World Of Wefald – The New Faces Of Extended

Tuesday, March 8 – Oyvind Wefald is a famed deckbuilder, back on the Tour, and he’s bringing you Extended data from MTGO as well as full interviews with the names behind the best decks: Michael Hetrick, Reid Duke, and Steve Bodgers.

Greetings, class. Have you finished the homework assignment I gave you last week?
Good. Let us get on with the lecture then.

First, I would like to direct your attention to the following graph. I
strongly recommend that you keep it open in a separate window, since I’ll be referring to it throughout this lecture. The graph shows how the Magic
Online Extended metagame has developed between February 23 and March 3. As you can see, it has been updated on a daily basis. For those interested in
the details: I have used a moving average method, which is highly suitable for tracking trends in any given time-dependent data set. The percentages
for each day are based on the tournament results from said day, and from the six days prior. I have chosen not to include deck types that make up 5% or
less of the metagame, since I don’t really see the point in calibrating your PTQ weapons to specifically target those.

On the other hand, the following five decks are worth gunning for:

5. All the decks that are not Bant, Faeries, Elves, or U/W Mystic (26%)

So did I immediately contradict myself by saying these decks should be gunned for? Well… I was originally going to pick five decks, as I
normally do when approaching a metagame I want to beat, but after looking at the graph, I can see no good candidate for number five. It would appear
that we’re moving towards a four-deck metagame, with anything other than those four being relegated to the “miscellaneous” category. This category is
quite the mixed bag, with the most relevant inhabitants being Valakut, Red Deck Wins, Boros, Naya, and Tempered Steel. So while I don’t recommend that
you spend much energy trying to beat any of these decks (unless you know or suspect that your local metagame differs significantly from the one on
Magic Online, of course), you should at least be aware of their existence and have some fraction of a clue how they work.

4. Bant (17%)

There’s a NKOTB this week, and he’s got the Right Stuff. (Told you I was old…) My first encounter with the new Bant deck
went something like this:

On February 25, Hall of Famer, soccer mom, and all-around good guy Olle RÃ¥de
messaged me and asked if I had any serious plans to qualify for Pro Tour Nagoya. I replied that I intended to play the Sealed PTQs on Magic Online, but
that I didn’t have time to test any Constructed. He then linked me to this article and suggested I enter
the next PTQ with the deck featured therein. I responded with my usual grumpy lines about how I’m not able to play well when I pilot decks I haven’t
built myself and that attending the PTQ would therefore be little more than a waste of valuable time. He tried his best to persuade me, since he felt
the deck was really good, but I insisted on being negative. Then, a few hours later, I actually clicked the link and read the decklist. And I was
instantly impressed. It seemed like a really well-positioned deck, so I immediately messaged Reid Duke and asked him for some tips on how to play and
sideboard with it.

Two days later, I was all set, for the first time ever (I think), to play a Constructed event with zero prior test games. I ended up 4-3 after making
such brilliant plays as turn 1 Murmuring Bosk into Birds of Paradise (whaddayamean there are no Treefolk in the deck?), but all the matches I lost felt
quite close. My conclusion was that the deck only needed a few minor tweaks to become really, really good.

What’s that? You’re sick of hearing about me constantly scrubbing out? Okay then. Here’s the deck that won the PTQ:

StarCityGames.com own reiderrabbit did it! After spending countless hours designing, tweaking, redesigning, and re-tweaking his pet deck, he finally
got there. Truly a well-deserved victory. Here’s what he had to say about the deck (and himself):

RD: “Hi, class. My name is Reid Duke. I’m from Sugar Loaf, New York. I’m 21, and I’ve been playing Magic since I was five. Nagoya will be my fourth Pro
Tour, but I have yet to cash in one. My biggest achievement was getting fifth in the 2010 Magic Online Championship.”

WoW: “And now you’re riding high as a deckbuilder. Your Bant deck is the fourth biggest deck in Extended right now. How did it come about?”

RD: “My all-time favorite deck was Tomoharu Saitou’s “Big Zoo” deck from the old Extended format. It featured Noble Hierarch, Knight of the Reliquary,
Baneslayer Angel, and Bant Charm. I also really enjoyed the Mythic Conscription deck in Standard, so I’d have to say that creature ramp decks are my
favorite things to play. Normally a deck full of Noble Hierarchs and Birds of Paradise can’t afford to play much disruption or removal, since the
threat density would be too low. But that’s what Bant Charm is for. It’s great as removal when you need it, but it also counters Cryptic Command, which
is the biggest problem card for G/W creature decks, as well as being useful in a million other less common situations.”

WoW: “Like dealing with a certain sword that everyone and their pet rabbit
is jamming into their decks now.”

RD: “Exactly. I get eight artifact removal spells (Qasali Pridemage and Bant Charm) without having to devote a single slot to it.”

WoW: “That’s what turned me on to your deck in the first place. Those two cards seemed so ridiculously well-positioned in a world of Swords and
Prismatic Omens and Bitterblossoms. You took third place in the Magic Online PTQ on February 20 as well, and between the two PTQs, I noticed that you
popped up in every other Daily Event with some new twist on the deck. Suddenly there was a Jace, the Mind Sculptor in there; then the Mana Leaks were
gone; then they were back, and Hero of Bladehold was benched, and so forth. Until you were finally able to sleek it down.”

RD: “I used that week to test every configuration that I thought could be good. There’s no way I would have registered a list with no Mana Leaks in a
PTQ without testing it, but I was thankful to be able to play a lot with nothing at stake just to see what worked and what didn’t. It was helpful
because Jace, the Mind Sculptor, for example, is one of the first cards you would think to include in a Bant deck that cheats its way to four mana. But
it’s just not a powerful card in this deck/format.”

WoW: “The (outdated) version I played in the PTQ had one Jace, but it never felt quite right. There were too few blue sources to support it, and it’s
not really a part of the deck’s main plan. One other thing I’ve noticed is how much we’ve agreed on the card choices. Remember when I congratulated you
right after the win? I said ‘you need a Plains in there, and Finest Hour feels unnecessary’.”

RD: “Haha, and then you took a look at my decklist…”

WoW: “…and behold: one Plains and zero Finest Hour.”

RD: “That’s what all those Daily Events led me to. A lower curve, for instance. With the inclusion of the Stoneforge Mystic package, you can build your
own fatty, instead of playing four- and five-drops. In the current decklist, there’s no card that I’m sad to see in my opening hand, and Elspeth,
Knight-Errant is the only card costing more than three mana. Baneslayer Angel is nice off the top, but it’s not a key ingredient to an opening hand
because you never know if your Birds of Paradise will live, if they’re going to have permission, or even if you’ll live long enough to cast her.”

WoW: “Good point. It seems to me like you have an excellent understanding of the details that make a deck tick.”

RD: “Thanks.”

WoW: “So is the list you won the PTQ with as close to optimal as it can get, you think? Or is there something you would change in retrospect?”

RD: “I mentioned in

my most recent article

that there are only a handful of flexible slots. The only cards I might change are the two Gaddock Teegs in the sideboard, but they can be a fine
option depending on what metagame you expect. Maybe Oust or more red hate would be better, though.”

WoW: “So Red Deck Wins isn’t the best of matchups?”

RD: “No, but it could be a good matchup if you’re willing to devote five sideboard slots to it. Three Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tenders is enough to give you a
chance, and they also come in against Volcanic Fallout decks. The problem with Gaddock Teeg is that R/G Valakut can still play a Primeval Titan, and
Wargate can play Prismatic Omen + Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle to kill him once they’re ready to go off. He’s still good in a lot of situations,
though. Just not foolproof. You can tune the Bant deck to make it beat anything, but not everything all at once. So it really pays to stay on top of
what people are playing.”

WoW: “As always. What about Elves?”

RD: “Bad, but not unwinnable. I beat Elves in the quarterfinals of the PTQ by having good hands with Mirran Crusader. A big reason why I included
Finest Hour in the first place was that I wanted the potential for quick kills in the matchups where I needed them. Oust would be a really good
addition for the Elves matchups because you can use it at the first opportunity (unlike Path To Exile) and sometimes play a threat the same turn you
use it. The big weakness of Bant is that it doesn’t have efficient removal for weenie creatures like Lotus Cobra, Fauna Shaman, and the creatures in
Elves. Oust corrects those problems, but I never brought myself to sideboard it in a PTQ because it’s a low-impact card compared to something like
Gaddock Teeg. Elves was actually the next deck I had planned to look at in detail, if Bant didn’t work out. But I’m more drawn to Elf Combo than Elf

Wow: “The matchups: Thumbs up against Faeries, U/W Mystic, and the blue Valakut versions; bad matchups against Elves, R/G Valakut, Red Deck Wins, and
random combo decks?”

RD: “That sounds about right, but I maintain that you can build the deck to beat everything you just mentioned, if you really want to. The only thing
that would keep me from playing Bant is a metagame full of G/W Trap and Mythic Conscription.”

WoW: “So, like you mentioned earlier, it really pays to do your homework. And that fact might keep the Bant deck from growing and becoming really big,
since most people just pick some deck up, without really tweaking it in an efficient way.”

RD: “Yeah. It’s also important to have practice with Bant, because you have to know what the deck is and isn’t capable of when making tough mulligan
decisions. The biggest lesson I learned while tuning the deck is to maximize the chances of getting a good opening hand, since the early turns are so

WoW: “Well, it’s almost time for recess, so I’ll finish this off with one final question: If you had a PTQ tomorrow, would you show up with Bant?”

RD: “I most definitely would.”

Wow: “Alrighty then. Thanks for taking the time to chat. And good luck in Nagoya.”

RD: “Thanks. And good luck getting there in the next PTQ.”

3. Faeries (18%)

Blah, blah, play threats end of turn yadda, yadda; Thoughtseize into Bitterblossom and so forth, etc.

2. Elves (18%)

LEGOLAS IS BACK!!! If you look closely at the graph, you will see that
Elves got bigger as soon as U/W Mystic got bigger, and when the U/W Sword-wielders started declining again, so did the little green men. A feasible
model from Middle Earth Biology 101 would be that the Elf deck is a predator, feasting mainly on Kibler’s evil forces of doom. To elaborate on this,
I’ve brought in a guest lecturer. Please welcome the Elf player (and the decklist) who almost beat our favorite bunny rabbit in the quarterfinals of
the February 27 PTQ:

SB: “Hi, class. My name is Steve Bodgers. I’m 17. I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and besides that PTQ Top 8, I Top 8ed States in 2008 and Day 2ed
Grand Prix Columbus.”

WoW: “So what made you play Elves in that PTQ?”

SB: “I saw that the new U/W deck was lacking the mass removal that had made the Elf deck weak during the time when more control-ish versions of U/W
were popular. Since mass removal is the only thing Elves is really scared of, it made sense to play it. And even if they have the mass removal, Lead
the Stampede is a great way to refuel afterwards.”

WoW: “Agreed. Some lists play Genesis Wave instead of Lead the Stampede, but the main goal in having a card like this is to rebuild after a Day of
Judgment or something similar. And if your dudes are dead, Genesis Wave doesn’t do all that much, since those dudes are also your main mana sources.”

SB: “I’m more afraid of Volcanic Fallout than Day Of Judgment, simply because it’s faster, but none of the big decks play Volcanic Fallout at the
moment. That, coupled with the fact that Elves beats both U/W Mystic and Faeries, makes it a very good choice right now.”

WoW: “Reid Duke beat you in the quarterfinals of the PTQ, but he says he got lucky in that match and that Elves is a bad matchup for him.”

SB: “Really? His deck seems tailor-made to beat mine, with the Mirran Crusaders and all. That card is such a beating.”

WoW: “Maybe it just seemed that way because he had quite good draws against you? Anyway — are there any changes you’d make to the deck if you were to
play it again?”

SB: “I’ve already made some changes. From the maindeck, I cut two Wren’s Run Vanquishers for the fourth Lead the Stampede and the fourth Ezuri,
Renegade Leader. From the sideboard, I cut the Fogs and the Ezuri for one more Leyline of Vitality and some Overruns for the mirror. Maybe I should
play a Sword of Body and Mind instead though.”

WoW: “If both sides sit there with life gain and whatever, the milling part of that sword could come in quite handy. I saw that some lists were
splashing white for Ranger of Eos, and some black for Thoughtseize and removal in the board. Ever considered going in any of those directions?”

SB: “If I were to add a color to the deck, it would be white. That way, I could have access to Path to Exile and Leyline of Sanctity (against Valakut),
as well as Ranger of Eos.”

WoW: “Thoughtseize to take Wrath effects doesn’t tempt you?”

SB: “Not really. That would dilute the Lead the Stampedes too much.”

WoW: “Good deckbuilding point right there, class: Stay on target. By including too many answer cards in an aggressive deck, you’re often less likely to
win even against the decks the answers are there for, since you’re diluting your main game plan.”

SB: “Yeah. It’s hard to justify taking out dudes for cards that could potentially be dead at any given time.”

WoW: “Last question before yet another recess (lazy students….): If you had a PTQ tomorrow, would Elves still be your deck of choice, at least unless
the metagame suddenly decided to play a lot of mass kill again?”

SB: “Yeah, for sure. But uhm… dude? I promised not to tell you this, but I’m feeling a bit guilty about it. I know you and Legolas are close, and…
well… He came over to my place yesterday and…”

WoW: “What? That lying piece of Baloth droppings. He said he was going to practice his archery skills by shooting down Squadron Hawks.”

SB: “I’m really sorry, but you know how persuasive he can be. And he said you were getting a bit old for him and that he longed for something young and

WoW: “CLASS DISMISSED! And you…. I hope you come in ninth in all of the remaining PTQs. This talk is over.”

1. U/W Mystic (21%)

Welcome back, class. Hopefully you have all done something worthwhile with your recess time, like cutting down trees or designing decks that beat Elves. For the last part of this week’s
lecture, I once again direct your attention to the graph. As you can see,
U/W Mystic has been the biggest deck in the format for the last week or so. And to shed some light on this fine piece of weapons technology, I’ve once
again brought in a guest lecturer. Give a warm welcome to the creator of the most dominant Extended deck right now (and his decklist):

MH: “Hi, class. My name is Michael Hetrick. I’m 20. I live in Roseville, which is near Sacramento, and my first Pro Tour was San Juan last year, where
I qualified by winning the last PTQ of the season. A few weeks later, I qualified for Pro Tour Amsterdam as well.”

WoW: “And now you’re providing technology that qualifies your friends instead. (His buddy Ricky Sidher won the Magic Online PTQ on February 20 with the
U/W Mystic deck.) How did the deck come about?”

MH: “Well, I was already playing U/W with Stoneforge Mystic in Standard, and U/W Control in Extended, so it was pretty obvious what would come next.”

WoW: “The first thing that catches my eye about your list is the absence of Day of Judgment. Is that just a metagame call?”

MH: “Day of Judgment is good and all, but I thought I could just beat the aggro decks games 2 and 3 if I had to. That way, I could have better game
against Faeries. For my local PTQ, I’ll probably maindeck some number of Days of Judgment though because of the overwhelming amount of aggro decks
there. But on Magic Online, at least before the PTQ Ricky won, Faeries was the deck to beat.”

WoW: “I see that Squadron Hawk is missing from your list. Wasn’t it good enough for Extended?”

MH: “I didn’t think so at the time, but it’s something I’m considering now that the deck is popular, since it’s good both with and against Swords.

WoW: “Why the lone Mulldrifter?”

MH: “I wanted another creature that could carry a Sword, and Mulldrifter was a versatile option. A 2/2 with flying isn’t all that bad against Faeries
on its own either. But it’s not a card that I think needs to be in the deck.”

WoW: “So with this deck being really popular now, knowing how to beat the mirror has become an important skill to have. Any tips?”

MH: “There are a lot of intricacies in the mirror, but it mostly resolves around Stoneforge Mystic and Sword of Feast and Famine, so having an answer
to that is important. Kor Sanctifiers gets around Spell Pierce, but I’m not sure that’s the way to go, since four mana is a lot. Divine Offering is
narrow but still probably the best way to gain an edge. Casting Vendilion Clique in response to a Stoneforge Mystic activation will also win quite a
few games.”

WoW: “We’re almost at the end of this week’s lecture, but I want to ask you one last question before you leave: If you had a PTQ tomorrow, would you
still play the U/W Mystic deck?”

MH: “I haven’t had the time to test anything else, so yeah. If I did have time, I would probably try out Bant instead though. That deck looks really

WoW: “Alrighty then. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. And good luck in your next PTQs. Class dismissed.”

-Wefald- (signing off)