I look at Extended now, and I feel like Larry Fine from that classic Three Stooges short "Disorder in the Court" – when, in his attempt to smash the parrot with the gavel (if you haven’t seen it, I’m not going to try to explain it) and he mistakenly smashes his fiddle.
"Oh, my Stradivarius, my beautiful Stradivarius!" he cries.
Or, in my case, "Oh, my dual lands, my beautiful dual lands!"
With the nuclear bomb that Wizards has unleashed, there’s nothing left of the "old" Extended I knew and loved except for cockroaches and The Rock. What is to become of my old favorites?
There’s a couple, actually, that I think are still okay, if a little worse for wear, and that’s what I wanted to touch one. Starting with the -Gro decks.
Super-Gro is most definitely dead. In fact, there’s almost no reason to run white in Extended anymore without Swords to Plowshares, ‘twould seem. But without the almighty Plow and the Mirage fetch lands, the razor’s edge the deck walked with its mana base has vanished entirely.
However, the original Miracle-Gro still has potential. It took some heavy hits, losing Force of Will, Tropical Island and Winter Orb. It’s still very playable, though, with some tweaking.
First off, no Tropical Island. While Yavimaya Coast is a decent replacement, you can’t fish it out of the deck with Land Grant, which is what made it so good in the deck.
I promise, if the planets are aligned and I somehow wrangle an invite to the Invitational and, dream of impossible dreams, win, this is the card I’d make:
When Meddish’s Bauble comes into play, choose a basic land type. All lands in your library are considered to be this type of land in addition to their normal land type.
1, TAP, Sacrifice Meddish’s Bauble: Draw a card.
The idea, of course, is that you can use this to play Tithe and Land Grant again, the way you used to be able to. Gro and Junk players should love this card; it’s probably too broken for R&D’s tastes, since you could Tithe for Wastelands. God forbid I should do something to make Extended feel like it has dual lands in it again.
But I digress. The deck needed Land Grant to fish out one of the four or five green sources (Tropical Island and maybe one basic forest). Counting as a forest and an island, Tropical Island could work with both Land Grant and Gush.
There’s no reason we can’t simply replace Tropical Islands with Forests -this will make the deck Wasteland-proof. The devil is in the details, though, and the devil here is finding the right balance between islands and forests -not enough forests, and you’ll end up with a hand full of Dryads and Werebears that you can’t cast; too many forests and you get non-synergy with cards like Gush and Foil.
That being said, I’m going with a mana base of four forests and ten islands, no non-basics whatsoever. The more I test, the more I’ll tweak this. Why the high (fourteen) mana base? Read on, young Skywalker.
Losing Winter Orb hurts a lot more than losing Tropical Island. The Orb’s synergy with all the bounce cards and low, low mana base is what made this deck tick – therefore, a replacement must be found. Static Orb is a possibility. It only costs one more, but doesn’t quite replicate the Orb’s effect. In fact, it affects the deck’s synergy in a negative fashion.
However, there is something that does replicate the Winter Orb, which you may remember from the Mercadian Block tournaments from years ago: Rising Waters. You may think me nuts for suggesting a four-casting cost enchantment, but you certainly wouldn’t be the first. This is why I’m going with a slightly higher mana base, to ensure I can cast this by turn 3 or 4.
Hey, if Super-Gro can run Mystic Enforcer, then I can sure as heck run this.
Good lord, I’m suggesting playing Rising Waters in Extended. Crazy? Probably. Crazy like a fox? Hopefully. Crazy, as in throw-him-in-the-nuthouse crazy? Possibly.
Notably, Rising Waters is not as vulnerable to Pernicious Deed as Winter Orb was, and it’s a lot harder to get up to four mana under the lock than it is to two. That’s worth considering. And, if white is indeed going to see little play except as a splash color since Swords is gone, then you won’t have to worry excessively about enchantment removal.
At least in theory.
Replacing Force of Will? Now that gets a little tricky. We do have able, if not perfect, replacements handy in Foil and Thwart. The two cards do interact fairly well together – and with the higher island count, it can get away with running more than the traditional two copies of Foil. Four is probably too many, however. I’m starting with three Foil and two Thwart and seeing how it works from here. That means only nine counters instead of ten.
The rest of the deck remains very much the way you remember it. I like to use Withdraw as my bounce spell du jour instead of Unsummon or Boomerang, since it can be used to double-bounce an opponent’s creatures and save yours from an opponent’s spell as well. The deck also has card drawing in spades. Sleight of Hand and Brainstorm are there to dig into the deck early for lands and spells (although I’m looking at Opt over Brainstorm; I prefer Brainstorm since it can protect your hand from discard effects). Gush we’ve discussed. Curiosity is there for extra card drawing. The creature base is the usual mix of milk-drinking Quirion Dryads, mana-producing monster Werebear, and the it-kind-of-counts-as-a-creature Legacy’s Allure.
Gaea’s Skyfolk and Krosan Beast were also considered in the early build, but dropped for now for lack of room. Further testing may indicate that they should be put back in.
And because I have a thing for putting at least one or two janky cards in a deck, a lone copy of Misdirection.
The sideboard has Chill for Sligh, which I’m sure will still be there in numbers, Annuls for Oath and Tinker decks, Submerge for the mirror and Hidden Gibbons for all sorts of monkeyshines.
4 Quirion Dryad
3 Rising Waters
4 Legacy’s Allure
4 Land Grant
4 Sleight of Hand
2 Krosan Reclamation
3 Hidden Gibbons
That brings us to the Oath decks – which didn’t take the heaviest hits. There were two powerful and similar decks that utilized this card, "Maher-Oath," with a three-, four- or even five-color mana base (but generally running U/W/G) enabling it to use all sorts of creatures, ever changing to fit the environment. The other is Zvi Mowshowitz "Turboland," a two-color deck that used a single Morphling for the kill and the insane card drawing engine of Exploration and Horn of Greed.
The archetype’s major losses were Force of Will, Swords to Plowshares, and Gaea’s Blessing.
The primary reason that Oath decks added white was for Swords to Plowshares, and, again, now that that’s gone, there’s really no reason to run white. Except for maybe enchantment removal – cards like Disenchant and Aura Blast and the like – and to be able to hard-cast creatures like Mystic Enforcer. Gaea’s Blessing, however, can be replaced with the weaker but versatile Krosan Restoration. Most notably, it’s an instant, not a sorcery, and can target any player’s graveyard, so it’s an effective defense against reanimator decks.
Zvi Mowshowitz has already reconstructed Turboland over on the sideboard and can be seen here.
I don’t care for Zvi’s single-creature strategy, honestly. The Battlefield Scrounger is nothing short of a brilliant addition, though, for its library-restocking ability and beatdown capabilities. However, if it somehow gets removed from the game or sent to the graveyard at an inopportune time, his deck has no win condition.
Should you end up Oathing out a Scrounger on turn 3, for example, without getting to threshold, then suddenly you’ve got a creature that can be easily eliminated by Urza’s Rage or Volcanic Hammer and you’re depending upon Krosan Restoration to bring you back your one and only win condition.
I favor one addition to add an alternative win condition: Judgment’s Scalpalexis. Man alive, I love this critter. It has an evasion ability, the toughness of five makes it very hard to get rid of in a Plow-less environment, and the Millstone-like ability can win games in two or three turns, especially against mono-color decks.
I’d lose Fact or Fiction and one Brainstorm in favor of Scalpalexis and a second Krosan Reclamation, so you can better mimic the classic Gaea’s Blessing engine.
Mind you, this may not the correct way to play Turboland. Zvi’s idea is strong but narrow. I prefer a little diversity. Zvi, however, has won a Pro Tour; me, I finished 3rd at the Friday night draft at the game store. So, as always, take my opinions with a large grain of salt.