Rare Earths: Lessons from Extended, 2
All right, I know I promised you a mono-blue decklist, but unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a decent frozen fish deck to base it off of. If anyone has the decklist for one, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, in the absence of a blue skies deck, I’ve taken the liberty of looking at one of the more interesting decks. This Extended deck is known as PT Junk. It made the list when Finkel and Pikula did a “This deck’s a pile!” article, it almost qualified Adrian Sullivan, it won the PTQ: Tokyo at New York. It, along with 3-Deuce, is a viable aggro-control deck archetype in T2.
Actually, how I realized this was playable was simply by testing out my R/G/W deck from last article. Every time I played it, I’d run into a couple problems and I would say “You know, if I were playing G/W/B, I wouldn’t be having this problem.” Eventually, I found myself testing the deck out for G/W/B, and I found something quite amazing: it works. Welcome to the wonderful world of metagame.
Now, one of the things my friend Mr. Stroud has spent time talking about in our discussions is the fictional “No black” metagame. Note that black was the only color not to make a showing in the top of most major tournaments. In fact, you can take advantage of this weakness, exploit it by using black removal. If black was a common color, black removal would be bad, but as black has only 3 excellent creatures (Nether Spirit, Thrashing Wumpus, and possibly Evil-Eye-of-Orms-by-Gore), black removal is excellent. Yes, it still doesn’t kill Blastoderm. Oh well.
One of the chronic differences between Extended and T2 right now is the speed. In T2, especially in a beatdown deck, it is necessary to play with mana creatures such as Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves. This obliges us to find 8 empty slots in the decklist for these accelerators. Let’s take a look at Gerrard Fabiano’s decklist, shall we?
River Boa- Is always a good card. Use 4 in the deck, as it wrecks blue and gives other colors some problems too.
Duress- This card is not just a metagame choice for Extended. Given the opportunity, I would play it in a T2 deck, to get rid of Saproling Burst, Wrath of God, and Armageddon. Alas, you do not have that option. Instead, a same-but-worse card (Addle) presents itself, the advantage being that it stops creatures as well. Blastoderm removal is always a good thing.
Cursed Scroll- Is gone. If there were any decent replacement for this invaluable direct damage source, I’d use it, but there isn’t. Play mana creatures here.
Hunted Wumpus- THIS we can do. Has anyone else realized how good this card is? Look at what it does to Fires: the worst they can do is drop a Blastoderm, which Wumpus blocks and kills. I still have nightmares about people dropping Blinding Angel, though. More on this later.
Simian Grunts- Surprise blockers are always welcome. This was the motivation for my playing Vine Dryads earlier, but when Planeshift comes out, a better option is available: Fleetfoot Panther. With the same power/toughness as Grunts, and the same converted mana cost, it’s a damn good replacement. It also makes for a good combat trick or anti-removal weapon.
(Editor's note: Fleetfoot Panther - 1GW - 3/4 - May play as an instant - When ~ comes into play, return a white or green creature you control to its owner's hand)
Seal of Cleansing- Partly a metagame choice, I prefer Wax/Wane, so we’ll use those. One Seal may remain, if you want.
Demonic Consultation- Sits beside cursed scroll in the “What could replace this?” pile. Vampiric Tutors are close, but no cigar. Use a couple, nonetheless.
Swords to Plowshares- Are the biggest loss. This card is, in my opinion, the best targeted removal ever. Use black removal to make up for it. Vendetta and Terror both hit damn near everything. Use those.
Tithe- This card gets replaced by the same-but-worse Land Grant. Since this deck is more green-based, no great loss. Dual lands would be nice, though…
Powder Keg- This kind of massive disruption I no longer found for merely 2 mana. Void costs 5, and is quicker, but uses black and red mana, which I don’t. Instead, I used a stall tactic. Play Tangle Wires.
Armadillo Cloak- Ahh, now here’s where the no-black metagame comes in. The bottom line is, unless you are in deep trouble, red can’t deal with an Armadillo Cloaked River Boa. Blue has trouble too. This also negates life lost to Vendetta.
So, by using the outline that Junk laid down for us, we can come up with a viable deck, right?
4 River Boa
3 Hunted Wumpus
2 Fleetfoot Panther
4 Birds of Paradise
2 Vampiric Tutor
3 Tangle Wire
3 Armadillo Cloak
2 Spidersilk Armor
1 Tsabo’s Decree
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Land Grant
2 City of Brass
1 Elfhame Palace
Cards I Used That Had No Equivalent In Junk:
Spidersilk Armor- You can count the good Extended flyers on a blind butcher’s fingers, One. Morphling. However, after seeing people drop Blinding Angel to Hunted Wumpus, I realized that we need flying protection. As a note, with this out, Wumpus can kill a dragon and live through it. How cool is that? Additionally, your opponent will often forget about this card and try to Lightning Blast a Fleetfoot Panther, or triple-Shock a Wumpus.
Tsabo’s Decree- This card is a little like Powder Keg. It doesn’t always have to be Rebels, remember. Derms are Beasts (Though so are your Wumpuses, so you may want to be careful.) This afternoon, I saw several Tsabo’s Decrees for “Ghosts”. It happens.
Tangle Wire- Every good deck needs disruption. Even Sligh needed distuption. It came down to two disruption cards: Armageddon and Tangle Wire. Why did I choose the Wire? Several reasons.
1: We are playing a three color deck, so colorless mana may be more accessible. You can too easily lose with no white mana and an Armageddon in your hand.
2: You can stall out their creatures. Because they tap four useful permanents compared to your two, you can use this as a stall method until you have what you need to win the creature war.
Then comes the sideboard. Here’s what I was never good at. What to sideboard?
Armageddon. A card that did not make it by the skin of it’s teeth. It’s good, and it works. The problem is that mana is sparse, and recovery is often sporadic.
Tangle Wire: Just plain good. Especially against Fires.
Tsabo’s Decree: We can always use a couple more. Rebels are big.
Snuff Out/Seal of Doom: Removal is always welcome, again, especially against Fires.
Dawnstrider: Blastogeddon has no way to deal with this. Even more flexible decks like U/W control may have trouble if this hits the table. Try it.
Vine Trellis: It is big. It will stop many creatures right there and stand up to burn.
Necrosavant: It’s big and it recurs. Do you need more reason? Against U/W control, this card can be a wrecking ball.
Aura Mutation: This card can totally change the tide of the game. I’ve seen this card played several times with nasty results, especially against cards like Saproling Burst. The All-Out Attack could end up being Aura Mutation first destroying their burst, then blocking and killing their Derm.
Also, a transformational sideboard may be in order. This deck has the potential to turn into either Blastogeddon or the MBC deck “Snuff-o-Derm” at the drop of a hat. Offering some nice overall options. I think that T2 Junk is an overall stronger deck then T2 Three-Deuce, and it’s currently the deck I’m playing with.