This single word heaves along more baggage than an American tourist. Many decks that I write about don’t cost much to put together, but I always hesitate to label them “Budget”. “Budget” doesn’t just mean “bad”. Plenty of decks are bad. U/G TurboLand in Standard is bad, but it’s redeemed by the fact that it’s also kind of cute. Not “sexy” or “kinky” or “Kiki-Jiki”, but “cute”. “Cute” is good. Wasting a powerful, expensive card like Rude Awakening on a bad deck is almost worth the effort of going 0-X in the tournament. Almost.
But riding out an 0-X showing on the back of the average rare-free monstrosity is entirely different. When you try that, your opponents don’t smile and say, “Cool deck! Maybe, the packs I win tonight will give me enough Azusas to build it for my multiplayer group.” Instead, they write in their tournament reports, “Round 1: Random Scrub. First Turn, I Therapy-ed for Chill, and he revealed triple-Kitsune Diviner. Dy-na-mite!” You don’t want to be Random Scrub, let me tell you.
So, when I call today’s deck “Budget”, I do so with reservations. In Standard, it’s not incredibly difficult to build semi-competitive deck for under $30. Chris Romeo does it all the time. You might not win the whole show, but at least, you’re not guaranteed to lose every round. Not so in Extended.
Many regular tournament-goers don’t attend tournaments to win. When they register their decks at States, they’re not thinking that they’ll come away with the prize; they know that they aren’t skilled enough to beat the reigning champ. It’s about the fun. The trouble with Extended is that, unless you push a large pile money across the card store counter, you’re not going to be able to attend a tournament and have fun. You’ll be crushed. Unlike in Standard, you can’t just load your deck with artifact-hate and expect to win half your matches. A single Vampiric Tutor (which will never win a game on its own) can set you back $25, and even the cheapest decks in the format would shrivel up like Ronald Reagan without a number of pricy essentials (for example, Orim’s Chant and Goblin Piledriver). During the Extended season, cheapskates tend to go on vacation. This is sad because this year’s Extended, unlike last year’s, isn’t insanely broken. Attack Phases are actually important, sometimes even twice in a single game.
Today’s deck would be better with Vampiric Tutor, but it wouldn’t be significantly better. It wouldn’t be the tutor that breaks the camel’s back (just its bank account). So, for the sake of the little guys, for the sake of the people who don’t expect to take home a trophy but who’d still like to be competitive, we’ll assume that you don’t have any Vampiric Tutors. Not a single Chrome Mox either. Here’s my promise: Despite costing many times less to build than most other decks reviewed for Extended on this website, our deck will be able to put up a competitive game against every major deck except for Life. Once again, our deck may not be as good as the top tier decks, but it’s sturdy enough to make for long (by Extended standards), interesting games.
As usual, I invite you to look over my shoulder and build the deck along with me, peering sternly (Or, as my Uncle Toby Shandy likes to say, “Sternely.”) at my every thought and whim.
The deck’s centerpiece is Warped Devotion. Right from the start, I’ll own up to the fact that Warped Devotion in many ways resembles another of my pet cards, Cowardice. On the most mundane level, both enchantments involve bounce and do nothing by themselves. They are also similar on a theoretical plane; they are commonly degraded because both of them make a simple task overly complex. In Cowardice’s case, it is held (with good reason) that you’re better off just using bounce spells to bounce creatures instead of doing the same thing with non-bounce spells. Warped Devotion, the argument goes, suffers from the same defect: If you want to kill a creature, Terror is more efficient than Warped Devotion + Boomerang; if a land’s bothering you, use Stone Rain; if there’s an artifact or enchantment, Naturalize it. The reasoning here, however, is flawed.
Whereas it’s difficult to stock up your deck with enough creature kill, artifact and enchantment removal, and land destruction to be prepared for every situation, Warped Devotion + Boomerang has the ability to deal with almost any permanent on the board. No matter the matchup, they’ll never be dead cards. Only a six-mana Desert Twister can do the same job. Additionally, the variety of good bounce is far greater than that of good creature kill. In Extended, the only favorably consistent and redundant deck is Red Deck Wins. The other major players (Goblins included) use some kind of Combo strategy and thus tend to be loaded with tutors. Tutors are all well and good, but they encourage card disadvantage: While there’s no problem tossing a ton of spells in the graveyard in order to put out a fast Rorix, if that Dragon is immediately hit by a Snap, its controller is in trouble. By the same token, although Life makes use of a variety of combo pieces in order to evade Cranial Extraction, it still doesn’t play a great number of combo pieces altogether, and its stack tricks make it especially prone to instant-speed removal.
But you don’t need to believe me just yet. We’ll take it slowly. So far, our deck consists of four copies of Warped Devotion
Defining the Archetype
Although Warped Devotion is a Control card, once you start loading a deck with bounce, your mind will necessarily begin to stray toward Combo (or more correctly, Prison). Isochron Scepter + Boomerang can create a hard lock against most decks, and the popularity of Scepter Chant proves that even when prone to removal, the artifact is powerful enough to be worthwhile. Yet if a Turn 1 Scepter + Boomerang is nearly always better than a Turn 1 Scepter + Orim’s Chant, why aren’t Scepter Chant players running any maindeck Boomerangs? The explanation is that, in a Scepter Chant deck, a Turn 2 Scepter + Boomerang will not, usually, be as good as a Turn 2 Scepter + Chant, and it isn’t worthwhile weakening the deck’s counterspell defenses for the sake of an additional, limited-scope combo.
Let’s say we’re playing a deck including 4 Isochron Scepter, 4 Boomerang, 4 Hoodwink, and 4 Chrome Mox (that is, a deck including all of the non-Mox Diamond elements that could possibly enable a Turn 1 Scepter + Land Bounce). A Turn 1 combo requires that you’re holding Chrome Mox, Boomerang/Hoodwink, Isochron Scepter, at least one land, and at least one additional spell. While you have excellent chances of finding a Boomerang or Hoodwink in your opening seven cards, it’s unlikely that you’ll get either the Mox or the Scepter, much less both. Now, the importance of the Turn 1 combo is that anything later grants your opponent multiple lands during her Main Phases. Still, the same effect of a Turn 1 Scepter can be achieved by a Turn 2 Scepter followed up by an additional Boomerang or Hoodwink on Turn Four. The disadvantage to this approach is that there’s a world of difference between being stuck on two lands in Extended and being in the same situation in Standard, and waiting until Turn 4 to start pressing hard might seem like a luxury.
Often, it will be a luxury. Consider, however, the alternative. Chrome Mox will provide something akin to a sure kill whenever you draw it in conjunction with your other combo pieces on Turn 1, but in a deck with such low casting costs as a bounce deck will have, Chrome Mox will be utterly useless anytime after Turn 1. Additional land bounce, on the other hand, will never be useless. Although Boomerang and Hoodwink are our only options for imprinting, there are plenty of three mana spells that can work in conjunction with Isochron Scepter to bring your opponent down to one land. Because Chrome Mox is such a limited use card, any Scepter + Boomerang deck would need to be resilient enough to survive games without the Turn 1 combo. On the whole (and not just from a budget perspective), Chrome Mox does such a deck more harm than good.
Control with a Hint of Prison
Because Warped Devotion and Isochron Scepter reward redundancy of bounce spells, we know that our deck will require a lot of Boomerang variants. Furthermore, only rarely will we be able to save up all of our bounce until Warped Devotion is already on the table or until we have drawn Isochron Scepter; often, we’ll end up using some of it defensively in the early game. A danger of this kind of deck is that it begs for the inclusion of a large number of cards that could both compliment the deck’s core and dilute its potency. A host of other cards are synergistic with the Warped Devotion and Isochron Scepter base yet unable to truly replace a bounce spell.
The easiest of these synergistic cards to exclude is Geth’s Grimoire. Although the artifact is gruesome against U/G Madness, U/G Threshold, and Reanimator without even assuming that you have Warped Devotion in play, you’ll often draw it and wish that you had another bounce spell instead. While it’s problematic that Warped Devotion decks tend to run out of bounce just as Warped Devotion is cast, burdening the deck with extra non-bounce cards does nothing to help the situation.
Both more impressive and more expensive to cast is Spreading Plague, a card which has the added benefit of laughing off Aether Vial. Although Spreading Plague does nothing if your opponent plays just a single creature of each color, it will certainly help you stabilize if you’ve made it into the late-game without having gained control, and it positively neuters Patriarch’s Bidding, Living Death, and Siege-Gang Commander.
What really excites me is Betrayers of Kamigawa’s Orb of Dreams. Control’s general aversion to artifacts comes from the danger of tapping out during one’s own turn. For example, though Geth’s Grimoire looks great against Reanimator, I’d be terrified to play it on Turn 4 for fear of Rorix or Akroma. Orb of Dreams, however, negates the risk of being immediately combo-ed to death by Reanimator or Goblins; if those decks deal lethal damage while you’re tapped out, it’s your own fault. More significantly, Orb of Dreams can harden up a Scepter-lock by reducing your opponent to no active lands per turn.
A bit farther afield is Arcane Laboratory. A resolved Arcane Laboratory will cripple Aluren and Mind’s Desire and hamper most other decks in the environment, yet the power of the enchantment has been drastically curtailed by Aether Vial. Although a deck like Goblins will be irritated by Arcane Laboratory, something like Chill would have much the same effect with the added benefit of costing one mana less and causing more difficulties for Red Deck Wins. Indeed, the battle between Arcane Laboratory and Chill is one that’s difficult to conclude.
Cranial Extraction is also tempting in that, alongside bounce, it becomes much more formidable and can remove otherwise indecent threats such as Goblin Piledriver and Troll Ascetic (if you’re lucky enough to cast Cranial Extraction before your opponent casts her untargetable nightmare). Besides its extreme monetary cost, the main disadvantage to Cranial Extraction is that it’ll be lounging near the top of your curve even though its effect is a decidedly mid-game one. Unlike Goblins, Affinity, Mind’s Desire, Aluren, U/G Madness, and The Rock, U/B Bounce doesn’t make good use of mana acceleration. It could fit in pricey Chrome Moxen, but the resultant card disadvantage is only worthwhile when fuelling the Scepter-lock; none of the deck’s other cards are broken enough to justify the expenditure. Beyond that, there’s Talisman of Dominance, but it’s hardly foreshadowing to let you know that the deck will always have something it would rather cast on Turn 2.
It’s not yet necessary to decide which of these aforementioned cards should definitely be cut; for the moment, we should just recall “the danger of cool things” before moving on to our bounce options.
As noted above, there are a wide range of bounce spells to choose from in the Extended card pool. They can be generally broken down into three categories: Targeted single-use bounce, multi-use bounce, and mass bounce. We’ll look at our possibilities one at a time.
Targeted Single-Use Bounce
Boomerang: Boomerang can remove every widely played permanent except for Troll Ascetic and Goblin Piledriver. In the early game it’s far and away the best companion for Isochron Scepter.
Hoodwink: Hoodwink’s inability to target non-artifact creatures is serious, but besides Boomerang, it’s the only Scepter-able land bounce in Extended. Also, the rise of Aether Vial keeps the instant from being dead in most matchups.
Recoil: Besides the two primary land bouncers listed above, no bounce spells are auto-includes in the deck, mainly because the card pool is so deep. At three mana, Recoil is hardly ideal, but it at least ensures card parity and has the all-important ability to bounce lands.
Capsize: In traditional Blue Control decks, Capsize is significantly better than Recoil, yet here, where you expect to have already achieved some sort of lock by the time you’ve reached Buyback range, it seems inefficient.
Rescind: Like Capsize, Rescind looks better than Recoil at first glance. It’s a solid card, but you have to ask yourself, “When would I ever not want to bounce a permanent in this deck?”
Eye of Nowhere: So essential to the deck is the concept of mana denial that even this atrocious sorcery deserves consideration. Sadly, in Extended, sorcery speed just isn’t fast enough for this kind of effect. It could be argued that including Eye of Nowhere would give us the possibility to play Consuming Vortex for card advantage, yet you’d usually be happier dealing in Aether Burst than two substandard bounce spells, and as with Capsize, six mana is too steep a price to pay.
Echoing Truth: Beyond this deck’s limited scope, Echoing Truth is one of the best bounce spells to come out in ages. Here, it’s merely decent although its ability to target both creatures and artifacts makes it difficult to exclude. The “echoing” effect is only relevant with any frequency against Goblins and White Weenie.
Seal of Removal/Unsummon: Whereas the debate concerning which of these two bounce spells to run looks somewhat too academic when carried out in U/G Madness circles, it’s much simplified in the case of a devoted bounce deck. Since only the dullest of opponents will be surprised by a mid-game bounce spell in a bounce deck, Unsummon loses much of its shock value while Seal of Removal retains its ability to just sit around and wait for Phyrexian Plaguelord. The only matchup in which I’d prefer Unsummon is that against Reanimator; here, it’s nice to punish a Turn 1 Reanimate. Still, even against Reanimator, once Turn 1 has come and gone, Unsummon will nearly always be superior. Depending on the rest of the deck, of course, it could be useful to play both spells.
Snap: Because it’s dangerous to play too much bounce that can only target creatures, Snap tends to compete with Unsummon. The latter is stronger on Turn 1 and on turns when you’re low on mana after having dropped a Main Phase artifact or enchantment. The fact that you’ll often be using your Main Phases in the early- and mid-games means that these situations shouldn’t be ignored. Snap, however, is uniquely advantageous in two distinct situations. If you’re playing against an Aggro deck, Warped Devotion is on the board, you have Isochron Scepter in hand, and you are either lacking Boomerang/Hoodwink or your opponent has so many lands out that bouncing them would be irrelevant, Snap is the best possible spell to imprint on the Scepter. When you set up free, reusable, targeted bounce, you should be pleased as punch. The other situation in which Snap is preferable to Unsummon is when your opponent has you in the corner and is going for a creature-based Combo kill (often involving Arcound Ravager, Atog, or some goblin or other); if you have two mana open, she may reason that it’s unlikely that you’re holding a pair of Unsummons and will attempt to out-stack your presumed single bounce spell. Here, the combination of Snap + Random Bounce Spell is much more likely than that of holding two Unsummons (although it should be noted that, if you were holding two Unsummons, you’d have the opportunity to not only fizzle the combo but also to push your opponent into wrecking her own board for no profit).
Rushing River: No. Unlike U/G Madness, this deck actually needs its lands after Turn 2. Also, both Aether Burst and Repulse are probably better.
Aether Burst: This would seem to compete with Snap for the Great with Isochron
Scepter Award, yet it must be remembered that Snap itself is already competing with Unsummon on the grounds of mana cost, a competition in which Aether Burst has no chance. Assuming you draw it in multiples, the card’s fantastic, but in that case, we’re looking at it as a kind of situational mass bounce spell that also has a degree of utility in the early-game. It simply isn’t strong enough.
Repulse: The last single-use targeted bounce spell that’s worth considering, Repulse has real charm once Warped Devotion is on the board. Still, as nice as its card replacement effect is, Seal of Removal, Unsummon, and Snap are already under consideration, and they, too, can only target creatures.
Aether Spellbomb: At least when U/W Control decks ran Aether Spellbomb in last year’s Standard, they could hope to counter Goblin Piledriver on its way back in.
Overburden: Overburden is tricky to judge. On the one hand, it can’t win any games on its own, but on the other hand, it has some degree of game against nearly every deck in the format. Strangely, it’s most useful when you’re neither doing extremely well (you have a Scepter-lock down) nor extremely badly (10 thousand Goblins are trundling toward you). Overburden is best when everything’s hanging in the balance. Maybe, you’ll be able to play Isochron Scepter + Boomerang soon, but for now, you need a way of reducing your opponent’s land count to the point where your Scepter-lock will be effective. Or maybe, your opponent would be able to play 10 thousand Goblins next turn, but because of Overburden, she’ll only be able to play two of them. Also, because it costs only two mana, Overburden is much more effective than most bouncing permanents. It’s worth noting that the enchantment has a significant downside: Some Aggro decks will be able to generate extra mana from it in the mid- and late-games. Incidentally, Orb of Dreams has a positive interaction with Overburden by preventing this mana acceleration from occurring.
Noetic Scales: While this will be used against Reanimator by some decks, it’s clearly underpowered when we’re already playing Blue.
Evacuation: Although five mana is considerable for our deck, Evacuation has the power to turn games around. Combined with Warped Devotion, it’s a Wrath of God against Goblins, White Weenie, and Affinity (Or rather, a Final Judgement since no artifacts will be going to the graveyard from play and triggering Disciple of the Vault). Even with a simple Overburden on the board, Evacuation represents a considerable set-back for most decks with a decent number of creatures. Nevertheless, going for the Big Bounce will usually mean taking a few hits by creatures beforehand, and against decks that can deal damage directly, that won’t always be an acceptable risk. This is one the deck’s few answers to its big weaknesses, Troll Ascetic and Goblin Piledriver.
Wash Out: Wash Out costs one mana less than Evacuation and can remove enchantments, but it’s still far inferior. It’s rather unappealing against U/G decks and, at sorcery speed, it will rarely ruin Goblins’ big day.
Rebuild: If you have Warped Devotion out, playing Rebuild against Affinity is a one-way Obliterate. But then, Energy Flux is nearly as good, and considering how quickly Affinity can re-play its hand, Rebuild loses much of its punch without Warped Devotion (meaning that, ideally, it wouldn’t be played any sooner than Energy Flux anyway). Whether or not Rebuild is a good sideboard option depends entirely on your local metagame. We can assume that Affinity (which a great many players already own from Standard) will be popular regardless, but if artifact-heavy Mind’s Desire is big in your area as well, Rebuild could be a nice compliment to Energy Flux.
Hibernation: Besides getting rid of Wurm tokens, Hibernation doesn’t do too much against the top-tier field. Although The Rock and Pattern of Rebirth decks will be present in some numbers, I’m not convinced that, at the time being, Hibernation is a smart move in any metagame.
By now, we’ve identified many cards that fit well into the Warped Devotion/Isochron Scepter framework. More than enough cards, in fact. As always, winnowing down the card pool is the most difficult part. Theory has allowed us to discount a number of cards (for example, Wash Out, Eye of Nowhere, and Geth’s Grimoire), and testing some others (for example, Rebuild and Rushing River), yet it should be clear that there can be no perpetually perfect build of the deck. As it is, we’ve stressed one-mana bounce (Seal of Removal and Unsummon) out of eagerness to avoid random Reanimator kills. I would never suggest running neither of these spells, but if your local metagame favors Mind’s Desire, it might be in your best interest to cut down on cards that can only target creatures. That said, for the moment, we’ll assume a perfectly balanced metagame. This doesn’t mean that the same number of people will be playing Kitsune Diviner Massacre (KDM) as will be running Affinity, just that decks will be played in proportion to their power. And that some people will insist on playing U/G Madness anyway.
4 Warped Devotion
4 Isochron Scepter
Targeted Single Use Bounce (20)
4 Seal of Removal
Multiple-Use Bounce (2)
Mass Bounce (2)
Win Conditions (3)
1 Undead Gladiator
1 Genju of the Falls
1 Genju of the Fens
2 Orb of Dreams
4 Polluted Delta
You’d forgotten about the win conditions, hadn’t you? Undead Gladiator is stronger than either of the Genju is this deck, but I’m as afraid of Cranial Extraction as the next man, so I’ve gone for variety over power. Cursed Scroll is almost certainly better than Genju of the Fens. Still, Cursed Scroll costs more than my grandmother. And she’s not cheap, no matter what some people say.
After testing, I’ve found that the deck can’t support multiple copies of both Spreading Plague and Evacuation without the addition of an extra land. Annoyingly, these two cards are great in many of the same matchups. However, in Game 1 against Affinity, Spreading Plague is nearly worthless even though it’s a bit better than Evacuation against Goblins and U/G Madness. Selecting which card to play comes down to personal preference. Honestly, Spreading Plague is less skill-intensive than Evacuation. If you opt for the Spreading Plague route, consider these changes: -2 Evacuation, -2 Overburden, +2 Spreading Plague, +2 Echoing Truth. It’s noteworthy that the removal of Overburden weakens the Isochron Scepter component of the deck. Still, Spreading Plague has such potential power that it could be worthwhile.
It’s unfortunate having to keep Overburden (which is so good in multiples) down to two copies, but a balance must be kept between creature bounce and land bounce, and Overburden upsets this balance by acting as land bounce (best against Combo and Control) that’s dependent on your opponent playing lots of creatures. I wouldn’t consider making Overburden a four-of unless you knew your local metagame to be heavily Aggro, in which case you could, perversely, go for the late-game Scepter-lock: -4 Hoodwink, -1 Recoil, +2 Overburden, +1 Island, +2 Evacuation.
It is equally difficult to keep Orb of Dreams down at two copies. While it isn’t special in multiples like Overburden, it severely constrains Goblins and Mind’s Desire. Once again, the decklist given above is just a sample. If you choose to play U/B Bounce, its final form should be tailored to your own needs.
This progresses our thoughts to that most changeable of realms, the sideboard. The useful cards we’ve already considered are: Extra Evacuation, Extra Spreading Plague, Extra Orb of Dreams, Extra Overburden, Energy Flux, Rebuild, Arcane Laboratory, and Chill. Consider Spreading Plague (I’d really never put more than three in a deck) or Evacuation if you expect Aggro. If you expect a lot of Goblins, it’s probably worthwhile to include an extra Orb of Dreams. Remember that while Arcane Laboratory might do the job against Goblins and some non-Red decks, it isn’t going to get you as far as Chill will against Red Deck Wins. If you really fear the Goblins matchup, you can stock up on both enchantments and play Overburden (here, Orb of Dreams is less necessary). You’ll rarely lose if you try this kind of transformational sideboard, but you might get into trouble against other decks like Affinity and White Weenie. If you choose to run Echoing Truth maindeck instead of Snap due to its increased versatility, you might want some copies of either Snap or Unsummon in the sideboard for the Aggro matchups. One card we haven’t yet discussed is Shimmering Mirage. Though it might seem an odd choice, it’s one of the few Isochron Scepter-compatible spells that compliments your deck’s mana denial strategy. Goblin Piledriver is such a problem for the deck that it might, in itself, warrant the placement of Smother, Engineered Explosives, or (embarrassingly) Cranial Extraction in the sideboard. Although Engineered Plague won’t kill Goblin Piledriver it can keep it from doing damage. This is yet another time to reinforce the lesson: When playing against Goblins, unless Orb of Dreams is on the board, always leave mana open with which to bounce Goblin Warchief.
The most expensive part of the maindeck is its lands. If you can’t afford Polluted Delta and Wasteland, leave them out. The deck runs fine without them, just not quite as well. In order to cut down on costs, the deck includes no tutors, explaining its lack of one-of spells. This also decreases the value of card drawing. After all, one of the benefits of the deck is its consistency, and it’s rarely helpful to spend mana casting card drawers just for the sake of drawing functionally-identical cards (Boomerang, Snap, Recoil, and Seal of Removal against Aggro). Certainly, the deck benefits from having Vampiric Tutor thrown into it, but if you can do that, U/B Bounce might not be the best deck for you. As will be explained in the matchup analyses, the deck has game against nearly the entire field, but I’ll make no claims to its being able to beat the entire field often enough to win trophies.
I’ll make these brief. The sideboarding information is extremely general; obviously, if you don’t put these cards in your sideboard, you can’t side them in. The same goes for the side-out list.
For our purposes, it’s safe to consider both Black and White Mind’s Desire decks together. This is one of U/B Bounce’s best matchups. From fizzling Snap + Cloud of Faeries sequences to bouncing Chrome Mox and Nightscape Familiar, you’ll give Mind’s Desire a tough time of it. Also, if you can play Arcane Laboratory from the sideboard, your opponent’s only real hope is hitting it with Echoing Truth. Sideboarding:–Overburden, –Evacuation, –Spreading Plague, +Arcane Laboratory, +Orb of Dreams.
As with Mind’s Desire, Aluren takes hits from cards essential to your own strategy. Warped Devotion is, obviously, great, and bouncing Aluren itself is helpful. If you have Arcane Laboratory in the sideboard, this is clearly the place for it. Overburden appears unexciting, but if you’re able to out-stack your opponent after she has abused Aluren a couple of times, it can give you a huge advantage. This is one of the places where I’d love to fit in Tainted Aether, but every fiber in my body begs that I leave that card be. Sideboarding: –Spreading Plague, –Evacuation, +Arcane Laboratory.
This is your best matchup. Reanimator suffers on account of its otherwise admirable single-mindedness. Whereas Mind’s Desire can surprise you and pull off some subsidiary combo you weren’t expecting, all of Reanimator’s tricks are targetable by your bounce. Don’t include anti-Reanimator cards in your sideboard; it would be a waste of space. If you have extra Orbs of Dreams in the sideboard, however, feel free to bring them in and take out Overburden. Sideboarding: –Evacuation, –Hoodwink, +Other Creature Bounce, +Orb of Dreams.
If you can get Warped Devotion through the countermagic, it’ll make Gush, Daze, and Thwart much less appealing. Quirion Dryad and Psychatog are already unappealing when faced by a deckful of bounce; unlike Arcbound Ravager and Atog, they can’t work for a Combo win. Similarly, Meddling Mage is nearly pointless. If your opponent wins, it will be through her counterspells, but not even Gro-a-Tog can counter all of your land bounce. A close matchup. Sideboarding: –Overburden, +Smother.
Goblin Piledriver. That’s the trouble. If not for Goblin Piledriver, U/B Bounce would be able to weather many of Goblins’ fast starts. There are many potential sideboard weapons for this matchup. Spreading Plague hurts considerably, and Chill is almost equally devastating. So varied are your weapons that Cabal Therapy is inefficient. You’ll be so busy bouncing your opponent’s early beaters that it’ll be difficult to get down the Scepter-lock. Frequently, however, you’ll achieve a late-game Scepter-lock with the aid of Overburden. This is highly draw-dependent for both sides. Sideboarding: –Hoodwink, +Chill, +Arcane Laboratory, +Overburden, +Orb of Dreams, +Every Piledriver Killer You Have.
U/B Bounce doesn’t fold to Affinity’s God draws as easily as some other decks do, but the matchup still isn’t favorable. Here, good knowledge of the stack is a necessity. Interestingly, you’ll rarely win without Energy Flux or Rebuild + Warped Devotion if your opponent just plays it safe and doesn’t attempt Disciple of the Vault and Arcbound Ravager tricks. It’s when your opponent tries to play Combo that you’ll win. If you respond to the sacrifice of an artifact by aiming a bounce spell at Disciple of the Vault, a less-skilled opponent will be tempted to stack other sacrifices on top of the first, leaving you space to laugh last. Hold back those cheap instant speed bouncers if possible; in this matchup you’ll win as many games with opposing mistakes as with Energy Flux. Still: Beware the evil Aether Vial! Orb of Dreams is unimpressive against a deck which doesn’t need to tap its lands or creatures in order to win. Sideboarding: –Evacuation, –Spreading Plague, –Orb of Dreams, +Energy Flux, +Rebuild.
While Goblins and Affinity play a kind of explosive, semi-Combo game that’s easy to disrupt with targeted bounce, White Weenie is pure, redundant Aggro. Its creatures are much stronger than Goblins’ and Affinity’s when viewed in isolation, so it will rarely be enough to simply bounce the most essential ones. For this reason, White Weenie is a much harder matchup for U/B Bounce. Your best hope is to hold down the fort until you can establish the Scepter-lock backed up by Orb of Dreams. Sideboarding: +Evacuation, +Spreading Plague.
Red Deck Wins:
Instant speed direct damage is not good news for you. This is one of your less favorable matchups, primarily because you’re completely dependent on getting in the Scepter-lock. Chill is great from the sideboard, but with Isochron Scepter, it will only delay the inevitable. Sideboarding: –Evacuation, +Chill. On no account side-in Arcane Laboratory; it helps your opponent more than it does you.
It might not appear like a good idea to force a deck which loves discarding things to discard more of them, but given the chance, Warped Devotion will eventually win the day. Wurm tokens will not, obviously, last very long against your bounce. It can’t be denied though that U/G Madness has a lot of threats. Note that Overburden won’t trigger off of the Wurms. Also note that due to Genesis and the Madness mechanic you’ll never be able to set-up a pure Warped Devotion lock; eventually, you’ll need to bounce away your opponent’s lands. Sideboarding: –Orb of Dreams, +Cranial Extraction, +Smother.
Happily, this is a good matchup for you. Opposing Isochron Scepters will rarely escape bouncing for long, and as good as Orim’s Chant is against decks that need the Main Phase, it doesn’t carry much weight here. Watch out for counters on your own Scepters. Sideboarding: –Evacuation, –Spreading Plague, –Overburden, +Cranial Extraction. You have many near-dead cards in this matchup, but it’s important to realize that your opponent hates nothing more than artifact bounce.
The worst of your tier-one matchups. You can use tricky stacking for ages, but unless you get in the Scpeter-lock, your opponent’s own tricky stacking will eventually best you. Even if you prevent your opponent from gaining an arbitrarily large amount of life, she’ll probably be able to gain enough life to make your win conditions look overly feeble. Then, you’ll deck yourself. Sideboarding: –Orb of Dreams, –Overburden, +Spreading Plague, +Smother.
The good news is that The Rock’s usual trump card, Pernicious Deed, doesn’t do much here. It can take out Warped Devotion and Orb of Dreams, but if you already have Isochron Scepter or Overburden on the board, it’s unlikely that your opponent will be able to destroy them with Pernicious Deed. One danger with the Rock is that, unlike most other Extended decks, it accelerates its mana primarily with extra lands. It’s much more satisfying to bounce a Goblin Warchief, Chrome Mox, or Talisman than to bounce a Sakura-Tribe Elder-ed land. More than just about any other widely-played deck, The Rock varies greatly in builds. Paradoxically, it’s the worst of these builds that you have to worry about. Phyrexian Plaguelord has nothing on you, but the lowly, much-maligned Troll Ascetic can end the game. Goblin Piledriver can at least be dealt with out of the sideboard. The Troll, however, is immune to Smother and Aether Spellbomb. Not even Engineered Explosives would help in your two-color deck. In any case, The Rock’s card advantage generating spells are bad news when you’re trying to fight a war of attrition. Sideboarding: –Orb of Dreams, +Cranial Extraction.
The Way It Is
At the time of writing, the decklist given above costs $42.25 (excluding lands) on StarCityGames.com. About half of this price resides in the four copies of Isochron Scepter. Every other major Extended deck includes at least one four-of set of cards that costs more than our entire U/B Bounce deck. I hope some of you can enjoy it.