Extending The Lifespan Of Your Cards

Remember Extended? Modern’s predecessor has been extinct for a while, but that doesn’t mean you and your friends should forget it! Abe has a great way of spicing up your casual night using one of Magic’s most tragically dead formats.

The StarCityGames.com Regional Championships, February 6!

Casual formats are awesome. They give you a chance to try out something new, and you can do it away from the bright lights of the tournament scene. These days you can run a bunch of different casual forms at a Friday Night Magic event, and yet you’ll still see tons of Magic formats getting played at kitchen tables everywhere. It’s a key part of who we are.

Do you remember Extended, the now-dead tournament format? It was never properly defined. Sometime sit would include lots and lots of sets, and finally it was the last four years of magic, like a double Standard. As you may recall, back in 2013, Extended was retired and ended as a format, as Modern had mostly replaced it in the public eye.

How dead is Extended? Well, the resources page over at WotC certainly doesn’t like it. Wizards has official pages of casual formats, but removed the rules for Extended from their site.

So, if Extended were still “legal” for tournaments, what would it include?

Current “Extended” Sets in February, 2016:

Return to Ravnica Block

Theros Block

Tarkir Block

Battle for Zendikar Block

Magic Origins

Magic 2015 Core Set

Magic 2014 Core Set

Doesn’t that seem like some fun blocks? It does to me! You can do a lot with it. And you know what? Extended may not be legal in tournaments anymore, but it’s still a rocking choice for your next causal night. How so?

Extended plays a few good roles at the kitchen table for casual Magic. You often have newer players who started recently but still manage to have some cards from cards legal outside of the Standard sets. They tend to come pretty heavily from the previous two years, so by having an Extended Format at casual night, you can do something like a lighter, friendlier Modern. Now don’t forget that all Standard-legal decks are Extended legal by default, so many players wouldn’t have to make any changes. This also makes things a little easier for newer players who wouldn’t have the potential to be exposed to all 14,000+ cards Magic cards ever printed in any given game.

Today, I’ll build a few “Extended”-legal 60-card decks and then finish with a quick Commander list as well!

Warriors were a fun tribal element from Tarkir Block and I wanted to push them around a bit here and there. There’s a lot of cheaper and on-curve options out there. I chose to keep the conversation with two colors, but you could add in others. A lot of major players from Extended are Warriors. And there are lots of other players you could look for a deck like this. Why not Battle Brawler? Alesha, Who Smiles at Death? Lifebane Zombie?

Meanwhile, I have the expected leaders in here, like Chief of the Edge and Chief of the Scale, Blood-Chin Fanatic, and Mardu Woe-Reaper. You can find some interesting cards among the Warriors to help push a fun tribal deck to the next level.

So what’s next in the queue?

I chose the Temur sweetness for a few reasons. Most importantly, you can see our key character of Sarkhan in his first-timeline Dragonspeaker and second-timeline Unbroken forms. But that’s not all. You can also witness the changes of Surrak pre-travel and post-travel, as well as others from the past or present (Yasova, Ugin, Zurgo).

Normally, Temur is about the beats. I gave you cards to help with that too, because I wanted the deck to be playable. You’ll see a full slate of Rattleclaw Mystics here to get you a nice mana bump or a beater to smash some face. I wasn’t afraid to include cards to get you wins.

Check out Renowned Weaponsmith with a copy of both of the cards the Weaponsmith makes in the timelines. That’s just an awesome way to flesh things out, right?

Have one Naturalize of each picture (Khans, Dragons), and do the same with Thornwood Falls, Rugged Highlands, and Swiftwater Cliffs (Fate Reforged, and Khans).

Time-travelling arctic hordes for the win!

If you’ll recall, we had a major Dragon-themed set recently, and there were a few Dragon-themed cards that saw print in that era as well. Cards like Crucible of Fire, Scourge of Valkas and Utvara Hellkite were added to the rolls.

So it’s easy to build a Dragon-centric deck using the great cards from Tarkir Block while also including some fun stuff from outside of those two sets. Initially I decided to do black and green in addition to the obvious red. That gives me two sets of triggers for my Dragons in Kolaghan and Atarka. And we have lots of beats here.

Now, we do have some cheaper cards. You can drop Dragonlord’s Servant early on to help with casting costs. You can morph some dragons on turn 3 or drop a four-mana body with a Servant for acceleration. You could Explosive Vegetation out some lands as well if you need and then begin to drop the expensive and fun Dragons forthwith. And don’t sleep on the ability of a five-drop like the Scourge to change the game by slowing down foes and turning subsequent Dragons into major removal spells. (See also Dragon Tempest.) So if you aren’t able to develop more quickly with these other paths , you have the tools to recover.

And if you like turning stuff sideways and swinging, then this is certainly the right deck for you!

So those are some fun decks from Extended. You could easily build fun control decks, fun aggro decks, fun tempo decks, and basically just fun decks of all sorts. But you might suspect that the card pool wouldn’t allow a bigger project, right?

Wrong. I’ll show you…

I chose to build a Commander deck around a two-color creature so I have fewer options, and I selected them with enemy colors, so you don’t have all of the friendly two-color cards in sets to assist. And then I gave it the sacrifice and gaining life ability of….

Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
Abe Sargent
Test deck on 02-01-2016

I had too many nonland cards in my first run-through, 73 cards to be specific. I yanked out Font of Return, Strider Harness, Angelic Skirmisher, Altar’s Reap, Orzhov Cluestone, Slum Reaper, Nighthowler, and Archfiend of Depravity. Here’s the deck that’s left.

There’s a ton of unexpected synergy in here. I’ll give you an excellent example…

Angelic Accord is downright awesome in an Ayli deck. Begin by sacrificing any creature with four or more toughness to Ayli and gain four or more life with Ayli. At the end of the turn, you get a 4/4 Angel token for free with the Accord. Next turn, spend a mana, sacrifice your 4/4 token to Ayli for another dose of four life, and then get another token at the end of that turn.

As long as you have colorless mana to use, you can sacrifice one Accord token for every turn, so in a four-player game, you get four deaths every time you go around the till. That’s not junk! Kheru Bloodsucker turns that combo into a serious life drain.

And Angelic Accord is not the only one playing that game. We can support Ayli in a variety of ways. We have other sacrifice outlets to push the theme. My favorite is Vampiric Rites, since you’ll turn a downed creature into both life and a card. Don’t forget that you need life to trigger Ayli’s ability, and you’ll need cards because you want to actually play Magic. Both are nice!

And then we have permanents that trigger when your stuff dies, like Shadows of the Past, Sifter of Skulls, and most importantly, Dictate of Erebos. These sorts of cards will push your enemies around with a lot of strength as things begin to die.

Ayli both gains you life and needs it. So in addition to having a few lifegaining elements here and there (such as Pontiff of Blight), I also have some triggers for your life gain. Zendikar has a lifegain trigger subtheme in there, but a lot of it is for more Limited play (such as Bloodbond Vampire). But I still have cards like Vizkopa Guildmage, Sanguine Bond, and Archangel of Thune that will get seriously good triggers as you gain life.

Since we’re sacrificing creatures pretty regularly, I thought adding in some token-making potential would make a lot of sense. I began with planeswalkers like Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. There are some awesome spells that’ll help as well, like Launch the Fleet or Secure the Wastes. And that’s not all! I tossed in token-making creatures, from Heliod, God of the Sun to Abhorrent Overlord and Herald of Anafenza.

I also layered in some reanimation, since we were sacrificing things pretty regularly. Doesn’t this seem like a great deck for Obzedat’s Aid? Rescue from the Underworld and Fated Return are here ready to rock or roll as needed. Emeria Shepherd is crazy good here too.

I also added removal and support, mana making and creatures that you want to kill (Black Cat, for example). Whip of Erebos gives you both lifelink for life-gaining and can bring stuff back. Champion of Stray Souls sacrifices and has some built-in recursion. That sort of quality is here in spades.

Lifegain, recursion, sacrificing, death triggers, and lifegain triggers are all in here, and all work with Ayli. They bring it. This is a fun deck made from just the last four years of Magic.

And there are tons of cards that are solid players or have the key components that this deck wants to push the table around. Here are a few on my radar that you might give serious consideration to:

That’s a lot of cards, all right! If a minor theme like Ayli’s is supported heavily in Extended, then most others will be as well, and that’s without layering in cards printed recently in Commander sets and such. If Extended can get you a deck with the support and fun of Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, it’s likely to offer cards and concepts for your Commander decks, so take that inspiration!

Why not get your Extended on?

The StarCityGames.com Regional Championships, February 6!