Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #20: The Other Extended Decks

I’ll show you how to ENJOY Extended if you aren’t planning on making the top 8 – but then again, you just might anyway. A look at some fun second-tier decks.

It’s Extended season. The PTQs will be full of dual lands, Donate-Illusions, Junk, and Oath of Druids – full of expensive cards, net decks, and all the bad stuff. Lots of pros are writing articles on the metagame and how to play at the top tables. This article is about how to enjoy Extended if you aren’t planning on making the top 8, or even if you are not a veteran of tournament play.

Try an Extended PTQ – Extended can be a lot of fun, even if you are not expecting to qualify. The most fun I ever had at PTQs was when I decided I couldn’t travel to Japan for the Pro Tour, so I chose the deck that was a joy to play over the best deck in the format – in other words, I left my Necro-Trix deck at home and played beatdown Enchantress. I lost to the bad matchups I knew couldn’t win and ended up playing the middle of the field the rest of the day – but I was just having a blast. The secret is that the good players with broken decks either end up at the top tables or drop. The middle of the pack are the people playing for fun. That’s where the best games take place: Pandemonium-Oath versus Enchantress, Hermit-Altar vs. Turbo-Fog, White Weenie with Serra Angel versus Godzilla with Mercenary tech.

It is in these middle ranks that you hear people saying”Oh – that’s what the deck does! That’s so cool!!” It where you will most often find long and complex – but interesting – games.

This Yawgmoth’s Whimsy is devoted to the decks that are good enough to win most of the time (if not quite good enough to qualify with) and which are guaranteed to be fun to play. Only some of these are original; a few are others’ creations, and I’ll try to give credit where I can. My apologies to the creators of Life – I cannot remember who discovered that combo.

Before I start, a few notes on the metagame. The top tables will be lots of U/r Donate, Rock and Junk, some Walamies control, maybe some Stasis and probably a smattering of Reanimator decks. The middle ranks will have a different metagame. You will see a lot of classics, like Sligh and Stompy. You will see some bad players with decks like Oath, TurboLand, and Donate (but beating bad players who try complex decks isn’t a problem.) You will see Suicide Black, Three-Deuce, blue/white weenie, Enchantress, and other close to great decks. And you will see a smattering of once-great decks. Last year I saw people at PTQs playing Cadaverous Bloom, Tinker, four-color classic control, Wildfire, and some Legion Land Loss decks – all old favorites that people wanted to play one more time. Some classics will be impossible now (anything that relied on Dark Ritual, Necro, or Consult, for instance) but there will still be a smattering of others.

And there will be a lot of rogue decks. Nearly all of the almost-tuned rogue decks end up in the middle ranks, as do the well-tuned-but-not-quite-powerful-enough combos. Rogue rules the middle ranks, which is part of the reason it is so much fun. So, if your rating isn’t sacred, and you are not expecting to qualify at that event, try going to a PTQ with the intention of playing all seven or eight rounds with a fun deck. Take it from me – it’s more interesting, and less stressful, than the desperate struggle to top 8.* (An additional bonus – if you decide to play for laughs, you often do better. I have twice made top eight playing decks that I chose for grins over power. Being relaxed instead of tense is tech in itself.)

It’s time to list the Extended decks I play because I like playing them…

When I first started writing this article, the week before GP Vegas, I started with my build of Enchantress. Then, at Vegas, I saw a couple other builds, and some enchantress decks did well elsewhere. That convinced me to turn the Enchantress part into another article.

Here’s another deck that is almost good enough: ElfBall. If not for the ubiquitous Pernicious Deed, it would still be great. Some people did very well with Elf decks at Worlds, but they were mainly beatdown decks, with elves, Coat of Arms, and Overrun. Here’s an example:

Raphael Levy Cradle Elf

14 Forest

3 Gaea’s Cradle

4 Deranged Hermit

2 Elvish Champion

4 Elvish Lyrist

4 Fyndhorn Elves

1 Lhurgoyf

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Llanowar Sentinel

2 Masticore

4 Priest of Titania

4 Quirion Ranger

2 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary

4 Coat of Arms

1 Crop Rotation

3 Overrun


3 Emerald Charm

3 Fecundity

3 Hunted Wumpus

3 Null Rod

3 Uktabi Orangutan

This is just fun to play, but I have seen it get stalled behind silliness like Peacekeeper until it dies to Perish or Pernicious Deed. ElfBall splashes red for Kaervek’s Torch – a big X spell that cannot be countered easily and that provides an alternative path to victory. I would pull eight forests for four Taigas and four Karplusan Forests (no comes-into-play-tapped lands!) for the red mana, and pull one Coat of Arms, one Hermit, and one Overrun for three Torches, but that’s just me.

Next up is a classic – Jamie Wakefield Secret Force. This deck is built around powering out a fast Verdant Force, then winning with Saproling tokens. Equally important to Jamie’s success were the Spike creatures since moving the spikes can make blocking decisions nearly impossible. The deck has a lot of utility, but you can also add some amazingly fun creatures like Gargantuan Gorilla (think of a 7/7 trampling Tahngarth, although it does tap to attack.) Here’s my favorite Extended build:

3 Gaea’s Cradles

3 Wasteland

17 Snow-covered Forests (Star City sells them for a nickel each, so why not?)

4 Fyndhorn Elves

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Wall of Roots (so good versus Sligh)

4 Spike Feeders

3 Spike Weavers

2 Elvish Lyrists

2 Uktabi Orangutans

2 River Boas

4 Natural Order

2 Creeping Mold

2 Overrun

1 Verdant Force

1 Gargantuan Gorilla

1 Masticore

1 Spiritmonger (changes color)


1 Sliver Queen (they can’t Perish the sliver tokens)

1 Lumbering Satyr (breaks creature stalls if they have forests)

1-2 Squallmonger (not amazing, but if Morphling flies…)

2 Masticore

Emerald Charms, Choke, Tranquil Grove, Null Rod, etc.

Not as tight and solid as some builds, but it is a blast to play. It includes one card you cannot cast and cannot regenerate – Spiritmonger – but he can change color in response to Perish, which is pretty good. Gargantuan Gorilla is fun, but not always amazing (except when you tap to kill a Jackal Pup). Rith, the Awakener would also be fun, but he could not be cast and wouldn’t get you around Perish or Hibernation.

A possible alternative build would run G/B to regenerate the ‘Monger, and allow cards like Planar Void in the sideboard. No big Gorilla, then, since you would have too few forests, but it could work well. And G/B allows for Pernicious Deed – which takes you towards Rock and some of the other G/B builds, which are covered elsewhere.

Important notes on playing SF: You don’t automatically want to get a Verdant Force. Verdant is great versus Sligh, but not as amazing versus Oath. In many cases, Spike Weaver, Spike Feeder, or Lyrist can be better. Masticore is amazing, but you cannot find him with Natural Order. I have also played a Sliver Queen maindeck – making sliver tokens at the end of every turn with Wall of Roots mana is okay, but Verdant is better.

One last comment: remember not to rely on Elvish Lyrists against Donate – they run Fire/Ice and will kill the Lyrists before comboing. However, some players will work hard to counter Spike Feeders, but let Weavers through. If it resolves, you can cast the Lyrist, let them target it and you at end of turn with Fire, then move a spike counter onto the Lyrist in response. There is no reason that should catch people, but it does.

One of the big advantages to Secret Force are the comes-into-play abilities of many of the green creatures. You can build a deck around those abilities – the classic is the Stupid Green deck, which I believe Seth Burn originated. It uses Stampeding Wildebeests to bounce green creatures.

Stupid Green 2001

4 Stampeding Wildebeests

4 Birds of Paradise

3 Wall of Blossoms (draw cards)

3 Wall of Roots (mana)

2 Yavimaya Granger or Wood Elves (fetch lands)

2 Uktabi Orangutans

4 Spike Feeders

2 Spike Weavers

2 Thornscape Battlemage (reason for the birds)

2 Deranged Hermit

2 Blastoderms

2 Worldly Tutor (to get the Wildebeests – but it really wants Survival)

24 lands, including some basics to fetch with the Grangers.

This deck is definitely not amazing in the current metagame – you cannot get quite enough out of the above without Survival of the Fittest to find one-of-a-kinds. However, you can combine some of the above with other deck designs. Here’s an example of a combination of Elfball, Stupid Green, and Secret Force, based on Trevor Blackwell’s Cradle Elf deck from Worlds:

14 Forest

3 Gaea’s Cradle

4 Wasteland

2 Blastoderm

4 Deranged Hermit

3 Elvish Lyrist

4 Fyndhorn Elves

4 Llanowar Elves

1 Priest of Titania

4 Quirion Ranger

1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary

1 Skyshroud Poacher

1 Spike Feeder

2 Spike Weaver

2 Verdant Force

1 Wall of Blossoms

1 Stampeding Wildebeest

1 Woodripper

4 Natural Order

2 Plow Under

1 Winter Orb


1 Blurred Mongoose

3 Choke

1 City of Solitude

1 Defense of the Heart

1 Null Rod

1 Penumbra Wurm

3 Spike Feeder

2 Tangle

2 Tranquil Grove

That is interesting, but without searching it is pretty random to play. If you are good at topdecking answers, go for it – the deck has a lot of answers.

That’s enough base green – on to decks with just a splash of green, then green-free decks. Stupid Pings was an old U/R/G deck I played at a twenty-person store tourney when Necro-Trix was king of the hill – and since it ran lots of counters, Pyroblast sideboard, and had a funky win condition, it did pretty well. See my article on Intruder Alarm for full details, but here’s a quick decklist:

Stupid Pings: (one of Ingrid’s favorite decks, by the way)

4 Force of Will

4 Counterspell

4 Arcane Denial or Incinerate (depending on your metagame**)

4 Impulse

2 Intuition

4 Intruder Alarm

4 Saber Ants (when it takes damage, put tokens into play.)

4 Bravado

4 Suq’Ata Firewalker (pro-red Tim)

2 Prodigal Sorcerer (I have some BB Chinese ones, for the cool factor)

24-26 lands

The concept is pretty simple: Get out an Intruder Alarm so stuff untaps when you a creature comes into play, cast Saber Ants, and cast Bravado. At that point, you can get infinite tokens, or do infinite pings with two Tims in play. The article has full details.

Okay, now for another unbounded combo in different colors: The Life deck.

Life revolves around a simple combination: Worthy Cause (sacrifice a creature, gain life equal to it’s casting cost), en-Kor creatures (0: redirect 1 damage from an en Kor to some other creature) and Task Force or Angelic Protector (when Task Force is the target of a spell or ability, it gets +0/+3 until end of turn.) Once both creatures are in play, you redirect one billion damage to the Task Force, let that resolve so the Task Force is a 1/3,000,000,003, then cast Worthy Cause to raise your life total to 3,000,000,023. Alternatively, you pump Angelic Protector to three billion toughness, cast About Face to swap power for toughness and fly in for the win. For more on that deck, check out Josh Claytor’s article here, or Ped Bun’s feature match at GP Vegas on Sideboard.

My main concern with the deck is that its win conditions can be too easily countered or named with Meddling Mage, so I use blue to give this deck a more interesting twist. Blue gives you Force of Will, Counterspell, and lots of searching. Searching is important – there is little the deck can do without Worthy Cause. Here’s the decklist I would play, if I wanted to play Life. (Fair warning: I have not done any serious playtesting on this version since last summer.)

4 Accumulated Knowledge

3 Intuition

4 Impulse

3 Brainstorm

4 Counterspell

4 Force of Will

3 Swords to Plowshares

2 Task Force

2 Angelic Protector

4 Worthy Cause

4 Nomad en-Kor

1 Feldon’s Cane

1 Stroke of Genius

1 Phyrexian Processor

lands (Tundra, Adarkars, etc.)


4 Seal of Cleansing

4 Abeyance

1 Phyrexian Processors

4 Meddling Mage

2 Hibernation

Not necessarily better, but more interesting, and more in my style of play.

For another off-the-wall Extended deck, check out my take on Pattern/Rector: Reasonably solid, if a long way from Donate, but it is a lot more interesting to play… And you finish the day with less of a headache than with Donate.

Next up – Iron Phoenix. This is another deck for all you lifegain fans out there. Iron Phoenix locks up the combat step with Ensnaring Bridge, then wins with Shard Phoenix, Cursed Scroll, or Hammer of Bogardan recursion. This deck may be good against Trix, due to the lifegain and the Disenchants, but would be hurt by all the graveyard hate that may appear if Benzo is still good.

Charles Delvoux: Iron Phoenix (modified slightly)

1 Forbidding Watchtower

2 Ghitu Encampment

5 Mountain

8 Plains

4 Plateau

1 Shivan Gorge

4 Wasteland

3 Shard Phoenix

1 Aura of Silence

4 Cursed Scroll

2 Disenchant

4 Enlightened Tutor

4 Ensnaring Bridge

1 Hammer of Bogardan

1 Humility

2 Jester’s Cap

4 Mox Diamond

3 Peace of Mind

3 Seal of Cleansing

3 Tithe


4 Abolish

4 Fire

3 Pyroblast

4 Pyroclasm

If you need to attack, you can get one Phoenix in play, then return another Phoenix or a Hammer to your hand to raise the bridge. At the end of the turn, discard any cards in hand to Peace of Mind to lower the bridge. The only change I made was to convert two Disenchants to Seals of Cleansing, since Trix is running Capsize and two Seals wins versus Capsize. (For the handful that haven’t thought it out, if they Capsize one with buyback, sacrifice that seal to disenchant a Medallion, or to disenchant itself, so that Capsize fizzles.)

Okay, here’s another fun twist – this started as a joke at the Minnesota PTQ. I was playing a G/W deck with Call of the Herd, but I was using Unglued Sheep tokens instead of elephant tokens. My first round opponent asked me about the tokens, so I told him I was playing Turboland with Ovinomancer tech.

The funny thing is that it might almost work.

Ovinomancer: When Ovinomancer comes into play, sacrifice it unless you return three basic lands to your hand. Tap, return Ovinomancer to your hand: Destroy target creature, it cannot be regenerated. That player puts a 0/1 Sheep token into play.

So, the classic version of Turboland runs lots of basic lands, uses Exploration and Horn of Greed to play lots of lands and draw cards, and Oath of Druids to recycle the deck. Ovinomancer would kill Spiritmonger, with the added bonus that the Sheep tokens would ensure that you could keep triggering Oath. Plus, with Exploration and Horn of Greed, those lands go right back into play and draw extra cards. So, just take the old Turboland decklist (the one before the AK and Call of the Herd version), cut two Gushes for two Ovinomancers and you are good to go. Zvi is going to turn green when he realizes I thought of this first!

Hey, note that I said it might almost work. But I will certainly try this in casual play sometime soon.

So, which one of these will I be playing this PTQ season? I’m not sure yet. I have the standard gauntlet of Extended decks together and have tested with and against them. I know a tweaked Donate is the best deck, but I find myself grabbing a Secret Force variant with snow-covered forests and trying to get that to work way more than I should. Pattern Rector is also tempting – especially since I can run Sacred Ground to combat the horrors of Ruination. On the other hand, Enchantress can beat Donate – and anything else – with a good draw.*** I also have a couple other designs floating around – like 5-color artifact craziness and land destruction with Terravore – but they aren’t competitive yet. And there are a bunch of interesting rogue decks in various Top 8 or Top 64 decklists.

In other words, I don’t know.

See you at the PTQs. I’ll be playing something in sleeves.


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* – Unless you make Top Eight, of course. But it is definitely more fun than ending 11th after spending the day playing a deck you don’t enjoy. I’ve been there, done that – and pissed and moaned the whole ride home. Ingrid agreed that when I finished 16th at PTQ Minnesota last week – with a rogue deck – I was a much better traveling companion.

** – Isn’t”depending on your metagame” a pretty sad comment? I read articles while getting ready for tourneys, like GP: Vegas, trying to figure out what the hell the metagame will be. And when I see”the sideboard depends on your metagame,” I usually think”Yeah, you have no clue either, do you?” In this case, though, Incinerate is better if most opponents are running creature decks, while Denial is better against control or Benzo. Sure, delaying the Exhume on Multani is not perfect, but would you rather have a three-point burn spell in that situation? On the other hand, killing a Viashino Sandstalker is better than putting it back on the library.

*** – The problem is, it loses if you have a bad draw or if you hit a pocket of land at the wrong time.