Ten Extended Decks to Beat #1: Stompy
Stompy’s rise to power arrived with the release of Weatherlight and the cheap and powerful Rogue Elephants and Fallow Wurms. Running an extremely low mana base and Winter Orbs, the deck was packed with the undercosted and overpowered green creatures that could overrun an opponent (literally, since Overrun was usually the kill card) by turn five.
Throw in the addition of the cheap echo creatures from Urza’s block and the recursive power of Rancor, and you have a green deck that rivals the speed of Hatred and Suicide Black (in fact, the deck is referred to as "Suicide Green" in some quarters).
To increase the speed of the deck, the Extended version of the deck usually runs Elvish Spirit Guides, which can pitched to add green mana, and Vine Dryads, which can be played as an instant. Land Grant helps with the mana acceleration, since the deck runs a very light mana base, usually between fourteen or eighteen lands, generally including Wastelands.
The sideboard contains the necessary ingredients for Stompy to survive in Extended – control (Winter Orb), anti-enchantment (Emerald Charm), anti-blue (Rushwood Legate) and a splash of anti-artifact in a single Uktabi Orangutan. Cursed Totems are also good at shutting down annoying beasts like Masticores and Morphlings.
As run by Nicolai Herzog at the Gateway Masters Tournament:
2x Pouncing Jaguar
4x Wild Dogs
4x Skyshroud Elite
4x Ghazban Ogre
3x Rogue Elephant
4x River Boa
4x Elvish Spirit Guide
4x Vine Dryad
4x Giant Growth
2x Wild Might
4x Land Grant
As you can see from Nicolai’s construction, Stompy is capable of explosive starts, and nothing in the main deck costs more than two mana. A first-turn Rogue Elephant with Rancor will result in a very short game unless the opponent has a quick answer.
Stompy depends on speed to win, because, more so than any other rush color, it is extremely vulnerable to removal, notably black’s spot removal and Swords to Plowshares. Perish, of course, is a complete beating. Red’s burn can completely nullify the power of Wild Dogs and Ghazban Ogres.
Hard to call in this deck, but it would probably be Elvish Spirit Guide, which often gives the deck the extra mana boost it needs for its explosive starts. You could make a case for Rancor, but I’ll go with the Guides.
Mono-blue control struggles with Stompy, even if it has Hibernation in the sideboard. The speed at which Stompy can play out threats, especially after sideboarding in the "free" Rushwood Legates, can easily overwhelm a blue control deck before it can put defenses into play. It also handles Sligh fairly well, as it can actually outrace a red deck and play its power boosters, Giant Growth and Wild Might, defensively to foil the likes of Incinerate and Shock.
Any deck that runs Perish in the sideboard will give Stompy trouble. However, since both Suicide Black and Hatred are now considered unplayable in Extended, that’s not as much of a threat. Combo can present a problem, hence the Emerald Charms in the sideboard. Global resets like Wrath of God, Nevinyrral’s Disk and Powder Keg also hurt the deck badly.
In My Own Humble Opinion:
Stompy is not really considered a very strong deck – it’s almost rogue in some circles. However, you can see the power of the deck comes from the insane speed it is capable of generating, and the "surprise" factor of playing a less-than-popular deck can win you some games if an opponent doesn’t have a sideboard equipped for speed green. If your style of play is canted towards playing aggressively, then you might want to give Stompy a try.
Ten Extended Decks to Beat #2: Three-Deuce
Three-Deuce has a very special spot in my heart, being as I qualified for my first (and still only) Top 8 at a qualifier with it. It’s a fairly unique deck; it’s essentially a G/R/W beatdown deck with some control elements. But it doesn’t utilize beatdown in the traditional sense. It comes from so many different angles that it’s hard to defend against. Against Stompy, for example, the black mage has Perish as an answer. Against Three-Deuce, however, Perish may kill one or two creatures, but it’s not a global kill card.
The deck can get away with its low mana base (18-20 lands, and one to three of those are Mirage "fetch" lands, supplemented by four Land Grant) by running scads of creatures with a low casting-cost-to-power ratio.
The deck has explosive speed – not quite Sligh or Stompy explosive, mind you, but it’s plenty fast. Mogg Fanatic, Skyshroud Elite, River Boa, and Granger Guildmage form a small but effective creature base. These are backed up by Rancor (an excellent turn-two drop), Cursed Scroll, and the versatile Swords to Plowshares and Incinerate to clear the path.
In an enchantment-heavy environment, the Granger Guildmages were swapped out for Elvish Lyrists to positive effect. It was the appearance of the Elvish Lyrist that spurred the evolution of Trix to begin packing red mana sources for Firestorm, both to eliminate Lyrists and as a secondary kill card. Other alternate cards that have popped up in Three-Deuce include Mirri, Cat Warrior (a beating against Stasis), Paladin en-vec, and sideboarded Honorable Passages – a good call against a field filled with Squee-fueled Survival decks.
As run by Dave Meddish, Eugene, OR PTQ
4x River Boa
3x Skyshroud Elite
4x Mogg Fanatic
2x Elvish Lyrist
2x Granger Guildmage
1x Mirri, Cat Warrior
2x Dwarven Miner
4x Cursed Scroll
3x Seal of Cleansing
4x Land Grant
4x Swords to Plowshares
2x Mountain Valley
3x Treetop Village
It’s hard to pick just one from the deck. Like a Swiss army knife, its versatility is what makes it so good. If I had to choose one card, though, it would be the Granger Guildmage. Or the River Boa. Or maybe Rancor…
The strength of the deck is that it’s not extremely weak against any one deck, but neither is it particularly strong. It handles combo decks like Trix well, especially with maindeck Seals of Cleansing and Auras of Silence brought in from the sideboard. It will probably drop the first game against Sligh, but should take the next two after bringing in the anti-red "slighboard."
Anything with global resets like Wrath of God, or especially Powder Keg. With nothing but one and two casting cost creatures, Powder Keg wrecks the deck. Anything that hoses non-basics, like Back to Basics or Price of Progress, is a wrecking ball as well. Not surprisingly, most of the best anti-Deuce cards live in Forbidian, which is the worst matchup for the deck.
In My Own Humble Opinion:
Three-Deuce was a great metagame call during the 1999 PT-Chicago qualifiers, as it could beat the dominant decks at the time, the Necropotence-based combo decks and Sligh. However, as much as I love this deck, I think the metagame has shifted away from the strengths of Three-Deuce and the deck can now be classified as Tier 2 – but one never knows when an old archetype will return from the dead to dominate the metagame yet again.