Man I hope you all aren’t getting tired of reading columns about the new Extended format. Because if so ... well this week I’m going to disappoint you.
As you know Wizards decided to shake its format tree by ripping out four years of sets from Extended and reducing it basically down to a Standard format that’s twice as bulky but still made up of decks from the last three years of Standard. If you played in the last few years this will probably be more like a “Greatest Hits” collection of decks than an entirely new format.
The problem I have is that Wizards claims that the move was fostered by a desire to move Extended into the “fully supported” status that Standard enjoys. Cutting the size of Extended they say will lower the barrier to entry and turn it into a format that isn’t only played when they force us into Extended-format PTQs. It might lower the barrier (and you might get a better turnout at those PTQs) but I just can’t see an increase in Extended sanctioned events in local stores across the country. Most of us are still sore about Faeries and given the choice I think I’d avoid it at Friday Night Magic thankyouverymuch.
So while I appreciate what’s being said at the outset (about trying to make a format that’s as playable as possible) I fear for the backlash a bit. Extended was NOT despite what you might hear a stagnant format. It was fairly robust with a large number of viable decks during last year’s PTQ season I thought. Narrowing down the card pool makes it seem like we’ll just be seeing the same decks we saw around FNM two years ago. People who banked on the old Extended rotation and invested in Ravnica duals (as they WERE the cornerstone of that format) will not be very happy to see their investment suddenly invalidated by this unforeseen shift in format. (It will however make the Ravnica duals drop in price even more which is great for everyone who plays Legacy and doesn’t want to spring for actual duals or anyone who plays EDH where you can never have enough lands that produce two colors.)
That being said - now IS the time to start thinking about Extended from an investment standpoint or at least from a NEW investment standpoint. No one knows the format and even though we’ll all get to see a first glimpse into the future at Pro Tour: Amsterdam that’s still months away. Now is the time to start thinking about what might be played so you can grab the cards now before they start spiralling up in price.
I think the little hobbits might be a good call in the new format. Obviously a viable deck back during its time in Standard the tribal White Weenie deck also gains fun Windbrisk Heights tricks (Iona maybe?) and could go the route of Red Deck Wins and run Steppe Lynx and a full suite of fetchlands. Whatever form it takes central to the older versions of the deck were the following cards:
(All top-dollar levels estimated courtesy of Black Lotus Project.)
Even Honor of the Pure is $2.49 now without a deck to support it in Standard. Really the only card in the deck that’s held its value is Mutavault still staying strong (and sold out!) at $15.99 at this here site here. (And I’m not 100% certain you couldn’t get away with 2 - or less even if the deck gets the fetchland treatment.) If you’re contemplating playing the hobbits during the Extended PTQ season that always rolls around at the start of the year now might be the time to make sure you have the rares you need.
While not quite as explosive as the Extended version that used Glimpse of Nature attempts were made to port the deck over to Standard since Regal Force and a number of mana-producing elves were all available back when Lorwyn block was around. The deck now has a target for all that mana production: Eldrazi. Make two dozen elves cast Mirror Entity then avoid sorcery-speed mass removal by running out Emrakul the Aeons Torn and just taking your lethal attack step right then and there.
Rare Cost Summary:
Elvish Archdruid ($5.99 x 4 = $23.96)
Mirror Entity ($2.49 x 1 = $2.49)
Ranger of Eos ($7.99 x 4 = $31.96)
Regal Force ($1.99 x 4 = $7.96)
Emrakul the Aeons Torn ($7.99 x 4 = $31.96)
Primal Command ($1.49 x 4 = $5.96)
Sunpetal Grove ($4.99 x 3 = $15.97)
Wooded Bastion ($4.99 x 3 = $15.97)
Mosswort Bridge ($1.49 x 4 = $5.96)
It’s possible that four Mosswort Bridge is too many enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands but I really like the possibility that I will trigger it in this deck. I pulled out some of the Ranger of Eos “utility” package to make room for Emrakul but it might be necessary to keep around some part of it. Obviously you can’t cut out the Rangers since they help grab Nettle Sentinels and fuel the combo.
Obviously the Fae will be a big player in the next Double Standard season. I only include them to point out that the rares that made Faeries tick have held up in value over time and Thoughtseize saw play in the previous Extended format as well meaning its value is unlikely to go up:
As it’s played in Vintage and Legacy pretty fervently it’s unlikely that an increase in play in Extended will show any price change.
Now THIS I’m somewhat surprised by. I don’t recall seeing very many Bitterblossoms in last year’s Extended and while I don’t play Vintage I do read all of Stephen Menendian’s columns and I don’t remember him talking about it either. Is there some Legacy Faeries deck I don’t know about? My guess: People have been hoarding them knowing that at SOME point in the future that Faeries would re-emerge as a dominant decktype and they got lucky that their timetable was accelerated.
Other than that the rares look pretty cheap:
Unfortunately you will lose Faerie Conclave by the time the PTQ season rolls around.
I know Randy Tempelaar will be happy to hear me say this but I figure Doran has to be a viable archetype coming in the next Extended right? It was the “midrange deck of choice” before Jund got Bloodbraid Elf. Sure you have to invest in four Maelstrom Pulse ($14.99) but most of the other cards look fairly inexpensive:
Add in to that that Murmuring Bosk ($1.99) is really the only fetchable multi-land left to us in Extended now and I think I can see a future where Doran is the midrange deck of choice. I like that due to Doran’s flipping of front and back most of the creatures in the deck already start out fairly able to withstand an all-out attack from the weenie rush decks. Doesn’t Wall of Omens get so much better when it doesn’t just bump with Goblin Guide or Bloodbraid Elf?
Possibly the only surviving deck from the Great Extended Purge ‘0-10 in that we still have Scapeshift and we still have Valakut - technically that’s what makes the deck run. The trouble is that you don’t get the free Blue splash any more by being able to run Mountains That Make Blue Mana (a.k.a. Steam Vents) and I think it might be harder now to squeeze the required amount of Mountains in AND get the blue for card filtering.
If Scapeshift is going to survive as a “combo” deck I suspect it will look like the Red-Green Valakut Ramp decks that were popular a couple of months ago that will have Scapeshift as a sort of secondary “ta da I win” card. And that could be a very viable option.
Valakut the Molten Pinnacle: $0.99
So there are some good places to look for value in a format that still is waiting to be defined. We have three months until PT: Amsterdam where we get to see what the Pros have concocted and even THEN the format will immediately rotate out Time Spiral and 10th Edition which means we lose interesting cards like Seismic Assault (Swans anyone?) before we even get to the PTQ season. AND we still have two sets (at least) to come before we get into a PTQ season. But looking back on what did well in previous iterations of Standard can give us clues about what might be coming in the New Extended ... and let us get the cards we want while the price is still right.
Until next week...
dave dot massive at gmail and davemassive on twitter and facebook