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Rare Earths: Lessons from Extended, 1
By Russell Sherman
Rare Earths: Lessons from Extended 1

As most of you probably know, I typically play T2 or Casual style, very rarely dabbling into anything else (especially Extended). Extended is one of my least favorite formats at the moment. I have a single Extended deck, an old Stompy creation, and I havenít played Extended in almost a year now due to the dominance of decks that I dislike intensely.
But, no matter what happens in extended, there is one thing Extended is always good for: learning. From Extended, we can clearly see defined deck styles; the archetypes are well documented, and very few decks break the lines. There are four types of extended decks at the moment:

1: Aggro. This is Sligh, Stompy, Hatred, and, to some extent, PT Junk. This category is for decks who simply wish to deal massive amounts of damage before you can stop them.

2: Aggro-control. This is Counter-Sliver, Three-Deuce, and Fish. This category is for decks that play like beatdown with control backup, or like control with fast weapons.

3: Control. This is 5C control, Tradewind-Survival, and Forbidian. These decks rely on owning the board. They simply want to hold back other decks until they slap down their win condition.

4: Combo. This is Pandeburst and Trix. They draw more cards, they play faster spells, they win with interaction.

The top decks are typically combo. There is no kill combo in T2. No two or three cards cause instant death. The closest we come is Fires/Burst, thatís 12 points of blockable damage.

Look at the viable deck eqivalents:

Trix- None

Pandaburst- None

5C control- U/W is the closest, relying on similar spells.

Tradewind-Survival- Well, actually, Counter-Rebel fits the profile. The main difference is that Tradewind and Survival are both better tools to use than the Rebel chain. Rebel still comes extremely close, with both decks procuring card advantage and both decks backed by Counterspells.

Forbidian- The closest we get is Waters or Skies, and theyíre similar mostly in color. The bottom line is, T2 has neither the counterspells nor the card advantage to make a viable Forbiddian deck

Fish- Blue skies. Just, blue skies.

Sligh- No. The abusive one-drops are gone. There are a couple of potential winners, but not many.

Stompy- Possibly. Iím currently working on T2 Stompy.

Three-Deuce- Here is where T2 shines. Three-Deuce is an aggressive R/G/w deck with a double helping of solutions. This is the deck T2 has covered, in my opinion. The problem here, as with Sligh, is the lack of one-drops. Though this is a serious problem, it can be remedied. Instead of the Jackal Pups, Mogg Fanatics, and Granger Guildmages, we must simply use more expensive spells and accelerate our mana. Keep the CC down, throw in the best of each casting cost, and voila! Two-Deuce, the little brother to Three-Deuce!

Decklist:
I Canít Believe itís Not Fires!

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Llanowar Elves
3 Kris Mage
4 Vine Dryad
3 Blastoderm
4 River Boa
1 Rith, the Awakener
4 Armageddon
3 Seal of fire
1 Urzaís Rage
1 Aura Mutation
3 Wax/Wane
2 Exile
4 Armadillo Cloak

4 Land Grant
5 Forest
3 Plains
2 Elfhame Palace
5 Mountain


I havenít quite decided on a sideboard yet (sideboarding has always been my weak point), but I think it would look something like this:

SB:
2 Simoon
2 Tangle
2 Tsaboís Web
3 Tangle Wire
2 Blurred Mongoose
1 Seal of Cleansing
3 Urzaís Rage

Matchups:
The deck beats Geddon straight off, by providing you with consistent removal, fast creatures, and, of course, your Geddons. The deck also has vine dryads, which are amusing against other green decks, to say the least.

The match against Counter-Rebel is generally better than Firesí matchup. You have a number of powerful spells at your disposal, including the deadly Armageddon and River ď10 attacksĒ Boa. You may still run into problems, though, because of those dratted big Rebels. Sideboard in Blurred Mongeese for the now-useless Aura Mutation and Wax/Wane, as well as Urzaís Rages for the Exiles.

Against U/W control, you have a minute advantage. Again, River Boa need only turn sideways ten times (Less, if they let Armadillo Cloak through) to reduce them to zero. Depending on the deck, you may want to sideboard in the whole shazam: Mongeese, enchantment removal and all. You had better save those Seals for Blinding Angel because itís a real threat against this deck, so you can either remove it or pray Rith gets through.

The game against mono-blue is much more clearly in your favor. You have removal for their Waters if you need it (you shouldnít), and you have River Boas, which beat Islands. Again, sideboard in the Rages for Aura Mutation and Wax/Wane, as Waters is not a big threat; this deckís mana curve is LOW. Your creatures are beefy, your spells are dangerous, and you are FAST. Never miss an opportunity to play a spell or deal them damage, and you should be okay. Sideboard in, you guessed it, Urzaís Rage. Sideboard in Blurred Mongeese as well, and this deck should be set.

Okay, have I missed anything?
Oh yeah, Fires.
Now, Fires is the best deck out there, IMHO. It has no really bad matchups and many excellent ones. This is not one of itís excellent matchups. Fires, you see, is VERY reliant on itís mana sources, so itís your job to make sure they donít stay around too long. Armageddon and Seals of Fire should be used to slow Fires to a crawl. Kris Mage can fry elves and birds, so use it as such. Use Exile well, their Jade Leeches and dragons are excellent life sources. SAVE YOUR WANES AND MUTATIONS FOR THE BURST. Be defensive, at least until you establish control. Use your Boas well, keep their creatures to a minimum, Armageddon, and THEN go on the offensive. Vine Dryads are great cards in this matchup, because they have forestwalk, meaning if they attack, chances are they arenít blocked. Side in Tangle to freeze Fires, and Tangle Wire for more lock. Both of these cards are huge anti-Fires weapons. Tangle Wire can shut down their mana long enough for you to develop past them or draw what you need. Tangle simply means their Derm and tokens lose 2 fading counters and deal no damage. THATíS good stuff. What you sideboard out depends on the deck, but I do not suggest removing Armadillo Cloak here under ANY circumstances.

This is the deck that I am currently testing to play with. If anyone has comments/suggestions, please send them to me at anachronism42@hotmail.com. Thank you.

Next week will be a Blue Skies/mono-blue disruption deck, based off of Fish.

-Russell Sherman

Read More Articles by Russell Sherman!

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