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By: nickxramsey, nick ramsey
Feb 11 2008 1:00am
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In recent weeks the Extended format has become the hottest format on MTGO and in Paper Magic.  Of course this is because the current PTQ season is the Extended format.  This defined format truly has it’s tier one decks.  I feel that those decks are Dredge, Doran Rock (and the many other variants of rock), and Enduring Ideal.  All of these decks have cards that can be pretty nightmarish for the red based aggressive decks in the field. (By nightmarish I donot mean power and toughness equal to the amount of swamps you control). However, there is hope for my fellow Red Mages out there. By slightly modifying what is a typical Domain Zoo list you can really stick it to some of these complicated mana hungry decks!


No, not this Nightmare!

In this article I’m going to show a successful list that won the Ptq here in Louisville.  Than I’m going to show how this deck translates over to our online world. 
Let’s start with the Louisville PTQ.  Zach Stratton piloted his Zoo deck through a field of goblins, various combo decks, and plenty of Counter-top with Tarmogoyf and Shackles decks.  There was also the usual Rock variants.  (This top eight also featured a clever Rock build that splashed red for Contested Cliffs and Flametongue Kavu.  It also had maindeck Spiritmonger!)

Zoo as played by Zach Stratton

Main Deck


1 Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Godless Shrine
1 Mountain

Temple Garden
Steam Vents
1 Stomping Grounds

Overgrown Tomb
Sacred Foundry
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills

3 Gaea's Might
4 Lightning Helix
4 Tribal Flames
4 Vindicate

4 Dark Confidant
2 Gaddock Teeg
4 Grim Lavamancer

3 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
4 Kird Ape
4 Mogg Fanatic

4 Tarmogoyf


3 Ancient Grudge
Gaddock Teeg

2 Kami of Ancient Law
1 Ronom Unicorn
3 Terminate
2 Umezawa's Jitte
3 Yixlid Jailer
Dark Confidant

For the most part this list looks pretty standard to those being run online. Notice that Stratton went with Gaea’s Might in the maindeck.  Currently a lot of Zoo lists have cut the card. The thinking is that without Boros Swiftblade, might just is not that great.  I can assure you that even thought this is a situational card, the added power and toughness for one green mana is a sweet deal.  When I say situational I mean that sometimes the card will be a removal card and sometimes it will be more of a burn spell, but it will always require a blocking or attacking creature to work.
Another interesting main card is the awesome Gaddock Teeg. He is one of the all-stars of the deck.  He shuts down so many key cards in so many decks.  Dread Return and Enduring Ideal are among the cards that power out archtypes. It also shuts off Profane Command and Engineered Explosives which can really give you a headache.
Now that we’ve looked at an optimal list for real life we need to modify it for online use.  The first change I’m going to bring about is for financial reasons. I for one am not going to be dropping two to three hundred bucks on a set of Vindicates anytime soon!  However it is extremely hard to replace this versatile card.  By all means if u have access to a set of Vindicate play them!  If not I would suggest replacing them with Putrefy. It hits a lot of cards that cause you headaches. Its an instant, and unlike Vindicate, creatures and artifacts can not be regenerated.

The only downside is you can not blow out your opponent without Vindicate.  Sometimes you just get a nutty draw that in blows up lands on turns three and four, which really makes it hard for the opponent to stay in the game.   
Our next most expensive card is going to be Grim Lavamancer. Now a set of these will set you back sixty bucks. Trust me on this. He is worth it! So many games this guy can account for at least five to seven damage. He is a must kill for some decks. Sometimes they have to choose between killing him or a 4/5 Tarmogoyf. Most of the time when the opponent has to make that choice, they are not going to win the game anyway!  Seeing as we’re dropping these guys on turn one and two we’re are definitely getting in the red zone. If you don’t have access to Grim Lavamancer I would run four Savannah Lions instead. They aren’t as good as the red mage, but they give you four more creatures that you can drop on turn one and swing with for two (or six thanks to Gaea’s Might) on turn two. 

Of course some of you are questioning why I did not list Tarmogoyf as an expensive card.  I figure if you are going to be getting into Extended, you already have a set of these from the Standard season.  

Time to get down to the matchups.
Mogg Fanatic is going to be your all-star against dredge. He takes out their Putrid Imp and all the Bridge from Below cards in their yard. Against dredge sometimes keeping as many of their guys off the board is key early game. You don’t want them flashing back a quick Dread Return before you can get your Gaddock Teeg down. Games two and three you get a lot of help when you board in your two extra Gaddock Teeg’s. Another card you board in is a card I’ve had a lot of success with Jotun Grunt.
I prefer him over (Yixlid Jailor) for the simple reason that he doesn’t die to Darkblast and he shortens the game with his beefy size. Keep in mind that if you don’t pay his upkeep he will toast any Bridge from Below on his way to the grave. Extirpate is stellar against Dredge as well as other decks.  Cedric Phillips showed us when he won a PTQ in Cleveland. You want to use your best judgment on what to hit. Hitting any early card with dredge in the yard can spell doom for them. Removing Bridge from Below means you only have to deal with their Ichorids and possible reanimation targets.
Dread Return


Sideboard for dredge +2 Gaddock Teeg   +3 Jotun Grunt +3 Extirpate -4 Savannah Lions –4 putrefy

Against Enduring Ideal and other combo decks (like storm-based combo decks), once again Gaddock Teeg is crucial. Once you get him down they are going to have to Burning Wish for an answer, usually in the form of Pyroclasm. You have an answer to this plan in Gaea’s Might! So don’t play your Might’s unless it’s for the win or to save Mr. Teeg.

These matchups are going to revolve around Teeg a lot. I’ve added an additional Gaddock Teeg to my sideboard for these matchups, I’d much rather drop him turn two with cards in my hand to protect him than drop a Tarmogoyf turn two. You have two other cards in your sideboard that help out just in case your opponent does manage to resolve enduring ideal. The one Kami of Ancient Law and the one Ronom Unicorn can be cast even if Dovescape is on the table. On their endstep you will want to hit their Solitary Confinement with the enchantment destroying ability. Then cast enough spells to get as many bird tokens as possible and hopefully swing for the win. Once they resolve Enduring Ideal this matchup becomes insanely hard but it is winnable. Hopefully you dropped Gaddock Teeg turn two or turn three and had the Gaea’s Might to protect him. Even if u don’t, they have to spend two turns and waste one of their Burning Wishes to deal with Teeg, meanwhile you are bashing face and hopefully burning them out. This matchup is tough but winnable. Your win conditions are more reliable than theirs. Don’t forget to Putrefy their Lotus Blooms game one during their upkeep step, and to watch out for Draco Erratic Explosion tricks if your life total goes below 17 helix is your friend in this situation.
Sideboard for Enduring Ideal +2 Gaddock Teeg +1 Kami of Ancient Law +1 Ronom Unicorn.   –4 putrefy
Doran Rock and other rock based agro/control decks are still very popular. The fact that (Pernacious Deed) goes for ridiculous amounts of money greatly helps us. Hopefully you wont see that card too much. This matchup is a race. The Doran decks will deal themselves an average of four to six damage to themselves in a game. We have to captilize on this hopefully by dropping a turn one guy that swings for two and a turn two guy that swings for three. Wait for the right opertunities to use Gaea’s Might and Tribal Flames and this matchup can be fairly in your favor. You want to get all five lands types out as soon as possible so that Tribal Flames deals with Doran game one. Hopefully you can put enough pressure on the board that their Vindicates don’t hit a key land. Instead, hitting a creature and tying them up a turn in the process. Sideboarding is pretty easy. I never feel uncomfortable in this matchup as I always kill there mana accelerating creatures and watch them get burned out somewhere around turn five or six.
Sideboarding aganst rock +2 terminate –2 grim lavamancer (or Savannah Lion)
Against gifts rock board out the other two one drops and bring in Gaddock Teeg. He’ll more than likely die to removal but if they don’t kill him they can not cast Gifts Ungiven. 
So here’s my list. Don’t slam me because its not very different from the list that won our Pro Tour Qualifier.  In fact, I have changed it very little.  Really, why would you bother to mess with success too much?  I mean, how many people have tried to remake the Mona Lisa?  However, this is the deck list that I would and will run in extended premiers on mtgo.

Zoo as suggested by nickxramsey


3 Gaea’s Might
4 Putrefy


3 Jotun Grunt

Thanks for reading hope to hear from you all in the forums section. I know I only covered three matchups and this deck certainly will face other decks than these three. If you have any specific questions feel free to ask and of course feel free to share your opinions!


sorry by nickxramsey at Mon, 02/11/2008 - 21:15
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your absolutely right. ideal is almost no-where to be found. next level blue and gobos greatly outnumber ideal decks.  like josh said i was drawing alot of knowledge on my local meta. im just starting to put 8 hrs. a day on mtgo playing drafting and watching replays. as such i believe i owe it to you guys to produce more accurate stuff.

Bark of the Spider by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 02/11/2008 - 10:14
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Have a Swell-icious evening playing Ancient Diciple against Grokkenstein. Nail the wall to the flor

tier one decks by RemyS at Mon, 02/11/2008 - 10:56
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Don't take it bad, but it's not really a good sign to read an article and the writer define the tier 1 deck so wrongly.

I played a lot of extended, and I would say the tier 1 decks are Dredge, Next level blue, RDW, gobs, affinity, and doran (the 3 last ones being less played than the 1st three). Of course it can vary sometimes, but it's mostly this.

So focusing your article about a meta of ideal (really, really not much played) dredge and rock doesn't looks like a great idea...



by JXClaytor at Mon, 02/11/2008 - 12:29
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I think nick was using his local metagame as a standard, He's really new to MTGO.  Like I think he got his account before the NAC was closed down!

by elrogos at Mon, 02/11/2008 - 07:09
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Nice article, and building zoo on a budget is a nice idea.

However, I think your list really needs jittes, they are an incredibly powerful addiction to this deck, almost winning games by themselves (they win games by themselves even if you have a deck made just by them, troll scetic and 50 lands).

Also, i would prepare my deck and SB more against rock/countertop/nextlevelblu/dredge than against ideal. Ideal is just a weak deck played because it went famous, but it needs orim's chant to have some hopes (and we all know what is orim's chant's price) and even then it can (maybe) win against control, but certainy not against fast aggro decks like zoo that burn them out in 4 turns and then keep them at bay with gaddock and/or light removal like ronom unicorn. Removing a counterbalance, a vedalken shakles or 10 hasted 3/3 zombies are much more difficult than winning against ideal (that NEEDS pernicious too, no way it could win against rock, zoo or countertop without clearing the board, given the fact that solitary will be burned in seconds)

by largebrandon at Mon, 02/11/2008 - 07:26
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I got 3rd place in the PTQ in Atlanta this past weekend with the very same deck, and I lost to IDEAL in the semi-finals. :(:(

 My list is a little bit different:  I played 2 terminate in the MD.  The SB was 2 JItte, 2 Terminate, 1 Teeg, 2 Hierarch, 3 Grudge, 2 Extirpate, and 3 Sulfuric Vortex.

 I'm going to the  PTQ in Charollete in a few weekends, probably playing the same deck, but my SB will probably contain Ronam Unicorn!

by nickxramsey at Mon, 02/11/2008 - 08:26
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you may be right. enduring ideal is becoming a fad of this meta. perhaps cutting the ronom and kami from the board to add a pair of jittes is a better choice. but without the vindicates main i thought the enchantment killers would add a little bit of utility to the sideboard.