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Midrange in a New Extended

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Noah Whinston
Noah Whinston

About Noah Whinston

My name is Noah Whinston, and I am a Magic player currently living in Chicago where you can find me battling at Pastimes on Fridays. I'm a PTQ level player, and have just recently started travelling to achieve my goal of qualifying for the Pro Tour.

Midrange in a New Extended

I’ve never seen a World Championships more exciting than that of 2010. Though I may sound like a Rich Hagon, claiming every individual tournament to be the most important ever, I can truly say that I haven’t seen a Worlds that has kept me on the edge of my seat more (though to be fair, my experience with Worlds started in 2007). Kibler, the newly inducted Hall of Famer, looking to become the first ever member of the HOF to top 8 the tournament at which he was inducted with a 10-2 performance going into day 3. The stacked final 8. PV losing in a dramatic semi to knock him out of the POTY. Matignon winning it all, creating the first ever POTY tie, resulting in a playoff match at Pro Tour Paris. Yet, the part that was most exciting to me, was watching Extended blossom. This was the first tournament to be played with the “real” new Extended. Amsterdam put the new rotation into effect, but because Scars had not been released yet, still included Time Spiral in the format. Now, the format was able to be what Wizards intended, Lorwyn and up. And I can definitively say, it didn’t disappoint.

The new Extended format is incredibly diverse. Control, midrange, and combo all thrive, with only aggro being slightly underrepresented, but not very much at that. No one deck is completely dominant, and there is no one clear strategy. I’ve decided to dedicate this article to looking at two rogue options for the Extended format PTQs that will be starting in January, not only as options to play, but also to provoke questions about this new format. The first I pulled from a Jacob van Lunen article on the mothership (though this list includes some minor changes of my own).

Extended Torrent of Souls

Tags: 
Colors
Black6
Gold17
Green5
Hybrid3
Land24
Red5
Converted Mana Cost
14
212
39
46
55
Type
Basic Land5
Creature18
Enchantment5
Instant4
Land19
Planeswalker2
Sorcery7

This deck forms part of my feature article:

Midrange in a New Extended

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While some may say that the writer of “Building on a Budget” doesn’t have much strategic content to offer us, I would remind them that JVL was one of the very first proponents of the Standard Pyromancer Ascension deck, which ended up being a key player in that format. This list looks really interesting to me because of its tools to combat both aggro and control, and its resiliency against typical forms of removal. Though combo decks could be a problem, because it won’t typically have the tools to race them, it has the 4 Thoughtseizes out of the board. The changes I made to the maindeck were cutting down the number of Goblin Assaults. While it may be the poor man’s Bitterblossom, it is pretty bad against all the sectors of the metagame, save control, which this deck should be beating anyway. As such, I would much rather have these in the sideboard, so I cut some to add 2 Shriekmaw, which gives us another tool against fast Aggro, as well as a way to answer a Baneslayer Angel. It also comboes quite nicely with Torrent of Souls. Looking at the sideboard, I would include more hand disruption because of its strength in the control matchups as well. Other sideboard options could be Volcanic Fallout as a sweeper vs. Fae and Aggro, or Great Sable Stag, for Jund and Fae. Overall, the tokens deck looks like a possible contender in the metagame, and not something to be immediately discarded going into your testing.

Next up we have my personal favorite deck of the tournament, Conley Woods’ Necrotic Ooze combo.

Quillspike Ooze

This deck forms part of my feature article:

Midrange in a New Extended

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Let’s just try and find all the possible combos here:

As we can see, this deck works on so many different levels, that combating it becomes quite difficult. From watching the deck perform and reading Conley's article about it, it's clear that this deck doesn't have much a problem with Control. With the amount of land destruction it has, Control decks will be forced to have 9 removal spells (for Fauna Shaman, Necrotic Ooze, and Quillspike), and 11 Counterspells (for Fulminator Mage, Acidic Slime, Primal Command, and Reveillark). For the current 4 color control decks, losing even one land can spell disaster because of mana difficulties, and the amount of tempo it generates. But with 10 spells all able to come out by turn 3, Fauna Shaman to tutor for them, and Necrotic Ooze able to serve as another 4, Control really doesn't have a chance. Combo will have a tough time with this deck as well. The Prismatic Omen Scapeshift decks are not likely to get up to the 6 lands they need to kill you, and their mana is even shakier than the Control decks'. That combined with lots of hand disruption in the maindeck makes it quite good for Ooze combo. The only difficulty lies with Aggro. Because the deck needs the LD package, it doesn't have much room for removal. I would remedy this by cutting the number of Acidic Slimes and Primal Commands. Given how good the deck is against Control already, I could certainly see sacrificing a few percentage points in order to shore up the Aggro matchups. This is going to be my personal choice for the first PTQ of the Extended season, not only because of its strength, but because of how fun it looks to play.

Now, having looked at both these decks, what do they say about the Extended metagame? Essentially, they show the strength of midrange, Rock-style decks at this point in time, because the format is so balanced. We normally have a classic rock-paper-scissors metagame between the different sectors of the field, but Midrange, especially built in this way with Combo potential, can assume the role of each of those decks in a given matchup. Playing against Aggro? Your goal should be to get Poppet and Druid in the graveyard and play an Ooze. Control? Break out the LD spells and go to town. Combo? Quillspike combo will kill them quickly while small amount of LD and hand disruption will buy you time. The sideboard is also customized to allow you to beef up any one of those areas in the certain matchup. While LSV claimed a while ago that midrange decks are bad, because they do what other decks can do, but worse, I feel this doesn't apply here. If Combo was well known to be the best, I wouldn't play Ooze, I would play Combo. Ditto with Control and Aggro. But because the format is so balanced, there is no one dominant sector, and so a deck that can play on the strengths and weaknesses of each section is the deck you should be playing.

That's all for now. I've got two more MTGO PTQs for Paris left, one today, the 19th, and one on the 24th. Unfortunately, these PTQs have almost always maxed out, meaning you have to win a tournament the size of a very small GP in order to claim the invite. Still, I don't have a chance if I don't try, and I should at least pick up some packs out of it and maybe crack a playable rare. So wish me luck!

That's all for now, so stay untilted and enjoy your holidays!

--Noah Whinston

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