Tribal Thriftiness – Extended Mailbag

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Tuesday, January 12th – Dave dips into the mailbag to provide more budget options with potential to see play in Extended.

Even though we’re merely DAYS away from Worldwake spoilers starting to make the rounds, the focus everywhere you look is on Extended. The PTQ season is picking up, and results are starting to trickle in here and there about what’s getting played. In any event, it seems like the format is still pretty open The recent Extended columns have generated some pretty good feedback, including some decklists from readers that I thought I’d share with you, along with my thoughts.

Scapeshift Combo

From Beebles in the forums:

I think some kind of RG Scapeshift deck could be good on a tight budget. That would cost you about $30 and could definitely win some matches.

4 Search for Tomorrow
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
2 Wood Elves
4 Solemn Simulacrum
2 Akroma, Angel of Fury

4 Rampant Growth
4 Magma Jet
4 Firespout
4 Harmonize
4 Scapeshift

12 Forest
8 Mountain
2 Stomping Ground
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

3 Ancient Grudge
4 Ravenous Trap
4 Guttural Response
4 Kitchen finks

Rare Cost Summary:
Solemn Simulacrum ($2.99 x 4 = $11.96)
Akroma, Angel of Fury ($3.99 x 2 = $7.98)
Scapeshift ($5.99 x 4 = $23.96)
Stomping Ground ($11.99 x 2 = $23.98)
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle ($2.49 x 2 = $4.98)

Scapeshift has gone from being a dollar rare to a six-dollar rare thanks to the combo potential in Extended. Not quite as enormous a jump in price as Dark Depths, but it’s still there. Most of the versions that I’ve seen have been running Blue almost out of necessity – to help find (and then protect) the combo. With a Red-Green version, you’re forced to rely on the pure card-drawing power of Harmonize and the Scry off Magma Jet to help you find Scapeshift. And while I think Beebles is right – you will definitely win some matches – if I’m going to run a two-color budget combo deck in Extended, it would probably be Dragonstorm. That being said, I wonder if a Blue-Green budget version could be built? In the lists I’ve seen, the only real expense is in the manabase, which is to be expected since you want to maximize the number of Mountains you have, but limit the number of useless basic Mountains that you absolutely must run.

This is Alan Wesley’s Top 8 deck from this year’s Extended PTQs:

4 Coiling Oracle
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Wood Elves

2 Cryptic Command
3 Harrow
4 Peer Through Depths
4 Remand
4 Repeal
4 Firespout
4 Scapeshift

1 Breeding Pool
2 Flooded Grove
4 Forest
3 Island
2 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
4 Steam Vents
4 Stomping Ground
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

In order to cut down the price, you’d have to resort to basic Mountains, which means that the number of Valakuts needs to go up – you can’t rely on “one Valakut plus seven Mountain” if you have basics in the manabase. Cryptic Command is obviously the other big expense, but with a manabase filled with basics, I think I might like either a way to get Mountains / Valakuts back INTO my library if I need to play them – I’m thinking Quest for Ancient Secrets, which you can’t do in response to Scapeshift (which would be hot) but would still let you safely sacrifice Mountains to Harrow – or a way to filter my draws to make sure I don’t end up with Mountains when I need them still in the deck, like Sensei’s Divining Top or Ponder.

I also want to say that I love Peer Through Depths in this deck – it pushes you past unnecessary land draws just as much as it helps to find Scapeshift.

Thopter Combo

Matt Davis sent me an email with a budget version of the Sword of the MeekThopter Foundry combo:

As a longtime “budget” player, I’ve always looked at things in the same way that you do in your article. Needless to say, I like your ideas. Just to add to the pot, here’s a super budget deck that I’ve had some success with. Just thought I’d throw that your way, since it is super budget, and a playable alternative. This deck is capable of infinite damage, life, turns, and 1/1 flyers.

4 Thopter Foundry
3 Sword of the Meek
1 Krark-Clan Ironworks
1 Blasting Station
4 Azorius Signet
4 Muddle the Mixture
4 Mana Leak
3 Condescend
4 Thirst for Knowledge
3 Fabricate
2 Repeal
3 Time Sieve

4 Seat of the Synod
4 Ancient Den
4 Vault of Whispers
4 Arcane Sanctum
1 Plains
1 Swamp
6 Islands

Rare Cost Summary:
Time Sieve ($1.99 x 3 = $5.97)

Matt also suggested possibly adding in Gifts Ungiven ($4.99) and Academy Ruins ($2.99), and I don’t think either of those take away from the “budget” nature of the deck. I’ll be honest, I have a ton of Gifts Ungivens lying around the house now that are totally useless to me since they banned it in EDH, and adding in Gifts and the Ruins would provide another way to search out the combo pieces. Gifts should replace the Fabricates (since they serve the same purpose, only Gifts has more flexibility) and I think three is probably enough. I’d then probably replace one Vault of Whispers and one Island with the Ruins.

I have to really test this deck out, because it appeals to the Johnny in me. I like winning, but winning with infinite damage / turns / 1/1 flyers seems so much cooler than… I don’t know, attacking with Goblins.

Blue Skies

Brandon Isleib dropped me an email with his version of a Blue Skies deck.

The deck has a variety of potential play styles, all of them potent. Mist/Glaze beats are aggressive, eight of the deck’s counterspells make creatures, and Ixidron is an unexpectedly harsh answer to countless cards (Akroma is not a fan). Some of your creatures benefit contextually by Ixidron’s face-down tricks, as the Figment and Whelk due to +1/+1 counters will be the biggest things on the field save perhaps for Ixidron, while the Glaze becomes a creature permanently. Dream Stalker is not only early defense but also a way to return your face-down creatures.

22 Island

4 Krovikan Mist (there’s your Coldsnap love)

4 Dream Stalker
4 Aether Figment
4 Ixidron
4 Draining Whelk
2 Riftwing Cloudskate

4 Mark of Eviction
4 Halcyon Glaze

4 Remove Soul
4 Summoner’s Bane

Rare Cost Summary:
Ixidron ($0.59 x 4 = $2.36)
Draining Whelk ($0.99 x 4 = $3.96)

What I loved about the original Blue Skies was how it combined aggressive flying creatures with a disruption element – in some cases in the original heyday, that was Rising Waters. We don’t have access to that in Extended any more, nor Winter Orb – heck, not even Static Orb is in Extended any more. But I wouldn’t want to take away the deck’s focus on quick, aggressive creatures backed up by countermagic and bounce. I think Brandon’s going in the right direction, but given my druthers, I’d speed it up a little bit more. Relying on the six-casting-cost Draining Whelk in Extended is probably too slow.

4 Spiketail Hatchling
4 Spiketail Drakeling
4 Welkin Tern
3 Vendilion Clique
3 Vexing Sphinx
3 Riftwing Cloudskate
1 Living Tsunami

4 Repeal
4 Ancestral Vision
4 Mana Leak
4 Remand

22 Island

Rare Cost Summary:
Vendilion Clique ($4.99 x 3 = $14.97)
Vexing Sphinx ($0.75 x 4 = $3.00)
Ancestral Vision ($3.99 x 4 = $15.96)

Ancestral Vision is the perfect one-drop for this deck, as it will allow you to extend your aggro creatures out and either help you find a counterspell for any mass removal, or at the very least to get the next wave of attackers. The Spiketails will go a long way to making sure you can protect the team against any mass removal, since Firespout seems to be the damage-based sweeper of choice and not Volcanic Fallout. Everything else is picked similar to the Blue Skies shells from Mercadian Masques era – except the free counterspells. Dang, it’s too bad we don’t still have those.

I contemplated trying to squeeze in Esperzoa, simply because he’s a great flying attacker with a workable downside. Right off the bat, you can add in four Seat of the Synod to give him a sort of Living-Tsunami-esque option, but then it gets a little thin. Arcbound Stinger? Ornithopter? Bleh. Your best bets then become Wizard Replicant (plays along with the disruption) and Spire Golem (who should eventually become cheap enough that he won’t impact whatever else you’re doing)… but no one’s going to feel threatened much.

Wrap It Up

Thanks, gentlemen, for the emails, the kind words of support, and the decklists and ideas. It always helps to know that someone out there is benefitting from your work – and I’d like to repay that thanks.

Next week: We hopefully will be at least ankle-deep in Worldwake spoilers as the “official” season starts and we start nearing the Prerelease. Start making your plans to attend one, whether a big fancy regional Pre-Release or one down at your local store!

Until next week…


dave dot massive at gmail and davemassive at facebook and twitter