The PTQ season for Extended decks is over, but if you want to keep playing Extended, look to casual play and multiplayer. Casual players can play with Tempest cards all year round.
I started walking through all the tier one (and close to tier one) decks from the PTQ season last article; modifying them for multiplayer formats. Then I saw the Japanese GP last weekend, with a whole new set of decks. I really wish Extended season ran for another few months.
I’m going to start this article with a classic deck that first saw print on StarCity a few years back. David Zadok Stroud wrote about a deck he called Carpe Noctum, which featured Academy Rector, Phyrexian Ghoul, and Pattern of Rebirth. The trick was to attack with the Ghoul, and if it was not blocked, eat an Academy Rector, use the Rector’s ability to put a Pattern of Rebirth on a Bird of Paradise or something, eat that and get another Rector, eat that and get Saproling Burst, then eat all the tokens. That’s lethal damage – and, with a little luck, that could happen on turn 3.
David’s deck was built before the Extended rotation last fall, but the rotation also gave it Nantuko Husk – Phyrexian Ghouls five and six – and Mythic Proportions. Here’s the version Bill Stead played on day two at Grand Prix: New Orleans.
This deck is a lot of fun to play, but it is not a multiplayer deck. The deck eats most of it’s Academy Rectors and the Symbiotic Wurm just to kill a single player. Then it runs out of gas. However, a few changes can help. First, since multiplayer is less about speed and more about evasion, replace a few of the Husks and Ghouls with Fallen Angels. A Mythically Proportioned Husk is okay – but an 11/11 trampling Fallen Angel is even better – even after it has eaten all available creatures. After that, add some graveyard recursion and a bit of utility – for instance, Volrath’s Stronghold, Oversold Cemetery, Oath of Ghouls, or Genesis, plus some form of Disenchant, and it looks a lot better. You can get room by pulling the Cabal Therapies, which are great in duels but a lot less useful in multiplayer.
Speaking of one-shot decks, Angry Hermit is pretty marginal for multiplayer games. You deck yourself way too often. Play it only if there is one player you want to kill each game, and then concede. Otherwise, find another deck.
Zvi’s TurboLand, on the other hand, is a pretty good multiplayer deck, with two caveats. First, it is a combo deck with lots of library manipulation. Some groups frown on having one player manipulate their deck for ten minutes, then go infinite and win. Second, the deck relies on Oath of Druids, and Oath of Druids only triggers if you have fewer creatures than any opponent – not just some opponent. Therefore, Oath will not trigger if any opponent is playing a creatureless deck, or it some opponents choose to concentrate all their removal on one opponent’s creatures.
In duels, Oath is a great defense against attacking creatures – if they play them, you Oath and go off. In multiplayer, it may not work that way. Fair warning.
On the plus side, playing Horn of Greed in multiplayer can make you some friends, fast. Everyone likes to make all their lands into cantrips.
If you want to give TurboLand a try in multiplayer, you can give Zvi’s decklist from GP New Orleans a try (just sub in some Tropical Islands, if you have them), or you can play his version from last season, with Force of Will and Gaea’s Blessing. Either way, practice with the deck a lot – it is a complex deck to play. If you are truly lucky and own a Time Walk, you can replace one of the Time Warps. Zvi once had the misfortune of having a Time Warp Misdirected – something that cannot happen with Time Walk.
If you want to play a combo deck, but don’t want the feel (i.e., the library manipulation) of a combo deck, then try Life. Ped Bun played this at Pro Tour: Dallas – his decklist is on The Sideboard. The core of the deck is pretty simple: En-Kor creatures allow you to redirect the next point of damage to another creature. You can set up shields to redirect the next point of damage – and the one after that, etc. – at any time. Next, get a creature like Angelic Protector or Task Force (creatures that get +0/+3 whenever they are targeted by a spell or ability) into play, and redirect the next one million damage to the creature. The Protector is now a 2/3,000,002 creature. Then cast Worthy Cause (sacrifice a creature, gain life equal to its toughness) and you are at over three million life. At that point, winning is pretty easy. For style points (albeit rather boring ones), cast Obstinate Familiar and stop drawing cards – and win by decking everyone. Other options include About Face (attack with the Angelic Protector, pump its toughness to obscene levels, then reverse power and toughness), or cast Phyrexian Processor and start pumping out really, really big Minions.
The next deck to convert to multiplayer is Oath of Druids. Once again, this deck suffers on two levels. First, counterspells are less useful in multiplayer games. You cannot stop everything or untap often enough. This hurts a deck like Gary Oath. Moreover, the deck has problems if, as mentioned above, one opponent is not playing creatures. I have even seen opponents choose a volunteer who played no creatures (and was not attacked by the others) simply to stop Oath from ever being useful. Furthermore, decks like Cognivore Oath have some real problems with killing all opponents before they deck themselves. If you want to play Oath, I strongly suggest looking at the Oath deck designed by Ped Bun and played by Bob Maher when he won the previous PT Chicago. Gaea’s Blessing makes such a difference. Even there, I would consider using Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Crater Hellion over Spike Weaver and Spike Feeder. In a five player game, Spike Weaver just doesn’t lock up combat the way it does in duels.
Actually, if you want to play monstrous creatures in multiplayer, Reanimator is a pretty strong option. Rob Dougherty has developed a great version for Extended duels, but it can be a lot better in multiplayer. First of all, you probably want to lose the discard elements. Duress and Cabal Therapy are great at destroying one opponent, but the whole point of multiplayer is having a lot of opponents. However, in multiplayer, you get a lot more options to use for reanimation decks, since Animate Dead and Dance of the Dead never rotate out of casual play. Animate Dead is an uncommon that appeared in 5th edition – it is cheap. (Only $0.50 at the StarCity online store, although you can pay more for a black bordered Beta version.) Animate Dead also has the advantage of letting you swipe creatures from opponents’ graveyards – and in multiplayer, there are generally a lot of creatures in a lot of graveyards. Or, if you prefer playing with commons that affect everyone, like Exhume, then play Withered Wretch and make sure you can empty everyone elses’ graveyards, leaving them nothing to Exhume.
Actually, in multiplayer, there are a lot of curious methods of emptying opponents’ graveyards. Here are two of my favorites:
You probably want to check out the Oracle or D’Angelo’s for current wording on those cards, if you are trying to figure out how they work.
Okay, as the last deck in this article – and series – I want to look at my favorite Extended and multiplayer deck at present. Typically I build a new deck every week or so, play it once, then do something else. This deck is staying together – probably indefinitely. It’s a solid deck that loses very little in the transition to multiplayer.
Here’s the deck I took to GP New Orleans:
Okay, as I keep saying, the Duresses and Cabal Therapies come out. I play T1 rules, so Vampiric Tutor is restricted – but I can replace one with Demonic Tutor, which is not exactly a loss. Wall of Blossoms leaves – and Wall of Roots comes back into the deck. Terror leaves the deck – I can get that from the Living Wish sideboard in the form of Nekrataal or Bone Shredder.
In multiplayer, Pernicious Deed is a wrecking ball. However, I play at several different venues. At one store, I am better than most of the other players, and I end up playing with a fair number of kids with weak decks – in which case I cut it down to one Deed. In other areas, I run two – and with the group that plays at my house weekends, I may need three. However, I generally stick at no more than two Deeds – too much board sweeping limits the variety of decks that see play.
Most importantly, I play all four Living Wishes. I don’t search my entire collection – that is pushing it, even for me – but I have an all creature sideboard for casual play. I have never been less than happy to draw Living Wish. Given the range of available creatures in green and black, the sideboard has almost every answer necessary (the one exception is that there is no green or black Time Walk creature.)
I’m going to do a card-by-card on my current build, followed by a whole ton of sideboard options. I know how exciting card-by-cards are, but I like the deck so well that I’m going to subject you all to it anyway.
The place to start is with lands and mana creatures. Since we can ignore the Extended rotation, four Bayous go back where they belong. I am currently also running four Llanowar Wastes, but that may be more pain than absolutely necessary. I keep the Volrath’s Stronghold, since recursion is good, and the Dust Bowl. (The Dust Bowl is useful against Maze of Ith and so forth, but it might belong in the sideboard.) I have also considered playing with Strip Mine/Cartographer and using graveyard recursion to slowly destroy opponent’s mana bases, but this is pretty slow and generally unnecessary.
Next we come to the mana creatures. Birds of Paradise are an automatic start for a green black deck. Wall of Roots is a great multiplayer card – by casting them early, I have watched countless fast beaters head for other, wall-less, players in the early game. The Walls also provide mana during opponents’ turns, even if all your lands are tapped, which can be important for Yavimaya Elders and Spikes. Finally, Yavimaya Elders – the real green Ancestral Recall – is an amazing accelerant. In the late game, graveyard recursion can use him for card drawing and deck thinning.
So, the deck so far:
That’s thirty five cards – and the basis. Now comes the fun stuff. I mentioned the tutors already. I also really like Living Death as a board sweeper in multiplayer, although having a method of sacrificing my creatures first is important. I like Phyrexian Plaguelord, since he does a great job of both clearing the board for Living Death and a fine job of dealing with problem creatures. I have even killed Visara and Avatar of Woe with the Plaguelord. Since it combos so well with the Plaguelord, I will also run a Deranged Hermit.
With cards like Deranged Hermit, I want lots of options for graveyard recursion. I want to run a maindeck Genesis and a Recurring Nightmare. Recurring Nightmare works pretty well with Deranged Hermit – and even better with depleted Walls of Roots.
Here’s the non-creature portion of the deck:
Since I have the graveyard recursion available, I am playing two Spike Feeders and just one Ravenous Baloth. Although both can act as lifegain, Spikes do so much more. I have won games by putting spike counters on Treetop Villages and Birds of Paradise, and held off a Phyrexian Negator with a spike counter on a Wall of Roots. Spikes can even move onto opponent’s creatures, turning a chump blocker into an even trade. Spikes provide combat options – and options make the math harder. In many cases, having Spikes means it is easier for my opponents to attack each other. That is a very good thing in multiplayer.
I also like to win battles, so I have some offensive creatures. I run two Spiritmongers, although they are not always the main win condition. In multiplayer, I want some evasion, so I have a Fallen Angel in the deck. Fallen Angel is a great finisher if you can avoid blockers or trample through them. Fallen Angel is particularly good with lots of Squirrel tokens around.
Speaking of tokens and beats, I have a Verdant Force in the deck. Verdant Force is good in duels, but he’s better in multiplayer. The rest of the brute squad is composed of a Ravenous Baloth (who is probably on the way out) and Visara. Finally, I also run one Silklash Spider maindeck – because it is pretty darn good. Silklash Spider is like a good pollen filter – it clears the air when necessary. In multiplayer, that’s often necessary.
That’s it for the main deck. In the sideboard, I have a Spitting Spider (it will become a Silklash as soon as I get another one), a spare Deranged Hermit, and the third Spiritmonger. I also include a Masticore, although I rarely need to search that one out – it’s a”wins more” card. Other cards are frequently better.
One sideboard card I Wish for a lot is Kamahl, Fist of Krosa. First of all, he can pump my creatures, including the hordes of squirrels and Saprolings, and give Fallen Angel trample. His ability to turn lands into creatures also pretty good. Against an Elf deck one game – following a big stall – I wished for Kamahl. My opponent killed him with Urza’s Rage. In response, I made all but one of my opponent’s lands into creatures, then Deeded for two. Twelve elves and eight lands died.
I have a Royal Assassin in the sideboard. He’s not always amazing, but it is fun to Wish for him against things like Elf decks and so forth. He does a great job of locking up games – no one dares to tap a creature. During one big staring match, I wished for Kamahl, then, at the end of turn, I used him to turn a tapped Gaea’s Cradle into a creature, and killed it with Royal Assassin. The Assassin is always useful, although I also have Avatar of Woe in the sideboard – and the Avatar is a lot harder to kill. Royal Assassin is just a bit easier to cast.
As additional removal, and an additional method of winning the game, I also run Krovikan Horror. Krovikan Horror is like Skull Catapult – it sends squirrels to the head, over a moat or blocker if necessary. I lost count of the number of creatures that have died to”block, damage on the stack, shoot the critter using Krovikan’s ability.
The first Legions card to make the sideboard was Nantuko Vigilante. A primary purpose of the Living Wish sideboard is to have answers, especially to problem enchantments and artifacts. Uktabi Orangutan and Woodripper have done the job on artifacts in the past, but enchantments are more of a problem. Elvish Lyrist needs to survive until my next upkeep, and when the enchantment I want to kill is something like an Arrest or Treachery on my Visara, that is not going to happen. Nullmage Advocate is another answer, but – even considering politics – giving people cards back is never that good. The Vigilante is perfect – it kills both artifacts and enchantments. The cost is reasonable, given the amount of mana this deck can generate.
The second Legions card to make the deck is Withered Wretch. I am supposed to be doing the graveyard manipulation – not my opponents. On the flip side, Withered Wretch is the one card I fear. The deck can win without graveyard recursion, but you don’t have as much fun doing it.
I cut the maindeck Terror, and replaced it with a Bone Shredder. Shredder may go back to the maindeck. Bone Shredder doesn’t work at instant speed, like Terror, but it does combo nicely with graveyard recursion. You can use echo and Volrath’s Stronghold to put it in your hand every turn – in effect, it’s like Terror with Buyback. By the way, Shredder and Genesis only works every other turn – Genesis targets when its ability goes on the stack, before echo can put the Bone Shredder in the graveyard.
Actually, I have a number of removal cards in the sideboard – and occasionally in the maindeck. One of our regular multiplayer group opponents plays a lot of token generators. I have sideboarded Plaguebearer, an Tempest block rare, to deal with that: Since tokens have a converted mana cost of zero, it toasts them for B. Plaguebearer and Kamahl are also a combo – for GB, you make a land into a creature, then kill it. It is a pretty solid answer to Maze of Ith – and saying”End of your turn, Armageddon you” is frequently good for a scoop.
Another Legions card I can see going into the sideboard Real Soon Now is Bane of the Living. A Wrath of God you can fetch with Living Wish is pretty good. The only reason I’m not playing it yet is that I don’t have one.
One sideboard slot is devoted to discard. With the graveyard recursion going, Thrull Surgeon is a solid option, but that feels a bit much like tournament play. I had also considered Hypnotic Specter, since the random discard factor is brutal, but he is only devastating in the early game. I have been running Silent Specter, since is nails two cards and can win the game on it’s own. I will also consider Hollow Specter, but Thrull Surgeon is cheaper, does the same thing, and cannot be blocked.
I also considered devoting a bit of the sideboard to evasion, although that it really not a problem. I can usually force a win with some combination of Spiritmongers, Fallen Angel, a horde of squirrels, and Visara and Avatar of Woe clearing the way. However, I had a Filth in the sideboard when playing Extended PTQs, and liked it. It is a good answer when some opponents are playing swamps. Lumbering Satyr is an answer when opponents are playing forests – but remember to sacrifice it before an opponent attacks, since all creatures get forestwalk. The sacrifice plan can work – Lumbering Satyr is a beast, so you can feed it to Ravenous Baloth. I haven’t used this recently, but Gaea’s Liege, which can turn opponent’s lands into forests, makes a decent combo with the Lumbering Satyr. However, all of these tricks are really just showing off – they are not really necessary.
I want to try Caller of the Claw, since the deck can have some problems with Wrath of God, and it could be fun after sacrificing all your creatures to set up a Living Death. It strikes me as a”wins more” card, however. I may test it some.
One last sideboard card: I saw some people siding Phantom Centaurs and so forth against me. Other people use other methods of putting +1/+1 counters on their cards. I have a Spike Cannibal sitting ready to fix those problems. It is probably the sideboard card I am least likely to Wish for… But I expect to absolutely wreck someone’s day with it sometime.
That’s what it’s all about.