By the time you read this, Extended season will be over – at least for sanctioned play. The PTQ season is back to sealed deck and drafting. The only Constructed play that is going to be going on for a while is Standard at Friday Night Magic; time to box up the old Tempest and Saga cards.
Or maybe not.
Casual players can keep playing Extended decks all they want. Multiplayer and group games continue 24-7, year ’round. So if you haven’t had enough of the Extended decks, modify them for casual and group play – then play them all you want.
I’m going to look at several of the tier one and tier 1.5 decks from this Extended season with a view towards modifying them for multiplayer games. I’ll start with the ones that don’t translate very well, then move on to the good stuff.
First off is Psychatog. This can work in a small game – but in a game with more than two or three opponents, you will have no chance to kill off all your opponents with the sixty cards in your deck. Moreover, counterspells and that form of control are much less useful in multiplayer games – each of your opponents gets to untap and play spells between your turns. You simply run out of mana and cards trying for that type of control. Finally, the Mana Short/Upheaval/Tog kill doesn’t work with multiple players, unless their decks set up very slowly.
On the plus side, you can play games with Cunning Wish and sideboard cards like Hibernation, Dominate, Misdirection and so forth. Moreover, if you play T1, you get better card drawing, like Ancestral Recall. Mana Drain can substitute for Counterspell – and it can allow you to power out cards like Morphling. If you don’t have that kind of card collection, consider whether old-school Tog, using Nightscape Familiars, might work out. If your opponents don’t play a lot of Incinerate/Afflict types of spells that take care of regenerators, then the Familiar/Intuition/Accumulated Knowledge engine could work.
As for creatures, I would steal some ideas from GP: New Orleans and elsewhere, and play some Togs, plus Shadowmage Infiltrators and Morphling. Shadowmage Infiltrator is great in multiplayer, if it doesn’t get killed immediately, because someone at the table will have no blockers. I have also a lot of luck with Alexi’s Cloak on creatures like Shadowmage Infiltrator. Finally, Masticore might also be an answer to those annoying weenie decks.
Here’s where I would start with a multiplayer Psychatog deck.
4 Brainstorm (so good with fetchlands and tutors)
4 Accumulated Knowledge
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Ancestral Recall3 Mana Drain
4 Cunning Wish
1 Dark Banishing (kills artifacts)
1 Time Walk (or Alexi’s Cloak)
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
4 Shadowmage Infiltrator
4 Nightscape Familiar
4 Polluted Mire
4 Underground Sea
4 Underground River
1 Darkwater Catacombs
1 Lonely Sandbar
Sideboard (all Cunning Wish targets): Mana Drain, Dominate, Evacuation, Terror, Dark Banishing, Recoil, Fact or Fiction (restricted in T1), Misdirection, Deluge, Shadow Rift, Opportunity, etc.
Now let’s move on to another tog – Auratog, and Enchantress. I know Enchantress works well in multiplayer. It works almost too well – you can end up decking yourself if you are not careful.
Two types of Enchantress decks were played this season – the W/G beatdown version played by Mike Hron in Houston and the U/W/G version piloted by JJ Stors. For games involving more than three or four players, you definitely want to splash blue for Words of Wind. Making everyone pick up their permanents gets more wins than straight Auratog beatdown.
For those who don’t know how the deck works, you get down an Enchantress or two, play some enchantments and draw a ton of cards. If you are short of enchantments, feed a Rancor to your Auratog and cast it again.
If you have two Enchantresses (any mix of real Enchantresses and Enchantress’s Presence), plus two Explorations and a Gaea’s Cradle, you can use Words of Wind to bounce everything anyone else has. Assume you have Cradle, an Exploration (Exploration A), Words of Wind a Bird of Paradise and 2 Enchantresses in play. Play the other Exploration (Exploration B.) The two Enchantresses each trigger, putting two”draw a card” effects on the stack. In response, tap the Cradle for three green mana. Use two mana to replace the draw effects with”everyone pick up a permanent.” Pick up Cradle and Exploration A. Replay the Cradle, using the Exploration B ability. Play Exploration A again, triggering the Enchantresses, and using Words to bounce Exploration B and the Cradle. Now play the Cradle using Exploration A ability, and replay Exploration B. You can keep this up indefinitely – each recasting of Exploration allows you to replay the Cradle one more time – and eventually all your opponents’ permanents will be off the table.
The kill can be an Auratog pumped to huge sizes, a Bird of Paradise wearing Ancestral Mask, or an Endless Wurm with Rancor. The main advantage of the Wurm or Bird is that some of the Enchantresses are”must-draws,” and you can deck yourself pretty easily with just the Auratog. Besides, Endless Wurm has some style – as does beating with a 26/25 Birds of Paradise. Beyond that, Sacred Mesa and a cloud of Pegasus tokens also works. If you own a Moat, then drop the Auratogs and Endless Wurm for Moat and Sacred Mesa’s. Teferi’s Moat also works – if all your opponents are playing the same colors, or if you want to play around with Shifting Sky.
Pursuit of Knowledge can be a great way to draw cards, but taking that route makes this deck more like the Type 1 version of Enchantress than the Extended versions.
Other possible changes include replacing the Apocalypse and Ice Age painlands with duals, and including a couple Swords to Plowshares, and possibly a Control Magic or two. Here’s my rough decklist – I keep changing my Enchantress builds all the time.
4 Flooded Strand
4 Tropical Island
2 Gaea’s Cradle
2 Serra’s Sanctum
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Argothian Enchantress
2 Wall of Blossoms
1 Endless Wurm
2 Swords to Plowshares
4 Enchantress’s Presence
2 Ancestral Mask
2 Wild Growth
2 Sterling Grove
1 Words of Wind
1 Aura of Silence
1 Control Magic
1 Sylvan Library
1 Sacred Mesa
1 Pursuit of Knowledge
1 Flickering Ward
You could even do a Living Wish sideboard, and park the Endless Wurm, a Verduran Enchantress, a Faith Healer, an Intrepid Hero, land and so forth there. In larger multiplayer games, I would pull the two Wild Growths for two more Wall of Blossoms. Staying alive past an initial rush – while not looking too dangerous – is more important than an explosive start.
Next, I want to talk about three deck archetypes that don’t make the transition from Extended to multiplayer as well: Goblin Sligh, RDW2K2 and U/G madness. These are seriously aggressive decks, built to reduce an opponent’s life total to zero before other decks can get set up. However, they do not translate well into multiplayer. The problem is that multiplayer games develop slowly, then have a long and intensive mid-game. Goblin Sligh tries to ensure that the game never gets past turn 6 or so, and has no mid-game plan at all. Since it is almost impossible to quickly kill more than two or three players with Goblin Sligh, even if the opponents put up no defense at all, the problem is obvious. RDW2K2 has some mid-game options – Cursed Scroll and mana denial – but that hardly works against multiple opponents.
U/G Madness also has a fast start, and enough card drawing to begin a mid-game, but the Extended season versions really don’t have much for a long game. You can modify the decks to be competitive in multiplayer, but you end up with a multiplayer U/G deck that doesn’t rely much on Madness. It’s doable, but I could spend several articles on different U/G builds. I’ll leave that for another time.
Moving on, we get to Tinker. Tinker was considered the deck before the season began. Early on, however, everyone incorporated Tinker hate and the deck died. At GP New Orleans, however, the Tinker hate was being removed from the sideboards, and Tinker decks did a lot better. Morgan Douglas made top eight with the following decklist.
Now, the first thing to consider in converting this to multiplayer is what rules or formats your group plays. Our group uses the Type I banned and restricted list – although we will also allow a deck that is legal under T2 or Extended rules. Tinker is exactly the deck that we considered when allowing either T1 or Extended decks. In Type I, Tinker, Grim Monolith, Voltaic Key and Stroke of Genius are all restricted. In Extended, Mana Vault and Tolarian Academy are banned. Of course, if your group allows anything, you can play Tinker with Mana Vaults, Moxen and four Academies and go absolutely nuts.
Two changes are necessary, regardless of the B&R list, in converting this deck to multiplayer. First of all, the Rishadan Ports should go. They can lock down one opponent’s mana in the early game, but just don’t work well in larger games. The same is true of Mishra’s Helix – you need a lot of mana and several Voltaic Keys to lock down everyone’s mana in a larger game, and it is just about impossible in a six-player game.
I would replace the Rishadan Ports with another land that produces colorless mana and gives acceleration, or that has some other, useful function. I’m thinking two Crystal Quarries and two Deserts.
Tangle Wire is another serious question. Tangle Wire will slow down everyone else – but only in the early game, and only at the cost of making enemies. Personally, I would not play it, but each group is different. I would play Predator, Flagship maindeck, plus Karn, Silver Golem, Portcullis, and another Phyrexian Colossus. I might even look for room for Aladdin’s Ring, but that is not critical.
Following Tinker is another deck featuring explosive mana: Elves! piloted by Diego Ostrovich to the top 4 in New Orleans. Elves! beat out Tinker in the semi-finals. Here’s Diego’s decklist.
I love the way this deck plays. It caves if anyone has Hibernation – or, worse yet, Perish – but short of that it has a ton of power. For multiplayer, I would only change a few things.
First, I would get rid of the Call of the Herds. While Call is great as a fast, aggressive play, vanilla 3/3s are not all that exciting in multiplayer. Instead, I would add a few tricks/evasion. First, I would add two or three Verdant Forces. While it is not amazing in this deck in duels, it is much better in multiplayer, since you get one Saproling per opponent per turn. Second, I would add one or two Silklash Spiders maindeck, because you can expect a lot more fliers in multiplayer. The Spiders threaten the Birds of Paradise, so unless you need a second color, I would replace them with either Wall of Roots (if facing aggressive decks where the Wall would help until you get a Masticore going) or Fyndhorn Elves. Third, I would consider a Genesis maindeck, in place of one Rofellos. Multiplayer games run long, so Genesis will be more helpful that multiple copies of a legend. Fourth, I would replace a Dust Bowl, since I am less concerned with eliminating opposing lands. I might replace it with Yavimaya Hollows, to preserve my creatures. Alternatively, I could replace the Dustbowl with Arena, for additional creature control.
On to the sideboard, and since the sideboard is all about Living Wish in multiplayer instead of changing the deck between games one and two, I would cut the enchantments, Slates of Ancestry, and Binds. (Bind might go maindeck if I knew my opponents were playing Pernicious Deed or Nevinyrral’s Disk.) That leave several slots. I would add Kamahl, Fist of Krosa. With the amount of mana you can develop, you can easily do multiple Overruns – and after several turns of getting saprolings off Verdant Force, plus Squirrels from the Deranged Hermits, that can be one amazing attack. Kamahl and Masticore can combine for land destruction as well. I would also consider sideboarding – or even maindecking – Quirion Dryad, since it can untap Rofellos, Skyshroud Poacher or a tapped creature when you need to block. I would also replace Uktabi Orangutan with Woodripper – because it can kill more artifacts. However, if you fear Cursed Totem, then bring both.
Finally, I would consider adding a gimmick – Lumbering Satyr and Gaea’s Liege. Gaea’s Liege can turn any land into a forest. He is an excellent way of negating problem lands like Maze of Ith or an opponent’s Gaea’s Cradle. Moreover, by providing all opponents with forests, you can attack unblocked when you drop Lumbering Satyr (all creatures gain forestwalk.) Of course, you cannot block with Satyr out – but Lumbering Satyr is a beast, meaning you can always sacrifice him to Ravenous Baloth before blockers are declared. The Quirion Dryad becomes more valuable in that case – do the huge forestwalking megastrike, then untap Verdant to block when you sacrifice Lumbering Satyr.
In past articles, I have written about the political advantages of playing Nullmage Advocate in multiplayer. That still applies, so I would put one in the sideboard. You could also add a Stampeding Wildebeest for recursion, or a Gargantuan Gorilla (and play snow-covered forests) for additional creature control.
1 Dust Bowl
1 Arena or Yavimaya Hollows
3 Gaea’s Cradle
4 Fyndhorn Elves
3 Deranged Hermit
1 Elvish Lyrist
3 Llanowar Elves
3 Ravenous Baloth
3 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
3 Skyshroud Poacher
2 Silklash Spider
2 Verdant Force
1 Quirion Dryad
1 Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
4 Living Wish
2 Slate of Ancestry
1 Dust Bowl
1 Elvish Lyrist
1 Nullmage Advocate
1 Gaea’s Cradle
1 Lumbering Satyr
1 Spike Feeder
1 Quirion Dryad
1 Gargantuan Gorilla
1 Thorn Elemental
1 Stampeding Wildebeest
1 Uktabi Orangutan
This is getting long already, and I still have a half dozen interesting decks to go. I’ll have to split this into two parts. Come back next week for Rock, Oath, Turboland, Reanimator, SuperGoo and more.
Comments always welcome.