Because you deserve a good playlist
1) Some Like it Fast (f. the Naya Zoo)
This is definitely going to be one of, if not the most played deck in the format. It is fairly straightforward and very unforgiving to stumbling opponents. This list isn’t anything innovative, but it is my own that I’ve been tweaking since Zendikar was fully spoiled. Lightning Bolt is an auto-include. I’ve also included the combo of Steppe Lynx (over Goblin Guide) and Knight of the Reliquary (over Woolly Thoctar). In a deck with 12 fetchlands, Steppe Lynx can be very, very good both early and late. Not only can he act like a small Tarmogoyf early in the game (as a 4/5), in the late game he can be huge when combined with KoR’s land fetching powers. Also, I’m currently Bloodbraid Elf over Ranger of Eos because the Elf has the ability to win you games you have no business even being in. If you plan on playing for the long game, I could see testing out something like Woolly Thoctar, Ranger of Eos and maybe a Scute Mob? One thing is for sure, Isochron Scepter belongs nowhere near this deck. Stay away, Magic Stick! Yucky!
Sideboard options include Ethersworn Canonist and Silence for storm and cascade strategies (Hypergenesis, Restore Balance); Ancient Grudge, Kataki, War’s Wage, and Duergar Hedge-Mage for problem artifacts (pretty much Fae/NLU and Affinity); and something for the mirror like Loxodon Hierarch, Kitchen Finks, Elspeth, Knight Errant or Sarkhan Vol.
2) Still Blue (f. Fae, X Level U)
If the three-color animals aren’t the most dominant force in Extended this coming year, I have no doubt the “boys” in blue will have that title. Fae and Next Level Blue inbred so much towards the end of last season that I just basically combined the lists into something cleaner and hopefully more consistent. I took samples from various Magic League and Magic Online decks that finished well. Everyone talks about the loss of Riptide Laboratory hurting this deck, and though the loss is significant, it by no means kills the deck. It’s a deck that runs Tarmogoyf and counterspells. How can that be bad? Engineered Explosives is crucial to slowing down Zoo. Vendilion Clique is really an unsung hero in this deck as well, both replacing your opponents threats in hand and being quite the active player on offense.
Sideboard options include Ancient Grudge and Kataki, War’s Wage for Affinity and possibly the mirror; Threads of Disloyalty for everyone who forgets to board out their Goyfs; Ethersworn Canonist or Rule of Law for combo and cascade; Flashfreeze, Kitchen Finks and Circle of Protection: Red for red-based aggro strategies.
3) Hypergenesis (f. Hypergenesis)
I have the least experience with this deck out of all the decks in this article. Not only is it the newest deck, but I never play combo unless I’m playtest piloting something for a friend. This list is pretty much straight out of Josh Silvestri’s article earlier this week just because I really liked the Iona + Sakashima combo. The plan of the deck is simple – play a cascade spell, hit Hypergenesis, dump all the fat kids off at the pool and then flush your opponent down the drain. This is the combo deck that everyone is talking about at the moment but there are many more combos out there that could possibly see play come Austin. Dragonstorm still exists and storm is probably the most powerful mechanic ever printed, Orim’s Chant/ Silence be legal or not. Swath Storm, just like Dragonstorm, has the potential to run rampant if left unchecked. In the same vein as the Hypergenesis deck, Restore Balance decks (powered by Alara Reborn Borderposts) abuse the same cascade spells as Hypergenesis but this time with a different Time Spiral “broken” suspend spell. In the handful of matches I’ve tested against Restore Balance on MTGO (piloting Zoo, of course), I haven’t won one game. If only I could combine the counterspell power of Fae and the quick clock of Zoo, I might have the ultimate deck! Hmmmm
4) The Ghost and the Machine (f. Affinity)
As long as these cards are legal, they are going to be played, regardless of the format. It is a great example of a linear aggro deck, with the capability of some seriously unbeatable draws. This version is an amalgam of various lists that have been finishing well on MTGO with a little bit of numbers tweaking from me. Soul’s Fire can seriously win games out of nowhere, especially when coming from a Cranial Plating equipped creature. The two maindeck Ethersworn Canonist are a concession to the power of combo decks, but those and two Soul’s Fire could be replaced with four Chromatic Stars for a more conventional sixty. I’ve seen some manabases include a basic Island as to not be cold to Path to Exile, but I’ve found that land to be an awkward draw in testing.
Sideboard options include Ancient Grudge for the mirror and problem artifacts; Path to Exile for the mirror and problem creatures; Ethersworn Canonist for combo and cascade; also you can test Chalice of the Void or Delay if you’re feeling saucy.
5) Your Girlfriend Hates You (f. Doran)
Aggro Rock has been a competitive archetype in Extended for ages and was in fact the first deck I took to an Extended PTQ. The base of the list is not very innovative or uncommon, but I did add a little twist in there. Yes folks, there are ten, count them, ten hand strip effects in the maindeck. They are sure to give control and combo players fits for days. The creature base is pretty straightforward. I would like to add a few more dudes and maybe some Profane Command flavor in there, but I didn’t feel comfortable posting a list I hadn’t much experience with yet, so I went with what I knew. Bob draws cards. Doran and Goyf beat face. Kitchen Finks makes sure you have enough time to win before you get burned to death by Zoo. As is true with most decks of this ilk, Doran has no dominating matchups and no truly horrible matchups either. Everything is 51/49%… That may be an exaggeration, but it’s definitely something to consider before deciding to play this deck in a tournament.
Sideboard options include Engineered Explosives and Loxodon Hierarch for aggro decks; Gaddock Teeg for combo or control strategies that may give you problems; more [card]Duress[/card]es because you really, really want to be mean to that combo player you hate so much; Great Sable Stag if you feel Fae might be a problem.
6) Bonus Track – I
This list comes with the same objectives as every other hater list that preceded it: creatures that hate and creatures that beat down. The particular 60 we see here comes courtesy of Capoeira02 who placed Top Two several times in Magic League Trials last month. I tweaked the manabase a little to fit in Sunpetal Groves, but if they turn out to be too slow, they should definitely be reverted back to the Brushlands he originally ran. Basically, the Haterator deck is designed to attack very specific metagames. Four Canonist, four Pridemage and three Teeg are there for a reason and it’s not because we like coming across the red zone with bears. We do, however, like coming across the red zone with heavily equipped Trolls, Goyfs and Stags. Troll Ascetic is very difficult for aggro decks to deal with, Great Sable Stag is a nightmare for Fae and Sword of Fire and Ice simply wins the game against both. A solid number of manlands ensure your mana doesn’t go unused when it comes time for that last push either.
This deck is a little bit of an outlier, but may be something you want to consider if you have a good grasp on what your metagame is going to look like. If you feel the list is lacking or want to try something with a little more flair, an aggro Bant list would be the next step. That opens up options like Rhox War Monk, Bant Charm and various low-cost counterspells.
Sideboard options for GW Haterator include Chalice of the Void for various matchups (set at 0 for cascade, at 1 for Zoo, et cetera); Kataki, War’s Wage for Affinity and even Fae/NLU; possibly even Worship if you want to attempt a soft lock with Troll Ascetic.
7) Keep Em Coming Back (f. Tezzeret and the Thopters)
There are many incarnations of this “combo” running around and this is just one. Forgive me if the list looks off, I did my best to incorporate the elements that I remembered of the list that I had discussed with Matt Nass. I didn’t really think much of the deck when he mentioned it to me online, but once I saw a local pro gunslinging this deck at the Prerelease (and I think you all know which pro I’m talking about) I was honestly surprised. Though his opponent put up little resistance, the “combo” set up fairly quickly. Infinite life and infinite dudes? Not too shabby. Basically how it works is you need to get Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek in play. Once you get that, for as much mana as you could sink in a turn, you can pop out little Thopters while the Sword returns to play, equipping the new Thopter. Sac the sword and it comes back. Rinse and repeat. For this list, I used the old Tezzerator shell from last season, cut a few cards and threw the combo in. If you’re wondering why the manabase is so colorful it’s because of the sideboard, Speaking of which.
Sideboard options include Firespout and Threads of Disloyalty for any deck that runs creatures; additional Chalice of the Void, Engineered Explosives and [card]Vedalken Shackles[/card] for the matchups you may need them in; Ancient Grudge for problem artifacts you may be facing on the other side also.
I felt compelled to put this little piece together as an attempt to dispel any misconceptions you may have been presented regarding this format. With the exception of the last two, I honestly feel that those lists shouldn’t be too far off the baseline of the decks you can start putting together for your Extended gauntlet. Zoo didn’t really lose anything since last year. In fact, you can still run Tribal Flames and Might of Alara if you really wanted to. Also, though Faeries lost their soft lock, they are still going to be the most played blue deck. Combo still exists and will thrive where left unchecked, whether in cascade or storm form. The machines (aka Affinity) still push forward into the red zone, even in the face of Kataki and Ancient Grudge. Luckily, barring any more insane reprints, we only have one more year of them. Aggro Rock is as perennial as ever, except Lorwyn gave the archetype a star. Haterator/ Bant decks will surface and then disappear and then resurface when the time is right. The timing has to be exactly right for it to win though. Thopter Foundry is a new addition to a fairly new archetype; something fresh that Tezzeret may or may not need to survive this year or maybe an entirely separate combo altogether.
There are a bunch of decks that I didn’t and couldn’t include for time and space considerations. Extended is truly a land of infinite possibilities. Burn, Tron, Dredge, Death Cloud, Martyr and whatever crazy brew Jon Loucks is currently concocting are sure to all rear their horrendous faces some time or another during the season. Please don’t feel bad if I left your pet deck off this list. No-Stick might actually be a viable archetype again with enough tuning. And Elves might still be a legitimate combo, even without their Onslaught friends. Only time and testing will tell.
I understand that the Pro Tour is just a few weeks away and it is entirely possible that there will be significant changes to some or many of these lists. It is more likely, however, that there will be only a few new decks that will force some minor tweaks in the major archetypes. Some archetypes may become tier one and others might be forced to take a step down. However, while the details of the format change throughout the year, the overall core stays the same. And that is why I love Extended. Just like that playlist you listen to and love so much; it’s something old and familiar, yet something fresh and cool, all at the same time. I can’t wait for the PTQs.
Thanks for stopping by the shop this week.