Ten Extended Decks to Beat: Counter-Sliver
Counter-Sliver is another relatively new Extended archetype, arising from the synergy found between the Slivers from Tempest block.
The deck is a perfect example of the aggro-control deck: Play out a few threats, start beating down your opponent, and protect your assets with countermagic and spot removal. Chris Senhouse is one of the earliest Counter-Sliver players, has had a lot of success with this deck in recent history, and is most frequently identified with this deck.
The deck usually runs a core of Hibernation Slivers (bouncing), Crystalline Sliver (untargetability), Muscle Slivers (make things big!), Winged Slivers (flying) and Acidic Slivers (sac for damage). Some decks will either maindeck or sideboard Sliver Queen as well.
The deck can drop a turn two Crystalline Sliver, turn three Muscle Sliver and turn four Muscle and Winged Sliver with an optimal draw. By turn four, the deck can deliver sixteen points of damage with untargetable flyers, backed up with Force of Will! That is what makes this deck truly dangerous.
The counter base is fairly shallow; only eight to ten, not counting the occasional Misdirection. Spot removal in the form of Swords to Plowshares or Disenchant is almost a given as well. The high-risk/high-reward Demonic Consultation helps the deck get those optimal draws it needs for explosive starts or to whistle up a counterspell in the middle of a counter war. Duress is also commonly found in the deck.
As run by Trey Van Cleave at the Gateway Masters Tournament
4x Crystalline Sliver
4x Hibernation Sliver
4x Muscle Sliver
3x Winged Sliver
2x Acidic Sliver
4x Aura of Silence
4x Force of Will
2x Swords to Plowshares
3x Demonic Consultation
4x City of Brass
4x Underground Sea
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2x Gemstone Mine
1x Undiscovered Paradise
4x Flood Plain
1x Tropical Island
1x Volcanic Island
I really like how Trey has teched out his deck. Most Counter-Sliver decks run eight counters maindeck in the form of four Counterspells and four Force of Wills. Replacing Counterspell with Daze is an excellent metagame call, as using its alternate casting cost doesn’t hurt the deck at all since almost everything in the deck costs two mana. In Extended, the extra turn a well-timed Daze can buy will often be the difference between victory and defeat.
Trey also runs maindeck Annul and a whopping four Auras of Silence – powerful tech against the enchantment-heavy Trade-Survival and Trix decks. The sideboard has additional tech with Erase, giving the deck more enchantment removal, and Worship, a gamewinner against any deck that doesn’t have a way to kill a Crystalline Sliver.
Suffice it to say, I really like this deck.
Crystalline Sliver. Big Slivers aren’t bad, flying Slivers are annoying, but when you make them all untargetable, then they get nasty.
The combination of fast beats and strong defense make it a good matchup against most combo decks. With Erase, Aura of Silence and Pyroblast, it also does fairly well against Stasis.
Price of Progress Sligh gives this deck a lot of trouble, as does any deck packing Back to Basics. The deck’s light mana base and reliance on non-basics make it vulnerable to land destruction like Wasteland and Dwarven Miner. And Void would be a beating against this deck. Personal testing has shown Stompy tends to give this deck trouble.
In My Own Humble Opinion:
Counter-Sliver is currently one of the defining archetypes of Extended; one that you must prepare for when playing this format. If your deck cannot beat Counter-Sliver, you’d better find a new deck, as I’d call it one of the top three decks in the format.
Ten Extended Decks to Beat: Forbidian
Another archetype that arose from the high-powered Mirage and Tempest blocks, and another deck associated with its creator: Jon Finkel. Forbidian, as the name suggests, originally ran on the power of the buyback counterspell, Forbid, and the card-drawing Ophidian to form a soft lock with countermagic.
When Forbidian was Standard-legal, it ran Tradewind Riders to help achieve a lock. The Extended version is more counter-heavy and creature light, depending on a small handful of creatures, primarily Ophidians and Masticores and/or Morphlings. The deck is chock-full of counters, fourteen at the minimum – and I’ve seen as high as twenty – deck searchers like Impulse, and the powerful deck thinner Thawing Glaciers. What makes it past the countermagic is usually dealt with by the deck’s "sweepers": Powder Keg and sometimes Nevinyrral’s Disk.
Forbidian has a very heavy mana base, from twenty-four to twenty-eight lands. This is needed to not only ensure a solid start but to fuel Thawing Glaciers. The high mana count also lets the deck run a fair amount of hate for non-basics with Wasteland and Dust Bowl.
As run by Jon Finkel, Gateway Masters Tournament
Finkel’s version did not run Force Spike, a popular Forbidian choice. In fact, the counter base seems a little light for Forbidian, but the deck has a lot of removal with four Kegs and two Disks.
Forbidian has generally been a strong choice against most combo decks with the vast array of countermagic at its disposal.
Rush decks that put fast pressure on the deck can overwhelm the countermagic. This includes Sligh, but especially Stompy.
In My Own Humble Opinion:
Even the mighty Finkel, after scrubbing out ignominiously at the Gateway Masters, was ready to declare Forbidian dead and buried. I still like the archetype, perhaps splashing a little black for Undermine ("Dark Forbidian?"); I think it can still work in the environment.