Hello everyone! I hope you all had a great New Year’s Eve celebration, and that New Year’s Day was enough time to recover from your excesses. Back in the day, my wife and I held the New Year’s Eve party to be at, and all my friends came around to ring in each New Year. My wife would fix tons of kick-ass food (always welcome when lots of alcohol is consumed), I’d have the stereo loaded with kick-ass music, and our bar would be chock full of kick-ass adult beverages.
Shenanigans ensued. Oh yes, they sure did. It’s probably a good thing for me digital cameras or camera phones weren’t big back then.
Alas, my last New Year’s Eve celebration consisted of sneaking some beer into St. Mary’s Hospital in 2000 for me and wife to toast 2001 with our newborn daughter sleeping peacefully nearby. “I haven’t been able to have a drink in 9 months,” Martha told me as I was about to run home to shower, feed the cats, and bring some fresh clothes for her. “Please, bring me a six-pack when you come back.” You don’t argue with someone who just brought your child into the world, not if you want to keep your head on your shoulders. A few hours later and a little bit of Mission Impossible-style subterfuge, and I’m back with an ice-cold six-pack of Moosehead. Mmmm, beer.
Since then, with small children in the house who tend to wake up way earlier than necessary, not much hard-partying is done in the Smith house. Still, I remember the days – so enjoy them my friends!
My intention this week was to talk about my first foray into Type 4. The recent spike in interest in Elder Dragon Highlander and Cube draft lately has pushed this interesting casual format to the back of everyone’s mind*. I have to admit, the first time I played Type 4 I was not a fan, but then again I don’t think I gave the format a fair shake. I played a few duals against my friend Josh with both of us drawing from his Type 4 stack. He beat me mercilessly game after game after game. It’s possible I was just screwing up a lot of the time, but it seemed to me that basically you drew one of the ridiculous bombs, you go nuts and win… and I didn’t seem to be drawing the ridiculous bombs.
My buddies Jay Delazier and Shane Stoots have been trying to persuade me to give Type 4 another try. Shane has a Type 4 stack that’s chock full of signed, shiny, and foreign cards, as well as old-school goodness from his days as a Vintage master. So, as I was looking at my December calendar, I realized I had a big ol’ open hole on December 29th. I checked with Shane, he was available, and soon he had about six people lined up to play. Multiplayer Type 4 is a whole different animal, and what they do is draft out the stack Rochester-style, laying out twice as many cards as there are players (in our case we’d have drafted the stack 12 cards at a time). I usually have a lot of fun in just about any multiplayer format, so I was really looking forward to giving Type 4 another shot.
Friday, December 28th I was scheduled to go in to my part-time job for four hours. Once I get there I check the schedule and see a problem. I’m actually scheduled to work on December 29th. Not only am I scheduled to work; I’m scheduled to work twelve hours, 11am to 11pm. Hmm, I’m not going to be able to squeeze any Type 4 into that day!
Still, I thought it might be fun to touch on Type 4 Rochester draft and how it went in today’s column, so I asked Shane if he could give me a recap and perhaps shoot me a list of one player’s deck. Sunday morning I got a real brief email explaining that a lot of beer drinking was involved and that they all had fun… and that was about it.
Hmm, that would not make for much of an article, would it?
Okay, so Plan B it is – Extended! Everyone’s doing it, so let’s toss my 1.6 cents into the conversation (yeah, down from 2 cents, blame the dropping U.S. dollar!).
At this point, everything still seems to be a go for attending my first Extended PTQ in about two years this Saturday, and doing it at the awesome Star City Game Center, which I haven’t had the pleasure to go to yet. In a way, it almost feels like I’m going to my Magical Mecca. Pete and Star City have been so good to me over the years, giving me a home for my Magic writing, holding fantastic Magic tournaments in Virginia, and letting me help out working the preleases for product (before you can buy it!). Some time has passed since they opened up their new game center, so it is long past time I make the pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage has gained momentum
Take a turn, take a turn
Take our fortune, take our fortune
Oh yes – that classic college rock song will be on the mp3 player on the way down there! Anyone recognize it?
So what am I going to play? I didn’t get much positive response to what I thought was an interesting Weird Harvest/Oversold Cemetery/Grandeur deck with Oriss last week, so I’ve put this together as my “safe” bet:
Can’t you see a deck like this making Top 8? Yeah, everyone and their brother likely have a build similar to this one. Confidant, Tarmogoyf? Check. Jitte and removal? Check. Hand disruption? Check. I suppose my wrinkle of adding White might be a little off the beaten path with the mighty Doran, and maindeck Ronom Unicorns hopefully able to put a spike into the plans of the Counterbalance decks running around out there (as well as buying one more turn against Enduring Ideal). The one bit spice I’m looking forward to trying out is Profane Command, which is your four and five mana spell here. For four mana you get to bring back a Tarmogoyf or Bob (and then something else of course). Not too shabby. For five mana you get to bring back Doran, or… Eternal Witness, getting back your Profane Command. I’m thinking that the Witness/Command loop could be backbreaking against any deck that tries to win through the Red Zone, since if they kill Witness (chump-blocker!) you get to recur Command again.
Green, White, and Black gives you a metric ton of sideboard options, starting with Gaddock Teeg (removing your Profane Commands of course) and going from there. I like a lot of what this deck has going on, and I feel confident I could play this style of deck just fine.
My biggest concern is that it’s just not bombtastic enough, and it’s certainly not rogue enough. You lay an Overgrown Tomb and cast Duress, most opponents will know you’re with some flavor of Black/Green and will likely be able to guess 75% of your deck. Which means I’ll need to play my ass off to get into a position to Top 8.
Did I mention that I haven’t played an Extended PTQ in about two years?
The reasons I love playing original Rogue decks so much are twofold: first, if you create a deck yourself, you’re automatically familiar with the reasons certain cards are in the deck. Picking up a netdeck, or playing a creation from a deckbuilding genius acquaintance, and you don’t have that inherent knowledge, which is why practicing becomes so important. Second, if you build something off the radar, your opponent won’t know what’s coming; he might not know what you’ve got planned, and might not even have any clue how to counteract it. When I played the first competitive Dredge deck back at Champs a few years back, people were at a loss as to how to fight me, and it propelled me to Top 8 despite any mistakes I made along the way.
Needless to say, I’ve been casting around for some original ideas to craft decks around for Extended. What have caught my eye of late are the Hideaway lands. I talked about them a few weeks back in the context of Standard (Hideaway Adventures!), because I think there’s a lot of power in the mechanic overall. If you’re interested, click on the link; I dig into the mechanic more in depth, but here’s a basic recap of the advantages of Hideaway:
#1: You may play the removed card without paying its mana cost.
#2: You may play the removed card when you normally wouldn’t be able to.
#3: It’s card advantage.
Most people seem to have settled on the conventional wisdom that the Hideaway lands still suck overall except for the corner case of Spinerock Knoll in Dragonstorm decks. Yes, they come into play tapped, which sucks even worse in Extended when you may have an aggressive deck breathing down your neck too fast to afford that drawback. And yes, the conditions aren’t exactly easy to meet. However in Extended, big splashy effects are theoretically more available than in Standard. Dredge decks mean that it’s going to be pretty likely someone is going to have 20 cards or less in a hurry for Shelldock Isle. There are all sorts of Hellbent enablers available for Howltooth Hollow, as well as the criminally unused Mindslicer/Cabal Therapy combination. There are also decks capable of assembling 10 power worth of creatures on the board for Mosswort Bridge (Affinity and Goblins, I’m looking at you).
There are also some specific cards that help enable a Hideway strategy. First and foremost is Sensei’s Divining Top. You may have heard of this little artifact? (And yes, I’m being a bit of a smart-ass here, I’m well aware that the Top is pretty ubiquitous in the format). The Top does a nice job at both finding your Hideaway land, and also gives you a 75% look at the cards you’ll be looking at when you play your Hideaway land. It also helps keep you from drawing that big, splashy spell you’d rather play for cheap under the Hideaway land until you draw your Howltooth Hollow or Mosswort Bridge. The Hideaway land then returns the favor by letting your reset the “top” of your deck, giving Sensei a fresh look.
Another card that I like with Hideaway is Garruk Wildspeaker. Garruk does a nice job of taking away that “comes into play tapped” drawback by untapping the Hideaway land, and a land to activate it with.
I’ve got two deck ideas I’ve been kicking around this weekend while working my part-time job. The first one is built around Howltooth Hollow:
Therapy, Duress, Skeins, and of course Mindslicer ought to do a good job of enabling Howltooth Hollow’s ability. For the “big splashy spell,” I’m thinking of Plow Under right now, since if you and your opponent are both on empty hands, hitting him with a Plow Under during his upkeep is going to be pretty brutal. I was originally thinking of Tooth and Nail, but it seemed to me too likely that you’d draw into one of your big creature targets and be forced to discard it in order to activate Hollow. Instead, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to use Genesis to keep bringing back Tarmogoyfs and Mindslicers to get the job done.
Another idea I had was using Mosswort Bridge in a Goblin deck:
- 4 Goblin Matron
- 1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
- 4 Goblin Warchief
- 4 Sparksmith
- 1 Goblin Sharpshooter
- 4 Goblin Piledriver
- 4 Clickslither
- 3 Siege-Gang Commander
- 3 Skirk Prospector
- 2 Goblin Sledder
- 1 Goblin Pyromancer
- 3 Mogg War Marshal
Piledriver and Clickslither can both make it real easy to accumulate at least ten power of creatures on the board. The beauty of Hideaway is that you can go ahead and activate it during your attack step while Piledriver’s power is through the roof. Pyromancer can really do a team boost too, and there are plenty of ways in the deck to sacrifice the Pyromancer before it can accidentally nuke your team.
For the big splashy Hideaway spell, I decided to go with Biorhythm since it has the potential to totally wreck opponents, especially if cast while damage is on the stack during the attack phase. While perusing Extended forums of late, there is quite the buzz regarding Sparksmith, and he fits perfectly in a Biorhythm strategy, mowing down opposing creatures while Biorhythm could potentially reset your life total higher if you get too low (assuming you’ve got a few creatures out there).
While there’s no way to peek at your deck to set up Mosswort Bridge, I could see it being totally fine tucking a Siege-Gang Commander or Goblin Matron under the Bridge if you don’t see a Biorhythm, and if you draw the Biorhythm you can always pitch it to a Mox or possibly just cast the thing with the help of Prospector.
Goblins also have the benefit of being completely off the radar right now, so I seriously doubt you’d have to worry about Engineered Plague raining on your parade.
As of right now, I’d say there’s a 70% chance I’ll be playing my “safe” Doran deck this Saturday, but I’m certainly hoping I can get some traction on my Hideaway ideas. I’ve got some emails out to some folks to see what they think, and I’d certainly love to hear from you either in the forums or via email. Do you think one of these Hideaway decks has potential? How would you change them, or build a different one? I’ve got three days and one long-ass drive to Roanoke to flesh out the ideas.
On a side note, I wanted to extend a request to any of my readers who live in Iowa. Tomorrow is an exciting day in American politics and no one knows how things are going to shake out in the first caucuses in the nomination battle. Are you going to go caucus for either political party? I went to a presidential caucus here in Virginia back in 1992 and it was a lot of fun, so if you live in Iowa and go to one, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me an email and let me know what your experience was like. I know Craig takes an editor’s machete to any whiff of politics in our articles, but I’m hoping since this request is party-neutral, he’ll leave this in. I’m not going to be publishing your email in a future article; it is strictly for my own personal curiosity.
Good luck to any of you who PTQ this Saturday, and if you’re down at the Star City Gaming center, stop by and say hi!
starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com
* The back of your mind is where I’ll be
Swimming with the put-offs in a mostly red-wine sea
What was that thought that you just lost
And now you can’t seem to find
Just let it slip
It’s just me losing my grip
In the back of your mind.
“Back of Your Mind” by Collin Herring
(if you haven’t heard this fellow, seriously check him out)