Ten Extended Decks to Beat #3: Trix
Trix has an interesting ancestry, one that can be traced to the number of "cereal" nicknamed decks that it evolved from.
First, there was Fruity Pebbles, the R/U/W/B deck that used the Enduring Renewal/Shield Sphere/Goblin Bombardment engine to kill an opponent. Later, black was added to the deck to run Necropotence, and the deck came to be called "Wheaties," apparently because the addition of black added more fiber to the deck.
Then came Trix, or "Necro-Donate," which is more of a cousin than a direct ancestor of Wheaties – but since it’s a Necro-fueled combo deck, it gets lumped in the cereal family of Extended decks.
The deck was brutal in its simplicity, essentially being a two-piece combo deck, down from the three pieces needed for the Pebbles and Wheaties decks. Play Illusions of Grandeur, gain a bunch of life, and Donate it to an opponent. They lose 20 life when they can no longer pay the upkeep cost, and lose. Everything else in the deck was either a way to get the combo into place (Necro, Vampiric Tutor, Demonic Consultation) or defense (Force of Will, Hoodwink, Duress).
(Side note: Quite honestly, if they wanted to keep the "cereal" nickname thing going, since the deck is blue and black, they really should have named it "Boo Berry.")
Without these fast mana sources, many believed that Trix was dead. I hypothesized that Mox Diamonds could be added to beneficial effect and only a minimal loss of speed, and that Trix was not dead, but only a little slower.
Whadd’ya know, I was right for once.
As run by Dirk Baberowski at the Gateway Masters Tournament
4x Demonic Consultation
4x Vampiric Tutor
4x Force of Will
4x Illusions of Grandeur
4x Mox Diamond
4x Underground Sea
3x Underground River
2x Gemstone Mine
The deck is slower but still retains its brutal elegance. The fact that Necro, the fuel for this engine of hate, can be brought out by turn two at the earliest does not seem to have hurt the deck tremendously.
The power of the skull, baby! Someday, they’ll finally get around to banning this card. Someday.
Decks with a singular aggressive focus, like Sligh and Stompy, fare poorly against combo decks. Quite honestly, though, this deck is strongest against pretty much the entire field – there are no decks that Trix genuinely fears or calls a "bad matchup," save the mirror match.
Counter-heavy decks, like Forbidian and Stasis, or those packing a lot of anti-enchantment defense, like Three-Deuce, usually have the best chance of beating the dreaded Trix. Trade-Survival also has a fairly good track record versus Trix.
In My Own Humble Opinion
Trix may be a turn slower, but it’s still just as dangerous. I’d definitely call it one of the top two or three decks in the current Extended environment – until WotC finally sobers up and gets around to banning Necropotence.
Ten Extended Decks to Beat #4: Stasis
Stasis decks have been around since…well, since Stasis has been around, which is pretty much forever. With its ability to totally shut down the board, Stasis is one of the most powerful global enchantments in the Magic environment, bringing gameplay to a standstill.
The historical problem with Stasis has always been finding a way to fuel the expensive upkeep cost of Stasis. The earliest Stasis decks used the cumbersome Instill Energy/Birds of Paradise combo – effective, but very fragile. Later decks used Kismet in conjunction with Stasis to form a punishing defense.
The release of the new "free" counters and card drawing spells from Mercadian block – Gush, Thwart and Daze, not to mention a new free "pitch" counter in Foil, has given the deck a new mechanism to fuel the Stasis lock indefinitely.
I really like how Gary has built his deck. Four Powder Kegs give him added defense against weenie swarms. A single Morphling is the kill card in this deck, augmented by a backup Feldon’s Cane that can fuel the alternative method of victory: running an opponent out of cards. With Gush, Thwart and Daze, he has a method of continually returning islands to his hand and replaying them to keep fueling the Stasis lock. If Stasis becomes too expensive to maintain, it can be fed to Claws of Gix for a little life boost and a second copy can be cast.
I’d consider using Wheel of Torture in lieu of Morphling as the kill card. It’s cheaper and doesn’t require mana to untap, but is not as flexible as "Superman." Also, Ensnare is a possible addition to the sideboard if weenie swarms are a worry, but the Powder Keg makes that card unnecessary.
Like many combo-esque decks, it packs a big creature in the sideboard in the event its force to abandon Stasis in favor of trying to win fast, such as losing a first game in a match and there only being ten minutes remaining in the round. In this case, it’s Masticore. The sideboard also has hate for dual-land heavy decks in Back to Basics, additional cheap counters in Annul and Disrupt, and the general versatility of Turnabout.
The deck can usually win counter wars with other blue decks, so I’d give it the nod against Forbidian. Weenie swarm decks, like Stompy and Three-Deuce have trouble with Stasis, although Sligh has enough anti-blue hate to at least give Stasis a run for the money.
Any deck that packs enough anti-enchantment punch to nullify the Stasis lock or runs the bane of Stasis: Quirion Ranger. This makes the current Trade-Survival decks the arch-nemesis of Stasis in Standard.
In My Own Humble Opinion:
I really like the new Stasis deck. It’s well tuned to the metagame and can handle anything out there. (Anything that doesn’t run Quirion Ranger, at least.) This could be a defining deck in the "new" Extended, but it should be noted that I’d call this a fairly difficult deck to play properly; it’s not the sort of thing the average player should just play "out of the box," so to speak. I’d playtest accordingly before playing it in a qualifier.
"Editor’s Note (I Get Letters): I have received a few e-mails noting I made an error regarding the lineage of the "cereal" decks. I erroneously referred to the Necro + Fruity Pebbles decks as "Wheaties" when in fact they are better known as "Cocoa Pebbles." "Wheaties" is the Rec/Sur-Pebbles deck.
To those who pointed this error out, many thanks."
Editor, StarCityCCG.com and The Ferrett Domain "I used to be frumpy and plain-looking," said Kelli Froemer, one of the 2,500 focus-group subjects upon whom Pantene tested their new shampoo-and-behavioral conditioners. "Now I spend at least an hour in the bathroom each morning, elaborately styling my hair and applying a vast array of cosmetics and sprays to my hair and face. Why? Because if I don’t, it feels like somebody has set my head on fire."