Welcome back to the third installment of my look at Fifth Dawn. If you’re looking for a peek at what will be hot in the future of Extended, look no further than this article! Let’s see what the critics have been saying about this series so far:
“You’ve said next to nothing about 5th dawn at all, and for an article titled”The Complete Fifth Dawn Set Review” that’s something of an issue. Even if this is part one of five a contents page is not an article.” – Lillitu45
“I agree, my friends and I laughed so hard when we read this article.” – Dar482number2
“Worst. Article. Ever. Seriously, aren’t you supposed to know something about a subject before you write about it?” – Calibus
“While some(~3 or 4) of the card analyses were valid, on the whole this is quite possibly one of least informed and intelligent starcity articles that I have ever had the displeasure to read.” – Astrojim
“I was highly disappointed, and think this was the least constructive thing published on StarCity that I’ve clicked on this year. Way to make broad generalizations and accusations without any attempt to explore causation, Ben.” – DrSylvan
“3) How many people think a monkey with a keyboard could’ve wrote a better article?” – Stupid_Newb
“In conclusion, while this article is seems to cater to the Type One community, it’s really little more than a series of low-blows held together by a marginal card-by card analysis. Thanks Ben.” – Bram
“Whatev. That article is really bad.” – Toad
You love me! You really, really love me! Thanks for all the words of encouragement – I’m sure that the Type One community will be thriving for years to come with well-wishers such as these!
Extended is a strange format. Aside from one Pro Tour season a year (and Worlds every other year), it’s pretty much an unsupported format. It also tends to run in cycles – either the format is the most balanced format out there (see PT: Houston, 2002) or is completely broken and dominated by one or two top decks (see PT: New Orleans, 2003). When it’s good, people flock to the format eagerly. When it’s bad, people stay away in droves. Either way, when it’s not the fall or winter months, people tend to stay away from talking about Extended, since the format is not relevant other times of the year.
This makes it somewhat more difficult to evaluate cards in the format, because there tends to be three sets worth of cards (the second and third sets of the next to newest block plus the first set of the newest block) rotating into the format at once for all intents and purposes. For instance: Affinity decks made no impact on Extended pre-Darksteel. However, this was before Arcbound Ravager and Skullclamp. How good is Affinity in Extended now? Is Skullclamp a card which needs to be preemptively banned in the format (indications point towards yes at this time). Which other Darksteel cards have made an impact on Extended?
Well, it’s bordering on impossible to say, since there haven’t been enough players interested in the format in months who would have pushed forward deck technology to any appreciable degree. With this in mind, the Extended portion of this series will focus more on the existing decks, and what each gained from Fifth Dawn.
If any deck was the big winner in the Fifth Dawn sweepstakes, it was this deck. There are so many cards in Fifth Dawn that have the potential to push this deck over the top that it would be hard to see how this deck couldn’t dominate, were there an Extended season right now. Likely candidates include Staff of Domination, Pentad Prism, Clock of Omens, Krark-Clan Ironworks, Trinket Mage, Artificer’s Intuition, and Roar of Reclamation.
Roar of Reclamation, you say? Sure! Pentad Prism goes a long way towards smoothing out color issues for the deck, and it gives out what it puts in. I fully expect to see an infinite/near infinite mana engine artifact deck emerge post-Fifth Dawn. Staff of Domination plus Metalworker = infinite mana quite easily. Pentad Prism + Krark-Clan Ironworks = six mana, two of which are colored. This is only one mana less than is necessary to cast Roar of Reclamation. Clock of Omens gives a deck multiple more Voltaic Keys, except without the pesky mana cost – why not tap your Prism, Ironworks, or Clock itself to untap other mana sources such as Metalworker or Thran Dynamo?
People are writing off Roar of Reclamation, since it costs seven and the effect is symmetrical. However, this is only three mana more than Replenish, and an artifact based deck has a hell of an easier time generating mana than the enchantment based Replenish deck did. If there’s any format that can break Roar it’s Extended, and all the pieces are currently in place for the deck to happen.
There are many potential additions to the Rock. Eternal Witness is the obvious one – it will vie for spots in the deck against Yavimaya Elder and other two- or three-drop creatures. It has amazing synergy with any number of cards in the deck, the strongest of which is probably Cabal Therapy, but also is not limited to this powerful discard card – Pernicious Deed, Duress, and Edicts (Diabolic and Chainer’s) are also likely targets.
There are two other Rock-worthy cards worth mentioning. The first is Engineered Explosives. I would tend to say that the Explosives aren’t as good as Powder Keg in this deck, due to the inability of the card to kill lands – Powder Keg is quite useful for sweeping man-lands and artifact lands off the board. Plus, the existence of Eternal Witness gives the deck additional Pernicious Deeds, knocking down the need for additional full-board sweepers.
The second card worth mentioning is Vedalken Orrery. If any deck in Extended is going to be able to take advantage of the Orrery, it is The Rock, due to the sheer number of discard spells that can be used in the deck to strip an opponent’s hand. Locking down an opponent with Ravenous Rats, Duress, and Cabal Therapy is not a small feat, and changing several cards such as Pernicious Deed and Chainer’s Edict into instants might fill some gaps in the deck. I’m not saying that Vedalken Orrery is a great card for The Rock. I am saying that it deserves a glance, even if only as a sideboard card against certain decks, as it allows the deck to become much more reactive to threats (most of Rock’s answers are creatures, sorceries, and enchantments right now), and more pro-active in disruption (discard as an instant).
Beacon Of Tomorrows
Not a deck in and of itself, but the Beacon of Tomorrows is a card which will see Extended play. Will it be any good? Possibly. There’s much room for abuse with the card when thrown in the Japanese Spellweaver Helix deck – imagine throwing it on the Helix with Chatter of the Squirrel, and taking two turns per Chatter drawn (as opposed to the old plan of making Crush of Wurm tokens, which are easily defeated with Powder Keg and Pernicious Deed).
Will Turboland run this card instead of Time Warp? It would allow the deck to ditch the cumbersome Battlefield Scrounger, but the eight mana needed to hard cast the Beacon (which, in Turboland, would be the mana cost) is highly prohibitive. I’ll leave this decision to Zvi – freeing up slots from Scroungers to add in other cards (especially without any Oath of Druids engine in the deck anymore) might allow the deck to become more competitive.
Lastly, we have Mind’s Desire decks. Will they be any good these days? They might run a similar engine to the Metalworker deck outlined above, but with Mind’s Desire as the”kill card.” Those decks aren’t running Time Warp now, so it’s hard to imagine they will run Beacon of Tomorrows later. However, maybe it will make the deck more consistent to run eight copies of a”Take another turn” sorcery, since you can build around getting one every game. Again, just throwing this out there for those who are better at Extended than me to ponder.
Reanimator gains several potent new creatures in its arsenal, in the form of the Bringers of the Fives Dawn. The Black, Blue and White ones are the playable ones in Extended (though the Red one might be sideboard material), with the Black one acting as a silver bullet on wheels, the Blue one netting massive card advantage, and the White one allowing you to reanimate other large artifact creatures/potentially Mindslaver lock an opponent. These guys are some of the best reanimation targets ever made available, and might give Reanimator/Benzo a boost it needs to be competitive again.
While we’re on the subject of Reanimator, there are three other creatures which are potentially important reanimator targets. The first is Magma Giant, which acts as a Crater Hellion that can stick around. This is the worst of the three, but does have a large body to go with a Pyroclasm effect. The second is Tornado Elemental, which can decimate an incoming air force – not bad against any deck which sports Akroma (the Mirror) or Exalted Angel (White decks). The most important is Hoverguard Sweepers, which can clear off the entire opposing side of the board in the early game. A reanimatable Undo is nothing to sneeze at, especially when the creature being reanimated is a reasonable clock, and can completely swing the tempo of the game on its own.
“Cabal Therapy you naming Relentless Rats”
Serum Visions and Vedalken Shackles are both really good cards for a mono-Blue draw-go style deck. This sort of deck hasn’t been viable in forever, but it’s good to keep completely defunct decks in mind, in case some cards come along to boost its power level back up to playable.
As I fully expect there to never be a premiere level Extended event where Skullclamp is legal, I will say now that Steelshaper’s Gift is no good. If for some reason we do see Pro Tour: Skullclamp, this card will be extensively played.
A possible replacement for Blistering Firecat in Red Deck Wins. Double Red is a lot easier to cast than triple Red, and the creature will stick around for two or three turns. It’s large, it tramples, and it can finish the game in a jiffy. The lack of haste really hurts it, but is that enough of a tradeoff for two turns of swinging with a seven-power trampler?
Door to Nothingness
Never mind. You didn’t see this card here. Unless someone builds a deck around it, in which case you heard it here first.
And with that cop out, I’ll bid you farewell and see you all tomorrow when we go to Standard.