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9.23.02  Hey, everyone.  This week I'm not going to be doing a deck mechanic article.  Instead, I'm going to give you an overview of Extended.  Why? you ask?  Well, I've gotten a few e-mails from readers that want me to fix their decks.  When I ask them if they want it for Extended, Type 2, etc., they often ask me what Extended is.  So, I'll show everyone and their brother what it is exactly, a few of its decks, and what I think of them.  Also, I'll try to predict how they will do once Extended rotates.

Disclaimer: Remember that these are my personal thoughts on the deck and not how good they actually are.  Please don't load the hate mail on me for this.

What It Is

Extended is a format that currently uses Ice Age through Judgement along with 5th, 6th, and 7th editions.  Along with these sets you also get to use the Dual Lands from Revised (3rd Edition).  This large of a pool of cards gives builders a lot of flexibility when they sit down to build a deck.  You have tons of cards that help you fix your mana base, great creature removal, along with excellent critters.  The metagame of Extended usually has a good mix of decks.  The problems come when something slips through R&D (such as Tolarian Academy or Memory Jar) and completely dominates the format.  This hasn't happened lately, so Extended has been a pretty healthy environment.  In November when Onslaught rotates in, Ice Age and Mirage blocks (all sets up to Weatherlight), 5th Edition, and the Dual Lands will rotate out.  Many of you may have seen all of the articles online from people griping about losing things like Swords to Plowshares, Force of Will, and the Dual Lands.  This is for good reasons since many of the best cards in the format are leaving, which is going to change the nature of Extended permanently. 

The Decks

This is where the fun begins.  When I sat down to write this article, I brainstormed what decks I could think of and came up with the following:

Miracle Gro
Super Gro
Donate (Trix)
Secret Force
Welder Red
Raisin Bran
Operation Dumbo Drop
Threshold Geddon
White Weenie
Elf Ball
Draw Go

These are what I came up with off the top of my head.  I've seen most of these played or used them myself and heard of the rest being used.  That's a lot of decks for a format.  This also doesn't include the rogue decks in the format that are even less played.

Miracle Gro: This deck created by Alen Comer made its debut at Grand Pix: Las Vegas.  It uses a lot of small critters such as Wild Mongrel and Werebear or a set of Merfolk along with Quirion Dryads and a bunch of small blue cantrips plus Curiosity.  It uses the cantrips to build the Dryads up to big status and then smash your opponent.  It destroys Donate a large percent of the time since it has such great counter-magic and can make its Dryads monstrous in a very short amount of time.  It also has a decent shot against most of the other decks in the format that aren't geared to beat it.  I like the deck a lot since it has a decent win percentage and you get to use some of the best blue and green cards together.

Super Gro: This deck is based off of Miracle Gro but adds white for Mystic Enforcer and Swords to Plowshares.  I've also seen Meddling Mage and Disenchant in the deck.  It loses a bit of its power against Donate and other control decks, but makes the match against normal Gro a bit easier.  Both of the versions of Gro will probably die in November since they lose Winter Orb, Force of Will, and the Dual Lands.  Something like OBC's Quiet Roar may take its place, though.

Donate: If you don't know what Donate is, you probably haven't been playing for too long.  It uses Intuition, Accumulated Knowledge, and Merchant Scroll to draw a bunch of cards, Sapphire Medallion to speed the process up, and Illusions of Grandeur is then Donated to your opponent to kill them.  Many people added red to the deck for Fire/Ice, Pyroclasm, and Pyroblast which made the match-ups against weenie decks easier and Pyroblast helped the mirror.  I really like the deck since it has a decent shot against most decks.  The problem with it is that Gro became just too popular for the deck to overcome and it couldn't perform anymore.  Well, it loses Illusions, Force of Will, and Merchant Scroll.  The lights will finally fade on this giant.

Hatred: This deck uses a lot of small black creatures like Carnophage, Sarcomancy, and Dauthi critters to punch through a bunch of damage really quick.  It then uses Hatred to end the game in a hurry.  If that doesn't work, it moves on to Phyrexian Negator and hopefully gets the last few points of damage in.  I enjoy playing this deck because its so simple and, right now, nobody really expects it.  Sligh does give it too many problems since it has so much removal that you'll probably never be able to cast your Hatred.  The good side is that Sligh isn't very popular right now, so it's not too bad.  I almost guarantee this deck will be good in New Extended since Force of Will is gone.  The only thing it has to worry about now, I think, is Sligh.

Sligh: Sligh is a mono-red deck that uses small creatures like Jackal Pup and Mogg Fanatic along wit great burn spells like Shock, Incinerate, and Fireblast, and heavy-hitters like Ball Lightning to kill your opponent around turn 4.  It's been around since Tempest came in and still gets played today.  It's fun to play and is quite quick, so you can go get something to eat in-between rounds.  It will be around in November, but it loses Fireblast and Ball Lighting, which will cripple it.  It does get Blazing Firecat from Onslaught, so all it really needs to replace to be extremely effective is Fireblast.  It'll be tough to do, but I'm sure it will happen.

Ponza: Ponza, like Sligh, is a mono-red deck, although it has a completely different victory path.  It wants to destroy most of your opponent's land in an effort to stunt their growth and let you get big things like Masticore or, maybe, Lightning Dragon out and smash their face in.  It was made during Urza's Saga block since Avalanche Riders came out and gave Ponza a creature and LD (Land Destruction) in one card.  Mercadian Masques gave it, and every other deck on the planet, the hated Rishadan Port.  I like using the deck, especially if it works and you can keep their lands under control.  It might work in Extended, but it will have to try and take out Tinker, which is easier said than done.

Benzo: This deck debuted at PT: New Orleans.  It uses Buried Alive and Entomb to put big guys into the graveyard and then use Reanimate to bring them into play.  It can also use Squee and Zombie Infestation to put a bunch of Zombies into play.  If that fails, you can use Nether Spirit and Contamination to make sure your opponent doesn't do another thing.  I like the concept of the deck and it looks good on paper, I just didn't ever take the time to figure the deck out.  It died out after the shock factor of PT: New Orleans wore off.  I think that it could work in the New Extended since it doesn't really lose too much and is still quite quick at finding a win condition.

Stompy: Stompy is a mono-green deck that uses a lot of small green creatures to overrun your opponent quickly.  The deck is good since it can run off of one mana.  Many versions only run about nine or ten land in them.  This is because guys like Rogue Elephant only cost one mana and, along with Rancor, can end the game in a hurry.  I like playing the deck, just not competitively.  If your opponent can hold it off for a few turns, they can usually find an answer to your creatures and take you out.  It loses a few of its good creatures in November, but it might change into what it looked like during the Saga block.

Secret Force: Another straight green deck, this one wants to use Natural Order to put out a fatty really quick and kill the other guy.  It uses a lot of elves to get a bunch of mana to hard-cast your guys if you can't find an Order to pull one out.  The deck was huge at Worlds 2k1, but died down a bit after that.  I liked playing it since it was so potent, and, who doesn't like turning a 1/1 elf into a 7/7 Verdant Force?  It won't work in November since it loses Natural Order.  It could still work by just casting your guys, but I don't think that's going to prove all that popular.

Welder Red: This deck is kind of like Tinker in the fact that it uses tons of artifacts to have a lot of mana to play tricks with.  Goblin Welder lets you get a bunch of mana with Grim Monolith or keep your foe tied up with Tangle Wires that never go away.  They try to Disenchant your stuff?  Sacrifice it for a different one in your graveyard.  This is another deck that I didn't learn to play so I can't really say how good it is.  It does look very good, though.  It doesn't really lose anything after rotation, so I'm sure it will be around.

Tinker: Welder Red's brother, Tinker uses its namesake to pull out big guys like Phyrexian Processor really quick and kill the other guy.  It has a lot of power throughout the game and has a decent shot against a lot of the decks that will be around in November.  It also gained Upheaval, which makes it a very potent threat.  I like playing it since it is so fast and brutal.  The downside is that it is very, very expensive to put together piece by piece.  It'll be around, though, and you can count on that.

Raisin Bran: This deck has confused me since I first saw it.  It uses Aluren and Cavern Harpy along with Raven Familiar to go through your entire deck and play out every creature at instant speed.  On paper the deck looks pretty random.  I have no idea how good it is since I've never used it, but if the pros do it, I'm sure it could be worse.  It loses its special lands after rotation, but it could still work with some work.  It's just not gonna be me who puts the effort into fixing it.

3-Deuce: This is a red/green/white deck that uses the best spells from every color in an attempt to have answers to everything.  You get River Boa, Swords to Plowshares, and Incinerate along with Rancor and Cursed Scroll.  Not a bad list at all.  It's a great choice if you don't know what to expect in a certain field.  This is also an example for you newer players of what a utility deck is.  I like using it since you have answers to almost everything.  It loses its Dual Lands after rotation (seeing a theme here?) so it may have some trouble recouping from the loss, but it still has pain-lands.  The other problem is that it loses both Swords to Plowshares and Incinerate.  So, needless to say, I doubt it will be that big of a force in November, although I do hope that someone can prove me wrong.

Operation Dumbo Drop: Another deck that debuted at New Orleans, it's a white/blue/green control deck.  It uses Fact or Fiction for card-drawing, Powder Keg and Wrath of God for control, and Morphling and Call of the Herd for a win condition.  Of course, it uses StP (Swords to Plowshares) for spot removal and Force of Will for countering.  Where does it get its name?  It uses Intuition to drop Calls into the graveyard.  It's a great deck, but, once again, loses Force and Dual's which will disrupt it a lot. 

Oath: This deck uses a lot of utility spells to hold off your foe until you can drop an Oath of Druids to use their creatures against them.  You usually use a Morphling, a Spike Weaver, and a Spike Feeder as your only creatures.  Why?  Because you have Gaea's Blessing at your disposal.  If they kill your creature or you use up a Spike, the Blessing will put them back for being re-used.  A great deck, although I never figured out its nuances and got good with it.  It loses Dual's and Blessings along with Forces in November, though I have seen some people planning on still using it, just a suicide variant with no Blessings.

Fish: This deck uses small creatures in the form of Merfolk and their Lord to make a small weenie force backed up by the best counters in the format.  This is a set of threats that you don't usually see together.  I love playing this deck since you get the best of both worlds (creatures and counters) and card drawing with Curiosity.  It's fairly quick, yet has some trouble before sideboarding against other creature decks.  It only loses Winter Orb (in some variants) and Force of Will, so it will probably still be around, though probably in an Opposition form than beatdown. 

Threshold Geddon: It uses Armageddon to gain threshold and make creatures like Mystic Enforcer and Werebear big and mean.  It's not the best deck since it is very open to non-basic land hate, but is still pretty potent if it has a decent draw.  It's fun to play since you get to blow up the world and swing with fatties.  It's going to lose Dual's, but this one can get away with pain lands I'm sure. 

White Weenie: It uses a lot of good, small white critters backed up by good utility spells and Empyrial Armor to make them fatties instead of weenies.  Cataclysm clears out just about any defense they might have.  You also have Tithe to pump the Armors, thin your deck, and help your mana base.  I love this deck since it is so quick and resilient.  It loses Armor and Tithe, but I'm sure it will still be around, especially after Onslaught gives us the goods.

ElfBall: This deck uses a bunch of elves along with Gaea's Cradle to fuel a big X spell to throw at your opponent.  It's quick, but loses horribly to control.  It might have a fighting chance in November since we're getting Biorythm from Onslaught and Force of Will is going away.  It's fun and fairly cheap to build (except for Cradles) so many newer players may find this deck the way to go. 

BUG: Named after the colors it uses

(Black/Blue/Green), it uses the best spells from each color in an attempt to overpower your foe.  It has things like Force of Will, Duress, Pernicious Deed, Shadowmage Infiltrator, Deranged Hermit, and Tradewind Rider.  Very good cards, indeed.  The deck is great to play since you have answers to almost everything main deck and everything else in the board.  I played a version of it to a win with only ten lands (Birds and Land Grants helped).  It loses the Dual's and Forces but nothing else, so it will probably stick around, hopefully.

Draw-Go: The most annoying deck every made.  It uses upwards of twenty counters to keep you from doing anything, Powder Kegs to sweep up what does get through, and Morphling and Masticore to kill you.  It's got tons of resilience.  The downside is that anything that is pure creature aggression will probably have a decent shot at taking it out.  After board, it gets a little easier, though it's still a nail-biter if they have counters of their own.  I used to swear by this deck until it got boring just sitting there until turn twenty and winning.  I'm sure some form of it or another will be around in November although it won't be as good since Force goes away.

Life: This is a red/white deck that uses the en-Kor creatures to boost a Task Force's stats to enormous heights and then sacrifice it to a Worthy Cause to gain a ton of life.  It can also cast About Face on it and swing for infinity.  Tireless tribe also appears and can give you a turn two win with About Face.  The deck is fun, but too fragile for serious play.  If your opponent has a Shock or StP, they can ruin your game before you start.  It doesn't lose anything after rotation, so it may make an appearance here and there, but nothing to major.

Finkula: This black/blue/white deck uses Shadowmage Infiltrator and Meddling Mage to give you a bit of power against your foe.  You get Diabolic Edict, StP, and counter-magic at your disposal, which is quite a diverse set of spells.  After you get control, you can use Morphling to win the game.  Some versions also use Fairy Conclave as an alternate win condition.  The deck is okay right now, but it doesn't quite have the stomping power some other decks.  It loses Dual's and Forces so it probably won't be around much longer.

Tog: If you don't know what Tog is or does by now, there's no saving you.  It doesn't really gain too much in its transition into Extended so it's kind of a waste of time to do it.  It may be good in November, but I wouldn't bank on it.

Wow.  That was a bunch of typing.  Anyway, we can now see that Extended is going to change quite a bit in a month and a half.  A lot of decks will become obsolete, while many others will gain power since their problematic match ups are gone.  Tinker will probably be running rampant along with a new version of Sligh.  Fires will most likely make another run along with Rebels or CounterRebels.  I just hope that this season doesn't become stagnate.  This past season was great.  There was a constant shift in the metagame that had people jumping all over the place to get a heads-up on the competition.  Here's hopin'. 

Well, that's it for this time.  As usual, if you have any questions or comments, e-mail me and I'll try to answer you soon.  Also, if you want decklists for these decks or want to point out some obvious ones I missed (which I'm sure I did), holler at me. 

Until next time, keep 'em legal


P.S.  If you send me a deck to fix, I'll be more of a help if it is for Extended rather than Block or Type 2.

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