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By: SpikeBoyM, Alex Ullman
Apr 06 2008 11:02pm
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PDC is an all player run format on Magic Online. It consists of competitive games using exclusively commons cards. Games can be found in the "/join pdc" room and events can be found on the Magic Online official message boards. For more information please visit pdcmagic.com

When Wizards announced the new rotation policy for Extended, a collective shout of joy went out through the world of Magic: “We get the Fetchlands for another year! Hooray for awesome mana!” A different cry went up in PDC.

Within the past year, a group of PDC regulars decided to create an Extended format known as Future Extended (FutEx for short). This format was designed to be a format at was different enough from both the current Standard environment and the Classic PDC format, which features the Mirage Block, Ice Age cards, and those cards in Master's Edition. The format featured every set that was to be legal with the Fall 2008 Rotation: 8th, 9th, and 10th Edition, Mirrodin, Kamigawa, Ravnica, Time Spiral, and Lorwyn blocks. To me, this felt like an incomplete format (even with the release of Lorwyn, as the original FutEx tournaments started before Lorwyn was released online). In my opinion the format was missing a sixth block (vital to extended) and did not have a really strong “aggressive block” in the format. Lorwyn, until recently, was only one set and did not have the tools to make aggro decks true contenders. The result was a format dominated by long game decks focusing on abusing Momentary Blink and Grim Harvest. While this is fine for a while, these decks had few real checks and made games take a long while to complete, since the aggro decks would be stopped and then have to wait a long period of time for the game to actually end. But then the announcement came that Onslaught block would be legal post-2008 rotation, and as such legal in the new season of FutEx.

And I rejoiced.

Not only does this block provide numerous tools for aggressive strategies, but it also contains the cycle of Cycling lands. These are huge to any non-Blue aggro deck. These cards allow you to run uncounterable card filtering without giving up a land slot. Aggro decks often run out of steam in the mid-to-late game and being able to Cycle into something stronger than the otherwise boring and useless land. This, I feel, is just what the format needed. Combining the Cycle lands with increased tribal tools from both Morningtide and the entire Onslaught block means that aggro decks now have a much stronger chance in the environment because:

A) They gain speed

B) They have a stronger late game plan now

The advent of Tribal linears also bodes well for the format. In the past, the strongest aggressive decks were those that were aggro-combo: Burn and Saps. Burn sought to win simply by doing enough damage, but in a format full of Aven Riftwatchers and Tendrils of Corruptions this is often a losing prospect. Saps is aggro-combo in the purest sense of the word, seeking to create aboard full of fungus and then use Pallid Mycoderm to give the team an Overrun and a win in the same combat step. With Onslaught and Lorwyn now fully integrated, I fully expect Goblins, Elves, and possibly Soldiers and Zombies to make appearances as aggro decks.

Tranquil Thicket

Onslaught block also provides numerous creatures with Morph, specifically those that can act as both creatures and spells when flipped up. Creatures like Skinthinner and Skirk Marauder provide aggro decks with both a good beater that is on curve or an average creature that could provide some reach. Morph also adds a strong tempo element to the format, which I found lacking before. Now blocking is an actual decision to be made, because you never know what that face down creature might be. Winning in combat could have serious implications in the early game where the long game decks lack mana to do tricks with Blink and Harvest.

This brings an important point to the forefront: Why is tempo important in PDC aggro decks? Without big sweeping effects like Wrath of God or Damnation, there are few ways for a deck to effectively reset the board state. On the same side, however, aggro decks lose significant reach without access to the stronger burn spells found at Uncommon and Rare- Lightning Helix, Char, and Demonfire for example. This means that the early game becomes much more important for PDC aggro decks in FutEx; Classic decks have access to both Fireblast and Kaervek's Torch- two stellar endgame cards. In the early game, the aggro deck has to steal as many beats as possible. This means playing out strong beaters backed up with some form of disruption. Whether this is burn, land destruction, discard, or countermagic, the beat down deck has to be able to dominate the early game to really stand a chance in FutEx, but there is more. After this, the disruption elements need to be viable enough to work in the mid-game, where many of the aggro decks place their fundamental turns.

This is one of the reasons aggro decks, in my opinion, underperformed in the old FutEx format. No decks played an early game, seeking to have a totally dominant late game plan. With the addition of strong beatdown sets like Morningtide and the Onslaught Block, these decks may have to start paying more attention to turns one through five. This in turn, could give rise to aggro decks seeking to abuse tempo to again, dominate those early turns. This would create a more fully developed format. But then again, these are just the thoughts that race through my mind. In all actuality, none of this could matter and the format will remain one full of late game Harvest/Blink decks.

But my testing has shown that this will likely not be the case.

Back on track. The addition of Onslaught is a great one. Morningtide, however, brings with it a gem that can go a long way to combating these decks (and the Big Mana/LD RG decks that have risen to fight them): Negate. I know that some people in PDC believe that I am overvaluing this card, but I still feel it has the potential to really attack the format. Negate will stop three mana land destruction spells which is just gravy. Where it really excels is that it counters the first instance of Blink or Harvest. While Faerie Trickery is stronger and will counter the offending card permanently, countering the first Harvest and especially the first Blink can be a huge tempo shift. In my experience, it is not the casting of the Mulldrifter or Aven Riftwatcher that is the back breaker, but the constant reuse. Often players will Evoke and then Blink, providing a prime time for Negate to act, taking a spell and a creature of of the equation. This can provide the time needed for aggro, aggro-control, and midrange decks to take those final few steps towards victory. Negate is a proactive tool allowing decks who are the beatdown to effectively cauterize the wound caused by the persistent card advantage long enough to win.

Aggro and aggro-control decks should be the big winners in the new FutEx format. Strong removal is everywhere. Morph adds a new dimension to the versatility of creatures, and Rush of Knowledge means that a certain old friend will be visiting the format again, quite possibly in larger numbers.

I am very excited about this new format. Classic, while still my favorite PDC format, is becoming a format of finding interesting tweaks and perfecting play skill. FutEx, to me, presents a format that is largely open for a strong deck builder to come in and make waves in meaningful ways early and often. I like to think of myself, at my core, as a deck builder. Just ask our gracious Editor.


So, what do I take to this format? First, the obligatory Affinity list. With the addition of Rush of Knowledge, this already strong deck becomes a much more potent contender, refilling its hand late to overwhelm the late game often after dominating the early phases. Here is my current build, borrowing heavily from my Classic builds:

1 Ancient Den
4 Arcbound Worker
2 Bonesplitter
1 Choking Tethers
1 Darksteel Citadel
4 Frogmite
1 Great Furnace
8 Island
2 Lonely Sandbar
4 Myr Enforcer
2 Neurok Stealthsuit
3 Quicksilver Behemoth
2 Rush of Knowledge
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Secluded Steppe
4 Somber Hoverguard
4 Thoughtcast
3 Tooth of Chiss-Goria
1 Tree of Tales
1 Vault of Whispers
4 Welding Jar
3 AEther Spellbomb
1 Azorius Chancery
2 Chromatic Star

Myr Enforcer

The reason for the Chancery and Steppe is for sideboard Faith's Fetters. This card helps against Red decks, often buying a turn or two.

This deck is a straight forward Affinity deck, dropping undercosted monsters backed up with good card drawing spells. Rush of Knowledge allows the deck to draw between four and seven cards in the mid-game, allowing it to basically start over with a ton of land in play. This is a Good Thing. The Neurok Stealthsuits are a nice card in that it both accelerates your creatures and protects them as a sort of reusable Confound. Choking Tethers is a nice trick card, cycling early or allowing you to punch through late.

This build is not for everyone, as I know many players favor the power of 3-4 Rushes. This build, however, is one I find optimal for my style of play.

I also pack a full compliment of Negate in my sideboard. Despite the response to my last article, this card has proved to be nothing but a house in the FutEx format (from my testing). Against the popular Momentary Blink and Grim Harvest decks, this card can often steal turns and tempo. Let us assume that they make a block that is only favorable if they resolve a Blink. Negate stops that. Another example: you just finished a large combat phase that your opponent wants to recover from using their mana advantage and Harvest recursion. Negate helps to slow them down. While the initial offenders are the creatures, and are much better handled by the absent Remove Soul, Negate acts as a vaccine against repeated doses of Mulldrifter and Aven Riftwatcher.

Affinity is a beast in any format it is legal in, and FutEx is no exception. It is of my opinion that if your deck can not handle the machine then you should be wary. Even though Affinity is not a heavily played deck, it can show up and just win at times.

While Affinity is my aggressive deck of choice in the format, it is far from my favorite deck. Talking to Tom shortly after the introduction of OLS, our talk turned to an old Classic stand-by: IzzetPost. This Classic PDC deck is based around using strong counters such as Counterspell and Exclude combined with burn to control the board while building up gobs of mana with Cloudpost. The deck would eventually win by aiming a giant Kaervek's Torch at the dome, and using Izzet Chronarch to use that Torch multiple times to win. However, many of the key components to the deck, namely the good counter magic and Torch are not available to the FutEx deck builder. Instead, I built a decent board control deck that focused on winning through Mulldrifter and Shimmering Glasskite beats. While it did well, it did not do enough to take advantage of the gross amounts of mana produced by Cloudpost. However, there is a card available in FutEx that can take advantage of this mana engine:

Mystical Teachings

Mystical Teachings decks have been popular in PDC since the was printed. The prospect of playing a strong tool box deck in traditional control colors is enticing to say the least. In this format, versatility is key. The ability to have the right card at the right moment in a format this wide open was reason enough to attempt the Teachings/Cloudpost combination. I went about building and testing, and then learning how to play a Teachings deck. That process took a while and many early losses looking back should have been wins.

This deck has three distinct engines running through it. First is the aforementioned Cloudpost engine. Essentially a big mana deck, this build runs 25 lands plus card drawing and Twisted Abominations. In other words, it likes to hit its lands. This engine is nice as it enables the other two threads on the deck. This facet also allows the deck to play expensive cards without much of a draw back- it is not uncommon to see a turn three Mulldrifter stick around after being hard cast. Additionally, the mana available allows the deck to run Condescend with amazing results. This “soft” counter allows you to set up draws and protect your threats. It is perhaps your best defense early and late and should be valued highly. So of course, I only run three main.

The next engine in the deck is the Mystical Teachings engine. This is the one that allows me to run versatile counter and removal suites with out sacrificing much in the way of consistency. With the suite I am currently running, I have a high amount of flexibility while still retaining consistent good draws. Again, the presence of Mulldrifter in this build allows me to see quite a few cards, improving the chances of me finding one I want. This engine also allows me to run more Grim Harvests than my opponent. I already run two for the sake of redundancy, but Teachings lets me run the virtual ten-pack. As we see next, this is another Good Thing.

The third, and final engine is that Grim Harvest Engine. This deck only runs eleven creatures, but that near dozen do the job well. First is Twisted Abomination. Thinning the deck early and coming back to dominate the red zone late, this card is one of my favorite reasons to play the deck. Sometimes he fetches you a land, but sometimes he comes down turn four and wins the game in short order. I like those games.

The Mulldrifter and Mournwhelk package work nicely to generate persistent and dominant card advantage. Early on, these will often be Evoked. However, by turn five it is usually safe to hard cast the Blue monster and turn six is usually safe times for his Black counterpart. These cards are the best way to generate card advantage and do the job well. Combined with the mana generated from Cloudpost, these Elementals can do some serious damage at all stages of the game.

The final creature is Warren Pilferers. I prefer this to Gravedigger because of its 3/3 nature. This is extremely important in FutEx where games are often won in creature combat. As an added bonus, sometimes you can chain them together for a hasty option, sneaking in points of damage.

Working in unison, these three engines allow the deck to operate efficiently at all stages of the game. The game plan looks something like this:

Early game: Establish your mana base and pick off threats with counters and removal.

Mid game: Start generating card advantage with Teachings and Harvest engine.

Late game: Dominate with card advantage and Abominations in the Red Zone.

The Teachings targets are largely going to be meta dependent. The ones I run are there because I feel they handle multiple threats in the field. Again, they strike the balance between power and consistency- most are effective against many decks and strategies.

Negate plays an important role in this deck, again stopping those annoying spells but also saving damage against Red decks. Being able to save yourself from a few points of burn is extremely important and can be the difference between a win or a loss with this deck. The Douse in Gloom is there to sometimes handle a creature, but more often is used on your own creature to again, give you that buffer zone of life points needed to survive against Red decks.

Finally, I included a pet card in this build, but it has been working wonderfully. Death of a Thousand Stings is a long game win condition. It helps to build a buffer of life slowly and keeps coming back for more. I have considered adding a Soulless Revival to go along with this long game plan, but find that I do not have enough creatures to make it worth my while. However, I could be wrong.

That being said, here is my control deck of choice for the current FutEx format. The deck will only get stronger with Shadowmoor where it will gain access to hybrid cards to help fight against Guardian of the Guildpact.

Keep slingin' commons,


by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 04/08/2008 - 10:13
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

"So elrogos, until you back your facts up you just sound like another Troll looking to cause trouble."

first of all, you really should learn a bit of good manners: calling other "trolls" is just rude, cause i've never thrown in opinions just to write: remove soul powerful against blink = fact; spellstutter sprite powerful in faeries = fact; i do not need to bring any proof of something that is totally known

second, this is a public "forum" if we want to call it, so i come here even if i'm not an active player of your pdc community. Or do you really think that just people playing your tourneys can talk and speak about pdc? there are many people around playing pdc that play just among themselves, because for various matters they can't/do not care to play in tourneys. And they play, experiment, read forums and various sites. So, for the second time, if you do not know who you are talking about, try not to assume things about him (calling him ignorant, other than troll)

third, spikeboy himself has written down "  I know that some people in PDC believe that I am overvaluing this card, but I still feel it has the potential to really attack the format."

So i assume i'm not the only one with a different opinion from spikeboy, i assume that he thinks that his ones are opinions too, not a law given by god, and i assume he intended that "he thinks that negate can attack the format"; I simply stated "well, i think not, it's a decent card but nothing else". 

by Me5794 (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 04/08/2008 - 10:42
Me5794 (Unregistered)'s picture

Meh, you are attacking me and attacking the author with no sound factual basis. Sounds like a Trollish thing to me

"= fact; spellstutter sprite powerful in faeries = fact; i do not need to bring any proof of something that is totally known"

 Faeries Suck as a deck though, so that kind of invalidates what you are talking about.

Spikeboy is writing articles for the PDC Tourney playing community. I think he writes well and has sound opinions layoff and appreciate it for what it is. Until you show up for tournies or are an active contributor to the PDC community you'll just sound like somone just looking to pick a fight.


Like i said chill out and enjoy the read


by Me5794 (Unregistered) (not verified) at Tue, 04/08/2008 - 09:36
Me5794 (Unregistered)'s picture


Man you really need to chill out.

 I really think your arguements have no weight. Alex is offering ideas and opinions, based on playtesting and experience.

 You come in guns blazing and we have no clue who you are. You obviously are not an active pauper player, since Faeries was a viable deck for only a few weeks in STANDARD. You make arguements based on opinion with no facts to back them up.

 I think that this was a fine article and spike did a nice job stating his side once again, based on experience and playtesting. He stated that negate is a useful card, not a format warping one, there is even a subsequent post from someone actively plays pauper agreeing with him.

 So elrogos, until you back your facts up you just sound like another Troll looking to cause trouble.


by elrogos at Tue, 04/08/2008 - 09:19
elrogos's picture

Really man, are you joking?

" it seems that you took this opportunity to totally ignore the decks I presented and instead talk about your own deck."

apart from the fact that you have presented ONE deck (cause the affinity one is long known) , i have expressed my opinion about the fact that you are overrating one card when there are many other ones that deserves attention (and i have even already said this... about the "ignoring" thing...). Period. I've not said "you write s**t" etc. I've said "imho half your article (the negate part) is bad. I'm not interested at all in your dimir deck. Personally i find it inconsistent, but i do not judge something before having tried it.

I've already wrote that i'm not pretending fearies will dominate the format, just using them as an example of the fact that if fut ext can be warped by something, it's not by negate, but by lot of other things (and the "you need multiple faeries" thing is true, but it's even true that spellstutter is almost always effective given the 12 1cc drop faeries in the format; and it's totally undeniable the fact that, in an aggro deck, a 1U flying creatures with a counter power similar to the one of rune snag is better that a 1U 50% hard counter card, for the simple fact the first has legs... Or maybe every faerie player in the world is wrong and we all should play negate over spellstutter....).

It seems to me that it's you that do not accept critiques at all, but you probably should be a little more open-minded.

by urzishra (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 04/07/2008 - 17:21
urzishra (Unregistered)'s picture

while I do not play PDC as often as I would like.. I love reading these articles.. IMO better tournament advice then tournament centric articles elsewhere.. good to see it back

by SpikeBoyM at Mon, 04/07/2008 - 13:57
SpikeBoyM's picture

Stillirise: I agree with that statement.  All I have is testing, which has shown this deck to be strong against Parlor Tricks, Cogs, RG Big Mana/LD, and other decks.  It has a fair matchup with Saps (totally dependent on post-sideboarding) and a weak matchup with OrzhovBlink if they have maindeck Guardian, otherwise it is more even.

Again, elrogos, I never said the best singular card was Negate.  However, I would take one Negate over any one Faerie.  For the Faerie tribe to be good, you need multiple members.  Negate is one card that can go in a multitude of decks.  I would like to see a list of your deck before I make any more critiques, but it seems that you took this opportunity to totally ignore the decks I presented and instead talk about your own deck.


by Stillirise (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 04/07/2008 - 13:48
Stillirise (Unregistered)'s picture

Im thinking both spike and elgoros need to come out to a tournament to prove their decks are viable ;)

by elrogos at Mon, 04/07/2008 - 13:50
elrogos's picture

2) negate momentary blink IS bad. Of course it's better than lettin it resolve, but terroring/shocking/removing the soon to be blinked mulldrifter is better than negate the blink (that can replayed from the grave). Blink decks lose to counters IF counters do not let them resolve critters, otherwise counters become quite irrelevant, cause you gain ton of life and CA while our opponent is merely trying to stop the blinking. That's why if you think you are going against a blink deck remove soul is way better than negate. (or rune snag)

3) sprite doesn't need to stop your 5cc spells, she stops your 1, 2, sometimes 3 spells (including morph critters), and in the meantime other faeries beat you, then you have burn, echoingh truth and pestermite for lots of threats around. Faeries decks work in the same way they work in normal magic: they are tempo cards that can easily be paired with red spells and red hasting critters, and with ninjas. However, for the last time, i'm not stating that faeries will rule fut ext, just saying that if you really want to find the best cards brought by lorwin and morningtide, there are many better choices than negate.

by SpikeBoyM at Mon, 04/07/2008 - 12:33
SpikeBoyM's picture

1) Negate is from Morningtide. 
2) I made the argument that it is not the casting of the creature that is often damaging in Blink/Harvest decks, but the ability to use the signiture spell.  While being able to remove the creature is of course ideal, Negate does that job in a pinch.  Additionally, Negate has the added bonus of stoping other spells-not just removing creatures.
3) Your Faerie argument is way off base, as it revolves around Spellstutter Sprite.  For Sprite to work at peak effciency against this deck, you need 4+ creatures out, and hope that I'm holding no removal or counters.  I fail to see how that is more powerful than anything else in FutEx. 

Do you really expect to stop me from casting a Twisted Abomination with Sprite?


by elrogos at Mon, 04/07/2008 - 11:52
elrogos's picture

"Perhaps the most confusing part of your reply is that you say I was wrong because aggro and control now have more tools, even though that is exactly what I said."

i've understood that they have now more tools because of the thact that onslaught block remains in ext and because of negate. And i totally disagree about negate, it is a powerful card, but shadowed by the better ones lorwin and morningtide have brought. Also, you made the blink examples, and i simply stated that countering or removing the actual threats kill blink, not countering blink via this supposed power that is negate.

about the rest, i've made the mongrel and armadillo examples as two examples of powerful cards (more powerful than lots of other cards now existing in fut ext) to state the fact that faerie decks can easily stop those threats, so it's much easier to stop weaker ones like the ones you presented in your dimir deck. 

Responses by SpikeBoyM at Mon, 04/07/2008 - 09:08
SpikeBoyM's picture

Shard: Thanks for the reply.  Negate is a strong card and should see more play.

elrogos: I don't recognize your handle- do you even play PDC events done through the main PDC community?  None of the decks you have talked about (aside from Goblins) have made a splash in PDC FutEx.  Additionally, all the "insane token" strategies you describe ear easily answered by the cards in the Dimir deck.  I fail to see how your Faerie starts really pose a problem to any deck I've described.

It seems to me that instead of talking about what I presented- the decks and my views, you call me wrong and cite niche examples of your pet deck as reasons why.  Perhaps the most confusing part of your reply is that you say I was wrong because aggro and control now have more tools, even though that is exactly what I said.


by Shardfenix (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 04/06/2008 - 23:57
Shardfenix (Unregistered)'s picture

Its good to see you writing again...I have to say i played in UPDC today and had chosen to run remove soul main and negate in the side, yeah thatnks for game 1 losses.  I was using a very evasive deck so other creautres didnt bother me but a negate would have been amazingly helpful..live and learn i guess.  The dimir list loks nice but with spirits being a slim to none tribe played in FutExt wouldn't it be more beneficial to switch the numbers between Rend Flesh and Dark Banishing?

by elrogos at Mon, 04/07/2008 - 07:04
elrogos's picture

I really think half of the statements in the article are wrong. No offense meant, but lorwin/morningtide has brought to aggro (and aggro control) so many cards that can be effective, abusable or even game-breaking.

Bannerets are effective; in the same way even elementals, mulldrifters, goblins are great choices.

Merfolks are abusable (with drum and mothdust you can blink all day long, but you'll have life and tokens everywhere).

Fairies are, just, perfect! 2 cards are so fast and powerful that can completely break the game in the same way a wild mongrel or armadillo cloak do: spellstutter sprite and pestermite. I constantly run a faerie/ninjas plus burn/echoing truth deck, and it's so fast and powerful that shuts down goblins, control and zombies, not speaking about old freed from the real decks.

Also, negate is useless against blink. If you play blink and against it, you know that no critters in play=blink is a dead card. Remove soul and yamabushi flame are fantastic here, the first plunge the card into the grave, the second remove it fom the grave after the attempot to blink it. Countering blink is totally useless unless you are playing some slow card like faerie trickery to remove the blink from the game.