This data comes from the fifteen Extended Daily Events on Magic Online from January 22 to January 29. It doesn’t reflect all of the decks being
run in tournaments but rather all of the decks that are successful in tournaments. In other words, it’s what we can expect to face in
the winners’ brackets of Extended tournaments. These twenty decks are the ones that either went 4-0 or appeared twice among the 3-1 finishers.
There are some surprises in these results. While Faeries remains the most popular deck among winning players, it’s struggling to hold onto its
lead. Faeries, G/R Scapeshift, Warriors, Red Deck Wins, and U/W Control are all quite close in popularity. What’s more, Faeries is very clearly
not the most successful of these decks. While more Faeries players achieved winning records, more U/W Control players were able to go undefeated in
these Daily Events.
If all decks and players were equal, we’d expect to see four times as many copies of a deck at 3-1 as at 4-0. It’s truly remarkable that
eleven of the twenty-eight U/W decks (39%) went 4-0. It’s a very streamlined and consistent deck. The mana is smooth with few lands that enter
tapped, and U/W makes great use of both Celestial Colonnade and Tectonic Edge, which is a huge advantage over its cousin, Five-Color Control. U/W has
answers to everything and can even remove creatures from the game, meaning it isn’t vulnerable to Vengevine or Demigod of Revenge like other
control decks are.
A hallmark of many of history’s most successful decks is a wide variety of answers with a backup plan if something goes wrong. If Faeries or Jund
is caught without an answer, they can ignore the threat and turn the game into a race. U/W has an even simpler backup plan because it plays
Magic’s greatest “get out of jail free” card—Baneslayer Angel. If anyone reading has never played a deck with Baneslayer Angel
in it, there’s really nothing like it. You never feel like things are hopeless because the Angel always seems to know when it’s time to
come off the top of the deck and make the opposing army useless. Even U/W’s natural enemy, Faeries, will usually lose to a resolved Baneslayer
Despite my own best efforts, Faeries did not have extraordinary results this week. I maintain that Faeries is the best deck and has no weaknesses or
hopeless matchups. However, Faeries players have to fight hard for every single win these days. Every deck in the chart above has a good game plan
against Faeries, and every serious player is prepared for the matchup. Maybe that’s why we see Faeries giving more players winning records than
any other deck, but only its fair share of players are going undefeated (or making top 8s in bigger events).
G/R Scapeshift and R/U/G Omen were the breakout decks of Grand Prix Atlanta, and they’ve proven on Magic Online that their success wasn’t a
fluke. What I said about Baneslayer Angel goes double for the one-card win, Scapeshift. Once you’ve taken thirty-six damage, it tends to be too
late to topdeck an answer. From these initial stats, Wargate appears to be the most successful variation of the deck, but with only two players winning
with the deck, I’ll wait until next week to make a definitive comment.
I laughed at Red Deck Wins and Warriors for a while but not anymore. Both are brutal decks that are not to be taken lightly. In Friday’s PTQ, my
Warriors opponent killed me on turn 3. I had my Mana Leak ready for him if he decided to play a spell that turn, but instead he just attacked me for
Naya and Jund, along with Faeries, were the top decks before GP Atlanta, and they still have what it takes to hang. Both decks are quite good against
Faeries and against other creature decks. Qasali Pridemage and Gaddock Teeg out of Naya and Thoughtseize, Maelstrom Pulse, and Blightning out of Jund
are great tools against R/U/G Omen. However, the more streamlined G/R Scapeshift deck seems like a fairly hopeless matchup for anyone trying to play
A deck to keep an eye on is Elf Combo. It hasn’t been a popular deck lately, and yet it gave two players 4-0 records. From my experience, Faeries
is a statistical favorite against Elf Combo. However, Elf Combo is very fast and has the best god draw of any deck in the format. The success of Elf
Combo comes and goes in cycles, and at a time like this, when people forget it’s out there, it’s poised to do great things.
Before closing, I’d like to feature a wacky deck that I came across in my research for this article:
- 4 Intimidator Initiate
- 4 Tattermunge Maniac
- 2 Jackal Familiar
- 4 Goblin Bushwhacker
- 4 Goblin Guide
- 2 Guul Draz Vampire
- 4 Vampire Lacerator
- 4 Pulse Tracker
- 2 Memnite
Disney is making a movie about this deck. A ragtag bunch of amateurs band together and surprise everybody. Do they have enough heart to make it to the
championships where they’ll face the Boston Bloodbraid Elves and the Chicago Cryptic Commands?
Even though it plays some silly cards, this deck looks carefully built, and I could see it being strong (I have to admit that I’ve never played
with or against it). I believe it’s my worst nightmare as a Faeries player.
When this Extended format was young, Faeries came out of the gates fast and only grew in popularity. Now things have settled down, and I predict it to
remain in the 10-20% of the field range for the rest of the season. It’s a great deck, but there are plenty of strategies to compete with it.
I’ll be putting a lot of my own effort into practicing Standard for the Pro Tour coming up, so my plan is to stick with Faeries because
it’s the deck I know best. However, I’m eager to find out for myself why U/W Control is performing so well as soon as I have free time.
If you have a limited amount of time to practice Extended, I recommend testing against Faeries, Warriors, and G/R Scapeshift. These are three popular
decks that you can certainly expect to face so the practice won’t be wasted. More importantly, however, they represent the most extreme
strategies in the spectrum. If your deck can survive a good hand from Warriors, then you’ll make it to the midgame against anyone. If it can
execute its game plan through the disruption of Faeries, no one else will be able to stop you. I don’t have a witty sentence for Scapeshift, but
make sure you can beat that one too.
I’m eager for feedback in the forums because I’m thinking of doing something similar next week, and I’d like to know what everyone
liked and didn’t like about this article. Thanks for reading.