Extended is like walking into the Bunny Ranch. You have so many exciting options, and are easily overwhelmed. You pass the blondes and brunettes and find a luscious looking lady with hair of fire. Her name is always Samantha, and she walks you over to the bar to calm your nerves before a night of intense romance.
But while at the bar you spot an African beauty whose unique ethnic nature is so tempting and familiar. She smells like warm chocolate chip cookies, cookies that melt on your tongue and latch themselves onto the roof of your mouth, forcing you to fetch some kind of spoon-like utensil to scrape the residue away. You notice the Marvin the Martian tattoo on her upper arm, and your eyes start to drift lower, to her controlling hands, her bulging assets, exotic belly ring, thick thighs… and the more attractive black-haired babe behind her.
Her hair is jet black, and excessive eye shadow is a hint that she is all business. Her black leather glows underneath the neon Guinness sign, and as she shoots you a tempting smile you notice her eyes are different colors. One eye is jet black, the other is a glorious shade of blue. A sleek streamlined combo deck, looking to exploit graveyard synergies.
Then another more aggressive succubus appears. One more concerned with tempo, with taking you from 20 to 0 as soon as possible, not even remotely concerned with finagling the bagel. And shes wearing tight fish net stockings….
Since my last article on Balancing Don, I’ve come to realize that Tarmogoyf is not the best creature in Extended. Neither is Dark Confidant, Doran, or Birds of Paradise. All of those cards are gaining a frightening amount of popularity, but there’s one fatty that isn’t getting the kind of respect he deserves. Not only is Terravore bigger than Doran and Goyf, but he also tramples, and he’s a three-drop, meaning that he has a significantly higher probability to resolve if you’re facing Counterbalance/Top.
With this newfound knowledge I set out to make the best possible deck to support Big Fatty, and naturally turned to last years Aggro Loam decks. I cut all the slow and clunky spells for streamlined one-mana discard spells that are defining the format. They also provide the kind of protection for Terravore and Goyf that they need to go the distance.
It’s also becoming painfully apparent that Black, Green, and Red are the best colors in extended. Blue is nice and all, but I’d much rather play with Duress/Therapy/Thoughtseize than Counterspell/Remand/Spell Snare. White is nearly unplayable right now, and is being completely snubbed out. In the past, White has remained strong because of Wrath and Astral Slide, but now with Damnation around and the high number of discard spells that are making late game strategies inefficient, no one has any reason to sleeve up White cards.
When designing a G/R/B deck in modern Extended, you have two options in regards to your mana curve:
1) To play above the curve with mana accelerates like Birds, Elves, and Chrome Mox. Therefore limiting Counterbalance’s effect on your proactive game.
2) To throw the fact that Counterbalance destroys you out the window and play the best cheapest spells, gaining huge mana and tempo advantage on all the non-Counterbalance opponents.
It’s pretty clear the route I went with the below brew.
The objective of this deck is to get a Vore or Goyf out, then cast Devastating Dreams to wipe the opponent’s board, leaving around a fatty boom boom to finish the game. That’s not really the point of the deck, but more of a disruptive side-combo added to an already decent aggro deck with undercosted big beaters. I really like all the numbers for this deck, since they are all so clean and cut. However, the lack of shuffle effects makes Top not as great as it can be in other decks, and makes the fetchlands much more valuable.
To be honest, even though the main deck looks so nice and tidy, I’m most excited about the sideboard, which was one of the major factors that prompted me to talk about this deck this week. One of the biggest trends I’ve noticed while playtesting the current Extended format is the high number of games that are determined during a topdeck war. Everyone is playing with the same cards.
Tarmogoyfs bounce, Dorans trade, Thoughtseize your Thoughtseize. Smother your Dark Confidant, in response Terminate your Dark Confidant…
Mid-range decks are all over the place, and in the mirrorish matches all you do is trade one for one the entire time while playing with the third card from the top of your deck. It has never been so important to actually have a plan in the sideboard instead of bringing in a bunch of “good” cards that will continue to trade one for one. You have to have a plan to gain an advantage over your opponent, and Dark Confidant alone doesn’t cut it.
Eternal Witness, on the other hand…
The perfect answer to all the one for one decks in the format. Not only do you get a 2/1 body, but you also get your Goyf, removal spell, or Duress back. The best part is that he doubles down against all the control/combo matches where you want as many one-mana discard spells as possible.
Random Game # 1 – UW Tron
Opening hand: Dark Confidant, Dark Confidant, Swamp, Kird Ape, Kird Ape, Sensei’s Divining Top, Devastating Dreams
Mulligan. Being a blind matchup, even on the draw I wouldn’t want to keep this hand, since it would take too many turns to get going and it’s extremely vulnerable to Cabal Therapy.
My six: Kird Ape, Duress, Thoughtseize, Bloodstained Mire, Stomping Ground, Grove of the Burnwillows. Keep.
Turn 1 Hallowed Fountain.
I drew another Kird Ape for my turn, and fetched a Blood Crypt with Bloodstained Mire to use Duress, which saw:
Gifts Ungiven, Wrath of God, Remand, Skycloud Expanse, Urza’s Mine, Island.
I took Remand (naturally), and passed. Duress over Kird Ape is fundamentally wrong, since it’s always better to play the damage source before disruption spell to lessen the amount of turns the opponent lives. In this case I wanted to sneak a peek at his hand to stop a devastating Counterbalance, along with being the right play when up against decks with countermagic.
He plays Urza’s Mine.
I draw Dark Confidant and drop both Kird Apes.
He plays Hallowed Fountain untapped, taking two.
On my turn I draw Devastating Dreams and attack him to 14 with both Kird Apes, then spring the trap with Thoughtseize, which meets an anticipated Condescend. I pay two and take his Wrath of God, seeing a freshly drawn Mindslaver. I wasn’t worried about Gifts Ungiven since all it does is give him Tron, and he didn’t have enough turns to lock me since I was going to blow up two of his lands with Devastating Dreams next turn.
He plays Island and passes.
I draw another Dark Confidant, bash him down to 10, then cast D-Dreams for 2 since I didn’t have the mana to cast both Confidants. He drew Remand for his turn, so naturally he used it on my D-Dreams.
He draws for his turn and passes.
I draw another Burnwillows, bash for four, then pass the turn back. He plays end-of-turn Gifts and retrieves Crucible, Petrified Field, and the other two Urza lands. I give him the irrelevant Urza lands, and he plays one on his turn before passing back to me.
I bash in for another four, putting him to 2, then cast D-Dreams for another two, and he scoops since he won’t be able to Mindslaver me next turn.
Random Game # 2 – UG Opposition Swarm
Opening hand: Forest, Devastating Dreams, Terravore, Terravore, Thoughtseize, Tarmogoyf, Terminate.
My six: Terravore, Dark Confidant, Kird Ape, Terminate, Bloodstained Mire, Overgrown Tomb. Keep
Turn 1: I pop my Bloodstained Mire for a Mountain and send Kird Ape out there. You could make a point that I should have gone for Stomping Ground to ensure double Green for Terravore, but I didn’t wanna take potentially unnecessary damage if I don’t have to.
He plays turn 1 Breeding Pool into Llanowar Elves.
I draw Devastating Dreams, and my turn 2 is spent on Dark Confidant and an attack from Kird Ape, putting him to 16.
He plays Forest and a Selesnya Guildmage and attacks for one. I draw a Tarmogoyf off Dark Confidant, and another Stomping Ground for my turn. I Terminate his Elf and send Bob and Kird Ape at him, bringing him down to 14.
On his turn he summons a Bird of Paradise.
I draw land for Confidant and another Terravore for my turn, and attack in with both creatures, trading Guildmage for my Confidant. I try to summon the revealed Tarmogoyf, which meets a Mana Leak, then pass back to him.
He drops Opposition.
I draw Tarmogoyf and he taps my Kird Ape in my attack phase. Terravore and Goyf join the table, as a 3/3 and Â¾ respectively. On his turn he plays a Treetop Village and Intruder Alarm.
I draw Dark Confidant for my turn then bash in, getting the Vore tapped down by Opposition. I choose not to play the Confidant to use it as a trick to surprise him next turn.
On his turn he plays land, another Bird, then passes.
I draw Thoughtseize and cast it to see what’s up. He “goes off” in response by using Sprout Swarm and Intruder Alarm to create an obnoxious amount of Saprolings, which turned his side of the field into a Green tokeny mess. After a minute or so of making excess Saprolings, Thoughtseize finally resolved and I stripped that stupid Sprout Swarm from his hand. He then tried to tap all my stuff, I floated RRBG, cast Devastating Dreams for 1 and let out a “OOOOOOOOOO” before sending an enormous pile of green sappy goo to the graveyard. Luckily I discarded one of the two lands in my hand at random instead of Dark Confidant, which I used to untap all my dudes thanks to Intruder Alarm. Then I killed him.
Random Game # 3 — Dredge
Opening hand: Thoughtseize, Duress, Dark Confidant, Bloodstained Mire, Grove of the Burnwillows, Forest, Blood Crypt. Keep.
He’s on the play, and has turn 1 Tarnished Citadel into Putrid Imp.
I draw another Grove of the Burnwillows and I fetched a Swamp with Bloodstained Mire. Thoughtseize reveals Narcomoeba, Street Wraith, Bridge from Below, Tireless Tribe, and Golgari Thug. I take Street Wraith since it gives him an extra dredge during my end step to find bigger dredgers.
He goes through some shennanigans during his upkeep with Thug, hitting two Narcomoeba, a Bridge from Below, and a Dread Return. From there he discards his other Bridge from Below and uses Flashback on Dread Return to make six Zombies and a Tireless Tribe.
I draw another Duress, and all I can do is bring out Confidant.
He swings in for 7, putting me to 10, and passes the turn since he didn’t dredge anything relevant to the graveyard. I reveal Top from Bob and draw Wooded Foothills. I give Top a go but naturally I have no outs to the zombies.
In the dredge match its extremely important to draw Mogg Fanatic to stop any of those stupid Zombie token wins. This holds true against Cephalid Breakfast as well, as their strategy is almost entirely shut down by a single Fanatic on the board, which is the purpose of their inclusion in the deck. Not only does it kill turn 1 Bird, deals with Confidant, and deal 3-5 damage against most control players, but Mogg Fanatic is the key ingredient to have a game 1 plan against the graveyard-centric combo decks.
Random Game # 4 – GB Rock
Opening hand: Overgrown Tomb, Wooded Foothills, Mountain, Mogg Fanatic, Tarmogoyf, Devastating Dreams, Terminate. Keep.
A pretty decent looking hand. A clear game plan to aim for with Goyf and Dreams, plus plenty of disruption for a variety of strategies that I could face. All in all a pretty close to ideal starting hand for this deck, until…
Turn 1 Thoughtseize takes Tarmogoyf. Turn 2 Duress, Cabal Therapy, rip Terminate and Dreams.
Thankfully my turn 1 Mogg Fanatic was soon trumped by a pair of Goyfs from the opposing side. The raw power of one mana discard spells backed up by a quick and efficient clock. Who knew?
Random Game # 5 – RG Beats
My opener this game was Dark Confidant, Thoughtseize, Bloodstained Mire, Mogg Fanatic, Mountain, Forest, Sensei’s Divining Top.
Solid grip. I was on the play so I found a Swamp with Mire, and used Thoughtseize to protect my turn 2 Dark Confidant.
Opponent’s hand: Kird Ape, Kird Ape, Lava Dart, Molten Rain, Wooded Foothills, Barbarian Ring, Bloodstained Mire.
I wasn’t too worried about the Apes, since I would probably be able to find a bigger creature with Top before they deal too much damage. My lands were also already set up for this game, and I wasn’t expecting to take too much damage from his draw, so I took the Lava Dart to set him back a land when I get Bob/Top going.
Turn 1 he plays Kird Ape through Foothills into Stomping Ground. I drop Bob on my turn 2 after drawing Wooded Foothills.
He drops Tarmogoyf on his turn by fetching a Mountain with Bloodstained Mire and sacrifices it to off Confidant before I draw any cards with it.
My next draw was another Mogg Fanatic, so I searched up another Mountain with Foothills and played all three of my one-drops. This isn’t very effective Top usage since I’m using my shuffle effects before I get Top out, but with Tarmogoyf on the board, and Molten Rain and another Ape, his hand got a huge boost in the damage race when he plucked Goyf off the top.
He attacks with Ape and Goyf. I block one Fanatic on each, then sacrifice to kill Kird Ape. He plays the other Ape and passes.
I draw a Kird Ape of my own for my turn, and play it and the Forest in my hand, along with some Top activations to set up a Terravore next turn.
He attacks with both again. I offer the bounce by blocking his Ape and he has another Lava Dart to finish mine off. I take four, putting me to ten.
I drop Terravore this turn after topping into Grove of the Burnwillows for my second Green source. I stacked the “look at top 3” trigger before the “draw” trigger this time, and found another Terravore which I moved to the top of my deck, putting Top as the second card. Vore is a 5/5, and takes down Goyf in the next combat, and he uses a Mogg Fanatic to finish my guy off.
I dropped another Vore this turn.
He plays Tarmogoyf.
I top into a Goyf of my own.
He plays Blood Crypt, his third land alongside Barbarian Ring and Stomping Ground.
I top into a Terminate, and take care of his Goyf, allowing an attack with Terravore, leaving Goyf back on D to protect my last 8 life. He falls to 10 and uses Incinerate end of turn to leave me with five, virtually three since he has Barbarian Ring in play.
He uses Molten Rain on my Grove of the Burnwillows this turn and passes.
I use the other Terminate on top to kill his Kird, then bash for lethal.
Random Game # 6 – Next Level Blue
Opening hand: Kird Ape, Devastating Dreams, Terravore, Mogg Fanatic, Thoughtseize, Bloodstained Mire, Wooded Foothills. Keep
Turn 1 Flooded Strand from my opponent, while I drew Dark Confidant and had Fetchland into Stomping Ground for Kird Ape.
On his turn 2 he removed Trinket Mage for a Chrome Mox to get Vedalken Shackles in play.
Drew Devastating Dreams, attacked in, played Mogg Fanatic and fetched Overgrown Tomb for Thoughtseize to see:
Tarmogoyf, Vedalken Shackles, Counterbalance and some fetch lands.
Vedalken Shackles didn’t worry me so much since my game plan was is to drop Terravore and blow everything up. Counterbalance could shut down my entire deck if he happens into a Top. Tarmogoyf is the right choice here, since combined with my Kird Ape (Shackles) he will be able to do enough damage to put my Terravore on defense mode… I took so much damage early on from fetch lands and Thoughtseize.
He plays fetch land, Coutnerbalance, then passes. I declare my attack phase, he steals Kird Ape, I drop Dark Confidant after failing to draw a land for Terravore.
He untaps Shackles and takes Confidant, then ships.
I draw Grove of the Burnwillows and kill Bob before attacking with Kird. Then drop a 5/5 Terravore to which Counterbalance reveals Thirst for Knowledge. He uses main phase Thirst for Knowledge, growing Vore to a 6/6, then playing a puny 4/5 Tarmogoyf.
I draw land for my turn, Devastating Dreams for 4, making Terravore a 14/14, then viciously trample over Tarmogoyf for lethal.
All in all I’m liking the deck. It has a smooth combination of extremely cheap and efficient spells that provide a proactive game plan, along with a disruptive reactive package that supports the proactive plan. But in all honesty, proactive or reactive, this is just another Goyf deck with a fancy paint job.
Let up the suicide doors. This is my life, homey; you decide yours.
The Top 20 HipHop Joints of 2007
Us Placers – CRS (Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, & Pharrell)
Welcome To The Terradome – Pharoahe Monch
Beaten Thursdays – Prefuse 73
Can’t Tell Me Nothing – Kanye West
Stagnant Waters – Dalek
Surviving The Times – Nas
None Shall Pass – Aesop Rock
Come And Go (Prod by Veto & Roomio) – 50 Cent
Gun Blast – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Letter From The Government – Brother Ali
Soon The New Day – Talib Kweli
Life Is 2009 Featuring Too $hort – UGK
Supa GFK – Ghostface Killah
Drivin’ Me Wild – Common
Can’t Win For Losing – Little Brother
Soon The New Day – Talib Kweli
9mm – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Windmill – Wu Tang Clan
Gravy – UGK
Dreams – Little Brother