Down And Dirty – Innovating Extended (Chapin Sold Separately)

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It seems that the world has gone Extended crazy, and Kyle Sanchez is no exception. Today’s Down And Dirty brings Kyle’s take on the metagame after three weeks of intensive testing with a variety of partners. For aggro fans there’s a fresh look at Gruul, and for more long-term strategists there’s a Tooth, Nail, and Mindslaver deck. Wrapping up, we have Kyle’s latest version of King in the Castle. Fun for everyone!

With the wake of Worlds behind us, and Extended PTQ’s rapidly approaching, I thought now would be a good time to share the most successful decks that I’ve been testing over the past few weeks. My testing partners up to this point have been mostly random MWS people, but I’ve also had several successful sessions with former New Yorker Billy Moreno, and NY’s current king Steve Sadin.

This deck hasn’t been even remotely successful in testing so far, but I’d still like to talk about it a bit before moving on to the feature presentation. In theory, with everyone playing complicated and fragile manabases to add power cards like Tarmogoyf, Dark Confidant, Gifts Ungiven, etc, to their decks, it seems like a land destruction deck would be prime. The real problem with this deck is that it only plays with fair cards and can’t even begin to compete with the card advantage provided by a Counterbalance and Sensei’s Divining Top on the table.

One of the ways I wanted to combat the fact that all the creatures suck is by adding a lot of Umezawa’s Jittes to the deck. It helped a bit, and gave me a realistic chance against aggro decks, but if you don’t draw Jitte you can’t even begin to mount a defense against incoming Dorans, Goyfs, or Loxodon Hierarchs. The creatures in this deck just aren’t big enough. While opponents have actual creatures, I’m stuck with Blastminers and Fanatics. The problem with decks like this is they are too narrow and inconsistant to be taken seriously. However, if the metagame comes to a point where everyone is playing thickly layered control and combo decks with obscure manabases, this would be a perfect choice.

This is a Tooth and Nail and Mindslaver shoved into one neat package. Ponder is an awesome addition to this archetype because it’s both cheap and effective at digging you to what you need. Since there is such a high percentage of cards that you need, you will almost always find something good or usable in the top three, whether it be a missing Tron piece, or Tooth and Nail and Gifts Ungiven to setup their respected combo’s.

One of the reasons Ponder replaced Sensei’s Divining Top is that there just aren’t enough shuffle effects to get a good amount of use out of the Top. Both can hide cards from a Duress/Thoughtseize/Cabal Therapy… however, Top can be turned off by Pithing Needle, and is at the top of people’s hate lists right now given its Pro Tour win in Valencia. If Wall of Roots wasn’t so good they would probably turn into Sylvan Scrying, Rampant Growth, or Farseek, which would give Top the nod over Ponder, but Wall of Roots is just too essential at buying enough time opposing aggro decks.

The most frequent Gifts Ungiven package that I’ve come across so far in testing is Life from the Loam, Academy Ruins, Mindslaver, Tron Piece/Petrified Field/Moment’s Peace/Oblivion Stone. The first three are the mandatory components to ensure a Mindslaver combo, with the 4th card being whatever you need to ensure it goes off, whether it be Moment’s Peace to buy time, Oblivion Stone to wipe away unwanted permanents, or a Tron land to have enough mana to do the damn thing.

The best card in this deck is Moment’s Peace. Never forget that. Often in Magic you will be up against the wall with a mighty imposing force across the field just ready to come slashing at your throat. Many times this kind of situation is uncorrectable, with exceptions usually involving Wrath effects or some other whatnots like Solitary Confinement or Form of the Dragon. When this deck is in trouble it just leans on Moment’s Peace, acting as two virtual Time Walks, to stall the opponent long enough to assemble one of the big mana combos. This is a bold statement, but Moment’s Peace is the best answer to aggro decks in the entire Extended universe.

Seriously though, about thirty minutes ago I kept a hand of three Moment’s Peace, Breeding Pool, Urza’s Power Plant, Ponder, Simic Signet, and I’ve never been more happy to see my opponent play a turn 1 Kird Ape. For each Moment’s Peace in your hand you will have two additional turns to do something nasty, and the aggro decks don’t have a good reliable answer to it. Flaring Pain is the only thing that pops to mind, but I haven’t seen much of that lately. However, its effectiveness is extremely abusable against the Enduring Ideal players that try and lock you with Honden of Seeing Winds and Solitary Confinement, so it might find its niche in the format if Moment’s Peace decks become more popular.

The sideboard is the patented one-of Wish sideboard with the exceptional exception of Meloku, who brings down the house against unsuspecting aggressive mages. Tormod’s Crypt is the one-of Gift target for Ichorid and Loam based decks that can be reused every turn via Academy Ruins. Restock may seem a bit off, but whenever you’re sideboarding for the long control on control matchups the situation may call for you to make a super greedy Gifts pile, including it to make the opponent scratch his/her head. And even if they don’t give it to you, Cunning Wish for Reclaim can get it back. The rest of the sideboard is just one-of Cunning Wish targets that are fairly intuitive. Pact of Negation in case you need a hard counter something, Relcaim to get back lost goodies, artifact and enchantment removal, Trickbind for Storm decks. I really wanted to make room for a Piracy Charm to deal with Confidant, but just turned it into Pongify instead for a more versatile weapon. Moment’s Peace against aggro decks or stupid Tog players. Fact or Fiction if you just need some card advantage, and the primary Wish target: Gifts Ungiven to setup the Mindslaver combo.

With the addition of Lorwyn to Extended GWB decks get a huge amount of help, adding Thoughtseize and Doran to their 60s. This will most likely increase the average amount of hand disruption you can expect to go up against each round, which really hurts this deck in the long run. If everyone starts sideboarding 4 Cabal Therapy and 3 Thoughtseize, this deck could be in a huge amount of trouble, but its topdeck potential is so large that it might not even matter. This means that even if they do empty your hand early but you still setup your mana right, there are a lot of cards you can draw to win the game on the spot, or at least lead to the card that will win the game on the spot.

This has been by far my most successful deck in testing so far. It’s an updated version of my pet deck from the previous Extended season, King in the Castle. There have been quite a few changes on the Extended scene since last year, with Tarmogoyf, Doran, and Thoughtseize replacing Troll Ascetic, Vindicate, and Loxodon Hierarch from my last list. The Trinket Mage package remains intact. However, I had to cut Chalice of the Void because Dark Confidant, Goyf, and Jitte are just far too good not to play. Before, the only two-drop in the deck was Jitte at two copies, but now with Goyf running about I don’t want to be the only guy at the PTQ/GP not playing a full set.

With Goyf sprouting up in decks all over the place, it is very important in this format to have some kind of plan to attain Goyf advantage, and Jittte and Cloak are about as good as they come. They also provide an excellent way to offset the massive amount of damage taken from Thoughtseize, fetchlands, and Confidant in the process.

Doran is another awesome addition to the deck. Despite his extreme weakness to Vedalken Shackles, he still provides a very nice boost to Goyfs, Birds, and even Elves when you have the singleton Pendelhaven on the board. Putting a Cloak or Jitte on Goyf or Doran is the point of this deck, since once the components are assembled it is nearly impossible for aggro decks to race your clock, and they definitely don’t want to lose their entire team to one creature either. With the cheap discard as backup, the cheap big creatures are also extremely well suited to taking down the scheming control/combo decks.

The sideboard isn’t anything conclusive yet, and with so many sideboard options I doubt the above will stay the same. I made this sideboard a couple of weeks ago, and actually haven’t needed to change any cards so far, so maybe it’s good enough already. Duress is there to give you discard spells #7-10, and they make Cabal Therapy much more lethal against any late game control or combo decks. I haven’t felt the need to bring them in against aggro/control yet, but I’ve noticed there are some aggro control decks that don’t really play much aggro and just lean on Goyf to do the bulk of the damage, so you’ll really have to use your better judgment to decide when to bring it in.

Ancient Grudge is extremely valuable right now. Not only does it give you a very potent weapon opposite Affinity decks, but it’s also a heavy hitter against any decks that play Trinket Mage or a bunch of artifact mana, as well as being excellent to obtain Jitte advantage. Smother is going to be squeezed into the main deck eventually. It’s just far too good right now to be excluded. Last season I frequently wanted to have access to another Pithing Needle and Tormod’s Crypt in several matchups like Dredge or Loam, and I don’t see that changing much now.

Fact or Fiction probably stands out as the most random card in the entire 75, but it’s actually very good. I’m currently in week 3 of Extended testing, and there is a pretty obvious pattern emerging. Many decks are too focused on one-for-one strategies. These strategies are caused by the large Goyf population and the need to have quick answers to it. Because of this, many games tend to be drawn out, with both players playing off the top of their library with the minimal aid of Sensei’s Divining Top. My original sideboard was to bring in Life from the Loam and some cycle lands to start drawing a bunch of cards, but that took up too much space and just didn’t feel efficient enough with the cluttered manabase. So instead the plan is to chain Fact or Fictions after thinning the deck with all the fetchlands to provide enough card advantage to overwhelm the opponent with Cloaked Dorans and Goyfs.

I plan on doing much more writing on this deck, including matchup analysis against the biggest players and testing session results with Billy, so expect to see more of this in the future. I’ve also been entertaining the idea of adding Kird Ape to the deck in the place of Llanowar Elves, along with possibly Lightning Helix, but then it’ll just turn into an extremely awkward Zoo deck with the Trinket Mage engine and some discard. This deck’s greatest asset is its flexible manabase, allowing it to play virtually any spell legal in the format. However, this is also the deck’s biggest enemy. Cards like Magus of the Moon and land destruction strategies could prove too much for this deck to handle if they become popular enough.


Thanks for reading,


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