Where to begin? First of all, the title of this article is in reference to this version of Shredder’s theme. Bullets. Seriously though, the deck has way more than seventeen “bullets.” There are three cards between the deck and sideboard that aren’t bullets. Heh.
A “bullet” (i.e. Silver Bullet) is, as I’m sure you are aware, a “hoser” card (something really groovy versus someone). For instance, Kataki is the typical Affinity bullet. Like a Silver Bullet to a werewolf, Kataki is Affinity’s weakness.
A couple of days ago I got to thinking, what if I could build a deck of all bullets for the current Extended metagame? Compare to the wild Standard these days, there are fewer macro archetypes (sill double digits) and many are hosed by the same cards.
I began listing cards that really hose people and tried to envision a strategy that would guide the deck while it is doing all this hosing. Sure, Kataki is pretty spiffy versus Affinity, but it hardly wins the game outright. What was my deck going to “do?”
Keep in mind, I was not approaching this as a Shredder deck, initially. Actually, my first list was a bizarre B/W Worship deck with Kataki, Silver Knight, Hand of Honor, Leyline of the Void, Dimir House Guard, Cranial Extraction, Duress, Paladin En-Vec, and some random garbage.
Let’s just say it is fortunate for you that I do not show you most of the lists I come up with. “Nine out of ten” would probably make you less smart just reading them.
I’m looking at this schizophrenic pile that doesn’t know if it is a pathetic White Weenie or a terrible Orzhov Control deck (neither or which is exactly a dominating Extended strategy). One has to go. Seeing as spells are better than creatures (Ancestral Recall is not a creature) I cut the summon spells.
Now we are getting somewhere. I added Shred Memory, as it is a major hoser versus half the field and is a fine Tutor. I still hadn’t build the deck yet, as it was obviously still unplayable. I kept sketching ideas and playing with concepts. For instance, I splashed Blue, but ended up cutting all the Blue cards. Seeing as I already went to the trouble of adding Blue mana, I just added some other Blue cards.
I contemplated a Snow theme, but I didn’t actually want to play with more than 13 Snow cards. I reflected on Shredder versions 1.0 and 2.0, The CAL, Gifts Rock, Wake, Domain, and more. The decks I was gunning for were Friggorid, Affinity, Boros/Zoo, Heartbeat, Tog, The CAL, and NO Stick.
After several days of testing and tweaking (play a game, change some cards, repeat for days), I arrived at the following:
As you can see, Green certainly forced its way into the deck. I actually started by splashing Farseek, and Collective Restraint came along. Eventually, the rest worked their way in.
Sakura-Tribe Elder plus Farseek – the Elder is the best card in this deck. He is great for fixing and acceleration (as if you didn’t know that), but versus aggro he literally wins games. The speed bump is enormous. He is like the best parts of Impulse and Sage Owl (and I mean that in the best possible way).
Farseek is also good, but it is far from an Elder. It, unfortunately, has yet to block a Ravager or Ichorid. Still, the seven Green fixers, Dragon, and fetch lands make the mana in this deck far more consistent than Shredder version 1.0.
While I didn’t try it this time, you may want one Top. Twenty-three shufflers, not counting Extracting yourself, is a lot. Still, it is pretty slow and I’m not sure more library manipulation is what you need. If you want one, I suggest cutting Windswept Heath.
Life from the Loam – While this deck has only two, Shred Memory, Gifts Ungiven, and Clutch (for Gifts) all set it up, combined with tons of deck thinning and cycling. This offers the ability to pretty much retrieve Life from the Loam at will, while not getting stuck with too many versus Aggro. The second one is to better fight hate, which will surely be prevalent as this format is explored. Cycling in response to a Cremate is fine, but can’t always be counted on.
Six cycling lands combined with six fetch lands and a Monastery keeps your Life from the Loam potent. Also, Dredging combos with Dragon and “Regrowth” cards. In addition, it makes your deck thinning more potent. Mill half your deck and each land you fetch will have twice the impact.
Simply put, Life from the Loam is the best card drawing engine in Extended (yes, better than Bob). While not as hyper-efficient as The Great One, it is more robust and durable. Of course, both have their place (or in the case of the CAL, the same place).
Living Wish – Living Wish was an excellent suggestion by Olyander and esternaefil. Originally, Kataki and Withered Wretch were the creatures in the board. They are obvious. Loxodon was added as a target versus aggro, as well as a good sideboard card. Meddling Mage is an added dimension of disruption.
Turn 3 Shred, turn 4 Wish to Kataki or Meddling Mage is a fine start giving you a better game versus Affinity and a way to help make up for not maindecking Duress.
I tried a land in the sideboard, but with so much in the deck, it just isn’t worth it. Once last note on the Wish, you side it out versus everyone. Side in whatever you would have Wished for. If for some reason none of your men are good, then you don’t want Wish anyway. Remember, in a pinch, you can Shred your Witness, then Wish for it. That my friends, is tech.
Nostalgic Dreams and Eternal Witness – Nostalgic Dreams is saucy, as it is the right casting cost and gives you something euphoric to do with land you are dredging. Many people must be double Cranialed. Shredding to Dreams gives you “access” to more ways to put holes in heads. Eternal Witness is the wrong casting cost, but it completes the Gifts package. It also happens to be one of the best Green cards ever printed. Perhaps there should be more?
Shred Memory – What was once laughed at as jank is looking more and more like an Extended powerhouse. It hoses half the field in a way that is hard for many decks to duplicate. It is also a Tutor (uncounterable) to the best converted mana cost. Spell Snare is said by many to be the best Standard card, after all. The new Extended will require graveyard hate from most decks. This is one of the best maindeck options, if not the best. Finally, an uncounterable tutor to an uncounterable card drawer (Life from the Loam) is completely broken versus reactive decks.
Cranial Extraction – This card is fantastic right now, as it is a win against Tog or NO Stick and cripples Friggorid, Heartbeat, and The CAL. Two is a lock versus any of these decks (Ichorid + Grave-Trolls, Cunning Wish + Brain Freeze, Seismic Assault + whatever else seems relevant). It is even useful versus Goblins (Ringleader). Cranial is obviously dead versus many, but it is easily sideboarded out for the Elephants (2 + 1 ugly one). Remember Clutch + Cranial is a mondo combo, not just one to fetch the other, but as bounce the Troll, then Extract it. This deck “goldfishes” double Cranial turn 5-6.
Smother – The lone spot elimination, sweepers are typically better, but it is Shreddable. It is chosen over Chainer’s Edict due to Blinkmoth Nexus, as well as hitting Ravager, Watchwolf, or Warchief, despite a Worker, Lion, or Prospector. Flashback probably isn’t worth loss of targeting. If Reanimator makes a comeback, Edict can return. Blinkmoth + Cranial Plating is the most annoying thing Affinity can do.
Wrath of God – This was what Shredder version 2.0 was most in need of. Wrath is simply the best anti-creature card available for this deck (it is faster than Deed). Clutching to Wrath is about as common as Clutching to Cranial. Wrath on turn 3 or 4, followed by action, is vital to beating many aggro decks.
Decree of Justice – This surprising addition is a carry over from when I had the deck in a Wake configuration. Most were cut, but one remains as it is an uncounterable threat that can be Clutched to. Also, I just like casting it. 4/4s are quite good these days. I have never before played Decree in a deck that casts it so much, as opposed to cycling it. Decree also gives you another reliable kill card. Between it, the Dragon, the Monastery, and Living Wish (and Green dorks), this deck has no trouble winning in time, as previous versions did. Besides, when your opponent runs his Dark Confidant into a surprise Soldier, your life will be complete. All around, it is a good fit, you just usually don’t want two. Adding a second one is an option… It was the last card I cut.
Eternal Dragon – Color fixing. Uncounterable card drawing. Unstoppable threat. Inevitability. Combos with Dredge. Awesome blocker. A natural fit, though certainly a one of.
Gifts Ungiven – Aside from the Life from the Loam + three cycling lands package, this deck has so many ways to fight that you can fetch four aces versus anyone.
Wrath + Deed + Crime / Punishment + Loxodon Hierarch?
Cranial + Clutch + Witness + Nostalgic?
You can be assured of any two cards you want with the Regrowth package. Depending on your mana, you can “go off” fetching four Tutors and looping Gifts + Dreams (you only loop twice, but if you have the mana, you can Demonic Tutor about seven times.
Collective Restraint – A throwback to Shredder version 1.0, the Restraint is a bit sketchy, but can situationally be great versus Affinity, Friggorid, Boros, Goblins, even Tog. It is a Transmutable plan versus Goblins in particular and can randomly win games versus half the field. The added dimension of defense is questionable with only four land types, but probably worth it.
Pernicious Deed – Since you can’t play seven Wraths. Also, Deed has strengths, such as hitting Confinement, Zombie Infestation, and Cranial Plating. In addition, an end step Deed provides massive tempo, if you can pull it off.
Clutch of the Undercity – Fairly self-explanatory. If you expect much NO Stick, add one or two… it is your out. You could cut a Gifts and / or a Cranial. Four is pretty slow, though.
Crime / Punishment – A Shreddable sweeper that solves tough problems like a Deed. It is also an Armageddon against Affinity and an alternate win condition (stealing their Tog is insane with Life From the Loam).
Loxodon Hierarch – I had Presence of the Wise, but Loxodon is so much more versatile. I hated tapping out to gain life, then just getting bashed again the next turn. Also, as you may have realized, he is more efficient than Dark Heart of the Wood.
Six Shock Lands – Farseek package. Try to get pairs, like Godless Shrine plus Breeding Pool. Playing the land right in this deck is extremely skill testing.
Six Fetch Lands – Two notes: Versus aggro, you usually fetch basics. Second, one Verge is useful, but two is probably too many. you want to limit the number of lands that must come into play tapped.
Nantuko Monastery – Ideal kill card for a Life from the Loam deck. Fantastic blocker (first strike). He works perfectly with Wrath or Deed. A second is an option, though colorless in a four color deck is an issue.
Six Cycling Lands – Four Tranquil Thicket to hit your Elder or Farseek. The rest for the Gifts piles and because six is the right number, I think.
Two Plains, as opposed to one of others… It is critical to Wrath without Shocking yourself.
Duress – The Duresses moved to the sideboard because they are so bad versus half the field and don’t “win the game” versus the other half. Still, the are what you want versus many people, so you have full access for games 2 and 3.
Loxodon Hierarch + Ravenous Baloth – I’m not positive on the one Baloth, but he makes your Gifts better. Side them in versus anyone you don’t bring Duress in against. You may also want them versus random creatureless decks, as they are better than dead cards.
Meddling Mage – Obviously Wishing for Pikula Game 1 is a nice manoeuvre, but Games 2 and 3 you want to side in both to try to lock people. He is Shreddable and a nice combo with Cranial and Duress. Besides, sometimes you just want a Grizzly Bear. An excellent added way to disrupt people.
Kataki – obv
Withered Wretch – Side him in versus anyone who uses their graveyard at all, even Tog. Sometimes you just want a bear, as I said.
Naturalize – Affinity, NO Stick, and The CAL, mainly. If you expect a lot of these, add a Wear Away.
Cranial Extraction – Depending on your metagame, you may want to add one or subtract one from the maindeck. You need at least two main, and must be able to go to four after sideboard.
Collective Restraint – Again, it is questionable but if you have one maindeck, the second one gets better. Ray of Revelation sucks for you, but two is a lock versus some. Cranial for Ray is a fine play in the right circumstance. If you showed it in Game 1 versus Friggorid, you should consider siding it out, clogging them with dead Rays.
Zur’s Weirding – Yet another way to seriously disrupt and lock people. Usually it is brought in against the Duress crowd as they combo well. An early Weirding is game versus NO Stick, Heartbeat, and some others. Dragon and Life From the Loam get around Zur’s. If the field was right, you could main deck it, but you’d have to be pretty sure of the right opponents. Cranial is usually a better Game One plan.
Some sideboard suggestions:
When facing typical builds of the following:
Cut: 1 Living Wish, 1 Eternal Dragon, 1 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Decree of Justice, 1 Life from the Loam and 1 Crime / Punishment
Add: 2 Loxodon Hierarch, 1 Ravenous Baloth, 1 Withered Wretch, 1 Cranial Extraction, 1 Collective Restraint
Cut: 3 Cranial Extraction, 1 Life from the Loam, 1 Living Wish
Add: 2 Loxodon Hierarch, 1 Ravenous Baloth, 1 Kataki, 1 Naturalize, 1 Collective Restraint
Tog (depends on build)
Cut: 1 Crime / Punishment, 1 Loxodon Hierarch, 1 Collective Restraint, 1 Living Wish, 1 Nostalgic Dreams, 3 Pernicious Deed
Add: 4 Duress, 2 Meddling Mage, 1 Withered Wretch, 1 Cranial Extraction , 1 Zur’s Weirding
Boros / Zoo
Cut: 3 Cranial Extraction, 1 Living Wish
Add: 2 Loxodon Hierarch, 1 Ravenous Baloth, 1 Collective Restraint
Cut: 4 Wrath of God, 3 Pernicious Deed, 1 Living Wish, 1 Smother, 1 Crime / Punishment, 1 Collective Restraint
Add: 4 Duress, 2 Meddling Mage, 1 Withered Wretch, 1 Cranial Extraction, 1 Zur’s Weirding, 1 Naturalize, 1 Ravenous Baloth
For more on the Shredder archetype, check out Shredder version 1.0 and Shredder version 2.0. Version 1.0 features Mike Long’s Burning Wish technology. Version 2.0 is pre-sided versus Non-aggro decks.
Some cards that were considered, but did not stay:
Vindicate: Good versus everyone, but not quite good enough.
Mirari’s Wake: Surprisingly decent, especially when the deck had more Decrees. However, transmutes are odd and who has time for five drops?
Gerrard’s Verdict: Verdict yourself is nice, but it doesn’t make the cut.
Bottled Cloister: The deck doesn’t need more card drawing.
Chainer’s Edict: You definitely could play one depending on the field.
Leyline of the Void: As if you needed more graveyard hate.
More Eternal Witnesses + Genesis: By the time this is online you have already won.
Call of the Herd: He is not at all what you want.
Solitary Confinement: Definitely a great card for many Shredder decks, but this one doesn’t take advantage of it enough. It is worth considering a build with more Witnesses, Genesis, and more Gifts, so you can set up the deck.
Main deck Kataki: Wish is fine unless Affinity gains popularity (even more than it already has).
So there you have it. It has taken me longer than usual to tune this build and it can certainly use plenty of work. I only hope it may inspire an idea or two. I know your feedback in the forums has certainly helped me in the evolution of the Shredder archetype, which can be summed up as a Shred Memory deck borrowing elements from The CAL, The Rock, and Domain.
Your feedback is always appreciated. What do you see the Extended metagame looking like these days? Could someone please post a good aggro Loam list and whatever The CAL or Heartbeat look like these days?
The following deck concepts are just ideas off the top of my head. They have never been tested and may be seriously flawed, but perhaps there is a useful idea or two.
4 Mishra’s Bauble
4 Paradise Mantle
4 Chrome Mox
4 Arcbound Worker
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Cranial Plating
2 Myr Enforcer
4 Sleight of Hand
4 Somber Hoverguard
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Watery Grave
2 Polluted Delta
[michaelj] Chapin, what is wrong with you? Did you miss the mana ration memo? Mise well mulligan 67% of the time, amiright?
Orzhov Deck Wins
4 Dark Confidant
4 Withered Wretch
4 Nantuko Shade
2 Mesmeric Fiend
4 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
4 Savannah Lions
2 Kataki, War’s Wage
4 Avatar of Discord
2 Chrome Mox
4 Godless Shrine
4 Polluted Delta
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Flooded Strand
4 Caves of Koilos
Let me know what you think of these three decks, suggestions as well as information on modern Extended. Extended may not be “in season” but it is still played and certainly interesting. I’ll catch you later.