Neutral Ground New Year’s Day tourney and three early GPTs. At this time, the forty T8s decks had broken down as follows:

Red Deck Wins 11

Reanimator 5

Scepter Chant 4

U/B Desire 4

Rock 3

Life 2

Squirrel Prison 2

Goblins 2

U/G Madness 2

everything else – 1 or less

I playtested against RDW in lieu of Goblins. RDW has been winning more, and is less vulnerable to Engineered Plague. My gauntlet version of RDW includes four Lava Darts maindeck, which made the matchup a lot harder. It also drove me to abandon the Llanowar Elves for Sakura-Tribe Elders, but I have swung back slightly.

Mana Critters:

This is a three-(at least) color, base Green deck. Birds of Paradise are a given. Beyond that, some forms of mana acceleration are necessary. Llanowar Elves are the other one-drop that can help power out a turn 2 Phyrexian Ghoul, if we are trying to set up the turn 3 kill. Realistically, however, with only 4 Ghouls and 4 Rectors in the deck, that doesn’t happen all that often. Moreover, Elves just die to RDW, and end up chumping against Affinity. Against Scepter Chant, you can probably resolve an Elf, but either the Ghoul or Rector will hit a counterspell. Finally, Deed is important in many matches – and Elves don’t survive a Deed. Tribe Elders are slower than Elves, but that is rarely critical – and getting the extra land always is. At present, I run two Elves and three Elders. Compromise is everything.

I have also playtested Yavimaya Elders in the deck. They are better with Elves to power them out on turn 2, but are almost always too slow to be relevant.

The Phyrexian Ghoul / Nantuko Husk:

On occasion, the Ghoul does set up a combo kill. It is another method of killing the Rector, and can even sacrifice itself if winds up wearing a Pattern of Rebirth. However, the combo is so unreliable that I am now playing just two Ghouls. I am considering cutting the Ghouls altogether, and replacing them with other options – at least one of which has to be method of sacrificing the Rector. Diabolic Intent is a possibility, but the ghoul’s ability to sacrifice the Rector for no mana, on turn 3 or 4, is still very strong. Moreover, although the combo doesn’t happen all the time – it does happen just often enough, and often against problem matchups like Reanimator and Scepter Chant.

I should probably include the decklist. Here’s the current incarnation:

4 Academy Rector

4 Birds of Paradise

3 Sakura-Tribe Elder

2 Llanowar Elves

2 Wall of Blossoms

1 Ravenous Baloth

1 Gilded Drake

2 Phyrexian Ghoul

1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath

1 Symbiotic Wurm

1 Eternal Witness

4 Cabal Therapy

3 Pattern of Rebirth

3 Pernicious Deed

1 Worship

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Recurring Nightmare

1 Saproling Burst

1 Parallax Wave / Engineered Plague

1 Seal of Cleansing


1 Sphere of Law

1 Planar Void

1 Pernicious Deed

2 Diabolic Edict

1 Engineered Plague

2 Cranial Extraction

1 Naturalize

3 Duress

2 (metagame slots: could be Rule of Law, Energy Flux, Ivory Mask, Withered Wretch, Silklash Spider, Absolute Law, etc.)

As you can see, this version really is more Rock splash White than classic Pattern Rector. It is also tuned to a RDW and Affinity heavy metagame, which I expect the GPTs and PTQs to be. If you expect less of that, you can cut the Baloth and Walls of Blossoms – if you expect more, add another Baloth. [As with all items in the 10 Decks series, these were mostly written before we went Premium, and the metagame may have changed since then. This is not Peter’s fault, so send any complaints to my inbox. – Knut]

Matchup with RDW / Goblins

This really comes down to builds. You want to cast Rector, who is a great blocker and who can find Worship. You also want to get Pattern to stick to something. The Pattern finds Akroma, and Akroma / Worship is game over for RDW. It is really that simple, but it isn’t always that easy.

The matchup was worst against my early gauntlet build, which had 4 Lava Darts. The Darts could kill most every creature in my deck, even when the opponent was tapped out, and that left Pattern stuck in my hand much of the time. Way too often, the games came down to me casting Elders and other soon-to-be-dead mana acceleration, then dropping either Rector or Saproling Burst – or losing. The matchup gets better if the instant speed, double hit Lava Darts are replaced with sorcery speed Firebolts. Decks running maindeck Pillage are mildly annoying, but they are trading mana denial for speed, and the combination of Wall of Blossoms and 9 mana creatures is often enough to defeat that plan. Engineered Plague, when I had it maindeck, was generally useful in killing Lavamancers or Pups – and it can be set to stop Firecats as well. Overall, fifty-fifty against Lava Dart, favorable against Firebolt / Pillage versions.

Sideboarding involves either Absolute Law, which is decent, or Sphere of Law, which is a beating if it resolves. Either way, Worship / Akroma is still your goal. Symbiotic Wurm usually comes out, because it is way, way, way too slow – and even if you could combo turn 3, you can do just as well getting Akroma. Symbiotic Wurm is so bad in this matchup – and this matchup is so common – that I have considered replacing the maindeck Wurm with Deranged Hermit. Symbiotic Wurm via Pattern of Rebirth does make the Phyrexian Ghoul lethal on turn 3, but Deranged Hermit can actually have an impact in the RDW and Goblins matchups.

Goblins is another interesting matchup, but one I have not tested enough. Engineered Plague just slows them down, and Sphere of Law is okay – until they make their Goblins Black. (My gauntlet version sideboards Dralnu’s Crusade, and it is really, really annoying. I had tried tricks like Teferi’s Moat or Powerstone Minefield, but Dralnu’s Crusade answers both. Of course, if they don’t have DC, or don’t draw it, you just win.) Pernicious Deed does wipe their board. Akroma / Worship is fine, but if they Burning Wish for Tendrils of Agony, you lose. Dueling Grounds – yes, we’re getting silly now – stops their ground game, but not the Living Death tricks. One enchantment that does seem to help is Planar Void, if you can get it out early, since it stops Cabal Therapy flashback and Living Death tricks. Not perfect, but nothing really is in this matchup. (Honor the Fallen would work, but you can’t fetch it with Rector.)

That said, Pattern/Rector decks do seem to have game against the goblin decks. Deed, Ravenous Baloth, Akroma, Worship – the tools are there, and you can often just win. Moreover, I don’t expect Goblins to be all that common – the deck is a little slower than the Tier one decks, and has some bad matchups. Fear RDW more, because it is much more successful, but my build can beat it.

Matchup with Scepter-Chant

This matchup is probably not in Pattern’s favor. I have playtested against both the Pro Tour Top 8 version and the no Meddling Mage version from the Japanese tournament – the no-Mage version is a lot harder to beat. Early on, you are trying to prevent them from getting a Scepter lock. Getting a Deed down helps, but they will just dig for Cunning Wish, then Disenchant the Deed before dropping the Scepter – or, as often happens, drop one Scepter, let you kill it, then drop another. You want to bait counters, including dropping the Engineered Plague naming Soldiers (since some decks kill with Decree of Justice.) Bring in all the Duresses, Cranial Extractions and Naturalizes you managed to fit in the sideboard, and hope. This quickly becomes a topdecking war – you have some great answers, but they have more card drawing. I have not found a great answer to these decks – and I have experimented with Choke, Defense Grid, even Back to Basics, but nothing is strong enough to justify sideboard space. The perfect answers would be City of Solitude and Titania’s Song, but since those are not legal in the format….

Matchup with Life

Game one is tough. On a good day, your might draw the combo, and they might forget to block. You can also kill the annoying little en-Kor and friends with Deed – and Deed kills the Aether Vial, too, if they take that tack. Engineered Plague on Clerics helps a bit, as does Cabal Therapy. However, the Life combo is extremely consistent and redundant, so your odds game one are not great. Game two, however, you have more discard and Cranial Extraction. Don’t worry if they go off – just don’t let Test of Endurance live through upkeep. Then get Cranial Extraction recursion going with Eternal Witness and Recurring Nightmare and deck them. I keep the Symbiotic Wurm in, to provide chump blockers for Serra Avatar and to sacrifice to Recurring Nightmare, but Akroma and most of the silver bullets leave the deck.

If you really want to annoy the Life deck, sideboard in some Steely Resolves – and cast them naming Clerics. It completely screws their deck over.

Matchup with Affinity

Sorry, I haven’t tested this much. We are all pretty sick of playing the deck. You have Deed, Cabal Therapy and they generally don’t run bounce or targeted removal, so you can combo easily. If you expect to see a lot of this, you can run March of the Machines and/or Energy Flux in the sideboard. Engineered Plague on Disciples is somewhat helpful. You could even run Samurai of the Pale Curtain. Your best bet, thought, is to rely on having other people hate Affinity out of the tournament.

Silklash Spider is also worth sideboarding in this matchup – it is big enough to block practically anything not wearing Cranial Plating and kills the annoying Blue fliers you can rarely nail with Deed. It does, however, cost a lot of mana.

Matchup with Reanimator

Reanimator is good because it is very fast and very reliable. However, you have some solid tools, especially after sideboard. Planar Void is amazing if you get it turn one playing first – unfortunately, you are often playing first in this matchup. Planar Void shuts down Reanimator cold, and you can still use Rector. (If you control both replacement effects – Rector’s and Planar Void’s – you can choose how they go on the stack. Put Planar Void on first, then Rector – and you can remove Rector to fetch an enchantment.)

Gilded Drake is a two-edged sword, since once it dies, they can reanimate it and steal their creature back, but Parallax Wave and the Drake are a combo. Confiscate would also be nice, but I’m not sure that it is good enough anywhere else to make the deck. This matchup is a toss-up: it is their discard and Brainstorms against your discard and Rector tricks. It’s all about who gets lucky first. However, this matchup is rough enough – and common enough – that I am now playing one Drake maindeck. A Duplicant in the sideboard would be nice – removing is much better than killing a reanimation target – but I do have Diabolic Edict, which is far faster. Arrest or Pacifism is also a consideration: you can fetch it with the Rector, and they cannot just topdeck another reanimation spell to get their Akroma back into action. Even if they have Echoing Truth, they will only get one attack with the legend, because you should be able to recast Arrest or Pacifism the next turn. (Note: Arrest also stops the activated abilities of Masticore, Rofellos and Arcbound Ravager – if you fetch it with Rector, they don’t get a chance to sac the Ravager in response – which might be a valid concern. Too bad it doesn’t stop Disciple.) Silklash Spider is pretty good in this matchup, too.

Matchup with Mind’s Desire

My testing may be faulty, because I haven’t had an opportunity to test against someone that really knows how to play Desire. That makes all the difference in testing against the deck. I know I can beat average MD players with Pattern Rector, but people actually bringing Mind’s Desire to a PTQ are probably above average, so take this with a grain of salt.

Rector has a little discard and some pressure. MD has a solid combo. Game one is probably them, unless you get lucky. After sideboard, you have Rule of Law, Cranial Extraction and, if you can fit it in the sideboard, Ivory Mask. Not amazing, but not dreadful, either. At that point, MD needs a draw that’s significantly better than yours or some amazing play to beat you.

Matchup with U/G Madness

Parallax Wave kills tokens dead, and Deed is fine in this matchup. The other secret is to win the die roll, cast Cabal Therapy naming Wild Mongrel on turn 1 and hit at least twice. If U/G Madness is really common in your area, Withered Wretch in the sideboard helps – as does Planar Void. Unless they run Unsummon (which seems bad against everything but big creature decks and the mirror) put Pattern on the Birds and get Akroma, then Deed away their board. Your bad draws are slow and U/G Madness punishes slow draws, but otherwise this should be your matchup. There’s not much more to say – you have better creatures, better resets and more answers. They just have speed.

Some old tech against U/G was Plaguebearer. It can have trouble killing Mongrel, if they have cards to discard, but it rocks against Waterfront Bouncer, Looter and tokens. Silklash Spider might also be useful, but you need a ton of mana to get that working well.

Matchup against the Rock

I haven’t tested this enough, since I really don’t think that Rock is good. That said, I have played Rock at the one GPT around here so far, and did okay – and two Rock decks made T8 at a 60 person GPT recently. I could be wrong about Rock being dead.

In effect, this is a mirror match, but you are trading mana consistency for some more powerful cards. Pattern for Akroma is probably going to trump whatever classic Rock can do (provided you have a spare critter for Diabolic Edict), but if Rock resolves Cranial Extractions naming both Rector and Pattern, then you are basically just a weaker Rock with bad mana. After sideboarding, you don’t really get much (Ivory Mask to stop Duress, Cabal Therapy and Cranial Extraction?), but Rock probably gets Withered Wretch and/or Nezumi Graverobber, both of which hose Academy Rector. This is a hard one to call – Rock builds vary, and you both have a lot of options. One thing is for sure, though – you should have interesting games.

Conclusions – at least until February 20th

This deck is a lot of fun to play, and has a lot of serious potential. However, at present, the metagame is wide open, and that makes it harder to chose which silver bullets to include. Wide-open metagames favor decks that are a bit more focused on the kill. This deck is also enough colors that mana screw is a real issue. Because of that, I would only consider playing the deck in areas where turnout is low enough to have 4-5 rounds of Swiss. In a bigger tournament, you odds of losing one match to mana issues, and another to a bad matchup, increase too much. In longer tournaments, consistency is more important.

Finally, and I know this sounds like a cop-out – you should tweak the deck for your metagame. I know I have. I would love another Vampiric Tutor or two maindeck. I would also love to have more combo parts, and the last Pattern. And Living Wish. And a dozen other cards. I have even found instances where I would like an Armageddon in there somewhere (against Life, Scepter Chant, even Reanimator.) Ravenous Baloth is a concession to RDW – but RDW is still the most common T8 deck out there.

Curse you, Dan Paskins.

After Betrayers becomes Legal:

I haven’t playtested this much, but I see some interesting cards. I’m not sure how much this helps or hurts the deck.

RDW looks to be even better, with the new Ball Lightning enchantment (Genju of the Spires) providing even more power. That doesn’t help – RDW is already a tough matchup, but Genju is not that fast, so maybe the matchup improves. If they are sending with the Genju, that eats three mana a turn – and may require them to play more mountains. That might help – if RDW does not win really fast, it does not win.

Horkori, Dust Drinker – the new Winter Orb – might be worth testing against Scepter Chant – it would certainly stop the Chant-you-every-turn problem. Even if they had a couple Chrome Moxen, you could probably untap enough to resolve a Naturalize. Lord knows you need some more help in this matchup.

I don’t see anything that really helps out with the Reanimator matchup. The one advantage is that Stream of Consciousness (1U, Instant, shuffle up to 4 target cards into library) may be an answer to Reanimator and to Mind’s Desire decks that kill with Brain Freeze. Pattern Rector does not have the reliable Blue mana to run it, but Blue decks may sideboard it enough to hate out Reanimator and MD. Eliminating these bad matchups would help a lot.

I’ll keep playing around with the deck, and will post an update in the forums once this runs.


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