FFfreak Week! The 5 Best Decks in Extended

Thursday, January 20th – What would Brad play in Grand Prix Atlanta? He gives decklists for each of the five best archetypes in Extended right now and tells you what he thinks of each!

All I’ve been doing for the last two weeks is playing Extended. I guess I have also been working on content for this site — but other than that,
it has been nothing but MTGO 8-mans. As always, the format is evolving quickly, and the top decks are always shifting.

With Grand Prix Atlanta coming up this weekend, I thought it would be a great time to talk about my picks for the Five Best Decks in Extended. While
you don’t have to play any of them — the fact is you’re going to have to play against them. Not only that, but I also have a sweet brew that I’ve
been working on…

I guess I should just start with the deck I’ve been working on, since it will stop most of you from scrolling past the entire article.

I started working on this deck about two weeks ago. This was right around the time Naya was picking up steam — but everyone was still playing
Faeries. I just couldn’t pass up a chance to play with my favorite land, Ancient Ziggurat.

For those of you who don’t already know this about me, I’m absolutely in love with Ancient Ziggurat. I just get so happy whenever I get to play with
it. I like Ancient Ziggurat because it means that I get to attack all day — and that’s exactly what I want to do.

This deck offers the best of both worlds. It has the same aggressive draws that Naya has, but it can also tutor up Shriekmaw to kill off other Fauna
Shamans just like Jund can. Being able to kill Fauna Shamans via your own Fauna Shaman is just so powerful.

The Fauna Shamans in this deck are incredibly powerful. Pretty much the only thing they can’t do is grab Demigod of Revenge. Simply being able to grab
Anathemancer in the late game gives you the kind of reach that most Extended decks would kill to have.

I could sing this deck’s praises all day if I wanted to — and I would have last week. But I just can’t do that today. This deck has
some problems that can’t be overlooked.

The first problem is the mana base. It’s much better than it looks at first glance, but there are still some pretty awkward draws, thanks in large part
to the one Swamp in the deck. I tried taking it out, but it’s too important to have for the turn 2 Putrid Leech.

The next big problem is that the deck doesn’t get to play Elspeth, Knight-Errant. This planeswalker is one of the most powerful cards in Extended right
now — it’s better positioned than even its old buddy Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Not many creatures fly, and sending a big monster into the
air during a very fast-paced game is usually enough to lock things up. Elspeth also plays defense when you’re trying to set up a graveyard full of

Dark Naya’s one true saving grace is that it has the best Faeries matchup of any deck I’ve played. It simply crushes the Fae. It has all of the
creatures that give Faeries problems and can usually come rushing out of the gates fast enough to set up some of the biggest blowouts ever.

Dark Naya’s speed makes it a great choice against most of the combo decks in the format and also allows you to crush anyone foolish enough to
stumble. It only takes a few attack steps to deal twenty damage.

I think this deck could be great with some more work — but for now, regular Naya just makes more sense. Its mana base is much more consistent and
has, almost, the same powerful draws that its dark brother has.

This also puts us into what I think the top four decks in the format are. So at number one.

#1 Naya

Fauna Shaman decks are fast becoming the most popular choice on MTGO. They’re very consistent, and they’re almost as fast as the monocolor aggro decks.
Naya leads the pack of Shaman decks because of its ability to run two of the best cards in Extended right now, Bloodbraid Elf and Elspeth,

One of my favorite things about this deck is that it runs very little removal — but still has the best creature stalemate combo in the form of
Cunning Sparkmage plus Basilisk Collar. The equipment doesn’t have to be put on the pinger to be effective though. Simply putting the Collar on any
aggressive creature can give the deck the life swings it needs to put it over the top against other creature decks. Just being able to get to the late
game is sometimes very important against the other aggro decks. This also allows the deck to not have to worry about playing around with Kitchen Finks.

Lightning Bolt is positioned very well right now, and I wouldn’t see any problem with finding room for more of them. I just can’t seem to make the room
for them, so I had to put them in the sideboard. It’s very important to be able to deal with opposing Fauna Shamans before they get active.

There are around a dozen decks you may face in this format, so I’m only going to talk about the interesting matchups for the deck. It’s also the deck
I’ve put the most work into so I know most of these plays. I can’t say the same about the rest of the list.


This is actually the reason I have one Bojuka Bog in the sideboard. Jund decks running Shaman have a very powerful engine that goes right over the top
of this deck. Demigod of Revenge is not a laughing matter and is one of the biggest problems this deck has.

I tried just racing Jund — but this doesn’t work. They have Putrid Leech, Kitchen Finks, and Bloodbraid Elf that make an aggressive plan pretty
ineffective. There is no good way for Naya to consistently get through all of these guys besides Elspeth Knight-Errant.

Vengevines are a very good defensive creature in this matchup. Most people will use them as discard fodder for Fauna Shaman — but it is often
correct to just put one of them out there for defense. It’s very hard to attack into a Vengevine, let alone block one.

Collar is very good in this matchup if they don’t have an active Fauna Shaman. The life swings help attrition them out and allow smaller creatures to
trade up.

Sejiri Steppe should be used as aggressively as possible. It seems great to be able to protect a creature from removal, but playing an aggressive game
with the ability to make a Woolly Thoctar unblockable often is the correct line of plays. You have to race Demigods.


The most important thing to remember about the mirror is that a slow hand will almost always lose. This deck has a snowball effect in which it will
become more powerful as the game goes on. The winner is usually the player that got off to a slightly faster start unless someone resolves an
unanswered Baneslayer Angel. This sometimes won’t beat a horde of Vengevines and will only hold them off until the leader of the pack searches up the
Sparkmage combo.

The biggest reason why Naya wants Lightning Bolt is for the mirror. It’s very important to deal with an opposing Fauna Shaman as quickly as possible.
They’ll be able to search up the same creatures you would if you had a Fauna Shaman. And this is something you really don’t want to see happen.

I thought it was important to Shaman up Vengevines when I started playing with this deck. This is exactly the opposite of what you want to be doing.
It’s too slow of a strategy in most situations. I don’t know the exact number of Vengevines I want to have post-board, but I think it’s somewhere
around two. It can be very good in combat, but I don’t want to draw too many of them.


The most important thing to understand when you’re playing against Faeries is that you should play very aggressively. Play Woolly Thoctar on turn 2 if
you have the choice between it and a Fauna Shaman. You’ll have opportunities to resolve the Fauna Shaman later in the game if you stay aggressive
enough anyway. This will only help your opponent get to four lands with a higher life total if you cast the Shaman first.

#2 Mono Red

I haven’t played with this deck yet, but I’ve lost to it enough times for me to learn my lesson. This deck is good, and I need to prepare for it
since it will get played.

This deck is growing stronger by the day. I don’t get why this always happens but Mono-Red gets ignored long enough for it to win some events. This
deck could easily be dealt with by any number of decks if they truly cared about it. I think the reason this happens is that people think they always
have enough hate for the matchup. They just don’t give this deck enough credit.

This is completely wrong and why Red Deck Wins always has great weeks in pretty much any format where you can play with good burn spells and some cheap
red creatures. It just gets to sneak in when people least expect it.

This happens almost every other week, since people only fear it after a week where it performed well. Then they notice it is getting crushed and think
no one will play it since it’s so bad right now.

There aren’t that many Wall of Omens, Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tenders, or even Kitchen Finks being played right now. The life-gain spells that people are
playing are things like Ajani Vengeant, Baneslayer Angel, and Basilisk Collar. These cards might be very powerful — but they can’t match
the speed of Goblin Guide. There aren’t even any Treefolk to get in his way right now.

Mono Red might not be the most fun deck in the world, but it has a job and does it well. This deck punishes players, at any level, that aren’t prepared
for the format.

Mono-Red always has a shot to win when players don’t respect the deck and then keep weak hands. The only time I feel this deck isn’t one of the best
choices is when it has a bad matchup against the most popular deck in the field.

#3 Faeries

I know that this is a bold statement — but I don’t think Faeries is that great right now. There are so many aggro decks floating around that give
Faeries a very hard time. That said, I still think it’s a strong choice.

This is the latest version of Faeries I was testing and is what I’ll play if I decide to run the deck in Atlanta.

I’m not the biggest fan of Peppersmoke even though quite a few people swear by the card. It’s a very good removal spell for the creatures it can kill
— but a lot of the time, the spell just sucks. The simple fact is I don’t want to waste removal slots that don’t kill Fauna Shaman or Goblin

Scion of Oona, on the other hand, is quite impressive. It does so many great things in a creature-based format and is great in the Faeries mirror.
Getting a Mutavault to trade with a Great Sable Stag isn’t that bad either. Heck, I’d cut Wall of Tanglecord if I didn’t love the card so much.

Wurmcoil Engine maindeck is something most lists don’t have. I think this is a great addition to the main since it has the ability to shut down an
entire team by itself. Not many aggressive decks can stop a Wurmcoil Engine out of the maindeck.

I’m not the biggest fan of Jace, the Mind Sculptor in this version of the deck. It’s a lot stronger when you don’t have Scion of Oona — since
Scion prevents you from getting into Mistbind Clique locks.

#4 G/W Trap

I’m going to have to eat my own words on this one. I never really liked this deck. It just never seemed to do anything and always seemed like a very
bad deck choice. That time has come and gone, and it seems very well positioned in the metagame right now.

There are not many Reflecting Pool Control decks being played right now, and combo is at an all-time low. This leaves Faeries and creature strategies
for this deck to clean house on.

While I am by no means an expert with this deck, I do know someone who is: SicksoSick is an MTGO grinder that has been playing this deck for a very
long time.

I don’t have much experience with this deck, so I can’t talk about its interesting plays, but I have played against it enough to understand
that it has to be respected.

This might not be the most consistent deck in the format — but it does have plays that just end the game. This wasn’t good enough back when
everyone was playing Day of Judgment and Volcanic Fallout, but those cards are seeing less and less play by the day. This deck will be a great choice
as long as Faeries and Fauna Shaman rule the format.

#5 Jund

Jund finishes off my list of the best decks in the format. I think this deck is very powerful — but this isn’t the right metagame for it to truly

This is the list I’ve been battling with:

I’ve really enjoyed this deck because of its powerful draws. In case you didn’t already know, attacking for twenty with four Demigods of Revenge
is an awesome feeling. It also feels good to play a deck with great cascades.

The only problem I have with this deck is that it only has Lighting Bolt and Thoughtseize for one-drops.

I discovered something during Pro Tour Amsterdam testing. Ever since the Extended rotation, turn 1 plays became extremely important. Cutting Extended
down to so few sets meant that there weren’t very many powerful combos that could swing a game out of nowhere. What you did on the first turn really
set the tone for the rest of the game.

In my Top 8 match against Kai Budde, I beat him in the games where he didn’t draw Steppe Lynx for his first turn. Paul Rietzl started with the cat in
two out of three of our games — and those weren’t close at all.

Doran and White Weenie had one very big thing in common; they both had 8+ one-drops. This gave them their biggest edge.

This is the reason why Jund feels like it’s only playing fair. Jund can’t play a bunch of proactive one-drops because it has too many lands that enter
the battlefield tapped — which lets the other decks get the jump on Jund when they’re on the play.

Aside from that problem, Jund is very good. It plays some of the best spells in the format and has the ability to punish any deck that stumbles —
but it has a really tough time beating an above-average draw from any deck.

I do think that Jund is the best deck to play if you haven’t tested much and just want to play in an event. It just does the same thing over and over
again — so once you have a few games under your belt, you shouldn’t have too much trouble piloting it proficiently.

I’ll be competing at Grand Prix Atlanta this weekend. You should stop by and say hi if you’re in the room. I’m almost done with my first week here at
StarCityGames.com and would love any feedback on how it’s going so far.

Good luck in your tournaments and keep grinding!

Brad Nelson