Times are good in the House of Dave. New car, new job, new woman – I think that my karma wheel has (finally!) swung back into the yin side of things. Unfortunately, this has also meant a little less time to play this card game I’ve been obsessed with for almost eight years.
Still, I’m trying to get as much testing in before the upcoming Extended qualifiers. The vaunted (ha!) High Plains Drifters, my local team, has been running decks through the gauntlet to try and determine what to play.
As of now, though, I’ll be honest: I have no idea what to make of this metagame. Between Houston and Reims (“Sligh is dead!” -“Sligh wins!”), I’m horribly, horribly confused. There are those who would say I was horribly confused well before I got into this game, but that’s neither here nor there.
Our current gauntlet includes The Rock, Aluren, Angry Hermit, Red Deck Wins, Piledriver Sligh, Psychatog, Turbo-Oath, Benzo, U/B Reanimator and…And…
I’m sure there’s more, but I’m losing track. It’s gotten to the point where even I, being one of the three people in town with a collection of cards large enough to run anything Vintage-legal, am proxying cards like a fiend. I’m responsible for more Sharpie sales than Terrell Owens.
I’ve been trying to come up with something partially original to run through the gauntlet. I’m very good at coming up with original ideas for decks. Not necessarily good ones, but original ones.
So I started playing around with trying to move popular OBC decks to Extended. Wonder Dog (U/G Madness) and Mono-black Control easily made the jump from Odyssey Block Constructed to Standard. Could the archetypes go further and dominate Extended?
(That’s a loaded question. I wouldn’t be writing this article if the answer was”no.”)
Enheartened by results at Reims, I decided to try.
Wonder Dog, or as I like to call the Extended version,”Dachshund” (Why Dachshund? Because this is Extended Wonder Dog. Get it? Extended Dog? Sigh…never mind) is the kind of deck that can flourish in this environment, an reactive aggro-control deck that can play out fast threats and back them up with a smattering of situational counters. Like Sligh decks, a turn 5 kill is not out of the question.
There are different variants, but the core of the deck remains mostly the same; Basking Rootwalla, Arrogant Wurm, Wild Mongrel, Aquamoeba, Circular Logic and Wonder. After that, the Extended environment gives you more goodies to play with.
Replacing Merfolk Looter as your extremely fragile madness outlet is Waterfront Bouncer. Not only will he keep annoying fatties off your back, but it synergies well with Gilded Drake – steal their creature, bounce the Drake, and put a Basking Rootwalla into play. That’s not excessively broken, is it?
The next question is, Brainstorm or Careful Study? Brainstorm looks better on paper-it protects your spells from discard effects, synergies with shuffling effects. Careful Study, however, does provide you with another madness outlet and digs deeper into the deck. And decks running Careful Study were more successful at Reims than Brainstorm versions. As much as I love Brainstorm, I’m going to have to accept the nonconventional wisdom and say go with Careful Study, but see if you can find room for a Brainstorm or two.
If you want a replacement for Careful Study that offers the same kind of card (dis)advantage, use Frantic Search. Works great on turn 3 with Arrogant Wurms (and, yes, you can put madness on the stack, untap your lands, then cast Arrogant Wurm – Sheldon said so).
Daze has been added as an additional counter. This card is critical, as it gives the deck the ability to tap out early and still combat combo decks that want to go off on turn two. Extended Dog, like its predecessors, needs to be able to apply early pressure while keeping an opponent honest.
I thought Intuition would be great until I read the card – you don’t actually discard the cards in question, hence, no madness trigger and you can’t get three Rootwallas for free. Intuition does work well, however, as a deck thinner and enabling you to get one-shots of the two incarnations you want, Genesis and Wonder (I must thank Brian Davis-Williams for this bit of tech). Still, quite often, Intuition is something I’m pitching to a Mongrel, so I’m not sold on the value of the card. Since the deck is now very light on card drawing, it needs a little more oomph in that department, and I’d love to find something besides the comparatively slow Deep Analysis, but what? More research is required.
4 Basking Rootwalla
4 Wild Mongrel
3 Waterfront Bouncer
2 Gilded Drake
4 Arrogant Wurm
4 Careful Study
4 Circular Logic
2 Frantic Search
3 Roar of the Wurm
4 Yavimaya Coast
2 Centaur Glade
3 Seal of Removal
The sideboard has your usual hate for Sligh (Chill), The Rock (Submerge and Naturalize) and Seal of Removal for the all-purpose”put that creature back into your hand” ability without the Bouncer’s fragility.
I’ve seen the deck win when it gets the unbeatable nuts draw of Rootwalla-Mongrel-Wurm-Wurm, and even with bad draws it can recover with the cheap creature base. I don’t know if I’m ready to declare this the new King of Extended, but it’s definitely moving up the ladder to Tier I contention.
This, of course, segues nicely into the other deck from OBC – the imaginatively named Mono-Black Control and it’s Standardized cousin, Corruptor Black. I’d been thinking about this particular archetype and if it could make the jump to Extended. After all, it has more creature removal than you can shake a stick at (and I can shake a stick at a lot of creature removal, I’ve tried) and the power of the Unholy Trinity of Extended: Duress, Cabal Therapy, and Vampiric Tutor. Throw in Yawgmoth’s Agenda and you’re off to the races. Figuratively speaking, that is, as this deck is a marathoner, not a sprinter.
Mono-black has the tools to deal with combo decks like Aluren (Engineered Plague) and Angry Hermit (Diabolic Edict) and creates a troublesome matchup for The Rock and Psychatog. In fact, being creatureless, it means decks packing between four and ten removal spells now have a lot of dead cards. Not to mention that there are almost no targets for Pernicious Deed in the deck. And the fact that black is the color du jour for graveyard hate.
What mono-black has a problem with, however, is rush decks. The deck needs to make it to turn 6 so Corrupt can both regain lost life and, as an added bonus, deal with any threat an opponent has on the board. Unfortunately, the current metagame seems to favor decks that kill you long before turn 6, such as Red Deck Wins, even with main deck Engineered Plague. The deck also has no way to deal with enchantments – although Powder Keg is a viable choice for dealing with the likes of Piledriver Sligh and Red Deck Wins, and pray no one brings in a Circle of Protection: Black.
Xavier Anne had some success with this deck at Reims, which you can find here. Xavier is apparently trying to compete with Bram Snepvangers for”Funkiest Name in Magic.”
Looking at Xavier’s decklist, the one card I don’t like is Phyrexian Arena. I’d rather move that card to the sideboard. With the plethora of aggro decks sure to be at the PTQ circuit – and somewhat unexpected at Reims – the life loss from the Arena may set you back too far, especially against Sligh. If I’m playing a field full of control and combo, like the one at Houston, then yes, I’d go with the Arenas. But with more beatdown decks expected, I favor using one-shots of cards like Infest and Powder Keg in the main deck.
What I’ve come up with I’ve christened Tammany Hall (as in Extended Corruptor, now stop groaning and check your history books).
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Diabolic Edict
1 Chainer’s Edict
3 Innocent Blood
2 Engineered Plague
3 Vampiric Tutor
1 Skeletal Scrying
1 Haunting Echoes
1 Yawgmoth’s Agenda
1 Soul Burn
1 Yawgmoth’s Agenda
1 Powder Keg
1 Coffin Purge
1 “Dust Bowl
2 Cabal Coffers
1 Chainer’s Edict
2 Engineered Plague
1 Cursed Totem
3 Phyrexian Negator
1 Planar Void
4 Phyrexian Arena
1 Powder Keg
The sideboard is where I really need to make some changes based on early testing. Do I need both Caltrops and Engineered Plague against rush decks? (answer: maybe) Do I need the Negators or should I try running Masticores instead? What about Millstone as an alternate win condition?
Based on these two builds, it’s safe to say that these two archetypes can make the jump to Extended. Vintage might be another matter, but still, these are two decks worth looking at for the upcoming qualifiers