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Rare Earths: Meddling in Extended
By Russell Sherman
Rare Earths: Meddling in Extended

This year something odd happened. I didn’t place it until about a week ago, though. You see, my playgroup more or less follows the magic tournaments in the choice of sets we play. Not exactly, but in general extended decks pop up while the GPs are running, when t2 is played, then a lot of t2 decks come up, etc. But this year was different.
Last year I remember hearing giant debates about the merits of this new-fangled combo “trix” and how it would do. I remember seeing the deck play, playing against it. I remember facing off against decks from 5c corpse dance to sligh and back again, but this year, nothing. Not a Tradewind-survival deck among us. Not a counter-ANYTHING. Why was there no showing this year?
Extended is getting boring. Dull. The decktypes are established the new combo has already become stale, the cards are static, and the decks all being to blur after a while into 2 categories: Combo and anti-combo. Welcome to extended, have fun with your 5 decks. Now, I know I’m exaggerating here, and there are many players out there who live for extended, but if you’ll look online, you’ll see a shocking number of extended articles that aren’t tournament reports. The number is shocking because it is so low. And, after a while, you’ll see a common theme in the articles, as they all espouse the virtues of the anti-combo measures, the anti-anti-combo measures, and the anti-anti-anti-combo measures. It reminds me of when I learned that ECCM meant electronic counter-counter measures. Too much fuss over the issue.
Have any new decktypes been established in extended this year? The closest I’ve seen is a revisitation to turboland, which now looks and acts like counter-oath. This is the first year where I’ve noticed a lack of development in that area of magic. There’s plenty of fine-tuning and play tips, but no new deck styles. So, here’s what I think: it’s time for a shift in extended.
Extended, as a format, is the most randomly chosen set. It goes back to ice age, plays with all the dual lands, has no restricted list, and no give rotation time. Well, NOW is time for a rotation. Or any change, for that matter, no matter how trivial, just so long as it brings me new decks to look at.
Now, I’m no anti-net deck fanatic. No Friggin’ Rizzo, I. Nor am I a “rogue player” or even a tournament-level one*. But I cannot stand going to websites in the hope of finding new and interesting decks, only to find that there is yet another report of how the 4 Negators in the Trix sideboard are fantastic… I’m mostly just bored with it all. Up until this year, I’ve never played t2. Why have I suddenly shifted dramatically to this format? Why has everyone else followed suit? I admit it was a huge relief that Urza’s block finally cycled out, but it must be more than that. Invasion wasn’t THAT good a set. What are people getting from t2 that they aren’t getting from extended? New ideas.
The extended concept pool, while not stagnant (Not with so many people), is certainly scraping bottom. It needs more food for thought, it needs a new deck style, it needs a rallying card.
Meddling Mage, anyone? Does it hurt trix? Why, yes it does. Does it hurt Tradewind/survival? Why, yes it does. Will it change anything? Not really. Trix already plays with firestorms, and Tradewind-survival should be able to cast survival before the mage hits or counter it. Do we really want this to become a battle of who goes first? Meddling mage is not the card I seek, because it is reactive. As opposed to generating a new threatening deck, it simply tries to aid countersliver in its anti-combo assault.
Now, I am in no position to deliver an ultimatum, but I think that people are already beginning to get discontented with what used to be the most fun of any of the formats. I think that, coming soon, you’ll see a change in how extended is played. I think that Wizards and the DCI know just enough about what they’re doing to keep us on our toes. I’m not gonna go buy 3 Necropotences any time soon, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop in extended first.

Holdin’ on to fish, until the bitter, bitter end,
-Russell Sherman

* A note, thanks to Aaron Forsynthe for his excellent article on The Dojo about the magic “cliques” and the wars they unfortunately wage. Read it, it’s good stuff.

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