Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #173 – The Ultimate Extended Tourney Round 2

Are today’s Extended decks as good as those of years past? To find out, 32 of the best of the best — including five decks from this past season — are fighting it out in a single elimination tournament. It’s a battle of monsters — and banned cards: Time Spiral, Memory Jar, Survival of the Fittest, Necropotence, Dark Ritual, Entomb, Tolarian Academy, Demonic Consultation and Replenish are all in play. Can Duress, Force of Will and Wasteland really beat PT: Tinker brokenness? Let’s find out.

Are today’s Extended decks as good as those of years past? To find out, 32 of the best of the best – including five decks from this past season – are fighting it out in a single elimination tournament. It’s a battle of monsters – and banned cards: Time Spiral, Memory Jar, Survival of the Fittest, Necropotence, Dark Ritual, Entomb, Tolarian Academy, Demonic Consultation and Replenish are all in play. Can Duress, Force of Will and Wasteland really beat PT: Tinker brokenness? Let’s find out.

The rules are simple. 32 decks. Random first round pairings. Single elimination – but best of five game matches to limit the effect of lucky draws. Two games are played unsideboarded, with each deck playing first once. Post sideboard, if a deck is 0-2, it plays first, otherwise the decks alternate again. First deck to three wins takes the match – but I ignore results from a fantastically lucky or unlucky game or if the post mortem shows that a player made an outcome-changing mistake. I also allow take-backs and encourage talking about options. The point is to ensure that both decks perform to their maximum. A match in a tournament like this should never be decided on a brain fart.

I have written about this tournament in my last half dozen or so articles. Check out my archives for more info and match coverage.

Here are the results so far. Match coverage follows. I’ll also comment a bit on the controversies involving two matches from last week: JarGrim versus PT Junk and Survival versus George W. Bosh.

Enchantress Enchantress Trix  
UW Tron
Trix Trix
Twiddle / Desire
Stasis Stasis High Tide
GobVantage High Tide
High Tide
Maher Oath Maher Oath Maher Oath  
Angry Ghoul
Turboland Beat Stick
Beat Stick
Benzo The Clock Supergro
The Clock
SuperGro SuperGro
Legion Land Loss Legion Land Loss PT Junk  
Jar Grim PT Junk
PT Junk
RDW2k RDW2K Academy
Aggro Loam
Academy Academy
Cephalid Life
Gaea’s Might Get There Pandeburst Counterslivers  
Counterslivers Counterslivers
Free Spell Necro Balancing Tings  
Balancing Tings
George W. Bosh Survival (disputed – Pending Appeal)

Trix tricks Enchantress

This was a fairly predictable match. Trix is a massively broken deck with amazing card drawing, good disruption and a quick, broken kill. Enchantress is a nifty little combo deck that has good-to-decent card drawing, and no disruption to speak of.

Trix’s basic plan is to drop Necropotence, draw a ton of cards, cast Illusions of Grandeur, Donate it to the opponent, then bounce it with Hoodwink or just hold out until the opponent can no longer pay upkeep. Trix has Force of Will, Duress and lots of other protection for the combo. It also has Dark Ritual, which can enable stupid, broken turn 1 plays like Underground Sea, Ritual, Duress, Ritual, Necropotence, Mana Vault. After a play like that, since it has only one or two cards left in hand, it Necros for seven to nine new cards, discards the worst and starts the next turn with a full grip of brokenness.

Enchantress has a four Argothian Enchantresses, four Enchantress’s Presence and a bunch of enchantments. Eventually, it gets multiple Enchantresses down, and Words of Wind. Then it casts an enchantment, replaces the draws with the Word’s “both players bounce a permanent” effect, and repeats until the opponent has no permanents. That’s a lock that will deck the opponent – although Enchantress also has some creatures to beat down with if necessary.

Trix can kill turn 2, with a god draw. Enchantress cannot. Trix can counter its opponent’s spells, tear apart its opponent’s hand and do totally broken things. Enchantress cannot. Trix can sideboard in Annuls and Pyroblast – and Phyrexian Negators for a fast beatdown. Enchantress can board in a couple copies of Ray of Revelation, and maybe a Bind to counter the Illusion’s triggered abilities.

Trix won in three straight. It wasn’t even close.

High Tide drowns Stasis

This is an example of how important strategies – and particular cards – can be. Stasis is a slow control deck. High Tide is an explosive combo deck.

Stasis likes to tap everything, lock the board with Stasis, then beat with Morphling. Stasis, 12 untapped Islands and a Morphling means the Stasis deck can pay upkeep, and pay to untap Morphling, for six turns. Counting the turn Stasis hit the board, that’s seven hits with a 3/3 Morphling, and that’s usually lethal. Stasis also has cards like Gush, that can both draw cards and bounce tapped Islands back to hand to be replayed.

High Tide casts its namesake, then taps Islands. It untaps them with Frantic Search, Turnabout, Time Spiral and so forth, generates tons of mana, then casts a huge Stroke of Genius to deck the opponent. It can go off with just three Islands in play, but the more it has, the easier it is.

Both decks have Force of Will and other counterspells. What High tide has is four maindeck Turnabouts. Stasis has two in the sideboard. High Tide can play out Islands and wait. It only really has to counter Morphling, which is Stasis’s only threat. It likes to play a waiting game. It can keep casting test spells at the opponent’s end of turn – and the best test spell of all is Turnabout. High Tide is perfectly happy waiting until turn twenty or more, until a Turnabout finally resolves. Once all the opponent’s lands are tapped, it untaps and starts casting Tides, Strokes and Time Spirals. One or two cards may fall to an opponent’s Force of Wills, but the odds are good that it will resolve a few High Tides, and maybe a Time Spiral, then Stroke itself for twenty cards, draw Turnabout and Frantic Search to generate a lot more mana, then Stroke the opponent and deck them.

Once again, this was not close. Stasis won game 1 on a fluke, then lost the next six. (I played a few extras to try different options and just for kicks.) Stasis’s only real chance in this match-up came when I misrecorded the match results – but I proofread my articles.

Maher Oath wastes Beat Stick

Unlike the previous two, this match was a lot closer than it looked, and the outcome was by no means certain.

Oath is a control deck built around Oath of Druids and Gaea’s Blessing. It also has four Enlightened Tutors and a bunch of silver bullets. Beat Stick is a combination of Lightning Angel beatdown and Isochron Scepter / Orim’s Chant tricks.

Oath won the die roll and opened with a good hand that included double Tundra, Force of Will, Counterspell, Impulse, Trade Routes and Wasteland. Beat Stick mulliganed a hand with Meddling Mage, Cunning Wish, double Lightning Angel, Sensei’s Divining Top, Thirst for Knowledge, and one land. From there the game went downhill for Oath. Oath lost about turn 15, with four Tundras and Ivory Mask in play, and a hand full of Green cards. In about thirty cards, it had never seen a land that could produce Green mana, or fetch one.

Game 2 Beat Stick was on the play (decks alternate play and draw the first two games) and opened with Seat of the Synod and Sensei’s Divining Top. Oath played a Tundra and Enlightened Tutor for Null Rod end of turn. However, Beat Stick’s turn two was an Island and Counterbalance. The game looked like it would come down to a blind Counterbalance reveal against the Null Rod – and the reveal was Meddling Mage.

The game went long, with Beat Stick managing to get down a Lightning Angel and the Meddling Mage (naming Oath.) Oath ended up removing Morphling for Force of Will, after killing the Counterbalance with Aura of Silence. Oath was at five when it managed to Swords the Mage and drop an Oath. A number of turns later, Spike Feeders and Spike Weavers had let Oath stabilize – and to get some counters onto a Fairie Conclave. The Conclave eventually sailed in for the win.

Oath brought in the Crater Hellion, a second Aura of Silence and an extra Oath for the Spike Feeder, the Trade Routes and the Ivory Mask. Beat Stick wanted the Disenchant badly, but leaving it in the sideboard as a Cunning Wish target makes it more likely to be found. Instead, Beat Stick brought in four Dwarven Blastminers, for the two Chrome Moxen, one Sensei’s Divining Top and one Isochron Scepter. After some discussion, Beat Stick’s best option seemed to be winning though enforced mana screw – and that’s how it played out: just not quite how it appeared.

Post sideboard game one Beat Stick was on the play. Both decks mulliganed once. Beat Stick played Steam Vents on turns 1, 2, and 3. Oath played Wastelands turns 1, 2, and 3, and killed all three Vents. Beat Stick did manage to get Counterbalance with Top going, but could not stop Oath from forcing Null Rod into play. Beat Stick also had a Meddling Mage naming Oath out, but Oath hard cast Morphling and Morphling partied like it was still 1999. At one point, Oath had cast Gaea’s Blessing targeting three Wastelands – and drew one immediately. Beat Stick died with multiple Red cards in hand and no Red mana. It had drawn some Polluted Deltas, but since Ledbetter’s build only runs three Steam Vents, they could not fetch Red.

Post sideboard game 2 saw the following, after both deck kept:

Oath: Tundra
Beat Stick: Steam Vents, Sensei’s Divining Top (Oath: E Tutor EoT for Null Rod)
Oath: Wasteland, Null Rod (Beat Stick pops the Top in response – and draws another Top).
Beat Stick: Plains, Dwarven Blastminer, (staring at Seat of the Synod, 2 Tops, Isochron Scepter in hand.)
Oath: Waste Steam Vents, Treetop Village

This game was basically over at this point. Oath drew cards like crazy, played lands and kept Beat Stick at two mana or less. Beat Stick resolved a second Miner and a Meddling Mage naming Oath, but they all died chumping a Morphling. At the time, an onlooker expressed surprise that the turn 1 Enlightened Tutor went for Null Rod over Oath, but the rest of the game showed just how brutal Null Rod is against Beat Stick.

Maher Oath moves on.

SuperGro times out The Clock

The Clock is a storm deck that basically Tinkers a Gilded Lotus into play, Twiddles it a lot to up the storm count and generate mana, casts Mind’s Desire, then Tendrils of Agony for the win. SuperGro is a mana denial deck with some very cheap threats, counters and Swords to Plowshares, and Winter Orb to prevent the opponent from playing their game through enforced mana screw.

Game 1, SuperGro made a turn 2 Quirion Dryad, then played Land Grant showing Force of Will, Force of Will, Merfolk Looter, Foil, and Winter Orb – and fetched a Tropical Island. Since The Clock had double mulliganed and drawn nothing, it conceded shortly thereafter.

Game 2 The Clock went off turn 2. Turn 1, on the play, was Ancient Tomb, Grim Monolith, Key, Chrome Mox, Tinker Mox for Gilded Lotus, Mystical Tutor for Mana Severance, Charbelcher.

Sideboarding for SuperGro was a case of getting rid of bad cards for good: Swords were beaten into Annuls and Winter Orbs become Hidden Gibbons. (Winter Orb actually hurts SuperGro more than The Clock, since Clock has a ton of mana artifacts.) The Clock took out a Mindslaver and two Force Spikes for Chain of Vapor, Ensnaring Bridge, and Platinum Angel. Ensnaring Bridge is key – once it hits, SuperGro has almost zero ways to win. Platinum Angel is a close second.

Sideboard game 1 showed how important disruption can be. SuperGro stuck a Meddling Mage naming Tinker, and The Clock drew lands, junk and Tinkers until it died. The Clock did draw a Charbelcher, but it was Annulled.

Post sideboard game 2 was short and one sided. SuperGro was on the play, and the game looked like this:

Gro: Grassland
Clock: Ancient Tomb, Talisman
Gro: blow Grassland during upkeep, Tundra, Meddling Mage (naming Tinker) (Clock Brainstorm EoT.)
Clock: Polluted Delta, blow it (Brainstorm had shown Rushing River and 2 lands), pass the turn
Gro: beat for two, played Tropical Island, Quirion Dryad, Gush returning two Islands, Brainstorm putting the Islands back on top of library, Land Grant revealing Force of Will, Force of Will, Brainstorm, Merfolk Looter, Mystic Enforcer. Land Grant got Tropical Island.
Clock: draw Polluted Delta, blow it, pass.
SuperGro then drew a Foil and revealed it. The Clock folded. With Foil and two Force of Wills, SuperGro had three available counterspells,. It also had five power (and growing) worth of beaters on the table.

The Clock ran down. SuperGro advances.

PT Junk has threats, Legion Land Loss does not

A note: last week I wrote about how PT Junk beat JarGrim. However, I did not have the correct sideboard list for JarGrim, since my web search could only find main deck listings from the 1999 GP. DougieP, however, was able to give me a the listings – many thanks – and Randy Buehler sideboard included four Force of Wills. That was a significant change, and justified replaying the match.

Junk won again.

In fact, I have now played this match out at least a dozen times, with multiple opponents, and I have played both sides. Junk keeps winning.

Junk does not win with River Boas and Cursed Scrolls. Junk wins with aggressive mulligans, Phyrexian Negators and disruption. Duress, Ebony Charm, Wasteland and Seal of Cleansing are the keys. It is very tight, and once in a while JarGrim can pull off the turn one wins, but if Junk messes with JarGrim’s hand and mana a bit, it can generally pull it out.

JarGrim has a lot of excellent defensive cards, with Force of Will, Defense Grid and Erase all being very good at protecting its combo. However, if it takes out too many combo parts to squeeze them in, it stalls. For example, assume JarGrim plays a land and a Memory Jar, then blows the Jar with no mana floating. It draws Lion’s Eye Diamond, Vampiric Tutor, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Tinker, Mox Diamond and Gemstone Mine. It can Tinker for another Memory Jar, Vampiric for Megrim, blow the Jar, then the LED in response and just win. However, if you replace any two of those seven cards with Defense Grid and Force of Will, it requires a really lucky draw to get anywhere. In practice, if JarGrim has more than six defensive cards in the deck, it fizzles way too often. If it runs less than six defensive cards, Junk can usually disrupt it. Six cards – four Force of Wills, one Defense Grid and one Erase as Tutor targets – seems to be the magic number, but Junk wins against that, too.

As I said, I have played this match out a number of times, and Junk consistently goes 3-1 or 3-2. Junk swept once, and JarGrim won 3-1 once. I’m sticking with Junk advancing.

On to round 2…

Legion Land Loss versus PT Junk

Legion Land Loss is dedicated to casting a land destruction spell on turn two, and winning through enforced mana screw and elf beats. PT Junk is basically all the best, most effective cards in the format tied together with a shaky manabase.

Game 1 Legion Land Loss got a bunch of land kill spells, but Junk drew two Tithes and Consulted for a Mox. LLL did resolve a Stunted Growth, but Junk had an untapped Grassland in play, and blew it to bury the dead cards. Eventually, Junk managed to keep a land and the Mox in play through the turn, so it could drop another land and a Negator. LLL eventually drew Masticore, but too late – it had no cards in hand. In any event, it was moot: Junk ripped Swords to off the Masticore (useful – LLL could have put upkeep on the stack, then shot Negator three times to leave Junk with just two permanents) and the Negator went all the way.

Game 2 went something like this:

LLL (post mulligan): Forest, Wild Growth
Junk: Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author], Duress (seeing elves, Wall of Blossoms, land)
LLL: Forest, Wall of Blossoms, Elf
Junk: land, Skyshroud Elite
LLL: Thermokarst, Cursed Scroll
Junk: Elite (three cards in hand)
LLL: Stunted Growth
Junk: nothing
LLL: Elf, Wasteland, waste land
Junk: nothing
LLL: beat, elf
Junk: nothing, (three cards in hand)
LLL: Stunted Growth
(three turns later)
LLL: Stunted Growth #3
Junk: (sick of drawing the same three cards turn after turn) concede.

Junk sideboarded in three Perish for a Negator and two Blastoderms. LLL brought in one Masticore for Stunted Growth (Junk can usually empty it’s hand) and three Uktabi Orangutans for a Cursed Scroll and two more Stunted Growths.

LLL mulliganed a two Wasteland, no Forest hand. Junk kept a hand with Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author], Mox Diamond, Wasteland, Duress, Negator, etc. It made an early Cursed Scroll, then Consulted for the second Mox. It made a Negator, then beat for the win quickly while clearing out blockers with the Scroll.

In game 3, Junk again mulliganed into a Mox Diamond, Consulted into a Tithe early, then Consulted again for a Seal of Cleansing to kill a Cursed Scroll. After that, it dropped a Negator, then a Blastoderm, then smashed home.

Junk ain’t so junky.

Academy shows RDW2K what Stupid Broken is all about

Academy is a broken combo deck that played several cards that were soon banned (Tolarian Academy, Time Spiral, Windfall, Mind over Matter, and Mana Vault.) Academy can win turn 1 (albeit with a god draw.) Red Deck Wins 2k plays a mix of fast beats, mana disruption and burn spells – plus Tangle Wire.

Game 1 RDW2k mulliganed a six-land hand into a no-land hand, then into a hand with Chrome Mox, Seal of Fire, Slith Firewalker, Shattering Pulse. and Volcanic Hammer. It never drew a land until Academy cast Time Spiral in preparation for going off – which it did.

Here’s game 2:

RDW: Bloodstained Mire into Mountain, Jackal Pup
Academy: Ancient Tomb, Mana Vault, Mana Vault, Voltaic Key
RDW: Mire # 2 into Mountain, Jackal Pup, Lavamancer
Academy: Volcanic Island, Mox Diamond (discard City of Brass)
RDW: Seal, Seal, beat for five. (Academy: Stroke self for 9 cards EoT)
Academy: untap Vault w/ Key, Tolarian Academy, Lotus Petal * 2, Time Spiral floating 2U, Petal, Scroll Rack, Mind over Matter, discard cards to MoM to untap Academy and float 24 U mana, Windfall, Stroke for the win.

Academy brought in four Chills for three Abeyance and a Power Sink. RDW brought in Rack and Ruin for the Firebolts.

Post sideboard RDW got a great start: Mox, Seal of Fire, Wasteland. Academy got a Volcanic Island, two Mana Vaults and a Voltaic Key. RDW followed with a turn 2 Tangle Wire. Tangle Wire tapped Academy’s Vaults, the Key and the Volcanic Island, then Wasteland killed the Volcanic Island and a fast Slith Firewalker meant that Academy died long before it could cast the Chill it had in hand. The damage from the tapped Vaults helped.

Game 3 was the reverse, Academy cast the Chill turn 2 and RDW never got enough pressure going to matter after that. RDW kept beating with its turn 1 Jackal Pup, but it never cast anything else worth worrying about. Academy went off turn 5.

Academy makes it to next round.

Countersliver Bursts Pandeburst’s Bubble

Counterslivers – and trying to recreate the deck in the new Standard – was what started this whole concept. Counterslivers combos the best aggressive creatures with the best answer cards in the format – and plays Demonic Consultation to hold the deck together. Pandeburst, on the other hand, was a combo deck that added the best cards in the format, and held it all together with Demonic Consultation.

This was a true flashback for me. Not only did Counterslivers battle Pandeburst back in the day, but Ingrid and I played the match out over the dining room table – just like we did when playtesting for the PTQs late last century. Ingrid played Counterslivers. I played Pandeburst. We didn’t do much playtesting ahead of time – I have played Pandeburst a lot recently, and Ingrid knows Counterslivers inside and out.

Game 1, I managed to play Duresses on turns 1, 2, and 3, nabbing Force of Will, Counterspell and Consult. However, I had to do it using a City of Brass, and Ingrid dropped a turn 2 Muscle Sliver and a turn 3 Winged. I had drawn Pandemonium, Saproling Burst, and Replenish, and Consulted for a Frantic Search, but between the beats and the pain from Ancient Tomb and City of Brass, I was one mana / life short of being able to Replenish for the win. Slivers took game 1.

Game 2 was short. I was on the play and had a turn 1 Duress. I saw Swords, Disenchant, Force of Will, Crystalline Sliver, Underground Sea, City of Brass: I took the Disenchant. Ingrid played a land and passed. I played an Ancient Tomb. Ingrid made a Crystalline. At the end of her turn, I played Intuition for two Pandemoniums and a Saproling Burst. Ingrid gave me the Saproling Burst. I untapped, played City of Traitors, then Frantic Search to discard two Saproling Bursts, and cast Replenish. Ingrid Forced, I Forced back, and that was game.

Sideboarding was simple. I took out the Duresses (against Slivers, with all it’s creatures, Duress often whiffs) for Pyroblasts. Ingrid took out the two Swords to Plowshares for two Disenchants.

Game 3 Ingrid was on the play. My opening hand was City of Traitors, two Ancient Tombs, and four colored cards. Back they went for Tundra, Brainstorm, two Bursts, Force of Will, and Mystical Tutor. Ingrid cast Duress and took the Brainstorm, screwing up my opportunity to Brainstorm into land. I dropped a Tundra and passed. She tried for a Hibernation Sliver and I Forced it (I had drawn a second Mystical, and I needed to buy some time. A turn 2 sliver means a lot of damage, once she gets a Muscle, etc., accompanying it. I had to draw lands, so Mystical I had drawn was of little value.) I drew no land and passed. Ingrid made another Hibernation Sliver. I drew City of Traitors, and passed. Ingrid proceeded to beat down with her sliver and sit on countermagic. Eventually, I had to Mystical for Frantic Search and hope, but Ingrid countered the Frantic Search and I died to Sliver beats.

Game 4 I was on the play and we both kept our opening seven. I had a Tundra turn 1, and Brainstormed in response to Ingrid’s turn 1 Duress. I had a Brainstorm in response to her turn 2 Duress – and again on turn 3. I kept showing her a Pandemonium and Saproling Burst, but she kept taking Force of Will and Mystical Tutor and so forth. I made land, and she started beating with Slivers. I managed to hard cast a Saproling Burst, but Ingrid made a Winged Sliver, so my two Saprolings could not chump. I was dead to slivers the next turn, so on my turn I beat with two trees, then made more Saprolings until the Burst died, then tried to Replenish. Ingrid showed me her hand – two Counterspells and two Disenchants.

And that was all she wrote.

That’s the outcome we were expecting. Slivers used to beat Pandeburst back in the day, and my G/B Survival deck beat Slivers. That’s how it turned out – and if you scour the web archives, you may be able to find both Ingrid’s and my PTQ Madison tourney reports, where Ingrid beat Pandeburst in the Swiss, then missed Top 8 on tiebreakers, and I lost to Pandeburst in the finals. (And, yes, I still can’t let go of that match.)

Balancing Tings and Survival

In the forums last week, I got a number of comments about the outcomes of certain matches. I discussed JarGrim above. People also felt I should replay the G/B Survival versus Bosh matchup, because they feel my opponents sideboarded Bosh incorrectly. It could be. In my area, the PTQs within a couple hundred miles all were post-bannings, so we never tested Bosh and the other Tinker decks much.

I also admitted that my G/B Survival deck was not the most powerful Survival deck ever – just the one I knew best. The early Tradewind Rider / Force of Will versions, like Levy’s Five Color Green, or Full English Breakfast, might have been better overall. I had initially said that I would try my version, and if it crapped out, I would try a more traditional Survival deck.

Last weekend was Easter. I didn’t get time to replay this matchup or to substitute another Survival deck. In any case, I am not happy about the thought of the Survival versus Balancing Tings matchup. It looks bad. George W. Bosh versus Tings does not look a lot better. I may play them both.

In my copious free time.


“one million words” on MODO
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