I hope everyone had a great holiday season! I want to start the New Year off with some deck and sideboard ideas. Hopefully, we'll all be able to come up with some solid deck choices. Like I said in my last article, this format is undefined, and we don't want to stumble at an event because of our deck choice.
Let's do this! The deck I feel the most comfortable with right now is 4-Color Control (4CC). I know I said aggro decks are generally better in an undefined format, but let's be real here – who wants to cast Demigod of Revenge when you can play Cryptic Command and Esper Charm?
First things first, I realize that I had a talk with you all about Preordain in the last article. Everyone knows that Preordain is a powerful card, and as the format is developing, it definitely gains value. With more non-aggro decks introducing themselves into the format, we can't afford to have a hand full of mass removal. If you're expecting to play against people slinging burn spells all day, feel free to drop the Preordains for removal – however, I think it's probably correct right now to have some number of dig spells in your deck. A lot of the “game” portion of Magic is metagaming properly. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut and hope you get there. Just remember to play smart when you're playing with Preordain. Don't keep that one-lander on the draw and try to get there. There's no wrong time to cast Preordain in my book as long as you know what you're looking for – just keep that in mind. It's better to play smart than cute, but it's awesome to do both!
I'm not going to really get into Plumeveil vs. Wall of Omens because I went over that in my last article. However, I will say that if your opponent plays a Demigod of Revenge, and you're staring at your Wall of Omens, you're going to be real sad. Since we're cutting removal for Preordain, I'd just feel more comfortable turning my wall spot into a removal spell. Not to mention, Plumeveil gets pretty nuts with Agony Warp.
Faeries has been having a huge showing online. I'm kind of afraid to play 4CC right now unless I have a lot of sideboard slots devoted to beating Faeries. I was originally going to toy with playing Firespout in the main, but it's way too dangerous right now.
Yeah, dawg, got four of both.
The Brawl of the Century
Wurmcoil Engine vs. Baneslayer Angel vs. Grave Titan vs. Broodmate Dragon
Wurmcoil Engine is pretty ridiculous. If your opponent has some sick read and decides to play Shatter, then that day probably wasn't your day to win anyway. Or even worse for you, if someone gets their Wurmcoil Engine Slice in Twained in Extended – what a blowout that'd be. Actually let's be realistic, it's still not a blowout thanks to Wurmcoil pooping out lifelink and deathtouch guys. That being said, some number of Wurmcoil Engines between two and two is most likely correct.
Ba-Ba-Ba-Baneslayer Angel! It comes down a turn earlier, is a lot less resilient, blocks the crap out of Demigod of Revenge, is more expensive to buy – all of these are pros and cons to Baneslayer Angel. If you want to play Baneslayer just because she's the sexiest Angel, I can't fault you for that either.
Grave Titan is still nuts in my book. It doesn't get you out of low-life pickles like BSA and WCE, but it can clog up the ground, and it's pretty solid against most control-type matchups.
If you're a hipster, and you want to be ironic and retro, Broodmate Dragon is the card for you!*
I was originally going to spoon-feed you sideboarding plans, but I've decided against that. You're reading Magic articles to get better at Magic obv. You don't get better at Magic by people telling you exactly what to do and how to think. I'd rather my readers gain long-term play knowledge than a few tips for the next big event. (Sorry if you're looking for the latter.) I'm hoping that I found a good balance of sideboarding tips, so that you all can have a general idea of how to sideboard with any deck you play in the future – not just the ones listed below.
Think about the different cards in your deck and what they're good/bad against in the matchup. If a deck isn't playing a lot of creatures, it's okay to take out removal. If they're playing aggressive decks, take out slower cards or planeswalkers that you can't protect. It's important to think about casting cost when sideboarding. You need to think about your opponent's optimal draws and how you can react to them, or capitalize on their non-optimal draws. If you're going to play a Jace on turn 4 and then die – it's okay to cut them. I feel like I'm being extremely simple and kind of dumbing this down, but this is stuff that newer players/freshly competitive players don't think about.
4CC Sideboard Cards!
– Great Stable Stag
These are just some suggestions, and a lot of these are cards that are better against control matchups.
We know why Jace Beleren / Thoughtseize / Vendilion Clique are good in the mirror. I'd suggest you have 8-9 slots devoted to those cards. I like Negate for the mirror but prefer Vendilion Clique and a Glen Elendra over Negate. Especially if they're bringing in Negates and taking out their removal. In 4CC, you really want your sideboard cards to do double duty. For example, Runed Halo is good against combo, Demigod of Revenge, and Anathemancer. Thoughtseize / Vendilion Clique / Glen Elendra Archmage are good against combo and control. I personally love Consume the Meek. It singly-handedly destroys all the current aggressive decks: Elves, Tempered Steel, and White Weenie. A card like Consume the Meek that answers three decks that you know people will be playing is a really good sideboard card. If you're planning on playing in any event anytime soon, you probably want Great Stable Stag in your board. Faeries is just too prevalent right now. Another card that's good against Faeries is Leyline of Sanctity. Faeries will generally bring in a lot of hand disruption against you, and this just turns it off; it also shuts off their Cliques.
Against the mirror, you'd take out Plumeveil, Volcanic Fallout, Baneslayer Angel, Agony Warp, and some number of Lightning Bolts depending on what you have to bring in. You're most likely bringing in Archmage, Jace Beleren, Ajani Vengeant, Thoughtseize, and Negate. I assume most people will only have Jace Beleren, Thoughtseize, and Negate.
This is a pretty stock Faeries list. This deck, as you all know, is very powerful as well as lame. There are only a few cards that are up in the air.
Doom Blade vs. Smother
Some of the Worlds lists split these cards two and two, while some list played four Smothers. They both have their ups and downs to be honest. Smother can hit Tidehollow Sculler, Doran, and Putrid Leech, while Doom Blade can hit cards like BSA, WCE, and other game-ending threats. Hopefully you'll have Faerie tokens to deal with some of those threats on either side of the spectrum, but when the control decks are gaining a lot of life, it makes it easier for games to slip away.
Denyin' the Scion (yeah, that was a WoW reference)
Scion of Oona is a “win more” card. It very rarely does what you want it to do. “Yeah, I just blew out this guy's burn spell!” Who cares? All of your creatures other than the Cliques suck; also, you shouldn't be casting Mistbind Clique when a removal spell is going to blow you out. Making my opponent's Volcanic Fallout better against me isn't what I want to be doing either.
Jace, the Effin' Mind Sculptor
Sorry, big Jace! Better luck next year. You have eight other four-drops that you really want to be playing and Jace, the Mind Sculptor doesn't really give you anything that you don't already have. You can get really cute and bounce a Mistbind Clique or something like that, but it's just unnecessary.
I originally wanted to play Wasteland, but I couldn't get my hands on any... So I decided to try out Tectonic Edge. I love this card. It's such a beating against so many matchups. If I could find a way to shove four in the deck without murdering my mana base, I would. However, I'd have to play like 29 lands to do that – so I'll stick with two for the time being.
Sideboarding with the Fae!
The Walls of Tanglecord are mainly for Great Sable Stag. It's also not bad against aggressive red decks since it blocks all day – think of this card as Bottle Gnomes in that regard. Against aggressive decks, take out your Thoughtseize for Wall of Tanglecord. If you're playing against White Weenie, then Ratchet Bomb, Infest, or Disfigure is the way to go. Leave Wall of Tanglecord in the board.
Against control, you should take out your removal and bring in Glen Elendra/Negate/Duress. Make sure when you build your sideboard, you don't have too many answers for a certain deck. You need to have enough cards to take out of your main deck. For this list, you'd want about a maximum of six cards for control; you'd take out Smothers, Doom Blade, and probably some number of Spellstutter Sprites if it's 4CC.
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 4 Elvish Archdruid
- 4 Fauna Shaman
- 4 Heritage Druid
- 3 Joraga Treespeaker
- 2 Joraga Warcaller
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Nettle Sentinel
- 4 Ranger of Eos
- 2 Regal Force
- 1 Ezuri, Renegade Leader
This is Jani Lindroos and Max Lehtinen's list from Worlds. I feel like this main deck is pretty solid, and there aren't many cards I'd want to change from it right away. I'm usually not a fan of decks like this because I don't feel like I have enough control over the game state. A lot of chance is left up to your draws and your opponent's draws. The version that played Thoughtseize in the main might be pretty good, too, but I generally try to avoid taking creatures out of creature decks. Just depends on what you're trying to beat.
Elvish Sideboarding Cards
Like I said, Elves is a deck that I don't have a ton of experience with, but it definitely belongs on this list of competitive decks. This build was made by very competent players, and I feel like Elves is very capable of winning a tournament. So I talked to my good friend James Hess who happens to be a master of Elves! Here's what he had to say.
“Because of Fauna Shaman, the easiest thing to do is cut down on stuff that don't need to be four-ofs, since it can be tutored for – Renegade Leader, Archdruid, Regal Force, etc... but basically against decks with a lot of removal, Archdruids are lightning rods, so I board them out (always leave at least one to tutor for)...
People will hold Bolts and other removal just for Archdruid, so if that means your Nettle Sentinels and Llanowars are lasting 2-3 extra turns, then that's a good thing. Against decks like 5CC, you're better off playing Elf aggro than Elf combo, so boarding out all but one Heritage can be fine...just play the matchup like the old B/G Elf deck from Lorwyn at that point.”
For the record, I don't know who actually created this version of the deck, but ShuuheiShift had such a good ring to it; I needed to give it that name.
This deck looks straight-up fun to play. I don't know how good/bad it is, but you get to cast Wargate! From what I understand, this deck is a bye for Faeries; in exchange for this – you have an auto-win against 4CC. Your matchup against random aggro decks with little disruption is probably pretty good, too; the clock you put them on using Prismatic Omen is usually a lot faster than their “deal you twenty damage with creatures” plan. Faeries has the hand disruption to make you stumble with your combo, the creatures to put you on a clock of sorts, and counters to stop you from just killing them. No other deck seems to have that mix of cards to beat you. Jund is likely to be a coin flip, but pending they don't “Jund draw” you, you're probably going to win that match.
I realize that I'm taking a huge risk by suggesting alterations to Shuuhei Nakamura's decklist; I'm opening myself up to all sorts of flaming, but just keep in mind that these are suggestions and nothing more. Shuuhei is obviously a more talented Magic player than I am, but there's always room to toy with a decklist.
The mana ramp in this deck is one Cultivate, three Explores, four Rampant Growths, two Khalni Heart Expeditions, and (kind of) four Wargates. I'm assuming your goal isn't to cast Wargate for zero to get a land other than Valakut, but I'm sure it might come up. Now, I personally hate Khalni Heart Expedition. I'd rather be hit by a meteor than draw that card after turn 2. I'd probably cut that card for Worldly Counsels. Worldly Counsel for 2-3 is a little like Preordain, but if you have Prismatic Omen out – then the card just gets bonkers.
Sideboarding with ShuuheiShift
Shuuhei's recipe called for:
I'd consider trying to fit some Oblivion Rings, Path to Exile, and potentially Leyline of Sanctity. Leyline can take care of a lot of the hand disruption that can make your deck stall; it also forces burn decks to kill you with creatures and takes away a lot of their reach. In the mirror, it forces them to draw a way to bounce/kill your Leyline before they combo out. On that note, Runed Halo could take the spot of Leyline of Sanctity, since it does almost everything you'd want Leyline to do. Runed Halo is also much easier to tutor up with Wargate.
Like most combo decks, when sideboarding, you can't really cut more than four cards or so unless your sideboard is transformational. Otherwise, you start to dilute your deck with non-combo pieces. One of the first cards I'd cut when sideboarding would be Ponder/Worldly Counsel. If you absolutely must take something else out, I'd take out Explore.
This list is pretty sick. I was really happy to see Korey do so well, especially since this is a list he brewed up by himself.
- 4 Baneslayer Angel
- 4 Glen Elendra Archmage
- 3 Kitchen Finks
- 4 Knight of the White Orchid
- 4 Mulldrifter
- 1 Reveillark
- 3 Vendilion Clique
Rather than guess what brought this decklist into Korey's mind, I decided to ask him.
Ali: What made you decide to play this deck?
Korey: Going into the Extended portion of the tournament, I knew that more than half of the players didn't know what they were doing. They were going to copy a couple of decks that 4-0ed the most recent Daily Event on Magic Online. I asked my friends to help me, and they didn't have much to say either. I did some research and just decided to metagame against the most hyped decks. In my radar, I had Jund, 5-Color Control, Fae, and Scapeshift. I figured the largest majority would be 5CC and Jund, so I primarily focused on beating those decks.
Ali: What do you feel your good matchups are?
Korey: I wanted to be favored against a majority of the field. Path to Exile, Kitchen Finks, Baneslayers, and Vendilion Cliques were cards that I was excited about casting. Jund seemed like a bye. Baneslayer Angel was always the way to beat Jund just as long as you had enough countermagic to protect it. Another thing, which I learned from one of Wrapter's articles, is getting your Jund opponent to cast their removal spells at the most awkward times. You can generally target a range of removal spells that your opponent has by seeing a pattern in the order of lands/creatures that your opponent plays. Glen Elendra Archmage also seemed to help in this situation, as the lifelink from Baneslayer Angel usually gives you enough time to Mulldrift straight to victory.
Glen Elendra Archmage and Vendilion Clique made my 5CC and Wargate/Omen matchup much better as well, for reasons that are obvious. Both cards also comboed well with my last-minute sideboard decision of Meddling Mage. Extended is a widespread format with a bunch of potential Tier 2 decks. As mentioned earlier, I didn't think that many players knew what they were doing as far as which deck they were piloting, so I figured Meddling Mage could put a nail in a lot of decks like G/W Ramp, Scapeshift, Pyromancer Ascension, etc.
Ali: What do you feel your bad matchups are?
Korey: I didn't have enough time to decide how to beat Fae. I remember from a couple of Standard formats ago, Merfolk and Faeries were generally the decks that stomped Reveillark. A bunch of low converted-mana-cost creatures, manlands, and countermagic aren't what Reveillark likes to play against. Reveillark wants to play against decks that tap out every turn, not land-go decks. I knew that Faeries was going to be a hard matchup and hoped that sticking an early Finks or Vendilion Clique would be enough if my Fae opponents didn't mulligan to oblivion. Surprisingly enough, my only loss was to Faeries, and I managed to beat Merfolk in round 1.
Ali: Were you happy with your sideboard? Were there any decks you forgot about while crafting your sideboard?
Korey: Eh, kind of. Like mentioned before, I metagamed the night before Day 3, so my sideboard choices were just standard. I didn't have enough time to test whether War Priest of Thune was good or not against Bitterblossom and Prismatic Omen, so those are both possibilities. The handful of Day of Judgments was the most exciting thing. I saw a bunch of people the morning of Day 3, sleeving up Nettle Sentinels and Heritage Druids, so I thought Day of Judgment would be awesome. I happened to board some in against Jund as well, so they were definitely awesome.
Ali: What changes, if any, would you make to this 75?
Korey: I'm not sure yet. Extended is a format in which the metagame changes every week. This deck has a lot of flexibility in the route it can go in both MD and SB. If the metagame stays close to what it was in Chiba, then I'd just modify this deck to fit the metagame.
Thanks a lot, Korey! Congratulations again on your finish at Worlds!
- 3 Anathemancer
- 4 Bloodbraid Elf
- 4 Boggart Ram-Gang
- 4 Demigod of Revenge
- 4 Putrid Leech
- 3 Sygg, River Cutthroat
Sideboarding with Jund!
With Jund, you need to be able to control your cascades and not have unnecessary cards stuck in your hand. I feel like Anathemancer is a fine card to maindeck right now. The top decks only play a handful of basics, and it can end a game very quickly.
Against aggressive decks, you should probably cut Anathemancer and Blightning. More removal and Kitchen Finks really help your matchup in this situation. Blightning is generally lackluster against most aggressive decks. You're using your turn 3 to Bolt/Mind Rot them, and they're bashing your face in.
Thoughtseize is obviously very good against your control matchups; this includes Faeries. Against Faeries, I feel like your matchup is somewhat of a coin flip. You can't really afford to have cards like Boggart Ram-Gang and Putrid Leech get chump-blocked by Faerie tokens. Stag is much more amazing those spots.
(or Red Deck Loses)
I can't really support anyone's decision to play this deck. I'm going to give a list because you need to at least test against this deck. It's kind of like a check to see if you auto-lose to red or not. I'll be honest here; 99% of decks I've ever created have an auto-loss to Mountains, but lucky for me, no one actually plays Mountains. You kind of just need to dodge it for the first few rounds.
- 4 Ball Lightning
- 4 Demigod of Revenge
- 4 Figure of Destiny
- 6 Goblin Guide
- 4 Hell's Thunder
- 4 Hellspark Elemental
This is a really rough draft. I'd tell someone to post a better list in the forums, so that we could all have something to test against, but if you've spent a lot of time coming up with a better RDW list, I don't really want you posting in the forums about my articles… I kid; I kid.
Also, I know I put six Goblin Guides in this list. I did the math, and it turns out that your chances of winning are increased so much by having a turn 1 Goblin Guide that it outweighs the chances of you getting deck-checked and being DQed for having six Goblin Guides. In addition to this, they don't generally deck-check the 0-6 bracket, so any person actually wanting to play this list in an event should be okay.
Time Warp Deck! Woot!
Doesn't this list just make you all giddy inside? Man – I feel like a kid again.
This is the stock list of the old Time Sieve deck; I've just added Riddlesmith and Thopter Assembly. I know Assembly isn't legal yet, but it's just too good not to include. If you just can't wait to play this deck, then by all means you can cut the Thopter Assembly for Wurmcoil Engine, who happens to play extremely well with Time Sieve. The reason I don't play Prophetic Prism is because it sucks in this deck. You can't sac the Prism in order to make your Open the Vaults that much stronger. I feel like Riddlesmith gives you a good way to get your artifacts in the graveyard in order to make Open the Vaults a much bigger threat. It also is kind of like a double cantrip with all of your other artifacts.
Your goal with this deck is to start chaining extra turns with an active Jace/Howling Mine/Riddlesmith out for card advantage and then kill them with Thopter Assembly/Tezzeret/Jace. Try not to take extra turns when you don't have a Jace or Howling Mine out. The exception to this rule is if you have some Time Sieve shenanigans going on. You want more value from your Time Warps than just, “draw a card for the turn, play a land, say go.”
Potential Sideboard Cards for Time Sieve
– Indomitable Angel
I'd suggest Day of Judgment/Dispense Justice for the board, but I don't think you really need them. Path to Exile deals with pesky creatures like Gaddock Teeg and Meddling Mage. Pollen Lullaby allows you to stall long enough to do what you need to do. The Angel is mostly for Jund, to protect your Borderposts and Mines from Maelstrom Pulse, but she's also not bad against things like Nature's Claim. Sphinx of the Steel Wind is also really good against Jund and aggressive decks in general. Thoughtseize/Sculler seals the deal against any control deck. Against control, I'd take out the Lullabies, one Open the Vaults, and one Kaleidostone. Sticking a Jace or Howling Mine against control is usually good enough to win the game. Grand Architect might find his way into this deck eventually. Only time and testing will tell.
The End of the Beginning
Man, Extended is such a crazy format! The next few months are going to be a ton of fun from what I can tell. I started writing this article right around Christmas time, and after being sidetracked with all of the holiday stuff, my article almost obsoleted itself. That was kind of mind-blowing to me, how fast the format is evolving. It also gives me a newfound respect for the writers that pump out quality articles every week. I'm going to continue to do my homework for this season. Big thanks to everyone for continuing to read and support me! I'd also like to thank Korey and James again for helping me provide my readers with different perspectives of a young format.
– Ali Eldrazi
* I was just kidding about Broodmate Dragon; don't be a hipster.