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Careful Consideration – Condensing Extended

 

When the SCG Open came to my backyard in Seattle, I couldn’t resist sleeving up a Legacy deck, despite not having played the format before, or really paid much attention to it despite watching a few replays of 5Ks and reading Legacy articles on this site. I had avoided Legacy not so much due to card availability issues, but because there’s a weird subculture of Eternal-only players, some of whom are very socially awkward and generally unpleasant, and are very vocal about how all formats other than Legacy and Vintage are bad, and people who would play things like Limited or Extended are elitists.

(I don’t really get the elitist argument, but whatever. Let’s move on.)

I tried my hand at Vintage, and while it wasn’t all about turn one kills or anything like that, it felt very different than normal Magic, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the format – it was just different. I assumed that Legacy was essentially Vintage-lite, which I wasn’t all that interested in.

But I sleeved up some decks and did some testing prior to the tournament, and found that it was quite a lot like Extended, my favorite format. All the reasons why I love Extended were present in Legacy: You can play any number of archetypes, there’s a ton of innovation, cards aren’t so strong that they push out otherwise playable cards, and there are enough silver bullet answers to combat powerful linear strategies. And it was obvious to me that it was very skill-intensive.

The long and short of it is that I sleeved up a pretty stock Zoo list with nothing particularly exciting:

I’ve done a lot of attacking with Wild Nacatl in my life, so I figured hey, why not do this again?

Short tournament report: I had a freaking blast.

The format’s a lot of fun. You almost always have cards at the end of your hand, and you have decisions to make on almost every turn, which I really like. I also realized that Zoo’s secretly a very underpowered deck. You can attack for 3 on turn two with [card]Wild Nacatl[/card], or play turn two [card]Iona, Shield of Emeria[/card]. Zoo’s a very fair deck in a format of people doing unfair things.

But I also realized how such a fair deck can do so well at the tournaments. Legacy is hard, and Zoo punishes mistakes pretty well. I’m pretty sure that if I played perfect Magic all day, and my opponents played perfect Magic all day, I would have finished 2-6. Instead, I cobbled together a respectable 6-2, taking advantage of (often subtle) mistakes with punishing finishers like [card]Price of Progress[/card]. Though my losses came to Matt Nass (round 3) and Seattle-area PTQ ringer Greg Peloquin (round 4), so by taking the losses early, my tiebreaks were fairly bad and I finished in 19th place, three spots out of the money. Alas.

So I’m looking seriously at going to Grand Prix Columbus. I don’t think I want to play fair, so it’s unlikely I’ll be turning [card]Wild Nacatl[/card]s sideways if I do indeed go.

One notable thing about our SCG Open: People commented that the play in the ggslive coverage was overly horrendous, and I agree that there were a lot of onboard mistakes and things that wouldn’t be done if people just read their cards properly.

Apparently, the cameras for the coverage do a very, very good job of picking up light. Impressively so. So the setup in Seattle was to put the feature match area in a closet, then put it in a cave. It was so bloody dark in that corner of the room that if you picked up an old dual land or an old card with a lot of print on it, you couldn’t make out the text. I’m not exaggerating here.

This was awkward for me, since my approach to playing my deck was to just look at the cards and my opponent’s life total and play it as tightly as possible, as if this were some sort of prerelease. I was reading cards all day, including my own. I didn’t memorize that Savannah tapped for WG or Plateau tapped for RW. I didn’t need to. I could just read the card, figure out what it did, and then go on with my life. Except in the feature match area, when I tried to read my lands and couldn’t make them out. A Plateau was tapped for green, mistakes were made, and there was no turn two Tarmogoyf. It was completely irrelevant to the match, but it was really frustrating to have to play Magic in that kind of setting.

That’s what people had to deal with all day. It’s hard enough to play a format that you’re unfamiliar with, but when you have to do so in the dark (literally!), it just makes things that much harder.

Anyway, Legacy was a lot closer to Extended than it was to Vintage, and Extended is just about the perfect format, as I’ve written before. Good thing nothing will happen to Extended to change that!

right?

Why is everyone looking at me like that?

A few minor tweaks with an atomic bomb

For those who didn’t see the announcement Thursday night, here is the new Extended policy:

On July 1, 2010, the following sets will leave the Extended format: Ninth Edition, Mirrodin, Darksteel, Fifth Dawn, Champions of Kamigawa, Betrayers of Kamigawa, Saviors of Kamigawa, Ravnica: City of Guilds, Guildpact, Dissension, and Coldsnap. From that point forward, the Extended format will include approximately four years of Magic sets instead of seven.
At that time, the following sets will be legal in the Extended format: Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, Future Sight, Tenth Edition, Lorwyn, Morningtide, Shadowmoor, Eventide, Shards of Alara, Conflux, Alara Reborn, Magic 2010, Zendikar, Worldwake, and Rise of the Eldrazi.
With the upcoming release of Scars of Mirrodin, the following sets will leave the Extended format:Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, Future Sight, and Tenth Edition. One year’s worth of releases will leave Extended with every subsequent fall Magic set.
Sword of the Meek is banned.
Hypergenesis is banned.
Note: The four cards previously on the banned list (Aether Vial, Disciple of the Vault, Sensei’s Divining Top, and Skullclamp) are in sets that are no longer in the Extended format.

There will be an Extended Pro Tour (PT: Amsterdam) with 10th Edition and Time Spiral block available in Extended. But when PTQ season rolls around next winter, Lorwyn block will be the oldest block.

Extended just got hacked off and is now a glorified Standard format. “New” Extended resembles “old” Extended about as much as Grease 2 resembled Grease. (You didn’t know they made a sequel to Grease, did you? You’re not missing much, other than a very young Michelle Pfeiffer.)

Don’t get me wrong; I like this new “Doublestandard” format, and I’m looking forward to playing it, but that’s because I really liked last summer’s Standard, and that’s what this is. Post Scars Extended will be last summer’s Standard, with Magic 2011, Zendikar block and Scars of Mirrodin.

But why?

Wizards didn’t give their reasoning for this unexpected change. I’ve often been critical of their tone deaf approach to their customers, and this change is another example of that. By giving no notice of the change, there was a mild crash in the singles market as people tried frantically to unload their Ravnica dual lands and Dark Depths (among other staples from the freshly chopped blocks), thinking they would hold their value for a couple more years.

The speculated “Overextended” format that would stretch from roughly Mercadian Masques block to present has not been announced, so we are left guessing and wondering what’s happening.

Another possible reason is that people didn’t play Extended outside of the PTQ season. Overextended would ostensibly replace Legacy, providing people an opportunity to play with older cards but without the enormous cost barrier of Legacy, since Overextended staples could be reprinted, unlike many Legacy staples, which cannot (due to the reserved list).

I hope we get some communication from Wizards of the Coast soon on this. I know several people who recently bought a lot of Ravnica dual lands, expecting them to be useful for Extended, and are now looking at their cards that have no home in Extended, and aren’t strong enough for Legacy. Worthless.

So what’s out?

Let’s look at the staples of the last Extended environment and examine what is and isn’t in the format anymore.

Kamigawa block:

 

I’m not even counting cards that saw some play but tailed off like Meloku, the Clouded Mirror and Ghostly Prison.

Umezawa’s Jitte is by far the biggest loss. Night of Souls’ Betrayal is secretly not a big deal because Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek combo is banned, and Dark Depths rotated out.

And shed a tear for both Jonathon Loucks and Alexander Shearer, as Gifts Ungiven is no longer in Extended. Sorry guys, you’ll have to find a new way to brew.

Ravnica block:

 

Dredge as a mechanic is out, but the biggest losses by far are the dual lands. The fetchlands from Zendikar made it possible for Zoo decks to continue on, allowing fully-powered turn two Wild Nacatls and Kird Apes to prance freely into the red zone, as well as allowing other decks to have pretty consistent manabases.

Ninth Edition:

 

The losses of Phyrexian Arena and Mana Leak really put a dent in control strategies, and the lack of Ghost Quarter and Blood Moon would open up the Urzatron strategy, except that’s gone as well.

Coldsnap:

 

Coldsnap was a pretty miserable set for Constructed, but Dark Depths is the biggest blow (although it certainly looks like it would have been banned if they left it in Extended), as it kills that particular combo with Vampire Hexmage.

Desperate Ritual, Rite of Flame, and Seething Song are all out, leaving no playable rituals in Extended. Rune Snag would have been a replacement for Mana Leak, but that is now gone as well.

Not playing in the Pro Tour? Keep reading.

Time Spiral block:

 

Phew, where to start? Well, the biggest one is the loss of Tarmogoyf, the creature that defined the format two seasons ago. Leyline of the Void left with Ravnica, and Extirpate and Tormod’s Crypt are powerful sideboard options, leaving only Relic of Progenitus to hold the fort as graveyard hate.

I didn’t include Hypergenesis and Sword of the Meek, as they are banned. The storm mechanic is out, as is split second, as well as a bunch of really solid utility cards.

There were also a lot of “easy” two card combos in Extended:
Dark Depths and Vampire Hexmage
Sword of the Meek and Thopter Foundry
Cascade spell into Hypergenesis, Living End, Restore Balance, Bust
Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows

The last season was defined by these two card combos, leaving us with none heading into the new Extended, barring anything in Magic 2011 or Scars of Mirrodin block. Blood Moon effects are gone with Magus of the Moon also leaving town, and fast mana takes another hit with the loss of Lotus Bloom.

Tenth edition:

 

Yeah, let that one sink in for a second. Wrath of God is out of Extended.

Okay, so we have Day of Judgment, but it’s a great illustration of just how far these changes have gone.

For Tenth Edition, I included cards that weren’t so much staples in Extended last season, but rather cards that would see play in the new Extended format if it was legal (and will be for the Pro Tour). Paladin en-Vec would be great to fight Jund decks, and the Seismic Assault/Swans of Bryn Argoll combo isn’t present either.

No, Extended is not Extended. This is a glorified Standard format, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t super excited to play the new format – but if you look at what’s remaining and the viable decks for the new format, you’ll see that the diverse strategies and multiple ways of attacking the format are missing.

If you want that, your only option for the time being is Legacy. Thank goodness that format’s gaining popularity, or I’d be pretty heartbroken right now.

Okay, I still am.

Yours wistfully,
-Zaiem
zaiemb at gmail dot com
zbeg on Twitter
zbeg on Magic Online

38 thoughts on “Careful Consideration – Condensing Extended”

  1. This whole thing makes the idea of an “OverExtended” format more likely. The people unloading those Ravnica shocklands now may be kicking themselves in 6 months when they shoot back up.

    I agree that WotC does a piss poor job of communicating with the community regarding policies that affect the value of the secondary market.

  2. Jeremiah Legacy

    This new “Overextended” format is not going to be coming. Read the follow-up article by BDM: he said that the original plan was to create a new format “Double Standard” but they chose to change Extended instead.

    WotC made a conscious decision to eliminate Extended and put something else there to call Extended.

  3. The visuals of the cards which will be out was very helpful, thank you for that. I agree with the ‘weird eternal format’ guy comment too. Some people who are all about the eternal formats have something unsettling about them.

    I think that the reasoning behind the change in extended was purely economic (I want to see wheat Fuentes thinks about this). I order to play most of the viable decks in extended, you need to have a number of expensive rares (Chrome Mox, Depths, TARMOGOYF). This was discouraging new players and casual players, whom Wizards realized is the driving force behind sales, from playing extended. This move seems to be to get these players in extended; the format was verging on, if not deep into, being too expensive for someone to be able to pick up. The move makes sense to me.

  4. I’m a bit crushed about the loss of old extended. It was a grand format. I do hope this opens the door to overextended, in which case I wouldn’t mind at all.

    That being said, I’ve done some brewing. The format is pretty healthy and deeper than “last summer’s standard”. No DDT and a weaker zoo/scapeshift opens up some brewing room. I’m super excited for it.

  5. I agree, I’m not happy at all about how WotC went about implementing this change, and the effects to the secondary market, but the silver lining is pretty big.

    How often is it that we, as players, get to experience and brew within an entirely new format? I’ve already started three brews that look halfway promising.

    Johnnies start your engines…

  6. My only concern is what to do with all my dual lands? how can there not be a middle too the 17 year legacy and the 4 year extended? that makes so many cards useless i think the best option is for the magic community to try and organize “mask extended” or the extended we were all preparing for. If none of this happens I know a lot of people are gonna be pretty angry for not making more formats for magic :/

  7. You forgot to add Glimpse of Nature to the kamigawa block, kinda kills elf ball which would have lived through the rotation.

  8. Well, there goes the most popular format in my city. Ever since we started playing Extended once a month, attendance has been going up and everyone is excited about the format. Granted, not everyone plays the best decks but at least people had alot of fun. Legacy isn’t an option since most people have only played for a few years and don’t wanna invest. Shame really. I do not like the changes and am not excited about the Faerie format.

  9. @Nathan

    Elfball loses Curio, which pretty much kills any attempt to combo out. While naturally this opens a few slots (since you don’t really want to play Essence Warden anymore), it takes away a lot of reach. You no longer can get infinite (or nigh-infinite) mana on turn three, and, well, no more Primal Commanding your opponent out of noncreature permanents.

    Elfball also loses easy splashing for win conditions. Martyr of Sands, Ranger of Eos, Manamorphose+Grapeshot are pretty much out. Also, NO MORE SUMMONER’S PACT. So Elfball, while strong, lost a whole bunch of stuff.

  10. Wow, I remember when “OMG Armageddon is out of Extended” was all the rage… and now even Wrath of God… I did not believe it will ever come to that 😀

  11. Jeff cunningham

    They had to implement Double-Standard (aka Extended) in anticipation of a crash as many money mythics would become near worthless after leaving Standard. Now they have a longer shelf life.

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  13. Now I don’t want to get anyone yelling at me so understand what I’m going to say is not a firm idea but a gut feeling and those can be very wrong. I feel that “over-extended” is going to be what we call Legacy when they nerf it just as they have done with Extended.

    Reasons I’m thinking this…
    1 – They didn’t kill the reserve list
    2 – They said that “double standard” was to open up Extended to new players
    3 – They said Extended had to big of a card pool
    4 – The wanted people to get more millage out of their cards
    5 – They just caused an effect on the secondary market much larger than when they released Chronicles
    6 – It would move all sets with cards on the reserve list into Vintage along with the power nine, clunky rules cards, and the ante cards. So staples could freely get reprinted.

    Now I know people are going to tell me I’m wrong, and I’m hoping I am, but if they nerfed Extended to make it more open, cost less, and be easier to remember all the cards well what is there to make me think they wouldn’t stream line legacy. So everyone cross your fingers with me and hope my gut feeling is wrong. Unless you want to have to sell your car to play legacy because they just nerfed your extended deck into legacy.

  14. “Elfball also loses easy splashing for win conditions. Martyr of Sands, Ranger of Eos, Manamorphose+Grapeshot are pretty much out.”

    erm, the type two version of elfball played ranger, so I’m pretty sure you’re wrong there. Also, the deck did alright against the fae and red decks, so it could see some play this season.

  15. @ WA Macmurdo
    I dont think the price of some of the cards was much of a factor. They are obviously ok with printing standard staples at mythic leading to prices of $40-50 which is comparable or costs more than the extended staples which have been in circulation for way longer with more time to accumulate them. Of course those prices are mostly in the basement now.

    @ Jeff cunningham
    If that were the case, then theyd be jumping through a lot of holes to keep the price up of just a handful cards, while simultaneously plummetting the value of a much greater # of cards that people have a lot more of. Theres a bunch of mythics that are worthless and plenty of the “money mythics” would still be mainstays in old extended and maintain value. I think printing mythic rares was a mistake because of the inflation of the elite ones. Since they print mythics that are worthless, I dont think the decision was made with any bearing to the secondary market. WotC has track record of disregarding it anyway.

    They included their reasons for the change with the announcement – they felt extended was an underplayed format that players didnt like and only played when they were forced to for PTQs. And yes, while the market is a factor in this, I think its more about how it starts at local tournaments. Local stores basically stick to standard and draft/sealed for events, with occasional other formats to draw some new faces maybe. Thats always been true because thats how WoTC laid it out. If the local stores ran more extended events, I GUARANTEE it would be a much more popular format. They used to go through PTQ season cycles of extended, sealed, and block, with very different feels for each one. Extended generally played the most powerful cards and block would see a lot of syngeristic/linear strategies utilizing the block mechanics with some cards that would never see play in Ext or Std. Apart from PTQs, you still got to play standard about every week if you went to FNM, and it kept you up to date for when Regionals and Nationals rolled around. That way every format was used in competitive Magic and there was a very nice balance. It required you to be a well-rounded player. With these changes it seems like you can pick up a deck in one format, learn it inside-out, and you can play with it for literally years straight, never changing strategies. Which, btw, they also seem to have limited, with basically no good combo pieces printed recently and every engine and enabler being rotated out. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

  16. Most of the players in my area are very excited by these changes, as before now the price barrier for extended was getting a little out of hand. Most of us are new players, having started with lorwyn forward, so cutting out a lot of these older blocks makes it a lot easier to play.

  17. Good for new players indeed… But it really screws anyone who’s been playing the game for a while and had built up a decent Extended collection online, IRL or both. Honestly, I can see why some old timers just draft and don’t even play constructed these days.

  18. You say that Wizards gave no reasoning for the Extended change. There was an article on the day of the announcement with an explanation and a promise for another this week.

  19. Also, you say what is lost will make it so there is little skill and new decks. You are completely wrong and confusing quantity and quality. The quantity may be less, but the quality of the format might be better. The quality of Extended wasn’t good enough for most people for a while, so this could possibly help. The “variety” in Extended for the last few months (if anyone is playing it) has been Zoo, Combo, Dark Depths, and Conley Woods.

  20. Welcome to Legacy (AKA “the best format”). I think the “elitest” thing might be a local issue as one of the reasons I’ve always played Legacy is my clear superio—-er, I meant, my desire to play with my whole collection.

  21. Jeff cunningham

    @Cuban: The secondary market matters to wotc when it affects the primary market, as a mythic crash would (but a ravnica duel crash wouldn’t).

    Still, this might point to overextended down the line.

  22. This kind of came out of nowhere so feels like when they announced the m10 rules changes. It left you with that empty feeling as you struggle to pick your jaw up off the ground. I wasn’t too fond of extended and “super standard” doesn’t make me pine to play it. This is pretty much going to be jund vs faeries. So I get to see my big thought experiment play out, which would win, jund or faeries and that gives you a pretty good idea of how oppressive both decks were.

    Honestly, I think jund has enough tools (plus a lot of quality blue cards rotate, ancestrall visions, mana leak) to really give faeries a good beating, though I’ll be playing the blue men.

  23. I was honestly not expecting a negative article on channelfireball about what I consider one of the most welcomed changes by wotc in recent times. Any individual can profess their love for extended all they want, but stats show that the format was overwhelmingly unpopular. The change was sudden to be sure, but not wholly unanticipated. Lastly, overextended is still in the air, despite what some above comments claim. All in all, loving this!

  24. This was the best thing to happen to extended. Ever.

    It also has been stated that an explanation will be made later this week. I personally don’t think one is needed and people are picky/whiny anyway. I can only imagine how many bottles of Advil these guys have in their desks.

  25. Perhaps this is good for new players and bad for old? Seems like most ‘old’ players have made some sort of commitment to playing the game and are more like to deal with getting screwed than others…

  26. I personally could care less if the changed extended. The only reason I even played extended before was PTQs, and this last season I decided to just skip the extended events. I personally can not stand such a large and open format, with so many card choices. I would much rather play block than extended.

    As for someone mentioning if stores had more extended tournys there would be a larger following. Atleast where I am from the stores run what people want to play, the only time most people worry about extended is for the extended PTQ season then it is back to standard. Look at the starcity 5k, they chose standard and legacy…because most people would rather play them two formats over the old extended. I feel that the new extended will get a bunch of hype and press to start with, then will fall to the wayside as it orginal was before.

  27. Considering Elves was a perfectly viable deck in Lorwyn+Alara+M10 standard I wouldn’t quite count it out yet. It obviously loses quite a bit of speed, but so does all the other decks and without researching it I would imagine there are still a few time spiral+zendikar block cards that can be played.

    Not sure why you think that “diverse strategies and multiple ways of attacking the format” is going to be impossible in the new format. There’s 20ish decks that have been viable in standard over these 4 blocks, most of these can be tweaked and adjusted for the new format along with some new interactions that were previously never in the same format. The only think I’m afraid of is that Jace is going to dominate the format, but since Jace is still not great against agressive strategies maybe the greater card pool of the new extended will make it possible for decks like White Weenie (Kithkins?), Burn and Elves to effectively combat Jace decks.

    What I like is the rotation of the shock lands. I feel that the drawback for playing 3-5 colors is too small in the current extended. Sometimes having to pay a few life to use all 5 colors unhindered is just too good, especially in aggro decks. The manabase of 5cc with Vivid Lands + Reflecting pool is in my opinion much more fair in comparison to 1-2 color decks.

    Any thoughts on “best surviving deck”? Living end is a good candidate, but shouldn’t the GR version of scapeshift that plays Bloodbraid Elf, Sakura-Tribe Elder and the Punishing Fire combo still be viable without shock lands?

  28. Not to be a stickler, but you missed a few obvious things in your article. 10th edition is still legal. Time-Spiral block is legal, namely the last two sections of card tags. Painlands are still in so some crazy 2 or 3 color decks(yay jund) are still going to be viable. Just thought I’d point that out.
    Good article and card representations.

  29. same with 10ed an time-spiral they will be out before the season starts. So don’t count on those cards to help

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  31. yeah hope you all enjoy bloodbraid elf, vengevine, jace… and obviously faeries. get really used to seeing that lads

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