Extended White Weenie III: A New List and the Big Finish

Mike unveils his new version of White Weenie, then sends it off to battle nine of the top decks in the Extended format! So how did he fare? Only one way to find out…

Extended White Weenie III: A New List and the Big Finish

A lot of people have chimed in on the message boards about how they would build Extended White Weenie decks. While I didn’t test their versions, which added cards like Adarkar Wastes or whole new engines based on Enlightened Tutor, I want to make one thing clear: whatever else my limited testing or the various player records at the Pro Tour showed, the guys who played the White Weenie deck we have looked at thus far are the Pro Tour elite. I based my new version of White Weenie on their skeleton.

Here is the deck we’ve been using for testing purposes:

18 Plains

2 Isamaru, Hound of Konda

4 Savannah Lions

4 Benevolent Bodyguard

4 Mother of Runes

4 Ramosian Sergeant

4 Samurai of the Pale Curtain

4 Whipcorder

3 Exalted Angel

3 Cursed Scroll

4 Chrome Mox

2 Parallax Wave

4 Crusade


1 Exalted Angel

4 Absolute Law

3 Rule of Law

2 Topple

1 Parallax Wave

4 Serenity

Here is the deck that I built:

4 Flooded Strand

1 Island

13 Plains

2 Isamaru, Hound of Konda

4 Savannah Lions

4 Mother of Runes

4 Ramosian Sergeant

4 True Believer

4 Whipcorder

4 Meddling Mage

4 Aether Vial

4 Cursed Scroll

4 Chrome Mox

4 Crusade

I left the mana count the same. I removed the expensive Parallax Waves and Exalted Angels, added the fourth Cursed Scroll and Aether Vial. Aether Vial is probably the most powerful card in Standard and close to the most powerful card in Extended. As my friend Steve Sadin says, “Are you allowed to play Dark Ritual in Extended? Didn’t they ban Mana Vault*?” Aether Vial is like a Mana Vault that untaps every turn, never forces you to burn, and fixes your mana. After months of watching Block and Standard finishes, I am pretty sure that if you don’t play Aether Vial in your Affinity deck, you are a moron; the card makes most other creature decks better, as well.

Aether Vial is actually at its best in a deck like White Weenie, that tops out on a two-mana curve. It will consistently deploy a Cleric, Hound, Lion, or Rebel on turn 2, and then continue to pump (preferably two-drops) the rest of the game. The real power of Aether Vial in a deck like this specific build of White Weenie is its synergy with Ramosian Sergeant and Cursed Scroll. Usually the White Weenie player has to spend mana emptying his hand before he can consistently lock the opponent with Cursed Scroll, or have to choose between developing his board or using Rebel chain. Aether Vial solves all those problems.

Many players have expressed their concern over the lack of Meddling Mages in the deck. Jon Becker was the first at Columbus, in his interview with Gabe Walls, but several players since then have all said “if you have such a problem with Pernicious Deed, why not just add Meddling Mages?” It isn’t that simple, of course. Gabe basically said that adding Meddling Mage would significantly hurt the deck’s mana base. Having the wrong mana base will hurt a White Weenie deck much more than Meddling Mage can probably help it: The Rock is a fast deck. What happens when The Rock has Pernicious Deed before you play Meddling Mage? Now you’ve messed up your mana base and are going to lose to The Rock anyway. Cards like Adarkar Wastes screw you against beatdown decks, and can prove lethal against decks like Red Deck Wins, even when they don’t draw Wasteland.

So why do I play Meddling Mage in my version?

The mana base in the u/W deck above isn’t as pure as the Reeves/Walls/Wiegersma listing, but one Island isn’t really that bad. Again, the reason this deck can get away with it is Aether Vial, i.e. the most powerful card in Standard, probably the reason Affinity is so good in both Standard and Extended, and a feature of many of the best decks in both formats. Aether Vial lets the u/W deck play Meddling Mage without having a blue source in play, and even lets the deck abuse the sticky Madness rules.

That said, that one Island can be a liability. There are a surprising number of games where you really want to play WW Crusade, but you need all your White mana to tap down your opponent’s team with Whipcorder. The mono-White version doesn’t get into those situations.

You’ll notice I didn’t post a sideboard. Honestly, I’ve done many hours of White Weenie testing over the past 2-3 weeks, and I haven’t built my board yet. If you like this deck, one thing that I’ll caution you against is playing [too many] blue cards in your board, if any. Your first instinct – like mine was – might be “I can play Energy Flux now” or “Stifle will help me against both Pernicious Deed and Mind’s Desire”, but that mindset is exactly what Gabe was warning against when he said he didn’t want to screw up the mana base. Of all the reasons that you might lose a game, mana problems are the most likely to contribute to your elimination when playing against players of similar skill. Unless you are Brian Kibler, don’t poke the mana gods if you don’t have to.

Anyway, the real question is, how are the matchups affected? If they don’t end up better, what’s the point? For a full listing of all the decks that I will discuss below, check out Part I and Part II. There are a lot of them, and you probably know the general cards played in all the lists, so I don’t feel like cluttering up this article with lists that I’ve already pasted, (etc.).

Red Rock

Original Matchup: 1-9 in favor of Red Rock

u/W matchup: 5-5

The turnaround in this matchup is obviously enormous. While the matchup might not become favorable, exactly, given the additions of Meddling Mage and Aether Vial, the changes make a lot of sense if you look at how the decks have to interact.

Basically Red Rock has a ton of two-for-ones but its creatures aren’t efficient for the most part. 2/2 for four mana isn’t a good beater regardless of how you cut it; as good as Flametongue Kavu is, it’s ultimately just a 4/2 for four. Contrast this with White Weenie: 2/1 and 2/2 creatures for two mana start the curve and the cards don’t get appreciably worse (especially when you take Crusade into account).

Therefore – and the addition of Aether Vial makes this more apparent than ever – White Weenie is better at covering the board with a ton of threats, faster, than The Rock. This was never the problem: the problem was that The Rock had the ultimate trump in Pernicious Deed. In order for White Weenie to win any game, it had to drop a ton of creatures to dance around The Rock’s potential blockers. This just made any Deed worse and worse for White Weenie the more it committed to the board.

With Meddling Mage in the mix, Red Rock has a lot of problems dominating the board. It has to find Flametongue Kavu and/or Recurring Nightmare to take out Meddling Mage and then go for Deed. In the time and number of Vampiric Tutors it takes to set that sequence up, Red Rock can easily be on the wrong end of 20 damage. The kicker? Mother of Runes ruins the whole party. If Mother of Runes is out alongside Meddling Mage, White Weenie will usually win. Red Rock will generally have superior mana development, and obviously has better card drawing and cards overall, but if White Weenie has decent mana development, it will just take control of the board with multiple Whipcorders or force damage through with Mother of Runes; if Pernicious Deed can’t stick, there is nothing holding White’s board development back.

Beatdown Rock

Original Matchup: 3-7 in favor of Beatdown Rock

u/W matchup: 3-7 in favor of Beatdown Rock

After turning around the horrible Red Rock matchup from essentially 10% to a coin flip, I figured the delta on straight B/G Rock would be even more dramatic: boy was I wrong.

The problem with The Rock in general is that, no matter what else it boasts, the deck usually has clunky or inefficient threats. Go look at Twiefel’s Top 16 deck and see: it has a lot of card advantage, but the threats themselves are in the Grey Ogre category. Not so for Jeroen Remie deck. Remie’s deck actually has awesome threats and Fires of Yavimaya-class mana acceleration!

When we were working on our Goblins sideboard, Clair mentioned to me how we should run Cranial Extraction like Ruel did, but I asked why we should do that when Remie was too cool for the Champions of Kamigawa chase card? Remie runs the faster, 5/5 version of Cranial Extraction. Phyrexian Negator has been out-racing combination decks for years, and Jeroen’s Negators come out on turn 2. While the u/W deck is focused on stopping Pernicious Deed, Beatdown Rock can clear a path for the Negator with Diabolic Edict or just win on better creatures.

Troll Ascetic might be even better than Phyrexian Negator. It comes down with equal speed and can’t be stopped with Whipcorder. Unlike Negator, which can be punished by the wrong block, it is really hard to slow down Troll Ascetic just by putting bodies in front of it. Ravenous Baloth in the main gives Remie’s deck a layer of versatility that Red Rock can’t match: Especially with the maindeck Volrath’s Stronghold, Ravenous Baloth can stabilize a game that is falling away or halt an active Cursed Scroll from low life.

Despite having no change in percentage given these admittedly small 10 game sets, I can tell you that the u/W version “felt” better than the straight White Weenie against Beatdown Rock. After all, the u/W deck has more options. That said, games where Meddling Mage doesn’t show up in time are often hopeless because, even though White Weenie has to beat The Rock’s superb creatures, Pernicious Deed is really the card that holds the deck together, and remains the best defense against any kind of weenie deck.


Original Matchup: 2-8 in favor of NO Stick (Scepter-Chant)

u/W matchup: 7-3 in favor of u/W

This matchup developed about how I thought it would. Consider the changes: The u/W version takes out the slowest, clunkiest cards in this matchup and adds a ridiculous mana engine as well as much more relevant threats. NO Stick can really only control the board with Isochron Scepter on Fire / Ice or win the game entirely with Orim’s Chant. It has no maindeck Wrath of God to punish White Weenie dumping every creature on the board, and has serious problems with Aether Vial.

The most consistent play is to drop a Meddling Mage on Isochron Scepter as fast as possible. West’s NO Stick has no sources of Red mana main, so if Isochron Scpter is unavailable, it can’t really play the vital Fire/Ice. If Aether Vial sticks around with two counters NO Stick has its back against the wall as well. Any turn before u/W is dead outright, Aether Vial can drop True Believer and unlock Orim’s Chant. Even in the games where NO Stick goes for Boomerang for Meddling Mage or True Believer, Aether Vial can put it right back.

Even more than in other matchups, a single Ramosian Sergeant can win the game. NO Stick is the slowest deck of this group to actually win the game, so u/W has a lot of time to thaw out plenty of Whipcorders to stop just two Exalted Angels.

Red Deck Wins

Original Matchup: 9-1 in favor of White Weenie

u/W matchup: 5-5

So coming into this matchup with two-and-a-half good results, I was all high on my changes. The Red Deck Wins percentage was like a splash of cold water (obviously). So what happened?

Less “stuff”: Last week, we talked about how the reason that White Weenie did so well in Game Ones was Why Dave Price Goes Second. It just has more relevant cards. My version takes out “stuff” for mana in the addition of Aether Vial.

Change in dudes: It doesn’t really matter what you set Meddling Mage on in this matchup. Even if you guess right, they can still eliminate Chris Pikula with Grim Lavamancer or Cursed Scroll. True Believer is only a little annoying. Compare those changes with Benevolent Bodyguard (often relevant) and Samurai of the Pale Curtain. Samurai of the Pale Curtain is, deceptively, one of the best cards in the White Weenie deck against Red Deck Wins: it really screws Grim Lavamancer. Seal of Fire, Bloodstained Mire, and Wooded Foothills are all inefficient Lavamancer bait against this guy, especially in combination with just one Crusade.

The matchup isn’t “bad” at all. In fact, I’d probably rather be u/W than Red Deck Wins if I had to play a three game set between the two; I’d have Absolute Law in the board, still, and probably some Disenchants given my more redundant artifact base. The Red Deck Wins matchup seemed overblown last week, and the games developed the same way. This time around, the Lavamancers didn’t run out as quickly and the White side’s stuff was less robust.

b/R Goblins

Original Matchup: 3-7 in favor of Goblins

u/W matchup: 4-6 in favor of Goblins

Not much to say here, as the matchup wasn’t all that different. One thing that I liked about being on the u/W side was that sometimes Goblins draws a lot of Cabal Therapies and u/W has Meddling Mage in play and it’s a disaster for the Goblin deck’s hand.

True Believer can be annoying because Goblins often tries to win with a gatling gun flurry with minimal creature combat. In games involving this kind of endgame, Goblins can usually kill the True Believer, but it can be, as I said, “annoying” along the way. The True Believer soaks up three or so damage, which can be the difference between a kill and a pass.


Original Matchup: 1-9 in favor of Life

u/W matchup: 2-8 in favor of Life

It’s logical that this matchup gets better, but also logical that it remains difficult. Here’s the thing: you can Meddling Mage on Worthy Cause and cross your fingers, but Life can complete the combo with either Animal Boneyard or Starlit Sanctum regardless.

In Columbus, we theorized that Task Force might be the right card to name with Meddling Mage, but West had counters and Arita didn’t have Aether Vials. If your Life opponents have Aether Vial, it obviously becomes useless to name creatures.

The u/W deck has some minor losses in Parallax Wave, which can be instrumental for the beatdown side, and Exalted Angel, which is a fast attacker, but I don’t think those losses will swing as many games as Meddling Mage, as hampered as it is against the potential no spell combination assembly in Life.

Despite the fact that the delta in this matchup was minor – 1-9 improved to 2-8 only – the thing I like about the u/W deck in the Life matchup when compared with White Weenie proper is that u/W can win an additional type of game. White Weenie can literally only win if it has the absolute fastest beatdown against a slow Life draw or if life is somehow screwed. u/W at least mixes this up with minor disruption and potential Aether Vial tricks.


Original Matchup: 4-6 in favor of Reanimator

u/W matchup: 5-5

The addition of Meddling Mage is pretty obvious here. If you guess right, they don’t get to Reanimate (or Exhume). The more significant difference is that in the midgame, when you have a Whipcorder, you can name Sickening Dreams and win a game that way. To be fair, White Weenie can also defend Whipcorder via Benevolent Bodyguard (which occupies the same slot, but would be even better if sent via Aether Vial with Sickening Dreams on the stack), but Meddling Mage saves you damage to the head and the rest of your team as well.

The interesting difference is the loss of Samurai of the Pale Curtain. In a Reanimator deck, you’d think that Samurai of the Pale Curtain’s ability would be more relevant, but I found it to mostly slow down Threshold for Putrid Imp by chomping on Polluted Delta. When you have one Whipcorder (and you’ve gotten clocked by Rorix or Akroma once or twice already), the difference between a 1/1 and 2/2 flyer can be a big deal.

U/G Madness

Original Matchup: 6-4 in favor of White Weenie

u/W matchup: 5-5

Literally the difference here is that Madness drew more Wild Mongrels against u/W than against White Weenie. As I said in the previous article, Wild Mongrel is the most important card in U/G Madness, and when Crusade is in play, is twice as good as usual.

I actually mark both matchups as pretty even. u/W loses Parallax Wave, which won a game or two, but gains Aether Vial + Meddling Mage, which is ridiculous against Madness. If you have Aether Vial on two counters and Meddling Mage at the ready, you can make Madness cards look pretty silly. Over many many games, I think u/W is better than WW, but WW with Samurai of the Pale Curtain would be much more savage against a deck with Werebear.


Original Matchup: 5-5

u/W matchup: 6-4 in favor of u/W

Samurai of the Pale Curtain is probably a little better than True Believer in the Affinity matchup (it also slows down Arcbound Ravager), but both cards hamstring Disciple of the Vault. Holding back the Disciples for zero mana goes a long way, especially if you have a Rebel chain for the artifact creatures. If you have some sort of Disciple defense, you can play against Affinity like a faster version of U/G, that is, a powerful creature deck with no reach. You can take beats to one life if you want: it’s not like fighting Red Deck Wins, where you can just get burned out. I like to take a lot of Hoverguard damage if I have to while pinning the artifact creatures with Whipcorders. Because the opposing deck can drop Arcbound Ravager via Aether Vial (there’s that card again) at any time, you pretty much have to somehow contain every artifact creature, whether by Whipcorder or blocking. It’s usually worth losing any guy to force the opponent to burn a Ravager (as long as it’s not a True Believer), but unless there are some kind of shenanigans going on, the u/W guys can usually hold their own against the Affinity guys.

I like to name “Arcbound Ravager” with my first Meddling Mage, but, again, that can be moot if the opponent has an Aether Vial; a lot of the time, it’s right to name Thoughtcast. When the Affinity deck has its Aether Vial on two counters (a good player will usually advance his Aether Vial only if he has ready Black mana), always name Disciple of the Vault if you think it will be relevant on the game, certainly if you don’t already have a True Believer.

As you can see, I didn’t actually test the Mind’s Desire matchup, at least not seriously. I am pretty sure that the u/W matchup would be “better” than the straight White Weenie matchup, especially as Exalted Angel is slow, Samurai of the Pale Curtain is significantly worse than the replacement bears, and Parallax Wave and Benevolent Bodyguard literally do nothing in the matchup. However, as I am famously bad at Mind’s Desire, White Weenie won all the games, and it is statistically impossible for u/W to win more than 100%.

That said, here are some things I’ve been thinking about:

True Believer stops the Storm kill cards. If you have Aether Vial on two (there’s that card again), you can even trick the opponent into Storming himself; you’ll probably need a Mother of Runes to help, though.

The first Meddling Mage should probably be set to Snap. While this doesn’t end the threat of the combination outright, it significantly slows the combo down and can help protect your True Believer. Imagine you set the first Meddling Mage to Mind’s Desire and the opponent just Snapped it… you did nothing and he lost next to nothing. Defense: yes; untap lands: yes; Storm spell: yes, etc. The second Meddling Mage should probably be Mind’s Desire, though Josh says Cunning Wish (otherwise the opponent can go for Echoing Truth to deal with both Meddling Mage).

All in all, I think that the changes incorporating Aether Vial and slightly different threats to the White Weenie deck were positive. In some cases, matchups were repaired significantly (Red Rock) or turned around all together (NO Stick). While there was admittedly a slip or so, hopefully Dan will approve that the only major turnaround the wrong way was to take White Weenie’s only near-lock 9-1 matchup and make it significantly more likely that the Red Deck Wins.



* More on this with Sadin later.