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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Sep 10 2010 9:54am
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Pro Tour Amsterdam and the New Extended

Pro Tour Amsterdam has finished.  The major format was the new 4-year Extended.  (The minor format was M11 draft.)  The new Extended covers the last four years of sets, with the rotations happening annually with the main set release in the fall.  Let's look at what sets will be legal in Extended, after the October first rotation.

  • Lorwyn
  • Morningtide
  • Shadowmoor
  • Eventide
  • Shards of Alara
  • Conflux
  • Alara Reborn
  • Magic 2010
  • Zendikar
  • Worldwake
  • Rise of the Eldrazi
  • Magic 2011 (effective July 16, 2010)
  • Scars of Mirrodin (effective October 1, 2010)

The Pro Tour was played before the rotation.  That meant that Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, Future Sight and Tenth Edition were all legal during the Pro Tour.  Those sets will not be legal after October first. Let's look at what was played in Amsterdam, and how those archetypes will be affected by the rotation.

The Pro Tour Top 8 included the following decks:

 

Hall of Famer - and probably the second best Magic player of all time - Kai Budde also brought this deck to the Top 8. 

The deck is amazingly fast and very consistent.  It just ran over Ffreak's Doran deck in the finals, winning in three straight.  White Weenie doesn't get mana screwed, and that was huge throughout the Top 8.

The deck is losing a couple cards, once the rotation happens.  The biggest loss may be the lands.  Horizon Canopy is minor, but Flagstones of Trokair is significant.  With Steppe Lynx and one Flagstones in play, playing a second Flagstones will create three landfall triggers, and a very big Steppe Lynx.  It is, if you have two, even better than a fetchland.  The deck will almost certainly survive, but it will lose a bit of power.  It will be interesting to see if Scars brings a replacement.  

The deck also loses Mana Tithe, plus Angel's Grace and Rule of Law in the sideboard.  I doubt that we will see another white Force Spike anytime soon, but odds are that the deck can find some other one-casting-cost card to fill that hole.  Angel's Grace and Rule of Law were around to fight certain combo decks, but those decks will also be leaving the format.  Scars will bring more sideboard options, and more decks that require sideboard hate.  White Weenie should be able to adjust.   

Overall, this deck should do well after October. 

 

This deck will lose a couple cards, including Treetop Village.  Village is only in Tenth Edition (and Urza's Destiny), and people tend to forget that it is also rotating out.  Perhaps this hole coupled be plugged by Stirring Wildwood - that remains to be seen.  OTOH, the deck is also losing Tarmogoyf, and nothing will quite fill that hole.  Wizards doesn't print a lot of 5/6s for two mana.  Beyond that, the deck loses (Slaughter Pack) and Rule of Law. 

Overall, the deck looks pretty well set to play in the new Extended.  It is an aggressive pseudo-rock deck, something like Macy Rock back in the day. Odds are something like that will find a spot in the metagame, and the Doran shell is a likely contender.  Treefolk Harbinger into Treefolk Harbinger, fetching Doran and beating for 20 in two swings (2 * Harbinger first swing, 2 * Harbinger plus Doran second swing) is pretty strong, as is the ability to back it up with solid disruption like Duress, Thoughtseize and (Malestrom Pulse).

 

Mystical Teachings is dead, come the rotation.  It loses too much.  Teachings is gone, as is Venser (the creature card, although there will be a new planeswalker  version.)  Many of the one-offs will also be gone, but Teachings and Venser were the tutor package that made the deck work.  Teachings could tutor for any instant, and Venser gave all your creatures Flash so you could tutor for them, too.  And Teachings had flashback, so it hit twice. 

It seems likely that the format will contain some sort of a control deck, but that deck would have to rely on some sort of card advantage engine or tutor package from Scars.  Hard to tell - control decks are always the last to evolve.  You have to understand the format first, then tailor the control decks to beat the metagame.  Doing it in the abstract rarely works. 

Michael Jacob's version of Teachings also ran the Grove of the Burnwillows / Punishing Fire engine.  Basically, Grove provided both the opponent life gain and the red mana to get Punishing Fire back.  However, Grove is rotating, so that option should vanish - unless Scars turns out to be the future set that Grove was "time shifted" from.  If so, having a RB "Grove" would be great for such decks.

 

UW Fishies was a pretty decent deck.  It does not lose a lot - but the loses might be significant.  The biggest loss is Lord of Atlantis.  Merfolk has seen play in a variety of formats, including Type I / Vintage, but never without the lord leading the troops.  Creatures are getting better and better over time, and weenie hoard decks have to improve to keep pace.  White Weenie and maybe Kithkin can keep up - but I would have to test a lot before I could believe that Merfolk, without the Lord of Atlantis, is still good enough to run with the big dogs. 

Eleven players sleeved up Merfolk at the Pro Tour.  Two made day two.  Only one of them was Lybaert.  After the rotation, I doubt even a player of his caliber could ride Fishies to a good finish. 

<insert stinking like a dead fish joke here.>

 

Nineteen players brought Jund to the PT.  Over half made day two.  This is not simply a case of a player having no Extended deck, so he just added some cards to his Standard deck and played that.   Jund is the real thing.

The deck contains a couple of cards that will rotate.  The big ones are (Tarmogyf) and the Punishing Fire / Grove of the Burnwillows combo.  Both of those are significant, but those are not the only cards Jund has in its arsenal.  Odds are that Jund will survive the rotation fairly well. 

I could say a lot more about Jund, but if you don't know what the deck is capable of, where have you been for the past two years?

Moving on, let's look at the decks that did not make the Top 8, but were strong contenders in Amsterdam nonetheless.

The Hive Mind deck had two pilots, but both of them made Day Two.  That's the highest Day Two percentage of any deck.  However Hive Mind is going to vanish.  The deck would power out a quick Hive Mind, then cast a couple Pacts - Pact of the Titan being a favorite.  Hive Mind would make all the opponents cast Pacts, too.  The Hive Mind player would then pass, and the opponents would die during upkeep because they could not pay for their Pacts.  This fall, the Pacts will rotate out, so the deck needs a new win condition.  Finding one seems unlikely in the extreme.

The most common combo deck on day two was the (Ad Nauseum) / Angel's Grace deck.  The deck was pretty simple.  Cast Angel's Grace, cast Ad Nauseum, and draw your entire deck.  Angel's Grace meant you could survive the life loss, and then you could cast Conflagrate to kill your opponent.  However, with both Angel's Grace and Conflagrate - not to mention a number of other cards from the deck, like Lotus Bloom - also rotating out, that combo is dead.  There will be a combo deck or two after the rotation, but it won't be Ad Nauseum / Angel's Grace. 

It could be this one, though.     

Pyromancer Ascension
Florian Pils
Creatures
0 cards

Other Spells
2 Careful Consideration
4 Cryptic Command
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Mana Leak
4 Manamorphose
4 Ponder
4 Preordain
4 Punishing Fire
4 Pyromancer Ascension
3 Time Warp
37 cards
 
Lands
4 Cascade Bluffs
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
8 Island
3 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
23 cards

Sideboard
3 Dispel
2 Negate
4 Pestermite
2 Spell Pierce
4 Splinter Twin
15 cards
 
Pyromancer Ascension

 

A lot of the Japanese played Pyromancer's Ascension, and a lot of those decks made Day Two.  However, most of those players had a two-mana creature, either sideboard or main deck.  The creatures were either Tarmogoyf or Quirion Dryad - and both of those are rotating out.  Pils, however, had a different combo - Pestermite and Splinter Twin.  That is an interesting combo - and one that might see more play in the future.  The ability to tap everything your opponent has, and get a squadron of two power fliers at the same time, seems good.

The deck does lose the Grove of the Burnwillows / Punishing Fire combo, and Careful Consideration.  The Punishing Fire / Grove of the Burnwillows combo seems pretty common, no?  The fact that it is going may have a huge impact on this deck - because it loses to a deck that Grove/P Fire suppressed.

 

Faeries is not going to emerge from the rotation completely unscathed.  It will lose some cards.  (Ancestral Visions) is probably the biggest - Faeries really liked the one drop card drawer.  It also loses Pendelhaven and most of the UB lands that come into play untapped - which could be significant, depending on whether Scars offers a replacement.  This build also loses a lot of it's sideboard cards.  However, the Punishing Fire /  Grove combo was one of the things that really helped shut down Faeries, and without that hate, it looks pretty good.  The deck is not losing the core - Bitterblossom, Spellstutter, Mutavault, Scion and Mistbind Clique.  Those all stay. 

Expect to see the Fae after the rotation.  

Other decks will not fare so well.  Elves loses Summoner's Pact.    Restore Balance loses, well, Restore Balance.  Scapeshift loses Grove/Punishing Fire, Tarmogoyf and Search for Tomorrow - but that might not be lethal.  Dredge loses Bridge from Below, (Narcomeoba) and Dread Return, which is enough to put it in the graveyard and keep it there.  Mono-red loses Rift Bolt, but Scars will undoubtedly have a new burn spell, so who knows whether that will be significant or not.  

Finally, here's Brian Kowal's deck, which doesn't appear to lose anything (well, aside from a single land.)

   

It should be an interesting new format.

PRJ

"one million words"

4 Comments

extended has become more by this isnt the n... at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 14:46
this isnt the name i chose's picture

extended has become more varied a format than i expected. I am pretty unimpressed by most of these decks though. The white weenie deck is just horrible, its a total metagame deck, and if you are at all prepared its very easy to beat. The summoners trap deck looks fun though, some interesting choices in it-no removal, 4 nest invader.

Nice overview. This new by Leviathan at Fri, 09/10/2010 - 17:05
Leviathan's picture

Nice overview. This new extended just seems like Standard to me. But what do I know.

Glad you are still writing here at least.

Nice article. by middleman_35 at Sat, 09/11/2010 - 02:40
middleman_35's picture

Nice general overview of new Extended, but it really could have done with a bit closer editing.

"Treefolk Harbinger into Treefolk Harbinger, fetching Doran and beating for 20 in two swings (2 * Harbinger first swing, 2 * Harbinger plus Doran second swing) is pretty strong..."

This is actually something Doran CAN'T do after rotation, without drawing a second Harbinger in the opening 7 at least (3+3+3+3+5 = 17 =/=20). The '20 in two swings/by turn 4' required a tapped Treetop Village turn 2 to enable a 14 point swing on turn 4.

"Teachings is gone, as is Venser (the creature card, although there will be a new planeswalker version.) Many of the one-offs will also be gone, but Teachings and Venser were the tutor package that made the deck work. Teachings could tutor for any instant, and Venser gave all your creatures Flash so you could tutor for them, too."

You mean Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, who is in the deck, but certainly isn't getting reprinted as a Planeswalker, rather than Venser who isn't in the deck but is getting reprinted as a Planeswalker.

"Pils, however, had a different combo - Pestermite and Splinter Twin. That is an interesting combo - and one that might see more play in the future. The ability to tap everything your opponent has, and get a squadron of two power fliers at the same time, seems good."

This combo doesn't actually tap everything your opponent has, the triggered ability of Pestermite (When Pestermite comes into play, you may tap or untap target permanent.) is used to untap the original Pestermite so it can tap to create a new copy and so on.

Sorry if this came across a bit negative, I'm a fan of your articles generally and I'm sad your're no longer writing for SCG.

I have a splintermite deck by Paul Leicht at Sat, 09/11/2010 - 05:10
Paul Leicht's picture

I have a splintermite deck for tribal wars classic (knights) using Spinter Twin and Sky Hussar. Pestermite of course is also in the deck. I am a little surprised this sort of casual combo (if potentially infinite if unstopped) had an impact in a high ranked tourney. I guess I was right to pull that deck from casual casual play before people started getting mad at it. Lol. Middleman is right though. It is all about the hasty innumerable 2/1 fliers. (You simply need to make more than your op can deal with, though a single fallout or other instant speed global damage would ruin that plan severely.)