It seems like every week something new happens to the game we all love. This week it was the Banned and Restricted list turning our lives up side down. The night this happened, many people commented on how much they disliked this change. This has been a trend for many Magic players over the years. They realize Wizards of the Coast is changing the game once again and instantly hate the idea. Not the idea that the game is going to get better, but the idea that they themselves have to change.
Over the last year Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) has made many changes to this game. Every time they change something they say it is for the best interest of the game, but many people take this as a way for WOTC to make a quick buck. This could definitely be true if Wizards was not run by intelligent people. Why would a company make a change to the game to only impact the short-term economics of the game? It is in their best interests to make the game better to keep it growing.
Is this not what they have been doing all along? If it weren’t for them constantly perfecting the way they run this game I would not be writing this article. You would not be reading this article nor would you be heading out to play Friday Night Magic tonight. There is no way they would make a change this big without thorough research.
I know changing Extended will not make everyone happy. There are players that did like last year’s Extended format. For those players this change does suck. Losing multiple years to play with cards you enjoy is something I would not be happy about.
I was all ready to go over the pros and cons of the new Extended until I realized something: there is only one negative aspect of this change. So I guess I’ll talk about this one thing and then go into why it is an amazing change.
Con: Card Value
This problem is a true one. The value of cards that are in the sets that got cut prematurely will go down in value. This is something that a player can complain about until they are blue in the face and I still will not care. It is not Wizards of the Coast’s responsibility to keep us happy in the secondary market. I am not sure and I am not about to go look this up tonight so correct me in the comments if I am wrong, but I think it is illegal for WOTC to make decisions intended only to influence the secondary market.
The funny thing about this is that every decision they make will have a big impact on the market. Why have the prices of multiple cards jumped in the last year? It is because Wizards is making a healthier game and attracting so many more players into it. The decisions they made two years ago and implemented just last year is the reason this game is so successful. It is the reason why we have so many 5Ks and Open Series events. The game is so popular right now that the game can support multiple WOTC and non-WOTC run events.
So I will apologize if I have sounded like a Wizards rep for the beginning of this article. No, they did not brainwash me when I was at the Community Cup. These are feelings I have had ever since the M10 changes. When those first came out I did not like any of them. I did not want the game I have grown to love change in a single way. I had the feeling like it would have a different feel to it and I might not want to play anymore. These were idiotic feelings since it is still the same game and the people who create it are just trying to make it better. After a month of playing with the new M10 rules I learned to love every one of them. That is when I started to have faith in every decision they make.
Speaking of the Community Cup, I have a good story for you guys. The first night we were in town, Gavin and I started an argument at dinner. This was in front of Mike Turian and Lee Sharpe. The argument was about the Extended format. We argued for 20 minutes at the table and this carried outside until it was time to part ways. At the time I found it very strange that no Wizards employee had anything to say about the argument Gavin and I were having over the health of the Extended format.
Gavin said Extended was a good, skill-intensive format. There was room to break the format wide open if you worked hard enough. I agree with him completely since it was the masters of the game breaking the format. No one can argue that Gerry Thompson created the powerhouse deck of the format and given enough time there would be more decks like that one.
For the most part I agreed with everything Gavin had to say. I agree that it was skill intensive. It has been a long time since I felt that metagaming was as important as it was in this format. This meant you could win or lose before the tournament started. I like this feeling of low variance. The problem with this is the game is not designed for the masters. WoTC does not make decisions based on if LSV will win more matches because of it.
After I said that to Gavin, I didn’t even know what it meant. I played an Extended Pro Tour and a Grand Prix and did terribly at both events. In my opinion the format felt like a crapshoot. There were four combo decks rotating back and forth and Zoo that was trying to steal some wins. There were more decks in the format that were not created by the masses, but perfected by the masters. I do not like formats like this. Keeping specific hate hands was more important then being able to outplay your opponent on that crucial turn. Magic isn’t fun at that level.
I had more emails about how difficult it was to prepare/play in a PTQ during that season. It seemed like people just didn’t know what the right things to do were. There were too many combo decks to hate out and players were not able to make the decisions that had to be made to be successful. These are the conditions in which Magic fails: when players can no longer enjoy the games they are playing. Many people just played Extended because they had to if they wanted on the Pro Tour. This is a bad reason to play a format.
Extended should never have been as big as it was. The more sets you introduce to a format the higher chance it will be able to be degenerate. It had all the pieces it needed to have some of the most busted decks playable, but not enough generic answers to keep those decks in check. If Extended had a card like [card]Force of Will[/card] everything would have been a lot better.
Extended did not feel like Magic to me. I was surprised that more people did not have a strong distaste for the format like me. When Faeries was in Standard everyone seemed to hate that deck. I don’t think it was as powerful as Dark Depths/Thopter was in Extended, but no one seemed to complain about that deck. I think it comes down to how you lose to the decks. Players tend to want to either lose now or win. So when a player knows they are going to lose to Faeries on turn 4 but have to play it out to make sure until turn 8, they get discouraged. It didn’t take much thought to know that a 20/20 was going to kill you.
That brings me to another point about why I disliked Extended. It had a 20/20 in the format. 20/20s should not exist in Magic. It makes no sense that a person can win on turn 3 by attacking with a creature of that size. How was that fun? How about not being able to deal with your opponent putting Progenitus into play on the first turn? This was not fun, people!
Changing this format will give us the opportunity to play with cards that we would never get to because of how big Extended was. It’s funny how it seems that the bigger a format is, the fewer cards you get to play with in that format and still stay competitive. Since the new format is much smaller and the problem cards have been taken care of, we will see Extended become the amazing format it should be.
The first deck that will be legal is one of my favorites. A few years ago my brother played in his first Pro Tour – he qualified for the PT before I did. It was Pro Tour Hollywood and we had a lot of fun because it was our first real Magic trip. I worked hard on getting him a list we were happy with and he did finish in the money and right outside Top 50. The great thing about this event was that someone created a great combo deck for the format. I think this deck might have some potential in Extended.
It is centered on Body Double, Reveillark, and Greater Gargadon. If you add a creature like Venser, Shaper Savant or Riftwing Cloudskate you get to create infinite come into play triggers of those creatures. The best part about this deck is it was not just combo-oriented. It also played out like a control deck.
Reveillark is a powerful creature that just didn’t have the ability to shine in old Extended. You will find this with many of the cards in this format. I just can’t wait to play some four and five drops in Extended rather than only Jace, the Mind Sculptor all the time.
The next combo is an oldie but a goodie. From the Dragon Master himself comes Punishing Fire and Grove of the Burnwillows. I know it’s not too innovative now, but this combo will be a powerhouse in the new format. For everyone that thinks Faeries will be dominating new Extended, I think they forgot about the Punishing Fire/Grove combo. Not much disrupts this and it will do a good job at controlling some of the problem decks of the format.
There was a tournament on magic-league where this deck won the first new Extended tournament:
This deck needs quite a bit of work, but it does look very good for the first wave of deck lists. This deck makes me so excited for what can happen in this new format. When a format does not have to deal with degenerate combos, decks get to look like this.
Some of the old combo decks from last season will get a chance to shine as well. Hivemind + Pacts should still have enough tools to be competitive. We have seen how a deck that loses the enablers but still has all the combo pieces can still shine when we look at Dredge. This deck was more on the casual and funny side of the metagame, but should be able to pull out to be one of the better combos of the format.
Scapeshift might be able to see some play. I don’t know what will happen to this deck since the Ravnica shock lands are now gone, but it still has enough functioning pieces to possibly work. I guess we will have to phone a friend like Ben Stark to see if this deck will be the powerhouse it once was.
I am very excited to know what people will do with Murmuring Bosk. Before the shock lands rotated this land was not powerful enough to be played. Now that it is the only dual land that is fetchable, we might see resurgence in Doran. The tools are still there for the deck and it has enough guys and removal to be a powerful deck. The only problem with this deck is how vulnerable it was to Faeries whenever the two decks went toe to toe.
I know this is the default deck for many players. I on the other hand do not think this deck will be as powerful as the majority. Faeries was a very powerful deck when it was in Standard and was able to hold its own in Extended. The key difference, however, is that it no longer has Jitte to help it fight the good fight. The other problem is that the format will be more aggressive with a higher percentage of decks attacking. You might see some fun Splinter Twin/Pestermite action going on, but that might be too over the top to actually be good.
I know a lot of what I have been rambling about is random. I just am trying to show you guys that this format will be very exciting and a nice change of pace from the power packed format that was old Extended. This change has made me get invested into playing Extended once it rotates on the 1st. Any format that can make me get away from Block Constructed is probably a good one.
FffreaK on MTGO