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Hey folks, I am dead tired so I will be brief, but I top-8ed Perth regionals/national qualifiers today playing my Brilliant Ultimatum deck, called repeatedly ‘the greediest deck I’ve ever seen’ by various observers at the tournament. I am heading to bed right after this post but since twitter hungers for decklists, here we go:

Maindeck

4 Arcane Sanctum

4 Marsh Flats

4 Celestial Colonnade

2 Crumbling Necropolis

2 Creeping Tar Pit

1 Arid Mesa

3 Swamp

3 Island

2 Plains

1 Mountain

2 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

1 Path to Exile

4 Ponder

4 Wall of Omens

4 Spreading Seas

4 Esper Charm

4 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

3 Day of Judgment

2 Liliana Vess

1 Gideon Jura

4 Brilliant Ultimatum

1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

Sideboard

4 Kor Firewalker

3 Negate

1 Spell Pierce

1 Path to Exile

2 Oblivion Ring

1 Perimeter Captain

1 Celestial Purge

1 Mind Shatter

1 Telemin Performance

More content during the week on Mananation. If you have any questions or suggestions for a deck name, please leave a comment!

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Twitter is a fantastic tool, just have a read of @robjelf’s blog post to see why you should be using it if you’re not already. However when people start to spitball combo decks and everyone joins in to tack on a third, fourth, or fifth card to the combo that will ‘definitely’ push it into tournament playability you end up with an unplayable pile most of the time. @YoMTGTaps coined the term “Twitter Snowball” to describe these decks, and today I decided to see what sort of a deck the assembled power of the world’s most talkative MTG minds could come up with, starting with just one card.

Djinn Snowball

4x Sage Owl

4x Djinn of Wishes

1x Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

1x Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

1x Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

11 creatures

.

4x Ponder

4x Jace, the Mind Sculptor

2x Splinter Twin

4x Fabricate

1x Mirror of Fate

3x Dreamstone Hedron

1x Darksteel Colossus

2x Selective Memory

3x Cruel Ultimatum

24 non-creature spells

.

4x Crumbling Necropolis

4x Scalding Tarn

4x Halimar Depths

3x Mountain

10x Island

25 lands

The central plan of the deck is to cheat on the mana cost of expensive spells by using Djinn of Wishes. The expensive spells we have to choose from are one of each of the legendary Eldrazi, a Darksteel Colossus, and the mighty Cruel Ultimatum. To help set up on the top of our deck we have a number of options including Halimar Depths, Ponder, Sage Owl and Jace. Splinter Twin is an odd choice but it does let you create new Djinns to avoid using up counters, and making a Sage Owl every turn makes sure you always have something good on top of your deck.

A more nutty way to go is the combo of Selective Memory and Mirror of Fate which lets you arrange your library however you like! We have Fabricate to find our one Mirror, because getting two is not that helpful, and I’ve also included Dreamstone Hedrons as either some decent card draw or a potent plan B, ramping into monsters the old fashioned way. Jace is an absolute monster in this deck, as his first and second abilities have obvious applications and his unsummon ability is great for reloading on wish counters.

There we go! Every nonland card was suggested on twitter besides the Colossus and Hedrons, which I added in to help out Fabricate. Thankyou everyone for your suggestions, and if anyone is game enough to give this deck a try please let us know how it turns out ūüôā

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This last deck review should rightfully go to little/domain/traditional Zoo, based on its numerous succesful pilots on day 3 of Worlds. However I already know how that post would turn out – the deck costs a fortune because of its “three basics” manabase and Tarmogoyfs, and if you want to play a deck like that you will choose it or Bant or Rubin Zoo based on metagame concerns rather than the price. Instead, I present to you a blast from the past leveraging the most broken keyword mechanic ever printed…

Dragonstorm 2009

Nikolay Bogdev, 4-2
2009 World Championships, Extended

2  Cascade Bluffs (2x $3 = $6)
4  Dreadship Reef (4x$0.50 = $2)
2  Fungal Reaches (2x $0.50 = $1)
5  Island
1  Mountain
4  Scalding Tarn (4x $13 = $52)
4  Steam Vents (4x $7 = $28)
22 lands ($89)

4  Bogardan Hellkite (4x $2 = $8)
1  Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund ($2)
5 creatures    ($10)

4  Dragonstorm (4x $1.50 = $6)
3  Echoing Truth (3x $0.25 = $0.75)
2  Gigadrowse (3x $0.25 = $0.75)
4  Lotus Bloom (4x $4 = $16)
4  Ponder (4x $0.50 = $2)
4  Remand (4x $1.50 = $6)
4  Rite of Flame (4x $1 = $4)
4  Seething Song (4x $1 = $4)
4  Telling Time (4x $0.25 = $1)
33 other spells    ($41.50)

Maindeck (60 cards): $140.50

4  Blood Moon (4x $2 = $8)
1  Echoing Truth ($0.25)
2  Empty the Warrens (2x $0.25 = $0.50)
4  Firespout (4x $0.50 = $2)
1  Gigadrowse ($0.25)
3  Ravenous Trap (3x $0.50 = $1.50)
15 sideboard cards ($12.50)

Total, Main & Side: $153

For some reason this deck just won’t die! It dominated periods of Rav/TS standard and died with the rotation that brought in Lorwyn, before Chapin and Nassif took Worlds 07 by – no, I won’t do it, I’ll leave the horrible puns to LSV – with a mono-red redesign of the deck. Now it seems the deck still has the raw power to show up in extended at pro tour level, admittedly with only one pilot at 4-2. If you don’t know how it works already, basically the deck uses mana rituals and Lotus Blooms to build up to 9 mana and a storm count of 4 or so, then casts Dragonstorm to fetch out enough Bogardan Hellkites to kill the opponent immediately, or Hellkites & Karrthus to win with a hasty dragon assault. Gigadrowse replicated half a dozen times on your opponents end step removes any ability to resist, and the rest of the deck essentially finds the combo.

This is certainly not a “deck to beat”, in fact it is probably not even a dark horse, as I haven’t seen any discussion of it since Worlds. It is a much slower combo than Hypergenesis or Dredge, but it does have certain advantages – it isnt vulnerable to graveyard hate or Blood Moon, and Chalice should have minimal impact. Ethersworn Canonist would cause problems but that is not seeing a lot of play. This resistance to commonly played hate cards is very helpful, as it lets Dragonstorm get off its combo unmolested if it survives until the big turn.

The largest expense in the deck is by far the R/U lands, making up half the cost by themselves. Beyond that most of the cards are pocket change by extended standards (now there’s an awkward phrase for a magic article), and this deck comes in easily the cheapest of the series. Even if this deck doesn’t work out, the Tarns and Vents can find a place in plenty of others, like Dredge and Scapeshift. Dragonstorm needs a lot more testing before I can say anything definitive about its viability, but if you want to ‘go rogue’ on January 2nd without actually brewing up a deck this could be the one for you!

Bang for your Buck: * *

Cheap as chips as far as extended decks go, but not enough evidence of its “bang” yet to go with the buck.

The marathon is nearly at an end! Thanks everyone for reading, for advertising and for the positive feedback, it has made it all worthwhile ūüôā Expect a summary post with revised ratings sometime this weekend, and then a short posting hiatus while I recharge my writing batteries. Enjoy your holiday season folks, as always you can catch my musings on twitter @rtassicker or check out some other great writers in the links to the right.

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Another day, another extended combo deck – today we’re looking at Scapeshift, which I hope will offer a truly budget choice for extended. I’ve been playing the standard version as noted in a previous post, and it is dirt cheap to assemble!

A couple of people have questioned the highly scientific “Bang for your Buck” rating system, as I’ve only given out 3s, 4s and 5s so far. Once I’ve completed my survey of the top extended decks (tomorrow!) I will be revising my ratings and posting my conclusions, probably on the weekend. I’m expecting one or two decks to creep up to five star status and a couple to slip down to two or even one star, and I encourage everyone to chip in with their own value ratings when that post arrives!

Scapeshift Combo

Shi Tian Lee, 5-1
2009 World Championships, Extended

1  Breeding Pool ($10)
2  Forest
2  Island
4  Misty Rainforest (4x $12 = $48)
3  Mountain
1  Scalding Tarn ($13)
4  Steam Vents (4x $7 = $28)
4  Stomping Ground (4x $9 = $36)
2  Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle (2x $1 = $2)
23 lands ($137)

4  Sakura-Tribe Elder (4x $0.50 = $2)
4 creatures ($2)

3  Condescend (3x 0.25 = $0.75)
2  Harrow (2x $0.50 = $1)
2  Magma Jet (2x $1.50 = $3)
4  Peer Through Depths (4x $0.25 = $1)
4  Ponder (4x $0.50 = $2)
4  Remand (4x $1.50 = $6)
2  Repeal (2x $0.25 = $0.50)
4  Rewind (4x $0.50 = $2)
4  Scapeshift (4x $2.50 = $10)
4  Search for Tomorrow (4x $0.25 = $1)
33 other spells ($27.25)

Maindeck (60 cards): $166.25

3  Chalice of the Void (3x $9 = $27)
2  Engineered Explosives (2x $13 = $26)
2  Firespout (2x $0.50 = $1)
1  Meloku the Clouded Mirror ($1.50)
4  Ravenous Trap (4x $0.50 = $2)
1  Rude Awakening ($0.50)
2  Shattering Spree (2x $1.50 = $3)
15 sideboard cards ($61)

Total, Main & Side: $227.25

The combo in this deck is pretty straightforward – Scapeshifting for 6 mountains and a Valakut deals 18 damage to your opponent, or 2 Valakuts is 36. The rest of the deck is devoted to accelerating to 7 or 8 lands, finding Scapeshift and keeping your opponent off their game plan while you do so. There is a certain coolness about winning off of lands, whether its Barbarian Ring, Urza’s Factory, or in this case Valakut. That said, I don’t know what this deck does against Martyr of Sands?

Putting aside the lands, this deck is by far the cheapest available from the Worlds top decks. Its 37 nonland maindeck cards total only $29.25! But the lands, oh my, the lands. Being a land-based combo deck I shouldn’t really be surprised, but they push this deck up past All-In Red and even past Hypergenesis in price. Its possible the land base could be rejiggered to be mostly basics, but the blue would probably have to be cut entirely and the deck changed considerably for this to work. As it is I don’t think this deck offers very good performance for the price when compared to similarly priced combo decks. It did go 5-1 at Worlds so don’t take this as condemnation of the archetype, but for a similar price you can get even stronger decks.

Bang for your Buck: * *

Super cheap spells can’t hide a very expensive manabase.

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Apologies for the lateness of todays post, I’ve just finished my Christmas shopping and boy is it busy out there! Today we’re going to look at one of my shining hopes for the budget end of extended, All-In Red. If Rocket-Powered Turbo Slug were to play a game of magic, this is the deck he would use.

All-In Red


Benedikt Klauser, 5-1
2009 World Championships, Extended
18  Mountain
18 lands ($0.00!!)
`
4  Demigod of Revenge (4x $4 = $16)
4  Deus of Calamity (4x $2 = $8)
3  Magus of the Moon (3x $4 = $12)
4  Simian Spirit Guide (4x $0.30 = $1.20)
15 creatures ($37.20)
`
4  Blood Moon (4x $2 = $8)
4  Chalice of the Void (4x $9 = $36)
4  Chrome Mox (4x $15 = $60)
4  Desperate Ritual (4x $0.50 = $2)
3  Empty the Warrens (3x $0.25 = $0.75)
4  Rite of Flame (4x $1 = $4)
4  Seething Song (4x $1 = $4)
27 other spells ($114.75)
`
Maindeck (60 cards): $151.95
`
3  Dead // Gone (3x $1 = $3)
4  Figure of Destiny (4x $8 = $32)
1  Magus of the Moon ($4)
4  Relic of Progenitus (4x $1 = $4)
1  Shattering Spree ($1.50)
2 ¬†Tormod’s Crypt (2x $1.25 = $2.50)
15 sideboard cards ($45)

Total, Main & Side: $196.95

The deck has 3 components – fast mana, obscene threats and overwhelming disruption. By playing Chrome Moxes, exiling Spirit Guides and casting a ton of Rituals, All-In Red spends its cards to generate a big mana turn as early as possible, generally turn 1 or 2. This mana is used to power out threats like Deus of Calamity and disruptive permanents like Blood Moon. With the lack of basics in many decks they just can’t cope with a turn 1 Blood Moon, and few decks are fast enough to race against this one. Unfortunately it is not all roses, and this is where the “All-In” part of the deck has its downside – a single Path to Exile or similar answer for your one big threat can put you on a one way trip to Scooptown.

I am surprised at how expensive this deck turned out, given its dirt cheap manabase, but there are two obvious culprits for this expense. As has been the case in several decks so far, Chrome Mox and Chalice of the Void really push the price up – in this deck they make up over half the cost! Sideboard Figure of Destiny doesn’t help either, but apart from those 3 playsets the deck is very reasonable. Has anyone tested this deck yet? If so, how does it go without the Chrome Moxes, is it just terrible? I’m curious to know if it can be budgetized. This is not a bad choice to start with if you are just getting into extended – Chrome Mox and Chalice pop up all over the format, so if you decide to change decks a little way down the line you’ll be able to reuse your most expensive cards.

Bang for Your Buck: * * *

Two cards push this deck beyond the realm of the truly budget, but it is one of the cheapest competitive decks so far in the series.

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Welcome back one and all to the second week of my series on extended. Today we’ll be looking at PT: Austin’s worst kept secret, Hexmage Depths. This deck broke out at the first extended PT following Zendikar’s release, but it was overshadowed by the amazing success of Rubin Zoo in the hands of comeback king Brian Kibler. It had a somewhat worse showing at Worlds, as people prepared their sideboards with “lands that make 20/20 indestructible flying tokens” in mind.

Hexmage Depths

Lucas Blohon, 5-1
2009 World Championships, Extended

4  Dark Depths (4x $20 = $80)
1  Ghost Quarter ($1)
1  Island
4  River of Tears (4x $1.50 = $6)
4  Sunken Ruins (4x $3.50 = $14)
1  Swamp
3  Tolaria West ($0.50)
3  Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth (3x $5 = $15)
3  Watery Grave (3x $8 = $24)
24 lands ($140)

4  Dark Confidant (4x $10 = $40)
4  Vampire Hexmage (4x $1 = $4)
3  Vendilion Clique (3x $4 = $12)
11 creatures ($56)

3  Beseech the Queen (3x $0.50 = $1.50)
1  Chalice of the Void ($9)
4  Chrome Mox (4x $15 = $60)
3  Engineered Explosives (3x $13 = $39)
4  Muddle the Mixture (4x $0.50 = $2)
4  Repeal (4x $0.25 = $1)
1  Sword of the Meek ($1)
1  Thopter Foundry ($0.50)
4  Thoughtseize (4x $10 = $40)
25 other spells ($154)

Main Deck (60 Cards): $350

Sideboard
3  Cruel Edict (3x $1 = $3)
3  Extirpate (3x $7 = $21)
1  Ravenous Trap ($0.50)
3  Tombstalker (3x $6 = $18)
1¬† Tormod’s Crypt ($1.25)
3  Wretched Banquet (3x $0.25 = $0.75)
1  Yixlid Jailer ($0.50)
15 sideboard cards ($45)

Total, Main & Side: $395

The combo this deck is based on should be fairly obvious if you consider the interaction of its two namesake cards, Vampire Hexmage and Dark Depths. Dark Depths was a fun, alternate win condition type of casual card that rewarded you for sinking 30 mana into it with a 20/20 indestructible flier. At least, that was until Vampire Hexmage appeared with her ability to remove all the counters on Dark Depths for just 2 mana. People all over spotted the combo and quickly drove the price of Dark Depths into the stratosphere, with reports from Austin putting its price tag at over $30. This is one of the most compact tournament worthy combos in the format, meaning this sort of deck has room for lots of disruptive cards and even an alternate path to victory through the Thopter/Sword of the Meek combo also seen in last Monday’s deck.

Most of the expense of the deck comes from a few key cards. Dark Depths is the obvious one, but Chrome Mox and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth are crucial to getting the combo online as quickly as possible. Engineered Explosives, Vendilion Clique and Thoughtseize are also very important for keeping the opponent off balance long enough to force through the win. This is pretty expensive for an almost mono-coloured deck and the archetype is still very young. I would be wary of buying in just yet as it is quite probable that a more refined build will emerge over the course of the PTQ season, possibly using a whole suite of different cards. This deck’s core will be around for a long time yet, as Dark Depths, Urborg and Hexmage were all printed in the last couple of years meaning they are a long way from rotating out.

Bang for your Buck: * * *

An expensive but competitive deck, its performance – like Dredge – will probably depend on the hate other people bring on the day. Will be around for a long time yet, but will probably be refined considerably.

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Today we have another serious contender, at 5-0-1 in the hands of Christopher Wolf. The deck in question is Dredge, and it is likely the most powerful deck in the format, capable of winning on the first 2-3 turns with alarming regularity and very little interaction with the opponent. Game 1 is basically a write-off against dredge, but the potential sideboard hate is plentiful, effective and varied – while dredge got some great new tools in Zendikar with Hedron Crab, Bloodghast and Sphinx of Lost Truths, Ravenous Trap has given the metagame even more ways to hose graveyard strategies. Without further ado, I present:

Dredge

Christopher Wolf, 5-0-1
2009 World Championships, Extended

2  Breeding Pool (2x $10 = $20)
2  Island
4  Misty Rainforest (4x $12 = $48)
4  Scalding Tarn (4x $13 = $52)
1  Steam Vents ($7)
3  Verdant Catacombs (3x $14 = $42)
3  Watery Grave (3x $8 = $24)
19 lands ($193)

3  Bloodghast (3x $6 = $18)
4  Drowned Rusalka (4x $0.30 = $1.20)
1  Flame-Kin Zealot ($0.50)
4  Golgari Grave-Troll (4x $1.50 = $6)
4  Hedron Crab (4x $0.50)
1  Iona, Shield of Emeria ($6)
4  Narcomoeba (4x $0.50 = $2)
1  Sphinx of Lost Truths ($0.80)
4  Stinkweed Imp (4x $0.25 = $1)
26 creatures ($35)

4  Bridge from Below (4x $4 = $16)
3  Dread Return (3x $1 = $3)
3  Glimpse the Unthinkable (3x $12 = $36)
4  Ideas Unbound (4x $0.25 = $1)
1  Life from the Loam ($5)
15 other spells ($61)

Main Deck (60 cards) $289

Sideboard
2  Ancient Grudge (2x $0.25 = $0.50)
2  Darkblast (2x $0.25 = $0.50)
4  Echoing Truth (4x $0.25 = $1)
4  Leyline of the Void (4x $6 = $24)
3  Tombstalker (3x $6 = $18)
15 sideboard cards ($44)

Total, Main & Side: $333.00, half the number of the beast???

This deck deserves a bit of explanation, as the combo is somewhat convoluted. You will notice a number of cheap discard outlets, like Drowned Rusalka and Hedron Crab. The purpose of these cards is to fill up the dredge player’s graveyard with cards that can be dredged, and use these cards to fill the graveyard even more. Eventually 3 Narcomoebas or Bloodghasts will go from the graveyard into play for free, at which point they will be sacrificed to the flashback cost of Dread Return (which is also in your graveyard).

Sacrificing your creatures will trigger your Bridge From Belows to give you a bunch of 2/2 zombies, and Dread Return puts Flame-Kin Zealot onto the battlefield to give all of your zombie tokens haste and letting you attack for the win. Alternatively, you can Dread Return a Sphinx to let you keep dredging, or an Iona if having a 7/7 flier that locks your opponent out of playing spells is better in that particular matchup than 20 power of hasted zombies.

This deck is middle of the road in terms of price. It is much cheaper than the two Tarmogoyf decks, slightly more than Thopter Control and significantly more than its good friend, Hypergenesis. The best comparison is to Hypergenesis, as both decks basic plan is to dump their entire hand on the table turn 2 and have the opponent scoop it up. Both decks have fairly cheap groups of creatures and spells, as they are mostly only useful in these particular decks. The lands and sideboard is where the price difference comes in, as Hypergenesis uses a bunch of cheaper lands while Dredge uses fetches and shocklands to trigger its Hedron Crabs and Bloodghasts more frequently.

Glimpse the Unthinkable is also a particularly expensive spell, and its not due to its inclusion in this deck. Dredge is the only competitive deck that runs Glimpses, and it is also the only such deck that runs Golgari Grave-Troll. They are both rares from the same set, so why is one nearly ten times more expensive than the other? The answer, of course, is casual players. Casual players love alternate win conditions, especially milling, and Glimpse is one of the most efficient milling cards ever printed. At a kitchen table somewhere around the world, at this very moment, someone is casting Glimpse the Unthinkable on their opponent, ready to follow up with Mind Funeral the next turn.

Back to the lands, just before I sign off. The lands in this deck are more expensive than those in Hypergenesis, but for a good reason. You’ll see Breeding Pool, Watery Grave, Scalding Tarn and so on pop up again and again in extended decks. You’ll only see Tendo Ice Bridge in Hypergenesis. Hypergenesis is deceptively cheap, as a lot of the cards aren’t much good anywhere else. Investing in Dredge will give you a collection of land that can slot into Zoo, Bant, and plenty of other decks.

Bang for your Buck: * * * *

A complex and powerful deck, if people don’t prepare for it Dredge is nearly unbeatable. Very expensive manabase, but one that can be reused.

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