The PTQ schedule for this year has me all confused. It’s Christmastime! I should be excited about getting boxes of Worldwake, right? Or maybe looking in my stocking, hoping for a Zendikar pack with a fetch land or, ooh, a hidden treasure! So why does Wizards schedule Extended PTQs to start in January? Now I have to actually think about what I might play in those.
Extended, purely by its nature, is an expensive format. Not as expensive as Vintage (heck, you could probably buy an entire deck for the price of a piece of power), but I think more expensive than Standard. The 600-lb gorilla that is Standard’s expensive manabase is actually a 1200-lb man-eating sabertooth gorilla in Extended – not only do you rely on the fetchlands like Standard does, but they fetch up Ravnica shocklands ($8-12.50), meaning a fairly standard competitive manabase is probably going to run you about a hundred and fifty bucks. Reflecting Pool: $10. Dark Depths: $25.
Don’t get me wrong, the spells are expensive too. Not only do you have $60 Baneslayer Angels flying through the air, but you have them in the same deck as $60 Tarmogoyfs. With Extended being such a large card pool, it’s inevitable that decks will want to play the best cards from the last six years.
This column will attempt to take a look at some possibilities for Extended that won’t break the bank.
This column was always going to start with a deck featuring mostly common lands; it was a toss-up whether it would be this one or the next. Suffice to say that I’m starting with this one because I might actually PLAY this.
Rare Cost Summary:
Demigod of Revenge ($4.99 x 4 = $19.96)
Deus of Calamity ($1.99 x 4 = $7.96)
Magus of the Moon ($4.99 x 3 = $14.97)
Blood Moon ($3.49 x 4 = $13.96)
Chalice of the Void ($12.49 x 4 = $49.96)
Chrome Mox ($19.99 x 4 = $79.96)
There are two big costs in this deck, and they both have perfectly decent reasons for being necessary to this version of the deck. First, you’re going to need Chrome Mox to facilitate your fastest starts. Getting one of the seven Blood Moon effects down is going to be pretty important against a lot of Extended decks, and you have a greater chance of doing that with Chrome Mox. Second, Chalice of the Void shuts off problematic (and cheap) cards that deal with your giant fatties – Path to Exile and Chain of Vapor come to mind. Setting up a Chalice to protect your investment is pretty smart, plus gives you the ability to shut off Hypergenesis as well. Beyond those two cards, you can see that the rest of the rares are $2-5 and the manabase is all basic lands.
But you can make it even cheaper, I think. The problem I have with Chrome Mox is that, inevitably, it’s going to cost you two cards. Great for redundant Blood Moon effects, but you don’t want to be tucking a mana accelerant under there – that kind of defeats the whole purpose! Now, I’m not suggesting you go the Mind’s Desire route and wait until turn 4 to use a Lotus Bloom, but I did peruse the Spoiler Generator to see if I could find a potential replacement and I think I have it: Wild Cantor. No, it doesn’t accelerate you into extra mana on turn 1, but that’s about the only downside. It provides its mana back to you when you need it, can be “cast for 0” on a turn to build up Storm count for Empty the Warrens, and might even chump block if necessary. Like I said, it reduces the chance for a turn 1 blowout, but it gives you a reliable second turn without the card investment (or the $20 pricetag).
Since, in that scenario, we’re likely waiting until Turn 2 to have our “big turn,” it makes it more likely that we’ll be able to generate six mana rather than five, which is where my second possible idea comes in: Chandra Ablaze. There’s two reasons for Chandra. One, she doesn’t die to Path to Exile. Two, she provides another way to completely take your opponent out of their game, similar to the Blood Moons. Can you imagine the look on their face when you play Chandra on turn 2 and activate her -2 ability? Suddenly they’ve mulliganed to five (or less), and have pitched what looked like a keepable hand, while you’ve refilled with cards to give yourself another shot at casting a big finisher. Her +1 ability is no slouch, handling most of the likely creatures in Zoo aside from a humongous Tarmogoyf, and her ultimate gives you the ability to reuse all those mana accelerants that got her into play in the first place.
The reason that I’m honestly considering playing this deck in PTQs is… well, because it looks like a lot of fun. I like the magical “I win” scenarios that you can mentally create. The Chandra idea needs a lot of testing to see if it’s feasible – and then, if it’s better than what the deck already has.
I remember a time when Affinity was the bane of Friday Night Magic, and just whispering “Ravager” would frighten small children and turn women pale. It’s flying under the radar right now, which makes people forget about it. That’s the best time to play Affinity.
- 4 Arcbound Ravager
- 4 Arcbound Worker
- 4 Myr Enforcer
- 4 Frogmite
- 4 Ornithopter
- 4 Ethersworn Canonist
- 4 Master of Etherium
Rare Cost Summary:
Arcbound Ravager ($14.99 x 4 = $59.96)
Ethersworn Canonist ($4.99 x 4 = $19.96)
Master of Etherium ($4.99 x 4 = $19.96)
Fatal Frenzy ($1.49 x 2 = $2.98)
Blinkmoth Nexus ($4.99 x 2 = $9.98)
Affinity is one of those decks that, if it was your type of deck back when it was legal in Standard, you still have every piece of the deck in a binder somewhere just waiting for Extended PTQs. The only big cost in the deck is the Ravagers, and I’m not sure they’re replaceable. If your budget can only support a couple, you can backfill in with Atogs, but Ravager is a critical piece to moving those Modular counters around and getting the damage through. The other rares in the deck are, again, $2-5. And say what you want about Affinity, but if you show up at a PTQ that’s not prepared for it, the deck is certainly willing to punish your opponents.
Since we’re already in the wayback machine, whatever happened to…
In a landscape dominated by hundred-dollar manabases, Tooth and Nail stands out as another possible option for players looking for a less-expensive route. At seventy-five cents apiece, the Urza lands aren’t anywhere near as expensive as fetchlands, and the namesake rare from the deck is only three bucks. The toolbox approach allowed Tooth and Nail to have solutions to a number of problems. So is it time for Tooth and Nail to have another moment in the sun?
- 4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
- 1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
- 2 Triskelion
- 1 Mephidross Vampire
- 2 Eternal Witness
- 1 Sundering Titan
- 4 Wall of Roots
- 4 Kitchen Finks
- 1 Painter's Servant
- 1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
Rare Cost Summary:
Iona, Shield of Emeria ($9.99 x 1 = $9.99)
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker ($3.49 x 1 = $3.49)
Mephidross Vampire ($3.99 x 1 = $3.99)
Painter’s Servant ($2.99 x 1 = $2.99)
Sundering Titan ($3.99 x 1 = $3.99)
Triskelion ($1.25 x 2 = $2.50)
Tooth and Nail ($2.99 x 4 = $11.96)
Mindslaver ($4.99 x 1 = $4.99)
Oblivion Stone ($2.99 x 2 = $5.98)
Boseiju, who Shelters All ($2.49)
Ivan Lopez-Garcia played this to Day 2 at PT: Austin. Still packing the Mephidross Vampire / Triskelion “machine gun” combo, this new version packs another potent pairing: Iona and Painter’s Servant, which will shut your opponent out of playing any more spells for the rest of the game. It still has access to the “infinite Mindslaver” thanks to Kiki-Jiki and an Eternal Witness, too, although I think I might make room for one of the Kiki-Jiki instant-kill combos. (Lose a Triskelion and add a Pestermite, maybe?)
So not EVERYTHING in Extended is as expensive as some of those Worlds decks made it look. Sure, if you wanted to, you could drop five hundred bucks on Baneslayers and Tarmogoyfs, and then follow that up with spending enough on a manabase to fuel a third-world nation for a couple of weeks. But you can also play competitively in Extended with decks without the pricey manabase, using rares from yesteryear that have gone down in price as time has forgotten them.
In any event, I hope you all had a very happy Christmas, or a very joyous holiday season. And hopefully Santa tucked a little something in your stocking from the game we all love.
Until next week…
dave dot massive at gmail and davemassive on twitter and facebook