Feature: A Final Look Around the Metagame

Posted in Event Coverage on October 29, 2005

By Zvi Mowshowitz

It will be several weeks before we know what the best decks in Extended really are, but this format has shown us several strong contenders. Many old decks that seemed like they should compete have fallen by the wayside or been incorporated into more successful strategies; others proved not quite ready for the highest level. In the end, while there were other successful decks I feel that two were the stars of the tournament: PT Jank (aka Boros Deck Wins) and Dredgeatog.

Grim Lavamancer

There they stand opposing each other on opposite ends of the spectrum, different in every way: Boros and Golgari, Beatdown and Control, Just Enough and Way Too Much, Red/White and Blue/Black/Green, Long Matches and Long Lunch Breaks. One uses death to bring life while the other just brings death as quickly as possible. Both take full advantage of what Ravnica has to offer, punishing those who refused to heed the signs. Jank has everything you want in an aggressive deck: Amazingly consistent mana, great one-drops both long term (Grim Lavamancer) and two-power from Isamaru and Savannah Lions, great burn, opponents who effectively start the game at 15, and even mana disruption for those like Tsuyoshi Fujita who recognize its value and use it to help secure a slot in the Top 8. They come out blisteringly fast and pack a lot of punch. Goblin decks couldn't keep up, and the hate kept Affinity down … for now. Don't expect that threat to stop hovering in the background any time soon - and it isn't quite done yet.

Meanwhile, Psychatog has absorbed what was left of Blue-green Madness, the best cards in Rock, mixed them all with Dredge, used the new lands to fix its mana and emerged as the elegant Dredgeatog deck. In the right situation it can kill just as fast, its Togs get bigger at a blistering pace and it has an uncounterable continuous card-drawing engine. What more could a player ask for?

Not all the Psychatog decks make full use of the engine yet, but the more rounds go by the more that feels like simple oversight. Then again, some things never go out of style and once again an old-school Psychatog deck (played by Antoine Ruel) will play on Sunday. William Moreno will also be there, playing a version that still has strong madness elements, but true 'Tog builds were the order of the day and Moreno was the only player with Arrogant Wurm and Basking Rootwalla to put up a good finish.

Orim's Chant

Of course, everything's a lot more complicated than that. Extended will only be about only two decks when something has gone horribly wrong and nothing like that happened. On the control side, good old Rock decks remain remarkably strong and Scepter-Chant has put up an impressive performance. With more than half the Chant players making Day Two and several fighting for Top 8 into the last two rounds of the tournament, it's possible that some advantage engines are still worth fighting for.

There are also other beatdown decks that are doing fine. Affinity is around with almost no color; then there are Zoo decks running four. Domain tried for all five, but it came up short. Perhaps one or two sets from now it will get what it needs. Then there's Balancing Tings. They're playing some number of colors but no one is quite sure how many. I think it's four, but there was too much control at the top for them to break out.

Then there's the wild card, the combination deck based on Mind's Desire, Early Harvest and Heartbeat of Spring. Chris McDaniel will be taking the deck into the Top 8, but his fellow players seem to have fallen on hard times - out of 17 who began with the deck, only two made Day Two. Chris has been known to spend hours goldfishing the deck for fun, so perhaps the deck is just that hard to play. There have been Extended decks like that before.

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