I will make no bones about it. I am in no position to talk openly about Extended with Pro Tour: Austin on the horizon. To say I’m not entirely thrilled about my Extended deck for Austin is an understatement. Let’s just say I feel much more confident in my ability to draft Zendikar, a set that has been out for a little over two weeks, than I do in playing Extended, a format I have been testing for two months.
Last week, I presented a Soldiers decklist that I felt was a good place to start. I have played quite a few games with the deck since then, and I am pretty sure there is a competitive deck in there somewhere. Veteran Swordsmith was extremely underwhelming, so I have cut that for Elspeth, Knight-Errant. It is a much better fit for the deck, but it has been lacking a little bit too. I’ve been experimenting making the deck a little more landfall based with Steppe Lynx, Knight of the White Orchid, and fetchlands, but I don’t have any concrete results to show you guys. With so much testing for Austin, I’ve more been fiddling around that playing any actual games.
I have been keeping up with some results around the internet, and there are some decks that need mentioning. It’s interesting how there really isn’t a Standard gauntlet in place yet, but the StarCityGames.com $5000 Standard Open in Philadelphia should deal with that problem. Here are a few decks that I think should be considered, for that tournament and any future Standard tournaments:
Jund seems like the best deck to me at this point. It has all the tools it has always had, but those tools didn’t get any worse. Cascade is still awesome (and stupid), there are plenty of answers to Baneslayer Angel in color, and your manabase is outstanding. All of these things make for an extremely powerful and consistent deck. A lot of lists look the same, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing:
You can add a few more Thought Hemorrhages if you’d like, but I’ve never been a big fan of that card. I simply listed one so that no one forgot it existed.
I sure did ridicule this deck enough last week, and I feel like an idiot putting it here. I played a few games against the deck over the past week, and it actually surprised me with how consistent and powerful it was. When Vampire Nocturnus is active, the game state is pretty unfair for your opponent, and Bloodghast, even though I really dislike the card, is a lot better than I gave it credit for. A big selling point of this deck is how powerful Mind Sludge is out of the sideboard. With so few counterspells in the format, Mind Sludge is going to almost always destroy a control deck leave them in a horrible situation:
- 4 Vampire Nocturnus
- 4 Bloodghast
- 4 Gatekeeper of Malakir
- 4 Guul Draz Vampire
- 4 Vampire Hexmage
- 4 Vampire Lacerator
Unsure how good Malakir Bloodwitch is, but it seems quite likely to meet Bituminous Blast too often for my tastes. Black Knight is against any White aggressive deck. Vampire Nighthawk is interesting, because it is obviously quite powerful on paper, but it is a little underwhelming over all as a two-power creature for three mana that trade with Lightning Bolt. It will be interesting to see how good that card is.
Big Dumb Idiots
Naya is a shard full of big dumb idiots, hence the title. I saw this deck doing fairly well on Magic League, and am interested to see if this is a competitor in this format. It doesn’t have very much disruption, but that doesn’t necessarily matter if all your creatures are insane:
I am immediately wondering where the Wild Nacatls are in this decklist, as I find that card to be much better than Scute Mob. No Path to Exile worries me as well, but there isn’t a law that says you have to play the card (I think there should be). This deck has been performing much better than I thought it possibly could, so if you are into Doran-esque decks, this might be just right for you.
As much as I love a Mono-White Aggressive deck, I loathe Mono-White Control. I actually just hate control decks with no card drawing (such as Martyr in Extended) and no real way to get ahead of your opponent except for an exceptional draw step. This is another deck that has been performing well online recently, and should be highlighted as it can take certain metagames by storm:
- 4 Oblivion Ring
- 2 Martial Coup
- 4 Path to Exile
- 3 Honor of the Pure
- 4 Conqueror's Pledge
- 4 Day of Judgment
Harm’s Way is the best card to stop an aggressive rush from a Red deck and/or Soldiers, and it will be for quite some time. Celestial Purge is just an all-star against Jund, but it seems like this whole deck is too, so that matchup should be fairly positive. Luminarch Ascension is good in theory in the “grind it out” control mirrors, but I’d much rather have a way to draw cards instead. Can’t this deck just splash for Jace one time?
A midrange deck that does nothing extremely well, but nothing extremely poorly either, Bant is a deck that hasn’t gotten much love in Standard formats. It’s strange because all of their cards are good, but I guess they just aren’t good enough. It’s weird that a deck that can play all these good cards (listed below) just isn’t good:
- 2 Birds of Paradise
- 3 Rafiq of the Many
- 4 Rhox War Monk
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 3 Qasali Pridemage
- 2 Dauntless Escort
- 4 Baneslayer Angel
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 2 Scute Mob
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t think all of those card choices are correct. Scute Mob seems a little random, Harm’s Way doesn’t really seem to fit, and Qasali Pridemage doesn’t seem like it is killing much in this format. But this is a deck that actually wants to play Lotus Cobra; Dauntless Escort is a very good card in this removal-heavy format; Rhox War Monk is a gigantic problem for Soldiers, Vampires, and any Red deck; and let’s not forget that Baneslayer Angel is still Baneslayer Angel. With some refining, I think Bant will be a really good deck.
Believe it or not, Goblin Guide looks to have spawned its very own archetype. I for one cannot believe it! Red decks can be taken a lot of different ways. Some have taken a haste approach with Goblin Guide, Ball Lightning, Elemental Appeal, and a plethora of burn spells. Others have decided an RDW-esque approach with small little beats, a little mana denial with Goblin Ruinblaster and a few burn spells to finish the opponent off. And the rest have decided that Goblins may be the way to go:
- 4 Siege-Gang Commander
- 4 Goblin Chieftain
- 4 Goblin Bushwhacker
- 4 Goblin Guide
- 4 Goblin Ruinblaster
- 4 Warren Instigator
This is an interesting take on a Red deck, and one that I can see taking off a little bit. Teetering Peaks is one of my favorite cards in the new format, and one that I think that will see a lot of play in the near future. It is at its best in this deck, as it combos extremely well with Goblin Guide and Warren Instigator. The only thing I don’t really like about this Red deck is its finishing power once the opponent has stabilized as well as its weakness to Sprouting Thrinax. Eight burn spells just doesn’t seem like enough to me, but I could be wrong. In any event, much like Bant, there is a deck within the Red cards. I’m not sure if it is built with a Black splash for Blightning and Bloodchief Ascension (the most annoying card I have ever seen when flipped) or if you just want to stay Mono Red. Hell, you can even be R/g and play Bloodbraid Elf and the underplayed Colossal Might if you see fit. So many options!
Okay, so it doesn’t have to be five colors. It probably won’t be five colors because of the amount of enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands you would have to play, but there is a control deck out there with a bunch of colors and good mana. It is actually impossible for there not to be. Is it my style of deck? No, of course not. I like to attack more than I like to eat (har har!), but for those that don’t, there is still hope for you. I really don’t have a list to propose, but after reading Gavin’s article last night, I think he is going in the right direction. If you can’t live without playing a control deck, I feel like Gavin’s deck is the best place to start.
Don’t forget about Time Sieve! It only lost Elsewhere Flask and gained more positive matchups since Faeries has rotated. Often overlooked, Time Sieve is a real deck, and it might be really good this go around.
And to finish off this week is a deck I have been tinkering with, but haven’t gotten enough positive results to fully endorse it:
- 4 Siege-Gang Commander
- 4 Elvish Visionary
- 4 Bloodbraid Elf
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 4 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
- 4 Rampaging Baloths
Think of Warp World as Tooth and Nail. If you resolve Warp World, you are certain to win the game. All of the landfall creatures will trigger an insane amount of times and you usually kill them with multiple Ob Nixilis. Everything in the deck is built with the idea of stalling the game long enough to generate a huge Warp World. Lotus Cobra allows for some broken things to occur, and all of these cards play well enough on their own that you can just play as a RGb Big Mana deck if you want to.
Your matchup against aggressive decks isn’t as good as I’d like it to be, but control decks are so easy due to the lack of counterspells in the format. The sideboard Grazing Gladeharts and Sprouting Thrinaxs are there to address the aggressive decks, but Pyroclasm may be better than both of those. Duress is there to ensure Warp World resolves, and Hive Mind is the actual nightmare against Five-Color Control if you are able to resolve it.
The numbers in this deck are very preliminary (all four-ofs, duuuuuuuuuuuuuur), but I think this might be a real deck for a little while. Once counters start to see play again, the deck probably will not be good enough to compete, but I think a few tournaments can be won with the deck for now. If anyone would like to refine and innovate this concept, feel free as I don’t have much time to work on it with Austin and Tampa Bay coming up.
I hope I could be of some help to everyone this week. The next two weeks are extremely busy for me, with testing for Austin, Tampa Bay, work and school.
Being an adult sucks!