Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #312 – Extended Evolutions

Grand Prix: Oakland!

Thursday, February 4th – The Extended PTQs are ongoing. I want to look at the decks that are doing well – and those that are changing. Of course, this information is mainly valuable online. In the paper world, Worldwake may shake up the format a bit.

The Extended PTQs are ongoing. I want to look at the decks that are doing well — and those that are changing. Of course, this information is mainly valuable online. In the paper world, Worldwake may shake up the format a bit.

If you like the current Extended format, pre-Worldwake, you can continue to play that format online. MTGO will not see Worldwake until February 22nd, but two online PTQs are scheduled between now and then. The PTQs are scheduled for Thursday, February 11th at 3pm Pacific time, and Sunday, February 14th, at 3am Pacific time. They will be played in the Worldwake-free online zone.

A few weeks ago, I looked at the decks that comprised the format. Here’s that table:

Deck — Number in Top 8 — Percent of Metagame
Faeries — 34 — 14%
Fast Zoo — 29 — 12%
Scapeshift — 28 — 11%
Dark Depths — 27 — 11%
Tezzeret — 23 — 9%
Angel Zoo — 16 — 6%
RDW — 14 — 6%
Affinity — 14 — 6%
Bant — 10 — 4%
Doran — 8 — 3%
Dredge — 7 — 3%
Hypergenesis — 5 — 2%
All in Red — 4 — 2%
Hive Mind — 4 — 2%
Martyr of Sands — 4 — 2 %
Other — 23 — n/a

I don’t have a lot of metagame information from the paper PTQs this last weekend. However, we do have the results from an online PTQ last Sunday. The breakdown from this event is a bit different. Let’s look at the winner’s deck.

Dark Foundry – cOd3x — Winner, Online PTQ January 31, 2010
1 Academy Ruins
4 Dark Depths
2 Island
4 River of Tears
4 Sunken Ruins
3 Swamp
3 Tolaria West
4 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

4 Dark Confidant
4 Vampire Hexmage

2 Beseech the Queen
2 Chrome Mox
1 Doom Blade
3 Duress
1 Echoing Truth
1 Engineered Explosives
4 Muddle the Mixture
2 Sword of the Meek
4 Thirst for Knowledge
3 Thopter Foundry
4 Thoughtseize

2 Chalice of the Void
2 Damnation
1 Darkblast
1 Duress
1 Engineered Explosives
2 Extirpate
1 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Into the Roil
2 Threads of Disloyalty
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Yixlid Jailer

A few weeks ago, some players were winning with decks dedicated to the Dark Depths / Vampire Hexmage combo. Others were doing well with the Thopter Foundry / Sword of the Meek combo, which was generally paired with / tutored up with Tezzeret. The winner’s deck is a combination of the two — and it appears to be a very powerful combination. Here are the results of the PTQ:

Winner: Dark Foundry
Second: Dark Foundry
Third: Thopter / Sword without Dark Depths
Fourth: Dark Foundry
Fifth: Dark Foundry
Sixth: GWR Zoo
Seventh: Dark Foundry
Eighth: UWB Teferi Control

A couple weeks ago, the big decks were Faeries, Scapeshift, and Zoo. This Top 8 had one Zoo deck and none of the other decks. The Top 8 had five Dark Depths and 24 copies of Thopter Foundry.

Wow. Something to think about. I expect more hate against the archetype. Exactly what that hate may be — well, I’ll look at a few ideas later. First, let’s look at the rest of the field.

Ninth: All in Red
Tenth: Dark Foundry
Eleventh: All in Red
Twelfth: Faeries
Thirteenth: Zoo with Bant Charm
Fourteenth: Scapeshift
Fifteenth: Adrian Sullivan Bloodchief Ascension
Sixteenth: Dark Foundry

A few more familiar archetypes have appeared. All in Red seems strange, given that it has not done all that well in the paper world. On the other hand, it is reasonably cheap online, so it may just have been very heavily played. The PTQ had 146 players listed in the final standings, but I don’t have a breakdown of what was played.

Let’s look at the rest of the top 32:

Seventeenth: Zoo w/ maindeck Blood Moon
Eighteenth: Dark Foundry
Nineteenth: Zoo w/ maindeck Blood Moon
Twentieth: Hypergenesis
Twenty-first: Dark Foundry
Twenty-second: Dredge
Twenty-third: Dark Foundry
Twenty-fourth: Affinity
Twenty-fifth: Angel Zoo
Twenty-sixth: Dark Foundry
Twenty-seventh: Scapeshift
Twenty-eighth: Bant
Twenty-ninth: Faeries
Thirtieth: Zoo
Thirty-first: Rock
Thirty-second: — one more time — Dark Foundry

To sum up:

Dark Foundry: 12
Zoo (all four variants): 6

Everything else showed up in only token amounts.

Any thoughts on what deck we may want to playtest against — preferable sideboarded?


Let’s look at some commonly played hosers that can affect one or both of the combos.

Blood Moon / Magus of the Moon: Blood Moon directly affects Dark Depths – with Blood Moon in play, Dark Depths cannot turn into a creature. Blood Moon has no direct effect on Thopter Foundry, but it can make it difficult for the Dark Foundry player to cast most of his deck. The winning deck had only a couple basic lands, plus two Chrome Moxen to produce the Blue and Black mana needed for most of the cards in the deck. It is notable that two of the Zoo decks maindecked Blood Moon, sacrificing some of the White cards normally appearing in Zoo for a narrower RG build.

Pithing Needle: Pithing Needle can stop the Vampire Hexmage from removing tokens, or the Thopter Foundry from making dudes. However, a single Needle can only stop one combo. Choose wisely — or is that “get lucky?”

Meddling Mage: Like Pithing Needle, it can prevent one of the two combos from functioning. Unlike Pithing Needle, however, Meddling Mage can actually beat. Winning the game is better than stalling — provided you can get the mana.

Tormod’s Crypt / Ravenous Trap / Relic of Progenitus: All of these act to remove the Sword of the Meek from the graveyard. These have no impact on the Dark Depths combo, but they are useful against other archetypes that utilize the graveyard, like Dredge and the Living End deck.

Extirpate: This can get rid of Sword of the Meek. It is narrower that global graveyard removal, but the Split Second can be a big advantage. Unless you are careful, the Dark Foundry player can respond to a Tormod’s Crypt activation by sacrificing another artifact, thereby making another dude and getting Sword out of the graveyard before the Crypt can resolve.

Repeal: Bounce spells can solve some of these problems. A bounce spell like Repeal can get rid of the Marit Lage token. It can also bounce the Thopter Foundry, but this is usually only a temporary fix, since the Sword player can just replay it. The only downside of Repeal is that Gaddock Teeg shuts it off. You cannot play both. However, since the Dark Foundry decks are playing Repeal to deal with things like Pithing Needle / Meddling Mage, Zoo decks want Teeg, and not Repeal.

Path to Exile: This can get rid of the Marit Lage token.

I should note, somewhere in here, that the Dark Foundry decks do run both Duress and Thoughtseize, so actually having cards like Repeal or Path still in hand when they combo could be problematic.

Bant Charm: A number of Zoo decks are running Bant Charm. It is hard on the mana, but it does get rid of a Marit Lage token and kills Thopter Foundry. It is also a fine removal spell or counter in most other matchups. It is a very powerful card.

Damping Matrix: Damping Matrix costs three, which is more than some of the combo parts. That’s usually bad, but the Matrix shuts down the Foundry and the Vampire Hexmage completely. If they don’t have Duress or Thoughtseize, and if you can get it down fast enough, and if they do not have Repeal, it wrecks their entire deck.

Act of Treason / Mark of Mutiny / Threaten: This may be silly season, but the idea is to steal the Marit Lage token and kill your opponent with it. Obviously, a smart opponent won’t use the Hexmage until your endstep, to minimize your outs, but if you burn their Hexmage on their end step, you can force them to use the Hexmage then, allowing you to untap and use Act of Treason. This seems far worse than Damping Matrix, but it would make for a much better story.

Threads of Disloyalty: If you are playing heavy Blue, then Threads of Disloyalty can steal the 20/20 for multiple turns, but I don’t know why that would be preferable. Threads does not give Marit Lage haste. Threads is really only an option for the Fae, but they can already deal with the 20/20 using Bitterblossom to produce chump blockers — and they can run Repeal.

Ghost Quarter: It kills Dark Depths, provided you can get it into play and target Depths before Vampire Hexmage hits play. If the Hexmage is in play, then you will also need a burn spell to target the Hexmage, otherwise the opponent will sacrifice in response. Still, if you have burn spells, then it works.

Night of Souls’ Betrayal: This does shut down the Hexmage, since it will die before you can use it. It also kills the Thopter tokens, and Dark Confidant, for that matter. On the flip side, the card does cost four mana. That seems so slow for this format. It’s almost like calling Demonfire to the head for 20 an answer. It would be, but few opponents are going to wait around for that to happen.

I even considered — briefly — Ensnaring Bridge as an answer to the 20/20. It would work, but it isn’t legal in the format. It was last printed in 8th Edition. All that means is that I need to wrap this up and head for bed.

I haven’t touched on the impact of Worldwake so far. I don’t think I will. I just haven’t tested enough to know what will actually have an impact. It appears that the newer, whiter Kird Ape will make Zoo a bit more consistent, but not necessarily faster, than the Steppe Lynx builds. Slower and steadier may not be the answer to Dark Foundry.

But, like I said, I’m way behind on testing. Maybe next time.


“one million words” on MTGO